February 2011 Archives

DownerPigsInHoldingPen1.jpgFollowing a 2008 undercover investigation at a California slaughterhouse showing workers kicking downed cows, ramming them with a forklift, jabbing them in the eyes, applying painful electrical shocks and even torturing them with a water hose in attempts to force them to walk to slaughter, the federal government banned the slaughter of cattle too sick or injured to stand. But while this new regulation helps to curb rampant abuse of cattle at slaughter, pigs, sheep and other suffering downed animals remain unprotected. However, the United States Department of Agriculture recently announced it is considering requests to extend the ban on slaughtering downed cattle to other species of farmed animals.

While federal law requires downed cattle to be immediately and humanely euthanized, untold thousands of pigs, sheep, goats and other animals who are too sick or injured to walk to the slaughterhouse kill floor are left to languish without food, water or veterinary care before being kicked, beaten and dragged to their deaths each year. California law now prohibits the sale of meat from downed cows, pigs, goats and sheep. It's time federal law did the same. There is simply no reason why other farmed animals shouldn't be afforded the same consideration that has been extended to cattle.

Take Action:

The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is inviting comments on the proposal to extend current regulations requiring that downed cattle be immediately and humanely euthanized to include downed pigs, goats, sheep, and other farmed animals. Please take a moment to submit your comments directly to the FSIS, by going here and filling out the required information. Comments are due by April 8, 2011, so please take action today and ask your friends, family and co-workers to do the same.

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FarmToFridgeDVDSmall.jpgVideo footage is undoubtedly the most powerful tool the animal rights movement has to expose the plight of farmed animals. Farm to Fridge, Mercy For Animals' most hard-hitting film to date, is setting the new standard. Narrated by Academy Award-nominee, James Cromwell, Farm to Fridge takes viewers on an unforgettable 12-minute journey behind the closed doors of the nation's largest industrial poultry, pig, dairy and fish farms, hatcheries, and slaughter plants. Based on MFA's highly acclaimed undercover investigations, Farm to Fridge chronicles some of the most egregious animal cruelty ever documented.

Using the power of video to inspire compassion and create long-term social change is easier than you think! One viewer writes, "I just wanted to share a small victory from [Farm to Fridge] - that would be my brother of all people watching part of it and questioning his way of eating ... [A]fter making it to the poultry part of the MFA video, he called me and said he was horrified and wants to sit down and have a conversation about going vegetarian." The viewer simply shared Farm to Fridge on Facebook.

So what will you do to expose the truth? We've put together a few simple ideas to get you started.

  • Share Farm to Fridge on your own Facebook page. The "Share on Facebook" button can be found at MeatVideo.com. Also consider sharing on other social networking platforms such as Twitter.
  • Embed the YouTube video of Farm to Fridge in your blog or website.
  • Host a "Paid-Per-View" event on your college campus. You can receive funding through VegFund. For everything you need to set up a "Paid-Per-View" event, click here.
  • Invite a speaker to talk about animal rights and show Farm to Fridge. You can hold the event in your local library, school, university, place of worship, workplace or community center, and hold a discussion after the film, too.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about the plight of farmed animals, urging readers to visit MeatVideo.com to learn more.
For more tips on using the power of video to expose animal cruelty, click here.

To learn about transitioning to a plant-based diet, click here to receive your free Vegetarian Starter Kit.

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UFCKarnage.jpgMixed Martial Arts (MMA), one of the most physically demanding sports today, has seen a recent spike in the number of vegetarian fighters.

In a recent article, "Vegetarianism all the rage in MMA," a number of MMA fighters share their insights on ditching meat and rising to the top of their weight classes.

Jon Fitch is the newest MMA star to go vegetarian. He's ranked as the #2 welterweight fighter and about his new diet, he says, "In every kind of testing to see where I'm at, strength, speed, conditioning, I'm either right at or well ahead of the best marks I've ever had at this stage of training."

Jake Shields, a lifelong vegetarian and animal rights advocate, has won a number of MMA championships, including the Shooto Middleweight, Strikeforce Middleweight and the Elite XC.

The most outspoken of the bunch is none other than vegan Mac Danzig, the Season 6 winner of "The Ultimate Fighter," who said, "I don't understand how anyone can have an animal in their life and know what is going on and contribute to it. You don't need any kind of animal products to be an athlete in this day and age."

