June 2009 Archives
This past weekend MFA activists in Ohio, Chicago and Minneapolis gave a whole new meaning to "vegging out" on the weekend. Far from throwing up their feet and relaxing on their summer weekend, dedicated MFA members hit the streets to hold an impressive number of animal advocacy events - inspiring countless festival, concert and conference attendees to explore veganism. Here are the highlights:
MFA's Cincinnati, Ohio chapter was out in full force at the annual Gay Pride Festival and Parade - distributing over 2,000 pro-vegetarian brochures. At the festival, their educational exhibit was complete with free vegan food samples, the powerful Meet Your Meat video, and Vegetarian Starter Kits.
Thomas Barnett, vegan frontman of the popular punk rock band, Strike Anywhere, invited our Cincinnati chapter to table at his concert Sunday evening following the parade. Thomas is a proud supporter of MFA - even giving us a shout out on stage during his energetic performance. Check out this photo of our volunteer, Kyle Becker, rubbing elbows with Thomas at the show.
A powerhouse team of 17 MFA activists in Chicago erected an eye-catching educational booth at the Andersonville Midsommarfest on Saturday and Sunday. According to Mikael Nielsen, our Chicago Outreach Coordinator, "The positive reactions were overwhelming and people took everything from a ton of VSK's, restaurant guides, Meet Your Meat DVDs and Compassionate Living magazines to stickers and MFA tri-folds on 'humane' meat and the environmental impacts of eating meat."Finally, to cap off the weekend, MFA's Executive Director, Nathan Runkle, delivered the opening keynote address at the "Their Lives, Our Voices" Midwest Animal Advocacy Conference in Minneapolis. Titled, "Inspiring Compassion: Putting Our Ethics on the Table," Nathan encouraged attendees to take a stand on behalf of abused and neglected animals by promoting cruelty-free food choices.
Foie gras, French for "fatty liver," is produced by force-feeding ducks by jamming a metal pipe down the animal's throat multiple times per day, for weeks on end. This stressful and abusive process induces disease in the bird, which results in a swollen liver. Snooty chefs and foodies nationwide have allowed their bizarre palate preference for the liver to overshadow their empathy or compassion for animals, resulting in hundreds of thousands of birds slaughtered for the product annually.
Though animal activists have been successful in bringing to light the inhumane conditions animals endure in foie gras production, little has been written about the treatment of the factory farm workers. As is the case with most factory farms and slaughterhouses, the backbreaking, dirty, and emotionally and physically dangerous work involved in foie gras production often falls upon undocumented workers - who have few advocates and little legal protection.
The NYT Op-Ed States:
(I)'ve been looking at the plight of the underpaid, overworked and often gruesomely exploited farmworkers who feed and otherwise care for the ducks. Their lives are hard.As is often the case, companies that abuse and exploit animals often endanger, overwork, and disrespect their own workers.
Each feeder, for example, is responsible for feeding 200 to 300 (or more) ducks -- individually -- three times a day. The feeder holds a duck between his or her knees, inserts a tube down the duck's throat, and uses a motorized funnel to force the feed into the bird. Then on to the next duck, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.
The routine is brutal and not very sanitary...
Not only do the feeders get no days off during that long stretch, and no overtime for any of the long hours, but they get very little time even to sleep each day...
One of the three ads features an inquisitive puppy and a cheerful piglet side-by-side and asks, "Why love one but eat the other?" The other two ads feature a fluffy kitten and an equally fluffy baby chick, and an alert Labrador Retriever beside a curious cow. In each case, these heart-warming images are juxtaposed with graphic photographs of the horrific conditions on factory farms where animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, battery cages, gestation crates, and other cruel confinement systems.
Farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than the dogs and cats we cherish as companions. Yet cruelty, such as intense confinement, staggering neglect, mutilation, genetic manipulation, transport through all weather extremes, and gruesome and violent slaughter, is commonplace in Canadian agribusiness.
