A day for the loved and lost

Elsa

This is Elsa, our beloved baby kitten, who will move in with us in the near future. She is adorable, playful, happy, and loves cuddling. She hasn’t been around long in this life and because of geographical distance I haven’t been able to see her that much yet, but I still love her.

As most of my friends and family know, I also have a deep love for all life. I love and care for all animals. I cry for them, I pray for them, and I fight for them. The last time I ate meat was more than 11 years ago, and in a few weeks I have been vegan for 7 years. 7 beautiful years of living my truth, expressing my compassion and love for life every single day. 7 years of doing my best to not hurt anyone, human or non-human alike.

Today is World Animal Day, and I want this day to be a celebration, a tribute, to all animals loved and lost, as well as to those animals who never got to feel even the tiniest bit of love from anyone during their short lives, before they ended up on our plates, on our bodies or as part of our furniture. I want this day to be a happy day for our furry family members, like little Elsa, but I also want this day to be a remembrance of all those who have suffered to satisfy our selfish desires.

I want this to be a day of love for every non-human out there.

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Do I ever have the right to decide that it’s time for someone’s life to end?

Philippines has a big problem with stray dogs and cats. You can see them walking around pretty much anywhere you go, mostly malnourished and dirty, sometimes sick or wounded. My empathy for these animals is of course huge, all I wanted to do when seeing them was to take them all in, feed them, bathe them, give them medicine for their problems and somewhere safe to rest. All I wanted to was to give them a loving home, but I couldn’t.

One of the dogs we saw was in worse shape than all the others; I have never before seen an animal that look like it’s suffering that much. The fur was mostly gone and the skin filled with rashes and wounds, he stood for hours in the same spot without moving, and worst of all; someone had put a metal chain so tightly around his neck that it created an infected wound and most likely limited his breathing. Just watching him was painful, imagining the suffering he must go through every day, every moment.

R made a decision to have him euthanized to end his suffering. He called a veterinarian, who after some talking agreed to come for free if we would just pay for the medicine injection. It took some hours before they came, but the dog was still standing in the exact spot where we had left him.

Watching them catch him and give him the first injection to put him to sleep was painful. Already before they caught him, he knew that something was going on, so he got angry and started moving away from them. His scream when he was caught and given the first injection in his thigh was heartbreaking. I had expected a painless death to end his life full of suffering, but he was in such bad condition that this small injection tore his skin and caused him pain. I couldn’t watch, and I couldn’t help crying. I was wondering if this really was the right thing to do, did we really have the right to decide for this poor creature that his life was over and this was the way he was going to die?

In a little while, which felt like an eternity, everything grew quiet. Finally I dared to go closer and look at him. He was sleeping, his chest slowly raising and lowering; peace. The veterinary assistant prepared the injection that would go into the cardiac muscle (the heart), and once it was given the dog’s legs moved for the last time before everything was over.

Death had come. Was it better? I’ve thought about it so many times afterwards, praying that he is now in a better place. A place where he can run around without pain, a place where he never has to be hungry, a place where no one will deliberately cause him pain. Do I have the right to decide when it’s better for someone to die than to go on living, even though this someone is a dog? I don’t really know. I live after the premise that we don’t have the right to take someone’s life, or use someone, for our own purposes. But how about taking someone’s life to end their suffering? Do I have the right to take such a position of power, even if I use this power for what I believe is the best for that living being?

This dog, who lived his whole life without a name, without love, without anyone caring for him even the tiniest bit, has gotten a special place in my mind and in my heart. I don’t think I will ever forget him, and I don’t either think that I want to.

R.I.P.

It’s more fun in the Philippines?

We recently came back from a one month vacation in the Philippines. My plan was to update the blog while there, but we had much more limited access to the Internet than I thought we would, as well as a quite full-packed time-schedule.

This was my second time in the country, and I just got more aware of the contrasts that exist there. There’s two very different sides of the Philippines, and I have had the privileged to see both of them to some extent.

On one hand we have the Philippines that tourists see; paradise. The parts with all the resorts, white beaches, waterfalls and so on, everything beautiful that the country has to offer. On the other hand we have the lives of the many people living in poverty; in homes that would barely be called homes here in Finland – or even without a home at all – with storms and floods as a part of life, without enough money to feed the family.

