Irish young calves brutally abused on their way to the Netherlands

Separated from their mother at birth, exhausted, scared, hungry and treated with brutality, unweaned calves undergo journeys of hell in Europe. The animal welfare organizations Eyes on Animals and L214 inspected dozens of trucks that go from Ireland to Holland and recorded calves that are beaten, kicked and pulled.

The calves are transported at only a few weeks old to be killed in the Netherlands for their meat, veal. The Netherlands is the largest veal producer in Europe and imports around 750,000 young calves each year.

Eyes on Animals and L214 inspected the trucks from Ireland last March. The trucks go via the French port city Cherbourg to the Netherlands. The calves are then only
2-4 weeks old. In total, the journey takes more than 50 hours. These babies are stuck in trucks for at least two days. And if they have to go to other veal producing countries like Spain or Italy, the journey can take up to 4 days.

Collapsed in pain
The research shows that the calves were beaten and kicked hard at the resting place in France. Sometimes it went so fast that calves collapsed in pain. Calves were also pulled on the ears. One employee threw some calves on the floor and jumped repeatedly on one of them using his full body weight.

Video investigation of Eyes on Animals and L214

No fluid for days
Unweaned calves need their mother’s milk. Since the milk of their mothers is stolen for human consumption, these babies get a milk replacer. When they are on these trucks though, it’s difficult to feed them the milk so sometimes they are deprived of any fluid.

In the trucks from Ireland, the welfare organizations researched the drinking facilities and they were not in order. Teats were missing or were not useful for the calves. As a result, these babies were unable to drink during the transport of more than two days.

After the long, exhausting journey, the calves arrived in Dutch fattening farms where they’ll live in small and dark boxes for a while and are then killed for their meat. They won’t grow older than a year.

Holland should take responsibility
Lesley Moffat, director Eyes on Animals: “It is heartbreaking to see how these vulnerable animals, which are still shaky on their legs, are being hurt so much during transport to the Netherlands and then finally end up in a box where they can hardly turn around. The Netherlands is the driving force behind these transports and should take more responsibility for the welfare of these calves. “

A million calves tortured in Europe
Ireland is not the only European Union Member State to be facilitating this kind of transport, by road, plane and boat. In total, there are more than one million young calves transported across Europe each year. This transportation is a living hell for animals that are just born and only seek comfort of their mom, whom they’ll never get to be with within their lifetime.

Ban the transport of calves
L214 and Eyes on Animals have filed a complaint against the resting place Qualivia in Tollevast and against one of the employees for mistreatment of the calves. The authorities in the Netherlands, France and Ireland were informed of the documented violations and requested immediate action.

Eyes on Animals and L214 have launched a petition to ban the transport of calves that are still dependent on milk.

All pictures are from the transport from Ireland to the Netherlands, made by Eyes on Animals and L214.

The Animal Reader is an animal news organization. We need your support to create news stories where animals are the focus. Big or small, it would mean a lot if you could sponsor us.

36 dogs and cats found dead in animal shelter in Hong Kong

In animal shelter Stray Wonderland in Hong Kong authorities discovered 110 dogs and cats in horrible circumstances. 36 were found dead, probably of thirst, starvation or disease.

During a two-day raid in the shelter by inspectors of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department in Hong Kong last weekend the animals were found either dead or lying in urine and feces on the ground, in cupboards or in cages.

“Those who survived were emaciated and when we gave them food and water, they were fighting to eat or drink,” a spokesperson of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said. He added that there was no water in the shelter and they found bags of unopened dog and cat food. Some dogs were so malnourished they looked like skeletons.

All the animals are in the care of authorities now. The South China Morning Post talked to animal welfare volunteers in front of the shelter: “We are seeing if we can take them, but all we can do is wait after the police took our phone numbers.” Another volunteer said she was worried the authorities would be unable to take in so many dogs at one time: “If you cannot give us the dogs back, just please do not euthanize them.”

Police arrested a 62-year-old man, believed to be the manager, for animal cruelty on Saturday after the raid. In Hong Kong animal cruelty is punishable by three years in jail and a fine of 25,000 dollars. Still, there are so many reports of animal cruelty in Hong Kong. And seldom a conviction.

