5 “Natural” Brands You Had No Idea Were Owned by Evil Parent Companies

I got pissed the other day because I realized that my dish soap was actually owned by a parent company that tested on animals.

So. Pissed.

Why, Seventh Generation?! Whyhyyyhyy?? (Seventh Generation was acquired by Unilever in 2016. Yeah, I was a little late on the news.)

I consulted my vegan friend about it and she shared that it’s a double-edged sword: avoiding the brand puts less money in the parent company’s pocket, but purchasing the brand you like can show the parent company what their customers really like, so they would be more likely to invest in furthering that product line.

For me, though, I just have a hard time supporting evil parent companies. So I stopped buying Seventh Generation products (I also bought their toilet paper in addition to their dish soap).

Did you know about these other five brands that were owned by evil parent companies?

1. TOMS of Maine

When I first started using fluoride-free toothpaste one of the first brands I tried was TOMS. In fact, when I got my lip pierced and my tongue re-pierced, I even used TOMS mouthwash.

I was sad to find out that TOMS has been owned by Colgate since 2006, which was years before I even picked up that first tube of toothpaste. So sad. I now really like My Magic Mud toothpaste or Earthpaste!

2. Urban Decay

I don’t use makeup, but I don’t need to be makeup lover to know that Urban Decay, the popular makeup brand, got bought by our friend L’Oréal in 2012.

L’Oréal tests on animals, so remember that when you think you’re buying Urban Decay, you’re really just giving your money to this huge corporation that tortures and kills bunnies.

3. Mrs. Meyers (Caldrea Products)

My husband and I were on our elopement and honeymoon in North Carolina when I found some Mrs. Meyers soap on sale in Asheville. I was excited!

I had been a fan of Mrs. Meyers but typically haven’t purchased these products on a regular basis in the past because they can be a little expensive.

I found out that S.C Johnson had acquired Mrs. Meyers line of products, which is also called Caldrea Products, in 2008, which was, like TOMS, years before I even knew about Mrs. Meyers.

4. Burt’s Bees

I used to love Burt’s Bees’ cherry lip balm. It came in a tin and I used to buy it when I was 16. I LOVED IT! IT WAS MY FAVORITE!

I found out not too long after that Burt’s Bees was acquired by Clorox in 2007 and have since stopped buying Burt’s Bees’ products.

5. The Body Shop

I was never a huge fan of The Body Shop, but a girl I partnered with in my college Chemistry class worked there. She constantly talked about her boyfriend’s baby mama and being on acid with her boyfriend.

The last time I saw her, she was about eight months pregnant and handing out samples outside The Body Shop at the local mall. I ran away.

The Body Shop itself doesn’t test on animals, but it’s owned by L’Oréal and has been since 2006, which was about three years before acid girl and I were in Chemistry class together.

This Isn’t It

There are so many other brands out there, especially make-up brands, which are owned by huge parent companies that participate in animal testing.

In fact, I was shocked to find out that OPI nail polish and Victoria’s Secret—two brands I had supported for years—sell their products in China which means that they’re required to test their products on animals there by law.

I know. It sucks.

But the cool part is that you can make a difference.

Choose not to purchase from companies that are owned by evil parent companies. Do your research—your money is often your voice, and it makes an impact. So choose not to give your dollars to some fucking creep torturing bunnies for a living.

I promise you’ll feel better when you make more informed decisions!

6 Cons of Having Rabbits

Let me begin this article by saying that I absolutely adore my rabbits. However, there are cons of having rabbits.

I have four fluffy bunnies—three boys and one girl—that I’ve pretty much devoted my life to.  I’ve had rabbits since 2010 when a flyer for free bunnies at a local grocery store essentially ruined my life.

Now, after becoming an experienced rabbit mama over the last eight years, I’ve discovered that while these four living creatures are one of the greatest joys of my life, they also really annoy me at times.

So without further ado, here are six cons of having rabbits.

1. They Eat a Lot

One of the cons of having rabbits is that they have high metabolisms, so they are pretty much constantly eating.

I feed my rabbits four meals a day (breakfast, snack, dinner, bedtime snack). This sounds ridiculous, but this is what works best for us since they eat so much and need regular feedings. So it goes without saying that they eat a lot of food.

The staple of their diet is fresh timothy hay, so they go through bunches of this. It helps wear down their teeth so they don’t have dental problems later. A rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing, so they need to be chewing a lot so their tooth roots don’t grow into their skull (this happened to Olivier last spring due to his being inbred; the surgery cost over $3,000, so yeah, don’t neglect to give them hay).

They also eat lots of fresh vegetables such as carrots, collard greens, kale, and red and green leaf lettuce. They occasionally get fruit for a treat (they are completely bananas about bananas).

Depending on if my garden is doing well, I do spend some money on rabbit food. If you have a garden, it’s a lot cheaper to own a rabbit! You can buy hay in bulk at your local farm store, just make sure it’s fresh.

2. They Poop Wherever They Want

While rabbits can control when and where they pee, they don’t have the same motivation to do this with their poop. All my rabbits are litter-trained when it comes to pee (most rabbits are instinctively so), but they poop everywhere.

Although this is one of the cons of having rabbits, fortunately, their poop is pretty cute, they are formed spheres that don’t make much of a mess. Regardless, I clean their living quarters numerous times a day to keep the area clean. When you have four of these critters, all that poo adds up.

3. They Are So Adorable You Just Want to Die

When I first saw Merthin and Olivier (in the below photo), just hours after their birth, the wonder and emotion I felt couldn’t be contained. Of course, I didn’t handle them until weeks later when this photo was taken, but they were so adorable I felt like I would throw myself in front of a truck to save their lives.

Having something this cute in your house means you bend the rules just a little to ensure that they are happy and comfortable, which is one of the cons of having rabbits.

