Making kind choices in your everyday life.

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Become a Sticky Beak

Posted by on Jan 26, 2014 in Cruelty | 0 comments

“I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals” – Gary Larson

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Luke Rowles (featured in photo above), I applaud you. At the age of 15, Luke saw a group of cowardly thugs kicking and beating a fox (who’s mouth they had taped shut) in a yard. Luke charged into the yard, yelled at the men before grabbing and rescuing the fox. He treated the animal’s wounds and released him/her back into the wild. Not surprisingly, Luke and his family have gone onto create a dog rescue group in Bulgaria – RSDR after moving there from the UK.

Unfortunately, the world needs so many more brave Lukes to counteract the staggeringly high number of dreadful, cruel people we regrettably share our world with.

We certainly don’t need people like the possible 32 “witnesses” to the Ingham’s turkey abattoir torturers who refused to provide statements to police. This meant that the charges were withdrawn due to insufficient evidence and not one person was convicted for these vile offences which were caught on film in 2013 at the Tahmour abattoir. Enraging.

Nor is our cause assisted by a judicial system which gives offensively lenient sentences such as that given within the last few days in an Ipswich court to a Brisbane woman who deliberately starved her 2 dogs to death in 2013. Suspended sentences and good behaviour bonds seem to be the way that heinous animal cruelty offences are dealt with by the Australian judicial system. Unjust and short sighted (given the well established link between animal cruelty perpetrators who go on to commit violent offences to humans). Grrrrrr.

Animals cannot speak so they need sticky beaks like you and me to keep an eye out for them. They need us to be brave, persistent and nosy (I am not adverse to peeking under the odd fence on my daily dog walks) and to speak out for them when people are treating them badly. They do not need us to shy away from or avoid the issue because it is confronting.

Cruelty to animals takes many different forms – much of it is legislated and therefore legal (such as factory farming, animal experimentation and live animal exports). You can show your anger by writing letters, attending rallies, donating money, educating yourself and not financially supporting any of these “industries”.

Then there is cruelty which happens around where we live or travel – much of which is hidden behind people’s fences or on isolated properties. What we all CAN do is to report any cruelty we see or become aware of. This may take the form of someone who does not provide shelter or adequate food / water to their animal, does not provide veterinary care to their sick or injured animal, leaves their dog in a hot car or more overt abuse such as hearing or witnessing someone beating, kicking etc their animal. You may hear rumours of dog fighting in your area or get knowledge of a greyhound trainer using live animals to train their dogs. You may be driving behind an animal transporter truck where animals can be seen to be suffering. Even a little piece of information is worth passing on – it may initially just form the basis of an intelligence report but, coupled with other reports, may lead to positive action.

Animal Welfare legislation in Australia varies from State to State and is summarised here :

In NSW, you can report animal cruelty to :

* NSW Police – including the Rural Crime section

* RSPCA

* Animal Welfare League (AWL)

* Animal Liberation – take anonymous reports of animal cruelty, targetting isolated NSW country areas.

All offences are outlined under the Protection of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA) which is a good place to do your homework if you are wondering what does actually constitute an offence and so you can be well informed when you make the report. With all the exemptions to the Act, it can become a bit confusing for the lay person. I am still trying to figure out if farmers are exempt from providing their stock with shelter from the heat / cold which is one of my latest missions (after recently driving through a searingly hot NSW and observing the number of farm animals who had no access to shade).

Relevant links on who to contact to report animal cruelty in other States are :

* Western Australia

* Victoria

* South Australia

* ACT

* Tasmania

* Northern Territory

As for social media, I have found the following groups to be a great source of information. If you want to learn more about where animal cruelty, dog thefts etc are occurring around Australia (and, therefore, how to avoid it from happening to your beloved pet), I encourage you to “like” these groups. They are well informed, non fanatical people with a collective aim of reducing cruelty to animals in Australia. I have learnt so much in recent months about not only the prevalence of animal cruelty but also about the emergence of dog fighting in Australia. Along with the rise in this black, desperately cruel, underground world is the theft of people’s pets for “bait” dogs – hence why I would now never leave my dog tied up outside a shop or discourage everyone I know  from advertising an unwanted animal as “Free to Good Home” on the likes of Gumtree.

* Aussies Against Dog Fighting and Abuse (a wealth of information, not just about dog fighting).

