5 Ways to Reduce, Give Back, Live Longer

Live a Cruelty-free Lifestyle
It is obvious that in order to eat meat, an animal had to be slaughtered, but the issues of cruelty go far beyond just the death of an animal. The lives of animals raised to be slaughtered are miserable. Often packed into close quarters, many animals are unable to lie down or turn around, and the hygiene is terrible. Many slaughter methods are imperfect and cause great suffering before death.

Even animals that are not raised for food are poorly treated. Chickens that provide eggs for consumption often spend their entire lives in a cage no bigger than a piece of notebook paper, and dairy cows face abuse and mistreatment in addition to being injected with hormones to facilitate milk production. A person who wishes to live a cruelty-free life chooses to remove him or herself from any participation in this process.

Reduce Your Environmental Impact
Farms used for meat and dairy production are incredible sources of waste and air pollution. One large farm can create more waste than the entire city of Vancouver! The Environmental Protection Agency considers manure one of the top 10 pollutants, and Canadian farms alone create 1 billion tons of it each year.

Reduce World Famine
More than 70% of grain produced is fed to animals raised for slaughter. In order to get just one pound of meat, it takes a full 15 pounds of grain. If this grain were given directly to people, there would be enough food to feed everyone. Also, the land that the animals are raised on can be used to grow significantly more food than the land currently provides.

Save Water
With drought-like conditions all across the country, water is getting more and more valuable. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of meat, as opposed to just 25 gallons for one pound of grain.

It’s Never Been Easier!
Major supermarkets are carrying more plant based options than ever before, and thanks to the Internet, you can have food sent directly to your own home. It has never been easier to make the transition to begin adopting a plant based lifestyle, so why not now?


“Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer


This is a guest post by, Kristine Kakuno

“Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer is an author in his early 30’s with two fiction novels already published to critical acclaim. With “Eating Animals” he forays into non-fiction with a well-researched discussion on animal consumption and it’s philosophical, economic, and environmental impacts.

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in food, regardless of their personal choice when it comes to animal consumption. The author interviews a variety of stakeholders including factory farm workers, sustainable farmers, vegetarians & animal activists and allows each an opportunity to express their views.  For this reason, I would recommend this book if only to expose the reader to all the facts and considerations, allowing them to make an informed decision without pressure from one singular point of view.

Foer makes a point of not stating his own opinion until at least halfway through the book and even then, empathizes with some of his interviewees.  His introductory words hint at the complexities of the topic, “I, too, assumed that my book about eating animals would be a straight forward case for vegetarianism. It didn’t. A straightforward case for vegetarianism is worth writing, but it’s not what I have written here.” Foer provides over 60 pages of detailed references for the data and statistics he presents. He notes that his statistics are “the most conservative” available and adds that he hired outside fact-checkers to authenticate them.

Foer himself gravitated back and forth many times from carnivore to vegetarian, always feeling it was the right thing to do but finding it difficult to maintain. Once he had a child of his own, he wanted to gain a better understanding of the food he ate. I found this a compelling reason as my own frustrations have been several of my acquaintance’s ability to ignore plentiful facts on the negative effects of meat consumption.  The idea of considering meat consumption more comprehensively when responsible for the food that goes into a child’s body peaked my interest.  After all, how many of us have looked back on the decisions that our parents made for us and wished for something different?  Had our parents known that smoking indoors was bad for us as we do now, we assume they would have stopped.  So if we know meat chocked full of antibiotics is bad for us, why do so many people continue to serve it to their more vulnerable children?

Another highlight is Foer’s argument, “We need a better way to talk about eating animals”.  He contends that despite the negative effects of factory farming on human health and the environment, “we seem able to think only about the edges of the arguments – the logical extremes rather than the practical realities.”  Foer toys with these arguments in one example where he discusses American’s love for their pets and the $34 billion dollar a year industry that exists as a result.  After describing his own love for his dog, Foer flips the topic to the North American taboo around eating dogs.  Giving examples of dog meat consumption in many Asian countries and citing statistics on the number of euthanized dogs in America, Foer concludes, “If we let dogs be dogs, and breed without interference, we would create a sustainable, local meat supply with low energy inputs that would put even the most efficient grass-based farming to shame.”

Foer breaks down each kind of factory farming touching on chickens and turkeys, pig farming, industrial fishing practices and finally cows. With each example, Foer provides brutal accounts of cruelty as well as concerns of cleanliness and negative impacts to the factory workers as well as the end consumer.  Anyone who has watched Food Inc. or the numerous documentaries on factory farms will have already seen these nightmarish practices in action.  What was new for me were the interviews with sustainable farmers, a PETA representative and most peculiar, a vegan slaughterhouse builder.  Hearing these different points of view made me take a step back and appreciate how much still needs to happen politically and culturally in order to bring factory farming to an end.

