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Barking Mad: The West and the Yulin dog-eating festival

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Dog eating Yulin 2015

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Food is one of the only things that unites us all. Gathering together on special occasions and preparing ritualistic dishes – the turkey on Christmas, the roast beef on Sunday – is present in nearly all cultures. Yet, in an increasingly connected world not all of these culturally significant feasts are deemed to be appropriate. I’m talking, of course, about the annual dog-eating festival that takes place in Yulin, China. This festival has been garnering a great deal of Western media attention lately. Solely, it seems, for the reason that the idea of eating a dog is severely disturbing to our pet-loving nations. We put puppies on our toilet roll, not our plates.

The Humane Society International, an animal protection organization, has been particularly vocal about trying to get this event shut down. ‘Kidnapped pets, destined for slaughter’ reads an article on their website. However, I was surprised to learn that while the Humane Society does encourage the adoption of a vegetarian diet it does so in very laid back terms. In fact, they call it being a ‘flexitarian’.

No, this doesn’t mean that eating is now replaced by yoga. According to their website being a flexitarian means ‘waking up every day and trying to be more vegetarian’. It promotes things such as ‘meatless Mondays’ and avoiding products like battery-farmed eggs. Eating meat, while not encouraged, is most certainly not condemned. In other words, the chicken you buy from a Western supermarket is no cause for outrage.

Now, it’s not that there is anything wrong with being a ‘flexitarian’ (apart from the terrible name). It’s just, if you compare the Yulin dog-eating festival to our own summer barbecues, the only real difference is what’s on the menu. How can one be so fundamentally wrong and the other completely acceptable? Rationally it makes no sense.

Obviously, to Westerners, eating a pig is hugely different from eating a dog. People eat pork everyday. We have reconciled ourselves with the fact that for us to enjoy bacon sandwiches then we must slaughter pigs, on mass. But when it comes to types of meat we are not morally prepared to consume – say dogs, cats or as the horse meat scandal in the UK proves, horses – then anyone who does not conform to Western dietary habits is condemned as a monster. Even celebrities like Ricky Gervais have stepped in to call for people to help stop the Yulin festival. ‘No animal deserves to be treated like this’ he states on his Facebook page.

And yet, animals are treated like this; and it’s not just dogs. Gervais, to be fair, is an avid animal welfare campaigner and proud vegetarian. He’s perfectly aware of the strange hypocrisy of our society; one that glorifies micro-pigs while having pork chops for dinner. Of the facts circulating the internet the one that seems to be repeated most is the number of dogs killed annually during the festival: 10,000. Which, when compared to other statistics – say the fact that 25,000 piglets are slaughtered every day in Denmark alone – is utterly negligible in terms of the total amount of animal suffering that occurs on our planet. The fact is that we’re being very species specific when it comes to what animal cruelty offends us.

HSI are clearly attempting to promote higher animal-welfare in realistic terms. After all, it’s a nonprofit organization founded in America – the country that consumes the second largest amount of meat per person in the world (second only to Luxembourg). If they started asking all Americans to turn vegetarian immediately they would get nowhere. It would literally be like asking a cowboy to swap his steak for a vegetarian sausage.

But, then again, isn’t that what Westerners are saying to the people Yulin? If India vocally objected to America’s insatiable taste for beef, Bill O’Reilly would openly mock the country on Fox News. And yet, when it comes to eating dog-meat, international organizations are attempting to mediate what the people of the Guangxi region of China should and should not eat. Even if it has been a traditional part of their diet for millennia (that’s not to say all Chinese people condone eating dog, thousands protest against the Yulin festival and others like it).

Any meat-eater who believes the Yulin festival is morally abhorrent should, perhaps, take a look at their own diet before condemning the traditional food of another culture. And, if they truly believe the Yulin festival should be banned then extend that same logic to Western society. Protect animals globally, regardless of species. Ban pig-farms. Ban abattoirs. Ban Nando’s. And anyone who is claiming to disagree with the Yulin festival purely because of the way in which the animals are killed (reportedly being boiled and skinned while still alive) should really educate themselves about the realities of modern farming. Type farrowing crates into Google and you’ll see what I mean.

If Western society really cared about animals we wouldn’t treat the vast majority of them the way we do. We care about dogs, but not pigs. We love cats, but not chickens. Animal rights should be like human rights, extended to everyone regardless of race. Suffering is suffering no matter what genus you belong to.

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Spend All Your Time Online? Hobbies That’ll Get You More Hands On

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If you find yourself always online, it’s best to turn off the computer or phone and find something else to do. However, that’s a lot easier said than done! But if you’ve got a hands-on hobby in your back pocket, you’ll always have something fun and practical to turn to when you get bored. 

Staring at a screen all day isn’t healthy for you, and it’s good to find real ways to rest your eyes and get outside a bit more. As such, here are some ideas regarding the kinds of hobbies that’ll help you find enjoyment in things other than what’s going on online.

Woodworking 

If you’ve ever fancied yourself as a carpenter, this is the first step on your journey to putting huge items of furniture together for your own home. Get a bit of wood, get a carving knife, and see how you can manipulate the material to make something interesting. Take precautions and protect your hands, but have fun at the same time. And while you’ve not got a woodworking shop yet, even just a small set of tools can help you whittle your way to new cutlery, decorative figurines, and incredibly personal birthday and anniversary presents. 

