Katzentempel: Germany’s first cat café

During my trip to Germany this past summer, I got to visit Café Katzentempel, Germany’s first cat café. What made this place extra special was the 100% vegan menu.

menus

Katzentempel (Cat Temple) is a wonderful café and restaurant in Munich. Students from the nearby university sipped on cappuccinos worked on laptops, while at other tables, groups dined on delicious vegan fare.

The food was ganz lecker (totally delicious) but the cats stole the show. Six rescued resident cats made themselves at home in the café.

Balou

Gizmo

Even the artwork was cat-themed.

cat art

I liked that the cats’ wellbeing was paramount. No flash photography and no manhandling of the cats allowed. Of course, we were lucky and some of the cats visited us. On their terms, of course—as cats prefer.

Jack naps

Ayla rests after a drink

Robin on his perch

Sleepy Saphira

I was lucky that one of the café owners was there so I learned firsthand about how the café was created. Thomas Leidner came from the world of finance but wanted to do something completely different. An ethical vegan, he knew the cats would be a huge draw, and would help him reach more people with delicious vegan food. He’s helping people improve their relationships with animals in more than one way!

Thomas and friends

Balou sees an opening on the calendar. Next time you’re in Munich, stop by—the cats will be waiting for you!

Balou and calendar

The problems with zoos

Last year, people were outraged when they heard about the zoo in Copenhagen that killed a healthy two-year-old giraffe. Marius was shot because his genes weren’t unique in the European giraffe population and he was unsuitable for breeding programs.

giraffe

But Marius’ death wasn’t an anomaly. Of the 340 zoos in the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), approximately 3000-5000 healthy “surplus” animals are killed each year.

In the US it’s no better. Animals are often traded among zoos like playing cards and can end up in circus, private collections, or even in “canned hunting” parks, where people can pay to kill them.

Most zoos have captive breeding programs—and of course cute baby animals are a huge draw—but what happens when there are too many animals in the zoo? Unless a zoo is saving species by breeding them and releasing them into the wild, these breeding programs are pointless.

Being born into captivity is no life for an animal. Even the most enriched captive environments simply cannot compare with an animal’s natural habitat.

Chai in barn c/o FWPZE

Chai at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, before being moved to a zoo in Oklahoma.

And if zoo animals aren’t in a natural environment, they won’t be displaying natural behavior—especially when zoos often don’t treat their animals right. Zoos often point to their facilities as being great educational tools for visitors. However, visitors can’t learn about wild animals by visiting captive ones.

It’s better to learn about animals through educational nature shows (ones that film animals from a distance and don’t harass them). PAWS has a great program underway where people can watch their rescued animals on webcams.

I’ve often thought seeing animatronic animals would be better. Realistic-looking robotic animals could be programmed to behave like real, wild animals. People could learn about what animals sound like, look like, and how they act—all without involving real animals. I hope the zoo of the future is a beautiful park with fake animals. (It would cost less to run as well.)

Further reading:

Zoos are fit for neither child nor beast

Surplus Animals: The Cycle of Hell

Ruby Roth: Vegan children’s book author

Ruby Roth is an acclaimed author who has written and illustrated several amazing children’s books about animals and veganism. I’ve given her books as gifts because the images captivate and the messages are perfectly age-appropriate. They’re a great launching point for discussing animal issues with kids.

V is for Vegan is great introduction to veganism for the younger set (3-7), and That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is a more in-depth look at veganism for older kids (6-9). Vegan is Love is a terrific look at human-animal relationships and how you’re never too young to put compassion into action (7-10). Learn more about her work at wedonteatanimals.com.

ruby roth

A few months ago I had opportunity to attend a lecture by Roth, where she explored the transformative power of veganism on society and the individual (children included!). She examined pop culture, the media response to her books, and talked about challenges of being vegan and raising vegan kids.

The lecture was very eye-opening! I’ve been a vegan for over 15 years and thought I’d seen it all—but Roth wowed me with info I didn’t know, such as how public thinking about health, children, and animals is shaped.

The toughest part of being vegan is often the pressure people face from well-meaning friends, family, and medical professionals. Just as her books do, Roth encouraged parents to involve their children in conversations about healthy eating and animal rights. Children are smarter than we give them credit for and will appreciate veganism when they understand it well.

To see Ruby Roth take on the media, check out the videos below.

They’re great examples of the fear-mongering among mainstream media and the normalization of eating animals and exploiting them in many other ways. Fortunately Ruby Roth has given us great tools to help children to “love deeply, think critically, and act responsibly.”

Lions and cows and dogs, oh my!

Cecil the Lion, as he was known, was a lion who lived in Zimbabwe. You’ve probably seen the media storm and public outrage this week about his murder. A wealthy American paid to hunt down Cecil—at night, by luring him out of a preserve—and shoot him with a crossbow.

a lion similar to Cecil

It was nothing but a cowardly act by a small-minded trophy hunter, hell-bent on proving his sense of worth by killing others. The man—a dentist from Minnesota—as a complete sociopath and waste of space. But I digress.

What I learned from the frenzy this week is that it pays to have a name. Cecil was a lion who’d been photographed by tourists for years (he was 12 or 13). He was GPS-collared and was part of an Oxford University study. But he was no different from many other lions that wealthy westerners (usually Americans) pay to kill. Six hundred lions are killed in trophy hunts every year, according to National Geographic.

Cecil sparked public outcry because he was well-known. In the same way we mourn for a celebrity’s death, but not the random people who also die.

