The New York Times reports that veganism is a "new normal" in restaurants across southern California as more and more establishments are now offering delicious plant-based options in response to increasing demand from clientele. The article explains that for a multitude of reasons, including concerns about the environment, personal health, and animal cruelty, vegan and vegetarian Californians are growing in numbers and "the surging popularity of plant-based diets is drastically changing the dining landscape."
This growing trend is not confined to sunny southern California. Veg-friendly restaurants throughout the country are attracting more customers who want to eat compassionately without compromising on great taste.
The nation's capital is home to Sticky Fingers, winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars, which boasts creamy, vegan mac and cheese and nachos in addition to its array of bakery goods.
Windy City mainstay Chicago Diner attracts compassionate patrons looking to enjoy a vegan dessert alongside their brunch, lunch, or dinner. Spiral Diner in Dallas, Texas, appeals to many locals with its vegan versions of southern comfort food.
Even smaller towns are blooming with vegan options. Vegan Treats in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, offers delectable doughnuts and pastries to its local customers, and was recently named one of the top 10 bakeries in the world by American Express' Departures magazine.
"Think of it as a classic case of supply and demand," the Times article states. With veganism gaining in popularity in cities and towns across the country, it's easier than ever to prevent needless cruelty to animals by transitioning to a healthy and humane plant-based diet.
Illinois' Cantigny Green Fair featured exhibits by retailers and organizations, as well as activities for eco-conscious consumers of all ages. At the Mercy For Animals' booth, festival-goers were offered one dollar to view a 4-minute version of the hard-hitting documentary Farm to Fridge on MFA's paid-per-view stands. Viewers walked away from the booth with a new perspective on the oppression faced by billions of farmed animals and with a Vegetarian Starter Kit in hand.
MFA's booths at both events drew crowds of people looking to learn more about our groundbreaking investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses, and to receive tips on how to transition to a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle.
Interested in showcasing vegetarianism in your area? Most community festivals, college campuses, Earth Day events, gay pride festivals, art and county fairs, and concerts allow representatives of non-profit organizations to set up educational exhibits. Here are some easy tips to get started.
The USDA's Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced a Public Health Alert for raw beef tips originating from Canada due to positive tests for E. coli, a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney failure.
After additional testing, more meat products from Canadian Establishment 38, XL Foods, Inc., were added to the recall. US states affected by the contaminated meat are California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Mercy For Animals' slaughterhouse investigations have documented the filthy conditions and egregious mishandling to which farmed animals are subjected. In these dire environments, animal cruelty and human health hazards run rampant.
Thankfully, an easy and effective way to make healthy and compassionate dietary choices is to choose a plant-based lifestyle. For more information on how to embrace this change, visit ChooseVeg.com.
In an eye-opening article published by Common Dreams, Bruce Friedrich explains that the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is denying scientific evidence when they defend the use of gestation crates on factory farms.
On modern day factory farms, mother sows are confined in filthy gestation crates, where they are unable to freely turn around, breathe fresh air, lie down comfortably, walk, run, play, or engage in any other natural behaviors. The article states, "when pigs are immobilized in crates, they develop severe mental disorders from frustration and boredom, their muscles and bones waste away, and more."
Unfortunately, as Friedrich reveals, the NPPC will say anything - even if it goes against scientific knowledge - to justify this common practice. For instance, NPPC Communications Director Dave Warner stated, "So our animals can't turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets. I don't know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around..." He claims that we can gauge the psychological and physical health of a pregnant pig by the number of piglets she produces per birth, which is "at an all-time high."
But professor and scientific advisor Dr. Donald Broom explains that Warner has it backwards. "Efforts to achieve earlier and faster growth, greater production per individual, efficient feed conversion and partitioning, and increased prolificacy are the causes of some of the worst animal welfare problems," says Broom.
A recent Mercy For Animals undercover investigation at a Walmart pork supplier revealed cruel practices including the confinement of pregnant pigs to gestation crates. The NPCC isn't the only force that fuels this blatant animal cruelty. Major corporations such as Walmart also take part by funding this appalling mistreatment of conscious and sentient animals. MFA is now calling on Walmart to take a stance against inherently cruel gestation crates with a national campaign aimed at pressuring Walmart executives to adopt a new policy to require the company's pork suppliers to phase out gestation crates.
Halfway through a three-month tour, and having already visited 40 cities, MFA's Walmart Cruelty Tour continues to shed light on Walmart's shameful business practices.
