Sound Advice for Noisy Holidays

Next weekend is the Fourth of July, a day many pet owners, myself included, dread, because we know that holiday fireworks frighten and kill pets and wild animals. I know firsthand from my time as Director of Public Relations for New York City’s Center for Animal Care and Control that more dogs go missing on July 4 than any other day of the year. Some turn up at shelters while many more never make it home alive. Elsewhere, wild birds become disoriented and abandon their nests, leaving little ones to die, and other animals are poisoned by eating firework residue.
 Please don’t “celebrate” this holiday or any other by causing pain, fear, confusion, and death, and protect your companion animals from being frightened by the thoughtless “celebrations” of others. If fireworks are inevitable in your neighborhood, follow these six tips to make your dog feel safe:
 1. Keep your dog on a leash when in or out of the house to prevent bolting from unexpected noises or flashes of light.
2. Be sure your dog is wearing a visible, up-to-date ID tag on the collar. Be sure you have a current photo of your dog.
3. Take a long walk and make sure your dog’s bladder and bowels are empty before festivities begin.
4. Keep your dog in a crate or small room during festivities. Make sure favorite toys and foods are available. Swaddle with an anxiety wrap or thunder jacket, if needed.
5. To mask noises, play soft, gentle music in the room where your dog is staying. Close doors, windows, and shades to dampen loud noises and bright lights.
6. Stay calm yourself, and spray the room or crate pillow with a calming mist.
 Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet!

A Vegan Diet Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible brain disorder that leads to memory loss and a general decline in cognitive function. The disease is marked by an unnatural breakdown of connections between damaged brain cells and by eventual brain-cell death. Alzheimer’s disease kills nearly 54,000 people every year in the U.S. alone and affects millions more. It has affected my family directly and perhaps yours as well.

What is the cause of this deadly and frightening affliction? Recent research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease, like heart disease and strokes, is linked to the saturated fat, cholesterol, and toxins found in our diet. Studies have shown that people with diets full of meat and dairy products have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than do those whose diet is more generally plant based. The protective properties of chemicals commonly found in plants—such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals—have been shown to help substantially lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

It has long been established that saturated fats from animal products increase blood cholesterol levels. In a 21-year aging study, investigators examined the association of total cholesterol with brain plaques and tangles in deceased study participants. The investigators found a strong correlation between increased cholesterol levels and increases in the number of plaques and tangles in the brain. These plaques and tangles are the two main characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. Lowering one’s cholesterol can help prevent and even reverse the buildup of deadly arterial plaques and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The bottom line is that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provides an abundance of antioxidants that can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. These antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, and selenium, can counteract the damaging effects of free radicals in the brain and throughout the body as well as help lower your cholesterol.

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating not just to the sufferer but to entire families. Wouldn’t it be compassionate and wise to do all you can do to prevent it?

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

Seven Great Vegan Apps

Last weekend I posted about three great smartphone apps for cruelty-free shopping. This week I’ll tell you about some great apps for hungry vegans. Whether you’re a longtime vegan or just starting out, from restaurant finders to delicious recipes, these apps are hard to beat.

21-Day Vegan Kickstart

Aspiring and new vegans, this one is for you. Created by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, of which I was a longtime member, 21-Day Vegan Kickstart guides you through the transition into vegan eating. The tool not only includes an easy-to-follow menu, but tips and recipes from nutrition experts, too. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

ShopWell

If you’re transitioning to a vegan or vegetarian diet, you likely spend a lot of time reading ingredient labels at the grocery store. However, with the ShopWell app, you can easily determine what’s in your food. First, you make a “Food Profile” with your dietary restrictions, allergies, and dislikes — then scan barcodes on products. The app will tell you how well the product suits your needs, along with potential alternatives. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

Oh She Glows

Oh She Glows, created by bestselling cookbook author Angela Liddon, is known for its beautiful photos and delicious recipes. It’s no surprise, then, that Angela’s app is just as pleasant to look at as it is to use. It features a library of 160+ vegan recipes, allows you to filter recipes by dietary needs and create a favorites list. For iPhone and Android; cost: $1.99+.

