If you had a chance to sit down with Prime Minister what would you talk to her about?
Unleashed member ecochick (or Leah to her mates) was faced with just that question recently, when Julia Gillard paid a visit to her school. Check out what Leah and her best buds had to say to the PM, and you'll understand soon enough why she's our latest Activist Challenge winner.
Speaking to the PM about factory farmingand live animal exports is fantastic. But the cherry on top is that Leah and her friends challenged the Prime Minister to go veg for two weeks. And she accepted!
I'll be crossing my fingers that Julia tries out my mum's vegan lasagne recipe in her two weeks of meat-free meals.
Mum's lasagne + a few vegan cupcakes to sweeten the deal, and with any luck Ms Gillard could become the next cruelty-free world leader. Bill Clinton and the ex-President of Slovenia (yup - random fact of the day - he was vegan), would be proud.
But now I'm getting off topic... We were talking about future leaders (I'm looking at you Leah). You can find out more about Leah's meeting with Julia Gillard here and show her some love for her efforts here!
Have you been getting active for animals too? Tell us your story and go in the running to be an Unleashed Activist Challenge winner, just like Leah :-)
How many people do you know who have won three Paralympic medals, have their own Mini-Me made out of Lego, and loved animals so much they went vegan while still in their teens? Not many? Well, prepare to meet one - the amazing Sarah Stewart!
Sarah has represented Australia over 150 times in wheelchair basketball, is studying towards a PhD at Sydney Uni and hangs out with pandas when she's in China. She's even been described as a "whirlpool of talent". As a comparison, the only natural disaster I've been compared to was a "blizzard of dandruff". (I haven't worn black t-shirts since.)
Sarah took up wheelchair basketball in her early twenties. At first describing it as "Quidditch on wheels", she now sees it more as a game of chess. She got really good, really quick and debuted for Australia against the United States on her birthday. That's an awesome b'day present!
Sarah has gone on to win three Paralympic medals for wheelchair basketball, and is nice enough to show them to me when we're talking. I ask her if she wears them to parties instead of normal jewellery. "No - they're really heavy! After the Paralympics for a couple of months, I do tend to just carry them around with me. People really like to see them and get a kick out of them so it seems like a nice thing to do."
Sarah went vegan when she was about 18, and did so out of her love for animals. "I didn't like the idea of causing pain and suffering and taking life. I wouldn't want to cause pain to my dog, or kill and eat my dog, so the idea of doing that to another animal just because I hadnít met him or her seemed quite wrong." Her dog Chandler (who is sitting quietly through our talk) was no doubt relieved to hear that!
I was surprised (and happy!) to hear that one of Sarah's Australian team-mates is vegetarian, and one of her Sydney Uni team-mates is also vegan. (Discover more compassionate athletes here!) Sarah says that her coaches are cool with her vegan meals, and she rattles off a list of good places to get something to eat in Sydney.
Sarah's list of favourite animals is as long as her list of suggested places to eat in Sydney! "I like a LOT of different animals. I do have a bit of an obsession with cephalopods. And I also like bats. And seals . And dogs, and cows, and cats, and horses and wolves and pigs ..." She trails off laughing.
It turns out that Sarah is also a bit of a Lego nut. "Just a smidgen. I've always loved playing with Lego and building Lego ... and I just didn't stop!" She has a MASSIVE collection of awesome Lego, but definitely the coolest piece is her Lego version of herself, in her Australia uniform, name and number on the back and everything. You know you're a superstar when you've got your own Lego figurine!
So now you know Sarah Stewart - Australian Paralympian, lego addict, and vegan! You can connect with her on twitter: @SarahStewartAus and can catch her playing for the Sydney Uni Flames in the Women's National Wheelchair Basketball League when the season starts in the middle of the year (June through to September - no excuses!)
The Chinese New Year has arrived with a bang! It's now the Year of the Snake, and next year will be Year of the Horse. But what about all the animals who don't get their own "year"? Here's three suggestions for other animals who totally deserve to have their own "year" too. See if your fave made the grade!
Somehow, cats don't already have their own year! Try explaining THAT to this cat who acts as a guide to a blind dog in Wales!
You can show some love for cats by taking the pledge to always adopt, rather than buy when you're looking to welcome a cat into your family. With tens of thousands of cats killed in Australia every year because there just aren't enough homes for them - your personal pledge is a promise to save a life.
