A Patient Veteran, A Beloved Wife, A Sweet Irish Setter And Now My Life by Rick London c2016

By now most know Lee’s and my love for animals.  For much of my life, that meant domestic animals such as dogs and cats, and the occasional iguana or hamster, but for the most part dogs and cats and horses.

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I had surmised by the time I was ten or so that I may be the biggest animal-lover in the world, thanks to my late friend Dickey Randolph who, though six years older than me, took the time to teach me about dog care. I got my first Irish Setter from him.   And though I will never forget Dickey’s kindness and goodwill (we stayed friends until his untimely death several years back), I know now it was dogs and cats I loved.

I mention that as, I’d never had anyone explain anything that important to me in detail, that stuck with me throughout my lifetime, and became one of the most important parts of who I am; and most likely began my quest as being a vegan as I am now too.

Part of that “memorable miracle” with Dickey was that I was a disabled, but not diagnosed child with Autism (and now of course an adult with autism).  I was quite hyper, didn’t make good eye-contact, and my attention-span was dismal.

He didn’t care, nor did  it bother him in the least when he returned from Viet Nam, a multi-decorated hero, and very good man.  His guidance led me to the curiosity of nature and animals, and Lee took me to further explorations into the forest to see it in all its glory and how animals behave.  I never get bored with that and it has a very healing nature, very similar to the dog I got from Dickey, “Rusty”.

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I didn’t hate cows, pigs, sheep and chickens, but I dined on them.  Along with overcooked veggies that was my staple until college, at which time McDonald’s took over as “the family kitchen”.  I look back and wonder how I ever lived through that, and in reality, almost didn’t.  I was still 35 years away and two major heart attacks from “seeing the cruelty” in what I was doing.

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Having owned one of the first health food stores in Ms. with a $10K loan from the now defunct (like my health food store) Bank Of Hattiesburg, with a preacher from Glendale, Ms. who was later bought out by an ex-math professor at USM, I had an early curiosity of health foods, yoga, running etc.  It never occurred to me that something as simple as animal protein (including dairy and eggs) was not only holding me back, but eventually killing me, and how I didn’t die on at least 4 occasions has stumped all my surgical specialists.  I am a blessed and grateful man.

I went full-fledged into that business.  Most of my “education” came from salespersons with high-school degrees and books written by outdated writers.  Food science was moving forward as fast as one could turn a page.  The animal sciences were not far behind.  I was dedicated to trying to eat right, take the right herbs and vitamins, run marathons, and you name it.

I have since learned that cooked vitamins might as well go in the toilet.  To my knowledge there is only one firm that makes 100% organic vegan raw vitamins and that is “Garden Of Life” which we buy in powder form from Amazon or Ebay.  It is amazing and one can tell the difference immediately from the ones we see advertised on tv often which have had all/or most of the nutrients and more importantly live enzymes cooked out of them, so they are useless.

I learned that herbal tinctures, in most cases are far better than the tablets or capsules as far as potency. I also learned that organic and wildcrafted are every bit as important.  In addition I learned that “organic” in China would not pass for edible in the U.S. (for herbs and vitamins).  There’s still much more to be learned.  Not all of it works. Some of it is nothing less than miraculous.   More learning.  It’s neverending.

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Enter Walmart, a new “box store” to the town and exit my store, an old overpriced relic.   I sadly closed my doors in 1981

So I spent some time educating myself regarding food sciences and animal science.

I was married in June 2010 to my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London (Lee Hiller of Hike Our Planet)who became a vegan one year later. I had already read the health benefits and how it helped the planet but that still wasn’t, for whatever reason enough for me. However I did go mainly vegetarian for a year before my conversion to veganism.

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It was impossible to watch Lee’s positive changes and not want that for myself.  I didn’t know if it could happen but I was surely willing to try.  She’d lost about 90 or so pounds and about 20 years of age.  I was astounded and still am.  But that was not her goal. It just happened.

She was very patient with me as my evolution kept going with at least some dairy or cheese and finally I said, “I’ve had it”. I thought she’d be surprised but she was not in the least.  She said, we’d both cook alternate days and eat as much raw as we could, and that is just what we did.  I had no idea I would not only actually like it, but crave it, and the thought of my old “food” never even crosses my mind.  I truly don’t think my body could absorb it.  Lee kept looking and feeling better and her mood became very kind. It was not an act.  I’ve seen lots of acts.  This was a natural evolution.  I wanted that too. (Still working on it  LOL).

The life changes are dramatic.  Forget the goodness to the planet, and though I am tickled to death that it happens, there is nothing that would take me back to my old eating lifestyle. I say that because there is no such thing, really, as a vegan diet. Veganism is more of a learning/lifestyle philosophy.

