August 2010 Archives

Newly released hidden camera video secretly shot by an investigator with Mercy For Animals at one of the nation's top veal producers exposes baby calves covered in feces and chained by their necks in narrow stalls, where they cannot even turn around or walk.

The covert footage was recorded at Buckeye Veal Farm in Apple Creek, Ohio, and reveals baby calves chained inside 2-feet wide wooden stalls - so narrow they cannot turn around, walk, run, play, socialize with other animals, or engage in other basic natural behaviors. In such tight confinement, the animals are unable to lie down comfortably, breathe fresh air, see sunlight, clean themselves or bond with their mothers.

Sadly, the majority of calves raised for veal in the United States are subjected to this harsh and intensive confinement for their entire 18 to 20-week lives.

After viewing the footage, Dr. Marc Bekoff, an animal behavior expert at the University of Colorado, Boulder, stated: "Frankly, the treatment of these calves is disgusting, horrific, and reprehensible."

Yet, Costco and Giant Eagle grocery stores around the nation continue to sell veal from calves raised in this inhumane manner.

Due to its inherent cruelty, the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes chaining calves in restrictive crates and five U.S. states, as well as all 27 countries in the European Union, have outlawed their use.

Sickened by the conditions endured by these baby animals, Bob Barker, Emmy Award-winning host of Price is Right and longtime animal advocate, is joining MFA in urging consumers nationwide to boycott dairy and veal and Costco and Giant Eagle to immediately end the sale of veal - much of which comes from the facility investigated.

In letters sent to CEOs of both companies, Mr. Barker wrote: "As a civilized society, it's our moral obligation to prevent needless animal cruelty. Chaining baby calves in crates where they cannot even turn around is abusive and totally unacceptable."

While veal production represents one of the most abusive forms of animal agriculture, animal suffering is also widespread throughout the meat, dairy, and egg industries. Undercover investigations by MFA at dairy farms, pig farms, egg farms, hatcheries, and slaughterhouses have all exposed cruelty and violence to farmed animals.

Compassionate consumers can end their direct financial support of farmed animal abuse by rejecting veal, and other animal products, and adopting a vegan diet.

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Yesterday, MFA's "biohazard crew" converged outside grocery stores in Chicago and Dallas to urge shopper to "Recall All Eggs, Go Vegan!" Check out this must-see video of the event.

Click here to order your free Vegetarian Starter Kit, and here for tips on cooking without eggs.


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Donning white jumpsuits, rubber gloves and face protection masks, Mercy For Animals "biohazard crew" - wielding signs with images of dead hens' rotting corpses in cages next to dirty eggs that read, "Recall All Eggs, Choose Vegan" - greeted shoppers outside a Chicago Dominick's and Dallas Albertson's grocery store on Tuesday in response to the largest egg recall in recent U.S. history. The crew distributed emergency Vegetarian Starter Kits to the busy lunchtime crowds - encouraging them to protect animals from abuse and their health from salmonella by adding more egg-free options to their diets.

eggprotest2010_3.jpgeggprotest2010_2.jpgeggprotest2010_1.jpgWhy the ruffled feathers? Mercy For Animals wants shoppers to know that factory farms, like the one where the salmonella outbreak began, are not only dangerous to public health, they are also cruel to animals.

Over 95% of the chickens raised to lay eggs in the U.S. are forced to live crammed together inside battery cages - small, barren wire cages stacked in rows inside filthy windowless sheds. Battery cages are typically the size of a file drawer and confine five to seven hens, routinely giving each bird only 67 square inches of floor space - an area smaller than a notebook-sized piece of paper. Disease often runs rampant in squalid factory farming conditions, but in an attempt to minimize costs, even the sickest of hens are routinely denied veterinary care.

A 2009 undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals at an egg factory farm in Maine owned by Jack DeCoster, who also owns Wright County Egg, which is at the center of the recall, uncovered shocking cruelty to animals. Hidden camera video at the farm shows birds living in feces, dead hens left to rot in cages with birds still producing eggs for human consumption, birds suffering from untreated open wounds, infections, and broken bones, and workers breaking birds' necks, kicking hens and throwing live birds in trash bins. Earlier this year, as a result of the investigation, DeCoster pleaded guilty to 10 civil counts of cruelty to animals and paid over $130,000 in fines and restitution.

