Animal Matters No 24: 15th February, 2013

I went through the 10-day silent meditation course to help me withdraw from cravings and live a more peaceful and detached life. I was a big flop at it. I couldn’t stay focused on observing subtle bodily changes. At first I loved the quiet and the stillness, but as the days rolled by, I found my panic attacks growing, not dissipating. The value of that meditation course was to remind me of the blessing of free movement. I can run! I can climb! I can leave the table if you offend me. I can dandle on my lap the newborn child of one of our best animal activists and breathe in his pristine perfection. Meditation’s rigours demand us to hold in our fidgets, as if every bit of us—from the tip of your head to shoulders to hips to knees to ankles—is hobbled. Without strict mental preparation it is torture.

I have seen pigs – front feet tied and back, loaded live onto their transport trucks.  When buffalos, bulls, cows are transported they are sometimes made to lie down, tied from every protruding bit of themselves, and then other layers of the bound and destitute still-breathing  bovines are stacked on top of them.

One day in the meditation course I decided to bolt. I prepared for my discharge with a racing heart. But the teacher was most serious about his charge, and said “that’s impossible!” The very thought of my wanting to leave seemed to strike him as malicious mischief: he was personally outraged.

Astonishing that 12 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean during the 300-plus slave trading years. Often they would spend the entire sea journey crouched and stacked in the lower belly of the slave ships.

India ranks first in world buffalo population – 94 million. Forget for a moment the horrors of slaughter. Consider the horrors of confinement itself and meditate upon the lives lost in chains.

Fruits of Collaboration: Congratulations to JFAPO member Aashray, who are inaugurating their new shelter in Jaipur next week. This will be the second shelter in the city of Jaipur that can house dogs and other animals, and is great news. We wish them our very best.
Meanwhile, nearly 1500 students were educated about animal protection – in particular pet shops and dog breeding, and generally, about 20 simple ways they can help animals everyday. Nearly 5000 peope attended the Birding Fair organised by member Tourism and Welfare Society of India (TWSI) and with a stall for JFAPO and all its members, we were able to reach out to such a large number – an excellent platform at an excellent event!

Living Free: Dan's tour for veg outreach in India, is now complete. This has helped animate the outreach in India, which we will support and grow over the coming months. Thank you Dan! Here's the full list of the cities he visited and the work he did

Excellent resource from Dr. Nandita Shah, SHARAN, who summarises in this paper the milk myth – very useful summary of all you need to know about the 'health' benefits of cow's milk.

Ending Experimentation…
If you are looking for an opportunity to help animals suffering for just vanity, Be Cruelty-Free week (March 11-15) is around the corner. This is a chance to make our voices heard for a ban on cosmetics testing on animals in India – raising awareness of decision makers and consumers. Get active, and organise an event in your city to speak out for animals in laboratories. Email for info

Puja writes: Dolphins are best left riding the waves of an open sea. So FIAPO is joining hands with wonderful people in Goa to organise a 'Ride for Dolphins' event, which kicks off with the screening of the The Cove on the 8th March, and then an exciting cycle ride, will then take place the next day where cyclists will set off with banners and flags – bring your cycle and join in.

Recent media reports of a partially blind elephant named ‘Ramachandran’ forced to work while in ‘musth’, reminds us of the sad plight of temple elephants. The elephant ran amok during a festival held in Kerala, leading to the death of 3 persons. We have called for severe action on the elephant owners for this act of abuse and cruelty.

We were recently alerted to the Kanpur zoo’s plans of acquiring a pair of lions. The zoo has a poor record of substandard care provided to its animals and is undergoing an investigation into the recent death of 31 blackbucks. We’ve asked UP CM urging him to halt all such plans, until the zoo improves its standards and complies with the zoo rules as per the CZA.

Final reminder to register for the National Dog Welfare Conference organised by Dogs Trust scheduled for 27 and 28 February 2013 in Chennai. More here

In focus: Blue Cross of India
Blue Cross of India which incidentally will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee celebrations next year is India’s oldest and largest animal welfare organization. With over 2000 in-shelter animals at any point of time ,it operates out of 3 facilities in and around Chennai. More about them here

When will I be too old to wear kohl? THAT is the question. I love sparkling jewellery, decorative gold, gaudy bangles, and every festive threaded thing. One of the reasons I was drawn to India in the 1980s was because my first moments here revealed what I had been searching for all those years in the second hand and vintage clothing shops of America. My 6’ frame, which is slowly melting; my pointless wisps of grey hair—none of it deters me from cladding myself in sarees, bangles and bindis.
Some must see me as an imposter. But others must see my colourful get-up as I do: we invent our lives, our very selves. If we don’t do it, who will? The cultures we come from don’t necessarily reflect the persons we are. I was not born a vegan. I chose to become one. None of us were born animal protectors. We chose to help animals and we renew those visions of ourselves every day, every hour.

Whoever are our families, whatever our culture, we are not bound by who we WERE, but we are each free to Become. Who are you today? Who will you be tomorrow? What a precious gift to be able craft the answer yourself!

Help animals in your own way; remember – no action is too small.

Best wishes,

Erika Abrams

To subscribe visit

To unsubscribe email