Prompted a landmark civil settlement for factory-farmed egg-laying hens. Stemming from our 2009 Maine investigation, 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. 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 marked perhaps the largest fine ever levied against a factory farm on grounds of cruelty to animals.
Launched pro-vegetarian billboards in Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Toledo, Boston, Michigan and New Jersey. Some featured a loveable piglet and puppy side-by-side asking, "Why Love One but Eat the Other?" and others depicted animals imprisoned on factory farms and asked, "How Much Cruelty Can You Swallow?" Our powerful ads spoke up for farmed animals and urged Americans to "Choose Compassion, Choose Vegetarian." Overall, these six campaigns drove the message home, with a combined viewership of over 70 million.
Urged consumers to pardon turkeys on Thanksgiving. Just in time for Thanksgiving, we rolled out a provocative new ad campaign in Chicago and Detroit. Featuring an emboldened turkey declaring, "I Beg Your Pardon - Spare a Turkey," the campaign encouraged travelers to forgo the traditional turkey dinner and replace it with tasty meatless fare. In all, the campaign reached over 3 million viewers.
Attracted nearly 1 million visitors to ChooseVeg.com through online advertising. MFA's online ad campaigns - featured on Google, Facebook, and other popular sites and blogs - brought millions of web surfers to MFA's pro-vegetarian campaign website, where they could watch undercover factory farm videos, search vegan recipes, and more.
Veganized restaurants for World Go Vegan Week. We worked with over a dozen popular, mainstream restaurants around the country to offer delicious new vegan options during the weeklong celebration, which garnered national and local press coverage and introduced tasty vegan food to countless people.
Thanks to vegan chef and holistic nutritionist, Alexandra Jamieson, now even "dummies" can learn to cook great tasting vegan food. Vegan Cooking For Dummies is Jamieson's second book in the popular Dummies series (the first was Living Vegan For Dummies) and offers simple tips and advice for anyone interested in transitioning to a healthy vegan lifestyle.
Alexandra Jamieson, who runs Nutrition for Empowered Women, is also the author of The Great American Detox Diet, and was featured on Oprah and in the Oscar-nominated hit movie, Super Size Me. With more than a decade of hands-on experience helping people around the world lead happier, healthier lives, Jamieson has a knack for presenting the vegan lifestyle in a way that really resonates with people.
With more than 160 hearty and healthy vegan recipes, week-long vegan meal plans, helpful vegan nutrition information, shopping strategies, a list of essential vegan cooking tools and ingredients, and much more, Vegan Cooking For Dummies makes it easy for anyone to learn the ins and outs of cruelty-free vegan living and may be the perfect holiday gift for those hard to reach friends, family and loved ones.
On December 11th over one hundred MFA supporters gathered from around the state of Ohio for the Hope for the Holidays cocktail party, celebrating Ohio's historic strides for farmed animals in 2010.
The inspiring evening was held at the Dragonfly Gallery in Columbus. Guests mingled with like-minded friends, new acquaintances, and MFA staff, while sipping their complimentary Frey organic wine. Splendid savory vegan hors d'oeuvres satisfied everyone's taste buds, while Pattycake Bakery's adorably shaped gingerbread men and snowman holiday cookies, and lemon, spice and strawberry mini-cupcakes kept the crowd extremely merry.
During a special Compassionate Leaders awards ceremony, three outstanding Ohio activists were honored. Danielle Dunne, the eleven-year-old recipient of The Youth Activist Award, commanded the microphone during her acceptance speech. David Meadows, honored with The Activist of the Year Award, shared the honor with others who collected signatures during the Ohioans for Humane Farms ballot drive. And Peggy Kaplan, The Hope Award recipient, had the crowd laughing as she recalled stories of her time on the front lines of animal activism.
During the evening a handful of lucky guests took home terrific raffle and cruelty-free silent auction items, including a trio of handmade sterling pendants, dinner for two at Chrissie Hynde's restaurant, The Vegiterranean, orchestra and theater performance tickets, an Earth Friendly products gift basket and more.
