Do You Buy Animal Cruelty When You Shop?

Do you buy animal cruelty when you shop?

So, here I am, shopping in my local supermarket. (it doesn’t matter too much where you live in the world, there is not that much difference between supermarkets).

OK. Let’s get it done and get out of here fast!

I should mention at this stage that vegetarian is not cruelty free.

First pass the fruit & veg aisle. So far so good.

Then through the meat aisle. As a vegetarian, I fast forward along here because obviously animals have to be killed to get meat.

Please don’t be taken in by any ‘humane slaughter’ hype. It is misleading in the extreme.

Anyway, there are so many meat analogues such as “Quorn”, “Linda McCartney” etc that I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out on my meat & gravy fix.

We’re now heading up the chilled aisle.

Oh dear, this is where I really struggle. Milk, margarine, cheese, yoghurt etc.

Margarine is easy to get in dairy-free (vegan) versions but its easy to wrongly assume that products you might initially assume are vegan, are actually not vegan.

For example, some olive spreads contain buttermilk.

I don’t make this mistake now by looking for the Vegan symbol and noting brand name and location for future shops.

Note that product locations can occasionally change but not very often.

I use the brand name technique because this is clearly displayed. That way I can speed-shop without spending valuable time looking at every product.Cheese is becoming a lesser problem for me now due to ongoing taste tests. I love my cheeses, especially blue cheese!

Many cheeses are vegetarian as long as they do not contain rennet, (which is made from the stomach of slaughtered calves).

However, although you don’t have to kill cows, sheep or goats to get the milk, the conditions in which they are farmed is cruel, despite what the adverts imply.

Also when the animal gets past it’s unnatural optimum production it is cruelly slaughtered. They are sent to the same slaughterhouses that meat animals are sent to. These slaughterhouses are terribly cruel and cannot be justified in this day and age. Indeed, during research for my Animal Welfare website, I decided to become a vegetarian as a consequence of what I saw and am now progressing on the way to my ultimate goal of being cruelty free.

So, we are still progressing down the chilled aisle and it is a similar story for yoghurt and all products that contain products derived from an animal.

The good news is we are starting to make progress on cruelty free chilled products.

Take cruelty free cheese for example, despite the fact that one or two cheeses remain that taste awful (think wood filler mixed with vinegar), there are a growing number of cheeses that are surprisingly good according to a growing number of high-profile chefs.

Milk is already well ahead in the cruelty free race. “Alpro” is one of the more established products but my personal favourite is almond milk. Delicious on cornflakes!

It is important to realise that we all have differing tastes and preferences whatever food product we are looking for and this applies just the same with cruelty free products.

Please give animals a chance and try not to make snap decisions that cruelty free products are awful if you happen to initially choose a product not to your liking.

Give a different product a try next time and I’m sure you will find something you’ll really like, (Linda McCartney pies have fooled many meat-eaters!)

So we’ve survived the chilled aisle and not hurt any animals so we can now happily breeze along the washing powder and cleaning products.

Well they don’t kill animals for washing powder do they? Unfortunately yes. It’s called Vivisection and the intention was to make sure that you were not subjected to harmful ingredient reactions by testing these products on trapped animals. Such tests are conducted in the worst scenarios that you could ever possibly imagine.

The way to not hurt animals in these aisles is to look for the leaping bunny logo. You can see what the Leaping Bunny logo looks like on the internet.Be wary of products that state that they have not been tested on animals. That will be true but the ingredients may well have been tested on animals.

The Leaping Bunny logo is provided as an assurance scheme that the product involves no animal cruelty.

The checkout is in sight but we’ve got to pass the freezer aisle where they keep the frozen fish.

Yes, seafood is another area where I really struggle on my path towards cruelty free and I’ve not found an alternative yet so I will have to report on that in future articles.

Then past the medicines aisle. As I said with seafood, this is a tough area and I will have to report back on this issue as well.

As you can see I have a long way to go but I’m steadily climbing the learning curve. There are many helpful resources freely available online. You just need a slight change of mindset to get the most out of them but I promise you its worth the minimal effort.

I have attempted to draw your attention to the adverse effects on animals your shopping may have but there are proven health benefits and significant sustainability issues that can be addressed by following a cruelty free lifestyle.

So, next time you shop remember that it is a win-win situation when you start on the road to cruelty free.

Animal Abuse – Help Stop it While You Shop!

Charities that seek to save and protect animals are often grossly underfunded. Many of them rely solely on donations, without which more and more animals are left mistreated or neglected. I wanted to make a difference by contributing a donation of my own. A simple search for “charity animals” yielded over 9 million results on Google.