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Vegan life in Milan


According to British chain Tesco, vegan food is ‘UK’s Fastest growing culinary trend of 2018’. Not only in England it’s a trend, but also in my country, Italy, change is happening. More and more people are buying plant-based products or dining at vegetarian eateries. And while for some it might be linked to health or curiosity, I dare say most are in it for the long run.

I am the same. I can remember loving animals ever since I was a child, feeling drawn to them and feeling compassion towards them (and people too, vegans don’t hate people, despite the stereotype).

But it took a while for me to eventually open my eyes to the cruelty we inflict on animals, even unknowingly. When I first went vegetarian I was already twenty years old. Years later I finally moved on to veganism and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

I live in Italy and people often ask me ‘Isn’t it difficult?’, ‘How do you do it? I could never give up cheese!’ and ‘What do you eat when you go out?’

Well, fortunately, I have some good news for lovers of Italy and Italian food: veganism might be somewhat new to my country but in the last few years there has been a huge growth of plant-based products and going out to eat, or even just shopping in supermarkets, is easier than ever.

Impact of consumers
It’s not even just the culinary aspect – animal rights organizations are growing, new ones are born. I think we can thank social media for that. Virtually everyone is on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter (or all) and it’s so easy to spread information and awareness.

It’s much harder to ignore the truth that we need to confront ourselves with every day: our treatment of animals is appalling, the state of our planet keeps deteriorating and mistakenly thinking I am so small, what I do won’t make a difference is false.

We, as consumers, have a huge power and we need to act accordingly: we can shape the world we live in with our personal choices, every day, and it’s never too late to start.

Where to eat in Milan
In Milan, where I live, there are plenty of vegan or vegetarian restaurants. Some of them are quite expensive, but this is not necessarily related to the food itself; most places in Milan aren’t cheap, a Margherita pizza can be 10 euros, and while that might sound okay if you come from abroad, that’s outrageous for most Italian people.

Plant-based cafés and restaurants are getting more and more popular though, and I believe this will help lower the general prices. In case you plan on visiting Milan, I would like to recommend a few places to visit.

Radicetonda, conveniently located near a major shopping street called Buenos Aires in the area of Porta Venezia, is a cozy and intimate café that serves both handmade food (there’s usually a buffet where you can choose from) and great desserts and breakfast food. Unlike most other places in Milan, the prices are low.

Açai sisters, self-described as the first superfoods bar in Milan, offers dishes that are popular abroad but harder to find here, such as açai bowls, avocado toasts and matcha beverages. Close to renowned Bocconi university, it’s definitely a favorite among students – food is healthy and tastes great, you will want to become a regular customer!

Ghea, in the lovely Navigli district south of the city, is a fancy restaurant with plenty of delicious 100% plant-based food. The menu is seasonal as they want their products to be fresh and nutritious and they pay great attention to detail and food presentation. Dishes are great and so pretty!

Hygge, a Scandinavian café, is not purely vegan but they serve delicious vegan-friendly food and I especially recommend their brunch set. It’s an intimate place where you could go with friends without worrying about not being able to eat anything (us vegans know this feeling pretty well). Just make sure you reserve in advance as it’s so popular it gets packed during weekend.

Crazy Cat Cafè is a hit with everyone, despite their food preferences. They serve tasty food and you get to relax in the company of cats, all rescues. You can play with them and cuddle, but not pick them up – the owners are clear about rules you need to follow. You can tell that these lovely animals are loved and well looked after. A part of your bill goes to the expenses related to their care. I really enjoyed their weekend brunch menu, but if you go during the week you can just stop by for coffee and dessert or lunch.

Soulgreen is a very pretty restaurant with lots of amazing vegan options near Garibaldi station. You order through a tablet at your table and there’s literally a world to choose from – soups, bowls, burgers, dips and more. The food is not traditional Italian as you can order Thai, Indian, Asian just to name a few and the location is really convenient to get around.

