A few months ago, Bloomberg Business Weekreported on the investments of several venture capitalists in vegan startups. Growing ever more newsworthy, the topic was also covered by the New York Times in this past Sunday's business section.
According to the Times, venture capitalist cash was up 37 percent for food projects as compared with the previous year's numbers, with 350 million dollars invested. Josh Tetrick, the mastermind behind Beyond Eggs, a company aiming to create a plant-based alternative to chicken eggs, thinks investors seek an opportunity to help fix our "terribly broken" food system. He explains that whether it be in relation to how we treat animals, the planet, or our own health, our current food model is grossly subpar.
The Times also reports that wealthy investors expect to profit from the expanding population of people looking to reduce their meat consumption and incorporate more organic foods into their diets.
Other vegan companies profiled in the piece include Silicon Valley-based Lyrical Foods, which just debuted the first-ever vegan cheese--marketed under the name Kite Hill--to be featured in the Whole Foods cheese department. Beyond Meat, which had Microsoft mogul Bill Gates singing its praises earlier this year, and Sand Hill Foods, which promises veggie burgers that taste similar to beef, were also spotlighted by the Times.
With meat consumption on the decline, healthy vegan versions of traditional animal-derived foods are becoming more widely available. We don't have to wait, however, for any new product to hit the market before choosing to take a stand against the suffering endured by animals on factory farms. For information on transitioning to a delicious, vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.
Today, the Retail Council of Canada announced that all eight of the country's leading grocery chains, including Loblaws, Metro, Sobeys, and Walmart Canada, are requiring their pork suppliers to phase out inherently cruel gestation crates. These restrictive crates, which prevent pregnant pigs from turning around or lying down comfortably for nearly their entire lives, have been widely condemned as one of the cruelest factory farming practices in the world.
The announcement comes after Mercy For Animals Canada released hidden-camera video from an undercover investigation at Puratone, a major Canadian pork supplier, and pressured Loblaws, Metro, Sobeys, and Walmart Canada to do away with gestation crates in their pork supply chains. Showing thousands of pregnant pigs confined for life inside filthy, metal gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies, the shocking expose received national media attention and prompted tens of thousands of Canadians to demand Canadian grocery retailers cut ties with particularly cruel pork producers.
MFA is now calling on Walmart here in the United States to quickly follow the lead of Walmart Canada and more than 50 other major food retailers in North America, by committing to end the use of cruel gestation crates in its pork supply chain. Multiple undercover investigations by Mercy For Animals at Walmart pork suppliers in the United States have revealed thousands of pigs crammed inside these metal torture boxes. As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart has the power and the responsibility to end the sale of crated pork.
Watch video footage from MFA's latest Walmart pork investigation here:
While grocery retailers can help put an end to some of the most egregiously cruel factory farming practices, consumers can also help prevent needless cruelty to animals every time they sit down to eat by adopting a healthy and humane, vegan diet.
Our amazing volunteer, Jenni Rempel, put together this fantastic guest blog for us. Check it out!
This was a busy weekend for Mercy For Animals as Earth Day and green living celebrations were in full swing. MFA appeared at 11 events across the nation, everywhere from Seattle, Omaha, and Dallas to Phoenix, Cleveland, and New York City.
Numerous volunteers joined in MFA's Paid-Per-View outreach, persuading hundreds of people to watch our Farm to Fridge video, and educating people of all ages about the sad realities of factory farming. We were hard at work passing out Vegetarian Starter Kits and sharing information about all of the green and ethical reasons to go vegan.
This weekend we also celebrated the launch of our latest campaign, The New Three Rs, which informs people of the importance of reducing their meat consumption and the role it plays in environmental protection. Many people pledged online to rethink their diets via MFA's new website.
Success stories of vegan athletes seeking optimal nutrition or to align their values with their diets are becoming ever more common. From world-class professional boxers to mixed martial artists to ultramarathoners, the sports world shines with examples of the benefits of plant-based living.
Owens recognized health problems in his family and community and upon research determined that these diseases were preventable. "Culturally, there needs to be a change, and why not start with myself?"
Believe it or not, the game is slowly but surely transitioning over into a clean eating, conscious lifestyle," Owens told Jacksonville's local Fox news. Of the growing popularity of healthier eating in the NFL, Owens stated: "Football's a game of inches, and if you're one inch in front of somebody that's the difference between a win or a loss." According to an article titled "Going Vegan in the NFL" in Men's Journal, "In the past few years, teams have added salad bars, juicers, and plant-based superfoods like kale, quinoa, almond butter, and whole-wheat pasta to their cafeterias."
