Love Dogs? Then Boycott China

My Twitter feed has blown up with tweets about the upcoming horrendous Yulin Dog Meat Festival that is set to take place on the summer solstice. If you don’t know about this barbaric festival, take a moment to Google it, and then do what you can to raise awareness. Tweet, donate, share on social media. I have signed petitions and tweeted up a storm against last year’s festival, but the festivities went on, and over 10,000 dogs and cats were stolen from streets and backyards to become someone’s meal in the most brutal way.

It is utterly disgusting. I don’t think that tweeting and signing petitions are enough. Short of flying to China myself and rescuing as many dogs as I can, the only thing I can think to do from here is to boycott everything that is China.

How hard would it be to boycott Chinese products? I don’t know because I’ve never tried it before, but I’m bracing myself for a huge challenge.  A call to boycott “Made in China” isn’t new. Most likely everyone’s heard that cry before. I do try to be a conscientious consumer (although I really hate referring to people as consumers, because we are so much more than consuming maniacs, at least we should be, but I will call myself a consumer in this case), especially when it comes to the food I buy.

I am not an over-shopper. I hate shopping. Usually something has to break before I consider replacing it. I finally bought a new phone last month after three years with my old one, a Motorola that most likely was made in China, by a six year old, even though Motorola is an American company. (Yeah, this boycott’s gonna be tough.) It’s not that I suddenly got sick of my old phone. It lasted a long time, especially considering that I didn’t buy it new. The thing just suddenly stopped sending texts, and probably receiving them, too. 

When I told a friend about my plan to boycott all that is China, he informed me that if I shop at Walmart that it would be impossible to find anything that isn’t made in China in that store. Luckily, I don’t shop at Walmart. I can probably count on both hands the amount of times I have stepped into that store in my life. I stay away because of what I believe are unfair employment practices.

Since I won’t even buy food for my dog that was made in China, because of the many recalls pertaining to food and treats for dogs in recent years that were made in the country, steering away from food made in China shouldn’t be difficult at all.

However, it is my plan in the next few months to buy a new computer. And this is where the Chinese boycott may prove difficult. The desktop I am currently working on is eight years old, and, like my phone, I believe that too was bought refurbished. I would have to call an ex-girlfriend if I really want to confirm this, because she’s the one who bought the computer for me, but the specifics aren’t that important to me. I won’t be making any phone calls to her anytime soon. So, the question is, can I find a computer that isn’t made in China? I’ll soon find out.

I also need a new desk chair because the one I just threw out was, no kidding, twenty-one years old. I did not buy that new either. I didn’t buy it at all, actually. The chair was given to me by my sister’s boyfriend at the time. I was looking for a chair and he had one he wasn’t using. It was a comfortable chair. A lot more comfortable than the temporary seat I am sitting in right now. Will I find a comfy desk chair that isn’t made in China? Again, I’ll soon find out.

In the much more distant future, I will hopefully be looking to purchase a new car NOT made in China, rather America, preferably. I am currently driving a ten-year old Dodge. Knock on wood, the car’s been good to me. And I’ve been happy with it. Like my old phone, my computer, and my old chair, the car, too, was not bought new. This lack of “newness” in my life never occurred to me until now. I guess I just don’t need “shiny and new” all the time.

I like broken-in. Worn. Reliable. Experienced.

I am starting my boycott on all Chinese products today. I know the country won’t feel my sole boycott in the slightest, and children and women will still be forced to work long hours at slave wages in deplorable conditions. And, most likely, the horrific Yulin Dog Meat Festival will still go on this year.

But at least I will no longer be contributing to a country’s barbarities.

I’m through with you China.

 

 

made-in-china-boycott

 

Photo is public domain.

 

So Much Has Changed. Time Does That.

In the last few years, I have become a strong animal rights advocate.  I have protested against pet stores that sell puppies from puppy mills (which is most of them). I have joined forces against Ringling Brothers, (with their known cruel treatment toward their animals) when the “Not-So-Greatest-Show-On Earth” came to my city.  And I have protested against fast-food giants and the cruel way farm animals are treated and killed.

I have significantly limited and/or omitted meat and dairy from my diet.   Before I made the decision to cut out meat, I did some research about how to make the switch to a vegetarian diet safely. Surprisingly to me at the time, I found that eating less meat helps the environment. This made the decision a definite no-brainer for me. I’d be improving my health, living a more compassionate lifestyle, and decreasing my impact on the planet. Three slam-dunks!

