Thanksgiving is only a week away and most Americans have only ever encountered a turkey in the freezer section of the grocery store or one who was served to them on a platter – sadly, most have never experienced the joy of meeting a living, breathing turkey.
Turkeys are very beautiful birds. They pay great attention to grooming and preening their fancy feathers, while soaking up the warm sun and taking dust baths. Turkeys are known for their resourcefulness, agility and social nature. Like other birds, turkeys spend their days building nests and foraging for food. They also enjoy the companionship of others and create strong social bonds that last a lifetime.
Leilani Farm Sanctuary is home to chickens, cats, goats, rabbits, donkeys, peahens, pigs, deer, and ducks. The sanctuary is an all volunteer, non-profit organization created to provide shelter and care for rescued animals and humane education to the community.
The sanctuary hosts at-risk youth programs, school field trips, special needs children, elder activities, and farm tours for the general public, including visitors from the Mainland. It provides the community with hands-on experience that is thought-provoking and stimulates social and emotional growth to all who visit.
How will you show your love & compassion for animals this Valentine’s Day?
Recently someone said to me that it isn’t even necessarily about loving every single kind of animal. After all, there are probably some animals out there that might not rank high on the cute & cuddly list. Rather, it is about not being cruel to animals. No animal should be tortured, exploited, or killed for our use. Can we not extend to them at least that much compassion?
Our companion animals are sure to be lavished with attention & perhaps some extra special treats for cupid’s celebration. But what about all the other animals out there who are not quite as fortunate?
Here are a few suggestions for choosing love & compassion for ALL the animals.
1 ~ GO VEGAN. For the day, the week, one month… or even better…. a lifetime. It’s the most loving choice you can make for the animals. Spare them a life of suffering & bring peace into your heart.
If you need help or support, there’s lots out there. Check out our site www.livevegan.org OR visit the archive of past issues at www.MeatoutMondays.org for lots of recipes and tips. The FARM Links page can also connect you with helpful Web sites and blogs for your journey. You can also try more vegan products by taking advantage of the great offers for vegan foods for Meatout 2011! Need more support? L.O.V.E. (Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation) just launched a vegan pen pal program. Check it out!
2 ~ GO CRUELTY-FREE. Do you know what’s in your make-up or what your shoes are made of? Do you know if your shampoo or cleaning products were tested on bunnies or other animals? Shop with cruelty-free companies that don’t test on animals. (*Note that not all cruelty-free products are vegan.) Also, vegan fashion wear and beauty items are easier to find than ever before, so please leave animal ingredients out of your wardrobe and beauty products. You can find vegan/cruelty-free alternatives for just about anything, even ballet slippers! And if by chance you have some of mom’s or grandmom’s old fur coats or wraps, donate them to a program like Cuddle Coats, where those furs can help comfort and rehabilitate an injured or orphaned animal.
3 ~ TALK, SHARE, TWEET, E-MAIL. Find ways to share what you know about animal use and exploitation with others. Send people links to video clips. Share articles, photos, and Web sites. Mercy for Animals’ new video, Farm to Fridge is a powerful video to share with others. Participate in Meatout this year and you can get a free DVD copy. See details on the Meatout Web site.
4 ~ READ. In order to talk about the animals and share the most thorough and informative information, it helps to be well-informed. Read books about animal rights, veganism, activism, etc. There are so many great ones! Have you read Thanking the Monkey by Karen Dawn? How about Jonathan Balcombe’s Second Nature? Also support vegan and animal rights-related fiction, such as The Tourist Trail by John Yunker. Pick a few great blogs to follow too. Again, check FARM’s Links page for a great list, as well as the blogroll here. And you can visit PCRM’s site for informative health articles.
5 ~ BOYCOTT. Don’t support circuses, rodeos, marine parks, or other places where animals are confined and exploited for entertainment. Elephants in their natural environment will walk 50 miles a day. Dolphins love to travel through the water at high speeds and may cover up to 100 miles a day! Many of these very social animals are confined in isolation. They are chained, beaten, hurting, and miserable. Speak out and let others know why you oppose these types of entertainment. Check out the movie, The Cove, for more on the slaughter of dolphins as a result of dolphins used in entertainment.
6 ~ GIVE TO KIDS. Help kids connect to the animals in deep emotional ways. Maybe you can take a group of children on a trip to an animal sanctuary. Or maybe volunteer to show a film or slideshow of your own photos from an animal sanctuary. If not, how about giving away copies of great animal-friendly books for children like Our Farm by Maya Gottfried or That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals by Ruby Roth.
