Category: Animal rights

Climate Change isn’t everything: We’re talking Planetary Collapse. Let’s fix it.

Climate Change isn’t everything: We’re talking Planetary Collapse. Let’s fix it.

The phrase “Climate Change” gets bandied about a lot. But what does Climate Change mean?

As a result of human activity on this planet, we’re seeing increased storms, floods and droughts – and they are bigger and more devastating. Global temperatures, especially in the oceans, are increasing, and polar ice caps are melting, which means sea levels will permanently rise.

Most people understand that burning fossil-fuels such as coal, oil, petrol, diesel and natural gas, cause untold amounts of pollution. This impacts air quality, water supplies, cloud formation and the oceans, which in turns causes climate change.

But the phrase ‘Climate Change’ implies the worst effect of human activity on Earth is widespread, significant change of weather.

And where there’s a crisis, there’s often a money-making opportunity. Enter the ‘Zero Carbon Footprint’ or ‘Carbon Tax’ industry, which enables polluting, fossil-fuel burning, profit-chasing corporations to offset their continued planetary destruction by funding tree-planting or paying subsidies to less carbon-producing, ‘greener’ companies.

Climate Change isn’t everything.

While discussion of problems and solutions for Climate Change is important, all the hype can sometimes take the focus off other problematic environmental issues.

Burning fossil fuels is serious. But these ecological issues are also killing the Earth: Deforestation, Plastics and Waste, and Loss of Biodiversity.

Put together, the cumulative and fast-increasing effect of all of these, including burning fossil fuels, is agonisingly simple:

We’re losing all of Earth’s life-sustaining forces – air, fresh water, the oceans, soil, plants, and the living creatures who keep those in good condition, animals.

Let’s look at these in a little more detail.

Deforestation is the widespread destruction of forests. Almost a fifth of the world’s most important large forest, the Amazon, has been destroyed in 50 years. Forests are cleared for wood, but also to make space for mining/drilling, crops for humans, and feed crops and grazing for meat animals.

Deforestation, waste and loss of biodiversity have a number of drivers.

One of the biggest cause of these is intensive farming for meat-eating by humans. The amount of animals we have to keep and feed worldwide, to feed those people who choose to eat meat, and the substantial pollution (including methane gas) generated from farming animals intensively is crippling the planet’s ecosystems and causing human starvation. We are feeding crops to animals we will kill, while humans don’t have enough food.

Studies have found that it’s cheaper, healthier, more ecologically-sustainable, and more calorie-efficient for humans to eat plants. Why not commit now to decreasing your meat intake and eating more plant-based meals?

Plastics, as we all know, are clogging up our planet and especially the oceans. Much of the billions of tons of plastic litter in the oceans is from sewerage, ships including fishing vessels, and poorly managed waste collection and disposal. Millions of ocean wildlife and seabirds are killed by plastic and litter, and we are digesting micro-plastics in fish. Start today – refuse to use plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic containers; and choose to reuse items more.

Loss of biodiversity and species extinction are also closely tied to other factors. Whilst humans bulldoze vast tracts of land to farm, mine or build factories or houses on (resulting in habitat loss for countless animal species who used to live there), we also relentlessly hunt, trap, kill, poach and poison animals for money, entertainment, convenience, or unsustainable food sources.

The Earth has a very intricate web of ecosystems created over millions of years, where everything relies on everything else to survive.

This arrogance – that humans are the only life form worth saving – has to stop. Speak up against this madness – educate yourself, donate to charities, petition for nature conservation protections and laws, do what you can. Start today!

We also need to consider our actions closer to home.

While Earth’s enormous forests are invaluable to life on Earth, including for humans, smaller forests and individual trees are keeping us alive too. So the continual tree chopping that occurs by town councils, railway companies and people in their own gardens is also a significant threat to our survival. It’s simple – stop cutting back and chopping down trees and plants! We need every tree.

Pesticides, herbicides, weedkillers and other crop and garden chemicals and poisons are killing insects and micros-organisms and damaging and killing other plants and animals in the food chain, including animals and plants they weren’t intended for, and humans. We have to get back to more natural farming methods and wildlife-friendly gardening if we are to survive, and start appreciating and celebrating nature, including so-called weeds and pests, not killing it.

What about you? How are you helping or hindering survival of our planet? What are you going to change, or maybe you’re already making changes? What ideas can you share? Write a comment below this post.

Sources and Further Reading

Animal feed crops are destroying the planet: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/05/vast-animal-feed-crops-meat-needs-destroying-planet

Deforestation: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/

Glyphosate herbicides: http://www.pan-uk.org/glyphosate/

Myths about Climate Change: https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/10-myths-about-climate-change

Plastic pollution facts: https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/

Save the Earth in your own garden: https://kathrynrosenewey.com/5-ways-save-earth-own-back-garden/

Useful edible weeds: https://pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=44

Vegan statistics: https://www.vegansociety.com/news/media/statistics

Images from pixabay.com and canva.com

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

5 Ways to Save the Earth in Your Own Back Garden

There’s a lot of talk lately about climate change, environmental destruction and ecological collapse, and how we’re all doomed if we don’t change our lifestyles.

