Our amazing volunteer, Giannina Gonzalez, helps us plan the perfect spring picnic. Check it out!
Planned or spontaneous, picnics are a fantastic way to enjoy both delicious meals and warm weather. Whether it's in the middle of a school day or during an office lunch break, we can all take advantage of the beautiful spring sunshine through daytime picnicking. Here are my tips on planning the perfect vegan picnic:
- Haul a hearty sack full of whole wheat bread, vegan deli slices, fruits and veggies, and an assortment of condiments and dips to work or school and invite your colleagues or classmates to join you for lunch at a nearby park. Not only is this an excellent opportunity to introduce school or office mates to the delights of vegan eating, it's also a great way to build camaraderie. I also like to bring along delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies for an extra special treat!
- Does your nearby park have a grill? Pack ready-to-grill veggie dogs, such as Tofurky Franks or Field Roast Frankfurters. In addition to being easy to cook, these meatless franks are sure to satisfy even the most staunch meat eater.
- On-the-fly picnic? No worries. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant and pick it up on your way to the park. Big salads and tofu summer rolls make a fabulous springtime combo! Check out VegGuide.org for restaurants in your area that offer vegan options.
- Weekend picnic with your pup? Check out DogFriendly.com to find parks that allow our canine pals to join in the fun! Be sure to pack doggie treats and plenty of water for your furry friend. (It can get hot out there!) On that note, bring along a pint of SO Delicious Cookie Dough Ice Cream so you can cool down too!
Vegan picnics are a fabulous way to revel in the spring sun, enjoy the company of friends and coworkers, and introduce colleagues to the vast assortment of lip-smacking vegan eats available at their neighborhood grocers. For more tips on creating easy-to-build
picnic menus, visit ChooseVeg.com
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Factory farming just got a whole lot creepier and more terrifying. On many pig farms, a mysterious, foam-like substance
has been appearing on top of manure pits. This gray, bubbling froth has raised fears among farmers because it can cause deadly explosions.
As manure breaks down, it releases noxious gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide. These gases trapped under foam can lead to sudden and catastrophic eruptions. According to a 2012 report, as of September 2011, half a dozen farms had experienced explosions, including one that killed 1,500 pigs and burned a farm worker.
Scientists and farmers are baffled as to what's creating the foam, which has now emerged at roughly 25 percent of pig factory farms across the country. Larry Jacobson, a university professor who has been studying the issue, has offered one dubious solution; he recommends using an antibiotic called monesin to treat the fecal froth. It's thought that the antibiotic works by altering the microbes present and thereby dissolving the foam.
On a personal note, I had to gag while writing this blog post. I'm sorry, but when you literally have the blob growing out of your poop pit, perhaps it's time to take a step back and reevaluate your operation.
Additionally, the overuse of antibiotics
on factory farms has already alarmed doctors and scientists the world over. Dousing combustible fecal foam with pounds and pounds of antibiotics seems like just more recklessness.
Pigs suffer daily in slaughterhouses and on factory farms in horrible gestation crates
. Now frothy frights threaten to blow up farmers and animals. Luckily, we can all do something about this by choosing to leave pigs and all other animals off of our plates.
For information on transitioning to healthy and humane, vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com
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A recent Science Daily
article details a study
published by Environmental Health Perspectives
which examines the widespread use of arsenic-based drugs to promote unnaturally rapid growth in chickens.
According to the article, "Chronic inorganic arsenic exposure has been shown to cause lung, bladder and skin cancers and has been associated with other conditions as well, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive deficits, and adverse pregnancy outcomes."
The article further explains that meat from conventionally raised chickens harbors four times more inorganic arsenic than meat from organically raised chickens (in which arsenicals are prohibited from use), showing a clear connection between inorganic arsenic levels in meat and the use of arsenical drugs on farms.
Unfortunately, chickens raised for meat, whether organic or conventional, are subject to much of the same inhumane treatment, including overcrowding, rough handling by workers, and having their throats slit at the slaughterhouse, often while fully conscious.
The best action consumers can take to avoid arsenic-laced chicken and prevent cruelty to animals is to adopt a delicious, plant-based diet. For mouthwatering recipes and tips, visit ChooseVeg.com
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NASCAR fans are in for a big surprise on the racetrack. Racer Leilani Munter, who is known for supporting environmental causes, plans to raise more than a few eyebrows when she debuts her "VegNation" racecar to promote a vegan lifestyle
In a culture that's known more for steak than seitan, Munter is looking forward to opening a dialog with racing enthusiasts about reducing their meat consumption and encouraging them to find vegan alternatives to the foods they already love. Munter explains: "If you were to look at my fridge, it would look very similar to somebody else just down the street. It's just my sausage links will be a vegan version of that."
Many of environmentalist Munter's fans have confided in her that they can't afford expensive electric cars or solar panels and feel frustrated about what they can do to help the planet. She plans on urging people to scale back on eating animal-based products by explaining their negative impacts on the environment and climate change.
