On June 8 in Los Angeles and June 22 in New York, Mercy For Animals celebrated spectacular evenings for our bicoastal summer soiree, Free to Be: A Night for the Animals, honoring Sam Simon and Jane Velez-Mitchell.
Hosted by James Costa and Susan Atherton in Hollywood, and John Bradham in the Hamptons, the events celebrated MFA's important mission and the passion, dedication, and leadership of our honorees. Our gracious hosts once again opened the doors of their incredibly stunning homes to MFA for our guests to mingle amongst the stars!
In Los Angeles, the legendary Bob Barker presented The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon with MFA's Compassionate Leadership Award, honoring Sam for his devotion to farmed animals and tireless animal advocacy efforts, including the Sam Simon Foundation, which works to save the lives of dogs in order to enrich the lives of people. We are proud to honor Sam's leadership and accomplishments, incredible dedication, and tremendous support of MFA.
In New York, NBA champion John Salley presented CNN television journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell with the Compassionate Leadership Award, honoring Jane for her outstanding passion for animals and commitment to using her career influence to inspire millions to make compassionate choices in their lives. We are thrilled to honor Jane for her remarkable passion and dedicated, longtime support of MFA.
The Compassionate Leadership Award acknowledges visionary leaders who are committed to cultivating compassion for farmed animals in the hearts and minds of millions of people. Sam and Jane join an impressive list of change makers, including 2011 honoree Bob Barker and 2012 honorees Russell Simmons and Emily Deschanel.
Artist and sculptor Steve Worthington handcrafted the beautiful bronze and golden award plaques for Sam and Jane. Many thanks to Steve for creating another stunning piece for each of our honorees again this year!
In Hollywood, additional celebrity guests who strutted their stuff for farmed animals on the "MFA-blue" carpet included Drew Carey, Tony Kanal, Moby, Fiona Gubelmann, Jennifer Tilly, Carol Leifer, Alexandra Paul, Rory Freedman, Lou Wegner, Daphne Wayans, Simone Reyes, Dr. Jenn Berman, and Seba Johnson.
Silent auction items featured in Los Angeles and New York included stunning framed photography by Host Committee member Susan Weingartner, exquisite jewelry from the Michael Taylor collection, a gift certificate for a weekend at the Stanford Inn by the Sea, a watch package from Host Committee member Gene Stone (including a stainless steel Hamilton Valiant watch), a gift certificate for a pair of fabulous luxury vegan shoes by Rebecca Mink of Mink Shoes, and many other impressive items generously donated by leading cruelty-free companies and compassionate individuals.
Each guest received a beautiful parting gift of Vegan Vine wine glasses, stuffed with delicious vegan coconut milk caramels (Cocomels) by JJ's Sweets.
Thanks to the enormous generosity of our honorees, presenters, guests, and supporters, we raised over $450,000 for MFA's campaigns, programs, and initiatives. A huge thank you to our hosts, sponsors, honorees, presenters, guests, auction donors, and bidders, and new and longtime supporters alike--we are truly grateful.
If you weren't able to attend either of the Free to Be events, but would like to become an MFA member or support our work, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.
Being a farmed animal advocate can be serious work. Luckily, there are many hilarious veg comedians who use their talents not only to provide comic relief, but to help raise awareness about the plight of animals on factory farms. Check out some of our favorites!
Ellen DeGeneres has been a voice for animals for many years. In fact, EllenTV.com is an entire website devoted to going vegan. Ellen will also literally be the voice of fish Dory in Finding Dory, the sequel to Finding Nemo, which is slated for release in 2015.
From the stand-up circuit, New York-based vegan comedian Myq Kaplan has released a comedy CD called Vegan Mind Meld, available now on iTunes. Myq has appeared on the David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, and Craig Ferguson shows, as well as on Comedy Central.
Radio host and stand-up comic Jamie Kilstein is outspoken about his desire to end animal suffering. He even includes a statement about his stance on animal rights on his website. Jamie has appeared on Conan and many other television programs. Check him out daily on Citizen Radio with cohost and contributing reporter for the Nation, Allison Kilkenny.
