Your Guide to Cruelty-Free Clothing

When trying to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, often times, we are bombarded by the things we should not do and should not buy. The story is the same when it comes to clothing: no silk, no fur, no leather, no suede, no wool and so on. In short, anything that contributes to the exploitation of animals is off limits. In addition to this, we might also consider how the manufacturing of certain materials with high inputs of chemicals and dyes creates a cruelty in and of itself against the planet and those who inhabit it. With all this in mind, lists of what not to buy seem helpful, but what about what clothing materials you can buy? I mean, it’s pretty difficult to go shopping with only a list of things you can’t have. This guide to cruelty-free clothing fixes that for you.

1. Search for Vegan Brands

One of the easiest ways to tell if a material is cruelty-free is by checking the brand and company it comes from: is it vegan? Getting to know your favorite vegan brands will make shopping quicker and way more fun. Keep in mind that many stores offer vegan versions of clothing, but may not advertise them that way. Don’t be afraid to ask for some assistance. After a short while, you won’t need to be checking tags or asking sales representatives for information on the materials, you’ll know by heart what you can and like to buy. A tip until then: carry this guide and a version of cruelty-free brands and companies with you.

2. Choose Bamboo

A personal favorite, bamboo material is soft, forgiving, and cozy all at once. So on top of feeling great for not contributing to cruelty, you look great too. Moreover, according to BambooCentral.org, bamboo production is a powerhouse for minimizing carbon dioxide emissions into the air and producing up to thirty-five percent more oxygen than trees. Feel great, look great, and help save the planet. Bamboo materials are a win-win, especially considering how their production leads to economic growth and support to poorer rural areas in the Asia-Pacific region (BambooCentral.org). Keeping these factors in mind helps to ensure your clothes really are as cruelty-free as possible.

3. Try On Hemp

Choosing plant fibers over chemically-laden synthetics ensures you are cruelty-free to animals and the environment when purchasing new clothes. According to Rawganique.com, hemp is resistant to pests because it grows so fast, making it a sustainable source that does not require large inputs of pesticides to grow. In fact, its manufacturing process in general is less intensive than other materials. Moreover, hemp growth lowers risks of soil erosion (Rawganique.com). Feel good about this durable material.

4. Opt For Organic Cotton

Yes, the organic part really does matter here if you are going for a cruelty-free material. You see, cotton manufacturing takes a disproportionate toll on the environment and its inhabitants by leaching chemicals into water ways and using pounds of pesticides and fertilizers: 1/3 of a pound of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals are needed for one cotton t-shirt (BambooCentral.org). Non-organic cotton doesn’t make sense in your cruelty-free lifestyle, but you can make room for an organic alternative. Organic cotton is also suitable for persons with chemical sensitivities and allergies to dyes (BambooCentral.org).

This guide to cruelty-free clothing urges you to look beyond the basic definition of “cruelty” to understand how our choices affect not only animals, but the environment and our families who inhabit it too. That’s why synthetic materials like rayon and polyester are not listed; those materials are heavily processed and add copious amounts of chemicals, dyes, and other toxins that are detrimental to our personal health and the planet’s. In sum, it isn’t cruelty-free just because it doesn’t contain animal products.

 

Source: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/your-guide-to-cruelty-free-clothing/

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Why (People Still Think) Vegan Food Sucks

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As the vegan movement gains momentum, a common perception is that veganism is just another fad diet. The thought of food devoid of texture, flavor, and calories is what many people envision. Even with all the huge advances in vegan meats, cheeses, and desserts, many still have outdated perceptions of vegan food that involves things such as carob and brown rice syrup.

Sadly, the vegan lifestyle tends to get associated with fringe food movements that have nothing to do with veganism, such as “organic,” “gluten-free,” “fat-free,” “raw,” “oil-free,” “non-GMO,” etc. In addition, many of the extreme fad-dieters have also begun to distort perceptions, by lumping “vegan” amongst a myriad of irrational and extreme dietary habits that have nothing to do with veganism.

In reality, veganism is a moral and ethical commitment to refraining from violence and exploitation in all areas, not just diet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, or a diet that is devoid of animal products, which doesn’t involve the exploitation of other beings. Beyond animal products, there are no other restrictions. Vegans can also indulge in things such as bread, alcohol, and fried foods just like everyone else.

Veganism isn’t just another annoying dietary fad; in fact, it’s well documented that a plant-based diet is nutritionally appropriate and can even benefit human health. The same cannot be said for most other diets that have gained popularity in recent times, but for some reason we tend to continue disregarded a plant-based diet as such.

As a vegan, there’s truly nothing more frustrating than going to a restaurant or an outing and being expected to be satisfied by a salad with oil and vinegar, or a grainy gluten-free cupcake that happens to also be vegan. Just like anyone else, vegans want to enjoy food that’s satisfying. Vegans eat delicious foods like pizza, cheesesteaks, nachos, and doughnuts. There’s no reason to assume that vegan food options should be any less satisfying than any other foods.

So, to the restaurateurs and home chefs out there preparing vegan meals, enough already with the salads and steamed veggies lacking in flavor, protein and calories! Would you be satisfied with a plate of fresh fruit, or pasta and tomato sauce? Of course not. So, why do you expect that vegans should be either?

The only “restriction” to vegan cuisine is the elimination of animal-based products that can be easily replaced with delicious alternatives. Please stop lumping vegan food in with the mulch and leaves that many fad-dieters limit themselves to. It’s not only disappointing to vegans expecting a good meal or dessert, but it continues to perpetuate the myth that vegan food doesn’t taste good!

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-coffin/why-people-still-think-ve_b_5507392.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

The Dairy Industry – why we do not need milk

“The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn – only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth – minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days – were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain.”