My rabbits pretty much run my life. Is it because they are cute? Maybe. Is it because I love them? Yes. They are animals and do not respond to discipline the same way that children do, so instead of being angry that they accidentally bit you or ran away from you while playing outside, you just love them.

You love them so much that the cons of having rabbits don’t seem like a big deal.

4. They Shed

To me, this is one of the major cons of having rabbits.

Some rabbits seem to shed more than others. My two outside bunnies don’t shed much. My two albino rabbits, who are inside, shed terribly about two times a year. It’s honestly awful. I usually take them outside and gently pull all the loose hair off and let it float away in the breeze so it doesn’t float all around my house.

As one of the cons of having rabbits, there’s not much you can do about the shedding besides ride it out until the shedding process is over, which can take a couple weeks. If your rabbit is shedding often, for long periods of time, or losing lots of hair during non-shedding periods, this could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency and should be evaluated by your rabbit-savvy vet.

Otherwise, get the vacuum and lint rollers out.

5. Finding a Good Vet Is Difficult

Actually, finding a vet who will even see rabbits can be difficult. This is one of the most frustrating cons of having rabbits.

When we lived in North Carolina and Nadir and Fiver were experiencing gastric distress (also called GI stasis), I called about ten different animal clinics in the area only to be told none of them saw rabbits.

What’s even the point of being a vet if you can’t treat anything besides cats and dogs?

Fortunately, I was able to heal Nadir and Fiver by giving them water from oral syringes (as they refused to eat or drink) and abdominal massages. You can find out more about bunny distress here. I do not recommend treating your bunnies without professional vet care; I only did this because I had no other option.

Now, we live outside of DC where there are a few rabbit vets in the area. The one we go to in Fairfax is my favorite. It’s expensive, but after having had one of my rabbits misdiagnosed at another vet, I won’t go anywhere else. It’s not worth it.

If you’re considering getting a rabbit, ensure you can find a reputable vet who will see your bunny first. Otherwise, if a problem comes up with your rabbit, you won’t have anyone to turn to. The Internet is not a reliable source of information!

6. They Are Easily Stressed

This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest cons of having rabbits.

They are prey animals and easily scared. In the wild (like the wild rabbit above), their fear would keep them alive. In my house, it only serves to cause them and me additional stress.

What this means is that:

  • They should not be kept in homes with a lot of noise, such as barking dogs, loud televisions, or loud people. They really, really enjoy their quiet.
  • They absolutely hate the car. Some rabbits do better than others, but my two inside rabbits are petrified of the car, making vet visits and traveling very difficult and stressful for all of us.
  • They do not like being handled by unfamiliar people. Again, some rabbits do better than others, but mine are wont to bite and scratch you if they don’t know you and you try to handle them.
  • They do not like things happening outside of their usual routine or being moved to different living quarters.

Many people don’t realize that rabbits can actually die from stress (see the gastric distress link above). This is a very real concern for rabbit owners.

If you’re going to commit to a bunny, it needs to be in a quiet home where the rabbit can have its own space and live in peace while you take care of it and it gets some fresh air, playtime, and plenty of good food.

Having rabbits has been one of the great joys of my life, but my life and the decisions I make in my life pretty much revolve around these little critters. I love them and can’t really see myself without rabbits at this point, although I probably wouldn’t have four again, maybe just two!

If you’re considering getting a rabbit, know that these cons of having rabbits are real concerns for potential pet owners. Know before you adopt!

The Truth About “Humane”, “Free-Range”, and “Cage-Free” Meat and Eggs

chickens in cage

I know some of you nice people out there think that you’re doing good by buying only “cage-free” or “humane” or “free-range” eggs and meats.

While I will agree that this is the lesser of the two evils that come with harvesting food from animals, I will also argue that these are just marketing claims and are still not ok. The truth about free range is different than what these advertisements claim.

The Marketing Behind Organic or Humane Products

There’s a huge market out there for organic, free-range, cage-free, and humane animal products. People want to feel that they are making better, smarter choices by choosing these products.

The truth, however, is that these products aren’t too much different from conventionally-raised meat.

I’d like to begin with some excerpts from Michael Pollan, an author, journalist, and activist who I dearly love and admire. In his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he talks about “Big Organic” and what he found out it really means.

“I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods nearly as much as I enjoy browsing a good bookstore, which, come to think of it, is probably no accident: Shopping at Whole foods is a literary experience, too. That’s not to take anything away from the food, which is generally of high quality, much of it “certified organic” or “humanely raised” or “free-range”. But right there, that’s the point: It’s the evocative prose as much as anything else that makes this food really special, elevating an egg or chicken breast or bag of arugula from the realm of ordinary protein and carbohydrates into a much headier experience, one with complex aesthetic, emotional, and even political dimensions. Take the “range-fed” sirloin steak I recently eyed in the meat case. According to the brochure on the counter, it was formerly part of a steer that spent its days “living in beautiful places” ranging from “plant-diverse, high-mountain meadows to thick aspen groves and miles of sagebrush-filled flats”. Now a steak like that has got to taste better than one from Safeway, where the only accompanying information comes in the form of a number: the price, I mean, which you can bet will be considerably less. But I’m evidently not the only shopper willing to pay more for a good story.

With the growth of organics and mounting concerns about the wholesomeness of industrial food, storied food is showing up in supermarkets everywhere these days, but it is Whole Foods that consistently offers the most cutting-edge grocery lit. On a recent visit I filled my shopping cart with eggs “from cage-free vegetarian hens,” milk from cows that live “free from unnecessary fear and distress,” wild salmon caught by Native Americans in Yakutat, Alaska (population 833), and heirloom tomatoes from Capay Farm ($4.99 a pound), “one of the early pioneers of the organic movement.” The organic broiler I picked up even had a name: Rosie, who turned out to be a “sustainably farmed” “free-range” chicken from Petaluma Poultry, a company whose “farming methods strive to create harmonious relationships in nature, sustaining the health of all creatures and the natural world.” Okay, not the most mellifluous or even meaningful sentence, but at least their heart’s in the right place.

