Tag Archives: animal rights

Why It Counts to Be a Conscious Carnivore

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The romantic ideal of the traditional, barnyard-and-a-haystack family farm is all but dead in the ground. Over the past half-century, the majority of our livestock farms have become large enterprises owned by giant corporations. “Big Agriculture” as it is sometimes called, has developed technologies to maximize profits and efficiency without thought towards the health and well being of the animals.

While we have made enormous strides in the time it takes to obtain meat products – in the 1920s, the average chicken took 16 weeks to reach 2.2 pounds, today a modern chicken only takes 7 weeks to reach 5 pounds –  this has come at price.

Today approximately 95% of the red meat in the US comes from animals raised on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), or farms where the animals are confined and fed for at least 45 days out of the year. Such “farms” hold hundreds or even thousands of animals, and the resultant waste is a major source of pollution. To encourage growth and prevent disease, the farmers give the animals growth hormones and antibiotics. Consequently there are numerous health and environmental concerns associated with CAFOs, and some courageous filmmakers have taken it upon themselves to explore these implications further: Continue reading

Why Rihanna’s Selfie Brings Attention to Animal Smuggling (And the Adorable Slow Loris)

Mega celebrity Rihanna was recently vacationing in Thailand, when she snapped a photo of herself cuddling a slow loris and posted the pic to Instagram. Perhaps an innocent publicity stunt in the singer’s mind, the image nonetheless alerted authorities in Phuket who are trained to spot potential violations of animal smuggling laws. Sure enough, the two young men who provided the furry animal for the celeb’s photo were subsequently arrested and face up to four years in prison and 40,000 baht in fines. Here is the infamous photo:

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Animal lovers might be disturbed by this image for various reasons, not least of which is the absurd caption Rihanna posted with the photo: “Look who was talkin dirty to me!” But even apart from that, animal exploitation is a major issue around the globe, and particularly in Thailand where elephants, tigers, crocodiles, and other animals are regularly smuggled and abused.

As Phuket District Chief Weera Kerdsirimongkon commented, “It’s like a cat-and-mouse game. But this time it’s bigger because a celebrity like Rihanna posted the picture, and there were more than 200,000 ‘likes’ from around the world.” Such exposure is troubling because it shows how uninformed the public is about the associated issues of Rihanna’s photo. But it also allowed authorities to snag the smugglers. So apparently that was the silver lining.

The slow loris is in fact listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with the greatest threat lying in illegal trade and poaching. It’s unthinkable that anyone would ever want to hurt this amazing and adorable creature. Take a look:

Even this video is somewhat problematic because we don’t know how these people got a hold of a slow loris nor what conditions it is living in. But we can thank it at least for giving us a glimpse at this incredible animal.

What do you think of Rihanna’s infamous selfie? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Cute Alert: This Little Girl and Baby Gorilla Are Best Friends

This video is taking the Internet by storm, which perhaps says more about us viewers than it does about the girl or the gorilla or their adorable friendship. But before we go any further, let’s take a look and this incredible moment:

From an adult’s perspective, it’s hard not to jump to praise the little girl for her undiscriminating love and curiosity. Where an adult might be burdened by thoughts of species superiority, or over identification with being human, or even with the well-intentioned concerns for animal rights, this little girl springs to playfulness and conviviality. The baby gorilla matches her enthusiasm, playing right along with her. The adults laugh and capture the moment on film, somewhat removed from the scene because, ostensibly, the moment isn’t really theirs to experience.

If you are among those whose mind jumps to thoughts of the treatment of animals in captivity, then we encourage you to investigate those feelings more. Do some research, talk with people who work in such facilities, and stay away from zoos and animal parks if they make you uncomfortable. We will support your cause.

In another light, though, it might behoove us adults to examine our own relationships (or lack thereof) with non-human animals. When we walk our dogs, step around pigeons, or visit zoos, are we approaching and interacting with these animals authentically? Are we seeing their lived existence and appreciating them for what they are? Or do we ever fall prey to feelings of superiority, disregard, or even condescension?

Consider this: Next time you come in contact with an animal, try seeing them and interacting with them as fully and honestly as you would interact with a friend. Let’s all take a lesson from this video’s amazing inter-species friendship and do our species proud!

Watch as This Little Boy Realizes What Meat is for the First Time and Decides to Become Vegetarian

It seems like the vegetarian-carnivore war has been waging for decades, with arguments on various sides ranging from the environment to protein intake to spiritual purity to taste. Sometimes, though, the motivations that inspire diet and lifestyle habits spring from a deeper, more primal place in our beings – regardless of what direction that might take you in.