Happy Cow

There’s nothing worse than finally getting to a restaurant you’ve been eager to try, only to find no vegan or vegetarian dishes on the menu. Instead of endlessly scrolling through online menus, use the Happy Cow app to find a vegan restaurant near you. With more than 7,300 listings in 100+ countries, this handy tool is especially perfect for road trips and vacations. For iPhone and Android; cost: $3.99.

BevVeg

Surprise – Alcohol isn’t always vegan- or vegetarian-friendly. Some wines are made with gelatin or animal proteins such as egg, while some brands of beers are filtered with fish bladders. Blecch! Use the BevVeg app to make sure your favorite libation is 100% cruelty-free. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

Veggie Alternatives

With Veggie Alternatives, you can find vegan store-bought alternatives to practically any food. It’s especially useful if you’re new to plant-based eating, as it can help you discover new brands and products. The app also offers recipes to please your inner chef. For iPhone and Android; cost: free.

Food Monster

Food Monster was created by One Green Planet, and features more than 15,000 plant-based, gluten-free, vegan, and meatless recipes. There’s a monthly subscription fee, but if cooking is your thing, this app will pay for itself In culinary pleasure. For iPhone only; cost: free trial, $1.99/month subscription.

There will be more cruelty-free and vegan app recommendations to come, but these seven are available right now and well worth checking out. Start downloading!

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

Mobile Apps That Can Help You Shop Cruelty-Free

When I was growing up, all you could do with a telephone was make and receive calls. Today you can send text messages, check your email, surf the internet, and get where you’re going with GPS. And, of course, all those apps!

I’ve posted before about logos to look for when shopping for cruelty-free products. Now there are a variety of mobile apps that can assist you in shopping cruelty-free. I’m no techno-wiz, so you can believe me when I say that these three apps are easy to use and worth checking out.

 

 

CRUELTY-FREE

Since 1996, the Leaping Bunny Program, operated by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics in the US and Canada, has been connecting compassionate consumers to cruelty-free companies under its Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals. They have introduced the Cruelty-Free app, which is available for FREE for both Android and iPhone. The app lists over 200 U.S. and Canadian companies that are certified under the Leaping Bunny Program. You can also use the search bar at the top and type in a brand name. Another list on the app tells you where you can find cruelty-free brands within a product’s category like soap, eye makeup, tanning products, and more. Users can also scan a product’s barcode to instantly know whether the brand is certified by Leaping Bunny.

 

 

 

BUNNY FREE

The Bunny Free app uses data from PETA’s cruelty-free shopping guide and allows users to check to see if a company is cruelty-free by typing the company’s name in the search box, scanning a product’s barcode, or browsing an alphabetically ordered brand list. Bunny Free will also tell you which brands are NOT cruelty-free and should be avoided. There’s also a filter option to only show companies that are vegan! The app is FREE and available for both Android and iPhone. One drawback: The app doesn’t let you browse by product category. I’m hoping they add that very convenient feature soon.

 

CRUELTY-CUTTER

The Cruelty-Cutter app was developed by the Beagle Freedom Project, a non-profit organization engaged in rescuing animals used in experimental research.  Users can scan a product, search by a company’s name, and search by product category. As a bonus, each company’s information is provided along with direct links to their website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. This app will keep a log of all the products you’ve scanned in your personal “History” section and allows the user to create a list of “Favorites.” Cruelty-Cutter is not free, however, but can be downloaded for a donation of $2.99 to the Beagle Freedom Project. The app is available for both iPhone and Android users.

So, here you have three convenient tools to help you shop cruelty-free. Remember that what you buy does make a difference.

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

Veal, the Shameful By-Product of the Cruel Dairy Industry

Cows produce milk for the same reason humans and other mammals do: to nourish their young. But the millions of cows who live on dairy farms are forced into a vicious cycle of continuous pregnancy so that they will produce milk for human consumption. Their female calves are used to replace their mothers in the dairy herd, but the males meet an even crueler fate: they are doomed to a short, painful life in a veal crate, a life characterized by confinement, malnutrition, disease, and slaughter.

