A comprehensive yearlong investigation by the Kansas City Star, which tracks dozens of news stories and articles from various sources, has found serious risks associated with beef production and slaughterhouse conditions, including fecal contamination and overuse of antibiotics, which may help explain antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans.
The Star reports: "The industry increasingly relies on a mechanical tenderization process, increasing E. coli risks. Meanwhile, doctors and USDA say antibiotic overuse is leading to resistant bacteria in humans. And with consumption down, beef is fighting back with efforts to influence U.S. dietary guidelines."
A recent Huffington Post article corroborates the Star's findings, noting that "just four companies process more than 87 percent of the beef packed in the U.S., and take advantage of novel, money-saving techniques that significantly increase the risk of contamination by food-borne pathogens, leading to hundreds of preventable illnesses every year."
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 adopt a plant-based lifestyle. For more information on how to embrace this change, visit ChooseVeg.com.
Early this week, a huge crowd of compassionate protestors gathered in New York City to confront Walmart CEO Mike Duke, who was in town speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, over the company's continued support of cruelty to pigs. Despite the bitingly cold weather, activists from all over the tri-state area came out to support MFA's Walmart Cruelty campaign - a nationwide initiative to convince the mega retailer to adopt a new animal welfare policy prohibiting its pork suppliers from confining pigs in cruel gestation crates. This is a commitment Walmart's major competitors have already made.
Along with a 10-foot-tall inflatable pig covered in bloody sores and crammed inside a tiny gestation crate, and a controversial mobile billboard boldly declaring, "Walmart: Stop Torturing Pigs," MFA activists greeted Mike with posters bearing the messages, "Mike Duke: Let Pigs Live Better" and "Walmart Profits from Animal Abuse."
The protest sparked from Mercy For Animals' investigations into major Walmart pork suppliers, which have 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.
"Walmart continues to support blatant animal abuse by buying pork from suppliers that cruelly condemn intelligent and social animals to a lifetime of misery and deprivation in crates where they can't even turn around, walk, lie down comfortably, or engage in other natural behaviors," said MFA's executive director Nathan Runkle. "It's high time that Walmart follow the lead of all its major competitors and make the humane and socially responsible choice to phase out inherently cruel gestation crates."
Want to help pigs? Click here to sign MFA's petition to Walmart's CEO demanding the retail giant do away with gestation crates.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that per-capita US milk consumption had fallen almost 30% since 1975. The reasons cited for this drop include the popularity of bottled waters, concern about the caloric content of milk, a decrease in the number of children consuming milk, and increased milk prices.
This drop in milk consumption is great news for dairy cattle because they suffer some of the worst farmed animal abuses. According to world-renowned animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin, "[S]ome of the worst handling of cows is in the dairy cattle. [T]here have been some real problems with pushing dairy cows so much for production they fall apart metabolically."
Heartbreakingly, most dairy cows are separated from their newborns within hours of birth. And they spend nearly their entire lives standing on concrete floors or crammed into massive mud lots. Many suffer from painful conditions such as lameness and mastitis. Downed cows--those too sick or injured to even stand--are also a common sight on factory dairy farms. These cows are often mishandled and left to suffer for weeks before they are euthanized or die.
This horrific reality is clearly demonstrated in MFA's recent investigative video shot at Bettencourt Dairies in Idaho. Watch the video here:
While we're pleased to see this drop in milk consumption, sales of other dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, are still on the rise. 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.
Anonymous for Animal Rights, an Israeli animal protection organization, has released startling undercover video footage showing cows and other animals being shocked with electric prods in their eyes, genitals, and anuses. At one point, a worker is heard saying: "Shove the shocker up his ass, he will move; in any event, he will move."
The horrific findings have garnered widespread media attention around the world, as well as calls for the slaughterhouse to be shut down on grounds of severe violations of the Israel Animal Welfare Act.
Watch the undercover video footage here:
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, the fact that many of the animals at this slaughterhouse come from Australia has sparked condemnation by government officials and demands by the RSPCA and Animals Australia to suspend live animal shipments to the Middle East.
Although unconscionable cruelty and violence are standard practice in the meat, dairy, and egg industries, caring consumers can help end the needless suffering of cows and other farmed animals by choosing healthy and humane vegetarian alternatives. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn more.
Coauthor of bestselling vegan cookbooks Veganomicon and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Terry Hope Romero is on a mission to veganize the world one palate at a time! A vegan culinary rockstar and avid comic book lover, Terry talks to us about her new cookbook Vegan Eats World - chock-full of recipes inspired by the culturally diverse cuisine of Queens, NYC. In our interview, Terry also shares the story of her transition to a plant-based diet, as well as her favorite vegan comic book hero.
