Written for Daily Hive by Jodi Monelle, founder and CEO of global media company LIVEKINDLY. The publication is focused on empowering people to make changes – big or small – in their own lives and learn how their daily actions, really do make a difference in the world.
Looking to make the world a little kinder in 2019? We are, too. Today, the marketplace is ripe with compassionate options in every supermarket aisle or department store counter.
There’s so much you can do, from choosing animal-free entertainment to supporting animal sanctuaries that offer refuge for abused, orphaned, or displaced animals.
We’ve rounded up our top nine tips for going kind. They’re surprisingly easy, and in many cases, delicious, too. What’s your favourite way to spread the compassionate message?
1. Ditch Dairy
Giving up all dairy products might sound scary but it’s quite easy. Most grocery stores carry at least one type of plant milk, whether that’s soy milk or almond milk. But you can also choose from coconut, cashew, macadamia, oat, walnut, rice, hazelnut, banana, and many more. There’s even peanut milk.
You can find a vegan version of just about any yogurt, butter, and cheese these days, too. Vegan ice cream is also no longer as obscure as it once was, either. Big brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Magnum, and Häagen-Dazs are making non-dairy treats.
Opting for dairy-free milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, and ice cream can significantly reduce inflammation in the body as well as decrease your risk of certain types of disease including cancer. It can also reduce your carbon footprint. Cows may appreciate your effort, too. Dairy cows live in captivity much longer than cows killed for beef. Their repeatedly impregnated, have their babies taken away, and can develop painful infections from milking machines.
2. Replace Eggs
There are plenty of good reasons to leave eggs off your plate and opt for a plant-based alternative. Many believe that purchasing eggs does not cost the life of an animal, however, this is not the case. Whether eggs are labeled “cage-free” or otherwise, male chicks are considered useless in the industry. Because of this, they are killed shortly after hatching.
Caged hens are kept in spaces too small to spread even a wing, while the larger enclosures are usually no bigger than a piece of printer paper. Despite the industry’s trend toward being cage-free, many birds suffer from cramped conditions, and most never see daylight.
But you can still enjoy eggs without the chicken. For baking, many choose to use applesauce, mashed banana, silken tofu, or chia seeds. Or, you can try plant-based eggs from vegan brands like Follow Your Heart, JUST, or Spero Foods for omelets, scrambles, and quiches.
3. Go Meat-Free
From vegan “steak” and bleeding “beef” burgers to seitan-chicken and meat-free ham, there’s a vegan meat for every craving – and they really do taste amazing.
Beyond the abundance of delicious alternatives, the reasons for keeping meat off your plate are compelling.
A growing body of science is linking meat-consumption to several life-limiting illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, and depression. By contrast, removing red meat from your diet may improve healthy aging, boost libido, protect against and even reverse serious illness.
Replacing meat is essential to save our planet; the United Nations described tackling meat-eating as the world’s most urgent problem. The biggest cause of ocean dead zones, a significant contributor to climate-warming emissions, and a leading cause of deforestation, environmental protection necessitates a move away from animal agriculture. And you can save the planet without compromising on taste: the popular vegan Beyond Burger, which mimics beef in taste and texture, produces 90 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than beef.
If environmentalism isn’t your thing, perhaps the humanitarian benefits may convince you: if everyone switched to plant-based alternatives, we could sustainably feed ten billion people.
4. Leave Seafood Off the Plate
Did you know that sea creatures feel pain? They can make friends and express emotions. And they also have a survival instinct, just like you and me. By opting not to eat seafood, you could also help to stop overfishing, a practice which could decimate fish populations by 2050.
But it’s not just about animal welfare. In some areas of the world, the fishing industry assists in the exploitation of human beings. In countries such as Myanmar and Thailand, men from some poor villages are often promised well-paid fishing jobs. However, after they board the boats, they are forced to work at sea as slaves for many years “paying off debt.”
By opting for vegan fish alternatives – of which there are many (try a chickpea tuna recipe!) – you are helping to create a kinder world for humans, sealife, and underwater ecosystems.
