Written by PETA
Today marks International Women's Day, a day to celebrate women's groundbreaking achievements and continue to encourage and support them to create positive change. Here at PETA India, we have no shortage of strong, accomplished women to look to – we were founded by one, after all. In honour of International Women's Day, here are five of the women who are leading the animal rights movement and who embody this year's theme: "Inspiring Change".
Let's start with our own Poorva Joshipura. As PETA India's chief executive officer, Poorva is the driving force behind everything that we do. Known for her bold "never-back-down" style, she leads by example. She has gone undercover to investigate facilities where animals are abused, confined herself to cages in order to demonstrate the plight of chickens who are killed for their flesh and gone to jail for disrupting a Michael Kors show to protest fur. Poorva lives by the credo "never be silent". Check out what PETA India has accomplished in the last year alone.
Mimi Bekhechi and Tonio Borg, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy.
As PETA UK's associate director, Mimi Bekhechi heads the group's campaigns as well as its media, marketing and corporate work. Under her leadership, PETA UK has grown into one of the largest animal rights groups in that country and has achieved many victories, including convincing world-famous department store Selfridges to abandon foie gras sales as well as the House of Lords, Wimbledon, Lord's Cricket Ground and some of the country's largest catering companies, Compass Group and Brakes. She has taken on the European Commission over a threat to its cosmetics testing ban, debated heads of the animal testing industry and challenged the Ministry of Defence to stop killing animals in archaic trauma training exercises. She has done everything from sit in a crate to raise awareness of factory-farming conditions and appear on television and radio programmes to defend the rights of all animals to live free from oppression.
PETA US Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman oversees campaigns, marketing, corporate affairs, the youth division and Web outreach efforts. Even her job description could make you tired. But Tracy never seems to be.
She has helped PETA US achieve milestones such as convincing Calvin Klein to drop fur, stopping NASA from sending primates into space, getting the first-ever charges filed against a factory farmer for cruelty to chickens and convincing the top 10 US advertising agencies to pledge never to use great apes in their ads. And with her guidance, PETA US was named the number-one non-profit organisation that 13- to 24-year-olds in North America would volunteer for.
Lisa Lange and Sophie.
PETA US Senior Vice President of Communications Lisa Lange was hired in jail. She had been arrested for helping to free birds who were about to be shot and was put in a cell with PETA founder Ingrid E Newkirk. Rather than pay bail money to the city that sponsored the bird hunt, they spent 12 days locked up. Lisa got a job, and then she got the hunt stopped. In two decades at PETA US, Lisa has helped win resounding victories, including ending car-crash tests on animals and getting animal testing facilities shut down and the workers indicted on felony cruelty-to-animals charges.
And finally, Ingrid E Newkirk started PETA US with a couple of people in an apartment, no money and a belief that everyone should have respect and compassion for animals. Did she meet with seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Of course. Did people scoff at her? Naturally. But Ingrid was determined to stand up against animal abuse, even if she was the only one to do so. But that isn't what happened.
Multitudes of people have agreed with her. Soon PETA US protests were making headlines, exposing what companies were doing to animals. And soon after that, companies were agreeing to meet with PETA US in order to avoid facing a protest. PETA US won more and more victories and gained more and more members. Now it's the largest animal rights organisation in the world, and it has affiliates worldwide.
Are you the next Mimi, Poorva, Tracy, Lisa or Ingrid? They had no idea that they would change the world – until they did. And you can do it, too!
An article in the Hindustan Times discussed how some of the most prestigious companies in India are focusing on new hires who have a strong commitment to social causes and some experience to go along with it. In fact, PETA was singled out as one of the organisations that attracts exactly the kind of people these companies are looking for. So in addition to helping animals at every turn – and making sure that everyone has fun doing it – PETA Youth's Street Teamers network could be your pathway to a satisfying and lucrative job.
PETA Youth – PETA India's division for teens and 20-somethings – takes on animal abuse like no one else. Rallies, street theatre–style demonstrations, graffiti walls at college fests – you name it. Do you feel that you might not be up on all the issues? We've got you covered with literature and videos on everything from cruel and irrelevant experiments on animals to how eating meat and dairy products is like taking a wrecking ball to your health. If that still doesn't have you in your comfort zone, just e-mail your questions to Youth@PETAIndia.org for some one-on-one contact with our staff.
If festivals are your thing, take your pick: Sunburn, the Escape Festival of Art and Music, NH7 Weekender and the Strawberry Fields Forever Music Festival. PETA Youth is front and centre at all of them. Into music? Then you'll be happy to learn that many of the biggest names in Indian rock are on our side, including Indian Ocean, Parikrama, Pentagram, Raghu Dixit Project and many more.