"Almost all egg-laying hens in America are crowded into filthy wire cages so small they are unable to even spread their wings, walk, breath fresh air or engage in other basic natural behaviors," says Mercy For Animals Executive Director, Nathan Runkle. "Factory farms are not only cruel, but they are a breeding ground for disease."

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4017717179_28df9116a0.jpgOn August 20, in another hard-hitting installment of CNN's "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell," Jane examines the current salmonella scare and poses the question, "Are battery cages to blame?"

Jane's guest, Dr. Michael Greger of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), unequivocally asserts that battery-cage factory farms facilitate salmonella infection. Dr. Gregor cites the extreme confinement of battery cages, in which egg-laying hens are barely able to move, as a source of accumulated and swirling fecal dust - one major means of transmission. He also attributes high risk of transmission to the vast manure pits on factory egg farms, which are breeding grounds for rodents and flies.

While the egg-industry trade group, the United Egg Producers (UEP), would like us to believe that there is no link between caged egg production and elevated risk of salmonella, Dr. Greger cites eight scientific studies conducted in the last five years that have found greater incidence of salmonella in caged egg production versus cage-free.

Because caged egg production is both cruel to animals and a public health risk, HSUS is calling on the Iowa egg industry to phase out its use.

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4012144205_324fa327fb.jpgWith extensive media coverage of the nationwide salmonella outbreak, it's no secret that Austin "Jack" DeCoster, the agribusiness tycoon linked to the recent outbreak, has a decades-long, sleazy history of harming workers, animals and the environment. In an August 23 article, journalist Martha Rosenberg chronicles in shocking detail some of DeCoster's worst abuses.

Rosenberg reports that Maine Contract Farming - formerly the DeCoster Egg Farm - has been charged by the Labor Department with employing five 11-year-olds and a 9-year-old, and with "indenturing migrant workers, denying them contact with teachers, social workers, doctors, lawyers and labor organizers." The Iowa Attorney General has labeled DeCoster a "habitual violator" of state environmental laws.

Last year, as the result of an MFA undercover cruelty investigation that revealed hens suffocating in trash cans, hens kicked into manure pits to drown in liquid feces and workers whipping hens around by their heads in attempts to break their necks, state officials raided DeCoster's Quality Egg of New England farm in Turner. State investigators removed dozens of hens - live and dead - from the Turner facility and documented conditions that state veterinarian, Don Hoenig, described as "deplorable, horrifying and upsetting."

Four Department of Agriculture workers had to be medically treated for burned lungs, after only brief exposure to DeCoster's ammonia-laden barns. Earlier this year, in a landmark civil settlement with the state of Maine, DeCoster pleaded guilty to 10 counts of cruelty to animals and paid over $130,000 in fines and restitution.

Rosenberg also details the egg-industry-wide practice of killing of 200 million unwanted male chicks per year - often by grinding them up alive - citing MFA's 2009 Hy-Line International hatchery investigation.

Click here to read the full article. 

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On August 20, Seattle food safety speaker and blogger, Bill Marler, tweeted some numbers that help put the scale of U.S. laying hen suffering into perspective. To produce the 380 million eggs recalled on August 18, approximately five million birds over a 90-day period were required. That's a total of 450 million days of chicken "confinement, misery and agony."

For a perspective on what life is like for egg-laying hens on factory farms, check out this virtual battery cage, created by

Click here to read more.

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On August 18, Community Shares of Mid Ohio (COSMO) awarded Mercy For Animals the "Member of the Year Award" for our efforts to expose and end cruelty to animals on factory farms, our award-winning documentary, "Fowl Play," and our vegan outreach activities and resources. MFA generated international press coverage for our undercover investigation of an Ohio dairy farm and resulting animal abuse charges. The award recognizes the Community Shares member organization that has made the most notable and significant contributions to building a stronger local community.

COSMOAward.jpgCorey Roscoe, Ohio Campaign Coordinator, accepted the award on behalf of MFA at the Columbus ceremony. "MFA has been working tirelessly in Ohio for over ten years. This award validates that our community values the important work we do to help end cruelty to farmed animals."

COSMOAward2.jpgCOSMO is a coalition of central-Ohio, community-based, non-profit organizations collaborating in workplace giving campaigns. MFA and the 60 other COSMO members are volunteer-driven organizations that address a wide range of social and environmental issues. COSMO members focus on long-term, prevention-oriented solutions that emphasize social change and justice.