After thorough research and one covert rescue mission to a factory chicken farm, Foer chooses a vegan diet for himself.  He punctuates his decision at the end of “Eating Animals” by describing his first turkey-less Thanksgiving and argues the need to create new traditions in order to cause change. No matter what Foer’s personal decision is, ultimately it is his choice to allow all sides to speak that makes this book important.  We all have opinions and there are dozens of books that write about one ideology, but not many that combine multiple points of view and openly allow the reader to make their own choice.

SAINTS Sanctuary!

My visit with SAINTS for my birthday in December was more than I ever expected! It was wonderful and exciting and reminded me why I do what I do, it’s hard to fester up the energy some days to be a voice for the voiceless. Visiting sanctuary’s like SAINTS reinforces the desire to make positive changes in the world. I highly recommend it.

As much of an inspiration it is to see the caring that goes on for these animals it also reminds you how neglected and forgotten some animals end up. As Carol walked us through the property telling us the stories of how each animal arrived here, you can’t help but to feel emotional or angry.

It is so foreign to me that after 10, 12, 14 years a person can decide that they can no longer care for their beloved pet! I just can’t imagine dropping of my Chico at the SPCA because of sickness or that somehow his life will disrupt mine to the point that I would dump him off.

Some of these dogs hardly seem senior or sick and most show no signs of neglect, then you see the ones that are just completely defeated and you are reminded how cruel this world can be and how far we still need to go in educating and building compassion in people.

Carol the woman who founded SAINTS is very humble, she runs SAINTS purely from her heart. She doesn’t respond to compliments no matter how many you throw at her and she lights up a room with her compassion. She knows all the animals by name and all of their stories.

When you visit SAINTS you will find, volunteers, dogs , cats, horses, cows, ducks a donkey and even a goat and some pigs! All of these animals rescued. Some find homes but most stay to live out their final days. I highly recommend a visit, bring lots of treats and if you are able a donation. SAINTS is 100% run by donations from the public. Most of the animals at SAINTS require expensive treatments and vet visits.

I hope you will find the time to go. I promise you will be glad you did. The animals will be happy to greet you. It is a beautiful experience and it feels good to give back. Visiting sanctuary’s like SAINTS reinforces the desire to make positive changes in the world. I highly recommend it.



Red Lentil Bugers

“Lentils are friendly—the Miss Congeniality of the bean world.”
`Laurie Colwin


1 pound (1 1/2 cups) red lentils
5 cups water, salted
1 cup minced onion (1 medium)
1/2 cup minced carrot (1 large)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
Olive oil for the skillet
2 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
4 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
10 ounces firm tofu, pureed in a blender


In a large pot, simmer the lentils in salted water until tender. Drain and cool.

In a large skillet, sauté the onion, carrot and garlic in 1 teaspoon olive oil until tender, about 2 minutes

Add the mushrooms, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid has evaporated, approximately 5 minutes, and allow to cool.

Add the bread crumbs, lemon juice, pureed tofu, 2 tablespoons olive oil and cooked lentils and mix to combine. Transfer to a large bowl. Chill for 30 minutes and then shape into 8 patties.

Pan fry in olive oil in a large skillet until each side is crisp and golden. Finish in a 350°F oven if necessary to heat through.

World getting you down? give back!

Welcome to the holidays! Are you like me and this time of year sorta gets you down? When the world gets you down what do you do? I like to give back. My giving back is designated mostly to helping animals. My blog is an outlet to give love and dedication to animals in need. To bring awareness in hopes of opening the minds of others. The holidays are not everyone’s favorite time of year, not only are they not mine but I have to share my birthday with the holidays too. While having a birthday so close to Christmas is a real bummer, I have decided the only thing better than receiving gifts is giving them.

So like I said it’s my birthday! What am I going to do? Give back of course. I’m going to visit the animals at SAINTS. I will be bringing love, treats and toys.

I have blogged about SAINTS, you might have read it? or not. If you haven’t SAINTS is a seniors home for animals, a place where elderly animals mostly cats and dogs but they have others residing on the farm as well, a place where elderly animals can receive the proper medical attention and love to live out their final days comfortably.

Lot’s of these animals arrive at SAINTS because their caregiver was not able to afford the needs of their pet. Please remember when you get a pet that they age and require medical attention, they get sick just like we do. It’s sad to think that a lot of these pets end up in shelters after years of being a dedicated family pet. It’s a good thing for places like SAINTS. Unfortunately there are not more places like these.

