2020 Is the Year of the Rat

January 25 is the Chinese New Year. Welcome to the Year of the Rat!

When I think of rats, I think of Templeton in Charlotte’s Web. Templeton was greedy and larcenous, just as rats are typically stereotyped, but he was also noble and kind and a loyal friend.

Humans stereotype animals just as they stereotype other humans. There is often a wide gap between those stereotypes and reality. Pigs are not dirty, sloths are not lazy, and gorillas are not savage beasts. Many people have an image of rats as filthy, disgusting, and villainous; they are not. Rats are intelligent and sociable animals, not that different than dogs. Yet, millions of rats are killed in U.S. laboratories every year. They are abused in everything from toxicology tests (in which they are slowly poisoned to death) to painful burn experiments to psychological experiments that induce terror, anxiety, depression, and helplessness. They are deliberately electroshocked in pain studies, mutilated in experimental surgeries, and have everything from cocaine to methamphetamine pumped into their bodies. They are given cancerous tumors and are injected with human cells in genetic-manipulation experiments. Animal activists infiltrating laboratories at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Utah revealed that mice and rats were given enormous tumors and painful, deadly illnesses. Rats had holes drilled into their skulls for invasive brain experiments.

Rats are mammals with nervous systems similar to our own. It’s no secret that they feel pain, fear, loneliness, and joy just as we do. These highly social animals communicate with each other using high-frequency sounds that are inaudible to the human ear. They become emotionally attached to each other, love their families, and easily bond with human companions. Infant rats giggle when they are tickled. Not only do rats express empathy when another rat or a human they know is in distress, they also exhibit altruism. In laboratory settings free rats can be seen liberating other rats from their cages even if there is no clear benefit in doing so.

Unprotected by the law, experimenters can torture, maim, and kill rats at will. They don’t even have to provide them with pain relief. A 2009 survey by researchers at Newcastle University found that rats who underwent painful, invasive procedures such as skull surgeries, burn experiments, and spinal surgeries, were given post-procedural pain relief only about 20 percent of the time.

Rats – and other animals – don’t have to suffer and die in experimental labs. There are many non-animal test methods that can be used in place of animal testing. Not only are these non-animal tests more humane, they also have the potential to be cheaper, faster, and more relevant to humans. Write your representatives in government to put an end to animal testing in the Unites States. Don’t buy products tested on animals and urge your supermarket or grocery not to carry them. Always look for the “Not Tested on Animals” logo when you buy products. Help make the Year of the Rat cruelty-free for all animals.

What Is Ethical Veganism?

What is ethical veganism?

Being an ethical vegan is refusing to eat animals or animal products – putting peace on your plate – and extends into a lifestyle and a belief system grounded in morality. Ethical vegans conduct their lives without exploiting animals in any form or fashion or being complicit in their suffering and abuse.

I practice ethical veganism. It is important to me to be vegan in every sense of the word. As an ethical vegan, I embrace a dynamic respect for all life. Ethical veganism is about what I eat and who I am. It’s about my choices relating to diet but also my choices relating to what I wear, what personal care products I use (NO animal testing and NO animal products in the ingredients), the activities I enjoy, and the work I do. Since ethical veganism pervades every facet of a person’s life, it also colors one’s personal relationships, political beliefs and social attitudes. It absolutely does mine.

I believe animals not only have the right to life, but also to live without pain or exploitation. Included in the philosophy of ethical veganism is a personal commitment to create the least harmful impact on one’s natural environment. Doing what I can to protect the environment or lessen the impact of climate change helps all living things.

Recently, in Norwich, England, a judge ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief, entitled to the same legal protections as a religious belief. A man, Jordi Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, had claimed he was fired from his job because of his veganism. Casamitjana worked for an animal welfare charity called League Against Cruel Sports. Casamitjana claims he was let go because he revealed to his colleagues that their employer’s pension fund was being invested in companies that experiment on animals.

