Ringling Bros to End Live Elephant Show

Wow! What a win for elephants & for all those who boycotted, protested, petitioned, and spoke out against the cruel and abusive treatment of elephants at the circus. Ringling Bros is expected to end their elephant shows by 2018, but what happens then?

 

While we are thrilled that the elephant acts are ending, it brings up an interesting question: Will people have as much exposure to elephants? For many people, their love of elephants stemmed from a childhood experience at the circus. Many kids take field trips to the circus in school, not as a fun activity, but as a type of cultural exposure.

 

After time, will people fail to recognize the majesty of the elephant?

 

Probably not – thanks to the good ole internet.

 

Luckily, elephants will no longer be subjected to cruel circus practices. Now… to work on the poaching and ivory trade….

 

Baby elephant & mom

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Family Vacation – The GRAND Canyon (part 2)

By Megan Vick

 

It’s hard to believe that 3 days in the Grand Canyon warrants 2 full posts, but it’s true! There is so much to see and do – no matter where you turn, it’s a new view with new colors depending on where the sun hits the canyon. In addition to spending a day hiking** around the canyon’s rim, we also managed to fit in a jeep tour and a helicopter tour. By the way, there are a ton of pics in the post, so KEEP SCROLLING!

**By hiking, I mean sticking to the mostly-paved pathway which winds itself a breathtaking, yet safe, distance from the rim.

 

Pink Jeep Tours

Remember I mentioned the ill-fated mule ride? We decided to do a Pink Jeep Tour after a recommendation from an awesome friend. He saw Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona when he was on vacation and came back to tell me all about them.

We were able to hop in an open-air Jeep with the whole fam and 2 new friends to see some of the less-traveled areas of the Grand Canyon. I have no idea where we were (maybe the east side of the south rim…) but it was absolutely gorgeous! Mike, our driver, was so much fun, so knowledgeable, and even let us gallivant a little longer than usual. He also indulged my quest to find elk – and we found 2!

If you ever have the chance to do a Pink Jeep Tour – whether it’s at the Grand Canyon, Vegas, or Sedona, it is well worth it. Consider this my verified recommendation.

 

 

jeep

Matt & me in front of the Pink Jeep. The whole family was there, but there wasn’t a good picture of all of us.

 

 

boy elk

A young male elk – I stalked him for about 20 minutes to get this shot. He was very nice about it.

 

 

lady elk

A young female elk. She was kickin it in the brush by the restroom… just loving life.

 

 

Mike

Mike, our friendly driver!

 

 

 

 

Maverick Helicopter Tours

After another recommendation, we took a chance (an expensive chance) on a morning helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon. Bennett, our delightful pilot, played awesome music (Def Leppard, anyone?) and told us some incredible facts about the canyon. We opted for the earliest tour they offer because we were told that once the sun comes up, the canyon can get hazy which doesn’t make for the best views or pictures. With about 5 minutes left in the flight, the sky got hazy and we could no longer see the mountains in Flagstaff (which is really far away!).

We looked at a lot of helicopter tour companies, but Maverick got some of the best reviews and came personally recommended. Now, I’m personally recommending it to you!

 

The group!

The group!

 

Colorado River

Colorado River

 

heli 2

 

Bennett, our pilot, with everyone!

Bennett, our pilot, with everyone!

 

Family Vacation – The GRAND Canyon (part 1)

By Megan Vick

 

The Grand Canyon truly lives up to the word “Grand.” (Something tells me “The Huge Colossal Massive Canyon” would not go over well, although it may be a more appropriate description.) We spent 3 days in Tusayan, AZ – which by all accounts is barely a town, but it is only 6 miles from the park entrance. There is no internet and barely any phone service, so it’s truly a vacation. Completely disconnected from the world… it was lovely.

 

Food

It was much more difficult to find vegan food in Tusayan compared to Las Vegas. In a no-stoplight town, there was a Wendy’s, McDonald’s, a steakhouse, and a mexican restaurant. Luckily, I brought yummy snacks and we spent most days being active around the canyon. We hit up the Mexican restaurant one day for a late lunch and I got as close to vegan as I could by eating some yummy enchiladas without cheese and sour cream. We weren’t there for the food – that’s for sure. The truly breathtaking Grand Canyon took all my focus.

 

Grand Canyon

What can you say about The Grand Canyon that hasn’t already been said… We’ve been back for 2 months now and it’s still so fresh and incredible. Pictures simply don’t do the canyon justice, but here’s a good story:

 

While we were in the throws of booking our trip, someone highly recommended taking a mule ride to the canyon. After looking at some interesting tours, we decided that a 3-Day trip (1 day ride, 1 day in the bottom of the canyon, 1 day ride back) was a bit too much. I’ll be honest – our idea of camping is the Holiday Inn in Tusayan where there was no internet (True Story… no interwebs for 4 days…).  We agreed we would take a 3 hour mule ride along the canyon rim – sounds fun, right?