For more information on how you can help support MFA's work in Ohio, please contact Corey Roscoe at

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Austin "Jack" DeCoster, owner of Quality Egg of New England (QENE) - the subject of a 2009 MFA undercover cruelty investigation - is now connected to a nationwide recall of 380 million eggs. The eggs, linked to over 200 cases of salmonella poisoning in several states, were produced by Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa - one of DeCoster's many agribusiness operations. On August 13, the company began a recall of 228 million eggs, but on August 18 expanded the recall to 380 million eggs (or 32 million dozen-egg cartons).

Like DeCoster's Maine egg farm, Wright County Egg uses a battery-cage confinement system. Battery-caged hens are crammed four to six per file-drawer-sized cage, often living in their own waste or among rotting carcasses. In an interview for Maine Public Radio, MFA's Executive Director, Nathan Runkle, explained that "when we cram birds in cages on factory farms, where they can't spread their wings, and these birds are living in filth, the risk of spreading salmonella onto consumers is increased dramatically." Dr. Michael Greger, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture for The Humane Society of the United States, adds that "just by switching to cage-free housing systems, the egg industry might be able to half the risk of salmonella."

DeCoster has a sordid history of immigration, environmental and animal cruelty offenses. In 2001 the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that as a repeat violator of environmental laws, he could not build hog farms in the state. In 2003 he pleaded guilty to federal immigrations charges, and earlier this year, in a landmark settlement sparked by MFA's QENE investigation, he pleaded guilty to 10 civil counts of cruelty to animals and paid over $100,000 in fines and restitution. Now, DeCoster is being sued by a Wisconsin woman, who became sickened and hospitalized after consuming eggs from Wright County Egg. Over a dozen additional lawsuits are also in the works.

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the outbreak, focusing its attention on restaurants that may have served its patrons not only whole eggs, but egg-containing salad dressings, soups or desserts. This week the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a four-fold spike in egg-borne salmonella cases.

For healthy (and safe) egg-free baking tips, click here.

Click here to read more.

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eggs2.jpgAs if extreme animal cruelty wasn't reason enough to ditch eggs, now egg-eaters have another serious reason to hatch a vegan diet resolution: Salmonella.

On August 17, the Associated Press reported that an Iowa egg producer is recalling 228 million eggs, due to a salmonella outbreak linked to the company's eggs. The federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that eggs from Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa has sickened approximately 200 people in Colorado, California and Minnesota. The most common symptoms of salmonella poisoning are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Salmonella can even be life-threatening.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently conducting an on-site investigation of Wright County Egg's barns. The recall of the company's eggs, distributed around the country and sold under numerous brand names, including Lucerne, Farm Fresh and Dutch Farms, began on August 13.

For healthy (and safe) egg-free baking tips, click here.

Click here to read the full article.

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g2e22e2000000000000140d7cdf54ff10126cfbfbb97260c360fe88bb6f.jpgFred Leman, a 53-year-old hog farmer from central Illinois, went vegan after a sobering cancer diagnosis last year. Leman used to believe he needed protein from meat to maintain his strength, and accordingly used to eat meat at nearly every meal. New insights into the connection between diet and disease, however, led him to adopt a diet free of animal products. He now gets his protein from nuts and vegetables and says he has more energy. "Before," he says, "I ate supper and I'd nap for an hour."

His wife, Brenda, a licensed practical nurse and certified health coach, acknowledges that her husband's new diet is not a "cure-all," but asserts that the typical American diet is too heavy on protein. "Too much protein," she adds, "creates an acidic body that leads to inflammation," which research suggests in turn leads to arthritis, cardiac problems, asthma and cancer.

Click here to read more.

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An August 14 New York Times article titled "How Hens are Confined" declares to the reading public what animal advocates have known for so long: "97 % of eggs produced in the United States are from hens that live in tightly packed battery cages, with no way to roam outside."

15marsh-grfk-custom1-v2.gifThe article explains how the United Egg Producers (UEP), a national trade group, established a voluntary animal welfare program, recommending minimum cage floor space of only 67 square inches per bird, or roughly 8" x 8". The UEP estimates that only 15% of U.S. egg producers comply with this voluntary animal welfare program, and that the other 85% of hens are crammed into 45 to 50 square inches of floor space -- roughly 7" x 7".

The Times piece also illustrates how "cage-free" doesn't mean cruelty-free, noting that cage-free hens, representing only 2% of total U.S. egg production, live in large barns without outdoor access and are afforded only 120 square inches of floor space per bird, or approximately 11" x 11". Again, this UEP guideline for floor space is only voluntary.