The list was exhausting. To make matters worse, I found that many of the organizations didn’t even accept individual donations, only membership. These memberships cost an exorbitant amount that is, sadly, beyond my price range, much as I would love to contribute so much to such a vital cause. Searches for “pet donations” and “animal help” only yielded similar results. Finally, I searched “pet give” and discovered from the very first link provided a simple and reasonable way to help the animals. Instead of outright donations, I could donate money to charitable organizations benefiting animals simply by shopping online. Each time I purchased an item, a charitable organization of my choice would receive a check.It was wonderful to find that these online shopping and donating sites allow you to choose your own charity, ensuring that all the money I helped contribute would go toward animal protection. I thought that choosing a charity would be no problem, since I had already hoped to help mistreated pets and animals. But the list of participating charities supporting animals was much more extensive than I had anticipated. Most of these sites only allow you to choose just one charity, a task that proves quite difficult since each seems more worthy than the next. Each time I visited a charitable site, my heart was instantly warmed. Many feature stories of animal maltreatment by detailing individual experiences. Seeing the faces of those helpless animals right next to their own personal tales of horror was very affecting and moved me to register on more than one site. In most cases, registering was easier than I had anticipated; only requiring a name, email address, and password. The system itself was effortless, too.

All I had to do was shop, and the store automatically reported it back to the online shopping donation site with which I had registered that particular charity. I confirmed that the charity received a check from the site soon after.

At first, I had reservations about registering on these sites, expecting to find only a few local participating stores. In fact, I thought that the only stores that would register to make a contribution to animal protection and rescue organizations were those affiliated with animals, like those selling animals or pet supplies. Instead, to my surprise, most of these donation sites offered an extensive, wide-ranging list of participating stores, including Barnes & Noble and Best Buy. I was so excited to start shopping and donating that it was a bit of a disappointment to find that these sites only offer donations with online purchases. Of course, if I’m going to shop online anyways, why not turn each online shopping spree into charity? If these donation sites can make shopping a selfless experience, I’m all for it.I was also surprised to find that the percentage donated with each purchase was more significant than I had expected. Granted, some stores offer only minimal donations with every purchase, but overall I found the stores to be quite generous. Some sites even offer the additional bonus of exclusive coupons for participating stores, making me more inclined to shop there at all.

All in all, online shopping and donating sites are a great way to donate money to save animals. It’s so important that these animals receive our aid and what better way to give it than by shopping online?

The Fabulous and Exclusive World of Anime Gifts

Watching a good film is something that we all gift ourselves to from time to time, we all have our favourite genres of films, it might be the latest Hollywood blockbuster, an English horror film or a french film noir. One of the least mainstream types of film called anime films are films many of us would have never heard of before, but they have become hugely popular with enthusiasts.

What is Anime? It is simply a hand drawn or digitally designed cartoon, it is an abbreviation of the word animation. It is used to describe a story telling animation that is full of colour, fantasy, exciting characters, with a mix of cinematography. As a whole it gives the viewer a gift of sense experience with a kaleidoscope of colour and features.

The term originates in Japan, when the first type of this animation appeared in the early part of the 20th century. It became very popular in 1960s when the first series, ‘Otogi manga’ was aired from 1961 to 1964, since then this style of cartoon and film has become even more popular than ever.The word ‘manga’ is closely associated with anime as manga are comic books and graphic novels with the same story lines, characters and visuals that are then made into films. The manga style was actually developed in Japan around the end of the 19th century. Manga was around before the launch of anime and covers a whole range of ideas; from action-adventure, horror, science fiction and fantasy and even sports or romance.

There are now over 430 design studios producing this type of animation. Many of the studios are organised into trade associations. The average episode can cost anywhere between $100,000 to $300,000 to produce and on even larger productions some film studios work together to share the work and the huge cost of the productions.

Although only making up a small amount of the Japanese film market, this type of film is now the biggest market within the Japan DVD and Blu-ray sector. As a genre it contributed to over 70% of sales within the market in the same year. The highest grossing film hit a hugely impressive figure of $330million.

Within the world of Anime there are varying types of films that are aimed at different parts of society. There are children specific films, female genres films, male genres films and adult specific where the plot is slower and more complex.

The popularity of these films are shown in the music that accompanies the opening and closing credits, they are produced and written by reputable bands that sometimes produce the music with a specific film or series in mind.

During the 1980s and 1990s in America this type of film made its way to TV audiences, in current times many children growing up all over the world have come across this type of animation. Anime has to be licensed by other countries in order to be deemed legal and some of these licenses can be very expensive, however within the US alone the market was valued at just under $3 billion dollars.Obviously when things start to become popular in countries like the USA, they start to spread to the rest of the western world and now it is a global business. You can watch films, buy gifts associated to these films and even dress as the characters.