Have you noticed how much of this protest is directed at governments and leaders? Sure, their views and actions are important, because they make the laws which protect natural habitats, enforce reduction and recycling of plastics, or require corporations to clean up their mess.

But individuals, like you and me, are able to accept and enact changes more easily and quickly than bureaucratic governments or profit-chasing corporations.

So we’re an essential part of the solution. How about we start changing our habits today?

A good place to start is in your own garden.

Why? Well, not only is it easier to start small, but it’s a good idea to make changes directly where we live, because that’s where we have the most impact on the planet’s health…

In our own homes and gardens, our places of work, how we travel, what we consume, and where we buy food and other products from…

Let’s start.

Here are 5 ways you can save the Earth in your own front, back or container garden.

1. Gardens should be natural havens for wildlife.

So often, our gardens are not natural – instead they are trimmed and poisoned geometric blocks of human-controlled or ‘fake’ nature.

All this does is discourage the small creatures and bugs which are so important for soil quality.

If mini-beasts are allowed to thrive, this brings biodiversity with lots of different plants and animals living there, which in turn encourages birds, small mammals and amphibians like hedgehogs, frogs and mice. And they’re all important to ensure nature is balanced.

Encourage all sorts of wildlife by planting bee-friendly and insect-encouraging plants, providing nesting places for them like sheltered and undisturbed areas with lots of hidey-holes and/or insect and bird boxes, and not using pesticides or herbicides of any sort.

Why’s this important? Because humans are killing off so much biodiversity everywhere – and in doing so, eventually we won’t be able to grow crops to feed humans or to feed the animals humans like to eat, and we won’t have enough insect pollinators which are essential for most crops.

2. Bees, insects and spiders are good.

They’re the ‘canaries’ of the garden world.

If you have lots of bugs, worms, invertebrates like snails and slugs, spiders, bees and other mini-beasts, it’s a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Stop using slug pellets, rat traps and bug sprays. Not only do these poisons kill off essential wildlife, but they increase the amount of life-killing chemicals in the air, water and soil.

Snails and mice and other so-called ‘pests’ are living beings too. And they have to eat. Think of creative ways of giving them food they like to eat so they don’t need to eat up your favourite plants.

3. Nurture and keep every tree, bush, branch and leaf.

Thinking about chopping that tree down because it spoils your view, or drops too many leaves?

Think again. Everywhere we are losing more trees and foliage than are planted. And although we should encourage and celebrate planting more trees, new trees take decades if not centuries to contribute significantly to cleaning our air and soil. So we need to keep all the older trees too!

Fallen leaves and branches not only provide havens for small wildlife, but they help to add essential nutrients back into the soil.

And trees and bushes are the homes of wildlife. Chopping back or cutting down plants means you’re taking their homes.

4. Weeds are plants too.

We need to look at nature in a different way. Instead of viewing it as inconvenient, messy or ugly, we need to allow it to thrive. All of it. Even so-called ‘ugly’ weeds.

Which, when you really look at them, aren’t so ugly after all. Some of them have thorns or grow aggressively, but they’re just trying to survive. Most so-called weeds are the first foods of the season or the favourite foods for insects, bees and invertebrates, and weeds are part of the wonderful natural diversity our natural spaces need more of. 

Weeds can be useful – not only as important indicators of your soil quality but many have health benefits too when consumed. Allowing weeds between other plants means you’ll have contributed to better soil, less pollution, and your garden will be full of nature and diversity!

Your garden might be considered ‘untidy’ by some, but more importantly, it will be life-giving instead of life-taking.

5. Banish those Earth-killing poisons.

Bug sprays, slug pellets, insecticides, pesticides, weedkillers and herbicides, especially Glyphosate-based ones, are a very significant and serious cause of environmental problems.

We’ve got to stop use life-destroying chemicals in our gardens, parks, public spaces and on our crops if we are to survive ourselves.

There are plenty of natural methods of removing the odd weed (but see point 4) or discouraging certain wildlife (but see points 1 and 2).

It’s also impossible to ensure poisonous chemicals only affect the plants or animals you were intending them for. Invariably others will be injured or die too, and the poisons will enter our air, soil and water.

And most garden chemicals are not only dangerous to plants and small animals, but very dangerous to humans too.

Every person has the power to change the world.

Your power is multiplied by all the actions other individuals take.

Here’s to gardens, and our planet, full of life. Let’s do it! 🙂

What do you think?

What are you doing in your garden to encourage wildlife? What do you think we should do about weeds, slugs, rats and spiders? Do you think messy, natural gardens can be beautiful?

Sources and Further Research

An entomologist explains why NOT to kill spiders – http://theconversation.com/should-i-kill-spiders-in-my-home-an-entomologist-explains-why-not-to-95912

Organic weed management – https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/weed-management

Save bees and pollinators – https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-and-wild-places/saving-species/save-bees-and-pollinators

Understanding the dangers of Glyphosate – https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/glyphosate-dangers/

Weeds in your garden have many uses – https://www.growwilduk.com/blog/weed-my-lawn 

Image credits: Thanks to artists and photographers of Pixabay.com

Environmental Fiction: Can Stories Really Save Planet Earth?