The article reports that 1% of eggs produced in the United States are from so-called "free-range" hens, who have outdoor access. "Outdoor access" in the case of free-range egg production is often a nominal term, however, as the space outside cannot accommodate the entire flock and is only available at limited times.

In addition to the cruel confinement of hens, the U.S. egg industry is responsible for the deaths of over 200 million male chicks per year. As MFA's investigation into Hy-Line International revealed, male chicks, of no use to the egg industry, are often ground up alive shortly after birth. "Spent" hens, whose egg-production has declined, are typically gassed to death in painful CO2 chambers.

As consumers, the best thing that we can do to stop cruel egg production is to withdraw our support of the industry by adopting an egg-free, vegan diet.

Click here to read the New York Times article.

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On behalf of Mercy For Animals, Amy Hatkoff, a child and family advocate, parenting educator, filmmaker and author of The Inner World of Farm Animals, gave an inspiring talk about farmed animals to a packed house at the famous Blue Stockings independent bookstore in Manhattan on Friday.

HatkoffReading.jpgCombining the latest research on the emotional and intellectual capacities of farmed animals with touching stories and soulful photos, Ms. Hatkoff brought the inner world of farmed animals to life. Audience members were surprised to learn that chickens can count, pigs are smarter than poodles, cows form close friendships, turkeys know one another by their voices, and sheep recognize faces - of other sheep and of people.
Discovering that farmed animals like chickens, pigs, turkeys and cows are every bit as intelligent and interesting as our dogs and cats at home can often lead people to consider leaving all animals off their plates. Always ready to help people transition to a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle, MFA volunteers distributed Vegetarian Starter Kits to the crowd.

While attendees were able to purchase copies of The Inner World of Farm Animals to be signed by the author, the book is also available online and at many bookstores. Free Vegetarian Starter Kits are available here.

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North Texans learned a thing or two about the benefits of making healthy, humane food choices last weekend at the Dallas Farmers Market, thanks to Mercy For Animals activists who hosted a free vegan hotdog giveaway. Sampling fat-free Smart Dogs on whole grain buns and receiving literature on the ills of modern day factory farming, Dallasites of all ages got a lesson in compassion while still enjoying the flavors they love!

DallasFMVDF2.jpgDallasFMVD1.jpg"Wow - these taste just like real hot dogs!" said one excited passerby.

"I can't tell a difference at all," said another.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

DallasFMVDF3.jpg"It was really cool seeing so many parents explain the difference between veggie dogs and regular hotdogs to their kids," said Dallas intern, Marco Obregon. "We told them where they could buy more [Smart Dogs] and gave them a list of other cruelty-free alternatives they should look for."

This event, along with dozens of other MFA sponsored feed-ins, is helping pave the way toward a healthier and more compassionate diet for countless families.

Photographs by Sylvia Elzafon.

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iStock_000013536356XSmall.jpgThe recent landmark agreement to phase out cruel factory farming practices in Ohio was a direct result of the tireless effort of MFA's volunteers and supporters. Although progress was made to lessen the suffering of millions of farmed animals in Ohio, there is no time to rest on our laurels.

Your help is needed now! The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is preparing to issue regulations for the treatment of farmed animals in our state and would like to hear from you. Animal advocates, Governor Strickland and the Ohio farm lobby are all recommending that the Board implement five key regulations:

• A phase-out of veal crates
• A phase-out of gestation crates
• A moratorium on permits for new battery-cage confinement facilities for laying hens
• A ban on strangulation of farmed animals and other on-farm killing methods not included in the standards of the American Veterinary Medical Association
• A ban on the transport of downer cows for slaughter

Please take a moment to contact the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board now and urge its members to adopt the above recommendations. You can email the Board or offer your comments directly on the Board's website.

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jp-FARM-2-popup.jpgOn Wednesday, in a front page article titled, "Farmers Lean to Truce on Animals' Close Quarters," The New York Times reported that factory farming "is on the verge of significant change."

Citing the landmark agreement reached in Ohio on June 30, and the new egg bill just signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger, the article recognizes "the growing clout of the animal welfare movement," and notes that these recent successes follow a 2008 all-out ban of extreme caging systems in California, as well as legislation restricting such systems in Michigan, Florida, Arizona and other states. The article cites a mounting animal rights movement and consumer concerns about animal cruelty, pollution and antibiotic use in giant livestock operations as driving these reforms.