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

A Robin Williams Tribute Cartoons from 2003 by LTCartoons.com

Well, Lee retained the good looks, common sense and brains, and I got to feel human maybe for the first time.

Because nobody gets it perfect (I was told that would happen by Ed Begley, Jr.) on Twitter….. (It’s a long story)….I’ve decided not to become a militant vegan, and that fits me well. While I would love the planet to all turn vegan, I also know as Ed told me, “It ain’t gonna happen”.  I would love to live the rest of my life on the planet not killing any animals, but again, it’s not going to happen.  Even in the making of my computer animals are killed.  Lee and I kill insects for instance on our hikes, our ride to the grocery, etc. but not on purpose of course.

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So I wish the Gandhi-wannabes good luck, and let me know how that turns out.  When curious persons are ready, they usually ask us questions. Lee has come up with the idea to have them start with a Meatless Monday which is now a worldwide movement.

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As time goes by and they are still interested, I often direct people to YouTube to watch Sir Paul McCartney’s “Glass Walls”.  Any time I’ve growled or gotten snarly, they ran they other way and ate more meat, with guilt, more meat, nevertheless.  They didn’t want to be much like me and who was I to blame them.  So I changed, and hopefully so did they.

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Meantime I’ve put together a collection of my favorite animal cartoon gifts and tees and I have a lot more in the store collection.  A percentage of each sale benefits various animal and/or vegan causes.

Also for yet even more entertainment, there’s plenty on my cartoon website.

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Happy laughing…and eating….and hopefully shopping!

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Rick London is an author, songwriter, designer and cartoonist.  He is best known for launching Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons & Funny Gifts from an abandoned tin warehouse in rural Ms.  He is married to his best friend and hiking buddy, his beloved bride Lee Hiller-London who owns the nature photography blog Hike Our Planet. Though of course cetaceans are animals (Dolphins, Orcas etc.) Rick keeps a separate section for his ocean mammal friends (gifts).

Why I Can’t Support Factory Farming Or Fur

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Lately some friends (and some not so friendly to me) have asked, “Why so radical with this food and fur thing?  Have you gone mad”?

The answer is yes and no.  Sometimes I hear, “Don’t you even care about children and their causes?”

These are good questions and valid questions.  First, my wife and I love kids. We donate the majority of the money (that we donate),  and promotional time to children’s causes.

So why suddenly this thing about being a vegan and saying no to fur.  First, the animal thing is “not sudden”. Those who know me even from my home town knows my affection for animals.  It’s been with me since I was a child, and I’ve become even more so in adulthood.

My wife Lee Hiller-London and I tweet about animal and childrens causes as much as possible.  Same on facebook.

Occasionally I get asked, “So do you prioritize animals over humans?”  Again, very good question.

Of course not.   Also, to sleep at night, given all the new information I now have, from reading, watching videos, observing in the forest, and talking to Lee, I realize that animals have a lot more intelligence, feelings, and even loyalties to their own families than we once knew.

And sometimes people ask, “But why so ‘angry’ about fur farming?” I could go on and on about the cruelty of it; because now we know it exists.  But there’s a lot more to it than that.

When the “Endangered Species Act” was founded, it was not only because a couple of animal rights nuts thought the snail darter and other fuzzy little animals were cute.  It was because enough research had been done showing that when one species becomes endangered on the planet, so does humanity.  So I was beginning to lean towards getting as much fur, leather, and other animal bi-products out of my life long ago.  It was/is only common sense. A person need not buy into the “animals have feelings too” idea; to understand what science has proven.  Eliminate one species; and we *all* go. That is not Rick talking.

I sometimes get called things like “crazy liberal animal lover” etc.  That’s okay.  In 1973, the one U.S. President who felt, to even my surprise, that the current animal protection was not enough, signed the Endangered Species Act was none other than Richard M. Nixon.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endangered_Species_Act

Some ask me (and I’m not kidding), “So if I eat meat, I can’t be your friend?”  I hope that is not how you feel.  It’s surely not how I feel. All I ask is to please become informed first.  The meat that is being sold to us today, is not the meat that was sold to us growing up.  It is, most likely, factory farmed.  That means, aside from unusual cruelty to the animals), unhealthy meat with a massive amount of hormones and unnatural fats that give us cancer, heart disease, and a host of other ailments (often at a young age), that are preventable, simply from exploring small farm (free-range), organic if possible, meats.

Fish, even wild-caught, is no longer safe.  It is so full of mercury and other toxins, we no longer even eat sushi, one of my final hold-outs before turning vegan.  Forget the fact that science has discovered that fish have feelings and intelligence way beyond what we were originally taught, it kills us.

