As you set up tables and distribute leaflets, you'll meet people who feel the way you do about earth and animal issues. Although it's not absolutely necessary, you can increase your effectiveness by joining forces and forming a group. A group can have more clout than one person. The media, the government, and the public will usually give more serious consideration to the views of a group.
CHOOSING YOUR ISSUES
A group can start with two people. The important thing is to decide from the beginning which issues you will work on. Then choose a name for your group that reflects that focus. Do you want to work primarily on animal or environmental issues? Realistically, you won't have the time, energy, or money to focus on all issues effectively. It's usually best to stick to animal and environmental education, organizing, and lobbying and refer individual cruelty cases to the appropriate agencies in your community that should be equipped and trained to deal with them.
TAKING THE FIRST STEP
Before you get a group together, educate and organize yourself:
Setup a website or social media page for your group.
Get a post office box mailing address at a local post office.
Open a bank account. You'll need to keep accurate financial records from the start, so decide on a record-keeping system. At the minimum, record the date and amount of all donations, and the name and address of the donor. Also keep a record of how money is spent, including the date, amount and purpose. Save all your receipts and write on the back of the receipt the item you bought and the date and reason you bought it.
Prepare an information pack for new members and a form thank-you letter for donations you receive...and make sure you acknowledge them quickly.
Prepare a media list of newspapers and TV and radio stations with their addresses, telephone numbers and deadlines to save time when you need to publicize an event.
Do some long-term planning. Set up a tabling schedule or leafletting plan for the next three to six months.
As a small and new group, prioritize your activities. Member newsletters, for example, should be a low priority. Your time and money will be more wisely spent on educational materials, leaflets and campaigning. Remember that newsletters relate what a group has already done - they shouldn't be used as a replacement for action.
You may want to postpone incorporating your group as long as your budget is small and you're not launching high-profile campaigns.
THE FIRST MEETING
Decide how you want to operate. Should you meet once a month or call meetings as you need them? If you have regular meetings, they should be held on the same day and time each month to make them easier to remember and schedule. Can you find a room at the library or a local school or church? Avoid meeting in people's homes - you're better off in neutral territory.
LEADING THE GROUP
Expect to be the leader of your group and to do most of the work, even if you have hundreds of people interested in joining. As the leader, it's your job to prepare an agenda for each meeting. Make sure each person will leave the meeting with something to do. It may seem tedious to do this but people feel useless and drop out if they don't feel needed. Find out what kinds of things people are good at: who has web designing skills or access to a copy machine, who is good at designing posters, and who enjoys tabling.
Don't let meetings become strictly social affairs - keep on target. Avoid the "pot-luck supper" trap. Many new activists will suggest having them frequently. But people have a limited amount of time and energy, and it's more important to spend it on activism than on cooking. Make sure your meetings are friendly enough that people feel comfortable offering their feedback and ideas. Having a "work party" to prepare posters or write letters can do wonders to boost spirits.
Always be on the lookout for potential leaders to share responsibilities. Most groups are held together by one or two strong people, with short-term volunteers working only when convenient.
Let people move (and move on) at their own pace, and accept the fact that people will leave the group. Be grateful for every contribution, no matter how small, and never publicly criticize or embarrass anyone. Never make people feel guilty for not doing enough. You won't encourage them to do more; it's more likely they'll stop working completely. People's activism thrives on encouragement and recognition rather than criticism.
It's very important to avoid fighting within the group. Avoid criticizing others, even if you're speaking confidentially - your words may come back to haunt you. If it's really necessary, criticize the act rather than the individual.
Be open to new ideas and encourage people to express themselves. Have regular brainstorming sessions. Ask each person to think of several ideas, and write down every one, no matter how offbeat. Discuss the ideas only after you've finished listing them all. Don't allow people to disparage others' input. Everyone is special in some way, and even outlandish suggestions can lead to creative planning. Ask questions and listen attentively.
WHAT SHOULD THE GROUP DO?
Your group's activities will probably fall into three categories: public education, seasonal or "reaction" events, and long-term campaigns.
Every group should try to sustain a minimum schedule of public education work, including tabling, leafletting and electronic media. Your group can also host educational seminars and workshops, donate earth and animal themed books and media to libraries and schools, and host fundraising events that also educate the public on specific issues.
Seasonal or "reaction" events are another valuable activity. These include leafletting or picketing stores that carry inhumane items in response to advertised sales, demonstrating when a circus or rodeo comes to town or protesting the destruction of area wild-lands. In smaller towns where you are likely to get publicity, these one-time events can be especially effective.
The easiest way for local groups to work on long-term campaigns is to join one that has been initiated by a national organization. You can bring important issues to your community and have the benefit of the national group's literature and resources.
You may eventually want to take on a purely local campaign to shut down a lab, puppy mill or polluting factory, or to stop industrial polluting. This kind of campaign will most directly involve the local community and can be one of the best ways to bring people into the movement. Be aware, however, that this requires much more time and money than the one-shot seasonal events.
Above all, your group should be visible. Get into the public eye often, and always try to get media coverage for your events.
Each year, people are amazed to see ducks and ducklings in the most unlikely places, such as walking single-file through city streets or nesting under bank teller windows! Luckily, ducklings are precocious and mature quickly. Here are some common sense solutions to typical problems encountered in suburban and urban settings.
DUCKS NESTING IN BAD PLACES
Ducks commonly nest in poor spots, such as under bank-teller windows or the middle of busy ball fields. These nests may fall prey to cats, dogs or human malice. However, moving the eggs and nest is not only illegal according to federal law, but also the parents usually won't follow it. Instead, put up educational signs and perhaps try to fence off the nest temporarily. There isn't much else you can do. Some people have tried moving the nest, a few feet at a time, into a better area. This may work if the relocation site is nearby and you move the nest a bit by bit. However, the mother may stay on the nest making relocation impossible. It's usually best to leave the nest alone and hope for the best.
DUCKLINGS SEPARATED FROM THEIR MOTHERS
If the mother was seen recently, wait it out for an hour and see if she comes back. If the ducklings are beginning to scatter, or you're not sure how long they've been alone, put a plastic laundry basket over them, upside down, to contain them while waiting for the mother to return. She will see them through the lattice sides of the basket and make contact. If she returns, slowly approach and overturn the basket so she can collect her young.
DUCKS IN YOUR POOL
The best solution is to leave them alone, as long as the ducklings are able to get out of the pool. The mother will move her young when they are older and less vulnerable. If you must evict them, go to your local party store and buy silver mylar balloons with heavy weights on the bottom. Put the balloons around the perimeter of the entire pool, about every 20 feet. The balloons will bob in the breeze and make the ducks nervous. To enhance the harassment effect, you can also float a beach ball in the pool or use an electric boat.
DUCKLINGS STUCK IN POOLS
Most ducklings get stuck in pools because the water level is too low. The solution is to either raise the water level (simplest approach), fish them out with a net, or create a ramp angled <45 degrees, with a wet towel attached to it for traction.
If you know where the duckling came from, then it's best to take the duckling to that pond for release. The duckling will soon rejoin his family. Sometimes other ducks will even foster-parent the young duckling. If the duckling was left behind for a while and his origin is unknown i.e. fished out of storm drain or spillway, you can contain the duckling with an upside-down laundry basket (as described above) and monitor to see if the mother returns. If she doesn't come back after 4-8 hours, call your local fish and game agency to locate a wildlife rehabilitator. These are tough judgment calls. If you need to hold the duckling(s) in captivity for a few hours, DO NOT give them water to swim in because ducklings are not waterproof until they're older. They may become chilled and die. Just give them a shallow pan of water (to drink) and some crushed, non-sugary cereal like Cheerios.
REMOVING DUCKS FROM AN AREA
You can shepherd ducks by creating a "moving wall," i.e. have people hold sheets between them and move behind the ducks, forcing them to walk in the desired direction. However, consider waiting to move them out because the young may be vulnerable. Sometimes you may need to temporarily feed them greens like kale, spinach and poultry starter food (available from an animal feed store,) and set up a shallow kiddy pool with ramps until the ducklings can fly. Particularly in cities, early eviction can mean certain death.
MOVING A DUCK FAMILY FOR THEIR SAFETY
The only way to catch adult ducks is to do so at night (they don't see well in darkness), by creeping up on them while they sleep, then gently covering them with a lightweight blanket or towel and scooping them into a carrier. Catch the ducklings next with a net or sheet, but try to minimize stress as they will be scared and may scatter. Be sure the net doesn't have large holes in which they may escape or become entangled. Consult your state fish and game agency prior to any intervention for any special authorization you might need.
GETTING DUCKLINGS OUT OF SEWER GRATES
These are tricky situations. Often you'll have to contact your town's Public Works Department for assistance with removing the grate. The police can be a valuable resource in terms of helping you contact the correct town employee. You'll need a fishing net or a fabric "hammock" stretched between two golf clubs to catch the ducklings below the grate. You may have to be creative in terms of capture strategies, depending on the logistics of where they're stuck. Once you catch them, make sure they are dry (or use a hair dryer) before setting them back outside for the mother to retrieve. Put an upside-down laundry basket over them until the mother comes (so they don't scatter), and then slowly lift it when she reappears. If she doesn't come back by nightfall, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator.
All the garbage you throw away is destined to end up in a landfill. What’s more, most of the items constituting your garbage (metal, plastic, paper, and everything else) was probably created using environmentally harmful methods. When you produce less trash, you ease up your environmental impact. Consider doing the following:
Purchase reusable products, and avoid buying new ones. Take care of, and repair, the ones you currently own. Use glass containers instead of plastic. Stop using plastic bags and opt for reusable cloth. Don’t use disposable kitchenware; use reusable items. Store your food in reusable containers and avoid plastic wrap and aluminum foil as much as possible.
