Marching from the West Village up to Union Square, animal activists proudly proclaimed their dedication to a cruelty-free vegetarian lifestyle by holding thought-provoking signs and banners along the streets of Manhattan. The march ended with a post-parade rally, where parade-goers enjoyed prize giveaways, costume contests, and presentations by inspiring speakers, including Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House and Pamela Rice, creator of the New York City Veggie Pride Parade.
At the rally, Mercy For Animals volunteers hosted a Paid-Per-View station, where viewers were paid one dollar to watch four minutes of our hard-hitting documentary Farm to Fridge. Many viewers were shocked to learn how animals are treated on factory farms, and vowed to make kinder and more compassionate food choices.
Inspired? Click here for tips on setting up your own Paid-Per-View station.
If you're in the Chicagoland area, join us this weekend as we march in Chicago's inaugural Veggie Pride Parade!
Last week, a transport truck carrying 89 cows overturned on one of Dallas' busiest bridges during the early morning hours, resulting in the deaths of approximately twenty cows, who either died in the crash, were euthanized on site due to injuries, or, in their efforts to escape, jumped over the rail to their deaths in the Trinity River.
The accident, which appeared to be caused by driver error, as the driver not only did not have the proper license, but was also under the influence, resulted in firefighters and sheriff's deputies "wading through dead cows to get to the survivors."
Sadly, the main focus in the media attention generated by the accident was that a major highway had to be closed and caused delays for drivers. Reporters called it a "Traffic Nightmare," ignoring the very real nightmare endured by the cows.
This incident is a gruesome snapshot of the rampant cruelty and disregard for life associated with raising animals for food. From the moment animals are born and stolen from their mothers, they endure unsanitary and overcrowded conditions on feedlots and factory farms, excruciating mutilations without painkillers, rough and dangerous handling and transport - as seen in this case - and miserable deaths at the slaughterhouse.
This transport truck was only one of hundreds that make long-hauling trips every day, and these 89 cattle are only a minute fraction of the millions of cows that suffer all their lives, until they meet their bloody end at a slaughterhouse.
The best way to end the abuse and suffering of farmed animals is to adopt a healthy and compassionate vegan lifestyle. Visit ChooseVeg.com for tips on making the switch today.
A recent article in the Washington Post revealed another major source of smog in Los Angeles, one of the country's most highly air-polluted cities. The article states that the 10 million automobiles in the region produce far less smog than the area's 300,000 dairy cows.
Ammonia emissions caused by dairy operations combine with nitrogen oxides to form the small particles in smog, leading to levels 100 times more intense than background levels caused by daily road commuters. Earlier studies have consistently shown that animal agriculture is a major contributor to ecological degradation on many fronts.
Los Angeles has made significant strides in environmental protection over the past few decades, but air pollution still contributes to thousands of hospitalizations each year. This latest finding illustrates the urgent need to withdraw our support of the dairy industry, which harms the environment, human health, and farmed animals.
To learn more about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, visit ChooseVeg.com. For your free Vegetarian Starter Kit, click here.
Join Mercy For Animals at The Seed: A Vegan Experience, a two-day festival featuring vegan food vendors, inspiring speakers, pro-veg films, and vegan-inspired activities. The Seed aims to enlighten people about the countless benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and will highlight the plethora of new products that are making veganism a convenient and compassionate way of living, all while benefiting Mercy For Animals and our work to protect farmed animals.
The Seed will feature a long list of engaging speakers, including Mercy For Animals' own Eddie Garza and Nora Kramer, along with New York Times bestselling authors Kathy Freston and Victoria Moran, Our Hen House's Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan, Dr. Joel Fuhrman M.D., and many more. Dozens of cruelty-free food and other product vendors will also be on-site, including the Tri-State area's premier food truck, Cinnamon Snail, which will be offering mouthwatering desserts. Attendees will also enjoy cooking demonstrations, prize giveaways, movie screenings, and much more!
Last week, the USDA's Process Verified Program came under fire by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) for misleading the public by improperly labeling meat as "humanely raised." An AWI investigative report states that this meat comes from animals on factory farms who suffer the same standard meat industry practices as other farmed animals. Such practices include, but aren't limited to, the use of battery cages and gestation crates, and searing off the beaks of baby birds, dehorning, and castration, all without painkillers.
