May 2013 Archives


cow.jpgMFA volunteer Jenni Rempel gives us the scoop on rising beef prices.

Several prominent news sources have recently reported on the skyrocketing prices of beef in the United States.

According to the Wall Street Journal, wholesale costs for beef recently broke records, ringing in at the most expensive prices in a decade. NBC News online corroborates this beef price spike in a similar story published earlier this month. These higher prices are attributed to years of drought in cattle-producing states, which have forced farmers to reduce the national cattle herd to its smallest numbers in six decades.

Perhaps the rising cost of beef is just one of the reasons that meat consumption has been on a downtrend in recent years. Add to that the health and animal welfare concerns associated with eating meat and the switch to a vegetarian diet becomes a no-brainer.

Eating vegetarian is not only easy and delicious, but can also save you money. From buying in bulk to shopping at farmers' markets, it's a snap to prepare healthy and satisfying meals that'll keep you well within your budget.

Visit ChooseVeg.com for inexpensive recipe ideas and for tips on saving cash at the supermarket. Also be sure to order your Vegetarian Starter Kit here.

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pig.jpgPorcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), an illness that causes diarrhea in pigs and can be fatal, has been documented for years in Europe and Asia. Now the virus has spontaneously shown up for the first time on American pig farms.

Hitting five pork-producing states, including Iowa, the number one pork producer in the country, PEDV has sickened thousands of pigs and led to devastating losses--the virus can lead to death in young pigs. Farmers have been left bewildered. "We're just trying to get a handle on what's happening," said Tom Burkgren, executive director of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. "It's like drinking water out of a fire hose. We're getting hits from all over the place."

With the outbreak of H1N1 (swine flu) not too long ago, a virus that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and now PEDV, perhaps it's time that pig farmers started considering the deplorable conditions they force pigs to endure on factory farms, and how it could be negatively affecting the animals' and their own health. Pigs are routinely crammed into gestation crates--cages so small the animals can't even turn around or lie down comfortably. They develop sores and become stressed, which weakens their immune systems. Additionally, they're fed harmful drugs like ractopamine, as well as low doses of antibiotics, which create a breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

You can take a stand against this awfulness every time you sit down to eat. Choosing healthy and compassionate, vegan meals is an excellent way to send a message to farmers that animal abuse has no place in the twenty-first century. For everything you need to get you started, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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AR announcement FB.jpgIn about a month, all the movers and shakers of the animal rights movement will descend on Washington, DC, for one of the most anticipated events of the year: the 2013 Animal Rights National Conference. With over 90 speakers from dozens of organizations, and a plethora of exhibitors, this year's AR Conference promises to be the most exciting yet.

The program begins on the evening of June 27th with a dinner and networking reception. The following three days will be filled with plenaries, talks, and workshops. From social media tactics to how to be an effective letter writer to vegan nutrition, no subject will be untouched.

Mercy For Animals is thrilled to have our executive director, Nathan Runkle, speaking at the conference, as well as Matt Rice, our director of investigations, and Vandhana Bala, MFA's legal counsel.

For more information, including a complete list of speakers and the entire Animal Rights National Conference program, click here. If you can make the conference, don't hesitate--buy your tickets today!

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Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 10.00.13 AM.pngWith Memorial Day just behind us, barbeque season is in full swing. But fans of steak on the grill may end up with more than they bargained for. According to Consumer Reports, machines that tenderize beef can introduce dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli, from the surface of meat to the center where they can be harder to kill.

In fact, over the last ten years, the Centers for Disease Control has documented ten deaths and 174 illnesses caused by mechanically tenderized beef contaminated with E. coli. Consumer Reports is warning beef buyers to beware. With the exception of retail giant Costco, which experienced an outbreak of E. coli linked to its tenderized products in Canada, retailers do not typically label their beef products as tenderized. And tenderization is virtually undetectable by sight.

The federal government is now considering mandatory labeling of tenderized beef by retailers. But the American Meat Institute, a trade association, has historically opposed such mandates.

Tenderized or not, beef is not only contaminated with bacteria, but is also tainted with the abuse and suffering of the animals who were slaughtered for its sale. To protect yourself from falling ill, and animals from being sent to the kill floor, strongly consider adopting a delicious, vegan diet. Learn more at ChooseVeg.com.

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Just weeks after the second leg of our Walmart Cruelty Tour came to a close, Mercy For Animals is back on the road with a strong message to Walmart that its support of inhumane gestation crates will simply not stand.

