New research published by Nutrition Journal suggests that diets heavy on meat consumption are linked to asthma and hay fever.
The study followed the diets of nearly 160,000 Australian men and women and found that as participants' meat consumption increased, so did their risk of lifetime asthma and hay fever.
Researchers found that lifetime asthma and lifetime hay fever were generally associated with "diets marked by greater intakes of meats, poultry, and seafood."
As scientific research continues to show the dangers of eating meat, undercover investigations continue to expose the horrific abuses farmed animals endure before they reach consumers' plates. Fortunately, preventing cruelty to animals and human aliments such as asthma and hay fever is easy with a plant-based diet.
Visit ChooseVeg.com for cooking tips, instructional videos, and hundreds of delicious plant-based recipes.
With fall air biting at our noses and winter not far on the horizon, plenty of folks across the country are already planning holiday vacations. What better way to spend a holiday than on the road with nothing but a map and a few close companions? Maintaining a cruelty-free diet on the road can be a fun and exciting adventure, and with these simple tips it's easy to tour the continental US vegan style.
Bring snacks. Portable, non-perishable food will come in handy for long stretches of road. Nutrient-packed snack bars like Clif Bars, Luna Bars, and Lara Bars all offer a wide selection of vegan options. Good Health Natural has many travel-friendly snacks such as their popular Veggie Stix Veggie Chips, but they're hard to put down, so be sure to pack a few bags!
Know your gas station foods. Many roadside stops contain well-equipped mini markets that offer fruit and nuts. You can find many veg-friendly snacks lining the shelves, including Snyder's of Hanover Pretzels, a wide array of Frito-Lay Chips and other chip brands, and original Chex Mix. Many varieties of trail mix are free of animal ingredients, just be sure to check the label! To satisfy your sweet tooth, grab some Skittles for the road. Some 7-Eleven's also offer prepackaged vegan meals in their refrigerated sections.
Plan your meals ahead of time. Before setting out, make a list of veg-friendly establishments to stop at along the way, or make them the destinations! Whether your route entails big cities or small towns, research local vegan hotspots, and keep an eye out for veg-friendly fast-food locations. Taco Bell, Subway, Au Bon Pain, Chipotle, and Denny's are just a handful of the dozens of chain restaurants that are eager to cater to hungry veggie travelers.
Your mobile device is your friend.VegGuide.org can be accessed from your phone and will point you in the direction of any nearby vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Animal-Free, another mobile app, offers a comprehensive list of animal and non-animal ingredients to come to the rescue in any dire "Is it vegan?" situation you may find yourself in along your journeys.
Wherever your trip takes you, be sure to check out ChooseVeg.com for delicious holiday recipes and tips on cruelty-free living.
Mercy For Animals is ratcheting up our national campaign against the world's largest retailer this week, as we unveil a feast for Walmart President and CEO Mike Duke's eyes: a traffic-stopping mobile billboard outside Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The billboard, which includes images from a shocking MFA investigation into a Walmart pork supplier, boldly declares on one side, "Walmart: Stop Torturing Pigs" and on the other, "Walmart: Stop Supporting Animal Abuse." The 20-foot-long traveling ad calls on Walmart execs to "Ditch Cruel Gestation Crates" and features heartbreaking pictures of sows locked inside narrow gestation crates.
The eye-opening billboard is the latest volley in MFA's national campaign, aimed at moving the retailer to require its pork suppliers to phase out restrictive crates for breeding sows. From coast to coast, in more than 70 cities, consumers have protested outside Walmart stores demanding the company eliminate cruel crates from its supply chain. Over 75,000 people have signed MFA's petition to Walmart, and A-list celebrities, including Ryan Gosling, Kristen Bell, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Deschanel, Tom Morello, Kim Basinger, and David Boreanaz, co-signed a letter to Walmart's CEO Mike Duke that states: "As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart has the power--and the ethical responsibility--to ensure that the pork sold in its stores is not the product of egregious animal abuse."
Shocking hidden-camera video of animal abuse recorded at a Walmart pork supplier revealed pregnant pigs confined for nearly their entire lives in crates barely larger than their own bodies, pigs suffering from bloody open wounds and infections, and conscious piglets being slammed headfirst into the ground and having their testicles ripped out and tails cut off without painkillers.
Banned in nine US states and the entire European Union, gestation crates have been widely condemned by animal welfare experts as one of the cruelest factory farming practices in the world. Major food providers, including McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Chipotle, and grocery chains, such as Safeway, Kroger, Target, and Whole Foods, have all started eliminating crates from their supply chains.