The report focuses on claims made by Perdue Farms and Sparboe Farms, poultry companies that maximize productivity by subjecting birds to intensive indoor confinement, sacrificing the birds' ability to express natural behaviors. Americans were shocked last fall when an investigation of Sparboe uncovered the company's deplorable animal welfare practices. Certain large retailers stopped purchasing Sparboe eggs following the investigation, and the FDA cited the company for thirteen serious violations of food safety laws. AWI has learned that these violations were discovered during FDA audits of Sparboe facilities that were conducted within days of USDA audits that recorded no problems.
The best way to truly live humanely is to withdraw your support of the meat, dairy and egg industries by transitioning to a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle. Visit ChooseVeg.com for tips on making the switch.
In celebration of National Vegetarian Week, NiceShirt.org has unveiled limited edition t-shirts and hoodies featuring MFA's signature slogan, "Why Love One but Eat the Other?" The ultra-soft wears are fair trade and ethically sourced.
These tees and hoodies are only available until June 5th, and $10 from each sale will go directly to Mercy For Animals and our vital work to protect farmed animals.
Click here to purchase your gear today!
Over the last three weeks, Mercy For Animals held eleven head-turning demonstrations throughout Texas and Louisiana, asking the public why we call some animals "pets" and others "dinner." MFA's "Why Love One but Eat the Other?" tour started at the American Meat Industry Expo in Dallas, TX, and continued to Austin, Houston, McAllen, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Beaumont, TX, and from there on to Louisiana, hitting New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, and Shreveport.
The eye-opening demonstrations featured MFA's newest pro-vegetarian mascot - a 10-ft inflatable puppy crammed inside a hamburger bun.
The creative visual caught the attention of news media and passersby in each city visited - creating a valuable platform for talking about the ethics of vegetarian eating. Local radio stations, newspapers and television, which included a live, in-studio interview, covered the demonstrations, exposing millions of viewers to the cruelty farmed animals are subjected to for their entire lives.
Local volunteers joined MFA's National Campaign Coordinator Phil Letten and intern Krystina Tucci in distributing vegetarian literature and holding signs with the words, "Boycott Animal Abuse, Choose Vegetarian" and "How Much Cruelty Can You Swallow?," revealing the truth behind the unnecessary abuse inflicted on farmed animals by the meat industry.
In an interview with Alexandria's The Town Talk, Letten explained, "Cows, pigs and chickens are living animals just like dogs and cats. All animals suffer pain and experience pleasure and are deserving of the same consideration and respect."
For more information on how to adopt a compassionate lifestyle, go to ChooseVeg.com. Click here for your free Vegetarian Starter Kit.
The titular heroine of the novel The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe, Vegan Superhero is a shy 15-year-old who suddenly is confronted with information and an encounter that turns her into a vegan on the spot (though she's never heard the word and doesn't know what it means), and is sent along an extraordinary path to save her community from peril. The book's author Marla Rose also made the decision to quit eating animals as a teen, and has since led a life of advocacy: writing articles, educating the public, hosting vegan potlucks, starting groups, and organizing events (including Chicago VeganMania) to help spread the word about compassionate living. We caught up with Marla to ask her a few questions about Vivian Sharpe, and what lessons it can teach real-world animal advocates.
MFA: You're mostly known as a journalist and satiric essayist. What prompted you to enter the world of fiction?
MR: I've written short fiction and creative non-fiction since college but mainly kept that to myself, probably wisely. The original story of Vivian Sharpe came to me unexpectedly one night when my husband and I were brainstorming ideas for new t-shirt designs for our old company, Vegan Street. I suddenly got an image of a cartoonish female figure with red hair in a superhero-esque costume floating through the air with the tag line, "V-Girl: Keeping Animals Off Your Plate." She was a vegan superhero.
When we went home that night, I just couldn't get the image of V-Girl out of my head. I was compelled to start writing a first person essay about her that evolved into a short story, then a novella, and then finally, a third person novel. The cartoonish elements had completely disappeared and she was a real person with a story to tell. What compelled me to enter the world of fiction was that Vivian entered my mind--as did the other characters - and would not leave it until I told her story. I didn't have another option but to tell it.
MFA: Vivian's jump to veganism is quite unusual and supernatural. Yet there is something about the urgency of it that has reminded more than a few readers of their own "vegan awakenings." Did you have a similar awakening that led you down the vegan path?