Environmental Fiction: Can Stories Really Save Planet Earth?

Environmental Fiction isn’t new.

Environmental Fiction” also known as “Eco-Fiction“, and its sub-genre “Climate Fiction” or “Cli-Fi”, is a relatively new distinct genre of literary fiction, focusing on stories of human beings interacting with the natural world and causing environmental problems and ecological crises on planet Earth (and sometimes beyond).

I say ‘relatively new’, but novels in this genre have been around for decades. For example, Mosquito Point by Chris Barry was first published in 1996 and tells the story of a character whose daughter was an environmentalist protesting the use of DDT (a now mostly banned insecticide), and an Eco-Fiction anthology published in 1971 contains environmentally-themed stories from as far back as 1839!

Fiction activism.

Right now, Eco-Fiction is gaining popularity because it’s hard to escape the sense of urgency brought to our attention by environmental and climate activists, protesters and movements such as Greta Thunberg (https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg), the School Friday Strikes (#StrikeForClimate, #SchoolsStrike4Climate), Extinction Rebellion, and the like.

Even the latest winner of the very respectable “Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2019” was the Environmental Fiction novel The Overstory by Richard Powers, which explores the power of trees in the lives of nine fictional characters over time, and how they come together to save our world from a natural catastrophe.

Can a story really save the planet?

Most authors who write fiction focusing on natural disasters, ecological crises and mass species extinctions want to bring these issues to the attention of readers.

As an Environmental Fiction author myself, I feel strongly that Eco-Fiction has an important educational place in our culture, perhaps even highlighting green issues like habitat destruction, pollution and animal rights to people who might not otherwise have engaged with them.

“But if Environmental Fiction is just that – fiction, then why would readers take it seriously?” you might ask.

I’d like to think that having read a fictional story, readers ‘get it’ that the issues are real or could be, even if the characters or settings might not be. Hopefully readers come away more aware, perhaps even inspired to do some research, join an activist group, protest human-caused ecological catastrophe, volunteer their skills to wildlife charities, recycle more, or stop eating meat.

Even if all they do immediately after finishing the novel is think and feel more about an issue, that’s a good result, as far as I’m concerned. Spending time mulling over something in their minds which touched, angered or frightened them, and discussing it with others, is bound to affect their actions and behaviour down the line.

Change is needed.

After all, it’s humans who need to take action to save ourselves and the Earth. The planet cannot heal itself if we’re still here.

Science-Fiction meets Eco-Fiction.

For some readers, the time setting in the novels might matter as to whether they feel a novel is ‘realistic’ or not. Some Eco-Fiction focuses on important ecological issues which are happening now and are perhaps more urgent, like fracking, plastic pollution or climate change; these will reflect what readers can see around them.

Other authors present imagined dystopian or post-apocalyptic futures where humans didn’t take action in time and the remaining survivors struggle to live in barren, difficult environments. These novels serve as warnings to us to take action, otherwise our futures may be as bleak as described in the novels.

Now and then.

BookRiot classifies these two distinct types of Environmental Fiction as “What is” (novels focusing on now) and “What might be” (the future). Read their “A Reading List to Save the World” here.

Either way, Environmental Fiction, as a genre, is growing. In fact, I’d argue it’s already more than a genre – it’s part of the Ecological Collapse and Climate Crisis sub-culture or social movement fuelled by panic about the survival of our planet and human race.

We’re going to see more of it, be it in bookstores, Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar, and even in research and education seminars.

Do you think Environmental Fiction can save the planet? Have you ever read an Eco-Fiction novel? If so, which one, and how did it change your life? Write your comments below this post.


Eco-Fiction: Can Stories Really Save Planet Earth?

Write a Story to Save Elephants – Kids’ Writing Workshops at Waterstones

Write a Story to Save Elephants – Kids’ Writing Workshops at Waterstones

If you’re wondering what to do with the kids this April, why not bring them along to Waterstones in Welwyn Garden City on Wednesday 17th April?

I will be running more of my popular Kid’s Writing Workshops – this time “Write a Story to Save Elephants“.

We’ll be looking at all the situations where elephants interact with humans, how their numbers are plummeting, and what we can do about it.

The kids will be writing a story around this theme, and finding out more about self-publishing their own novels.

There are still spaces in the 11am-12noon workshop. Book in-store or email WelwynGC@waterstones.com (ages 9-14 years).

Find out more about this event on the Waterstones website: https://www.waterstones.com/events/childrens-easter-holidays-activity/welwyn-garden-city


 

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Prep Your Plastics!

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Prep Your Plastics!

It’s not news. Plastics are everywhere – all around us, as waste and litter, and in our minds, thanks to lots of recent plastic pollution awareness campaigns.