Other comedians who have chosen to help stop animal cruelty by adopting a veg lifestyle include Russell Brand, Kevin Nealon, and Sarah Silverman. Join them and others by making the compassionate choice to adopt a plant-based diet. Get tips, recipes, and nutritional information at ChooseVeg.com and order your free Vegetarian Starter Guide today!
Nine-year-old Noah Koch from Waterville, Maine, is taking a trip Washington, DC, to meet First Lady Michelle Obama courtesy of his very own culinary creation: Vegan Powerhouse Pesto Pasta.
The young, emerging chef recently entered a national nutritious food contest. His dish was chosen as a winner out of 1,300 entries.
"I've always wanted to go to the White House, and my mom told me about this contest where the grand prize is you get to meet First Lady Obama at the White House," Koch said.
Koch's family strives to eat a primarily vegan diet due to health concerns. Koch said he was super excited to take a classic recipe that usually calls for cheese and load it up with superfoods. His pesto uses avocados, walnuts, tomatoes, and white beans. It's served over gluten-free pasta.
Tonya Steele, editor in chief for Epicurious.com, helped organize the contest. She said winning recipes had to meet USDA MyPlate recommendations, and be original and affordable. Of Koch's pesto dish, Steele gushed that it was "extremely good" and "tasted very fresh."
This isn't the first time a vegan dish has been nationally recognized. Both vegan cookbook author Chloe Coscarelli and vegan bakery Papa Ganache took top prize for their cruelty-free creations in recent years on the Food Network's Cupcake Wars.
MFA volunteer Jenni Rempel fires off some tips for getting active on the job.
You can still work for animals without pursuing a career in animal rights. Check out these great tips for promoting compassionate living at your job.
Leave literature. Perhaps your workplace has a waiting area, break room, or cafeteria. When appropriate, leave leaflets and animal rights reading materials around for your coworkers and clients to browse. Order some today! The new Vegetarian Starter Guide is also a great resource to place in common areas.
Share through social media. Consider using social media with your office mates to promote compassion for animals. Check out Mercy For Animals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr for posts you can share.
Ask about corporate matching programs. Work for a big company? Many corporations from American Express and Coca Cola to Yahoo! will match your donations to Mercy For Animals. Consult your human resources department for details.
Petition people. Most people are opposed to animal cruelty. Consider sharing Mercy For Animals campaigns such as Amazon Cruelty and Walmart Cruelty, both of which feature easy-to-sign petitions against torture and exploitation of animals.
Want to go a step beyond your office? Consider volunteering for Mercy For Animals or check here for employment opportunities.
In a new study released last week, researchers from Harvard revealed that an increase in red meat consumption is directly related to an increased risk of diabetes.
The research showed that those who increased their red meat consumption by just 1.5 ounces a day had a 48 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. The risk was highest when processed meats, such as hot dogs and bacon, were consumed. Comparatively, those who cut back on red meat had a 14 percent decreased risk of developing the disease.
Regarding type 2 diabetes, the researchers concluded that their results added "further evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time confers benefits for prevention."
Even better than limiting red meat consumption is forgoing all meat entirely. Another recent study, conducted by Loma Linda University, showed that adopting a vegetarian diet may not only keep you healthy, but may increase longevity as well.
MFA volunteer Caroline Sanchez gives us the low down on chicken intelligence.
How many people do you know who compete over whose toddler is smarter? How about whose dog is smarter? Well, a recent study revealed that chickens may be more intelligent than both.
According to Christine Nicol, a professor of animal welfare at Bristol University and head of the study, chickens are capable of mathematical reasoning and logic, including numeracy, self-control, and even basic structural engineering. These traits are not seen in children until the age of four.
"Studies over the past 20 years have revealed their finely honed sensory capacities, their ability to think, draw inferences, apply logic and plan ahead," Nicol remarked of chickens. Additionally, Nicol's study found that chickens could recognize numerals up to five and were capable of transitive inference (e.g., if A is greater than B and B is greater than C, then A must be greater than C).
