Converting to Veganism – Why I Made the Switch |

For 35 years I have heard arguments in favour of veganism and vegetarianism and all have fallen on deaf ears. Although I can appreciate why any one of the usual reasons may be enough to motivate someone to eschew meat consumption, they never worked on me.I may, in the past, have occasionally had doubts about the wisdom of consuming flesh when stripping bare a barbecue rib or chewing through some particularly tough beef. Yet such thoughts were always banished to the back of my mind as I swam with the current, in the belief that eating meat was natural, harmless and indeed, necessary.Recently however, upon discovering the details of the environmental impacts of large-scale, industrial meat production, that has all changed. It has been 6 months since I last ate meat. Milk and butter are also out. I simply recount my own personal experience. I do not claim to be the most active environmental crusader, nor would I expect 100% of vegans to agree with all of my opinions.Importantly, I believe that the vegan and vegetarian movement is on the cusp of a new phase, where the numbers of people deciding to avoid meat and animal products could be about to rocket.My Meaty Discovery
Recently I was sitting at my computer and looking for some quick fix entertainment from You Tube. For some reason, while thinking what to search for, thoughts of meat came into my mind and I began to watch some clips on the issues. This piqued my interest and soon I found myself on some of the more high-profile websites that advocate the avoidance of meat.I skim read some of the old arguments that I had heard so many times before, but then was jolted to attention by a summary of environmental reasons to go vegetarian.Being naturally wary of statistics I could not at first vouch for the accuracy of the stats I came across and repeat below. However, it only takes a moment to recognise the credibility of the sources and to convince me of my responsibility to take action. Some of them I had to read twice to fully appreciate their impact:The sheer quantity of greenhouse gas: The meat industry contributes 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is 40% more than all forms of transport combined (every car, truck, boat and plane on the planet).
Global warming: Methane emissions cause half the planet’s human-induced warming; and the number one source worldwide is animal agriculture.
Waste of land: Worldwide, livestock currently uses approximately 70% of all available agricultural land and 30% of the land surface of the entire planet.
Your diet and water wastage: A totally vegetarian diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day to produce, while a meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day. You save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you do by not showering for an entire year.
Catalogue of damage, disaster and waste: Mass agriculture of the type the world currently practices contributes on a massive scale to deforestation, air and water pollution, land degradation, land slides, loss of topsoil, climate change, the overuse of resources including oil and water, and loss of bio-diversity.Why is this News Not Known to Everyone?
Should this not be on the news? How come I did not know any of this before? Why wasn’t it included in some of the movie documentaries that have reached mass audiences such as Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ or Leonardo Di Caprio’s ’11th Hour’? I consider myself a reasonably well-informed individual. How come I did not know this stuff?Clearly agriculture is big business and while we earthlings continue to worship the Economy Uber alles (a central point in The 11th Hour), the power and influence of these colossal corporations will continue to hold sway. So is this information simply suppressed?Well, while it may be in the public domain, it is certainly not publicised. It isn’t reaching the public.However, perhaps it is more a symptom of the triumph of media marketing over individual thought. So many people simply would not dream of exposing themselves to the harsh details. They simply consider consuming meat to be natural and the norm, as it has been throughout their lives and the lives of their parents. Or so the message has always been. Anyone who says differently must be an extremist with an agenda.It has been said, with perhaps some justification, that Gore wanted to keep his message focused and targeted to the political situation in the U.S. The more in-depth book version of An Inconvenient Truth does suggest buying ‘local’ and eating less meat. It does deal with the meat industry and cites several statistics in support of the conclusion that: “If more Americans shifted to a less meat-intensive diet, we could greatly reduce CO2 emissions and also save vast quantities of water and other precious natural resources”. However its omission from the movie version represented an opportunity lost for this key issue.Is Change Coming?
A 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report (footnote 1) highlighted all of these matters and more. History may look back at this report as the beginning of the great awakening with regards to modern meat. It has certainly brought the issue to the best informed of our population, and the effect of this has been to see signs that word is getting out.The BBC recently had a televised debate on the issue of going vegetarian to save the planet, and more and more elements of the issue are beginning to appear in mainstream media. However it remains, for now a mere whisper.I sense that we will not have to wait too long before someone produces a documentary or movie which finally jolts the average person, or a considerable number of them, out of their trance. Imagine a Michael Moore documentary called something like ‘Dead Meat’. Actually perhaps Michael Moore is not the best example, but if someone like him could become an advocate, then more people could hear the truth.Either this, or we reach the tipping point where finally we all realise that it is time to pull out all the stops to arrest the global environmental decline, and the power of those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo is drowned out by the cries of a dying world.It is not THE answer
Of course, eliminating meat from our plates is not a complete answer to the Earth’s problems in itself but it would be a huge contribution to easing the ailments of the planet. Buying local and organic produce are also important considerations for anyone with designs on an environmentally friendly diet.While the conscious in society observe practices of reducing, re-using and recycling, and are mindful of their own carbon footprints and the impact their choices can make, eschewing modern meat must form part of that picture. There is a resounding truth to the adage “You simply cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist”.It is my belief that this is currently the most powerful and pressing argument to make if you wish to convert more people to the vegetarian or vegan fold.So if you are an activist, then you should be working to educate people as to the effects of their choice to eat meat or not. If more knew the truth then more would join the cause. I am sure that the numbers of converts would explode as ordinary people, like me, see the full horror of the effect of their (erstwhile ignorant) support of the modern meat industry.As for me, it has been amazingly easy to not eat meat. I don’t feel physically too much different. I feel better about myself for not having dead animal matter inside my digestive system, and my digestive system thanks me for that… regularly. I don’t feel that I am making a huge contribution to saving the planet, but at least I feel I am now contributing less to its destruction. As with most right-thinking individuals, I will continue to have an open mind as to what other lifestyle changes I can make and advocate, to be a responsible earthling.References and Further ReadingFood and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO): Livestock’s long shadow, Environmental issues and optionsOpens in a new window – H. Steinfeld, P. Gerber, T. Wassenaar, V. Castel, M. Rosales, C. de Haan (2006).
