June 2010 Archives
June 28, 2010
MFA activists hit the streets in full force this month, bringing their message of social justice for all to five major cities and their annual gay pride parades. In Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, New York and Chicago, activists marched behind a striking banner bearing the MFA logo and the message, "No one is free when others are oppressed."
Combined, volunteers from all five parades distributed over 10,000 pieces of literature - both the "Why love one but eat the other?" and "Vegetarian Eating: Healthy, Humane and Sustainable" brochures. MFA had over 100 marchers total, many waving large MFA logo flags and rainbow pride flags.
This was MFA's fifth year marching in pride parades, and as in years past, the crowd response was overwhelmingly positive.
Turtle Island Foods, creators of Tofurky and pioneers in the meatless movement, have done it again with their new line of Tofurky vegan pizzas. The frozen, ready-to-bake pizzas come in three varieties: cheese, pepperoni and sausage. All varieties are built on a thin, whole wheat crust and topped with zesty garlic tomato sauce and Daiya cheese - the hit, tapioca-based dairy-free cheese that tastes, melts and stretches just like dairy cheese. The sausage pizzas are also topped with fire-roasted veggies, sun-dried tomatoes and basil.
This new line of Tofurky pizzas wowed at this year's Natural Products Expo West in California, and was selected as one of VegNews magazine's 2010 Best of Show.
Turtle Island Foods is keeping us in suspense about when and where these long-awaited gooey, cheesy, vegan pizzas will be available, but rest assured, they are "coming soon to a store near you."
Speakers, authors, legislators, exhibitors and performers from coast-to-coast and half a dozen countries are gearing up for the 2010 National Animal Rights Conference in Alexandria, VA. The ARNC is the longest-running, largest annual gathering of animal rights activists.
To be held from July 15 - 19, the ARNC will feature presentations from renowned figures within the animal rights movement, including MFA's Executive Director, Nathan Runkle, Jon Camp of Vegan Outreach, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Farm Sanctuary Cofounder and President, Gene Baur, and Peter Muller of the League of Humane Voters. These are just a few of the 90 speakers slated to present at this year's event.
Attendees are invited to participate in any of the numerous, informative workshops to be offered, on topics such as building skills as an individual activist, marketing the animal rights message, enacting and enforcing humane laws, conducting investigations and running campaigns. There will also be lobby training in preparation for local lobbying on the Monday following the conference.
It was a beautiful day in Chicago for last Saturday's feed-in on the Magnificent Mile. With the help of VegFund and donations from several area restaurants, MFA activists served up a delicious array of free vegan food to the public.
Yummy Yummy Restaurant's catering service provided BBQ seitan, and "ham" potstickers and spring rolls, while Falafill treated passersby to "mini falafel" with hummus and vegan tzatziki sauce. Desserts included Loving Hut's decadent ladyfingers, vegan cookies from Great Taste Café, and brownies, peanut butter cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies from Life On Mars.
Volunteers displayed a colorful and inviting "Enjoy Free Vegan Samples" sign, drawing crowds that they could barely keep up with! The food ran out in just one hour, as did all of the MFA literature, including copies of Compassionate Living magazine, Vegetarian Guides to Chicago and 150 Compassionate Choices brochures.
Dedicated MFA activists seized the day at the Andersonville Midsommarfest on both Saturday, June 12th and Sunday, June 13th.
One of the biggest annual street festivals in Chicago, Andersonville Midsommarfest draws thousands of attendees. Volunteers staffed MFA's literature and merchandise table, collecting donations and distributing Vegetarian Starter Kits, and Another Inconvenient Truth and Why love one but eat the other? brochures. Thanks to VegFund, volunteers were also able to distribute free samples of Primal Strips vegan jerky at the MFA table, which one festival attendee described as "the bomb" after trying it.
In today's world, we're faced not only with the age-old ethical questions about eating meat, but with the reality of impending, destructive global climate change. As animal agribusiness is among the greatest contributors to global warming, with all of the greenhouse gas emissions from cows, pigs, chickens and the vast manure lagoons created by industrial animal farms, the market for animal-free, fake meats has never been riper.