I also visited Rosie the organic chicken at her farm in Petaluma, which turns out to be more animal factory than farm. She lives in a shed with twenty thousand other Rosies, who, aside from their certified organic feed, live lives little different from that of any other industrial chicken. Ah, but what about the “free-range” lifestyle promised on the label? True, there’s a little door in the shed leading out to a narrow grassy yard. But the free-range story seems a bit of a stretch when you discover that the door remains firmly shut until the birds are at least five or six weeks old–for fear they’ll catch something outside–and the chickens are slaughtered only two weeks later.”

—From Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, pages 134-140 (pub. 2006 by Penguin)

The Food and Drug Administration’s Policy for Free-Range, PAsture-Fed, and Grass-Fed

The Food and Drug Administration’s free-range policy for poultry is this: the facility must show that the chickens have been allowed access to the outside.

This doesn’t mean that the animals are required to spend any time outdoors or even that they have gone outside at all during their lives. So while you might be purchasing chicken thinking that the chicken lived its life in a peaceful meadow, the reality is often far from this idea.

So what about eggs?

Turns out, the FDA doesn’t have any solid guidelines for what a free-range chicken egg should be, so this label really is just a marketing term, similarly to how the claim “dairy-free” has literally no backing according to the FDA.

But what about beef and pork?

So for these types of meat, pasture-raised means that the animal has been provided access to the outside for a minimum of 120 days a year while grass-fed means that the animal was fed a diet consisting solely of forage its entire life after being weaned off its mothers milk, but not necessarily that the animal was ever outside, just that they were fed grass and not grain (which, from a consumer standpoint, is healthier, but not really humane).

The Local Difference

I advocate for LOCAL meat and eggs. This does not mean you trust a supermarket to tell you the truth about free range, where this animal has lived, what it ate, or what its lifestyle was.

I do believe that buying organic (according to the USDA’s definition) is better even though I don’t necessarily believe it’s the most humane or sustainable way to enjoy meat and eggs.

You need to look for small grocery stores (and I mean really small) if you truly want local or humane meat. Some of these meat and egg products might not even be humanely raised or handled, just local, so you’ll need to find out for yourself how the animals are treated.

You need to go find these farms and actually see them for yourself. And if the people don’t let you see the farm even after you offer them money for their meat or eggs, you know there’s a problem and something disturbing is going on there and that they don’t want you to know the truth about free range.

If you want to buy your eggs and meat from the supermarket, going to a place like Whole Foods and buying products that say “humane” or “free-range” might not be any better than going to Wal-Mart.

How You Can Make a Difference

I would advocate for you to buy locally or just kill and skin that animal yourself.

Afraid of doing that?

You probably shouldn’t be eating meat then. If you’re not willing to go through with the actions that brought you your meal, what sense does it make to eat it?

You can make a difference by choosing to purchase truly local foods that ensure animal welfare and healthier products.

Oh, and “cage-free”? This term, according to the FDA, means that the chickens are usually packed so tightly into barns that they live in their own feces, get their eyes and feathers plucked on by other chickens, and are more prone to disease.

Happy eating!

18 Questions to Ask Your Local Beef Provider

Is your beef local beef?

cow

Listen, I’m not into slaughtering animals. My diet is mostly plant-based and I rarely eat meat. If I do eat meat, I know exactly who killed it and where it came from and what kind of life it had.

So why am I doing this post?

I’m doing this post because I recognize that people like meat. People think meat is a cultural thing and that they’re entitled to eat it. If you want to kill and eat an animal, I’m ok with that.

BUT, it’s HOW you kill the animal that I have a problem with. This is why I only eat meat if I know who killed it and how—aka local beef.

Local beef is great, but before you purchase local beef, you need to figure out a few things. I’ve compiled a list of questions you can and should ask your local beef provider.

 

1. Do you have one location or several?

Best answer: one.

The reason you want to ask this question is because this will be the easiest way for you to determine if you’re dealing with a legit local beef farm or an industrial farm masquerading as a local one. If they tell you they have several locations, that should be a big red flag—aka not local beef.

 

2. How often are the cows outside?

Best answer: always.

You want to ask this question rather than “are they given unlimited access to the pasture” because they could very well be given unlimited access to the pasture, but they may not actually be going into the pasture for whatever reason.

The cows should be outside pretty much all the time when it’s real local beef.

 

3. Do you provide shelter for the cows outside?

Best answer: yes, but they are not contained in this shelter.

If the cows are outside all the time, you want to be sure they have some adequate shelter for inclement weather.

 

4. Do you raise both male and female cows? If so, how do you regulate breeding?

Best answer: yes, we do our own breeding and regulate breeding with castration.

The reason you want this answer is because this way you know they are not bringing in cows from somewhere and that the farm truly is local beef.

 

5. Are the male cows castrated? If so, how? Is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes to the anesthesia!

If they don’t castrate their cows, that’s great. The problem is that most places do, so hoping they’ll say “no” might indicate that they engage in unethical practices to inhibit breeding.

You want them to say that they use local anesthesia and that they simply cut them off. Look up more about these practices to find out why you want them to use anesthesia.

If you speak to the actual farmer and he or she says they do it themselves, that’s even better. That’s true local beef, where the farmer takes care of his cows.

 

6. If the cows get sick, are they treated and how?

Best answer: yes, they are treated.

The farmer should tell you exactly how the local beef cows are treated and if they have an on-site vet that comes as needed.

 

7. How is the pasture maintained?

Best answer: organically.

Chances are your farmer won’t actually say “organically”, they’ll just tell you that they don’t spray the pasture with anything and the cows simply maintain it by grazing. Yay, local beef cows!

 

8. Are the cows purely grass-fed or are they fed supplemental grains?

Best answer: mostly grass fed.

