Tag: Species extinction

Get your FREE ‘Butterflies and Moths’ Poster

Get your FREE ‘Butterflies and Moths’ Poster

Butterflies and Moths are very important pollinators and invertebrates. If we don’t start looking after the little things, we humans won’t survive on Earth.

You can read more about Butterflies and Moths in this blog post: Butterflies and Moths do Matter! Here’s Why…

The main information is summarised in a colourful poster I created for you. Download and print it, then put it up somewhere to remind you to save Butterflies and Moths…

Get your Poster here!

Your poster can be printed in A4- or A3-size (depending on your printer settings) and is suitable for school classrooms, clubs or groups or even your bedroom wall.

Have fun saving little creatures! 🙂


 

Butterflies and Moths Matter! Here’s How You Can Help Them…

Butterflies and Moths Matter! Here’s How You Can Help Them…

Butterflies and Moths are fascinating, other-worldly, fluttery creatures. As it’s now summer in the Northern Hemisphere, you should be seeing them around flowers on sunny days, particularly butterflies. If you’re lucky.

I say ‘lucky’, because butterfly and moth populations, like many invertebrates and other species on this Earth, are in serious decline.

Besides being pretty reminders of summer and flowers, what do they do?

If you’re seeing butterflies or moths in your garden, it’s a key indicator that your garden is a fairly healthy mini-ecosystem, because if they’re around, it means there are food sources for them. And where there is food for them, there is food for others too.

So the presence of butterflies and moths usually means there are also other ecologically-important invertebrates like bugs, beetles, spiders, worms and bees, which in turn provide welcoming food for other animals like birds, bats, mice, hedgehogs, frogs and so on.

Collectively invertebrates (including insects, spiders, flies and worms) contribute hugely to life on Earth, doing extremely important and very specific jobs like pollinating plants, improving soil quality, providing natural pest control, and serving as food sources for other animals in the food chain.

Besides being part of the great web of life on Earth, butterflies and moths are intriguing. The idea that they go from leaf-bound caterpillars to flying beauties in one short life is amazing and should be celebrated.

What are the differences between butterflies and moths?

Often people think butterflies are more colourful, but while this may be generally true, there are many monochrome butterflies and many multi-coloured moths. Moths are also often more furry or fuzzy, but butterflies can be too.

The main differences are:

Butterflies are generally awake and seen in the daytime (preferring sunny weather), while moths are nocturnal and will often be seen fluttering around lights at night or resting on walls or trees.

Butterflies rest with their wings closed together vertically, whilst moths will rest with their wings wide open and flat against a surface.

Butterflies have longer, thinner antennae, while moths usually have shorter, feathery ones.

Butterflies create hard chrysalises to grow in from their caterpillar stage, while moths create soft, silky cocoons.

Are there any dangerous butterflies or moths?

The vast majority of butterflies and moths are not dangerous to humans, and none can bite.

However eating some species such as the Monarch Butterfly can be toxic because they eat toxic plants and the toxin remains in their bodies. And a few species of caterpillar can cause pain and swelling from touching their stinging spines or hairs on their bodies.

What about clothes-eating moths? Of the thousands of species of moths, only a few will attack clothes and they prefer dirty and undisturbed clothes.

How can we encourage butterflies and moths?

Make sure you encourage pollinator- and caterpillar-loving plants in your garden or plant pots. Do some research to find which plants and flowers they like, then plant them in your garden.

Try not to cut back bushes, trees and hedgerows. Plants not only provide food for butterflies and moths (and their caterpillars), but are their homes and nesting places too.

Do not kill, chop or pull out weeds. Many common weeds are essential food for butterflies, moths and other invertebrates, and weeds are plants too, so have a right to life like anything else.

Reduce or completely stop using weedkillers, herbicides, pesticides, slug pellets, moth balls, bug sprays and other garden poisons. These not only kill off food sources for invertebrates including bees, butterflies and moths, but often small creatures will be poisoned too, even if the poison wasn’t aimed at them. Remember: Any substance which is meant to kill some life will be dangerous in some way to all forms of life.

Visit and support public gardens, places and sanctuaries that actively encourage butterflies and moths. You can find out more here: North American Butterfly Association, USA  or Top 10 National Trust gardens to see butterflies, UK.

Take part in bee, butterfly and moth counts to help scientists monitor their numbers, such as these ones:

The Big Butterfly Count (July-August, UK): https://bigbutterflycount.org/

The Great British Bee Count (May-June, UK): https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bee-count

Blooms for Bees (Bumblebees count, UK): http://www.bloomsforbees.co.uk/

National Moth Recording Scheme (UK): http://www.mothscount.org/text/70/How_to_take_part.html 

Please get in touch! How often do you see butterflies and moths? Which are your favourite species and why? Which plants do they like? Do you feel their numbers have declined since your childhood? Please comment below this post. 🙂


Get this printable A4-size companion poster summarising why Butterflies and Moths are important and how to save them.


