Vegan Boots and Happy Feet

28 02 2009

The Kiowa Vegan XCRThere are good-quality, leather-free shoes and boots available in the marketplace. Many of us have been wearing them for years. But many still believe sturdy boots need to be leather and make this concession in their otherwise animal-friendly lifestyle. Well, the options are out there and I’m going to proudly support one of them right now.

I said goodbye to my old vegan work boots (No Bull from Pangea) last week. Made entirely from cotton and synthetics, they held up to a lot of abuse from me for six years, but, feeling a draft on my toes, it was time to search for a new pair. My search took me quickly to Garmont – a company so proud of their animal-product-free boot alternatives that they went ahead and named them The Vegans. For a sturdy, all-around work boot, they sell the Kiowa Vegan, with a goretex lined option for all weather wear. And for a lighter hiking shoe, they sell the Nagevi Vegan, also available with an all-weather option.

Are they hard to find? Not at all. A quick search of their website ( led me to three locations very close to me. So I happily made my way into Robinson’s Outdoor Store in Victoria, BC, where the well-versed staff were happy to fit me with a new pair of Kiowa Vegan XCRs.

Cost-wise, there is no difference between these animal-friendly options and their mainstream counterparts. If you still cringe at the cost of a good-quality pair of boots or shoes, just remember how your purchase affects you and your world in the long run. A good boot will last at least twice as long as its cheap, box-store counterpart, and – in the case of Garmont’s Vegans – you’ll be lessening your impact on other species while proving a point that we can all affect change with our choices. There is great power in our wallets.

How do I like my new boots? I’m loving them! I spend a lot of time in the woods and these boots are light-weight and very sturdy.

Wait! I just heard the chuckle of the hardened construction worker who doubts that the Kiowa Vegan will stand up to the impact of a backhoe inadvertently running over his or her toes. It might not, my friend, but I have an animal-friendly option for you, too. Check out this high-top, steel-toed option from Moo Shoes ( This boot has been standing up to all sorts of wear and tear for years without giving an inch in its stance for animal welfare. You can absolutely kiss leather boots good-bye.

So here’s to happy feet for everyone!



Seals and Sadness

27 02 2009

gulf-2006-005This is a time of year when a great sadness builds inside of me and – as much as I try to just carry on happily – I can’t avoid it.

The sadness comes from thousands of miles away on the opposite coast from where I live. Every year between November and May, harp seals are slaughtered for their pelts in vast numbers. Hundreds of thousands of these beautiful creatures are killed for the fashion industry and the entire season is supported by the Canadian government.  Most of the world condems it. Thousands – often millions – of people rise up against the seal hunt. Dozens of NGOs around the world are dedicated to ending the hunt (bless you all). Yet it continues for no good reason.

I am Canadian, and the annual sealing season makes me furious at my own country. Why do we do this?

It isn’t to sustain the sealers – they make only 5% of their annual income of the seals.

It isn’t out of neccessity – the pelts supply a needless fashion industry overseas.

Nor do the seals present a real threat to the fishing idustry as some claim. Their is no overpopulation of seals. They were nearly wiped out by overhunting in the ’50s and ’60s and any gain in population is merely a return to something near normal numbers.

This is a big, ugly issue but it really isn’t that complicated. The Canadian government needs to help east coast residents find a more humane, sustainable income to rely on so they don’t have to resort to this cruel slaughter every winter. And that income is obvious: eco-tourism. The east coast is stunningly beautiful. I’ve paid to visit there and will again. So would millions of others if only the government would promote the natural beauty of the land instead of exploiting nature in such a horrible way.

What can you do? Pick up Building an Ark and read Solution 84. We’ve listed all kinds of contacts and resources in there for being a lobbyist for the anti-sealing movement.

Or log onto one of the anti-sealing NGOs listed below and find out what you can do to help.

Whatever you choose to do for the harp seals, I thank you sincerely.


Rescuing Hope

21 02 2009

animal-acres-2008-051Our friends at Animal Acres are calling for help with their recent rescue of four abandoned goats. Please read this appeal from Animal Acres, and, if you can help, please do so. You can also get more information from their website:



And here’s their request:

Farmed animals are the victims of the economy and foreclosure crisis, too. This week, Animal Acres received another urgent call to assist suffering farmed animals in our area – and when we rushed to the scene, we found four abandoned goats. One severely emaciated goat was on her side, thrashing on the ground, amid broken bottles and other trash.The next day, we learned that Hope’s plight wasn’t over, WHEN SHE WENT INTO LABOR. Our veterinarian could not get to Animal Acres immediately, so he coached our Shelter Manager Frank Allen on the phone through the delivery process. Hope was too weak and emaciated to give birth, and she could not push her baby out. Without Frank’s heroic efforts to deliver the baby, both mom and baby would have died. When our veterinarian arrived on the scene and saw Hope’s condition, he could not believe that Hope was alive, or that her baby was born alive. It is truly, a miracle.