And we’re all trying to reduce, reuse and recycle our plastic bottles and other plastics responsibly, so less rubbish ends up lying around or ending up in the oceans.

What more can be done?

Something simply really: Prep your plastics!

What does ‘Prep your Plastics’ mean?

Let’s think, for a moment, about the wildlife whose homes are in the places our rubbish ends up.

Large and small critters suffer (see these examples in an article from Huffington Post) – because we don’t always consider our fellow creatures when we throw stuff away or recycle it.

Even the journey to the recycling plant could mean garbage blows away or falls off the recycling trucks and ends up harming animals.

So how do we prep our plastic waste and recycling?

The main plastic culprits are anything we throw away that has small rings, hoops or parts that could get caught around a bird’s foot, a hedgehog’s body, a fish’s fin or a turtle’s mouth, as well as anything long or sharp like plastic straws.

So get out some scissors and cut open any plastic hoops or enclosed parts, and cut shorter any long, jabbing plastics before disposing them in the recycling or rubbish bins.

Consider reusing plastic bags, bottles and containers, rather than tossing them into waste bins.

Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) can get their head stuck in discarded plastic can holder. Set-up shot with captive animal.
Image credits – Creator:Ann & Steve Toon / Credit:1
Copyright:Ann & Steve Toon / naturepl.com

Small things you do will make a difference!

Margaret Mead, a famous anthropologist, said:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful [people] can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Why not explore the concept of plastic pollution further with our Planet Plastic Worksheet? Get if free here.

What’s your favourite tip on reusing/reducing/recycling or prepping plastics? Write your reply below this post.


Acknowledgements

Photo of hedgehog caught in plastic rings from https://www.countrylife.co.uk/country-life/country-life-litter-campaign-71195 (Image credits – Creator: Ann & Steve Toon Credit: 1 Copyright: Ann & Steve Toon / naturepl.com)

Margaret Mead quote from http://www.interculturalstudies.org/faq.html#quote (used with permission)

Photos of rubbish bundle, seagull and butterflies from pixabay.com

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: What’s Veganuary About?

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: What’s Veganuary About?

What’s all this stuff about Veganuary?

Veganuary is a commitment to try the Vegan diet and/or the Veganism lifestyle for the 31 days of January this year or every year.

How do you pronounce Veganuary?

Almost like Jan-u-ary, except it’s Vee-Gan-You-Ary!

Why January?

Well that’s when lots of us make ‘New Year Resolutions’ to do better, eat better, be fitter, be more healthy, isn’t it?

And as a Vegan diet is plant-based, it’s recognised as one of the healthiest and kindest diets. It’s not only healthy for you, but it’s also healthier and kinder to animals (you’re not using or killing them for meat, milk and eggs) and to the planet.

What’s Veganism got to with the planet?

Where and how your food is grown, fed, harvested and killed affects the natural environment.

Bulldozer clearing forest

From the pesticides and herbicides used prolifically on our food crops and the crops fed to animals kept for meat, milk and eggs – to the slashing, burning, clearing and deforestation of large areas for grazing for those animals as well as space to grow crops for them to eat – to the loss of habitats and biodiversity, and the resulting species extinctions – to the large-scale disease, use of antibiotics, and pollution caused by keeping billions of animals confined – to the major impacts of animal agriculture on climate change

Anything and everything we eat and drink has an impact on the planet.

This sounds bad. But humans have to eat. So what can we do about it?

Commit to being mindful about where your food comes from, how animals were treated from birth to confinement to slaughterhouse, and what chemicals were used on your and their food.


Easy Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese image thanks to viva.org.uk

Consider changing what you eat. Maybe try Veganuary (even if it’s already halfway into, or past January, it doesn’t matter – have a go). Or maybe try eating less meat, eggs and dairy, or having some meat-free or diary-free days every week.

Don’t do nothing! There’s plenty of support from groups on social media as well as websites with advice, support, challenges and tasty recipes (such as this Easy Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese). You can do this! 🙂

What’s this about the Vegan ‘lifestyle’? Isn’t it just a diet?

Get the long and the short of all things Veganism here.

What are your experiences with Veganism? Have you tried it? Leave a reply below this post. 🙂


Sources and Further Reading:

http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/

https://www.facebook.com/Veganuary
https://www.forksoverknives.com/longevity-diet/#gs.XTEasLk6

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/21/lifestyle-change-eat-less-meat-climate-change

https://veganuary.com/

https://www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk/recipes/easy-vegan-spaghetti-bolognese

https://www.viva.org.uk/


 

Veganism: How You can Save the Planet one Plant-Based Meal at a Time

Veganism: How You can Save the Planet one Plant-Based Meal at a Time

Veganism: passing fad or here to stay?

Veganism is being embraced, especially by young celebrities and their followers, and the numbers of people adopting vegan diets have risen exponentially in the last 10 years.

Are they just trying to be trendy, or is there something else going on?