Join MFA in urging Walmart executives to adopt a new animal welfare policy prohibiting its pork suppliers from confining pigs in gestation crates so small they cannot even turn around, walk, or lie down comfortably.
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune by registered dietitian Sharon Palmer touts the benefits plant-based eating can have on good prostate health. Palmer points to recent scientific studies that show the best prevention for prostate cancer lies in consuming plant-based foods.
The article cites Karen Collins, a nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research, who promotes a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as a fundamental for prostate cancer prevention. Lycopene-rich tomatoes, in particular, have been associated with lower incidences of prostate cancer. Collins says, "Lycopene does seem to offer benefit, both as antioxidant and through direct impact on cancer cell growth and development." Moreover, Collins underscores how eating healthily contributes to maintaining an optimal weight, in turn contributing to preventative prostate health.
Doctors have also found cancer-fighting properties in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, and bok choy.
As scientific research continues to show the benefits of plant-based eating, scientist are also finding serious health risks linked to consuming meat, dairy, and eggs. Thankfully, it's never been easier to adopt a healthy and humane plant-based lifestyle.
Yesterday Target announced that it would work with its vendors to eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2022. As
the fourth-largest retailer in the United States, and the second-largest
discount retailer in the nation after Walmart, Target's commitment sends a
clear message that the use of gestation crates is no longer acceptable in the
As Walmart's biggest competitor, we hope Target's announcement
will make it obvious to Walmart that it must also commit to phasing out
gestation crates. More than 30 other major food providers, including Costco,
Kmart, Safeway, Kroger, Harris Teeter, and McDonald's, have all started
demanding their suppliers do away with these cruel crates. Yet Walmart
continues to support animal abuse--buying pork from suppliers that condemn
intelligent and social animals to a lifetime of misery and deprivation inside
tiny gestation crates.
MFA is calling on Walmart to quickly follow Target's
lead in taking a stance against inherently cruel gestation crates. Mercy For
Animals' national Walmart Cruelty campaign is aimed at pressuring Walmart
executives to adopt a new policy requiring the company's pork suppliers to
phase out gestation crates.
While retailers have incredible power to end some of the
most egregious factory farming practices, consumers can also help prevent
cruelty and promote compassion each time they sit down to eat by adopting a
Thousands of vegans, vegetarians, and veg-curious Texans descended upon scenic Reverchon Park in Dallas this past weekend for the third annual Texas State Veggie Fair. Cosponsored by MFA and hosted by DallasVegan.com, the Texas-sized celebration illustrated the growing popularity of compassionate, plant-based eating.
The Veggie Fair featured dozens of spirited exhibitors, live musical performances, games, and vegan face painting, but like any state fair, the big focus was on carnival foods.
Vegan cooking demos by "Blissful Chef," Christy Morgan, and internet sensation the Vegan Black Metal Chef awed fair-goers, but the highly acclaimed vegan fried food contest took center stage. The competition featured fried delights ranging from fried seitan "chicken" nuggets to fried PB&J to fried Reuben fritters. Judges James Johnston of Spiral Diner, University of North Texas dining director Ken Botts, and Rachael Abrams of CultureMap Dallas awarded fried Frito chili pie the "Most Creative" award and fried tiramisu cheesecake the "Best Tasting."
Attendees also got a chance to listen to inspiring speakers in the animal rights community, including Amber McDonald of The Kindness Collective and Erica Meier of Compassion Over Killing, who shared the stage with MFA's Texas campaign coordinator Nora Kramer on a panel discussion about ways we can all get active to help farmed animals.
Missed us at the Texas State Veggie Fair? Be sure to join us at these upcoming events:
A recent article in Science Daily extols the latest research suggesting that a plant-based diet can cure and prevent chronic diseases.
The article quotes Toni Tarver of Food Technology magazine, who details the latest studies in nutritional genomics that seek to explain ways in which the "bioactive compounds--vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals" in plant foods interact with the body's cells, enzymes, hormones, and DNA to prevent chronic diseases.
Tarver points out that consuming foods such as green tea, soybeans, and green vegetables positively affects how the body manages oxygen radicals. Researchers at McGill University and McMaster University "indicated that people with the highest daily intake of vegetables and fruits were 30% less likely to experience a heart attack or stroke."
Additionally, bioactive phytochemical compounds inherent in plant foods have been found to be effective regulators of angiogenesis, the process by which cancer cells proliferate through blood vessel growth. William Li, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, states, "We can't possibly treat everyone with the latest and most expensive drugs. But food is a medicine that we take three times a day. Mother Nature has already laced into many different foods naturally occurring chemicals that are natural inhibitors of angiogenesis." Li and his researchers have found that abnormal angiogenesis is the underlying factor to a host of other diseases like Alzheimer's, obesity, and neuropathy.