Tour1.jpgTraveling to over 50 cities in just three months, MFA's national campaign coordinator, Jeni Haines, will take this country by storm, organizing protests and toting a 10-foot-tall, inflatable pig in a gestation crate. Jeni and MFA's incredible team of volunteers are going to show Walmart we mean business.

Tour2.jpgWant to give Walmart a piece of your mind? Join the tour when it comes to your hometown. Find dates and locations on WalmartCrueltyTour.com. If we're not in your neighborhood or you can't make it to a protest, be sure to sign our Change.org petition. Also, let your friends know about the tour by posting the URL to all of your social media sites.

Tour3.jpgRemember, the most powerful step we can take to help stop the torturous animal abuse that is rampant on factory farms is to transition to a compassionate, vegan diet. Check out ChooseVeg.com for tips, tricks, and recipes.

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MFA volunteer, Jenni Rempel, sat down with Kathy Stevens for this fantastic interview. Check it out!

Kathy Stevens is the founder and director of Catskill Animal Sanctuary, a home to rescued farmed animals in the Hudson Valley. Her book, Animal Camp: Reflections on a Decade of Love, Hope, and Veganism at Catskill Animal Sanctuary, has just been re-released with expanded content. MFA interviewed Kathy about her book and the vital work she does at Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

What led you to become an advocate for farmed animals?

I grew up on a farm and have always had a kind of reverence for and kinship with animals. When I was ready to change direction professionally, giving them a voice seemed like the perfect synthesis of my two passions--animals and education.

KathyMain2.jpgWhat inspired you to found Catskill Animal Sanctuary?

The desire to create an organization that would be both a peaceful haven for animals in desperate need and an educational center that would open people's hearts and minds, and then provide them with the tools they needed to begin aligning their lifestyle with their values. It felt super important from the beginning to do both! If we're encouraging folks not to eat animals, we also want to make plant-based eating achievable, fun, healthy, and delicious!

Why are sanctuaries important to ending industrialized animal cruelty?

Enabling people to come face-to-face with their food is the vital role played by sanctuaries. While CAS has saved over 3,000 animals through direct rescue, we've saved far, far more through the "create more vegans" part of our mission. Sanctuaries help people "connect" with who they're eating, and we've seen thousands of times over that this experience, combined with learning more about the horrors of agribusiness, is enough to encourage people to go vegan. And the sanctuaries that provide other "support programs" like we do--Camp Kindness for children and Compassionate Cuisine for adults--do even more to help put an end to industrialized cruelty.

Kathy1.jpg What situations do most of Catskill's animals come from?

Lots of our animals come from the five boroughs of New York City, which I never would have believed when we first began. Many of them are presumably escapees from live markets, but many of the smaller animals are literally found in dumpsters and trash cans. Many others come from cruelty cases after they are seized by police, but the largest percentage of animals comes from animal hoarders who "collect" animals without any ability to care for them whatsoever.

Tell us about your new book, Animal Camp: Reflections on a Decade of Love, Hope, and Veganism at Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

Erin Red of Red Radio (check it out if you don't know her: she's fabulous!) called the book "a love letter" to my animal friends, and I think she's right. It's a collection of essays that can be read in any order about life at Catskill Animal Sanctuary--the adventures and misadventures, the life-changing lessons, the hilarity and the heartache of living and working with farmed animals. But it's also a plea to mainstream America to go vegan...right now.

This new book is an updated version of the previously published Animal Camp. What are the differences between the old book and the newly released edition?

The new book is much more current in that it reflects both where CAS is in 2013 but also the remarkable shift we've seen in America's attitudes toward veganism in the three years since the hardcover was published. It has ten new chapters, including "closure" on the life of a remarkable sheep named Rambo, new photos, a new resource section, a little bit more discussion of the urgent reasons for veganism...and a new subtitle, which I love: Reflections on a Decade of Love, Hope, and Veganism at Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

Kathy4.jpg What is the most rewarding part of your work at the sanctuary?

That's an easy one! Hands down, participating in the transformation of a broken spirit. To be one of the people who says to a terrified animal, with all that we say and do, "you're safe, you're home, and you can be whoever you wanna be." Still, twelve years into this work, that is my greatest joy.

What does 2013 hold for you and Catskill Animal Sanctuary?

Oh my...lots of hard work! I'm doing lots of speaking and presenting, working on the first in a series of children's books, working on plans for our new farm (just down the road from our current one), and trying to write for Huffington Post way more frequently--it's a challenge with all that happens here, but I think it's one of the best ways I can be an effective voice for animals.

