Introducing Vegan Bootcamp - A Simplified Transition to Veganism
Vegans are all too used to telling someone about their lifestyle and being met with the classic, “I could never be vegan, it’s way too hard” response. Thanks to our latest project in partnership with Peta, vegans now have the perfect answer to this, VeganBootcamp.org. The site is an entirely free course-based challenge designed to provide all the information you need to easily transition to a vegan lifestyle. Vegan Bootcamp Explained Vegan Bootcamp isn’t like your typical 30 days of vegan challenge. It’s an entire website filled with lessons that will teach you all the tools needed to be confident in going vegan. There are courses on dairy, vegan fitness, common arguments against veganism, and many more. These courses also include readings, engaging videos, documentaries, and quizzes to ensure you have that knowledge down pat. Why use Vegan Bootcamp Deciding to go vegan can be challenging. You now have to consciously think about the ingredients in everything that you eat and you need to make sure you have your facts straight when you are inevitably challenged about your new lifestyle. This transition can be especially overwhelming when trying to find the answers to all your questions. Vegan Bootcamp helps solve this issue by placing a vast amount of information all in one place.  There is no time frame that the courses need to be completed within. This allows everyone to absorb the information at their own pace. The top of the course page displays the percentage you have completed to reach your goals. You can also customize these goals to better reflect the exact knowledge you are looking to gain. Other added benefits include the option to request a mentor or a dietician to support you and ensure your lifestyle change is done safely and effectively. You can earn rewards as you complete each course. These rewards allow you to unlock tons of discounts at participating vegan stores, food, books, and more. Also, there is an added feature of a community forum where you can introduce yourself, ask questions, make suggestions, and maybe even make some friends along the way! How to use Vegan Bootcamp Using Vegan Bootcamp is so easy that you’ll learn all the knowledge you need to be confident in a vegan lifestyle in no time. Just make your way over to VeganBootcamp.org and sign up! As soon as you’re logged in, you’ll see the whole list of courses and you can get started!  Once you’ve racked up enough stars, simply click the number of stars you have in the top right corner. This will take you to a page where you can redeem your stars for awesome discounts. Go get redeeming!  The team happily worked so hard on this amazing project and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have released Vegan Bootcamp. We want to ensure that the vegan-curious, new vegans or even experienced vegans have all the tools and knowledge needed to confidently be vegan. We understand that adopting a vegan lifestyle is not always simple. It's easy to get lost in various books, thousands of webpages, and millions of articles. Vegan Bootcamp simplifies everything you need to know in one convenient spot and earn rewards along the way. So head over to VeganBootcamp.org right now and get earning those stars! Check out our previous post: Don’t Fall for Clickbait: How Online Articles Misrepresent Veganism Header Photo by Monika Kubala on Unsplash
Don’t Fall for Clickbait: How Online Articles Misrepresent Veganism
The Internet is an amazing place for finding all sorts of information. Everyone is free to contribute, meaning a multitude of voices can be heard. However, monetization has tainted many things, and online articles are no exception. Desperate to get clicks, writers had to resort to writing sensationalist headlines. That itself may not necessarily be a problem, but trouble arises when readers stop at reading headlines and start drawing conclusions from there. Combined with some psychology phenomena none of us are immune to, readers can easily fall into the trap of believing articles that misrepresent their topics. Everyone and their mother has an opinion on veganism (especially their mother), so those who want to read and learn about it have to be aware of how the media contributes to the misrepresentation of veganism. Worry not. When you learn to recognize writing patterns and tendencies, you will suddenly see them everywhere. As a responsible reader, you will be able to form your own opinions and make informed decisions. This article will help you spot cheap tricks articles use to generate cheap clicks.Reverse Survivorship Bias Climbing Mount Everest is often seen as an indicator of one’s fitness. People train for months on end prior to climbing. Some make it to the summit, some don’t. More than 300 people have died while tackling the world’s highest mountain. However, one of them was of special interest to the public just because of her lifestyle. In 2016, Dr. Strydom, who was vegan, died of altitude sickness while descending Mount Everest. Journalists were quick to write a myriad of articles about her death, and many of them made sure that their headlines included the word vegan and Strydom’s intention of “proving that vegans can do anything”. Using the word vegan for getting clicks is not a new method, and it functions because veganism is still considered somewhat exotic. Writing about the death in a condescending tone and boldly making generalizations such as “vegan diets are commonly lacking in vitamin B12” inspired some readers to conclude that her being vegan had something to do with the tragic outcome. This is an example of survivorship bias. Ben Lowe – Unsplash Survivorship bias can be defined as “the human tendency to study successful outcomes and ignore the accompanying failures”. For example, if we learn that Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates dropped