Some farmers feed their local beef cows a bit of supplemental grains to take the “gamey” taste out of the meat like you get with deer or squirrel, but ideally, you’d like the cows to be almost purely grass-fed. Ask what the supplemental grains consist of and if they are genetically modified (corn and soy).

 

9. Any growth hormones used?

Best answer: no.

If a farmer tells you they use growth hormones, you should just hang up right then, unless you want an enlarged prostate, acne, and overweight children. That’s not local beef, peeps.

 

10. Are the cows tagged/branded? If so, is anesthesia used?

Best answer: yes.

Sorry, but most farmers will at least ear tag their local beef cows, like the cow you see in the above picture. If they say they brand, you should probably just end the call, because if they are cruel enough to brand an animal, chances are they are not using anesthesia.

NOW. It is time for the slaughter questions. Brace yourself.

 

11. Do you process your own beef?

Best answer: no.

Unfortunately in the United States, if you want to sell your meat, your animals have to be killed at a USDA approved slaughterhouse.

So chances are if you are buying this local beef meat, it will need to be killed at a slaughterhouse. If they tell you that they process their own beef, it’s technically illegal for you to buy it.

 

12. Where is the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: close.

Have them give you the name of the slaughterhouse and the exact location. Look up how far away it is from the farm. It should be less than an hour away if it’s for local beef.

 

13. How are the cows transported to the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: by me.

If they call a company to come and take the cows, that’s not really local beef and chances are they probably don’t care about the cows and how they are transported. The more details they can give you, the better.

 

14. How many animals does the slaughterhouse kill per day?

Best answer: less than 10.

If this is a really local place, you’ll want them to have minimal slaughtering going on. The more animals they slaughter, the less humane they treat them.

The answer to this question will also tell you how large the slaughterhouse is. If they tell you that they slaughter hundreds of animals per day, this is a commercial slaughterhouse and chances are your cow is not dying humanely.

That’s not local beef for you.

 

15. How do they slaughter the cows?

Best answer: they shoot them with a gun.

This is the better option, as terrible as it sounds, because this means your local beef cows are not getting stunned and tortured before they die.

If the farmer tells you he doesn’t know how the cows die, you can contact the slaughterhouse, but I would most likely end the call. If the farmer doesn’t care how his cows are being killed, what else doesn’t he care about?

You want to make sure the cows are killed quickly and not being dismembered while they are still alive.

 

16. Can I visit the slaughterhouse?

Best answer: yes.

The farmer may not know the answer to this question, and that’s fine. You can always contact the slaughterhouse. But, if he tells you they let people in and that you can go see it, this is great news. You’ll want to confirm with the slaughterhouse though. Commercial slaughterhouses will not let you in there.

 

17. How are you sure that you’re getting your cows back?

Best answer: I’m sure.

The farmer should tell you a detailed process for how he knows he’s getting his cows back, such as he knows the people at the slaughterhouse personally, his meat tastes distinct from all other meats, etc.

If he says he has no idea, then this is not someone who is very informed.

 

18. Can I see the farm?

Best answer: yes.

Any farmer who is proud of his animals and the way he treats them will welcome you to his farm to check out his local beef.

After you ask all these lovely questions, schedule a trip to see both the farm and the slaughterhouse. This is local beef for you! You’ll feel so much better and more conscious purchasing and eating this beef if you know exactly where it came from, how it lived and died, and what it ate. Support humane cow farms!

Do You Really Know What’s Been Done to the Animals You’re Eating? Take This Quiz!

Today I’ve been feeling depressed about the meat, egg, and milk market in America. I can’t speak for other countries, but this industry in America is really messed up.

But just how depressing is America’s meat, egg, and dairy industry? Think you know what’s happening behind those closed “barn” doors that the “farmers” won’t let you see?

Let’s take a little quiz to see how informed you are, you educated thing.

Animal Industry Quiz: What Happens to the Meat, Eggs, and Dairy before We Eat It?

Disclaimer: may be depressing.

1. Before pigs are killed, they are:

a) given a farewell hug, then their throats are slit

b) Ushered into a room with other pigs, where they all are shot

c) stunned with a taser, thrown in a giant tub of scalding water, then skinned (they may still be alive at this point)

2. Male chickens do not lay eggs. What happens to the male chicks after they are born in the egg industry?

a) they are sent to happy local farms where they will become roosters and peck away at their hearts’ content

b) sent to another farm in the meat industry where they will be raised with hormones, then killed for some American family’s dinner

c) they are ground up alive

3. Veal is some tasty beef (I’ve never had it, but I’ve heard this). What happens to veal before you pick it up at the store?

a) the baby cow has played happily in a field with its mom

b) the baby cow lived on a giant factory farm with other baby cows, being fed unnatural grains before it was slaughtered

c) the baby cow was tethered to a post in a dark stall all by itself where it never saw daylight or moved much, and then it was killed

4. Male cows are neutered in the meat industry. How is this process accomplished?

a) with anesthesia, a vet comes to administer this and remove the testicles

b) without anesthesia, a qualified individual simply cuts off the testicles and stitches up the area

c) without anesthesia, someone ties a rubber band around the testicles to cut off the blood flow. The testicles turn black and then fall off

5. How are female cows able to keep producing milk?

a) female cows just naturally produce milk all the time

b) they are injected with hormones to keep them producing milk

c) they are impregnated time after time by having sperm injected into their vaginas. Immediately after they give birth, their calves are taken away to farms where they will be injected with hormones, raised for meat, and slaughtered at a young age

6. A specific breed of chicken has dominated the meat industry. Why was this chicken bred?

a) it tastes better

b) it looks better

c) people in America want chickens with bigger breasts, so the chickens are bred so their breasts grow so big that many of them cannot walk

