June is upon us, and with it comes special day designations that prompt both cheering and jeering from the animal advocacy crowd. Ready? Let’s get start with the big, month-long picture.
June is Turkey Lovers Month! But sadly–and predictably–that “love” is gastronomic in nature, so we suggest lovin’ ’em in a kinder, gentler manner. You’ve heard the myth that they’re so dumb they’ll drown looking up at the sky in a rainstorm? Huh-uh. “Smart animals with personality and character” is how one scientist describes turkeys. Downer alert: Watch Mercy for Animals’ undercover video filmed at a Butterball facility…no turkey lovers here.
If captive animals make you blue, you won’t be celebrating National Zoo and Aquarium Month. These establishments are fond of touting their enrichment programs that ostensibly enhance animals’ existences to make up for their loss of liberty and any semblance of life as nature intended. If you’ve seen psychotic/zoochotic animals pacing and turning circles (video), you probably wonder how the odd rubber ball, cardboard box, whiff of perfume, or Froot Loops treat can make up for the freedom to roam tens or hundreds of square miles in the wild. Also heralded by the industry are reintroduction programs, but it’s just as easy to hold up examples of shortened life spans and death. Zoos and aquariums cite research that claims they help humans “gain emotional ties to wildlife, foster appreciation for the natural world, and engage in conservation initiatives,” but Emory University researchers have found those claims to be lacking:
…their claims—extensively disseminated on zoo and aquarium Web sites—greatly outstrip their methodologically limited findings. We therefore urge zoos and aquariums to cease citing this study in their promotional materials as evidence that visitors’ attitudes are changed for the better, as this conclusion is unwarranted and potentially misleading to consumers (source).
Springing animals from cages is what Adopt a Shelter Cat Month is all about. Click the link to learn how you can help homeless cats even if you aren’t in a position to adopt–or if you’ve already adopted your fill. Disclosure: We’re former shelter cats and we approve this message. ~Larkspur & Juniper
June also means that we probably can’t avoid the moo juice follies. Yes, it’s National Dairy Month. Ugh, so much has been revealed about the heinous abuse of dairy cows that we’ll just say drinking cow’s milk udderly sucks–unless you’re a calf, in which case sucking udders is all the rage, not to mention, nature’s plan. But generations of humans have bought into the myth that we need cow’s milk–you just know there’s some bad psychological juju going down when Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole darn Peanuts gang shills for the dairy industry. Downer alert (no pun intended): Watch Mercy for Animals’ “Ohio Dairy Farm Brutality” here.)
But guess what? June is also National Dairy Alternative Month! If you haven’t yet made the switch to cruelty-free, plant-based milk, what better time? C’mon, you know you want to! Plan to experiment; yours truly, for instance, started out using soy milk and switched to almond. Fruit smoothies never tasted so udderlessly delicious!
Many states offer a free fishing weekend in June to coincide with National Fishing & Boating Week (June 1-9). That’s followed by National Go Fishing Day on June 18th, when sporting anglers trick sentient fish into embedding hooks in their mouths and then, in a display of skill and prowess, “play” the terrified, suffering creatures as they struggle for their lives. In some sort of warped twist, June 18th is also International Sushi Day. If something smells fishy, that’s probably not vegan sushi on your plate!
June 4th is Hug Your Cat Day, though some “authorities” claim it’s May 30th. No matter, hugging kitties is a daily treat for many of us. No feline to hug? Why not stop by your local shelter and hug a few? They’d love the attention, and as soon as one wraps his or her paws around your neck and purrs in your ear, you might suddenly recall that it’s also Adopt a Shelter Cat Month! Serendipity is a beautiful thing.
June 15th is World Juggling Day. I mention this only in case you’d like to consider a gig juggling vegetables (see it happening here) as a lead-in to the next two days: June 16th and 17th are Fresh Veggies Day and Eat Your Vegetables Day, respectively. There’s really nothing left to say…unless it’s vegan pizza.
June 25th is National Catfish Day, proclaimed as such by Pres. Reagan in 1987 in a statement clearly written by the catfish factory farming industry:
Farm-raised catfish have come a long way from their bottom-feeding ancestors. The catfish that are available today, fresh or frozen in markets nationwide, are products of state-of-the-art methods of aquaculture. They thrive in clean freshwater ponds on many American farms, where they are surface-fed soybean meal, corn, fish meal, vitamins, and minerals. Farm-raised catfish not only furnish American consumers with a tasty delicacy but also provide a nutritious, low-calorie source of protein that is also low in cholesterol. Proclamation 5672
In a surprise move, the proclamation failed to consult with Worldwatch Institute, where we learn that it takes just one year for 10 tons of catfish waste to drop into a pond producing 5000 kilograms (about 11,000 pounds) of fish. And let’s not forget that it was southern-state fish farmers who first introduced Asian carp to their industry, and those voracious invasives are now lined up to enter the Great Lakes (animated map). So, in the spirit of all things June, we say hug your catfish–don’t eat one.
Asian carp in the Great Lakes? (Having grown up on one of the Great ones, this is the stuff of nightmares.) Dangerously-mutating pathogens in factory farms? And I’ve been in a state of near-panic since viewing the PBS Newshour’s segment on China’s insatiable appetite for pork, and the country’s bid to purchase mega-giant factory farm Smithfield Foods (undercover video). Thank dog June 18th is on the horizon–International Panic Day. Could be that the nightmare for pigs is just beginning.
But let’s end on a positive note. June 1st is Dare Day, a day to challenge someone else–or ourselves–to do something outrageous. To be the one who stands up, who speaks up–even if we have to do it alone–to make a difference. Give yourself the gift of watching “The Power of One.” It’s under two minutes long, but packs enough inspiration to last a lifetime. Happy June!