After receiving permission to take the animals, we loaded the three non-critical goats into one truck, and carried the downed goat to another truck, where we administered medicine for shock and pain, and gave her fluids. When she was stable enough for transport, we took her to Animal Acres for continued treatments, including trimming her severely overgrown hooves – some of the worst we have ever seen, and most likely the reason she could no longer walk, or get to food and water. Remarkably, after her hooves were trimmed, she was able to stand with our assistance, and then take her first timid steps. We watched her stand next to the hay trough, and eat, and eat, and eat. Our live-in intern Emilee named her HOPE.


As this alert is sent, the baby (who Frank named “Faith”) is doing well and drinking from a bottle since mom cannot nurse. Unfortunately, Hope is unable to stand on her own because of the difficult birth, and appears to be getting weaker. She gave every last ounce of strength she had for her baby. Our veterinarian came to the shelter again yesterday to assess her condition, and in addition to the medications and fluids she is on, all we can do at this time is to help her stand every 2 hours, and hope she begins to regain her strength.WE NEED YOU TO HELP US RESCUE HOPE AND FAITH, and provide hope for the hopeless.


·    We urgently need VOLUNTEERS to help us care for mom and baby, since they required round-the-clock care – including helping mom stand and baby drink. Our small caregiver staff is exhausted from doing 24 care, and we desperately need help! No appointment is necessary if you are coming during the day from 7 am to 6 pm – if you can help in the evenings, please call Frank at 661-212-4647.

·    Please DONATE to our Emergency Rescue Fund to help pay for Hope’s veterinary treatments and medical expenses – and keep our doors open for many other abandoned farmed animals. We are receiving more calls to help suffering farmed animals due to foreclosures – but our donations have dropped significantly due to the economy. We can’t continue our lifesaving work without your help. Please click here to make an emergency rescue donation today.

·    Please SEND THE VIDEO LINK ( to your friends and family to educate them about the plight of farmed animals, and what they can do to help.

Special thanks to Lassen’s of Santa Clarita, a health food store which donated colostrum milk for Faith.

Valentine Co-operation

15 02 2009

With Valentine’s Day still on (some of) our minds, here’s a story about love in the animal kingdom. It’s the only known case – among all bird species on Earth – of two males co-operating for the affection of a female rather than competing.

Male long-tailed manakins in Costa Rica pair up to impress a prospective mate by performing an eloborate dance routine together. The senior male wins, but – after five years spent as a ‘wingman,’ the junior male takes on the alpha role.

There’s a link on the BBC’s site with video footage of the dance routine. Check it out – something light to make you smile for the day. And perhaps we can learn something from them…


Clashing in the Sea

7 02 2009

Probably no animal welfare topic is longer-lived than the debate over commerical whaling. Only, there really isn’t a debate any more. Most of the world condems the killing of these magnificant creatures that are gifted with a level of sentience we can only dream of.

Yet, Japan just carries on whaling, year-after-year using a loophole in the global agreement that allows them to kill whales for “scientific research.” There’s no scientific research going on. Japan plans to kill 985 whales this year, clinging to a tragic industry that the rest of the world has evolved beyond. They try to keep their public interested – even marketing ideas like blubber chewing gum and blubber ice-cream to keep people buying whale products.

Earlier today, there was a collision between a Japanese whaling vessel and a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society anti-whaling vessel in the Antarctic Ocean. Nobody was hurt but tempers flared and everyone on both sides of the issue is slinging accusations back and forth as to who struck who. Here’s a link to the Associated Press story:

I say, thank you, Captain Paul Watson. Thank you for being courageous enough to be out there fighting for what you believe in. I’m glad none of the Sea Shepherd crew were injured and I hope the incident once again brings public attention upon Japan for their continued manipulation of a global treaty that intends to bring us a little closer to an end to whaling.

I thought sure whaling would be a thing of the past in my lifetime. Yet, when Japan just keeps on killing and killing and the rest of the world allows it to happen, I’m not sure. <sigh>


Taking a hit for the whales

Taking a hit for the whales

Cows, Cars & Climate Change

31 01 2009

What’s the number one way you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and do your part to tackle climate change for us and our animal friends?


Drive less – right?


Wrong! The average family car – by most estimates – produces the equivalent of between 4 and 5 tons of CO2 (carbon dioxide) annually. Let’s go with the higher number to be on the safe side. Google it, do your own research if you like, but for now we’ll go with 5 tons of climate-altering fossil fuels being pumped into our atmosphere for every single car on the road.


So what could be worse than that? The answer – unbelievable to many – is meat production. Producing – and, therefore, eating – meat takes a much harder toll on the environment than driving your family car.


How is this possible? Let’s break it down:


• A pound of beef requires three-quarters of a gallon of oil to produce it. By the time a beef cow reaches its adult weight of over 1200 lbs., it will have “consumed” 283 gallons of oil, producing 2.8 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over 5 years.