As friends caught up on old times and new friendships were formed, guests walked away from the intimate cocktail party with a sense of accomplishment and unity, and above all hope for a better future for farmed animals.
Yesterday, The Humane Society of the United States released shocking undercover video footage from its recent investigation at a Virginia pig factory farm owned by a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer.
According to the undercover investigator, who spent a month at the Smithfield facility, female breeding pigs were routinely crammed inside tiny metal "gestation crates" so small they could barely move for their entire lives. Many pigs were found suffering from untreated injuries and open pressure sores that developed from their merciless confinement. Driven mad by such tight confinement, pigs were often seen engaging in disturbed behaviors, such as repeated bar biting, indicating severe distress. Some had even bitten so hard and frequently that blood from their mouths coated the fronts of their crates.
Last year, an MFA investigator documented similar conditions at a pig factory farm in Fannettsburg, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, such extreme cruelty to pigs is commonplace on modern farms. More than 100 million pigs are forced to endure a life of misery and neglect each year in the United States alone. Mother pigs spend most of their lives in individual gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies. Piglets are taken from their mothers when they are as young as 10 days old and packed into overcrowded pens after having their tails cut off, their teeth clipped and their testicles ripped out of their bodies without any painkillers. After only five or six months they are loaded onto transport trucks and shipped to slaughter.
The good news is that each of us has the power to help end needless cruelty to pigs and other farmed animals by adopting a healthy vegan lifestyle. As consumers, we can choose compassion over cruelty and vote for a kinder world every time we sit down to eat. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
Although this was a public hearing, attendees were not permitted to make public comment. Gathering in solidarity, environmentalists, community members and individuals concerned about the welfare of animals boldly wore "Ohioans Against Hi-Q Egg Farm" t-shirts to stage a silent "stand in" inside the public hearing, urging the state to deny the factory farm permits needed to begin construction.
Hi-Q Egg requested the hearing on construction permits relating to travel routes for the farm's trucks. Hi-Q proposes to construct 15 egg-laying hen houses with 400,000 birds in each. If constructed, Hi-Q would be one of the largest egg-laying facilities in Ohio.
The millions of hens who could be confined at the proposed Hi-Q Egg Farm would be 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, giving each bird only 67 square inches of floor space - an area smaller than a notebook-sized piece of paper. Sickness and disease run rampant on factory farms when animals are forced to live in dirty and unsanitary conditions.
Numerous hidden-camera investigations conducted by Mercy For Animals at the nation's largest battery-cage facilities have uncovered 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.
In addition to cruelly confining six million hens, Hi-Q Egg Farm would reportedly produce at least 74,000 tons of chicken manure and 23 million gallons of manure-contaminated egg-wash water each year, creating an environmental and public food safety risk.
In an agreement reached earlier this year by Governor Ted Strickland and leaders of both the animal protection and farming communities, the Governor and Ohio Farm Bureau pledged to work to ensure that operating permits for Hi-Q are not granted - prohibiting the farm from beginning construction.
Hi-Q is bad for animals, the environment, neighboring communities and the state of Ohio. One of the best actions consumers can take to prevent animal cruelty and reduce the environmental and human health toll posed by factory farms is to adopt a healthy and compassionate vegan diet.
With childhood obesity, type-2 diabetes, and other severe diet-related illnesses on the rise, schoolchildren are in dire need of access to healthy, plant-based school food options. In an effort to help provide more healthful lunches to schoolchildren across the country, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Lets Move Salad Bars To Schools program, which could help bring privately funded salad bars, equipped with sneeze guards at the appropriate height to prevent the spread of germs, to U.S. school cafeterias.
At a cost of only $2,500 per salad bar, an alliance of produce industry representatives, school food professionals, health advocacy groups, and government agencies has developed a plan to help fund the effort through a combination of corporate and private donations, including creating a website to which schools can direct donors from their own communities to make contributions as large or as small as they like to the individual school. The project is scheduled to begin accepting applications from schools on January 1, 2011.