The court’s ruling, that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief protected by law, means that Casamitjana’s discrimination lawsuit can continue. The case will be decided in February, but if the court finds that he was indeed fired for his beliefs, it will be a victory for ethical vegans everywhere.

There will always be those who fear or despise ethical vegans and boast of their pleasure in killing and eating animals. But ethical veganism is what I believe in and how I live my life; what those who oppose think of that doesn’t matter to me at all.

 

Congress Considers a Ban on Wild Animals in Traveling Circuses

That’s me at left, protesting the cruel treatment of animals at a California circus in 1997. This year, 2020, California joins Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York City in prohibiting circuses from using wild animals as entertainment. Hopefully, the entire United States will soon do the same.

A bill that bans the use of wild animals in traveling circuses has been introduced in Congress. Traveling circuses fall under the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission, a federal agency, and thus Congress has the authority to make laws that apply to the treatment of circus animals. The bill before Congress now would amend the Animal Welfare Act,a law that has monitored human treatment of animals in research, transport, entertainment, and more since 1966.

The bill’s website explains the “adverse effects” of captivity and transport on animals used for entertainment. “Due to severe confinement, lack of free exercise, and the restriction of natural behaviors, animals used in traveling circuses suffer and are prone to health, behavioral, and psychological problems,” it explains. It adds that law enforcement authorities struggle to monitor circuses effectively due to their mobility, meaning the “brutality” faced by animals often goes undocumented. As the website says, “Congress has a responsibility to protect the welfare of animals and ensure public safety.”

A Democrat, Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, and a Republican, David Schweikert, also of Arizona, are co-sponsors of the bill. If Democrats and Republicans can see eye-to-eye on a matter of such grave importance, shouldn’t the bill to ban the cruel exploitation of animals in circuses be something everyone can get behind?

Please write your Representative and urge him or her to support the bill. Thank you.

Please Help Australia’s Wildlife

This is me at the age of three with a beloved koala doll. Today my heart is broken for all the koalas and other animals of Australia. That country is facing a crisis from the worst fires in their history. TV news programs tell us that millions of acres of land have been scorched, homes burned, and 19 people killed, but often left unmentioned is the fact that half a billion (that’s billion, with a B) animals have also been burned to death or choked to death by smoke. This is a tragedy on an almost unimaginable scale.

Koalas are uniquely at risk during bushfires. While kangaroos and Australia’s other native animals can move quickly and try to outrun the fast-moving fires, koalas move slowly. Because of this, they are dying by the thousands. According to Newsweek, experts estimate 8,000 koalas in New South Wales alone have died in the fires. Even koalas who manage to get away from the fires are being brought to relief stations and animal hospitals with life-threatening burns and other serious injuries.

In the time it takes you to read this, thousands more animals will die. Millions more – mammals, birds, and reptiles – are in imminent peril. You can help.

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital desperately needs help. Donate here.

The World Wildlife Fund is accepting donations for help with emergency animal care. You can help them out here.

WIRES (Wildlife Rescue) is an organization that helps rescue and treat injured animals. An emergency fund has been set up to help. You can donate here.

Wildlife Rescue Sunshine Coast is another worthy organization. You can help them out here.

PETA Australia helps Australia’s animals in so many ways. Make a donation here.

Humans must be stewards of the Earth, including ALL the world’s animals, not just pf those companions at home or the wildlife in your own area. Please consider making a donation now to help save lives and treat the injured from the Australian wildfires.

Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.

 

 

 

“Game Changers” – A Must-See Movie

Happy Holidays to all my fans! Looking for a great movie to watch before shopping for the big holiday dinner? I’m really excited about the Netflix documentary “Game Changers” and a recent USA Today article that are both changing the public face of veganism. Now that elite athletes are “going vegan,” people are realizing just how important eating a plan- based diet is for health, stamina and recovery from injuries and inflammation. “Game Changers” is produced by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, Chris Paul, Joseph Pace, and James Wilks.