7 ~ ADOPT/SUPPORT.Animal sanctuaries need our support. If you visit one, you’re sure to fall in love with at least one rescued animal. Perhaps you might adopt? Or donate money, free labor, or needed supplies. And adopting goes for our more typical furry companion animals too. Show your love & compassion for shelter and rescue animals by not buying dogs, cats, and other pets. And shelter dogs and cats need love while they are waiting for a new home too. If you have time, volunteer to visit and walk them.
8 ~ GET LOUD & CELEBRATE COMPASSIONATE HEROES!When you hear or read a story about someone who made a compassionate choice – make some noise about it! Celebrate when a young girl in 4H decides to take her steer, Bumper, to an animal sanctuary instead of to the fair. (Story of Bumper, in the book Ninety-Five). Celebrate her parents for supporting her choice! Celebrate when a young girl follows her heart and saves a chicken (Chicklett) versus killing it for a high school class project. Be proud of these compassionate people and be proud of your own compassionate choices. Compassion is COOL!
9 ~ L O V E. If you have a companion animal, love them til you burst. Hug them, talk to them, play with them, treat them, lavish them with your love. If you are fortunate enough to live near a sanctuary, you have lots of hugs to give out & receive.
In fact, check out The Gentle Barn’s Hug A Cow program. The money raised from these delightful hug transactions (donated by a benefactor for each person who hugs a cow) goes to support The Gentle Barn’s programs for at-risk youth where abused farm animals are rehabilitated and then connect with inner-city, at-risk, and special needs youth for a unique form of interactive healing. Plus, everyone who hugs the cows gets joy & healing too!
So get out there and hug some animals. Good for them, good for us. The more love we churn up, the better. All that love FOR the animals and FROM the animals will translate into a kinder world for ALL beings.
Have you ever wondered how the animals at an animal sanctuary spend Christmas Day?
I (Cindi) spoke recently with Terry Cummings, co-founder/director of Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland who gave me a glimpse of what Christmas day is like for the animals at the sanctuary.
To sum it up in just two words….. Peaceful & Treats!
In contrast to Poplar Spring’s busy Thanksgiving celebration where hundreds of people come out to enjoy a vegan feast WITH the turkeys and all the other residents of the sanctuary, Terry said the animals generally enjoy a very quiet Christmas day.
Just as many people look forward to digging into their stocking on Christmas morning, the animals also anxiously await special holiday treats! After all the morning chores (i.e. cleaning & feeding) have been done, Terry and her husband, Dave Hoerauf (co-founder/director), gather together with the farm manager and a merry group of volunteers to head out into the cold and deliver treats to all the animals.
According to Terry, the pigs are not big fans of the cold, and so once they have ventured out to eat and do their business, they run back into the barn where they burrow into the hay and snuggle up next to each other for a nap.
Instead of sugar-plums, the pigs are likely dreaming of apples and that’s just what the jolly crew of Santa’s elves will bring them!
The horses and cows are not nearly as phased by the cold. They will venture out of the barn and wait for their favorite treat. No cookies and coconut milk for them, they want carrots! And lots of carrots they shall have!
The goats and the sheep will also be out enjoying the cold weather. And although the goats enjoy a good carrot, Santa knows what they really want…. PoPcoRn!
Like little kids with candy, the goats and sheep will excitedly gobble up popcorn and animal crackers, with, of course, a few carrots on the side!
And what about the chickens and turkeys? You’re most likely to find them in the warm barn – especially if there is snow on the ground, which Terry said they do not like to put their feet in!
A delicious combination of corn and grapesis what our feathered friends will get from Santa’s bag!
With their treat bags empty, the Christmas delivery crew will return to the main house where they will warm up with treats for the humans…. hot cider and delicious vegan cookies.
Deb Durant volunteers at Poplar Spring and has enjoyed Christmas day with the animals. In her 2008 blog post, she talks about spending a good part of the day with the pigs (extra belly rubs for the holiday!) and notes that their religion appears to be happiness!
Terry and the sanctuary crew are praying for a snow-free holiday! She welcomes anyone who would like to come out and volunteer on Christmas Day. There will be plenty of joy to share with the animals ~ just like every day! If you are interested, please contact Terry by Dec. 24th by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone 301-428-8128.