The more I research and learn about the horrors of factory farming and climate change and the meat industry’s disastrous impact on Mother Earth, the more motivated I am in doing my part in ensuring our planet’s health.

I’m ashamed of the many years I’ve lived in oblivion. I used to think nothing of eating meat everyday, sometimes with every meal. Nor thinking twice about tossing an empty can or bottle into the trash, instead of a recycling bin. And I absolutely loathe the memory I have of my now ex-girlfriend and I, visiting a pet store and gawking at all the cute little puppies while promising that once we move in together, we’d come back to that very store (ironically, it’s the same store I was asked to leave recently when I insisted to the owner  that I be able to visit the place their puppies come from)  and buy a puppy. BUY A PUPPY??? NEVER would that thought EVER enter my mind now, but it had then.

So much has changed. Time does that. I don’t mind change when it’s for the better.  Now, I think a lot about the animals and the environment because in many ways, the two go hand in hand. The best way to protect the environment is to stop, or drastically reduce, your consumption of meat, which in turn benefits the animals.

I wouldn’t feel right proclaiming my love for animals, and then eat them. And I couldn’t call myself an environmentalist if I ate the very food that is “responsible for 80 percent of the planet’s deforestation, 70 percent of freshwater use and 30 percent of human-generated greeenhouse gases.” (Nature World News)

It pains me when I see my mother drinking bottled water at home instead of filling a glass using the refrigerator water, or buying a Brita. According to utahrecylces.com, 35 billion plastic bottles are thrown away every year, with only about 25% of the plastic made in the U.S being recycled.  For me, bottled water is used only for when I am on the go. But when I am home, it’s a glass and my Brita.

I don’t drink much coffee, but when I do, I use a coffee pot, not those environment-killing Keuriq cups.  According to TheAtlantic.com, “In 2014, enough K-Cups were sold that if placed end-to-end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times.”   Billions of  K-cups end up in our landfill each year. That’s a lot of money spent to kill our planet.

The more I read, the more I learn, and some news is hard to take. I recently discovered that a popular animal-rights group I thought was a friend, may actually be a foe. PETA is not the “animal rights group” I was duped into believing they were. I’m in the process of learning more about their stances regarding pit bulls, Breed Specific Legislation, and No-Kill Shelters, so I can’t write anything definitive right now.

But I’ve read enough from reputable sources to know I am never giving another dime to this organization.loving-mother-cow-and-calf1If you are looking for a way to help animals, and are considering donating to PETA, please give to your local animal shelter instead. From the information I’ve gathered so far, your local shelters are probably doing a lot more than PETA to keep the animals alive….More on that later.

 

How Much Do You Like Drinking Clean Water?

I have read that giving up meat just one day a week carries the same beneficial effect on the environment as not driving your car for one month. One month! Such an easy way to decrease one’s carbon footprint on our planet!

When I made the conscious decision to give up meat, I had no idea the detrimental impact raising livestock had on the environment. I stopped eating meat because I wanted to partake in a more compassionate diet, to assure that no living-being had to die just so I could eat.

But now, I’m learning that I may be doing more than just sparing the lives of precious animals from a cruelly-inhumane death, I may also have a hand in helping to save the environment. The meat industry is wreaking havoc on our water supply (ask Californians how fun it is being strapped for water). One-third of the world’s fresh water supply is used for the production of livestock.* It takes twenty-four hundred gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef,** and the average American eats around 270 lbs of meat a year.*

Also, a typical US farm produces over 500 million tons of manure every year.** Runoffs of animals waste is the leading cause of pollution to our lakes and rivers.**

It isn’t surprising that when answering questions about water-saving advice over California’s historic drought, the State’s Governor, Jerry Brown, answered, “If you ask me, I think we should be eating veggie burgers.”

Statistics are showing that the Governor may be on to something.

How hard is it to give up meat for one day? I don’t know, how much do you like drinking clean water?

ID-10017036

Please Note: Raising animals for dairy consumption also uses a lot of natural resources. I am not a vegan, but am gradually reducing my dairy intake. I haven’t bought cow’s milk in over three years (almond milk rocks!). The point of this blog is to show that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference if everyone does a little something. This blog is NOT meant  to put anyone down for what they eat.