Earlier this year, hidden-camera footage secretly recorded at Christensen Farms, a Walmart pork supplier, revealed pregnant pigs confined for nearly their entire lives in fly-infested crates barely larger than their own bodies. Visibly shocked by images of tightly confined mother pigs, countless people have pledged to boycott Walmart for its support of one of the cruelest factory farming practices in existence.
Making stops in California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and DC, the tour has opened hearts and minds (as well as turned heads) with thought-provoking demonstrations featuring a 10-foot-tall, blood- and sore-covered pig locked in a filthy gestation crate--right in front of Walmart stores around the country.
The tour has received much support from the public, as well as celebrities, including James Cromwell, best known for his role as farmer Hoggett in Babe, who joined Mercy For Animals outside a Los Angeles Walmart to kick off the tour, and New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who joined MFA in Times Square.
National media juggernauts and countless local print, TV, and radio stations have given media coverage to the tour, including the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Examiner, ABC, and FOX affiliates around the country.
Please support our call for Walmart to end the sale of crated pork. Click here for more information about upcoming tour dates and how you can get involved.
Vegan athlete Rich Roll is one of the fittest men in the world, and at age 45, the Ultraman athlete feels "fantastic," according to a recent interview on CNN.
During the interview, Roll revealed that the night before his 40th birthday, he had a "moment of clarity" when he feared he was close to having a heart attack after walking up the stairs in his home. Realizing he was overweight and out of shape, he vowed to transform himself by switching to a vegan diet. Six months later, he entered his first Ultraman extreme endurance event.
"My hope is that people can see through the extreme endurance event aspect of the book and realize that's purely intended as metaphor," Says Roll. "Not everyone who reads my book will want to do Ultraman or become 100% vegan, but I hope it serves as inspiration for whatever that thing is you've had in the back of your mind that you always wanted to do. There is a way and a means to breathe life into those things if you're willing to prioritize it in a way you haven't done before."
Adopting a vegan diet can lead to major positive changes in your life, whether it be weight loss or meeting physical challenges. For more information about how you can make the transition to a vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.
Drawing connections between gay rights, animal rights, and other social justice movements, over 30 MFA volunteers braved the pouring rain to march in Dallas' annual gay pride parade this weekend behind a banner bearing the message, "No one is free when others are oppressed."
Despite the inclement weather, our dedicated advocates distributed nearly 5,000 pro-vegetarian leaflets to enthusiastic parade- and festival-goers, who also got a close-up view of our thought-provoking "Why love one but eat the other?" vehicle.
At the festival, we reached 115 open-minded and compassionate people via our Paid-Per-View program, whereby festival attendees watched a four-minute version of our hard-hitting documentary Farm to Fridge in exchange for a dollar. Viewers were shocked to learn about the cruelty to animals on today's factory farms, and many―including several students at a high school in suburban Dallas―were inspired not only to change their diets, but also to spread the word so that others could make compassionate food choices.
Mercy For Animals is proud to have participated in pride marches around the country for the past seven years, taking a stand for justice and compassion for all.
For more information about how you can help animals, the environment, and your own health by transitioning to a compassionate vegetarian diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.
The US Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) recently sent a warning letter to Iowa egg producer Centrum Valley Farms based on its discovery of deadly salmonella bacteria at its egg factory farms. According to the letter, "FDA found that your facility had serious violations of the Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE)...these violations render your shell eggs adulterated."
The letter also indicates the FDA is "concerned about the presence of Salmonella Heidelberg (SH) in [Centrum Valley Farms'] poultry house environment, stating: "SH has caused several egg associated outbreaks resulting in human illness and at times death. Given this body of evidence, FDA considers SH within a poultry house environment to be a public health threat."
With a promise to "clean up Iowa's egg industry," Centrum Valley Farms took over these egg factory farms last year from Jack DeCoster, the notorious egg tycoon responsible for one of the largest egg recalls in US history after a major salmonella outbreak in 2010 sickened thousands of Americans. In fact, Jack DeCoster's egg factory farms have a long history of endangering public health, abusing animals, and flouting environmental laws.
A DeCoster egg facility in Maine--Quality Egg of New England--was the subject of an MFA undercover investigation in 2009. That investigation revealed hens suffocating in trash cans, chickens kicked into manure pits to drown in liquid feces, and workers whipping birds around by their heads in cruel attempts to break their necks. Following MFA's investigation, DeCoster pled guilty to 10 counts of cruelty to animals and paid over $130,000 in fines and restitution.
Watch the footage from the 2009 undercover investigation:
Despite repeated run-ins with authorities, egg industry giants such as DeCoster and Centrum Valley continue to threaten human health, the environment, and animal welfare. The best way to protect your health and prevent needless cruelty to hens and other animals is to transition to a compassionate vegetarian diet. To learn more, visit ChooseVeg.com.
