Making kind choices in your everyday life.

15 Magnificent reasons to participate in meat free week

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in Topical | 4 comments

“But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.” – Plutarch

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Just as Earth Hour does not expect you to live by candle light for the rest of your life, Meat Free Week does not aim to turn everybody vegetarian or vegan . It does, however, aim to have meat eaters pause and think for a week about what they are putting in their mouths and, hopefully, make some positive changes at the end of the week. Whether the motivator is for health benefits, concerns about the environment or  despair at the condition which billions of animals farmed for their meat or bodily products world wide are kept in, there are many reasons to give it a go. Here are 15 of them :

1. You can help to raise money for wonderful charities. I will give $5 to Voiceless on behalf of anyone who makes the pledge via a comment at the bottom of this page or via my facebook page. A Voiceless grant enabled Meat Free Week to become a reality a few years ago. I like to think of them as the brain’s trust behind the animal welfare movement in Australia. We need these smart people to fight against travesties such as Ag Gag Legislation. Alternatively, you can raise money yourself by having friends sponsor you via the Meat Free Week page.

2. The animals who’s lives are taken for us to eat will thank you for leaving them off your plate. Particularly the majority of the animals of the world who lead completely wretched lives in factory farms (50 billion !) before their lives are taken.

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 3. You will be in great company. Some famous vegetarians / vegans who I admire are : Actresses Natalie Portman and Abi Cornish, Absolutely Fabulous icon Joanna Lumbley, Game of Throne’s star Peter Dinklage, funny fellas Chris Lilley and Tom Ballard, cricketer Peter Siddle, writer Marieke Hardie, singers Sia and Missy Higgins, Triple J’s Lindsay McDougall, surfer Layne Beachly and journalist Sam de Brito.

4. You will be healthier – which is precisely why Bill Clinton became a (mostly) vegan in 2010. You will reduce your risk of bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and the list goes on. Vegetarians are 12 % less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters and a whopping 45 % less likely to develop cancers of the blood such as leukemia (see more here). As for the common, “where do I get my protein?” query, these sources are good ones.

5. You will be helping the environment. It takes 4800 litres of water to produce 1kg of pork. The U.N. has identified the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. The intensive farming industry is simply not sustainable. See the Meat Free Week page for more.

6. You will be more svelte. Vegan and vegetarians, on average, weigh less than meat eaters. (And this comes from an independently sourced, unbiased ABC article here).

7. You could shut your eyes and pretend that you are somewhere exotic like…..Palitana in India, the first vegetarian city in the world. Or, one of my favourite places on this planet, Mount Koya-san in Japan where vegetarian food in this Buddhist haven is the only, wonderful, option.

8. You can save some money. Your main staples, lentils, beans and tofu are CHEAP !

9. You will discover some fabulous eateries. For example, in Sydney, yum cha at Bodhi (my favourite), closely followed by Yullis and Nourishing Quarter. Rubyfruit in the Blue Mountains and Sweet Bones Bakery are my favourite “out of Sydney” choices. Melbournians are spoilt for choice with Smith and Daughters at the helm (see great blog Where’s the Beef for more suggestions). I am itching to try the highly rated (number 1 on tripadvisor for restaurants in Launceston!) Garden of Vegan in Launceston later in the year.

10. If you are travelling by plane, you tend to get served first if you order a vegetarian or vegan meal. They are not so mass produced so are generally of a better quality. Just remember to order ahead.

11. You will be able, guiltless-ly, to attend a Morrissey concert. This very passionate vegetarian, bans meat from being sold at the entire venue where he is playing (including the Sydney Opera House for his up and coming shows during the Vivid festival).

12. It’s a small way of saying thanks to the heroic, selfless actions of those around the globe who continuously fight for better conditions for farmed animals (land and sea) – including Animals Australia, Compassion in World Farming, Voiceless, Sea Shepherd, Melbourne and Sydney Pig Save and the brave Toronto Pig Save supporters who stand out in the freakishly cold and hot weather conditions in Toronto, Canada to give a voice to the millions of pigs sent to slaughter there. All of you  lovely people are my heros.

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13. Your repertoire in the kitchen will skyrocket. My favourite go to site is One Green Planet, I have weekly recipes sent out to me by the Humane Society and Sanatarium. Pinterest is choc-a-block with talented bloggers and the like displaying their recipes….my latest “on weekly rotation as they are so outrageously delicious recipes” are this thai green curry (NB vegetarian fish sauce tastes exactly the same as “the real thing”) and this fragrant cambodian noodle salad (where I add silken tofu for more protein). If you prefer your recipes in cookbook form, I highly recommend Simon Bryant’s “Vegies”.