7. When pigs are transported to the slaughterhouse, they are:

a) put in sturdy cages so they don’t fall or hurt each other

b) put into trucks where they have room to lay down and are given water and a snack

c) packed into trucks so tightly with no food and water for many miles; many die from heat exhaustion or freeze to the side of the trucks, where, if they are still alive upon arrival, they are cut off the side of the truck and their skin is removed

8. What happens to chickens at the slaughterhouse?

a) they are given baths before their throats are slit

b) they are gassed to death

c) hung upside down by their legs and dragged through water with electricity run through it, which paralyzes them, and then their throats are slit while they are still conscious. Although, some of them miss the blade and end up being dumped in scalding hot water still fully conscious

9. Cows at the slaughterhouse are:

a) comforted before they die

b) get their throats slit and someone is there to ensure that every cow dies quickly

c) they are shot in the head with a bolt to stun them, their throats are slit, and they are dismembered. Some cows are not properly stunned or do not immediately die after their throats are slit, and they are dismembered while still conscious

10. Egg-laying chickens:

a) sit on pillows while laying their eggs

b) are in individual cages where they don’t have much room to move

c) are so tightly packed in cages with other chickens that they do not have room to move or clean themselves. With cage-free chickens, they are usually packed the same way on the floor where the spread of illness is more likely and they still do not have room to do much

I’m going to make this super easy for you guys: the answer to all of them is c.

Shocked? You shouldn’t be.

This stuff is happening right now all over the country. If you guessed c for most of them, then you’re well informed and know your stuff, and hopefully, you aren’t still buying commercial meat and dairy and eggs.

The great thing about this is that you DON’T have to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy to stop supporting this industry. You just need to get local meat, eggs, and dairy. This means that you need to find small local farms where the farmers are actually farmers and they let you see and pet the cow and other animals.

This food is also so much healthier for you too as usually, these local farms let their cows and chickens eat natural food such as grass without shoving unnatural GMO grains down their throats.

Finding local farms is not easy, depending on where you live. And when you do find them, you’ll need to make sure the animals are happy and healthy before you choose to support them by buying their meat, milk, or eggs.

It’s ok to be depressed about this stuff but don’t be angry or depressed without reason—act on this! Stop buying commercial meat, milk, and eggs and pack on the veggies!

Why Local Eggs Are Better: A Visual Comparison

Why are local eggs better? Let’s take a look, shall we?

2 Eggs

What is the difference between these two eggs? Anyone?

Ok yeah, the colors. Also the size and shape. These are things that you can see in the picture.

The things that you can’t necessarily see in the picture are the more disturbing things.

The Shells Are Different

The egg on the left’s shell is thin and brittle.

The Yolk Is Different

The egg on the left’s yolk also contains more cholesterol, because it was from an unhealthy chicken who was fed things that she was not supposed to eat. She also didn’t get any exercise. This chicken was probably contained in a cage that she could not even turn around in.

The Life of The Chicken Was Different

EVEN if the package says “free-range”, the United States’ standard for free-range ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

For instance, the U.S’s free-range policy states that the chickens must have been allowed access to the outside.

What does this mean? As one of my favorite journalists Michael Pollan says, it means that for the last two weeks of their life, the chickens are allowed access to a little door on the side of a giant barn that houses thousands of chickens restricted to tiny cages. This door is opened for the last two weeks of their life, and the chickens are allowed outside (outside meaning a tiny fenced-in area that has a dirt ground).

Problem is, by that point, the chickens have lived their whole life in a tiny cage in a dark barn. They probably know their life is bad, but they have no idea what is on the other side of that door and they aren’t particularly eager to find out.

Cage-Free Is Not Better

“Cage-free” eggs also tend to be another marketing scam.

Most of the time this means that the chickens live in severely confined spaces where they are more prone to disease due to being on the ground and in contact their own feces and other chickens, who are probably sick too.

This is sad, right? This egg could have been purchased at any supermarket in America.

So what about the egg on the right?

The egg on the right’s shell is firm and hard to crack. The chicken (who I saw) lived a life outside on the ground, pecking away at grass and bugs. This chicken was occasionally chased by a walking 18-month-old or a small dog. She lived her life with other chickens and was lovingly put in a safe, comfortable barn every evening to protect her from foxes and raccoons. She did not eat genetically modified food. She was not sick. She was never in a cage.

Why Local Is What You Want

The egg on the right is a local egg and belongs to a true free-range chicken, aka LOCAL chicken. Why are local eggs better?

1. You know where they came from.

2. You are eating healthier, lower-cholesterol, natural yolks with more beta-carotene.

3. You are not supporting those sad tortured chickens in tiny cages managed by industrial farms out for a profit.

4. You reduce your risk of getting sick from those nasty commercial eggs.

Finding local eggs can be difficult depending on where you live.

Finding healthy local eggs is even more of a challenge.

How do you know that the person who owned those chickens wasn’t feeding them genetically modified grains, antibiotic feed, or Wonder bread? You just have to ask questions, or better yet, go and see the farm for yourself.

If they have nothing to hide then they shouldn’t deny you access. Most people would be happy to give you a tour if they know you are eating their chickens’ eggs and therefore supporting their existence.

Finding local eggs was very easy for me when I lived in Pennsylvania. Finding local eggs is very difficult for me where I live now.

You can find natural food stores but beware of industries trying to masquerade as healthy, friendly companies. There’s a market for this, people. There’s a reason that gluten-free products and Whole Foods are so expensive–because there is money to be made from people who are trying to eat better.

Your local eggs should come directly from a farm (meaning YOU get them directly from the farm, not Whole Foods) or from a small local store that carries eggs from local farmers. The farmer’s name and contact information should be directly on the carton. And don’t be afraid if these cartons are mismatched or seemingly from Giant—farmers recycle donated egg boxes to save themselves from having to purchase any.

Commercial eggs completely gross me out now and I don’t trust the United States Department of Agriculture to tell me what’s good and what’s not when it comes to eggs.