If you would like to bring a salad bar to your school (and why wouldn't you?!), help spread the word in your community. All it takes is 500 people to donate $5 each or 250 people to donate $10 to cover the cost of a salad bar. Visit the Lets Move Salad Bars To Schools website for more information on how to get involved.
In a seeming one-two punch for animals, Psychology Today, a bi-monthly magazine and website devoted to "Commentary, Research and News that cover all aspects of Human Behavior," ran two powerful articles by leading animal behaviorists on the topic of veganism.
A December 10 article titled "Dead Cow Walking," written by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado and author of The Emotional Lives of Animals, explains the serious health, environmental and moral implications of eating meat and suggests readers should really be asking, "Who's for dinner?" not "What's for dinner?" if they choose to eat meat or other animal products.
"By replacing mindless eating with mindful compassionate eating, each of us can really make a positive difference that will benefit ourselves and future generations, our children and theirs, who depend on our goodwill, as they will inherit what we leave in our wake," writes Bekoff.
On the heels of Bekoff's insightful piece was the December 14 article, "From Skinny Bitch to Bill Clinton: The Rise of Veganism," by Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., animal behaviorist and author of Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals. Balcombe discusses the rapidly growing popularity of plant-based living as evidenced by the appearance of veganism in everything from popular TV shows, newspapers and magazines to best-selling cookbooks and leading reports on global climate change.
What once was seen as a fringe issue has grown to include a wide variety of personalities, such as professional athletes like former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson and National Hockey league star Georges Laraque, business icons like Ford Motors Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Las Vegas entrepreneur Steve Wynn, and famous celebrities like Alicia Silverstone and Ellen Degeneres, who have all adopted cruelty-free, vegan lifestyles.
"You might wonder what all this has to do with The Inner Lives of Animals?" writes Balcombe. "Everything. Picture sitting on a hay bale in a barn amongst a menagerie of creatures: a couple of pigs, a pair of sheep, a goat, a flock of chickens and a few turkeys. A cow approaches and sniffs your hair. You hold out a hand and feel her warm breath against your fingers. These are the animals you spare each year when you become vegan."
We couldn't say it any better ourselves. For more information about transitioning to a compassionate, vegan lifestyle, please visit ChooseVeg.com.
For years New Yorkers have been raving about Blossom, a chic all-vegan restaurant in Chelsea that encourages organic, plant-based eating and concern for animals. Growing in popularity among vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike, Blossom has continued to bloom by opening Café Blossom in Manhattan's Upper West Side and Cocoa V, a decadent vegan chocolate boutique and wine café. And now, New Yorkers have the opportunity to indulge in a new concept of food and drink on the go with the latest addition to the Blossom family, Blossom Du Jour!
Blossom Du Jour is committed to making a positive impact on the "fast food" industry by offering food and beverage choices that are fast, healthful, environmentally friendly and most importantly, cruelty-free. With such tantalizing vegan menu options as the "Midtown Melt," "Filet No Fish" and "Chocolate Mousse Pie," to name just a few, Blossom Du Jour is really taking the Big Apple by storm.
MFA was lucky enough to sit down with Pamela Elizabeth, owner of Blossom NYC, to get her take on the growing vegan movement.
With your chic vegan Blossom restaurant in Chelsea, Café Blossom in the heart of the Upper West Side and Cocoa V, your vegan chocolate boutique and wine café, business really seems to be booming. Now you have opened a sleek vegan fast food restaurant called Blossom Du Jour and have plans to open even more "Shrewd Fast Food" restaurants in the near future. What inspired you to open these restaurants and why do you think they have been so successful?
What's moved me to open these establishments and will continue to move me is a hope that through these venues more and more people will adopt a vegan diet and lifestyle. At every second countless animals are being tortured and slaughtered to feed this world. As a species that can make decisions and changes I feel that it is our responsibility to recognize this emergency and do whatever we can to abolish this suffering.
