The Ghosts In Our Machine

LUSH Vancouver Ghost-Free Journey: Day 3, Part 2

Photograph by Jo-Anne McArthur


So far, we have explored diet and fashion aspects of  living Ghost-Free.  You are all looking more closely at how your food comes to your table and how clothes wind up in your closets. Ghosts are all around us….

Animals as Companions/Animals in Captivity

Today, let’s explore how we view non-human animals from the perspective of sharing our lives with them, learning about them, and learning from them.  As an example: have you ever thought about the ethics behind breeding vs. adopting from a shelter or rescue group?   How do you feel about visiting a zoo or aquarium to learn about animals or to teach children about them?  LUSH is known as company against animal-testing, how has this impacted your views on this topic?

For the Ghosts,

Coaches Rosemary and Donna

The opinions we express as GFJ Coaches are ours personally. We are not professional health practitioners.  Neither are we treating a specific health care issue.  That means we are not offering advice on health-care problems. If you  are experiencing a health-care problem, it is important to seek the advice of a health professional. However we are experienced, practicing vegans and we look forward to coaching you on your journey.


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  1. Coach Rosemary May 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    We’ve had a great discussion today, on a topic that can be both difficult and controversial. The GFJ is a place that we have designed to share ideas about(sometimes difficult) issues, and even if we disagree, we are respectful to everyone. Thank you, LUSH participants and coaches for sharing in this respectful and thoughtful way.

  2. Coach Donna May 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Wow – I have missed so much today!!! Great discussions and reflections. The internal struggles over having companion animals, what to feed them, animals in captivity, etc. are ones that we all seem to share. It is interesting how something that we all seem to think about so much might not even be on the radar for many people. But somtimes, all it takes to ignite the flame is a discussion with one person who is compassionate.

    I would love to hear more everyone’s special relationships with companion animals or sanctuary animals.

  3. Kelly May 15, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    My dog, Doc changed my life. He made me realize just how sentient animals are. He has a soul, feelings, moods. Doc made me realize that I couldn’t deny that other animals had feeling too. He prompted me to turn vegetarian.

    • Coach Rosemary May 15, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      Kelly…Doc is so sweet, and i just love this photo of him <3

    • Kendra May 16, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Wow, he is cute!!! Learning or realizing these types of things from having a pet are some of the most significant, hopeful outcomes I think one can have, and thanks for sharing them with us Kelly!

    • Jennie May 16, 2013 at 12:57 am

      The love that I have for my dogs has been a huge part of my motivation to live Ghost Free. I’ve had Ella for almost 5 years now, and we fostered her brother Billy just 3 weeks ago, but we knew right away we would end up keeping him (as you will see from the photo, he is settling in just fine & rearranging the furniture!). I was put off years ago by a couple who had a bad experience with an aggressive and destructive rescue dog that was too much for them to handle, but I am so glad that I have so many friends who taught me that there are many more happy stories for rescue pets and their adoptive families. My experience has been wonderful. The extra work and patience that a rescue dog needs is repaid tenfold with love. I am heartbroken by the number of dogs that end up in shelters. I have a hard time reasoning with friends and neighbors who tell me that they don’t want to spay or neuter their pets.
      I do find that one of the challenges with a Ghost Free life is that although I want to have discussions about all of these issues with everyone I know in the hopes that I might plant a seed or bring a new perspective, I also know that lecturing or preaching will not bring the end result that I hope for.

      What are your experiences of this? How do you strike the right balance when talking to others?

      • Coach Donna May 16, 2013 at 6:03 am

        What sweetie pies Ella and Billy are! They certainly look like they are quite comfy. I love it when companion animals take over the sofas and beds.

        Striking the right balance between planting a seed and preaching is definitely a challenge. Our hearts say ‘”go, go, go – tell them – make them aware”.
        We feel the urgency of the plight of animals deeply and often feel that if we don’t speak up, we are betraying them. I have struggled with this for years now. What works for me personally, is looking for a window of opportunity – finding what I have in common with another person – and going from there.

        When we speak from a place of love – not just our love for the animals – but a love for the other person (remembering that we too were not always aware), it won’t come off as preachy.

        This is a great topic for discussion.

      • Coach Rosemary May 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

        Love your photo of Billy and Ella <3 It sounds like you've had a rewarding experience with rescue and fostering.....and you all are enjoying each other!

        Donna hits the nail on the head about talking with people about veganism and the issues. Connecting with someone where there are is vital to continuing the dialogue.
        Something I will add to her suggestion is to try and retain enthusiasm when sharing information. Often, it can become tiring or boring to answer the same question( "but how do you get enough protein")...over and over again. I try to get my mind set in a place where I'm asked this question for the first time and it's fresh. If I don't, and come across bored or frustrated, that will come through in the communication and it turns people off.
        Another important thing I try to remember is to not take insults or jabs personally, but to take the approach that if a person is going to those lengths to try and provoke ("but plants feel pain too, so why do you eat plants"?) ....this usually means that they are feeling something even deeper about the topic, but are unable to reconcile it. We don't' need to sugar-coat the issues and be condescending; straight up and honest but respectful is a good balance.
        Being a "joyful vegan" can be a challenge, for sure! Lastly, I always think about my own ignorance from the past, and that this is a lifelong process of learning and growing. My daughter was vegetarian since she was 9yrs old (she's 28yr. now), and I supported her and cooked for her , all the while not being vegetarian for over years! It was right under my nose...and I was a self-proclaimed lover of animals at the same time.

