Wednesday, 29 June 2011

One Fish, Two Fish, Billions of Fish?

I've never been a fish eater.  I've always found that it tastes gross and as a child I remember my sister choking on a small bone.  It wasn't practical, didn't please my taste buds, and stunk.

I think I have much better reasons today for not consuming life from the sea.  I've never understood the people who are "vegetarians" but continue to eat fish - and some have even coined the term "pescatarian" to disassociate themselves from the "cruelty" of eating farm animals. While this is, for obvious reasons, a very admirable first step, I'd like to challenge the thinking behind continuing to eat fish and seafood.

In recent studies, it has been determined that fish are extremely sentient beings that feel pain as much as birds and mammals.  Period.  They feel it when they get their mouths hooked by a fisherman, they feel the crush of a 100,000 of their fellow species in commercial nets.  They share the same survival instinct when they are pulled from their homes and slaughtered for our culinary pleasure.

I recall when I was about 11 years old going to the East Coast of Canada - to Nova Scotia, and doing the "tourist" visit of a small fishery.  I still remember the auger pulling the fish from the huge holding tanks, and mechanically positioning them on an assembly line to have their heads sawed from their writhing bodies.  Perhaps this is why I didn't ever enjoy eating fish - it is the only slaughterhouse I've ever visited.

If compassion isn't reason enough to consider not adding sea life to your plate, consider the tremendous effects that fish consumption is having on the environment and our oceans. In recent years, the global fishing industry has increased more than any other food industry.  According to the global marine catch has increased more than 4 times in the past 40 years.  Along with this increase comes the full effect of how this industry works.  Fishing nets don't discriminate - also reports that over 25% of all fish caught for human consumption never make it to market - all 27 million tons are thrown back into the sea and die.  More than 70% of the world's fisheries are 'fully-exploited', 'over-exploited' or 'significantly depleted'. For more statistics from Greenpeace, click here.  

"What about farmed fish? They don't come from the sea.". The fact is that for every 1pound of Salmon meat produced, 5 pounds of smaller fishes are needed to 'grow' it.  Additionally, there are large amounts of antibiotics, chemicals, and other additives used to raise 'healthy' fish that exist only in an environment that has absolutely no resemblance to their natural one.  Farmed fishes are still fish, and are just as sentient as wild ones.

If you're not informed about the state of our fellow marine earthlings, I encourage you to take a look at a few websites to be fully informed about something that many people contribute to without even knowing.  It is my opinion, that the best way to not contribute, is to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle where you don't consume the flesh of any living creature.  Here are some links that you can take a look at.  These links don't specifically advocate for non-consumption of seafood and fish, but do give a good snap shot of the state of the oceans.

The Huffington Post
Overfishing article

It's often said that "when we know better, we do better".  I hope that the facts will inspire many more people to leave a fish or crustacean off their plate.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Great Link

I came across this great link at "Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life".  I found the web page on and thought that it fit nicely with the theme I've been blogging about lately.  The only thing I wish it would include - and this is my number 101 - Consider not eating animal products.  This is the most significant change you can make for the environment. Feeding, cleaning, killing, packaging and disposing of the waste of over 10 billion agricultural animals per year in the U.S. alone creates a HUGE negative environmental effect.  Even cutting out meat one day a week is equivalent to driving a Hybrid vehicle.
Click Here for the Full List . If you want more information on the effects of an omnivore diet, check out

Reuse, Recycle AND Reduce?

I had a recent ah-ha moment.  For the past 25 years we've been thoroughly taught in North America to practice the 3R's -  Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  I think that the recycle part of the three is really a no-brainer.  Various regions have different levels of recycling ability and I happen to live in a city where we can recycle pretty much everything.  Reusing makes a lot of common sense too.  The environmentally conscious citizen makes reusing an everyday practice.

But what about the third "R" - Reducing?  What are you doing to reduce the waste that you create by living in our modern society?  I haven't given much thought to this more abstract way to contributing to a smaller footprint.  On a recent trip to the mall, I was surprised that in the food court, the only things that could be recycled were glass and plastic drinking containers.  All of the Styrofoam containers, forks, spoons, knives, boxes, fountain drink cups, plastic lids and straws go straight to the landfill.  I figured I had one of three choices - don't eat there (and that wasn't an option with that Pad Thai on my mind!), carry the containers home with me and dispose of them in my own recycling bin, or reduce the garbage I carried to my table. 

If everyone gave 5 seconds thought to how the decisions we make could be made better in order to reduce our waste, we'd be making a huge dent in the problem. Do I need a plastic or paper bag to carry my order to the table?  Can I order a drink in a recyclable bottle instead of a fountain pop container that goes in the trash?   What am I ordering and what kind of garbage comes with it?  These may not be great examples of how to change the world, but the point is this:  Are you thinking about how your small and insignificant actions could be slightly altered to reduce reduce reduce? 

