Though the start of the new year has come and gone, many may find themselves in the same boat that I find myself in: struggling to define new years resolutions and putting in place goals that will set the tone for the coming days. Below I have listed a few Animal Friendly New Years Resolutions that I’ve been mulling over, ideas that I think can help make 2013 my best year yet.
Feel free to comment below with any other Animal Friendly Resolutions that you may have!
The Animal Activists’ Handbook (by Matt Ball and Bruce Friedrich) holds many useful pockets of truth and pragma amidst some arguably more obvious pieces of advice. I particularly enjoyed reading it because I personally feel as if when I gain more and more earnest conviction for what I believe in, the more my passion can radiate outwards to inspire others. This delightfully quick but very powerful read strengthened my conviction for helping animals in two crucial ways – it reiterated the extent of the suffering which animals are enduring this very moment, but it focused on how this should not be as overwhelming as we initially perceive it to be, because changing hearts and minds is more doable than we might assume.
Perhaps the part of the Handbook which resonated with me the most was the statement that “our lives should be an advertisement for a purpose driven life.” I very much identify with the notion that we should live as if others would follow our example (check out the blogpost I wrote along the lines of this type of philosophy: here) and the Handbook mentions how when trying to get others to do the same with regard to animal welfare, its as basic as helping people to understand that the compassionate choices we vegans and vegetarians hold dear to us are simple extensions of the values we all already hold. It demystifies, de-radicalizes, and eliminates the foreignness associated with eradicating meat from our diet. Since a cruelty-free lifestyle does not require one to “forsake modern life or overthrow a government,” this method of helping others to see that society is designed to conceal the realities of meat, divorcing it from the actual animal, helps people to disassociate veg eating from connotations of extremism, militance, and unfeasibility.
There would be felony charges if what happens to farm animals happened to dogs and cats. Facts like this, compounded with the realization that the horrible videos we watch are just “discrete representations of continuous suffering” often take us down a dangerous path; I, for one, have often been too abrasive and confrontational with the people closest to me regarding vegetarianism/veganism. I can rationalize by saying my hostility was simply a means to a more ideal end, and I hold the people closest to me to higher standards (which is true and I don’t regret it), but nonetheless, the Animal Activist Handbook highlights the importance of adopting an attitude of empathy instead of succumbing to a combative mindset. This could not be more crucial in today’s society where stubbornness and enmity are all too pervasive and people revel in keeping up their defenses; kindness, understanding, and love are truly the only ways to win. The Handbook details an analysis of Malcom Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” theory, looking into people who turned mere fads into deeply permeating trends, and, not surprisingly, those who held friendly, optimistic demeanors were consistently responsible for said feat. It is easier said than done, but if your motivation is derived from your awe-inspiring potential to make this world a more loving place, it is your obligation to sublimate your anger and disgust – it is your obligation to remain truly positive and hopeful.
Gunita Singh is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences studying political science. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last weekend, the weekend of November 30th, a handful of members of the BU Veg Society and others from the Boston area community trekked to Maple Farm Sanctuary, an animal sanctuary that provides lifelong homes for animals that have faced abuse and abandonment. The sanctuary is located in Mendon, Massachusetts and lies roughly forty-five minutes west of the Boston University campus. Needless to say, the drive was well worth the wait, and upon our arrival, two volunteers who were eager to show us around the facility and introduce us to the animals greeted us. Founded in 1998, Maple Farm sanctuary lies solely on the generous donations of people who care to provide housing, food, and veterinary services to the non-human animals that need it.
Our group last weekend was a mix of vegans, vegetarians and omnivores and it is my sincere hope that every one of us gained insight on the unique nature of each and every animal. I hope that everyone was able to see, as we moved through the stalls and met animals such as John the pig, that non-human animals, much like humans, are individuals, each with feelings and personalities.
Personally, I reflected on the way in which individual history shapes the personalities on non-human animals in the same way that our own pasts shape who we are today. In particular, I was reminded that non-human animals too can be subject to mental illness just as we are. I was particularly struck by the story a cow, Cassie, who suffers from extreme agoraphobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We were informed that she had been kept in the dark for the mass majority of her life and for this reason was incredibly photosensitive. It was only through careful reintroduction to light and cautious sensitivity to Cassie’s history of being abused and maltreated that the selfless volunteers at the sanctuary were able to finally install a window in her stall. Today, Cassie is able to venture from her room for a few minutes at a time and receives music therapy to help calm and sooth her.
While my experience at Maple Farm Sanctuary was certainly exciting and fun, (I had a truly amazing time getting to know everyone and better connecting with those who I have met before) it was also enlightening. My experience at Maple Farm Sanctuary better illuminated the real world consequences of our food choices, while at the same time showing me how a fulfilled life can be lived by the animals that are rescued. Sometimes it is not enough to simply watch a video on factory farming or read a book on speciesism (though these are also crucial to understanding the extent of cruelty against farmed animals); it is also important to visit facilities such as farm sanctuaries because they bring to light the severity of violence in our food system, and the legitimacy of our fight as people who care about the well being of non-human animals.
When you come face-to-face with a creature that has experienced cruelty as a direct result of your personal choices (and the choices of a nation), it can be hard not to feel guilty. But this guilt can be transformative and constructive, aiding you in effecting meaningful change in the lives of animals.
I drifted away from the group towards the end of the tour, as we were wrapping up, to visit the charming and curious llamas in their pen and they rushed over to greet me as I approached. They looked at me inquisitively and I stared back at them and something overtook me. The moment was powerful. I could not and cannot possibly conceive of subjecting that beautiful creature, or any creature, to slaughter, simply to satisfy my desires. Though we did not speak with word, those two llamas really brought home the message of why I choose to be vegan and I remain steadfast in my resolve to not treat animals as commodities.
Finally, we must not forget the purpose of farm sanctuaries; they exist solely because factory farming does too. If our food system didn’t work in the way that it does, these centers of refuge would not be necessary. And so, this unfortunate fact reminds me of what I can do to ensure that all animals can live out their days as the animals at Maple Farm Sanctuary do, beginning with my food choices.
If you are further interested in getting involved with the Maple Farm sanctuary, you can submit a donation here or you can become a volunteer here. The sanctuary is always looking for hard-working and compassionate volunteers to help them around the facility with a variety of projects. The Boston University Veg Society hopes to return to the sanctuary in the Spring semester to volunteer our services. You can also visit and like their Facebook and check out their Café Press online store! A portion of the proceeds goes towards supporting the Maple Farm Sanctuary.
Lindsay Crockett is a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences studying Biology and WGS studies. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.