Animal sanctuaries like Poplar Spring need our support each and every day to continue their vital mission and to give more animals the opportunity to experience peaceful lives. If you live close to a sanctuary, check into the many ways you can help out on site. If you are not fortunate to live near a sanctuary, find out about offering your financial support. You can sponsor an animal with a monthly donation, or donate whenever you can. Go to www.sanctuaries.org for a listing of animal sanctuaries or do a Google search as newer sanctuaries may not have been added to the list.
Many sanctuaries also have gift shops with items ranging from sweatshirts to books, and even calendars featuring the sanctuary residents. The 2011 Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary calendar is available now (see the preview on www.lulu.com) with photos by Deb Durant. Order 1-9 copies by Dec. 26 and get a 25% discount by entering the coupon code, FLURRY. Order 10 or more copies by Dec. 26 and get a 30% discount with the coupon code, BLIZZARD.
For more about farmed animals and farmed animal sanctuaries, see our recent blog post about the book, Ninety-Five, which features several of the amazing residents of Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary.
Here’s to all the sanctuaries and their dedicated staff and volunteers for making life so sweet for these priceless beings.
From commercials with Paula Deen licking her fingers after eating a piece of cooked pig flesh to loud billboards advertising a double-thick, extra-big, something or another 99 cent sandwich that used to be a sweet, innocent animal, the offensive images are endless and very disturbing for a person who is living a vegan life and is aware of the horrible realities for the animals.
Living a vegan life is incredibly satisfying on many levels. You feel at peace as you eat, drink, clean your house, get dressed, etc. You enjoy the health benefits and can celebrate sparing animals and protecting the planet.
But it’s nearly impossible to drive down the road, turn on the TV, attend a party, or go to a restaurant or grocery store without seeing and/or smelling something that, for you, evokes terrible images of animals needlessly suffering and dying. You might feel angry, sickened, sad, or a confusing combination of these. You might have a great sense of despair or feel intense rage.
These feelings are normal, but their regularity emphasizes the need for practicing compassion for yourself, just as you would do for the animals. Studies show that self-compassion helps to buffer us against negative events. And from a strong base of self-compassion, a person can then cultivate, enhance, and extend it to include and embrace others. Self-compassion will help you to continue forward on your journey …. healthier, stronger, and happier. And we need all the good energy out there that we can get.
Taking Care of Yourself IS Vital.
Below are some suggestions for practicing self-compassion & countering all those negative images. The suggestions are simple & not unfamiliar, but the trick is to REALLY DO SOMETHING – REGULARLY that helps you to REFUEL & thatSOOTHES YOUR SOUL.
Spend time enjoying positive, upbeat animal-related videos, films, music, etc. Have you seen the Why Must We Eat The Animals? music video or just listened to the song? Maybe there is another song or video clip that lifts your spirit and gives you hope? Download it, play it frequently.
Visit an animal sanctuary and spend quality time with the animals, or if you can’t visit in person, check out the MANY online videos & photos of well-loved sanctuary animals. In Ciddy Fonteboa’s recent video from Thanksgiving, you can almost hear Lily the turkey purring! Another option is to read stories about the sanctuary animals, such as in the beautiful book, Ninety-Five: Meeting America’s Farmed Animals In Stories and Photographs. (Published by No Voice Unheard) Or check out an animal sanctuary’s blog, such as Peaceful Prairie’s blog that always has touching new stories & photos of the animals.
Create a supportive group of like-minded friends with whom you can openly share your feelings and concerns.
Expand your reading & movie selections to include inspirational stories, magazines, books, films, etc., animal-related or not. Another book with several inspirational stories: The Missing Peace: The Hidden Power of Our Kinship with Animals (Authors, Tina Volpe & Judy Carman, plus stories submitted by many other names you will recognize!)
Do a Google search about art for animals & explore all the beautiful art being created to raise awareness & help animals. One great example is Neil Young’s animal-focused photography. Our Hen House also has a great Art of the Animal page with all the latest buzz.
Golf anyone? Spend time engaged in other activities that give you joy and help you to disconnect, i.e. get that guitar out, do some painting or craft work, play some golf, dance, meditate, cook, go surfing, read something for fun, watch a comedy, LAUGH, or visit a special place that lifts your spirit.
Take the time to practice self-compassion so that you are
better able to extend your compassion to others.
****PLEASE share any helpful ideas or experience you
have that may help others.******