Dedicate Your Life to "Least Harm"
Harmless vs. Least Harm
If we are honest with ourselves we will realize no one who lives on this planet can be 100% harmless. As the cynics like to point out, countless insects are killed every time a wheat field is plowed.
Therefore, our goal must be the philosophy of
"Do the least harm."
With this standard in mind, we offer the following suggestions and resources for cruelty-free (least harm) living.
Important steps towards a
Adding a new non-human family member
Never buy a pet of any type from a breeder or a pet store. (Here is what happens to the animals sold by PetSmart, Petco, and Petland.) Whether you're looking for a dog, cat, bird, bunny, or some other animal, there are always adoption options. Municipal animal control centers, community shelters, and species- and breed-specific rescues are the way to go. As residents of Missouri we are most familiar with puppy mills, but for every species used as a pet, there exist mills - callous breeders cranking out countless birds, rabbits, mice, lizards, gerbils, and other defenseless animals like machine parts.
Here is a list of some of the area shelters and rescues, including those that help birds, small animals, and other pets in need of homes. (Before you buy a fish, please read this brochure - Respect For Fish.)
On a related note, be sure you know what you might be getting yourself into before you choose a particular pet. Some dog breeds are higher maintenance than others, for example; and, while every animal has his or her own personality, each breed has a distinct set of tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. Likewise, being an experienced caregiver of a dog or cat does not mean you automatically know how to properly care for a parrot or hamster. Do your research before obtaining an animal.
Think twice before buying supplies from a chain pet store
PetSmart and Petco are convenient, inexpensive places to purchase food, collars, dishes, toys, and other pet care products. But, at what price? While it is laudable they no longer sell dogs and cats, remember they still sell animals, like hamsters, fish, small birds, and other critters with fewer vocal advocates.
Amazon (all pets)
Entirely Pets (all pets)
Krisers (dogs and cats)
Pet Flow (dogs and cats)
Pet Mountain (all pets)
Petocart (all pets, especially birds)
Sunset Pet Supply (dogs and cats)
Target (dogs, cats, rabbits)
Vegan Essentials (dogs and cats)
Vitacost (dogs and cats)
Cut out dissection
Dissection is a cruel, outdated mode of teaching science. It is wasteful and environmentally damaging, and considering the range of superior alternatives, its continued practice is unjustifiable.
Transition your pets to a vegan diet
Some animals are by nature herbivores and must be fed a vegan diet. Rabbits, most birds, and guinea pigs should only eat plant-based foods. Unfortunately, some companies add egg to bird foods, and yogurt to small animal treats. By reading ingredients you can easily avoid these troublesome and unhealthy products.
Ami Foods (for dogs and cats)
AvoDerm (for dogs)
Evanger’s (for dogs and cats)
Evolution Diet (for dogs and cats)
Halo (for dogs)
Natural Balance (for dogs)
Nature’s Recipe (for dogs)
PetGuard Organics (for dogs)
Roudybush (for birds - because many pelleted bird foods contain egg)
V-dog (for dogs)
VegePets supplements for homemade pet food
Zupreem (for birds - because many pelleted bird foods contain egg)
NOTE: These brands can be purchased at the retailers listed in the previous category, "Think twice before buying supplies from a chain pet store."
Be careful where your charitable dollars go
Before you donate to that charity claiming to help babies, or boasting about its life-saving cancer research, find out exactly how they use your donations. Most of the health charities receiving the bulk of the attention (and money) fund animal experiments. Not only are these studies unimaginably cruel, they are also unnecessary and often lead researchers in the wrong direction. In the case of drug testing, animal models are no more predictive than flipping a coin, meaning dangerous medications are approved, while potentially valuable treatments never make it beyond the first step.
Purchase products from companies that do not test on animals
Big corporations (like Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson, L'Oreal) continue to torture animals for household and personal care products. (You can learn about these tests on our Resources page, under the heading Animals Used in Research and Education.) But, the tide has turned. A variety of excellent companies either no longer use animal testing, or they never did. Plus, they are easy to come by and affordable. No more searching obscure websites or taking out a loan just to put on make-up!
Be respectful of wildlife and their habitat
Local Help for Wildlife in Trouble
Global Wildlife Issues
Choose entertainment that does not exploit other species
Looking back at some of society's amusement choices is enough to make you cringe. Traveling "freak shows," where those with disfigurements earned a living the only way they could - by displaying themselves to gawking audiences. The "tar baby" game, the goal of which was to throw a ball at little replicas of black babies, trying to make them spin. Singing minstrels in black-face.
While many unethical types of entertainment have gone by the wayside, we still exploit other species for our own pleasure. Sometimes we even rationalize it as good for the animals (i.e., zoos suddenly claim they are a vital asset in the conservation of endangered species). Many animal lovers who would gasp at the idea of attending a bullfight or dog fight might not realize swimming with the dolphins programs and petting zoos are inhumane, too. (Wild dolphins kept in confinement...Imagine what happens when those baby animals grow up and are no longer pettable.)
The following groups will give you all the information you need to see that exploitation of animals has no place in entertainment.
Make sure you aren't wearing someone else's skin
Whether it's fur, leather, wool, silk, down, mohair, angora, feathers, cashmere, snakeskin, or some other animal-based material, it all belongs on its original owner. You may think some of these fibers don't kill the animal - wool, feathers, down, for example. But, no one raises sheep just for shearing. No one keeps ducks and geese so they can collect their surplus down. Milk and eggs do not in and of themselves kill the animals, yet these businesses depend on the eventual deaths of the animals. So, too, are animal-based "fabrics" just one part of a larger industry. Additionally, the methods used when raising the animals and harvesting their fibers are barbaric.
Animals Australia (wool)
Born Free USA (trapping)
PETA (fur, leather, wool, down, angora, silk, cashmere, and others)
Respect For Animals (extensive facts and statistics on fur worldwide)
United Poultry Concerns (down)
This is probably the biggest contribution you can make to combat animal cruelty and environmental damage. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 72-billion land animals worldwide are slaughtered for human consumption every year. This does not take into account fish and sea life. Animals used for food suffer from start to finish, from the castration of male animals and repeated rape of female animals, to the deprivation of transport and horrors of slaughter. Make no mistake, cruelty is not an anomaly here or there; it is built into the animal agriculture system.
VegFund (activist resources)