Additionally, brothers Nate and Nick Diaz are both vegetarian and have won their fair share of MMA championships as well.

But it's not just MMA fighters that are making the switch to a meat-free diet - professionals in hockey, basketball, football and track & field have touted a plant-based diet as the ideal way to eat for high-performance athletes.

Visit ChooseVeg.com for free recipes and nutritional information, and to learn why more and more athletes are ditching animal products for their health, and for animals.

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pigletlittle.jpgCurrently in Virginia, farmed animals are protected under the same animal cruelty laws as dogs and cats, but two bills - Senate Bill 1026 and House Bill 1541 - would substantially lower the care standards for farmed animals by making it legal for farmers to deprive animals of food and water right up to the point of "emaciation" and "dehydration." If passed, these bills would also exempt farmers from providing shelter for animals in bad weather and would legally permit them to hurt and neglect farmed animals as long as the abuse is claimed to be a "customary" farming practice.

According to HB 1541's author, Robert Orrock from the Virginia House of Delegates, farmed animals "aren't entitled to the same luxuries as dogs and cats." WTKR News in Norfolk, Virginia quotes Delegate Orrock as saying the bill is about "making it clear that there is a difference between the animals at the end of the day."

Of course, farmed animals are every bit as capable of experiencing fear, pain and suffering as dogs and cats. In a civilized society, it is our responsibility to protect all animals, including farmed animals, from needless cruelty and neglect. Sadly, the bills have been approved by committees in both chambers and are now in subcommittees. However, there is still time to help animals by stopping these bills from becoming law in Virginia.

Take Action:

If you are a Virginia resident, please contact your state legislators and urge them take a stand against H.B. 1541/S.B. 1026. Ask them not to strip farmed animals of legal protections against cruelty and not to allow farmers to mistreat them with impunity. Click here to learn who your VA state legislators are and how to contact them.

Even if these bills are approved by the Virginia General Assembly, the proposed legislation must be signed by Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell to become law. Please urge him to veto H.B. 1541/S.B. 1026 if it comes to his desk. Click here to contact Governor McDonnell.

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A newly erected Mercy For Animals' pro-vegetarian billboard campaign is turning heads in Sin City. Spread across the greater Las Vegas area along bustling highway routes and nestled on busy street corners, are nine newly erected pro-vegetarian billboards that are giving residents and visitors to the entertainment capital of the world some serious food for thought.

The provocative campaign features an adorable puppy and a lovable piglet sitting side-by-side and asks, "Why love one but eat the other?" Another design features a kitten and chick, posing the same question. Motorists are encouraged to "Choose Vegetarian" and visit ChooseVeg.com and VegasVeg.com for additional information. The ads will be viewed by millions of motorists in the next month.

VegasPuppyPigBillboard1.jpgWhile the billboards feature heartwarming images, their message strikes at the heart of a disturbing issue.

While all 50 states have laws protecting dogs and cats from abuse, animals on factory farms have little to no legal protection in most states. Cruelty that would be punishable by law, if it were inflicted on dogs or cats, such as neglect, mutilation, transport through all weather extremes, and gruesome and violent slaughter, is commonplace in animal agribusiness. Yet farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than the dogs and cats we cherish as companions.

Thankfully compassionate consumers can widen their circle of compassion to include all animals, not just those widely viewed as companions, by adopting a vegan diet.

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coty_cow.jpgOn and around March 20th - the first day of spring - thousands of caring people all over the world will host events to educate their communities and ask their friends, families and neighbors to "kick the meat habit" and explore a plant-based diet.

Mercy For Animals, an official sponsor of the Great American Meatout, will be joining advocates worldwide by hosting vegan feed-ins and educational outreach events in Illinois, New York, Ohio and Texas.

What will you be doing to educate your community on March 20th? Check out MFA's Campaign page for more info on holding your own feed-in or leafleting event, hosting a tabling event, screening MFA's new film Farm to Fridge or creating a library display. Click here for support materials and resources to inform consumers of the health, ethical and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.

Help MFA make this year's Meatout the greatest yet, by committing to encourage at least one person to reject animal cruelty and adopt a plant-based diet! The average person eats about 27 land animals per year, adding up to thousands in a lifetime.