Matt Prior, vegan and vegan activist

 Matt Prior, a vegan and vegan activist in Hertfordshire, says there’s more to veganism than you might think:

“Veganism is a lifestyle, not just a diet. It’s about not supporting any forms of animal exploitation, whether that be in animals farmed for meat, dairy and eggs, or animals confined in zoos or circuses; or in clothing and fashion, such as items made from leather, wool or silk; or in cosmetics/cleaning products where ingredients are derived from animals; or in animal testing in laboratories”.

So let’s take a look at the different aspects of veganism.

Probably the strongest motivator for vegans is they don’t want to support any forms of animal suffering, and so take steps to avoid it with their consumer choices. Matt describes this as “aligning your actions with your morals and ethics”.

Vegans typically avoid any foods derived from animals, such as:

~ Meat (especially meat from intensively factory-farmed animals),

~ Dairy milk and products derived from milk such as cheese, cream and butter (did you know that most dairy cows also end up as meat?),

~ Eggs (most eggs come from tightly packed hens living in appalling conditions all their egg-laying lives, and when spent, they may also end up as meat),

~ Foods like honey (which is the bees’ own food for the winter months), Foie Gras (which means ducks and geese are force-fed with pipes down their throats to make them unnaturally fat, so that Foie Gras can be scraped from their livers when they’ve been killed for this purpose), and foods with ingredients like gelatine (thickening agent usually made from boiling bones and ligaments of cows and pigs).

Unfortunately even ‘organic’, ‘free-range’ or ‘grass-fed’ animal-based food products, which may be more nutritional for consumers, often come from animals which have had to die the same grisly deaths in the same slaughterhouses as factory farmed animals.

What do vegans eat, and is it healthy?

Essentially vegans have a plant-based diet, which when balanced, will give you everything your body needs, plus better health and more energy than meat-eaters and dairy-consumers!

More and more science is noting that meat and dairy consumption contributes significantly to the world’s major fatal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, where as a plant-based diet leads to health and longevity.

But beware – not all ‘plant-based’ diets are necessarily healthy.

You could, for example, live on crisps, chips and soda drinks – usually all ‘vegan’ – but sooner or later, you’d get sick from your nutritional deficiencies.

However most vegans are much more nutritionally-aware than their meat-eating counterparts, and vegan food can be tasty, colourful, exciting and full of nutrition!

To get everything you need nutritionally as a vegan, make sure you eat a range of vegetables and fruits – the different colours and types all signal different nutritional benefits, as well as beans and pulses (like lentils, broad beans, black beans, kidney beans, endamame beans or aduki beans), nuts and seeds. Add grains and starches like potatoes, pasta, rice, cous cous, quinoa or bulgar wheat, and/or different breads like wholewheat bread, rye bread, pittas, wraps or tortillas – check the ingredients to ensure they’re all vegan – and you’re good to go.

Plus there are countless alternatives to meat and other non-vegan foods available nowadays – such as vegan burgers, vegan cheese, plant milks (such as soya milk, rice milk, almond milk or hemp milk), vegan pre-prepared meals and vegan snacks. So if you’re struggling with what to eat to appease your conscience, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

There are a lot of myths about the vegan diet.

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to get all the protein, iron or calcium you need, except from meat or dairy products, I’m afraid you’ve been duped by the wealthy and powerful meat and dairy industries, who, like the cigarette industry, will do anything, including lie, deceive and commit scientific fraud to keep people buying and using their products.

A plant-based diet can provide all the protein, calcium and iron you need, and in more digestible, purer forms of these nutrients, than from meat and dairy. Think of any large, herbivorous mammals like cows, camels, elephants or buffalos – in the wild, they’re strong, healthy and get everything they need from eating only grasses and other plants!

And like anybody else who’s health-aware, if you’re concerned about getting all the nutrition you need, take vitamin and mineral supplements. Vegans are encouraged to take vitamin B12 supplements because this vitamin, naturally occurring in soil, is no longer available to us in our overly washed, soil-less vegetables and fruits.

Vegans know animal suffering doesn’t stop with the food industry.

Shearing sheepCountless animals are kept in unnatural conditions and undergo painful trauma and abuse in order for us to have things like wool (sheep and goats are often kicked, hurled and cut in order to remove their wool as quickly and profitably as possible), leather (leather is not always a by-product of the meat industry – many millions of cattle and other animals – even dogs – are bred and killed inhumanely just for their skins), and fur (did you know that 100 million animals are killed every year for their fur, and that some fake fur is actually real fur?).

Orca whales in tank

Most vegans choose not to buy products made from those and other animal-derived materials.

They also prefer to deliberately stay away from places like zoos, circuses, aquatic parks and animal rides, where animals are usually kept in impossibly tiny enclosures their whole lives, or are forced to work or perform unnatural tricks, and often suffer from mental illness, loneliness, disease and early death.

Monkey in a cage

Even the so-called ‘best’ zoos and parks, which brag about their ‘world-class’ animal welfare policies, cannot get away from the fact that they’re essentially keeping animals captive for profits. Gone are the days when zoos and aquatic parks helped conserve species from extinction – most captive animals are not endangered and it’s very common for zoos to cull their ‘excess’ animals.

