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World Oceans Day 2018

Image source: NYC Plastic Bag Report

This World Ocean’s Day, StayBlooming.com is challenging you!

Ocean health is not something that we hear about often but it definitely affects you.  With our planet being made up of 71% water, salt water makes up 97.5% of that. The quality and condition of our oceans affect marine life, coastlines, weather patterns, and more. All of which affect life as we know it so we must act. Taking care of our ocean means understanding how human behavior contributes to the biggest ocean health issue: pollution.

Here are 3 major ways you can help keep our oceans clean:

world oceans day 1

world oceans day 3

world oceans day 2

Get in on the action. Send pictures of how you help clean the ocean to alyssablooms@gmail.com or us #istayblooming on Instagram for a feature!

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Why and How I Stopped Eating Meat

Image source: PETA

I get asked the same series of questions very often: How did you stop eating meat? Do you still eat fish or eggs? What else do you eat? Do you miss meat? Why did you stop eating meat? The list goes on… This article should serve as an answer to all of the questions I receive and hopefully it will also serve as encouragement to going meat-less.

First and foremost, I want to mention that everyone’s experience when transitioning to a new diet is unique. Each of our physical body’s has its own set of requirements to be satisfied and properly nourished. The difficulty can range for everyone and not every food alternative will work for your palette. With that said, food can be a very personal subject.

We have been conditioned to believe a mass-producing meat industry is normal. For meat eaters, there’s this perceived convenience due to what they actually can’t see. Some of these thought-provoking things include: filthy living conditions for livestock, overconsumption of fresh water, high methane emissions, etc. If more meat eaters were aware of the process it took to get meat onto their table, they would most likely source it differently or change their overall eating habits.

As if the blindfold we live behind isn’t bad enough… current trends of accessibility to meat enable society’s meat eating habits. Citizens have more purchasing power with meat as opposed to plant-based foods. It reminds me all too much of environmental justice situations where our economy and governing systems idle on the communities that need change the most. Like when low-income communities or communities of color experience contaminated water supplies or landfill placement in proximity to them.

So why did I stop consuming meat? I use social media oftentimes to express that my reasons are multifaceted and there really is no one simple answer. The reasons are numerous and their severity vary in intensity:

  • Majority of animals in the meat industry are given a lot of antibiotics and are sometimes even force-fed to make them gain weight.
  • Cows have to endure being impregnated by human intervention (rape if you ask me) to produce milk as well as having heir newborn calfs taken from them so humans may have milk. Other animals can be in cramped or confined conditions that oftentimes are not as clean as they need to be. Animal abuse should never be tolerated, especially before animals are sacrificed for meat.
  • Environmental effects (and climate change)
    • Producing meat is a large uses of our fresh water. From the amount of water animals need to survive, to the amount of water necessary in production of meat, and even down to the water in vegetation that more and more livestock animals need to eat.
    • Large livestock populations emit a large amount Methane from their excrement. Methane is more dangerous than Carbon Dioxide, allowing the atmosphere to heat quicker.
    • Big spaces of land are also turned into grasslands for livestock, this causes the environment to experience a loss of land that could provide for a more biologically diverse community.
  • In human’s history, meat was not an everyday delicacy. It was one that was recognized as a sacrifice of the earth and was ritualistic. Not only was it consumed way less frequently as it is now, portions were also not as big as they are now. The push for consumerism has taught us not to value the life of an animal to be quite frank.

Now, how did I stop eating meat? I honestly tried more than once to become a vegetarian and the first time, I relapsed. It was hard because I attempted to do it without any planning or prior research. But that attempt helped me to establish that I would no longer eat red meat (beef, lamb) or pork (pig).

dairy cows.jpg
Image source: PETA

To make it more of a successful experience, for my second attempt I transitioned slowly. In 2015, I began experiencing digestive issues and it was the perfect scenario to motivate me. Just as the human body takes time to heal, it takes time to adjust to new habits such as a diet change. I began eating chicken less frequently and intentionally looking for more alternatives to add to my diet. I found that: foods like mushrooms were tasty and provided awesome texture; vegetable mixes were underrated especially when you tried new ones together or made a homemade vegetable soup; and potatoes are filling plus can be eaten in many different ways. I stopped eating chicken too but I was still eating seafood.