As scientific research continues to show the vast benefits of plant-based eating, undercover investigations continue to expose the horrific abuses farmed animals endure before they reach consumers' plates. Fortunately, preventing cruelty, heart disease, and cancer is easy with a plant-based diet. Visit ChooseVeg.com for cooking tips, instructional videos, and hundreds of delicious plant-based recipes.
Ever wonder what it's like to travel cross-country advocating for farmed animals? We caught up with Nick Wallerstedt, who's currently on the road with our national campaign coordinator, Phil Letten, on MFA's Walmart Cruelty Tour.
Nick's decision to go vegan came after learning of the plight farmed animals face in the meat, dairy, and egg industries. His veganism soon propelled him into grassroots activism, eventually leading him to advocate for farmed animals full-time. When Nick's not on the road, he enjoys a career as a vegan tattoo artist in Boise, Idaho.
What first inspired you to become a vegan?
I became vegan because I love animals and I hate to see them suffer. When I saw undercover footage from a factory farm and learned about the terrible abuse that animals endure to produce the food I was eating, I was sickened and vowed to never eat animal products again.
Why did you choose to intern with MFA?
After becoming vegan I felt that I had done my part to eliminate the animal suffering caused by my lifestyle, but I felt compelled to do more. I wanted to get involved with the most effective animal advocacy organization around so I applied for an internship with MFA.
Can you tell us about what you do as a national campaign intern?
As a national campaign intern, I travel with Phil Letten, the national campaign coordinator, across the country to advocate for the protection of farmed animals. We travel to five cities every week and set up eye-catching demonstrations to raise awareness about how animals are treated on factory farms, to promote a compassionate vegan diet, and to spread our message through media coverage. So far, the tour has taken me to 59 American cities, including quaint towns like Beaumont, TX, and Columbia, SC, and major metropolises like New York City and Los Angeles. It's my job to help plan events, set up demonstrations, coordinate volunteers, manage social media, and assist in any other way that comes up while we're on the road.
What do you like most about interning with MFA?
Touring for MFA has been one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. Not only have I had the opportunity to travel across the entire country, but I've been able to do it while also doing what I care the most about.
What do you hope to gain from your experiences interning with MFA?
Before my first internship with MFA I was very inexperienced in animal advocacy and had almost no idea how to go about helping animals. Through my internships I have become exponentially more effective as an activist and my desire to dedicate time to helping farmed animals has been strongly reinforced.
What is the key to your success as an activist?
It's easy to get overwhelmed, upset, and angry about the horrific way that animals are treated on factory farms, but by acting on these emotions we often end up doing more harm than good. I do my best to make sure that no matter how I feel on the inside, I act in ways that make helping animals look easy, fun, and rewarding.
Inspired? Click here to learn about MFA's internship program and apply today for an exciting internship in one of our campaigns offices.
Recently, Yahoo! exposed the inherent cruelties in animal agriculture to mainstream readers, shedding a light on the 8 cruelest foods people eat. The article, accompanied by an item-by-item photo gallery, goes into detail about the cruelties involved in producing animal-based foods. 1. Lobsters: Lobsters are capable of learning and have an awareness of their surroundings. Because they have central nervous systems, lobsters also feel stress and pain when kept in storage facilities for several months before being sold.
2. Shark fins: Served as a "delicacy" in Asia and the United States, shark fins are violently chopped off of fully conscious sharks before the sharks are tossed back into the ocean, no longer able to swim.
3. Veal: In the dairy industry, baby male calves are taken away from their mothers at birth to be confined in barren crates, where they are unable to move around freely for their entire lives before being slaughtered mercilessly for veal.
4. Foie gras: Ducks or geese are restrained and force-fed pounds of corn with a metal tube each day for a full month in order to fatten their livers to produce foie gras.
5. Eggs: For their entire egg-producing lives, hens are crammed into filthy battery cages where they are unable to spread their wings and are denied anything that comes naturally to them. MFA's undercover investigation into one of the largest egg factory farms in the country documented unconscionable cruelty and violence, including baby male chicks - useless to the egg industry- being ground up alive.
6. Balut: Embryos of almost fully developed ducks are soft-boiled in their shells to be eaten as a cruel snack in Southeast Asia.
7. Beef: Cattle raised for beef are subjected to numerous painful procedures during their miserable lives on the feedlot, including the repeated infliction of third-degree burns, having their testicles ripped out, and the removal of their horns without any painkillers.