Avo Brothers is a recently opened café that focuses on avocado dishes, but they also offer burgers and they are the first place in Milan so far to offer the infamous Beyond Meat burger, reason enough to go there and try it out if you haven’t yet! The menu has quite a few vegetarian and vegan options and the place looks cozy and fun.

Lifestyle: New vegan restaurants in Rotterdam


Bear Amy happy but weak at new home, saved from notorious Phung Thuong village

Amy was saved by the animal welfare organization Animals Asia a week ago from a farm in Phung Thuong in Vietnam. She’s very ill and needs a lot of care. The small village is a notorious bear bile farming spot.

According to Animals Asia there are still 164 bile bears in the village, cramped in small cages, used as things to only extract bile from. The organization thinks there are in total around 800 bears living in these horrible circumstances in Vietnam.

Amy is a female Asian black bear also known as moon bear. Her recovery will be long because she is so ill. Her medical examination showed that she has suffered terrible neglect which has left her starved, traumatized and in terrible pain.

“She weighs half of what she’s supposed to. All four of her canine teeth are broken and infected. Because she’s so unwell, we can’t do dental surgery”, says bear and vet team director Heidi Quine. “She has an enlarged gallbladder and is missing half of her tongue and right forearm.”

Bear bile farming
Bile or gall is a fluid produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. In some Asian countries, it’s believed that the bile of a bear can be used as a medicine for liver diseases. Even though there are effective herbal and synthetic alternatives which makes cruelty to bears unnecessary, bile farming continues.

To get the bile from a bear surgery has to be done to insert a tube in the gallbladder. The bear can then be ‘milked’ for its bile. It leaves the bear scarred and in terrible pain. At these farms, bears stay in small steel cages where they can’t sit up straight or turn around.

Some bears are caught as cubs and kept in these conditions for up to 30 years. They get little food or water and are taken care of very badly. Organizations that rescue them always see starved and dehydrated bears with deformed or missing parts of their body.

Animals Asia has even seen old or very sick bears, that can’t produce bile anymore, left to starve to death in their cages.

Amy in small cage, photo: Animals Asia

The good thing about Vietnam is that using bears for bile farming has been illegal since 2005. For example, in China it’s still legal and there are over 10.000 bile bears there. The sad thing about Vietnam is that when it became illegal, farmers were still allowed to keep their bears in the same horrible conditions. Farmers had to promise not to use them for bile, but there’s no one really checking so farmers continue these painful practices.

Another sad side to this story is that a study led by the Australian animal welfare group Free The Bears found that bear bile farms across Vietnam are starving and killing their bears because keeping them alive has become too costly. So farmers either continue using them for bile or just leave them to die.

The day of the rescue, Amy looks very depressed and ill, video: Animals Asia

What will happen after Amy
The rescue of Amy was extra special because it was the first bear given up voluntary by a farmer in the village. Animals Asia Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen said: “Phung Thuong is a small community with a huge bear bile farming problem. Everyone knows each other here and nobody wanted to be the first to break ranks and give their bears up for rescue. To reduce the pressure on the local community, we agreed to rescue Amy secretly as this will provide the greatest chance of allowing other farmers to follow suit and give up their bears.”

What can you do
In 2017 Animals Asia had signed a legal binding agreement with the Vietnam government to completely end bear bile farming and send every bear to a sanctuary by 2022. But all these bears need a place to stay. In the existing bear sanctuaries of Animals Asia and other organizations is not enough space. So there’s a need for more bear sanctuaries. On there website they give many ways on how you can get involved.

Free the Bears and FOUR PAWS are also very active in ending this extreme suffering. Visit the websites and see what you can do. These organizations are also work in China where bear bile farming is still legal. It needs to become illegal and those bears have to be rescued.

Update on bear Amy, one week after her rescue, video: Animals Asia
The Cruel Reality of Bile Bear Farming, by FOUR PAWS
Happy playful moon bears, video: Animals Asia

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Animal welfare foundations worried about stray cats and dogs in Aruba


Let me start by saying I love Aruba. The island is beautiful, the beaches, the people, the weather, the sea. Aruba is also one of the wealthiest islands in the Caribbean and part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Being one of the richest islands, more and more people are surprised and questioning why there are so many cats, dogs, puppies and kittens wandering the streets. And why there’s no national spay and neuter campaign to control the animal overpopulation.