Another very practical thing that I recently learned that falls into this category, is how to drive.  I recently purchased a Toyota Prius because I was due for a new car and wanted to make a good choice (I'm not looking to debate here about how "manufacturing a Prius is worse for the environment" - because my research indicates that this is really not the case).  My new Prius came equipped with a consumption meter on the dash board display that tells me exactly how efficiently I've driven over the duration of a tank of fuel, or even minute by minute should I want to be that specific.  What I didn't realize was just how drastic my actions behind the wheel make me a much more efficient driver.  Without that little display, I'd never have known how much this saves.    You can drastically reduce your fuel consumption by coasting to a red light, driving the speed limit (this is a huge one), coasting down hills, accelerating then coasting.  People don't even realize you're doing it, but trust me, the results are worth it - and you don't need a Prius to reduce your gas expense and go further on that tank. 

I challenge you to consider how you can reduce your impact on the environment everyday.  The challenge is fun and the contribution you make feels great!

Here's a great little website that I found with many practical ideas for how to reduce, reuse and recycle, and how to encourage companies to work together with us in making a greater change.  Click HERE.

If you have any ideas you'd like me to hi-light here on my blog, send me a quick email HERE.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Another great flash mob video....but a bit different (:

I love the message behind this flash mob video.  I can hear that planet applauding!  Check it out.

Barcelona apartment stays true to simple living

Environmental protection is one of the themes of this blog (click here for my summary). Christian Schallert redefines simplicity in his 258 square foot apartment in Barcelona's Born district.  This video makes me wish my life were less dependent upon things! Can you see yourself cutting back and using only what you need?

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Three VERY Good Reasons

Back in January when I made the quick decision to become vegan again, I decided to make the change based on 3 good reasons:

Firstly, I wanted to be healthy. I grew up in a home where the idea of health was something that always loomed over my head. When I was 12 years old, my 67 year old grandfather died of a massive heart attack. He was cutting the grass and came into the house for a drink. He quite literally dropped to the floor and was gone. When I was 16, I had my cholesterol checked because my mother had been diagnosed with high cholesterol and was put on medication to keep it under control. My grandfather, my mother, and I all have the same body type: tall and slim, and we ate quite well - home cooked meals, no fried food, and lots of veggies. At 16, I was told that my cholesterol was that of a 40 year old's and it scared me. I tried to eat even better, but at 22, the test came back the same. The doctor wanted to put me on medication. I refused based on my age and my lousy post college diet. I tried to make changes again, but never for the long term. Knowing that a vegan diet is very healthful and can significantly reduce your chances of getting a "big three" disease was a huge factor in my returning to a plant based diet.

Secondly, I have always loved animals. It's hard to justify eating them when you love them. I've got two wonderful Miniature Pinscher dogs and a big black cat that I would never dream of hurting. To contribute to pain and suffering, and to ending a life that exists to solely satisfy my taste buds, goes against everything I stand for. When you know better, you do better.

Thirdly, I was really shocked to learn the extent of the burden that an animal based diet has on the environment. It is so destructive that adopting a plant based diet has more positive effect then anything else we can do. To drive around in my Prius while munching on chicken nuggets just doesn't cut it anymore.

I hope to blog a few times a week about something that inspires me as it relates to these three topics: health, compassion, and the environment.

I look forward to sharing some inspiring thoughts that can help us all see the world a bit differently.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I exist in the midst of life which wills to live....

I've been wanting to blog for a very long time - but have had so many interests and so many things to say that I haven't focused enough to make a statement that I felt captured the experiences I value most in life.  Recently, I returned to veganism.  It's been over 10 years since I last decided that I couldn't live on junk food vegetarian fare.  Since making this change about 6 months ago, I've experienced something that I didn't expect.  Firstly, I didn't expect the change to be so drastically simple.  More importantly, I didn't expect that I would find such peace in knowing that I was significantly limiting the negative impact I had on other 'earthlings' that we share our common home with.  There have been numerous people who've helped affect this new outlook.  Lately I've been very inspired by Colleen Patrick Goudreau of Compassionate Cooks.  She really has brought to life for me the reasons why a plant based diet makes so much sense - a lot of common sense.
When people have a cause, a reason for doing something, it becomes like an addiction.  I hope to share the things I discover that have made, and do make  my journey easier.  I also hope to share the things that enrage me and drive me to spreading more inspiration to the people who are waiting to be enlightened to a better way of living.

Albert Schweitzer, a German philosopher, believed in something he called the idea of  "Reverence for Life".  I He stated in his work"Civilization and Ethics" that "I am life which wills to live, and I exist in the midst of life which wills to live".  I also find inspiration in this quote by Schweitzer "The thinking person must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo.  When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury to the life of another."  I hope that through this blog, I can shed some influence to those who haven't yet made this connection.

If you are interested in learning a bit more about Albert Schweitzer, click here.  

I'm trying to focus on 3 main themes in my blog as they relate to living a low impact life. Click here to read my post on what this blog is all about.