Repair your clothing instead of purchasing new. Equip your most frequently used devices with rechargeable batteries. Opt for used furniture – there is a large supply of it and it costs much less than new. Don’t buy products that are packaged in several layers, when they could have been packaged in one. Almost 33 percent of our waste consists of packaging material.
Choose recycled paper. Print and copy on both sides. Reuse your folders, envelopes and paper clips. Reduce your paper mail by relying more on emails and mobile texting.
Cook your own food. And if you are up for it, grow it yourself! In any case, try to make as many meals as you can from the most basic of ingredients – which you can also buy in bulk to save on packaging.
Try making your own personal care products. Homemade soaps and shampoos are much more environmentally friendly than commercial ones that are often full of toxic chemicals. There are literally no personal care products that you can’t make on your own, including toothpaste, lotion, conditioner and shampoo. Begin by replacing one product at a time. Most homemade products have a variety of uses (IE baking soda can be used as soap, shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, teeth whitener and toothpaste – as well as for cleaning.)
Reduce your reliance on chemical products. Synthetic chemicals in cleaning and personal care products end up in the water supply. Because the bulk of chemicals used today are toxic, they end up harming aquatic life and waterways significantly. What’s more, these substances harm people as well, so it’s only in your best interest to reduce their usage. Also, avoid herbicides and pesticides and opt for natural ways of combating pests and weeds.
Revert to homemade cleaning products. You can make all sorts of cleaners – in fact all of your cleaning products – with natural-only ingredients. Read up on how to make alternative cleaning products that exclude harmful chemicals. For instance, you can do your basic cleaning using a 50-50 solution of water and white vinegar, that works just as well as most conventional cleaners on the market. Virtually all your cleaning can be accomplished with baking soda, vinegar and water. You help protect the environment, your health, and save a lot of money.
When there are no reliable alternatives to a harmful item, try to use the minimum amount needed. By doing so, you help the planet and also help your wallet.
Residents living in towns and cities can play a major role in ensuring insect pollinators survive and thrive around them.
With global bee and butterfly populations in decline, the nature of cities is shifting so that they often contain more diverse and abundant populations of native bees than nearby rural landscapes. However, urban conservation programs are largely lagging behind, in that they continue to invest in education and outreach rather than programs designed to achieve high-priority species conservation.
New research into urban ecology is changing how we view the biological value and ecological importance of cities globally. But in order to ensure this has a recognizable effect on issues such as global food security and ecosystem service provision, policies now need to be better aligned with this newly unfolding image of urban landscapes.
Urban gardens are increasingly being recognized for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. And by growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners can play an important role in ensuring that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. This international collaboration demonstrates those theories can also be applied globally, to the potential benefits of people and communities across the world.
Urban habitats have traditionally been rather neglected by ecologists and conservationists who are interested in pollinators. However, recent research globally has demonstrated that towns and cities can support large, diverse communities of bees and other insects that play an important role in pollinating urban food crops, particularly in gardens and allotments. It's important that we raise the profile of these insects to influence planning policies, ensuring that building and infrastructure development, as well as conservation strategies, takes this into account.
The diversity of people living in cities creates a diversity of aesthetic landscaping preferences, which in turn leads to a diversity of flowering plants which supports diverse populations of bees. And because native bees can live their entire lives in relatively small spaces when food sources are present, insect pollinators put high-priority and high-impact urban conservation within reach, and small actions can yield large benefits for pollinator conservation.
Recent research is also showing that improving the wild pollinator populations in urban areas improves species diversity and abundance in nearby agricultural lands. So intensifying conservation efforts for urban insect pollinators constitutes an opportunity for meaningful urban conservation, moving beyond traditional education and recreation programming towards a series of cascading benefits throughout rural and urban landscapes.
Because the world’s food security depends upon bees and other pollinators, attending to populations of urban pollinators is important. The global pollinator crisis is one environmental problem that an individual urban resident can do something about. There is no need to get a bee hive which can increase competition for resources with native bees. Simply plant more diverse flowers of different sizes, let valuable 'weeds' grow an extra week or two before mowing them from your lawn, leave some bare unmulched ground for solitary ground nesters, learn to appreciate the aesthetic of yards of others who plant for bees, and then watch the urban pollinators flourish.
Habitat loss and the extinction of species are devastating consequences of irresponsible human actions. The problem’s complexity and reach often leads people to feel unable to make a difference. However, every single action we take is crucial in bringing about change. Although individually our contribution may seem small, the sum of our efforts can really make a huge difference.
Protect Wildlife Habitat
The most pressing issue that threatens species is their progressive loss of habitat. Animal agriculture, deforestation, and development impact the environment in profound ways: erosion, soil compaction, desertification and changes in climate. When the land is manipulated in such a manner, wildlife habitat alteration or even elimination takes place. This is more pronounced when rare species are involved; these alterations may result in the rapid extinction of the species. Habitat protection ensures that whole animal communities are safe, which in turn leads to fewer interventions needed towards the conservation of endangered species. Reserves, parks, and similar protected areas are often the only safe havens that remain unaffected by habitat loss.
Consume Less, Recycle More
A great way to minimize our effect on the environment is to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Consuming less is an immensely effective means of protecting the planet. What’s more, by reducing our energy consumption we help conserve our natural resources, and we save money in the process!
Become Member Of A Conservation Organization
Numerous conservation organizations exist with a mission to protect endangered species and habitats. Each organization has a different mission – for some it’s to safeguard a certain habitat or species, for others to push for the legislation of good environmental practices. If you are particularly interested in a topic, chances are that you will find an organization that shares your interest. Becoming a member will let you back organized, constant efforts towards protecting wildlife and habitats. Moreover, there are often special programs available that offer the chance to do conservation field work, as many organizations depend on volunteer work.
Use Fewer Herbicides And Pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides are effective in beautifying your backyard, but they wreak havoc on wildlife on several levels. Some of these compounds degrade at an extremely slow rate, which means their levels build up in the soil and, consequently, pass into the food chain. Certain animal groups, like the amphibians, are especially prone to the toxic effects of these chemicals, suffering a greater impact.
Prevent Invasive Species From Spreading
Native wildlife populations all over the world have been severely affected by the invasion of non-native species, since the latter increase competition for food and habitat. Native species may even become their direct prey, risking extinction. You can minimize the impact of invasive species by populating your garden with native plants.
Don’t Drive Too Fast
For many native species, life takes place in densely populated areas, meaning they have to find their way through a labyrinth of human-made dangers. Roads, in particular, pose one of the greatest risks for wild animals that live in developed areas, because they split their habitat and pose a constant threat to animals that try to cross to the other side. So, if you are driving in such areas, reduce your speed and pay attention for such animals.
Install Decals On Windows To Prevent Bird Collisions
Collisions with windows is a serious risk for birds. Almost one billion birds lose their lives every year by colliding with windows. A simple way of decreasing that number is by installing decals on the windows of your office and home. Other things you can do to help is to relocate bird feeders to a more convenient spot, draw curtains and shades when it’s bright outside, install screens on the external side of your windows, or use tinted window glass.
Express Your Concerns And Become Actively Involved
By actively expressing your concerns regarding endangered species to local and national authorities, you raise the chances of someone actually doing something to remedy the situation.
Share Your Excitement For Nature And Wildlife
Motivate other people to read up on wildlife issues, respect wildlife, and be serious about the protection of species and habitats.
Last but not least, the single most effective way of helping wildlife is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the greatest cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.
Most people don't realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. About 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities - more than 35 million tons of food waste each year. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.
Benefits of Reducing Wasted Food
- Saves money from buying less food.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills and lowers your carbon footprint.
- Conserves energy and resources, preventing pollution involved in the growing, manufacturing, transporting, and selling food (not to mention hauling the food waste and then landfilling it).
- Supports your community by providing donated untouched food that would have otherwise gone to waste to those who might not have a steady food supply.
Ways to Reduce Wasted Food
Planning, prepping, and storing food can help your household waste less food. Below are some tips to help you do just that:
- By simply making a list with weekly meals in mind, you can save money and time and eat healthier food. If you buy no more than what you expect to use, you will be more likely to keep it fresh and use it all.
- Keep a running list of meals and their ingredients that your household already enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals.
- Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?
- Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
- Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid overbuying. For example: salad greens - enough for two lunches.
- Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, make a list each week of what needs to be used up and plan upcoming meals around it.
- Buy only what you need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- It is easy to overbuy or forget about fresh fruits and vegetables. Store fruits and vegetables for maximum freshness; they’ll taste better and last longer, helping you to eat more of them.
- Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables - especially abundant seasonal produce.
- Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.
- Wait to wash berries until you want to eat them to prevent mold.
- If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, store in the refrigerator for maximum freshness then take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.
- Prepare perishable foods soon after shopping. It will be easier to whip up meals or snacks later in the week, saving time, effort, and money.
- When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
- Befriend your freezer and visit it often. For example, freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time. Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
- Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month.
- Be mindful of old ingredients and leftovers you need to use up. You’ll waste less and may even find a new favorite dish.
- Shop in your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
- Have produce that’s past its prime? It may still be fine for cooking. Think soups, casseroles, stir fries, sauces, baked goods, pancakes or smoothies.
- If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons, beet tops can be sautèed for a delicious side dish, and vegetable scraps can be made into stock.
- Learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by,” “best-by,” and expiration dates.
