Hug a Vegan Day!

I found this fun image on the “Being Vegan” Facebook page announcing that today is Hug a Vegan Day!  I thought what good timing because I am in need of hugs!  I’ve been struggling lately with my husband out of town — I miss him terribly.  While he’s away I tend to get into a rut of making the same foods and have nothing new to post!  Plus, I hate to admit it but I’m so out of integrity right now and need to come clean.  I’ve been cheating with cheese lately — I hate the milk industry and what happens to cows but cheese tastes so good!  I fall into old habits when I’m depressed and I’m in a deep one right now.  I left my job in the spring and thought I’d have no problem finding another, plus I was enjoying having the summer off!  But summer is over now and I’m bored.  Without a sense of purpose in the morning and with my husband gone, I’ve found solace in mac & cheese — isn’t that lame?  It’s my comfort food and as a result, I’ve been sick for weeks.  It dawned on me that I must have had a lactose intolerance and never realized it until I added it back into my diet after not having it for months.  Did that epiphany stopped the cheating?  Not until today — I’m taking a stand by admitting defeat to my readers and recommitting myself to a vegan lifestyle.  I just hope the cows can forgive my human moments of weakness…

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Meet your Meat: Cows

Scientist in the United Kingdom discovered that cows enjoy solving problems and even experience “Eureka” moments when they are successful — just like humans.

The following information comes from the Farm Sanctuary — check them out at: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/.

Dairy cows are forced to produce ten times more milk than they would in nature — they often suffer from painful udder infections, lameness, and other ailments.  Not to mention that their babies are taken away from them so they can produce milk for us!

Although a cow in nature can live more than twenty years, a dairy cow is sent for slaughter when their milk production declines at four or five years old — depleted of calcium after years of heavy milk production, worn-out dairy cows often slip and fall en route to slaughter.

Male dairy calves are slaughtered at just a few days old; others are raised for beef or sent to veal farms where they spend their short, miserable lives in intensive confinement — they are packed into small, individual crates that prevent them from turning around or lying down comfortably.

Beef cattle spend most of their lives on extremely crowded feedlots, less than 20 square feet of living space is typical.  They often undergo painful procedures such as branding, castration, and dehorning without pain relief.

I saw a video on YouTube that I can’t get out of my mind — no blood or gore, just a cow on it’s back moving along a conveyer belt, knowing the end was near.  The look on the cows face will forever haunt me!

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Meet your Meat: Pigs

Pigs are as smart as dogs and every bit as friendly, loyal, and affectionate.  Donald Broom of Cambridge University Veterinary School said, “Pigs have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated.  Even more so than dogs and certainly more so than three year old humans.”

The following information was published by the Farm Sanctuary — check them out at: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/.

Approximately 81 million pigs are forced to spend their lives behind bars, packed into small concrete or metal pens.  Breeding sows commonly endure three to four years of intensive confinement and live most of their lives in two-foot wide steel crates.  Their only contact with their young is through the bars of a crate.

After two to three weeks, the piglets are taken away from their mothers.  Their tails are docked, their ears are notched, and they are raised in crowded pens until they reach slaughter weight about about six months old.

At the slaughterhouse, many are improperly stunned so they are scalded to death when they are dropped, still alive, into the tanks of scalding-hot water that are intended to soften their skin and remove their hair.  I just can’t write anymore…

 

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Meet your Meat: Chicken

I’ve been debating discussing how animals are treated on the way to our table but it is a necessary evil in a vegan blog.  I’ll share what I found in some literature published by Farm Sanctuary, a wonderful organization in upstate NY, check them out: http://www.farmsanctuary.org/.

First let me share that research has proved that chickens are as smart as dogs, cats, and even some primates.  In a natural setting, a mother hen begins to teach her chicks various calls before they even hatch — she clucks softly to them while sitting on the eggs, and they chirp back to her from inside their shells.  Unfortunately, chickens on factory farms never meet their mothers.

The male chicks are the “lucky” ones as they are typically ground up alive and used for feed.  Egg-laying hens are among the most abused of all farm animals.  On factory farms, four or more hens are forced to live inside tiny wire enclosures called battery cages.  In these confines, the hens are unable to stretch their wings or legs, fulfill social needs, or engage in natural behaviors.  Because they are constantly rubbing against the wire of battery cages, hens suffer severe feather loss and are covered with bruises and abrasions.  Chicken’s beaks are seared off with a hot blade to stop them from pecking at each other — a result of unnatural and overcrowded conditions.

In order to shock their bodies into another egg-laying cycle when production declines, the hens are denied food, water, and light for up to two weeks — this is called forced molting.  After a year of egg production the hens are typically slaughtered because they are spent.

Chickens are genetically manipulated and dosed with antibiotics to make them grow so large to provide large breast meat for us.  This causes them to become crippled under their own weight.

Please, buy your chicken and eggs from humane farms!