So what is left?  Again, that is your personal choice.  For us its vegan.  Lee is 100% raw vegan, and I’m about 75% raw. I plan to make the transition into raw within a few months. There is still a great amount of toxins and such leaving my body from the years of eating basically dead foods that were not sustaining me, just putting me in survival/slow death mode.

I was one of those people.  When I told my cardiologist that I was changing my diet to more fresh vegetables and fruits he gave me the thumbs up.  He loves being a surgeon, but so much surgery is not a cure, it is a control.  I am grateful to him for having those skills.

Why do we speak out against fur?  After all wasn’t America built on the fur trade?  Yes it was.  But it was built on slavery too; but that didn’t make it right.   So much more is known today than even a few decades ago regarding fur and the animals that bear it.  This short video (hard to watch) is by Heather McCartney (daughter of Paul and Linda) regarding how it is raised in China http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfp8qtxXg1U, but sting operations are finding it is not that much different in the U.S. and Europe.  Dog, often skinned alive, is included to unsuspecting consumers, thinking they are buying faux fur.  Saks, Macy’s, Neiman’s and several others just settled a law suit with the HSUS who proved that dog was being sold as “faux fur”.

The “new improved” fur industry is billing itself as raising a kinder-gentler and “ethically euthanized”. Numerous sting operations have already proven that to be a lie.  Often designers and brands are shown the one or two “humane” farms (so that they don’t get totally sick) and that is all they see. The sad thing is; there’s only a few of those.  The business simply has proven itself unable to be accountable, and the largest majority are, for the most part, very very similar to the one in the video. The killing methods may (or may not) be slightly different.  But the horrid living conditions are the same.

This new fur industry is billing itself as “green” and “earth friendly”; and people are buying into it. Don’t believe it.  It’s anything but that.  Again, don’t take my word.  Do your own research (they will be glad to show you their green ethical farm, but what about all the rest.  All the fur from a brand does not come from one or two farms. It comes from every country on the planet.  And 99.% of those farms are run to the detriment not only of the animals, but to the planet, and; to you and me.  Because we can’t see it up close, it doesn’t seem to affect us.  But it does.  Even if you don’t buy into the global warming theory because Al Gore supports it, perhaps you can make an exception to fur because Richard M. Nixon signed the ESB into law; and I’m guessing it was not because of his love of fuzzy little wildlife (though I could be wrong). It was because science had proven by 1973 that one lost species most likely means humans go next.  And that has never been disputed.

Most of this information has been around for a long time.  My patient wife Lee has been transitioning into less meat, chicken, fish, and finally 100% vegan over the past few years.  I was late to the table but turned vegetarian about 7 months ago, and finally vegan ten days ago.  I’ve not had one cup of coffee since that time, but haven’t felt I needed it.  My eyesight is starting to improve, as is my ability to concentrate.   In other words, my quality of life is improving, finally.  I watched Lee’s own health and good looks improve that much more. I wanted that too.  Now I’m getting it.  I don’t demand others eat like we do, or not wear fur. That is a personal decision; But we would never feel comfortable in our own skin promoting a business such as a factory farm or fur business.  After all, they don’t even get to feel uncomfortable in there skin, and then someone else pays for it and wears it.  We feel a responsibility to help our friends get all the right information, so they do not make the same errors the generation before us did, through no fault of their own (they simply didn’t have all the facts).  Thanks and happy trails to everyone.

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Rick London is founder and co-creator of Google’s #1 offbeat cartoons & funny gifts (Londons Times).   His cartoon features over 1/4 million tees, mugs, shoes etc.  Every single product is vegan-friendly.  His wife is nature photographer Lee Hiller-London who is creator of the popular nature blog  Hike Our Planet and has her own line of about 36,000 gift items.

What Becomes A Legend Least? Fur, Dentistry, And Old Friends by Rick London

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  Lately, it seems, so much can happen in a week, sometimes monumental things that can turn one’s life upside down; one has to wonder if it is bad karma, rancid caramel, Cara Mia Why (you have to be old enough to remember that oldie song pun),  or just life.   As I talk to other friends who prefer their lives to be as drama-free as possible, I am convinced it is “just life”.

       Though I realize from the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and some of the other masters, events “that happen to us” are really neither bad, nor good; but how we perceive the experience.  Emerson, possibly the first of the transcendentalists claimed we could more or less train our souls to “let go” of our bodies and look down at what occurs, both “good” and “bad” with amusement.  I admire Emerson’s writings greatly, but he wrote them before people got shot with sub machine guns in the streets, and mechanical dental care.

      Though I was not shot by a submachine gun, I was shot several times with Novocain, and even under the influence of nitrous oxide, I was unable to use Emerson’s little tricks and did not find it amusing in the least.  The pain was as I’d remembered the last time I had dental work. I had to wonder if waterboarding could be so horrid.