For more information on transitioning to a plant-based diet, click here to receive your free Vegetarian Starter Kit.

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4099653534_af6236df7f.jpegThe folks over at Treehugger, one of the top twenty-five blogs in the world according to Time Magazine's 2009 blog index, have put together a slideshow revealing 10 Horrifying Stories of Factory Farming Gone Wrong. "Do you really know what your factory-farmed meat went through before it ended up on your plate?" they ask.

While the disturbing images are enough to turn stomachs, Treehugger also did a remarkable job explaining the many problems associated with modern industrial agriculture, including environmental degradation, animal cruelty and increased risks to human health. Even organic and free-range farms are called to task as Treehugger points to images of so-called free range hens crammed by the thousands inside giant warehouses without any access to the outdoors, stating the problem with factory farms "goes beyond what the animals are fed." 

Giving an up close and personal look at factory farming, one of the first slides links straight to MFA's undercover investigation at Hy-Line Hatchery, where 150,000 male chicks are ground up alive every single day, and is followed by a link to the Anonymous for Animal Rights' live, hidden camera video feed inside a battery-cage egg facility in Israel.

Next to an image of a bleeding pig inside a narrow gestation crate from a December 2010 undercover investigation by The Humane Society of the United States, Treehugger quotes New York Times columnist Mark Bittman. "[I]f you're still eating industrially-raised pork (or chicken or beef or fish for that matter) -- get real. Any industry ... that operates with such infuriating disregard for the welfare of their animals deserves all the trouble we can muster." 

This is exactly the kind of coverage of modern animal agriculture that people need to see. The best part is that a handy button at the bottom of the slideshow makes it easy to share this important information with friends and family on Facebook. While you are at it, why not share MFA's gripping new Farm to Fridge documentary too? It's online activism at its finest. Just point, click and share.

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4017713943_73c1c4a7c1.jpegA collapse of a Connecticut farm building due to heavy snow resulted in the death of 85,000 egg-laying hens. According to reports, the dead birds trapped in the farm building just southeast of Hartford, Conn. were subsequently incinerated.

Last week's roof collapse is yet another reminder of the inherent dangers farmed animals face when subjected to intensive confinement on factory farms - where they are confined to tiny cages and unable to flee from fires, floods, tornados, or other disasters.

Mercy For Animals has conducted several undercover investigations at egg farms revealing that cruelty to animals runs rampant inside these farm buildings. Investigators documented up to six hens crowded into each file-drawer-sized wire cage, hens suffering from untreated infections, dead hens left to rot in cages with hens still producing eggs for human consumption, birds trapped in the wire of their cages without access to food or water, and live hens thrown away in trash cans.

The best action consumers can take to protect hens from the dangerous and cruel conditions inherent in factory farming systems is to adopt a healthy and compassionate vegan diet. Order a FREE Vegetarian Starter Kit or download the PDF and begin your journey toward meatless living.

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veganistcover600.jpgKathy Freston is a New York Times best-selling author whose focus is healthy living and conscious eating. After inspiring Oprah and her entire staff to go vegan for a week, her newest book, Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World, is flying off bookstore shelves, and has skyrocketed to the number one spot on Amazon.com.

Kathy promotes a body/mind/spirit approach to health and happiness that includes healthy diet, emotional introspection, spiritual practice, and loving relationships, among other tenets. She continually cites the proven value of "leaning into" change and the benefits of "progress, not perfection."

MFA was lucky enough to sit down with Kathy for an exclusive interview to discuss her new book, undercover investigations, Oprah, and the many benefits of a vegan diet.

Your book, Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World, has inspired Oprah Winfrey, and her entire staff, to go vegan for a week. Considering millions of people are inspired by Oprah's wisdom every single day, what is it about your approach that made you Oprah's inspiration?

Well, I don't know that I was Oprah's inspiration, but rather I think she is someone who is always pushing herself to become more and more conscious, thoughtful, and evolved as a human being. So eating consciously makes sense to her. Oprah said she likes the "lean into it" approach, so that you can gradually move toward healthier and more thoughtful choices. It's hard to change your food choices overnight, so the "progress, not perfection" is appealing to most people who are new to eating vegan. Oprah is also very much a teacher, and she likes to share information that she sees as useful to living your best life!