- Are you likely to have leftovers from any of your meals? Plan an “eat the leftovers” night each week. Casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are great ways to use leftovers too. Search for websites that provide suggestions for using leftover ingredients.
- At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them to make your next meal.
- At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
If You Can't Reduce Wasted Food, Divert It From Landfills
- Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
- Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away.
We all know fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, and a plant-based diet is good for the planet and its animals. But most people don’t eat enough of these healthy powerhouses. An easy way to make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff is to find new ways to mix them into meals you already enjoy. And aim for making at least ½ your plate full of fruits and veggies.
Try increasing your fruits and vegetables by following these tips.
Getting More Out of Breakfast
Add fresh fruit to cereal, oatmeal, whole grain pancakes, or vegan waffles.
Getting More Out of Lunch
Add some vegetables to your veggie burger or tofu wrap, or have vegetable soup. Try adding chopped apples, pears, raisins, or other dried fruit to your salad. And don't forget beans—like black beans or chickpeas.
Getting More Out of Dinner
Steam or stir-fry some veggies to top off whole grain pasta or rice. Make shish-kabobs by putting vegetables on a skewer. Make a vegan pizza or sub with lots of veggies.
Getting More Out of Snacks
Blend fruits in a healthy smoothie. Cut up fruits and veggies and eat them with hummus or vegan peanut butter. Try a mix of unsalted nuts, raisins, or other dried fruit and your favorite whole grain cereal. Snack on popcorn or try some whole wheat, vegan pretzels.
Track What You're Eating
It’s important to keep track of the steps you’re taking toward nourishing your body with a healthier, vegan diet. By keeping track of what you’re eating—even for a couple of weeks— you may be able to identify patterns that are helping—or hurting—your goals for nourishing your body in a healthy way.
Don’t get too bogged down in the details. We all have those days where we get to the end of the day and realize we haven’t eaten the kinds of foods or the portions we know we need to lead the healthy life we want. By keeping track of what you eat over a couple of weeks, you may be able to get a better sense of your more general pattern of eating and identify areas of success (like eating lots of veggies), as well as places where you could make some improvements (like when you’re likely to mindlessly munch and fill up on empty calories).Think of tracking the foods you eat as a tool to help you reach your goals.
Tread Lightly! was started by the United States Forest Service in 1985 as a public awareness program. In 1990, Tread Lightly! became a nonprofit organization. The Tread Lightly philosophy encourages off-highway enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors responsibly through stewardship to further the goals of responsible and ethical recreation.
Travel on trails or other legal areas.
Keep your feet and wheels on open roads, trails or in legal riding areas.
When you step off trail, watch your step and don’t trample plants.
Remember riding up and down stream beds can damage soils, plants and animals in the water.
Use maps and signs to help you stay on the trail.
Walk or ride slowly through puddles and mud on the trail—not around.
When you are on a bike or an ATV, if you can’t go over an object turn back. Report the trail obstacle to the ranger.
Keep control of your bike, dirt bikes or ATV.
RESPECT NATURE & WILDLIFE
Don’t chase, scare, feed or try to pet animals.
Don’t carve on tree bark or draw graffiti on trees and rocks.
Watch out for other people on the trails.
Keep the noise down, especially in camp.
Don’t shine your flashlight into other camps.
Don’t ride or run through other camps.
Always tell someone else where you are going, who you are with and when you will be back.
Remember to pack the seven important items: water, food, first aid kit, raincoat or poncho, flashlight, sunscreen and a whistle.
When trail riding or hiking, don’t leave the trail—you are less likely to get lost and much easier to find. If you think you are lost, stay where you are and blow your whistle.
Don’t wander off at night.
Bring a map, check the weather, and find out about wildlife to be aware of in your area.
Bring the proper clothes including good shoes and a jacket—wear a helmet and other protective gear when you ride.
LEAVE THE OUTDOORS BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT
Don’t litter or leave food or trash behind.
Pick up trash left by others—as long as it is safe.
Wash your bike or ATV and other gear after every ride so you won’t spread weed seeds.
Leave plants or flowers for others to see.
Lend a hand, plant trees and other plants with your local ranger.
In the last decades, the disease Lyme borreliosis that is spread by ticks has been increasing – but this increase cannot be explained by the increasing deer populations. Results from research projects show that the percentage of ticks with Borrelia is decreasing in areas with a high deer population (deer, red deer and moose). However, the total number of ticks is higher.
Evidence points to a warmer climate contributing to tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, is also a contributing factor.
Since 1991 Norway has registered all incidents with borreliosis in a so-called MSIS-statistics for reportable diseases. At the same time data on the wild deer population over all of Norway has been recorded. As a result, Norway has a unique set of data material for comparing the relation between the disease progression over time.
What the data shows is that borreliosis has increased more than the density of deer would suggest. The incidence of borreliosis has increased in the southern part of Norway in a period of time where both the deer population and the moose population have decreased. We cannot blame the deer for getting more of these blood-sucking parasites.
The cycle of the Borrelia bacterium in nature is both complex and is influenced by many different drivers, where the hosts of the ticks in an early life stage can influence the cycle. There is also little doubt that a warmer climate is a contributing factor for the tick-borne diseases. The change in the use of the landscape, resulting in more encroachment, has also been an advantage for the ticks.
Ticks have a life cycle that is threefold; larva, nymph, and adult ticks. They need a blood meal in each of the life stages, but they may have different hosts at different stages. In the first stage it is rodents and birds that become victims of these parasites. In the second stage they usually suck blood from slightly larger animals. It is in the last stage that the tick is an adult and needs blood for reproduction. Then the host is usually a large animal like deer. Deer are therefore frequently referred to as reproductive hosts, and were thought to be important for the population dynamics of the ticks.
Ticks are born pure. That is why the hosts in the first life stage of the tick determine whether it will be a carrier of infection or not. Ticks can therefore only be infected in the second and third stage. In the third stage, they are quite large, and we often feel them crawling on the skin. Therefore nymphs are more often inflicting infection, because we do not notice their bite.
Deer contribute to keeping the ticks clean since they are not carriers of the Borrelia-bacteria. Therefore ticks that have used deer as a host do not contain Borrelia that can infect us.
Shooting deer and moose will not eradicate ticks. The population density will not limit the amount of ticks strongly. It is time to stop blaming the deer.
Much of the work you will do as an activist requires no more (and no less) than caring and motivation. On the other hand, making flyers, setting up tables and forming groups also requires some money to cover costs.
TARGET YOUR EFFORTS
People like to know how their donations will be used. It's always more effective to target your fundraising efforts for a specific purpose. Make it clear what the proceeds from your raffle or flea market will be used for.
ACTIVITIES THAT RAISE FUNDS
Product sales: If you have some money to invest, you can purchase T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers and books to sell when you set up tables and hold meetings.
Food sales: Vegan bake sales can do well either as an independent fundraiser or when combined with another event. Groups should appoint someone to be in charge and to get each member to contribute a baked item (or try offering tofu hot dogs or veggie burgers). Choose a busy spot or a craft fair or festival and check ahead with the police and health department about permits and food regulations.
Garage sales: You'll make more money if your goods are clean and well displayed. Tag clothing with size labels and make sure prices are clearly marked.
Thrift shops: Setup an ongoing thrift shop at a church or unused garage. You'll need a staff of volunteers to sort, price, display and do the sales and bookkeeping.
Annual sales: Hold the sale at the same time each year. Plan ahead to get a good location and publicize the event. If you have a good spot for storage, you can collect donations year round.
Raffles: The two keys to a successful raffle are a good prize and lots of ticket sellers. Print the name of your group, the date and place of the drawing, and a list of the prizes you're offering. Make sure ticket sellers always have enough tickets on hand. Try setting up a table at the supermarket on Saturday or outside a church to sell tickets during the weekend. Ask local merchants to donate prizes or have a 50/50 raffle, meaning that the prize is half the money you collect. Make sure you comply with local solicitation regulations.
Sponsored events: In a walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon, for example, a group of people commit to participating in the event, and they then ask family, friends and local businesses to sponsor them for a certain amount. Choose a safe route and check it first with the police. You'll need to prepare sponsor forms with the name and address of the group, the purpose of the event, the date and time, and the route. Also include columns for the sponsor's name, address, and amount pledged per mile (establish a minimum). Encourage local athletic groups to participate.
Do chores and odd jobs: Have all your members spend a Saturday cleaning, painting, raking leaves, or putting up storm windows. Advertise ahead of time and schedule as many jobs as possible.
Recycling: Many communities have recycling facilities that will pay you for cans, bottles or other items.
Give up something: Ask people to give up smoking for a week or lunch for a day, and donate the money they save.
Miscellaneous: Place donation cans in stores, go Christmas caroling for donations, sell heart-shaped dog biscuits on Valentine's Day, have a car wash ... use your imagination!
ASK FOR GOODS OR DISCOUNTS
Another kind of fundraising effort is to ask for something other than money. Ask print shops if they will give you a discount. Ask local businesses to donate new or used office equipment. Send each business an individualized request describing your group and its goals and asking for a specific item or service. If you are tax-exempt, that will encourage donations. But don't be afraid to ask even if you're not tax-exempt.
Another good source of financial support is your supporters. Ask them to pay a yearly membership fee. Set different levels for dues such as $10 to $20 for regular members, $50 for sponsors, $100 for sustaining members, and $500 to $1,000 for lifetime members. Student and senior citizen memberships could be offered at discounted rates.