8. Pork: In the pork industry, mother pigs spend their short miserable lives confined to filthy metal gestation crates, where they're unable to turn around, lie down comfortably, or engage in any natural behaviors.
Every time we sit down to eat we can choose to support needless suffering and violence or to promote kindness toward animals. For cruelty-free alternatives to your favorite foods and hundreds of recipe ideas, visit ChooseVeg.com.
House of Raeford, one of the largest poultry processors in the country, was fined this week by the United States Department of Labor for illegally employing underage workers at its chicken slaughter plant in Duplin County, NC - its second violation in the past four years. The slaughterhouse also made national headlines when it was exposed by an MFA investigation in 2007 that revealed horrific cruelty to chickens and turkeys.
Federal officials previously fined the company when a 2008 immigration raid uncovered more than 300 undocumented workers and six underage employees, including a 15-year-old girl, working 10-hour shifts slaughtering chickens. The Charlotte Observerreported that over 20 former and current House of Raeford employees told them that the company frequently hired underage workers to "secure cheap, compliant labor." Because slaughterhouses are among the most dangerous workplaces in the country, federal and state labor laws prohibit anyone under 18 from working on a poultry process line.
House of Raeford has a long record of illegal activity. In 2009, the company settled criminal charges by paying a $1.5 million fine for deliberately hiring undocumented workers, and just two months ago, House of Raeford was convicted on 10 counts of violating the Clean Water Act.
Mercy For Animals' 2007 investigation at House of Raeford Farms revealed that in addition to flouting child labor and environmental laws, the poultry processor has allowed a culture of cruelty and violence to flourish. Workers were filmed violently punching turkeys for "fun," forcefully shoving their hands into the vaginal cavities of live chickens, ripping the heads off live turkeys, and slitting turkeys' throats while they were still fully conscious. Animal welfare authority Dr. Temple Grandin declared upon witnessing the footage: "This is a sloppy poorly managed plant where employees are allowed to abuse animals. ...There are some management people that need to get fired."
Each of us can take a stand against animal abuse, disregard for human safety, and environmental degradation by boycotting animal agribusiness and transitioning toward a vegan diet. Visit ChooseVeg.com for hundreds of delicious recipes and instructional cooking videos. Click here to order your free Vegetarian Starter Kit.
A recent study by the Loma Linda University School of Public Health reveals that a vegetarian diet could lead to a longer and healthier life. The Adventist Health Study (AHS-2) is the second in a series of epidemiologic studies to examine the relationship between food and health.
The long-term comprehensive study of 96,000 Seventh-Day Adventists from 50 states and Canada found that vegetarians had lower cholesterol levels, body mass indexes (BMIs), and risk of developing diabetes or high blood pressure than meat eaters. Vegans were found to have the lowest BMIs, indicating the diet's significant potential to protect against obesity, an epidemic threatening the lives of millions of Americans.
Key results from the first study (AHS-1) found that vegetarians had a lower risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and death from all causes included in the study.
For tips on transitioning to a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle, visit ChooseVeg.com. Click here to order your free Vegetarian Starter Kit.
Dairy industry experts are predicting the closure of over 100 dairy farms in California, the largest dairy state in the country, due to bankruptcies, foreclosures, and slower sales stemming from the increased cost of feed.
This year's drought throughout the Midwest caused feed costs to more than double, which has led many farms to start slaughtering dairy cows at a younger age and for less money.
Although the California Department of Food and Agriculture adjusted milk prices through tax subsidies earlier in the year, it has said it will not do so again, likely resulting in increased milk prices for consumers beginning in November.
Apart from depleting our resources, the dairy industry treats cows as mere commodities to be used for profit, resulting in the rampant and horrific mistreatment of these intelligent animals on factory farms across the country. MFA's recent investigation at Bettencourt Dairies, one of the largest dairies in the nation, revealed workers shocking and beating cows, violently twisting their tails to deliberately inflict pain, and dragging a downed cow by her neck using a chain attached to a tractor. Previous investigations at the E6 Cattle Company, Conklin Dairy Farms, and Willet Dairy revealed similar callous treatment of dairy cows.
We can contribute to a more sustainable and humane food system every time we eat by choosing plant-based options. Visit ChooseVeg.com for a wide array of delicious non-dairy recipes and meal ideas.
Adopting a vegan diet and cutting out the expensive animal products can be a great way to stretch any food budget! Enjoy these tips for following a healthy vegan diet on a budget.