You say you, like a lot of Americans, grew up on chicken-fried steak and cheesy grits, and loved nothing more than BBQ ribs and vanilla milkshakes. What advice do you have for someone who wants to go vegan but isn't sure about giving up the foods they know and love?   

I didn't want to give up the things I loved either! So what I did - and what I recommend - is just to veganize your favorite meals. If you like spaghetti with meatballs, have the exact same pasta and sauce but use meatless meatballs instead. If you like burgers and hot dogs, just use the veggie versions instead. If chicken and mashed potatoes is your meal of choice, simply substitute Gardein Chik'n (which is a vegan chicken patty) and make your mashed potatoes with nondairy milk and Earth Balance instead of butter. Once you realize that these foods are just as fulfilling as your old favorites, you'll see that this way of eating is actually quite doable. It's all about ease, comfort, and tradition.

What is the difference between a vegan and a veganist?

I landed on the term "veganist" because the "ist" refers to "one who studies, or one who does"; so a veganist is someone who looks closely at his food choices and opts for a plant-based diet for reasons of health, concern for animals and the environment, and a sense of living consciously. Just like an artist is deeply interested in incorporating art into his life, or a violinist identifies himself with his passion for the instrument, a veganist is super interested in all the positive aspects of a vegan diet.

Two of Mercy For Animals' undercover investigations are discussed in Veganist: the investigation at Willet Dairy, the largest dairy in New York state; and the investigation at Gemperle Enterprises, a battery cage egg facility in California. What was it about these investigations that you thought was so important for people to know?

These two stories just slayed me. They were so well documented, so completely lucid with regards to what happens to animals in industry. The stories were not filled with hyperbole or judgment, just facts and observations. I really think the vast majority of people simply have no idea what goes on with animals in the food industry. I didn't. It's stories like these that illuminate the truth and help us to live closer to our values of kindness, compassion, and mercy.

In Veganist, you give readers ten game-changing promises about leaning into a vegan lifestyle. What are the top three results people can expect by being veganists?

By being a veganist, you lose weight effortlessly and keep it off. Not only does vegan food have naturally low fat, but it also has a lot of fiber. Fiber fills your stomach and tells your brain that you are full and satiated, thereby turning off the "eat more" signal. It also has a high thermic effect (calories burned as body heat during digestion) which amps up your metabolism. When you eat vegan food, your after-meal metabolism increases so that it's 16% faster for around 3 hrs after every meal!

Secondly, your health just soars on a veganist plan: within 2 weeks, your blood sugar and blood pressure drop and within 3 weeks your cholesterol drops significantly. There are also very substantial studies that say you are preventing, halting, and even reversing some cancers when you eat no animal foods.

Another great result of being a veganist is that you save money both short term (on groceries... beans, grains and frozen veggies are super cheap) and long term (health care is very expensive, so if you stay healthy, you save money! And taxes for health care, we all know how high that goes...)

The National Restaurant Association lists veganism as a "hot trend" for 2011. A recent report indicated that vegetarianism has gone up 50 percent and that veganism has doubled on college campuses in the last four years. In the last year, billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn, former President Bill Clinton, heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson and many more high-profile figures have embraced plant-based living. Why do you think veganism is now becoming more mainstream?

I think veganism has gained so much momentum because there are multiple forces working in tandem: 1. There is much more exposure - because of groups like Mercy For Animals - about what really happens to animals as they become food. People see that and there is a gut reaction that it's not right. 2. Many, many peer-reviewed studies have come out proving without question that plant-based food is superior for our health, insofar as preventing and reversing obesity and disease. 3. The environment has become a cause célèbre, and the single best thing you can do to be a good steward of the environment is to steer clear of animal foods. 4. There are widely published reports nearly every month about meat or eggs being contaminated and recalled, which creates an "ick" response. 5. Because delicious vegan foods are more plentiful, whether as restaurant offerings or cookbook recipes or convenience foods or plant-based substitutes for the things we grew up loving. All of these things are coming together at once, and it's pushing veganism toward a tipping point!

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In less than three weeks, due to an ongoing outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, South Korea has buried over 1.8 million pigs and 146,000 cattle, as well as thousands of goats and deer. The total number of animals killed during this outbreak is now at approximately 2.9 million, with an estimated 90% of them buried alive.