Yet, rather than be respected for the intelligent individuals they are, chickens are reduced to miserable lives on today's factory farms. Laying hens, for example, are crammed into small, wire battery cages, unable to spread their wings, move around, or perform natural behaviors like dust bathing and perching. They are treated as mere production machines without a care given to their physical or emotional states.
Of course, all animals have the capacity to suffer, and intelligence shouldn't be a measure of an animal's right to live free of unnecessary cruelty. The best way to save chickens and all farmed animals from lives of pain and deprivation is simply to leave them off your plate. For more information on transitioning to a humane vegan diet, check out ChooseVeg.com. For tips on baking without eggs, click here.
In a sweeping victory for the nation's farmed animals, yesterday the United States House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted down the 2013 Farm Bill, which included the dangerous King Amendment.
Notorious Iowa ag-industry henchman Steve King's amendment to the Farm Bill would have eliminated the few state laws that ban cruel production practices, including extreme animal confinement in cages and crates, the force-feeding of ducks, horse slaughter, and shark finning.
In a tongue-in-cheek segment on last night's Colbert Report, comedian Stephen Colbert spotlighted King's career-spanning crusade against animal welfare and the deplorable conditions imposed on factory-farmed animals.
Colbert used humor to bring much-needed attention to a very serious issue: the miserable plight of the billions of animals raised and killed for food each year in this country.
MFA says thank you to all our members and supporters who took quick action against the King Amendment by contacting their representatives and voicing their opposition to its inclusion in the Farm Bill.
Ultimately, the most effective tool each and every one of us has to end the violence and suffering routinely inflicted on farmed animals is choosing kindness over cruelty each time we sit down to a meal. Visit ChooseVeg.com to get information, tips, and recipes for transitioning to a compassionate vegan diet.
Bacon. It's everywhere. From cookbooks and cooking shows to blogs, it seems people just can't get enough. But what many people never consider is the unconscionable cruelty that's involved for pigs slaughtered for bacon and pork on factory farms.
Pigs are as intelligent and friendly as the dogs and cats we all know and love. Yet pork producers are allowed to mutilate, confine, and abuse millions of pigs in ways that could warrant felony-level animal cruelty charges in most states if the victim were even one dog or cat. Additionally, many pork producers confine female pigs in cruel gestation crates for almost their entire lives.
Luckily, those that like the salty, smoky taste of bacon don't have to give it up in order to show compassion for animals.
Lightlife's Fakin' Bacon and Smart Bacon are cruelty-free, plant-based versions of bacon that will satisfy anyone's cravings without harming pigs. Look for Lightlife's veggie bacon in your local supermarket. These bacon alternatives taste great and in addition to being free of all animal products, are free of cholesterol and trans fat. If your local market doesn't carry Lightlife products, ask them to start.
Want to add some flavor to your salad? Try WayFare's Pig Out Bacony Bits. They can be ordered online and they taste amazing. Surprisingly, Bac-Os, which can be found in any supermarket, are also vegan!
Leaving pigs off of our plates can have a huge impact for the animals, the environment, and our health. Find more meat-free recipes and information on making the switch to a vegan diet at ChooseVeg.com.
In a move that will likely halt the first horse slaughterhouse from opening in his state, New Mexico attorney general Gary King recently ruled that horse meat from horses treated with drugs is an adulterated product unsafe for human consumption. "Our legal analysis concludes that state law does not allow for production of meat that is chemically tainted under federal regulations," Attorney General King said. "New Mexico law is very clear that it would be prohibited and illegal." New Mexico state senator Richard C. Martinez had requested the review of the issue.
Temperatures rose when Valley Meat Company placed a bid in Roswell, New Mexico, to open the first horse slaughterhouse in the United States since the horse slaughter ban in 2007 when Congress withdrew funding for inspections of horse meat plants. Now that the ban has expired, horse slaughter is once again legal and some are looking to capitalize on it.
Though not popular stateside, horse meat is widely consumed in Europe and parts of Asia.
While horses may not be slaughtered in New Mexico, one must question the hypocrisy of allowing cows, pigs, chickens, and other farmed animals, who are also treated with chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones, to enter the human food supply.