1. Make Food at Home
Relying on pre-packaged foods and eating at expensive restaurants is a sure fast way to break the bank. If you're new to cooking, don't fret--there are tons of resources out there to help you get started! Find discounted cookbooks online or check websites like ChooseVeg.com for delicious meal ideas. Or simply run a Google search to veganize just about any recipe you can think of. Now's your chance to get your creative juices flowing. Having the right tools in the kitchen can also save you money, as having the ability to make a variety of lip-smacking vegan dishes at home curbs the temptation to eat out. We recommend investing in kitchen basics like an iron skillet, a stock pot, slow cooker, food processor, and a blender, which are all affordable and easy to use.
2. Keep It Simple
Beans, grains, and produce are low-cost and should be the base of any healthy vegan diet. Even canned beans are affordable and require zero preparation. Full of protein and fiber, beans should be used often. Rice, pasta, and other grains like millet and quinoa are very easy to prepare and have a variety of uses. Local farmers' markets are wonderful for providing inexpensive local fruits and veggies, which in turn supports your local economy.
3. Cook in Large Batches
We live in a fast-paced world and are always on the go, right? We get it. If finding time to cook each day is challenging, schedule one or two kitchen days each week and cook in large batches. You can easily take leftovers for lunch or reheat them for an easy and quick dinner.
5. Plan a Potluck
If you are watching your budget, chances are your friends are too. Planning a potluck where everyone brings a vegan dish is a great way to enjoy a yummy meal, while only investing the time and money for the one dish you prepared.
For more delicious vegan recipes and tips on cruelty-free eating, visit ChooseVeg.com.
On Friday, CNN's Headline News Network's Jane Velez-Mitchell interviewed MFA's executive director Nathan Runkle about the recent undercover investigation showing workers at a Burger King dairy supplier criminally beating, shocking and dragging helpless cows.
During this powerful interview, Velez-Mitchell encourages consumers to bear witness to the animal abuse that runs rampant on factory farms and calls on her fellow journalists to step up their coverage of these important issues - especially in light of ag-gag legislation in certain states that seeks to keep animal abuse and other problems at factory farms hidden from public view.
Watch the full interview here:
MFA is urging Burger King to immediately adopt meaningful animal welfare guidelines to help prevent some of the worst forms of animal abuse on dairy factory farms. Please go to BurgerKingCruelty.com to sign the petition urging Burger King to require its cheese suppliers to implement meaningful animal welfare standards.
Of course, the most powerful way concerned consumers can help prevent needless violence and cruelty to animals is by ditching dairy in favor of healthy and humane plant-based alternatives to milk, cheese, and ice cream. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
Mark Middleton, the creative mind behind a series of clever animal-themed infographics at AnimalVisuals.org, is at it again--this time with a virtual gestation crate designed to give people a glimpse into the tragic world of pigs raised for Walmart's pork. This new interactive online feature gives players an opportunity to briefly experience the tedious lives of pigs confined to filthy, metal gestation crates, unable to even turn around for nearly their entire lives.
Although intentionally not fun, the compelling online "game" is based in part on undercover investigations by MFA and other groups exposing the lives of misery and deprivation endured by pigs at Walmart pork suppliers, including Iowa Select Farms and Christensen Farms. More importantly, the feature prompts viewers to take action to help pigs by linking to MFA's WalmartCruelty.com website and urging people to sign the petition calling on Walmart to phase out cruel gestation crates.
While standard for Walmart pork producers, the practice of confining sensitive, intelligent, and social pigs into tiny gestation crates has been widely condemned by veterinarians and animal welfare experts, including Dr. Temple Grandin, who is considered the leading farmed animal welfare expert in the country.
Recognizing their inherent cruelty, major food providers, including McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Chipotle, and major grocery retailers, including Safeway, Kroger, and Whole Foods, have all started demanding their suppliers do away with these cruel crates.
Yet Walmart continues to support animal abuse by buying pork from suppliers that confine thousands of pregnant pigs to these real-life torture boxes. Please help spread the word about this important issue and encourage Walmart to do the right thing by sharing this Virtual Gestation Crate experience on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.
MFA is partnering with student animal rights groups around the country, setting up "Paid-Per-View" booths, and challenging students to watch a 4-minute segment of Farm to Fridge, MFA's hard-hitting documentary about the cruelty inherent in raising and killing animals for food.
Paid-Per-View screenings are a great way to reach people with a message of compassion for farmed animals. After watching only a few minutes of Farm to Fridge, many people walk away swearing never to eat animals again.
Inspired to host a Paid-Per-View event at your college campus? With MFA offices in New York, Ohio, Illinois, Texas, and California, it's easier than you might think! Invite our Paid-Per-View campaign to your campus by contacting your nearest Mercy For Animals advocacy center.
Don't live near an MFA office? Check out our helpful 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.
