How will you show your love & compassion for animals this Valentine’s Day?
Recently someone said to me that it isn’t even necessarily about loving every single kind of animal. After all, there are probably some animals out there that might not rank high on the cute & cuddly list. Rather, it is about not being cruel to animals. No animal should be tortured, exploited, or killed for our use. Can we not extend to them at least that much compassion?
Our companion animals are sure to be lavished with attention & perhaps some extra special treats for cupid’s celebration. But what about all the other animals out there who are not quite as fortunate?
Here are a few suggestions for choosing love & compassion for ALL the animals.
A definite vegan fan! Photo credit: www.1111now.com
1 ~ GO VEGAN. For the day, the week, one month… or even better…. a lifetime. It’s the most loving choice you can make for the animals. Spare them a life of suffering & bring peace into your heart.
If you need help or support, there’s lots out there. Check out our site www.livevegan.org OR visit the archive of past issues at www.MeatoutMondays.org for lots of recipes and tips. The FARM Links page can also connect you with helpful Web sites and blogs for your journey. You can also try more vegan products by taking advantage of the great offers for vegan foods for Meatout 2011! Need more support? L.O.V.E. (Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation) just launched a vegan pen pal program. Check it out!
2 ~ GO CRUELTY-FREE. Do you know what’s in your make-up or what your shoes are made of? Do you know if your shampoo or cleaning products were tested on bunnies or other animals? Shop with cruelty-free companies that don’t test on animals. (*Note that not all cruelty-free products are vegan.) Also, vegan fashion wear and beauty items are easier to find than ever before, so please leave animal ingredients out of your wardrobe and beauty products. You can find vegan/cruelty-free alternatives for just about anything, even ballet slippers! And if by chance you have some of mom’s or grandmom’s old fur coats or wraps, donate them to a program like Cuddle Coats, where those furs can help comfort and rehabilitate an injured or orphaned animal.
3 ~ TALK, SHARE, TWEET, E-MAIL. Find ways to share what you know about animal use and exploitation with others. Send people links to video clips. Share articles, photos, and Web sites. Mercy for Animals’ new video, Farm to Fridge is a powerful video to share with others. Participate in Meatout this year and you can get a free DVD copy. See details on the Meatout Web site.
4 ~ READ. In order to talk about the animals and share the most thorough and informative information, it helps to be well-informed. Read books about animal rights, veganism, activism, etc. There are so many great ones! Have you read Thanking the Monkey by Karen Dawn? How about Jonathan Balcombe’s Second Nature? Also support vegan and animal rights-related fiction, such as The Tourist Trail by John Yunker. Pick a few great blogs to follow too. Again, check FARM’s Links page for a great list, as well as the blogroll here. And you can visit PCRM’s site for informative health articles.
Chained circus elephant. Photo credit: www.nashveggie.com/blog
5 ~ BOYCOTT. Don’t support circuses, rodeos, marine parks, or other places where animals are confined and exploited for entertainment. Elephants in their natural environment will walk 50 miles a day. Dolphins love to travel through the water at high speeds and may cover up to 100 miles a day! Many of these very social animals are confined in isolation. They are chained, beaten, hurting, and miserable. Speak out and let others know why you oppose these types of entertainment. Check out the movie, The Cove, for more on the slaughter of dolphins as a result of dolphins used in entertainment.
6 ~ GIVE TO KIDS. Help kids connect to the animals in deep emotional ways. Maybe you can take a group of children on a trip to an animal sanctuary. Or maybe volunteer to show a film or slideshow of your own photos from an animal sanctuary. If not, how about giving away copies of great animal-friendly books for children like Our Farm by Maya Gottfried or That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals by Ruby Roth.
7 ~ ADOPT/SUPPORT. Animal sanctuaries need our support. If you visit one, you’re sure to fall in love with at least one rescued animal. Perhaps you might adopt? Or donate money, free labor, or needed supplies. And adopting goes for our more typical furry companion animals too. Show your love & compassion for shelter and rescue animals by not buying dogs, cats, and other pets. And shelter dogs and cats need love while they are waiting for a new home too. If you have time, volunteer to visit and walk them.
Bumper, saved by his young friend, Maya. Photo courtesy of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary
8 ~ GET LOUD & CELEBRATE COMPASSIONATE HEROES! When you hear or read a story about someone who made a compassionate choice – make some noise about it! Celebrate when a young girl in 4H decides to take her steer, Bumper, to an animal sanctuary instead of to the fair. (Story of Bumper, in the book Ninety-Five). Celebrate her parents for supporting her choice! Celebrate when a young girl follows her heart and saves a chicken (Chicklett) versus killing it for a high school class project. Be proud of these compassionate people and be proud of your own compassionate choices. Compassion is COOL!
Portia DeGeneres Hugging Buddha at The Gentle Barn. Photo credit: The Gentle Barn
9 ~ L O V E. If you have a companion animal, love them til you burst. Hug them, talk to them, play with them, treat them, lavish them with your love. If you are fortunate enough to live near a sanctuary, you have lots of hugs to give out & receive.
In fact, check out The Gentle Barn’s Hug A Cow program. The money raised from these delightful hug transactions (donated by a benefactor for each person who hugs a cow) goes to support The Gentle Barn’s programs for at-risk youth where abused farm animals are rehabilitated and then connect with inner-city, at-risk, and special needs youth for a unique form of interactive healing. Plus, everyone who hugs the cows gets joy & healing too!
So get out there and hug some animals. Good for them, good for us. The more love we churn up, the better. All that love FOR the animals and FROM the animals will translate into a kinder world for ALL beings.
Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Hugging!
~ Cindi Saadi for the FARM Blog