Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Pain....

My Pain….

It’s never enough for you is it?
It never will be,
I could give you my blood and you would demand my soul,
I could offer you a piece and you’d demand it whole,
Until I am crawling at your feet and bleeding to death,
Until you drink that vengeance with every breath,  
My pain will never be enough

So I will never give you that,
I deny you that glory you think to want to know,
You shall feed no more on my screams,
Nor shall your shadow haunt my dreams,
Why should I let you in when you’re not even there?
Paralyzed before your monstrously empty stare?
My pain will never be enough

So no more, no more, no more,
No more of your demon inside my mind,
No more of you….feeding off of me,
I’m breaking my own chains and setting myself free,
I banish you from the waves inside my mind,
Calming the storm that once left me blind,
My pain will never be for you again

You have no more power here dark little thing,
You’ll get no more pain to feed from me,
Beat against the stone until it bleeds,
Go back inside your little hole,
You will never have my soul, 
Keep your little trinkets,
I will keep my little scars,
As little reminders of who you really are.

Art and words by
The Lady Rhiannon

 Twitter @ladyrhiannon824 
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Life as a Milk Cow

 I Was Just a Milk Cow:
Moving Away from Cows Milk Can be Beneficial to Us All

I was ripped from my mother shortly after I was born. I cried for days for my mom. When I got old enough I was painfully branded with searing hot metal, my tail was cut off, and my horns were cut off. I was artificially impregnated with a long metal tube. I had my first baby. I loved my baby when he was born....for a few days until they came and took him from me. He was tied to a tiny crate and killed a few months later for what they call “veal”. I cried for days for them to return my baby; no one answered. Instead, they took me from the field and plugged me up to machines every day to drain me of the milk meant for my dead child.
I am hurting; there is blood and pus in my milk from the infections. It is so cramped, there’s no room to walk or graze. I can't eat grass anymore; they give us corn and grains in troughs. Now it has been about seven years, I have had many children; all of them taken from me. My milk production is down and its “time for slaughter” they say. I am shocked with electric prods off the truck; I can smell death all around me. I am stunned so that I cannot move, but I am still aware. I am hung upside down from my back legs with chains, my throat is slit, and my blood is drained....I’m dying. I was just a milk cow.
This is the life and the fate of almost every milk cow brought into existence by the milk industry, even small scale operations. I used to deny this, because I loved my milk. I was addicted to chocolate milk and had it every day of my life for about 25 years. I wanted to believe that there were always happy cows and calves roaming relatively freely in green pastures, and a comfy milk cow retirement program where they could live out the rest of their lives naturally. Then I watched two documentaries, one was Forks over Knives, which focused on health, the other was Earthlings, which is about ethics. Watching them impacted me deeply and set me on the path to learn and research more, and I haven’t had a drop of dairy since.
Consuming cow’s milk is an ancient cultural tradition that was once thought necessary for survival; a clever adaptation. However, this is a new age, with new information, new perceptions, and new possibilities for progress, and there are many things in history once thought acceptable that no longer are, so it’s time to move forward.  There are serious ethical and health-related implications tied to cow’s milk consumption, there are much better alternatives available to us, and I want to share some of this information with you so that you too may make a more informed decision about your dietary future.
Firstly there are the ethical problems with exploiting cows for their milk supply. Undercover investigations from the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals, Action for Animals, the producers of Earthlings, and many other organizations have revealed over and over again that abuse runs rampant in the milk industry, including kicking, stabbing, hitting, and electric prodding. Cows are left to suffer with open, bloody wounds, painful swollen utters, pus filled infections, crippling lameness, and other diseases and ailments typically without veterinary care. Dairy cows are injected with a steroid called Posilac, or Bovine Growth Hormones, to increase milk production, and has been shown to increase lameness in cows and cancer risks in humans. The average milk cow in this country pumps out over 80 pounds of milk a day, far more than nature would allow.
However, some will say that these things are not true of every farm. What about organic milk, or small family operations? Well, even on farms where cows are not kicked and stabbed and injected with drugs, it is still a necessity in the business to take calves from their mothers, sell or slaughter males for veal, dehorn, brand, and tail dock without pain killers, keep cows perpetually pregnant year after year (each time taking their calf), and after 5-7 years after milk production has waned, an exhausted cow is sent to slaughter at a third of her natural lifespan. Ninety percent of our hamburger supply comes from so called “spent” dairy cows. Twenty percent of all dairy cows are slaughtered each year. This seems downright ungrateful.

