How Can We Be Kind To Animals in Our Daily Travels?

We often hear ourselves say we love animals. However, where do we draw the line when it comes to loving animals? Do we love some and not others? Do we love those who are cute and cuddly or do we run in fear from those who may not fit into this category?

To love animals means to be kind to them. When I think about this, I like to refer to one definition of love from Urban Dictionary:

“The act of caring and giving to someone else. Having someone’s best interest and well-being as a priority in your life. To truly love is a very selfless act.”

So, how can we be kind to animals in our daily travels? Generally speaking, we need to remove our intrinsic motivations when it comes to animals. If I can define this more clearly, it’s all about them and not us. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Remove animal-derived products from our daily lives

This is by far the best way we can be kind to animals at an individual level on an everyday basis. If we decided to stop consuming, eating and using animal-derived products in our daily lives, we are effectively saving lives – animals’ lives. We will be saving the lives of animals who are stuck in the cycle of suffering in the animal agriculture system. Think of the lives you could save if you took cows, sheep, pigs, chicken, goats, ducks, geese and other domesticated animals off our plates?

The Wilderness Society reported on the environmental costs associated with the beef supply chain here in Australia: “Beef production is a leading cause of deforestation and land clearing in Australia. Due to high land clearing rates in the state of Queensland, Australia is now a designated global deforestation hotspot. This is driving significant biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to poor water quality running into the Great Barrier Reef.”

Demand is daunting but we can do something about it

PETA Australia published some alarming statistics back in 2012: “the average Australian eats 116 kilograms of meat per year, compared with an average of 40 kilograms per person for the rest of world.” So, how can we turn this around? In a recent study conducted by the Institute of Nutrition Research at Edith Cowan University, scientists found that diet plays a ‘key role in mental well-being’. The study concludes that Australians who have a high fruit and veggie intake were associated with lower perceived stress, particularly in middle-aged adults’. This is another reason to reduce, even eliminate, the intake of animal-derived products.

If we remove animals off our plates, we drive demand down. If demand reduces, so too will the need for more land-clearing for animal agriculture. As a result, native habitat – as well as native animals who call this habitat home – remains. We need to keep native animals off our plates so that species can thrive and survive. See the flow-on effect here?

Your contribution doesn’t stop at the animals you eat. Think about other areas of your life such as the clothes you wear or the furnishings in your home. Replace animal leathers for synthetic alternatives and animal-derived fibres for natural fibres like cotton or bamboo.

Say no to animal amusement parks including zoos

I remember a travel story my mum once told me from when I was little. Apparently, she took me on a daytrip to Melbourne Zoo when I was a toddler and she told me, in her exact words: “you cried and cried the whole time.” Now, I don’t recall this outing because I was too young to remember. Though it got me thinking: was I reacting to the feelings of the animals held in captivity?

Many zoos operate because they claim they protect endangered species. Breeding programs are common in order to promote species numbers. However, animals bred in captivity often lead a life in confined conditions. These conditions may try to replicate their natural habitats but they don’t replace the real thing. It’s often reported that stress and a lack of exercise is detrimental to the lives of these animals. Also, imagine the toll on animals that are subjected to continuous staring, photography and disruptions from humans?

A report published by Animals Australia found that not all breeding programs involve endangered species. They focussed on a study conducted by the Captive Animal Protection Society that found almost half of the breeding programs in the EU did not involve endangered species. The report also discovered that baby animals are a major drawcard for visitors. This seems to suggest that zoos are interested in profit above all else.

Before we decide to visit a zoo, or any amusement park that features animals, we need to do our research first. Then, we can discover that these amusements are not serving in the best interest of animals. Do we want to see others profit at the expense of an animal’s life?

Choose ethical experiences or even volunteering instead

The effects of zoos and animal amusements on the well-being of animals are becoming clearer every day, thanks to increasing awareness and coverage in the media. Now, it’s becoming easier to find animal experiences that have a thorough ethical policy in place to prioritise the well-being of animals.

Still, National Geographic admits it can be difficult to distinguish between “ethical and problematic wildlife experiences”. There’s still a lot of work to be done in this area, but times are changing.  Now is the time to give up the elephant rides, tiger petting and wildlife handling in general. Instead, choose experiences with ethical animal practices are in place. Again, this requires research and this article from Volunteer Forever offers some great in-depth tips.

Alternatively, why not volunteer your time to an ethical animal sanctuary? This can easily be done in your everyday life as well as when you travel. Just in Australia alone, generally speaking, it is estimated that nearly six million people volunteer through an organisation annually. So, volunteering is looked upon as a favourable way to contribute to society and this can extend to the well-being of animals. Look for those animal sanctuaries in your area that need a helping hand. Your help can be in the form of physical activity, or even administration, helping out at fundraising events or even being a core member of a team. You’ll contribute to the well-being of animals with concentrated impact.

We all have a choice, and we can actively choose to prioritise the health and well-being of animals over profit and exploitation. Every choice we make – every day – matters no matter how big or small.

Join the Fire & Tea mailing list.

Want to discover new travel tips on how to travel the vegan road?


Subscribe to the Fire & Tea mailing list and join me in my vegan food travels.