14. You will discover how easy the supermarkets are making it for hard working vegetarians who want some convenience food. Sanitarium, Quorn, Macro and Linda McCartney products (LOVE her sausages) are plentiful and have whole sections devoted to vegetarian / vegan food. A little harder to source but so worth it is my new product discovery – Kinda Bacon. On my lord – coconut pieces which uncannily taste like smoked bacon. A serious taste sensation.

15. You will be a trend setter. Move over you bespectacled, bearded hipsters, vegetarians / vegans are truly the new cool and numbers are on the rise ! Israel is leading the charge with a vegetarian population of 8 % up from 2.6 % 5 years ago.

If any of these reasons have inspired you enough to participate in Meat Free Week, please head on down to the comments section or find me here on facebook to pledge your commitment and my $5 donation on behalf of you will be heading to Voiceless. You’ve got a week to get organised, find some delectable recipes and stock up on all that delicious veggie food out there. And for the flaky almost vegetarians / vegans like myself, I’ll be going completely animal product free for the week – anyone willing to join me on this quest ? Good luck !!

 

 

 

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Liebester Love

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

I feel most honored to be nominated for a Liebester Award by the very talented Pia from These Woven Words. Thank you Pia ! I adore Pia’s blog and her thoughts on social justice issues, book reviews and general life musings.

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The aim of the award is to share the love and give a shout out to some blogs which take your fancy and to share some tid bits *** of one’s life. For unknown reasons, the Liebester award centres around the number 11. So, 11 things to share about myself, 11 answers to Pia’s questions, 11 blogs I want to nominate and my 11 questions to them. So, without further ado –

11 facts about me

1. *** Until a couple of weeks ago, I thought tid bits was pronounced and spelt “tit bits” so I have used this saying in this manner for my whole life and used it in a work email recently which went out to my 100 or so  new-ish work colleagues.

2. I adore cold weather so am ecstatic that Autumn has arrived.

3. My favourite country outside of Australia is Japan. It encompasses everything I love – quietness (there is not a peep in those train carriages), mountains, snow, cold, outlandishly good food, politeness and punctuality (said like a true old fuddy duddy hey ?!).

4. I have loved U2 since I was 13 years old and have seen them play live 8 times. My partner finds this mortifying and thinks Bono is a tosser but, bless him, he took me to see them for my 40th birthday where I cried like a mad lady when I saw how close to the stage we were.

5. My perfect day would involve a massage, delectable food with friends and a great movie.

6. Speaking of movies, my top 3 would be : Life Is Beautiful, My Life As A Dog and Stand By Me.

7. I lived in London for 2 years in my early 20’s and loved the opportunity to live in another country.

8. I went to university in Wagga Wagga and studied Applied Science which is a million years away from what my career turned out to be but it was lots of fun going to a country university.

9. It takes me a good 3 months or so to feel I can be myself with new people I meet. I sometimes wish I could speed this torturous process up.

10. My Virgo-ish “to do” list never ends. I will need about 50 lifetimes to get through everything I want to do. Crochet, permaculture, meditation, soap making, vegan cheese making, trekking in Nepal…you name it, it’s on my list !

11. I worry way, way , way too much and would love to master the art of how to calm my whirling mind (hence, need to learn to do list number 3 from above).

My answer’s to Pia’s questions

1. What is the last thing I made ? I am guessing that means in a crafty kind of way – in which case, my offerings are thin on the ground but I did make some cinnamon scented candles a couple of months ago (they are so easy to make and help turn those old Vegemite jars into something lovely. In a non crafty way – vegan pesto with my bountiful basil leaves from my garden !

2. What is one of my fondest memories ? Hanging out with my fella in Luang Prabang in Laos about 6 years ago – it was one of the most romantic, atmospheric places I’ve been to and I’d gladly time machine whisk myself back there and peer down at the monks and their early morning procession through the cobbled streets.

3. Favourite thing to drink ? Depends on the time of day but the order would go… Coffee, diet ginger beer and Rose in summer or Pinot in winter….and a licorice Pukka tea as my dare devil night cap.

4. Best book you’ve read recently ? I am reading “Farmageddon” by Philip Lymbery and Isabel Oakeshott which is an interesting synopsis of intensive farming and the damage it does to the environmment, our health and, of course, to the lives of billions of animals – the content of which sends point 11 (above) into overdrive. Entertainment-wise, “The Death of Bees” by Lisa O’Donnell would be my recent good read pick. It is very quirky and enjoyable.

5. Is there a cause or charity that you feel strongly about ? Loads ! But if I had to pick it would be Animals Asia. They are incredible do-ers and I think that what is happening to bears trapped on bear bile farms in China, Laos, Korea and Vietnam is one of the worst (and pointless) things going on in the world. Animals Asia educate and rescue and enables transformed lives like these ones (sorry for upsetting image – and, yes, this is how many of the bears exist, often for decades. Unfathomable.)….

