Newsletter - Animal Writes © sm
From  Issue
16 June 2002
Feeling Overwhelmed?

©Shell 2002, [email protected] 

Many times I hear from people who are just learning about the rampant abuse and exploitation of animals taking place in our world. While surfing the web, reading books, or looking at leaflets, they come across photos and stories depicting horrible abuse ranging from factory farming to domestic animal abuse cases. After absorbing all of this information, people become despondent and overwhelmed, wondering what one person can possibly do to alleviate so much suffering. Sadly, many decide that they can't possibly make a difference or that they can't deal with such horrible things. Instead, they put on blinders and do nothing, throwing their hands up in the air and giving up before ever getting started.

If you were to do nothing but dwell on suffering, you would become immobilized. So what can you do to help billions of animals when you are just one person? The answer is simple -- you can control your own actions. You can be a living example of a compassionate lifestyle. As Gandhi said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Start with your own immediate environment:

When you are in the supermarket and you have the choice between a product tested on animals or a product not tested on animals, choose the product not tested on animals.

When you are in the mall and you have the choice between shoes made from leather or shoes made from man-made materials, choose the shoes made from man-made materials.

When you are in a restaurant and you have the choice between a steak or a vegan entree, choose the vegan entree.

Your choices empower yourself and, in turn, empower animals who would otherwise be forced to sit silently on the sidelines. People will notice. More importantly, business owners will notice. As the market for animal products decreases, more and more businesses will produce cruelty-free merchandise and food.

It is not difficult to find cruelty-free products. Because of the demand for products not tested on animals, it has become very easy to find products made without animal testing or ingredients in mainstream stores. Look at the label of any shampoo, face cream, even dishwashing liquid -- you will see that many items are clearly marked "No animal testing -- No animal ingredients." This is because manufacturers are realizing that there is a demand for this sort of product and they are responding. Vegetarian "hot dogs" and "hamburgers" can easily be found next to pig and cow carcasses. The choice is yours. Many restaurants have added vegan entrees to their menu or are willing to accommodate the dietary requests of their customers.

If your local stores and restaurants do not offer vegan products, request them! How will store/restaurant buyers and suppliers know what customers want unless customers request it? Speak to the manager in person or, if you are uncomfortable with that, make a phone call or write a letter. It doesn't matter how you choose to communicate as long as you are polite, respectful, and clear about what you want.

Do not forget to extend your compassion toward domesticated animals as well. Millions of animals find themselves languishing in shelters or on the streets. In the United States, the exact number of animals who die in shelters is widely disputed -- the number ranges from 3 million up to 12 million. Even if we go with the lowest estimate -- 3 million -- isn't that enough to make people stop and take notice? Remember, the "shelter death" estimate does not include homeless animals who die on the street -- discarded companions who die unnoticed. When you decide to add a new companion animal to your family, choose to adopt. You can save a life while enriching your own life at the same time.

You do not have to make great sacrifices or "give up" anything when making these choices. Instead, think of it as giving an animal back his/her life. As much as you "must have" that pair of leather shoes, think of the significance of your actions. With every pair of leather shoes passed by, for every steak that goes unordered, animal using and abusing industries and their supporters will take notice. They will have to take notice -- because of you.

You are concerned for other species and you want to help, yet you feel small, insignificant -- lost in a world where Chicken McNuggets and leather shoes are the "norm." You feel that you can't possibly make a difference. You are wrong!

You -- yes, YOU -- are part of a much bigger picture. Your hand is being held by an invisible partner. There are other people who feel exactly the same way as you and, together, we can improve the world for all. Your choices do matter. You do count. You can make a difference. Don't put it off any longer. Don't dwell on the sadness. Focus on the positive changes that YOU can make ... and start right now!

Remember -- "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

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