We’re all guilty of making New Year’s resolutions we abandon two weeks into the new year: those promises to go to the gym five days a week and lose 20 pounds by Feb. 1; our pledges to stop watching so much television before we binge-watch three entire T.V. series in one weekend on Netflix.
Or is that just me?
Here at Friends of Animals, we have found a commitment to being kind to animals is the most rewarding one you can make. So in 2017, let’s pledge, together, to make it one of the best years ever for animals. Here are 10, mostly simple (not always easy, mind you) resolutions that—if followed—will make a meaningful difference for animals. And guess what? You don’t have to diet or take a yoga class or give up your addiction to "House of Cards"!
#1 TRY BEING VEGAN
We know that many of our members at Friends of Animals are not vegan or vegetarian, and we also know that all of us share a passion for animals. Eating a plant-based diet is the most effective way to stop animal exploitation—our mission at Friends of Animals. Instead of tackling eating habits in an all-or-nothing approach, which for many is a set-up for failure, start by dipping your toes into the vegan waters. Begin by making a commitment to a few vegan meals each week. We have two cookbooks for sale in the back of Action Line. Every time you go to the grocery store, try a new plant-based` substitute for one of your favorite indulgences like ice cream, cream cheese, deli meats, etc.
You can also start making many of your own staples (we recommend The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner). Many mistakenly think that going vegan means sacrificing foods, when in reality you are opening yourself to all sorts of new food! Download our Vegan Starter Guide at www.friendsofanimals.org.
#2 GET INVOLVED IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
One reason our members reach out to us is to ask for help in stopping animal exploitation that’s happening in their respective communities. When animal issues are on the local agenda—whether it’s about letting a circus come to town or voting on a proposed hunt by a wildlife agency wedded to hunters (yes the agencies get funding from selling hunting permits)—it’s important to show up at city and town council meetings or county commission meetings. Even though there are far more people who want to protect wildlife than those who want to destroy it, they do not always take action. Recreational hunting interests have big mouths.
#3 VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Friends of Animals took over management of Texas-based Primarily Primates in 2007, and since that time we have developed an extensive volunteer program. People come to chop produce, create enrichment opportunities for our residents; some assist in building climbing structures and put their carpentry skills to good use. We have volunteers who help us with data-entry and even fundraising.
Animal sanctuaries could not survive without the help of volunteers, and it’s a great, hands-on way to make a difference for animals (and make new friends in the process). Chances are, there’s an animal sanctuary in your community that needs you.
#4 LEND A HAND AT YOUR LOCAL SHELTER
My very first volunteer job as an adult was at a local humane society, where I spent part of my Sundays taking shelter dogs for walks. Not only did I give dogs respite from the confines and stress of the noisy shelter, but I got a lot of exercise in the process. Regardless of one’s skill-set(s), there’s really something for everyone.
#5 BE A VOICE FOR ANIMALS
One of the simplest—and effective—ways to be a voice for animals is to keep your pen and paper handy. Which is to say, write! Respond to news stories. Whether it’s a local
or national newspaper, magazine or online publication, there are limitless opportunities to be a positive voice for animals. Newspapers usually have word limits for letters to the editor or op-eds, so stick to facts and pack a punch. You can find a lot of useful information about animal issues on
our website, www.friendsofanimals.org.
#6 THROW A PARTY!
After you’ve mastered some plant-based cuisine and found some recipes you adore, it’s time to share the love—and vegan lasagna! Invite friends over for a vegan dinner party, and help spread the message of compassion. Some tips: Make your favorite recipes; don’t make a big deal about
the food being vegan (in fact, you don’t even have to tell them until after they’ve raved about your amazing risotto). If a friend asks about something on the menu, explain that you’ve been experimenting with a plant-based diet and recommend the cookbook you used.
#7 CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES
Hopefully, you’re doing that anyway…but, seriously, consider changing what you wear. Clothing made from animals causes enormous suffering; this includes fur, wool, down, leather, cashmere and more. These days, there are synthetics and natural fabrics like canvas, cotton, “future leather” and even textiles made from recycled products like plastic bottles, so it’s easy to eschew animals used as clothing. You don’t have to get rid of everything you own and replace it, either. But when your pair of leather shoes falls apart, replace them with a synthetic. Next time you need a winter jacket, buy something without down or fur trim.
Learn more about how animals are exploited by the apparel industry on our website, www.friendsofanimals.org.
#8 LET GO OF THE NOTION OF THE PERFECT YARD
Human overpopulation—which goes hand-in-hand with over development—is one of the most important issues of the modern era. We’re crowding out wild animals and destroying their habitats and homes with our insistence on occupying and developing every square inch of land. Allow
some of your lawn and/or garden area to go wild, as trees, bushes and undergrowth can be habitat for many kinds
of animals. Eliminating all pesticides and making native plants a part of your landscape will also go a long way to attracting and protecting wildlife.
#9 JUST SAY NO TO ANIMAL TESTING
Sadly, millions of products are still tested on animals. What makes this even more confusing is that many products say “cruelty-free,” but still contain animal ingredients. We wish this issue weren’t so confusing, but it is! In 2017, vow to make sure your household products aren’t tested
on animals and don’t contain animal ingredients either. Brands such as Seventh Generation, Method, Mrs. Meyers and many more offer great products that are easy to find (and won’t break the bank). Many labels now say “vegan” or “contains no animal ingredients” in addition to claiming to be “cruelty-free,” so make sure to read the label.
#10 CONNECT WITH US!
One of the best things you can do is to get more involved— and support our work—at Friends of Animals. You are reading this piece because you are a champion of the work that we do—together. Make a commitment to get more involved. Make sure to follow us on social media and engage with our programs. There are always ways we can work together to make 2017—and beyond—the best time for animals yet. And please consider making a commitment to Friends of Animals by making us a part of your personal philanthropy. If you haven’t made your year-end donation, please do so now