"The evidence is there that this is healthy," future surefire Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez said. "I have more energy right through the fourth. It can be a matter of seconds if you catch the ball or miss it. The guy who's eating the steak is sluggish in the fourth quarter. I want to be 100 percent."
Whether you're an elite athlete or just a diehard fan, you can learn more about healthy and humane vegetarian eating by visiting ChooseVeg.com or ordering your free Vegetarian Starter Guide.
Growing more desperate by the year, the factory farming industry has been working overtime to keep the public from learning about the widespread animal abuse in the meat, egg, and dairy industries. To this end, Big Ag has pressured 11 states to introduce "ag-gag" bills aimed at criminalizing undercover investigations and silencing those who dare to expose cruel, corrupt and even illegal practices at factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Due in large part to the compassionate MFA supporters who called and emailed their legislators, and the behind-the-scenes efforts of a broad coalition of national groups, many of the shameful attempts by pro-factory farming legislators to criminalize undercover investigations have stalled out.
Unfortunately, ag-gag bills in North Carolina, Indiana and Tennessee are active and, in some cases, dangerously close to passing. Despite outspoken public criticism and a strong condemnation by the Indianapolis Star, Indiana's ag-gag bill has been passed by the senate and seems likely to pass in the house of representatives soon.
In North Carolina, where a recent MFA undercover investigation at a Butterball factory farm resulted in the arrest and conviction of multiple workers who were caught on video maliciously beating, kicking and stomping on animals, pro-factory farm legislators are pushing hard to pass a bill that would prevent further investigations from exposing cruel and illegal practices at farms in the state.
Finally, just today, Tennessee's ag-gag bill was narrowly approved in the state House by a single vote. The bill will now go to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam, who is expected to sign it.
But the bill hasn't been signed into law yet, and it is still receiving massive public criticism. The Knoxville News Sentinel has announced the newspaper will not obey the law even if it does pass and encourages others to do the same. And, according to the Nashville Scene and other Tennessee news outlets, country music sensation Carrie Underwood was quick to slam the state legislature and vowed to show up at Governor Haslam's doorstep if he doesn't veto the bill.
These desperate measures should make people wonder: What is the factory farming industry trying to hide? See for yourself:
What You Can Do to Help:
If you live in Tennessee, please join Carrie Underwood in calling on Governor Haslam to veto Senate Bill 1248 and House Bill 1191. His office can be reached at 615-741-2001 and at email@example.com.
If you live in North Carolina, use this interactive map to find and contact your state legislators to urge them to reject Senate Bill 648.
In Indiana, please click here to contact your representatives and urge them to reject Senate Bill 373.
Please share this video with as many people as you can and help expose the cruel and corrupt practices of the factory farming industry.
Choose Vegetarian - Each time we eat, we can choose kindness over cruelty. Adopting a diet free of meat, dairy, and eggs is the single most powerful action you can take to prevent needless cruelty to farmed animals. Visit ChooseVeg.com for free recipes, tips on making the switch, and more.
Walmart executives can't escape Mercy For Animals and our campaign to protect pigs. On Sunday, MFA ran its third, full-page newspaper ad calling out the company for supporting animal abuse, and our campaign to convince the world's largest retailer to ditch pork suppliers who keep pigs immobilized in tiny crates continues to roll on.
A provocative MFA mobile billboard has been circling Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, every single day this workweek. The billboard features images from a shocking MFA investigation into a Walmart pork supplier, boldly declaring 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 bears heartbreaking photos of sows locked inside narrow gestation crates.
Paying its second visit to Walmart's HQ, MFA's billboard focuses on the inherently cruel practice of confining pregnant pigs in cramped gestation crates--metal enclosures barely larger than the animals' own bodies and so restrictive the animals can't turn around, lie down comfortably, walk, play, or engage in other natural behaviors.
See what life is like for pigs raised and killed for the pork sold in Walmart stores:
As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart has the power and the responsibility to eliminate this outdated and abusive practice from its supply chain. Yet, Walmart is one of the few major retailers that have yet to implement policies requiring their pork suppliers to phase out the cruel practice. More than 50 major food providers, including Walmart's greatest competitors Costco, Target, Kroger, and Safeway, have committed to phasing out gestation crates.