out of college and became successful, we may conclude that dropping out was what made them prosperous. We ignore many people who followed the same path but never made it big. In the case of Dr. Strydom, a reversed form of survivorship bias can be seen. She is one vegan who died on Mount Everest, but many people who were already skeptical about vegans used that piece of information to consolidate their opinion of all vegans being weak. The fact that her husband, also a vegan, went to the top and back was ignored. Luckily, there are vegans whose climbing feats are well worth seeing. Make sure you read stories about Kuntal Joisher and Dean Maher to see it’s completely possible to be a successful vegan athlete. If you are interested in such topics, there is a course on vegan fitness on Vegan Bootcamp, so sign up right away!Apophenia – Drawing Connections Which Are Not There The Matter of Food – Unsplash Survivorship bias is not the only phenomenon in which people tend to draw false conclusions. Apophenia is also present in articles on veganism written by non-vegans. Defined as “the human tendency to see connections and patterns that are not really there”, apophenia can be found in the background of articles on vegan parenting and vegan diet. In Italy, 2016, a bill that proposes jail time for vegan parents who feed their children vegan diet was presented. It was a result of several cases in which vegan children suffered from malnourishment. One child even died, and their parents were sentenced to life in prison. However, it is very important to note that the child was fed a diet of mostly soy milk and apple juice. Again, a ton of articles on how bad a vegan diet is for children appeared online. When a teenager who ate nothing but fries, chips, bread, and processed meats went blind, there were no articles claiming that an omnivorous diet may be harmful. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the United States’ largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, doesn’t take issue with veganism. According to the Academy, a planned vegan diet is “appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes”. In other words, professionals agree that a vegan diet (with B12 supplementation) can be healthful and nutritionally adequate for children. The unfortunate events in Italy were not a consequence of a vegan diet, but a poor diet in general. We must remember that correlation does not imply causation. Many vegan parents have raised vegan children successfully. All it takes is a little planning and being responsible for supplements. If you are interested in going vegan but need some direction to make sure you stay healthy, Vegan Bootcamp can connect you with registered dietitians who will help you meet all your nutritional needs.Hypocrisy is not in this season! Of course, vegan authors should avoid doing the same things they’re accusing the others of. Rather than claiming that eating animal products makes omnivores automatically less healthy than vegans, for communicating a vegan message, it is better to take a calmer approach. Focus on maintaining a civil dialogue rather than abruptly proclaiming victory and discouraging further questions. Avoid relying on anecdotal evidence and clickbait. Think of all horribly written anti-vegan articles and try to create something that informs and empowers people to become vegan, instead of stoking internet flame wars.Too shocking to be true Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal, easy formula to tell what’s true and what’s false. You need to research further from the headline. Look up the same issue using multiple sources. Check if a scientific article was peer-reviewed or if it was sponsored by a biased party. Most importantly, think about what you’ve read before you repeat it and use common sense to determine if what you’ve read is true information. One other thing to take away is if a headline sounds too shocking to be true, it probably is. A headline is usually a tool for getting the readers to open the article, and the true(-ish) information is revealed somewhere in the text. Since veganism is still a controversial topic, we need to be careful not to fall for everything we find online, be it about how veganism can destroy your health or give you superpowers.
My Octopus Teacher (2020): Step Into Nature And Develop A Gentleness
“I hadn’t been a person who was overly sentimental towards animals before. I realized I was changing […] You start to care about all the animals. You realize that everyone is important.”Craig Foster – My Octopus Teacher A few years ago, documentary filmmaker Craig Foster suffered a burn-out from years of non-stop work. He needed to slow down. His mind went back to raw nature, to the wild, and he remembered his early days as a writer and a director when he was living with the African San People.“They were inside of the natural world. And I could feel I was outside. I had this deep longing to be inside that world.” Many of us are no stranger to the desire to tap into what Henry David Thoreau referred to as "the tonic of wildness". I only need a couple of months of hard work for the longing to head into the mountains to resurface. For Foster, it brought him back to the South African kelp forests where he made an unexpected friend.Why Sustainable Change Needs More Than Data, And How ‘My Octopus Teacher’ Achieves It Wouldn’t it be great if information was enough to move people to action? To change? However, presenting others with facts won’t make them fundamentally alter their behavior. According to Tali Sharot, an Associate Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London and director of the Affective Brain Lab, facts often underestimate the influence of what makes us human. Our desires, system of beliefs, our fears, pleasures, are prime motivators in which choices we make, not the numbers or hard truths we see before us. My Octopus