Cooking the Eggs

Let’s have a look at the inside of these eggs, shall we?

I was so grossed out by this commercial egg that I couldn’t even bear the thought of putting it in my beloved cast iron. I had to borrow a Teflon pan to cook this sucker

Commercial Egg

Looks like a normal, American egg, right? And it is! From a sick hen who was not allowed to live a natural life and confined to a cafe. Look at that bright yellow yolk. And then compare it to this:

Farm Egg

Can you see how much darker in color these yolks are? Natural, really healthy chicken yolks from local eggs are very dark orange. That’s because they are chock-full of beta-carotene and other healthy vitamins.

Naturally lower in cholesterol, these eggs have really firm yolks that are difficult to break and they tend to stick together after they are broken. Look at them after I broke the yolks (because I can’t stand my yolks runny!)

Farm Eggs Yolk

And then let’s look at our disgusting commercial egg after the yolk has been broken and the Teflon has fried it to a crisp:

Commercial Egg Yolk

Eww, it just runs right out of there. The egg’s shell is brittle, the yolk and egg white are thin and runny, and the yolk is bright yellow. Sounds like a pretty sick hen to me. No way was I putting that in my cast iron.

So obviously I made two of the local eggs because they are delicious and healthy so I ate them. I am very sorry for wasting this commercial egg, I figure if the chicken went through all that suffering and sickness to provide this one egg, I should eat it right? But alas, I cannot.

Do a little bit more thinking the next time you buy your eggs. Lots of unhealthy chickens depend on your purchases. You can make a difference if you stop buying! You’re one person, but so am I! Together we can influence, educate, and change. Buy local eggs!

4 Legitimate Reasons to Stop Being Speciesist Right Now

The word speciesist comes from speciesism, which is the assumption that you as a human are superior to animals.

This assumption has led people to do awful things, including animal testing, factory farming, and keeping wild animals in captivity.

Being speciesist separates you from the innate connection you share with the world. You and every animal, plant, and other life forms have something in common—you share life together on this planet.

Here are four legitimate reasons to stop being speciesist.

1. Animals Have Feelings

If you’ve ever had a pet, you know that animals have feelings.

They feel pain and sorrow. They feel excitement and joy. Many thrive with companions, others love to be solitary. You don’t need to be a scientist to recognize and understand that these majestic creatures feel.

Animals feel scared. They feel threatened. They feel happy and loved. Although you can’t always communicate to an animal how you’re feeling with words, you can by your actions.

2. We Are Not Superior

Ok seriously, how are you superior to some of the most beautiful and intelligent creatures on this planet? This turtle has been around for 150 million years and can hold its breath for five hours.

Your ancestors existed for what, 6 million years and you can eat a Big Mac? Big woop.

How can we be superior to other life forms when we all share the same life and planet? When you become conscious of the life that you are, you realize that you are superior to nothing and to no one. You are one with all life. We are not superior.

3. Become Conscious of Your Impact

When you stop being speciesist, you begin to understand more about your impact on the world.

If you are not superior, you must be the same. If you are the same, then how can you show such disregard for a life that you share with other species?

Recognize that others are impacted by your presence. The planet is impacted by your presence. Forget about being better or more or superior, be one. Realize how huge your impact is and what a difference you can make simply by shifting your worldview and making a conscious choice not to support animal torture.

4. Create a Better World

You don’t need to be in a position of power to make an impact.

For example, the food you buy. Where is it coming from? Is it from places that treated their animals with love and care? Is it from a place that began dismembering the animal before it was even dead?

The purchases you make have a huge impact on the planet. The realization that you are no better than other life forms changes the way you perceive and interact with the world. We can make a better world when we stop being speciesist.

Are You Speciesist?

Since we have a right to be humans, animals have a right to be animals too. Even bugs. Are you speciesist? Let’s find out:

  • Do you discriminate against other life forms that you perceive to be lower than you?
  • Do you smash beetles or spiders when you see them for no reason?
  • Do you never stop to pick up worms when they absently crawl onto pavement and sidewalks after a healthy rain?
  • Do you buy products that were tested on animals?
  • Do you think it’s totally fine to torture and kill animals for the sake of pharmaceutical products?
  • Do you believe that animals were made for people?
  • Do you believe it’s ok for animals to be used for entertainment purposes?

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you are probably speciesist. Being speciesist is being prejudiced against other life forms.

Why should we treat animals differently? Why should we discriminate against different kinds of animals?  People also have a right to their opinions, but consider how you impact others and the planet.

Give animals a little leniency. Be aware of your behavior as well as the animal’s behavior. I get that some people have had bad experiences with animals that they testify to. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge and we should love and accept all animals and creatures without smashing them upon first sight or assuming they’re aggressive without giving them a chance.

Wouldn’t you do the same with people?

10 Foods You Should Never Eat (Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You)

Let’s have a conversation about foods you should never eat.

Everyone is talking about food these days, it seems. Do this diet, avoid this food. Bash Gwyneth Paltrow for saying she’d rather die than feed her children Cup-A-Noodles.

You agree with her, right?

Besides examining Cup-A-Noodles, let’s look at a few foods that I will, with good reason, advise you to avoid. Here are 10 foods you should never eat.

1. Artificial Sweeteners

Splenda. Equal. Sweet’N Low. Truvia.

Think these are natural? Read the ingredients.

Then look those ingredients up, because you won’t know what they are.

Basically, just avoid anything that says “Sugar-Free”, “Low-Fat”, “Light”, or “Diet”. These products remove sugar or fat but then bulk up on sodium or artificial sweeteners to replace the flavor.

Artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer and are definitely among the top foods you should never eat. Want something without added sugar? Eat an apple.

2. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Ah, the fun that is GMOs.

This food could be anything from Tostitos (corn and soy are the biggest producers of GMO crops) to cheese.

Why cheese?