Such a beautiful island should love and cherish not only its people and tourists but also its nature and animals. There are a lot of stray cats and dogs suffering on the streets. Small animal welfare organizations and initiatives are trying to do something, but they don’t have enough volunteers or funding for medical and neuter and spay bills for animals.

Stimami Sterilisami
And here comes the sad part. Aruba had a beautiful program called
Stimami Sterilisami. This means Love me Sterilize me. A great initiative from the hotel Bucuti & Tara beach Resort in Aruba. They paid for the neutering and spaying of stray animals. Anyone could register the animal online, fill in at which veterinarian they had the dog or cat helped and Stimami Sterilisami would pay the veterinarian directly.

After helping over 4000 animals they abruptly stopped in November 2018. Their resources were finished. They had spent around 330.000 dollars on paying the bills to veterinarians. They were hoping that, after creating such a good online infrastructure and a proven system of reducing stray animals, other organizations like the government or big companies would step in to help fund the neuter and spay program. But that didn’t happen.

“That was very sad news”, Otto from the animals welfare organization Crijojo Trappers Aruba tells us. The foundation catches stray dogs, neuter and then release them. This is very effective to control the pet overpopulation. Like this less puppies are born and less animals suffer.

Animals suffering
“With the help of Stimami Sterilisami we could help 10 to 15 dogs per day. Now we can only help animals whenever a donation is made. Since the program stopped, we as well as other animal welfare organizations get more calls from people reporting sick animals and puppies on the streets”, Otto continues. “If this continues there’ll be so many strays suffering again on the island.”

Animal Right Aruba agrees: “Until we can establish a national spay and neuter program, the stray dogs and cats situation in Aruba will not improve. There are other organizations on the island trying to lend a helping hand to the situation, however it will take more funding and government support to actually make a difference.”

Aruba is a small island
Even tourists that have visited the island have expressed their concern. In 2010 tourists started the Animal Relief Foundation. “There are thousands of street dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. We are a small organization with limited resources, but do the best we can along with the other foundations”, Kathy from Animal Relief tells us. “Aruba is a small island. It shouldn’t be that hard to get the stray population under control.”

An example of how fast the cat population grows if you don’t neuter Photo: Crijojo Trappers Aruba

Kathy and Otto tell us about the Killcage. A place to dump a dog, puppy, cat or kitten for it to be killed. This can be an animal from the street or just an unwanted animal. Once a day a man comes and kills all the animals that are dumped there. “Many of the foundations try to save what they can before the animals are killed. However, all foundations are over capacity. We do not have a shelter”, Cathy says.

Otto adds that the killing in the Killcage is done in a very inhumane way: “There are international laws on how to kill animals. It has to be done by a veterinarian. The animal has to be calmed first, get the shot to go to sleep and then get the shot to euthanize them. In Aruba, they only get the second shot. Imagine getting that kind of poison without being sedated.”

He continues with sadness in his voice: “Here in the Killcage it’s not performed by a veterinarian, but just a random person, hired by the government, who comes in with an injection needle attached to a stick and he starts to just poke animals. This means that it doesn’t always go through their blood system but just their body. They suffer for up to an hour sometimes. The government says it’s done correctly but there are videos of animals thrown in the back of a truck still alive and in pain and a man with a stick and needle walking out.”

Petition signed by almost 200 thousand people
The Luna Foundation started the petition ‘Take a stand against the barbaric procedures of the Aruba Killcage‘. Almost 200 thousand people signed it. Just like the other foundations they emphasize that a national spay and neuter method to control the animal overpopulation is better. “Killing healthy or treatable animals is not a solution to reducing the street dog and cat population of Aruba.”   

Zoey from the Luna Foundation: “The moment the petition reaches 200 thousand, it will be printed and given to the prime minister of Aruba, Evelyn Wever-Croes. With a group of people, we will give it to her and hope the changes will be made. In the meantime we continue talking to the government, veterinarians and the different foundations to see how things can get better.”

