Second City in America Initiates Fur Ban

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In 2013, West Hollywood became the first city to put a ban in place against the sales of fur, and last week the city of Berkeley became the next! The Berkeley Coalition of Animals has worked and rallied for this new legislation that serves up a hefty fine for those who attempt to not oblige. Minks, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, beavers, chinchillas, bears and even dogs and cats are victim to the fur trade. Several countries in Europe have already picked up on the cruel and violent practices of the fur industry, and have chosen to remove themselves from participation in it as well.

Fur has been a constant hot topic in the media, seemingly being one of the most commonly concerning animal rights issues among omnivores and vegans alike. Celebrities and Fashion Week are continuously responding to the unceasing criticism of sporting and supporting such industries. Given the current astronomic downfall of fur sales even where it is legal, it sounds like it’s only a matter of time before fur suppliers go faux!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

How To Tell Your Family You’re Going Vegan

So you’ve followed FullyRaw Kristina for a year now, you visited an animal sanctuary, and you finally got around to watching Earthlings. You’re feeling good, you’ve got YouTube tutorials lined up on how to eat vegan for cheap, and you think the time has come to make the switch. How will you tell your omnivorous, “I would die without cheese” claiming family?

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  • Step 1 – Get on an Apron: You’re about to make the big reveal, and it’s the perfect time to show your loved ones that there’s more to compassionate eating than plates on plates of grass! Whip up any of your family’s favorite, typically dairy-laden, meat-stuffed foods. Not a cook? The internet’s loaded with recipes, and there’s always the option to get take out from your favorite vegan restaurant (or truck, wink wink 😉 ! Wait until they tell you how good it all tastes before you break the news that it’s all vegan!
  • Step 2 – The Talk: Sit down around the dinner table, take a sip of water, and muster up all your courage to share your newfound social justice venture. There might be gasps, jokes, even tears. Don’t be surprised when members of your family evolve into vegetable therapists and the protein police, it’s only natural.  The potato screams and carrot feelings have haunted thousands for years.  When answering questions, keep in mind that no one likes to be told any of their daily habits are unethical, Try to reason with them by comparing cows, pigs and chickens to any other animal on the planet. Most omnivores claim to be animal lovers, after all, and pigs are known for their astounding intelligence! After explaining all the in’s, out’s, who’s, what’s, when’s and why’s of veganism, assure them that you can bring and/or make all your own food to Thanksgiving’s and other family events around the year.
  • Step 3 – The Follow-Up: It may come as a shock that after explaining the cruelty, environmental destruction, and health deterioration that are caused by animal agriculture and meat consumption, family members will probably still have an immediate reluctance towards veganism. As said before, any newcomer to any social justice movement might be alarmed and resilient if the movement calls their lifestyle into question. Find out what pulls at your family members’ heart strings, and speak to that! If your mom is an avid tree-hugger, pull up Cowspiracy on Netflix and have a movie night. If your other mom is all about health, take her to a local Esselstyn Group Meet-Up and listen to the most jaw-dropping, eye-widenining success stories together. If your little sister is an animal lover, take her on a day trip to the closest farm animal sanctuary. Over time, they may begin to soften, and go from having to be bribed to take a bite of that tofu sandwich you bought for them to testing out veganism for themselves!

Good luck, plant-eaters!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Feminism and Veganism Collide

Nearly every activist has a string of causes they stand behind, and that’s typically because practically all social justice issues correlate. The correlation between veganism and feminism is no outlier. Reading a paragraph comparing the two is actually what convinced me to evolve from pescatarian to vegan a couple years back!

All animal products are the result of animal exploitation, but more specifically, they are the result of exploiting female reproductive systems. Even at the most regulated, grass-fed, free-range dairy farms, any female animal will fall into a vicious cycle of being separated from her mother only moments after her birth, and get artificially inseminated through sodomization. She will continue to live only to be repeatedly, forcibly impregnated, sodomized and have her own babies immediately taken away from her just as she was taken away from her mother. Not only will the mother lose complete control over her reproductive system and have her child taken, but she will also start to acclimate a series of diseases due to this system deteriorating her physical health. This cycle of sodomization, forced pregnancy, and child loss will continue until she is worn enough to produce significantly less milk, at which point the dairy farm or factory farm will no longer have a use for her and she will be sold to become cheap meat, leather or dog food while having lived only a fifth of her typical lifespan. Hens used for eggs will be forced into the same cycle, as will pigs and cows in the meat industry.