CAS is doing all kinds of cool stuff designed to encourage folks in their journey toward veganism. We've moved our annual Shindig to the fall, and folks can expect a greatly expanded event that includes some of the most compelling speakers on farmed animal issues in the world (including someone named Nathan Runkle...name sound familiar?) Our vegan cooking program has expanded in 2013 with lots of guest chefs, and our 200-year-old guest house is filling up quickly for the season. We're also SO EXCITED to welcome 50 third graders from PS 244, the first vegetarian public school in the country, in a few weeks, and, of course, to welcome thousands of folks this summer to meet and experience farmed animals in a way that we hope just may change their lives--or at least their eating habits!

Click here to purchase your copy of Animal Camp: Reflections on a Decade of Love, Hope, and Veganism at Catskill Animal Sanctuary today.

To learn more about making the transition to a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle, visit ChooseVeg.com.

Kathy3.jpg

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chick.jpgThe National Museum of Animals and Society has recently launched a special online exhibit all about chickens, illustrating our treatment and perception of them over time, their behavior and intelligence, and the ways that compassionate people and organizations, including Mercy For Animals, have advocated on their behalf.

Entitled "Uncooped: Deconstructing the Domesticated Chicken," the exhibit aims to "facilitate a dialogue about the ways chickens are perceived and treated in society and offer an opportunity for people to 'get to know' chickens and their little known charisma, complexity and charm."

The exhibit boasts several intriguing features, including an "advocacy timeline," which highlights activist accomplishments on behalf of chickens, such as undercover investigations conducted by MFA and other organizations and the passage of ballot measures to protect hens from cruel battery cages. There is also a fascinating section called "suicide food" that presents cartoon advertisements used by restaurants to depict chickens "as though they wish to be consumed." By trivializing their experiences in this way, such representations desensitize people to the suffering they endure.

Chickens are intelligent, highly social animals. Whenever we eat, we can choose not to support factory farms and slaughterhouses that treat them as mere egg or meat production units that exist solely for profit. To learn how you can help chickens every day, visit ChooseVeg.com or order your free Vegetarian Starter Guide.

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petri.jpgMFA volunteer, Giannina, gives us the skinny on the future of lab-grown meat.

A new piece in the New York Times claims in-vitro meat is closer to becoming a reality than ever before. A future in which consumers could buy lab-grown meat in supermarkets may finally be on the horizon.

According to Neil Stephens, a social scientist at Cardiff University in Wales, there's still "a huge number of things they need to learn." The technology at this point uses animal products such as tissue from the neck of slaughtered cows and fetal calf serum. It also currently costs $325,000 to create one hamburger, which is obviously cost prohibitive.

But scientists are hoping that soon no animal products will be required, resulting in a product that's extremely efficient and environmentally sound. In addition, no farmed animals would have to suffer in order for people to eat meat.

While consumers wait for lab-grown meat to hit the market, the good news is that ethically minded shoppers don't need to wait to start enjoying the wide variety of vegan meat alternatives already on the market. For tips on transitioning to a delicious, veg diet, visit ChooseVeg.org.

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When I was a teenager, I spent most of my summers "doing nothing"--watching TV, playing video games (yes, there were video games back then), and sleeping in for three months. But if there had been a camp out there that would have trained me to make the world a better place for animals, or the environment, or other people, I think it would have totally shifted my sense of my own power to make a difference and bring about change in the world. I certainly would have gotten involved in activism much sooner.

YEA.jpgI started Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp in 2009 wanting to support ambitious and inspired teens who care about what happens to animals, who believe in equality for everyone, and who want to learn more about the interconnection of various social justice issues, which only seem unrelated.

At YEA Camp, teens choose an issue they care about and learn skills like fundraising, how to start a school club, how to use art and social media to raise awareness, and grassroots outreach. They participate in activities that build their self-confidence and courage to effectively speak up for what they believe in. They see examples of inspiring advocates around the world who are making a difference, and they make friends with peers and staff who care about similar issues and will support them to succeed.

YEA1.jpg Oh, and all of YEA Camp's food is vegan. It wouldn't really make sense to have a camp striving to change the world while serving a standard American diet. If only I'd had a chance to go to YEA Camp instead of doing nothing every summer!