              A cow makes milk for the same reason every other mammal produces milk, to feed her babies. It is an inescapable truth that buying milk supports the veal industry, and endorses the act of painfully separating mother from child. I talked to someone named Meg who personally still works at a dairy farm, but she’s starting to feel rather badly about it. She said, “If vegetarians think that drinking milk is okay then I would have to say that cows are bred, inseminated and produce a calf. We take their calf. Cows have one of the highest maternal instincts of any mammal. They call for their calf for about three days. A cow will produce milk for their calf for around six months on a natural cycle. We milk them for nine months and then “dry them off”. We make them have one calf per year. Now if taking an animal’s baby away year after year isn’t as bad as eating the meats, then I think your opinion is wrong. The cows are treated okay in a welfare aspect there, but mentally it’s hard for them. I’m not vegan but I can see the reason for the choice.” This is quite powerful coming from someone who works in the industry.  
Then there are the health issues with consuming cow’s milk that most of the public have been unaware of until recently. According to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a leading American Cardiac Surgeon and expert in plant-based nutrition, milk is basically just liquid meat. It is loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat, which is not good for the body, especially the heart.
Also, According to industry numbers, there is as much as a dropper full of pus in every 8 oz. glass of milk, which occurs because of the infections cows get from the milking process. It is sterilized in the pasteurization process, but sterilization is not a removal process. Of course the milk industry doesn’t use the term “pus” because that might be off-putting, so they use the term “somatic cell count”. To combat these infections, milk cows are also pumped full of antibiotics. Over 70% of our country’s supply of antibiotics goes into farm animals. This has caused some people to become resistant or even allergic to all antibiotics.
Casein is also a serious health hazard. Casein is animal protein, the main protein naturally found in milk, and has been scientifically linked to the growth of cancer cells in many studies now, most famously by Dr. T Colin Campbell, who co-authored the China Study and is featured in the documentary Forks over Knives.  He found that you could literally turn cancer growth on and off in controlled test subjects simply by adding or eliminating casein in the diet. In the largest and most comprehensive scientific study ever conducted on nutrition, Dr. Campbell found that populations with the lowest consumption of animal protein always had the lowest mortality rates from various cancers and heart disease.
According to both Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn, cow’s milk also acidifies the body, causing what is known as metabolic acidosis, and the body cannot stay acidic for long or it will die. So what our body does is that it saps calcium phosphate from our bones. Phosphate brings the body back to a pH balance and the calcium is urinated out. The high concentrations of acidic protein in milk and other animal-based sources cause the body to lose more calcium than it consumes. This leaves bones weaker, which is one of the reasons why this country has one of the highest osteoporosis rates in the world in spite of leading the world in dairy consumption. Luckily there are other, better sources of calcium from plant sources that the body can actually absorb and keep, such as oatmeal, tofu, orange juice, spinach, or plant based milks.
 Dairy is a hard addiction to crush however, and it is an addiction. There is a substance in cow’s milk called Casomorphine, which is actually a form of morphine and is a cow’s natural way to keep a young calf close and suckling on her. This substance has a similar effect on us and keeps us coming back for more.
The good news is that there are numerous alternatives out there to replace cow’s milk in your heart and help break the addiction. There is soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, flaxseed milk, hazelnut milk, and my personal favorite, almond milk. I have a deep affection for the chocolate and vanilla varieties of Friendly Farms almond milk at Aldies for $2.50 a half gallon. That makes it only $5 a gallon, which is just about the regular price of a gallon of cow’s milk. There are also delicious alternatives for our beloved cheese and ice cream as well.
There are many benefits to these milk alternatives too. There is more calcium in these milks than in cow’s milk, and that calcium is absorbed better since they do not acidify the body. None of them have any cholesterol or saturated fat, and they are often fortified with B12 and vitamin D as well. Depending on which kind you get, each one has a list of its own health benefits. For example, the flax and hemp milk are both loaded with beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids.
                When you make a purchase you are endorsing a product, a company, and their practices; you are literally making a vote. With a little effort and the will to change for the animals, for you, or both, we can make a deep and impactful change in our society simply by deciding to vote differently with our money. We don’t have to be a society of animal slavery, cruelty, and death, we don’t have to give anything up to do it, and we can be healthier for having done it. We have the knowledge and options now for more humane, healthier alternatives, but only we have the power to make the change.

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Action for Animals. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Fulkerson, L. (Director). (2011). Forks over Knives [documentary film]. United States: Virgil Films and Entertainment

Mercy For Animals. (2010 ). Dairy's Dark Side: The Sour Truth Behind Milk. [ONLINE] Available at:

Mercy for Animals. (2009). Milk is Cruel. [ONLINE] Available at:

Monson, S. (Director). (2005). Earthlings [documentary film]. United States: Nation Earth



Send your black rip tide to sweep me away,

I can swim under the current,

Send your red flames from the inferno,

My power grows when I burn.

Do you think I stay up at night waiting for your darkness to consume me?

Do you think I am still that which I was?

That terrified child you sought to keep?

No my dear, I lose no sleep,

Not for you…

And I do not sleep alone.

You cast rocks upon me but you forget I am made of stone.

Your shadow has been cast,

Your storm has been endured,

Yet here I am… still standing,

Far stronger than before,

Far wiser than before,

Far beyond the reach of you.

Your ugliness will eat away at you slowly,

And here I shall remain,

For though my heart may ache,

It shall never break,

And though my stomach may churn,

You are the one who shall burn.

Tell me pitiful demon,

What have you to gain?

Feeding from my pain?

I may be your obsession,

But I will not be your possession,

It’s time for us both to be free,

And there is no force that can hold me…

Your battle is futile. 

The Lady Rhiannon

For anyone who overcame a force they once thought too powerful to endure.

Words are mine. Art not mine. Courtesy of Deviant Art.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Truth about Trans Fats

The Truth 
about Trans Fats

People often say “you are what you eat” and it is thrown around playfully, but it actually could and should be taken quite literally. It is always beneficial to reflect on what one puts inside their body, but how can we do that without proper information? As a mother it became vital to me to ensure that my daughters and I received the best possible nutrition. So years ago I began my research of sources like the FDA, USDA, CDC, Universities and other places of research from around the world, listening to lectures, watching documentaries, and reading case studies and articles. So today I want to share with you a few pieces of what I have learned about nutrition, specifically fats and a particular kind of fat known as trans-fatty acids, also known as hydrogenated oils. I want to explain what they are, what they do to your body, and where they are found.
          In order for you to understand Trans-fats, allow me to give a quick lesson on fatty acids. As Dr. Michael Greger of Cornell University explains in his lectures about nutrition around the world, there are three different types of fatty acids. There are the mono-unsaturated fats which are liquid to semi-liquid and are found in nuts, avocados, olive and canola oil. In moderation these fats are quite good for you. Then there are the poly-unsaturated fats which are liquid fats and they are varying ratios of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Those heavy in Omega-3’s are very good for you but fats and oils high in Omega-6’s are not. Then there are the saturated fats, which are solid at room temperature. These are found in coconut oil, palm oil, and animal fats and these are very bad for you, especially animal fats because they contain cholesterol. There are conflicting opinions about coconut oil, but that is a discussion for another time.

Then….there’s Trans fats. The only natural source for Trans-fats is animal fat, but most Trans-fat is an artificial form called hydrogenated oils, which is created when hydrogen atoms are fused to the molecules of liquid fats in order to make them more solid. This process makes liquid fats partially or completely saturated. Food manufacturers’ do this to save money because hydrogenated oils increase the shelf life of processed foods and also improves and stabilizes the texture.

The drawback of using hydrogenated oils is that they wreak havoc on the body. There is a growing number of health risks associated with the consumption of trans-fats. A study lead by Professor and Director of Nutrition at Rush University, Martha Morris, found a strong positive correlation between trans-fat consumption and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A 6 yearlong study was published in 2006 from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Salem, North Carolina which found that consumption of trans-fats greatly increases the rate and severity of fat storage. Another 6 yearlong peer-reviewed study from a team of scientists in Spain, lead and authored by Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, studied the effects of different fatty acids on the depression levels of over 12,000 people previously unaffected by depression and found that those who consumed a diet including trans-fats had a 48% greater risk of suffering from depression.

The consensus is clear across the board, however, that the single most obvious and proven detriment to eating trans-fats is the damage it does to the heart. The FDA, USDA, CDC, and the American Hear t Association all agree that trans-fatty acids act like super saturated fats in the body by increasing your levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. They ALSO decrease the body’s production of “good” cholesterol, or HDL, which is the cholesterol our body’s produce on their own to protect the arteries from damage. So trans-fats cause the potential for injury, inflammation, and clogs. Over all, they greatly increase the risk for Coronary Heart Disease, and heart disease is currently the number one killer in the country. Doctors and scientists agree that there is no safe minimum consumption of Trans-fatty acids, nor is there any health benefit to consuming them. Trans-fats even in small amounts tend to store up in the body and stay in the system.

So where are trans-fats? Well, they can be almost anywhere, in anything. They are found in most store bought cakes and other baked goods – including bread, cake mixes, cookies, frosting, creamers, cereal, crackers, popcorn, peanut butter, fried food, fast food, snack food, margarine, shortening, and butter spreads, and pretty much anything that is prepackaged or processed in anyway. The only way to be certain whether or not hydrogenated oils are in your food is to read the labels. You have to beware though, even claims of “0g of Trans-fat” on the package, even in the nutritional facts, does not always mean zero. Legally, food manufactures can have as much as a half a gram of trans-fat in their product per serving without having to declare it on the label, but they do have to put it in the ingredients list. So reading the ingredients list located below the nutritional facts and looking for the words “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated” is the only way to be sure.

 In short, Trans-fats are mostly genetically manipulated fats which are very bad for health, especially the heart, and the only way to know where they are is to read the ingredients list in everything you buy. If you want to learn more, by all means, visit the websites for the American Heart Association, the USDA, the FDA, the CDC, and the lectures of Dr.Michael Greger, which are very educational and can be found on YouTube, he also has a website.

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American Heart Association (n.d.). “Fats and oils: trans-fats”. Retrieved from

Center for Disease Control (2012) Trans-fat: the facts.

Food and Drug Administration (n.d.). “Talking About Trans Fat: What You Need to Know”. Retrieved from

Morris MC, Evans DA, Bienias JL, Tangney CC, Bennett DA, Aggarwal N, Schneider J, Wilson RS (2003). "Dietary fats and the risk of incident Alzheimer disease". Arch Neurol 60 (2): 194–200. doi:10.1001/archneur.60.2.194. PMID 12580703.

Michael Greger, M.D (2003). “Forty year old vegan dies of a heart attack! why?”

Roan, Shari (2011-01-28). "Trans fats and saturated fats could contribute to depression". Sydney Morning Herald.

"Six years of fast-food fats supersizes monkeys". New Scientist (2556): 21. 2006-06-17.

United States Department of Agriculture (n.d.). “Trans-fats on the nutrition facts label”. Retrieved from website:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wal-Mart Abandons Unfinished DC Stores To Avoid Paying A Living Wage - T...

The Washington DC legislation has passed a living wage bill into law for the D.C. area which requires businesses who make over $1 billion in profit a year to pay workers a minimum wage of $12.50/hr.

...As a result Wal-Mart throws a fit and stomps out...

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