Who has seen '73 cows'?
Who knows what Vivi is watching on the television?
This beautiful illustration by Luke Ives is from a scene in the second book of my children's vegan book series - Vivi and the Planet Protector.
I felt so full of hope when I heard the story of Jay Wilde, the first farmer in the UK to transition from beef farming to sustainable organic vegan farming and who donated his entire herd of cows to a sanctuary. We went to visit his herd at Hillside Animal sanctuary in Norfolk and it was incredible to see them there knowing that they were going to live out the rest of their lives in peace. I watched '73 cows' by @lockwoodfilm and felt so inspired by Jay's story that I decided to base a big part of my second story 𝕍𝕚𝕧𝕚 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝕥𝕙𝕖 ℙ𝕝𝕒𝕟𝕖𝕥 ℙ𝕣𝕠𝕥𝕖𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣 on his story...
And so Farmer Mudfoot was born! I recently sent Jay a copy of my new vegan children's book, thanking him for what he did and he replied with such a lovely message and invited us to visit his remaining "17 cows who are living their lives as rescue pets."💚 We look forward to doing that one day.
Let's hope that many other farmers will follow Jay's lead with the transition to farm plants instead of animals! 🙏🏻🌱
Today is our little furry baby's birthday! He is 9 today and although he will obviously not be able to read this email as he doesn't have his own laptop...and is a dog...I still wanted to show him a bit of cyber love as he is a massive part of the Newman family!
Ted joined our family 9 years ago, long before we were vegan. I had done all my research and spent months trying to find a kennel club assured breeder. Obviously, knowing what I know now, I would only ever adopt an animal. However, I cannot change the past and I wouldn't want to either. I hope we are giving him the best life possible and that he is happy he came to be part of our family!
Ted came into our life at a very difficult time and has helped us through various painful times over the years. Not only this but he literally got my husband over his lifelong fear of dogs. He also opened him up to the idea of loving an animal which was a whole new concept to him - coming from a family who had never had any pets.
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.” ― Anatole France
This quote is so true. I have seen the transformation with my own eyes through Pete. He also says he has Ted to thank for starting him off on his vegan journey.
When people live a life disconnected from animals, without being taught about compassion and being in relationship with them, it is easier to be sucked into the conditioning that animals are merely here for humans. However, the moment you connect with an animal, it can literally unlock something. In Pete's case, it brought about a whole new mindset and love towards animals and sewed the seed that would lead to veganism a few years later.
This is why it is fundamentally important to teach children to care and protect animals. It makes me so mad when I see children mishandling and being rough with their 'pets' (in fact, since going vegan I have gone off the word 'pet' - it seems to just separate them from us further and reinforce the idea that we own them) especially little ones who are completely vulnerable and at the mercy of those excited fingers! It is down to us as adults to teach children that this isn't okay. If we don't instill compassion and respect towards animals in our children from an early age, it is more likely that they will grow up to become adults who 'objectify' animals and view them as resources rather than sentient beings.
If we allow them to, animals can teach us so much.
"Animals are the bridge between us and the beauty of all that is natural. They show us what's missing in our lives, and how to love ourselves more completely and unconditionally. They connect us back to who we are, and to the purpose of why we're here." ― Trisha McCagh
Animals truly are gifts to us. Let's not betray them. Let's stand together and protect them and let's raise kind kids who want to do the same.
Happy birthday little Ted. Thank you for all the joy, love and laughter you have brought to our lives. Whilst we are on this planet we will dedicate our life to helping your animal buddies as much as we can!
We are on the countdown to Christmas now and it certainly is a strange one this year! I am sure if you are like us, you will be trying to spread that little bit of extra Christmas cheer for your little ones. I know most people have put their decorations up early or gone even more 'to town' with them this year. We are all trying our best to keep the positivity and festive spirit up despite the circumstances and hopefully we will all get the chance to celebrate with our loved ones over the Christmas period.
Speaking of Christmas, since our family went vegan 3 years ago, we celebrate slightly differently. I never had turkey for Christmas dinner anyway as I was vegetarian, but we have definitely 'upped our game' when it comes to Christmas dinner now. For the past 3 years we have made the BOSH Christmas dinner which has gone down a real treat with everyone.