The reality of a country with so much natural resources and so much talent saddens me. With a government full of corruption the people who call Philippines their home struggle to stay above the surface, and it breaks my heart. Seeing kids walking around hungry in the street without shoes or proper clothes, hearing how badly workers are treated and how little rights they have, how expensive it is to get your children proper education, and how huge the gap between the rich and the poor is… the list goes on an on.

I love the Philippines. I have family there now, I have friends there, I have friends who have families there, I have people I care about in this country on the other side of the world. The more I love, the more I care, and the more the situation breaks my heart. The people of the Philippines are strong, they always work hard, and they always have a smile on their face even though how bad their circumstances get. They deserve so much better.

Hoping for change: new Finnish parliament

There’s an election going on here in Finland; by the end of the week we will have chosen who will sit in our parliament for the next four years.

I’m hoping to see people in the parliament who will work for at least these things;

  • Animal welfare
    • Focus on the animal welfare instead of economic winnings in creating the new Animal Welfare Act
    • A decision to end fur farming within the next ten years, and an actual plan on how to do so
    • A decision to move away from factory farming
  • Environment
    • Moving more and more towards renewable energy sources, away from oil, coal, nuclear energy etc.
    • Promotion of plant-based, organic and locally grown food both in schools and in society in general
  • Equality:
    • Keeping to the decision of marriage equality
    • Working against racism and sexism in working life and society in general

Use your privilege and vote, dear Finnish citizens! We don’t have any right to complain or demand change if we don’t do anything for that change to happen.

Cuteness overload

One of the pigs at Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary recently gave birth to eight adorable little miracles. The pictures and videos of these little piglets on the Happily Ever Esther Facebook-page just makes me smile;

Happily Ever Esther piglets

Picture borrowed from the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary Facebook-page

These piglets could have been born into such a different life. They could have been born to a life as products, as pieces on our plates once they had grown large enough. Instead they were born into freedom, into a life where they will be seen for the individuals that they are, into a life that gives them what they deserve.

It’s places like these sanctuaries that recreates my hope in humanity, my hope in the future. My hope that one day we will truly understand. That one day we will get there.

Sushi and bugs

Yesterday evening we had a small party to celebrate my birthday that was a few days back. We had a few friends over and prepared some food.

I love planning food for parties, and even though it’s usually a bit stressful to prepare everything in time, I pretty much love the preparation part too. For parties you get to plan food that you would not make for a normal day, food that maybe takes a bit more time or looks more interesting. And most of all, you get to bake! I love baking and trying out new recipes and ideas for baking, but I don’t want to be the one eating all of it, so parties are great for this.

birthday party

Yesterday we planned for light finger-foods;

  • Vegan sushi in a few different variations, filled with marinated tofu, cucumber, avocado and mango
  • “Ladybug”-crackers based on an idea R found on the mighty world wide web (with cream cheese and parsley, the ladybugs made out of cherry tomatoes, black olives and chives)
  • Carrot, cucumber and celery sticks with a vegan sour cream dip

Ladybug crackers

And of course there was cake! This time I made a chocolate cake based on my favorite brownie recipe, with a filling of vegan white chocolate mousse.

vegan chocolate cake

In my bathroom cabinet

I write a lot about food, and even though food of course is a central part of veganism, it’s not all that there is. As I’ve said many times; veganism is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. A part of this lifestyle is trying to keep your bathroom as cruelty-free as possible, so in this post I will write about some of my favorite cruelty-free – or vegan – cosmetic brands.

Faith in NatureWhen it comes to shampoo and conditioners, I really love Faith in Nature. I’ve tried so many conditioners, and none of them seemed to work on my hair, until I found Faith in Nature. It doesn’t make matters worse that their products come in a lot of amazing, natural scents! Apart from shampoos and conditioners they also make soaps, lotions, deodorants, cleaning products and even pet shampoos, unfortunately not all of these products can be found here in Finland.

Kingfisher toothpasteFor my teeth I use Kingfisher‘s toothpaste. There are other vegan brands out there, but this one is my favorite. It comes in different versions, both with added fluoride and without. I use the Mint-flavored fluoride-free one.

Crazy RumorsI’m addicted to lip balm, I have to admit that. I have to have one in my bag or my pocket all the time so that I can apply it whenever I want, or I will feel like my lips are cracking. So naturally I’ve tried a lot of different ones, and there are several good vegan ones out there. However, my favorite is definitely Crazy Rumors. They give a soft and not too sticky feeling after applying, and keep your lips moisturized. And they come in tons of different flavors, everything from tea to ice cream.

All pictures in this post comes from the company websites.