“So called farms today treat animals like so many boxes in a warehouse…just a horrible catalog of abuses that, if done to dogs or cats, would be illegal on grounds of animal cruelty.” – James Cromwell

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Canela Update

Canela is doing very well and fitting in nicely with our family.  She is very sweet and enjoys to cuddle — when I pet her and stop she’ll take her paw and move my arm back to pet her some more!  She and Ella are so fun together — Ella will lick Canela all over her face; Canela loves the attention.

She’s now so comfortable in her new home she’s started defending her territory with barks when someone comes to the door.  The problem with this is that every little bump in the night causes her to leap out of bed and bark at nothing.  Has led to a few sleepless nights — even Ella stays in bed and wishes Canela wouldn’t have woken us all up.  She’ll eventually calm down and relax a bit.

Canela loves going to the beach and laying in the sun — I’ll often find her lazing in our pool yard when I get home from work.  She’s the perfect addition to our family and I can’t imagine life without her!

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Canela’s story

You can tell from these photos there is a story to be told!

It all started when my husband John went down to Cancun in January to film a PSA for Cats & Dogs International http://www.candiinternational.org/.  CANDI is a nonprofit organization in both the US and Canada whose mission is to save the lives of stray cats and dogs in Mexico and the Caribbean through spay, neuter, adoption and educational programs, supported and funded by the tourism industry, travelers and pet lovers.  John was also involved in rescuing the now famous Luna, you can see part one of her story here (John is still editing part 2):  http://youtu.be/C1LviAAl2bc.  The story has a happy ending, she is healthy and living with a wonderful family in NY.

While there, John found a dog to adopt but it was discovered that he had parvo and didn’t survive.  John left Cancun without a new dog but one of the rescue workers, Hector Navarro (www.facebook.com/chicathedoberman), kept an eye out for him.  Hector was able to rescue Canela (Cinnamon in Spanish) — you can see from the before photo that she had infections and mange — a terribly painful parasite.  Hector and his wife Carla were able to heal her body and soul and he called John and told him he found the dog for us!

Hector is so in love with Canela that he didn’t just want to put her on a plane to us, he came himself and is staying a few days to make sure the transition is easy for Canela (and himself).  We welcome Canela to the family — Ella is happy to finally have a sister!

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Ella Enchanted

Ella joined the family after our beloved Molly passed away from cancer — we were both heartbroken as she literally was the perfect dog.  We adopted Ella from Animal Protective Foundation — a great rescue organization in upstate, NY where we used to live (Molly came from there as well).  If you’ve seen the movie “Ella Enchanted” you’ll remember that it was about a girl who was under a spell to always be obedient.  I gave this post that movie title because it makes me laugh — our dear Ella didn’t have an obedient bone in her body when she joined our family at six months old.  I had always adopted adult dogs before so I didn’t know what we were getting into with a puppy!  I thought it would be fun like the Animal Planet show “Too Cute” — nope!  If it could have been chewed it was, if there was a surface that hadn’t already been peed or pooped on it soon was defiled — she took quickly to the dog door and would be out in the yard for hours and then come in to immediately poop right next to me!  She taught me patience…

It’s been two years now and Ella is very well behaved — she is so playful and affectionate.  She loves to snuggle in our bed every night and her favorite thing to do is go to the beach and run!   She is a very social dog and needs a playmate because Simba can’t be bothered (see yesterday’s post).  She does not know about a big surprise that is happening later today!  Make sure to log in tomorrow for the heartwarming story of a new miracle addition to our family — from the streets of Mexico!

P.S. Ella was a picky eater but loves her new vegan food!

 

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Simba, the Cat King

Being an animal lover goes hand in hand with a vegan lifestyle.  I thought I’d write a few posts on our furry family and how they enjoy being vegan too!  I have to start with Simba of course because he is very much in charge around here — he allows us humans to live with him because he enjoys being fed and cuddling on the couch!  But most of the time he’s outside lazing by the pool or ignoring Ella’s attempts to play (Ella is our dog — more about her tomorrow).

Simba was born in July 1999.  His mom was a barn cat when I lived on a farm in Virginia.  Simba was bitten by a fox as a newborn and mom couldn’t heal his wounds so I quickly took over the responsibility!  He was so tiny I could hold him in the palm of my hand and I had to bottle feed him until he was ready for solid food.  He is a grateful kitty and very loved around here.

When we went vegan we wrestled with buying pet food with animal products in it but decided that since our “kids” didn’t have a voice it wasn’t fair for us to force our lifestyle on them.  Last week while visiting the Loving Hut (see earlier post about our experience) we noticed they sold vegan pet food so we thought we’d pick some up to test it out.  Both Simba and Ella loved it!  We’ve been alternating between the old and new to get them used to it.  Yesterday morning I poured the old into Simba’s bowl and he just looked up at me and started bitching (he has this adorable silent meow when he’s upset).  Now let me just say that Simba is all about eating — he is a BIG guy and is constantly hungry because of his thyroid condition.  For him to not immediately devour his food is a miracle!  So I decided to add some of the vegan food on top and he started chowing down!  He actually prefers the vegan food over his old food — I’m now more in love with him than ever!

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