The idea of eating horse meat provokes an emotional response from many people, as evidenced by the horse meat scandal that rocked parts of Europe this past winter. The truth remains, however, that all animals suffer just the same when they are violently slaughtered.
Whether chickens, cows, pigs, or horses, all animals have the capacity for fear and pain. The best way to prevent the needless suffering and death of animals raised for food is to adopt a humane vegan diet. Visit ChooseVeg.com today for more information.
While the segment aimed to poke fun, truly ridiculous was the industry spokeswoman's doublespeak, which the interviewer summed up as follows: "So, you're protecting animals from the people who are trying to protect animals."
Fortunately, while whistleblower-suppression bills, commonly known as ag-gag bills, have been cropping up nationwide, all of the ten ag-gag bills proposed this year have failed miserably. Still, ag-gag legislation remains on the books in some states and is currently under consideration in North Carolina.
Undercover investigators serve as the eyes and ears of American consumers, who are largely kept in the dark about how animals are raised for food. If Big Ag has nothing to hide, factory farmers should operate with complete transparency instead of relentlessly attempting to criminalize anyone who might document their activities.
Concerned about ag-gag in your state? Find out who your state and local legislators are and make sure they know how you feel. And remember, the best way to help protect animals from horrendous cruelty on factory farms is simply to leave them off your plate. For information on transitioning to a humane vegan diet, click here.
A shocking new article in the New York Times raises grave concerns for water supplies that are seriously threatened by massive amounts of toxic animal manure.
Under the Clean Water Act, the EPA is tasked to protect America's waterways from factory farm runoff. It is estimated that between 500 million and one billion tons of manure--three times as much as the human population produces in a year--are generated annually from animals raised for food. Manure lagoons can become so taxed they overflow and seep into water tables, rivers, and streams, creating a toxic mess.
For reasons that are unclear, the EPA has recently backpedaled on two proposed rules. One would have simply gathered basic information from factory farms. The other would have mandated that more factory farms obtain pollution permits from the federal government--something less than 60 percent of farms are currently required to do. And in yet another sad reversal, just last week the EPA announced that no new regulations of feedlot disposal would be forthcoming, although they had promised otherwise.
According to the EPA's own studies, agricultural runoff is the leading cause of impaired water quality.
With the proposal of ag-gag laws, fewer USDA inspectors on-site, and now the retreat of the EPA, factory farmers are operating with decreased oversight, which translates into decreased accountability. This not only affects the animals who suffer horribly on feedlots and in slaughterhouses, but also creates dire human health and environmental concerns.
The best way to help stop the factory farming industry from polluting our water supply and abusing animals is simply not to support it. Visit ChooseVeg.com for amazing tips, tricks, and recipes that make transitioning to a plant-based diet a snap!
From powerful potions to oxygen therapy and routine visits to the plastic surgeon, people have been on a quest to stop the aging process since the dawn of time. Now, according to some of Hollywood's most famous stars, it seems that a delicious and compassionate vegan diet might finally hold the answer to eternal youth.
A recent Yahoo! Voices article describes how eating a healthy vegetarian diet helps skin look smoother and may diminish fine lines. The author also discusses the natural glow produced by eating plant-based foods rich in vitamins A and E, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens.
Actress Portia de Rossi concurs. She's publicly stated that she's never undergone plastic surgery to keep her youthful appearance and instead credits her good looks to her vegan diet of five years.
Supermodel Christie Brinkley also touts her vegetarian diet for keeping her looking fab. Meat-free since the age of twelve, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, Brinkley advises people to "go for as many colors possible in a day."
Alicia Silverstone feels so strongly about the benefits of a plant-based diet that she wrote a book about it. According to the Hollywood superstar, friends tell her she looks younger now in her thirties than she did in her twenties.
Transitioning to a plant-based diet is an excellent way to feel great and look fabulous--all while helping animals. For more information on how you can get started, visit ChooseVeg.com.