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Image from Animals Asia

(Please head on over to to http://halong.animalsasia.org/savehalongbears/ to add your signature to the nearly 110,000 signatures seeking the Vietnamese Prime Minister to release the remaining 9 bears held  near Halong Bay in Vietnam in dreadful conditions to Animal’s Asia’s sanctuary. The others have died from starvation and illness whilst waiting for this decision to be made.)

6. Favourite place to read ? In my bed.

7. What’s your idea of an awesome holiday ? Cold, snow, fires, nature, good company, sublime food, some form of exercise so food can be enjoyed without guilt and inches on my thighs and somewhere completely different from home. So, probably a skiing trip in Japan.

8. Best snack ?! Vegetarian Gyozas (I buy the brand KB’s from a big Asian grocery shop near by) and they take just a few minutes to steam or fry and drizzle with some sesame seed oil. Scrumptious.

9. What do you think your best attribute is ? I like to think that I am kind person.

10. What are you listening to this week ? My spotify playlist – lots of Sia, Morrisey, U2, Blondie, Simple Minds, Goldfrapp, Lana del Ray, Florence and the Machine, Sarah Blasko, Little Birdy, Lisa Mitchell……

11. Is there something or someone who makes you laugh every time ? I am lucky to have a very funny partner who makes me giggle everyday. He has recently introduced me to Shane Micallif on telly who tickles my funny bone too. I find Ricky Gervais to be hilarious too.

My 11 questions

1. What is your favourite song to boogey too ? (More than 1 welcome….I would love to build on my playlist).

2. Who would be your ideal dinner guests at a dinner for 4 (including you) if you could pick anyone in the world to be there ?

3. What is your greatest phobia ?

4. You need to buy a housewarming present for a good friend. Which online or real shop would you head to ?

5. Favourite series you’ve watched ?

6. Favourite restaurant or cafe anywhere ?

7. Have you ever seen or experienced anything which would make you believe in life after death ?

8. Best way to get out of a cranky mood ?

10. Most coveted job ?

11. Do you think the world will be a better or worse place to live in 100 years from now ? 

These 11 questions are now put to the authors of 11 favourite blogs of mine – in no particular order. I know some of you popular, talented souls have multiple nominations so please feel free to not answer, answer in a blog post or answer in the comments section below but, being the massive sticky beak that I am, I’d love to know your answers !

1. One Small Life

2. That Summer Feeling

3. Life With The Crew

4. Heike Herrling

5. Bear Loves Dove

6. Authentic Abundance

7. di Terza MaNo

8. A Wondering Life

9. Betty Rose and George

10. Gus and Ollie

11. A Zesty Life

Over to you lovely ladies and thanks again Pia for the nomination. It is a wonderful way to find other blogs and have a sneaky peak into the lives of those we admire ! x

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The getting of wisdom to make kind choices

Posted by on Feb 15, 2015 in Dairy, Environment, Factory Farming | 6 comments

“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight” – Albert Schweitzer

I sincerely hope that my voice through my blog never comes across as preachy or holier than thou-ish. If it ever does, I humbly apologise as I certainly have no right to be this way. I have spent the majority of my life doing the very things which I rant against on this blog. Over my 40 something years on this earth, I have, without a second thought, gnawed on pigs trotters, ridden elephants and posed for photos with baby gibbons in Thailand, thrown bread to bears in a barren bear pit, enjoyed nights out at the greyhound track, bet on racehorses at “Royal Randwick”, used make up, shampoo etc by companies who test on animals and eaten a mountain of cheese and a ton of sausages. 9 out of 10 shoes I’ve ever bought have been made of leather, “lambs fry” and “lambs brains” (eek) were sometimes breakfast growing up.  I’ve dined on dozens of Peking duck pancakes, caught fish, probably inadvertently eaten hundreds of caged eggs, snuggled under duck down quilts, gawked at animals in too small enclosures in zoos and aquariums and am probably responsible for the death of an orangutan or two by consuming / lathering myself in products containing palm oil and the list of shame goes on. I am grateful to have never worn fur or eaten foie gras but still, my track record is far from worthy. I even kind of, (cringe), made fun of  a vegan family we knew whilst I was a teenager and found their rice cake eating,  meat abstaining ways completely “extreme” and weird. I have done all of these things whilst always being someone who passionately “loves animals”. I don’t feel that I am a kinder or more empathetic person these days than I was growing up – I have, however, made a conscientious effort to educate myself about these issues and, as a direct result, my ways of living and eating have changed.