Teacher – Netflix Of course, the reality is often a bit more complicated than that. Our cultural backgrounds, state of mind, and ability to empathize also play a part. But it does help explain why scientific reports or even masterful documentaries such as Dominion and Cowspiracy, tend to mobilize the kind of person already perceptive to hearing the message. For those who are hungry to strengthen their conviction and their power in debate. For others, the change will still seem like a road they are not ready to take. My Octopus Teacher is not a direct call for animal rights or environmentalism. It starts out as a human story and then invites us to look more closely at the world around us. This is what makes it so powerful. My Octopus Teacher follows Craig Foster who, in an attempt to re-establish balance in his life, goes back to the wilderness that defined his childhood. He explores the South African underwater landscapes and almost instantly, he feels his energy returning to him. The waters are rough, filled with predators, and cold, reaching temperatures as low as 7 degrees Celsius. Still, he decides to dive without a wetsuit and oxygen tank. He wants to be his true, natural self to feel part of the ecosystem and effectively maneuver the thick, kelp woodlands. My Octopus Teacher – Netflix Part of the excitement of exploring true wilderness is in discovering the exotic. When Foster comes across an odd construction of shells, he isn't sure what he just stumbled upon. “Even the fish seemed confused…” Suddenly, an Octopus bursts out. It sheds the shells and swims away. Foster realizes that he has come across a creature that can teach him something. He decides to follow it.The Power Of Storytelling She uses a shell as a shield against this odd shiny thing – a camera. She plays with a group of hallucinogenic fish. She escapes a shark by creating an armor of rocks and shells, and subsequently maneuvering on its back, riding it. She meets Foster’s son… At first, Foster is merely curious. But it doesn’t take long for his trips into the kelp forests to feel like a visit to a friend. He is keen to connect with the ethereal creature. The boundaries between her and I seem to dissolve … just the pure magnificence of her” Foster’s poetic narratives raise the point that we can’t help but humanize animals. It is the easiest way for us to understand them. But that shouldn’t make his experiences any less valid. There is a part of the scientific community that feels utilizing our subjective experience in assessing an animal’s body language, is a valid way to collect data. That we, animals ourselves, can pick up on signs of discomfort or joy instinctively. Even though there are numerous scientists who discard that thesis as unempirical, their human perception of what deserves the label of “valuable”, such as an animal’s emotional intelligence, does still play part in selecting who they choose to protect. Stories told from a real-life experience have something very honest that can reach people before scientific reports do. Our culture of influencers proves that this is what we are hungry for. The first-hand accounts from those who have been there. But this also comes with responsibility. However powerful the story, science still plays a part. And Foster takes this responsibility seriously. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t research the animal. He learns everything he can from reports drawn up by experts. He uses this to create a complete picture based on his own observations by tracking her and thinking like an octopus, while still enjoying the human experience of connecting with raw nature.Enter "The Forest Mind": The Bigger Picture While Foster repeatedly finds mirroring traits between himself and his octopus friend, he also taps into the intricate ecosystem around him. He begins to see how everything is connected. The octopus is at the center of what he refers to as “the forest mind”, an entity more awake and intelligent than him. A giant underwater brain, as he calls it, that has been operating over millions of years, and where every tiny creature plays a role. Foster's musings may sound a little too otherworldly. But it is a sensation commonly experienced by those who spend long periods of time in the wilderness. My own experiences in the wild, especially the Nepal Himalayas and remote parts of Bolivia, were not only physically and psychologically challenging, but intensely spiritual. I felt a great sense of belonging. On my first day back into a crowded town, it felt like every loud person was intruding and every building was a prison. Frances Kuo, professor of natural resources, environmental science and psychology at the University of Illinois, describes how scientists can study the urbanized human in much the same way they would other animals torn away from their natural habitat. Without it, they observe how we more easily resort to aggression and break social patterns. More recent data suggests that the corporal as well as mental health we tend to experience when in nature has empirical validity. Foster’s feeling of flying through a mythical kelp forest could just be a symptom of balance returning to him. For Foster, the balance came with a renewed appreciation for our natural resources and an urgency to maintain them. When he heads out into the kelp forests with his son, he is pleased to see a fine marine biologist in the making. But most importantly, he observes in his son what's at the core of sustainable change and what can only come from extended periods of time spent in nature – a gentleness. Foster’s journey through the kelp forest can be seen in the new Netflix film, My Octopus Teacher, or read in the book, Sea Change. The Sea Change Project consists of a community of scientists, journalists, storytellers and filmmakers devoted to promoting the conservation of our underwater paradise through the power of stories.