For years, doctors and nutritionists have championed a vegetarian diet for promoting excellent health. Now, according to the Daily Mail, "Vegetarians are to be offered cheaper life insurance because, it is claimed, they are healthier and less likely to die early."
UK-based Animal Friends Insurance Agency (AFI) has created the Vegetarian Term Life Policy, which provides reduced premiums for vegetarian clients. AFI cites the health benefits of vegetarianism and reduced risk of illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes, as the reasons for the reduced rate. Many insurance providers look at lifestyle factors like smoking and alcohol consumption when creating programs for clients, so it only makes sense that steps taken to reduce preventable illnesses, such as adopting a vegetarian diet, should also be considered and rewarded.
This is a great milestone in the promotion of a vegetarian lifestyle and hopefully it will only be a matter of time before similar policies are implemented right here in the United States.
Aside from benefiting your health and affording you cheaper life insurance, eating a plant-based diet can also help you save money at the supermarket. Additionally, it's the best way to take a stand against the animal suffering and abuse rampant on today's factory farms. For more information on going vegetarian, visit ChooseVeg.com and make sure to order a copy of our free Vegetarian Starter Guide too!
Thousands of compassionate people have signed the petition calling on Amazon.com to immediately end the sale of foie gras following a Mercy For Animals undercover investigation revealing the systematic and intentional torture of ducks at an Amazon foie gras supplier.
Last week, MFA released hidden-camera video footage taken at Hudson Valley Foie Gras--the country's largest foie gras producer--showing workers violently grabbing ducks by their wings and necks and shoving metal pipes down their throats in order to force-feed them. This painful force-feeding process causes the birds' livers to swell up to ten times their normal size. The resulting diseased, fatty livers are sold as "foie gras" on Amazon.
The shocking undercover investigation garnered widespread media coverage, including by major television and newspaper outlets, such as ABC News and the Seattle Times. Here's a quick roundup of just some of the coverage that has informed people worldwide about the horrific abuse of ducks at this Amazon foie gras supplier.
Despite international outcry, the world's largest online retailer remains a lame duck by allowing the sale of inherently cruel foie gras on its website. In the past, Amazon has stopped selling other products, including whale meat, shark fin soup, and animal fighting videos, due to their inhumane production methods.
It's time for Amazon to stop ducking this important issue by implementing an ethical and humane policy banning the sale of foie gras too.
MFA volunteer extraordinaire Jenni Rempel gives us the skinny on the summer music scene.
Summer is a great time for music festivals and tours from coast to coast. Many well-known musicians are also advocates for farmed animals. Check out these vegan musicians coming soon to a city near you!
Fall Out Boy is touring as well. Drummer Andy Hurley has been vegan for years. Hurley used to perform with Earth Crisis, which will also be touring. Earth Crisis, featuring vegan singer Karl Buechner, promotes a vegan lifestyle and advocates for animal rights.
Want to listen to great music and raise awareness at the same time? Consider leafleting outside a concert venue and spread the word that your favorite musicians support compassion for animals. Order literature today!
The USDA's Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the department's watchdog, released a disturbing report condemning the department's oversight of pork slaughterhouses. In addition, the OIG came out strongly against a pilot program that allows pork farmers to speed up the kill line, slaughtering even more pigs per hour, and to operate with fewer inspectors on hand. This program is similar to those recently implemented for turkey- and chicken-processing facilities.
The OIG cited "egregious" and repeated health and animal welfare violations that seemed no cause for concern for hog farmers, who took no action to rectify them. The violations included fecal contamination of carcasses that had already been "cleaned" and pests on the kill floor.
The USDA hog inspection service issued 44,128 noncompliance citations to 616 plants between 2008 and 2011, but suspended only 28 percent of them. Many of the citations were for the same offenses, pointing to a culture of disregard for human health and animal welfare.
The best way to take a stand against pig farming and other factory farm horrors is to choose plant-based alternatives to meat, eggs, and dairy. For tips, tricks, and recipes, visit ChooseVeg.com or order our brand-new Vegetarian Starter Guide.
Adding itself to the impressive list of institutions and organizations to take a stand for healthy vegetarian eating, Tuesday San Diego Unified became the latest school district to adopt Meatless Mondays.