— Dr. Michael Klaper

Dairy

The dairy industry spends a lot of money on advertising. You can find dairy ads in magazines, on television, in school cafeterias and on billboards. It is almost impossible to grow up in our society without being told how great dairy products are.They definitely fooled me. As a teenager, I was a very proud dairy consumer. Even after I had become vegetarian, I still continued to consume dairy products. I knew that animals were abused and killed for meat, but didn’t see anything wrong with dairy. Cows need to be milked and milk is good for us. Those messages were completely ingrained in me. When I was twenty, I found out the true facts about the dairy industry and decided to make the step to veganism. I would like to share those facts with you, so you can make your own informed decisions.

Do Cows Need to be Milked?

Cows are mammals. Just like other mammals, when a cow has a baby, her body will make enough milk for her baby. In a normal situation, cows don’t need any help getting rid of too much milk. The goal of the dairy industry however, is to make as much money as possible. To get more money, they have several commonly used methods to get cows to produce more milk:

  • a dairy cow is impregnated every year, so she continues to produce a steady supply of milk. This is usually done through artificial insemination.

  • calves are removed from their mothers almost right after birth.

  • especially in intensive dairy farming, cows are genetically engineered and fed growth hormones to force them to produce more milk.


Calf Nursing

Cassie after having given birth to her baby.

How the Dairy Industry Operates

I recently visited a small dairy farm in Wisconsin. Most dairy cows are raised in intensive factory farms, where the situation for the cows is of course much worse. Still, I think this small dairy farm illustrates some common dairy practices really well.

The dairy cows are chained by their necks and kept indoors most of the day. Cow trainers hang above the cows to give them a shock when they arch their backs. This forces them to move back to drop urine and manure into a gutter. They are artificially inseminated each year and are milked on average 305 days per year. As with humans, a cow’s pregnancy lasts nine months. Having to give birth every year is physically very demanding.

Even though this small dairy farm has given their cows names in addition to their numbers, it is very clear that their cows are viewed as not much more than milk machines.

After giving birth, their babies are removed from them and kept in another building. I asked someone who works at the dairy farm about this and was told that removing the calves after birth is “standard practice in the dairy industry”.

“The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn – only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth – minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days – were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain.”

— Dr. Michael Klaper


Cassie’s baby being kept in another building.


Dairy Cow

Most cows in the regular dairy industry are also given growth hormones, causing their udders to become unnaturally big and heavy, resulting in frequent infections. The Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) also increases birth defects in calves.

The average modern dairy cow will produce about 100 pounds of milk per day, which is 10 times more than it would naturally produce. Normally cows can live an average of 25 years. Dairy cows are slaughtered and made into ground beef after about 3-4 years. Because of the intense abuse wrought upon their poor bodies, dairy cows – like beef cattle – also frequently end up being unable to walk or stand, causing them to be severely mistreated.

What Happens to the Calves?

In the dairy industry, calves are removed from their mothers not long after being born (either right after birth or within 1-2 days). Female calves will be raised to become dairy cows and male calves will be raised and slaughtered for meat. Most male calves are killed for beef, but some will end up in the awful veal industry.

After being removed from their mothers, veal calves are loaded onto trucks and often sold at auctions. These small and fragile calves are often treated very roughly. If they are unable to walk, they will be dragged by their legs or ears.

Veal calves are confined in crates measuring about two feet wide. To make their meat more “tender”, their movements are restrained by chains around their necks. To give a white color to their meat, the calves are fed an all-liquid milk-substitute, purposely deficient in iron and fiber. After about 16 weeks, these poor calves are slaughtered and their meat is sold labeled as “white” veal. “Bob” veal comes from calves who are slaughtered when they are only a few hours or days old.


Veal Calve


Cow in Head Stall at the Horizon Organic Dairy Farm

Is Organic Dairy Okay?

The organic meat and dairy industry have become very popular recently. However, just like any other industry, the organic dairy industry has to make a profit. Even at organic dairy farms, cows are kept constantly pregnant, calves are removed from their mothers and male calves are turned into beef or veal.

Especially at larger organic farms, the treatment of the animals very much resembles that of factory farmed animals. There are very few regulations in place that deal with the amount of space the animals should be given or the amount of time they should be allowed outside.

Most animals raised organically are still handled, transported and slaughtered the same awful way factory farm animals are. They are still forcefully thrown into trucks where they are subjected to transportation without protection from heat or cold and without access to food or water. They are still hung upside down, have their throats slit and bleed to death, often while fully conscious.

Is Dairy Healthy?

Definitely! It is very healthy food for the calves whose tiny bodies need to grow into big cows. Just like the breast milk from any other mammal, it is especially formulated for the babies for whom it is intended. Dairy is high in fat, protein and cholesterol. It is low in carbohydrates and contains no fiber.

Should humans be consuming it? Absolutely not! There is no need at all for humans to be consuming the breast milk from another species. The best food for human babies is human breast milk. After a baby is done nursing, there is no need to switch to the breast milk from a cow.

“There is no reason to drink cow’s milk at any time in your life. It was designed for calves, not humans, and we should all stop drinking it today.”

— Dr. Frank A. Oski
former director of Pediatrics, John Hopkins University.


Calf taken away from his mother and sold at an auction.


Baby Nursing

Dairy products are in fact the leading cause of food allergies. They contain more than 25 different proteins that may induce allergic reactions in humans. Lactose intolerance, the inability to digest the carbohydrate known as lactose found in milk, is common to about 90% of adult blacks and Asians. This condition causes symptoms like diarrhea, gas and stomach cramps.

Breastfed babies can get colic and other milk-related food allergies if the mother consumes dairy products. Colic is the common allergic reaction infants have to proteins found in cow’s milk. They give the baby stomach cramps, which cause persistent fussing and crying.

 

Source: http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_cruelty/dairy.htm