As part of the campaign launch, MFA has created ChooseVeg.ca, which features information, photos, and video footage of conditions inside Canadian factory farms. Visitors can also download a Vegetarian Starter Kit and browse hundreds of vegan recipes and cooking videos.
Check out these photos from some of the display's most recent appearances in Chicago.
MFA's vegetarian library display campaign has impacted thousands of individuals, making frequent appearances at libraries throughout Ohio, Chicago, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Vegetarian Starter Kits typically accompany the display, providing take-home information on the health, ethical, and environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet, as well as mouth-watering recipes.
Two of the ads point out the cruelties embedded in production of meat, poultry, dairy and eggs, noting the typical practices of overcrowding, mutilation, and inhumane handling throughout the factory farming system. A third version notes the typical American's inconsistent treatment of animals, reminding us that we cherish our companion cats and dogs while condemning chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs to harsh lives of suffering and deprivation.
The campaign is a reminder that a farm life with green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past is a distant memory. On today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other cruel confinement systems. These animals will never root in the soil, build nests, or do anything that is natural to them. They won't even feel the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter. Across the country, billions of animals are denied virtually any legal protection. For example, birds - which alone comprise 95% of all animals slaughtered each year - receive no legal protection under the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
Thankfully, compassionate consumers can remove their support from this violent industry by adopting a vegetarian diet.
Chenoa Manor is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization, which not only serves as a safe haven for animals, but as a youth-assistance facility. Chenoa fosters the development of positive relationships between at-risk teenagers and animals, in order to instill in these youth compassion and respect toward others. Chenoa also promotes non-violence toward all sentient creatures by advocating a humane, vegetarian diet.
Dr. Robert Teti, Chenoa Manor's Executive Director, founded the organization in 2003. As a licensed veterinarian, Dr. Teti also provides the animal residents' veterinary care and attends to their daily needs. Additionally, he holds a degree in Animal Science and has lent his expertise to MFA in reviewing our investigative footage and providing written statements attesting to the pain and suffering of the animals depicted in the videos.
Since Chenoa Manor's inception, dedicated contributors and volunteers have enabled Chenoa to erect fencing, maintain pastures and renovate several barns. Last year volunteers constructed a rabbit warren, offering a spacious enclosure for Chenoa's rabbit residents, as well as a small pond for their waterfowl residents.
This year Chenoa Manor plans for the exciting renovation of a 200-year-old, three-story barn. Renovation of this barn will not only provide Chenoa with isolation areas for new or ill animals, but with an area for youth-animal interaction regardless of weather conditions, as well as space for farm-inspired murals and other youth-created artwork.
To learn more about Chenoa Manor and to meet Chenoa's animals, please visit www.chenoamanor.org.
Feed-ins are fun, proactive, and a positive outreach tools that can be used to effectively show the public how delicious vegan food can be. After having a taste of a delicious vegan tidbit, most people are eager to receive a pamphlet detailing the heath, ethical, and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Our leafleters handed out thousands of Why Vegetarian? booklets, The Vegetarian Guide to Chicago, and Vegetarian Starter Kits!
The conference starts in the evening of Friday, June 12, and continues through Sunday, June 14. The conference venue is the Hubert H. Humphrey Conference Center in Minneapolis, MN. The rate is $30 for students and low-income individuals, $45 for everyone else.
Mercy For Animals is a proud sponsor of this important event. Be sure to stop by our booth in the exhibit hall and grab a seat for MFA's Nathan Runkle's lectures "The Rotten Truth: Animal Cruelty in the Egg Industry," and "Effective Grassroots Activism." Other presenters include Lorri Bauston (Animal Acres), Mark Hawthorne (author of Striking at the Roots), pattrice jones (author of Aftershock), Stephen Kaufman (Christian Vegetarian Association), Erica Meier (Compassion Over Killing), and Tom Regan (Philosopher and author of The Case for Animal Rights).