What needs to happen
All foundations have tried convincing the government to fund a good neuter and spay program. Stimami Sterilisami wants to continue but needs funding to pay the spay and neuter bills to veterinarians. At the moment they’re looking to raise money to restart the program. The government could step in and make a huge difference on the island.

What can you do now
If after reading this you want to help, here’s what you can do. If you haven’t already you can sign the petition. In the article there are links to all the foundations, you can contact them and see how you could help them. Here are some other foundations helping stray animals in Aruba:

United Dogs Aruba Foundation
They organise Spay and Neuter Aruba Campaigns. In September they will build a Mobile Animal Surgical Hospital and within a short period try to trap, register, neuter and spay as many animals as they can. In May 2018 they did this too and worked with 50 volunteers, helping 296 animals.

Nine Lives Aruba Foundation

New Life for Paws Foundation

Aruba Animal Shelter

Animal Care Clinic Aruba

Pictures from Crijojo Trappers Aruba


Animals saved from Rafah zoo in Gaza

The animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS rescued 47 animals from the neglected zoo Rafah in Gaza. They transferred five lions, a hyena, monkeys, wolves, porcupines, foxes, cats, dogs, emus ostriches and squirrels to a better home. This was one of the biggest operations of the organization.

Most of the animals were brought to animal sanctuaries in Jordan. Two lions were flown to a big cat refuge in South Africa where they’ll get the medical care they need.

A team of veterinarians and wildlife experts worked out a plan from sedating the animals to the logistics of such a large transfer. With the help of the owner of the zoo and the authorities involved they were able to successfully move the animals. “It was impressive to see how Palestine, Israel and Jordan worked together for the animals”, says FOUR PAWS veterinarian and Head of Mission Amir Khalil.

Declawing lions
One of the reasons FOUR PAWS felt a need to act quickly is the brutal decisions the owner of the zoo had made, to declaw a lion. The beginning of this year the owner said he would put more lions through the cruel procedure so kids could hug the animals and he could get more customers. This caused outrage in the world and more than 150 thousand people signed a petition to close the zoo. FOUR PAWS knew it had to do something to save these animals from a life in pain.

Transporting so many animals safely is expensive The American businessman Eric S. Margolis and the French animal welfare organization Fondation 30 Million d’Amis supported the mission with large donations.

Left behind
Because of their tough schedule and the large amount of animals they were transporting, it was not possible to catch the birds and take them with. Let’s hope the owner of the zoo takes good care of the last animals left behind in the zoo.

Pictures from the rescue. All pictures are from FOUR PAWS/Bogdan Baraghin.

The Animal Reader is an animal news organization. We need your support to create news stories where animals are the focus. Big or small, it would mean a lot if you could sponsor us.

Vegan hotels in Europe


The summer is coming and this time I want to do small trips in Europe. My whole 2019 goal is to only support cruelty free companies which means eating at completely vegan restaurants, buy cosmetics that are not tested on animals and clothes with no wool or leather. The fun part about this is discovering new places and brands.

So when it comes to holidays, I want to stay in hotels that only serve vegan food. I found some really nice ones that I will definitely stay at this summer. If you know one that’s not on the list, let me know in the comments.

List of 100% vegan hotels in Europe:

La Vimea Biotique hotel
‘Nature provides all we need’ is their philosophy. Their furniture is made from local wood and local organic products are used for their meals. They don’t believe in a lot of amenities, but more in the things you don’t need to have a good time.

Location: South Tyrol, Italy

Villa Vegana
They opened in 2013 and offer only plant-based food. They use sustainable and vegan cleaning products and provide vegan cosmetics that have not been tested on animals. And in the rooms no leather, wool or silk products are used.

Location: Mallorca, Spain

Vegan b&b AM/PM Bruges
A very cute and small family hotel. It’s a mansion from 1905 with modern rooms. In the morning they serve vegan breakfast while sharing great tips about their city.

Location: Bruges, Belgium

Meson Medujar Vegan
The character of a 18th century building has been renovated in its traditional Mudejar style with five rooms, all individually decorated. The restaurant offers amazing food with plant-based and local ingredients.