Please join MFA's Walmart campaign today and ask the company's executives Mike Duke, Bill Simon, and Doug McMillon to stop supporting cruelty to animals. Get involved at WalmartCruelty.com.
Earth Day, April 22nd, is the perfect opportunity to take stock of the many ways we can do our part to protect the planet. While conversations about eco-friendly choices are often limited to light bulbs, recycling, carpooling, and shorter showers, each of us can make a much greater difference every time we sit down to eat simply by choosing vegetarian meals.
To understand why meat is so bad for the environment, you first need to know how it is produced before it ever gets to a supermarket or restaurant.
Each year in the United States, over eight billion land animals are raised on factory farms to meet the high demand for meat, dairy, and eggs. Obviously, each of these animals must eat and drink large daily amounts of food and water, which is the source of the first major environmental problem: inefficient use of natural resources. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, to produce one pound of animal protein it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuels, and 15 times as much water as it does to produce one pound of soy protein.
In fact, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, raising animals for food--including land used for grazing and land used to grow feed crops for farmed animals--now uses a staggering 30% of the Earth's land mass. The World Bank reports that the majority of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down to graze cattle and to grow feed for farmed animals, and that this deforestation is a major contributor to climate change.
Thankfully, more and more people--from celebrities to athletes to legislators--are leaving meat off of their plates and embracing delicious vegetarian meals. Eating veg meals has never been easier or more tasty, with meat-free and vegan options widely available around the country. There are even cruelty-free versions of traditional favorite foods, such as veggie burgers, almond milk, vegan chicken nuggets, and soy- or coconut milk-based ice cream.
For recipes, tips, and resources on incorporating healthy, humane, and delicious vegetarian meals into your diet for Earth Day or any day, order your free Vegetarian Starter Kit and visit ChooseVeg.com.
A new report released by the Food and Drug Administration revealed that of all the raw, ground turkey the FDA tested, a whopping 81% was tainted with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In more alarming news, the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System claims that its own tests determined that antibiotic-resistant bacteria was present in 69% of pork chops, 55% of ground beef, and 39% of chicken.
Scientists agree that this proliferation of superbugs is the result of antibiotic overuse on factory farms. In fact, the Pew Charitable Trusts concluded that in the United States, 80% of all antibiotics used are given to farmed animals. While these drugs are sometimes used to prevent and treat illness in farmed animals, low doses of antibiotics are also administered to make animals grow more quickly and to compensate for unhygienic conditions. These low doses are non-lethal and allow bacteria to mutate and become resistant.
Dawn Undurraga, a nutritionist who works with the Environmental Working Group, asserts that our consumption of meat is adding to the "post-antibiotic era"--a time in which antibiotics will no longer be effective in curing diseases because too many microbes have developed a resistance to them.
Imagining a world in which common infections like strep throat are not easily treatable is deeply disturbing. The best way to ensure that antibiotics aren't being misused on factory farms is to boycott animal-based foods altogether.
For a glimpse of the filthy and inhumane conditions endured by animals on factory farms, click here. To learn how to transition to a healthy, compassionate, vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.
We were thrilled when Jenna Cameron, a vegetarian since she was just 12, contacted us to become an MFA volunteer! Whether she was tabling at college events, leafleting, or helping us around the Chicago office, Jenna proved she was an incredible and dedicated animal activist. We recently chatted with Jenna to ask about her experience volunteering with MFA.
What first inspired you to become a vegan?
I became a vegetarian when I was about 12 years old, along with my mom. I have been a huge animal lover for as long as I can remember. When I moved away to attend college, I started doing more research on issues like factory farming. As soon as I discovered the horrors of the dairy industry, I went vegan. I began hosting vegan dinner parties for my college friends, making vegan cupcakes on Valentine's Day, and giving speeches and presentations on factory farming. I have been vegan now for about four years and can honestly say it's the best decision I have ever made.
What are some of your favorite foods?
Since going vegan, I have really started to love cooking. Some of my favorite things to make are roasted vegetables with quinoa, kale chips, and sweet treats for my friends and family. But if I do go out to eat, I love vegan sushi. Avocado rolls, miso soup, and edamame are all I need in life!
Why did you choose to volunteer with MFA?
Mercy For Animals helps animals in so many different ways, through groundbreaking undercover investigations, leafleting across the nation at college campuses and festivals, marching in parades, vegan food events, tabling, and more. I chose to volunteer with MFA to be a better advocate for animals, learn more about the organization, and help a great cause.