This week, poultry giant Perdue and a Maryland factory chicken farm face charges for violating the federal Clean Water Act due to alleged manure runoffs at their plant polluting a nearby stream that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. Water samples collected near Hudson Farm, which supplies Perdue and confines about 80,000 birds at any given time, revealed harmful levels of E. coli and fecal coliform that exceed state limits. Environmental organization Waterkeeper Alliance, which works to protect the Chesapeake Bay from pollution, brought the civil case.
This case is seen as potentially precedent-setting, as it could spur an onslaught of civil lawsuits against other factory farms in the region for engaging in similar environmental offenses. In turn this could have grave implications for other large corporations like Perdue regarding accountability and the illegal acts of their food suppliers.
Local Maryland environmental organization Assateague Coastal Trust stated, "Perdue has a responsibility for pollution coming from the farms of its contract growers. Perdue, like most large poultry companies, controls nearly every aspect of the business when growing a bird, but leaves the work and the risks of managing manure to the farmer."
Ever wonder what it would be like to intern with Mercy For Animals? We interviewed Heather Schloss, who recently completed a three-month internship at our New York office, and asked her to give us the scoop.
A recent college graduate, Heather led the animal rights group at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which aimed to prevent cruelty towards animals of all kinds. She also worked with campus dining services to promote Meatless Mondays and increase the quantity and quality of vegan options for students. When not advocating for animal rights, Heather can be found cooking, baking, reading, hiking, and spending time with her family's four cats and dog.
What first inspired you to become a vegan?
From a young age, I felt that something was not quite right with the way that we treated animals. I have vivid memories of when I began to make the connection between the meat on my plate and the sentient animals that I loved, including the memory of a slaughterhouse-bound truck filled with bleating lambs leaving the "bucolic farm" family vacation spot at which we spent a week each summer. By age 10, I started transitioning to a vegetarian diet. After 9 years of eschewing meat, I became vegan upon watching the incredibly powerful and well-done documentary Earthlings, and I resolved to remain vegan after a visit to a stockyard where I had the opportunity to pet and commune with baby calves of dairy cows that were just hours away from being slaughtered for veal.
What is your favorite vegan/animal rights resource?
I love ChooseVeg.com for its recipes, tips on transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, and wealth of information about the many forms of abuse inflicted on farmed animals, including video footage from undercover investigations. Writer and psychologist Dr. Melanie Joy's website, Carnism.com, is also an amazing guide to understanding the psychology behind eating animals, learning why eating animals is an important social justice issue, and most importantly, what we can do to effectively change the world we live in for animals.
Why did you choose to intern with MFA?
I knew that I wanted to spend my time after college working with a non-profit animal rights organization and learning how to best interact with others regarding veganism. MFA offered me the opportunity to push myself outside of my comfort zone to advocate for animals. Because Mercy For Animals is such a respected and effective organization, I jumped at the opportunity to work with them.
What did you like most about interning with MFA?
I found one-on-one interactions with people during leafleting, tabling, and Paid-Per-View events to be most fulfilling because I was able to witness firsthand how people's minds and hearts were changed after being exposed to information about the way farmed animals are treated before they end up on their dinner plates. I also enjoyed opportunities to travel to different vegetarian festivals and participate in the inner workings of MFA.
What is the key to your success as an activist?
I think perseverance is one of the most important qualities of an effective activist, and I strive to embody this quality. Whenever I start to feel bogged down by the enormity of the cruel animal agriculture industry, I think back to where I was a few years ago and think that if a cheese-lover like me could make the change to (what turned out to be a delicious) vegan diet, anyone can.
Can you offer any insight for others interested in becoming involved with animal rights activism?
Get involved with a grassroots team or an advocacy group such as MFA and start volunteering! It can be hard at first to put yourself out there and show people the grim realities of factory farming, but it can also be an extremely rewarding experience, and connecting with other animal advocates through volunteering, vegetarian food festivals, or Meetup.com only makes it easier and more fun!
Inspired? Click here to learn about MFA's internship program and apply today for an exciting internship in one of our campaigns offices.
MFA's undercover investigation at Bettencourt Dairies, the largest dairy factory farm in Idaho, has prompted Kraft Foods to announce a new policy requiring all its dairy suppliers to phase out the cruel practice of tail docking cattle, among other important animal welfare policies. The announcement marks the first of its kind by a major food provider, and will hopefully inspire others to quickly follow suit.
Tail docking is an outdated practice that involves cutting through the sensitive skin, nerves, and bones of calves' tails without any painkillers. Despite condemnation by animal welfare experts of this practice as purposeless and cruel, the majority of calves born in the US dairy industry are still subjected to this painful mutilation.