MFA: You coauthored four of the most celebrated vegan cookbooks on the market, as well as penned two popular solo ventures. Describe the process behind developing your recipes.
Terry Hope Romero: It requires sacrificing a beet at midnight on the full moon to the dark vegan cookbook gods for a year! That and a lot of research, recipe and essay-style writing, careful note taking, cooking, recipe testing and reworking, and shopping...oh, the near-daily grocery shopping never seems to end. If it sounds like a lot of work, that's because it is!
MFA: Vegan Eats World is a unique international cookbook in that it's really all about Queens - one of the most culturally diverse boroughs of New York City and where you earned your vegan fame. Tell us about that and the types of cuisine you were most excited to take on.
Terry Hope Romero: Manhattan and Brooklyn get a lot of hype because they attract trendy restaurants and chefs, which is great and all, but so much of Queens is about its huge immigrant culture and the food traditions they bring with them, one of this borough's greatest natural resources! I was super excited to expand my knowledge of Korean, Lebanese, Indian, and a friend taught me how to prepare a lot of intriguing Sri Lankan dishes.
MFA: With the fall season underway and winter quickly approaching, we'd love to know your favorite foods to stay warm.
Terry Hope Romero: Soup! After working on Vegan Eats World, I'm especially into big, hearty Asian noodle soups that include everything - vegetables, mushrooms, fried tofu, seitan, fresh herb garnishes, curry - in each big steaming bowl.
MFA: How do you think the perception of vegan food has changed since you became vegan?
Terry Hope Romero: Well, it's certainly improved and keeps getting better all the time. More non-vegans than ever are truly curious about what vegans eat on a daily basis, and want to incorporate more meatless meals into their week. There's always somebody surprised to learn that it's entirely possible to bake and barbecue as a vegan.
MFA: How has leaving animals off your plate impacted your life?
Terry Hope Romero: It's been so long it's hard to say exactly, except that it feels very natural to me. Of course there are always conversations to be had with omnivores; these conversations sometimes impact others to reconsider their own daily food choices too.
MFA: Do you have any advice for people making the transition to a plant-based diet?
Terry Hope Romero: Make the transition in a way that works for you, either going in cold un-turkey or gradually phasing out certain foods. Don't compare your progress to others. If you don't already cook, take the time to learn to cook and get the right tools for the right job. And make sure you're having fun doing it!
MFA: You're known by your fans as an avid comic book lover. What comic books have you been reading lately and who are your favorite characters?
Terry Hope Romero: My absolute favorite right now is Saga. It's kind of like if Guillermo del Toro directed a magical Star Wars, but with fresh dialogue and modern, quirky characters. I never was much of a DC fan, but I'm loving some of their reboots, including the new Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, and the twisted weirdness of Animal Man. Buddy Baker (Animal Man) is the superhero for our times. He fights against a massive zombie-like evil, is a champion for the animals, and he's vegan!
In its "Top Ten Food Trend Predictions for 2013," Supermarket News magazine predicts the rise of "new proteins," stating that "a major shift is anticipated in the nation's protein food supply away from meat-based proteins and shifting to meatless proteins." The meatless proteins specifically named include tofu, nut butters, legumes, and beans. The magazine also predicts "an increase in awareness and consumption of vegetarian and vegan meals" and anticipates that baby boomers will be more mindful of healthy eating due to high rates of cancer and heart disease in their age demographic, recognizing that "people who tend to eat low-fat diets rich in fruits and vegetables tend to have a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease."
Restaurant Magazine also predicts that 2013 will be a big year for plant-based eating. Its top trend for the year ahead is that vegetables will "take their star turn." According to the magazine, "As more diners discover the joys of occasional meatless meals, the flirtation with vegetarian fare evolves into flexitarian fascination with actual vegetables. ... Vegetables at the center of the plate are welcomed by diners--who continue to seek fresh, local, healthful fare--as well as operators squeezed by rising costs for proteins."
Yet another significant trend predictor, major food consulting and strategy firm Sterling-Rice Group, foresees in its top 10 food trends of the year ahead that veggies, "[n]o longer prepared as just a side or salad," will "take over the plate" and "get their chance to star as the main dish." It also predicts as a top trend that "[f]rom gluten-free to vegan, more and more restaurants will offer all-inclusive menus and services to accommodate all eaters" and there will be "no diner left behind."