What did you like most about volunteering with MFA?
I loved the variety of things I was able to accomplish as an MFA volunteer. I helped do research for important projects, stayed up-to-date on the animal welfare community, helped organize volunteers, tabled at colleges, and of course, leafleted! I also loved meeting so many other amazing activists, as well as the MFA staff and volunteers.
What is the key to your success as an activist?
It's all about attitude. When doing an outreach event, putting a big ol' smile on your face and being enthusiastic not only makes your day better, but makes other people more likely to respond! Also, stay informed. Learn as much as possible, so if someone does strike up a conversation, you will have plenty of talking points. And of course, eat lots of vegan food. Then you will know where to send people for dinner!
Can you offer any insight for others interested in becoming involved with animal rights activism?
The best way to get involved is to volunteer with a group like MFA. Sign up for events in your area, apply for an internship, help out at a leafleting event, or order some literature and set up an event of your own! Promote links or blogs you like on Facebook or Twitter and cook vegan food for your family (and take pictures). There are tons of ways to get involved and you will not only help a great cause, but grow as an individual.
Feeling inspired? Click here to learn more about volunteering with MFA!
This morning, Walmart executives and Benton County Daily Record readers in Bentonville, AR, were greeted with a Mercy For Animals advertisement that reveals the abusive farming practices in Walmart's pork supply chain. The provocative, full-page ad calls out Walmart for continuing to work with pork suppliers that use gestation crates--tiny cages that trap pregnant pigs in spaces so small they are barely able to move for nearly their entirely lives.
See the full ad here:
These intelligent and social animals are forced to suffer because Walmart refuses to take a stand that all of its major competitors already have. More than 50 major food providers, including Walmart's greatest competitors Costco, Target, Kroger, and Safeway, have committed to phasing out gestation crates. As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart's decision to phase out gestation crates could finally put an end to this inherently cruel practice. With this simple commitment from Walmart executives, pigs raised in the United States would finally be able to turn around, extend their limbs, lie down comfortably, and engage in natural behaviors.
See for yourself the abusive practices that Walmart executives continue to support in this undercover video recently shot at one of Walmart's major pork suppliers:
Please join MFA's Walmart Cruelty campaign and demand that Walmart put a stop to confinement of mother pigs in cruel crates--a practice that has already been banned by the entire European Union and nine US states. Your email will go directly to Walmart executives Mike Duke, Bill Simon, and Doug McMillon. Take action at WalmartCruelty.com.
Five workers at Wyoming Premium Farms have been found guilty of criminal cruelty to animals following an undercover investigation by The Humane Society of the United States. The workers were caught on hidden camera violently kicking live piglets like soccer balls, swinging sick piglets in circles by their hind legs, and striking mother pigs with their fists, among other horrific abuses.
At the time of the investigation, this factory farm was supplying pigs to Tyson Foods, one of Walmart's main pork suppliers. In addition to suffering the sadistic acts of cruelty that led to these criminal convictions, pregnant pigs at this facility were forced to spend nearly their entire lives crammed in filthy, metal gestation crates barely larger than their own bodies. Mercy For Animals investigations at multiple Walmart pork suppliers have uncovered similar abuses. Visit WalmartCruelty.com to learn more and take action!
Watch the hidden-camera video that led to the convictions here:
Confining pigs in gestation crates so small they can't even turn around is so patently cruel the practice has been banned in nine US states, and nearly 50 major food providers, including McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Oscar Mayer, Jimmy Dean, and Bon Appetit, have committed to ending the use of these cruel crates in their pork supply chains.
Yet, rather than improve conditions for pigs and other farmed animals, pro-factory farm legislators in Wyoming and some other states are trying to outlaw investigations that uncover cruelty to animals and other criminal activities at factory farms and slaughterhouses. These legislators don't want to stop animal abuse; they just want to stop consumers from finding out about it.
In January, the Wyoming House of Representatives introduced House Bill 126. If passed, this bill would make it a crime to "knowingly or intentionally" record images at a factory farm without the owner's consent, effectively outlawing the type of undercover work that led to the criminal convictions of these five workers at Wyoming Premium Farms.
Factory farms clearly have a lot to hide if they are willing to go to these despicable measures to conceal their cruel practices from public view. But concerned consumers can safeguard their own health and help prevent needless cruelty and violence to animals by choosing vegetarian alternatives to meat, milk, and eggs. Visit ChooseVeg.com for helpful tips and recipes!