Location: Malaga, Spain

Hotel Swiss
They value the health of their customers and they don’t want anyone to suffer or die for their or their guests’ needs; the two main (and best) reasons why they’re a vegan hotel.

Location: Kreuzlingen, Switzerland

Stonewater House
On this small British island you find this vegan bed & breakfast. The owners Carol and Jules became vegan in Januari 2017. They loved their new lifestyle so much that they decided to share it with their guests.

Location: Isle of Arran, Scotland

Hotel Nicolay 1881
This is a family run hotel perfect for families. And as an extra bonus, dogs are welcome too! In 2016 they celebrated their 135 years anniversary. That year they also became a completely vegan hotel. You can enjoy beautiful dishes and vegan wine right by the river the Moselle.

Location: Zeltingen, Germany

La Casota
A vegan bed & breakfast in Trentino right by Lake Garda. In the morning they serve a breakfast buffet made with mostly local products. The cook Tiziana, ethical vegan since 2006, prepares the buffet from scratch.

Location: Trentino, Italy

Agrivilla i pini
This is a small vegan farm with 11 rooms and a restaurant. It’s a place to rest, to detox from everything. The rooms have no television, but they offer something better, their view; the hotel is on a hill in Tuscany. The rooms are made of ecological materials like clay, stone, chalk and hennep. In the restaurant the food is prepared with ingredients from their own garden or local farmers.

Location: San Gimignano, Italy

Transporting animals in hot weather is extremely cruel


What I never realised until I met Lesley from the organization Eyes on Animals is how sad and horrible the transportation of farm animals is. As goods they are transported from city to city, sometimes even different countries, to slaughterhouses.

Treated as things where most companies only care about the costs and logistics of transport and not the welfare of the animals. That’s where Eyes in Animals tries to make a difference. In Europe there’s legislation that companies have to follow to give these animals the protection they deserve. Lesley and her team check if companies are following these rules and if they don’t, they report and sometimes expose them.

94 million animals transported in extreme heat
One of the things they are focussing on in the Netherlands is the tropical heat in which animals were being transported last year. Tuesday they, together with the Dutch society for the protection of animals, presented their report ‘On the breach against heat stress’ to the minister of agriculture Carola Schouten.

They mention that during the summer 94 million animals were transported at temperatures that are not justified. They speak of horrible scenes of animals desperately looking for cooling in overheated livestock trucks, waiting in the burning sun in front of slaughterhouses.

The study states that even on days when the temperature was generously above 30 degrees Celsius, slaughterhouses were still running at full speed and millions of animals were transported. The rule is that above 27 degrees the schedule of slaughterhouses should change. The organizations want this to be lowered to 21 degrees.

They also want that transportation above 30 degrees should only be done in airconditioned trucks. And above 35 degrees should be forbidden. And these rules have to become laws so everyone has to follow them.

The Netherlands has a heat protocol for animal transportation since 2016 but both organizations say that they don’t work because slaughterhouses don’t stick to them.

The Animal Reader is an animal news organization. We need your support to create news stories where animals are the focus. Big or small, it would mean a lot if you could sponsor us.

Circus Life without Animal Life


Circus life has always been a fantastic experience of mine since I was a child. I remember those moments so vividly, with all the trucks advertised with photos of what to expect during their stay.

The Ringling Brothers Circus would come and pitch these large tents, setting up mini carnivals around the main attraction. These memories filled with playful music, along with the smells of cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, burgers, nachos with cheese and funnel cakes.

What made this experience exciting for me was being able to watch the animals, naively thinking, perform with such delight. I was always so eager to see the elephants, waiting for that one moment to be up close and personal. Being from a small town (Havelock, North Carolina), this was a rarity.

Aside from the elephants, they had horses, tigers, lions, llamas and goats that contributed to making the experience overall “magical.” I don’t even recall even paying much attention to any other performance if it refrained from using animals. The portion that grasped my attention the most was how a handler could train animals that were known to be so powerful.