Consider offering members an incentive, such as a free book or T-shirt with a large donation. Ask for regular donations either monthly or quarterly, and always be sure to send a thank-you note promptly. (If you are tax-exempt, your thank-you note should inform donors of the deductible portion of their gift, i.e., the amount of the gift minus the value of any incentive you give them in return.)
TAXES & REPORTING
Virtually all fundraising has tax - and financial - reporting consequences. Donation and sales revenue is generally taxable unless you qualify as a tax-exempt organization. Even if you are tax-exempt, you must still collect and remit to the government sales tax on many types of sales. Also, most states require charities to register as soliciting organizations and to file annual reports. (Note that automatic exemptions may exist under some of these rules for small organizations.) Check with your state taxing authority, secretary of state, attorney general, and consumer affairs agency. It is also a very good idea to have a CPA on your managing committee!
CHARITABLE SOLICITATION CERTIFICATE
File with your state's Charitable Solicitations Division. They will give you a certificate that allows you to solicit funds in that state. You may be required to list a registered agent - someone who resides in the state and can be served with legal papers if necessary - in order to file. Different states have different thresholds for the amount of money you must have to file. But even if your group falls below that threshold, you cannot ignore the charitable solicitations office. You must, in that case, file for an exemption from formal registration as a charitable organization. If you intend to solicit funds in other states as well, you need to file similar forms. Some states require that you file applications for a "certificate of authority to transact business" in the state before you will be allowed to register for charitable solicitation. This may require an attachment to the application of a "certificate of good standing" or a "certification of articles of incorporation" from the state in which you are incorporated. After receiving your certificate to transact business you may have to file it in the county or state of your registered agent.
FORMS REQUIRED ANNUALLY
Now that you have done all the necessary paperwork to setup, you must do the paperwork necessary to continue to exist legally. The federal government requires you to file Form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax," annually. You may also need to file Form 990-T to report taxable sales that are not related to your tax-exempt purpose. The state governments require an "annual report of tax" and an "annual report of domestic nonprofit corporations." If you do not fill out these forms, your organization can be dissolved by the state.
Establish an accounting system to maintain tax compliance, to assist in management of the organization, and to establish a general trend to provide long-range planning for the organization and its resources.
Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos remain more "collections" of interesting "items" than actual havens or simulated habitats. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, bored, cramped, lonely and far from their natural homes. They are a form of animal entertainment, not education.
Zoos range in size and quality from cageless parks to small roadside menageries with concrete slabs and iron bars. The larger the zoo and the greater the number and variety of the animals it contains, the more it costs to provide quality care for the animals. Although more than 112 million people visit zoos in the United States and Canada every year, most zoos operate at a loss and must find ways to cut costs (which sometimes means selling animals) or add gimmicks that will attract visitors. Zoo officials often consider profits ahead of the animals' well-being.
Animals suffer from more than neglect in some zoos. When Dunda, an African elephant, was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, she was chained, pulled to the ground, and beaten with ax handles for two days. One witness described the blows as "home run swings." Such abuse may be the norm. "You have to motivate them," says San Francisco zookeeper Paul Hunter of elephants, "and the way you do that is by beating the hell out of them."
Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they frequently fall short on both counts. Most zoo enclosures are quite small, and labels provide little more information than the species' name, diet and natural range. The animals' normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are seldom met. Birds' wings may be clipped so they cannot fly, aquatic animals often have little water, and the many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or, at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. The animals are closely confined, lack privacy and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise, resulting in abnormal and self-destructive behavior called zoochosis.
A worldwide study of zoos conducted by the Born Free Foundation revealed that zoochosis is rampant in confined animals around the globe. Another study found that elephants spend 22 percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors, such as repeated head bobbing or biting cage bars, and bears spend about 30 percent of their time pacing, a sign of distress.
One sanctuary that is home to rescued zoo animals reports seeing frequent signs of zoochosis in animals brought to the sanctuary from zoos. Of chimpanzees, who bite their own limbs from captivity-induced stress, the manager says: "Their hands were unrecognizable from all the scar tissue."
More than half the world's zoos "are still in bad conditions" and treating chimpanzees poorly, according to renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall.
As for education, zoo visitors usually spend only a few minutes at each display, seeking entertainment rather than enlightenment. A study of the zoo in Buffalo, N.Y., found that most people passed cages quickly, and described animals in such terms as "funny-looking," "dirty," or "lazy."
The purpose of most zoos' research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would the need for most of their research. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals who draw crowds and publicity, and neglect less popular species. Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. It is nearly impossible to release captive-bred animals into the wild. A 1994 report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals showed that only 1,200 zoos out of 10,000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. Only two percent of the world's threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. Those that are endangered may have their plight made worse by zoos' focus on crowd appeal. In his book The Last Panda, George Schaller, the scientific director of the Bronx Zoo, says zoos are actually contributing to the near-extinction of giant pandas by constantly shuttling the animals from one zoo to another for display. In-breeding is also a problem among captive populations.
Zoo babies are great crowd-pleasers, but what happens when babies grow up? Zoos often sell or kill animals who no longer attract visitors. Deer, tigers, lions and other animals who breed often are sometimes sold to "game" farms where hunters pay for the "privilege" of killing them; some are killed for their meat and/or hides. Other "surplus" animals may be sold to smaller, more poorly run zoos or to laboratories for experiments.
Ultimately, we will only save endangered species if we save their habitats and combat the reasons people kill them. Instead of supporting zoos, we should support groups like the International Primate Protection League, The Born Free Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation and other groups that work to preserve habitats, not habits. We should help non-profit sanctuaries, like Primarily Primates and the Performing Animal Welfare Society, that rescue and care for exotic animals, but don't sell or breed them.
Zoos truly interested in raising awareness of wildlife and conservation should create high-tech zoos with no animals. Visitors could observe animals in the wild via live satellite links with far off places like the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier reef and Africa.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It is best not to patronize a zoo unless you are actively working to change its conditions. Avoid smaller, roadside zoos at all costs. If no one visits these substandard operations, they will be forced to close down. Zoos are covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which sets minimal housing and maintenance standards for captive animals. The AWA requires that all animal displays be licensed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must inspect zoos once a year. However, some zoos that have passed USDA inspections with flying colors have later been found by humane groups to have numerous violations. Start a "Zoocheck" program to build a strong case for implementing changes.
Glue traps are often used to catch mice, rats, sparrows and other small birds, and is thought by some to be a more humane method of catching small animals that are seen as pests. Glue traps, however, are an extremely cruel method of catching animals. If people understood the degree of cruelty associated with the use of glue traps, they would want no part of them.
A 1983 test that evaluated the effectiveness of glue traps found that trapped mice struggling to free themselves would pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. The mice broke or even bit off their own legs, and the glue caused their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecated and urinated heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Animals whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration. It takes anywhere from three to five days for the mouse to finally die. This is nothing less than torture.
If traps are needed to remove mice or rats, humane box-type traps are available from humane societies and hardware stores. These traps are a box-like plastic or cage-like metal with a spring-release trap door at one end that closes behind the animal once he or she enters the trap. The trap can then be taken outdoors where the animal can be released. Live, humane rodent traps are widely available, and have the added benefit of being reusable, while glue traps are not. The labor involved in using these is comparable to glue traps, as someone will always have to pick up the trap and discard it, or in the case of a humane trap, release the mouse outdoors.
You can then take measures to prevent mice from re-entering the building, as they surely will over time. Patch all holes larger than 1/4" in diameter, seal cracks in the walls and floor, and close gaps around plumbing, doors, windows. This should help to prevent the need to deal with the problem of removing mice again. If you need to do so in the future, you will have the humane traps at your disposal.
It is important to remember that though small and removed from our day-to-day world, mice and other small animals are mammals, with nervous systems and perceptions of pain that are similar to humans. There is no evidence that mice suffer any less than we do.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Use only humane traps. Seal all holes in your home to prevent infestation. Educate others on the issue and ask local retailers to carry humane traps and not glue traps.
Animal acts and exhibits run a deplorable gamut. They include diving horses at theme parks, dancing chimpanzees, caged bears at an ice cream stand, piano-playing chickens, caged parrots in hotel lobbies, cats forced through flaming hoops, and giant turtles forced to give children rides.
Animals used in these spectacles are often subjected to abuse in order to provide "entertainment" to patrons. Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for animals meant to roam free. Kept in small, barren cages, forced to sleep on concrete slabs, and imprisoned behind iron bars, performing animals often suffer from malnutrition, loneliness, the denial of all normal pleasures and behaviors, loss of freedom and independence, even lack of veterinary care, and filthy quarters. Attracting customers is the first consideration and the animals' welfare is often the last. Even when the mere display of the animals themselves is the "draw," the animals rarely receive proper care--and almost never the socialization and stimulation they crave.
Animals used for entertainment are subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to force them to perform stressful, confusing, uncomfortable, and even painful acts; training methods can include beatings, the use of electric prods, food deprivation, drugging and surgically removing or impairing teeth and claws.
Confined to tiny cages and gawked at by crowds, animals in exhibits and acts endure constant stress. They may suffer from temperature extremes and irregular feeding and watering. Without exercise, they become listless, their immune systems are weakened, and they become prone to sickness; many resort to self-mutilation in reaction to stress or boredom. Mental illness is rampant among confined animals. Torn from their families and deprived of all dignity, every part of their lives is controlled by their captors.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Refrain from patronizing animal entertainment businesses. Educate others on the issue and encourage them to boycott the industry. Urge your local government to ban animal entertainment in your community.
Whales are hunted for their meat and other body parts. The oil from their bodies has been used to make lipstick, shoe polish and margarine. The practice of hunting whales began in the 9th century when Spain undertook the first organized hunt. By the 20th century, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Japan and the United States had begun to kill large numbers of whales.
Certain species of whales were hunted so much that their numbers began to decline. There were fewer whales than there had been before. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was formed to address the issues of whaling and this growing threat to whales. The IWC created three categories of whaling: Commercial, Scientific and Aboriginal Subsistence.
In commercial whaling, whales are killed for their meat and their parts. In scientific whaling, whales are killed so that their bodies can be studied and cataloged. Aboriginal subsistence is the whaling carried out by native cultures, such as the Native Americans in the United States. These groups of people are given certain rights to hunt whales based upon their cultural history and dependence upon whale meat.
Due to the danger of extinction facing many whale species, the IWC voted to suspend all commercial whale hunting beginning in 1986. Despite this international agreement to stop killing whales for their parts, several countries continued to kill whales and sell their meat and parts, including Norway, Iceland and Japan.
A loophole in the ban on commercial whaling allowed for the killing of large and medium whales for "scientific purposes." The ban also doesn't cover smaller whales like pilot whales, dolphins and porpoises. Iceland and Norway take whales within their own waters, otherwise known as exclusive economic zones. Japan conducts whaling in international waters, including in a whale sanctuary in the ocean off the Antarctic coast, despite the ban.
Whales are most often killed using a primitive weapon called a harpoon. The harpoon has a grenade attached that explodes when the harpoon enters the body of the whale. It can take a very long time for some whales to die which causes additional suffering and fear in these gentle animals. There is no humane way to kill a whale.
Despite international pressure and the best efforts of grassroots movements to ‘save the whales’ around the world, whaling continues to be a danger facing whales and their future here on earth.
The best way to persuade others to adopt humane and responsible lifestyles is to set a good example. Think realistically about how you're going to fit environmental and animal activism into your life. You may have a full-time job and may have to juggle time with family and friends. Can you re-plan your schedule or transfer some duties to a coworker, spouse, or someone else to allow yourself time to focus on animal and environmental activities? Maybe you can incorporate some animal and environmental work into the church, office, family or political activities you're already involved in. You do not want to overextend yourself in a blaze of glory, only to burn out in six months. Think carefully about how you're going to schedule activism into your daily routine so that it will become a part of your life and not an intrusion.
PICK YOUR PASSION
Figure out what earth and animal issue(s) you are most passionate about. Passion often comes from a sudden realization that changes your life forever. Once the realization hits you, it is what will stoke the embers of your earth and animal activism, even at the lowest points when you sometimes feel like giving up. Once you are aware of something in the world that you believe needs changed, that awareness will motivate you constantly and cause you to see the need everywhere, bringing a sense of responsibility with it.
As you read and learn more about animal and environmental issues, start choosing the ones that mean the most to you. The issues are so widespread you cannot possibly address all of them. You can focus on projects that will help the greatest number of animals, such as those involving animals used in laboratories or saving the animals of the rainforests, or that will help change the fundamental attitudes of large numbers of people. Or you can focus on specific issues or animal cruelty cases.
You do not need to "know it all" to start getting active, but before you can educate others effectively you need to know some basic facts. Visit your local library and bookstores for books and videos on the issues that interest you, and research your issues online. Become familiar with the people and facilities in your area. You'll want to be able to make ethical recommendations to people who may come to you with questions in the future. As you compile facts, resources, and other materials, keep your information organized. File important or useful information according to the issues they concern. Keep the names and addresses of good veterinarians, shelters, low-cost spay/neuter programs and wildlife rescue services for easy reference.
Research existing efforts. Your chosen cause likely already has action taking place at the local, regional, national or international level. Find out what activism is already taking place, and where you fit in. See if you can liaise with existing efforts and consider how you will join in or bolster existing efforts independently. Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to volunteer with or join the board of an existing group? Do you want to find a paid job with an earth or animal activist organization? If you're working at the local level, does a national organization have resources you can use? Where you find no existing efforts, avoid seeing this as a mammoth task of insurmountable proportions. Instead, break it down into small pieces. Aim to get other like-minded people on board. This is easier now than ever before with modern communication tools such as the internet.
Also educate yourself about activism. One of the most inspiring and helpful means for getting more deeply involved in activism is to read broadly in the field of activism. In particular, seek out books written by prominent activists who share wisdom derived from personal experience. Then, read widely within the cause itself, to both understand the issues clearly and to learn about the tactics, ideas, experiences, wins and losses and other useful information from those who have already been active in this cause.
The point of environmental and animal activism is to educate, raise awareness and make people passionate about an issue. Though you can do some of this on your own, especially through the internet, the news media is an invaluable tool when used well. Get in touch with folks who know how to craft press releases, write an editorial and contact the press.
Know the legislative, administrative and judicial processes of your country and/or region. Research your city, county and state environmental and animal laws. Knowing how to effect change to laws and how to make the most of the legislative system is important for every activist.
DETERMINE WHAT YOU CAN DO
Figure out what you can do for your chosen cause. Whether your cause is animal rights, the environment, wildlife issues, the local community garden, or the global economic system, it's important to have specific ideas about how you can contribute. Figure out which skills and resources you can devote to the cause, and how much time you want to dedicate.
While it is great to think big, it's also important to think small and gradual. Incremental change can be as important, and often more enduring, than massive change that happens quickly and disrupts people in a major way. Think through all the possibilities for slowly unleashing change through your school, workplace, community, town, region, country or the world. Decide whether you're a radical activist or a reformer activist. The radical activist is someone who needs to continue pushing for fundamental change and will use such means as protests, boycotts, alternative summits, etc., and generally tends to be wary of those people who sit in the institutions they want changed. A reformist is happy to work with those in the institutions they'd like to see changed, using tools of democracy to work within the existing structure to force social or political progress.
CHOOSE YOUR COURSE OF ACTION
Choose your method of activism. While activism can take hundreds of forms, approach this as being about utilizing your own talents and resources as best you can. You are in the best position to decide how you can achieve your goals as an earth and animal activist, along with the time frame, and whether or not you go it alone.
Do you want to work solo? Being an individual activist is easier now than ever, as you can use forums, videos, photos, websites, blogs, social networking and even advertising to get your message across. On the downside, being the only person working on the issue can be lonely, and it's a lot of work. Sometimes it may cause you to question whether you're on the right track or whether it's worth pursuing.
Do you want to work with others? You could join an existing group or start your own and request collaborators. One of the advantages of being part of a group is the extended power, resources, networks and passion involved. You may also want to collaborate loosely without putting together a permanent structure, for example by inviting collaborators to post on a group blog or a biannual zine.
Would you like to contribute to your cause through writing, teaching, speaking, planning events or art? Or perhaps you're great with website building, blogging or podcasts? Assess your talents realistically, along with the time and resources you have available.
Be willing to put in the work without immediate rewards. In many cases earth and animal activists work for years on a project without seeing the major change they want to bring about. Laws, social norms and other factors can make it very difficult to enact immediate change. It is wise to understand the possibility that during your lifetime you could be paving the way for eventual change, but you may not see it actually occur. Understanding this can help alleviate a sense of frustration, doom and resentment about your cause.
BEGIN TO SPEAK OUT
Speak up about your opinions. Environmental and animal activism starts with the everyday conversations you have with friends, your family and new people you meet. When you're passionate about something, it's hard to stop talking about it, so express yourself freely and engage people in serious conversations about your cause. Aim to educate people and help them get involved.
Be bold. Don't hesitate to walk up to the girl reading an animal magazine in the coffee shop–she might be looking for the group you're starting. But don't force your opinions on people who are averse to hearing them. After you've made your point, people might need time to digest what they've learned. Don't expect everyone to hop on board with your cause right away. Plant a seed and hope it grows.
GROW YOUR CAUSE
Once you've learned the ropes of being an earth and animal activist, you might want to start your own group and become an organizer. Doing outreach on your own is a great way to help the earth and animals, but forming a local group can increase your effectiveness and your clout. The media, the government, and the public will often give more serious consideration to the views of a group.
You will need to gather committed people together and create a solid plan of action. Decide from the beginning what your goal is: Do you want to stage a variety of actions to achieve a particular achievable goal, and then disband when it's achieved? Do you want to form a permanent group that works on different projects surrounding a particular topic? Or do you only want to work together for a single action, for example to coordinate a protest or fundraising effort?
Call your first meeting and discuss tactics. At this meeting, you should decide who will be responsible for which tasks, what your group’s goals are, and how often you want to meet. Be open to new ideas, and encourage people to express themselves.
Put your goals in writing and sketch out a basic plan that highlights what you need, what you want to achieve and some of the big steps that will be necessary to achieve your goals. Consider creating a website or social media page to keep track of your group's goals and members. If you want the group to stay together for a long time, you'll need a good name. Register your name with your local, state and federal governments to establish a unique identity.
Hold regular meetings to enable you to track your goals and coordinate everyone's efforts towards the common project. Set meeting dates well in advance and publicize them widely. Make sure you have a location reserved in advance, whether it's a physical place or a virtual meeting technology like conference calls or a chat room. Possible meeting locations include classrooms, the public library, someone's house, the park, municipal/community building, teen center, community center, coffee shop/cafe, church hall, etc.
If many people are involved in your group or have signed on as temporary volunteers, it may be helpful to form subcommittees. These can be useful for large groups that are doing multiple projects or staging multiple actions with the same goal. Here are some examples of subcommittees that you might need:
Public Relations: This subcommittee does all of the canvassing, handles advertising, books tables, creates banners and posters, and serves as a press contact to drum up media attention.
Outreach: This subcommittee liaises with other organizations, local businesses and anyone that might be able to support your cause through advertising, funding, in-kind donations of space or food, etc.
Logistics: This subcommittee takes care of all practical matters such as scheduling, booking performers, finding needed equipment and services, getting necessary permits, arranging for parking, taking care of food, etc.
Financial: This subcommittee keeps track of the budget and makes sure everything runs smoothly where money is concerned. Tasks include creating a budget, paying performers and service providers, setting any event prices, arranging for donations and identifying pre-event fundraising needs.
Learn how to message effectively. One thing that distresses time-poor, financially-tight, and already overworked people is being told that what they are doing is wrong. This kind of messaging is bound to make people bite the messenger and turn away from the message. As such, while maintaining your passion, also maintain a sense of courtesy, respect and a basic understanding of motivational psychology. In a nutshell, nobody likes being told that how they're living is wrong and surely you don't either. Instead, focus on enlightening people about societal and individual practices that have outlived their usefulness and provide alternatives that are realistic and obtainable. Have an affirmative vision, one that shows what you are for, not just what you're against. Remember that fear is at the heart of much resistance. Fear of job loss and lifestyle downgrading are two particular fears that drive much resistance to activist messaging. If you're not offering alternatives that are viable, doable and respecting of the people who may be impacted, don't be surprised if they resent your call for change.
Create a whole vision rather than a piecemeal one. How do you envisage a future in which the changes you are advocating for have happened? Paint that vision for everyone and let them imagine themselves in it. Make plans for the future. A good activist thinks into the future, imagining life after the goals have been met. What happens next? Will the change you bring about need constant maintenance? Or will it be self-sustainable? Thinking about this in advance may well change your tactics if you're concerned that just creating change isn't enough.
Learn how to raise money. Though you can do activism on your own dime, there are few kinds of activism that don't require money. Artists need supplies, bloggers need hosting plans, lone protesters need signs. Some forms of activism might even attract grant money, if you know how to write a proposal. Consider using merchandise for additional fundraising. You can sell t-shirts, host a bake sale, or sell related books on the issue you're addressing.
Strong organization from the top down (or the bottom up) will ensure that everything runs smoothly. Don't forget to document your steps, adjust your plans as time goes by and communicate frequently.
When working with others, consider the needs of the group. Be willing to compromise on the details, if not on your core values.
SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE
Leafleting is one of the best ways to educate people about earth and animal issues. It’s not only easy but also effective! Put the right information in the right hands and minds are changed. Create a flyer containing essential information about your cause, the name of your organization, the time and date you meet and anything else you want people to know. Hang the flyers around school, the neighborhood, community bulletin boards, inside coffee shops or cafes. In addition to flyers, you can pass out buttons, postcards, bumper stickers or other materials to help spread the word about what you're doing. These items are available from established organizations, or you can create your own. As you pass out your materials, be willing to answer people's questions and get into discussions about your cause.
Tabling—or setting up a table with resources about earth and animal issues—is an effective way to engage the public and provide information about environmental and animal issues. See if you can rent a table or setup a table for free in a school, university or somewhere local like outside of the supermarket or in the park. Have a sign-up list, information about your organization and colorful posters to attract people. Having free stuff to hand out, like stickers or bumper stickers, attracts people to your table. Be ready to educate people who stop and want to learn more about environmental and animal issues. By educating yourself on the issues before you go, you’ll be ensuring that answering questions will be a snap. Use the literature on your table to supplement your answers. The issues facing the earth and animals are deep and complex, so don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to a tough question. Simply get the person’s contact information and offer to have someone get back to him or her.
Sponsor a speaker in your community. Get in touch with someone of note who is working for the same cause. An author, a professor, the head of a nonprofit or an activist musician are all good choices. Make plans to host the speaker at a local community event space, then publicize the event using flyers, advertising and social media. A local school or university, a bookstore, a concert venue or a community center are all good places to host a speaker. Be sure to have literature to hand out at the event, and provide a sign-up sheet to get people's email addresses so you can let them know about the next event you organize.
Holding a demonstration is a fun, effective and easy way to alert people to earth and animal issues. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach a lot of people, and if your event is covered by the media, you have the potential to reach thousands more. Decide what form of demonstration to hold. Choose where it will take place. Get people interested and signed up. Get permission from the relevant people, whether that is local councils or a particular body like a university. Get the necessary permits if required. Talk to the media to get the word out to get people to come to the demonstration. Appoint a group of volunteers that will help manage the event. Make posters, flyers, visual aids or pamphlets to help spread your message and communicate your concerns to others. On the demonstration day, make sure everyone remains calm and demonstrates peacefully and respectfully. Hold your signs so they can be read easily (and you aren’t hiding your faces) and ask people to refrain from talking on the phone or texting. Have the majority of the people holding signs and waving at cars but have a select group handing out leaflets to people who are passing by. Remember to smile and be polite. You’ll change more people’s minds by being respectful and having engaged conversations, as opposed to yelling at them or intimidating them. If the police do arrive, calmly tell them that you already have your permit (or that you were told you didn’t need one). After the demo, remember to collect all your materials so that there isn’t any litter and get everyone’s contact information for future events.
Work with the media to spread your message. Make a database of key media outlets in your area. Start locally, then expand the list to regional and even national media. Include newspapers, television programs, websites and radio stations. Introduce yourself to local reporters and give them a copy of all your publications and a free ticket to any events you organize. Pitch story ideas as they come up pertaining to a relevant and timely issue with a human interest angle in mind. Make time for reporters and be accessible. Don't be afraid to give out your cell phone number. If a reporter cannot reach you with one phone call, he most likely will move on to an alternative source for his story. Be accurate, trustworthy and prepared. When a reporter asks a question, she wants an immediate answer. If there's no way you can answer immediately, ask the reporter when her deadline is. Be sure to get back to her as soon as possible. Send press kits or releases to a specific contact at a news organization. Press kits and releases are not as effective as making a call to a reporter, but they are a good way to send background information on your agency. Include your business card so reporters can keep your contact information on file. Thank reporters when you are satisfied with the stories they write. Reporters rarely receive praise.
NOT EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH YOUR CAUSE
Expect to encounter dissent. Change worries most people and can cause them to react in ways that are not always considerate or constructive. It's not uncommon for an activist promoting a cause to deal with varying levels of negativity. The important thing is to brace yourself and stay strong in the face of people who disagree with you.
If you experience dissent from people within the cause, it is good to self-question and examine their reasons more closely. See if they actually have a point and seek to re-examine your approach in the light of their dissent. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to change your approach, but it does mean that keeping an open mind will ultimately make your cause stronger.
Dissent from outside the cause is to be expected. You're challenging the status quo. You will go through many experiences, including having people question your knowledge/authority/facts/respect and even your sanity on occasion. Keep calm and keep a level head. Some of the dissent will be obvious stalling, spin and covering-up tactics. Other times it will be more subtle, malicious and harmful. Know when to respond and when to keep quiet, and know when to bring your lawyer in. If you feel threatened in any way, get local authorities involved.
Don't work yourself to exhaustion. Earth and animal activists commonly experience burnout, especially when loads of passionate work don't translate into tangible change. When you're tired, worn out, and at your wit's end, that's when activism can turn negative. Take good care of yourself to prevent this from happening, since you won't be as powerful if you're feeling exhausted and bitter. Get plenty of rest. Take breaks from your activism and refresh your thoughts about where it's headed. If you find yourself feeling bitter about other people's lack of passion, take this as a warning sign to pull back and reassess your direction and purpose. Expect down times. Sometimes it will feel as if things are stagnating. Anything to do with progress meets such plateaus; knowing to expect them and learning how to ride them out is important. Break through the stagnant times by making new associations and recombining your existing approaches with new ones.
Be creative! Animal and environmental activism doesn't have to involve large events. Bloggers can be activists through their writing, teachers can be activists by encouraging students to challenge their beliefs, artists can leave guerrilla activist art around town, computer-savvy folks can arrange an e-zine, etc.
Despite continued calls from the public and leading experts to abandon inhumane badger culls, thousands of badgers are slaughtered each year in England in a misguided attempt to control tuberculosis in cattle. Killing badgers as a means of controlling the spread of the disease has been overwhelmingly declared ineffective by a host of eminent scientific experts.
The government continues to maintain that shooting badgers reduces TB in cattle, for which there is no evidence. In fact, the vast majority of scientists agree that this approach actually increases the risk of spreading the disease.
Shooting thousands of badgers, the majority of whom will not even have TB, is a costly distraction from the real solution to TB in cattle. The truth is, they could wipe out every badger in England and farmers would still be dealing with TB in cattle: it’s a disease of cattle, primarily spread by cattle, and it’s cattle-focused control measures that will stop it.
If badgers were causing TB in cattle, scientists would see a similar pattern of infection in both species. However, analysis reveals that this is not the case.
There is little geographical overlap between farms with infected cattle and setts with infected badgers, and cycles of infections between the two species are not synchronized. Also, the spatial aggregation pattern of TB in cattle and badgers is different – in badgers the disease is found in clusters, whereas in cattle the disease is much more random and dispersed.
While policymakers have adopted the bovine TB management strategy of culling badgers, culling badgers spreads the disease further as it forces them to runaway.
Culling causes great suffering to badgers with no meaningful benefit to farmers or their cattle. Badgers are killed by two methods: by “cage trapping and shooting,” where they are caught in cage traps and then shot at close range; or by “controlled” shooting, where a cull company contractor shoots them with a rifle in the countryside at night.
An Independent Expert Panel estimated that between 7.4 percent and 22.8 percent of badgers that are shot are still alive after 5 minutes, experiencing marked pain.
The enormous cull is completely at odds with public attitudes. A YouGov poll revealed the high level of concern the public has for badger welfare, with 67 percent of respondents saying they are concerned at the suffering caused to badgers. This concern is reflected in the number of ordinary local residents who join badger patrols night after night to check badger setts and look for injured animals.
There is no justice in killing badgers when all the science says killing badgers will make no meaningful difference to the incidence of bTB in cattle. In Wales, where stricter cattle testing and movement restrictions have been implemented in recent years (and where badger vaccination is undertaken and there is no badger culling), the number of cattle slaughtered as a result of bovine TB has been reduced by 45 percent.
Badger culls are ignorant and cruel. Tell the government to stop killing badgers.
The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide. Even in the face of extinction, imperiled species are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centerpiece of someone’s décor. It is unconscionable in this modern day when species are under so many threats to survive.
Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade is a report that provides an in-depth look at the scope and scale of trophy hunting trade and isolates the largest importers of animal trophies worldwide.
The result of a comprehensive analysis of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Trade Database, the report found that as many as 1.7 million hunting trophies may had been traded between nations during a ten year period, with at least 200,000 of that being made up of categories of species, also known as taxa, that are considered threatened.
Research found that 107 different nations (comprised of 104 importing nations and 106 exporting nations) participated in trophy hunting in one decade, with the top twenty countries responsible for 97 percent of trophy imports. The United States accounted for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nation on the list—Germany and Spain (both 5 percent).
Of the top 20 importing countries, most of the trophies were killed and imported from Canada (35 percent), South Africa (23 percent) and Namibia (11 percent), with the largest number of threatened taxa coming from Canada to the U.S., followed by African nations to the U.S.
Three of the four threatened taxa from the highly-prized species known as the “Africa Big Five” (African elephant, African leopard, and African lion) are among the top six most traded of imperiled taxa. African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade, with at least 11,000 lion trophies being traded worldwide in only 9 years.
Other big five species also remain popular with trophy hunters, with over 10,000 elephant trophies and over 10,000 leopard trophies being legally traded worldwide in one decade. Like African lions, elephant trophy hunting trade has increased significantly.
You can get great exposure for earth and animal issues by writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines, writing letters to businesses and writing letters to legislators. Use your clout as a consumer to protest companies that exploit the environment and animals. While everyone is good at complaining about politics to their friends, too few citizens express their opinions to those who can do something about it: legislators.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
By writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines, not only will you be reaching thousands of readers, you will also be bringing your concerns to the attention of policymakers who often refer to the opinion pages to learn what issues really matter to the public.
Read local papers and magazines to get ideas for letters. Watch for articles, ads or letters that mention earth and animal issues.
Letters don’t have to be rebuttals. Let people know how you feel. Write on good news as well as bad. Thank the paper for its coverage of earth and animal issues.
Be brief. Sometimes one paragraph is enough. Three hundred words is the maximum length that most papers or magazines will allow without cutting, and it’s better for you to do the cutting than for the editor to do it. The ideal length is 100 to 150 words (10 to 15 typed lines).
Type if possible. Otherwise, print legibly. Be sure to use correct grammar and spelling, and remember to have your letter proofread by someone with good language skills.
Make the first sentence catchy to get the readers’ attention, and stick to one issue. The letter should be timely. If you’re responding to an article, send it no more than three days after the article was published.
Make sure you include your name, address and telephone number in your letter. Some newspapers verify authorship before printing letters.
Don’t just send letters to the biggest paper in town. The smaller the paper, the better the chances of getting your letter printed. Small weekly papers can help you reach hundreds or even thousands of people. Occasionally, you may have the chance to write an opinion piece for the local paper, especially if you are involved in a controversial campaign. These are longer articles of 500 to 800 words that summarize an issue, develop an argument, and propose a solution. Send the article to the editorial page editor with a cover letter explaining why it should be printed. The opinion piece has a better chance of getting printed if it is signed by someone prominent, even if you wrote it for him or her.
You can also write (or call) television and radio stations to bring attention to earth and animal issues or to compliment them on programs that promote environmental and animal issues.
Increase your credibility by mentioning anything that makes you especially qualified to write on a topic. Try to tell readers something they’re not likely to know and suggest ways to take action. Include something for readers to do. Keep personal grudges and name-calling out of letters; they’ll hurt your credibility.
Speak affirmatively. Avoid self-righteous language and exaggeration. Don’t assume your audience knows the issues. Use positive suggestions rather than negative commands. Personalize your writing with anecdotes and visual images.
Avoid speciesist language. Instead of referring to an animal with an inanimate pronoun (“it” or “which”), use “she” or “he” and “who.” Avoid euphemisms; say what you really mean. Criticize the cruelty, not the newspaper.
LETTERS TO BUSINESSES
Send letters to companies that exploit the environment and animals. Tell cosmetics manufacturers that you will purchase other brands until they stop testing on animals, or tell a store that you won’t shop there until it stops carrying live animals—and explain why.
LETTERS TO LEGISLATORS
Constituent input really does make a difference. If you don’t communicate with the officials representing you, who will? You’re probably not going to single-handedly convince your legislators, but many legislators share your objectives and just need to be convinced that there is sufficient public support before putting their necks on the line.
Find out who your federal and state representatives are. Identify yourself as a concerned citizen, not as a member of an organization; legislators want to get feedback from their constituents, not lobbyists. Keep letters brief—no more than one page. If you’re writing about a specific bill, mention in the first paragraph the bill’s name (and number if you know it) and whether you support or oppose it. Include reasons and supporting data in the next paragraph or two. Conclude by asking for a response.
Focus on a specific topic. Don’t ask the legislator just to “support animals and the environment.” Very few legislators vote in favor of all earth and animal protection bills, because different issues are at stake with each one. Be polite and concise. Keep everything relevant to the bill or issue in question. Never be threatening or insulting. Remember, each letter pertaining to a particular piece of legislation is usually counted as a “yes” or “no.”
Don’t get overwhelmed by the project. Just get those letters written and in the mail. As few as 10 letters on any one topic can sway a legislator’s vote. Several hours of letter writing every month can make a big impact. And don’t be discouraged if you receive unfavorable responses; the more we communicate with public officials, the sooner they’ll change their positions.
Nature is a veritable pharmacy of medicinal plants. Flowers, roots, leaves, fruits, bark and seeds can be gathered, combined and prepared for healing. Herbs and ointments, teas and tonics, powders and salves have been a way of life for generations.
All cultures and societies have knowledge best described as folk medicine. Folk medicine often coexists with formalized, education based, and institutionalized systems of healing such as Western medicine.
Much of today's modern medicine was previously based on plants that had been long used in folk medicine. It is estimated that 40 percent of all the medicine on the shelves of today’s drugstores have plant origins. Many therapies that are currently called ‘alternative’ were prescribed by physicians less than a hundred years ago.
Native Americans had been roaming wild-lands for centuries discovering uses for plants, including medicinal. Early mountaineers created self-sufficient homesteads mostly independent from the outside economy. Collecting and making remedies was less expensive and more convenient. Remedies were passed on for generations.
Anthony Cavender wrote that the American pharmaceutical industry was primarily built on the plants found in the southern Appalachian mountains in his survey of Appalachian food-as-medicine. By the turn of the century, folk medicine was viewed as a practice used by poverty stricken communities and quacks. However, the rejection of synthetic or biomedical products has become a growing trend in Western society and allowed for a rise in the demand for natural medicines. When less developed countries are taken into account, it is estimated that over 50% of the world’s population relies on folk medicine practices.
Here is a small sampling of Folk Remedies:
Colds: Roast onions in ashes; Suck salty water up your nose; Create a tea with boiled pine needles.
Coughs: One teaspoon of white whiskey mixed with a pinch of sugar heated over a fire; Ground ginger mixed with sugar placed on tongue; Mash blood root stems, boil in water for 10 minutes, then strain; Four sticks of horehound candy dissolved in a pint of liquor.
Congestion: Apply a poultice to the chest with a roasted onion wrapped in a cloth and beaten until the juice soaks the cloth; Add rock candy to whiskey to create a syrup.
Sore Throats: Gargle warm salt water; Tie onions around your throat after baking in a fireplace; Gargle vinegar and water; Mash blood root stems, boil in water for 10 minutes, then strain.
Flu: 2 roots of wild ginger boiled in a cup of water then strained.
Arthritis: Steep alfalfa leaves and blooms in hot water for 10 minutes to create a tea.
Inflamed Lymph Nodes/ Rheumatism/Joint Pain: Boil pokeweed berries in hot water for 30 minutes then strain into a concentrated solution and add to a small amount of alcohol for use as a tincture; Mash blood root stems, boil in water for 10 minutes, then strain.
There's little doubt anymore that vegetarianism is going mainstream. Millions of people are vegetarians, and thousands more make the switch to a meat-free diet every week. Many others have greatly reduced the amount of animal products they eat.
Many people eliminate animal foods from their diet because of health concerns. In study after study, the consumption of animal foods has been linked with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and other illnesses. One reason may be because animals are routinely given growth hormones, antibiotics, and even pesticides, which remain in their flesh and are passed on to meat-eaters.
Other people become vegetarians out of concern for animal welfare. On today's factory farms, animals often spend their entire lives confined to cages or stalls barely larger than their own bodies. Death for these animals doesn't always come quickly or painlessly. Billions of animals are killed for food in the United States alone.
