Toxic Beauty

Beauty is everyone’s concern, from Botox on your lunch break to express facelifts and eyelash extensions, but do we really know what were putting on our bodies? We talk so much about what we consume  but I believe it’s so equally important to tell you about what’s in some of your products.

Many people will argue that products containing these toxic ingredients (and oh so many more)  are safe because the harmful effects only occur in large quantities.  However it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that if you are using products that contain certain ingredients for years, that the toxins can and will build up in your system. Some faster than others. But regardless of that, why take the risk? Why not just live as healthy as you can without all the added chemicals.

Here are just a few of the toxic ingredients found in items you use everyday like shampoo, soap, lip balm, lotions, sunscreen, and toothpaste.

  • Propylene Glycol: Used in anti-freeze and found in make-up, lotion, deodorant, sunscreen, and shampoo. Causes skin irritation. Is a carcinogen. It is also an endocrine disruptor and a neurotoxin.
  • Parabens (Butyl, Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl): Found in toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, styling products, lotion and many others. Parabens are endocrine disruptors and Neurotoxins as well.
  • Titanium Dioxide: Is an effective window cleaner because it degrades anything it touches. Toxic to respiratory and immune system. Linked to cancer, asthma, allergies, and organ toxicity. Found in sunscreens. Titanium Dioxide is the main ingredient in most mineral makeups which are often tagged “natural”. These nanoparticles are more dangerous than the liquid form because they can be inhaled directly into your lungs.
  • Zinc Oxide: Mutates skin cells, and is an endocrine disrupter. Found in sunscreens and is also a main ingredient in mineral makeups.
  • Aluminum: Toxic heavy metal. Neurotoxin. Linked with cancer.
  • Toluene: Made from tar. Found in fragrances and nail polish. Causes organ damage.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS): Chemists use SLS to split cells open labs. We put it on our heads in via shampoos and toothpastes! Also found in bubble bath solution and mascara. It is a very strong skin irritant.
  • Petrolatum, Paraffin, Mineral Oil: Found in lip balms and lotions. These ingredients interfere with your body’s own natural moisturizing mechanism. Ever wonder why your lips are mysteriously addicted to lip balm? This would be why.
  • Phthalates: A plasticizing ingredient directly linked to birth defects. Found in nail polish, and cuticle treatments. Toxic to the environment, respiratory system, immune system, nervous system.
  • Flouride: Found in toothpaste, mouthwash, breath fresheners. Is a neurotoxin, toxic to organs, aids tumor formation, endocrine disruptor.
  • Artificial Fragrances: Can cause asthma. Found in perfumes, lotions, shampoo.
  • Diethanolamin (DEA or TEA): Causes allergies, skin irritation, and toxic to immune system. Found in sunscreen, moisturizers, foundation, hand cream, soap.

I leave you with some resources to help you learn more about the products you use everyday.

Environmental Working Group – Learn about this fascinating group that is working hard to spread information and to bring about a change in the cosmetics industry.

The Cosmetics Database – courtesy of the Environmental Working Group. Search any product or ingredient for a full rundown of its harmful side effects.

Ecomii -Deciphering Product Labels

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – Incredibly informative and up to date information.

Suggested Reading:
Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry

Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Endanger Your Health And What You Can Do about It

Try products from Aveda, Lush, Body Shop, Earth Science (I use this) and Kiss My Face , Jason (A personal Fave) even products from your drugstore. St Ives and Ombra are great!


The Food Revolution, John Robbins “Is it ok to eat animals?”

John Robbins thinks it’s wrong to eat animals, on a number of levels.

Deep within the mind, people are compassionate. So, are they really sad about the way food animals are reared and killed. or are they trained from childhood onwards to suppress that sadness and keep on eating meat. Further, are they  brainwashed as to the nutrition and value of meat, which is a myth. This makes people insensitive to cruelty. The inherent human compassion and love for living beings, including fellow humans, thus, disappear. The whole thing is a matter of individual psychology.

This is an excerpt from the new documentary PROCESSED PEOPLE.

Find our how your food choices affect your health, happiness and the future of life on Earth so hopefully the next time you’ll be passing McDonalds you’ll just keep walking on – it’s worth every step you take away from it. 1h long. A must see for everyone.

Diet for A New America by John Robbins

Diet For A New America – How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth, is widely considered to be one of the most influential books on health, compassion, and the environment ever written in the English language. It has sold more than 1,000,000 copies, and at the turn of the century, it was heralded as among the ten most important books of the 20th century by numerous organizations working for a joyous, fair, and sustainable world.

Robbins, the author of bestselling book Diet for a New America, decided to completely change the way he lived and set out to explore a way to live with nature in harmony and also grow his own food without eating meat. His classic book awakened the conscience of a nation and since its first publication in 1987 beef consumption in the United States has fallen a remarkable 19%. Diet for a New America is a startling examination of the food Americans currently buy and eat in the United States, and the shocking moral, economic, and emotional price we pay for it. John Robbins takes an extraordinary look at our dependence on animals for food and the inhumane conditions under which these animals are raised.