Next week will see duck hunting season start in South Australia. The blood will also flow in this cruel "sport" in Tasmania and Victoria starting in March. (WA, Qld and NSW - you're cool, duck hunting is banned in your states.) You can stick up for ducks in two powerful ways. Firstly, you can send a message to state pollies letting them know you're against duck hunting. And secondly, if you're in Victoria, you can join other volunteers from the Coalition Against Duck Shooting on a duck rescue team. With your help, hopefully soon we'll have a Year of the Duck, and not a Year of Duck Hunting!
I've heard of Shark Week - but when are we going to get a Shark Year?! These majestic sea animals have been around since dinosaurs were stomping about, but now some species are at risk of total extinction. One of the major reasons for this alarming fact is the practice of shark-finning. The photo here is of 18,000 (!!) shark fins drying on a roof top in Hong Kong.
The need to do something about this has already been recognised in some countries. For example, Costa Rica has totally banned the mutilation in its waters. You can raise awareness of shark-finning amongst your buds by getting active on Facebook and Twitter. Sharks have been around for millions of years - don't let them die out on our watch!
Why not make 2013 the Year of Animals in general? Celebrate them every day by choosing not to eat them! Find out how easy it is here - and prepare to have the best year of your life!
Which animals do you think deserve their own year??
You know what they say about the Gold Coast - beautiful one day, forcing lions to perform circus tricks the next. Read on for the full story and what you can do to help.
Traditionally, you can find clowns INSIDE the circus. But on the Gold Coast this week, it seemed like some of the clowns had run away to join the Gold Coast City Council. In a vote of 8-7, councillors on the Goldy overturned a 2009 ban on exotic animal in circuses. This means that travelling circuses with lions and other animals can once again use public land for their out-dated and increasingly opposed shows.
100 protestors turned up to the meeting to urge councillors to extend the ban, as opposed to just 8 people (former circus owners) who wanted the ban overturned. Still, the councillors made the disappointing decision to let the circuses back into town.
For animals, life in a circus is no fun. Instead, it is boring and unnatural. They spend months on the road in small enclosures with no opportunity to express their natural behaviour. Circuses don't even pretend as though they're offering education or conservation of wild animals - so the lifelong confinement of circus animals is all for a few minutes of human "entertainment".
Even though the Gold Coast has taken a backwards step on animal protection this week, YOU can show them what caring individuals think of their decision. Take the pledge to boycott circuses that use exotic animals. And if one comes to your town, make sure you let your friends know that lions belong in the wild (and in awesome dreams!) - not in circuses!
If the thought of lions confined in tiny places bothers you, you might be shocked to know that pigs and hens are kept in even smaller cages, and what happens to them is even worse. Discover the truth for yourself!
I've been carrying this secret around all long weekend, and I can't bear it anymore. Read on to find out who won the animal-friendly rucksack from the good people at Bare Backpacks. You never know ... it could be you!!
As per usual with any contest on Unleashed - there were many, many, many excellent entries. One of them rhymed, some of them were highly amusing (this was my favourite), and most all of them were original and really inspiring.
To win, all you had to do was tell me what you'd be doing at your school/uni/TAFE/juvenile detention centre in 2013 to make it a kinder place for animals. Simple really. The hard part was choosing the winner!
In the end it came down to two entries - one by Mary6 and one by april-san.
Mary's entry was: "I am going to ask my principal to change the uniform code sheet to say leather or fake leather black school shoes so that my fellow students know they can wear a cruelty free uniform without needing to ask permission."
That was so good it made me wish I could go back to school and not eat so many crayons do the same thing! Unfortunately though Mary - your entry was just too long! Entries had to be 30 words or less. Ooh, harsh, I know :(
BUT!! That IS good news for April who has scored a fully vegan (and fully sick, bro) Bare rucksack with her entry: "With my uni's Vegetarian Society I'm going to produce and distribute a 'Veg Campus Guide', detailing every vegetarian and vegan option at every vendor on campus to facilitate ethical choices."
Put simply - April is going to make a list of veg food at her uni. Not only will that help students at her uni make kinder choices between lectures; it's something that even YOU could do wherever you're studying this year!
If you missed out this time round - don't sweat it. You can still go in the draw to win free Unleashed stickers. 50 lucky winners are drawn each month - you gotta like those odds!
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.