Are you ready to get active with the boldest animal rights group in India? Just sign up, and we'll help you lead the charge against anyone who abuses animals.
We'd like to introduce the winners of our "Snap a Stray, Save a Life" photo contest!
We asked you to take original pictures of desi dogs – poignant pictures that would tell their stories, reveal their personalities and show what their lives are like. We asked you to make people want to adopt instead of buying and to understand the importance of sterilisation in order to prevent more dogs from struggling to survive on the streets or ending up in animal shelters.
Your photographs were inspiring. Choosing the winners was hard, but here they are:
In first place is Anshima Raj, with this moving portrait:
In second place is Nandini Shahasane, with her picture of a community dog:
And rounding out the winners is Jairoop Riar, with a picture of a dog relaxing with her pups, driving home the message that just like us, animals have emotions, too:
The winners will receive photography courses and other prizes courtesy of St. Paul's Institute of Communication Education. And although these three talented photographers may have claimed the prizes, everyone who entered the contest is a winner for helping homeless dogs.
You can win unparalleled love and appreciation by always rescuing and never buying your animal companions.
Congratulations to vegan hottie Jared Leto for winning an Oscar for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club! He is super-talented, way cute and really influential. Because of vegan celebrities such as Jared, Joaquin Phoenix, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, there were vegan options at the Governors Ball – the Oscars' after-party – in Los Angeles. Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck reportedly prepared risotto with black truffles as well as rice noodles with vegetables and other delicacies that vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike could enjoy.
Since so many stars have gone vegan – to help animals, improve their health and protect the environment – it's no wonder that vegan foods are appearing on every menu.
Of course, we "ordinary folks" can feast on great-tasting vegan food, too. Order a free vegan/vegetarian starter kit to get more information about animal-friendly stars and award-worthy vegan recipes.
During a High Court of Bombay hearing on 3 March 2014, PETA's lawyers Shiraz Rustomjee and Rohan Rajadhyaksha presented findings by elephant experts Dr EK Easwaran, Assistant Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry in Kerala, and Dr Yaduraj Khadpekar, senior veterinary officer of Wildlife SOS, who visited the 14-year-old elephant named Sunder on 19 February and argued that he is kept so severely chained that he's unable to lie down.
The findings showed that Sunder is displaying signs of severe frustration and mental distress, manifest as constant head-wobbling, swaying and other abnormal repetitive movements. As per the report and evidence submitted to the court, Sunder was displaying aggressive behaviour only towards his own mahout, Hyder Abu Bakr, and no aggression towards other people during the inspection, indicating that Sunder feels threatened by the mahout. Sunder is at the centre of a case in which PETA is calling for his release to a sanctuary.
Member of the Legislative Assembly Vinay Kore donated Sunder to the Jyotiba temple in 2007, and the elephant has been kept chained since then. In December 2013, PETA obtained video footage showing that Sunder's mahout violently beat him with a pole near a poultry shed, where he had been moved at Kore's behest. That same month, the High Court of Bombay ordered Sunder's transfer to a sanctuary, but he has yet to be released by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Sarjan Bhagat. Kore and the Kolhapur Division of the Forest Department claimed Sunder was not being transferred because he is in musth (a period of heightened sexual urge, which can make captive bull elephants aggressive from frustration) and therefore cannot be transported.
However, the recent experts' report clarified that Sunder is not showing signs of a normal musth condition but of moda (or adolescent) musth and pointed out that Sunder can be transported to a sanctuary and should be, in order to avoid further damage to his mental health. The report also confirmed that Sunder's current housing facilities are grim and do not even meet the minimum basic standards.
After hearing the arguments by Mr Rustomjee and seeing the experts' report, the court acknowledged that the mahout is untrained and that it is cruel to keep an elephant chained in this way.
Among the stars who have taken to Twitter or joined the #FreeSunder campaign in other ways are Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Arjun Rampal, R Madhavan, Gulshan Grover and many others.
The matter has been adjourned to 11 March 2014 for the final hearing.
PETA continues to call for Sunder to be released to a sanctuary, where he can live unchained and in the company of other elephants.
Oscar frenzy was at its height as this year’s Academy Awards took place last Sunday. But amid all the gossip and dress speculation, what we really looked forward to was seeing some of our favourite compassionate stars step out on the red carpet to show off their vegan “glow”.
These are a few of the beautiful, talented Hollywood vegans we’ve watched out for:
Ellen took centre stage at this year’s awards – she hosted them! The much-loved talk-show star has been cruelty-free for years and even had a vegan wedding.