An EarthSave International Report: A New Global Warming Strategy:Opens in a new window How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes – Noam Mohr (August 2005).
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Livestock Production: Energy Inputs and the EnvironmentOpens in a new window – David Pimentel and Marcia Pimentel [Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.] (2002).
Toronto Vegetarian Association: Climate change: The inconvenient truth about what we eatOpens in a new window – Steve Leckie (2007).

Dog Obedience Training and Breed Choice – Critical Keys to Success |

What do you mean teach that dog? That mutt is about as smart as a fence post. You can’t teach him nothing. Whoa, hold up just a minute, lets rethink that statement. In my experience it is not always just the mutt that needs the training. We as canine owners need to be educated so that we are able to train the dogs. My family and I have raised about every furry animal that Texas has to offer. We have bred and raised Dobermans, Chow Chows, German and Australian shephards, Chow/Shepard mix, Brittneys, Cockapoos, Peekapoos, Schnauzers, and now a Chilky and a Chihuaha.Anyway in my opinion the Schnauzers were the easiest to train, but a bit high maintenance. The breed that you choose to bring home needs to be researched and really thought out. Just because your best bud has free pit puppies does not mean that breed is what you need to bring home for a lap or house dog. Not saying that you could not train the dog to be a house pet. You just have to realize that he is going to do what puppies do in the house until they are trained. Need I go in depth about this issue? OK then here is your first tip, be forewarned, puppies don’t know that the carpet is not grass, your favorite Sunday go to meeting shoes are not chew toys, or that the couch is not their bed.Think about it the way he sees it. After all you sit, lay and sleep on it, right? If not right now, you just bring a puppy home for a week without your wife’s consent and you will be sleeping on it. No I am not trying to say that you and your family don’t need a dog. The point I am trying to make is that you need to decide what you want the dog for. Then you do the research on what type fits your profile. For example you would not want to get a Doberman to work livestock or get a Peekapoo for a watch dog. There is a wealth of information in books and the internet to help you find exactly what type of canine you need. Lets look at some examples of a few different breeds there are to choose from.HUNTING THE PERFECT HOUNDDue to some unscrupulous breeders and unmindful owners, a few breeds within the terrier group have developed a rather notorious reputation of being dangerous. To find out a little more about the canine kinds, here are some areas to consider in selecting what mutt to adopt:Herding dog breeds. This group has a variety of both behavioural and physical-attributes that need to be discussed. These animals are very hyper, possessive and territorial. They are very intelligent and easy to train.They tend to take to one owner. The American Kennel Club created this dog group to honour what is one of the oldest of dog professions:herding livestock. The hounds breed, have a history of hunting assistance which is often the only regular bond or common bond in this breed. Some of the oldest breeds of domestic dogs are the speedy sight hounds.A retired racer should be tested with small children and other pets. Some of these dogs have a habit of chasing smaller pets as they have chased mechanical rabbits in their earlier career. Made up of the guardians of livestock and property, police dogs, sled dogs and rescue dogs, these workers come in all shapes and sizes, from the standard Schnauzer to the Great Dane. But without the right training and socialization, and in irresponsible hands, these can be dangerous dogs. Sporting dogs however are alert, active, intelligent and have historically been used by hunters to locate, flush or retrieve game from land or water. Some were even bred to finish the job of taking the game themselves.Normally these canines are the most mild tempered of the canine family. They seem to be more social than the other breeds. In the small animal group is the companion breeds like the pampered poodles. A surprisingly still popular and active companion today. It once was a skilled truffle hunter. In more modern times, the poodle’s intelligence and trainability saw it employed in show business, commonly in circuses. Today the slow, prodding bloodhound is usually used by law enforcement to track renegades or missing persons. Be especially careful in finding a reputable breeder of these dogs. This is just a quick overview of the few available breeds to pick from.THE ANATOMY OR MAKE UP OF A CANINEAnother thing to consider is the make up of the canine. For instance take in account the coat, the size and the body parts of the canine. First let us look at the most noticeable dog feature, the hair, fur or coat. The fur will be puffed up to release the heat from their body in the summer season. Or just the opposite, the hair is held close to the body to hold the heat in, in cold weather and to help shed water. A valid point to make here is that you should consider a short haired dog if you live in the south and longer haired for the north. You want the canines to be comfortable in their environment so choose accordingly. Keep in mind the longer the hair, the more hair shedding.Certain breeds such as Huskies and Malamutes that inhabit the cold climates sport double coats, with a thick, insulating them from the cold and wet climates. Their shedding is usually what gives them that rough wild matted up look. A point to make here is that having a canine in the house that