The Cow-Calf Bond

Without human intervention, calves suckle from their mothers for nearly a year. One veterinary study revealed that during natural weaning there is never complete and abrupt abandonment of the calf by the cow. In fact, the cow and calf will maintain a lifelong relationship of social contact and companionship even when a new offspring arrives. Another study found that a cow and her calf can develop a strong maternal bond in as little as five minutes. But calves born on dairy farms are taken from their mothers on the same day they are born and fed milk replacers, including cattle blood, so that humans can have the milk instead. This forced separation causes cows and calves great anxiety and distress, and cows have been known to escape enclosures and travel for miles to reunite with their young. One recent viral video captured a mother cow in New Zealand desperately chasing the vehicle that was taking her babies away.

Small Stalls and No Exercise
Calves raised for veal are forced to spend their short lives chained to tiny individual crates. These crates are designed to prohibit exercise and normal muscle growth in order to produce tender “gourmet” veal. The calves are fed a milk substitute that is purposely low in iron so that they will become anemic and their flesh will stay pale.

Because of these extremely unhealthy living conditions, calves raised for veal are susceptible to a long list of diseases, including chronic pneumonia and diarrhea. A study published in the Journal of Animal Science found that calves who were kept in these veal crates had difficulty keeping themselves clean and had trouble extending their front legs and changing from a lying to a standing position, which resulted in joint swelling. It was also determined that stereotypical forms of stress behaviors, such as tongue rolling and “sham-chewing” (the act of chewing without food in the mouth), increase when smaller pens were used and as calves got older.

What You Can Do
Veal crates have been prohibited in European Union member countries since 2007, but can still be seen by the thousands here in the United States. Demand your legislators follow the example of Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Maine, and Ohio – states which have banned veal crates – by sponsoring bills that would prohibit them in your state.

In addition to refusing to eat veal, avoid all dairy products—calves raised for veal are a by-product of the dairy industry. Try fortified soy, almond, oat, coconut, rice, or other plant-based milks, all of which provide calcium, vitamins, iron, zinc, and protein but contain no cholesterol. They are delicious and perfect for cereal, smoothies, baked goods, and other recipes. Many smooth and creamy dairy alternatives, including nondairy ice cream, cheese, sour cream, and coffee creamers, are easy to find in most supermarkets.

No veal, no dairy – healthy for you, compassionate for cows.

Peace for ALL the animals which whom we share this planet.

The Not-So-Sweet Story of Honey

Growing up I was lucky to have a tangerine tree right outside my bedroom. Twice a year there was nice crop of sweet tangerines to pick and enjoy. Had there been no bees, however, to pollinate the tree, there wouldn’t have been any tangerines. There wouldn’t be any fruit, flowers, or other plants without bees to pollinate them, and without plants to eat and refresh the earth’s oxygen supply, humans would perish. We owe our very survival to bees.

I’m often asked if vegans eat honey. The answer is no. Honey, like other animal products, is derived from exploitation and suffering.

A honeybee hive consists of tens of thousands of bees, each with his or her own mission that is determined by the bee’s sex and age as well as by the time of year. Each hive usually has one queen, hundreds of drones, and thousands of workers. Queens can live as long as seven years, while other bees have life spans ranging from a few weeks to six months.

Drones serve the queen, who is responsible for reproduction. She lays about 250,000 eggs each year, as many as one million over the course of her lifetime. Worker bees are responsible for feeding the brood, caring for the queen, building comb, foraging for nectar and pollen, and cleaning, ventilating, and guarding the hive. As the temperature drops in the winter, the bees cluster around the queen and her young, using their body heat to keep the temperature inside the hive steady at around 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

A Language All Their Own
Bees have a unique and complex form of communication based on sight, motion, and scent that scientists and scholars still don’t fully understand. Bees alert other members of their hive to food, new hive locations, and conditions (such as nectar supply) within their hive through intricate “dance” movements.