Teens can do so much to make a difference in the world. Look no further than Mercy For Animals. Amazingly, MFA was founded in 1999 by Nathan Runkle when he was just 15 years old. If you know any youth 12-17 years of age who might be future changemakers, have them check out YEA Camp.



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pigs478.jpgTitled "How Undercover Animal Rights Activists are Winning the Ag-Gag War," the Village Voice has just published a comprehensive, no-holds-barred takedown of Big Ag's self-destructive attempts to hide its cruel and often illegal practices from the public.

The cover story, penned by award-winning journalist Pete Kotz, profiles several Mercy For Animals investigators and the many times they have gone undercover at factory farms and emerged with images of cruel but standard industry practices that horrify most Americans. These undercover investigations have resulted in landmark animal cruelty convictions, corporate animal welfare policy changes, and heightened consumer awareness about the plights of animals raised and killed for food.

Kotz writes:

Since the Internet first granted activists a direct pipeline to the public, groups like the Humane Society, Mercy [For Animals] and PETA have waged guerrilla war via undercover video. Each time they've uploaded footage, Big Ag has struggled to explain away what Americans could see with their own eyes. Today, the guerrillas are winning.

From the American Legislative Exchange Council, the infamous corporate front group behind model ag-gag legislation, to the "blistering" and "incoherent" rants of the pro-factory farm legislators pushing these dangerous bills, Kotz sees through the industry doublespeak and provides a detailed account of Big Ag's sleazy efforts to keep Americans in the dark and perpetuate institutionalized animal abuse.

Ironically, as the factory farming industry more desperately tries to hide its cruel practices, the more they are exposed.

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.

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vintage-inspired-picnic-wedding-22.jpgOur amazing volunteer, Giannina Gonzalez, helps us plan the perfect spring picnic. Check it out!

Planned or spontaneous, picnics are a fantastic way to enjoy both delicious meals and warm weather. Whether it's in the middle of a school day or during an office lunch break, we can all take advantage of the beautiful spring sunshine through daytime picnicking. Here are my tips on planning the perfect vegan picnic:

  • Haul a hearty sack full of whole wheat bread, vegan deli slices, fruits and veggies, and an assortment of condiments and dips to work or school and invite your colleagues or classmates to join you for lunch at a nearby park. Not only is this an excellent opportunity to introduce school or office mates to the delights of vegan eating, it's also a great way to build camaraderie. I also like to bring along delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies for an extra special treat!
  • Does your nearby park have a grill? Pack ready-to-grill veggie dogs, such as Tofurky Franks or Field Roast Frankfurters. In addition to being easy to cook, these meatless franks are sure to satisfy even the most staunch meat eater.
  • On-the-fly picnic? No worries. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant and pick it up on your way to the park. Big salads and tofu summer rolls make a fabulous springtime combo! Check out VegGuide.org for restaurants in your area that offer vegan options.
  • Weekend picnic with your pup? Check out DogFriendly.com to find parks that allow our canine pals to join in the fun! Be sure to pack doggie treats and plenty of water for your furry friend. (It can get hot out there!) On that note, bring along a pint of SO Delicious Cookie Dough Ice Cream so you can cool down too!
Vegan picnics are a fabulous way to revel in the spring sun, enjoy the company of friends and coworkers, and introduce colleagues to the vast assortment of lip-smacking vegan eats available at their neighborhood grocers. For more tips on creating easy-to-build picnic menus, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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the_blob.jpgFactory farming just got a whole lot creepier and more terrifying. On many pig farms, a mysterious, foam-like substance has been appearing on top of manure pits. This gray, bubbling froth has raised fears among farmers because it can cause deadly explosions.

As manure breaks down, it releases noxious gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide. These gases trapped under foam can lead to sudden and catastrophic eruptions. According to a 2012 report, as of September 2011, half a dozen farms had experienced explosions, including one that killed 1,500 pigs and burned a farm worker.

Scientists and farmers are baffled as to what's creating the foam, which has now emerged at roughly 25 percent of pig factory farms across the country. Larry Jacobson, a university professor who has been studying the issue, has offered one dubious solution; he recommends using an antibiotic called monesin to treat the fecal froth. It's thought that the antibiotic works by altering the microbes present and thereby dissolving the foam.

On a personal note, I had to gag while writing this blog post. I'm sorry, but when you literally have the blob growing out of your poop pit, perhaps it's time to take a step back and reevaluate your operation.

Additionally, the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms has already alarmed doctors and scientists the world over. Dousing combustible fecal foam with pounds and pounds of antibiotics seems like just more recklessness.