It's Time for Veganism to Go Back to Its Roots
At last year’s Democratic Climate Crisis Town Hall, senator Cory Booker, vegetarian since 1992 and vegan since 2014, took a less than inspiring stance when saying that "Whatever you want to eat, go ahead and eat it." While Booker’s words reflected a rather disappointing commitment to the cause of Animal Welfare and environmentalism, it also echoed a fear of the growing resentment towards vegans that had already been brewing for several years. This fear goes far beyond the U.S. A 2015 survey revealed that vegans and vegetarians face prejudice on par with other minorities. These prejudices had reached toxic levels by 2019 when this philosophy of kindness found itself in a wave of virtual aggression. However, now that the current health crisis has delivered a severe blow to the meat production, we could make use of this momentum to turn the attention away from the individual and back to the movement. Booker took a similar approach since stepping back from the Presidential Elections and put the gloves back on in his fight against Big Business. While he aims to gently introduce the topic of veganism by reconciling it with small farmers suffering from the titanic corporations waving the scepter, it should bring the rest of us back to the drawing boards as well. In short, let’s bring the movement back to its roots as a vehicle for environmental and social justice, and attack the systematic issues that cause suffering on a global scale.Social Justice For Farmed Animals When it comes to the question of when things will start to change for farmed animals, it is now. But it is happening slowly. The conversation has opened the floor for scientists and researchers to tweak the public's perception of what these animals should mean to us. In their 2017 review essay The Psychology of Cows, Lori Marino and Kristin Allen expand on the intellectual and emotional range of cows, effectively moving the attention away from their main purpose as a mere food commodity. Marino and Allen list research performed in Learning and Cognition, Personality, Social Complexity and Emotions, which shows cows as intelligent and complex creatures much like they have demonstrated with pigs, chickens and other farmed animals. Animal Rights Organizations capitalize on these traits that we are have grown accustomed to perceiving as valuable and project our love for our companion animals, onto those who are left behind. Social Media Post By Animal EqualityAg-Gag Laws: You Didn’t See Anything Of course, speciesism can only effectively be deconstructed when our freedom of speech is not undermined. 80 billion animals are slaughtered for meat consumption every year. Abuses are rife from pigtail docking, perpetual pregnancies, chick shredding and growth hormones, to the more insidious act of robbing an animal of acting on their natural impulses. While these practices have already been widely reported, so-called Ag-Gag Laws are being enacted. These laws are designed to quietly close the doors on exploitations caused by intensive farming, and turn reporting on abuse against farmed animals into a criminal act. Earlier this year, Iowa passed its third Ag-Gag law. This is the last in a decade-long effort of the agricultural sector to keep activists away in an attempt to take away their proof, their voice, and so their power. Although these laws originated in the U.S. and currently exist in 6 states, Ag-Gag laws are also popping up in Australia, Canada, and France. Since Ag-Gag laws aim to silence whistle-blowers, the only way to respond is by getting even louder.Social Justice For The Lower Classes And The Marginalized Since going mainstream, veganism has lost some of its social urgency. This has caused the general public to view veganism as an elitist movement tinged with privilege and headed by holier-than-thou preachers attacking those who consume animal products as being immoral. While mistakenly labeled as elitist because of a few bad apples, veganism could contribute to a more equal distribution of both welfare and health. Let’s look at a now-infamous example. In the summer of 2016, the Environmental Working Group released maps and data exposing North Carolina’s most vulnerable communities as the greatest victims of the 6,500 factory farms found in the state. The highest density of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are located close to in the Samson and Duplin counties, where a high percentage of black and Latino communities is housed. Between them, these two counties make up more than 40 % of the state’s wet waste produced by 4.5 million hogs. A year earlier in 2015, 500 North Carolina residents had filed a suit against the unlivable conditions created by the intense pig farming. Prior to that, the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network filed a complaint stating the lax regulations of hog waste disposal and its inherently classist and racist nature towards the rural communities of eastern North Carolina. North Carolina’s public health violations were first brought to light 16 years ago, but it wasn’t until last year in 2019, that the case finally got some exposure. Image by Civileats.comIntersectional Activism: Turn Your Life Into A Political Act North Carolina is only one example of many of how the marginalized communities tend to suffer the effects of intensive farming. Prime examples include the inequalities laid bare by climate change and the dangerous meat processing jobs commonly executed by immigrants. Just think about the recent death of Pedro Canon, a Tyson Meat Plant employee who died from Covid-19 as a result of inhuman working conditions while 25 others tested positive for the virus. With effective organization and focus, no community should be left voiceless and the fight can be on a global, inclusive scale. This is sadly not always the case. Veganism, while a social movement, is on occasion still headed by those who believe animal rights and human rights are separate entities. Raffaella Ciavatta, a member of Collectively Free, sat down with Tras Los Muros and talked about veganism and intersectionality, stating that our fight should be on all fronts, not just one: “I have unfortunately seen many examples of activists who are either racist, sexist, or homophobic but nonetheless fight for animal liberation. From our point of view, we cannot fight a form of oppression while being oppressors.”Environmental Justice For All We have all