Dear blog readers,

I’m currently taking part in the TD Go Green Challenge!  Please take a look at our video and if you like it – please vote!

http://www.tdgogreenchallenge.com/video/id/100/playid/100

Thanks and I really appreciate your help!

Alex

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April 22nd is an Earth Day and I will be helping out with the event at a local school.  I was asked to come dressed nicely, and I realized that I do not have any nice dress shoes…meaning – shopping for some new vegan shoes!

At first I searched my friend internet and found many great options, but I did not like an idea of purchasing shoes without first trying them on.  Some of the places selling great non-leather shoes are AlternativeOutfitters.com, Mooshoes.com, and even E-Bay!

But I decided to try my luck at Payless shoe source.  I remember a couple of years ago I was really sceptical about that store, because my mom always told me that leather shoes are the best and all other are uncomfortable and don’t last very long.  Most shoes Payless carries are made from natural of man-made materials, and without them realizing it – Payless becomes the best vegan-shoe store in Toronto :).  I have also checked out Left Feet but they only carry four or five women’s shoes – not much choice.

Anyhow, I have bought these two fabulous pairs:

Numero Uno:

This one is my favourite – that’s what I will be wearing for the Earth Day 🙂 Contrary to what my mother told me, these are super comfortable, light, and of course – super cute. 

Pair 2:

This is the most comfortable sandal I have ever tried on, so all the myths about the non-leather shoes have been debunked for me.

And for the most part, I don’t really care how pretty the shoes are, the most important thing is that no animal was killed (I hope) to make those shoes for me.  If you still think that leather is an innocent by-product of the meat industry – think again – either see Earthlings, or listen to Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast about Leather (The link is in the right-hand side column). You will be surprised about what you hear..

I just wanted to let you know about the Bugs Without Borders organization, which educates children about the importance of animals, especially insects and reptiles. You should definitely check it out and if you happen to have kids and live in Toronto why not even sign them up for the Bugs Camp?

In my opinion, it is of great importance that children start appreciating our natural world from when they are very young. If they develop a deep connection with nature they will be able to keep it throughout their life and share it with many more people around them. Children growing up in our modern urban societies don’t have as much interaction with nature and wild animals, which may make them indifferent to our global environmental problems. That’s why programs like these are so important and valuable.

Throughout their camp experience children will learn and interact with animals from various families such as Insects, Amphibians, Reptiles, Arachnids, and many more! How amazing is that!?

Bugs without borders also offers educational programs to schools as well as corporate and private events. Next week I will be helping out with one of their many events during the Earth Day, I’ll let you know how it goes!

P.S. Even if you don’t live in Toronto, there are various science summer camps which teach kids about our amazing flora and fauna, so don’t miss out 😉

Too bad I am not writing this post fresh from the memory, I have seen this documentary about three weeks ago. I think if I wrote this the day after, it would have been more emotional, but I just couldn’t get to it with all the exams.

I thought I would never watch this movie, but I wanted to show it to students at my University, to expose horrible things done to animals by industries and groups around the world. A friend, who was helping me organize this movie night, told me this one thing that made me watch Earthlings:

“If animals live and die in these horrible conditions and they experience all these terrible things, then the least we could do is watch and understand. If it is so hard and impossible to watch, imagine how it is for the animals…”

And also, since people came to see the movie which I was showing, it kind of looked bad on me to go away for 2 hours and come back for discussion not knowing what those people have seen.

And so I watched it. The movie focused on four areas of our exploitation of animals: Food, Pets, Clothing, Entertainment. Emotionally, it was very hard to watch, people were crying, and few of them left after the Food part. I have kept my eyes on the floor for the most part of it, for me listening was enough. Hard enough, that I could not listen to the parts about veal slaughter and fur and had to leave the room.

Indeed, this has been the most revealing, emotional, and most influential films of all times. If this doesn’t make people think about how we treat animals, nothing will (of course, if only they experience the slaughterhouses, fur farms, and dairy farms themselves). After the movie we have done a discussion session where people asked my friend (who is the best animal activist and a long-time vegan I know) all the questions such as: If I buy meat from organic farms is it better? But we are meant to eat meat!, etc. But for me, a statement by one of the non-vegan-non-vegetarian audience members that I remember the most was:

“Even though I love meat and think that we are supposed to eat meat I am ready to sacrifice it because of how the animals are treated in modern-day farms.”