For most people, the lion is a majestic creature. King of the jungle. We don’t associate them with food or clothing. That’s another thing Cecil had going for him. People around the world have issued hate mail and death threats to Cecil’s killer, and vigils and protests have sprung up at the man’s business.

Most of the people disgusted with Cecil’s death likely also eat and wear other animals. It’s a disconnect. Melanie Joy addresses this topic in-depth in her book, Why we Love Dogs, Eat pigs, and Wear Cows. This phenomenon (of loving some animals and eating others) she calls carnism. I encourage you to read the book and see how people compartmentalize and justify this discrepancy.

It’s okay to mourn for Cecil. His death was a tragedy. His pride is in jeopardy, and his cubs will likely be killed by competing lions. But we need to also mourn for the millions of dogs and cats who are euthanized each year because they have no homes. And for the billions of farmed animals whose lives are brutal and short. They are all as precious as Cecil and as deserving of life.

We can’t stop evil people from hunting (although signing the petition to ask Zimbabwe to stop issuing hunting permits or the petition to include lions on the endangered species list would help). But we can adopt dogs and cats and never buy from breeders. And we can choose to not eat animals.

If you’re not already, please choose veg. For the countless animals just like Cecil, who are worthy of our admiration and who want to live.

The Awareness

The Awareness, a novel by Gene Stone and Jon Doyle, is an exciting tale that follows four animals—a traveling circus elephant, a pet dog in New York, a pig in a factory farm, and a bear in the forest—as they each become “aware.”awarenessOn one specific day, all the mammals of the world gain a level of consciousness they’ve never had before. They are aware of human-animal relationships, they talk, they plot, and they begin a war against humans.

Each of the storylines in the book follow animals with unique and different relationships to humans: pet, slave, food, wildlife. Readers get a wonderful glimpse into the thoughts and conflicts the animals face as they talk through their dilemmas.

The animals talk to each other and to humans. The events and actions were the stuff of fantasy, but this story was so believable. I’ve always talked to animals, and I love stories involving talking animals, so suspending my disbelieve came easily.

The animals’ own stories are complex and gripping and I couldn’t put this book down. It’s a great book that gets one thinking about the lives of animals, their emotions, and our relationship to them. But it’s also a great story that will keep you reading to see what’s next.

Premarin: A cruel way to fight menopause

Many women, upon reaching menopause, reach for prescriptions to treat their change-of-life symptoms.

Premarin is one of the drugs women are often prescribed as a hormone replacement therapy. It stands for PREgnant MARe unINe and it’s a cruel industry. Estrogen-rich pregnant horses’ urine is harvested from horses who are forcibly impregnated, confined to tiny stalls, and forced to wear painful urine collection bags. Horses’ water consumption is restricted so their urine is more concentrate.

horsesWhen foals are born, they’re often slaughtered, but sometimes replace their poor mothers on the urine collection line.

And did I mention it’s horse piss?

Most urine is collected at farms in Canada and North Dakota, but the industry is growing overseas too. Premarin is one of the most popular drugs prescribed today. Pfizer makes billions from it.

Premarin isn’t the only name to look out for. Avoid Prempro, Premphase, and Duavee as well. They’re also made with horses’ urine. If your menopausal prescription includes “conjugated equine estrogen” or PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) just say no.

Controlling the symptoms of menopause

I get it. No one wants hot flashes, trouble sleeping, low energy, and all the other issues that goes along with a change of life. Lifestyle changes can help control symptoms: Go vegan and get exercise. Simple, yet effective. No urine ingestion needed.

If you really need medication, ask your doctor for a plant-based (phytoestrogens) or a synthetic alternative. Alternatives carry fewer risks too (Premarin increases the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes in women).

Resources

Humane Society article

Last Chance for Animals campaign

Havehest blog

Peta factsheet

When tax dollars fund animal abuse

In the USA alone, more than $16 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money is spent on needless animal experiments every year. It’s a number that boggles my mind. I can’t even fathom the scale of abuse that 100 million animals endure in the name of “science.”

It frustrates me that I can’t earmark my tax dollars and funnel them into education, healthcare, and parks instead of cruelty.

Just when I thought I’d heard it all, I read a New York Times article about a taxpayer-funded animal research facility in Nebraska. This horrific lab conducts research on farmed animals to benefit the meat industry. They receive $22 million dollars of taxpayer money a year to torture and abuse animals. The experiments are so gruesome even people in the animal agriculture industry are appalled!

I’m grateful to the whistleblowers who shed light on this atrocity (and the journalists who ran with the info and got the story published). The NYT article exposes experiments at the 50-year-old U.S. Meat Animal Research Center.

At the Center, animals are genetically modified to produce more offspring–and the result is often babies who are born with horrendous deformities. Vet care is inadequate, “caretakers” aren’t properly trained, animals are starved to death, and newborns are left to die in open fields.DNA double helix

This is all in the name of higher yields and bigger profits. Researchers are looking for ways to produce heartier animals and more meat. It’s a twisted tale that belongs in a sci-fi movie–but it’s reality.

Sadly, cows, pigs, and sheep are excluded from protection under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Only Congress can stop such egregious animal suffering by making changes to the Act.

The American Anti-Vivisection Society has put together a great page to help you reach out to your legislators.

Please tell your legislators that you are outraged that federal government funds are used for such cruelty and that it must be stopped. Politely tell them that ALL animals deserve protection under the Animal Welfare Act.

There are so many reasons why I want nothing to do with the meat industry. I don’t willingly give them any of my money. I hate that they get taxpayer funding. With enough public pressure, taxpayer–who also happen to be voters–can get this place shut down!

Please help me shut it down!