is shedding is not going to go over very well. Just get a mental view of this scenario especially if the canine is white. It’s friday night the company party, Your beautiful little wife is wanting to make a good impression and make you proud. She puts on that gorgeous black evening dress, along with it the white pearl necklace you bought her. Now the moment of truth when she notices that her necklace matches the new found furr that is all over the dress.This isn’t going to be pretty. This is probably one of the main reason for the Poodles and Schnauzers popularity as house pets. It is not just because they make perfect house companions; they don’t shed hair all over the furniture and your clothing. The ears, dogs have the most unique ears of the animal kingdom. They sport any thing from small pointed to the long floppy hanging ears. And no, they are not the handles for your children to hold on to while playing like they are the next PBR champion. Many canids, both wild and domestic, can scan their environment for sounds using one ear at a time. Like independent radars. The tongue and size of the mouth is something to consider if you are choosing an inside or outside pet. Dogs use their large, spongy tongues like ladles to lap up water.Special taste receptors on their tongues are believed to allow canids to recognize chemical composition variances such as salt and impurities in different water sources. The bigger the tongue and the bigger the mouth the bigger the drool. You should take it from an expert, when a Bull Mastif or Saint Bernard start slinging slobber it is not a pretty sight to behold. Anything within twenty feet get a good thick coating of drool. The tail sounds and seems like a harmless appendage, after all it is just used as a rudder for balance when a dog is running and turning corners. It is said that a dog with a tail is more apt to out run and out corner a dog without a tail because of the balancing attributes of the tail. But inside a home the tail of a happy hound becomes a weapon of mass destruction.Any trinkets, coffee cups, soda glasses or decorations should be put up above striking distance of the tail. That means keep them off the coffee table, end tables and dining trays. Oh and one more thing to keep out of the furry wagging weapons reach is your knee high children. A tail upside the head of an unsuspecting child can make for an unhappy outcome of crying and a demand for mom’s and dad’s attention until he or she has milked all the attention they can. These are just a few important facts that I wanted to share so that you would understand why I suggested that you do your homework before you choose a pet. The animal shelters are full to capacity and overflowing with unwanted animals. The reason for most of this issue is because people don’t take the time to research before they pick out the perfect match of ” mans best friend” and the best friends man. Another thing to keep in mind when selecting a canine is that ninety nine percent of all puppies are cuddly and cute as a button when they are an 8 to 10 inch ball of fur. They grow up!!!DO I NEED HELP WITH TRAINING?Now that you have made the perfect choice in canine companionship, let us talk a little bit about why you are reading this article to begin with. You don’t talk dog and he/she don’t talk people talk. To coin a phrase, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” That dog just does not listen to anything I tell it. It has a mind of its own. You are right about one thing the dog does have a mind of its own. So what we have to do here is get inside his/her mind and persuade it to accept the fact that you are the boss. That sounds a little tricky doesn’t it. It is not as difficult as it sounds. You don’t have to bite the dog on the ear until it submits and you don’t have to be an expert to train the mutt.You also don’t need to have a past knowledge of dog training. You need to get little help from a reliable source of knowledge and experience. You learn so you can teach. With a little bit of patience and a willingness to learn. You can have the canine of your dreams. You will be the envy of your peers and might even surprise yourself to see how you and your new found buddy are mutually consenting to your commands.You can actually see your dog wait next to the door when he/she needs to go out to use the bathroom. I have found a training program that is getting awesome results and very easy to learn even if you are a novice. This program works with any dog breed. You will learn the whys and hows of the following situations:Barking All The Time – Halt this annoying habit and preserve silence.Is the dog Digging In Your Yard – Learn the easiest and most effective way to stop your dog from destroying your yard. Jumping Up On People -Learn the fastest way to teach your dog to stop jumping on everyone they see. Escaping – Does your dog always seem to find a way to escape or run away from his pen or house? Learn how to stop this frustrating and dangerous habit. Constantly Whining – Does your dog whine for food or whenever he/she is put up?Finally, be able to stop this Going to the Bathroom Inside – Finally be able to teach your dog to stop this nasty habit. Take a little bit of time to check out the link at the end of this article. Take it from me this program has an enormous amount of information and is invaluable. It is a wealth of information with training techniques that get positive results in shorter periods of time than any of the other programs that I have found. It is time to learn how to talk canine and it is time to teach your canine how to live civilized. You owe it to yourself and to your furry friend. Now lets get to teaching and bonding with your new best friend and companion.Dog Obedience Training is your next step –