But, if you can make a little change, please do it, because we are all in this together. We all need a healthy Earth. Except for the Aliens. You have your own planet. Stay there.

*Science.time.com

**Peta

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Just Try

I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for two years and each pose gets a little easier after months of repetition. Standing forward-bends used to strain my back, and even with my knees bent, my fingertips barely brushed the ground.

But after years of practice, standing forward-bends are one my favorite asanas. I can lay the palms of my hands flat against the floor, with straight legs, and the sensation that runs through my body is no longer straining, but rather soothing and relaxing.

It took time to get here, and even after two years of practice, six to seven days a week, I still have to do the modified version of many of the poses. I’m not yet strong enough to carry the weight of my entire body on my hands — but I will be — with more practice.

Aside from practicing yoga daily, I also meditate, and study and learn from books how I can deepen the spiritual impact yoga has had on my body and mind. I have altered my eating habits to fit a more compassionate diet because plant-based foods complement yoga better than any other diet.

Yoga has become such an integral part of my life, I was not surprised when I woke up this morning having dreamed of doing yoga.

In my dream, I was sitting on the floor with my legs spread apart. A man, who I assume was my teacher, sat across from me.

“Fold your body over your leg,” he said.

I lowered my body over my leg until my forehead rested effortlessly against my thigh, and my arms stretched forward and my hands bound evenly around my foot.

“I didn’t know I could do that,” I said to my teacher.

“That’s because you never tried.”

I opened my eyes this morning to the most powerful dream I have ever dreamed.

Just Try.

ID-100286823

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

A (Not-So) Tiny Sacrifice

I had IVIG treatment today. For the next couple days I will feel fuzzy and foggy — a small sacrifice to endure for a treatment that has given me my life back (and will continue to for years to come because I’ve been doing this for fours years, every four weeks, and there is no foreseeable end). Four hours of lying in a bed with an IV stuck in my arm is a tiny sacrifice to endure to live again.

How did it come to be known that IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin) would help immune deficient patients battle whatever disease is attacking their body? This therapy has taken the body that has fallen off a couch, too weak to lift itself up off the floor, the body that has fallen down stairs, legs not strong enough to reach the top, and has transformed that body into one that can walk, do yoga, and swallow with no fear of choking.

I’m so grateful, but today, I lay in that hospital bed and wondered about the animals, chimpanzees, in particular.

I volunteer at an animal shelter. I feel empathy for neglected, abandoned, and abused animals. I want to take them all home with me and show them what love feels like. I want them to know hands that comfort, and not hurt. I want the dog who has lived its life tied to a tree to know the feeling of the warmth of a bed with soft blankets. I want the dog who almost died from thirst to know there’s a bowl of fresh water, in the same place, anytime he wants it.

I want all these things because I hate suffering. I participate in protests against puppy mills, and those pet stores who by from those horrible places (which is most pet stores) because I hate suffering. I changed my eating habits to a (mostly) compassionate diet because I hate suffering. I research companies who test on animals and buy a different brand because I hate suffering. I do all of this because I hate the idea of contributing to the suffering of another living being, and yet, I don’t know if the treatment I go for every month has been tested on animals.

A chimpanzee has a 98% genetic similarity to humans. If the therapy I get was tested on an animal to see if it would benefit patients with my disease, (I haven’t yet checked because I don’t want to know. I’m not ready to know. I’m a coward like that) it most likely would have been a chimpanzee. Ironically, my most beloved animal growing up. Stuffed monkeys crowded my room as a kid. My favorite was one where the hands velcroed together so you can sling the arms around your neck and pretend like the monkey was clinging to you. I carried this chimp around my hip all the time.

So how fitting would it be if the suffering of a chimpanzee is the reason I feel better?

Not fitting at all because the only way a company could test if IVIG would work for my disease (and any disease) is to take a species with a similar functioning healthy immune system and make it sick. Yes, make a healthy and vibrant animal sick for the benefit of a human life — my life — possibly.

I don’t believe that animals are here for humans to do with them what they will. Maybe the Bible states Man’s dominion over animals, but I don’t believe everything in the Bible anyway, so I’m comfortable disagreeing. They are not our trophies in a one-player sport, or our entertainment performing a display of tricks while enduring cruel treatment, and, some argue, they aren’t even here to be our food.