* Keep Talking

This issue is very close to my heart for a number of reasons. I would love some feedback from you if you have had any dealings with reporting animal cruelty. Thank you !

 

 

 

 

 

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Laundry

Posted by on Jan 10, 2014 in Not tested on animals - cleaning etc | 2 comments

“I cannot do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that I can do” – Jana Stanfield

 

laundry

 

 

There is a two fold purpose for this not very scintillating sounding blog topic.

1. Public humiliation in order to make me clean up our disgrace of a laundry.

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Before……horror scene !

 

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1 hour later !!!!

2. To promote some animal and environmentally friendly laundry options (as well as demonising some of the well known brands who still test on animals).

Many of us make an effort to ensure our shampoos and make up have not been tested on animals but forget that the many items that we use around the house are also often tested on animals and / or are harmful for the environment. I hope that the following guide helps you to source a kind product and reward the companies who are doing the right thing with your patronage and avoid those who aren’t.

This page from the Shop Ethical guide is very easy to follow and points out the good, the bad and the in between clearly. This page from Animals Australia names and shames well known companies who still test their products on animals.

My household has been using the Australian made Earth Choice brand for a while which is very affordable, can be bought in bulk and easily sourced at Coles and Woolies. I like the fact that they also appear on the Choose Cruelty Free list and they are animal product free.

If you prefer to avoid the big supermarkets, Tri Nature ticks all the environmentally and animal friendly credentials. As do the products sold by the lovely company Ethikool who are passionate about raising awareness and funds for the orangutans in Borneo (who are losing their forests and lives to the devastating palm oil plantations). All their products are staunchly palm oil free and they have some great deals if you buy in bulk.

As for the well known companies to AVOID, don’t give your money to :

* Drive, Omo, Comfort and Surf owned by Unilever who get a big, black cross from reliable sources including the Ethical Shopping Guide and PETA’s Cruelty Free Guide for a range of issues, including animal testing and worker exploitation.

* Cold Power, Spree, Dynamo, Fab and Fluffy owned by Colgate-Palmolive are criticised by the Ethical Shopping Guide for animal testing (however they are reported by PETA’s Cruelty Free Guide as “working for a regulatory change” which means they only test on animals when required by law.)

Regrettably, in my mega laundry clean up I found some of these products (Comfort) in our cupboards. The great thing about this blog is that I am learning as I go too.

A rather gross fact that I did learn during my research was that Di Hydrogenated Tallow Dimethyl Ammoium Choride is a fan-dangled name for horse / sheep fat often found in fabric softner. I much prefer the Spotless crew’s (Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming) alternative suggestion of putting equal parts bicarb soda and vinegar in with your rinse water for your towels and sheets. I also like their tip of adding lemon juice to rinse water to  whiten whites. Much less toxic sounding option than bleach.

How do your laundry products stack up in the kindness stakes ?

If you want to learn more about animal testing – the suffering it involves, why it is unnecessary and what you can do to help combat it, visit the informative Humane Research Australia site.

 

 

 

 

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Goodbye 2013. Hello 2014.

Posted by on Dec 29, 2013 in Uncategorized | 8 comments

“Live each day as if it’s your last”, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that ? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy ? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try to be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at….something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.” – Emma Morley, a fictional character from one of my all time favourite books “One Day” by David Nicholls.

This post is not really keeping with the theme of the blog but, then again, part of treading kindly surely involves sharing what you have enjoyed throughout the year ?! Without further ado, this is what I have enjoyed in 2013 (am sure my Virgo friends will be proud of my diligent list makings skills throughout the year !) – peppered with a few pics of an animal, Garp (along with his best friend Ivy), who knows how to lead the best life ever…..and his tips on how to do so.

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Embrace Friendship (and symmetry)

 

Books – Fiction

Like A House on Fire – by Cate Kennedy. The equivalent of people watching in a book (short stories).

Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love – Sarah Butler

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

The Sunshine Years – Asfaneh Knight

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The occasional bout of naughtiness is ok

 

 Books – Non Fiction

Madness – Kate Richards (unputdownable memoir about mental illness and what it feels like to live with).

Sex, Drugs and Meditation  – Mary Lou Stephens (did not make me want to do a 10 day silent mediation retreat but was entertaining and enlightening to read about)

Free the Bears – Mary Hutton (if you need some inspiration about wanting to make a difference about something you are passionate about)

Quiet – Susan Cain (if you loathe the limelight and are after some explanation as to why – a very interesting read !).