I have met a few people recently who revealed that they did not know (or had never thought about the fact) that cows have to have a calf each year to produce milk (and then this calf will be taken from its grieving mum at around 5 days of age and, if male,  slaughtered – after legally not having to be fed or watered for 36 hours and so on). These are intelligent people but they have never learnt and, hence, thought about this fact. Educating ones self to all the travesties which are going on around us in our everyday lives is difficult. It  usually comes from a reading or viewing which is upsetting, it is not taught to us in school nor is it is rarely shown on TV as it tends to make people switch channels. The Easter Show where city kids are meant to learn about the country have straw filled pens bustling with happy piglets on display rather than the concrete floored, windowless sheds which are the reality of how the vast majority of pigs raised for food exist in Australia. Kind of the agricultural equivalent of Santa Clause. Big business and government will do everything it can to keep the grim reality hidden and advertising will be intentionally deceptive. There are sinister steps in Australia heading towards US style Ag-Gag Legislation (which aims to “gag” covertly obtained footage of animal cruelty and punish whistle blowers) and the government has refused to install CCTV footage in abattoirs to keep things even further from our view.

The unfortunate irony is that there are many people who love animals but will refuse to educate themselves about what really goes on because, understandably, they cannot tolerate seeing animals in pain or being mistreated.  So the very people who the animals of this world are relying on to forge a kinder path are sadly absent. They end up unintentionally contributing to and funding horrendous animal cruelty because they do not know enough about what goes on to be shaken into action and change because of their catch 22 situation of not wanting to be witness to suffering. These animal loving people need to be brave and challenge their own discomfort to balance out the ambivalent, those who do not care less and those who actively, greedily and mercilessly encourage and protect cruel industries such as intensive “factory” farms (I’m speaking to you Barnaby Joyce and Katrina Hodkingson!).

The former filet mignon, lobster eating investment banker, Phillip Wollen is perhaps, the best example of what an about face turn someone can take after educating themselves. In his case, it started with a business trip visit to a slaughterhouse and went on from there. Please take a minute to have a read about this incredible philanthropist and his Melbourne based Kindness House (where staff get in trouble if they DON’T bring their dogs to work !) which helps animals and disadvantaged people worldwide. He is a remarkable person.

The changes in my life have not had the earth shattering momentum of Phillip Wollen but I am proud of the changes that I have made (despite some faltering and weaving along the way ! – and I still am a long way from living the kindest life I could) – I just wish I’d educated myself earlier. As with all things which involve substantial change, remember you don’t have to do it all at once – that can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Is there something you are “into” to start off with, which maybe you could learn a bit more about to help you make better informed and kinder choices ? Cheese ? Woolen yarn ? Ham sandwiches ? Chicken soup ? What goes on behind the scenes to produce these, at first glance, inoffensive products ?

With a bit of knowledge under your belt, you may find yourself asking “is it right for an intelligent animal to be virtually immobilised for weeks to months at a time (sows), is it OK to castrate an animal without anesthesia (steers, pigs), is there anything right about allowing an inquisitive bird to live on a sloped piece of A4 sized wire mesh so she cannot stretch her wings (egg layers), should water loving ducks be living without water in intensively raised sheds (ducks), can we justify 30 seconds of suffocating terror for some cost savings (gassing of pigs), is a pair of leather boots from the skin of an animal who has had his tail broken and chilli rubbed into his eyes to make his exhausted body walk to be slaughtered really worth it (leather), is it OK to take a sheep’s fleece in the middle of winter (wool) or have shearer’s beat them out of impatience, can we justify sending animals to a terrifying death overseas because it makes us money (live animal export), is farmed fish OK despite the fact that it will take a huge amount of wild fish to feed that fish, is it environmentally wise to continue to support the livestock industry when it is one of the biggest contributers to carbon emissions and global warming, is it OK to suffocate male chicks or mince them alive so we can have eggs (including free range) ?” And the list goes on. You will probably find yourself answering a resounding “no” to each of these questions. No, it is not right, nor kind, nor intelligent, nor logical.

These days we have the internet so everything you need to know is at your finger tips, for free. There are some great movies and books available too. Here are a few resources to get you started on your learning journey (or you may find what you are after in one of my previous posts ?).

I gain a lot of my knowledge from Voiceless and Animals Australia and love One Green Planet’s tips, recipes and wisdom which arrive in my in box a few times a week. There are also these great sources……which I’ve either read / watched or have been highly recommended.