Because the cows that you get your milk from are getting GMOs too (they are unnaturally fed corn, which is why they are sick and on antibiotics, which is why YOU will get sick and end up on antibiotics).

GMOs are in almost everything, which makes it hard to put on the list for foods you should never eat.

Genetically modified food is huge in the United States, but don’t let that be your reason to buy it. The DNA of the food is artificially altered and it’s going into your body. Your body has been processing normal, real food for thousands and thousands of years.

Genetically modified food may look like real food, but the fakeness of it will corrupt your body’s health and end up in your baby’s bloodstream.

3. Non-Organic Produce

I do love organic food but don’t quite consider it to be as luscious as the food you grow yourself.

I view it as the lesser of two evils because they’re still using pesticides on it, they just aren’t the same pesticides that they’re using on non-organic food.

Plus, I hate the way non-organic apples look shiny, like some poor girl’s lips in a Cover Girl commercial (can you say animal testing? Someone please tell Taylor Swift that she’s advocating for animal suffering). That’s not natural.

Organic food also tastes better—bananas, apples, spinach, blueberries—and current regulations prohibit GMOs if it’s organic. It’ll spoil sooner, but it tastes like food is supposed to taste and FYI, rotting food is completely natural. You shouldn’t be putting anything into your body that won’t eventually rot.

4. High Fructose Corn Syrup

But you love it! Right?

It’s in sodas, candies, ice cream, sweet tea, and bread. And there’s more where that came from.

Not only is this GMO (corn, people!) but it’s also a revamped way of making sugar. Manufacturers can use less high fructose corn syrup than sugar and achieve even more sweetness.

The problem? It’s totally screwing with the way your body processes insulin. Hello, diabetes.

5. Sick Animals

Eating sick animals is as simple as picking up a package of hamburger meat at your local supermarket. So put this on your list of foods to never eat.

Where did it come from?

What kind of life did it live?

Was it sick; was it on drugs or hormones?

And even more importantly, what did it eat?

Because you are what you eat. If you’re picking up meat at the grocery store, even if you’re purchasing organic meat or grass-fed meat, consider what it ate, how it lived and died, and what part you play in it.

Local meat is way better.  But be sure to find out just how local it is before buying.

6. Farmed Fish

Again, this just isn’t natural. This is like a children’s book of “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” Imagine a series of farm animals and your child points to the fish and says, “That one! The fish doesn’t live on a farm!”

Well, now it does, Junior.

Farmed fish is unhealthy. They typically live in small areas with lots of other fish, therefore being prone to disease and bacteria. They are also fed… guess what, GMOs.

In what world did fish ever eat corn?

The world in which fish became one of the things on your list for foods you should never eat. Go fishing and do the dirty work yourself, or, if you don’t have time and are still trying to pack in that omega-3, buy wild fish at the store or market.

7. Sugar

Wow, you’re surprised to find this on here, right?

You’re saying, “But you said to avoid artificial sweeteners, not real sweeteners!”

Relax, my friends. I will introduce you to some alternatives that will be your buddies until you put added sugar on your list of foods to never eat for good.

Refined sugar is in cakes, candies, bread, salad dressings, meats, soups, and countless other things.

Try these other options that are less taxing on your body and health:

  • Agave nectar (sweeter than sugar with a lower glycemic index!)
  • Honey
  • Unrefined sugars like coconut nectar or raw organic sugar
  • Maple syrup (REAL maple syrup, NOT Aunt Jemima! She steered you wrong, girl)

Many people argue that sugar and sugar and our bodies process it the same. I would disagree with this, as apples contain fiber that helps your body absorb it over a period of time. This differs from candy where your body gets an instant sugar high.

Swap out refined sugars for more natural ones until you’re ready to kick added sugar and all its toxic effects for good.

8. Artificial Colors, Flavors, and Preservatives

Your body never ate these in the millions of years since humans have been here, so it has no idea what to do with them.

So these are in the foods-you-should-never-eat pile. Just don’t eat them and save yourself a trip to the toilet.

Examples include vanillin (in Hershey’s chocolate), aspartame (in Light Yoplait Yogurt—I told you about the “light”, people!), and BHT (also used in lighter fluid, and, in your frozen chicken nuggets).

9. Hydrogenated and Partially-Hydrogenated Oils (And Refined Oils)

These oils have been heated up to extreme temperatures so that they resemble a material akin to plastic.

Classic example: the hydrogenated oil in Jif peanut butter.

These oils are not naturally occurring at these temperatures and are not healthy when heated to this point. Stick to natural peanut butter and check your other snacks and processed foods for hydrogenated oils.

Other refined oils such as canola oil are often made from GMO crops as well, something we want to avoid.

They can thicken the blood and do other nasty things to your body. Foods you should never eat, meet Jif!

10. Processed Foods

You totally knew this was coming. If it comes in a box, it’s probably not ok, so these are among the foods you should never eat.

If it won’t rot at some point in the near future, it’s probably not benefitting your health. Stick to the produce section of your grocery store, and if you want to splurge, go for organic fresh fruit or organic dark chocolate.

Or, if you really must, eat healthy 90% of the time and then have your damn Cup-A-Noodles on the side.

Eating healthy is not that hard. Yes, of course, it’s an adjustment. However, it’s an adjustment that’s a huge investment to your health and will make you feel better. You’ll also be supporting a healthier planet and world by not buying toxic substances and then putting them into your body. Happy eating! 🙂

5 Reasons to Avoid Animal Testing That Will Help Create a Better Planet

If you’re looking for reasons to avoid animal testing, you’ve come to the right place.

Animal testing kills 100 million animals each year. Before you begin to say that these animals would overpopulate the planet if left alive, let me assure you that many of these animals are specifically bred for animal testing purposes.

Not only is animal testing inaccurate and unreliable, it’s completely unethical. Animals like those in the pictures you see here are tortured so you can have mascara that won’t make you go blind or perfume that won’t cause skin rashes.

