Freston, who describes herself as obsessed with all things vegan, has helped push the vegan lifestyle into the mainstream by appearing on prominent daytime talk shows, including Oprah, Ellen and Martha Stewart, to share the many personal health, environmental and animal welfare benefits of vegan living - or as Freston says, "a grand slam way of eating."
After realizing that pigs and cows are no less capable of feeling pain and suffering than the dogs she knows and loves, Freston declared, "It didn't sit right with me ... I don't want to eat animals."
When asked if she thinks veganism will gain mainstream traction in our society, Freston said that by making small changes, like practicing "Meatless Monday," or foregoing meat a few times a week, people will quickly see how easy it is to "lean into it."
For helpful tips, information and delicious recipes designed to help anyone get started on a path to healthy and humane vegan living, please visit ChooseVeg.org.
El Nuevo Mexicano is the newest Chicago restaurant to boast an extensive vegan menu after working with MFA. After seeing MFA's hard-hitting new documentary Farm to Fridge, detailing the plights of farmed animals in the United States, Maria Rodriguez, owner of El Nuevo Mexicano, swiftly adopted a vegetarian diet and contacted MFA for assistance in adding vegan options to her restaurant's menu.
"Some things change your views, other things change your life," explains Rodriguez. "Farm to Fridge did both for me."
Nearly 100 hungry diners enjoyed crispy flautas, sizzling fajitas, cheezy quesadillas and more at El Nuevo Mexicano's vegan menu launch party to benefit MFA. With the help of Daiya vegan cheese, Upton's Naturals seitan and a mix of fresh vegetables and grains, the new options have won over vegan and non-vegan Mexican food enthusiasts alike.
Encouraging mainstream restaurants to add delicious vegan dishes to their menus not only makes vegan dining more convenient, it also helps expose vegan foods to those who may have never tried them before. Rodriguez says several of her staff and customers have taken an interest in veganism since she added the new menu items.
"We have received more comments and compliments than anything we have ever offered on our menu - and we continue to receive encouragement every day," says Rodriguez. "We hope our continued support of compassionate food choices will encourage our non-vegan customers to take notice."
MFA works with restaurants around the country to expand their vegan offerings - helping to bring vegan eating into the mainstream one restaurant at a time. We've also made it easy for people everywhere to encourage restaurants to expand their customer base by adding vegan options to their menus.
Visit our Vegetarian Dining Campaign page for tips and advice on expanding the vegan options at restaurants in your area.
To find vegan-friendly fare in nearly any city around the world, visit VegGuide.org
A recent article in The Guardian, titled "Cut red meat intake and don't eat ham, say cancer researchers" details a new and authoritative 850-page report by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), advising people to limit consumption of "red meats such as beef, pork, and lamb, and to avoid processed meat such as ham and salami altogether." Upon analysis of 263 research papers looking at factors contributing to bowel cancer, the report concludes that there is "convincing evidence" that these meats increase risk of the disease.
More and more experts agree on the substantial health benefits of eating plant-based foods instead of meat, dairy or eggs. The China Study, the most comprehensive human health study ever conducted, and the new film Forks Over Knives, which is based in part on the findings of the China Study, show the remarkable power that plant foods have not only to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, but also to reverse them.
Preventing cancer is just one of the many reasons to adopt a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle. Check out 24 others in MFA's newest brochure, 25 Reasons To Try Vegetarian.
Ohio's MFA supporters came out in droves to the "Rock Out for the Animals" concert in Columbus last weekend. The benefit concert was held at the popular Columbus vegan hot spot, Hal & Al's bar, and featured local musicians Darcey Hile, Noiseblanket and Southside Chiefs.
While some attendees satisfied their appetites with Hal & Al's vegan favorites, like brats and dogs with all the fixins, tofu tacos and mac un' cheese, others chose to rock out with a pint of Ohio's own Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. beer, served in a special-edition MFA logo pint glass.
With such a wonderful mix of yummy vegan foods, cold drinks, great local music, and a raffle featuring a two-night stay at Salt Creek Retreats, Rock Out for the Animals raised vital funds for MFA's efforts to expose and eliminate cruelty to farmed animals. The incredibly successful evening was made possible by the amazing support of MFA interns, volunteers, and members, as well as the local community - Thank You!