Documentaries available on the internet

Lucent – set inside regular intensive piggeries around Australia

Earthlings –  narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby

Books

The Ethics Of What We Eat – Peter Singer

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows – Melanie Joy

Farmageddon – Philip Lymberry (I am currently reading this intriguing book which reveals the true cost of cheap meat)

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon – Jeffrey Mason

Movies

Black Fish

Project Nim

Cowspiracy

This week’s post is dedicated to little Scully who, last week, was rescued from a factory farm but died a 4 days later from an illness related to her time on the intensive piggery. Thanks to the wonderful photography of Tamara Keneally who took this touching photo and has educated thousands through her simple, quiet images of farm animals at sale yards, on trucks etc where no words are needed to convey their message.

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My next quests are to learn more about how honey is produced and how to source medication which has not been tested on animals. There is so much I want to learn and, yes, my lifestyle habits will no doubt continually evolve as a result. I would love to hear what you have learnt about which has led to a change in your life or something you would like to learn about in order to live a kinder existence.

 

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The hunt for ethical running shoes

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Shopping | 18 comments

It’s Not Easy Being Green” – Kermit the Frog

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Six decrepit pairs of my old running shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, Annette from “I Give You The Verbs”, I have stolen your fabulous Hoist the Hangers ! idea where one displays their hoarder-ish collection of wares – in my case, old running shoes – on their hills hoist. It is that time of year when many people are enthusiastically minimising their belongings. We work at a snail’s pace in our house at any time when unsavoury chores such as decluttering are involved, but there has been SOME movement in recent times. I have diligently and responsibly disposed of 6 old pairs of running shoes from our scary, “stuff” filled back shed. 

As for the dilemma of how to dispose of these shoes in the most environmentally responsible way possible – rather than just turfing them out the front for council pick up day as I would have done probably a year ago, read on. Did you know that running shoes are estimated to take over 1000 years to break down? With the current modern western trend of trading in ones running/walking shoes after clocking up around 500 km, that is a mind boggling number of shoes all going to land fill. So, what are the alternatives?

For the serious runner (not I!) who replaces their shoes regularly, they can be donated to Soles for Souls (most pick up points are in SA and VIC – other States can mail their shoes there) who send these “lightly worn” shoes to disadvantaged people overseas.

Alternatively, for the more worn, hole riddled shoes, like mine, Nike have a Reuse A Shoe program which coverts your old runners into sports surfaces and the like around the world. So, that’s what I did….it was the easiest thing in the world (aside from looking like a bag lady on the train!). There was a deposit bin in the main Sydney Nike store, full of other people’s smelly old running shoes. I just popped them in and away I went.

Now for the hard part….my 5-10km per day walking regime is wearing out my current New Balance joggers after only, frustratingly, about 4 months (I must walk with a very vigorous/enthusiastic stride perhaps?) so I am on the hunt for a new pair but this time they must meet my rigorous tread kindly criteria. For me this means no leather, non sweat shop produced, durable (so I don’t have to replace them so freakin’ often) and made with some kind of recycled material. Hmmmm,  not such an easy feat it seems.

My shopping bible, Shop Ethical has a big black cross (criticising everything from poor working conditions for the people making the shoes to having a low rankabrand rating which calculates many factors towards the brands sustainability) next to all of my previous purchases – Nike, New Balance, Mizuno and Brooks which makes me feel like an environmental, sweat shop supporting vandal. Nike are on my never, ever again list (and why I was happy to give my smelly old shoes to them to deal with) after their continued endorsement of the dreadful New York Jet’s Michael Vick – convicted of being one of the ring leaders in a revolting dog fighting ring in the US. Plus they have a dubious history for child labour etc.  If only Etiko and FYE did athletic shoes – they are highly ethical companies but only do the casual, converse style shoe who’s lack of support does little for my crotchetty ol’ ankles and knees.

I have stalked a few sites such as this diligently researched one (concentrating on vegan athletic shoes and worker’s conditions) and have weighed up all the conflicting and copious amounts of information floating around the internet. I have hardly been spoilt for choice but the most ticks in the boxes important to me goes to :

For running shoes (should I ever decide to take up jogging again) – US brand, Newtons. They are 100 % vegan, use recycled material where possible and seem to have fair and responsible conditions in place for their workers. They come in bright, pretty colours too !

For power walking, my exercise of choice –  my vote had gone to “Long Walk” from Vegan Wares in Melbourne – that was prior to my partner veto-ing this choice on the basis of their decidedly unattractive appearance and the fact that they are man shoes. They had appealed as they are, obviously, vegan, used approved factories in India where the workers are paid fairly and they are custom made for durability for long walks in urban settings (ie on footpaths). I must add that Vegan Wares do have a lot of gorgeous looking shoes in stock but their walking shoes are not one one of them.