Studies have shown that bees are capable of abstract thinking as well as distinguishing their family members from other bees, using visual cues to map their travels, and locating previously used food sources even if their home has been moved. And, similar to the way smells can invoke powerful memories in for humans, they also trigger memories in bees, such as where the best food can be found.

Manipulating Nature
Profiting from honey requires human manipulation and exploitation of the insects’ desire to live and protect their hive. Humans have been consuming honey since about 15,000 B.C., but it wasn’t until very recently in human history that people have turned bees into factory-farmed animals. Like other factory-farmed animals, honeybees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation.

The familiar white box beehive has been around since the mid-1850s and was created so that beekeepers could move hives from place to place. As The New York Times describes it, bees have been “moved from shapes that accommodated their own geometry to flat-topped tenements, sentenced to life in file cabinets.”

Even though bees may prefer the nectar of one or more flowers or plants, it’s common beekeeping practice to place the artificial hives in fields where only one type of plant is available, leaving the bees no options in nectar gathering. In addition, when beekeepers drain hives of the honey the bees have made to feed themselves to sell it to humans, they give the hungry bees sugary syrups, like high-fructose corn syrup, to eat instead. Scientists have confirmed that this practice is causing bees to suffer from malnutrition.

When a new queen is about to be born, the old queen and half the hive leave their home and set up in a new place found by scouting worker bees. This “swarming,” as it’s known, can cause a decline in honey production. Beekeepers do inhumane things to prevent swarming, including clipping the wings of a new queen, killing and replacing an older queen after just one or two years, and confining a queen who is ready to initiate a swarm.

Queens are often forcibly taken from hives and artificially inseminated using drones, who are killed in the process. When beekeepers decide to move a queen to another colony, she is transported along with “bodyguard” bees, all of whom, if they survive the move, will be killed by bees in the new colony. Many bees are killed or have their wings and legs torn off by haphazard handling by beekeepers.

What You Can Do
Avoid honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, and other products that come from the exploitation of bees. Vegan lip balms and candles are readily available. Agave nectar, rice syrup, molasses, sorghum, barley malt, maple syrup, and dried fruit or fruit concentrates can be used to replace honey in recipes. Sweet, delicious, and healthy meals and desserts can be enjoyed without the suffering of vitally important bees.

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

Go Vegan for All Mothers

There is no difference between the worry of a human mother and an animal mother for their offspring. A mother’s love does not derive from the intellect but from the emotions, in animals just as in humans. – Maimonides

This Mother’s Day, be kind to someone else’s mom — by going vegan. After all, animals have mothers, too, and animal mothers love their children just as humans love theirs.

We’ve all heard the term “mother hen” used to describe someone with a strong maternal instinct. That’s because hens are doting parents who will even care for other baby animals as if they were their own. When not confined to filthy factory farms, hens lovingly tend to their eggs and “talk” to their unhatched chicks, who chirp back while they’re still in the shell!

But birds used for food never get to see their chicks, because they hatch in large metal incubators. The male birds are useless to hatcheries — because they don’t produce eggs and because they’re not bred to produce the excessive flesh desired by the meat industry — so they are either suffocated to death or ground up alive. You heard that right: Fluffy yellow chicks are suffocated or ground up while still alive — on a massive scale.

The female chicks are sent to egg farms, where they’re crammed into wire cages or confined to dark, crowded sheds and forced to live amid accumulated urine and feces. Part of the birds’ sensitive beaks are cut off with a hot blade — and no painkillers — because in their misery and frustration, the confined birds might peck at one another, causing injuries.

When the hens begin to lay fewer eggs — usually when they’re around 2 years old — they’re sent to the slaughterhouse, where their throats are slit and they’re often scalded to death in the defeathering tank.

Birds endure all this suffering just because humans like to eat their eggs. But it’s so simple to make great-tasting brownies, cookies and cakes, as well as breakfast scrambles and “egg” salad, without actually using any eggs. If you’re planning to make — or order — a meal for your family this Mother’s Day, why not do it without contributing to cruelty to animals?