Bestselling author and food journalist Mark Bittman discusses the fast food industry's movement to incorporate healthy, sustainable, humane, and veg-friendly options in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. The feature article entitled "Yes, Healthful Fast Food is Possible. But Edible?" heralds the great news that more and more vegan restaurants and tasty meat- and dairy-free menu options are popping up across the country.
The trends for a healthier lifestyle are clear. "Soda consumption is down; meat consumption is down; sales of organic foods are up; more people are expressing concern about G.M.O.s, additives, pesticides and animal welfare," says Bittman. And this movement for healthier, veg-friendly food is making it ever easier to find delicious vegan options everywhere, with some of the most popular vegan restaurants expanding by leaps and bounds all over the United States.
Of the restaurants featured in the article, it's clear that Bittman is most taken with the success of Veggie Grill, a 100%-vegan restaurant and MFA favorite that aims to double its "18 locations every 18 months for the foreseeable future." One of Veggie Grill's investors Rahul Aggarwal even admits: "Ten years ago I would've said no vegan restaurant would be successful, but people are looking for different ways to eat and this is a great concept." Veggie Grill's success is a true sign of the times. The high demand for vegan options among vegan, vegetarian, and veg-curious consumers is even more evidence that meat consumption is on a speedy decline.
Bittman shares some of his favorite vegan menu finds, which include Veggie Grill's "crab" cake, the seitan "meatball" sub by Native Foods, Lyfe's beet-and-farro salad, and even Taco Bell's fresco menu with pico de gallo in place of dairy. To read the complete article, including Bittman's favorite homemade recipes for bean burgers and sweet potato fries, visit the New York Times online.
To find out why so many people are leaving meat off of their plates, and how you can too, please visit ChooseVeg.com.
Meat eaters may have another reason to fret over heart disease besides saturated fat and cholesterol. Researchers with the Section of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic have recently discovered that carnitine, a substance found in meat, may cause hardening of the arteries when broken down by specific bacteria during digestion.
Additionally, the more meat people eat, the more vulnerable they are to carnitine's harmful effects. That's because as people consume meat, the bacteria needed to break down carnitine multiplies, and hence creates more of the harmful compound that leads to hardened arteries. Stanley Hazen, who authored the study, explains, "A diet high in carnitine actually shifts our gut microbe composition to those that like carnitine, making meat eaters even more susceptible."
This has led some scientists to wonder whether this is the key to lower rates of heart disease in vegans and vegetarians. It's been speculated that the absence of dietary cholesterol and lower amounts of saturated fat in a vegan diet alone would have heart health benefits, but a lower level of digestive bacteria that converts carnitine into a dangerous compound may also play a huge role.
Luckily, none of us has to worry about such health risks if we just make the compassionate choice to eat a healthy and humane vegan diet. For more information on how to make the switch, visit ChooseVeg.com.
It seems the meat industry has bitten off more than it can chew as media outlets across the country line up in firm opposition to ag-gag laws aimed at keeping Americans in the dark about where their food comes from and how animals are abused on factory farms. Following a front page story in the Sunday edition of its national paper, the New York Times editorial board strongly condemned these laws as "exactly the wrong solution to a problem entirely of big agriculture's own making."
The so-called "ag-gag" laws now being considered by several states, including California, Illinois and Indiana, have nothing to do with protecting property. Their only purpose is to keep consumers in the dark, to make sure we know as little as possible about the grim details of factory farming. ... The ag-gag laws guarantee one thing for certain: increased distrust of American farmers and our food supply in general.
Time and time again, factory farmers have proven to be incapable of self-regulation as evidenced by Mercy For Animals investigations exposing routine and egregious cruelties that shock and horrify most Americans. Animal cruelty runs rampant on factory farms, and the industry knows it. Rather than improve conditions for animals, pro-factory farm legislators are attempting to silence individuals who seek to expose and stop animal abuse. But we don't have to take this lying down.
What You Can Do to Help:
Expose Factory Farm Cruelty - Please share this video with as many people as you can and help expose the cruel and corrupt practices of factory farming industries.
Choose Vegetarian - Each time we eat, we can choose kindness over cruelty. Adopting a diet free of meat, dairy, and eggs is the single most powerful action you can take to prevent needless cruelty to farmed animals. Visit ChooseVeg.com for free recipes, tips on making the switch, and more.