MR: That is interesting because I keep hearing that: even though Vivian's personal path to veganism is very odd, it resonates with people. There is something about epiphanies that are universal, I guess, once we strip away the specifics.
I had a very different path toward becoming vegan. Some people go from omnivorous to vegan overnight but that wasn't me. I became a vegetarian at 15 (the same age as Vivian) on a whim. I was filling out a form for a weekend away with a school group I was part of and, mysteriously, there was a box for checking if you needed special meals. (This did not happen in the 1980s much.) I checked the box and wrote "vegetarian." I had never considered it before that moment and ate meat up until then. I thought to myself, "Well, I'll see if I can make it through two days without meat." It seemed inconceivably hard but I was up for a challenge. Somehow I survived. Those two days went on and on until I finally made the connection to other animals and went vegan twelve years later. I'd always been someone who loved animals so being vegan was the natural progression.
MFA: What's Vivian's superpower?
MR: I'll try to not give away too much here but it's tied to her burgeoning and deep empathy. It's at once a source of strength and an Achilles heel because of how vulnerable empathy can make us, but, ultimately, it's her power. Her superpower is experienced in a totally different way than what we've come to expect from superheroes. She is a girl who considers herself totally "normal" and "average" but manages to unearth this superpower. Maybe she always had it but it was dormant or maybe it just came to her overnight. Whatever the case, it completely transforms her.
MFA: What message would you like readers to take away from this story?
MR: First of all, it was of primary importance for me to write a novel that engages and pulls readers in. My first responsibility was to write as good a book as I could with fleshed-out characters and a compelling story. After that, I don't like to tell people how or what they should think. You can see in the novel that there are lots of ambiguities and grey areas as Vivian embarks on her journey. I want readers to have their own thoughts and experiences as well, and I don't want people to feel that I am trying to direct them to having certain thoughts. I am not a big fan of doctrinaire writing. I wanted to show the complexities of making certain decisions and that what drives the human spirit is a multifaceted, complex thing as well.
That being said, I want Vivian Sharpe to lead people to ask questions of themselves, but, at the same time, to feel empowered, engaged and eager to bring a heightened awareness to the world.
Click here to purchase a softbound copy of The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe, Vegan Superhero.
Enter coupon code: ANM7977Z to receive a $1.00 discount off the $15.95 list price, and give a $3.00 donation to Mercy For Animals
Click here to purchase the eBook copy.
Enter coupon code: YK37R to receive a 50¢ discount off the $3.99 list price, and give a $1.00 donation to Mercy For Animals
Celebrated journalist and game show host Meredith Vieira recently announced that she finally made the switch to a healthy and compassionate vegan diet. Almost two months ago, the former co-host of The View appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show, explaining that she wanted to become vegan but was having reservations about making the leap. Shortly thereafter, Vieira learned more about factory farm cruelty, and declared in an appearance on The Chew that she now adheres to a vegan diet.
On The Chew, Vieira told acclaimed Chef Mario Batali that her decision was a mostly ethical and moral one. "I've done a lot of stories on the way food is, you know, processed in this country - animals - and it's very disturbing."
Vieira joins the growing number of high-profile celebrities who have also chosen to adopt a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle, including Russell Simmons, Alicia Silverstone, Ellen Degeneres, Ozzy Osbourne, Mike Tyson, and Emily Deschanel.
Visit ChooseVeg.com for delicious recipes and tips on making the transition to a vegan lifestyle. For your free Vegetarian Starter Kit, click here.
The meat, egg, and dairy industries are desperate to keep the public from learning about the abuse and suffering farmed animals endure behind closed doors. At the behest of the agricultural industry, several states recently introduced so-called "ag-gag" legislation, aimed at criminalizing undercover investigations and silencing those who dare to expose cruel, corrupt and even illegal practices at factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Nebraska's bill has been "indefinitely postponed," and in New York, bill sponsor Jean Richie withdrew her ag-gag from consideration, crediting animal advocates with alerting her to "Big Ag's" hidden agenda. And last week, in another victory for farmed animals, the Minnesota Senate adjourned without passing its ag-gag legislation. That's right. The Minnesota bill is dead!
Unfortunately, Missouri's ag-gag bill is still moving dangerously close to passage. If you are a Missouri resident, farmed animals need your continued support in fighting this bill. Please click here and take a few seconds to contact your representatives and tell them to focus on prosecuting animal abusers, not those who dare to expose them.