To get involved with upcoming events and happenings in Ohio, please visit us on Facebook at Ohio Mercy For Animals.
From the creative mind of Mark Middleton of AnimalVisuals.org comes a new interactive map, locating factory farm facilities that various animal protection groups, including MFA, have exposed through undercover investigations. The map also highlights states that have proposed "Ag-Gag" laws to keep cruelty to farmed animals hidden from public view by outlawing on-the-farm photography or video recording, and the current status of such proposed laws.
With links to the investigative videos themselves, including MFA's latest investigation at E6 Cattle Company in Texas, Middleton points out that the sheer number and distribution of cruelty investigations reveal "a pattern of disregard for animal welfare and routine cruelty-to-animals throughout animal agriculture."
AnimalVisuals.org has created a whole series of informative graphs, eye-opening animated graphics, and visual aids, too - one displaying the rate of cow, pig, and chicken slaughter in the United States, and another giving a virtual view through the eyes of a hen crammed inside a battery cage - to "empower animal advocates, educate the public, and expose the injustices of animal exploitation."
Please check out AnimalVisuals.org and help spread these compelling visuals through Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets.
Hidden-camera video secretly shot at a Texas factory farm by an undercover investigator with Mercy For Animals has led to cruelty to animals charges against the owner and workers at E6 Cattle Co. The video shows workers bashing in the skulls of calves with hammers and pickaxes, dragging them by their ears, standing on their necks, and neglecting them to die without proper veterinary care.
Castro County District Attorney James R. Horton says warrants have been issued, charging five individuals with felonies and two with misdemeanors. Five former employees of E6 Cattle are facing charges of Cruelty to Livestock/Animals, a state jail felony. Those being charged are Manuel Soto, Christian Garcia, Daniel Dumas, Jose Martinez and Francisco Hernandez. Kirt Espenson, the owner, and Arturo Olmos, the foreman, are both facing Class A Misdemeanor charges for Cruelty to Livestock. A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by fine up to $4,000 or one year in jail.
During the undercover investigation at E6 Cattle Co. in Hart, Texas - a factory farm which rears nearly 10,000 calves for use on dairy farms - MFA's investigator documented:
Workers bludgeoning calves in their skulls with pickaxes and hammers
Beaten calves, still alive and conscious, thrown onto piles to slowly suffer and die
Workers kicking sick or injured calves in the head, and standing on their necks and ribs
Calves confined to squalid hutches, thick with manure and urine buildup, and barely large enough for the calves to turn around or fully extend their legs
Gruesome injuries, including open sores, swollen joints and severed hooves
Sick, injured and dying calves denied any medical care
"We commend the Castro County District Attorney and Sheriff's Office for taking swift and decisive action in bringing these animal abusers to justice," said Nathan Runkle, Executive Director of Mercy For Animals. "Let this case be a wake-up call to the dairy industry that cruelty to animals will not be tolerated."
While the charges signal good news and hope for farmed animals, compassionate consumers nationwide can prevent cruelty to animals at each meal by adopting a vegan diet.
Upstate New Yorkers are gearing up for a taste of compassion--served with a side of truth--as animal advocate Danielle Legg plans an innovative approach to exposing consumers to the plights of egg-laying hens.
Danielle is offering to pay up to 40 non-vegetarians $5 each to watch MFA's award-winning documentary Fowl Play on the big screen on June 6 in Buffalo, NY. First come, first serve. The lucky 40 will then be treated to a fabulous vegan meal catered by The Eights Bistro and Minty Wellness.
Fowl Play is a gripping documentary about modern egg production that connects the dots between consumers and the practices they support, and leaves viewers with a groundbreaking message of personal change and community outreach.
"This evening is about awareness, sharing, having a great time, and eating lots of amazing food," blogs Danielle. We couldn't agree more.
Hosting video screenings of Fowl Play, Farm to Fridge, or other animal advocacy documentaries is a great way to change hearts and minds about our moral obligation or prevent needless cruelty to animals - including farmed animals.
Interested in hosting a film screening? Here are some tips to help you get started.
"I almost had to look away, but I still would have heard the sickening sounds. I'll never forget the horrifying noise made by a hand-held hammer bludgeoning a baby calf's skull, a man kicking a calf's head, and other calves being thrown on a dead pile while still alive," writes Balcombe.