As we close in on another exciting year of groundbreaking undercover investigations, landmark criminal cruelty convictions, corporate policy reform successes, and inspiring advocacy campaigns, we also celebrate the MFA blog. Over the past year, MFA's blog has been home to hundreds of posts sharing riveting news, scandalous corporate corruption, vegan celebrity stories, and reports tracking MFA's mainstream media coverage around the globe. Thank you all for an incredible year!
A recent study by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, published by the Annals of Oncology journal, has found a direct correlation between lung cancer and red meat consumption.
The 23 case-controlled and 11 cohort studies - all of which made adjustments for patients' smoking history - found that "a high intake of red meat may increase the risk of lung cancer by about 35%."
Scientific research continues to reveal the serious health risks linked to consuming meat, dairy, and eggs, including a study published earlier this year, finding that consumption of red meat is linked with premature death.
Thankfully, we can help prevent these deadly diseases, while helping to end the needless suffering of animals, by choosing healthy and humane plant-based alternatives to meat, milk, and eggs. Visit ChooseVeg.org for delicious vegan recipes and additional information on how to transition toward a diet that is as good for your health as it is for the animals.
When popular Tex-Mex restaurant and bar Hacienda on Henderson, located in the trendy Knox-Henderson neighborhood of Dallas, reached out for help in creating a vegan menu, MFA's Texas campaign coordinator Nora Kramer was thrilled to introduce them to some delicious vegan possibilities.
"Throughout the past few years, I've seen the vegan community in Dallas grow exponentially into a much larger movement that incorporates a spectrum of diverse individuals with various interests and stakes in veganism," she said.
After receiving more and more customer requests to modify menu items to be vegan, Kaplan realized, "It would be much easier and customer-friendly if we incorporated vegan items into our regular menu so everyone was aware of them. With the vegan menu, we believe that we're helping our vegan customers, as well as potential customers, feel a part of the Hacienda home."
With delicious new dishes, including vegan enchiladas and spinach quesadillas, polenta with portabello mushrooms, potato and soyrizo tacos, and incredible sopapillas for dessert, this new vegan menu is sure to please vegans and meat-eaters alike.
Reaching out to local restaurants to encourage them to expand their vegan offerings is a great way to help animals, and it can be as simple as letting the owners or managers know about the opportunity for increased revenue and expanded market that incorporating a few vegan menu items brings, as well as offering some suggestions of vegan items that would be appropriate to add to the menu.
Let the owners or managers know about the "vegan veto vote," a dynamic whereby one vegan in a group of non-vegetarians often determines where the group eats and will choose a place that is vegan-friendly over one that is not. MFA's Vegetarian Resource Guide for Restaurants will help them every step of the way.
To find great veg-friendly eateries in your area, visit VegGuide.org.
What do you get the CEO of the world's largest retailer for his birthday? For us the answer is easy: a rescued pig. As a friendly gesture, MFA is trying a softer approach to an otherwise aggressive campaign to convince Walmart to stop supporting blatant cruelty to pigs in its pork supply chain--sponsoring a lovable pig, Julia, in honor of the company CEO Mike Duke's birthday on Friday, Dec. 7.
In an open letter sent to Mr. Duke, along with a birthday card featuring Julia,
MFA's executive director Nathan Runkle encourages the CEO to visit the precious pig at Farm Sanctuary, writing:
"Like millions of pigs who are raised and killed for Walmart's pork, Julia spent most of her life confined to a filthy, metal gestation crate barely larger than her own body. In such a small cage, Julia was unable to walk, run, play, root in the soil, see the sun, breathe fresh air, or do nearly anything that would make her life even remotely worth living. ... But it doesn't have to be this way. Now that she has been rescued from a life of agony and deprivation, Julia is free to live the way nature intended."
The letter continues:
"After meeting Julia, and seeing her vibrant personality shining through, despite the years of torment she endured locked in a tiny cage, I hope this birthday present inspires you to give a gift in return: a better life to the pigs who currently suffer lives of constant misery at Walmart pork suppliers."
Numerous undercover investigations at Walmart pork suppliers, including MFA's investigations at Iowa Select Farms and Christensen Farms, have documented thousands of pregnant pigs forced to live inside narrow metal gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies, piglets slammed headfirst into the ground, workers cutting off piglets' tails and testicles without painkillers, and animals suffering from bloody open wounds.