 

Sources and further reading

https://animals.mom.me/moths-dangerous-humans-6231.html

https://beewatch.abdn.ac.uk//beewatch/index.php?r=species/index

https://www.bigbeecount.org/

https://bigbutterflycount.org/

Home

https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs-and-habitats/puss-moth

https://butterfly-conservation.org/how-you-can-help/get-involved/gardening/gardening-for-butterflies

https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/why-butterflies-matter

https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bee-count

10 Great Nectar Plants For Butterflies and Moths

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/22/moths-loved-not-loathed-only-few-after-clothes

https://www.livescience.com/34472-difference-between-moth-butterfly.html

http://www.mothscount.org/text/70/How_to_take_part.html

Home

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/home-garden/gardening/wildlife/top-10-national-trust-gardens-for-butterflies

What is the difference between a moth and a butterfly?

Photos thanks to pixabay.com


 

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

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: How to Save Hedgehogs

 

Hedgehogs. Those cute little spiky animals we all love, which we are inadvertently driving to extinction.

It’s “Hedgehog Awareness Week” in the UK from 5th to 11th May 2019.

But hedgehog populations are suffering and we may lose these little critters if we don’t all start doing something about it now.

Basically hedgehogs are dying because humans are taking away their living space and their food, and since they’re nocturnal creatures, we’re killing them on the roads too.

So what can we do to help hedgehogs survive?

We need to make our gardens and parks and common spaces hedgehog-friendly.

Keep your garden and other natural areas litter-free. Hedgehogs and other wildlife can easily get caught in plastic, netting or packaging left lying around.
 
More than anything, we must actively keep plants, hedgerows, bushes and fallen leaves intact. We need to start encouraging nature and plant life, not cutting it back or clearing it away.
 
Hedgehogs eat bugs so we need to ensure the hedgehogs, and the bugs, have somewhere safe to live. That means NO weedkillers, pesticides or herbicides!
 

Remember that so-called ‘weeds’ are plants too, and these are usually important food sources for insects, bees and small mammals.

No matter how safe the manufacturers claim their biological poisons are, chemicals like Roundup, other glyphosate-based herbicides and other toxic garden sprays and pest pellets are designed to KILL life.
 
Despite the fact that they are designed to kill only some life, the target plants and small animals are always part of an ecosystem with other life, which means if we use chemicals at the bottom of the food chain, we are poisoning and negatively affecting ALL life up the food chain too.
 
For example, if we spray weedkiller, and a hedgehog eats insects which were on or around that plant, the hedgehog will be poisoned too.
 

Hedgehogs often struggle to move around to find food sources.

Where possible we should be adding holes for them in the bottom of garden fences, using lower borders around plant beds (maximum 15cm high), or using plants as borders instead of fences.
 
It’s a good idea to talk to your neighbours and each make a hedgehog-sized hole in your fences, so hedgehogs can move unhindered through all your gardens.
 
You can put out water in a shallow bowl, and some specialist hedgehog food for them too. But if your garden is a safe haven, full of life, and they can move around safely, hedgehogs will probably be able to find enough food and moisture without you feeding them. The only time it may become an emergency is in hot summer spells, when they will benefit from you putting water out.
 

Hedgehogs sleep and hibernate under hedges, bushes and in piles of leaves and vegetation.

Never clear leaves away, and don’t prepare or light a bonfire, without first gently checking for hedgehogs which may be resting or sleeping underneath. Be careful when gardening, as hedgehogs can be injured or killed by hedge-trimmers, lawnmowers, strimmers and even handheld garden tools.
 
You can place a hedgehog box or hedgehog house under plants or in areas with lots of leaves and vegetation for hedgehogs to live in. Put some leaves, moss and twigs in it to encourage them in. They may well hibernate in it all winter, and even make a nest for their babies there!
 

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they sleep in the day and roam around feeding at night.

Try to not disturb hedgehogs who you know may be sleeping nearby in the day. Also do be aware that hedgehogs may be hibernating for a few months in the winter, so again, do not disturb places where they might be.
 
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to avoid them on the roads. But where you can, do drive slowly and look out for little creatures crossing the road at night.

Find out more. 

Have you ever seen a hedgehog? What are you doing to save them? I’d love to hear from you. Write your reply below this post.


Information sources and further reading:

British Hedgehog Preservation Society: https://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital: https://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/

Photo credits:

Hedgehog photos and images from pixabay.com and canva.com


Get Your Free ‘Elephants Matter’ Environmental Worksheet

Get Your Free ‘Elephants Matter’ Environmental Worksheet

Elephants – an important part of the great web of life – do matter!

