Your Guide to an Animal-Friendly Halloween

pigs halloween

It is hard to believe that Halloween is days away! I don’t know about you, but Halloween never fails to awaken my inner sweet tooth! What could be better than eating sweets while dressing in fun costumes?

Though scary movies and haunted houses are fun on Halloween, for billions of animals across the world, every single day of their lives is a never ending horror story.

factory farms are scary

Here are some tips on how to enjoy a cruelty-free Halloween!

Vegan Candy

Many candies contain dairy or gelatin (which is boiled bones, skin, tendons, and ligaments of cows). But no fear! There are plenty of delicious vegan sweets to satisfy your cravings!

Sour Patch Kids

These chewy, sweet and sour candies have always been one of my favorites. I was psyched when I found out they are vegan, too! Be sure to eat your fill of these delicious gummies this Halloween!

Skittles

Skittles have always been a childhood favorite of mine. These colorful candies are so addictive, the bag will disappear before your eyes!

Airheads

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These sweet and chewy candies are super fun and delicious, and come in a ton of flavors, too. Is it odd that my favorite flavor is the mystery flavor? 😛

Dum Dums

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These adorable little lollipops are so delicious.  It only takes a few licks to transport me back to my childhood!

Starburst

When I was a kid, I would open all of the twin packs of Starbursts searching for the pink ones. Most of the time, I only found yellows and oranges. But at those rare moments when a pack contained two pinks, I felt like I just won a lottery!

Dark Chocolate

Everyone needs to satisfy their chocolate craving on Halloween. Luckily, many dark chocolates are vegan! In addition, there are vegan versions of many of your favorite chocolate bars, such as Snickers, peanut butter cups, Butterfingers, and Mounds bars! Yummy!

You can find a complete list of vegan candy here. Can you pick a favorite?

In addition to candy, you can enjoy many other festive fall treats such as caramel apples, pretzels, ciders, cookies, and pies.

Your Halloween party won’t be complete without these festive caramel apples! Recipe here.

Animal Safety

Halloween can be a dangerous time for your pets. Due to superstitious beliefs, black cats can become victims of cruel pranks on Halloween. If you have a pet, be sure to keep them indoors or under close supervision. If your pet easily becomes stressed around crowds, it may be best to not take them trick-or-treating with you. Keep Halloween decorations and candy off the floor and out of your pets’ reach.

If you dress your pet in a costume, be careful that it does not restrict their breathing or motion. Make sure it fits them well and is not too tight. If your pet absolutely refuses to wear a costume, don’t force them too! Our pets may look adorable dressed up, but they are not for us to coo and gawk at. Simply leave the costume on long enough to take a few pictures, and then take it off.

And as a warning, if you’re dressing your pet as a pumpkin this year, you have some serious competition!

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My tortoise Pumpkin-tosh (aka Macantosh)

For more tips on how to keep your pet safe this Halloween, look here.

I hope this guide helps you have an animal-friendly Halloween!

Best,

Leila

Is Consuming Animal Products a Personal Choice?

It is often said that consuming animal products is a matter of personal choice. A vegan is expected to respect a non-vegan’s “choice” to consume animal products. I see the logic in this, but this argument is fatally flawed.

One’s freedom to live as they please certainly does deserve to be protected. That is, until it infringes upon someone else’s freedom and safety. We abide by this rule every day. We enjoy the freedom to decide what to wear, to attend school, to travel when we want to, and to practice religion freely. But once we choose to steal from, harm, or kill other members of society, we have crossed the line away from freedom of choice into harming the life and liberty of others. Our actions are then punishable by the law.

forgetting someone

Why do the words “murder” and “stealing” stop applying when the victim is an animal instead of a human? When it comes to our ability to feel pain and suffering, animals and humans are equals. Being shackled by the feet and having one’s throat slashed open is terrifying and immensely painful, whether you are a chicken, pig, cow, or human. We cannot pick and choose whose suffering matters and whose does not.

some lives matter less

If a dog, cat, or human was treated the way animals used for food are, it would be considered a crime. It makes no sense that the same action could be considered either a “personal choice” or a “crime” depending upon the species of the victim. A person’s choice to consume flesh should not take precedence over an innocent, feeling being’s choice to live.

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We all desire the freedom to decide how we want to feed ourselves and our families. And with a vegan lifestyle, you can still have that. There are endless cruelty-free foods and recipes to enjoy. With the huge variety of faux meats sold at your local grocery store, there is no need to harm the lives of others to enjoy the taste of meat. If you focus on the delicious meals you can eat instead of dwelling on the products you are eliminating, you will realize that you are not missing out on anything at all. As I often say, when you go vegan, the only thing you must give up is cruelty!

Best,

Leila

Hydrate and Donate Challenge

I was nominated by Valentina from My Vegan Valentine to complete the Hydrate and Donate Challenge! To complete this challenge, you must make your favorite vegan drink, get hydrated, and then choose a cruelty-free charity to donate to!