BPI, producer of the infamous "pink slime," has filed a defamation suit against ABC News for its role in reducing the demand for BPI's product. In March of this year, ABC News shocked the American public when it reported that 70 percent of the beef in US supermarkets contained this pink meat filler, created by treating beef scraps and cow connective tissue with ammonium hydroxide to kill off E. coli, salmonella, and other dangerous pathogens that may be present.
Jeffrey Schneider, Senior Vice President of ABC News, said, "The lawsuit is without merit. ...We will contest it vigorously."
After several large national grocery chains publicly declared that they would discontinue selling pink slime, all but three states participating in the National School Lunch Program stopped buying and serving beef containing the chemically treated meat trimmings to students.
As a result of the overwhelmingly negative news coverage, BPI announced that it would temporarily suspend operations at all but one of its four plants across the country.
This bogus lawsuit is just another example of how animal agribusiness works so hard to silence whistleblowers and keep Americans in the dark about the truly unappetizing practices inherent in the meat industry.
While the presence of pink slime in public schools unnerved many families, this is just one item added to the beef industry's laundry list of rotten offenses. A recent undercover investigation at a beef supplier to the USDA's National School Lunch Program revealed cows being tortured―repeatedly hit, jabbed, electrically shocked, and sprayed with hot water in a narrow chute leading to the kill floor, and sick or injured cows being shocked, and their tails pulled or lifted by workers in an attempt to force them to stand and walk.
Born with a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks, and Hacks Pimp the Public Health is a hard-hitting exposé about Big Food and Big Pharma by leading national muckraker Martha Rosenberg. Based on material from whistleblowers, doctors, scientists, and MFA investigators, Rosenberg examines how the egg don Austin "Jack" DeCoster stayed in business despite 25 years of violations and links to nine human deaths, how federal meat inspectors have become pathetic figureheads in the nation's slaughterhouses--laughed at by plant managers--and how downer cows have contributed to meat production cruelty, including a mad cow risks cover-up by the government. Rosenberg also offers a rare in-depth look, in Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, at the use of antibiotics, heavy metals, vaccines, and other veterinary drugs in the meat supply.
MFA: Your recent book, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, covers many of MFA's undercover investigations from the Norco, Raeford, Gemperle, Quality Egg and Hy-Line egg operations to the Willet, Conklin, and E-6 dairy operations, to Buckeye Veal Farm and Country View/Quality Meats. The Times of London and Library Journal both compare your book to Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. The Big Pharma portion of the book even relates to animals. Could you elaborate?
Rosenberg: Big Pharma, which the other half of the book addresses, is an animal issue from animal research and drug testing to the veterinary drugs many people are eating without knowing it. Over-drugged animals are as much a signature of factory farming as abused workers, contaminated products, and polluted environments. But also if the book were just about factory farming, it would preach to the choir--too many animal books are only read by the "converted."
MFA: This is one of the first animal-related books to trace the evolution of undercover videos on the Web and their effects. You write that, "Revelations of cruelty on US farms often have sensational, 'viral' results" and that customers of factory farms and food consumers can suspend their business. But you also note that prosecuting attorneys seldom bring charges against animal abusers and that "ag gag" laws are now springing up. Can you talk more about the changes undercover videos have made possible?
Rosenberg: Certainly, a lot more food consumers are reached through the Web. Once upon a time, animal activists targeted government officials who did nothing and now a video will put immediate and direct pressure on food sellers themselves. But a lot of these operations, maybe most, revert to their old ways when their 15 minutes of egregious fame are up and they are protected by state and federal ag officials. A lot of food consumers also still think these videos are exceptions and not the rule.
MFA: Your book has many cartoons. Do you worry they will detract from its seriousness?
Rosenberg: Irony is sometimes best conveyed with simple lines and words. In one cartoon about a suicide-linked drug, one lab researcher says, "the epilepsy drug test animals didn't kill themselves!" and the other says, "They didn't have epilepsy either!"
MFA:Born with a Junk Food Deficiency has been featured on CSPAN2's Book TV, on radio, and in newspapers, and has been bought by libraries, including overseas. Yet its message about dangerous drugs is getting better reviews than its message about factory farming. Why?
Rosenberg: Personally, when I first read about factory farming over 32 years ago, my immediate and irreversible decision was to renounce meat. But many people, when they hear about meat production, would rather give up reading about it than meat. I think the diaries of MFA investigators, which I quote a lot in the book, are disturbing to some people. But it is only the dedication and bravery of these investigators that has brought these issues out into the open.