Public awareness of ag-gag legislation--laws that seek to put an end to undercover investigations inside factory farms--got a major boost this past weekend when the New York Timesran an article on the front page of its Sunday edition.
In "Taping of Farm Cruelty Is Becoming the Crime," journalist Richard A. Oppel, Jr., exposes the meat industry's efforts to silence animal activists simply looking to reveal the truth about what goes on behind closed doors on today's animal farms. He mentions MFA's undercover investigation inside Sparboe Farms, which exposed workers burning off the beaks of chicks without painkillers, sadistically and maliciously torturing animals, and throwing live birds into plastic bags and leaving them to suffocate. The article quotes MFA's general counsel Vandhana Bala, who asserts that ag-gag legislation has definitely had a "chilling effect" on the ability to conduct undercover investigations.
Just this past year, laws passed in Iowa, Utah, and Missouri made it virtually impossible to conduct undercover investigations without breaking the law. Similar laws are now being introduced in several other states.
For over ten years, Mercy For Animals has exposed horrendous animal cruelty through our hidden-camera exposés. We've documented patterns of abuse that have brought criminal and felony charges against perpetrators. We've also motivated major companies to change their corporate policies with regard to animal welfare. In addition, MFA investigators have uncovered unsanitary conditions that could have led to serious human health risks.
Ag-gag laws serve only one purpose: to protect the industries that profit off of animal exploitation and abuse. They are a threat to the animals, who suffer daily, and a threat to human health.
Play ball! A new baseball season is upon us, and every team has dreams of making it to the World Series. Thankfully, at every Major League Baseball game, veg-friendly food options are available to keep compassionate and health-conscious fans of America's pastime happy and full while rooting for their favorite teams.
An indication of the national mainstream popularity of vegetarianism, this season every single MLB game day will include veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs, both, or other exciting veggie options!
Attendees of the San Francisco Giants game will not only enjoy delicious Field Roast brand veggie dogs and burgers, but also thai yellow curry with tofu, edamame, vegetarian pot stickers, veggie tamales, tomato bisque soup, grilled vegetable sandwiches, and more!
Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals--winners of the World Series in 2011 (when they were managed by vegetarian, animal advocate, and future Hall-of-Famer Tony LaRussa)--can indulge in Busch Stadium's vast array of incredible vegan options: southwest chipotle veggie chicken sandwiches, asian vegetable stir fries, wild mushroom and potato hash, pasta with marinara sauce, fresh wraps, and more!
And crowds at the Detroit Tigers game can partake of veggie italian sausage, vegan riblet sandwiches, vegetarian sushi platters, and veggie trays with hummus, just to name a few of the event's fabulous vegan offerings!
Is it a coincidence that some of the best teams in baseball also have the best vegan options at their games?
Premiering this season at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs--notorious for not winning the World Series since 1908--is a new veggie hot dog to go along with the ballpark's other vegetarian items, which include a "Sloppy Jane" sandwich made from barbecue tempeh. Maybe word is out that there could be a correlation between great vegan options and success in the field?
Need some inspiration to get active for farmed animals? Look no further than Chicago's incredible biking team F.A.S.T.--Five Activists Standing Together. John, Jamie, and Mary Jungenberg, Kevin Cooney, and Rachel Shippee take their bikes to the streets to raise awareness about the plight of animals raised for food. Having traveled literally hundreds of miles, this dream team shows no signs of slowing down. We recently spoke with F.A.S.T. about activism, volunteering for MFA, and of course, what they eat on the road.
What sparked your interest in helping farmed animals?
Mary: I have always loved and respected all species of animal. My primary focus is farmed animals because they comprise 99 percent of the animals that are abused in the world. Our family had the opportunity to visit Farm Sanctuary in New York last summer for several days. We were able to spend a considerable amount of time with many of the animals. I will never forget the beautiful cows, goats, sheep, turkeys, and pigs there. They all gave me so much to work for.
How did F.A.S.T. all come together?
Rachel: F.A.S.T. is a creative and fun way to gain attention for an extremely important issue. Not only is it a unique way to travel such a long distance, it's healthy, good for the environment, and we love biking! The idea for the group was spearheaded by John, and from there it's been a combined effort from all members to get this project off the ground. We each have our specific roles, and are extremely dedicated to the project and our mission.
What do you like most about volunteering with MFA?
Jamie: I love knowing I'm actually making a difference in the world. It's often the simplest things--handing out some leaflets, or showing people a four-minute video about factory farming--that make the biggest difference!