While all of the abuses documented during these investigations are horrific, condemning intelligent and social animals to lifetimes of misery and deprivation inside gestation crates so small they can't even turn around or lie down comfortably is perhaps the cruelest form of institutionalized animal abuse in existence.
This unique birthday gift to Mr. Duke is the latest in a series of efforts by MFA to convince Walmart to do away with gestation crates in its pork supply chain. Here's hoping Julia and her inspiring story of survival will motivate Mr. Duke to consider the plights of pigs who are born into abject misery at Walmart pork suppliers.
For more information about how you can get involved in this important campaign, visit WalmartCruelty.com.
Ever wonder what it would be like to live in the Windy City advocating for farmed animals? We caught up with Nicole Moore Eisenberg, a current intern at our Chicago office, and asked her to give us the scoop.
A marathon runner with a communications background, Nicole adopted a vegan diet in 2009 to quell her conscience after years of stubbornly tuning it out. After going veg, this Chicago resident made tons of new friends in the Chicago vegan community, adopted a rescue dog, Ezra, and marched with MFA in two Chicago Pride Parades before starting her internship last month. She has also run two marathons and plans to complete her third in the spring, hoping to influence a few other runners along the way.
What first inspired you to become a vegan?
I remember seeing very upsetting footage of factory farms as far back as 2003. I was an undergraduate at the time and I was horrified at what I saw.
Why did you choose to intern with MFA?
Not only do I wholeheartedly agree with all MFA positions and campaigns, but I also respect the way MFA communicates with the public. MFA never loses sight of the facts and constantly inspires with impactful, timely, in-depth information.
What do you like most about interning with MFA?
Working with Mikael Nielsen is wonderful! His energy is infectious and he has taught me a lot about the mechanics of leafleting. As someone brand new to leafleting, I feel like MFA gave me instant confidence through educating me on effectively interacting with individuals on the street.
You were recently married and had an all-vegan wedding. Can you offer any advice for anyone else wanting a vegetarian or vegan wedding?
Yes! If you are considering a vegan or vegetarian wedding, just do it! We found that not only were traditional catering vendors very open to going 100% plant-based, they also made delicious vegan food!
Have you had any memorable experiences since starting your internship with MFA?
Yes, I have had many. Every time I leaflet, I encounter a few individuals, who initially turn down a leaflet and continue walking, then reconsider and stop in their tracks to turn around and grab one. It makes my day every time!
Inspired? Click here to learn about MFA's internship program and apply today for an exciting internship in one of our campaigns offices.
Mercy For Animals is honored to have been named one of the top (of only six!) deserving animal nonprofit organizations by Vegetarian Times magazine.
In its "Who 2 Give 2" charity guide, appearing in the December 2012 issue, Vegetarian Times recognizes MFA for working to "end systemic animal abuse via education campaigns, legal advocacy, corporate outreach, and undercover videos."
Underscoring our efforts to expose animal abuse, Vegetarian Times writer Aurelia d'Andrea notes the fallout of our investigation into a McDonald's egg supplier. She quotes MFA's executive director Nathan Runkle as saying, "Our hidden-camera investigations get real results for animals. They've led to landmark criminal and civil prosecutions of animal abusers, shut down abusive facilities, and prompted major corporations to change their animal welfare policies."
Vegetarian Times suggests giving a gift membership and screening Farm to Fridge as two great ways to support MFA's work on behalf of farmed animals. For more ideas on helping farmed animals this holiday season, please visit our online Action Center. Thank you for your support!
But what is driving this dramatic drop in meat consumption? The answer may lie in a recent blog post on Counting Animals, which sought to analyze American demand for meat - the extent to which people want to buy meat as distinct from the actual amount of meat that people eat. While a more detailed explanation of the math is available on Counting Animals, the bottom line is that the reason Americans are expected to eat fewer animals is because more and more Americans simply don't want to eat as much meat.
For example, the study indicates that 93% of the expected decline in chicken consumption is attributable to reduced desire for chicken, rather than an increase in cost or other potential factors that could influence the amount of chicken people buy. Similarly, nearly 70% of the drop in beef consumption is estimated to be due to decreased consumer desire for beef over other factors. In any case, this dramatic reduction in meat consumption means hundreds of millions of animals will be spared a life of cruelty and abuse.
What could be the reason people want to eat fewer animals? More and more people are learning of the horrific abuses animals face on factory farms, as well as of the benefits of plant-based eating, and are consequently making the switch to a healthy and humane vegetarian diet. To find out why so many people are leaving meat off of their plates, visit ChooseVeg.com.