Building Models

Miniatures are a very popular hobby, and all thanks to the time and love we have to put into making them. And when you’re a fan of building your own models, you can move into other item builds, such as attaching 80 lower receiver jigs to a rifle project of your own. But to get started, all you need is a set of models to crack open, snip off, and glue together. Once you’re done with this, you can start painting them and even put together your own playing team. It’s not just a one step hobby you can then display in a cabinet – there’s a lot of nuance to explore. 

Gardening and Landscaping

Gardening is a totally free hobby to pick up if you’ve already got a garden. You can take cuttings from bushes, trees, and plants that you see out and about and then try to cultivate the same greenery in your own garden. Indeed, it’s a great way to blow off steam as well as get your hands dirty, which is something a screen just won’t allow! But if you prefer cutting back in the garden, you can try out landscaping instead, which will help you to design the outdoor space you’ve always wanted to relax in. 

Bake Your Own Bread

Baking is one of the best hands-on hobbies out there. Why? Because you get to eat something when you’re finished. And baking bread is quite the artform, so you’ll need to really brush up on your skills here. Plus, a freshly baked loaf every morning is always something to look forward to – it’s just the cleaning that’s annoying! 

If you’re always online, it’s time to break the habit! Get out and remind yourself there are other things to enjoy.

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Not Prioritizing Yourself Enough? Here’s How You Can Change It!

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In today’s society, there’s this push to promote self-care. While society five or maybe ten years ago would see the term “self-care” as something selfish, fortunately now, mental health has become a larger concern. While toxic positivity is being pushed out, and the whole “put yourself first” mantra is slowly beginning to reign supreme, there’s one question to ask. How exactly can one put themselves first? Also, how can these self-care changes even boost your well-being? These are some helpful ways to achieve that!

Understand Your Life Goals, Values, and Purpose

When it comes to putting yourself first, it’s important to begin by thinking of your life goals, your values, and what type of purpose you want in your life. While society once deemed people as “selfish” for even considering this, it’s your life, and you’re entitled to live your life the way you want it. Is one of your life goals to travel? Then that’s great! Keep aiming for it!

Identify Your Wants and Needs

Everyone has their own wants and needs, everyone does. What are yours? While it’s important to put other people’s wants and needs in front of your own (such as if you’re a parent), just keep in mind that you don’t have to do this all the time. So think about it, what are some small ways you can put your own wants and needs ahead without it jeopardizing anyone else. Maybe it can be something small such as getting more sleep, or maybe even something huge such as changing careers. It’s entirely up to you to decide.

Take Time to Get Your Headspace Right

A great way to get yourself into the right headspace is through the beauty of travel. This is actually one of the biggest ways that people are treating themselves and putting themselves first. Changing up your environment and your routine through the power of travel can be one of the very best ways to get yourself feeling recharged and just completely breaking away from what may be stressing you out. Whether you opt into a long vacation, weekend trip, or a day trip, just allow yourself the chance to breathe, take a break, and recharge.

Treat Yourself

There’s nothing wrong at all with treating yourself to things. Whether you’re wanting to gift yourself a nice car you shopped with through edmunds, a fun vacation, or anything else. There isn’t anything wrong with gifting things to yourself as long as you have the disposable income to do it and if it’s in moderation.

Opt-Out of Social Media That’s Not Good for You

Social media is a double-edged sword. It can be a great tool for connecting with people and staying in touch with friends and an extension of our personal brand. However, many people are finding that social media is not the best tool for their mental health and well-being. If possible, try to opt-out of social media if you feel it’s not good for you. And instead, try to spend more time in nature or offline activities like hanging out with family and friends.

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Building A Social Support System: An Essential Key To A Life Of Wellness

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Everybody needs somebody, even if you believe you thrive better as a lone wolf or prefer being antisocial. While having a support system around you will help you get through life, it also offers far-reaching health benefits. These include helping you deal with loneliness and even improving your chances to beat unhealthy addictions. A strong social system can also be very helpful when going through stressful times, battling chronic illnesses, etc. But how can you build a healthy social support system around you, and what does it entail? 

It’s important to first understand what a social support system is. It comprises friends, family, loved ones, and peers that you can call or rely on, especially in times of need to provide support, respect, and care. Having a support system around you can provide wisdom and guidance through tough times. It can also provide strength and hope with a generous supply of understanding and compassion.

Although research has shown that building a social support system can help you through the tough times, the last thing you want to do is try developing one only when you feel stressed and need assistance. Creating a social support system is something you should do when you’re not under stress or in need. This way, you don’t end up relying on the wrong people.

Start by making a list of those already in your life, including friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. When you are done with this, go through your list and highlight or underline those who have been supportive in your life and how. Next, make it a point to contact these people to check on them and find out how they’re doing. However, it’s important to note that you can also include professionals in your support system. For instance, counselors, psychologists, teachers, coaches, and healthcare professionals who have assisted you in difficult times, whether in the classroom, the gym, or in treatment programs you’re undergoing or already went through. 

Creating a healthy social support system also requires you to identify the barriers that have prevented you from creating healthy and meaningful connections with people. For instance, are you antisocial? Are you dealing with depression, drug abuse, or alcohol addiction issues that make it impossible to keep loving people around you? Once you identify your roadblocks to healthy social connections, find ways of removing them. For example, if you’re addicted to drugs and alcohol, you can find help through inpatient treatment programs. 

Another great way to build a social support system is to explore and embrace shared interests. It is easier to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who understand your emotions and can empathize in ways that others may not. For example, parents of a child with special needs will find immense support from other parents who share the same or similar difficulties. A great way to build such connections is by joining groups, associations, or clubs that share your interests and ensuring that you maintain regular interaction with the members. 

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