You won’t believe all the  professional athletes who have adopted a vegan diet, including the NFL legend quarterback Tom Brady, NBA stars Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul, ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, silver medal-winning Olympic cyclist Dotsie Bausch, and tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams. Arnold Schwarzenegger is vegan, and the strongest man on earth, Patrik Baboumian, is, too. Watch Baboumian flip a car over in “Game Changers” and do a yoke-walk carrying 1,200 pounds. As his t-shirt says, he’s a “Vegan Badass!” They’ve all switched to a plant-based diet to put them at the top of their game. “Game Changers” also features interviews with elite athletes, sports doctors, cardiologists, and even a urologist who proves by clinical trial that a vegan diet has a very positive effect on men’s “manhood.” 

I’ve been vegan for almost 30 years.  While I enjoy the health benefits, my motivation was to do what I could to put a stop to the cruelty, suffering and killing of animals. I’ve witnessed firsthand the shocking things done to animals on factory farms and smaller independent farms.  I’ve seen the chickens with their beaks sheared off so they won’t peck each other in crowded, stressful living conditions. I’ve seen the poor suffering dairy cows artificially inseminated in what the dairy industry calls “rape racks” to keep them pregnant and lactating their sad miserable lives. They’re then killed when their productivity declines. I’ve seen three-day-old male baby calves torn from their mothers’ sides to be shipped to veal farms where they are put into cages so small they can’t even turn around, then fed an iron-deficient diet to keep their flesh pale and tender. These and other horrors I’ve seen with my own eyes are why I try so hard to inform and educate others with my Saturday Facebook essays.   

Whether you’re interested in helping putting an end to cruel suffering and death of animals or simply interested in improving your health and vitality, “Game Changers” is the must-see movie of the season. 

Here is the USA Today article, which underscores the revelations in “Game Changers:”

ATHLETES TURN TO PLANT-BASED AND VEGAN DIETS TO GAIN EDGE IN A GROWING SPORTS WORLD TREND

Alex Morgan remembers athletes sporting milk mustaches in ads when she was a kid, reinforcing the idea that she needed protein from animal and dairy products to be strong. “I never thought it was possible I could be playing at an elite level as a professional athlete with a plant-based diet,” the U.S. women’s soccer star told USA TODAY Sports. “Then I realized it wasn’t detrimental at all. What I learned growing up just wasn’t true.”

When Morgan’s Orlando Pride teammates and the MLS teammates of her husband, Servando Carrasco, showed they could thrive while eating vegan, the stigma was erased and Morgan was ready to try a new diet. She became vegetarian in August 2017 and then took on a vegan lifestyle at the beginning of 2018.

NEW TREND IN SPORTS WORLD

What Alex Morgan and Chris Paul eat everyday is entirely  plant based.  “If anything, it makes me stronger and helps with fatigue and recovery,” said Morgan, who had the U.S. women team’s chef, Teren Green, prepare vegan meals during the World Cup, prompting several of her teammates to give it a try. 

Veganism is on the rise in the United States — the plant-based market increased 17% in dollar sales this last year, according to The Good Food Institute — and more athletes are turning to the diet, particularly at the peak and latter stages of their careers. 

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the most prominent football player to embrace veganism, crediting his plant-based diet for allowing him to play at an MVP level into his 40s. He made the change starting in 2014, and detailed his approach in his 2017 book, “The TB12 Method.”

Athletes have been exposed to plant-based diets for a variety of reasons. NBA guard Chris Paul said his children’s nanny was vegan. 

Recovering from a shoulder injury, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said in April he’s gone vegan to aid his stamina and rehabilitation. 

Tennis star Venus Williams adopted a vegan diet in 2011 after she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. 

A gluten allergy led Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic to go plant-based, and in 2016 he opened up a Monte Carlo vegan restaurant. 