       Did I mention the fact two teeth had to be surgically extracted and the open wound became infected within a couple of days?  So I was back at the dentist last Friday to take care of that issue.

      Did I also mention that Dr. Eddy chews tobacco and spits when he works.  I keep thinking when he says “Spit”; he’s going to spit at the same time just to make the patient more comfortable.  Doesn’t work.   He is an excellent dentist and a graduate of the University Of Tennessee dental school back when it was the #1 dental school in the country. I guess he does the tobacco thing to “instill confidence” and “make the patient feel more comfortable”.  Perhaps if he’d added a bluegrass band in the background, I’d have bought into the “theme park dental room” but only top 40 pop and country hits played over the overhead speaker system.

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       That was not the worst of my week.  A very close friend suddenly informed my wife and I she was going into the fur business; which is a big no no with me, my wife, my friends, and hers.  We did everything possible to discourage her; that it involves animal cruelty beyond words, but to no avail.  Even the fact that the entire country of Israel has now banned the fur trade, Ireland is scheduled to ban it this year, and Harrods (owned by some guy from Qatar) is the only department store that sells fur in London. The market trend tells the story. In any case,  we didn’t quit loving our friend, or vice versa, and again, I can’t imagine floating through the air in an Emersonesque way, watching innocent creatures crammed in cages, often skinned alive, and taken to market; all in the name of vanity and hubris.  It hurts to discover a friend had such an agenda, didn’t give us a clue, and then went forward with it.  She plays the victim at every turn; and possibly is. She showed no signs of a need to be cruel to animals in order to profit until she started an association with a famous singer, now pretty much on her way down; she never made it that big, but now people barely remember her. Our friend is enamored by her and is very successful, for which we are proud. She’s a hard worker.  I imagine this will be her downfall, and it won’t be a pretty one. Karamel Korn, karma or whatever is a b****.

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       With so much negativity around someone what do they do?  One thing at a time. To nip the dental problem in the bud, it was simply a matter of going to the dentist, let him inflict his pain and spit his tobacco, take my prescribed meds, and relax in my living room. Oh, I can work a bit because its at my computer.

      How does one handle an animal-killing friend?  They simple let-go and grieve the loss of that friend.  In a lot of ways it feels like a death in the family, and in other ways it feels like a total betrayal that someone so close to us would enter such a dirty nasty business.  Fur is an outdated product and nobody has a valid reason to wear it in this day and time, except to pump up their very low self esteem and overblown ego, and is willing to do so at the expense of torturing animals that are mothers, babies, etc.  Aside from feeling like a death in the family, it also feels like such a relief, not having to deal with that kind of deception and insanity. And that is, what it is.  Animal cruelty for profit.

      My dentist is cruel merely by the accident of his profession and I have come to expect it.  He does his very best not to be and sedates me as much as he can while drilling, prodding, etc to make it hurt less.  A furrier is cruel merely on purpose, to skin the precious fur off that innocent animal that causes the same kind of pain as if a human had his/her skin peeled off. 

      A year from now, I will wonder what all the pain was about the week of September 28 through October 5, 2011.  I will have a whole new set of issues, problems, etc., and what I’m concerned about today will be but a vague memory.   But hopefully, if nothing else, I will have all my teeth intact and in good shape. 

      And I will be grateful that my beloved wife Lee Hiller-London and I live on the edge of the most beautiful park in the country, Hot Springs National Park, where, by law, not one single animal can be abused, touched, shot, skinned or anything else.  When Theodore Roosevelt created the National Park system, he was thinking of people like our ex-friend. He knew human hubris would always exist, and innocent animals with no voice did not have any legal rights or defense against them.  Thanks to him, now they do.  Our animals, who we consider our friends and neighbors, will have their fur intact for their entire lifespan.  And about a million people annually visit to see them and the gorgeous forest that is their home, and ours. 

      Have you ever heard of one person receiving that many worldwide visitors to see them wearing an animal fur?  I didn’t think so. A woman today, showcasing an animal on her body reminds one of a woman walking down the street smoking.  It is impossible to tell which is more gross; one just knows they are both very gross.  The woman in the fur is simply a woman with low-self esteem, overblown ego, and waiting for Godot.   The animals in our forest truly are “What Becomes A Legend Most”.  

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Rick London is a freelance writer and designer living in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.  He founded Londons Times Cartoons & Gifts which have been Google’s #1 ranked since 2005.  His offbeat cartoons site features 5000+ images and his stores featuring funny tees and gifts over 1/4 million items.  He also founded Shoes That Amuse, the world’s only famous love quotes shoes and gifts.