There’s nothing like the power of joy that animals bring to our lives. And when we strive to live a sacred and mindful life, it’s often the animals that serve as powerful reminders of how to live a life filled with compassion, gratitude, kindness, joy, patience and connectedness. Whenever I start to feel disconnected and distracted, the following quotes help me to get back on track. They remind me never to lose sight of the endless grace and wisdom of animals:
“Lots of people talk to animals. … Not very many listen, though. … That’s the problem.”
—Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
Next Monday, February 8, marks the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year—and the Year of the Monkey. How will you be celebrating?
I have a few ideas in mind, especially because monkeys are some of my favorite animals. They’re smart, cute and interesting little creatures who have much to teach us. Jane Goodall, who has made it her life’s work studying primates, including monkeys and chimpanzees, is a hero of mine; her work with animals and the environment, spanning multiple decades, is unbelievably impressive. Based on her research, she was one of first revolutionary minds to speak out and say that, yes, animals experience real emotions. (In case you missed it, here’s a piece I wrote on 7 revolutionary life lessons I learned from Jane Goodall.)
I love the holiday season; it’s one of my favorite times of year. If you’re still shopping for the perfect gift for your animal-loving friends and family (as I am), check out my best picks for any budget:
1. An artful animal pillow to dress their living room or bedroom ($30; order by December 10).
I remember the first time I saw a cow factory farming video my freshman year in college. I gave up beef on the spot and have gradually moved toward veganism ever since. My initial desire stemmed from a childhood instinct of loving animals and not wanting to harm them. But all these years later, I now know the issue goes way beyond that. The factory farming industry damages not just the animals, but our world, too. And it seems to be getting worse.
Our society was literally founded upon filling our bellies with meat (Thanksgiving, anyone?), but times have changed; the world is different now. Many scientists argue whether eating meat is even sustainable. Though many of us still aren’t ready to alter our thinking, for those who are, I’m here to tell you there is another way—a healthier, ethical way. Though this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, here are 10 ethical reasons to go vegetarian today:
I’ve mentioned before that Jane Goodall is one of my heroes; I’m constantly in awe and inspired by her tireless work to help animals and the planet—and even at age 81, she seems to have more energy than most people half her age! As she continues to move forward passionately and make our world a better place, here are seven essential life lessons we can all learn from Jane Goodall.
1. Follow your childhood passions. It is reported that Goodall always loved animals. At age 1, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee, which she carried everywhere (and still has!). She loved her pet dog Rusty (and says dogs are still her favorite animal) and was fascinated by animals from her earliest memories, wondering how chickens laid eggs and bringing earthworms into her bed. So when she had the opportunity to study chimps in Tanzania, she took it.