This incredible and inspiring video, captured on the mother’s Android, documents a young boy’s first realization that the food on his plate was once a living animal. He asks his mom, “Where is the octopus’ head? Why do animals have to die for us to eat them?” In the brief moments it takes for this reality to sink in, young Luis Antonio decides then and there never to eat meat again. Though we can’t see her, Luis’ mother responds to him lovingly when the boy asks her why she is crying. “I’m not crying,” she says. “I’m just touched by you.”

Watch this amazing moment:

The original video, without subtitles

With subtitles

The 5 Most Adorable Animals Facing Extinciton

If you thought Jurassic Park was entirely science fiction, then guess again. “De-extinction” isn’t just the stuff of fantasy, but rather a burgeoning field in science that aims to revive extinct species. Early trials are being tested on the Passenger Pigeon, as well as the wooly mammoth, the prospect of which conjures an exciting, if bizarre, mental image.

Before we get your hopes up over mammoth-covered hillsides and (dare we dream) dinosaur-filled theme parks, the success of these early trials has been very modest. As of now, only one extinct species has “successfully” been brought back to life – in quotes because the baby animal only survived several minutes before perishing once again into oblivion. Had the baby lived, the world would have witnessed the rebirth of the Pyrenean ibex, a species of wild goat with long curved horns and a bulk of up to 220 pounds. Of 57 implantations using cloned cells from the last Pyrenean ibex, driven to extinction by hunters in 1999, seven lead to pregnancies, and only one was carried to term. Even just the hint of success has created a flurry in the scientific community.

It may be thrilling to imagine a revival of the orange-bellied Passenger Pigeon or the hills of Spain peppered with giant wild goats. But some scientists have questioned the ethics of such use of scientific technologies. Even if researchers have the ability to bring extinct species back to life, is it practical, necessary, or even appropriate for them to do so? Given humans’ track record, do we have any place in meddling further with evolution? Perhaps instead, as conservation scientist Stacy Small-Lorenz suggests, we should save precious conservation resources for protecting currently at-risk species. “De-extinction” or no, the reality remains that human actions can have permanent detrimental effects on the environment. Only preemptive efforts are going to make a difference on that front.

Here are five species facing extinction that we’d like to see live on (and keep playing) for decades to come:

1. Celebes Crested Macaque

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2. Siberian Tiger

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3. San Joaquin Kit Fox

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4. Sea Otter

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5. Dhole – Mountain Dog

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Would you like to help these animals live on and keep playing? There are plenty of opportunities for citizens to take action and  make a difference. Learn what you can do by visiting the Take Action page at Defenders of Wildlife.

Photo essay originally published in Time Magazine.

Ego-less Yoga: An Interview with Moby on His Practice

“I get a lot more work done and I’m a lot happier with the work when I’m healthy as opposed to sick and hungover.”

Wise words. It may go against the ‘starving artist’ motif, but take it from internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter, Moby, who is certainly no stranger to success. Practicing a healthy lifestyle pays off in more ways than one. Eleven albums, fifteen awards (including two VMAs), and collaborations with the likes of Bono and David Bowie constitute a highly successful electronic music career. In addition to the millions of records he’s sold around the world, Moby practices yoga, keeps to a vegan diet, and lobbies for animal rights.

Moby features in the latest interview session on The Chopra Well’s URBAN YOGIS discussing yoga and the role lifestyle plays in a successful artistic career. You’ll see him in conversation here with Eddie Stern, who hosts the rest of the series. But as it turns out, these two have been friends for 25+ years! It was Eddie who first introduced Moby to yoga, and here they are years later chilling in ‘happy baby’ pose from the balcony of Moby’s Los Angeles home.

Moby has an interesting take on yoga and healthy living, somewhat different than what many say about their practice. Take a look and let us know what you think. One thing he said that stood out to us was, “I decided about six months ago that I never want to be good at yoga.” Being “good” for him implies a competitive spirit, comparing his own ability to some standard. Rather, Moby says, he wants to focus on enjoying himself, reaping the short and long-term benefits, and working toward greater flexibility and spiritual awareness. That’s when yoga becomes a ‘practice’ rather than an accessory.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and catch our daily, inspiring videos as soon as they’re published!

How To Promote Animal Rights

If you’ve ever sympathized with the plight of animals used for dog fighting, abused in circuses and laboratory research or killed for trophy hunting, fur and factory farming, you can make a difference by acting on your convictions and allying yourself with an organization that reflects your viewpoints. If you believe that animals deserve the basic rights to enjoy a life of humane conditions that are free of abuse, oppression and confinement, then you can advocate in the following ways:

Step One: Educate yourself and get a firm grasp on your position.

Animal rights advocates are a diverse bunch, holding a wide range of view points. The first step to taking action is figuring out where you stand.