While explaining how modern science is showing that animals have thoughts, feelings, self-awareness and complex emotional and social lives, Balcombe points out the obvious reasons why pro-factory farm legislators in some states are trying to hide animal abuse from the public, rather than working to end it.
"Why would some legislators want to hide animal cruelty?" asks Balcombe. "Meat lobbyists know consumers care about how animals are treated--so they want to keep cruelty behind closed doors. Studies show that demand for meat decreases following the release of factory farm investigations. Just a few hours after this Mercy for Animals video was released, cattle trading prices saw a significant slump."
Balcombe believes "a dramatic overhaul" in our society's relationship to animals is necessary, and we couldn't agree more. We each have an opportunity to contribute to this dramatic overhaul every time we sit down to eat. Visit ChooseVeg.com for cruelty-free recipes and helpful tips on shifting toward a compassionate, animal-friendly lifestyle.
An estimated 83,000 chickens were killed when a fire swept through a Kissinger Brothers Poultry facility in western Ohio on Tuesday. This latest tragedy is yet another reminder of the harsh reality and inherent dangers factory-farmed animals face.
Confined to tiny cages or stalls with no access to the outdoors for fresh air and sunshine, these animals are immobilized and helpless when fires or other disasters strike. Treating animals as nothing more than production units, factory farmers are often quick to write these disasters off with insurance claims, while doing nothing to ensure the tens of thousands of sentient individuals in their "care" are protected from future disasters.
While these unfortunate birds' deaths were horrific, their lives likely weren't any better. MFA's investigations at egg factory farms across Ohio and the entire country have documented routine abuses, including birds crammed by the thousands into ammonia-laden sheds where disease runs rampant. In modern broiler chicken production, the birds experience crippling leg disorders and lameness because they have been bred to grow so large and so quickly that their legs are not capable of supporting their abnormally heavy bodies.
Fortunately, consumers can help prevent this kind of needless animal suffering by adopting a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle. Order your free Vegetarian Starter Kit or download the PDF to begin your journey toward cruelty-free living.
This summer, young people who care about animals have an amazing opportunity to become more effective advocates and to be surrounded by peers and adults who also care about important social issues. Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a unique and fun weeklong, all-vegan summer camp for 12 - 17 year-olds who want to make a difference in the world.
YEA Camp is designed to launch young people onto a lifetime path of activism and change-making on issues they care about - whether it's veganism or factory farming, climate change or homophobia. Campers learn how to apply art and creativity to social change, to communicate more effectively, to run an effective school club, to plan a campaign, and more.
And YEA Campers are making a difference in the world. In the last year
alone, YEA Campers have started animal rights groups at their schools,
encouraged their school cafeterias to add vegan meal options and to
participate in the Meatless Monday program, raised $1000 for a local animal shelter and have collected signatures for the ballot initiative in Washington state to ban the cruel confinement of farmed animals.
Working in their schools and communities, YEA Campers are role models for their peers who care about being compassionate to animals, and encourage their friends and families to take action to make the world a better place for all living creatures.
YEA Camp runs camps in Portland, OR, and northern California, but campers travel from all over the country for this unique program. To find out more about YEA Camp or to apply to come to camp, please visit YeaCamp.org.
Veggie pride took the Big Apple by storm last weekend, as thousands of vegans, vegetarians and veg-curious people celebrated a jam-packed weekend of old-school fun, camaraderie, and pro-veg advocacy on the streets of New York City.
Veggie Conquest hosted the second annual Veggie Prom in Brooklyn, where party-goers enjoyed beats by DJ Lil Ray, veg-friendly cocktails, and vegan munchies from the V-Spot, Cocoa V, and Blossom Du Jour. A portion of bar sales went to Mercy For Animals, and MFA's Executive Director Nathan Runkle picked up the "Best Dressed" award.
Vegan activists took to the streets of Manhattan at the fourth annual Veggie Pride Parade, where thousands of onlookers witnessed compassion in action. Marchers donned colorful veggie costumes and distributed literature detailing the plight animals face on factory farms.
Immediately following the parade, thousands of people gathered at Union Square Park to listen to inspiring talks from leaders in the animal rights movement, enjoy free vegan food samples, and visit exhibitors offering a variety of pro-veg educational materials.