I’m looking forward to this visit, I hope you will come back for my story and photos about how I spent my 37th birthday with the animals at SAINTS.

Thanks for reading!


The Gift Of Giving

It’s that time of year again and there is nothing better than the gift of giving. Giving back is the ultimate gift. It’s all to common that we get caught up in our desires to want more, especially in this abundant society. We are so fortunate, and there is no better way of showing how appreciative and blessed we are than by giving back.

Conventional wisdom would say that the less you give, the more you have. The converse is true. The more you give, the more you have. Abundance creates the ability to give; giving creates abundance. This principle is true in every area of your life.

There are very few acts of goodness in our lives that compare to the act of giving. That’s because true giving is completely selfless. It comes with no strings attached. Giving is about focusing on the needs of another while leaving your own goals and desires behind. Giving reminds us of how rich our lives are and how easily we can make a real impact on those around us.

The 7 Cards Of Appreciation

Have you ever heard of the 7 cards of appreciation gift? You take 7 cards, decorate them anyway you like. On the 7 cards you write 7 kind gestures for the person receiving the gift to do as a task. I’ll give you some examples:

1. Go to your local Starbucks and purchase 4 warm drinks of your choice, hand them out to 4 people who look like they could use a hot drink.

2. Call someone who has affected your life in a positive way, tell them how much you appreciate them but don’t tell them why you are calling.

3. Give all the money you have in your wallet including change and give it to a person less fortunate. The person giving the gift can have this ready in advance.

4. Offer someone on the street less fortunate something to eat, anything they choose, and as much as they like. No matter the cost,  if you are on a budget pick a place.

You get the idea, you just need to offer what you are able to give or provide a kind gesture. You can make up your own ways of giving back. I’m sure you can come up with some great ones.

Last year my friend Nicole gave me the gift of giving through a donation. It was one of the best gifts I received. She made a donation in my honor to Mugesi at  Best Friends Animal Society.

Sabrina, Thank you for being such a caring, thoughtful person, Sabrina! You are an inspiration for all of us to get out there and make a difference. I know how much you love dogs, and this little guy reminded me of Chico so much! Nicole xo

Mugesi is a boy with a lot of spunk! Of course, this sassy personality might be due to the pain he has had in his eye for a long time. He had chronic glaucoma that was left untreated and was causing him a lot of pain. The only way to make Mugesi feel better was to remove the eye.

Mugesi was brought here because his previous person had passed away and the family couldn’t care for him anymore with his special health problem. Of course, I am sure once he makes a solid recovery, Mugesi will be in great spirits and ready to find a new home.

Here are some great links for other places that could benefit from your giving back. Have you ever heard of the Adopt A Turkey Project? Some others that I donate too are  SAINTS, Hearts On Noses or the BCSPCA. There are so many animal charities to choose from.

I hope you will consider the gift of giving this holiday season! It’s a simple, easy gesture that can make a world of difference. Happy Holidays!

St Francis Of Assisi~ Signs

I snapped this photo while in Italy this summer, This is St Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint for the protection of animals. He was a lover of all creation and a champion of justice. I think it’s so beautiful.

It was day 7 of my 14 day trip and my last night in Monterosso, part of Cinque Terre (meaning the 5 towns) After so many full days I told my husband to rest for a bit, I was going to walk over and make a reservation at the restaurant that was recommended to us, the restaurant was built inside a cave by the sea, I can’t remember the name but it was perfect and cozy.

On my walk back,  I came across a set of stairs we had passed earlier in the day. We wondered what was up there and contemplated going up but instead we kept walking. I figured I might as well go up, I could use the exercise. I can’t even begin to explain the copious amounts of pasta and wine I had been consuming. Being Vegan in Italy limits your options, not that I’m complaining, it was some of the most delicious pasta I have ever eaten.  I was up for the challenge!

After what seemed like a never-ending destination to the top, to my delight there stood St Francis, it was the dog that grabbed my attention for further inspection. After visiting so many churches, monuments and cathedrals all the statues seemed to look the same as the next, but none of them seemed as beautiful as St Francis and his dog.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my fundraiser (Gimme Shelter)  I had 2 weeks to figure out all of the last minute details when I arrived back in Vancouver.  7 months worth of work, how could I have worked so hard to have left so much unfinished before I left.

Sitting under St Francis gave me a sense of peace, I believe it was a message.  For whatever reason I felt very calm. I think the universe was trying to tell me  I was on the right path, I needed to stop worrying and It was time to start focusing on relaxing into my trip! This event was going to be just fine, it would figure itself out.

With my newly found peace of mind I stayed sitting underneath St Francis for about hour, all while enjoying the view of the ocean and the quietness of the space. The universe sends us signs when we need them, we just have to learn how to interpret them and have the openness to accept them.