More and more people are adopting a vegan diet either because they have recognized this suffering and don't want to partake in it, or they recognize the numerous health benefits that are a by-product of eating a plant-based diet - or both.
Blossom Restaurant, Cocoa V and now Du Jour, all offer a menu that is completely animal-free and delicious. Folks don't have to miss certain flavors or textures they are used to when eating a plant-based diet. Approximately 70% of people who enjoy Blossom and Cocoa V are not vegans or vegetarians, they just like good food. I have had conversations with so many people who would actually like to become vegans but they don't know how to cook "vegan." It's really something because learning to cook anything is all about enhancers. Herbs, spices, sweeteners, etc. Of course, you have the base that you're working with, like let's say a potato. If people put all of their attention and creativity into how to make that potato taste incredible, to meet their palates' desires, just the same way they do with meat or fish, there's no difference. It's a state of consciousness that needs to change, a state of routine. Caring about what's happening to another will change that. A desire to live a healthy life will change that.
What is the idea behind a vegan fast food café? What do you hope to achieve?
The idea behind BDJ is to offer "Shrewd Fast Food" to the masses, meaning fast food that's void of any animal products or chemical preservatives - food that's mostly organic, satisfying, healthy, delicious and affordable, and food that is prepared quickly and efficiently. Food that the discerning person will choose to eat. The goal is to open several BDJ's in New York City and other cities. We hope the mainstream will respond to the vegan food we're offering in a fast food setting and as a result will lead to people wanting to eat this way permanently.
At BDJ not only are we serving vegan fast food, we are also offering educational materials, such as vegan and vegetarian starter kits and publications like Animal Liberation and Food Revolution. The most powerful feature at BDJ is our large video screen, which shows farm animals living the way they should be - happily, at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and other sanctuaries. One of the most moving scenes is of a calf romping in the snow with two dogs. We've literally watched people's jaws drop when they see this. Many people don't realize or ever think about the fact that a cow, a chicken or a pig has feelings, or about their tremendous suffering as a result of factory farming. But when they see them in this light, there is an opportunity for something to click.
What were some of the biggest challenges the restaurant has had to overcome?
The biggest challenge we've had to overcome is meeting the demand. It's been five weeks now since we opened and for the first few weeks it was a challenge to produce the amount of food that was being requested, but that's been settled now.
What are some of your most popular dishes?
The most popular dishes thus far are The Skyscraper Burger, The Midtown Melt Sandwich, The Smokacado Wrap, The Mac n Cheese and The Pot Pie. We can't keep the juices or the desserts (we do pies and gluten-free cookies) in stock.
It is apparent from your restaurants' websites, the free vegan literature you make available and the scenes of happy animals from sanctuaries playing at Blossom Du Jour that you have a passion for animal rights. Which came first, your love of animals or your desire to open a restaurant, and how do the two relate to each other?
I care about animals very deeply - all animals - and I don't want them to suffer. Factory farming is a Holocaust for animals and I am always trying to think of a way to end this suffering. I'm always looking for that silver bullet to come to me or to someone so this suffering can stop. I've been told by many that there is no silver bullet. It's got to be that the truth is exposed and many will hopefully come together and make a difference. Simply, I hope by offering food free of animal products, food that is delicious and healthy, by offering vegan literature and by exposing the truth about factory farming through these venues that there is an opportunity for a positive shift to happen.
What inspired you to go vegan?
A number of years ago I received an envelope in the mail from the Fund For Animals, asking for a donation. I read about how animals are horribly mistreated. I became vegetarian on the spot. 5 years thereafter I became vegan.
What do you see in the future of veganism, animal rights and the restaurant industry?
A few years ago, if you said the word "vegan," nobody knew what it meant, but today it's almost a household word. I feel animal rights and the fact that animals are being hideously tortured every moment of every day for food production cannot be ignored or hidden any longer. The fact that eating animal products is completely unhealthy cannot be ignored any longer. Now is the time for tremendous change to take form, and it is! There are so many people who care very deeply for animals and want their suffering to stop. So much is being done to bring light to what has been hidden for so long. The restaurant industry can obviously have one of the most positive impacts on veganism, but the public will dictate this. If we keep asking for more and more vegan options, there will be more and more vegan options.