5. Wear Wool-Free
For too long, the sheep-shearing industry has been pulling the wool over our eyes. Multiple exposés have uncovered aggression and violence in the industry, with sheep being kicked and beaten. When animals suffer injuries, wounds are sewn up without pain relief. Sheep are also subject to mulesing, where pieces of the animals’ hindquarters skin are cut away to prevent flystrike. However, the painful practice often has the opposite effect, attracting flies to the wound and causing distress to the animals.
Luckily, there are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives to sheep’s wool. Organic cotton, hemp, linen, and even more unique materials like bamboo, wood, and seaweed can be used to make clothing or other items. That way, we can leave the wool for the only ones that should be wearing it: sheep.
6. Go Faux With Your Fur
Buying faux fur instead of real fur is one way that you can live a kinder life and help to give back to the animals. Coyotes, minks, and foxes are among the animals raised or hunted and then tortured for their fur. Cramped farm conditions can cause the animals to suffer from both physical health problems and psychological distress.
Whilst a number of European countries — including Norway, Luxembourg, and Belgium — have banned fur farms, the sale of fur from countries where these farms remain is still legal in many places around the world.
However, the good news is there are plenty of faux alternatives on offer! A growing number of brands from Topshop to Stella McCartney are embracing the faux-real feel off synthetic fur. Even Kylie and Kendall Jenner are getting in on the fur-free trend.
By purchasing faux instead of real animal fur, you’re helping the world move toward a cruelty-free, fur-free future.
7. Let Go Of Leather
From shoes and boots to bags, jackets, sofas, car steering wheels, and so much more, leather is so abundant in our lives it’s almost invisible. Except that once you see it for what it really is — the skin of dead animals — it’s not invisible at all. In fact, it can become quite horrific.
More than a billion animals are killed every year for their skins. Most of it comes from China and India, where animal welfare regulations are lacking. Despite India’s love of cows, millions are raised each year for leather, forced to walk for days on end without food or water before being slaughtered.
And unlike other industries, it’s virtually impossible to tell where leather originates. Animals including dogs and kangaroos are also often used for leather production, but consumers are in the dark.
Leather tanning is an intensive and pollutive practice that puts millions of workers at risk from the chemicals. In places like India, community waterways and air can become dangerously polluted by primitive leather industry practices that rely on mineral salts, formaldehyde, and coal-tar derivatives.
But leather is no longer a necessary textile. Vegan leather options are abundant — from synthetics to those made from natural resources such as pineapple, mushroom, and even upcycled plastic “leather.”
8. Go Cruelty-Free
The old adage is true: beauty is on the inside. But sometimes the outsides need a little help. The last thing you may be thinking about when you go to purchase body care or even household items is whether or not these lovely-smelling make-you-clean products were ever torturing an animal. But as hard as that may be to consider, the sad reality is animals are still used as test subjects for a number of industries, namely cosmetics.
But that doesn’t mean you have to use products tested on animals.
From small-batch producers that may only sell in your neighborhood to bigger name brands like Dove and CoverGirl, who both just announced they’re ditching animal testing, cruelty-free options abound.
Why not give your own hand a try at making cruelty-free beauty products? DIY cosmetics and personal care products are easy, fun, and much more affordable than store bought.
9. Adopt Don’t Shop
Any animal lover knows the joy living with companion animals can bring. If you’re considering adding a new animal member to your family, there is one golden rule that should be followed: adopt don’t shop.
Many animal breeders, motivated by profit, do not prioritize the animals’ best interests. Animals kept for breeding – especially in puppy farms and other intensive factory-style facilities – may be inbred, overbred, and not cared for properly, causing long-term health ailments and even death.
By contrast, adopting from a shelter has immeasurable benefits. The best thing about adopting is that you are saving a life, offering a second chance to an animal that may have suffered neglect and abuse. In the United States alone, roughly three million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized each year, simply because there is not enough space for them: animals are entering shelters quicker than they are being rescued from them. When you adopt, you are saving an animal, and also freeing up a much-needed space for another pet-in-need.