As the largest food company in the United States, Kraft's announcement to ban the tail docking of cattle in its supply chain is sure to send shockwaves throughout the dairy industry and could finally put an end to this practice, which has been decried by the American Veterinary Medical Association and outlawed in California, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
Watch the undercover video that led Kraft to agree to improve its animal welfare standards here:
Unfortunately, while Kraft has taken a step to help end many of the shocking abuses caught on tape at this dairy factory farm, Burger King - another major food retailer linked to Bettencourt Dairies - has yet to require its cheese suppliers to make any meaningful animal welfare improvements. No socially responsible corporation should support dairy operations that beat, kick, mutilate, confine, and neglect animals.
MFA is urging Burger King to immediately adopt meaningful animal welfare guidelines, including:
committing to ending its supplier relationship with dairy facilities caught punching, kicking, dragging, electrically shocking, or otherwise abusing animals
requiring dairy suppliers to provide a clean and sanitary environment for cattle
requiring dairy suppliers to provide proper care and transportation for sick, injured, and downed animals
requiring dairy suppliers to eliminate painful mutilations without anesthesia, including the cruel practice of tail docking cattle
Go to BurgerKingCruelty.com to sign the petition urging Burger King to require its cheese suppliers to implement meaningful animal welfare standards.
While Burger King has the power and the ethical responsibility to help end some of the worst forms of animal abuse in the dairy industry, concerned consumers can help prevent needless violence and cruelty to animals by ditching dairy in favor of healthy and humane plant-based alternatives to milk, cheese, and ice cream. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
As fall creeps up on us, children and adults alike are preparing for a night of spooky fun this October 31st. Whether your plan is to watch a horror movie marathon, host a monster bash, or hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, chances are you've got sweets on your mind. Here are some cruelty-free treats that will satisfy any sweet tooth:
If you happen to crave chocolaty classics, Go Max Go Foods and Enjoy Life Foods offer rice milk chocolate bars, with specialty bars that rival the chocolate bars commonly found in trick-or-treat bags.
For the vamps and villains with more sophisticated taste buds, Allison's Gourmet and Sweet & Sara both offer gourmet vegan candies and specialty treats such as toffees, caramels, and marshmallows.
Annie's makes gummies reminiscent of those we grew up getting stuck in our teeth, without the unwholesome gelatin to worry about. For one-stop candy shopping, check out NaturalCandyStore.com's vegan section.
In recognition of World Farm Animals Day, Mercy For Animals exposed hundreds of college students from coast to coast to the plight of animals on factory farms and the impact of their food choices. Celebrated every year on October 2nd in honor of Gandhi's birthday, World Farm Animals Day memorializes and advocates for the billions of animals raised and killed for food every year.
MFA staff and volunteers held various outreach events that reached over 2,000 people with pro-vegetarian leaflets and hundreds more at our Paid-Per-View stations, where we paid people $1 to watch 4 minutes of Farm to Fridge--our hard-hitting documentary revealing the inherent suffering and violence animals face on modern day farms. Most viewers reported that they were shocked and horrified by what they saw and wanted to know what they could do to help. Each participant received a copy of MFA's free Vegetarian Starter Kit, packed with loads of vegan tips and recipes.
If you are interested in planning a Paid-Per-View event in your area, check out our step-by-step instructions for how to do it.
For more information about how you can help make every day World Farm Animals Day, visit ChooseVeg.com for tips on adopting a healthy and compassionate vegan diet.
Last weekend, nearly 4,000 festival-goers from Chicagoland and beyond gathered for the fourth annual Chicago VeganMania, celebrating the Windy City's veggie commerce, community, couture, cuisine, and culture.
VeganMania also featured booths spotlighting loads of vendors and non-profit organizations, including the Mercy For Animals' educational exhibit, where staff and volunteers talked to the thousands of attendees and distributed pro-vegan literature detailing the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Missed us this weekend? Visit MFA at these upcoming vegetarian food festivals:
A recent article in the Washington Post reveals the dangers of overfishing as exposed in a study released by the California Environmental Associates. The study estimates that "over 40 percent of fisheries have crashed or are overfished"--a much higher number than previously reported. These new figures include estimates from unmonitored fish stocks, with those numbers accounting for 80% of the global fish population.
The article points out that it's the lack of government oversight that's endangering the world's aquatic life and our ecosystem.