Reducing health risks and eliminating animal suffering are just two reasons to go vegetarian; adopting a plant-based diet can also help protect the environment and feed the hungry. Factory farms produce billions of tons of animal waste. The waste produced in a single year would fill 6.7 million train box cars, enough to circle the Earth 12 1/2 times. Unfortunately much of this waste ends up in our rivers and streams, polluting waterways more than all industrial sources combined.
Raising animals for food is also taking its toll on the world's forests. Since 1960, more than one-quarter of the rain forests in Central America have been destroyed to create cattle pastures. Of the Amazonian rain forest cleared in South America, more than 38 percent has been used for ranching. Rain forests are vital to the survival of the planet because they are the Earth's primary source of oxygen. And scientists are increasingly exploring the use of rain-forest plants in medications to treat and cure human diseases.
Veganism takes vegetarianism beyond the diet. A vegan (pronounced Vee-g'n) is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. A vegan does not eat any animal food products, avoids wearing animal-derived products and does not purchase toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products that have been tested on animals or contain animal based ingredients. They also refrain form supporting animal entertainment and other industries that exploit animals. Instead, vegans choose from thousands of animal-free foods, products and entertainment.
Veganism is a philosophy, not a diet. This philosophy is the belief in the right of all sentient beings to be treated with respect, not as property, and to be allowed to live their lives.
A balanced vegan diet (also referred to as a ‘plant-based diet’) meets many current healthy eating recommendations such as eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat. Balanced vegan diets are often rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Well-planned plant-based diets are suitable for all age groups and stages of life.
Many people become vegan through concern of the way farmed animals are treated. Some object to the unnecessary ‘use’ and killing of animals – unnecessary as we do not need animal products in order to feed or clothe ourselves. Public awareness of the conditions of factory-farmed animals is gradually increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to claim not to have at least some knowledge of the treatment they endure. Sentient, intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviors. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of coping with.
Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.
Vegans also help the planet. Plant-based diets only require around one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. Farming animals and growing their feed also contributes to other environmental problems such as deforestation, water pollution and land degradation.
Choosing to live a life free from animal products means choosing a path that is kinder to people, animals and the environment.
VEGANS & PROTEIN
Can the vegan (strict vegetarian) diet provide protein adequate for sound human health? This question continues to be asked despite the fact that a "yes" answer was given some three decades ago in a study reported by Hardinge and Stare. The question stays with us largely because animal products (meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) have been promoted (usually by the industries that produce and sell them) as the best source of protein. This dietary assumption is wrong and can even be harmful, as a quick study of the facts about vegetable protein and nutrition shows.
Protein is essential to human health. In fact, our bodies -- hair, muscles, fingernails, and so on -- are made up mostly of protein. As suggested by the differences between our muscles and our fingernails, not all proteins are alike. This is because differing combinations of any number of 22 known amino acids may constitute a protein. (In much the same way that the 26 letters of our alphabet serve to form different words, the 22 amino acids serve to form different proteins.)
Amino acids are a fundamental part of our diet. While most of the 22 can be manufactured in one way or another by the human body, eight (or, for some people, 10) cannot. These "essential amino acids" can easily be provided by a balanced vegan diet.
Non-animal foods can easily provide us with the necessary protein. Despite the claims of the meat and dairy industries, only 2.5-10 percent of the total calories consumed by the average human being needs to be in the form of protein. The rule of thumb used by the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board is .57 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. People under special circumstances (such as pregnant women) are advised to get a little more. Vegans should not worry about getting enough protein; if you eat a reasonably varied diet and ingest sufficient calories, you will undoubtedly get enough protein.
Eating too much protein can result in osteoporosis and kidney stones. Meat and dairy products raise the acid level in human blood, causing calcium to be excreted from the bones to restore the body's natural pH balance. This calcium depletion results in osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. The excreted calcium ends up in the kidneys, where it often forms painful stones. Kidney disease is far more common in meat-eaters than in vegans, and excessive protein consumption has also been linked to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas. By replacing animal protein with vegetable protein, you can improve your health while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods.
While just about every vegetarian food contains some protein, the soybean deserves special mention, for it contains all eight essential amino acids and surpasses all other food plants in the amount of protein it can deliver to the human system. In this regard it is nearly equal to meat. The human body uses about 70 percent of the protein found in meat and 60 to 65 percent of that found in soybeans. The many different and delicious soy products (tempeh, soy "hot dogs," "burgers," Tofutti brand "ice cream," and tofu) available in health and grocery stores suggest that the soybean, in its many forms, can accommodate a wide range of tastes.
Other rich sources of non-animal protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, food yeasts and freshwater algae. Although food yeasts ("nutritional yeast" and "brewer's yeast") do not lend themselves to forming the center of one's diet, they are extremely nutritious additions to most menus (in soups, gravies, breads, casseroles, and dips). Most yeasts are 50 percent protein (while most meats are only 25 percent). Freshwater algae contains a phenomenal percentage of protein. One type is the deep green spirulina, a food that is 70 percent protein. It is available in tablets, powders, and even candy bars.
Protein deficiency need not be a concern for vegans. If we ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily have more than enough protein. Eating nothing but cabbage would provide more than twice as much protein as anyone would need! Of course, an actual vegan would never want to be limited to just one food. The vegan diet can (and should) be full of a wide variety of delicious foods.
Most people have been taught that children must eat animal flesh and dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The truth is that children raised as vegans, who consume no animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy, can derive all the nutrients essential for optimum growth from plant-based sources.
Consider this: Many children raised on the "traditional" American diet of cholesterol and saturated fat-laden hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza are already showing symptoms of heart disease -- the number one killer of adults -- by the time they reach first grade. One epidemiological study found significant levels of cholesterol and fat in the arteries of most children under the age of five. Children raised as vegans can be protected from this condition. They are less likely to suffer from childhood illnesses such as asthma, iron-deficiency anemia and diabetes, and will be less prone to ear infections and colic.
A vegan diet has other benefits, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 20,000 E. coli infections from meat every year in the United States. A vegan diet protects children from the pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that are fed to animals in huge amounts and concentrate in animals' fatty tissue and milk.
Nutritionists and physicians have learned that plant products are good sources of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D because they can be easily absorbed by the body and don't contain artery-clogging fat.
Protein--Contrary to popular opinion, the real concern about protein is that we will feed our children too much, not too little. Excess animal protein actually promotes the growth of tumors--and most people on a meat-based diet consume three to 10 times more protein than their bodies need! Children can get all the protein their bodies need from whole grains in the form of oats, brown rice, and pasta; from nuts and seeds, including spreads such as tahini and peanut butter; and legumes, including tofu, lentils, and beans.
Iron--Few parents know that some babies' intestines bleed after drinking cow's milk. This increases their risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia since the blood they're losing contains iron. Breast-fed infants under the age of one year get sufficient iron from mother's milk (and are less prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Formula-fed babies should be fed a soy-based formula with added iron to minimize the risk of intestinal bleeding. Iron-rich foods such as raisins, almonds, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses and fortified grain cereals will meet the needs of toddlers and children 12 months and older. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so foods rich in both, such as green, leafy vegetables are particularly valuable.
Calcium--Drinking cow's milk is one of the least effective ways to strengthen bones. Too much protein, such as the animal protein fed to children in dairy products, actually causes the body to lose calcium. In countries where calcium intake is low but where protein intake is also very low, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Cornbread, broccoli, kale, tofu, dried figs, tahini, great northern beans and fortified orange juice and soy milk are all excellent sources of calcium. As with iron, vitamin C will help your child's system absorb calcium efficiently.
Vitamin D--This is not really a "vitamin" but a hormone our bodies manufacture when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Cow's milk does not naturally contain vitamin D; it's added later. Vitamin D-enriched soy milk provides this nutrient without the added animal fat. A child who spends as little as 15 minutes a day playing in the sunshine, with arms and face exposed, will get sufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin B-12--This essential vitamin once occurred naturally on the surfaces of potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables, but the move away from natural fertilizers has caused it to disappear from our soil. Any commercially available multivitamin will assure adequate B-12 for your child. B-12 is also found in nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewer's or active dry yeast) and many fortified cereals.
Dangers of Dairy Products
Children do not need dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Frank Oski, says, "There's no reason to drink cow's milk at any time. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon." Dr. Benjamin Spock agrees that although milk is the ideal food for baby cows, it can be dangerous for human infants: "I want to pass the word to parents that cow's milk . . . has definite faults for some babies. It causes allergies, indigestion, and contributes to some cases of childhood diabetes."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under one year of age not be fed whole cow's milk. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergies. In addition, more than two-thirds of Native Americans and people from Asian and Mexican ancestry and as many as 15 percent of Caucasians are lactose intolerant and suffer symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes or asthma. Many people become lactose intolerant after age four. For these people, animal proteins seep into the immune system and can result in chronic runny noses, sore throats, hoarseness, bronchitis and recurring ear infections.
Milk is suspected of triggering juvenile diabetes, a disease that causes blindness and other serious effects. Some children's bodies see cow's milk protein as a foreign substance and produce high levels of antibodies to fend off this "invader." These antibodies also destroy the cells which produce insulin in the pancreas, leading to diabetes.
An estimated 20 percent of U.S. dairy cows are infected with leukemia viruses that are resistant to killing by pasteurization. These viruses have been found in supermarket supplies of milk and dairy products. It may not be merely coincidence that the highest rates of leukemia are found in children ages 3-13, who consume the most dairy products.