Pigs suffer daily in slaughterhouses and on factory farms in horrible gestation crates. Now frothy frights threaten to blow up farmers and animals. Luckily, we can all do something about this by choosing to leave pigs and all other animals off of our plates.

For information on transitioning to healthy and humane, vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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Chicken_-_melbourne_show_2005.jpgA recent Science Daily article details a study published by Environmental Health Perspectives which examines the widespread use of arsenic-based drugs to promote unnaturally rapid growth in chickens.

According to the article, "Chronic inorganic arsenic exposure has been shown to cause lung, bladder and skin cancers and has been associated with other conditions as well, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cognitive deficits, and adverse pregnancy outcomes."

The article further explains that meat from conventionally raised chickens harbors four times more inorganic arsenic than meat from organically raised chickens (in which arsenicals are prohibited from use), showing a clear connection between inorganic arsenic levels in meat and the use of arsenical drugs on farms.

Unfortunately, chickens raised for meat, whether organic or conventional, are subject to much of the same inhumane treatment, including overcrowding, rough handling by workers, and having their throats slit at the slaughterhouse, often while fully conscious.

The best action consumers can take to avoid arsenic-laced chicken and prevent cruelty to animals is to adopt a delicious, plant-based diet. For mouthwatering recipes and tips, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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Lei.jpgNASCAR fans are in for a big surprise on the racetrack. Racer Leilani Munter, who is known for supporting environmental causes, plans to raise more than a few eyebrows when she debuts her "VegNation" racecar to promote a vegan lifestyle.

In a culture that's known more for steak than seitan, Munter is looking forward to opening a dialog with racing enthusiasts about reducing their meat consumption and encouraging them to find vegan alternatives to the foods they already love. Munter explains: "If you were to look at my fridge, it would look very similar to somebody else just down the street. It's just my sausage links will be a vegan version of that."

Many of environmentalist Munter's fans have confided in her that they can't afford expensive electric cars or solar panels and feel frustrated about what they can do to help the planet. She plans on urging people to scale back on eating animal-based products by explaining their negative impacts on the environment and climate change.

She is also happy to talk to people about health and animal cruelty issues as well. "It's just better for our climate, the animals, our own bodies--whatever reason they decide to look at that change, that's what I want to focus on."

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 2.39.25 PM.pngWith support from the nonprofit group 1% for the Planet, NASCAR fans can look forward to VegNation hitting the track later this year. For more on Leilani Munter, visit carbonfreegirl.com. For tips on transitioning to a delicious and green, vegan diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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0714_a01_haslam_color_mug_t618.jpg In a victory for farmed animals in Tennessee and nationwide, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam vetoed the state's ag-gag bill earlier this morning, citing constitutional concerns.

Guised as a "mandatory reporting" law, the ag-gag bill was a desperate attempt by pro-factory farm legislators to prevent the long-term undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses that routinely lead to criminal convictions of animal abusers. The sole purpose of the legislation was to sweep evidence of animal cruelty under the rug, shield animal abusers from public scrutiny, and keep the people of Tennessee in the dark about where their food comes from.

In a statement released this morning, Governor Haslam not only echoed the Tennessee attorney general's opinion that the ag-gag bill violated the First and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution, but also questioned its true intent, acknowledging that the bill actually made it "more difficult to prosecute animal cruelty cases."

Governor Haslam's decision to veto the ag-gag bill comes after a massive outpouring of opposition to the legislation. Thousands of Tennessee residents, joined by celebrities such as Carrie Underwood, Emmylou Harris, and Ellen DeGeneres, called and emailed the governor's office, urging him to veto the bill.

Mercy For Animals praises Governor Haslam for putting the health and safety of Tennessee residents ahead of corporate profits by vetoing this dangerous and un-American legislation.

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2008_03_26-EggFreshness.jpgThe egg industry is notoriously terrible for chickens, but more and more evidence suggests that it is terrible for men's prostates too.

In an article entitled "Choline: Why Eggs May Worsen Prostate Cancer," vegan maven Kathy Freston illuminates the findings of a recent Harvard University study of egg consumption and prostate cancer. The study, detailed in the prestigious American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, determined that men with early-stage prostate cancer, who on average ate at least one egg per day, doubled--yes, doubled--their risk of fatality from the disease.

