Ziggy Stardust

by Gabor Hardy

A meow worth a thousand words
A paw swipe in the dark
So dumb creatures leave their mark
within solitary hearts

A dingy white kitten arrived one day, yellow eyes blazing
Appearing in a patch of snow, torn fur, and ribs outline
His ears were bleeding with one torn paw

We, in curious wonder, opened up our hearts
willing him to remain

This polished cat, destined to roam
Assured and undefeated, down vacant streets
Backyard alleys and slanted rooftops are the places where he ruled
Like some lord of the hunt, ready to pounce
upon a mice or rat which had strayed across his path

We always thought that every night, he would come home
However, he was on loan
From some Transcendent Being
the Creator of his wild heart

We never dreamed of a time of goodbye,
When a high jump and a soaring heart would
greet us no more, as the days and weeks drift by

Note from Linda DeStefano, President, People for Animal Rights: We urge you to keep your cat inside where she/he will be safe. In this case, the cat was half-wild and a decision was made that he wouldn’t adjust to indoor living. There are many other cases in which a feral (half-wild) cat does adjust well; I had a beloved one who I rescued from outdoors; with patience, she became a happy, affectionate indoor cat.

People for Animal Rights can be reached at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, people4animalrightscny@gmail.com, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., Our website is peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY

How Wildlife Prepares for Winter in CNY
by Collette Charbonneau
Provided by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

As the summer glow fades until next year, the warm colors of fall begin to appear. Soon, blankets of snow will cover the ground, the trees, and also our cars. As you shuffle from one building to the next, from one heated room to another, do you ever stop to wonder what is happening outside your window?

While you may not hear as many birds at 5am this time of year, those who have chosen to stick around and brave the temperature drop are still out there, hunkering down at night and waking up to a chilly, snowy froth above their heads each morning. They worked hard in the spring to build their nests and raise a new generation. But, most abandon their nests by fall, preferring to create a new nest the following Spring. They must now find ways to survive the winter and often have to get creative with finding an unoccupied bed for the night.

Cardinals are one common winter bird here in Central New York. The male’s bright red color is a welcome sight against the snowy backdrop. Like most birds, they do not sleep in nests during winter months. Walk outside, early in the morning, on a winter’s day and you might find a cardinal sitting deep in an evergreen tree. (These are the trees that keep their green needles all year long). This is the preferred winter home for cardinals.

Leave out your birdfeeder in the winter, well-stocked with sunflower seeds or a mix of seeds from a bag of local songbird food, and you just might see a cardinal, blue jay, or other winter resident in your yard. It is harder for them to find food in the winter so leaving food out for them all year is a good idea. Note: do not do this if you live in an area where black bears have been spotted. This will encourage them to leave their dens early (they can smell the food), which makes it nearly impossible for them to resume their deep sleep until Spring.

So what are those nests we see high in the treetops in the middle of winter? Let me give you a hint… think of the most common mammal seen in rural, suburb, and city neighborhoods.

Squirrels are the opposite of birds. They prefer to sleep in nests in the winter so they can get some relief against the cold, windy nights. They do not use these nests in the spring or summer. In early Spring, squirrel nests are sometimes destroyed by their creators or birds will swoop in and take what they need to make their nests.

Other mammals, including deer, mice, chipmunks, foxes, skunks, and opossums also need to find shelter (dens and burrows provide protection from wind, snow, and ice) and food in the winter. Giving them your patience, and plenty of space, will help ensure they get what they need too. Planting native bushes, shrubs, and nut-producing trees (oak, walnut, hickory, beech) can provide food for these animals too.

While taking steps to help wildlife in the winter shouldn’t turn into a feeding frenzy in your yard, if you are concerned, talk to your local town board or community association about creating a community garden/wildlife-friendly zone where the animals can safely gather foods and find shelter. I encourage you to look out your window, or step out onto the sidewalk one winter’s day, and look at all the wildlife around you. Winter is a time of rest, survival, quiet beauty, and perseverance that will be colorfully rewarded within just a few months.

Collette is on the board of People for Animal Rights (PAR). You can contact PAR at P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.,
people4animalrightscny@gmail.com and peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org


Film reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group organized a showing of EATING YOU ALIVE so I went to see what it was about. This excellent film held my attention because it included many personal stories. Several people told how they or a loved one was very ill with a chronic disease – some even to the point of being told they would die soon. Most received no useful advice from their physicians so had to discover on their own that a plant-based, whole foods diet could literally save them. This film was very upbeat because it had so many happy endings. For example, his doctor told an elderly man he would die in a month or so from cancer and that the doctor could do anything for him. After a year on a plant-based, whole foods diet, the man recovered and walked into the office of the astonished doctor.