While most nutrition experts are in agreement that veganism aids recovery and promotes good health, others raise questions about its effectiveness.  Yet athletes are among the biggest advocates for veganism. 

Morgan and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving were named “Most Beautiful Vegan Celebrities” by PETA this year. “The rules aren’t as strict as everyone thinks,” Irving told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m an example of someone who ate really unhealthy — fast food or a quick TV dinner in the microwave — without educating myself on what I was putting into my body. Now I feel like I understand the truth — how certain chemicals in meat and dairy affect your body, and that now there are alternatives bridging the gap available.”

Those alternatives start with plant-based meat companies such as Beyond Meat, which has attracted Paul, Irving and Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins as investors. You’ve got to be open-minded,” Paul said. “I was someone who was like, ‘I don’t want that fake chicken or fake burger.’ But it tastes similar and it really makes a huge difference in how I feel.”

James Loomis, who practices internal medicine at Barnard Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said he believes a vegan diet is a natural fit for athletes: “It leads to quicker recovery from workouts and better injury prevention. The food pyramid is misleading and that’s stayed with us from a young age. The standard American diet leads to low-grade inflammation so when athletes are exercising it’s like putting Diesel fuel into a regular car.” 

Cate Shanahan, a nutrition consultant says “The healthiest diet comes from four natural pillars — fresh food, fermented and sprouted food, meat cooked on the bone, and organ meats.”

Loomis disagrees, and has data to prove it. He collaborated with experts for a 2019 study that outlined evidence of plant-based diets benefiting endurance athletes in heart health, overall performance and recovery. 

“It’s a factual myth that we have to have animal protein to perform at a high level,” he said. “With a plant based diet, food becomes more like medicine.” 

Loomis is one of the doctors featured on “Game Changers,” a documentary that debuted in September that features MMA fighter James Wilks exploring the differences between protein from plant-based and meat-based diets.

“If you go into locker rooms and look at the pre-game meal, it’s usually steak or chicken or pasta, and there’s lots of Whey Protein powder,” said Loomis, the former team internist for the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals. “That’s then amplified commercially with marketing, basically saying, ‘You’re not a man unless you eat meat.’”

Times are changing. Brady appeared in a 2002 Got Milk? ad. Nowadays he’s promoting his own plant-based protein shakes. 

Silver medal-winning Olympic cyclist Dotsie Bausch became vegan in her mid-30s — three years before the 2012 London Games — and appeared in an anti-milk commercial for her non-profit, Switch4Good, during the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

“Most people have meat and dairy because the next person does it,” Bausch said. “The truth is milk doesn’t make you grow big and strong.” 

Chris Paul’s personal chef, Seong Hwang, prepared a post-game meal for the Houston Rockets last season. He didn’t tell players until afterwards that it was made with Beyond Meat.

“The players, the staff, they all loved it solely based on the taste,” Seong said. “No one wants to give up taste. Chris is a big foodie. If what I was making him didn’t taste good, he wouldn’t stick with it. Whenever you hear veganism, you think you have to give up something or eat tofu to survive. That’s really not the case.”

The vegan perception can be damning, though. According to a 2017 report by NBC Sports Bay Area, NFL teams were dissuaded by Colin Kaepernick’s vegan diet, calling it a red flag when considering signing the free agent quarterback.

“There’s a weird connotation that comes with veganism,” said Loomis, who moved his practice to Washington, D.C., from the St. Louis area because colleagues in the Midwest thought his approach was “crazy.”

Morgan says the stigma can go both ways.

“It took me a while to feel comfortable with my lifestyle,” said Morgan, who also supports veganism because of ethical concerns around animal rights. “The vegan community can be very unforgiving at times, and I don’t want to sit here and say I’ve never eaten dairy or worn leather. But I haven’t eaten meat or dairy in two years and do the best I can.”

“I just want to feel good about why I’m doing this. I don’t think our country is there yet, in terms of being able to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle, but we’re getting there.” 