Researchers believe choline, a naturally occurring compound found predominantly in animal products, accelerates the progression of cancer cells. The men who consumed the most eggs in the Harvard study more than doubled their risk of dying from prostate cancer, increasing their chances by 70%.

These recent findings support previous studies that have shown the benefits of plant-based eating in reducing the risk of prostate cancer.

Reducing, or better yet, eliminating our consumption of eggs and other animal products is not only better for our health, it is also a lifesaver for animals and the planet. Visit ChooseVeg.com for tips, recipes, and resources on transitioning to a healthy and humane, vegan diet.

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baby-chick9.jpgA recent fire at Moark Farms, a southern California egg factory farm, resulted in the heartbreaking deaths of about 100,000 baby chicks, who were just four days old and desperately trapped in the burning building.

Firefighters at the scene were able to put out the blaze before it spread to a second coop, which housed another 100,000 baby chicks. The fire is currently "under investigation," according to the LA Times.

This isn't the first time a Moark Farms factory warehouses has burst into flames. Less than a year before, a Moark facility in Colorado burned to the ground, killing almost half a million chickens. Moark is a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes.

Sadly, there has been a shocking number of fires at egg factory farms around the country that have resulted in the mass deaths of an astonishing number of birds. In May 2011, MFA documented an Ohio barn fire that killed over 80,000 egg-laying hens. Another 250,000 birds had died a year earlier at Ohio's largest egg farm. A 2009 Texas fire caused over 800,000 birds to perish, and yet another in 2010 resulted in the death of a firefighter and countless birds.

The intensive confinement of animals on factory farms also makes them vulnerable to other deadly horrors. A Connecticut egg farm that collapsed in 2011 resulted in the deaths of 85,000 birds. A tornado that hit Buckeye Egg Farm in Ohio caused over a million birds to be trapped in mangled cages without access to food or water, leading the company to dispose of these live animals by throwing them into dumpsters. And just last year, owners of a Turlock egg factory farm abandoned their filthy facility and nearly 50,000 birds, who suffered without food for weeks. This case of neglect led to cruelty to animals charges against two workers.

Tragically, even farmed animals spared from such disasters face misery and doom due to the unconscionable cruelty inherent in factory farming.

Norco Ranch, one of Moark's operating companies, was the subject of an MFA undercover investigation in 2008 that revealed the company's blatant disregard for animal well-being: birds confined in tiny wire cages so small they couldn't walk or engage in other basic behaviors; ill birds denied veterinary care or proper attention; and workers killing birds by grabbing their necks and swinging them around in circles--attempts to break their necks, which often resulted in prolonged, painful deaths for the animals.

Fortunately, we need not support such large-scale, unimaginable suffering. Every time we eat we can choose to withdraw our support from an industry that flagrantly flouts the safety and well-being of the animals in its care. To find delicious, egg-free versions of your favorite foods, from french toast to cookies to egg salad sandwiches, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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Mother's Day is right around the corner, making this the perfect time to honor your mother by helping mothers of all species.

Farmed animals, like all animals, have deep and meaningful bonds with their mothers. Mother hens take their chicks under their wings, providing protection, and chicks spend their first few weeks learning to scratch for food by observing the techniques of their mothers.

hen_chicks.jpgFor cows, the first few minutes after birth can mark the beginning of a lifelong relationship between a mother cow and her calf. Like human mothers, cows carry their young for nine months and they suckle them for nine to twelve months.

Mother.jpgHumans aren't the only species to learn from and admire their mothers, but we are the only species to deny other animals everything that is natural and important to them. Animal agriculture deprives hens of nesting material and a private space for laying an egg. Dairy cows are robbed of their calves so that their milk can be sold for human consumption. Pork producers confine mother sows in crates so small they cannot move for nearly their entire lives.

Tamworth-pig-and-piglet.jpgFortunately, we all have the power to help mothers confined on factory farms by adopting a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle. Visit ChooseVeg.com for delicious recipes to honor all mothers this Mother's Day.

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savings_ahead_266.jpgAfter coming across these great articles on Huffington Post and NutritonFacts.org, I started thinking about all the amazing ways being vegan helps me save money. Here are my top tips for being plant-based on a budget:

  • Cook! You know that big white thing in your kitchen with four burners on top? It's called a stove. Invest a few hours in learning how to use it. Everyone knows that eating in saves tons of cash. Pick up a discounted cookbook or check out ChooseVeg.com for some fast and easy recipes and get cookin'.
  • Make a Shopping List. Sitting down and thinking about what you need from the store will not only help you stay within your budget, it'll keep you from impulse buys once you're at the supermarket. Make a list and stick to it.
  • Back to Basics. The least expensive items in the supermarket are the ones that don't come in a box. Fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, and beans are not only healthy for you, they're also super affordable. Make sure to go online and find a local farmer's market. Befriending a farmer and eating in season are more surefire ways to save cash.
  • Be a Globetrotter. You don't have to travel the world to enjoy international cuisine. From mexican to chinese, try your hand at dishes like bean enchiladas or kung pao tofu. They're easy to prepare, tasty, and inexpensive. Also, look for affordable, vegan-friendly ethnic restaurants in your neighborhood on VegGuide.org.
  • Cook in Large Batches. 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.
  • Plant a Garden. Even if that means just having five pots of nothing but tomatoes. This will save you money in the produce department, and you can't get any more local!
For more delicious vegan recipes and tips on cruelty-free eating, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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May 3, 2013

ACLU Attacks Ag Gag

aclulogo.jpgThe American Civil Liberties Union has come out strong against the wave of unconstitutional ag-gag bills that have been introduced and passed in some states, asserting such laws are "flagrant violations of the First Amendment." The ACLU, a nonpartisan charity dedicated to defending the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, is encouraging Americans to "protect animals and free speech" by fighting the efforts of Big Ag to hide its cruel and often criminal practices from the public.

In a blog post spotlighted on the ACLU's home page, the organization states:

Taken together, these measures--which are law in six states, and have been introduced in 11 others--threaten to virtually eliminate undercover investigations into not just animal abuse, but labor practices, food safety, environmental pollution, and numerous other consumer and public welfare concerns. Worse, many ag-gag laws and bills are quite loose in their definition of agricultural operations, meaning they would cover not only factory farms and slaughterhouses, but even supermarkets and restaurants.

An ag-gag law that was enacted in Utah last year was recently cited to charge a woman for filming a slaughterhouse from the side of a public road. The mayor of Draper, Utah, who not so coincidentally owns the slaughterhouse, may have encouraged the charges, which were dropped following a massive public outcry. This shocking governmental overreach not only proves the intent of these laws is to keep the public from seeing how animals at factory farms and slaughterhouses are routinely abused, but it also prompted the Salt Lake Tribune to suggest federal inspectors take a look at this slaughter facility to determine what it is trying so desperately to hide.

While most of the ag-gag bills introduced in 2013 have been defeated, a bill pending in Tennessee is dangerously close to being signed into law by the governor. If you live in Tennessee, please contact Governor Haslam and ask him to veto Senate Bill 1248 and House Bill 1191. His office can be reached at 615-741-2001 and at bill.haslam@tn.gov.

And in Pennsylvania, an ag-gag bill was introduced yesterday that outlaws the dissemination of factory farm photos or video footage over the internet. This bill would make it a crime to upload and share videos like the one from MFA's 2009 investigation at Pennsylvania's Country View Family Farms, which shows workers throwing live piglets through the air, ripping out their testicles and cutting off their tails without painkillers, and confining thousands of pregnant pigs inside tiny metal gestation crates for nearly their entire lives.

If you live in Pennsylvania, please use this interactive map to find and contact your state legislators and urge them to reject Senate Bill 683.

What Else 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.

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o-NYC-SCHOOL-VEGETARIAN-MENU-facebook.jpgRecognizing the health benefits of vegetarian eating, and that its students enjoy eating meatless meals, elementary Public School 244 in Queens, NY, recently became the first public school in the country to implement an all-vegetarian menu for its cafeteria, drawing the attention of the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, NBC News, and hundreds of other media outlets via the Associated Press.

Active Learning Elementary School, also known as P.S. 244, in Flushing, Queens, has prioritized healthy eating and began offering occasional vegetarian meals. Gradually the school increased its vegetarian meals as it became clear that the students enjoyed the healthier lunches.

"The founding of our school was based on health and nutrition and teaching kids how to make healthy choices in the belief that they would be more successful academically and in their life," school principal and co-founder Robert Groff said. "We discovered early on that our kids were gravitating toward our vegetarian offerings, and we kept expanding the program to meet the demand."

The new veg menu, including meals such as sesame tofu, braised black beans with plantains, and falafel with cucumber salad, has been received very well--much better than the "mystery meat" in a typical school lunch. As nine-year-old Marian Satti squealed to a reporter about her lunch, "This is so good!"