Bob Barker is perhaps best known as the host of the popular TV game show The Price is Right, which he turned into a forum for encouraging millions of Americans to help control the pet population by having their companion animals spayed or neutered. This many-time Emmy-award-winning television personality and much-beloved animal rights advocate has since been named an Honorary Fellow by the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics for his groundbreaking contribution to the establishment of animal studies within academia.
By generously endowing America's top law schools, including Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Northwestern, Duke, Georgetown, Columbia and the University of Virginia, and by endowing a chair in animal rights at Drury University (his own alma mater), Barker has pioneered the teaching of animal law in the United States. These endowments have enabled, for the first time, hundreds of university students to study animal law and ethics.
"We cannot change the world for animals without also changing people's ideas about animals. Almost single-handedly in little more than a decade, Bob's sagacity and generosity have propelled animal ethics from a marginal issue into the academic mainstream. This is a colossal achievement," says Professor Andrew Linzey of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.
Earlier this year, Barker helped expose the routine abuses that calves raised for veal are forced to endure by narrating hidden-camera video footage secretly shot by an MFA investigator at one of the nation's top veal producers. Pleading for baby calves who are 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, Barker encouraged consumers to withdraw their support for this needless cruelty by boycotting both dairy and veal.
From the work that he has done to bring animal studies programs into universities across the country to consistently speaking up for the most defenseless among us, Bob Barker is a true hero for animals. MFA commends Mr. Barker for his decades of outspoken animal advocacy and congratulates him for this prestigious and well-deserved honor.
Sadly, fish often get the short end of the stick when it comes to human concern for animal welfare. Unlike many other animals, fish are not soft or fuzzy and they are unable to express their pain and suffering in ways that we can easily recognize. But one's capacity to experience pain and suffering is not determined by fuzziness or by one's ability to make facial expressions or to vocalize distress. Like mammals and birds, fish have specialized nerve fibers that detect tissue damage and pain and they possess the mental capacity and "awareness" necessary to experience suffering.
In a new article, Discovery News brought the issue of fish sentience and suffering into the mainstream with its analysis of Do Fish Feel Pain?, a new book by Victoria Braithewaite, Professor of Fisheries and Biology at Pennsylvania State University. While the fact that fish can experience pain and suffering may seem like common sense, Braithewaite uses compelling scientific evidence to show that fish are just as capable of experiencing pain and suffering as dogs, cats and all other vertebrate animals.
Despite the clear scientific evidence that they can suffer, each year trillions (yes, trillions) of fish are impaled, netted and yanked from the water to be crushed, hacked apart while still alive or allowed to slowly suffocate to death. According to a detailed report released earlier this year, somewhere between 1 and 2.7 trillion wild fish are caught and killed globally each year. This does not include the billions of unwanted "bycatch" fish and other aquatic animals who are killed by industrial fish trawlers, the number of fish impaled on hooks as bait or the number of fish raised on factory fish farms each year.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Each of us can withdraw our support for the needless suffering of fish and other animals by adopting a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
2010 has been a landmark year for Mercy For Animals, and it's all been documented in our blog. The MFA blog is home to all the juicy details of our most recent happenings, as well as heartwarming reports on exciting progress for farmed animals. Over the past year, MFA's blog has been home to posts about stories in the media, vegan celebrities, campaigns, video games, cookbooks, new products, and interviews with movers and shakers in the movement.
After sifting through hundreds of 2010 blog posts, here is our top 10 list. Drum roll please...
As the saying goes, "The way to a person's heart is through their stomach." Allison Rivers Samson has been winning over both hearts and stomachs since 1997 with her award-winning vegan bakery Allison's Gourmet, and has certainly won over Mercy For Animals, as Allison's is one of our favorite vegan bakeries out there.