New York Passes Bill Banning the Declawing of Cats

Hooray for New York, which this week became the first state to pass legislation banning the declawing of cats. California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are considering similar bans. Declawing is already banned in some cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Denver.

Cats’ claws are a vital part of their anatomy and their instinctive behavior. They use them to escape from other animals or people who are hurting or threatening them. Cats claw to have fun and exercise, to maintain the condition of their nails, and to mark their territory. They stretch by digging their claws in and pulling against their own claw-hold.

Declawing of cats, or onychectomy, is not at all like clipping your fingernails. It is the amputation of the last bone, including the nail bed and claw, on each front toe. It is the same as cutting off each of your fingers at the first knuckle. Declawing is serious surgery and puts a cat at risk of adverse reactions to anesthesia, gangrene, hemorrhaging, permanent nerve damage, persistent pain, difficulty walking, scar tissue formation, bone fragments, and skin disorders. After surgery, the nails may grow back inside the paw, causing pain but remaining invisible to observers. Declawing results in a gradual weakening of leg, shoulder, and back muscles, and because of impaired balance caused by the procedure, declawed cats must relearn to walk, much as a person would after losing his or her toes.

Without claws, even house-trained cats may urinate outside the litter box. Declawed cats may be morose, reclusive, and withdrawn or irritable, aggressive, and unpredictable. Many people think that declawed cats are safer around babies, but in fact, the lack of claws, a cat’s first line of defense, makes many cats feel so insecure that they tend to nip more often as a means of self-protection. Declawed cats often develop behavioral problems that eventually lead to their being dumped at animal shelters and killed.

Peace to all the animals with whom we share this planet!

Senior Animals Need Love, Too

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Sure you can, but really, why would you want to? Old dogs (and cats) are perfect just the way they are.

November is Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. It’s a sad fact that older animals have the hardest time finding homes and are often the first to be killed at city and county shelters. But there are so many reasons that older animals make ideal companions. Here are just a few:

Older pets are typically calmer than curious puppies and kittens and are quite content with a more relaxing day-to to-day routine. The mellow nature of older pets makes them a great fit for households with children too. Before ending up in shelters, senior pets often come from some sort of family life which makes adjusting to a new home environment much easier than it could be for puppies or kittens.

Senior dogs and cats are often already trained (and potty trained) and may even be pros at performing basic commands. The great news is that even if they’re not, they are much easier to train than younger animals. Their experience around humans, along with more established physical and mental abilities, allow them to better understand the requested commands and pick up new tasks much faster than puppies or kittens.

Senior animals don’t require the constant attention required young ones. Of course, they still love to play and go for walks, they just don’t require as much of your focus and energy. All they really want is a warm and comfortable place to sleep, fresh food and water, and a companion to love and one who will love them back. If you want an animal friend who can fit right in the moment he or she comes home, a senior dog or cat might be just what you’re looking for.

Last, but far from least, by adopting a senior pet or any animal – you are giving the gift of life. Animals, old and young, are dumped at city and county shelters every day, and, sadly, many will never leave alive. Doesn’t every animal deserve a chance at a loving and caring home?

Thinking about adding an animal companion to your household? Adopt and save a life – and why not adopt a grateful and loving older animal?

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

Cruelty to Animals Is No Three-Ring Circus

Hanna-Barbera’s The Roman Holidays was a humorous look at “modern-day” life in Ancient Rome, as seen through the adventures of the Holiday family. I voiced the youngest Holiday, Precocia. The Holidays had a family “cat,” a lion named Brutus. Brutus’ antics very often got the family in trouble, but it was all in cartoon fun. What’s not funny is the life of a lion – or a tiger, or an elephant, or any animal – in a circus.