Besides these recovery stories, several physicians, vegan chefs, a pharmacist, an actor and others were interviewed. They spoke about the lack of nutrition education in medical school, the seductive power of food ads, the scarcity of preventive medicine in the U.S. and the restorative power of healthy food. Chefs provided a few recipes.

A very brief segment showed the horrific abuse of animals raised for food. Another brief segment told of the environmental damage caused by animal agriculture, such as the methane emissions from cows.

For more information, read HOW NOT TO DIE by Michael Greger, M.D. It also is helpful to try out a new way of eating (or stick with it once you’ve tried it) by eating with others.

Consider joining Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. Contact Marybeth Fishman, mfishman4282@gmail.com or call (315) 729-7338. You can find the group on Facebook, Instagram, and on the Meetup.com website.

Also contact Linda DeStefano at People for Animal Rights, P.O.Box 15358, Syracuse 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or people4animalrightscny@gmail.com or see our website at peopleforanimalrightgsofcny.org Ask for a sample of our newsletter, our membership brochure, and/or recipes. I also can make a copy for you of the 16 page report from Kaiser-Permanente (a large Health Maintenance Organization) called “The Plant-based Diet: A Healthier Way to Eat.” The HMO can save money by preventing health problems in their patients so this tells me that they think a plant-based diet really is good preventative medicine.


A short essay by Richard Weiskopf
Compiled by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

The crows flew over – pair mating, no doubt. Caw Caw! The sound pierce my ears. It was as if they carried a black shroud and were the messengers of death.

One on the very top of a tree surveys the surroundings and controls the entire area, even the human who works powerless underneath. Inside that black shroud he carries the memories of centuries. The Caw Caw warns the others when humans are approaching and where they are going. His searching eye follows their every move; then he glides effortlessly through the air, his fimbriated wings still and hardly moving. Sometimes they fly in groups, and you’d think it was a city of ants flying. Then there is a romance of two flying like planes in a dog fight, rough and tumble, one over the other, sometimes a piece of branch or string in their beak. They raise their young to grow into the black shroud like the parents.

Even in death – and I saw a dead one in the cemetery where I was walking – they retain their grace and majesty. Black, sleek, silken feathers, a satin gown surrounding them. The crow makes me feel like a part of the earth, not as if I own the earth.

Richard is a semi-retired physician living in Syracuse. He enjoys journal writing and writes essays, poems and letters to the newspaper. This short essay is used with his permission.


People for Animal Rights encourages appreciation of wild animals and the Earth and the attitude of being part of nature rather than separate from it. We work against exploitation of all animals and strive to protect the Earth, which sustains us all. If you want our general brochure and a sample of our newsletter, contact us at PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358 or call us at (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or people4animalrightscny@gmail.com. Our website is peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.


by Linda DeStefano
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

There were about 95 people who came to Onondaga Free Library on May 9 to hear Ted Barnett (“Dr. Veggie”) talk about Plant-Based Nutrition and Evolving Medical Paradigms.

Dr. Barnett is a partner in a radiology practice and somehow finds the time to also be the C.E.O. of Rochester Lifestyle Medicine, which he founded in 2015. This practice helps people to be healthy through plant-based nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction and other lifestyle improvements.

Dr. Banett used imaginative images to help him tell the story of how difficult it is to change medical paradigms, in one case taking a century. The first example was the importance of surgeons washing their hands after doing a dissection and before seeing a patient. The person who introduced this concept demonstrated that it worked by reducing the number of patients dying from infection. Nonetheless, this simple habit was ignored for many years while more people died needlessly.

The second example was the common practice of radical mastectomies to treat breast cancer. In addition to removing the breast, the surgeon would remove the muscle and lymphs. This extreme surgery stopped only after it was shown that a simple mastectomy was just as likely to stop the cancer as a radical mastectomy one.

The third example showed that surgery was not needed to treat ulcers; after proof that ulcers were caused by a bacteria, antibiotics were the proper treatment.

The point is that change happens slowly but physicians like Dr. Barnett are leading the way to a non-invasive approach to illness and health rather than undue reliance on surgery and prescription mediation. This is why another of his nicknames is “The high-tech doctor with the low-tech solutions”.

He also spoke at Upstate Medical University to about 30 medical students and one physical therapy student.

This popular event was co-sponsored by People for Animal Rights and the Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. If you want to explore a plant-based diet, these groups can help you by inviting you to socials where all vegan food is served (but you don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to attend). They also invite the public to films and speakers on this and related topics.

The contact for the Syracuse Vegans group is Marybeth Fishman, mfishman4282@gmail.com or (315)729-7338. You can find the group on Facebook, Instagram, and on the Meetup.com website.

Contact for People for Animal Rights is people4animalrightscny@gmail.com or (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358.