This spring, after more than a decade of research, scientists at the University of Missouri unveiled the first soy product that can not only be flavored to taste like chicken, but has a texture indistinguishable from chicken, according to many people who have tried it. Seth Tibbott, founder and president of Turtle Island Foods and creator of Tofurky, says that "chicken has always been the holy grail" of the vegetarian world, as its lean texture and mild flavor had for years seemed impossible to replicate. Tibbott is considering buying the new Missouri product.
This breakthrough mock chicken is made of soy-protein powder, wheat flour and water, and looks like cake batter until it's heated to 346̊ F, firms up and forms the consistency of chicken. Dishes created using the new soy product so far include a barbecue sandwich, a tarragon "chicken" salad and fajitas. According to John Cloud, author of the Time article, "Tastes Like Chicken: The Quest for Fake Meat," the "chicken" in these dishes has a pleasing texture - "slightly fibrous, but not fatty," "al dente" and not "mashed together" like veggie burger.
Click here to read the entire article.
Factory-farmed egg-laying hens, perhaps the most abused, exploited, and overlooked animals on the planet, finally got their day in court this morning.
In a Lewiston, Maine courtroom, the owner of Quality Egg of New England, one of the largest egg producers in the nation, pleaded guilty to 10 civil counts of cruelty to animals. As part of a landmark civil settlement, stemming from a Mercy For Animals undercover investigation, the factory farm also agreed to pay over $130,000 in fines and restitution, as well as hand over authority to the state of Maine to conduct unannounced inspections of the factory farm for the next five years.
The settlement breaks new ground in the battle to protect farmed animal - leveling perhaps the largest financial penalty in United States history against a factory farm on grounds of animal cruelty.
The historic agreement is the result of a 2008-2009 MFA investigation at the factory farm, which documented shocking cruelty to egg-laying hens at QENE's Turner, Maine facility. Assisted by legal counsel from Compassion Over Killing, MFA filed an extensive compliant with state officials urging enforcement of Maine's anti-cruelty statutes. Abuses uncovered include:
- Workers and managers killing birds by grabbing their necks and swinging them around in circles - attempts to break their necks which often resulted in prolonged, torturous deaths for the hens.
- Supervisors and workers throwing live birds into trash cans.
- Birds suffering from broken bones, bloody open wounds, untreated infections and uterine prolapses.
- Hens confined four to six in tiny wire cages so small they were unable to stretch their wings, move freely or engage in other basic behaviors.
- Birds trapped in the wire of their cages or under the feeding trays without access to food or water.
- Rotting carcasses in cages with live hens still laying eggs for human consumption.
Watch the hidden camera footage below, obtained by MFA's investigator, to see for yourself how hens are treated at the largest egg farm in New England.
During the time of the undercover investigation, QENE was certified by the United Egg Producers' (UEP) voluntary animal care program. This factory farm's admission to 10 counts of cruelty to animals is further evidence that the UEP program fails to prevent cruelty and abuse.
Numerous veterinarians and animal welfare experts have harshly condemned the conditions documented at QENE. Dr. Temple Grandin, perhaps the world's leading expert on farmed-animal welfare and an advisor to the USDA, stated "[T]he place is a filthy, disgusting mess and very poorly maintained."
The findings of MFA's investigation at this facility are similar to those documented at numerous egg farms across the country in recent years - illustrating that animal neglect and abuse are the egg industry standard, not the exception.
As consumers we can choose to support kindness over cruelty at each meal. Adopting a compassionate vegan diet is one of the best actions we can take to prevent needless animal suffering and end the conditions documented during this investigation.
On Friday, the Office of the Attorney General for the state of Vermont announced that criminal charges had been filed and arrest warrants issued in connection with cruelty to animals at Bushway Packing, Inc., a veal processing plant that is no longer in operation.
The charges stem from video footage obtained in 2009 by an undercover operative of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The video evidence revealed extreme cruelty to young calves, including excessive electric-shocking and one worker attempting to skin a calf alive. Following a complaint filed by HSUS, the USDA, Office of the Inspector General and Food Safety Inspection Service conducted their own investigation, which resulted in criminal charges against two former Bushway workers. The USDA also permanently shut down the slaughterhouse.
Tragically, the cruelty perpetrated against the calves at Bushway Packing is not isolated. Recent MFA investigations into two U.S. dairy factory farms - Willet Dairy and Conklin Dairy Farms - revealed unimaginable abuse, including the standard dairy industry practices of burning out the horns and cutting off the tails of young calves without anesthesia.
