7 Easy Ways to Be an Animal Guardian

  1. Language: be mindful of the language you use in conversation. Plant-Based Nation is intended for the veg-curious and transitioning plant-based guru. In our episode, we stuck with the term “pet” because it is a term that is widely recognized by both the plant-based community and carnist community. However, you can certainly use the term “companion” to more accurately describe the relationship between you and the animals you love. Instead of using the term “owner,” you can use the term “guardian.” If you work with horses or dogs, you can use the terms “gentling” or “schooling” instead of “breaking” or “training.”
  2. Conscious Consumerism: think about the products an items you buy for your companion animals. If you have a cat, avoid purchasing toys that use real feathers or wool, control your kitty’s outdoor time with a leash or catio. If you have a dog OR cat, consider purchasing plant-based food brands that meet AAFCO dietary standards (see Episode 8; blog post by Manzanares, 2020).
    • Tip: These are Tabby’s favorite brands
      • Benevo
      • Evolution
      • Wild Earth // click the link to save 50% on your first order and 10% on future orders
  3. Save a life: you don’t need to adopt an animal to save a life, you can do something as simple as saving the spiders and other creepy crawlies in your home when you come across them. Reserve a plastic container (a repurposed yogurt cup or dressing cup will do) and use this container as your customary “bug-catcher.” Be mindful of the season and weather conditions in your area, before you place your small friend outside.
    • Tip: Be cautious about cool weather
      • If it is winter time, your insect friend likely won’t survive being placed outside. Spiders requires several weeks to acclimate to the cool weather, otherwise they are susceptible to freezing. If you have a spider, relocate them to another outdoor shelter (i.e. shed, garage, barn, etc.) or a less-trafficked area in your home. Remember, most spiders are completely harmless and they help with “pest” control. If you have a moth, or stinkbug, you can build a temporary terrarium for them until it gets warmer. Both of these insects will enjoy munching or licking moisture from a fresh piece of fruit (change it daily). Tabby uses apple slices for her stink bugs! Be mindful, some moths require extra care so do a little googling to make sure you’re giving the right foods. Moths also have short lifespans, so they may only live a few weeks.
  4. Deer feeding: Whatever you do, do NOT feed deer with things like corn and hay. Unfortunately, this food will not be digested and the deer can actual starve to death (with a belly full of food). Too many carbohydrates will cause founder in a deer, which can be fatal. It’s best to avoid feeding deer all together, but if you insist on doing it- here is a list of ways to do it safely.
    • Tip: Remember that with deer, LESS is MORE. It is very easy to overfeed wild deer.
      • Unsafe feed: pure hay, pure corn
      • Safe feed: Deer rely on wood browse and tree branches in the winter time, so get creative and create a tree fall pile for your local deer to visit and browse from. Acorns, beechnuts, tree branches, and oats. You can add a small amount of vegetable oil to a mix of nuts and this will give deer a much-appreciated energy boost. Fruits like blackberries, apples, grapes, cherries, and blueberries.
  5. Go for a Plog or Litter Pick: Wildlife appreciate clean and happy homes just as much as the rest of us. If you’re a jogger, you can up the ante of your run by bringing along a garbage bag on your next venture and going on a “Plog”. Essentially, you are collecting garbage along your jogging route with the added challenges of having to jog with your every-growing bag of garbage. If jogging doesn’t suit you, you can opt for a more traditional “Litter Pick.” Take a garbage bag with you and pick up litter on your next hike or walk. Be mindful of busy roads (i.e. wear brightly colored clothes or safety vests, if possible). Earn yourself some extra brownie points if you take the extra step and sort your recycling from your litter collection.
    • Tip: be sure to untwist plastic bottles and twist a part aluminum cans as you go; you don’t want to throw away any caterpillars or ladybugs, do you?
  6. Influence change: Attend your local township or city council meetings to stay “in-the-loop” about environmental policies, construction projects, and complaints from the community. You don’t need to be a politician to get involved at a grassroots level; find out what’s happening locally and collaborate with others to create a more animal-friendly community. (i.e. begin a community bee garden, promote humane beaver management strategies for homeowners, etc.)
  7. Feed the Ducks: The next time you go feed the ducks and geese at your local duckpond, avoid bringing bread. Bread is actually one of the worst things you can feed water fowl! Try bringing apple pieces, bananas, sweet corn, or waterfowl feed. Long-term bread feeding leads to nutrient deficiencies, which can cause Angel Wing– this is (usually) an irreversible wing deformity that will inhibit a bird’s ability to fly (i.e. migrate). Bread also pollutes the water, we don’t want that!

These are only a few ways that you can integrate Animal Guardian practices into your daily life. Remember, it’s tough being an animal in this big and chaotic world. It takes very little effort to do something good for animals. Remember to be mindful, be courteous, and be kind. Your list of good deeds doesn’t need to end here! Take some time today to think about the animals in your life, and consider any other ways that you might be able to help make their lives a little easier and safer.

This post echoes our recent episode, which offered an overview on the history of animal domestication and a discussion of Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better (Stewart, 2016).

Feature image credit to: Photo by Mohammad Wasim on Unsplash

Published by Tabby

I am an artist, a vegan, an equestrian and an avid book lover.

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