Though supporting research on deadly diseases such as breast cancer and ALS is a thoughtful gesture, it is important to know where your donation is going. You do not want to fund organizations that are conducting research on animals because these methods are cruel, inhumane, and produce results that are very rarely applicable to humans. (However, if you must donate to an organization that uses animals, please specify that you do not want your money to go towards animal testing.)

Today, I will be putting my snazzy new blender to use by whipping up one of my favorite drinks: a green smoothie! I will be adding:

  • 1 leaf of kale
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 apple
  • 1 orange
  • Water

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After combining my ingredients in the blender, I will allow it to run for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth. The first time I used this blender, I did not blend my smoothie long enough, so there were chunks of kale in it! 😛

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I use this blender in my desk on my dorm room.  So convenient!

The best part about this blender is that it turns into a cup! Once you’re done blending, all you have to do is remove the blade and screw on the lid. It’s super convenient and perfect for people with on-the-go lifestyles.

Here is my beautiful green smoothie. Ready to hydrate! 🙂

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Now, onto the donation portion of this challenge:

The charity I am donating to is the American Tortoise Rescue! Many turtles and tortoises arrive to this shelter ill, deformed, or injured. My donation will help provide lifesaving medical services and veterinary care for rescued animals so the staff can provide them with a healthy and happy recovery.

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A wood turtle at the rescue named Woody. Just look at that big sparkly eye! *melts*

I had a lot of fun doing this challenge! I nominate anyone who would like to help make the world a better place to complete this challenge next!

Best,

Leila

My Vegan Diary: Week 14

Today was my first time flyering! A pressing issue my university’s animal rights club has been working on is protecting the Michigan wolves. This afternoon, we handed out flyers on a street corner asking people to vote no on Proposals 1 and 2 in the upcoming election. If these proposals are passed, they will allow an indiscriminate wolf hunt in Michigan and remove the voter’s power to decide on important wildlife issues.

Michigan’s wolves were critically endangered until recently, and in 1989 the population was down to only 3. Wolves do not pose a threat to people. It is very rare that a person will come across one, and if one wanders onto property, they often flee when people yell to scare them away. So allowing people to indiscriminately hunt wolves is unnecessary, cruel, and destructive. If the second proposal is passed, the Natural Resources Commission could be given the power to add almost any protected animal to the list of game species to be hunted without consulting legislators or voters. So to promote awareness of this issue, the Michigan Animal Respect Society distributed these flyers:

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 I enjoyed this experience very much. I have been wanting to go leafleting for a long time, so this made good practice! I felt shy about asking strangers passing by to take a flyer. If a passerby declined or ignored us, we laughed it off and did not take it personally. All of our efforts were made worthwhile when someone expressed interest, paused to have a conversation, or agreed to think of the wolves when voting. I will be looking forward to getting more involved in public outreach in the future!

And if you were interested in learning more about our club, you can visit the Michigan Animal Respect Society page on Facebook and “like” it to receive updates! I was appointed to Social Media Chair, so I will be posting there regularly. 🙂

To learn more about the Michigan Wolves, look here.

Best,

Leila

Please Help an Innocent Pig!

A pig urgently needs your help! The company Granite City Tire and Auto has given her to someone who can guess her weight as a prize, and she may soon be slaughtered for food! PETA has asked them to send her to a sanctuary, but time is running out before she is sent to slaughter. Please politely ask them to send her to a sanctuary instead. Call Granite City Tire & Auto at 320-763-5156 and email owner, Chad Niezgocki, at chadn@granitecitytire.com. You may also wish to write a note on their Facebook page. They may ignore you, but this is the only chance she has left.

Thank you so much! This is weighing so heavily upon my heart right now. I truly hope they hear our pleas for mercy to be shown to this innocent pig and make the compassionate choice.

Best,

Leila

Wool is Cruel!

As we near November, warm sweaters, cozy socks, and fuzzy boots are all the rage. When imagining how wool is obtained, an idyllic pasture and gentle shearing often come to mind. However, the reality is much darker and crueler. Whenever animals are exploited for their bodies, they are bound to suffer.

Here are some common misconceptions about wool:

Sheep need to be shorn.

Naturally, sheep grow just enough wool to keep them warm in the winter, and then shed it in the springtime. Sheep are not meant to be humans’ wool machines! Sheep have evolved to grow just enough wool to suit their environments perfectly, without the need for human intervention.

However, humans breed sheep to grow unnaturally large and bulky coats in order to maximize profit. Merino sheep are bred to have wrinkly skin so they produce more wool per individual animal. Unlike wild sheep, they do not shed their fur during the warmer months. Because of this, the sheep often collapse and die of heat exhaustion.

Merino Sheep, bred with unnaturally thick fur and wrinkly skin.

Due to the dirty conditions these sheep are subjected to, flies lay eggs in the moist folds in their skin. The maggots hatch and eat the sheep alive. This is called flystrike. Instead of providing the sheep with cleaner living conditions, most sheep raised in Australia, the world’s main wool producer, endure a practice called mulesing. Lambs are restrained, their feet are bound, and strips of skin are cut from the tail region with no anesthetics. The scar tissue that grows in the mulsed area is less likely to harbor flies.

Forcefully restrained sheep being mulsed

These lambs have been mulsed.