Mercy For Animals hosted a Paid-Per-View exhibit at the rally, where passersby were paid one dollar to watch a 4-minute clip of MFA's hard-hitting documentary, Farm to Fridge. The MFA viewing booth was crowded all day with curious people interested in learning more about modern animal agriculture. The shocking footage stirred emotions and inspired many viewers to adopt a vegan diet on the spot.
If you are interested in coordinating a Paid-Per-View event in your community but are unsure how to go about it, don't worry, MFA has got you covered. Just check out our step-by-step instructions on how to set up a Paid-Per-View event, receive funding and obtain copies of Farm to Fridge and MFA's Vegetarian Starter Kits.
For information about choosing a compassionate vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.
From protecting their own personal health, the health of the planet, or helping to reduce the needless suffering of billions of farmed animals each year, there are countless reasons why more and more people are trying vegetarian versions of their favorite foods.
Now, MFA has distilled 25 of some of the most compelling reasons to adopt a healthy and humane plant-based diet into a colorful new 16-page brochure that is sure to make people think differently about their food choices.
Here is a small sample of what's inside:
Reason #4: We Don't Have to Kill to Be Healthy
According to the American Dietetic Association, "Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence." Not only are vegetarian diets appropriate for people of all ages, but our bodies can thrive on them.
Reason #10: To Prevent Deforestation and Species Extinction
The United Nations reports that "the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity, since it is the major driver of deforestation, as well as one of the leading drivers of land degradation, pollution, climate change, overfishing, sedimentation of coastal areas and facilitation of invasions by alien species."
Reason #15: Caring for Some Animals (Like Dogs and Cats) and Eating Others (Like Pigs and Chickens) Is Morally Inconsistent
Chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows possess intelligence, individual personalities, and emotional lives just like dogs and cats do. All animals value their lives and wish not to suffer. If you wouldn't eat your dog or cat, why eat any other animal when it's completely unnecessary?
Chock-full of easy-to-digest information, creative meal ideas and resources and tips for making the switch to a compassionate vegetarian lifestyle, the thought-provoking 25 Reasons brochure is a powerful new tool for animal advocates. The brochures are small, compact and perfect for leafleting or for just keeping in your purse or backpack for the next time someone asks you why you are vegetarian.
Remember, everyone who adopts a vegetarian lifestyle spares more than 50 animals per year a lifetime of misery and suffering. Order your 25 Reasons brochures and start saving lives today.
As corporate agriculture interests push for legislation to criminalize whistleblowers and keep farmed animal suffering hidden behind closed doors, Mother Jones illustrator Zina Saunders has created a thought-provoking animation exposing Big Ag's motivation behind these unconstitutional bills.
The clever animated clip, "Agribusiness on the Assault," shows egg-laying hens crammed into tiny wire battery cages and pregnant pigs confined to gestation crates so small they can't even turn around for almost their entire lives. The video is suddenly stamped "Censored" and a talking head announces: "The preceding video has been deemed hazardous to corporate profits. Agribusiness has determined that the public has no need to see 'bacon burgers' and 'chirpy meals' when they are still living creatures being beaten, tortured or ground up alive."
Kudos to Zina Saunders for using tongue-in-cheek satire to raise awareness about the desperate attempts of pro-factory farm legislators in some states to shield animal abusers from public scrutiny.
Please help MFA continue to expose the routine cruelties forced on animals raised for food by visiting and sharing this important documentary with your friends, family and coworkers.
Looking for a one-of-a kind gift for that special person in your life? We can help! For a limited time, ManyChicks' artist Brandon Harrell is donating 20 percent of proceeds from all jewelry sales to support MFA's lifesaving work on behalf of farmed animals.
Handmade from 90% recycled sterling silver, and featuring a chicken, cow or sheep stamped with the words, "Mercy 4" or "Vegan," these charming pendants are a perfect way to show support for animal rights and make a wonderful gift for your friend, your partner, or yourself!
Social justice leaders, activists, authors, celebrities, and performers across the country are eagerly awaiting the 2011 National Animal Rights Conference (AR 2011), the largest and longest-running animal rights gathering in the United States. This exciting and informative four-day event serves as a forum for sharing experiences and discussing effective strategies for helping animals.