    • Coach Donna May 16, 2013 at 6:04 am

      I love the expression on Doc’s face – “well… isn’t somebody going to throw this for me??” What a cutie pie.

  4. Kelly May 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Me too. I am adopting another one soon, a rescue pup. The rescue society is picking up some dogs from a shelter in California right now!! I will keep you all posted!

  5. Rebecca May 15, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    Doc’s so cute, Kelly!

  6. Rebecca May 16, 2013 at 12:00 am

    I feel absolutely honored to work for a company that really genuinely cares about the well being of animals. I take so much pride in the fact that LUSH doesn’t test on animals and that they aim to make as many products vegan as possible. They are a company I truly trust. As discussed in previous posts, I think farm sanctuarys are the way to go in providing a learning environment around animals. I’ve always felt so torn and upset going to zoo’s and aquariums as a child. Growing up, my grandfather (who’s like my father) was a large animal vet. I knew at a very young age animals had personalities of their own and grandad would always speak to that. His cows in the back field, his old horse, the chipmunks. I would frequent the Atlantic Vet College’s open houses to spend time with the animals, as well as the Humane Society at a very young age to experience and learn about animals. I personally don’t think zoo’s and aquariums are necessary to learn, books and in our age, the internet is our friend. The circus is a dying art why aren’t farms and zoos the same? (Gosh can we even start talking about circuses?) eeeeeek!

    • Kendra May 16, 2013 at 12:17 am

      Rebecca- I completely agree with all your positive praise for LUSH. I often feel like it’s just too good to be true, but they’ve been around so long now, that it must just be a real-life dream. Every job I’ve worked previously has required concessions or compromises of some sort, but not with LUSH and it’s amazing what kind of impact this has had on the rest of my life.
      Thanks also for the beer/wine list. For some reason, this is not something I’ve investigated when I’ve been Vegan before, as if for some reason they were exempt from my research. But this is a wonderful resource and thanks for posting it!

    • Rebecca May 16, 2013 at 1:56 am

      The circus is a dying “art” why aren’t *AQUARIUMS! and zoos the same?
      Sorry for throwing the word farm in there, guys!

    • Coach Donna May 16, 2013 at 6:11 am

      Rebecca and Kendra (and everyone else here)

      It must be such a wonderful experience to work for a company that encourages activism, has such strong ethics, makes so many glorious products and fosters a loving environment. It sounds like you can be who you are. Wonderful!!!

    • Nina May 16, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Hi Rebecca,
      I hope that circuses will all evolve rapidly to the “contemporary model” of circus, established by Cirque du Soleil, where only human animals are used. We are surrounded by so many forms of media today and we/our children can learn as much as is needed about any animal that could possibly be caught and used in a circus or zoo through books, film and interactive technologies. Ideally the outmoded concept of “zoos” will evolve to become “sanctuaries” too. In all cases the idea of putting animals on display for entertainment no longer works.
      P.S. Respectfully submitted to all, in my opinion…

  7. Rebecca May 16, 2013 at 12:02 am

    Also found this SUPER awesome site with lists of vegan beer and wine:)

    Thank GOD my Alexander Keith’s seems to be vegan friendly! (PHEW;))

  8. Britt Arntsen May 16, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Zoos have always upset me when ever I have visted them. Captive animals suffer fro distress and in many cases the animlas are not getting the proper nutrition they need in order to survive. Although some zoos do actually take in rescue animals from circuses and use breeding programs to repopulate endangered species the cons definitly out way any pros.

    Also, I dont know if anyone has ever been to the Ucluelet Aquarium but it is awesome. It’s the only aquarium I have been to that didn’t give me that uneasy feeling. Species are collected from the local waters (no importing species from other regions) and they get released back into the waters. Water from the Ucluelet harbour flows directly into their tanks, making it a part of the local ecosystem. Check it out –


    • Coach Donna May 16, 2013 at 6:25 am

      Thank you for providing this link, Britt. I haven’t heard of anything like this before and I’m going to read about it later today.

  9. Amanda Donelan May 16, 2013 at 3:04 am

    That Ucluelet Aquarium sounds great Britt. It is always a dilemma, being an animal lover and that thirst for knowledge but not wanting to contribute to any kind of cruelty. This seems like a nice alternative

  10. Britt Arntsen May 16, 2013 at 3:07 am

    I should have also mentioned that there are no large sea creatures at this aquarium. they primarily have things like sea cucumbers, anemones, etc.If you want to view a sea lion just go outside to where they hang in the harbour in front of the aquarium. No need to keep them captive.

  11. Rebecca May 16, 2013 at 3:40 am

    Very cool, Britt!