We can spare gentle mother cows a world of pain and heartbreak simply by saying no to dairy milk and instead enjoying creamy beverages, frozen desserts, gooey cheese pizza and hearty lasagna made with vegan milk.

Like hens, cows are subjugated and their reproductive systems are hijacked and controlled. On dairy farms, female cows are artificially inseminated and kept almost constantly pregnant so that they’ll produce a steady supply of milk for human consumption. Their babies are taken away from them shortly after they’re born. The male calves are commonly killed for veal, and the females are turned into “milk machines” like their mothers. They, too, end up at the slaughterhouse when their milk production wanes.

This Mother’s Day, let’s acknowledge that all animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffer when treated cruelly and mourn when they’re separated from their loved ones. Let’s honor and respect  mothers and babies of all species by going vegan.

Eggs-cruciating Cruelty

In the movie “The Beguiled,” starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page, I played Amy, a tender-hearted girl who loves and nurtures animals. Early in the movie Amy is seen tending to a wounded crow. The crow, whose wing has been injured, is tied to the railing of a balcony so he can’t fly away until he has fully recovered. “I love ya, Mr. Crow,” Amy says as she tries to comfort the struggling bird, “but until your wings are mended, it’s for your own good.” The scene foreshadows the plight of Eastwood’s character, McB, as he recovers from his injuries in the boarding school.

When I think about birds now I think about the horrific abuse birds – chickens, ducks, and others – endure on egg-laying farms. Egg farms continually breed birds so they have a fresh supply of hens to lay eggs. After two years spending their lives in horribly cramped conditions inside huge warehouses, the hens stop laying enough eggs to cover the cost of their feed and are shipped to the slaughterhouse.

If chicks in the hatchery turn out to be males (who, of course, don’t lay eggs), they’re considered useless by-products. Those poor baby birds are tossed ALIVE, cheeping pitifully for their mothers, into the trash, or thrown ALIVE into rendering machines to be ground up and used as feed for other animals.

Female chicks have part of their beaks painfully cut off while fully conscious, because egg-laying hens are forced to live in such crowded conditions they peck at each other. This is why I don’t eat eggs, or any other animals for that matter. Birds such as “broiler” chickens and egg-laying hens are made to live such miserable and painful lives that I simply cannot ethically eat their abused corpses.

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

The Deadly Horse Carriage Industry

In this scene from Walt Disney’s “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band,” I’m riding in a horse-drawn wagon with my movie dad Buddy Ebsen and brother Jon Walmsley. Today I’d have thought differently about the poor horse pulling that load for take after take in the hot California sun, but even that burden pales next to those put on horses made to draw carriages on our urban streets.

I’ve always felt sad for carriage horses, plodding along wearily on hot, hard asphalt streets as buses and cars go whizzing by with inches to spare. Carriage horses are forced to pull heavy loads in extreme weather, dodge honking traffic, and pound the pavement day in and day out until they get old, injured, or sick, after which they’re sent to the slaughterhouse. These horses lead very sad lives. From constant walking and standing on hard streets, lameness and hoof deterioration are inevitable in carriage horses. Many develop respiratory ailments from breathing in exhaust fumes, and suffer debilitating leg problems from walking on hard surfaces. Weather conditions, too, can prove fatal for working horses. Carriage horses are exposed to long shifts in bitter cold and wet weather in the winter, and scorching heat and debilitating humidity in the summer. Many drop dead on the city streets from dehydration and heatstroke.

In an audit of the New York carriage industry, that city’s comptroller found that horses on the street did not have ready access to water, had insufficient shade during hot weather, and that, because of poor street drainage, “the horses are left to stand in pools of dirty water.”

People around the world are increasingly recognizing that it’s the carriage industry – not just the horses – taking them for a ride. Please don’t patronize carriage rides, and explain to family and friends why they shouldn’t, either. If your city permits carriages on its streets, urge your representatives to propose legislation that will ban this obsolete and abusive amusement.

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