Monthly Archives: September 2011

Bye Bye Birdie: Adventures of a beginner Vegetarian

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I spent $94.28 on groceries last week. You’d think that eliminating an entire food group from my diet would result in spending less money? Yeah, no.

Who know healthy eating could be so colorful?

My groceries were mostly the same as every week–lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini squash, onion, grapes, bananas, oranges, wheat bread, cereal and pop-tarts (an essential). I skipped the poultry department and spent an extra five minutes trying to find the  “tofu” heading in one of the isles. After realizing the soy-milk product isn’t cool enough to have it’s own tab in an aisle menu just yet, I found it near an array of other food products whose names I could not even pronounce.

Bringing home these new groceries was almost as exciting as bringing home a new puppy–except I’d never google recipes for puppies? My first vegetarian meal of the night was veggie soup, a simple and safe choice. But as the week progressed, I got more creative with my cooking. On Wednesday I boiled and blended vegetables and made a delicious and nutritious soup. I then tackled the tofu, which was for the most part a success. I combined the crispy pieces with brown rice. Most of my other meals since have consisted of pasta, stir fry, fresh sandwiches, cereals and fruits.

I planned on attempting to cook ratatouille as well but somehow lost the eggplant I swore I purchased. Yes, I lost a vegetable. That distracted.

Zucchini Cream Soup: Basically, a blend of veggies.

My week as a vegetarian has left me craving more, or in this case, less. I really don’t feel like eliminating meat was all that of a challenge so I am continuing the vegetarian diet from here on out. After reading an article in the Vegetarian Times, I realized just how healthy living a meat-free life can be. I’m improving my health by sparing the lives of animals–WINNING.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chicken and what’s Thanksgiving without some delicious Turkey? But the more I research and write about animal rights, the less I crave a meat product that comes from a confined animal injected with hormones. I’ve signed a petition with PETA2 urging McDonald’s to eliminate their current breeding and slaughtering methods for chickens. You should too! 

I’m not saying I’ll never eat meat again, but I intend on making an effort to never go back. Stay tuned for updates, until we ‘meat’ again.

Why we should never go to SeaWorld

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I received an upsetting text message last week from my good friend, 44144. “Cove Update: Dolphins killed in Taiji last week. But we won’t give up! Text COVE to 20222 to donate $10 to Save Japan Dolphins/Earth Island.” I replied. But the minimal gesture of responding just didn’t suffice.

I came across a documentary a few years ago that really struck a nerve. The Cove brought light to an extreme case of animal abuse occurring every year in Taiji, Japan–a town that vows to have an affixation for dolphins, and yet is their greatest nightmare. Every September, the crisp-blue waters of the Taiji coast turn a dark and deep red after fishermen literally take a stab at the dolphins they’ve managed to lure into a hidden coast off the small island.

Fishermen aren’t looking to kill all the dolphins they capture, but rather pick out a select few to be sold for entertainment to aquariums, resorts and theme parks around the world. This special breed of “show” dolphins is worth thousands of dollars and investors have no problem paying the price despite the inhumane manner in which they are captured.

Dolphins are sensitive creatures that cannot survive if they are not in their natural habitat. Much like elephants, dolphins are emotional animals and captivity brings them down. Dolphins in captivity constantly die of “unknown” causes, even in state-of-the-art aquatic environments like SeaWorld. Their will to live dwindles in a tank.

The hundreds of remaining dolphins not suitable for the entertainment industry aren’t set free but rather slaughtered for their meat. Dolphin meat has toxic mercury levels that are extremely harmful to people and yet their meat is packaged and sold as “whale” meat. Dolphins are technically part of the whale family so industry tycoons can get away with the false advertising. However, these same dolphins aren’t protected under the same law that prohibits the fishing and slaughtering of most whales.

Ric O’barry essentially created the dolphin-entertainment industry when he successfully trained five dolphins and starred in the hit series, Flipper. Ric now dedicates his efforts to putting an end to the capturing , selling and training of dolphins. His efforts have been recognized around the world, but progress has been slow. Despite the mass attention “The Cove” received, including an Academy Award, the people of Taiji are still getting away with murder in that small cove that holds the secrets of fishermen and the final breaths of innocent animals.