What do you feel is the key to success as an activist? Can you give any tips to people wanting to become more involved in farmed animal activism?
John: I think the key to activism is really just getting out there. Once you get used to it you figure out what works best for you. Everyone has their own special talents that they will discover when they start doing activism. Some people will be best at leafleting, some will be best at Paid-Per-Views, and some at protesting.
Activism may seem daunting at first, but just consider how much the animals need your help. Just jump in, and shortly activism will become second nature!
Can you give an example of an interaction you had with someone that was especially uplifting?
Jaime: At a Paid-Per-View event, I had several people watch a four-minute edit of the Farm to Fridge video and tell me they were going vegan or vegetarian. It's incredible to think that a vegan spares 90 animals per year, so that event alone saved hundreds of animals!
Do you find that volunteering takes less work than you initially thought it would?
Kevin: Yes! I can volunteer as my schedule permits. When I am volunteering and interacting with others, it hardly seems like work.
Can you tell us some of your favorite on-the-go foods and restaurants?
Rachel: Apples, bananas, almonds, and granola bars are my favorite on-the-go snacks. When I'm in the city I always make it a point to visit either the Chicago Diner or Native Foods for amazing vegan food.
A fantastic new piece by Voice of America not only details the per capita decline in meat consumption--a six percent drop between 2006 and 2010, the largest since recordkeeping began in 1970--it profiles Joe Yonan, the award-winning food editor of the Washington Post, who recently became vegetarian.
Yonan remarks, "I think meat can be beautiful. I think meat can be delicious. I just don't want to eat it." While many of us would disagree that meat is beautiful and/or delicious, this is a significant statement coming from one of the most influential food journalists in the country. Yonan cited health concerns and overexposure to meat as his reasons for going veg.
But Yonan is not alone. "I get a lot of emails from people saying, 'I'm not vegetarian, but I'm trying to do more of that at home,'" he says. Indeed, many people have recently begun to explore vegetarianism. And although the number of vegetarians seems to be growing, it's the flexitarians--people who eat occasional meatless meals--that some think are making the biggest dent in US meat consumption.
Whether people are choosing to reduce their meat intake or cut out meat completely, the result is fewer animals abused on factory farms. To learn more about transitioning to a delicious and healthy, vegetarian diet, visit ChooseVeg.com. To find restaurants in your area that offer amazing plant-based options, check out VegGuide.org.
Earlier today, former Butterball employee Ronnie Jacobs pled guilty to criminal cruelty to animals before Judge John H. Horne in Hoke County, North Carolina. This conviction stems from a Mercy For Animals undercover investigation into a Butterball turkey factory farm in 2011. Butterball is the largest producer of turkey in the United States.
MFA's undercover investigation revealed workers violently kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or into transport trucks in full view of company management. Workers were also caught on hidden camera bashing in the heads of live birds with metal bars, leaving many to slowly suffer and die from their injuries. Video footage shows Butterball turkeys covered in flies and living in their own waste, and severely injured turkeys, unable to stand up or walk, left to die without proper veterinary care.
Watch the undercover footage here:
Today's guilty plea marks the fifth Butterball employee convicted of criminal cruelty to animals following MFA's investigation. In February 2013, defendants Terry Johnson and Billy McBride were found guilty of animal cruelty after a bench trial, and in late 2012, defendants Brian Douglas and Rueben Mendoza also pled guilty to cruelty to animals. Douglas's conviction was the first-ever felony conviction for cruelty to factory-farmed poultry.
"Due to Butterball's lack of meaningful animal welfare policies, training, or procedures, countless turkeys are subjected to horrific cruelty and neglect each year," said MFA's executive director Nathan Runkle. "Our investigation and the resulting convictions make clear that the secret ingredient in Butterball turkeys is criminal animal abuse."
The best thing consumers can do to reject cruelty to farmed animals is to ditch Butterball turkey, and all animal products, by adopting a healthy and compassionate, vegan diet.
David A. Kessler, a former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), took to the pages of the New York Times to air his grave concern over the lack of transparency regarding antibiotic usage on industrial animal farms. According to Kessler, the industry is withholding information on dosage and type of antibiotics fed to farmed animals from the FDA. This has led to a dangerous lack of oversight, as these drugs fed to healthy animals can create a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant "super bacteria" that can infect people.