The Times article portrays a pervasive resignation on the part of Ohio farmers, who grudgingly accepted the Ohio agreement, but realize that "they must bend with the political and cultural winds." As Keith Stimpert, a senior vice president of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, said, "We all know change is coming."

Click here to read the full article.

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pig111.jpgRevealed: No Country for Animals is a new documentary that exposes the appalling lack of animal protection in Canada and introduces viewers to a generation of young animal advocates working for reforms in the country.

Featuring Canada's first lawyer to specialize in animal law, an undercover investigator campaigning to end farmed animal abuse, and a court advocate fighting to shut down Quebec's cruel puppy mills, the documentary opens viewers' eyes and hearts to the plight of Canada's animals.

To view the documentary, click here.

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calfgreengrass.jpgOn August 6, Attorney General of Vermont, William H. Sorrell, announced that Frank Perretta, a fugitive from justice in connection with an animal cruelty charge, was arrested in New York on an extradition warrant seeking his return to Vermont.

The cruelty charge stems from a 2009 undercover investigation into Bushway Packing, Inc., a Vermont veal processing plant that is no longer in operation. Video footage obtained by an undercover operative of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), revealed extreme cruelty to young calves, including one worker attempting to skin a calf alive, and Perretta excessively electric-shocking multiple calves.

Following a complaint filed by HSUS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Office of the Inspector General and Food Safety Inspection Service conducted its own investigation, which resulted in the filing of criminal charges against Perretta and the other worker. The USDA also permanently shut down the slaughterhouse.

Each cruelty charge is a misdemeanor, carrying a possible sentence of not more than one year's imprisonment and not more than $2,000 in fines. That brutalizing calves with an electric prod and even skinning a calf alive only constitute misdemeanors in Vermont illustrates the need for stronger state and federal legislation to protect farmed animals from abuse.

Sadly, the cruelty perpetrated against the calves at Bushway Packing is not isolated. Recent investigations into two U.S. dairy factory farms - Willet Dairy and Conklin Dairy Farms - exposed unimaginable cruelty, including the standard dairy industry practices of burning out the horns and cutting off the tails of young calves without anesthesia.

Click here to read the full story.

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VeganLunchBoxes.jpgAs another school year rolls around, we find ourselves scampering for new fashions and last-minute school supplies, but we mustn't forget to make time for planning healthy and humane meals for our children.

Though more and more schools have adopted healthy school lunch programs to combat our nation's high obesity rate, an epidemic that has been linked to over-consumption of animal-based foods, it's up to each of us to educate American youth and continue our trend toward healthy, humane eating.

Consider this: Children are more likely to understand their food if they're involved in the prep work. Assigning small tasks, such as lining up ingredients or packing snack items into small containers, can be a fun and easy way to educate blossoming minds about why eating healthy, sustainable, cruelty-free foods is the best choice for our bodies, the planet, and the animals!

Try tag-teaming on these fun lunch projects:

For more lunchtime meal planning ideas, drop by your favorite bookstore and grab one of these bestsellers:

  • Vegan Lunch Box, inspired by Jennifer McCann's blog of the same name, is a fun-for-all-ages vegan recipe book aimed at training kids on the art of meal preparation. Going far beyond your everyday kids cookbook, Vegan Lunch Box encourages youngsters to get in on the action, offering quick-fix lunch ideas, sample lunch and dessert menus and colorful, eye-popping images too cute to resist!
  • If you and your family can't get enough of Vegan Lunch Box, pick-up Jennifer McCann's follow-up venture, Vegan Lunch Box Around the World! In Around the World, McCann takes vegan foodies on a whirlwind culinary tour around the globe, introducing us to exotic international veg-fare as well as regional American dishes. Complete with allergen information and tips on pleasing picky eaters, we're not surprised to find Vegan Lunch Box Around the World on so many veg-family's faves list.
  • In The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids, author Dana Villamagna dishes-out more than just delicious, kid-friendly recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner - this comprehensive guide also includes valuable nutrition lists and detailed nutritional guidelines for children up to 12 years of age. A parent of three vegan children, Villamagna goes on to share personal tips on raising a vegan household and offers life advice to young vegans growing up in a decidedly non-vegan world.
Armed with dedication and knowledge, you can inspire others to make more compassionate food choices and help bring healthier, more humane food options to children everywhere. Click here to find out how.

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Mercy For Animals volunteers were out in full force throughout the greater Chicagoland area this past weekend to educate the public about the health and ethical benefits of a vegan diet.