“The circus is coming to town” is a saying that used to bring excitement to small town and city dwellers, but now with the knowledge of what really goes on “behind the big top,” people are thinking twice. Instead of paying money to see the exploitation of animals in circuses, people are choosing “animal free” circuses like Cirque du Soleil and many others who are saying “NO” to the use of animals in circuses. You see, there’s another side to the story of animals in the circus I’d like to address – animal cruelty.

Consider the elephants. Circuses typically confine these animals with a pair of heavy leg chains front and rear, diagonally opposite. An elephant thus chained cannot even turn in a circle. It’s not unusual for these animals to live in double leg chains all night and day except during performances and when they are on   public “display”. Some elephants are kept in a small electrified corral, but even those elephants may spend 10 hours or more a day in double leg chains. Male elephants may have their head and trunk movements restrained with additional chains. Most of us would be outraged to see a dog tethered in that manner. Yet a wild elephant, or even one born into captivity, has an immense, instinctive need to roam, take mud baths and interact with their own social community.

In nature, elephants sleep only four hours a night and can travel up to 80 kilometers a day, but the frustration, boredom, and loneliness of circus confinement creates the motivation for aggression. When I think about the effects of rampaging elephants’ (as has happened in cities worldwide), I wonder why animal acts have been tolerated for as long as they have. A visit behind the scenes of circuses can be an eye-opener. One sees tigers kept in cages equivalent to what an airline carrier would be for domestic cats (where the tigers can’t even turn around let alone express their natural behaviors), hippos in tiny containers with scarcely six inches of water, and bears with muzzles around their mouths while harnessed onto the backs of horses. Animals in circuses also engage in aberrant, repetitive movements such as pacing and rocking; these are pitiful symptoms of the complete boredom and isolation in a totally unnatural environment. Many circus animal “handlers” don’t really care or, worse yet, go out of their way to abuse  animals.

The opportunity to dominate large land mammals like elephants and tigers seems to attract individuals with violent behavior to work as “handlers.” One technique used to dominate an elephant is to wet him down and then repeatedly administer 110-volt shocks to drive the animal to its knees. Not only does this torture and terrify the animal, it may prematurely age its brain. Another is to strike an elephant repeatedly in their most sensitive areas with a bull hook, a long wooden rod with a sharp metal hook at one end. The “handlers” do this in order to get elephants, who weigh thousands of pounds, to do tricks which are difficult and completely unnatural for them to do. Some circuses say that they train their animals with a “reward system”; this is simply false propaganda meant to soothe an uneducated public.

If we want this world to be a more peaceful and less violent place, if we want to start teaching young children to have compassion and respect for those beings with whom we share the planet yet who are different from us, then we must not take them to places that show these magnificent animals doing stupid and unnatural tricks in ridiculous costumes. This teaches nothing to our children about these animal’s lives or who they truly are and should be.

Please teach your children compassion not cruelty and choose circuses that have the jugglers, clowns, cotton candy and acrobats, but do not contain the suffering of those circuses who use animals.

For more information, please visit:

friendsofanimals.org/program/circuses-rodeos-bull-riding/

www.peta.org/issues/animals-in-entertainment/circuses/

When It Comes to Horse Racing, No Horse Is a Winner

Here I am at the age of 4 or 5 up on a very large horse!! I might be smiling but, boy, was I scared. I didn’t have to be; horses, like many large mammals, are gentle giants. But maybe because I was so tiny, I felt really frightened. I was able to cover up my fear because at 6 I got a part where I rode one on an episode of “Branded,” starring Chuck Connors. I was around horses while filming the movie “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” as well as the Walt Disney TV movie, “Smoke,” starring Ronny Howard. When filming the series “Lassie,” I rode a horse regularly; by that time I was pretty much over my fear of riding.

As an adult, I completely overcame my fear of horses and learned a lot about them in the process. Horses are herd animals. They naturally want to be around other horses, graze in meadows, trot great distances, play and court, but they suffer greatly when used to pull carriages around busy city streets, as in New York, or are made to race around tracks.