I began limiting my seafood intake to only fish… and it difficult. Fish was my favorite of everything I was going to stop. So, just as I had done with chicken, I ate fish less and less frequently but also made sure I was adding to my alternative choices. At this time, I was already developing favorite snacks and meals.

Early this year, I completely stopped consuming dairy (milk, cheese) and eggs. Although I don’t have any inclination to drink milk and have been drinking alternatives for some time, I am extra careful when ordering drinks and reading ingredient labels. I have learned that reading labels becomes an art as a person with a vegan diet.

So the last and final question, do I miss meat?, and my answer is yes. There are times that I get an indirect craving for meat but it’s my body asking for something else nutrient wise . Earlier on, when I did give into temptation, meat simply tasted raw no matter how well cooked it was.

And now I can’t even stomach to smell meat being cooked. I hope this brought some insight and thought to you.

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Some Triumph for African Lions

Image source: ABC News (2015)

Most of us aren’t aware of how African lion hunting actually takes place. So although this article regards some triumph for African lions — I equally want to disclose that it’s not a full ban on trophy hunting of these marvelous felines.

A private U.S. pro-hunting group Safari Club International has stated that “it will no longer allow the promotion or auctioning of hunts involving African lions bred and shot in captivity.” (Humane Society International) It’s a big deal for this group to denounce the trade because it means less legal trade will happen internationally. With majority of the African lion body part trade being sent to the U.S. — you can see why it’s significant for this group to stop promoting the killing of captive lions. Though, it is only somewhat of a win. The trophy-hunting behind the deaths of many African lions still goes on as captive-bred hunting is still not illegal while canned hunting is.

What is the difference between captive-bred hunting & canned hunting? There is no difference! Captive-bred hunting literally breeds animals in demand for the purpose of keeping them in captivity then allows them to be hunted. Whereas, canned hunting puts animals (like the African lion) in large captive spaces for the sole purpose of hunting. Trophy hunters from around the world make their payment to those who the land belongs to and go “hunting.” This captive-bred/canned hunting makes the chance at killing more likely and since they bear no difference in purpose, it’s highly controversial and should be banned.

I would never promote trophy hunting but the use of captive-bred/canned hunting completely takes away from the sport of hunting. There is no skill required in killing an animal that’s got limited space to flee/roam. I can only hope that more change comes for these exotic big cats and that this directly decreases the illegal trade we see in the United States.

Sources:
Humane Society International. Animal protection groups welcome denouncement of captive-bred or “canned” lion hunts from one of the largest U.S. trophy hunting clubs. 9 Feb 2018.
Humane Society International. Trophy Hunting: Animals Under Fire. 2018.

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Ivory Victory in China

Image source: National Geographic (2016)

It’s with much contentment to announce that China has finally banned ivory. Chinese authorities announced this decision one year ago, promising that by the end of 2017 they would close all ivory business and implement a ban. Now it is officially so!

Elephant populations declined at an alarming rate from 1980 to 1990. What was an estimated population of 1.3 million plummeted to less than half at 600,000. At this time in 1990, international banning of ivory was being established but this did not stop poaching. In fact, poaching continued and new ivory was passed off as “old” when being traded. In 2017, there was an estimated 415,000 African elephants and an estimated 45,000 Asian elephants left in their population.

Poaching and trading decreases when countries take responsibility within their territories regarding how they may contribute to the issues. China has had a large influence with a large industry in ivory dealing. So with that being said, I think this decision will encourage neighboring countries to take the same step towards conservation.

Sources:
Steyn, Paul. African Elephant Numbers Plummet 30 Percent. National Geographic, 31 Aug 2016.
World Wide Fund for Nature. African elephants. 2017.
World Wide Fund for Nature. Asian elephants. 2017.