At the popular Northalsted Market Days, with the support of VegFund, MFA volunteers handed out hundreds of free samples of SO Delicious vegan ice cream and Primal Strips' meatless beef-jerky, much to the crowds' delight. Volunteers also distributed thousands of pro-veg pamphlets to festival-goers.

NMD (24).jpgNMD (30).jpgMusic-lovers at Lollapalooza in downtown's Grant Park learned of the cruel conditions faced by animals on factory farms and about how they, too, could adopt a plant-based diet to spare hundreds of animals a lifetime of unnecessary suffering every year.

IMG_3806.jpgAt Veggie Fest, one of the world's largest vegetarian festivals, MFA spoke with hundreds of veg-curious attendees about how they could get started on their path toward a more compassionate, eco-friendly lifestyle. Thousands of Veggie Fest-goers eagerly picked up free copies of MFA's Vegetarian Starter Kit, Vegetarian Guide to Chicago and Compassionate Living magazine.

Click here to see upcoming MFA events you can be a part of.

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American Idol fans in Dallas came face-to-face with shocking images of the meat, dairy and egg industries as MFA activists served hundreds of American Idols LIVE! concert goers with pro-veg literature. Fans gathered around to meet the stars and were challenged to ask themselves, "Why love one, but eat the other?"

AmericanIdolAndrewGarcia.jpgEven crowd fave, Andrew Garcia, didn't get away without getting a dose of reality from master leafleter, Jean Yarborough. Way to go, Jean!

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Compatible with the iPad, iPod touch, and most iPhones, a new Vegan Recipe Finder app puts over 13,000 recipes in the palm of your hand. New recipes are added daily by VegWeb's community that posts and rates a variety of vegan recipes. Since July, app users have enjoyed instant access to new snacks, meals and desserts with pictures, reviews and cooking tips.

mzl.rdbkhvdv.320x480-75.jpgThe "top-rated" and "new recipes" features give the scoop on where to start the recipe search. Users will also love creating a personal "recipe box" and adding essential ingredients to a shopping list with a simple touch on the screen to keep handy for the next grocery trip.

The Vegan Recipe Finder starts at $2.99.

Click here for more information.

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At the peak of Texas heat, Mercy For Animals supporters in Dallas cooled off with ice-cold brews and summer cocktails while chowing down on Daiya-topped vegan pizzas at MFA's Super Yummy Vegan Pizza Party at Pizza Lounge! Attendees enjoyed an array of pies including Soyrizo and mushrooms, plain Daiya Mozzarella and veganized versions of Pizza Lounge's signature pie, the Spicy Muchacho, loaded with Daiya Cheddar and Mozzarella, Tofurky Italian Sausage and a nice mix of spicy and sweet peppers.

IMG_8485.jpgAlso featured at the event were dance beats by popular hipster DJ, DJ TraDeMarx, who spun mixes of both pop and underground hits.

IMG_8364.jpg"It was nice to see such a diverse crowd coming together to support Mercy For Animals and Pizza Lounge, who's so supportive of the vegan community," says Dallas intern, Marco Obregon. Our Super Yummy Vegan Pizza Party was indeed a hit - Big thanks to Mike and Pizza Lounge for making it all possible!

Photographs by Sylvia Elzafon.

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Mercy For Animals activists in Asheville, North Carolina delighted the crowds at this year's 32nd annual Bele Chere Festival, the largest free outdoor street festival in the southeast, as they gave out free samples of delicious and nutritious vegan Delight Soy Nuggets and mouth-watering homemade vegan chocolate chip cookies.

AshevilleBeleChere3site.jpgThis 3-day festival took place from July 23 through 25 and featured live music, crafts, fun and food. MFA advocates were perfectly poised to reach the 300,000-plus crowd with our vegan message of compassion for all beings. People were eager to enjoy the delectable taste sensations of the five different flavors of Delight Soy Nuggets: pesto, barbeque, Thai sweet 'n sour, agave-garlic and spicy hot. These incredible mock meats are made and distributed by a North Carolina company and are non-gmo and organically grown! The texture and taste amazed all who lined up at our outreach booth to sample them.

AshevilleBeleChere4Site.jpgMFA volunteers also distributed hundreds of pieces of literature, including our Vegetarian Starter Kits, to the very receptive festival attendees.

Delight Soy products are available at Earth Fare stores and Green Life Grocery in the Asheville area, and can also be found in other areas at Whole Foods and other natural food retailers.

