Category Archives: Animals

Stop killing the horses

In 2006, Congress effectively banned horsemeat by forbidding the U.S. Department of Agriculture to spend money on inspecting slaughterhouses. Meat plants can’t operate without USDA inspection. The last three horse slaughterhouses in the United States (two in Texas and one in Illinois) closed in 2007, one year after the ban.

However, no federal law exists to block the transport of horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that more than 100,000 American horses are exported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses each year.

However, the Safeguard American Food Exports or SAFE Act, with bipartisan support in Congress, would “permanently ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption” and “prohibit the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses to be sold overseas.” This bill has been introduced this year and we hope for its passage.

Today, the slaughter pipeline begins with at-risk horses who are sent to livestock auctions across the U.S. At these auctions, middlemen for foreign-owned slaughter plants, known as “kill buyers,” purchase healthy horses that they believe will bring the best price per pound. Kill buyers often bid against horse rescues and legitimate prospective owners, robbing these horses of a second chance at life. Sometimes kill buyers even pose as legitimate horse rescues or dealers, and trick owners into believing their horses are going to be adopted, not sold into slaughter.

After being sold to kill buyers, these horses are trucked to Canada and Mexico where they are slaughtered for their meat. Many horses suffer terrible injuries during long distance transport. At the slaughter plant, horses rarely experience quick, painless deaths due to their anatomy and instinctual flight response to danger. When horse slaughter existed in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture documented serious abuses, both in transport and at the slaughter plants. Conditions today at the slaughter plants abroad and during transport are similar.

It seems that most Americans feel an emotional connection to horses. Polls asking whether horse meat should be banned suggest around 80 percent of people are against eating it. There is no way to make horse slaughter humane. The slaughtering of horses for meat is already illegal in America. Now, let’s take the next step and make exporting horses for slaughter to other countries illegal as well.

César Chávez dogs inspire vegetarianism

César Chávez, the famous civil rights leader and labor organizer who did so much for farm workers, was also a vegetarian. Chavez was a genuinely religious and spiritual figure as well as a community organizer and social entrepreneur, a champion of nonviolent social change, and a crusader for the environment. He also deeply loved his two German Shepherds.

The German Shepherds provided security for Chávez and his family at La Paz, the United Farm Workers’ headquarters in Keene, Calif. They went almost everywhere with him, including on the road when he traveled by car. He credited them with deepening his belief that without exception, all lives are valuable.

The dogs even helped deepen his commitment to vegetarianism. As he said, “I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings. The basis for peace is respecting all creatures.”

Chávez also was committed to animal rights. Chavez said. “Kindness and compassion towards all living beings is a mark of a civilized society… “Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting, and rodeos are all cut from the same defective fabric: violence.”

Leather from plants

Fique plants

It’s the latest thing. They can now  make vegan leather from plants.

First of all what is vegan leather? Vegan leather is an ethical and cruelty-free fabric that mimics the look and feel of genuine leather. Vegan leather is also referred to as faux leather, polyester leather, or pleather. While genuine leather is made from animal hides, vegan leather is usually made from two synthetic plastic-based materials: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane. While this avoids the cruelty of using animal hides, the plastic-based materials are not biodegradable, so they may contribute to landfills and plastic pollution.

But now there are companies making vegan leather from plants. One company uses cactus. This cruelty-free material allows the brand to cut down on water-use. Another company uses the fique plant, grown in Colombia. The plant has long been used to make fibers and other materials and now can be used for vegan leather.

Read more

Do dairy and eggs result in animal suffering?

The following is an excerpt from our book “Say No to Meat“, a book to guide the new vegetarian on ditching meat and going veg! Written in question and answer format, it addresses key issues along with practical and social aspects of being a vegetarian.

Will consuming eggs and dairy still result in animal suffering?

Those who have cut out meat but still consume eggs and dairy products because they do not directly kill the animal are well intentioned. At one time, it was not that hard on an animal to supply eggs or milk, but with factory farming that is no longer the case. Unfortunately these days, dairy and egg production cause a lot of animal suffering. The objective of a dairy or egg farmer is to produce as much milk or as many eggs as possible for the least possible cost, so farmers give very little thought to caring for the animals, except to ensure that they continue to produce. Dairy cows and egg-laying chickens have miserable lives and end up in the slaughterhouse just like their meat-producing relatives.

In order to keep producing milk, dairy cows are forced to give birth as frequently as possible, but their calves are taken away from them shortly after birth, so that the milk they produce is available for human use. Often they are injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which is designed to produce an abnormally high volume of milk. Many develop mastitis, a painful infection of the udders, and lameness. When their milk production wanes after about three or four years, they are sent to slaughter.

The baby calves produced in this process are either raised to produce milk themselves if they are female, or sometimes raised for veal if they are male. These poor animals are deliberately fed a diet that puts them in danger of becoming anemic and kept in small crates to prevent their muscles developing. This creates the kind of pale, soft meat prized as veal.

So the lives of dairy- and egg-producing animals are full of suffering and end in slaughter, in much the same way as those of the meat-producing animals. With so many delicious alternatives available, causing this much pain to animals is just not necessary.

Covid-19 harms both workers and animals

Slaughterhouses kill more than just animals. Meatpacking plants, along with prisons, have become the nation’s leading hot spots for the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Thousands of meatpacking workers have fallen ill, many have died. Virus outbreaks at meatpacking plants have lead to the virus spreading more widely in surrounding communities, said Nicholas Christakis, director of Yale University’s Human Nature Lab and a specialist in how contagion travels through social networks.