Slated for July 21 - 25 in Los Angeles, California, AR 2011 features presentations from some of the most influential leaders in the animal rights movement, including MFA's Executive Director Nathan Runkle, Farm Sanctuary cofounder Gene Baur, and Humane League Director Nick Cooney. AR 2011 spotlights more than 100 speakers representing sixty organizations, vegan merchandise vendors and non-profit exhibits. With a wide variety of educational workshops, networking opportunities, videos (including premieres), live musical entertainment, and an awards banquet honoring activists and celebrities for their contributions, the AR 2011 conference is the place to be for animal advocates this summer.
Which is more radical, cutting open a patient's chest and cutting into his heart or eating a plant-based diet? Giving us insight into this question is Forks Over Knives, a brilliant new documentary film outlining the direct relationship between animal-based foods and some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases.
Forks Over Knives traces the personal journeys of two pioneering researchers, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, and Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., who wrote Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and their groundbreaking discoveries that led them both to independently determine that "degenerative diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even several forms of cancer, could almost always be prevented ... by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet."
This much anticipated film has already been getting a lot of mainstream attention, including on the popular health television program The Dr. Oz Show, and is sure to have people talking for years to come.
Forks Over Knives will premiere in Los Angeles and New York City on May 6 and in other locations on May 13. Click here to find a screening near you!
For more information on eating a healthy and compassionate plant-based diet, please visit ChooseVeg.com.
Vegetarianism is reaching new heights in Denver, Colorado this week with the launch of four new Mercy For Animals billboards.
Scattered throughout the greater Denver area, the pro-vegetarian billboards are giving millions of local residents some serious food for thought.
The campaign, sponsored by a local MFA supporter, features two designs. The first ad spotlights an adorable puppy and a loveable piglet sitting side-by-side and asks, "Why love one but eat the other?" Motorists are encouraged to "Choose Vegetarian" and visit ChooseVeg.com for additional information.
The other billboard give commuters an eye-opening look inside factory farms, and dares to ask, "How much cruelty can you swallow?" The ads are putting Denver residents face-to-face with the animals abused and slaughtered for meat. Guaranteed to provoke thought and discussion, the billboard features a heart-wrenching image of a sow locked in a tiny gestation crate.
Running for the next month, these important ads aim to open the hearts and minds of local residents to the nightmarish plight of farmed animals - hopefully inspiring compassionate citizens to choose kindness over cruelty at each meal by adopting a vegetarian diet.
Last week, YouTube disabled MFA's latest undercover investigation video citing that the abuses uncovered at E6 Cattle Company in Texas are too "shocking." After receiving an open letter from MFA Executive Director Nathan Runkle agreeing that the video is shocking, but essential in the context of exposing and ending animal abuse, YouTube has reinstated the video.
Thanks to countless caring individuals who reached out to YouTube, millions of consumers continue to have the opportunity to learn the dark truth behind dairy production. Please take this opportunity to help MFA continue its vital mission to shine a light on modern animal agriculture by sharing this important video with your friends, family and coworkers.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiologist and host of the popular personal health program The Dr. Oz Show is the latest mainstream television personality to hop on the vegan bandwagon. Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Martha Stewart have also dedicated episodes to the benefits of vegan living in the last few months. This week, Dr. Oz shared his stage with several well-known doctors who have been advocating vegan diets for optimal health for years.
The episode featured some of the cast behind the hit new documentary Forks Over Knives, which will be in theaters across the country on May 6. The feature-length film examines how eating a plant-based diet can help people overcome cancer, diabetes and other deadly and debilitating food-related health problems. Click here for showtimes and tickets. You don't want to miss this important film!
Among the special guests were Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, Caldwell Esselystyn, M.D., who wrote Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and Neal Barnard, M.D., the founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Firefighter Rip Esselstyn, son of Dr. Esselstyn and former triathlete, who wrote the bestseller The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan That Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds was also on the show.
Tapping into the growing awareness that ditching meat, dairy and eggs in favor of healthy whole grains, fruits and vegetables is the best way to enjoy optimal health, not to mention the best way to help end the needless suffering of animals, Dr. Oz's Forks Over Knives episode left viewers with a message of hope and personal responsibility.
Visit ChooseVeg.com for free recipes, tips and helpful information on making the transition to a healthy and compassionate vegan lifestyle.