PS: The event was a huge success!

If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow-men.  ~St. Francis of Assisi



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Spiritual Shift “Vegan” And Concious Living

After eating animals and using animal products for most of my life I started reading health books as part of an interest in personal growth. Health reasons kept me on this path as my digestion was completely out of whack and I would do anything to avoid surgery. It didn’t take long to learn the effects that my eating animal products had on my health the environment and the welfare of animals, who I claimed to love so much.

Many people ask me why I eat an “almost” vegan diet, I say “almost” because not very often but sometimes non vegan practice still enters my life and I don’t want to pretend I am something that I am not. Only that I strive to eliminate most animal uses, it’s different for everyone, some are 100% vegan and some are still on the journey. Before I dive into it, let me first say I’m not interested in trying to convert you to veganism. I am just happy to share my personal story for those who care to listen. While many vegans are conversion-happy, for me this is a personal lifestyle choice. I’ve noticed that people tend to go vegan and make changes when they’re ready for it. So take this as an insider’s report on my path to a vegan or conscious living rather than conversion rhetoric.

In my learnings I am convinced that the vegan diet fits all if not most of my values, my health reasons and my desire to do good-by the planet, the kindness of the diet fits in with my quest for inner peace and wanting to make a difference in this world, to be part of a movement that is interested in the elimination of suffering and violence. What motivated me to try veganism wasn’t just animal rights or environmental issues but simply the desired to be a more compassionate person, a person who wanted to do my part and be connected to my self and the earth, respecting all living things. Of course along with the possibilities of enjoying the health benefits. My curiosity was driven entirely by self-interest.

It was only after going “mostly” vegan that I openly exposed myself to other arguments for veganism.  One of the best books I read was Diet for a New America.  I was amazed at just how destructive the habit of eating animal products is, to our bodies and our environment. If you’re the kind of person who loves data and stats then Diet For A New America is for you, although the figures are somewhat dated by now, I still recommend the read. I tried using the stats to see if I could convince other people to try veganism or at least vegetarianism.  Nothing so righteous as the newly converted, right?  I ended up convincing a few people, but mostly it opened my eyes as to just how stubborn people were, even in the face of overwhelming data. It doesn’t bother me when people eat animals in front of me, they’re free to eat whatever they want. I do notice, however, that people often feel uncomfortable eating animals in front of vegans. While some people would regard my diet as severely restrictive, it feels nothing of the sort to me. In the end I think it mostly helped me become more open-minded.

All these aspects of being “mostly” vegan began to touch me. I read more about the topic watched more videos, read about factory farming, all the while becoming saddened by the animal cruelty, especially when I realized this is what most people contribute to every single day.  You can find videos on Peta’s web site, or try watching Earthlings. Overall I felt relieved that my decision made a small but positive effect in reducing animal suffering and environmental damage.  I like that at every meal I kow that I am not contributing to the cause of animals to suffer.

Each day I feel the effects of my decision, I am more compassionate not just towards animals but towards people. This awareness shift grows stronger everyday, as if something in my spirit has become unblocked. Along with the desire for personal growth by being very active in my choices in all aspects of my life. The feeling of compassion towards others continues to expand, it guides my desire to share. I think a compassion-minded lifestyle is a matter of degree rather than essence because no matter where you are, you can always improve. I am still making improvements, it’s a never-ending process. My husband and I started donating money to pro-vegan nonprofit organizations, sanctuaries and local animal charities. I say pro because there can be a lot of negative advocates out there. This year I managed to put together my own event, something I am very proud of called  Gimme Shelter, Everyday Choices.

It’s important to accept the position that if you already own animal items like shoes, the animal has already paid the price, so you should honor its life by using them or giving them away to someone instead of throwing them away.  It can be rather challenging to avoid all use of animal items, since they’re so prevalent in modern society. If you choose to make the change it’s ok to go slow, it is however the death of an old life and a birth of a new one. I am however committed to lifelong dietary and personal improvement, I’m always looking out for the next step. I look forward to reflecting on this blog to see where I am in a year from now.

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God And Dog (For Chico)

I am not a religious person. I am passion, compassion, love and give. My dog is the most wonderful gift and I couldn’t imagine that one day he will not be by my side.

I believe in a higher power called the universe and I’m pretty sure that the universe conspired to give me the gift of having Chico the dog. He came to me around 9 months old, defeated and in desperate need of a bath and a good home. I don’t know what his life was like for that 9 months, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t kind. today is his 7th birthday. I dedicate this song to my best friend. I love you Chico, Happy 7th Birthday. I love you.

This video is really cute and reminds me of him, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

by WJ Francisco