Allison's Gourmet desserts are sure to make great holiday gifts and MFA was fortunate enough to sit down and talk with Allison just before her holiday rush begins.
Please tell us about the inspiration for Allison's Gourmet.
Allison's Gourmet was born out of my personal need for vegan desserts that taste fantastic. Yes, I really did say, "need." Way back in the dark ages of 1989, the choices were few and dismal so I got to work veganizing traditional sweets... After a long dormancy, that seed germinated when I went to cooking school and then perfected my vegan baking techniques. In 1997, I went into business selling vegan desserts to Seattle-area individuals and restaurants. Throughout the years, that little seed has grown into a beautiful tree with deep roots and lush leaves, fully abundant with delicious and varied fruits, evolving "Allison's Cookies" into "Allison's Gourmet," a premium vegan bakery and confectionary boutique.
What do you hope to teach people through your efforts at Allison's Gourmet? (Whether through your delicious gourmet treats or writing, blogging, etc.)
Becoming aware of the unimaginable horrors animals endure was (and continues to be) very painful for me. As humans, we are endowed with the gift of choice and it was learning about the animals' lives that made choice possible for me. Living vegan, I am completely fulfilled emotionally and physically by my whole-foods diet. Becoming vegan turned me into a foodie. I want everyone to have these opportunities, so my goal is to blatantly flaunt the decadent pleasures of a vegan lifestyle while rewarding people for making the choice to live compassionately. It's 2010 - deprivation doesn't live here anymore.
What advice would you give people interested in veganizing their favorite baked goods?
There are several easy replacements for eggs (bananas, applesauce, etc.), milk (dairy-free milks like nut, coconut, rice, etc.) and butter (vegan margarine) that can be found in health food stores and/or on the Internet. Play in the kitchen and choose your favorites! In all cases, I suggest using the highest-quality ingredients you can find or afford since low-quality ingredients make for less-than-optimal results. When it comes to food, you truly do get what you pay for. And if your recipe calls for just one egg, simply skip it and add a tablespoon or two of water in its place.
Your award-winning vegan desserts have received rave reviews from vegans and non-vegans alike. Which dessert is your personal favorite?
This is such a hard question; it's like asking me which of my children I love the most! To be honest, everything we offer originated from a personal craving, so every single item we have is a favorite of mine. Yes, I love sweets that much! I do seem to reach for some things more often than others though. Our Chocolate Almond Toffee is perfect when I want something crunchy, buttery, and rich; Walnut Fudge is oooh, la, la delish with nutty accents atop a bed of creamy sweetness; Pecan Brownies excite my taste buds with their deep chocolaty, chewy goodness and buttery toasted pecans; and I often fall in love all over again with whatever is the current flavor of the month in our Monthly Club. I could go on, but I think I'll have a Peanut Butter Cup instead. :-)
We think your products make ideal holiday gifts and we are not the only ones. Emily Deschanel from the hit TV show Bones said, "I love sending Allison's Gourmet fudge and brownies to people, especially during the holidays. Knowing that you can send a delicious gift that hasn't harmed any animals makes me, and the animals, so happy!" What are your best-selling holiday gifts?
Thank you so much! When influential people use their positions to speak up for animals and inspire others to live more kindly, it makes a better world for us all. I'm honored to help in some small way by providing the "how" with a service for sending impressive gifts that show off how delectable and glamorous vegan goodies can be.
Our most popular gifts include our Monthly Clubs, Gift Baskets and Vegan Samplers.
Tell us a little about your Sweet Talk blog. What inspired you to start the blog?
The idea for our blog came from wanting more personal interaction and frequent updates than was provided by our monthly newsletters. It also fosters connection by growing deeper roots within our vegan community, having discussions about playing in the kitchen, and offering an inside view into Allison's Gourmet.
Thank you for this opportunity. I am deeply grateful for MFA's heroic efforts on behalf of animals. Your voice is critical for our precious friends who cannot speak. Your courage and deeply valuable work inspire us every day.