Behind the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Horses who weigh at least 1,000 pounds are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and are forced to run around dirt tracks at speeds of more than 30 miles an hour while carrying a rider on their backs. Celebrated filly Eight Belles was euthanized on the track after breaking both front ankles during the 2008 Kentucky Derby; her poor ankles couldn’t sustain her running that fast. At another race, a horse named Appeal to the City hemorrhaged around her eye when jockey Jeremy Rose “engaged in extreme misuse of the whip.” In his Kentucky Derby win, American Pharaoh was struck with a whip at least 32 times by jockey Victor Espinoza. Pushed beyond their limits, most horses are subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs intended to mask injuries and artificially enhance performance.

Racehorses are the victims of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end in slaughterhouses. Horses used for racing are forced to sprint — often under the threat of whips and even illegal electric-shocking devices — at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain injuries and even hemorrhage from the lungs. While spectators show off their fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, horses are running for their lives.

I hope all who read these posts learn something they didn’t know about animals and share them with their friends and co-workers. We all need to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Humans Have No Monopoly on Motherly Love

Mother’s Day is this weekend, and I can’t think of a better time to remember that humans don’t have a monopoly on loving and caring for their children, or on the anguish and grief of losing a child.

For cows and their calves, the first minutes after birth are spent developing a bond that will last a lifetime. Throughout life, mother and child maintain social contact and regularly enjoy each other’s companionship. Pity, then, the poor dairy cow, kept pregnant and lactating so humans can steal the milk meant for her baby. Pity, too, mother and child when that baby is male. He is taken, umbilical cord still attached, from his mother before even his first taste of his mother’s milk and loaded onto a truck bound for a short and painful life in a veal crate. Both mother cow and calf cry out for each other for days, and mother cows have been known to escape their enclosures to run after trucks taking their babies away.

Mother seals can pick out their pups in a sea of hundreds using their uncanny powers of vocal recognition. How painful it is for them to hear their pups cry as they are clubbed and axed on the Arctic ice by seal killers who skin the pups for sealskin gloves and fashion accessories? The mother seals cry, too, and desperately try to save their pups from slaughter, but the seal killers hold them at bay with spears and other weapons.

Among the world’s most intelligent animals, dolphins are known for graceful synchronized swimming, but dolphin mothers and their babies also synchronize their breathing for the first few weeks following the babies’ birth. These dedicated moms may nurse their young for up to ten years and will also mentor less experienced females by allowing them to babysit as practice for when they have babies of their own. If only they could teach them to avoid the nets and long lines of commercial fishing boats, who consider the dolphins nothing more than “by-catch.”

Nurturing begins in the nest for chicken moms. Mother hens will turn their eggs as many as five times an hour and cluck softly to their chicks, who chirp back to her from inside their shells! Once chicks hatch, devoted moms use their wings to shield their babies from predators and have been known to refuse to leave their nests during a fire if they have newly hatched chicks. Chickens on an egg farm, though, have no opportunity to raise their babies, and male chicks, deemed “useless” by the egg industry, are often tossed into a grinding machine while they are still alive.

Fur-bearing mothers, like foxes, rabbits, and minks, make sure their children are warm and protected in their dens before they leave to search for food. Many never come home, their legs crushed and shattered in steel-jawed traps set by fur trappers. Many will chew their own leg off to get back to their babies. Sadly, it isn’t long before shock, blood loss, or infection kills the mother, and her children, waiting in vain at home, die, too, of starvation.

Human children taken from their mothers often headlines the news, but the fact that animal babies are stolen from their mothers every day isn’t considered newsworthy. But listen to a mother cow crying for her stolen calf, or the wail of a mother seal over her murdered and skinned child and understand that grief and pain are not just something human mothers feel.

This Mother’s Day, please take a moment to recognize the unique bond between mothers and children of all species. To support all moms, go vegan, wear vegan fashion, use cruelty-free products, and never exploit animals in any other way.