Antibiotics are often fed to animals at low doses to promote rapid growth and suppress disease. Alexander Fleming, who accepted the Nobel Prize for his discovery of penicillin, warned of the risks of underdosing: "There is the danger that the ignorant man may easily underdose himself and by exposing his microbes to nonlethal quantities of the drug make them resistant." With billions of farmed animals consuming low levels of antibiotics, we can only imagine what superbugs may be on the horizon.
The sad fact is that farmed animals are fed antibiotics in the first place to counteract the abominable conditions in these horrible factory farms. Animals on modern day farms are kept in spaces so small they can't even turn around or lie down comfortably. Many are made to stand in their own feces and urine. This sheer filth, stress, and utter despair create the perfect environment for bacteria to spread.
The best way to protect yourself from disease and prevent cruelty to animals is to leave meat, eggs, and dairy off of your plate. For information on how to transition to a healthy and compassionate, vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.
Billions of animals suffer on factory farms every year, yet most of us rarely get to connect with farmed animals as individuals, each with a unique personality and the desire to enjoy life doing things that come naturally to their species.
Recently, MFA had a special opportunity to help in the rescue of a very lucky piglet named Lucy, who was found running through the streets of Riverside, California. After a kind person rescued her from a local animal shelter and provided a temporary home for her, we jumped at the chance to help this piglet by bringing her to Animal Place, a wonderful farmed animal sanctuary in northern California.
We decided to make a short video of our rescue efforts to remind people that this piglet, Lucy, is no different than the animals that end up on people's dinner tables. In fact, she is no different than the dogs and cats people love. Take a look!
The Epoch Times reports that Olymel, Canada's second-largest pork producer, has agreed to phase out gestation crates for pregnant sows. The company said the decision was inevitable, citing gestation crate bans in the European Union and in several US states, as well as growing demand from customers who want companies to do away with this inhumane practice. The decision also comes only months after a harrowing undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals Canada at Puratone Farms in Manitoba, which received national media attention.
In the United States, almost all major companies, from Safeway and Kroger to McDonald's, have agreed to phase out the use of gestation crates, which confine pigs in spaces so small they can't even turn around or lie down comfortably. However, Walmart, the largest US pork retailer, has refused to budge on the issue. Mercy For Animals has been putting steady pressure on the company to take swift action. From our full-page ads in its hometown newspaper to our Walmart Cruelty Tour, MFA won't rest until Walmart gets on board and does the right thing.
If you'd like to urge Walmart to ditch these cruel crates, sign our petition and share this video narrated by The Price Is Right's Bob Barker.
To learn more about totally leaving meat off your plate, visit ChooseVeg.com.
Bill Gates, founder and ex-CEO of software giant Microsoft, has just released details of his new project entitled "The Future of Food."
With meat consumption expected to double by 2050 and limited resources available to raise animals for food, the future lies with companies that are able to produce healthful, plant-based alternatives to meat and eggs in a sustainable manner. As Bill Gates writes, "The meat market is ripe for reinvention."
And there are many other individuals who share his view. Various venture capitalists have begun funding environmentally conscious, animal-friendly food companies in the hopes of saving the planet's dwindling resources. An article by Bloomberg Business Week spotlights several ventures that may change the way we all eat, especially when it comes to meat, dairy, and eggs. "It's not just fake meat. The goal is to have a no-compromise solution," says Amol Deshpande, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins.
Companies such as Beyond Meat are already producing faux meat with a texture and taste so close to the real thing that many experts have been fooled by this innovative product. In Europe, the Like Meat project has been developing meat analogues with "excellent, well-accepted texture, juiciness, appearance and aroma based on plant proteins."
Eggs are also getting a makeover; Hampton Creek, the company behind Beyond Eggs, is working with the company's over 20 employees towards a cholesterol-free, plant-based product to replace eggs in everything from omelets to cookies. At a recent conference, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bill Gates were presented with muffins made with Beyond Eggs and then asked to compare the muffins to ones made from eggs. Neither could tell the difference.
By attracting such high-profile interest and tremendous capital, faux meat products and egg substitutes are poised to continue a rapid growth. As more and more substitutes are being developed, factory-farmed meat and eggs might soon become a thing of the past.
Luckily, consumers don't have to wait for these products to be developed and experiments to be finalized to start saving the environment and helping animals. Going vegetarian has never been easier with so many delicious meat alternatives already on the market, including Gardein, Tofurky, Yves, and Sol Cuisine. For a host of delicious recipes, and for tips on transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle, visit ChooseVeg.com.