So, faced with the threat from my partner of always walking alone if I wore the “Long Walk” shoes, I have decided that Merrell will be the most likely contender for my power walking shoe of choice. They have vegan options and appear to have a good social, philanthropic and environmental rap as outlined in this article (along with Adidas who rate well too) Plus there is an outlet shop close to where I live. 

Who ever envisaged that the hunt for a little pair of running / walking shoes could be a minefield ?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Praise of the Rescue Mutt

Posted by on Jan 11, 2015 in dogs | 10 comments

“A dog is not a thing. A thing is replaceable. A dog is not. A thing is disposable. A dog is not. A thing doesn’t have a heart. A dog’s heart is bigger than any “thing” you can ever own” – Elizabeth Parker

10593124_942932065733160_7819971502649832245_nYou may have noticed (by the myriad of photos adorning this blog) that we are rather fond of our little rescued mutt, Garp and his fly in, fly out sister Ivy (my mum’s nutty little hound from Staffy Rescue) who spends alot of time with us.

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Ivy and Garp

I have had a dog throughout my life – from the pedigree Airedales I grew up with to the perfect staffy pup my mum bought for me from a breeder at  a difficult time in my 20’s (saying goodbye to her 11 years later was one of the saddest days of my life). And, of course,  I loved each and every one of these different souls equally.

From now on, however, I would only consider adopting a “rescue” mutt. They are quirky and resilient souls who have had a bit of a rough start to life and deserve that second chance of finding their “forever home” which so, so many of them in desperate need of.  At this time of year, inexplicably, pounds are full to the brim.

I follow Pound Rounds on facebook and every few days the sad and innocent faces of the young, middle aged and old “death row” dogs are shared. These dogs have just a few days to find a home and it is quite a devastating reality check to witness. The Pound Round community is a generous one and last minute donations and people willing to foster / adopt save some of them but, unfortunately, it is a perpetual cycle and, clearly, there needs to be a better system in place to stop so many healthy animals ending up in this situation.

It is a strange world we live in where we have puppy farms and dodgy back yard breeders churning out thousands of puppies to meet the demand for certain breeds and pet shops, whilst overflowing pounds are simultaneously killing hundreds of thousands of them ( estimated to be 250,000 Australia wide healthy dogs and cats) due to lack of willing homes. This is nonsensical and morally skewed.

I would love to see people needing to obtain a licence to buy an animal – it is way too easy at the moment. You need one for a jet ski but not a dog. Go figure. People need to be educated on the lifelong commitment, cost (estimated to be around the $20,000 mark for a dog’s life !) and obligations which come with owning an animal. Animals need to be desexed to stop this rampant oversupply. People need to learn to walk and socialise their dogs to prevent problems like biting, digging and barking which lead some people to surrender their dogs. People need to plan ahead for having babies, moving house, animals becoming large and all the other unsurprising occurrences which lead to some people to give up their animals.

So, please, if you hear of anybody planning to bring an animal into their life, have some resources up your sleeve to recommend to them. There are brilliant (and, unfortunately, copious numbers of) rescue groups in every state.

PetRescue is an Australia Wide organisation – it amalgamates many of the rescue groups out there to make it easy to search for your new family member. Breed specific rescue groups (I have just been swooning over the bull terrier rescues available) are represented too and there are even ones devoted to deaf dogs (Hear no Evil) !

We got our little fella, then aged 3, from Monkia’s Doggie Rescue which are a great no kill rescue group located on the outskirts of Sydney. He had been waiting for a home for 8 months after being rescued from an inner city pound which defies belief as he is the world’s most adorable animal.  I love Monika’s stringent application rules – to ensure you have done your homework prior to adopting one of their dogs and they thoroughly suss you out to ensure that you are going to be a devoted fur baby parent.

Avoid “free to good home adds” in gumtree and the like at all costs. They attract undesirable people who use “free” animals for a range of dreadful things and do not address the over breeding problem in any shape or form. Likewise, sales on the internet are more than likely going to be puppies sourced from puppy farms or “backyard breeders”.

Following the recent change in government to Labour’s Daniel Andrews, Victoria is moving in the right direction to cut down on unscrupulous puppy farms and pet shop sales. I hope that they follow through with their promises and that other States follow their lead. In the meantime, it is up to individual council’s to take the lead in regards to encouraging responsible pet ownership. Mine does not appear very proactive in this regard and could take notes from Sutherland Shire Council animal shelter which is a wonderful example of  what some “thinking outside the box” can do. They give library talks to provide free education about responsible pet ownership, advertise their dogs in their best light on facebook and set up bins in the local IGA to enable people to readily donate food etc. They have a great net work of local volunteer dog walkers to tend to the dogs whilst they are waiting for their forever home. Renbury Farm and it’s efforts to provide mental stimulation for it’s shelter dogs are a great organisation too.

