Sunday, November 2, 2014

K's Path vs PAWS: Are They Your Only Options?

No one can deny the deplorable conditions many animals in Kuwait are born into and are forced to live in. From private residences to zoos and the marketplace that perpetuates this miserable cycle, we have come to the point where animals, particularly companion animals, are commodified in every meaning of the word. Worst thing about it is, as far as we know, there isn't even such a thing as animal rights other than regulations for recreational hunting (which I do hope are enforced more strictly because the amount of instagram accounts dedicated to this so-called sport is staggering.)

This was all pretty standard, though. What's more upsetting now is having to see the only two officially recognized organizations dedicated to caring for these animals, namely PAWS and K's Path, basically at each other's throats as to who's providing better care and who's euthanizing fewer animals more humanely.

K's Path recently posted this 248am article with a video at the PAWS shelter exposing its tragically poor and unsanitary conditions and how very few people are left now providing very minimal care for the animals, far from the healthy lives they're entitled to have.
Then came the shocking footage of mass culling that sparked a wave of outrage on social media:

On their part, PAWS shared a response by Rola Ahmed on their Facebook page, in short denying the accusations that their shelter is now reduced to a hoarding operation and retorting that they are doing their best with what little funds and few personnel available and their claims are supported by a multitude of volunteers.

In the midst of all this finger-pointing and endless justification, we seemed to have forgotten where the blame really lay. This is NOT an issue of competence between two contending organisations nor is it the lack of charity on our part. This is about us as a community. The real question is what have WE done as a community to stop this endless cycle of death? Why have we simply turned our responsibilities over to these small groups of extremely kind people, expecting them to take it upon themselves to clean up after us? Sure, they're doing their absolute best to fix our mistakes for us, but isn't it about fucking time we addressed the root of the problem? We all know what I'm referring to and we've all been there.

Souq al-hamam, aka the Friday pet market needs to be shut down. No matter how many caring souls devote their time and budgets to caring for, fostering and adopting our stray animals, we all know a hefty lot of them are bred by those stores, uncontrollably, relentlessly and without the slightest regard for the animals' welfare or the fate that awaits them whether sold or not. We can't keep buying off the animals with the intention of caring for them while inadvertently supporting the market and serving only to perpetuate the business. It needs to be shut down. We have absolutely no need for a corrupt, disease infested pet store, not when we have so many animals in dire need of fostering and adoption everywhere we look. And the immigrants tending the business can just as easily be given other jobs by the same kind people that donate consistently to animal welfare groups, or even employed by PAWS or K's Path to feed and tend to the animals they bred so heartlessly. Seems only fair. There's no need for them to keep their businesses. If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's the boundless sense of charity our people possess and I've no doubt in my mind their generosity can more than take care of all the animals bred in that marketplace now AND the store owners breeding them, so long as the cycle is stopped. And I believe the bulk of our donations should go toward that end. It needs to be shut down.

For more resources on how to help in the meantime, you can visit these groups:

- The K's Path main website (for adoptions, donations, volunteering, etc) or email them for direct inquiries on

- Kareq8 main website, for fostering, adoptions and donations

- Donate directly to Royal Animal Hospital or the International Veterinary Hospital for stray animals in need of medical care

- For emergency medical care, you can call 99440089 for an ambulance (not sure how reliable) from Al-Atta' Group's animal care facility in collaboration with PAWS.

- Trap, neuter/spay, return! Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Food As a Social Identity?

"Don't you just hate it when obnoxious angry vegans judge you for what's on your plate?"

   This. This is the single most common complaint I keep hearing from people everywhere. This is people's biggest problem with vegans-- feeling uncomfortable, judged and therefore unable to fully enjoy the meals they pay for.

Now here is why this concerns me.

   Vegans are, as of yet, approximately 1% of the population and, indeed, many of them are angry (or sad. or neutral. or in utter bliss). Now, 99% are not vegan and a bigger percentage of that are also judging, taunting and flat-out bullying vegans for their own choice of food. As a result of this overwhelming dominance of the carnivorous population, network and news media tend to do what they do best and severely inflate this derogatory stance against the vegan movement (however, creative arts may be more forgiving?). This only serves to further distort and misrepresent this ethical, environmental and social movement, filing it under "fad diet" at best and an extreme cult at worst suitable only for the unsound. The most fundamental cause, compassion and nonviolence for all and the complete abolition of speciesism, is therefore buried out of sight. What stereotype is the public left with now to associate veganism with? The result is people who know nothing whatsoever about vegans other than the fact that they hate them, or should.

   National Geographic plainly show that the earth will fail to sustain our current farming practices by the year 2050 unless we change them now, pure and simple. See where this is going? We, vegans or not, are far too concerned with being judged for what's on our plates to realize that, IN OUR LIFETIME, most of these foods will cease to be available for our convenience. In addition to mass extinction, ice caps completely gone, complete deforestation of the Amazon, soil erosion and many wonderful wars for the most valuable resource of all, clean water, we will be faced with the task of feeding over 9 billion people, which requires double our current crop production. When you find yourself being harshly judged for what you're eating, you can entertain yourself with the thought that, in your future, your meals may likely have to comprise largely of insects :D

   As terribly dystopian as that future seems, the solution can be very simple. All we need to do is prioritize, try to make more responsible choices while, mostly importantly, being grateful for the abundance of food we have now while it still lasts.

Be kind. (and bon appetit)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New Environmental Protection Act in Kuwait

Tomorrow, the 12th of October, brings the gladdest of tidings for all of us with the slightest regard to the environment and God knows we could use some!