Race Against Cruelty–Putting an End to Greyhound Abuse

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Image from HubPages

If you throw a dog a bone, he will fetch it and run right back. It’s that same natural instinct that has trapped thousands of dogs in a  life of abuse and confinement. Greyhound racing is a “sport” in which dogs race against one another on a track…much like horse racing. However, horses aren’t nearly as subjected to the pain and torture that greyhounds endure while in training.

According to GREY2K USA, a national non-profit organization dedicated to passing stronger greyhound protection laws and ending the cruelty of dog racing, thousands of dogs are seriously injured each year at commercial racetracks–often they are killed when they are injured or no longer fast enough to race. An estimated 50,000 puppies are bred for the industry each year and only a small portion even make it to the track. Most are abandoned or euthanized at a young age if they are deemed non-profitable.

Greyhound-racing tracks hold hundreds of dogs at a time in small, dark cages–sometimes for days on end. These dogs are fed contaminated meat products and steroids to strengthen their muscles at an accelerated speed. (GREY2k USA) Greyhound Pets of America has worked hard to free the caged dogs and find homes for them across the country. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of what goes on in these tracks. In fact, only four states in the United States have outlawed this means for gambling.  Arizona is not one them.

Image from HubPages

The Tucson Greyhound Park “has been providing family entertainment to Southern Arizona for over six decades.” Aww, thanks. The park is run and operated 7 days a week and is ‘home’ to thousands of neglected greyhounds. The overall loss of interest in the sport has left Tucson Greyhound Park as the sole racetrack in the entire state, but it still generates enough revenue to stay afloat.

I recently joined the SunDevils for Wildlife Conservation, an organization on campus that aims to bring awareness to the mistreatment and abuse of animals. Their first initiative is to write a petition urging to shut down TGP and outlaw greyhound racing in Arizona. I’m excited to be part of this effort and will even be attending a protest in Tucson sometime next month (stay tuned for pictures…if I make it through my first protest).

The decline of investors for the sport has been great for future dogs, but still leaves thousands of greyhounds left without anyone to care for them. I encourage anyone who is interested in having a lovable companion to consider adopting a homeless greyhound. All they want is a backyard to run around in…not a race track.

Lions and Tigers and Bears…are Hurricane Victims, too.

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The major damage left behind by Hurricane Irene last week has the East Coast in frenzy. Many residents are just now getting water and electricity back in their homes and for those who have lost loved ones, recovering will take more than a reinstallation of a utility.

Irene wasn’t polite to any animals in its path either. Rescue teams such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and The Humane Society have had their hands tied since the storm hit the Atlantic Coast. Domestic pets were left homeless, large amounts of farm animals are in need of medical attention and even the rodents under New York City have been threatened. (Click here for photos of animals during Irene, compliments of LIFE.com)

Animals tend to get the short end of the stick in the aftermath of natural and human disasters. Forest fires across the country have burnt through acres of land, leaving animals homeless and left with limited resources. It was estimated that 8,000 animals were rescued after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf Coast also threatened the lives and mere existence of hundreds of species—both on land and in the water.

 

It’s unfortunate that the catastrophic oil spill did not receive the necessary attention for the right reasons. After mourning the loss of the 11 people who lost their lives in the rig explosion, politicians focused most of their time and energy on the financial aspects and not necessarily the natural damages. Thousands of fish were exposed and killed and hundreds of birds were caught drenched in oil. Volunteers worked quickly to clean the birds and rescue them before the oil affected them but for many, it was too late.

The point of all this oil-spill rambling is that a natural disaster isn’t just tragic to people, but to animals. The oil spill may not have been a cause for evacuation, or really a safety concern at all for most people, but it was still a disaster that took its toll on many lives. It’s important to realize that animals are vital for human survival and they should be valued for that.

Just remember, Dorothy didn’t leave Toto behind when the Twister hit Kansas—and neither should you.