Mercy For Animals is proud to have endorsed Meatless Mondays in a letter to the board, as well as to have publicized Tuesday's hearing and mobilized local residents to attend. A large crowd turned out for the meeting in support of the initiative without any opposition.
A recent study by the Loma Linda University School of Public Health reveals that a vegetarian diet could lead to a longer and healthier life, especially for men.
The study of more than 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventists over six years found that on average, vegetarians had a 12 percent lower chance of dying from any cause than that of their meat-eating counterparts. Vegetarians also had a lower risk of developing several chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
"Various types of vegetarian diets may be beneficial in reducing the risk of death compared to non-vegetarian diets," states Dr. Michael Orlich, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Loma Linda University and lead author of the study.
For tips on transitioning to a healthy and humane vegan lifestyle, visit ChooseVeg.com. Click here to order your free Vegetarian Starter Kit.
The emerging world of 3-D printing may help pave the way to ending animal suffering on factory farms. By combining 3-D printing and tissue engineering, scientists are hoping to create meat without raising and slaughtering animals.
Gabor and Andras Forgacs, father-and-son founders of Modern Meadow, a company that specializes in 3-D printing technology, are hoping to do just that. Originally focused on creating leather, the duo has now obtained grants from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Agriculture to help them invent a way to "print" meat. "The grants were approved and rewarded with the speed of light," declared Gabor.
While the future may look better for farmed animals, no one has to wait to help reduce the abuse and suffering rampant on today's factory farms. Transitioning to a delicious and compassionate, vegan diet is easy and fun.
Additionally, there is a plethora of plant-based products, from Gardein and Beyond Meat to Field Roast and Tofurky, that taste and feel just like the animal-based products many of us grew up with. For tips, tricks, and recipes, check out ChooseVeg.com.
MFA volunteer Jenni Rempel dishes on delicious and decadent vegan ice cream!
As the weather gets warmer around the country, many people will turn to cold treats to keep the temperature low. Sadly, the production of dairy, which is found in many frozen sweets, entails confinement, painful mutilations, and cruel handling for dairy cows. This injustice is completely unnecessary, especially with the wide variety of non-dairy products available today! Popsicles, vegan gelato, and sorbet can be great alternatives to dairy ice cream, but if you really want a milky treat, check out the many non-dairy ice cream alternatives. Vegan ice creams can be made from soy, almond, coconut, cashew, and even rice milks.
Many US cities feature dedicated vegan ice cream shops, such as Kind Kreme in Los Angeles (check out its waffle sundae and "ice kreme sandwich"), Lula's Sweet Apothecary in New York City (known for its vegan soft-serve), FoMu Alternative Ice Cream + Cafe in Boston, and Sweet Ritual in Austin. If you aren't lucky enough to live near one of these shops, check your local supermarket for great dairy-free ice cream products. Here are some of our favorites:
DF Mavens: With a host of soy- and coconut-based flavors, DF Mavens is a delicious summer snack. All of the flavors are great, but we love the "Shot of Java" and "Key Lime Creme" varieties best. In addition, part of the proceeds of DF Mavens sales goes to support our work here at Mercy For Animals!
SO Delicious: A wide selection of flavors and varieties sets SO Delicious apart. The coconut-based Mint Chip and soy-based Mocha Fudge stand out, but there is a complete line of almond milk frozen desserts as well. SO Delicious also makes the "Purely Decadent" line of specialty, soy-based pints.
Tofutti: Home to a great, soy-based, classic Vanilla flavor, Tofutti also makes a number of novelty products like cones, bars, and "Cuties" sandwiches.
Coconut Bliss: This line of organic, fair trade-certified, coconut-based pints offers some creative flavors like Ginger Cookie Caramel and Mocha Maca Crunch.
For crafty folks there are some great do-it-yourself ice creams that can be easily prepared. One-ingredient banana ice cream is one of the cheapest and easiest homemade solutions. In addition to recipes found online, The Vegan Scoop book has 150 recipes for decadent, dairy-free desserts.