Monday, August 15, 2011

The Media... A love/hate relationship

Without a doubt, the media has power. Power to communicate, power to influence and power to promote change. The latter is what's been seen with the mass turn out yesterday of over 20,000 Australians nationally, in support of a ban on live export trade.

I can't remember a time in animal welfare history that the public has stood so unanimously and decided on an issue like this, and I thank Four Corners for its media coverage of Lyn White's Animals Australia footage that reported on the cruel and deplorable, not to mention inhumane treatment of cattle being exported to Indonesia. For years a lot of us have already been aware of the treatment of both sheep and cattle being exported to Asia and the Middle-East, however it took that footage being aired nationally on Four Corners to reach the hearts of Australians from all walks of life. After the show aired, streams of responses poured in -letters, emails, phone calls.  This subsequently generated more news coverage on the more commercial stations: 10, 9 and 7, and articles in national newspapers. Awareness soared, outrage grew, the meat and livestock industries for the first time in years grew concerned, and finally, the Government realised that the public weren't going to stop until a call to action on banning live export took place.

From mainstream media the support flowed through to social media, with numerous support pages popping up on facebook that supported the ban on live export and further encouraged public involvement in contacting members of parliament to ask for support on a bill to end live export. Whilst the momentum was strong for a couple of weeks following the Four Corners footage, unfortunately a lot of focus was lost with the subsequent media coverage of the newly proposed Carbon Tax. Following on from that, and a couple of weeks out from the national rally to end live export, certain media channels and newspapers then when on to report that perhaps Lyn White's footage had been a hoax, that she'd paid abattoir workers to intentionally abuse the filmed animals to help her create and fabricate a story! It is that side of the media that forms my hate (or dislike rather, hate is such a strong word!) relationship. The media is never loyal and will always go with what creates a story, disregarding the impact that that story might make on their readers/viewers, some of whom aren't able to decipher between the lines and see truth for what it is.

We who care for animal welfare and animal rights need the media. What ABC did with its coverage of the treatment of Australian Cattle has been incredible, inspiring, and quite frankly long overdue! It's enabled Animals Australia to create more television and radio ads, create more campaign awareness, and show the Australian public what their Government is willingly playing a part in. I hope that this is the start of more media coverage around animal issues, and if it takes shocking and horrific video footage to get the media there, then so be it. I am getting really tired of apathy -it's time for a change and time for the public to see the real treatment of animals.

I hope a change for the better is executed on Thursday, however if it's not it won't be without a concerted effort by thousands of caring Australians and animal-welfare groups like Animals Australia and RSPCA. And, it's a symbol of what power the media can impart, if used correctly.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Of Love and Ethics...

Being in love isn't easy all the time. And it certainly isn't easy when you don't eat/drink/wear animal products but your partner does... I met the love of my life before I became a vegan. We moved in together and lived in relative bliss right up until the time I decided I wanted to overhaul my life and live a more cruelty-free lifestyle. As some of you would know from my blog chronicles, S was happy to give the new "menu items" a go, even loving a lot of the new dishes to the point where he'd request I cook them again and again! Over time he went from eating a meat-based meal every night to eating one about every fortnight or so. However, about a year afterwards we moved our separate ways...

Retrospectively, he cited our split down to the fact he'd felt immense pressure to change his diet and his lifestyle ways because of my beliefs; beliefs that he'd felt I was forcing onto him on a daily basis. Of course, I was offended and angry and completely disagreed with his perspective, and so decided I'd rather be alone with my ethics than be with someone that knew of the cruelties inflicted upon animals, but still chose to eat and wear them!
But
Then
There's
Love.
I loved him before I chose to go vegan and even as I was apart from him I still loved him and missed him. It was a daily battle in my head and heart and I felt so much confusion and frustration around it... Eight months later and we are back together, about to move in with each other again, in two months time. Some vegans might say -how could you?! How could you live with someone that eats meat?! Shock horror. And yes, quite frankly it will be a bit of shock horror and I'm not sure how I will go with it. We have talked in depth about me being "vegan" and S not, and we have even discussed children, raising them and how we would come to make that work (S is happy with vegetarian but not vegan, and I am willing to meet him in the middle with that). Compromise, it's so much harder than I thought. We've also had to work out some "house rules" such as no meat in the house and no animal products, however S will still eat meat if he feels like it (about once a week), just not at home. And as for leather... Hopefully one day he will just stop wearing it. Arghhhh. We are even planning on going to visit a psychologist to discuss how we can work on potential conflicts around this issue if (more like 'when' as I'm sure they'll come!) they arise...

