“Be the change you want to see in the world,” said Mahatma Gandhi, Indian activist and one of my biggest sources of inspiration. What change do you want to see in the world? I know I want to encourage the growth of a world rooted in kindness, compassion, and respect for all living beings. I want to minimize as much as possible the harm I inflict on others. So what actions can I take to foster these changes? I can start by helping a population without a voice – animals. Here are 5 ways you can join me in creating a better world for all creatures great and small.
#1. Leave animals off your plate – GO VEGAN
Veganuary is coming to an end, but you can chose to go vegan any day of your life. Because if you really love animals, why do you eat them? Every year, an average American will consume around 30 farmed animals. From the moment these animals are born, they are considered property and products. The vast majority of them are raised in factory farms, where they are subjected to horrible abuse and cruelty, like extreme confinement and mutilations without painkillers. Going vegan may seem like a daunting task, but there are more resources out there than there ever have been to help you on your journey. Some people go vegan overnight, and some (like me) choose to transition over a long period of time.
Don’t feel like you’re able to go vegan at the present moment? Go vegetarian and leave meat and sealife out of your diet. Go pescetarian if you think you need to eat fish and other sealife. Or even reduce your consumption of animal products when possible like Meatless Mondays. Do what you can, because every little bit helps!
Here are some of the top resources for beginners to learn about vegan food, nutrition, and living:
Vegan Starter Guide by Friends of Animals
How to Go Vegan by PETA
Non-profit organization Mercy for Animals (MFA) has a fantastic video series on YouTube: Vegan 101
Your Daily Vegan offers an entire library of guides on all things vegan here
Feel free to send your questions my way, too! I’m always happy to help.
#2. Don’t support animal testing – buy only cruelty-free cosmetics and household products
Do you use Crest or Colgate toothpaste to brush your teeth? What about Tide pods to wash your clothes, or Chapstick whenever your lips are dry? Guess what: These products and many, many more are all produced by companies that use animal testing.
There is no excuse anymore to buy and use products that were tested on animals. It’s unnecessary, outdated, and cruel, but in 8 out of 10 countries around the world, it’s legal to test beauty products and their ingredients on animals, including the United States. There are thousands of companies who are committed to using alternatives, and those are the businesses we should be supporting.
So how can you find non-animal tested products? There’s an app for that! The Leaping Bunny Program offers a FREE handy shopping guide app for IOS or Android that enables you to scan products and know if they were tested on animals or not, as well as look up a list of over 1,000 cruelty-free brands in the US and Canada.
Click here to read an infographic by Humane Society International (HSI) on the state of animal testing around the planet.
#3. Get LOUD – use the power of social media to educate others on animal issues
Check out MFA’s Hen Heroes: Receive daily weekday emails on one-minute actions you can take on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as over the phone, email, or letters.
#4. “The pen is mightier than the sword” – Join MFA’s oINK and use your writing skills
All you need to join oINK is an email address, an internet connection, and a passion for helping animals. They’ll send out an email every now and then letting you know about opportunities to use the written word for good, whether it be writing a local grocery store and encouraging them to offer more vegan options or writing an op-ed for a newspaper shedding light on the cruelty factory farming inflicts on pigs, chickens, and cattle.
#5. Thinking it might be time to find an animal companion? Adopt, Don’t Shop & Remember to Spay/Neuter
Don’t purchase a dog, cat, or any other animal from a pet store or breeder. Instead, change a homeless animal’s life and adopt from a shelter or foster an animal until someone else adopts them. Millions of animals die in shelters and on the streets in the US, and even more so around the world. But it doesn’t need to be this way.
Make sure you always spay or neuter your companion animals. This gives you peace of mind that you won’t have an unexpected litter of puppies or kittens to take care of and find homes for, and ensures that your companion animal won’t be contributing to the population of unwanted and homeless animals.