Winning Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, the heartthrob has 20 years of animal-free eating behind him!
Compassionate Joaquin is the star of Best Original Screenplay winning Her as well as some hard-hitting PETA videos!
Gorgeous Olivia, who stars alongside Joaquin in Her, already has one coveted award to boast about – in 2010, she was named PETA US’ Sexiest Vegetarian Celeb!
Jessica, who’s had two Oscar nominations to date, said of her vegan diet: “I don’t want to torture anything. … [I]t’s about trying to live a life where I’m not contributing to the cruelty in the world”.
Anne, who walked away with the Best Supporting Actress Award in 2013, even had custom vegan high heels made for the big night.
James CameronThe visionary Avatar director and multiple Oscar winner is a passionate advocate for a plant-based diet, telling fans, “By changing what you eat, you will change the entire contract between the human species and the natural world”.
Compassionate cutie Casey refuses to let dead animal flesh pass his lips and has teamed up with PETA US to speak out against practices such as cruel dehorning.
The award-winning Black Swan beauty eschews meat, eggs and dairy products because torturing animals is “just wrong”.
That’s right – Spiderman is vegan! The star reportedly likes to have his own vegan chef on set while filming and even sent back a Mercedes because it had leather seats.
Inspired to follow in these stars’ award-winning footsteps? Get started on a plant-based diet today.
In honour of National Science Day (28 February), we've compiled the following list of the top five ways that PETA affiliates are modernising science in India and around the world:
Show your support for animals who are suffering in laboratories by letting the world know that testing on animals is dead wrong and that you won't be part of it!
Award-winning actor Gulshan Grover has sent an urgent letter to Maharashtra Forest Minister Dr Patangrao Kadam urging him to help ensure that 14-year-old elephant Sunder is sent to a sanctuary.
The letter was sent in advance of the next High Court of Bombay hearing, scheduled for 3 March, for a case in which PETA is seeking Sunder's release. MLA Vinay Kore donated Sunder to the Jyotiba temple in 2007, and the elephant has been kept chained and inside dark sheds for most of that time. PETA has obtained video footage showing that his mahout violently beat him with a pole near a poultry shed where he has been chained at the behest of Kore. In August 2012, Kadam's office issued an order for Sunder's release, but it has yet to be implemented. In December 2013, the High Court of Bombay also ordered Sunder's transfer to a sanctuary, but he has yet to be released.
"Unfortunately, despite orders from your good office, as well as from the High Court of Bombay, for Sunder's release, he is still being held fast in iron shackles, living in mortal fear of the very same mahout who was seen on video beating him without mercy", Grover writes. "I may have played a bad man in films, but we are dealing with a real-life 'bad man' situation here that cries out for justice.”
Join the campaign to help #FreeSunder.
After PETA, People for Animals, MP Maneka Gandhi and others contacted the Ministry of Human Resource Development and representatives of PETA India met with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the CBSE sent an advisory to all its 18,000 affiliated schools across India strongly urging them to implement a policy that bans students and staff members from wearing leather shoes in favour of animal- and Earth-friendly canvas shoes. In the advisory, the CBSE refers to the policy as an "ethical" and "compassionate" way to protect the environment and animals from harm.
At slaughterhouses, many animals are killed in full view of each other with dull knives and then skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious. Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and slaughterhouses because skin is the most economically important by-product of the meat industry.
Leather is also no friend of the environment, as it shares responsibility for all the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry as well as the pollution caused by the toxins used in tanning.
The CBSE's action is a major leap forward in the campaign to have leather shoes banned from school uniforms. Already, Himachal Pradesh and the Punjab have moved to ban leather shoes in schools, and the government of Goa has informed PETA that most of its schools already use canvas shoes. The Animal Welfare Board of India, a statutory body operating under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, has also asked all states to shift to environmentally friendly options for school uniforms.
Way to go, CBSE! You can also pledge never to wear leather here.
Milk sold at the market these days comes from cruel factory farms, where cows spend their lives in tiny stalls, have their calves taken from them so that humans can steal the milk that was meant to be theirs and are often injected with Oxytocin, which is used by misguided farmers to try to force the cows to produce unnaturally large quantities of milk. It causes cows to have severe stomach cramps, mimicking labour.
Instead of offering cruel dairy products, opt for coconut milk, rose water, coconut water or sugar. Bilwa and betel leaves, flowers and jujube fruit are also holy, cruelty-free and friendly to the environment. And did you know that water is the official offering for purity?
By avoiding dairy products, you can also help keep the environment clean, as plastic bags are often ingested by cows and other animals.
You can make a difference by pledging to stop consuming dairy products and saying NO to animal abuse in India now.
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