Changing Gears – Greg Forsyth (loved this book about a couple cycling through Australia and their quest for a more sustainable, meaningful way of life which sounds very earnest but it was very entertaining).

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Protest about what is wrong in this world

 

 Movies

Did not see nearly as many as I usually do…so just a select few…

The Quartet (sweet movie about the going ons in a retirement village filled with talented musicians).

Amour (bittersweet movie about old age) 

Blue Jasmine (a voyeuristic look into Cate Blanchett’s character’s life unravelling)

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Laugh lots

 

Series

The Bridge (continuing my obsession with Scandinavian crime shows)

Enlightened (cringeful to watch but very funny)

Top of the Lake (by the very clever, creative Jane Campion – set in New Zealand)

Twentysomething (very funny Aussie series)

Orange is the New Black (excellent black humour-ish series about women in a US prison – addictive !)

Redfern Now (from the superb Jimmy McGovern – loved “Cracker” 20 odd years ago and this too was a great series).

Girls (younger, quirkier and more realistic version of Sex In the City)

 

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Turn up the charm or cute factor if required

 

Music

Have reclaimed my youth by returning to JJJ which helped me to discover…

London Grammar

 

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Explore

 

Getaways

Mill Paddock Cottage in Mountain Lagoon, NSW.

Tegal Sari, Ubud, Bali

Naya Gawana Resort, Bali

 

Eating Out

Mocan and Green Grout, Canberra

Nourishing Quarter, Surry Hills, Sydney.

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Hold on passionately to what is dear to you

 

In 2013 I Learnt how to…

Make candles (and had lots of lovely people buy them to raise money for Animals Asia)

Grow mushrooms (a surprisingly complicated feat !)

Has been lovely….

Meeting some beautiful new people through my wing man Garp, gathering a few more likers and subscribers together to read my blog witters, getting down to Melbourne to see old  (figuratively that is !) friends and gaining more clarity and insight about what is important to me.

Would love to hear what has made you happy in 2013 in the comment section below. Am always up for some recommendations from like minded souls about anything.

As for 2014….I have a lot of  plans on the horizon which includes more travel, lots more animal product free cooking, clocking up 100km of hiking (get those walking shoes ready Sam), learning how to do Tai Chi (for my increasingly geriatric body and ever chattering mind), writing many more informative blog posts  and, of course, helping out the animals and environment however  and whenever I can.

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Stay unique and true to yourself

 

I hope that 2014 brings you happiness, fulfillment and adventures. Would love to hear what you hope it has in store for you ! xxx

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Christmas Feasting

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Christmas, Recipes - Savoury | 2 comments

leunig

 

Ah, Leunig – what a wise and insightful man you are !

With just a couple of weeks until Christmas, it is probably time to organise one’s menu options for the day.

For the meat eaters of the family, if you live in Sydney, the following companies are tried and tested and completely transparent in their ethics of how the animals which end up on your plate were treated. Feather and Bone and The Free Range Butcher. You will be spending more and you need to be organised by ordering ahead but you will be sure that there is no deceptive advertising involved and that their free range really is free range (Don’t forget that some devious types may advertise their hams as “free range” when they are in fact only “bred free range” – which is not far off factory farmed pigs (piglets are born “free range” but moved into an indoors, intensive arrangement shortly after). For my regional and interstate friends, the Flavour Crusader has an enormous amount of information about sourcing proper free range pig products and turkeys from local farmers doing the right thing. You may wish to re-visit my very first post (over 1 year ago now !) on why “factory farmed” meat should be avoided at all costs. Remember too that animals raised in genuine free range conditions do have a better quality of life but they do go to the same slaughterhouses as ‘factory farmed’ animals – there are no “kind abattoirs” unfortunately.

I, the sole vegetarian of the family, am ironically the ham purchaser this year (from Feather and Bone).

Alternatively, you may wish to “pardon a pig” at Animals Australia and receive a great e-book of Christmas vegetarian recipes for your trouble so you can whip up some extravaganza to show your tribe that vegetarian meals can be festive and mouthwatering too.

I had a dismal cooking fail with my lentil loaf stuffed with mashed potato which was my intended Christmas Day masterpiece. Time consuming (3 hours!), fairly bland and crumbly and described by my beloved as looking “like a tray of kitty litter.” Suffice to say, this project was shelved and I had to eat it every day at work for a week. Sigh.