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On August 3, Mercy For Animals activists brought compassionate food choices to the masses in Columbus, Ohio. With help from VegFund, MFA volunteers distributed nearly 200 delicious veggie hot dogs, demonstrating to people that their favorite summer treat comes in a cruelty-free alternative.

Columbus_feed_in2010Site.jpgReady with a colorful banner advertising "Free Vegan Samples" and contagious smiles, activists stationed themselves on the bustling corner of High Street and Broad Street in downtown Columbus during the lunch-hour rush. Each veggie hot dog sample came paired with Mercy For Animals' "Vegetarian Eating" leaflet, showing eager recipients that in addition to being delicious, a vegan diet is a compassionate, healthy and environmentally-friendly choice.

feed1 site.jpgBeyond introducing cruelty-free options to hundreds of Columbus residents, the feed-in also worked to promote nearby vegan hot dog vendor, Rad Dog!, continuing Mercy For Animals' commitment to working with local restaurants and businesses. Rad Dog!, which received the MFA Progressive Business Award in 2009, operates a mobile vegan hot dog stand. So after learning how tasty, humane and healthy vegan food can be at the feed-in, veggie dog tasters knew exactly where to get their next meal!

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On July 30, CBS Evening News aired a story on Chenoa Manor, an Avondale, PA animal sanctuary that not only offers second chances to hundreds of animals rescued from abuse and neglect, but also to at-risk youth who come from "less-than-stellar backgrounds," as Chenoa's Executive Director Rob Teti describes it. Teti relies on these young volunteers to care for the sanctuary's animals, including many rescued from factory farms, cruel laboratories and the exotic pet trade.

As CBS' Seth Doane reports, volunteering at the sanctuary allows inner-city youth to depart their urban neighborhoods for a while and experience an open, welcoming and peaceful environment. The young volunteers thrive knowing that their work with the animals is important and genuinely needed. The CBS piece spotlights the transformation of one 19 year-old volunteer - once at risk of dropping out of high school - into a college-bound young man with an eye on becoming a veterinarian.

Click here for the full story.

Click here for more on Chenoa Manor.

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August 4, 2010

iReel(ing) for Fowl Play

white_chick_very_cute.jpegFollowing on the heels of Netflix, Fowl Play, the movie everyone has been talking about, is now available to hundreds of thousands of people on No waiting. No downloads. No special software. Just convenient, streaming video on your PC or Mac.

Connecting the dots between consumer demand for meat, dairy and eggs and the perpetuation of animal abuse, Fowl Play leaves viewers with a powerful message of personal responsibility and the potential each of us holds to change the world - one meal at a time.

If you or someone you know has not yet seen this groundbreaking documentary, now is the perfect time. If you are not already an subscriber, sign up for a free trial here.

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Cast your vote for MFA in VegNews magazine's 2010 Veggie Awards! The Veggie Awards are an opportunity for the public to vote on their favorite vegan people, places and products. The largest survey of its kind, the annual Veggie Awards are one of the magazine's most anticipated features. Winners are announced in the November-December edition of VegNews.

Here are some suggested voting tips:

    • Mercy For Animals for Favorite Animal Nonprofit
    • for Best Website
    • for Favorite Blog

All voter submissions will be entered into VegNews' Grand Prize Drawing to win one of the following fabulous prizes:

    • Global Getaway from Veg Voyages
    • Year Supply of Daiya Cheese
    • Vegan Marshmallow Smorgasbord from Sweet & Sara's
    • Vegan Cookbook Collection signed by author Robin Robertson
    • TofuXpress Kitchen Tool

Click here to take the survey! (And remember - submissions must be received by August 31st!)

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bcpanniecbpie.jpgDan and Annie Shannon are a fun, artistic, food-loving, and self-described "nerdy" vegan couple on a mission to veganize the entire beloved Betty Crocker Cookbook on their blog, Their Betty Crocker Project is filled with mouthwatering 100% vegan recipes, ranging from Eggs Benedict featuring The Vegan Poached Egg, Garlic Cheesy Biscuits, Buffalo Chicken Wings and Stuffed Crust Pizza to Turtle Cheesecake, attracting vegan and non-vegan followers alike.

Dan and Annie were kind enough to talk with Mercy For Animals about their blog and the Betty Crocker Project.

MFA: Tell us a little bit about Meet The Shannons.