I find it so hard -the apathy I sometimes feel from those around me (including S), around animal welfare. People see footage on TV of animal cruelty, they see photos of puppy farms, seals being clubbed to death, pigs being taunted and tortured before slaughterhouse death, yet they'll still laugh as they down a beer and sausage sizzle, gush when they bring home their cute little dog from the pet shop, and still think they look "luxe" when they sport fur vests or leather jackets... Sometimes I feel so alone in how I feel and yes, perhaps sometimes I can be a bit forceful in how I choose to educate others on animal welfare and rights, but animals don't have a voice so someone needs to help them. Right? I just hope that my new journey with S will be a happy one. I know he tries and he's made so many positive changes in his diet and lifestyle for animals. I guess I can't have him 100% like me because he isn't me -he's him! I just hope that in time he will make even more changes to his lifestyle because he sees it as something he wants to do as his own choice...

Has anyone else ever been in this situation before? Or is?




Monday, August 1, 2011

Cruelty-Free Beauty Products



The other week a couple of friends emailed me asking what skin care products I use, so I thought I'd do a post on the cruelty-free skin-care, body-care and make-up products that I use daily. Where possible I try and support vegan-only companies, but if that's not possible then I make sure that the company is a cruelty-free company (doesn't test on animals), and that the products I use from their range are vegan-friendly (no animal ingredients).

These two concepts can be confusing for some people (it definitely confused me initially)! A company stating that they are "cruelty-free" may just be referring to the fact that they don't test their products on animals but that their products may still contain animal-derived ingredients. With these companies it is worth contacting them to find out which of their products are specifically "vegan-friendly."

"Vegan-friendly" is generally a term that refers to a product that is suitable for vegans. The product will contain no animal-derived ingredients whatsoever. Some companies are both cruelty-free and vegan, whereas other companies are cruelty free with some vegan products. So bottom line is, it's always worth researching the company and their products first!

Also, buying Australian-produced products is great because you are saving on transportation and the impact that has on the environment plus at the same time supporting locally-produced products. I have to admit I am yet to find some cruelty-free Aussie products that don't react with my skin-type (highly sensitive), and so you will see that from my list there is only a very small percentage that is Australian produced and owned.

Please also note that the below products are just what works for MY skin type. Everyone has different skin needs and different financial budgets, and whilst the products below work really well for me, that's not to say you can't find some equally great products that are a lot cheaper/less packaging/more natural ingredients. For me, natural ingredients can also equate to big irritants for my skin, so finding great products has been a trial and error process for me.

** CF+V (cruelty-free company plus vegan-only company)
**CFC only, VF product (cruelty-free company only -not all their products are vegan-friendly, but this particular product is vegan-friendly).

Face:



Body:
Hair:
  • DeLorenzo hair shampoos/conditioners/hairspray (CF+V)
  • Dr. Hauschka Neem Hair Lotion (CFC only, VF product)
Hands:
Toothpaste: Phyto Shield Herbal Toothpaste (CF+V)
Deodorant: Body Crystal Botanica (CFC only, VF product). They are owned by a perfumery company which is not vegan, and I am still waiting for confirmation that "Queen's Perfumery" is indeed cruelty-free. If it isn't then I shall be switching deodorants, so if anyone knows... Let me know!

Makeup:
  • MAC everything (well, nearly)! Foundation, lipstick, mineral powder/bronzer, mascara, eyeliner, lip liner (CFC only, VF products). MAC are great -very willing to let you know the full ingredient lists for their products. It can be a bit exhausting scrolling through the list and checking the ingredients, however they do quality products so it is worth the research.
  • Dr Hauschka lipstick (CFC only, VF product). Again, ask them for their ingredient listings as some of their products contain animal-ingredients to produce the pigment colours (same as MAC).
  • Inika Eye Shadow (CF+V)
  • i.d. Bare Minerals Glimmer Eye Shadow (CFC only, VF product).
Makeup Brushes:
  • Powder brush, blush brush, eyebrow shaper and bronzer brush all by EcoTools (CFC+V)
So they are all my products! I would ideally like to reduce the amount I use so that I can save on packaging, perhaps even start researching making my own cleansers etc from non-irritating food ingredients. Any tips?!

Also, please let me know if perhaps something I have listed is incorrect. I have stuck with these products for a while now, so maybe over time their company or ingredients have changed. I welcome any feedback!