The Environmental Protection Act, officially approved by the National Assembly in a previous session last May and set to be passed tomorrow, is controversial to say the least as the penalties on transgressors seem to range from a 100KD fine to capital punishment. Whoa, am I facing execution or life in prison for picking flowers off the road? Not exactly, although that'll still cost ya. The following are the penalties according to Alrai news:

Smoking in public: 100KD fine
Plucking/uprooting flora: 250KD fine
Littering: 500KD fine
Killing/gathering/relocating aquatic or land wildlife: 500KD fine or 1 year in prison
Possessing/importing/transporting/disposing of nuclear waste material (unless licensed by the EPA): 500,000-1,000,000KD fine and execution or life in prison.

As for the enforcement of said laws, this legislation involves the establishment of a new subdivision of the Ministry of Interior, comprised of "environmental police" with the same jurisdiction of our official state police and will be entrusted with the task of monitoring and processing any and all acts of transgression against the environment. Moreover, it will be up to judiciary officials from the Environmental Public Authority (EPA) to further monitor and investigate offences and call on law enforcement officials to refer them to public prosecution.

The same will apply to governmental sectors, according to the EPA's Deputy Director for Environmental Monitoring and Technical Affairs, Mohammad Al-Enezi, as they will be required to issue annual reports regarding their designated responsibilities and adherence to the law and, at their failure to comply, will be referred to investigation and consequent prosecution.

I wonder what falls under some of those categories, though, and what consequences the misinterpretation of which would result in, but concerns as trivial as "Are we still going truffle hunting this season?" pale in comparison to the radical improvement I'm hoping these new laws will have on public awareness and conservation of our local environment. At the very least, the act does serve to force even those who blatantly insist on their indifference into compliance; they won't even have to evolve to such an extent as to care for their surroundings, just pay the price they're due and it'll still make a difference.

"Now that we are to enforce a new approach to environmental conservation, there will be no excuses; The law applies to all, ourselves first and foremost. No brown-nosing your way out of it."

I genuinely hope not, Mr.Enezi, but it does sound a tad idealistic to expect. Nevertheless, I look forward to next week's followup news.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Compassionate Cuisine: Ginger Restaurant

  Many reluctant vegans are concerned with the scarcity of veg-friendly dining places in Kuwait. I believe that's just a matter of nuance as there's a plethora of places where we can feast to our hearts' (and tummies') content but they simply don't market themselves as vegetarian or vegan friendly, and what few places do are conveniently listed on the HappyCow website and app (a must have for the hungry wayward herbivore!) so I'll be dedicating a section of the blog for reviewing some of these places.

  The first delectable endeavor is last night's dinner at Ginger, a cozy lil veg-friendly Thai place downtown in Al-Muthanna. Apart from a couple desserts, the menu here is almost completely vegan. And if you're here with a group of friends who couldn't possibly bear though a meatless meal for a night, fear not. You can still enjoy your thai food night together as there's another thai place just a few steps away that's equally appetizing, albeit not very veg-friendly, called AroyD. Anyway, let's get reviewin'.

Monday, October 6, 2014


In the brief time I've allowed my mind to be made aware of the bureaucratic atrocities taking place around us, hiding in plain sight under the provisions of commerce, science, religion, tradition or civilization, I was at the same time made aware of how little control we allowed ourselves over it and how much power we actually have within us yet to change things for the better. After all, this is how change has always been made; enough individuals made the right choices.

Veganism, while not obligatory, has helped me adhere to many moral obligations I and many others have conveniently chosen to leave to designated authorities to dictate. It returned to me the power to voice my rights as a human as well as provide a fighting chance for the voiceless. It re-aligned my innate moral cognition with my everyday choices and for that alignment of both prosperity and compassion I am eternally grateful.

That being said, this issue involves far more than the moral welfare of a society. As directly related as it is to the lives of individuals, their health, livelihood and the ecosystem that sustains them, this is also more directly related to the animals themselves, the true victims, the systematic abuse of whom has been the ultimate "inconvenient truth" since slavery.

I am writing this in the wake of Eid Al-Adha, literally translated as the festival of sacrifice. This Islamic holiday is based on charity and the spirit of giving. Children are given money from every employed citizen in a fascinating display of generosity and opulence, whereas the impoverished and those in greater need of monetary sustenance are given slaughtered livestock, a most unsustainable food that last a few days and requires nationwide bloodshed in the name of a religion that, through its own scripture, promotes the relinquishment of all barbaric, archaic traditions that have no place in a humane society. Most Muslims don't even realize that sacrificial slaughter isn't an obligation-- that there are more humane and far more sustainable alternatives like fasting and donating money or more sustainable cruelty-free foods to charities.

There is NEVER a need for ritual slaughter. There is no mirth in the sorrow of other beings. Halal, kosher or otherwise, I will not take part in celebrating our dominion over others.

After 25 "Eid Al-Adha"s of feasting and splurging, this year I have found myself in mourning. My family is extra jubilant since my father was able to perform hajj this year well into his 70's, and I'm sitting here weeping on the side of every other road where entire herds of fat fluffy happy sheep are being sold by the hundreds to their demise, most by overworked, underpaid immigrants desperate for employment without minimal qualifications to properly perform "halal" slaughter, leaving the animal in even more immense pain for a tragically longer period of time.

Nope. I will not involve myself in this tradition any longer and I'm creating this blog in the hopes of reaching others like myself and just maybe manage to save a few more innocent lives from being the victims of obsolete tradition. Here's hoping that by next year, we will learn to extend our charity to other beings as well as our own.

Being sentient of the sentient and extending that awareness to your everyday life is the most profound and rewarding form of worship you could ever hope to achieve.

Be kind.