by Christie Lagally
Originally published in City Living Seattle
With a 40-plus-hours-a-week job and volunteer commitments, like many Seattleites, my time is extremely limited. For some people, trying to live more humanely and reduce our impact on animals and the environment might seem daunting. But it turns out that helping animals through our daily choices can be the easiest thing we do every day.
The emotional pain that many of us feel when we learn about homeless, neglected or abused animals can weigh on us even when we try to ignore it. Luckily, the best way to relieve this emotional stress is to start making choices that ensure we are not contributing to the problem and we are supporting the solutions. Amazingly, that is a whole lot easier than you might think, and it takes little or no time.
No animal testing
One of the easiest ways to help animals is to buy products not tested on animals, which reduces the number of animals used in cruel, unnecessary lab experiments.
“Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires animal testing for cosmetics or household products. There [is] sufficient existing safety data, as well as in vitro alternatives, which make animal testing for these products obsolete. Rabbits, mice and guinea pigs needn’t suffer in the name of beauty,” explained Kim Paschen, manager of the Leaping Bunny Program, a nonprofit group that certifies products as not tested on animals.
As part of your regular shopping routine, check the labels of your deodorant, shampoo, dish soap, toilet bowl cleaners and more for the Leaping Bunny label and simply choose to buy products that are cruelty-free. You can also download the “Cruelty-Free” app from iTunes or Google Play to scan a product bar code to check if Leaping Bunny has deemed the product cruelty-free, even if it doesn’t have the Leaping Bunny label.
With limited time during the week, I rarely make it to my computer to check email. But with just my phone and a little time on the bus, The Humane League (THL, thehumaneleague.org/militia) has made it possible to help change the world for animals. With its One-Minute Militia program, THL sends you an email with an easy action, such as “sign this petition to end battery cages for egg laying hens.”
“The Humane League started the One-Minute Militia to give animal lovers easy ways to help animals by assisting our national campaigns team,” said Heather Bolint, director of THL’s Seattle office. “It is important that corporations hear the voices of their concerned consumers, and by organizing efforts like group Facebook posts, they can do just that.”
Spend time with animals
In my leisure time, I love to spend time with animals. But we must be careful to avoid supporting animal cruelty by not patronizing roadside zoos, wildlife parks or circuses. These fly-by-night entertainment methods are horrendously inhumane.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that it is “opposed to the cruelty that is inherent in using either wild animals or livestock in unaccredited zoos, roadside menageries, petting zoos, game farms and the like, and in attractions, such as elephant rides, camel rides, and llama and pony rides that either stand alone or are attached to such venues.”
Luckily, we have some wonderful alternatives to learn about animals while supporting solutions for animal protection. Pasado’s Safe Haven, a nonprofit animal rescue and sanctuary just northeast of Seattle, is hosting a family-friendly Summer Picnic Tour on Aug. 22. Register ahead of time for the tour and bring your own picnic basket to enjoy while visiting with pigs, cows, cats, dogs, ducks, geese, chickens and sheep. Ice cream treats from The Cookie Counter, a Seattle-based vegan ice cream truck, will be available for purchase after the tour. For more information, visit http://www.pasadosafehaven.org/event/picnic_tour.
Consuming less meat
Probably the most effective opportunity we have to be part of the solution for animals is to choose our food wisely at each meal. An unsustainable 10 billion animals are killed every year for meat, egg and dairy products in the United States, and any effort made to reduce our consumption makes a huge difference for animals and the environment. Even just one month of eating vegetarian saves 17 animals and prevents 134 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released, according to Vegetariancalculator.com.
The Vegetarians of Washington, as Seattle-based group supporting non-vegetarians and vegetarians alike, has made it easy to find vegetarian options anywhere in the state with an app via Google Play or iTunes. The group also host monthly dinners at Seattle’s Mount Baker Community Club (2811 Mount Rainier Blvd. S.); visit vegofwa.org for information.
While time will always be limited, our opportunities to make better choices to protect animals are truly unlimited. Every day presents another opportunity to make a cruelty-free purchase, to take 30 seconds for advocacy or to choose a meat-free meal.