Of course some people do want a certain breed of dog (although, keep in mind that there are rescue groups for many breeds) and it would be a shame for some of the beautiful breeds around to die out. There are legitimate, kind, ethical breeders around who care for their dogs and encourage you to visit them when seeking out a pup. The RSPCA have a responsible puppy buying guide here.

Oscar’s Law is an amazing organisation to follow and/or donate to and is a hub of knowledge about everything concerning “puppy farms”.

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I too want Oscar’s Law Sia!

Should you need any further inspiration to encourage yourself or others to “adopt not shop” :

The ultimate pin up rescue dog is local Sydney boy Pikelet. I love the Life of Pikelet photos and the variety of foster dogs which share his bed. Too cute.

If you love photography and dogs as I do, have a look at these sad, beautiful, haunting portraits of dogs on their last day on earth immortalised by Taiwanese photographer Tou Chih-kang . This may sound like a completely morbid subject matter but it does show the individuals behind the numbers, raises awareness and gives some respect to these souls.

Landfill dogs is another wonderful organisation from the US who do everything they can to portray rescue dogs looking for homes in their best light. Stunning photography and dogs.

I would love to hear about your fur baby and how he/she came into your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Garp’s wisdom and Ing’s lists from 2014

Posted by on Dec 28, 2014 in Uncategorized | 6 comments

“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” ― David Nicholls (from his book “One Day”)

I have been mentally salivating at the thought of doing this 2014 wrap up post for the year. I adore “best of” lists so here is my version. I want to share the things I have read, heard and experienced which have brought good things to my life so…..here we go…..my beloved list-a-thon, inter-dispersed with some very cute Garp moments from the past year.

First though….2014 was an up and down year for me but the highlights were a trip to beautiful snowy Japan in Feb, doing the fabulous Blog with Pip course, being brave and moving jobs which has been the best decision ever, taking a 7 week mini sabbatical (most of which I spent pottering at home), a trip to gorgeous country Victoria, making lots of candles to raise money for Animals Asia and keeping my little blog on the move.

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Beautiful, cold Japan

 Books

* “It’s Not You, It’s Geography” and “Get Well Soon” by Kristy Chambers. LOVED both of these funny memoirs. I wish that Kristy Chambers was my friend. She is a hysterical, self deprecating, flawed, honest, warts ‘n all real chick.

* “High Sobriety” by Jill Stark (another great memoir)

* “Rise” – Ingrid Poulson (one more memoir, from one brave domestic violence survivor)

* “Love In the Outback” by Deb Hunt (and another – I like memoirs, by ladies, it seems !)

* “The Happiness Show” by Catherine Deveney

* “Tiny, Beautiful Things” – Cheryl Strayed

* “The Husband’s Secret” –  Liane Moriarty

* “The Death of Bees” – Lisa O’Donnell (If you liked “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time”, this is a good one)

* “Bed and Broccoli…a very special vegan experience” – by Nikki Medwell (gorgeous cook book)

* “Us” – David Nicholls (not quite as brilliant as “One Day” but a great read all the same)

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Be a good listener

Movies

* Boyhood (my fave…it is a brilliant must see)

* Oh Boy (from the German film festival)

* Still Life (you’ll need tissues for this UK movie)

* Belle and Sebastian (about a boy and his dog)

* We Are the Best ! (took me right back to being 12 in 1982 – gorgeous “Stand By Me”-ish coming of age Swedish movie)

* The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (I was a late comer to this one but it was so worth the wait)

Series

* Derek (Series 1)

* Borgen

* True Detective

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Set yourself lofty goals

 Music

A bit light on here…..I need some recommendations beyond….

Sia’s 1000 Forms of Fear…..which I would have listened to about 1000 times this year. It is brilliant.

Thanks to Spotify I discovered “U2 Live in Milan.” Bono’s rendition of Miss Sarejevo  (make sure you listen to the chorus – Bono gives Pavarotti a run for his money!) is why I still love this man’s rousing voice after a devoted, slightly bashful, 30 years (eek).

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Sleep soundly in the crook of a loved one’s arms

 A few wonderful, random discoveries

Ecolosophy – an online shop full of delightful things. Lovely blog too.

Biocheese – an animal product free “cheese” which, finally, actually tastes like cheese. I am a convert.

Kinda Bacon – tastes just like bacon bits but it is made with coconut !

House Slippers – lordy, I am showing my age when such apparel  appears on my best of list but I am in love with my handmade New Zealand groovy slippers.

Sunburst – a brand new dairy free margarine which contains no palm oil (unlike Nuttalex) and 5 c from each sale goes to Orangutan Foundation International Australia. Sold at Woolies and IGA. Love it.