While most of these dangerous ag-gag bills have been defeated, and despite the valiant efforts of MFA supporters nationwide, Iowa and Utah have bowed to pressure from Big Ag, and put the interests of big business ahead of animal welfare, public safety, and our constitutional rights.
Both Governor Terry Branstad (Iowa) and Governor Gary Herbert (Utah) signed ag-gag legislation into law in early 2012. As reported in the Des Moines Register, the election campaigns for many of the Iowa legislators who supported the bill, as well as Governor Branstad himself, were heavily funded by agricultural interests, and ultimately, these legislators sold out their constituents and animals to such interests.
Not surprisingly, one of Governor Branstad's top campaign sponsors was Iowa Select Farms, the target of a 2011 Mercy For Animals undercover investigation. A quick look behind the scenes at Iowa Select shows what this cruel company is working so desperately to hide:
Time and again, MFA's undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses nationwide have revealed abuses that shock and horrify most Americans--which is why the animal agriculture industry is fighting so hard to keep the suffering of farmed animals hidden behind closed doors.
Not a single federal law protects farmed animals from abuse or neglect during their lives on factory farms and many states specifically exclude farmed animals from protection against even some of the worst forms of factory farm cruelty. But instead of strengthening laws to protect animals and consumers, corrupt legislators in some states are attempting to silence undercover investigators who expose cruel and even criminal activities at factory farms.
While most of these bills failed to pass this year, it is certain the powerful factory farming lobby is already hard at work ensuring they will be introduced again next year--making it even more vital that animal advocates continue to distribute undercover videos of factory farms, hatcheries and slaughterhouses and expose consumers to the cruelty inherent in animal agriculture. Now is the time to speak out!
Click here to learn more about how you can help expose the truth that factory farmers are working so desperately to hide.
Denny's, one of the largest restaurant chains in the country, announced yesterday that it will be working with its pork suppliers to eliminate the use of gestation crates.
"Denny's takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen seriously, which is why we have adopted a strong position on animal welfare. We will endeavor to purchase products from companies that provide gestation crate-free pork and are committed to influencing our suppliers to share in a gestation crate-free vision for the future. Working to eliminate gestation crates is best for our company, our guests, and our continued work to improve animal welfare," said Greg Linford, Denny's vice president, procurement and distribution.
The list of restaurant chains working to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains continues to grow week after week. Denny's joins McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, and Tim Hortons in this commitment.
MFA supports these supply chain improvements and expects to see more and more restaurants, foodservice companies (Compass Group) and retailers (Safeway) making this move.
Gestation crates are small metal enclosures in which pregnant sows are barely able to move and are effectively kept for their entire lives. "Basically, you're asking a sow to live in an airline seat," said world-renowned farmed-animal welfare expert Temple Grandin.
While Mercy For Animals applauds Denny's for taking this very important step to lessen the suffering of farmed animals, the best thing consumers can do to prevent unnecessary suffering is to adopt a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle. For delicious recipes and instructional cooking videos, visit ChooseVeg.com.
Owned and operated by sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg, Spork Foods is a Los Angeles-based gourmet vegan food company that offers in-person cooking classes, healthy eating consultations, recipe development, and an array of online cooking classes. These savvy sisters created Spork Online as a vehicle to demonstrate how incredible, colorful, satisfying, and uplifting vegan food can be.
This month, Jenny and Heather spent a day making Southeast Asian foods like fresh spring rolls, lettuce cups, red curry, and mango sticky rice, and speaking with MFA staffers about factory farm cruelty. In a video for Spork Online, MFA's Executive Director Nathan Runkle says, "Even though the way animals are treated on factory farms is against people's core values of kindness, compassion, empathy, and respect, it's still an issue largely because it's out of sight and it's out of mind." He goes on to say, "Exposing what's going on and giving people the resources they need to move forward - and making it more culturally acceptable to be vegan - all helps move the ball in that direction."
Making veganism both delicious and easy, Spork Online is sure to inspire people everywhere to transition to a kind and compassionate diet.
Throughout the month of May, the Spork Sisters are offering a discount to members and supporters of Mercy For Animals. Use the code "MFAMEMBER" for 50% off of the initial fee at any membership level. Join today!