Without going too deeply into graphic detail (trust me, that was just skimming the surface!), it’s still clear that the practices of these farms and factory farms are unjust. It’s no secret that females having complete control over their reproductive systems and organs is a necessary part of feminism, but prior to going vegan, I never really speculated over animals having choices. I knew they didn’t want to be killed, but it took watching a video of a mother tirelessly struggling to stand between her calf and a farmer for me to understand how aware animals truly are. Any oppression is hard to stomach, but any oppression can also be fought against! Every time we eat is a chance to vote for the world and practices you want to see moving forward. Dairy is scary after all, right? With so many plant-based dairy replicas hitting the shelves, there has never been a better time to make your plate a moral decision and go vegan!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

 

What the Health?!

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Forks Over Knives and PlantPure Nation just got a new neighbor on the list of health-focused documentaries going viral across the web! What the Health? is a new film produced by the creators of Cowspiracy (another personal fave) exposing a surplus of shocking mysteries within animal agriculture and the human diet. The documentary covers everything from insider government lobbying, to industrialized racism, to cruelty-free protein and athletes, and more! They concluded with a series of eye-opening health success stories from victims of these industries who were able to trash entire shelves of medication after spending only two weeks plant-based! With wide eyes and a bowl of ripe fruit at my side, I was in disbelief at how much money is spent to convince humans that animal products are vital contributors to the human diet, despite the various studies that prove how deeply animal products are linked to an increase in bone fragility, deteriorating mental health, and countless lethal diseases.

After watching, the thought crossed my mind that I have seen hours on hours of health documentaries, and none had said anything beneficial about animal products! I was keen to listen to the opposition, but after a quick google search I realized there are no health documentaries that talk about the importance of animal products in our diets! That’s definitely no mistake. Modern doctors and researchers (who aren’t getting paid by Tyson and Yum! Brands, anyways) can’t deny the blatant evidence that meat, dairy and eggs are taking years off of our lifespans and keeping us sick, and thankfully this documentary uncovers all that lobbying vigorously works to blind us from! Check it out and prepare for your jaw to drop!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

How To Spend the Women’s Strike & International Women’s Day

Once again, women are sticking up for themselves and striving for equality! I know, crazy right? The founders of the Women’s March are coming back for Round 2, a strike referred to as “A Day Without a Woman.” The goal of the strike is to show exactly how extensive the value of women and their work are, despite that women are far more likely to experience unequal pay in the exact same role, discrimination, sexual harassment, and more in the work place. Although participating in the strike through choosing to abstain from work would be completely ideal, that may not be a realistic agenda for women of all backgrounds, demographics and jobs. But luckily, there are a plethora of ways you can be an active member of this strike! Here’s how:

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  • Wear red!: Strikers will paint the country red in representation of “revolutionary love and sacrifice,” according to the organizers of this march. Coming from someone whose closet is about 50% grey and 50% black, I can feel your potential struggle! Bandanas, hats and other accessories can come in handy, and pink is a pretty close match if all else fails!
  • Refrain from shopping: Online, in store, and at your favorite coffee shop! Part of the goal of the strike is to make an enormous economic dent. Use this day to find inventive ways to not spend money instead! Make a crazy good dish (or completely average, because who says women have to be good cooks 😉 ) out of the corners of your pantry, play scrabble instead of going out to see a movie, break out your tub of coffee grounds instead of making the daily morning pitstop, go on a walk through Cherokee Park, make art, read a book etc. International Women’s Day is the day for putting yourself first!
  • Venture to female and/or female minority owned businesses if you do go out: Female owned businesses in town include Time 4 Thai, LOVA Fare, Half Peach, and Bankstreet Brewhouse. You could also purchase a Flora treat from Quills. A night out to the movies can be spent watching Hidden Figures, an amazing movie about three black female engineers who worked for NASA!
  • Thank the women in your life: No matter what the job or what the background, the women you hold with high regard have inevitably made huge sacrifices and have overcome major hurdles just to keep keepin’ on. Thank your mom for always hanging in there with you, thank the cashier who always smiles at you, thank the friend who brightens your day, thank your neighbor for giving you gardening tips. Thank them for the impact they’ve made, the help they offered, the support they’ve given, and the hoops they’ve jumped through (for example, thank you Ellie Shechet for the blog inspiration!). Thank them for every positive aspect of yourself or your life that they’ve contributed to.
  • Round up your gal pals!: Any female protest is better spent with other lady friends! Have a potluck, movie night, Pictionary night, or all of the above! Here is a list of feminist movies to watch (Miss Representation is a personal favorite!) on your celebratory night of womanhood!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

If Everyone Went Vegan, What Would We Do With All the Animals?

It’s a question that’s graced the ears of every vegan. “So if everyone went vegan, what would we do with all the animals?” Aka, are vegans trying to get animals to take over the world?! As pleasant as that world would probably be, I think it’s safe to say that’s far from the end goal.

If the world went vegan, that would mean all humans no longer put the life of one animal before another, so we wouldn’t treat the abundance of farmed animals any differently than we treat the abundance of dogs and cats. There would just be more animals that need all our lovin’! Humans definitely have the power to harm animals, but as I’m sure you know, just because we have power to cause harm, definitely doesn’t mean we should!

Dogs and cats have become prized animals in modern Western cultures, mostly because humans have domesticated them far beyond the point of return! But humans haven’t only erased a dog or cat’s natural place in the food chain. Farmed animals also fell victim to human greed. Since we are the ones who caused those animals to be unable to live freely in the wild as they once could, now it is our duty to be their guardians and protect these sweet, lovable fellas like they deserve! The treacherous practices of animal agriculture are coming into light more and more, and more farmed animal sanctuaries are popping up and saving our animal friends as a result! As the vegan movement grows, the more support sanctuaries will get, and the more animals they’ll be able to rescue.

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The world definitely won’t go vegan overnight (outside my daydreams, anyways), but I’ve got a little hunch that some day, not being vegan will be as taboo as not believing in global warming. Especially as humans realize how much animal agriculture and global warming correlate! For now though, if we stop buying meat and animal products, these animals will no longer be mass produced, and no longer be bred at alarming rates, which is proof in itself that nothing could reduce the amount of animals being brought into this planet more. Just like any other product on grocery store shelves, if the demand goes, the decline of those products is quick to follow.

I mean, it’s pretty clear at this point that animal products are in no way beneficial to our bodies (as shown in PlantPure Nation, Forks Over Knives and The China Study). They’re not only completely unnecessary to keep in our diets, but also extremely detrimental to our health. So are humans really only dedicated to eating animals just because they think there will be too many of them if they don’t? Maybe this is just a personal thing, but there’s an outrageous amount of things people have chosen to eat that are overly abundant in the world, that I can guarantee will never be on my dinner menu… for ex: dogs, cats, cat hair, mattresses, dryer sheets, glass, and plastic bags just to name a few!

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Life Lessons & Benefits of Body Hair

I know, I know, what does body hair have to do with veganism??! As intertwined as veganism and feminism are, I’ll leave that comparison up to your imagination. There are so many important causes worth fighting for, no activist is limited to just one branch! Reading about the comparison between feminism and veganism is actually what made me go from pescetarian (like a vegetarian, but also eats fish) to vegan, but I’ll save that blog post for another day!

A year ago today I decided to stop shaving my legs and underarms, and I have never felt so free. Within the past two years I’ve been dissecting feminism farther than my previously social-acceptance-craving-yet-patriarchy-questioning self was willing to dig into. After contemplative inner-debates, I realized no matter how much I wanted to convince myself I was shaving for the feeling of sweatpants after freshly shaved legs, I took note of why I felt so fearful of something as trivial as leg hair in comparison to men. I went from considering the hairy-legged feminists “the ones who took it too far,” to wishing I had the guts to be the woman who let her braid-able leg hairs fly free, to becoming the fearlessly hairy creature nature intended me to be. And trust me, my thick black Indian hair ain’t playin’!  After the initial hesitancy and blatant fear of my new furry coat (the cruelty-free kind) taking bloom, my wonder and worry faded. My legs were no longer a spectacle to my own eyes, no longer a social experiment within my environment and towards myself. On certain days I looked onto my legs in admiration of the mental and physical hurdles it took for me to reach that point (shorts, shorts in public, etc 😉 ), but for the most part, my legs became exactly what they were supposed to be: a way of transportation and balance, and nothing more.

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But beyond just defeating the patriarchy one leg-hair-braid at a time, it’s easy to forget in the aesthetics of it all that body hair does exist for a reason. It has decreased over time due to humans creating heat out of nothing (space heaters, parkas, etc), but there are still positive contributions our tiny hairs make to our health! They aid our body’s sweat-cooling response, protect our bodies from being fully exposed to sunlight, act as a layer of comfort to keep your skin from burning when rubbing all up against your other skin (think armpits) and protect against minor abrasions.  As for the other hairs that receive all our lovin’, eyebrows and eyelashes exist with the purpose of shielding our eyes from sweat, rain, and any day-to-day debris out of our eyes. Who knew hair was so important?

So if it’s your thing, let your leg hair glisten and blow in the wind – or maybe just your head hair, whatever you’re feelin’! Our bodies were made to be functional machines we exist in, so when it comes to strands of dead cells gracing your body, you’ve got nothing to fear!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Daring to Ditch Meat & Dairy

 

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As any viewer of Cowspiracy could conclude, meat and dairy are taking its toll on the environment one factory farm at a time – and environmentalists are finally taking note! Oakland, California (because of course Californians would be the first to hop on this ethically, environmentally and health friendly lifestyle) joined up with environmental activist group Friends of the Earth to devise school lunches that would be better for the planet. While the school hasn’t gone fully vegan just yet, significant improvements have been made! Oakland schools might occasionally have meat and cheese from organic pastured dairy cows, but for the most part, it’s vegan tostadas and and tofu stir fry for days!

And as for the environmental impact, the proof is in the gelatin-free pudding! Carbon Dioxide emissions from school lunches alone decreased by 14%, which is the equivalent of taking 127 cars off the road for an entire year. Holy guacamole!!  And if anyone was wondering about the myth that veganism is more expensive, the lunch program costs fell by 1%. There might not have been physical proof that this way of eating was also healthier, but it’s a little hard to argue that beef hot dogs and pepperoni pizza stood up to rainbows of hearty, handmade, plant-based noms! Friends of the Earth stated that if every U.S school district followed Oakland’s lead, the drop in CO2 emissions would add up to be the same as taking 150, 000 cars off the roads!!! The environmental activist group is hoping the change in Oakland school lunches is just a stepping stone for more school districts to get the memo and join in on saving the earth, one meal at a time. We’re rooting for them!

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Kentucky Refugee Ministry

Compassion, safety and resources are needed now more than ever for our fellow brothers and sisters from around the globe who were forced to flee violent conditions. Donna Craig understood how important it is to stand with and support future legal American citizens, so she founded the Kentucky Refugee Ministry in 1990. The organization is a non-profit made up of over 160 workers to help refugees though their struggles and obstacles of resettlement. The KRM provides resources of every avenue to refugees in need, with the ultimate goal of creating self-sufficiency and positive integration for those they welcome into Kentucky with open arms.

Refugees have left loved ones, possessions, jobs, and the place they once called home in order to find safety. Thank goodness this local organization does everything they can do to help! The KRM works to give as much as they can back to refugees, including housing, documentation, English classes, jobs, and even legal immigration support to go through naturalization, a process I was lucky enough to watch my own dad go through in order to become a permanent U.S citizen. Within the next year, the ministry plans to welcome almost 2,000 refugees and migrants. Organizations like the KRM are built to create communities of refuge for those who were faced with far worse circumstances in their homelands, and the work of organizations like this could never make America greater. You can make a positive contribution to the Kentucky Refugee Ministry by taking action, and donating time, funds, or even household items such as furniture, bikes or instruments. The KRM even has a Family Center right here in Louisville. It doesn’t take long to pick up on Louisville’s phenomenal justice-seeking, welcoming community, so there is no doubt that we will adamantly work towards staying inclusive and keeping all victims of violence safe and our legal citizens prospering.

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Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi

Louisville Animal Rights Initiative

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There’s a new animal rights group in town that’s determined to make some strides for our furry friends! The Louisville Animal Rights Initiative, or LARI, was created after myself and fellow animal rights activist Annalaura Maranville noticed there are several plant-based eating social groups in town, but there is not as much of a focus on animal welfare. Despite that we all love to get our plant-based grub on, we felt that Louisville was lacking a group solely focused on animal liberation and building community awareness about the mysteries behind animal agriculture. Louisville is bubbling with both animal lovers and activists, so it was the perfect time and place for LARI to begin its journey.

Not vegan? Have no fear! Meetings are open to anyone willing to learn, eat, and discuss, no matter how skeptical! Vegans are welcome, and omnivores are encouraged! 😉 Throughout the year, LARI meet-ups will include demonstrations, potlucks, movie screenings, Q&A sessions, protests, dinner outings, speakers, letter writing and more! Working to ban horse carriages, make Louisville foie gras free, and feeding plant-based meals to those in need are also on the agenda. We couldn’t be more excited to see what all this group can accomplish! Follow the LARI Facebook page, Meetup group or Instagram to keep up with the group’s outings and learn how you can get involved! Our four-legged pals need all the help they can get! 🙂

Signing off for the Sentient,

Sammi