She is also happy to talk to people about health
and animal cruelty
issues as well. "It's just better for our climate, the animals, our own bodies--whatever reason they decide to look at that change, that's what I want to focus on."
With support from the nonprofit group 1% for the Planet, NASCAR fans can look forward to VegNation hitting the track later this year. For more on Leilani Munter, visit carbonfreegirl.com
. For tips on transitioning to a delicious and green, vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com
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In a victory for farmed animals in Tennessee and nationwide, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam vetoed the state's ag-gag bill
earlier this morning, citing constitutional concerns.
Guised as a "mandatory reporting" law, the ag-gag bill was a desperate attempt by pro-factory farm legislators to prevent the long-term undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses that routinely lead to criminal convictions of animal abusers. The sole purpose of the legislation was to sweep evidence of animal cruelty under the rug, shield animal abusers from public scrutiny, and keep the people of Tennessee in the dark about where their food comes from.
In a statement released this morning, Governor Haslam not only echoed the Tennessee attorney general's opinion that the ag-gag bill violated the First and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution, but also questioned its true intent, acknowledging that the bill actually made it "more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases."
Governor Haslam's decision to veto the ag-gag bill comes after a massive outpouring of opposition to the legislation. Thousands of Tennessee residents, joined by celebrities such as Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, and Ellen DeGeneres, called and emailed the governor's office, urging him to veto the bill.
Mercy For Animals praises Governor Haslam for putting the health and safety of Tennessee residents ahead of corporate profits by vetoing this dangerous and un-American legislation.
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The egg industry is notoriously terrible for chickens
, but more and more evidence suggests that it is terrible for men's prostates too.
In an article entitled "Choline: Why Eggs May Worsen Prostate Cancer
," vegan maven Kathy Freston
illuminates the findings of a recent Harvard University study of egg consumption and prostate cancer. The study, detailed in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
, determined that men with early-stage prostate cancer, who on average ate at least one egg per day, doubled--yes, doubled--their risk of fatality from the disease.
Researchers believe choline, a naturally occurring compound found predominantly in animal products, accelerates the progression of cancer cells. The men who consumed the most eggs in the Harvard study more than doubled their risk of dying from prostate cancer, increasing their chances by 70%.
These recent findings support previous studies
that have shown the benefits of plant-based eating
in reducing the risk of prostate cancer
Reducing, or better yet, eliminating our consumption of eggs and other animal products is not only better for our health
, it is also a lifesaver for animals
and the planet
. Visit ChooseVeg.com
for tips, recipes, and resources on transitioning to a healthy and humane, vegan diet.
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A recent fire at Moark Farms, a southern California egg factory farm, resulted in the heartbreaking deaths of about 100,000 baby chicks
, who were just four days old and desperately trapped in the burning building.
Firefighters at the scene were able to put out the blaze before it spread to a second coop, which housed another 100,000 baby chicks. The fire is currently "under investigation," according to the LA Times
This isn't the first time a Moark Farms factory warehouses has burst into flames. Less than a year before, a Moark facility in Colorado burned to the ground
, killing almost half a million chickens. Moark is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes.
Sadly, there has been a shocking number of fires at egg factory farms around the country that have resulted in the mass deaths of an astonishing number of birds. In May 2011, MFA documented an Ohio barn fire
that killed over 80,000 egg-laying hens. Another 250,000 birds
had died a year earlier at Ohio's largest egg farm. A 2009 Texas fire
caused over 800,000 birds to perish, and yet another in 2010
resulted in the death of a firefighter and countless birds.
The intensive confinement of animals on factory farms also makes them vulnerable to other deadly horrors. A Connecticut egg farm that collapsed in 2011
resulted in the deaths of 85,000 birds. A tornado that hit Buckeye Egg Farm
in Ohio caused over a million birds to be trapped in mangled cages without access to food or water, leading the company to dispose of these live animals by throwing them into dumpsters. And just last year, owners of a Turlock egg factory farm abandoned their filthy facility
and nearly 50,000 birds, who suffered without food for weeks. This case of neglect led to cruelty to animals charges against two workers.
Tragically, even farmed animals spared from such disasters face misery and doom due to the unconscionable cruelty inherent in factory farming
Norco Ranch, one of Moark's operating companies, was the subject of an MFA undercover investigation
in 2008 that revealed the company's blatant disregard for animal well-being: birds confined in tiny wire cages so small they couldn't walk or engage in other basic behaviors; ill birds denied veterinary care or proper attention; and workers killing birds by grabbing their necks and swinging them around in circles--attempts to break their necks, which often resulted in prolonged, painful deaths for the animals.
Fortunately, we need not support such large-scale, unimaginable suffering. Every time we eat we can choose to withdraw our support from an industry that flagrantly flouts the safety and well-being of the animals in its care. To find delicious, egg-free versions of your favorite foods, from french toast to cookies to egg salad sandwiches, visit ChooseVeg.com
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Mother's Day is right around the corner, making this the perfect time to honor your mother by helping mothers of all species. Farmed animals
, like all animals, have deep and meaningful bonds with their mothers. Mother hens take their chicks under their wings, providing protection, and chicks spend their first few weeks learning to scratch for food by observing the techniques of their mothers.