What’s this got to do with the planet?

Essentially everything we do or buy as consumers on this planet has an impact on the environment. With seven billion human beings, it’s got to.

Whether that be filling up our cars with petrol or diesel and driving instead of walking or cycling, buying and consuming foods from supermarkets or local shops, using electricity or gas for light or cooking, or choosing and using household cleaners, pharmaceutical medicines, cosmetics or clothing…

All of the food and products we buy and use come from somewhere (often from factories or farms of industrial scale); almost all of these products and by-products generate waste, littler and pollution in their manufacturing, packaging and discarding after use; and many of them are full of additives, carcinogens, pollutants, toxins, pesticides, herbicides and contaminants which are bad for our bodies and bad for the planet.

Sows in crates - Factory Farming

Take factory-farming, for example.

This is how the vast majority of meat, dairy, egg and fur animals are farmed across the globe.

Factory farming involves keeping animals by the hundreds, thousands and more commonly by the hundreds of thousands, in confined spaces like crates, cages or barns. They are fed hormones, antibiotics and even ground-up flesh of other animals in order to artificially boost their growth and keep costs down, and their natural behaviours and movement are restricted.

At the end of their short, horrible lives, they are slaughtered in cruel ways, some of which are deemed legal and ‘humane’, but not all. Keeping and killing all those animals – 150 billion every year – happens behind closed doors, for a reason. And is there really a ‘humane’ way to kill any living being?

Big farming = big degradation and big hunger.

Bulldozer clearing forest

Not only do animals suffer from these barbaric, cost-saving policies, but the disease and pollution from the close confinement of millions of animals kept in mega-farms is through the roof. The emissions of greenhouse gases like methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are on the rise, accounting for anything between 10%-65% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Those quantities are definitely climate-changing.

We haven’t even touched on the land grabbing, clearing and deforestation that occurs, such as in the Amazon rainforest, and resulting habitat loss, species extinction and desertification, in order to grow feed-crops for animals, including beef cattle, or to provide space for livestock or agriculture.

Starving children begging

Or the fact that we could feed many more humans with plant-based foods than we do now, by not producing meat or dairy (meat- and dairy-producing animals need humongous amounts of space, food and water compared to plants), and instead growing crops for human food consumption. For instance, it takes around 660 gallons of water to produce enough beef for ONE hamburger!

Eating meat and dairy is literally contributing to human starvation and planetary degradation on an industrial scale.

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of science and conscience.

We live in a world where we can buy, eat and use anything we want, whenever we want. Or at least those that can afford it, do.

But surely there’s more to life than just consuming whatever we like, regardless of the cost to ourselves, to other beings and to planet Earth?

Veganism is about being mindful of the fact that what we do has a consequence.

Like Matt says: “Once you know what happens in the meat, dairy and egg industries, and how bad they are for the planet, it feels hypocritical to support them. To live a vegan lifestyle is to consciously add more compassion and benevolence to the world, to establish a spiritual connection with it and its many forms of life. By minimising the negative impact we impose on the environment and our fellow earthlings, future generations have a chance to thrive.”

Never in history was it more true to say ‘you are what you eat.’


Watch this video interview with Matt about veganism, at a recent Cube of Truth demonstration by Anonymous for the Voiceless:

Vegan support websites:

Challenge22.com – https://www.challenge22.com/challenge22/

Vegan Society – https://www.vegansociety.com/

Films about animal rights, factory farming and veganism:

Cowspiracy – http://www.cowspiracy.com/

Dominion – http://www.dominionmovement.com/

Earthlings – http://www.nationearth.com/

Land of Hope and Glory – https://www.landofhopeandglory.org/

What The Health – http://www.whatthehealthfilm.com/


Selected sources for further reading:

https://www.riseofthevegan.com/blog/going-vegan-biggest-trend-for-2018

https://www.riseofthevegan.com/blog/largest-study-to-show-link-between-meat-and-disease

https://vegetariannutrition.net/docs/Calcium-Vegetarian-Nutrition.pdf

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/things-vegans-dont-eat#section2

Protein, Calcium & Iron

Eat Your Dirt: Natural Vitamin B12 And Where To Find The Best B12 Supplement

Is a Plant-Based Diet Right for You?

Factory Farming: Misery for Animals

https://www.ciwf.org.uk/factory-farming/why-does-factory-farming-still-exist/

10 Dairy Facts the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

http://theconversation.com/five-ways-the-meat-on-your-plate-is-killing-the-planet-76128

http://www.cowspiracy.com/infographic

https://iskconnews.org/meat-eating-the-cause-for-world-hunger-criminal-waste-of-grains,3607/

https://www.thoughtco.com/is-foie-gras-particularly-cruel-127514

Fur Farming

http://www.adaptt.org/about/the-kill-counter.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26356099

http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/farm/hsus-fact-sheet-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-animal-agriculture.pdf

http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/05/everything-you-need-know-about-agricultural-emissions

 


Image sources:

Pixabay.com

FilmingForLiberation.com


Unique novels with environmental themes by Kathryn Rose NeweyKathryn Rose Newey is an author of unique novels with environmental themes, for young adults, teens and children. In fact, her books are suitable for anyone aged 8-88 who cares about animals and the planet.

