Change The World With Your Values And Volunteer

Change The World With Your Values And Volunteer

The world needs more people who aren't in it for money.

As a college freshman, I have thrived off of naps in between my classes. The usual Monday, Wednesday, Friday consists of me waking up five minutes before my 8:00 AM and then going back to my dorm and sleeping until my 1:00 AM.

This spell was broken a couple of Mondays ago by my beautifully-driven Kappa Delta sister, Kennedy. She and I, along with another sister Annie, went for breakfast at the cafe, where she asked if I wanted to join them in going to the animal shelter. I agreed, thinking we were just going to stop by and they would apply to work there, but quickly found out that they just want to volunteer their time and help the overworked women of the shelter.

We first went into the cat rooms, where tons of stray kittens and older kitties just wanted love and attention. There was even a sign on the door saying "Warning: I will climb on you!" After loving on many cats who needed good homes, we went into the back to walk dogs after they ate breakfast.

Exactly like the cats, they only wanted love and attention and enjoyed being able to stretch their legs in the sun, instead of being cooped up in a small kennel.

Many of the strays, both cats and dogs, were ill, or had physical disabilities due to being homeless and on the streets. Being able to make them happy and feel loved is something that made the rest of my day one of the best in a while. Volunteering is something that I love to do, but being one on one with battered animals who needed help was truly an enlightening experience.

If you have the time and effort to put into volunteering, not only at animal shelters but hospitals, preschools, nursing homes, etc., please do. The world needs more people who aren't in it for money, but for the kindness of their hearts.

Change the world with your values, and lead others while you do so, you won't regret it.

Cover Image Credit: Kelsi Mills

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The Illegal Ivory Trade Is Violently Driving African Elephants To Extinction

Although outlawed, the illegal poaching of elephants for their coveted ivory is actively happening all across the world.

Plenty of you may be thinking, "Why should I care about what is happening to elephants?" To which I want to ask, can you imagine living in a world without elephants? Unfortunately, we are headed in that direction, with only about 415,000 African elephants left in the entire world.

Elephants are among the most culturally significant creatures alive and are economic gold mines, attracting tons of tourism money to countries with poorer economies. It is quite difficult to comprehend, only being able to see elephants in pictures and then, the possibility that the next generation will never witness a real, living elephant. If humans will not stop the murders, this prospect will come closer and closer to becoming a reality.

Elephants are easily deemed as one of the most iconic and emotionally intelligent animals, but there is one part of their body that is considered so valuable that poachers murder them in cold blood — ivory.

Elephants grow those beautiful ivory tusks at a very young age. Their tusks are actually their teeth, meaning that about 1/3 of an elephant's tusk is not protruding from their mouth. Elephants need their tusks, not only to function as teeth, but also to fend off natural predators, dig, attract mates and plenty of other activities to ensure survival in the wild. But even if elephants survive being poached, they are now extremely vulnerable to disease and predation.

The poachers who kill elephants are not at all concerned about making sure the elephants feel no pain during death or even respect them when they pass away. These poachers will run up on herds of elephants that they have been tracking, shoot them with automatic weapons and chop off their tusk with axes or saw them off with chainsaws. They will leave them laying in their death spot to rot without the blink of an eye.

If poachers and their employers will go to these extreme measures to obtain ivory, what is the big end gain?

Even though around 70 percent of the world's poached ivory ends up in China and Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, the market for ivory has active consumers all around the globe, including the United Kingdom and United States. Ivory is seen as a status symbol, as it is quite expensive and becoming more scarce with the decline in the elephant species. It can be made into jewelry, statues and even as serve as an ingredient in ancient Chinese medicine recipes. Buyers will spend large amounts of money to acquire valuable ivory creations, which only makes the black market stronger and in demand.

Despite their prehistoric appearance and humongous size, elephants are known to be as emotionally intelligent as humans; they can grieve, love, be playful and have feelings almost identical to those that humans possess. Most importantly, elephants can feel pain and die slow, agonizing deaths when their tusks are cut at the root.

In a historic and necessary vote, this year Hong Kong and mainland China have chosen to ban ivory from being traded and sold. Ivory had been traded in China for over 150 years, and people are finally starting to realize the negative effects that poaching and illegal ivory selling has had on elephants and their ecosystems. China is hoping to close all ivory storefronts and tents. If there is no market or demand for ivory, there will be no poaching.

So, what can you do to stop the poaching and killing of elephants?

There are dozens of ways that you can help save the elephants, such as donating to the Save the Elephants fund will assist in researching and monitoring the care and keeping of elephants. You can also avoid any ivory products at all costs, and spread the word to protect our elephants. It is our duty to make sure this magnificent species does not die because of human greed.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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I'm Not An Aggressive Vegan Like The Radicals You See Online, So You Can Stop Mocking Me Now

I have a reason for the way I eat, and I won't shove it in your face.

"I'm vegan."

Before you click off of this article and assume I am some dirty hippie that drinks kombucha (which is actually really good), hugs trees, and yells "meat is murder" outside of every restaurant that serves meat, hear me out.

With the increasing popularity of the vegan movement, there has also been an increase in discussions regarding why people are vegan, as well as the addition of arguments being made for or against the concept of not eating animal products. Many people are quick to assume that vegans are aggressive and intolerant to those who choose not to be vegan, but that is definitely not the case.

Many of the vegans that are known on social media are radical vegans. They yell at others for eating meat, shove their beliefs down peoples throats, and choose to use their anger regarding how animals are treated to fuel their clear hatred for the meat and dairy industries. Yelling about what they believe in and making people feel awful for not believing in what they believe is just wrong and makes other non- radical vegans look bad by association.

Not only does shouting and being angry make us look irrational and excessive, but shoving veganism in the faces of those who are not vegan does nothing but make people not want to listen, and in effect, not want to know about veganism or even consider going vegan.

Personally, I believe that the best thing one can do for the movement is to inform others of why they choose to live a vegan lifestyle while doing so in a way that isn't aggressive or offensive to those they are trying to reach out to. I also think leading by example is the best way to convince and inform others of what veganism really is and what the vegan lifestyle entails.

Being part of a community where people are often seen as aggressive is difficult, especially because I am not an aggressive vegan.

When people ask me why I'm not eating something or why I ordered such "weird food," I noticed that I have become afraid to say that I can't eat what is being offered because I'm vegan, mainly due to the responses I had gotten from others when I first went vegan. My friends would respond with rude statements like "that's annoying" or "umm.. why?" and sometimes would even get super defensive over their food choices solely because I had the audacity to utter the words "I'm vegan."

It seemed like people were offended automatically by the fact that I was vegan, or they would assume that I wanted to get into an argument right then and there about the ethics of factory farms and why drinking milk is as bad as eating meat, when that was the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. It made all situations where I ate out or ate in front of people difficult because I would always get mocked or questioned about what I was eating and what exactly was in it.

People would also constantly check in with me and ask if I was "still vegan," and when I would respond with a simple and hesitant "ya," they would automatically get annoyed and kind of move on from the topic or continue asking me ignorant or inappropriate questions that I could only answer in a way that would end up with them being offended or feeling attacked.

Regardless of the reactions to my veganism, I will always choose to live a life of compassion for all species, including our own.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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