For cows, the first few minutes after birth can mark the beginning of a lifelong relationship between a mother cow and her calf
. Like human mothers, cows carry their young for nine months and they suckle them for nine to twelve months.
Humans aren't the only species to learn from and admire their mothers, but we are the only species to deny other animals everything that is natural and important to them. Animal agriculture deprives hens of nesting material and a private space for laying an egg. Dairy cows are robbed of their calves so that their milk can be sold for human consumption. Pork producers confine mother sows
in crates so small they cannot move for nearly their entire lives.
Fortunately, we all have the power to help mothers confined on factory farms by adopting a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle. Visit ChooseVeg.com
for delicious recipes to honor all mothers this Mother's Day.
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After coming across these great articles on Huffington Post
, I started thinking about all the amazing ways being vegan helps me save money. Here are my top tips for being plant-based on a budget:
- Cook! You know that big white thing in your kitchen with four burners on top? It's called a stove. Invest a few hours in learning how to use it. Everyone knows that eating in saves tons of cash. Pick up a discounted cookbook or check out ChooseVeg.com for some fast and easy recipes and get cookin'.
- Make a Shopping List. Sitting down and thinking about what you need from the store will not only help you stay within your budget, it'll keep you from impulse buys once you're at the supermarket. Make a list and stick to it.
- Back to Basics. The least expensive items in the supermarket are the ones that don't come in a box. Fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and beans are not only healthy for you, they're also super affordable. Make sure to go online and find a local farmer's market. Befriending a farmer and eating in season are more surefire ways to save cash.
- Be a Globetrotter. You don't have to travel the world to enjoy international cuisine. From mexican to chinese, try your hand at dishes like bean enchiladas or kung pao tofu. They're easy to prepare, tasty, and inexpensive. Also, look for affordable, vegan-friendly ethnic restaurants in your neighborhood on VegGuide.org.
- Cook in Large Batches.
If finding time to cook each day is challenging, schedule one or two kitchen days each week and cook in large batches. You can easily take leftovers for lunch or reheat them for an easy and quick dinner.
- Plant a Garden. Even if that means just having five pots of nothing but tomatoes. This will save you money in the produce department, and you can't get any more local!
For more delicious vegan recipes and tips on cruelty-free eating, visit ChooseVeg.com
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The American Civil Liberties Union
has come out strong against the wave of unconstitutional ag-gag bills that have been introduced and passed in some states, asserting such laws are "flagrant violations of the First Amendment." The ACLU, a nonpartisan charity dedicated to defending the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, is encouraging Americans to "protect animals and free speech" by fighting the efforts of Big Ag to hide its cruel and often criminal practices from the public.
In a blog
post spotlighted on the ACLU's home page, the organization states:
Taken together, these measures--which are law in six states, and have been introduced in 11 others--threaten to virtually eliminate undercover investigations into not just animal abuse, but labor practices, food safety, environmental pollution, and numerous other consumer and public welfare concerns. Worse, many ag-gag laws and bills are quite loose in their definition of agricultural operations, meaning they would cover not only factory farms and slaughterhouses, but even supermarkets and restaurants.
An ag-gag law that was enacted in Utah last year was recently cited to charge a woman for filming a slaughterhouse
from the side of a public road. The mayor of Draper, Utah, who not so coincidentally owns the slaughterhouse, may have encouraged the charges, which were dropped following a massive public outcry. This shocking governmental overreach not only proves the intent of these laws is to keep the public from seeing how animals at factory farms and slaughterhouses are routinely abused, but it also prompted the Salt Lake Tribune
to suggest federal inspectors take a look at this slaughter facility to determine what it is trying so desperately to hide.
While most of the ag-gag bills introduced in 2013 have been defeated, a bill pending in Tennessee is dangerously close to being signed into law by the governor. If you live in Tennessee, please contact Governor Haslam and ask him to veto Senate Bill 1248 and House Bill 1191. His office can be reached at 615-741-2001 and at email@example.com
And in Pennsylvania, an ag-gag bill was introduced yesterday
that outlaws the dissemination of factory farm photos or video footage over the internet. This bill would make it a crime to upload and share videos like the one from MFA's 2009 investigation at Pennsylvania's Country View Family Farms
, which shows workers throwing live piglets through the air, ripping out their testicles and cutting off their tails without painkillers, and confining thousands of pregnant pigs inside tiny metal gestation crates for nearly their entire lives.
If you live in Pennsylvania, please use this interactive map
to find and contact your state legislators and urge them to reject Senate Bill 683.
What Else You Can Do to Help:
Expose Factory Farm Cruelty
- Please share this video
with as many people as you can and help expose the cruel and corrupt practices of factory farming industries.
- Each time we eat, we can choose kindness over cruelty. Adopting a diet free of meat, dairy, and eggs is the single most powerful action you can take to prevent needless cruelty to farmed animals. Visit ChooseVeg.com
for free recipes, tips on making the switch, and more.
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