Luckily, I was saved by the success of this mouthwatering  pistachio and ruby grapefruit salad, baked rosemary and garlic potatoes…….and the convenient Sanitarium Vegi Roast with Rosemary and Mint Glaze which I bought from Coles.  Had a practice run last night and received a solid 9/10 mark from my carnivorous partner which restored my pride somewhat after the kitty litter-esque loaf performance. This is how it looked:

 

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And here are the links I used to make it :

Quinoa tabouleh with pink blush grapefruit, coriander and pistachios from the fabulous “The Mindful Foodie” – a great blog to subscribe to. This salad was truly delicious – loved the grapefruit addition. 

Rosemary and Garlic Roast Potatoes – from VeganEasy.org. There are an array of delicious meat free Christmas recipes to pick from if you need some inspiration. Turned out great – lots of flavour and good to use some of my mountains of rosemary growing in my garden.

I topped the lazy but tasty roast with some cranberry sauce and found it to be a very hearty and worthy meat substitute. 

Found this Otter site to be full of interesting information and handy links about having an ethical christmas – for food, pressies etc. 

Have a glorious, stress free end to 2013. I hope to sneak one more post in before the year’s out xxx

 

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Be a kind Christmas soul

Posted by on Nov 30, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

“For it is in giving that we receive” – St. Francis of Assisi

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An example of a dog helped by PETA’s “be an angel for a cold dog campaign” – the winner of our family’s Christmas Charity Kris Kringle in 2012.

 

With Christmas just on the horizon, I thought it timely to share some ideas about how my  family have wrangled around the whole stressful present giving issue. It is no secret that Christmas is becoming more about frenzied consumerism and less about the nicer parts about it (good food, wine and company).

As an atheist, the meaning of Christmas to me is nothing about religion and all about being generous to those who are not quite as lucky as most of us in Australia are (and, of course the good food, wine and company part !).

So, a few years ago, we came up with the idea of a Charity Kris Kringle in lieu of gifts (aside from the cherished children in our family – we only have a couple of them and they still get presents).

Each adult contributes a nominal figure (for us, $50 each) and writes down their charity of choice and puts it in a bowl. Child member of family picks charity name out and that charity scores the lot – usually around $350.

I have been accused of rigging this process or bribing my niece (the charity hat puller) as my chosen charity has won the last 2 years (weeehoooooo!).

Two years ago, the very worthy Brightside Farm Sanctuary in Tasmania won the spoils and last year it went to PETA’s “be an angel for a cold outside dog” campaign. ($265 buys a kennel and bedding for a dog in the US who has nil or inappropriate shelter from the elements – see pic above).

As for gift giving between me and my fella….we reserve this for birthdays and do the charity thing too for Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc. Our house is filled with so much STUFF that we have come to the conclusion that a donation to each others  favourite charity is money so better spent (and far less angst inducing…..after many years together, it becomes harder to come up with that perfect gift!).  My favourite charity is, as it has been for about the last decade, the glorious Animals Asia and my fella’s is Medecins Sans Frontieres. Both do incredible, life changing work for animals and people.

If you are part of a family who wants to do the physical gift thing, have a read of my previous kind gifts post for some ideas. I have added a few new ones which have recently caught my eye so please re-visit this post for some ideas.

Also……Checking It Twice is a fabulous ethical gift guide (Thanks Al, I can’t stop stalking it since you put me onto it….here I am trying to be all anti-consumerist – and lists galore of beautiful ethical things stare tauntingly back at me !!) 

As for christmas cards and calenders, here are some links to my favourites. They are beautiful and creative and, best of all, a large part of the proceeds goes back to help an animal and/or person in need.

Cards

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Animals Asia cards

Edgars Mission cards

Unicef cards

Calenders

Monika’s Doggie Rescue (original home of our little black patch eyed hound so we are forever grateful to this great rescue group).

Animals Asia 

Ask Alice’s Wish You Were Here Charity Calenders – 100% of profits go to the Melbourne Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. (PS Their gorgeous stationary is well worth a look too – lovely, artistic, ethical company).

Until next time, stay calm during this silliest of  seasons. Would love to hear about any kind Christmas festivities planned. Stay tuned for my next post……kind eating suggestions for Christmas day ! 

 

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