 

Leading up to the trip, Matt & I had a growing sense of unease about this mule ride. After doing a lot of research, we realized you can walk along the same trail for free (instead of the $120 per person mule ride). Then, we realized, you don’t actually ride a mule alongside the canyon, you ride for an hour and a half to the canyon, hitch the mule for 30 minutes, then ride an hour and a half back to the barn. Yeah… not for us. Plus, we were never really comfortable making a creature ride us along the rim of a canyon for pleasure. Seems a little cruel and unusual – but that’s just me…

 

I’m sure the trip is fantastic, but we cancelled anyway and hiked our way along the rim – which was beautiful. They also have buses for you to ride from lookout point to lookout point – and you can catch the same bus back to the parking lot if you don’t feel like hoofing back the way you came (which is what we did).  Here are some fun photos from the trip.

 

The whole family at the Canyon

The whole family at the Canyon

 

 

Megan & Matt on a ledge with nothing beneath us. Mom did not like taking this picture.

 

I really made Mom mad here. I told her to take a picture in case it's the last one... ever. She was not happy.

I really made Mom mad here. I told her to take a picture in case it’s the last one… ever. She was not happy.

 

 

I am cranky because I hit my head on that stupidly low tree branch. Mom said it was insta-karma for making her nervous.

I am cranky because I hit my head on that stupidly low tree branch. Mom said it was insta-karma for making her nervous.

 

 

There’s more on the Grand Canyon to come!

 

 

 

 

Family Vacation – Desert Southwest

By Megan Vick

 

I must warn you – this is just Part 1… Part 1 of many.

 

Not too long ago, we came back from a whirlwind trip in the Southwest. Our original plan was to spend a week in Tucson, Arizona for the annual Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild conference. Knowing my parents love for travel and adventure, we invited them. Shortly after inviting my parents, we realized that Matt’s mom would be officially retired, so we invited Matt’s parents, Ron & Robin, along. They decided they didn’t want to go to Tucson and hang out while we were at a conference, but suggested hanging out in Las Vegas the week before the conference!

 

And oh, while we’re at it… we might as well go to the Grand Canyon… it’s, like, right there!

 

What was supposed to be a quick conference trip for Matt and me ended up being a 2 week family vacation in the desert southwest. It was AWESOME. We’re very lucky we like our respective in-laws so much and even luckier they like each other! The four “grown-ups” (and I use that term very loosely) even went to see Jersey Boys together while in Las Vegas!

 

We’ll be sharing a post about each destination with recommendations/reviews – just in case you decide to head that way. Put us on your reader app, because we’ve got nothing but goodness for you here!

 

A Vegan in Vegas!

4 Ways to De-Stress

By Megan Vick

 

Recently, we took a two-week vacation in the desert southwest – starting in Las Vegas and ending in Tucson, Arizona. Frantically packing just hours before our 8:30 AM departure, we made sure we each had the e-reader, cell phones, tablets, and at least one laptop. When I realized how many electronics we had, I started wondering about how people can truly enjoy a vacation and de-stress while still being “connected.”

 

What happened on our vacation was truly remarkable. Once we arrived in Arizona, the world melted away. We had little to no cell reception and wireless was no where to be found. The laptop and tablets were just extra weight in the travel bag and the phones were turned on airplane mode and used as cameras.

 

And then it happened: I realized I wasn’t stressed out. 

 

I had no control over the lack of connectivity, so I was able to let go and truly enjoy the last half of vacation with my family. So, for those of you looking to de-stress, here are 4 ways you can do it.

 

Relaxed cat

 

1) No Electronics

Absolutely none – not even your e-reader. Without electronics buzzing and tweedling, you can focus on whatever you want: yourself, your partner, your kids, your garden, the way your pinky toe looks – anything you want. You can institute a “No Electronics Day” at your home,  or simply take 30 minutes every day to get away from anything connected.

Try it – you’ll love it.

 

2) Get outside

Being outside – especially on a gorgeous day – will increase those warm and fuzzy feelings, which will help you be more productive later. Spend sometime in your garden, go for a bike ride or run, take a book (yes, a real book) to the park and read for a while, or meditate outside. Connect with nature – not the internet.

 

3) Indulge

Cheat on your diet. Buy the shoes. Get the luxurious skin care item you want.

Do something for yourself that you wouldn’t normally do – even if it’s just for a few minutes.

 

4) Be Selfish

Very similar to indulging, by being selfish, you get the chance to determine what will happen in your day. If you don’t feel like doing the laundry tonight, especially because you’ve done 1-3 above already, then don’t do the laundry. If you need a “mental health” day from work and want to play hooky – do it.

 

At the end of the day, it’s all about moderation. Remember, there is no “Most Stressed Out Person” award. There is only you, your health, and happiness. Without those, you can’t be the best person for your family, for your employer, or the planet.

 

Take care of yourself. There’s only one you – and you are special.

 

Namaste

Save BU Wrestling!

By Megan Vick

It’s no secret we support the Save BU Wrestling cause. What’s this cause, you ask? In 2013, Boston University announced they were dropping the wrestling program. Wrestlers, parents, BU faculty, and other BU athletes were outraged and the movement began. Now, athletes across the country are joining together to support the wrestlers and protest against those who made this decision. You can read more about why we support Save BU Wrestling on our post, The Value of a Team.

Here’s the History:

In 2012, New Balance (yeah, the shoe company) donated $3 million to Boston University for a proposed $24 million lacrosse field – before BU had a lacrosse team. New Balance just entered the growing market of lacrosse apparel – convenient, n’est pas? It’s mighty suspicious that a university with no lacrosse team gets a donation from a company who makes lacrosse apparel. The rest of the $21 million was fronted by members of the Board of Trustees.

Well, smack my booty and call me Judy… wouldn’t you guess that BU announced shortly thereafter they were adding a men’s lacrosse team (oh yeah, and a women’s crew team). And the new lacrosse field would be aptly named, New Balance Field. Luckily, the athletic department had a meeting with all sport coaches and the Athletic Director said no sports would be cut to accommodate the 2 new sports. A year later – BU announced they were dropping wrestling after the 2013 – 2014 season.

Title 9  Shenanigans

Don’t you love the word “Shenanigans?” It’s the best word to describe what happened when BU decided to add 2 new sports. A Title 9 expert reviewed the sports program at BU and found it was ridiculously out of compliance, which could cause a pretty hefty lawsuit against BU. Men’s Lacrosse would add 40 men to the program and Women’s Crew would add 15 women. This leaves an excess of 25 men throwing off Title 9 compliance. What’s a university to do? Add a women’s team? No, no – the university drops wrestling. That makes a lot of sense except for the fact that Boston University denied Title 9 was a factor when they decided to drop wrestling. The real conundrum occurred when the Athletic Director was quoted in multiple BU press sources and on a radio interview saying, “Title 9 is always a factor when expanding an athletic program and [BU] had to consider Title 9 in order to add lacrosse.”

Suspicious Ostrich

Suspicious Ostrich is Suspicious

The Future of BU Wrestling

As of right now, BU is starting to sweat the efforts of the Save BU Wrestling group. Not only are they vocal, but they have also created the Boycott New Balance movement opposing New Balance’s role in events leading up to the discontinuation of Terriers Wrestling. While the movements are strong on campus and through the friends and family of unhappy BU students, it’s important to encourage this effort in the vegan community. Two members of the Board of Trustees, David D’Allessandro and Kenneth Feld, are involved with SeaWorld and Barnum & Bailey Circus, respectively.

By all accounts, both SeaWorld and all animal-based circuses have a track record for animal cruelty (have you seen Blackfish?) and now these two organizations have members who are directly involved with the discontinuation of one of the world’s oldest sports at the country’s most expensive university (yes, more expensive than Duke!). There have been rumors in the BU camp to start a boycott of SeaWorld and Feld Entertainment, owner of Barnum & Bailey Circus. Knowing how long vegans have been actively boycotting these two groups, it only makes sense to join forces to show how powerful this pairing can be.

Be sure to check out the Save BU Wrestling facebook & twitter pages as well as the Boycott New Balance movement.

Share this – reblog it, Facebook it, Tweet it, whatever it is you want to do, share this with the world. Both wrestlers and vegans share the same mentality – Never Give In.

Never. Give. In.

GMOs: Trust No One

By Megan Vick

 

Okay, okay – the title might be a little dramatic, but it’s true. Whether you’re working an X-files case, or shopping for food, you must gather your own evidence and draw your own conclusions with the information at hand.

 

GMO Corn

 

I recently met a farmer who grows conventional produce and during the conversation, I asked him if he grew any genetically modified corn. He told me, in great detail, about the two corn varieties he grows. He shared with me that nearly all bi-color sweet corn (both yellow and white kernels) are genetically engineered. He’s very proud of his farming practices because he manages weeds and pests as naturally as possible, grows in greenhouses, and keeps bees to help pollinate his crops. He absolutely should be proud of what he’s doing.

 

 

 

Here’s where my eyebrows started to arch: he told me that the customers who come to his farmstand have started asking about the safety of the GE corn. He said, “well, the company I get the seeds from said they weren’t harmful, so that’s what I tell my customers.” He also told me how he lost about 40 beehives in the 2013 season for no apparent reason and was still trying to figure it out. 

 

 

Urban farm stand

 

Regardless of what you believe, what one study says over another, talk to your local farmers and do the research for yourself. If you’ve done some research on GMOs  and GE foods and you’re comfortable eating them – excellent. If you’ve done the research and are not comfortable eating those foods – make sure you buy local and really talk to your farmers. If they seem cagey about giving away information, explain why you’re asking. If they still seem sketchy, they might be trying to hide something or might feel uncomfortable with the questions. If living a GE/GM free life is important to you, ask the questions and don’t purchase food you’re not 100% comfortable with. Remember, you vote with your dollars every day and if you shop locally, that purchase goes even farther by telling local farmers what you want to see on your table.

 

Namaste.