It’s not just the cosmetics industry—cleaning products, pharmaceutical drugs, even food is tested on animals. There are so many reasons to avoid animal testing. Here are five of them.

1. It Saves Countless Animals

These are just a few of the animals that are used in animal testing:

  • Rabbits
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Birds
  • Monkeys
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Mice

When you stop buying products that support animal testing, you are saving these animals from a life of pain and torture. Imagine your dog or cat being injected with a carcinogenic drug just so researchers can see what happens.

Look at what happens to innocent animals who are subjected to toxic substances so we can enjoy things like makeup, cleaning products, and drugs.

animal testing

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel like I’m responsible for that. The truth is, you’re responsible every time you pick up a tube of Crest toothpaste, spray your house with Febreeze, or put Neosporin in your grocery cart.

Anything that you buy at a supermarket has been tested on animals unless noted on the packaging. Here’s how it works: companies are not really about marketing the fact that they’ve tortured puppies and kittens and monkeys to bring you this “wonderful” product that they’ve made. So, if the product has been tested on animals, it won’t say anything about animal testing on the packaging.

You can stop being a supporter of the millions of animals that are suffering right now because you didn’t know what else to buy besides Tide.

2. Help Create a More Sustainable Planet

If the company or product does not test on animals, they’ll brag about this fact on the packaging.

Know why?

Because not testing on animals costs a lot more than testing on animals, so the product will be more expensive. Ever wonder why some of your favorite products are so cheap compared to the “natural” brands? It’s because your products have been created at the expense of animals suffering.

Your purchases have an impact on the planet. When you choose to avoid animal testing, you’re not only saving animals but helping to create a more positive planet.

Of all the reasons to avoid animal testing, helping to create a healthier planet is undoubtedly one of the most significant. You can invest in healthier products instead of toxic chemicals that are polluting the earth. You’ll eliminate unnecessary breeding of animals for torture.

You are an essential part of stopping the cycle of animal testing. The more products you buy from companies that test, the more of a supporter you are.

Stop being a supporter. Look at the reasons to avoid animal testing. You can create a better world by making more informed decisions.

3. Be Healthier

If the ingredients in the products we use were natural to begin with, animal testing would not be necessary.

Think about it. If something needs to be tested on animals before you come into contact with it, don’t you feel a little weird about that? The world would be a simpler place if we just used natural products to begin with.

Instead of using lotion filled with toxic artificial fragrance and hormone-disrupting parabens, why not use coconut oil or shea butter? Instead of taking a pharmaceutical drug for blood pressure, why not just eat garlic? Instead of using toxic perfume, why not just use essential oils?

One of the best reasons to avoid animal testing is that you can be healthier by making better choices.

4. Feel Better

Buying (or making your own) products that have not been tested on animals can be challenging.

However,  making your own products can actually be really fun and cultivates self-sustainability. It requires some researching and lots of label reading but compared to how you feel when you find out that you’ve been supporting this industry for years, it feels as light as a feather.

Feel better about what you support and what you put on your body as well as in it. When you’re not taking drugs, chances are you’ll feel better. When you’re not inhaling toxic chemicals, you’ll probably breathe easier.

When you’re looking for reasons to avoid animal testing, consider that you’ll feel better once you stop supporting this industry and choose better, healthier products.

5. Invest in Better Research

There are other methods we can use to ensure our products are safe.

If it’s fine for a mouse it must be fine for a human. Right?

This is not a logical train of thought. Yes, mice and humans are both mammals. However, we share different DNA. How could a creature other than a human dictate whether something is safe for humans?

When you stop supporting animal testing, you help invest in better research. This includes more ethical means of testing if dictated to be necessary, such as in vitro testing. Shouldn’t we use human cells if we’re doing human research?

For those who would argue against the reasons to avoid animal testing by saying that dog eye drops or medications require a dog, think again. Most medical ailments can be treated naturally. For those that can’t, we could utilize alternative testing methods rather than making the animal suffer.

What You can Do

Think you’re not torturing animals?

If you live in the United States and pay taxes, you’re actually contributing about $16 billion towards unethical animal experiments through government-funded research.

Also, if you use any of these products, you’re supporting the animal testing industry with cold hard cash:

  • Windex (anything from SC Johnson tests on animals)
  • Loreal
  • Febreze
  • Dawn
  • Vaseline
  • Lysol
  • Arm & Hammer
  • Snuggle
  • Tide
  • Rimmel
  • Maybelline
  • CoverGirl
  • Noxzema
  • OxyClean
  • Nair
  • Orange Glo
  • Trojan condoms
  • Clorox
  • Glad
  • Pine Sol
  • Soft Scrub
  • Speed Stick
  • Colgate
  • Palmolive
  • Softsoap
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Band-Aid
  • Bengay
  • KY
  • Neosporin
  • Neutrogena
  • Garnier
  • Purell
  • Kleenex
  • Cottonelle
  • Huggies
  • Kotex
  • Pull-Ups
  • Playtex
  • Lancome
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Gain
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Gillette
  • Listerine
  • Crest
  • Mr. Clean
  • Old Spice
  • Puffs
  • Secret

This is not a comprehensive list. This list goes on and on. For a more comprehensive list, check here. For a list of companies that don’t test on animals, click here.

When you’re looking for products that have not been tested on animals, you need to look for a label that says, “Not Tested on Animals.”

Some products say they are “Cruelty-Free”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have not been tested on animals. It could mean that they still test but consider their animal testing techniques to be “humane”. You should always question and ask the company if you need to!

Also, some companies are “parent” companies, meaning bigger, more unethical brand names such as Unilever own brands that would otherwise appear to be ok such as Seventh Generation.

It’s a jungle out there, am I right?

But you can do this.

Let’s consider the reasons to avoid animal testing next time we make a purchase. It’s so important for our health, our planet, and our animals. Thank you for considering the reasons to avoid animal testing!