Mercy For Animals spent last weekend promoting compassion for animals at festivals in the Northeast and Midwest.
Thousands of festival-goers from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley gathered to celebrate and learn more about vegetarianism at the second annual Bethlehem VegFest, an uber-successful event that proves plant-based eating is a growing trend.
The festival featured inspiring speakers, including New York Times bestselling author Victoria Moran, compassionate vendors such as Compassion Co., live music, and incredible vegan food, including doughnuts and desserts from Vegan Treats and delicious sandwiches from The Cinnamon Snail, New Jersey's famed vegan food truck.
Gorgeous weather at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago set the stage for the over one-hundred people who participated in our Paid-Per-View station, getting paid $1 to watch a four-minute version of MFA's hard-hitting documentary Farm to Fridge. Viewers were positively influenced by the video and many people said that they were inspired to reduce their meat consumption, go vegetarian, and some even pledged to go vegan!
Thousands of VegFest and Craft Fair attendees eagerly picked up free copies of MFA's Vegetarian Starter Kit, Compassionate Livingmagazine, and other brochures. Volunteers also spoke with countless festival-goers about how they could get started on their path toward a more compassionate, eco-friendly lifestyle.
Missed us this weekend? Visit MFA at these upcoming vegetarian food festivals:
"This honor has proven that we can not only match the quality of a 'traditional' bakery, but we can surpass it to be named one of the best in the world," says Joy Grant, manager of Vegan Treats. "Once again we've proven that compassion has never tasted so delicious. Even just one dessert can make a difference."
The bakery's menu boasts 36 varieties of cheesecake, 24 cake varieties, a collection of 16 doughnuts, as well as many other delectable treats like cannolis, danishes, and soft-serve ice cream.
Vegan Treats received many honors prior to this, including a Proggy Award for Best Bakery, a nomination for the title of Best Vegan Bakery in VegNews magazine's 2012 Veggie Awards, and the title of Best Overall in PBS's Feast of Sweets, taking the prize over dozens of non-vegan bakers.
For more info on indulging your sweet tooth in a cruelty-free fashion, visit ChooseVeg.com.
According to the Associated Press, Tony Wasmund, a manager for a major Iowa egg producer has pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a federal inspector to allow the sale of eggs contaminated with deadly bacteria. Wasmund managed a network of egg factory farms owned by Jack DeCoster, including a facility in Wright County, Iowa that was linked to one of the largest egg recalls in US history in 2010.
A federal grand jury probe earlier this year revealed that Wasmund knew that eggs from his factory farms were contaminated with deadly salmonella bacteria months prior to the outbreak that sickened thousands of Americans. Prosecutors say Wasmund authorized using $300 in cash to bribe a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to approve the sale of contaminated eggs. Wasmund, who could face five years in prison, is the first person to be charged in the government's criminal investigation of the outbreak.
Not surprisingly, Austin "Jack" DeCoster, the egg tycoon linked to the outbreak, has a long history of endangering public health and abusing animals. His 30-year criminal rap sheet also includes charges of indenturing migrant workers and exploiting young children, and he has been deemed a "habitual violator" of state environmental laws.
In 2004, MFA investigators documented filthy, disease-ridden conditions at a DeCoster-backed Ohio Fresh Eggs facility, including hundreds of thousands of egg-laying hens with broken, damaged, and feces-covered feathers packed into battery cages so small they couldn't spread their wings, and chicken corpses left to rot in cages with birds still producing eggs for human consumption.
A DeCoster egg factory farm in Maine was the subject of a 2009 MFA undercover cruelty investigation that revealed hens suffocating in trash cans, chickens kicked into manure pits to drown in liquid feces, and workers whipping birds around by their heads in cruel attempts to break their necks. The investigation led to a raid by state police and DeCoster was ordered to pay more than $130,000 in fines and restitution after pleading guilty to 10 counts of cruelty to animals.
Here is the footage from the 2009 undercover investigation:
The good news is that it is easy to safeguard your health and prevent needless cruelty to animals by simply transitioning to a compassionate vegetarian diet. If you've been thinking about ditching eggs in favor of healthy and humane alternatives, visit ChooseVeg.com for tips on baking without eggs, delicious egg-free recipes and more.
Radar Online reports that R&B icon Usher recently went vegan. A friend of vegan TV personality Ellen DeGeneres, Usher has been focused on living more healthily ever since his father died of a heart attack in 2008.
According to Radar Online, Usher is also encouraging young pop star Justin Bieber to try a plant-based diet for its health and energy benefits.