As Americans are becoming more aware of farmed animal cruelty - and stomach-churning meat industry practices like using "pink slime" and "meat glue," it's no wonder the demand for meat is slowly sinking. According to a new study compiling data by the USDA, National Center for Health Statistics, United Nations, and the U.S. Census Bureau, the average meat eater consumed fewer land animals in 2011 than any year going back to 2000.
In 2011, compared to 2010, the number of land animals that died for American consumption fell from 8.4 to 8.2 billion, or 242 million fewer animals - including 1 million fewer cows, 5 million fewer pigs, and 240 million fewer chickens. That's a nationwide drop from 8.9 billion in 2005 to 8.2 billion in 2011, or 725 million fewer animals killed.
While this drop in meat consumption is good news, the sad truth remains that billions of animals slaughtered for food continue to suffer intensive confinement, painful mutilations, brutal handling, and violent deaths. Visit ChooseVeg.com to find out how you can make a difference by switching to a cruelty-free, plant-based diet.
For your free Vegetarian Starter Kit, please click here.
Michael went vegetarian 3 years ago, after eating a diet that was heavily meat based. Since then, he's been healthier and stronger than ever before. He attributes his motivation to go veg not only to his poor health, but also to his love for animals after learning about the cruelty farmed animals endure behind the closed doors of modern day factory farms. Michael says, "I never knew what the process was from that animal to my plate."
Michael joins the growing list of Hollywood stars who have also decided to ditch cruelty by adopting a vegetarian diet, including Ellen Degeneres, Steve-O, Alicia Silverstone, and Emily Deschanel.
For tips on improving your health and helping animals by transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle, visit ChooseVeg.com. Click here to order a free Vegetarian Starter Kit.
The lawsuit, brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing,
the Animal Protection & Rescue League, and Farm Sanctuary, alleges that the sale of foie gras for human consumption violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA).
Foie gras is the diseased liver of ducks and geese that is the result of painful force-feeding. Tubes are forcefully shoved down the birds' throats and they are forced to consume more food than they would ever possibly consume naturally. The result: their livers become diseased and engorged, growing up to ten times their normal size.
The PPIA prohibits diseased, or "adulterated" meat from entering the food supply. In violation of federal law, however, the USDA has been permitting the production and sale of foie gras as a matter of course, instead of condemning the product for what it really is: a diseased organ that is the result of extreme animal cruelty.
Scientific studies have shown that people who consume foie gras are at a higher risk for a variety of physical ailments, including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. Recently, the National Academy of Sciences published a study linking foie gras consumption to the development of secondary amyloidosis, a deadly disease.
The eighth annual Taking Action for Animals Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., from July 27th through July 30th. The 2012 TAFA Conference will include workshops on a wide range of topics, including becoming a citizen lobbyist, fundraising for nonprofits, and harnessing the media to communicate effectively for animals.
Guest speakers include prominent figures in the animal advocacy movement, including MFA's Executive Director Nathan Runkle, New York Times bestselling author Kathy Freston, and Headline News' Jane Velez-Mitchell.
2012 TAFA sponsors include Mercy For Animals, ASPCA, Big Cat Rescue and Farm Sanctuary, to name just a few.
In addition, animal advocates from across the country will converge in Washington, D.C., for the annual Animal Rights National Conference, from August 2nd through August 5th. Complete with nearly 80 acclaimed speakers representing 60 organizations, this is the world's longest-running animal advocacy symposium.
Over 100 inspiring and informative workshops and training sessions will be presented on topics ranging from animals and the law, grassroots activism, vegan campaigns, personal skill building, and updates on national efforts to protect animals used for fur, food, and vivisection. Delicious vegan cuisine and cruelty-free shopping opportunities also await attendees.
Several Mercy For Animals representatives will present on various issues at the conference, including MFA's undercover investigations, advertisement campaigns, and grassroots outreach, and legal issues.
Other noteworthy speakers include Gene Bauer and Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary, New York Times bestselling author Victoria Moran, and Jenny Brown of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary.
For all of the exciting conference details, and to register for the event, visit ARConference.org.
On July 1, 2012, a statewide ban on the sale and production of foie gras in California is set to take effect. The ban is a landmark victory for animal welfare and further strengthens California's laws relating to the protection of animals.
In a last-ditch effort to prevent the new law from taking effect, a group of California chefs petitioned lawmakers to overturn the ban on foie gras production and sale. However, California lawmakers were not to be swayed, and not a single legislator has agreed to sponsor legislation that would overturn the new law.
