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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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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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Top 10 Simple Health Changes To Boost Your Well-Being

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It does not matter how old you are, where you live, or what your occupation is, your health should always be a top priority. However, most of us are a little bit guilty of letting our well-being slide from time to time. With that being said, read on to discover some of the simple ways you can give your health a boost today.

  1. Get rid of at least one item in your life that contains toxic chemicals – You may be shocked by just how many items in your life contain toxic chemicals. This includes everything from air fresheners to bed sheets. Get rid of one of these items and replace it with something natural instead. This is something you should make a habit to do every few months or so. You will be surprised by just how much of a difference this can make. 
  2. Deep breathe for at least five minutes – Throughout the day, you should make sure you take the opportunity to deep breathe for at least five minutes. Why? Well, there have been numerous studies that have shown that deep breathing can help to lower stress hormone levels. This means that you will feel better, get an improved night’s sleep, and you will have less anxiety too.
  3. Drink more water – You probably expected this to be on the list, but the importance of drinking more water should never be ignored. Your body needs water for almost every function. If you are dehydrated, this could be the cause of headaches, pains, aches, and a number of other symptoms.
  4. Have one veggie night per week – A lot of people eat far too much meat, red meat especially. So, why not have a veggie night once a week? Not only is this good for your health, but it will be good for your bank balance too. There are so many great recipes online that can give you ideas regarding tasty and creative dishes that do not incorporate any sort of meat or fish. Once you start off with one night per week, you may then decide that you want to up it to two nights, and so on. However, it always helps to start off small so that it is easier and more manageable, and you can then get used to it.
  5. Sign up for an online pharmacy – Nowadays, you can easily order your prescriptions and medications over the Internet via an online pharmacy. This can help you to boost your health because it ensures you never experience delays with your medication. If you are someone who often doesn’t take their recommended course of tablets because you cannot get to the doctors in time for a repeat prescription, then this is definitely a good suggestion for you. Your medication will be delivered to your door with a click of a button.
  6. Make a dedicated effort to lower your stress levels – There is no denying that we live in a very stress-filled world at the moment! The world we live in is one that has heaps of pressure, and it can be difficult to stay on top of everything and keep those stress levels low. However, it is vital that you find a way to do so. After all, if you don’t adrenal fatigue and health can start to take a tumble, which is the last thing you want. For those who are unaware, adrenal fatigue relates to a group of different symptoms that impact people who are under a lot of physical, emotional, or mental stress. From being a single parent to having a stressful job, there are a lot of different reasons why you may be struggling. Therefore, we recommend that you look for different ways to reduce those stress levels so that you can enjoy a more calming and peaceful life. Whether it is doing some breathing techniques or taking more regular breaks so you can have moments for yourself, there are a lot of different ways that you can make sure you are keeping your stress levels to a minimum. The importance of this should not be overlooked, as stress can impact our mental and physical health in so many different ways. 
  7. Do something nice for someone every day – You will be surprised by how good this makes you feel, and by how much this has a positive impact on your health. It’s all about mental well being. When you do something nice for another person, you are benefitting their health, as well as your own. First and foremost, there is no denying that it feels good to hear some nice words for someone or to get a helping hand when you need it. You feel recognised and appreciated, and this is something we all need. At the same time, doing something nice for someone else and seeing their reaction can make you feel amazing too. After all, doing something good for someone is a gift for yourself at the same time. You will find that the deed continues throughout the day, making you feel great and happy within yourself. 
  8. Incorporate some movement into your commute – If you do not have an active job, this is particularly important. Sitting at a computer all day can be bad for your health. One way to combat this is by incorporating some movement into your commute. If you can walk or bike to work, you should give this a go. If not, start parking your car further away from your place of work so that you have to walk there and back. You should also start using the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
  9. Start meal planning – You will find it much easier to eat healthily if you plan your meals. At the start of every week, make a menu of what you are going to cook for dinner every evening, as well as what you are going to make for your lunches every day. Not only will this help you to eat better, but you will save money too. Make sure you incorporate some healthy snacks into your food prep for work. This will stop you from going to the vending machine whenever you are bored or your energy is zapped. The great thing about the times we live in at the moment is that you can easily get recipes and meal prep inspiration online. So, if you are struggling, simply do a little bit of digging online and we are sure that you will find a lot of different options when it comes to meal ideas and clever food prep suggestions for the week ahead. Not only is this going to help you to be more organized, but you will find that it actually saves you quite a bit of money in the process. After all, when we do not have a food plan for the week ahead, we tend to spend a lot of money on items we do not need. Food can end up going in the bin because we do not use it. This ends up in an awful lot of waste, and we should all be looking to reduce this, so meal prep is great in many ways.
  10. Keep a journal – Last but not least, keeping a journal is good for a person’s mental health. You should write down your thoughts. It doesn’t need to be a long entry; you can simply jot down a few bullet points every evening. This will help you to articulate your thoughts so that they do not wear you down. After all, it can be very difficult to sleep if you have lots on your mind. A lot of experts advise this approach for people who suffer from insomnia. One of the main reasons why a lot of people struggle to get the hours of sleep they need is because they cannot shut off when they go to sleep; their minds are still going at a million miles per hour. They are thinking about what they need to do the following day and any worries or concerns that they may have. Because of this, it very much makes sense to keep a journal so you can offload some of these thoughts and worries and you can have a much more restful night of sleep. Once you get into the habit of doing this, you will see that it actually does make a significant difference when it comes to drifting off and enjoying a good night of rest. 

So there you have it: some of the best ways to give your health a boost. The suggestions that have been provided are really simple and easy, so there is no excuse not to give yourself a bit of TLC. we are sure that you will start to notice a difference as time goes on. However, as is the case with anything, it requires patience and persistence. You cannot expect to turn your health around in one night.

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