Conventions are held all over the world celebrating this style of film and graphic novels, with people dressing up in various costumes and characters get to meet similar fans, industry leaders, trade stories or buy gifts from their favourite films.

Gifts can also be purchased online through various outlets, so for those that cannot make these gatherings you can still buy gifts of your favourite films, comics and characters from the comfort of your own home.

The Wonderful World of Pixel Art – Animated GIFs and Free Emoticons

The internet is a huge place. By its very nature it’s home to an almost infinite amount of weird and wonderful interests and pursuits that most of us probably don’t even now exist. With its sheer size and user-generated content, it’s a place full of discovery that panders to every human whim, fancy, and interest. One of these is the wonderful, quirky, and often adorable world of pixel art.

Let’s cover the basics: what is pixel art? Pixels are the tiny little squares used to make every image on your computer screen, and can be used to make tiny animations in .gif format. You can make these yourself in programmes like Corel Photo-Paint, or more specific programmes like Jasc’s Animation Shop. Many, particularly younger people, will be familiar with some of the uses of pixel art. Emoticons, anikaos, and animated GIFs are all examples of basic pixel art used on forums, MySpace, and Windows Live Messenger as a means of aiding expression in an essentially text-based form of communication, as well just simply for fun. Emoticons are perhaps the most widely used and searched for.

A range of emoticons come as standard with Live Messenger and most forums. These tend to be your basic set of emoticons to cover the main emotions and actions expressed while chatting. Many websites however offer more advanced and diverse emoticons in varying sizes and shapes, some even with sound. The latter tend to frequent more on pay-sites. There are though far more user-generated emoticons on the net, and are frequently exchanged between users of Messenger – which allows you to add and save emoticons used by others.While emoticons are by far the most popular in the west, their eastern counterparts ‘anikaos’ (pronounced ani-cows, meaning literally ‘animated faces’ in Japanese) are becoming more and more popular as interest in Japanese popular culture continues to grow. Anikaos are typically floating spherical blobs bobbing up and down with a cute face depicting any number of emotions and actions. They tend to be used more on forums and are incredibly diverse, ranging from generic white blobs to household animals, peas, and characters from anything between Star Wars and Dragonball-Z. The user-generated nature of anikaos, like most pixel art, means their diversity and numbers continue to multiply.

Yet, beyond the world of communication-aiding emoticons and anikaos, the possibilities are even more varied. People can make literally anything they want in miniature using pixel art – and they do. People love to have things made tiny and love to use them on their websites, MySpace pages, and on Messenger.

A very popular form pixel art at the moment is animated GIFs of Nintendo and Sega characters from the ’80s and ’90s such as Mario, Kirby, Link, and Sonic the Hedgehog recreated exactly from the 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit games on which they appeared. The current craze for all things retro, especially in gaming, is certainly adding fuel to this. Particularly with girls, animated GIFs of the characters Hello Kitty and Pucca Love are also extremely popular, and can be found on many a MySpace page. Hello Kitty and Pucca Love are very cute characters that are used frequently to personalise web pages and make them more attractive.

The fact that both Hello Kitty and Pucca Love have huge merchandising markets ‘offline’ easily explains their popularity in this respect. Likewise with both sexes, Pokemon animated GIFs are extremely popular, particularly on MySpace and gaming sites. The cuteness of many Pokemon characters and the fact they are already computer game sprites makes them perfectly convertable into animated GIFs.

But it doesn’t end simply at branded corporate characters, oh no. There is a whole pixel art culture out there with people creating weird and wonderful designs of their own constantly. Witness blinking cheeseburgers, winking cake slices, a strange beige bob running towards you with a chefs for absolutely no reason at all! The possibilities are endless and quite frequently very, very strange. Very aptly, there seems to be a perfect miniature of the boundless lengths of human creativity contained within this little culture.Mostly, GIFs get passed around in networks fairly randomly, but if you’re actively on the lookout, my advice would be to specifically refine your search. For example if you’re specifically after gaming GIFs, try punching in ‘nintendo animated GIFs’ or ‘super mario animated GIFs’. Many sites with the best GIFs don’t even have domain names, so it pays to be patient. There are sites out there that endeavor to collect GIFs together from around the net, but some are more organised than others and the quality varies from site to site.

A frequent problem is that they just won’t be categorised, making your search difficult. If you find yourself falling in love with this kooky little world, then it doesn’t even end here. Pixel art is not just animated GIFs and emoticons – there are communities out there dedicated to making ‘pixel art for pixel art’s sake’. These people make incredibly high quality pictures and landscapes of such complexity that it takes your breath away. Pixel Joint is a great little community to get involved in if you find yourself going for this more advanced stuff, whether to appreciate or to create. Have fun!