They are living creatures who know pain and fear, and experience joy and sadness.

I’ve heard the heart-wrenching screams of a mother cow as she watches her calf being dragged away only seconds after birth. I’ve watched terror take over a pig when it knows it’s about to be killed in a brutal way — thumping — the industry calls it. I’ve seen cows and Beagles, who have spent their entire lives in cages inside factories, without ever once feeling the sun on their skin, frolic joyfully in the grass for the first time. And when given an option to lay on the floor or a bed piled with pillows, my dog will always choose the bed. Why? Because it’s more comfortable, and animals, even farm animals, recognize comfort over discomfort.

Which one do you think they prefer?

Today, I lay in a comfortable hospital bed while receiving the fluid that will help my body function as normally as it can, but what conditions were the chimpanzees living in when they were (are) experimented on? I imagine they were forced into small cages, in a bland and cold room, locked up like a prisoner, frightened and sick, not knowing why they are there because they’ve done nothing wrong — except to have the unfortunate luck in sharing enough DNA similarity to perhaps the greediest, self-entitled, and morally inept race alive today.

And cowardly, too. That’s my race. That’s me. And maybe some day I’ll be brave enough to know how much suffering (sacrifice) a living being endured so I can have my life back.

ID-10028278

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Yoga and Life

ID-100217198

At the start of the New Year, I resolved to practicing daily yoga and meditation. I’ve been doing yoga off and on for about four years. But if you’re off for two months and then on for three, and then off for another two, it is impossible to attain any of the life-changing benefits yoga offers. This past year I was disciplined enough to not go months without doing yoga and I have seen amazing results, but this year I will be better.

The first thing yoga taught me was to breathe. You may be thinking “who the heck needs to be taught how to breathe?” I know. I know. Breathing is the first thing we do when we enter this world. We take a breath via a cry, or a scream. What’s so hard about doing something every living being must do to survive? Well, everything and I was doing it wrong.

Through yoga I learned Ujjayi Pranayama. Ujjayi breathing is a technique of the breath which can be referred to as “the ocean breath.” Pranayama is a Sanskrit word that means “extension of the breath.” Prana means “life force” and Ayama means “to draw out.” Ujjayi Pranayama is usually associated with asana practice, the practice of sitting down (or any posture that helps with flexibility). Sitting still while restoring one’s mind is one of the tremendous benefits of yoga. Being able to stretch and attain certain positions brings peace to both body and mind.

But starting yoga is hard, especially if you aren’t flexible. I wasn’t flexible at all when I first stepped onto my mat. I couldn’t touch my toes without bending my knees, but every day I practiced, I got closer and the breath is what kept me from giving up. On the mat I learned to breathe through uncomfortable positions – not scattered breath – but long, deep breathing. A yogi or yogini takes what he or she learns on the mat into their daily life. I carried this technique with me throughout my day by not holding my breath in stressful situations. Breathing keeps the mind calm.

I touch my toes comfortably now and all forward bends (sitting and standing) are my favorite asanas. We hold past relationships in our hips so forward bends are a great way to release negative energies lingering from former lovers. The pose I once loathed has become an integral part of my practice. Such is the way with yoga? (Maybe one day I’ll be able to say that about the head stand, which I refuse to even attempt.)

After consistent practice, a yogi/yogini discovers what kind of diet works better with his/her practice. I have switched to a vegetarian diet because I have found it it works really well with the asanas. A vegetarian diet doesn’t interfere with all the bending and twisting positions in my practice. I feel this way of eating enhances my ability to perform each asana and because there’s a lot of self-reflection in yoga/mediation, it is beneficial to adhere to a compassionate diet.

A few days ago, I committed to doing two daily twenty-minute meditations for forty days as a way to clear my mind and begin a positive habit that I hope transforms into a life-long practice because meditation reminds me to live in the moment. I can’t change the past nor can I predict the future, but I can appreciate the now. My favorite mantra that I use in my mediation is “In this moment, all is well.”

In meditation I listen and am mindful. I’m not perfect in carrying this into my daily life, but I work at it.

“Listen more, talk less.” – Buddha.

Namaste.

ID-100170594

Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Credit to Wikepedia for the exact definitions I used.