Foie gras is French for "fatty liver," and its production entails extreme animal cruelty and suffering. Pipes are painfully shoved down ducks' throats and they are forced to ingest several pounds of food at once--far more than they would eat naturally. This process is often repeated two to three times a day.
The ducks' livers become engorged and diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size, and resulting in horrific emotional and physical suffering of these unfortunate animals.
Most ducks find it difficult to walk and breathe normally. Many suffer from ruptured organs and die. Ducks are typically crammed into small, filthy cages for the duration of their lives, unable to move, walk, or spread their wings. They become so distressed, they sometimes tear out their own feathers or cannibalize each other.
Many restaurant chains, including Wolfgang Puck, have banned the sale of foie gras. Worldwide, several European countries, as well as Argentina and Israel, prohibit foie gras production. California is the first state in the U.S. to ban the production and sale of foie gras produced by cruel force-feeding techniques.
Mercy For Animals applauds the California legislature for taking a firm stance against egregious animal cruelty and not swaying to the pressures of a small group of uncaring chefs. Ultimately, however, the most effective way for consumers to prevent unnecessary suffering of farmed animals is by adopting a healthy and compassionate vegan diet.
Two of the most famous and influential people in the world are also two of the most prominent vegans, and one, former president Bill Clinton, was a guest this week on the TV show of the other, Ellen DeGeneres. The former president said of veganism, "It's just a good thing to do. It'll be healthier for you, and it'll put less stress on your cardiovascular system." He shared that he feels much healthier and that "this is the third week in a row where I will weigh less than I did the day I finished high school."
President Clinton, long known for his love for fast food, has made headlines by speaking openly to major media from CNN to David Letterman about the benefits he has experienced upon adopting a plant-based diet, which has also led to many other news stories educating people about vegan eating.
On the Ellen show, President Clinton also talked about the humanitarian efforts of his Clinton Foundation, from providing lifesaving medications to children with AIDS, to helping farmers in developing nations, to fighting childhood obesity. While President Clinton went vegan for health reasons due to the heart problems he developed from years of eating a standard American diet, he can also include using his position to promote his own plant-based diet among his good deeds in the world, given the benefits of veganism to human health, animals, and the planet.
Mother pigs confined in tiny metal gestation crates, unable to turn around for nearly their entire lives;
Workers punching and kicking mother pigs and piglets, and whipping piglets around by their hind legs, smashing them into concrete floors, and throwing them high into the air;
Employees throwing piglets' testicles at each other and feeding them back to the mother pigs for "fun";
Pregnant pigs suffering from severe rectal and uterine prolapses without proper veterinary treatment;
Dead and decaying piglets - including some who were mummified - littering the facility, including in piles next to mother pigs in crates; and
Dead pigs left to rot in their gestation crates for days. One dead pig was half-buried in grain from an automatic feeder.
Watch the investigation here:
MFA's investigations into pig factory farms have revealed similarly horrific scenes of blatant animal abuse and needless suffering, including at Iowa Select Farms, the nation's fourth-largest pork producer, and at Pennsylvania's Country View Family Farms. Unfortunately, even the most extreme cruelty documented in these facilities is considered standard and largely acceptable within the pork industry.
More than 100 million pigs are subjected to a lifetime of abuse and neglect each year in the United States. These intelligent and social animals are treated as mere meat-producing machines on factory farms, where their short lives are filled with needless violence, suffering and fear.
Then, consider removing your financial support from an industry that abuses animals for profit by adopting a humane vegetarian diet. Visit ChooseVeg.com for more information and delicious recipes to get started on your journey toward cruelty-free living.
Mother's Day is just around the corner, making this the perfect time to share the gift of compassion for mothers around the world. This year, consider honoring your mother by helping mothers of all species.
Farmed animals - like all animals - have deep and meaningful relationships with their mothers. For cows, the first few minutes after birth can mark the beginning of a lifelong bond between a mother cow and her calf. Cows carry their young for nine months and they suckle them for nine to twelve months, much like human mothers.
Baby chicks bond so closely with their mothers that scientists call it "imprinting." Mother hens take their chicks under their wings, providing protection and shelter, and chicks spend their first few weeks learning to scratch for food by watching the techniques of their mothers.