But they’re having a tough time, thanks to humans. Poached for ivory, culled, hunted, suffering from habitat loss, captured for zoos and circuses, to caged and confined as working animals…

Find out more about the environmental concerns in this blog post: “Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

You can explore lots of issues and activities around the topics of elephants in the free 2-page Elephants Matter Environmental Worksheet, including:

  • Design a mind map on the reasons elephant populations are declining (with a cool video link explaining mind maps)
  • Find out how we can all get involved in saving elephants
  • Investigate what World Elephant Day is all about
  • Research and have discussions about how elephants occur in our myths and legends
  • Explore etymology of the word ‘poach’
  • Learn fun facts and watch videos about unique elephant relationships
  • …and more!

Get your FREE Elephants Matter Worksheet!

Enjoy researching, reading, writing, talking and saving elephants! 🙂

I’d love to know how you get on. Write a reply below this post.


 

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

Make 1 Change a Week – 52 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet: Elephant Extinction – Does it Matter?

I love elephants. I’m in awe of their huge size, their intelligence, their community spirit, their fierceness, their grace, their extreme care for each other, their strength, their resolve, their beauty, their elephant-ness.

But I’m also very scared. Scared that one day, soon, too soon, there will be only a handful of elephants left… And that those last few elephants will then be killed by humans or die off without their population recovering…

And then there will be no more elephants. Ever.

Get your free Elephants Matter worksheet

No elephants? How could that be?

The statistics on elephant deaths, mainly due to poaching for their tusks and habitat loss, are terrifying. For example, in the 9 years up to 2011, around 62% of the world’s elephant population was lost.

From 2003 onwards, elephants have been killed faster than they can reproduce (in other words, fewer animals are being born than are dying). In fact, on average poachers kill African Elephants every 15 minutes.

Mathematically and tragically, this means elephants will one day be no more. Except perhaps for some sad individuals behind bars in zoos.

That is, unless the poaching, habitat loss, hunting and kidnapping reduces or stops altogether.

But first, why do elephants matter?

Elephants matter because they are part of the great web of life. Okay, so people natter on about ecology etc, but what have elephants actually got to do with anything?

Elephants are essential ‘processors’ in forest and savannah landscapes, consuming, moving and producing organic matter (for example, leaves, grasses, roots and branches are eaten, moved and eventually turned into poo, which in turn, provides food and nourishment for others). Read more about how essential they are to nature (scroll down to the ‘Why They Matter’ section).

Think of it like this. Your body is an ecosystem, in the sense that there are lots of parts and organic material which interact in a very finely tuned, complex way to keep you alive. If we were to remove your liver tomorrow, you might survive for a short while with the help of doctors, but you would be very unhealthy and ultimately you would probably die.

Like your liver is essential for your body to be alive and thrive, elephants are a necessary part of the vast eco-web of life across this planet. If they are killed off, the important jobs they do in keeping life ticking along can’t really be filled by anything else.

And so the plants and other animals that rely on elephants in their environment will also suffer and some will probably die off. The intricate balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide between plants and animals, and on which you rely in order to be able to take every breath, will also be affected. As will the chemistry of the soil and water, and the symbiotic proportions of plants and animals.

Elephants alone are not responsible for all of this. We are all part of it and all necessary for life together.

Elephants also matter because they’re living beings on this planet.

Because they’re alive. Because they’re amazing and wonderful. And because all living things matter. Like you and me.

What can you do to help elephants?

Even if you live far away from any elephants, there are lots of things you can do to help:

  • Donate to environmental charities which take action to save elephants from poaching, hunting and habitat loss.

  • Sign petitions to governments and environmental authorities to do more to stop ivory trade, poaching and hunting. Speak up for elephants by speaking out against poaching, hunting and animal cruelty whenever you can.
  • Share information, videos and pictures about elephants online. Make people aware, so that they in turn also take action to help elephants.

  • Don’t support tourist attractions like zoos, elephant rides and circuses, where elephants are exploited and kept confined. Elephants are usually beaten and tortured from a young age in these situations to make them ‘tame’ enough for interactions with humans. Did you know that over 70% of elephants in zoos in Europe were caught as babies in the wild and taken away from their mothers and herds to live the rest of their lives in captivity?
  • Support, visit and donate to wild animal sanctuaries, who are committed to providing better lives for ophaned elephants and elephants rescued from zoos or circuses, as well as wildlife reserves who let elephants and other animals roam free in natural landscapes, as they are meant to.
  • Explore lots of elephant-related topics in my free ‘Elephant Matters’ eco-worksheet, yours to download and print as you need:

Get your free Elephants Matter worksheet

What do elephants mean to you? I’d love to know what you think. Reply under this post.


Information sources and further reading:

https://www.freedomforanimals.org.uk/blog/10-facts-about-zoos

http://www.greatelephantcensus.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/every-elephant-counts-paul-g-allen/

http://www.poachingfacts.com/poaching-statistics/elephant-poaching-statistics/ 

 

Photo credits:

Most elephant photos and images from pixabay.com, except for:

Elephant standing to eat tree photo by Johanneke Kroesbergen-Kamps on Unsplash

Baby elephant swimming photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

Mother and baby elephant photo by Chen Hu on Unsplash


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