In order to maintain sustainability as we move toward a global population of 9.1 billion people by 2050, the United Nations is calling for a global shift toward a vegan diet, saying that this is crucial to saving the world population from hunger, fuel shortages and the worst impacts of climate change.
Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy production, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of total land use and 19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the United Nations entitled Assessing the Environmental Impact of Consumption and Production.
The report states, "Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth, increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."
Learn more about transitioning to an animal-friendly and earth-friendly vegan diet at ChooseVeg.com.
June 4, 2010
On Wednesday, the nonprofit animal advocacy group, Compassion Over Killing (COK), released undercover video evidence of grisly abuse of chicks and ducklings at a California hatchery.
For nearly a month in 2009, a COK undercover investigator worked as a maintenance person at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc. in Santa Cruz. The miserable conditions and appalling cruelty documented include:
- A chick drowning in liquid excrement
- Birds entangled in machinery, their bodies mangled, decapitated or missing limbs
- Unwanted hatchlings dumped down an egg shell disposal chute, then sprayed with a high-pressure hose
- Birds thrown five to six feet across the room into buckets where they often languished for hours
Immediately upon completing the investigation, COK turned over the video evidence to the Santa Cruz County Animal Services Authority and the District Attorney's Office. A follow-up investigation by law enforcement corroborated COK's findings and resulted in the impoundment of 88 ducklings.
Forty of the impounded ducklings were too sick or injured to be stabilized and were euthanized. The remaining ducklings were transferred to Farm Sanctuary in Orland, CA for rehabilitation and to live out their natural lives in peace and safety.
The District Attorney's office held the hatchery abuse case for several months, but in late April of 2010, officially declined to prosecute the offenders.
Sadly, the cruelty documented during this investigation is not isolated. An MFA investigation at the world's largest egg-laying breed hatchery, released earlier last year, revealed shocking conditions - including the standard egg industry practice of dumping live male chicks into grinding machines.
Click here to read the entire story and view the undercover video and photos of rescued ducklings.
June 3, 2010
As the saying goes, "The fastest way to the heart is through the stomach." This sentiment is the driving force behind MFA's highly successful vegan feed-ins campaign.
Feed-ins work because rather than telling people what they can't have, they showcase foods that are available. Whether it's a vegan version of chicken nuggets or a creamy dairy-free ice cream cone, vegan feed-ins give the public delicious, healthy samples of cruelty-free food.
Feed-ins bring the best flavors veganism has to offer directly to the mass public - setting up food sampling stations on busy downtown street corners, outside fast food establishments and at festivals and special events. The vegan samples provided are always foods that are readily available at mainstream supermarkets and affordable to the average household. All food distributed during feed-in events is completely free of charge for members of the public to sample.
In addition to tasty vegan food, feed-ins provide supportive materials and resources to inform consumers of the health, ethical, and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Our comprehensive Vegetarian Starter Kits, for example, which include resources, recipes and health information, are distributed free of charge during all feed-in events.
Click here for more information on MFA's feed-ins campaign, and to learn how you can host similar events in your area.
The new Spring/Summer '10 issue of MFA's Compassionate Living magazine is brimming with inspiring information and resources - delicious vegan recipes, a delightful interview with author of the children's book, That's Why We Don't Eat Animals, nutritional tips from Anya "The Vegan Dietitian" Todd, a startling dairy industry exposé, and ways that you can help get a historic farmed animal protection measure on Ohio's November ballot.
Click here to download the latest issue of CL.
Click here to read past issues of the magazine.
Click here to become an official member of MFA and receive future issues of the magazine by mail.
The images have stirred emotion and sparked outrage around the globe - workers on an Ohio dairy farm stabbing cows with pitchforks, beating them in the head with crowbars, breaking their tails, and punching, kicking, and body-slamming young calves.
MFA's newly released undercover investigation at Conklin Dairy Farms has shined a bright international spotlight on the abuse endured by farmed animals - cruelty that all too often occurs out of sight, and out of mind.
The undercover footage has gone viral - lighting up Facebook boards and Twitter pages. Over 1,000 media outlets worldwide have reported on the case, including CNN and ABC World News Tonight.