At the same time, avian bird flu outbreaks have been occurring in South Korea. Over 5.4 million chickens and ducks have been killed, many also buried alive.

Korea Animal Rights Advocates says that approximately 100,000 animals have been buried alive each day, and estimates that of the 8.3 million animals culled since November 29, 2010, 97% have been buried alive. The government has even begun to offer up national forests as burial sites as local authorities are running out of burial space.

The South Korean government could only afford to euthanize cattle for the first month of the outbreak and then ran out of supplies. Vaccination efforts have also been minimal, with less than 60% of cattle receiving the vaccine and only 7.6% of pigs.

Please use your voice to help end this tragedy. Send a polite message to Han Duk-soo, the ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United States, and tell him that you want the South Korean government to immediately stop burying animals alive and to start using humane methods of controlling foot-and-mouth disease, as well as avian bird flu outbreaks. Click here for a list of other officials to contact, as well as a sample letter.

This crisis is yet another reminder of the cruelty animals endure at the hands of factory farms, where they are viewed and treated as mere commodities, rather than thinking, feeling creatures fully capable of feeling pain and suffering. Click here to learn more about how you can withdraw your support from this cruel system by adopting a vegan diet.

For more information on the outbreaks, visit KARA.

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Kathy and Oprah.jpegThe vegan world is all abuzz about Oprah Winfrey's Vegan Challenge episode, which aired yesterday. Inspired by a new book, Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston, Oprah and 378 of her staff decided to go vegan for a week and then discussed their experiences on the show. Kathy Freston, a bestselling author and renowned wellness expert, was invited on the show to talk about the many benefits of adopting a vegan diet. Click here to watch Kathy discuss being a veganist.

With an estimated 15-20 million viewers a day in the United States and airing in 132 countries around the world, The Oprah Winfrey Show is the highest rated program of its kind in history and surely had a huge and positive impact on promoting healthy vegan living. At the very least, Oprah has decided to incorporate a Meatless Monday program for her employee lunchroom and Mrs. Freston's book, Veganist, got the "Oprah bump" and leaped to the #1 bestselling spot on Amazon.com. That's sure to translate into countless new vegans! 

Perhaps the most exciting news is that Oprah has put an incredibly well thought out and helpful Vegan Start Kit on her extremely popular website! Complete with a Going Vegan FAQ, vegan cooking lessons, a vegan grocery list, meal plans and more, Oprah has certainly helped push vegan living further into the mainstream.

Interested in taking the Vegan Challenge yourself? Check out Kathy Freston's Three Week Vegan Meal Plan to get started and then visit ChooseVeg.com for more information, helpful tips and even more delicious vegan recipes!

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foiegrasban.jpgThe Aloha State may soon say goodbye to foie gras cruelty, thanks to progressive legislation recently introduced in Hawaii. Foie gras (French for "fatty liver") is typically produced by ramming metal pipes down the throats of ducks and geese to pump food into their stomachs. Senate Bill 727 would help these birds by banning both the production and sale of foie gras in Hawaii.

Time and again, investigators have exposed the cruelty inherent in foie gras production. Ducks and geese are routinely crammed into filthy, feces-ridden sheds or confined to tiny wire cages. One worker may be responsible for force-feeding as many as 500 birds three times a day. This rush often leaves animals injured and suffering from rough handling, while the force-feeding procedure itself is so traumatic that many birds choke to death or die from organ rupture.

Thankfully, the number of companies, chefs, and countries taking a stand against foie gras is growing. The ARAMARK Corporation recently made waves when it announced that it would no longer distribute foie gras due to cruelty concerns, and some celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck have completely removed it from their restaurants' menus. Fifteen nations and the state of California also have current or pending bans on the force-feeding of ducks and geese for foie gras.

Take Action!

We believe it's time for Hawaii to follow suit instead of ducking the issue. Please send polite emails to Senator Josh Green and Senator Clarence Nishihara, asking that they "hear bill S.B. 727" and explaining the cruel treatment ducks and geese endure in the production of foie gras. If you would like to help Hawaii make the compassionate decision to forgo foie gras, please also e-mail campaigner Barbara Steinberg for information on submitting testimony in favor of S.B. 727. Mahalo and thank you!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2011 is the previous archive.

March 2011 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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