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Share and be generous 

  People who have inspired me 

Jill Robinson from Animals Asia and Lyn White from Animals Australia – permanent fixtures on this list. What these women have achieved, year after year, for animals is mind boggling

Rosie Batty – for her resilience and courage faced with the murder of her son by her ex husband.

Reverend Bill Crews – I have not a religious bone in my body but his organisation’s (the Exodus Foundation) feeding of 3000 needy people on Christmas Day in Sydney brought a tear to my eye !

Sam Simon – the animal loving Simpsons creator who is dying from incurable cancer and is giving away his fortune in the worthiest of ways. Take notes Gina Rhineheart !

Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherd crew for their no holds barred, courageous, politically incorrect approach to stopping animal cruelty in the oceans.

Nikki Medwell – for making her dreams become a reality. Her B&B and book are wonderful.

The beautiful dog rescuer guy in all the Hope For Paws videos. I implore you to watch one if you are having a bad day – they are all heart melting.

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Buy from nice companies wherever possible

 Blogs I Love

I am reluctant to make this list as there are so, so many great blogs to come out of the “Blog with Pip” course and I don’t want to leave anybody out but here are some of my faves…One Small Life, Life with the Crew, Heike Herrling, These Woven Words, Authentic Abundance,  dI terza maNo, Zinc Moon, That Summer Feeling, Sarah Hearts Writes, A Wondering Life, Naomi Loves, Miss Pippilotta, Betty Rose and George, Sewcraftygoodness, Made With Loops, Bear Loves Dove., Dig In, I Give You the Verbs…………so many clever, creative, funny and inspiring people. My world is a better, brighter place because of you guys (but you aren’t helping my worst of habits – procrastination !)

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Make time to hang out with friends

 Great Websites that I subscribe too which give me all kinds of living well lifestyle tips and recipes

1 Million Women

Consume With Care

One Green Planet

Otter

The Mindful Foodie

My Darling Lemon Thyme

So, now that 2014 is all but wrapped up, I want to say thank you to everyone who has read my little blog and to those who have commented and encouraged me along the way. You are lovely and I am grateful.

As for 2015, I aim to continue to tread as kindly as I can through this life – learning, doing and sharing what I can. A trip to Ubud and Tulamben in Bali is on the horizon as is a journey to north west Tasmania to see the Tarkine wilderness area before the Liberal Party get their mitts on it. More candle making, blogging (including sprucing up my blog’s rather wayward appearance), gardening, power walking, cooking, camping and learning to crochet await. I hope it is a wonderful, safe and happy one for you too xxx

Happy 2015 from my little family to you !

I would love you to share your favourite things of 2014 in the comments section – books, music, travel spots, movies, recipes ? Please tell ! AND, lastly, I am keen to build up my Tread Kindly audience in 2015 so I would love it if you could like me on facebook or subscribe just over there to the right of this page to ensure you never miss a post xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ethical Christmas Feasting

Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in Christmas | 2 comments

“As custodians of the planet, it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness. People get offended by animal rights campaigns. It’s ludicrous. It’s not as bad as mass animal death in a factory.” Richard Gere

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Art: Paco Catalán Carrión

When you’re planning your Christmas day feast, please ponder the plight of the millions of animals who are confined to the most hideous of conditions in factory farms to fuel our endless demand for cheap and plentiful meat so we can “eat, drink and be merry” at this time of year. Life is far from merry for them.

If you are going to have turkey, pork, chicken etc on your table for christmas lunch, please spend a bit more time, money and effort to source it from an “ethical supplier”.

Some great Australia wide websites which help you decipher who the real free range suppliers are, look no further than :

Consume with Care

Flavour Crusader

Sustainable Table

And for seafood, there is this guide :

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide

For Sydney-siders, a new shop has just opened up in the inner west called Chop Shop Carivorium which stocks, amongst many locally grown, organic products, Melanda Park pork which is unambiguously free range.

If you want to take that one extra step and leave animals off your table this year (or, chances are, you will have at lease one vegetarian / vegan guest at the table – our numbers are on the rise !), read on for some sumptuous suggestions :

* The wonderful people at Bed and Broccoli have shared their fear free christmas recipes. I am going to have a crack at the Tofurky.

* The Sanitarium Vegi Roast with Rosemary and Mint Glaze is an easy, tasty option and can be picked up at your major supermarket.

* Partake in one of the many christmas recipes on display at VeganEasy.org.

* This Easy Vegan Christmas Pudding looks divine.

* For some more snazzy / fancy pants (featuring Donna Hay and Bill Graninger) vegetarian / vegan christmas recipes have a look at these mouth watering suggestions.

Have a happy and compassionate christmas everyone xxx

 

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