Some activists focus on animal welfare, deeming it important for animals to be treated, and even killed, humanely. Others believe human beings are not entitled to use animals for food, medical experimentation, sport and clothing. There are different degrees of advocacy that correspond to these various beliefs, from advocacy pertaining to anti-abuse legislation to more aggressive animal liberation stances that entail vegan or vegetarian lifestyles.

Once you’ve got a grasp on what you believe – read up on the issues most important to you.

Here are some starters:

Factory farming
Seal hunting
Puppy mills
Dog fighting

Step Two: Understand that not everyone thinks the same way you do.

Maintaining an open minded perspective can be very beneficial when you’re attempting to promote animal rights to the masses. Rather than running the risk of appearing extreme in your beliefs, if you can respect more mainstream or opposing positions, you will be more likely to be able to spread your message with a greater level of success. Some extreme animal rights activists have experienced backlash because of their over-the-top antics used to capture public attention. If you really want to make a genuine connection with people on the street, sometimes it is far more effective to find out what makes them tick and approach your animal rights promotion from a place of respectful education and illumination.

Step Three: Ally yourself with a pre-existing group or start one of your own.

Strength in numbers is applicable for many causes and certainly so when you’re campaigning to spread the word about animal rights. Your message is more likely to be heard when you have the backing of similarly minded individuals who are all working toward a common goal. You can also cover a lot more ground when you benefit from pre-existing strategies, proper organization and large budgetary resources. Animal-focused organizations range from the controversial People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to the not-so-controversial Humane Society, each with distinctly different methods of reaching the public. Do your homework, first by researching their mission statements online and exploring the way they deliver their belief system and then by locating a satellite office in your neck of the woods. If you find after all is said and done that your views aren’t compatible, consider taking matters into your own hands by creating your own group via Meetup.com or another social network avenue. Networking with local vegetarian societies, animal rescue facilities, health food stores, college campuses and even attending animal themed conferences will help you to locate potential members who will want to rally around the same cause that you have an affinity for.

Step Four: Spread the word by setting up a website or blog.

If you are working with a pre-existing organization, use the online social networking tools they already possesss to spread your message. Inquire if they’re looking for passionate bloggers to lend additional voices to their site.

If you’re branching out on your own, becoming a valuable source of animal rights information could potentially mushroom into a second career. Ultimately, establishing yourself as an authority, via your own website or blog, will slowly but surely gain you a following and in our world of online-driven education, that’s all you really need to change lives in an impactful way.

Once you become a fixture in any online venue, people will want to hear what you have to say and be more likely to ban together with you on future animal rights projects that you work on.

Step Five: Hit the pavement.

Considered to be an old-fashioned way of reaching the public in comparison to today’s mouse-clicking, instant gratification standards, physically handing out flyers emblazoned with animal rights facts to strangers on the street can still be an effective tactic.

Some things to keep in mind:

• Animal rights advocates tend to be proponents of living a greener lifestyle, so handing out reams of garbage-can-bound paper is not exactly eco-acceptable.

• Also, if you’re going to walk this path, be sure to wear your toughest street armor since there are always a few in the crowd who aren’t afraid to share offensive remarks with you. Let negative comments roll right off and remind yourself that it’s all in a day’s work, especially if you are ultimately able to help others achieve a light bulb moment.

Step Six: Organize an animal rights awareness event.

While this may be a lot of effort, a well-executed soirée that not only engages the public and spreads knowledge, but could also potentially raise funds for local animal related causes. Create a thoroughly outlined proposal and pitch it to local high schools, colleges, libraries and community centers. Organizations of this nature continually seek recreational and educational programs to augment their offerings. Whether you get the thumbs-up to deliver one or 20 events, your resulting networking opportunities in the community will be well worth all of the sweat equity you invested up front. Any project that enlightens and educates on behalf of those who aren’t able to speak up for themselves makes the world a better place – and each person you are able to get on board means that more animal lives will reap the benefits.

Originally posted on Causecast.

Eid-Ul -Adha and Thanksgiving:I found an Islamic Point of Light!

From UCP

This year the Islamic festival of Eid-Ul-Adha and the American one of Thanksgiving fall on almost the same day…just a day apart I believe. I’ve never understood or embraced either festival…and Eid-Ul-Adha being a religious festival it has always been a toughie for me on UCP because I want to understand…I want to explore it…but each time I tried so far…my heart grew heavy, the lights grew dim and when I looked down and I saw my dancing feet were bloodied!