Her books include: The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream (a story to save caged animals), Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came (a story to save the Earth), and Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves (science fiction). Her next book will be a story to save trees.

Available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, other Amazon websites and major bookstore websites worldwide.  Find out more


 

New Animal Rights Story for Teens to be Published Soon

New Animal Rights Story for Teens to be Published Soon

UPDATE June 2018: ‘The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream‘ has been published! Find out more here.

If you or your kids are into reading about the natural environment, green issues, ecology, animals or saving the planet, then my next book, ‘The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream‘ is for you!

It’s a story about living behind bars, told from the perspective of zoo animals. Their experiences and antics are both amusing and tragic. Many of the zoo animals believe life will always be the same, but one day a travelling animal appears. This shocks and confuses them, and his presence seems to ignite a ‘faraway dream’ in the animals’ minds – is it just wishful thinking? Arguments abound, so some animals decide it’s finally time to take action…

This is a story to save caged animals. Information and website links about confined animals in zoos, farms, labs, crates and tanks are included at the back of the book, with suggestions on how readers can help to solve this global tragedy.

Sonia Faruqi, author of Project Animal Farm‘ (an award-winning investigation of the truth behind factory farming), has this to say:

“’The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream’ is a touching, beautifully written story with a heart-warming cast of zoo characters. The story makes you laugh and sigh, while also urging you to stop and think about the plight of many zoo animals in our world.

The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream‘ is suitable for all ages, young and old (little ones will need an adult to read it to them), but particularly those aged 9-14 years. It will be available in paperback and e-book from Amazon, other online retailer websites, and bookstores near you. Watch this space!

 

Get your paperback or e-book from:

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com 

Waterstones.com  BarnesandNoble.com

Paperbacks and e-books are available from most Amazon websites and major online bookstores internationally, such as Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, Foyles, Waterstones, Blackwells, etc.

Note: the Kindle reader app can be downloaded for reading Kindle e-books on any device (such as PC, Mac, iOS or Android).


 

What are ‘Animal Rights’ and why should we care about Animals?

What are ‘Animal Rights’ and why should we care about Animals?

Picture of animal rights activists at a rally. Picture credit: https://pixabay.com/en/rally-march-protest-signs-2712259/

The term ‘Animal Rights‘ is everywhere these days. To the point where perhaps it’s easy to dismiss, like the myriad of other things vying for our attention in the modern world.

But here’s why the rights of animals are important...

Now we could get into ethics and philosophy, but to me it’s simpler than that. 

Firstly we can often see the suffering of animals. It’s right under our noses: stray animals, animals being treated cruelly or neglected, and social media posts and videos of animals suffering in zoos, tanks, labs and cages.

We have to stop and ask – what kind of human beings are we, if we can see suffering, but do nothing to stop it?

Then there’s the animal suffering we knowingly or unknowingly cause through our actions. We’re all aware to some extent that animals are killed or treated ‘inhumanely’ so we can eat their meat, wear their wool, fur and skin (leather), and eat or consume materials or ingredients they produce.

These animal-sourced things include: eggs from hens and other birds, tallow in banknotes, honey from bees, and things like castoreum, bone char and animal fats in perfumes, sugar, plastic bags and frozen dairy products. Not to mention rennet (from the innards of dead baby animals) in many cheeses, or gelatin (from animal ligaments) in most chewy, jellylike sweets.

Or what about the millions of animals we kill or maim on the roads every day with our fossil-fuel-guzzling cars and trucks, or the countless animals some people hunt to purposely kill for ‘fun’ or ‘sport’?

So it is simple, really…

If we know we are actively causing suffering of animals (or any beings, for that matter) – why aren’t we doing something to reduce or stop our actions?

Cows going to slaughter. You complain about waiting in line at the grocery store - can you imagine the horror of the line they are waiting in? No living being wants to die. Picture from: http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/animal_rights_page.htmNow I can hear the usual, sometimes loud or sometimes just confused arguments we humans like to make – “but I like eating meat/eggs/honey”, or even “but animals are just dumb and put here for humans to use”!

Or perhaps “but we can’t simply stop eating cows/sheep/pigs/chickens because if we did, what would happen to the millions of these animals we have for this purpose?”

The answer to that is there’s no quick and easy solutions!

But surely if we work together, we can work it out! If each person just took one action, say to cut down or cut out meat-eating, that would make a huge difference.

There’s another reason why animal rights are important too.

Many of the things we do to keep, feed and kill the animals we feel we need, are causing very significant damage to the environment and to planet Earth. Our home, this planet, which is the only home we have, is being damaged by many of our everyday actions.

For example, factory farms are very common, even in countries you may not expect, for example, the UK (‘factory farms’ are where animals such as cows, pigs, rabbits and chickens are kept by the millions in very confined cages or enclosures for their whole lives, limiting their natural behaviour).