seen and heard the numbers by now. We’re aware that Animal Agriculture is a major cause of climate change and contributes to deforestation, pollution, and loss of biodiversity, not to mention pandemics. These insights have led to the rise of revolutionary ideas to curb climate change and boost animal welfare, as well as increase our own health and vitality. One such system is proposed by the EAT-Lancet Commission. The initiative aims to up draw up some guidelines that can, in a sustainable manner, provide nutritious, plant-based food to the ever-increasing population by addressing the destructive farming methods, the loss of wildlife, and the pollution of our oceans and rivers. I can hear you thinking, how could we possibly find the resources to make something like this happen? Much like with the Ag-Gag laws, we can knock at our government’s door to build towards sustainable change.Redirect Unethical Subsidies Towards Global Welfare According to a recent report by the Food and Land Use Coalition, our taxes are fueling harmful farm subsidies at a scary rate of 1 million USD per minute. Next to causing irreparable harm to the current climate crisis and our biodiversity, the report states that only 1% of the 700 billion USD is used in a way that benefits our environment annually. Instead, the majority of the funds are allocated towards high-emission cattle production through intensive farming, the destruction of our forests to produce more farmland, and pollution caused by the overuse of fertilizers. You may recall similar alarm bells being rung by John Robbins in his book Meatconomics. It may already be 7 years old, but the book remains a staple in revealing the inner workings of the meat industry in a way that had never been talked about before. While Robbins also shares disturbingly big portions of the taxpayer’s money going to harmful meat and dairy practices, funds are also used to subsidize the production process, the farmers’ insurance, marketing, export, sales, and research and development. In effect, that $4 USD Big Mac you are purchasing will have a real value of $11 USD already paid by you on production and advertising. The report further goes on to say that our security is at risk if we don’t find a way to reform these subsidies and drastically cut back on our meat intake and other damaging practices. The biggest opportunity, so the report finds, is in redirecting these funds to healthier eating, cutting down on our waste, and planting trees. This could surely clear a financial path for a revolutionary diet like the one proposed by EAT-Lancet, right?The Takeaway A true activist doesn’t discriminate, but attacks an issue on all levels, for everyone. We should all start by being reliably informed and making lifestyle choices accordingly. From there, we can use this information as armor to execute organized pressure in favor of social, environmental and ethical change. Our fight should be for the animals, for the environment, for the marginalized, and anyone or anything else left behind in a broken system that can be fixed. So yes, pick up your fork for sustainable change, but also your pen, your banners, and your courage.
Explore Vegan Content with VeganPlaylist.org
We worked hard to create VeganPlaylist.org to make it easier for you to consume and share vegan content. With VeganPlaylist.org you can either chose from already curated playlists or customize your very own! Some examples of the playlists include, “30 Arguments Against Veganism Debunked”, “Must See Vegan Documentaries”, and “The Easy Vegan: Quick Vegan Recipes.” There are plenty of factors that motivate an individual to go vegan. There is no universal video that will resonate with everyone. When you choose a playlist that closely aligns with an individual’s interests or values (health, environment, ethics, etc) your message is more likely to inspire the viewer. Why Use Vegan Playlist It can be difficult to convince a non-vegan to read a vegan related scientific article or book. These playlists provide an easily digestible format to learn all about the many facets of veganism. They can be adapted to all interests, from someone who has never heard of a vegan lifestyle to a person who is teetering on the edge of going vegan. These playlists aren’t just for vegans to send to a particular person, they are also for those who are already vegan. The site is a great source for learning new recipes, fitness, and how to win a vegan debate!  How to use Vegan Playlist  Visit VeganPlaylist.org and the homepage will already display a ton of informative playlists suited to the topic you are looking for. Below the title of the playlist, there are three useful icons. If you click, “Share” you’ll be prompted all the sites you could possibly want to share the playlist to. Beside this button, there is the “Copy URL.” If you click this the URL will automatically be copied and you can paste it anywhere you desire like an email or a text message. Lastly, to the right of the copy URL button is the total time of the particular playlist you are looking at. This is a great useful tool to further assess if the playlist is right for the person you will send it to. If the receiving individual has time and is very interested, a longer playlist may be suitable. Otherwise, it might be best to opt for a shorter playlist.  If you are interested in curating your own playlist, look to the top center of the page. Here, you can fill in the name of your new playlist and click, “Create.” This will then take you to a page with various videos you can select to suit your theme. If you click on the coloured tags at the top of the page, they will filter the video results to relate to the topic of the tag selected (i.e Documentary, Fitness, Humour, etc). All of these videos are pre-approved by our team to ensure the most effective, accurate, and appropriate content. If we are missing a video that you believe to be beneficial, please contact us here.   To Sum up  Vegan Playlist was created to help vegans and the vegan-curious easily find curated videos, whether for themselves or to send to a friend in mind. The site will help you save from endless hours searching for videos on YouTube, easily share playlists to social media, and efficiently determine the best-fit playlist for the viewer. Videos are an extremely necessary and effective tool to spread awareness of a vegan lifestyle and expose animal cruelty. Head over to veganplaylist.org right now and start sharing!