While we wrote back in June 2020 about Covid 19 spreading in slaughterhouses and meat processing plants, we now know so much more about how the virus spreads in these places. Slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are favorable environments for SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The virus thrives in lower temperatures and in very high or very low relative humidity. Metallic surfaces retain live viruses. Aerosols, densely combining dust, feathers, and feces, are produced in the plants, and intense water use carries materials extensively over surfaces. Workers must speak loudly or shout over the noise, releasing more droplets and spreading them further. Workplaces are crowded, and social distancing is difficult. The plight of the slaughterhouse workers was already dire, but this just puts another layer on their hardship.

The pandemic has also led to a massive increase in animal suffering. When the pandemic first hit, slaughterhouses across the nation were forced to close. Gruesome stories emerged of the mass killing of millions of chickens and pigs that could no longer be brought to market. Chickens sometimes had to be gassed or smothered with a foam in which they slowly suffocate. Among other methods, ready-for-market pigs, with cognitive abilities similar to dogs, that couldn’t be sold were killed by a method known as ventilation shutdown, in which the airways to a barn are closed off and steam is introduced. A whistleblower’s video shows thousands of pigs dying as they were slowly suffocated and roasted to death overnight.

Although the pandemic has focused attention on these incidents, they represent a tiny fraction of the daily abuses heaped on farmed animals. The billions of animals slaughtered every year in the United States are intelligent, sensitive beings capable of feeling a range of emotions. They are driven to raise their own young and form complex social communities, both impossible under the conditions of modern farming. Instead, they live short, painful, disease-ridden lives. Chickens, which make up over 90% of the animals slaughtered every year, suffer the worst. Their deaths are subject to effectively no federal regulation, meaning the birds are frequently frozen, boiled, drowned or suffocated to death.

Avoiding the consumption of meat, including chicken, would help alleviate many of these problems. By reducing the demand for meat, fewer workers would have to work in such awful conditions, and many fewer animals would be sent to the slaughterhouse.

A perfect storm created Covid-19

The COVID 19 pandemic seems to have arisen from a perfect storm. Eating animals, wearing their fur, keeping wild animals in zoos, and having an unnatural relationship with nature have created the perfect storm. With human to human transmission, that storm has become a hurricane.

COVID 19 is a zoonosis. Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that can spread between animals and people. The flu and Ebola are also zoonoses. While scientist are still trying to understand the origin of the virus, it appears that it originated in bats. Bats are eaten in China and so are pangolins. The virus could have infected people directly or through intermediate animals, possibly pangolins or a combination of both. It begs the question, what are we doing eating these animals? Is it worth the amount it is costing us and the rest of humanity?

Read more

The importance of animal sanctuaries

Farm animal sanctuaries are safe havens for farm animals who have endured the victimization of factory farming. Very few animals trapped in factory farms and our food system ever experience freedom, but sanctuaries offer an island of kindness for a few in this sea of severe harshness.

Farm animal sanctuaries are incredibly serene and beautiful non profit organizations that offer a happy life for farm animals. Animals at farm sanctuaries may no longer financially benefit the animal agriculture industry, but they offer companionship and laughs and deserve to live a good life no matter what.

Read more

Catching Coronavirus from Mink

People have been catching the coronavirus from mink, animals raised to make fur coats. Here’s yet another reason to not buy fur coats as we head into the holiday season! More than 200 cases of coronavirus appear to be linked to sick minks on fur farms in Denmark, according to new data released last Thursday by the country’s public health agency. Worse, there’s worry that the strain of the virus in the mink might make the vaccine ineffective.

Danish officials said that they now want to cull all 15 million mink at the country’s roughly 1,200 fur farms as a precautionary step to protect people from contracting the virus. Mink on at least 220 fur farms in Denmark have already tested positive for the coronavirus.

We may be at risk here too. The United States, too, has confirmed that minks have contracted coronavirus on fur farms in Utah, Wisconsin, and Michigan, although so far there is no evidence that the minks are making humans sick in the U.S. “These investigations are ongoing, and we will release data once available,” says Jasmine Reed, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson.

When people catch a disease such as the coronavirus from animals, it’s called zoonosis. While we’re on the subject, it is important to note as we go into flu season that influenza, the flu, is also a zoonosis, one that is spread from chickens and pigs. Since these diseases come from keeping animals in close confinement, the way to prevent such diseases is to stop confining animals.

Besides the risk to human health, raising mink is very harsh on the animals themselves.  On fur factory farms around the world, millions of rabbits, foxes, mink and other wild animals spend their entire lives in cramped cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors—only to be crudely gassed or electrocuted at the end.

Many vegetarians extend their choices to what they wear on their body as well as what is consumed as food. There are many good artificial furs, and there’s really no reason why anyone should choose to wear animal fur.

Ten Top Reasons To Skip The Turkey On Thanksgiving

We’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to join the growing number of people who’ll skip the turkey this Thanksgiving. There are lots of good reasons to find better and healthier ways to celebrate one of our favorite holidays. Turkey has the same disadvantages as other kinds of meat. To help you along, here are our top ten reasons to skip the bird this year. Remember that what we say about turkey is true of other holiday favorites such as ham as well. Read more

Grass-Fed Beef – bad for us and for the planet

Recently, some people have been touting grass-fed beef as eliminating all the problems associated with meat, or as an equivalent alternative to going vegetarian. Don’t fall for it. Grass-fed beef is still bad for us, the environment and, of course, the cows.

Let’s take a look and see what some leading veg-authors have to say on the subject and then make a few observations of our own. Read more

« Older Entries