Humans aren't the only species to learn from and admire their mothers, but we are the only species to deny other animals everything that is natural and important to them. Animal agriculture deprives hens of nesting material and a private space for the intimate act of laying an egg. Pork producers confine mother sows in crates so small they cannot move without scraping against the rails. Dairy cows are robbed of their calves so that their milk can be sold for human consumption.
Fortunately, we all have the power to help mothers confined on factory farms by adopting a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle. Visit ChooseVeg.com for delicious recipes to honor all mothers this Mother's Day.
Safeway's pledge to abandon the sale of pork from suppliers who cruelly confine sows in narrow gestation crates comes on the heels of similar announcements in recent months by McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Compass Group - the largest foodservice company in the world.
We hope that this promising news from Safeway sends a strong signal to the pork industry that confining pigs in crates so small they cannot even turn around or lie down comfortably is blatant animal abuse that will not be tolerated by socially responsible grocers. Major grocery chains like Walmart, Kroger and Costco should quickly follow Safeway's lead in taking a stance against inherently cruel gestation crates.
"Mercy For Animals is cautiously optimistic about Safeway's plan to move toward a gestation crate-free supply chain. The pork industry's use of gestation crates is one of the worst forms of institutionalized animal abuse in existence and we praise Safeway for acknowledging that this cruel system is unsustainable and must be phased out," said MFA's executive director Nathan Runkle. "By speaking out against these inherently cruel crates, Safeway is taking a positive step forward in improving animal welfare. We hope this announcement is more than PR hogwash and that Safeway acts quickly to remove these cruel confinement systems from its supply chain to spare millions of animals horrific misery and suffering."
Last year an MFA undercover investigation into Iowa Select Farms, one of Safeway's pork suppliers, not only found thousands of sows living in narrow metal gestation crates, but also revealed pigs suffering from untreated pressure sores, bleeding uterine prolapses, chronic lameness and severe psychological distress.
While the elimination of gestation crates may reduce animal suffering, the best way to withdraw support of animal abuse altogether is by adopting a kind and compassionate vegetarian diet.
MFA's Director of Investigations Matt Rice reached millions of people when he was interviewed on the RT Network about animal agribusiness' efforts to keep consumers in the dark about their inhumane practices. The RT Network is the second-most watched foreign news network in the U.S., and broadcasts internationally in over 100 countries.
Matt let viewers know that "undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals and other groups across the country have exposed egregious cruelties, unsafe working conditions, unsanitary conditions at factory farms and slaughterhouses nationwide." And in response, "rather than improve conditions for animals and make things safer for customers, pro-factory farm legislators in some states are working to criminalize these undercover investigations and prevent the public from finding out what's happening behind the closed door of these facilities."
Matt also explained how agribusiness has used its money to influence legislation that is not in the best interest of animals or constituents. "This is an industry that's proven time and time again to be incapable of self regulation, and no other industry has these kinds of protections. You could imagine these laws being passed to protect daycares so that people couldn't expose child abuse or sexual assault at a daycare or a senior home - that wouldn't fly." But unfortunately, the factory farming industry "has so much money and so much power," Matt continued, that "they're able to influence some corrupt politicians to push this type of legislation through, often under the nose of their constituents, but once constituents find out about it, they are outraged; they want more transparency in food production, not less, and they're speaking out against it."
Tim Hortons, the largest publicly traded restaurant chain in Canada, has joined the ranks of McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's in their plans to phase out gestation crates for sows - narrow metal enclosures so small the animals can't even turn around, walk, or lie down comfortably. Momentum is quickly building as the largest food providers in the United States and now Canada are changing their policies one after the other, week after week, in order to keep up with their competitors and meet consumer demands.
"We believe there are better, more humane and sustainable housing systems that can improve the quality of animals' lives," said Paul House, president, CEO, and executive chairman of Tim Hortons Inc.
Confining pregnant pigs in metal gestation crates barely larger than their bodies for nearly their entire lives is one of the worst forms of institutionalized animal abuse in existence. Pigs are highly social animals whose intelligence, ability to communicate, and social structure have been well-documented. During their confinement in gestation crates, sows experience extreme stress, frustration, and depression, which increase with time and with each successive pregnancy.
While Mercy For Animals applauds Tim Hortons for taking this very important step to lessen the suffering of farmed animals, the best thing consumers can do to prevent unnecessary suffering is to adopt a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle. For delicious recipes and instructional cooking videos, visit ChooseVeg.com.