Not only does this intense farming mean animal diseases are more easily spread through the unhygienic conditions and proximity, which in turn leads farmers to overuse antibiotics, leading to the spread of super-bugs and the decline in effectiveness of antibiotics for humans, but the vast quantities of pollution from the animal waste of these facilities leads to serious environmental hazards and destruction.

Then all these millions of ‘kept’ animals need food and space to be kept. So we clear large areas of forests and other lands which are exceptionally important for ecosystems and environmental health, or those which belong to indigenous tribes, to grow food for the farmed animals we are going to kill and eat, while millions of humans on Earth are starving!

Ultimately it just makes sense to care about animals and be compassionate towards them, because by doing so, that will also save our home, planet Earth.

Okay, so ‘Animal Rights’ is more than just being kind to bunny rabbits! Why not change something in your life today, to make life better for animals, yourself and the Earth?

Questions? Comments? Leave a reply below this post. 🙂


I think it’s also really important that our kids – who are the adults and guardians of this planet in the future – get to engage in animal rights and environmental issues when they’re young.

That’s why I’ve written Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came, so our children can start thinking and acting for animals and nature, through reading a story (and the extra information included) about animals living through their own environmental crisis.

Get your copy here: Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com 


Unique novels with environmental themes by Kathryn Rose NeweyKathryn Rose Newey is an author of unique novels with environmental themes, for young adults, teens and children.

Her books include: The Zoo Animals’ Faraway Dream, Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came, and Ilnoblet Elmer and the Alien Water Thieves.

Paperbacks, audiobooks and e-books are available from most Amazon websites and major online bookstores internationally, such as Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, Foyles, Waterstones, Blackwells, etc.


Sources and further reading:

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/03/04/eating-meat-destruction-of-environment/

http://www.culturechange.org/issue8/roadkill.htm

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-factory-farms-and-environment

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/24/health/flexitarian-diet/index.html

http://www.iep.utm.edu/anim-eth/

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/11118956/Surprising-food-thats-not-suitable-for-vegetarians.html

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/aug/10/bank-of-england-to-keep-animal-fat-in-banknotes-despite-complaints

https://www.thoughtco.com/how-many-animals-are-killed-each-year-127631


Picture credits:

https://pixabay.com/en/bees-honey-honey-bees-honeycomb-345628/

https://pixabay.com/en/bushman-indigenous-people-509239/

https://pixabay.com/en/cows-livestock-cattle-feed-foot-552947/

https://pixabay.com/en/rally-march-protest-signs-2712259/

http://www.rabbitadvocacy.com/animal_rights_page.htm


 

Environmental Activists and Indigenous Tribes Honoured in Eco-Fiction

Environmental Activists and Indigenous Tribes Honoured in Eco-Fiction

Animals in the Forest: The Day Terrible Things Came is much more than a story from the animals’ point of view.

It’s also “a story to save the Earth“!

How does one story save the Earth, you ask?

The story itself is about an increasingly concerning environmental issue – humans ‘developing’ land where wild animals live.

But more than that, the main characters in the story have been specifically included to honour, and stand in solidarity with, certain young environmental activists, defenders and protectors, indigenous tribes, and places where people fought and continue to fight for rights to land, and clean air and water.

All of those honoured are listed at the back of the book, with website links for further research. 


The honoury list includes:

  • Balcombe anti-drilling community groups, Balcombe, Sussex, UK.

  • Barton Moss anti-fracking protection camps and community, Barton Moss, Salford, Manchester, UK.

  • Bentley anti-drilling blockade communities, Bentley, New South Wales, Australia.

  • Dakota water protectors, indigenous tribes and activists against Dakota Access Pipe Line (#noDAPL), Standing Rock, Dakota, USA. Read more about it here.

  • Flint communities affected by water pollution, Flint, Michigan, USA.

  • Moxateteu tribespeople (one of the last uncontacted tribes), part of the Yanomami tribespeople living in the Amazon rainforests, Brazil and Venezuela.

  • Ridhima Pandey, a 9 year old girl and young environmental activist, who has filed a legal case against the Indian government for failing to protect the environment, India.

  • Whanganui River and its protectors, the Whanganui iwi/tribespeople – the river has, after a legal battle, been accorded the same legal status as people, North Island, New Zealand. Read about it here.

  • Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a teenage/young environmental activist and Youth Director of EarthGuardians, and part of a group of 21 youths who have filed a legal case against the USA government and various fossil fuel groups for failing to protect the environment, USA.

To find out more about how these environmentally significant people, tribes and places are honoured, you’ll need to read the book… 🙂

Get your paperback or e-book from:

 Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com 

Or get your audiobook from:

 Audible.co.uk or Audible.com 


Paperbacks, audiobooks and e-books are available from most Amazon websites and major online bookstores internationally, such as Barnes & NobleBooktopiaFoylesWaterstonesBlackwells, etc.

Note: the Kindle reader app can be downloaded for reading Kindle e-books on any device (such as PC, Mac, iOS or Android).