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott had lunch at the cafeteria and praised the effort, calling on other schools to follow P.S. 244's lead. "That's what we want for our students... to make sure they eat healthy both at home and school," he said.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has made healthier eating and addressing childhood obesity a priority, resulting in salad bars at 1,000 city public schools. Plans are in the works to expand this effort such that there will be salad bars at all 1,800 New York City public schools by the end of the next school year.

If you want to start eating as healthy as the kids of P.S. 244, while also helping animals and the planet, you can order a free Vegetarian Starter Guide or visit ChooseVeg.com.

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Guest.jpgOn the heels of the FDA's recent findings that 81 percent of raw, ground turkey is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a new analysis released by Consumer Reports produced this disturbing result:

In our first-ever lab analysis of ground turkey bought at retail stores nationwide, more than half of the packages of raw ground meat and patties tested positive for fecal bacteria. Some samples harbored other germs, including salmonella and staphylococcus aureus, two of the leading causes of foodborne illness in the U.S. Overall, 90 percent of the samples had one or more of the five bacteria for which we tested.

In addition to the new pathogens Consumer Reports detected, its analysis corroborated the FDA's recent findings, as many of the bacteria discovered displayed "a disturbing level of resistance to some conventional antibiotics."

With all this mounting evidence, it's becoming clear that turkey farming is a dirty business. And hygiene is only one problem. Undercover investigations conducted by Mercy For Animals inside turkey factory farms have revealed workers kicking and throwing turkeys, violently slamming them into tiny transport crates, and allowing sick or injured birds to slowly suffer and die without proper veterinary care.

Check out this video obtained by an MFA undercover investigator at a Butterball turkey facility:

 

The good news is that anyone can take a stand against this dreadful industry simply by boycotting its cruel products. For more information on transitioning to a compassionate and delicious, meat-free diet, visit ChooseVeg.com.

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tumblr_inline_mm0h8a2O9x1qz4rgp.jpgAn exciting, new social networking site called Bleat, which caters to vegans, is set to launch today! As its fun promotional video states, the site will "help all vegans live their lives to the fullest, make veganism become more mainstream, and spread the positive message of a healthy meat-free and cruelty-free lifestyle."

Bleat, an international resource created by British vegan advocates, recognizes the benefits of adopting a vegan lifestyle to animals, the environment, and human health. It exists to connect vegans to one another in order to share their knowledge and ideas, as well as to provide a vegan marketplace, health and dietary tips, animal rights news and campaign info, and inspiration to "get the absolute most from your vegan lifestyle."

Bleat also aims "to inform and educate non-vegans on how choosing a healthier, more compassionate, and more environmentally friendly lifestyle can have a massive impact not just on their life but also the planet."

To get onboard with this great new resource from the start, check out www.Ble.at and create a profile.

For more information about a vegan lifestyle, visit ChooseVeg.com or order your free Vegetarian Starter Guide today.

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1workers1.JPGA harrowing story in the Washington Post details the sad demise of Jose Navarro, a federal poultry inspector who died from lung complications at just 37 years old.

Navarro's death triggered a federal investigation into poultry facilities that have increased the use of toxic, antibacterial chemicals. Such chemicals help eradicate contaminants that have increasingly slipped by inspectors as production line speeds have accelerated over the years. The US government is trying to determine whether, and to what extent, Navarro's death was hastened by dangerous agents he was exposed to on the job.

Another disturbing reality of US poultry inspection is the USDA's new guidelines for factory-scale slaughterhouses. Under the old plan, four inspectors were assigned to lines killing 140 birds per minute. But now, only one inspector is appointed to over 175 birds per minute. That means three fewer inspectors for a line that's running 25 percent faster.

Undercover investigations have revealed birds in slaughter facilities having their throats slit while still fully conscious, partly due to high-speed production lines that lead workers to improperly stun some birds and to miss others altogether. More birds are certain to suffer this awful fate with an increased speed of production.

Add to all of this the FDA's most recent findings that 81 percent of raw, ground turkey and 39 percent of chicken is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

The death of Jose Navarro is not only heartbreaking, but also draws attention to the fact that factory farming victimizes both humans and animals. Thankfully, there is something we can do about the industry's cruel and exploitative practices every time we sit down to eat. Switching to a healthy, vegan diet has never been easier. For more information on going veg, visit ChooseVeg.com. For restaurants in your area that offer vegan options, check out VegGuide.org.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2013 is the previous archive.

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