Life of enslavement
What never crossed my mind was how an animal not meant for domestication enjoyed living an unnatural lifestyle? I thought “they take excellent care of these animals” not understanding that excellent care should deem a life of enslavement.

Of course, there are a few circuses that refrain from the exploitation of animals, maintaining successful businesses. One circus that my family and I were able to experience was “Uncles Sam’s Great American Circus” in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

As my children bounced their way towards the entrance, I could feel those child-like emotions begin to rekindle. As we approached the gate, they had a ticket booth set up where you can purchase your choice for seating. Since this was our children’s first time, we went with the ringside seats.

Upon entering the tent, they had a member checking tickets and guiding you towards the section you purchased. The tent was heated as advertised, making the experience extremely comfortable. Not to mention the fantastic staff that balanced off each other throughout the entire show. I enjoyed the creativity between the use of a DJ and live instruments. I was impressed by their flawless coordination.

I was aware that this circus excluded the use of animals in their acts, so I was very eager to see how enjoyable this experience would become. Each performance was something out of a storybook, seamlessly transitioning to the next. Not only did this show capture my attention, but it maintained the focus of our five and three-year-old. I was shocked and inspired by how circus life has still retained its definition of wonder and suspense.

The food
I was a bit overwhelmed by all the smells that interacted with the overall experience. My husband and I were laughing about how it’s amazing that our bodies are expecting to indulge in these types of meals for specific events. We could feel our bodies telling us “this is a special occasion, buy it and enjoy the show!”

Having been vegan for three months now and understanding the risks of carnism, we refrained from indulging. Those habits were extremely easy to dismiss since our disgust of meat consumption trumps desire. We were just as happy with buying plain fries and popcorn, which our children enjoyed very much.

“That’s an animal! That’s wrong mom”
What was even more interesting about this moment, was how my son was paying attention to the food choice of people around him. He stated, “mom, did you know they sell hot dogs?! That’s an animal! That’s wrong mom”. I was very pleased that he was making his own decision to enjoy the time we were having while being able to eat without “cheating” his integrity.

The problem of food consumption and animal welfare is undoubtedly an ongoing battle that I will continue to advocate. At this moment, I faced with two realities of something I partook in as a child: animal exploitation with food and circus life.

Real talent at the circus
Uncle Sam’s Great American Circus proved my memories of happiness to be false. You do not need to see the performance of animals to have a fantastic time at a circus. Quite frankly, I believe animals take the show entirely away from all the other acts. I never focused on these types of performances before. I feel like I missed out on fantastic talent, all forgotten because I wanted to “see the animals.”

When you focus on the complexity and time dedicated towards each act, it becomes extraordinary to ponder. The beauty of perfecting a talent that projects enchantment, while living a family bonded, nomadic lifestyle, has depth all on its own.

We need to direct the attention back to the real performers. We need to realize that the real art in circus life grew from passion, transpiring into business all over the world, tainting the genuine aspirations of circus life.

Seeing animals perform is captivating but it stretches their life in captivity. Experiencing circus performances without the exploitation of animals is possible and allows the real performers to receive the gratitude they deserve. Focus on the real performers and not the ones enslaved.

All pictures by Isabella Lawrence

Netflix binge watching


Every now and then I love binge watching a good show on Netflix. I don’t always have the time for it but when I do, Netflix offers so many entertaining shows and movies. But they also have a few good documentaries that helped making my decision to become vegan easier. These are the three that I would recommend anyone to watch. Not only to become vegan but also to learn more about the meat industry and your health.

What the Health
This film follows Kip Andersen as he interviews physicians and other people about diet and health.The synopsis is that serious health problems are a consequence of consuming meat and dairy products, and that a conspiracy exists to cover this up. It was shocking to see how some companies wouldn’t even talk to him or answer a few of his legit questions about consuming meat and dairy.

Forks over Knives

This documentary teaches you about the benefits of a plant-based diet. It made my decision to go plant-based easier and I really believe it helps me to stay healthy.

Fat, Sick & nearly Death

Juicing is something I find very hard to do. But I think to reset your system or to rethink why you eat and what you’re eating it’s the best way to go. And if you need some inspiration watch this documentary.