Apart from destroying the environment and endangering the world's fish population, the fishing industry contributes to some of the most horrific animal abuse in agribusiness. Industrialized fishing victimizes not only fish, but also countless unintended victims, including dolphins, lobsters, and turtles. Sea animals captured in huge trawling nets undergo excruciatingly painful decompression as they are raised from the ocean depths. The intense internal pressure ruptures fishes' swim bladders, pops out their eyes, and pushes their stomachs through their mouths.
An MFA undercover investigation at a Texas fish slaughter facility revealed shocking cruelty, including workers cutting, slicing, skinning, suffocating, and dismembering live and fully conscious catfish--a brutal practice harshly condemned by veterinarians.
Thankfully, knowledgeable consumers can easily help prevent needless cruelty to animals by transitioning to a sustainable plant-based diet.
Last weekend, Oscar-nominated actress Anne Hathaway made headlines by wedding actor and jewelry designer Adam Shulman in a traditional Jewish ceremony, followed by an all-vegan reception.
The now newlywed couple worked with Natalie Portman's wedding planner, Yifat Oren, to create a delicious spread of plant-based goodies, including veggie burgers, cupcakes, and truffle macaroni and cheese.
According to the Daily Mail, former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore is asking consumers to boycott one of Britain's most famous department stores following an undercover investigation exposing horrific cruelty to animals at its foie gras suppliers. The shocking video shows geese confined to barren pens panicking and struggling as workers shove a metal pipe down their throats and pump their stomachs full of grain.
This cruel process is repeated three to four times a day--every day. The geese's distended livers, which can swell to up to 10 times their natural size, press against the birds' lungs, causing them to pant constantly. Some of the birds can no longer stand because their legs can't support the weight of their livers, possibly also resulting in leg fractures. The birds' livers become engorged and diseased, and result in horrific emotional and physical suffering for these unfortunate animals.
Watch the hidden-camera video here:
Foie gras is so cruel that its production has been banned in numerous countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Argentina, and Israel. On July 1, 2012, California became the first US state to ban the production and sale of foie gras produced by cruel force-feeding techniques.
Best known for producing films like Titanic and Avatar, Cameron states: "It's not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it, so it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere."
Earlier this year, Los Angeles illegal slaughter operator Roberto Celedon was convicted of felony animal cruelty based on hidden-camera footage obtained by Mercy For Animals. Last Friday, Celedon was ordered to pay over $20,000 to the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control as restitution for the department's costs in raiding his facility and seizing dozens of sick, injured, and emaciated animals.
Celedon was previously sentenced to serve ninety days in jail and five years probation, as well as to pay nearly $4,000 in fines and penalties. In addition, Celedon was ordered to complete 48 animal cruelty classes and is prohibited from owning, caring for, or selling animals for five years.
The undercover footage leading to Celedon's conviction shows animals being violently pinned down, having their throats crudely sawed open, and slowly bleeding to death. Upon raiding his illegal slaughterhouse, LA County animal control officers seized dozens of animals who were in extremely poor health and are now being rehabilitated at The Gentle Barn.
Watch the undercover footage here:
This horrifying footage clearly depicts the staggering cruelty that farmed animals routinely suffer in California and across the country. While MFA works to expose and end cruelty to farmed animals, compassionate individuals can do their part to prevent the needless suffering of animals at the hands of the meat, egg, and dairy industries by adopting a healthy and humane vegetarian diet.
On October 1, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a class action lawsuit alleging that two California egg producers, Judy's Family Farm Organic Eggs and Petaluma Egg Farm, have been lying to consumers about the treatment of egg-laying hens on their factory farms. In stark contrast to the idyllic barnyard scenes depicted on their egg packaging, hens at these so-called "free-range" facilities are crowded by the thousands into dark sheds for nearly their entire lives.
According to ALDF, these major egg producers have misled concerned consumers into paying more money for some of the same abuses one might expect from a factory egg farm. As a result of the lawsuit, these companies could pay millions of dollars to defrauded consumers for violating California's unfair competition laws.
After learning about the cruelty involved in factory-farmed products, some people think "free-range," "cage-free," or "organic" meat, egg, and dairy products are the solution. But animal agriculture by its very nature exploits animals. While free-range systems typically require some access to the outdoors--and in that way, are an improvement on conventional battery-cage systems whereby hens are crammed into cages so small they can't even spread their wings--treating animals as commodities to be consumed inevitably subjects these animals to needless suffering.
Free-range hens endure much of the same misery as battery-caged hens, including overcrowded living conditions, denial of veterinary care, abusive handling, painful mutilations without anesthesia, and violent slaughter.
Don't believe the egg industry's hype. With the numerous egg alternatives available today for all types of cooking and baking, consumers should drop eggs from their diets in favor of a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle.