1. Limit your consumption of animal-based products.
As a vegetarian of 11 years, cutting meat out of my diet has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. Though it doesn’t mean that everyone has to become a militant vegan to make a difference, even having one meat-free meal a day is a great start to helping lessen the strain on the livestock industry.
2. Avoid cosmetics and cleaning materials tested on animals.
Environmentally friendly alternatives don’t necessarily need to be expensive or impractical—even basics like vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda make great household cleaners. There are also some superb homegrown companies that make excellent home products that aren’t tested on animals—you would be helping animals and the local industry, so your support would be twofold. Palm oil is another crucial ingredient to look out for and avoid, as its production leads to the unethical destruction of animal habitats.
3. Adopt a pet and don’t support backyard breeding.
Before getting my cat, Aggie, I was naive and uneducated about the cruelty of [backyard] breeding. After speaking to passionate like-minded people at local shelters and rescues and volunteering at animal organizations, I realized that adopting is the far better choice in choosing companion animals. There are so many dogs, cats, and other furry pets desperate to find homes.
4. Buy synthetic clothing in place of silk, wool, leather, fur, and other animal skins when possible.
A quick glance at the label is all it takes to help make a difference. Often I can’t even tell the difference between genuine animal skins and their synthetic counterparts.
5. Support your local animal charity or shelter.
Being a volunteer for CARA Welfare Philippines (caraphil.org) involved with hands-on cattery duties, events organizing, and TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) has been an immense privilege. Not only is supporting your local shelter a great way to help animals, it is also a way to become involved in a wider community of people with the same passion. If you can’t give time
6. Don’t support the animal entertainment industry.
Animals used for entertainment at zoos, circuses, elephant rides, horse racing circuits, and the like are removed from their natural habitat to serve as human amusement, and often they are stuck in the industry for life—or until they can no longer “perform”—often in less than humane living conditions. While it may be cool to watch a dolphin jump through flaming hoops, you may want to consider other forms of recreation.
7. Leave water bowls in shadowy places for abandoned and stray animals.
Clean water is often hard to find, especially in Manila’s extreme weather conditions. Leaving water bowls in areas that stray animals may be able to access is a godsend on scorching summer days.
8. Be a responsible pet guardian.
It took a long time for me to decide whether to get a companion animal—while dogs can live up to 15 years, cats can live up to 20. It was important for me to make sure that I was making an informed decision before jumping into the excitement of caring for an animal.
9. Spay or neuter your pets.
Neutered pets are less prone to certain illnesses such as mammary or testicular cancer, and the practice helps prevent the overpopulation of homeless cats and dogs. Thousands of pets are in shelters and on the streets without homes and neutering our own pets is the first way to help stop this. To boot, animal organizations such as CARA offer low-cost spaying and neutering around the city.
10. Spread the word.
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to share your advocacy with others. I’ve learned that even just starting a conversation is a great start to get people thinking about their impact on animals and the environment. Some of my best friendships have been formed over such conversations.