Dan: Meet The Shannons is our little blog about our lives. Mostly it's about food. It's also about the adventures we go on, our extreme nerdiness, and the animal/people/planet-friendly lives we try to lead. Ultimately, though, it's really just about how much we love each other and our lives together. Now everybody go 'awww..."

Annie: Awwwwwwwwwwwww.

MFA: Awwww. Now, seriously, what do you hope people get out of reading your blog?

Annie: We're hoping to disprove some of the myths about veganism being a limited lifestyle that requires some kind of sacrifice. There are so many people out there that know about the cruelties involved in factory farming but don't think they can live a lifestyle that has been misrepresented as fanatical and hard. We're hoping if we can show folks that really anything can be vegan - here's proof - they'll be more open to considering a compassionate lifestyle. 

MFA: What is the Betty Crocker Project?

Annie: Well, The Betty Crocker Project started as what could be described as an angry fit. The Shannon household prides itself as being pretty avid amateur vegan foodies. So I thought I could enjoy the movie Julie & Julia for the vintage clothing and, ya know, it was about another amateur foodie. I was naive. From what I understand the point of the movie is that it is noble to finish what you start - even if it ruins your marriage to a super nice guy and means you have to murder living creatures by boiling them alive. I watched the infamous lobster-killer scene on the edge of my seat, waiting for her to have a change of heart...but she never did. It really upset me. It hit that nerve that gets smacked around every time I hear some famous chef talk trash on vegetarian cuisine or some hipster talk about the bacon ice cream sandwich they made. In this day and age, you can make anything vegan. There is no excuse to boil anyone alive, make them suffer in filthy little cages, or whatever the brutality is. Going vegan is easier than ever and you don't have to go without your favorite dishes.

To prove it we're cooking our way through one of the most beloved cookbooks in America - The Betty Crocker Cookbook - and we're making it all vegan.

MFA: What has been the response to the Betty Crocker Project?

Dan: It's been totally unbelievable how much people are into it. Just really flattering and humbling.

MFA: What has been the most challenging recipe to veganize and why?

Dan: I would have to say Coq au Vin was pretty tough.

Mostly because neither of us had ever tasted the meaty version and you have to time the seitan just right so it doesn't soak up all the broth... So I researched it a lot to get an idea of what it was supposed to taste and look like. I mean we did A LOT of research to make sure it was right.

MFA: Would you share your favorite recipe from The Betty Crocker Project with our readers?

Annie: Of course! I love talking about food! This one of our very favorites - though I have to admit every week we have a new favorite. Betty is really just so clever. 

Osso Bucco -- It is very easy to make. If you don't like salt, you may want to not salt the potatoes or add more wine to the sauce. It can get a little salty.

MFA: What advice do you have for someone who is making a transition into a vegan diet?

Dan: Go at your own pace. Some people need to go "cold turkey" and if that works for you, go for it. Other people need to take it slower. Pick one day a week to be vegan, and try that for a month. You can experiment with some recipes you like and become comfortable with the idea. Then bump it up to two days a week for a month, then three, etc. Or, start with just having vegan lunches, or dinners - whichever is easier for your lifestyle. Or try just being vegan on the weekends. Some people need to roll into things a little, and the most important thing is to make sure it lasts for the long run.

MFA: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Annie: Today I would say grape leaves. Nothing is tastier on a summer day than a chilled plate of lemony grape leaves.

Dan: Falafel. No question about it. Like, good New York street-vendor-style falafel, with real lemony tahini, falafel patties that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, nice fresh veggies, and a soft pita.

Check out to follow Dan's and Annie's Betty Crocker Project and to get delicious recipes that are sure to impress your friends and family!

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Nearly 30 MFA supporters from all over Ohio enjoyed a sunny Sunday afternoon bonding face-to-face with the almost 80 very special farmed animals at Sunrise Sanctuary. Founder of the farmed animal rescue sanctuary, Mindy Mallet, received the MFA Hope Award in 2009 and is featured in our documentary, Fowl Play.

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Besides the wide variety of chickens, ducks and turkeys, the most popular farmed animal was Wesley, the young steer. Wesley happily munched apples and carrots from visitors' hands while people stood in line to brush, rub and have their photos taken with him! As some were mingling with the birds and a curious donkey named Roscoe, others were hard at work cleaning out pig and horse stalls. "Being able to come face-to-face with the animals who count on us for their voice was truly a rewarding experience," says Jessica Johnson interning in Ohio.

To see more of Mindy and her sanctuary, click here.

Click here to learn about Fowl Play.

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