Mercy For Animals is proud to announce that the ASPCA is supporting our efforts to broaden awareness of the plight of farmed animals and to provide quality educational outreach programming across the nation this year. We are delighted to have the partnership of the ASPCA in 2012 as we reach millions of individuals and give hope to the cows, chickens, sheep, and pigs suffering within the factory-farm confines of modern animal agribusiness.
Through our five regional offices, MFA offers humane education seminars, leaflets throughout our communities, and organizes events that expose tens of thousands of individuals to the truth about animal agribusiness. This year, MFA has already distributed over 600,000 pieces of pro-vegetarian literature, given nearly 100 talks, and screened our thought-provoking video Farm to Fridge to thousands. Our partnership with the ASPCA has also enabled us to spread our message of compassion across the nation with numerous demonstrations like our Why Love One but Eat the Other campaign, which highlights the importance of caring for all animals.
All of MFA's numerous investigations, programs, campaigns, and outreach events exist because of support provided by thousands of generous individuals, foundations, and organizations who, like us, believe that compassion should extend to all beings. We humbly thank the ASPCA and all of you for joining us in our efforts.
As antibiotic-resistant bacteria become dramatically more prevalent in the meat industry in the United States, scientists researching public health are hindered by the lack of solid data available about the use of antibiotics on farmed animals. The New York Times reports, "Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States goes to chicken, pigs, cows and other animals that people eat, yet producers of meat and poultry are not required to report how they use the drugs -- which ones, on what types of animal, and in what quantities."
Because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are all involved in agricultural drug regulation, responsibility is diluted and regulation is difficult. In addition, although the FDA has authority to access the records of food producers, it cannot collect or publish the data.
Instead of directly monitoring antibiotic usage on the farms, regulators are forced to look for drug residue on pieces of meat from slaughterhouses, which results in unreliable studies due to small sample sizes.
Earlier this summer, ABC News reported that antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli found on chicken and turkey are linked to a troubling rise in the occurrence of "painful and long-lasting bladder infections" that are increasingly difficult to treat with antibiotics.
Ever wonder what it would be like to intern with Mercy For Animals? We interviewed Pamela Stelmasek, who just completed an internship at our Chicago office, and asked her to give us the scoop.
A native Illinoisan, Pamela adopted a vegan diet after coming to the conclusion that there is no difference between her beloved dog and the farmed animals that become food. She believes that it is unfair to treat one with love and respect, but then turn around and eat the other.
What first inspired you to become a vegan?
One day it just clicked for me. I was a vegetarian for two years, and something just made me realize that I was being a hypocrite. Not only is there animal cruelty in the dairy industry itself, but the dairy industry also contributes to the meat industry. If I really wanted to help animals and take a stand, I had to cut out everything that came from an animal. I did that four years ago and have never looked back!
Why did you choose to intern with MFA?
I chose to intern with MFA because I thought it was a great organization. The group is specific about what it wants to accomplish. I like the fact that MFA focuses on farmed animals and works to get as much done with that one particular group. Doing that is highly impactful. MFA is a great voice for farmed animals who really are crying out for someone to speak for them. MFA does just that and has produced a lot of great results for these helpless animals.
What did you like most about interning with MFA?
I loved being able to go to all the different festivals and tabling events this summer. You get to talk to and meet so many interesting people. Each festival is so different from the one before, yet you always get a great crowd. It was awesome to be able to have actual conversations with people and educate them. I absolutely loved hosting Paid-Per-View events, as so many people are completely shocked about how their food is actually produced. It was hands-down my favorite thing to do!
What is your favorite vegan/animal rights resource?
I have two favorites: ChooseVeg.com is such a great site for people who are just starting out or are really curious about becoming veg. Plus, the recipes are great for everyone! My other favorite is MFA's Vegetarian Starter Kit. It has pretty much everything you need to know--from reasons why you should not eat animals, to health tips, environmental issues, how you can get everything you ever needed from plant-based foods, and suggestions on which great foods to eat.
What is the key to your success as an activist?
The absolute two biggest things would have to be passion and dedication. Those two things really push you forward into getting things done. They help you deal with the good and the bad, whether that be with people you encounter or different situations in everyday activism.
Can you offer any insight for others interested in becoming involved with animal rights activism?
Jump right in! I found an organization that I really liked, which had values similar to my own and was dedicated to a cause I was very passionate about. I saw that they offered an internship and just went for it. You will never want to stop once you start!
Inspired? Click here to learn about MFA's internship program and apply today for an exciting internship in one of our campaigns offices.