Although it is commonly known today that meat and dairy products are one of the primary causes for heart and other deadly diseases, people are living (and dying) with them every day.  Diet For A New America is  a well-documented expose of America’s “factory farms” and should prompt even die-hard meat-and-potatoes lovers to reevaluate their diets. Asserting that “we are ingesting nightmares for breakfast, lunch and dinner,”

Robbins details how livestock is raised under increasingly industrialized conditions by “agribusiness oligopolies.” Grazing and foraging have given way to debeaking, tail-docking, dehorning and castration, and treatment with pesticides, hormones, growth and appetite stimulants, tranquilizers and antibiotics which, in turn, are assimilated by humans who then suddenly become sick.

Robbins correlates our “protein obsessed” society with a higher incidence of arteriosclerosis, osteoporosis, cancer and other degenerative diseases, as well as freakish occurrences like premature puberty from estrogen contamination. As Robbins debunks nutritional myths perpetuated by the powerful meat and dairy industries (indicting as well his family’s Baskin-Robbins ice-cream empire), this is sure to prove controversial.

It becomes clear that the price we pay for our eating habits is measured in the suffering of animals, a suffering so extreme and needless that it disrupts our very place in the web of life. Robbins then challenges the belief that consuming meat is a requirement for health by pointing our the vastly increased rate of disease caused by pesticides, hormones, additives, and other chemicals now a routine part of our food production.

Robbins shows us that the high health risk is unnecessary, and that the production, preparation, and consumption of food can once again be a healthy process. He also looks at the global implications of a meat-based diet and concludes that the consumption of the resources necessary to produce meat is a major factor in our ecological crisis. Or read the book.

Listen to Animal Voices at Noon tomorrow (Oct 22, 2010) for an interview with John Robbins (yep, he gave up his Baskin-Robbins inheritance to be a vegan activist!

Every Friday, Noon – 1pm

102.7FM Vancouver Cooperative Radio
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Each week, your co-hosts (Alison Cole and Joanne Chang) keep you up to date with current animal issues, provide easy vegan lifestyle tips and conduct live interviews with people who are doing important work to help animals.

Join Animal Voices Vancouver on Facebook or Twitter Check them out at

The “GREAT” Protein Myth

Fact vs Myth

Humans need only 10 percent of the calories we consume to be from protein. Athletes and pregnant women need a little more, but if you’re eating enough calories from a varied plant-based diet, it’s close to impossible not to get enough.

No one is saying that eating vegan will make you stronger, but the rap that you cannot be healthy without animals protein or build muscle or maintain stamina is a myth.

According to Dr. Ornish, “high-protein foods, particularly animal protein, dramatically increases the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, and many other illnesses. Whats compelling is the new evidence that eating vegan can reduce this risk along with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

The cancer connection is spelled out at length in a fantastic book by Cornell scientist T. Colin Campbell, called The China Study. Basically, there is overwhelming scientific evidence to implicate that animal protein consumption causes disease.

Even if you ate only one food and not the variety of foods typical of a vegan diet, you would probably get enough protein and essential amino acids. Kicking the meat habit doesn’t automatically make you healthy — there are risks, you have to make sure you are eating the right foods. With links like how to go Veg they make great beginners guides to eating healthy and properly.

So what’s stopping you? If reducing disease and promoting health are not good enough reasons then I don’t know what else there is. What about global warming? It’s just a matter of time before people make the connection. So who is making the change? Social-networking wunderkind Biz Stone, the 36-year-old co-founder of Twitter; real estate magnate Mort Zuckerman, who is worth some $2 billion; and, perhaps less surprisingly, the co-CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, who oversees a $6.3 billion empire with 55,000 employees ‹ whom he urges to eat green.

1/Myth: Lack of protein contributes to loss of sharpness and brain function.

Fact: Eating meat means eating fat, wich means making your blood thicker, like old motor oil. A plant-based diet improves blood flow and delivers more oxygen to your entire body. Including your brain. This occurs not just over the long-term but after every single meal.

2/Myth: You can lose stamina and feel tired if you don’t eat meat protein.

Fact: Complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables are the ideal fuel for athletic performance. These food are easily broken down into glucose, wich is what active muscles need. It is more of a challenge for our bodies to converting high-fat, high-protien products such as meat into usable energy.

3/Myth: You can’t build healthy muscle on plant-based diets, you need meat protein to build healthy muscle.

Fact:  When we build muscle on animal protein, we get what animals get when we fatten them up: marbling layers of fat inside the tissue. The result is a much weaker muscle.

4/Myth: Plants are low in protein

Fact: Plant foods are generally abundant in protein. For example, lettuce gets 34% of its calories from protein, and broccoli gets 45% of its calories from protein. Spinach is 49%. Cauliflower is 40%. Celery is 21%. Beans range from 23% to 54% depending on the variety. Grains are 8% to 31%. Nuts and seeds are 8% to 21%. Fruits are the lowest at around 5-8% on average.

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Beeing Friendly: “Why you should give a bee!”

You might after reading this. What would happen in a world without bees? They are vanishing. Have you heard of  the “colony collapse disorder”?

Researchers are scrambling to find out why. All elements of an ecosystem are important to the functioning of that ecosystem. Remove one element and the system will need to make adjustments. The effect of that adjustment may often not be known until after it has happened.

Why should you care? If we didn’t have bees what would happen to us?

In particular we know that over one-third of our food supply relies upon them for pollination services and we know that pollination is essential for the reproduction of the plants the bees service.

We’d still have bananas and pineapples as they don’t require pollination but we would lose any plants that bees pollinate. Knock on effect of this would mean that we wouldn’t be able to make clothes out of cotton anymore as there would be none, medicines would be affected (most use plant extracts), animals need feed but there would be nothing to feed them, basically without bees there’s no pollination, then no plants, without plants there’s no animals.

Ever since Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was first identified, companies, celebrities and ordinary citizens alike have been falling over themselves to help our furry pollinating friends. The loss of honey bees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact worldwide. Like many things about nature, we humans take honeybees for granted.

The first thing you can do is stop consuming honey and buying it from the supermarket? This is contributing to the collapse of the honey bee. What does drizzling some honey on your morning granola have to do with all this? Why don’t vegans eat honey?

Beekeepers are notorious for contributing to the spread of disease: ‘Beekeepers move infected combs from diseased colonies to healthy colonies, fail to recognize or treat disease, purchase old infected equipment, keeping colonies too close together. Feeding bees artificial diets, because farmers take the honey that bees would normally eat, leaving bees susceptible to sickness and attack from other insects. When diseases are detected, beekeepers are advised to ‘destroy the colony and burn the equipment,’ which can mean burning or gassing the bees to death. None of this is helping the bee and all of this is about money. Is the world worth risking for the honey industry? We do not need to support this industry. It’s another form of exploiting animals.



Stop using insecticides – especially for ‘cosmetic’ gardening.

Avoid seeds coated with systemic insecticides.

Create a natural habitat  – let some of your garden go wild, this creates a safe haven for bees.

Plant bee-friendly flowers.

If you must use honey, don’t buy from supermarkets, support your local honey supplier. Make sure they are following healthy, friendly bee keeping ways. Don’t be afraid to ask them.

Don’t buy products with honey listed as an ingredient. Do you really need honey in your shampoo?

Try alternate forms of sweeteners (Agave, 100% Pure Maple Syrup, Stevia and Brown Rice Syrup)

Share your knowledge of bees – encouraging others to make necessary changes!

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Talking Turkey

Thanksgiving is a much-loved holiday, an opportunity for giving thanks, together with friends and family, sharing our appreciation for the bountiful food available.

Unfortunately, our common perception of tradition seems to be focused on the body of a dead turkey. Millions of whom end up on dinner tables all over Canada.

As an advocate for those who can not speak for them selves, I am asking you to reconsider the “traditional” Thanksgiving turkey dinner, instead celebrate health and life with a plant-based,  Thanksgiving dinner.

While I don’t want to dwell on the negatives during what should be a happy time, it’s important to decide what to eat and serve to others based on sound knowledge. 20 million turkeys were raised and slaughtered in Canada this year.

Cramped in giant, filthy barns, they never get to step outside or breath fresh air. De-beaking and de-toeing are standard procedures that cause much pain and distress. Turkeys have been subject to generations of selective breeding which has resulted in birds too large to bear their own weight, who can not breed normally, and are artificially inseminated.

Contrary to popular belief, most so-called free-range turkeys do not live better or more natural lives. Since turkeys are rarely caged, all of them can be technically labeled free-range. Considering the many options, why not celebrate health and life with foods that are truly life-affrming, good for us, and good for the other animals we share this world with? Thank you for considering the turkeys.

Holiday Cashew Nut Roast (Serves 4-6)


2c cashew pieces
4oz brown rice
6oz rye toast crumbs
1 med onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lrg, ripe tomatoes
6tbsp olive oil
2tsp brewer’s yeast
1/2tsp dried basil
1/2tsp dried thyme
1/2tsp lemon juice (Fresh is best)
1/2c vegetable broth

Cook rice until tender; coursely grind cashews. Heat onion and garlic in oil untilslightly brown; chop and add tomato; simmer until soft. Combine all ingredients and press into two 9×5” loaf pans. Add a small dab of Earth Balance to coat the pan. Bake 30 mins or more at 350°F (Tempeh Stuffing, Garlic Mash Potatoes With Miso Gravy, Cheesy Sauce)

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7 Sustainable Ways To Help The Environment

1) Use local, seasonally available ingredients as standard, to minimise energy used in food production, transport and storage.

2) Specify food from farming systems that minimise harm to the environment, such as certified organic produce.

3) Limit foods of animal origin (meat, dairy products and eggs) served, as livestock farming is one of the most significant contributors to climate change, and promote meals rich in fruit, vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and nuts. Ensure that meat, dairy products and eggs are produced to high environmental and animal welfare standards.

4) If you must eat fish. Exclude fish species identified as most ‘at risk’ by the Marine Conservation Society, and choose fish only from sustainable sources – such as those accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council.

5) Choose Fairtrade-certified products for foods and drinks imported from poorer countries, to ensure a fair deal for disadvantaged producers.

6) Avoid bottled water and instead serve plain or filtered tap water in reusable jugs or bottles, to minimise transport and packaging waste.

7) Promote health and well-being by cooking with generous portions of vegetables, fruit and starchy staples like wholegrains, cutting down on salt, fats and oils, meat and cutting out artificial additives.

Let’s all re-evaluate, visit awareness!

This is a brief but very real glimpse into the experiences of animals in the various situations in which we exploit them.

The “spent” dairy cow and veal calf at the livestock auction; the fox at the fur farm; the thrashing hooked fish; the monkeys, dogs, and cats in the lab; the elephant at the circus; the pigs and turkeys at the farms; the crated veal calf; the egg-laying hens and chickens raised for flesh; the tied-up dog outside; the chickens, pigs and cows at the slaughterhouse.

Through the decisions you make every day, you’re supporting and even demanding the practices shown. Once upon a time, I didn’t want to know either; I get that. I get that it takes courage to face the truths that  would be easier to ignore.

John Feldmann of Goldfinger, with a personal, informal, unedited introduction (~1 min.)  features the song “Free Me.”  Feldmann wrote  this after encountering a truck of chickens headed for slaughter while on tour.

After watching please pause to remember the scenes, the calf (by product of the dairy industry) at the livestock auction. Remember how clearly the animals shown wanted to live.

None of this is different for the “free-range” animals. There is such a thing as compassionate living. But there is not such a thing as humane animal research or humane animal entertainment. And there is most certainly no such thing as humane animal agriculture or humane killing.

The vast majority of us have choices about what we eat, we make a conscious decision every time we sit down to a meal, do we choose compassion or  can we decide that our simply liking something is worth the massive number of deaths? Is suffering required for us to continue eating  in the ways we think of as convenient? Or can we educate each other and encourage an ethical and healthier way of life.


Earthings A Life Changing Documentary

EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made.

EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs.

The film is narrated by Academy Award® nominee Joaquin Phoenix and features music by platinum-selling recording artist Moby. Initially ignored by distributors, today EARTHLINGS is considered the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world. “Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most,” said Phoenix. “For every one person who sees EARTHLINGS, they will tell three.”

Change Your Thoughts Change The World (Influential Films)

Peaceable Kingdom 

Peaceable Kingdom takes an eye and heart opening journey to the front lines of an unseen national drama. Propelled by the eloquent testimony of farmers questioning the fundamental assumptions behind their way of life, a riveting portrait emerges of human and animal lives caught in an out of control industrial machine. Much more than and expose, the film is an inspiring story of personal redemption, compassion, healing, and hope. Running time: 70 minutes.

The Witness 

The Witness, Eddie Lama explains how he feared and avoided animals for most of his life, until the love of a kitten opened his heart, inspiring him to rescue abandoned animals, become a vegetarian, and ultimately, to bring his message of compassion to the streets of New York.With humor and sincerity, Eddie tells the story of his remarkable change in consciousness, sharing along the way some of the shocking realities of the meat and fur industries. Running time: 43 minutes.

Meet Your Meat 

Narrated by Alec Baldwin, that contains factory farming footage from birth to slaughter. This video exposes the truth about the meat industry. If you show a meat-eater only one video, make it this one! Running time: 13 minutes.

A Cow at my Table 

Jennifer Abbott Weaving together interviews with animal rights activists, agribusiness representatives, and animal welfare experts with archival and documentary footage, Jennifer Abbott has produced an extraordinarily compelling, powerful and visually stunning feature documentary. A Cow at My Table presents a story which is far more complex than one with only two sides: It is a profound and intelligent look at animals, meat, & culture. Running time: 90 minutes.

45 Days: The Life and Death of a Broiler Chicken 

Compassion Over KillingFilm on COK’s week-by-week investigation into the U.S. broiler chicken industry, from hatching and factory-farm life to slaughter and packaging. Running time: 12-minutes. Available in DVD