The Problem with Strays
In the modern world, when most of us think of stray cats and dogs we typically don’t recognize that even though several countries and governing bodies have found ways to tackle the issues that come with having homeless animals on the streets (such as: shelters, castration, vaccination etc.) , the weight of this dilemma is still very much ongoing and prominent till this very day. In fact, most people seem to be quite ignorant and unknowing towards all the problems that arise when these animals are left unattended and their country/state/county of residence refuses to take care of them.  A recent trip back to my hometown of 12 years; Thessaloniki, Greece, sincerely opened even my own eyes as an already vegan individual, to how disordered the living situation for these poor creatures really is.  The first thing I learned is that in countries like Greece, where the complication in question has reached problematic levels, there’s still no single official sector that fully accepts responsibility for animal welfare, the few chunks of it that exist are quite shattered and unavailable in most areas. The result? Numerous strays, way too many per city and while several municipalities have at least taken some responsibility to vaccinate and chip some of them, most are not castrated and unfortunately have a very short and miserable existence.  Furthermore, doing research for this article pulled me deeper into the rabbit hole of reasons why we should all be fighting to get animals off the streets for good. Let's take stray dogs as an example: just a few quick incidents of trouble they cause include littering with feces that no one cleans, noise pollution and dangerous traffic accidents that not only result in the dogs’ deaths but also endanger humans. Dogs tend to fight during mating season too, which means that biting other dogs and even people is yet another risk. Biting can also spread diseases such as rabies, if these animals are multiplying at an alarming rate due to lack of castration, makes vaccinating all of them even harder, like a domino effect. Lastly, even though many residents of local places attempt to provide food and “shelter” for the strays, some people commonly poison said food, the animals end up dying, this then leads to horrible odour, parasites, rotting and more hot spots for the spread of different diseases. Additionally, feral cats pose an even bigger concern. While they are equally as affected by precisely the same dangers as dogs, felines run an even higher risk of spreading diseases just by existing and being unvaccinated, these include: toxoplasmosis and cat scratch fever. Most importantly, stray cats are known to contribute to the extinction of several mammal species worldwide because of their predatory instincts especially when they’re born in the wild. Lastly, they spread their offspring in staggering numbers: in a seven year period, a pair can create up to 400,000 babies.  Now that I’ve elaborated on the obvious negatives of having animals pushing for survival on the streets, with barely any help from us humans, I’d like to direct your attention to some possible solutions of how one could raise awareness and do something about this themselves, maybe even get the government involved if enough people are on board!  Of course, getting informed as one individual already does a lot of good, you’re already reading this article after all! Perhaps this can get the ball rolling and you could do even more research on the subject online, or through local shelters and your country’s sources of information concerning animal welfare. Next, spreading the word is essential. Tackling this obstacle requires local communities and countries themselves to pay attention and take things more seriously than just chipping and/or vaccinating some animals, this is clearly out of control. Volunteering or even donating to suitable organizations created by people interested in getting strays off the streets for good is also a brilliant idea to make a small change for the better, just think of all the impact you could be making, even just saving one life is to be applauded! Finally, if you have no time or money for volunteer based activities, consider spreading the “adopt don’t shop” mentality always. That way, these poor homeless animals can have a cozy home instead of a pavement or a shelter cell and hopefully authorities can direct their attention on the entirety of the matter at hand more sharply.  If you would like to help support the constant efforts of citizens trying to help homeless dogs/cats survive in Greece, check out the links below for some insight:  https://saveagreekstray.org/en/ http://www.love4pets.gr/english  https://greekanimalrescue.com/
Get Involved With Our New Animal Rights Map
Getting involved in a local animal rights group is a great way to connect with other vegans and make a difference in your community. But you may not know where to start or what groups are around you. That’s why we created the Animal Rights Map!  The Animal Rights Map catalogues over 2,500 different animal rights groups operating all over the globe. Simply go to AnimalRightsMap.org and navigate the map to find your city. Here you will be able to find any group in or around your town. Click a marker and a hyperlink will pop up. By clicking on the link provided, you will be taken directly to the group’s website or Facebook group. From there, you can find upcoming events to attend, volunteer opportunities, and other ways to get involved in your local vegan community. If you don’t see an Animal Rights group that you know, please tell us by clicking, “Submit a group” on the left-hand side of the page. If there are no groups at all in your area, you could start one (and make sure you let us know)!  Attending events and volunteering for Animal Rights groups in your community is mutually beneficial. You’re spreading awareness of animal welfare and veganism while also making new friends and networking with vegans in your community, it’s a win-win.  Using your voice to uplift an animal rights group’s message is one of the best things you could do to get us closer to liberating the animals. AnimalRightMap.org is your best resource to find a group looking for a passionate activist like you. The more people that get involved, the closer we are to achieving meaningful change.