In the wake of "pink slime," millions of people around the country are now learning about another unappetizing practice within the meat industry: meat glue. Commonly used by the foodservice industry in preparing filet mignon, the glue is made from a powdered form of fermented bacteria called transglutaminase, and then dusted over two pieces of meat in order to stick them together and create the illusion of a larger cut of meat.
Besides the gross-out factor, meat glue poses a potential health risk, according to ABC7 in San Francisco. This stems from the fact that the outside of a piece of meat comes into contact with a lot of bacteria as it goes from the slaughterhouse to the consumer. While cooking a steak usually kills the bacteria on the outside, the center of the steak does not cook to the same level of heat. This is typically not a problem because the center of the meat is not exposed to bacteria. When two pieces of meat are glued together, however, portions of their bacteria-laden exteriors become the center of the new piece of meat, and will not be cooked sufficiently, increasing the risk of food-borne illness.
Though nothing new, meat glue has recently garnered consumer scrutiny and media attention in light of growing awareness of the meat industry's dubious practices. Whether it is pink slime, Mad Cow Disease in California, undercover investigations revealing horrific cruelty, the reduction in USDA inspections and permitting the chicken industry to inspect itself, or ag-gag laws, there is no shortage of reasons to reconsider the standard American diet and to keep meat off our plates.
Strong athletes looking to outperform their competition and improve their health may want to take a cue from vegan arm wrestler Big Bald Mike. After going vegan to help prevent cruelty to farmed animals in 2010, Mike has been training hard and competing in arm wrestling competitions around the country. We caught up with Mike to learn more about his arm wrestling, and how one of the biggest and strongest guys in the world became vegan.
How did you first become interested in arm wrestling?
My girlfriend encouraged me to get into arm wrestling after watching me lift huge amounts of weight in the gym, so I found a local tournament in Texas. Funny thing, it was actually a national tournament. I had no idea what I was walking into, but I met a world-champion at that tournament, who has become my coach, and he is training me to be a champion arm wrestler.
Why and when did you decide to become vegan?
In January 2009, I had just become sober. After four years of heavy drug and alcohol abuse and extreme binging on fast food, I decided that I was going to make a huge change. One month into my sobriety, I met an angel who would become the love of my life, and propel my transformation into something that would isolate, confuse, and downright piss off many of my family and friends - to give up meat forever - and it was the greatest decision I have ever made in my life.
After my new girlfriend showed me a few undercover slaughterhouse videos of cows, chickens, and pigs being treated inhumanely, and more importantly, waking up to the extreme brutality and suffering of these beautiful, innocent animals, I was DONE - 29 years of supporting the meat industry was put to an end on March 31, 2009 when I became vegetarian. Unfortunately, I did not become a vegan until the summer of 2010, right around the time I started training to be a professional arm wrestler. And once again, it was seeing more undercover videos of the terrible conditions of the egg and dairy industries that took me from vegetarian to vegan.
How do other arm wrestlers and athletes react when they find out you're vegan?
Most of the time they pick up their jaws off the floor! They are looking at a huge gorilla man that is stronger than them, but are very confused to know that my strength comes from plants. Most of the time the reaction is positive, but if they don't agree with veganism, it is comical to watch them act like they have a degree in nutritional science in order to justify eating meat.
What do you eat on a typical day?
I focus on eating healing, low-fat whole foods like beans, dark leafy greens, unprocessed whole grains, and fruit. Since January 2012 (after cutting out oils, processed food, and fats), I have gone from 571 lbs. to 499 lbs., and in the process I have reversed diabetes, hypertension, and a leaky heart valve. I have so much energy now, and I feel like I am finally eating the way a happy, healthy vegan should be eating. I FEEL GREAT!
What's your favorite part about being vegan?
The number one, absolute reason I love being vegan is that I am finally DOING something good for the animals and our planet, from both of which I have taken so much in my lifetime. The chance to inspire someone to think it's awesome to eat kale and red beans for breakfast, to inspire someone to think about the welfare of beautiful, cute animals that want to be loved and treated kindly like ourselves, to inspire someone to get in the gym and rip some iron apart and then declare that their muscle fuel is from oatmeal and mustard greens - this is why I love being a vegan!
What would you say to other athletes who want to go vegan?
I'm living proof that you can eat spinach and apples and still lift a car. Please stop contributing to the suffering of animals, and take a positive step towards a diet that will open your heart and mind for immense healing.