Despite having endured this painful and stressful procedure, the sheep often die of infection in these exposed and bloody wounds, or still die of flystrike.

Shearing sheep is harmless, just like a haircut.

wool is not victimless

If shearing sheep is just like a haircut, I will certainly avoid visiting the hair stylist! Workers who shear the sheep are paid by the volume, motivating them to work as quickly as possible and disregard the welfare of the animals. Workers often sit on the sheep’s heads and necks, pinning them down as the sheep struggle to free themselves. Being aggressively restrained is very terrifying to these gentle prey animals! Workers often violently punch, kick, and stab sheep. Their haste in shearing the struggling sheep results in gaping wounds, which are crudely sewn up with a needle and thread and no anesthetics. Strips of skin are often sliced off the sheep along with the wool. When this brutal and stressful ordeal is over, the sheep are kicked down a chute. Many sheep die in the shearing process.

This is me after a haircut. I consented to donating my hair to be used to make a wig:

haircut

This is a sheep after being shorn. She did not give consent for people to take her fur:

Clearly, shearing sheep is NOT the same as a harmless haircut!

The sheep raised for wool die of natural causes.

After sheep’s wool production declines, wool producers maximize their profit by exporting the animals to be slaughtered. They are loaded onto ships and trucks and shipped long distances without food and water.  Once they reach their destination, they are held in crowded feedlots. Many die during this stressful transportation process and holding period.

Sheep packed tightly into a truck.

Sheep awaiting slaughter in a dusty, crowded feedlot in Qatar.

The sheep are often transported to countries with few regulations to protect them from inhumane slaughter. Those who survive the grueling transport and feedlots are faced with a terrifyingly cruel and brutal death.

As you can see, wool is cruel! A cute sweater or pair of boots is NOT worth the lifetime of torture, pain, and suffering these sweet and gentle animals are forced to endure. Plus, there are plenty of stylish clothes that are cruelty free! Before you buy something, always check the label. You can often find it inside the neckline of the garment or sewn into the side. It only takes a moment, but saves lives!

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The label inside of my favorite fleece jacket from Aeropostale

Look for items labeled faux, acrylic, nylon, man-made, cotton, polyester, fleece, and synthetic. Avoid item labeled wool, Merino, Angora, rabbit hair, suede, silk, down, or leather.  Your favorite stores such as American Eagle, H&M, Forever 21, and many others carry plenty of vegan clothes!

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Vegan sweaters come in a huge variety of styles and colors. Here are a few of my favorites!

If you already have wool in your closet, there is no need to throw it away. Just be sure to always purchase cruelty-free clothing from now on. If you no longer feel comfortable wearing  woolen clothing, you can donate it to charity or to a friend.

So give sheep something to celebrate about and always Go Faux!

Further Resources:

PETA’s international wool expose: http://investigations.peta.org/australia-us-wool/

More about Mulesing: http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/wool-industry/mulesing/

Wool Alternatives: http://www.peta.org/living/fashion/alternatives-wool/

Best,

Leila

Get Ready With Me: Casual Fall Morning

Happy Saturday! I’m trying a new type of post today: a Get Ready With Me! So if you are at all interested in my typical weekend morning, just keep reading!

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The view from my dorm room

Today was a rather dark and cold October day. All I wanted to do was stay under the covers! But eventually, I got up and made my bed.

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Yes, I have an obsession with turtles. 😉 No shame!

Then, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. I used the Kiss My Face Triple Action toothpaste and Trader Joe’s Face Wash with Tea Tree Oil, both of which I love. ❤

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Afterwards, I returned to my room to get dressed. I love layers and dark colors for fall. So I went for a pair of vertical stripe leggings, acid-wash shorts, my phases of the moon muscle tank, and an over-sized cardigan I thrifted a few months ago. For shoes, I wore my trusty black Bobs.

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Gotta smell good! First, I moisturized my hands and face with EOS lotion. For deodorant, I used Tom’s Naturally Dry.  My favorite fall scent is Bath and Body Works’ Aspen Caramel Woods, so I spritzed a generous amount all over my clothes. (Note: Bath and Body works IS still Cruelty Free! See here.)

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Onto my makeup! I went for a simple yet bold look today. I applied some dramatic winged liner using Wet n Wild’s Mega Eyes, moisturized my lips with C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve, and set my brows using Anastasia’s Lash Genuis gel. I finished the look with a dark lip using Wet n Wild’s Black Orchid. I absolutely love this shade for fall! The formula is super creamy and pigmented.

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Finally, I did my hair. Today, I parted it in the middle and then spritzed a bit of Not Your Mother’s Sea Salt spray through it, scrunching it to give texture.

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Then, I was ready to go grab some brunch in the dining hall! Lately, I have been loving wheat toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas. It makes a filling and energizing meal, and is super yummy, too!

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Afterwards, I decided to go to a local coffee shop, Expresso Royale, to do some homework. To drink, I ordered a mug of loose-leaf Peace Tea.

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That was my morning! I hope you are having a lovely Saturday! ❤ What is your favorite way to spend a fall morning?

Best,

Leila