We can also provide you with contact information for national organizations which can offer lots of material and support, including free personal counseling if you are ready to try a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet means eating veggies, fruit, grains, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and all the tasty food made from them while avoiding animal flesh and animal products (particularly dairy and eggs). YUM!

The Minimalist Vegan

The Minimalist Vegan: A Simple Manifesto on Why to Live with Less Stuff and More Compassion
by Michael and Masa Ofei, Dec. 2017, Minimalist Company Pty, Limited, 145 pages.
Book reviewed by Linda DeStefano
Translated by Rob English

This married couple from Canberra, Australia urges readers to cure themselves of the “More Virus”. This virus infects individuals and society into thinking that happiness comes from consuming more and more. Besides deadening the human spirit, this virus is killing the planet. Limited natural resources are wasted to produce items
which are unnecessary or quickly discarded. For example, plastic. Plastic is made from a diminishing natural resource (fossil fuels) and has formed a huge garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean. Animals who live in or near the sea are ingesting and dying from pieces of plastic. Michael and Masa suggest avoiding plastic items which tend to be used only once, such as, plastic bags or straws.

People work many hours so they can buy more when instead they could find happiness in spending more time with people they love and pursuing activities they find fulfilling and relaxing. Although the authors don’t speak about this, I’ll add that some people don’t have the choice but to work many hours in order to support themselves and their
families. This is an injustice and indicates the vast imbalance in wealth in the US.

The authors urge us to de-clutter rather than be slaves to our possessions, which can steal too much time and mental energy to organize and maintain. They advise also to spend less time on digital devices, which causes mental clutter, information overload, distraction and over stimulation.

Are we slaves to the latest fashions? Do we buy cheap, fashionable garments and use them for only a short time? Even if we give them away rather than trash them, natural resources and energy (probably derived from polluting sources) were used to produce them. (I’ll note that cheap clothes also involve poor labor conditions). Better to
enjoy high quality clothes that look good on us and can be kept for a long time. Over 13 million tons of textiles are trashed every year in the U.S. alone and only 15% of this is recovered for recycling.

The Ofeis find that veganism melds well with their minimalist philosophy as eating fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts and the many tasty dishes made from them is gentler on the Earth than raising animals for food. And it makes them happy to avoid taking part in the suffering and death of animals raised for food.

You can try vegan food by coming to a vegan social of People for Animal Rights and/or Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group. You don’t have to be vegan to attend these events but all food at the events is vegan. Contact me at People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315) 488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., peope4animalrightscny@gmail.com. I can also provide some hints for less wasteful living. You can contact Syracuse Vegans Meetup Group through Marybeth Fishman at mfishman4282@gmail.com or by calling her at (315)729-7338.

The Humane Gardener

art by Marjolein Bastin
Book Review by pam mcnew
Translated into Spanish by Rob English

If on grand or modest scale, one is able to apply this book’s principles to their life and the living of it, one will have the very formula of what is apt to bring true and lasting happiness (not only within you, but around you).

“We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” Wendell Berry

There are many a book over a vast terrain of time that have encouraged us to save this earthly home by letting it be, by not harming it, by observing and respecting its very wholeness. One such book is THE HUMANE GARDENER by Nancy Lawson. I most highly recommend it.

“To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.”
Wendell Berry

“Nothing that is necessary for life is lacking” as someone most wisely said. We have to learn to trust those words, for they are true.

So for most people it would take letting go of the false and embracing the complex-for-a-reason real world about us to be a true Humane Gardener. And this would be a really good thing.

I cannot praise highly enough the support, inspiration and worthiness of the book THE HUMANE GARDENER by Nancy Lawson. It is a humble looking book that brings new hope to me for our personal opportunity to bring about a transformed world right in our own backyard… or in the spaces around us that we might make a change.

The lure of the glamorous porn-like market of seductive non-native plants needs to be brought to its knees and made to see where true beauty lives and blooms.

Mono-cropped lawns give no hope of shelter nor nourishment to the vital diversity of life on this earth. In order for us all to survive, such practices and habits really must be changed. We need to find a new model within us… a different sense of loveliness… so that we will always keep the butterflies, the bees, the bunnies and all in between vital and thriving.

Leaves that fall give shelter to beneficial insects during the autumn, winter and spring. The nutrients they bring the soil is the health of the trees and even our very own gardens. The birds and the fish, the four footed and the microorganisms all need to be viewed in appreciative ways and protected in all our actions.

No herbicides, no pesticides, no mulches, straight rows in a formal garden will win the hearts of those who are truly nurturing their backyard habitat. And if and when united, these areas turn into life sustaining havens for the sovereign beings we ought all be concerned about and cherish. Run to get this book. It will nourish you, too.

“We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.” Florence Williams

pam mcnew is a member of the board of People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., people4animalrightscny@gmail.com, peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org