We make our own crackers with the girls' grandparents which has become a lovely tradition already - each painting one, filling them with handmade Christmas hats (made to measure!) and eco-friendly gifts. I think it is so much more special and worthwhile to source little gifts which the children are going to keep and aren't just made out of plastic which go straight in to the bin after the meal.
As a family we try to make eco-friendly choices all year round but especially when preparing for Christmas now. We use brown paper to wrap our presents up and all have fun decorating and personalising them. I have to admit that the effort my parents go to certainly puts ours to shame though!!
I don't think that being aware of these kind of issues is isolated to veganism.
However, I definitely think that we have become more conscious of our carbon footprint since turning vegan. So as Christmas approaches this year I wanted to share some of the simple swaps that we have done and everyone else can do which have a positive impact on animals and our planet.
Being vegan isn't about perfection. However, it is about having the intention to lead a lifestyle that causes the least amount of harm to animals and the planet and if we can make little changes to how we celebrate these events each year, we really can make a difference.
I would love to hear what you and your family does at Christmas to make it as vegan, cruelty free and eco-friendly as possible.
Feel free to share your ideas in the comments.
It is the 19th November 2020.
We are in the second lockdown here in the UK and in the middle of a global pandemic. I think it is safe to say that the year 2020 has seemed like a bit of a write-off...
We have stayed in our houses, put rainbows in our windows, cancelled events, clapped for the NHS, socially distanced ourselves from other humans, stopped seeing our loved ones, scrubbed our hands until they are raw and now it is the new 'norm' to walk around with masks covering our faces.
If we had been told a year ago that this is how we would all be living, we all would have laughed and no one would have believed it!
Yet here we are. We have followed the government guidelines and done what we have been told to do and we are now waiting on a vaccine so we can all start to get our lives back to some sort of normality. However, what I find utterly bonkers is the fact that nobody seems to be talking about where this virus came from and how we can prevent this from happening again.
It literally seems like the elephant in the room...
When this all started there was a lot being written about where COVID-19 came from. We were told that it was from people eating bats from wet markets out in China and people were disgusted at the thought.
But why were people so horrified? Was it because they didn't like the idea of eating a bat or was it because our lives had now been affected and it is much easier to point the finger? There seems to be a real issue with hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance in our society because the majority of people eat animals themselves. We may not eat bats, cats or dogs like they do in China, but we do eat cows, pigs, sheep and many other animals in our country.
"70% of new diseases like Ebola and Zika, and almost all known pathogens with pandemic potential, such as influenza, HIV, and the novel coronavirus, have their origins in animals. These diseases then 'spill over' - jump from one species to another - during contact between wildlife, livestock, and people."
So just putting the ethical side of eating animals aside for a moment, if eating animals can literally cause such disruption to our lives, wreak havoc on our health, destroy people's lives and livelihoods, cripple the economy, kill us, and basically shut the world down, then why isn't the government talking more about it?
All we seem to see is a lot of reaction to the virus. Guidelines, rules, lockdowns, discussions about treatment, vaccines, but where are the discussions about how this happened and what measures are being put in place to stop this from ever happening again?
If our governments are concerned about our health, shouldn't they be looking at why all these Zoonotic diseases are even occurring and then telling people that we MUST all make changes to our lifestyle choices to reduce the risk? Surely they should be telling the world to stop eating animals and go plant based?
"The world needs a new approach to prevent future pandemics killing millions more victims...It calls on people to stop encroaching on wild land and eat less meat, because the industry drives contact between humans and emerging pathogens. Pandemics are becoming more frequent. Without preventive strategies, they will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, kill more people, and affect the global economy with more devastating impact.”
It is cheaper to prevent pandemics than it is to cure them and if you only get diseases and pandemics from eating animals and not plants, why has the world gone silent about this?
The elephant has not gone away, he is still very much in the room.
Tina Newman - Mum of 2 and author of the children's book series Vivi the Supervegan; fighting for more compassion and peace in this world.