The abuses uncovered at this Ohio dairy farm have struck a nerve with millions of consumers - who are turning their outrage into personal action, and calls for swift justice.
In an article he wrote for Huffington Post, actor Alec Baldwin commented on MFA's investigation, stating:
Let me assure you, someone risked their health and maybe their life to record that video. When you see this, you will never again doubt the necessity for and courage of the animal rights movement.
In an open letter to Gary Conklin, owner of the dairy farm at the center of the undercover video controversy, Jamie Lee Curtis wrote:
Our daughter came to us last night urging us to watch the video of the abuse at your plant. She was overcome with grief that human beings could inflict such cruelty and unconscious hatred at the most benign of creatures and their infants. The shocking images were too much for her father and me but we watched enough to know where it led.
Thousands of other concerned citizens have flooded MFA and message boards with their heartfelt gratitude and support. Below is a small sampling of what people are saying:
I am absolutely FINISHED with eating all ice cream, milk, cheese and other big ag dairy products. This industry is CRIMINAL. The only way to change them is to stop buying. Horrible conditions for cows. No excuse!So glad I know about Mercy for Animals - I became a member yesterday.A special THANK YOU to the investigator that risked his/her life to get the footage!There are no words to commend this investigator. Just no words. My heart aches for these animals and my heart really goes out to the investigator. This had to be one of the hardest things you will ever do. Thank you MFA for all your work.Mercy for Animals is the most courageous and valuable group. I donated to them today. Everyone should.Let's use this anger and energy we feel in productive advocacy, asking current meat eaters to reduce their consumption of animal products and move towards vegan diets, as this will decrease the number of animals used in modern farming. Showing this and other video footage, leafleting and doing feed-ins are good ways to spread compassionate eating.Just joined Mercy for Animals - that's how I'm helping. Every little bit counts.I was vegetarian now I am VEGAN. My heart is broken over this.Thanks to Conklin Dairy Farm, my husband has given up dairy products for good. Maybe that's what they were going for?More and more awareness is developing towards the horrors we have created. It is a changing world.In filming this sordid abuse of farm animals, the investigator has prevented many more gratuitous animal beatings.Please keep up the good work being the voice of the voiceless. I honestly don't know how your undercover people can go on after witnessing such unrelenting cruelty and horrifying atrocities. Thank you so much for doing what you do. Please tell anybody and everybody who works for you that they are my heroes. I am a Firefighter/Paramedic for San Antonio Fire Department and nothing I will ever do measures up to this. Thank you.Thank you so much for the work you do. These poor animals don't have a voice, and it is our duty to speak out for them. We are all they have behind the farm walls. Please, don't give up the fight!Thank you for what you do. It's that simple. I can't comprehend the cruelty that we allow as a society. YOU are doing the most noble work I can think of.I watched the first five seconds of this video last night and had to stop it. How anyone could be so cruel to defenseless animals is beyond me. It made my stomach turn and my heart ache. I hope this "man" is brought to justice.I'm an animal lover, and after seeing this video and so many other undercover investigations that show such cruelty, all I can say is, I'm glad I went vegan! Animals want to live in peace, and we don't need to eat them (or drink their milk) to survive, so let's show some compassion!Their video showing male chicks being killed was the impetus for me to instantly "Go Vegan." This further evidence supports that decision. Thank you, Mercy for Animals, for continuing to uncover these despicable and incredibly cruel practices.This makes me so sad, but sadder still because I know this is not an isolated case. Factory Farming creates inhumane conditions for animals and is where most Americans get their meat, eggs, and dairy. But it doesn't have to be that way. We vote with our dollar!I wish this were an isolated instance, but I doubt that it is. That is why today I am proud to say I am a vegan. I'm so glad to have no part of this cruelty and violent exploitation any longer - the peace of mind that comes from eating with integrity is more delicious than any food.Thank you so much for the amazing undercover work. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to obtain this footage, but it is so powerful. You are to be commended.
As the nation struggles with the violence and cruelty the cows and calves at Conklin Dairy Farms were subjected to, and as law enforcement works diligently to investigate the case, consumers can find empowerment in knowing that they can immediately withdraw their support from the sort of abuses uncovered during this investigation by ditching dairy.