Jessica is a holistic therapist and is passionate about cruelty-free living, animal welfare, and health, beauty and fashion. Her blog covers all aspects of a vegan lifestyle – find it at crueltyfreecottage.blogspot.co.uk
Living a cruelty free lifestyle means doing as much as you possibly can within reason to avoid supporting the suffering of animals. Humans seem to believe that animals are ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment and experimentation. But who gives us the right to use them? Just because animals cannot speak the same language as us does not mean that they are not intelligent. Animals have feelings too; they should be treated with respect and given a happy and healthy life, just like we also desire. By making gradual changes, it is easy to adapt to a more compassionate lifestyle.
Here are some top tips for cruelty free living:
Approximately three million animals are killed each day in the UK alone for food, often having been treated inhumanely beforehand. Furthermore, dairy cows are repeatedly forced to become pregnant through artificial insemination before their calves are taken away from them shortly after birth. Try going vegetarian or vegan for a week and see how you feel afterwards. Not only will you be helping to save animals, but you will also be helping your health (vegetarian and vegan diets have been shown to offer protection against disease due to lower intake of saturated fat and higher intake of plant nutrients). If you decide that you are not able to go vegan completely, try to cut out meat and dairy a few times a week, so you will still give some benefit to animals and your health – plus vegan meals are usually cheaper too! For more information on vegetarianism and veganism, see www.viva.org.uk.
Many cosmetics, toiletries and household products are still tested on animals – this means that mice, rabbits and even dogs have undergone painful and inhumane experiments to ensure that our lipstick or kitchen cleaner will not cause irritation, poisoning or even cancer. Yet it is not required by law to test these products or their ingredients on animals in the UK because there are approved non-animal tests and existing ingredients that have already been established as safe for human use – hence the long list of cruelty free companies out there. Many companies claim that their products have not been tested on animals, but they may have had the ingredients tested or used another company to test on their behalf. The only way to be certain a product is cruelty free is to look for the Leaping Bunny logo, this way you can be sure that no animal suffered for your vanity. For a full list of Leaping Bunny approved companies, check out www.gocrueltyfree.org
Adopt, Don’t Buy
Having a pet can be very rewarding. They are excellent company, give you love, and can sometimes be more of a friend than any human can be. But you don’t buy friends, so why should you buy animals? Besides the fact that animals should not be treated as objects with price tags, buying a pet could actually endanger the lives of other animals. Overbreeding of cats and dogs is a huge problem, and animal shelters are often overcrowded. Normally the animals are given a week to be taken out of the shelter, otherwise they are put to sleep even though they are usually healthy and have been abandoned through no fault of their own. When you buy a cat or dog, there will be one in a shelter that is euthanized when it could have been rescued instead. So if you are thinking about getting a new pet, look up rescues in your local area. Rehoming a cat or dog is not free – you will be required to make a donation to cover veterinary bills and to support the running of the rescue – and you will be contracted so that the rescue can be sure that the animal will go back to them should a situation arise where you are unable to keep them. If you are unable to have a pet of your own, you can still help by fostering, volunteering or donating to your local rescue.
Watch What You Wear
A lot of people would never wear real fur as it is deemed cruel, so why isn’t there the same attitude towards other animal products? Contrary to popular belief, leather is not always a by-product of the meat industry; many animals are bred specifically for their skins and are kept in extreme confinement. Others, such as deer, crocodiles, kangaroos and dolphins, are hunted and killed for their skins.
Silk is considered a luxurious material, but it is produced by boiling silk worms to death while they are fully conscious inside their cocoons. Hundreds of silkworms may be killed for just one silk scarf.
Wool may also be unavoidably linked to the meat industry. In Australia, the most commonly raised sheep are purposely bred for their wrinkly skin, which means that they produce more wool. Due to the unnatural amount of wool, many sheep collapse and die of heat exhaustion, and the moisture that collects in the wrinkles attracts flies which lay eggs. The hatched maggots may eat the sheep alive, so farmers perform ‘mulesing’. This involves the sheep being forced onto their backs with their legs restrained before chunks of flesh are sliced from their tail area (with no pain relief given) to cause smooth skin that won’t harbour fly eggs. For more information on animal skins, see www.evolvecampaigns.org.uk.
Don’t Let Them Entertain You
Some countries now have a ban on using animals in circuses, and rightly so. The welfare of circus animals is questionable, since they are often subject to confined living quarters, an unnatural climate, harsh training practices and unnatural situations during performances.
Many people would argue that zoos save endangered animals and educate people about species they may not get the chance to see in the wild. Although this may be true to some extent, imagine how it must feel to live in a cage often too small for your needs and have people stare and gawp at you day after day. Furthermore, many animals are captured with the intention of placing them on a breeding and conservation program to eventually be released back into the wild, but they often spend the rest of their lives in the zoo, away from their natural habitat. Most zoos are also private companies who use animals to make profit.
If you fancy a flutter on the horses, don’t. Horseracing is a cruel ‘sport’ motivated by the financial gain of trainers, owners and bookies. Cruelty cases have been increasingly in the news lately, with several horses dying during races (more than twenty horses have died on the Grand National course alone since 2000). Because racehorses are bred for speed not strength, many endure limb and other injuries and are shot. Approximately 12,000 foals are born into the industry each year, but less than half go on to become racehorses. The horses that do not make it may be slaughtered for their meat, or become subject to a life of neglect. See www.captiveanimals.org for information on circus and zoo animals, and www.animalaid.org.uk for more information on horseracing.