Online Activism: 5 Minutes 5 Vegans
Lots of vegans want to promote the cause but don’t know where to start. That’s what 5 Minutes 5 Vegans aims to solve, by quickly and effectively answering questions from the vegan-curious.  5 Minutes 5 Vegans is a web-based tool that uses Twitter bots to scan and display posts from individuals looking for help with making the vegan switch. The site provides responses to the most common vegan questions and fallacies. Users can select and edit these responses to reply to a potential vegan’s tweet. In 5 minutes, you can motivate 5 vegan curious people to take the leap and adopt a vegan lifestyle. Why Online Activism is Important Social media has the power to influence potential vegans at a global scale. 5 Minutes 5 Vegans reaches people who are curious about the vegan lifestyle, but may not have any vegans around them to answer their questions. Whether you’re a veteran activist or a total amateur, 5 Minutes 5 Vegans encourages all vegans to get involved. The website is easy to navigate and incorporate into your daily online routine - it only takes 5 minutes after all. In the middle of a global pandemic, it can be difficult to get involved with in-person activism. But, anyone with a device that connects to the internet can use 5 Minutes 5 Vegans, no social distancing is required. Physical gatherings may be on hold, but activism doesn’t have to be. The animals certainly can't wait.   Using 5 Minutes 5 Vegans  The feed of tweets from vegan-curious people our bots work hard to gather are displayed on the right. The left side contains a list of the most common vegan curious concerns, questions, and myths.  Go through the Twitter feed and decide on a tweet you want to respond to. Awesome, you picked a tweet, now click on the prompt that best fits the subject matter of that tweet. This will display an answer to the prompt in the text box below. Copy your selected prompt by clicking the icon in the bottom right hand corner of the text box. Next, click directly on the tweet you want to reply to. This will open the tweet in a new tab, where you can paste your answer as a response to the tweet! We recommend that you edit the reply or add your own information to make the answer more relevant and prevent being flagged as spam.  In this example, the tweeter is talking about fried chicken. For my response, I chose to remove the original recommendation for Beyond Meat and leave just Gardein, as Gardein has breaded faux chicken products and Beyond Meat doesn’t (as of yet). When using this tool, we also recommend to look at the replies and ensure others have not already responded with the same answer, this will also help prevent your tweet from being flagged as spam.  You can sign up for an account at the bottom left to create and save your own custom replies so you don’t always have to edit the pre-filled prompts. This makes your 5 minutes quicker and more effective, maybe you’ll even reach 6 or 7 potential vegans! To Sum Up There you have it, easy peasy online activism. If you are anything like me, you are probably connected to the internet for the majority of your day. It only takes 5 minutes out of that entire day to put a little more good into the world and help 5 people adopt a vegan lifestyle. Utilizing social media as a tool for vegan activism allows us to reach the most amount of people to accomplish our number one goal of liberating our animal friends. Now head over to 5minutes5vegans.org and help your first 5 people go vegan, we’ll see you there! 
Why a global pandemic is closely tied to animal agriculture.
It is no secret that humans inherently have a tendency to overeat meat and animal products in their entirety. Whether someone is  only occasionally contributing to the industry or supporting it deeply, the fact still remains that all this contributes to animal agriculture as a whole, that continues to be the hot topic for the root causes of diseases, pollution and our planet’s overall declining condition today. So how is this issue engaged in the matter of a pandemic such as the current one then?  First off, the root cause of many infectious diseases encountered in humans in the last decade are known to have animal origin (these viruses are also known as zoonotic). Quite frankly, it isn’t even necessary to jump to the few serious recent incidents of zoonotic diseases, (such as COVID-19)  to understand the sheer effect that consuming animals has on our health, just look at H1N1 (swine flu), salmonella, e-coli infections, psittacosis etc.  Therefore it should be of no surprise that an average person’s lifestyle choices could be very closely related to a bigger problem, that of an even stronger virus taking over globally at any possible time. Furthermore, it has also been shown that systems like the one of industrial livestock production are one of the leading causes of other global concerns such as:  less soil degradation, water pollution, and deforestation.  Many of us seem to come to the conclusion that “foreign” places should be held responsible for the spread of pandemics. However few of us seem to forget that in every single slaughterhouse, animals are packed together in small spaces and they coexist under horrible and filthy conditions. Surely it should be obvious that such handling of livestock is a breeding ground for contamination and infection. On the same topic of meat industry measures, we are often met with the case of antibiotic resistance which when overused poses a huge pandemic risk as it helps strengthen and mutate bacteria. Antibiotics, as we know, are often  used for the treatment of crops, animals and humans, therefore the meat and animal products which the population tends to consume are also heavily pumped with the same chemical compounds.  Lastly, animals aren’t the only ones mistreated and in danger of spreading certain viruses to the world. The conditions for human workers in an average slaughterhouse are sadly, equally as devastating. It has continuously been reported that the positions these people are assigned inside each meat processing plant, force them to stand so close to each other that it makes safety practices such as social distancing impossible to follow. A grand example of this phenomenon already worsening an existing pandemic is the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the Gütersloh meat factory in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.  So what can we as a society do, to control the spread of such chaotic diseases? We must prevent the meat industry from thriving and diminish animal agriculture once and for all, and of course all this begins on our plate and the companies we put our money into due to our lifestyle practices. In light of this recent pandemic, maybe you’ll drop the red meat and poultry and switch to some delicious cruelty free Seitan, or a nice tofu wrap, perhaps you will make an extra step and start buying cruelty free cosmetics too! As crucial as it is to modify our lives to not support such mistreatment, it is also necessary to spread the word regarding information such as this article or similar, this helps to urge more people into deliberating about the world as a whole and the threats it’s often  faced with.  More pandemics mean more global suffering, extinction and corruption, that will inevitably happen if we refuse to change our ways and listen to reason. Veganism helps everyone, it benefits animals, the environment and human individuals. Start with baby steps and remember that these are steps to push us all towards a brighter future! Take the first step by signing up for our free 30 day vegan challenge!
