Saving Our Water

In 48 hours, 110 people, mostly women and children, have died in Somalia due to starvation caused by a drought. Over six million people, more than half the country’s population, are vulnerable to dying of starvation and diseases caused by drinking contaminated water, whatever water they can find.

People dying of hunger is hard to comprehend in 2017, when in America, I can’t drive two miles without passing a fleet of fast food joints, pizza places, Chinese restaurants, hot dog stands, and convenient stores with their quick and cheap meal deals.

No one in the year 2017 should die of hunger or thirst. In every grocery store, aisles are dedicated to bottled water, a multi-billion dollar industry. We seem to have food and water in abundance every where we go, yet the state of California just got over a major drought of their own. Even though I don’t live in the state, I was worried about the consequences of a dry California.

I worry because I know the way we are living and eating as a country is not sustainable. We waste too much. We eat too much meat, which takes up too much land and uses too much water, and our water is being contaminated with farm animals’ waste that spills into our rivers and lakes and streams.

It worries me how much agriculture is ruining our planet. When the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, was asked during his state’s drought what people should do he told them to eat a veggie burger because he knew the absurd amount of water it takes to produce beef. Approximately 660 gallons of water is needed to produce a 1/3 hamburger and 1,799 gallons of water per pound of beef. (National Geographic)

You can shorten all the showers you want, wash dishes as fast as you can, and make sure you’re filling the washing machine with as many clothes as possible, but if you end the day by knocking back a couple burgers, your water conservation attempts don’t really add up to much.

The drought that is killing the Somalian people was “induced by two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall…inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive.” (CNN)

If the Californian drought should have taught us anything it’s that water can not be taken for granted. We need to try to live more sustainable lives. I fear one day our lives may depend on it. What is really stopping what’s happening in Somalia from happening here?

What if an entire region of the U.S. suffers a California-like drought? What effect would that have on the rest of the country?

I’m not saying these worries keep me up at night, but I do think about it enough to change the way I eat, being mindful of my carbon footprint. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or a fancy vegan to make a positive change for the environment. You can be a reducetarian. (Yes, that’s a real thing.)

If you would like to help the Somalian people, you can donate to the American Red Cross, as well as other organizations working to deliver clean water to the region.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

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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.

 

This is Me Finally Doing Something

I talk about dogs…a lot. And I write about dogs…a lot.

If you follow my blog at all, you probably already know this. It wasn’t my intention to use so much space penning about my favorite animal, but these things happen. I write about what I love.

Ever since adopting my Lab/Pit mix, Phil, five years ago, I’ve gotten more involved with animals than I ever had before, or ever imagined myself to be. I volunteer at an animal shelter, spending as much extra time with the dogs, outside of my regular shift, as I can.

I protest regularly with an organization against pet stores selling puppies that come from puppy mills, which are most, if not all, pet stores. With this group, I have also sat in on town meetings to support a ban against the sale of puppy-mill puppies, and I’ve emailed numerous politicians pleading for such a ban.

I’ve taken my stance. I’ve lent my voice to a cause I believe in. Whether it be through emails, signs in my hands, or by my mere presence, my voice has been spoken, but whether it’s been heard? I don’t know.

But I won’t stop.

I don’t state this to show how wonderful I am. I’m not wonderful. Trust me. I’m a terrifically-flawed person. A Deeply, terrifically-flawed person. I write this because I don’t know where all this fight came from. I didn’t grow up in a household of activists. Neither of my parents had staunch political beliefs. We just lived our lives in a quiet suburb, where the word “protest” was never uttered.

But then, decades later, I adopted a pit-bull mix, and everything changed.

Even though having a pet isn’t new to me, this time around it was different. Growing up we had a cherished family dog, a Lhaso Apso/Maltese mix named Coco, for over fifteen years. But I was a child when we got him, and barely a young adult when he died. None of the years between that time did I ever think about animal abuse. I had naively assumed that all dogs were as loved and doted on as Coco was. Maybe I was too young, or too capably self-absorbed to look beyond the walls built around my cozy little life to see the world.

But I’m looking now, and I see the kinds of abuse animals suffer. Phil’s breed is the most abused and neglected breed of all dogs. The moment I fell in love with my pit-bull mix, I knew I had to fight for him. But I can’t only fight for pit-bulls. I need to fight for all the animals suffering because of human greed. Whether it be dogs living their miserable lives in dirty, over-crowded puppy mills, or pigs crammed into gestation crates so small they can’t even turn around, or mother cows bellowing for their babies, taken from them seconds after birth, to either be killed for meat, or raised to suffer as a dairy cow.

I need to fight for all animals being abused..

Last week, I participated in my first protest with Mercy for Animals. It was a protest against the way farm animals are forced to suffer.

This isn’t me being wonderful. This me finally doing something. And it’s about time I did.

puppy-mill-     pig_gestation_crates1pigs in crates

loving-mother-cow-and-calf1 Beautiful picture of love right here.

*I don’t own these pictures. I will take them down if they are copyrighted.

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?

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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

Yoga and Life

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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.

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Photos courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Credit to Wikepedia for the exact definitions I used.