• Its manure will produce 20 lbs. of nitrous oxide (N2O) annually, a greenhouse gas that is 296 times more powerful than CO2.


• Its digestive system will produce 285 lbs. of methane (CH4) annually, a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more powerful than CO2.


• When you add these together, a beef cow will produce 6.8 tons of CO2 equivalent a year, considerably more than the average family car.


• The average meat eater is responsible for 3.8 tons of CO2 equivalent a year from eating beef.


And let’s step aside from climate change comparisons for a moment and look at three other key ways meat-eating impacts our environment:


• 90% of the packaging used in meat production is not recycled.


• A pound of beef requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce it, leading to water depletion. The Ogallala aquifer is losing 13 trillion gallons of water a year; some wells in Northwest Texas are already running dry.


• The waste from a cow, which is 130 times greater than it is from a human, often contaminates water systems and soil with disease-bearing organisms.


So, if you’re going to be a climate change activist, start right where it counts the very most – on your dinner plate. Eat less, or no, meat.1105174539_df02fbf370

Eat Raw Sunshine

30 01 2009

Today’s VegSource Newsletter cast its spotlight on a new website called Eat Raw Organic Sunshine  ( I like it – please do check this site out.

And, while we’re on the topic of eating a greener diet for a healthier, more sustainable world, I’m going to draw from the pages of Building an Ark, because this simple message is still so misunderstood: no action on your part has a great impact on the planet than how you choose to eat.

Here’s Solution #5 from the Ark: Switch to a Meatless Diet

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

— Albert Einstein


One of the simplest, most fundamental ways to reduce animal suffering is to stop eating them. There are so many reasons to do so.


For You and Your Family

Vegetarians live longer than average and suffer less from high cholesterol, heart problems, diabetes, cancer and other ailments linked to the consumption of meat.

1 Vegans consume absolutely no animal products at all and share the health benefits of vegetarians.

2 Meat contains protein and other important nutrients because animals eat plant sources that are high in these nutrients. Vegetarians and vegans go straight to the source.


For the Planet

A 10% reduction in our meat consumption could feed every starving man, woman and child on this planet, since it takes far more resources to grow food for meat production than it does to feed humans.


Twelve pounds of grain go into the production of every hamburger. That’s enough grain to make 8 loaves of bread or 24 plates of spaghetti.


1 hamburger = 8 loaves of bread = 24 plates of spaghetti.


And it goes way beyond that. Animals (livestock) bound for our dinner tables are sucking up our water supply much faster than nature can replenish it. The Ogallala Aquifer, a gigantic underground body of water that stretches from South Dakota to Texas, is being drained so quickly that, at its current rate of depletion, it will be empty by 2050.


The environmental and social impact of this catastrophe to people who live in the US Midwest isn’t fully comprehendible, but it will be devastating. What’s draining the aquifer so quickly? Mainly cows and pigs destined to become beef and pork. A single pound of beef requires over 5,000 gallons of water to produce. A pound of tomatoes requires just 23 gallons.


 And it’s still more than that. Our forests are in crisis. We have lost 80% of our old-growth forests worldwide, often to clear land to range more cows to produce more beef for North American dinner tables. At the current rate of deforestation, there will be virtually no rainforest left by 2050.


For the Animals

People argue that if you don’t eat farm animals there will be no need for them to live, and they won’t be born at all. But perhaps not being born at all is better than being born into a life of captivity, overcrowding, manipulation, fear and slaughterhouses. DIVIDUALS


Over 10 billion animals are slaughtered every year in the United States alone. Right now, as you read this, animals are being slaughtered for food at the rate of 317 per second. If you stop eating meat right now and don’t eat any more meat for the next year, you will save the lives of 35 animals.


But Don’t We Need Meat?

Ask Jo Stepaniak. She’s an author and educator who has pursued vegan and vegetarian issues for over four decades and who has raised three beautiful, healthy children on a vegan diet.

Or ask Carl Lewis. One of the most famous and decorated Olympians ever, he won nine Olympic gold medals and he’s a vegan. Or ask actor Alicia Silverstone, rock star Bryan Adams, Dr. Benjamin Spock, US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, actor Ed Begley Jr., singer Fiona Apple, actors Joaquin and Summer Phoenix, actor Keenan Ivory Wayens, artist Peter Max, tennis champion Peter Burwash, three-time Ironman athlete Ruth Heidrich, singer Shania Twain, actor Tea Leoni or marathon runner Sally Eastall. All vegans, every one of them. The list is a lot longer than that. None of us needs to eat meat.


World Meat Consumption

Annual average per person (lbs)

United States 275

Canada 238

Argentina 215

Italy 199

Germany 181

Brazil 181

United Kingdom 175

Norway 136

Mexico 129

China 115

South Africa 89

All Developed Nations 176

The other end of the scale

Indonesia 18

India 11

All Developing Nations 64

* Note: These figures are for land animals only. Averages

include vegetarians, so the actual numbers are higher.


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