But I went trying to open my heart and doing some research on the web…I found this Islamic point of light on the topic! 🙂 So I won’t say much on the topic here just point my readers to that blog’s thorough discussion on the topic here:

http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/11/eid-al-adha-what-is-sacrifice.html

I had so wanted to say something positive about Islam that I had even planned to talk about Islamic banking and insurance for Eid-ul Adha instead! 🙂 Because I feel there is some real positive points of light to be found there…and I really want to explore more about that here on UCP as well…but I was glad I found the Islamic point of light on the topic of Eid-Ul-Adha as well! 🙂 And more so one year into UCP I’ve been able to move forward to a better place in my appreciation of Islamic point of view on this topic…click here to see my point of view on it last year to see how far I’ve come…

Well while I found my Islamic point of light I was saddened to read on the same blog about Hindus in Nepal doing mass animal sacrifices too…and always recall about how the Dalai Lama is not himself vegetarian…reminded of it in Tibetan culture when recently watching the film ‘2012’ and the Tibetan Grannie lady just chopped off the chicken’s neck! I guess in those climates and topography not much room to grow veggies so maybe one must eat meat for survival?

But I don’t understand how if your religion is love and compassion for all beings you can do that…and I think vegetarians and aspiring vegans like myself mean sentient beings when we say beings…and so is why we draw the line and don’t eat animals although yes vegetables are living too…and of course we may find out they are sentient soon as well I know this…and yes for sure I see it in trees as well…but as much as possible I try to eat with what I perceive to be the lowest possible karmic debt and also to try to engage in things that will make me less violent I guess.I guess on the whole daily I try to minimse my karmic debt and I think it is something all of us should consider. Check out my sister blog Meady’s Musings for my recent fast/diet.

Eid-Ul -Adha and Thanksgiving:I found an Islamic Point of Light!

From UCP

This year the Islamic festival of Eid-Ul-Adha and the American one of Thanksgiving fall on almost the same day…just a day apart I believe. I’ve never understood or embraced either festival…and Eid-Ul-Adha being a religious festival it has always been a toughie for me on UCP because I want to understand…I want to explore it…but each time I tried so far…my heart grew heavy, the lights grew dim and when I looked down and I saw my dancing feet were bloodied!

But I went trying to open my heart and doing some research on the web…I found this Islamic point of light on the topic! 🙂 So I won’t say much on the topic here just point my readers to that blog’s thorough discussion on the topic here:

http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2009/11/eid-al-adha-what-is-sacrifice.html

I had so wanted to say something positive about Islam that I had even planned to talk about Islamic banking and insurance for Eid-ul Adha instead! 🙂 Because I feel there is some real positive points of light to be found there…and I really want to explore more about that here on UCP as well…but I was glad I found the Islamic point of light on the topic of Eid-Ul-Adha as well! 🙂 And more so one year into UCP I’ve been able to move forward to a better place in my appreciation of Islamic point of view on this topic…click here to see my point of view on it last year to see how far I’ve come…

Well while I found my Islamic point of light I was saddened to read on the same blog about Hindus in Nepal doing mass animal sacrifices too…and always recall about how the Dalai Lama is not himself vegetarian…reminded of it in Tibetan culture when recently watching the film ‘2012’ and the Tibetan Grannie lady just chopped off the chicken’s neck! I guess in those climates and topography not much room to grow veggies so maybe one must eat meat for survival?

But I don’t understand how if your religion is love and compassion for all beings you can do that…and I think vegetarians and aspiring vegans like myself mean sentient beings when we say beings…and so is why we draw the line and don’t eat animals although yes vegetables are living too…and of course we may find out they are sentient soon as well I know this…and yes for sure I see it in trees as well…but as much as possible I try to eat with what I perceive to be the lowest possible karmic debt and also to try to engage in things that will make me less violent I guess.I guess on the whole daily I try to minimse my karmic debt and I think it is something all of us should consider. Check out my sister blog Meady’s Musings for my recent fast/diet.

Good News for Animals: Bolivia bans Circus Animal Use

How can we use this news about the brave new Bolivian law to help other animals around the world?

Working for Animal Welfare

 

Uncork the champagne and celebrate a major victory for animals! Bolivia has enacted the world’s first law that prohibits the use of animals in circuses.

A small handful of countries have banned the use of wild animals in circuses, but the Bolivian ban includes domestic animals as well, making the new law in Bolivia the dawning of a brand new day. The law took effect July 1.

The law was proposed after an undercover investigation by the nonprofit London-based group Animal Defenders International (ADI) found widespread abuse in circuses operating in Bolivia. The group’s undercover investigators in Bolivia worked side-by-side with circus workers and other animal welfare groups to film disturbing mistreatment of the animals.

Rep. Ximena Flores sponsored the bill to enact the law after seeing the video footage. The law she enacted states that the use of animals in circuses "constitutes an act of cruelty." The law sets fines for infractions and allows for animals to be confiscated by authorities. Circus operators have a year to comply to the new law.

Flores said authorities are now working to prevent circus operators from killing animals they can no longer use. About 50 animals are circulating in national and international circuses at the moment in Bolivia.

ADI chief executive Jan Creamer said circus animals suffer everywhere, including in wealthy countries such as The United States.

posted at ecopaparazzi

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