Vegan Cheat Sheet: a stop for all your vegan needs!
When people find out that I’m vegan, there’s often an onslaught of questions that follow, such as:  “Is it hard to be vegan in Taipei?” Nope, it’s not hard being a vegan here at all! There’s a flourishing vegan community and plenty of vegan restaurants! “Is traveling hard as a vegan?” Nope! There are resources like HappyCow to find vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants practically anywhere. I’m always happy to answer these questions and discuss veganism. I like to think that my transition to veganism was quick and painless, so I didn’t have many of the concerns that people who are considering making the change do. Even so, I still come across resources that make it that much easier every now and then. For a new vegan, embarking on the lifestyle may seem much more daunting, especially if you live somewhere less vegan-friendly. The last blog post discussed our Vegan Bootcamp and the 30-day challenge that can help you slowly transition, but if you just want to jump in, then the Vegan Cheat Sheet may also serve you well. The Vegan Cheat Sheet is a convenient one-stop shop for any vegan resources you may need, whether that’s recommended documentaries to show a friend or links to talented vegan recipe-creators. You can find information on all aspects of veganism, as well as studies, activists and activist groups, and news. There are also links to vegan fashion lines and vegan food delivery services. Today, being vegan is easier and more important than ever. Whether or not you’ve made the transition, the Vegan Cheat Sheet is worth checking out!
In this season of COVID-19 self-isolating: try Vegan!
In this season of COVID-19 self-isolating and social distancing, one of the silver linings has been the opportunity to make more headway in self-development, whether that’s learning a new instrument, getting back into art, or teaching your pup some new tricks. If life’s just been too busy, then it’s also provided some free time to finally read that book or watch that TV show! If you’ve been curious about veganism, then there’s never been a time like now to give it a shot, especially if you’re living in an area where most doors are still closed. For a lot of people that want to try to make the transition, one of the big obstacles is going out to eat with friends and finding vegan options that aren’t just some fries and a sad salad, but social distancing means that there’s more opportunity to get creative in the kitchen, or just have some more control over your diet in general. For that extra push, Vegan Hacktivists developed Vegan Bootcamp—https://veganbootcamp.org/—a totally free, 30-day challenge that provides a wide range of resources to help anyone who’s vegan-curious to make the transition. There’s a wealth of information on why veganism is so valuable not only to the animals, but also to your health and the environment, and motivating clips of animals to remind you of why you started the challenge in the first place! As you move through the 30 days, you earn points that can be used on coupons to use at small vegan businesses. On your next grocery trip, maybe you could try getting tofu instead of eggs for a “scrambled tofu” or a coconut milk-based creamer for your morning coffee! A dollar is a vote, so just trying out some vegan products is supporting the movement, and that’s how you can be helping out from home.  And if you’re already vegan, then invite a friend or family member to try the challenge! As soon as you sign up for the challenge, an invitation link unique to you is created for you to share. You can track how many folks have signed up and completed the challenge. Based on our surveys, we know that the majority of people who complete the challenge continue to live a vegan lifestyle, so there’s some activism with just the click of a button (or, a few)!
Sneak preview of our upcoming project: My Daily Dozen!
Hey everyone! We're actually working on 4 different projects right now but we wanted to give you a little sneak preview of one in particular, My Daily Dozen! Some of you may already know about Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen (see attached): 🌱 https://nutritionfacts.org/daily-dozen-challenge/  There's an amazing mobile app, but no web-version, so we decided to make one! This version is especially exciting because you'll be able to include and customize new additions like Yoga, Meditation, Acts of Compassion, Sleep, and whatever else you'd like to add to your daily diet or routine! We may or may not be able to do this in collaboration with Dr. Greger, we're waiting on that right now, but either way we think this will be awesome for folks trying to follow a healthy plant-based diet. Naturally, we'll be adding some default activism cards to promote folks becoming active for the animals when they visit :) Here's the preview! https://imgur.com/a/kOxn6WS Let us know in the comments what you think! We'll be making more posts soon so we can show you what else is in our project pipeline. As always thank you so much for your support! 🐢 💕