Personally, I do not agree with statement that we need to eat meat, but it helps to understand that the issue is so important that being exposed to animal abuse even through a documentary is able to change one man’s life in one night.

Dan Piraro is my favourite cartoonist (not that I know many) and as it turns out he’s also a great speaker.  Below is a video of him explaining some of his best cartoons:

You can view many of Dan’s cartoons on www.bizzaro.com, but below I present to you a few of those:

In my opinion, through his cartoons, Dan is able to efficiently communicate some of the most important animal rights issues we have in our world at the present moment.  One picture is worth a thousand words.  Thanks Dan!

As you may or may not know, I am also a fitness freak, and because of my passion for healthy and active living I teach aerobics classes, trying to inspire people to be active and have fun while doing it. 

I teach at various locations, but on Tuesday evenings I have taught a Turbo Kick class at York University, and let me tell you that was a blast!  All the girls were soooo energetic, so inspiring, so motivated, that sometimes I was wondering who is pushing who 🙂  Not only we were having fun and working hard, we’ve also helped the children of Haiti raising 160$ for the Plan Canada.

The last class of the year, we’ve selebrated by making a video of us all Turboing the hell out, which you may see below!

I’d like to thank everyone who may see this post for coming out and staying active with me, and I wish you all the luck in your future – stay healthy, happy, loved, and whatever you do – always have fun doing it! Remeber stress is responsible for 90% of all illnesses – like that song says: Too, too-to, to-do-do-do-do-do-do, don’t worry, be happy 🙂

I have mentioned the Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast a few times before and there is a good reason for it. First of all, if you haven’t heard of podcasts before, they are kind of like a radio shows which are not really aired on the radio, so you can listen to them any time of the day using your mp3 player. The easiest way to download them is to use iTunes, if you have iPod or will listed to them on your computer. If you have another mp3 player then it will make sense to download the mp3 files directly from the podcast producer. Oh yeah, and they are all FREE.

I have accidentally discovered the podcasts on iTunes, without ever hearing about them before last October. When looking through the Health and Lifestyle I saw a Vegan Freak Radio as being one of the top 10 podcasts in this category. So that was the first Vegan podcast I started listening to. For a new vegan, this kind of information media is really important and helpful, as you are not feeling alone or as an outsider anymore because you are listening to people who have the same beliefs as you do. Now, I love Vegan Freak Radio as well but I was really disappointed after I became a subscriber for their show, sent them an e-mail, and in the period of about 4/5 months they have not produced a single podcast, not updated their home page, and have never replied me back. And once again I love them and all…but this is just rude to your subscribers.

A little bit later, as I was searching for more podcasts with a veg theme, I found the Vegetarian Food for Thought made by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau who is the founder of Compassionate Cooks. I was a little skeptic at first, as I thought that the podcast is all vegetarian and will probably look at food and stuff, but I listened anyway. After a few shows, I was a changed person. Colleen speaks to her listeners in a very inspiring, compassionate, and caring voice discussing various topics such as Being a joyful Vegan, Calcium, Cheese and Dairy, Leather, Eggs, Wool, and anything that a vegetarian, vegan, or anyone considering evolving into this kind of lifestyle might be interested in hearing. She also reads short stories, or excerpts from famous and not-so-famous books on animals and human relationships with animals and one-another. In the beginning of every podcast you will hear a motivational story of one of the podcast supporters writing about their lifestyle change and you will find yourself relating to almost every one of the cases.

So, how has it changed me, or how did I become a better person, you will ask. Colleen has taught me to stay calm, educated, and caring no matter what I am going through and no matter what is happening around me. She has taught me to answer questions about veganism in such a way as not to push people away and inspire them to find out more about what is going on in the animal and human rights world. She has inspired me to act on behalf of all animals, and since I have started a Vegetarian Association at YorkU, volunteered for Toronto Vegetarian Association, as well as applied for internships at various Animal Sanctuaries and Refuges.

I thank her with all my heart and recommend everyone to let Colleen inspire you to make this world better for all animals, both human and non-human!

P.S. You may click on the picture to the left of this post to go to the Vegetarian Food for thought Podcast web-page.