Category Archives: Animals

Ten compassionate reasons to skip the turkey

Almost 50 million turkeys are eaten every Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t it be better if we had a Thanksgiving the turkeys could be thankful for too? We think so. To help you have a Turkey Thankful Thanksgiving, we put together 10 reasons to skip the turkey this year.

  1. Turkeys form strong bonds with their flock mates and even with humans and other animals. However, turkeys are bred at rapid rates for human consumption and never get to experience love and freedom like she does. Commercial turkeys never get the opportunity to spread their wings, run around in the grass, or be treated kindly. These birds are forced to live in dark, overcrowded buildings where they are often mistreated and ultimately slaughtered.
  2. Turkeys are kept in poor conditions . Conditions inside factory farms are so cramped, stressful, and filthy that birds often succumb to stress or their injuries and die before reaching the kill floor. Infections are common since thousands of birds are packed into one common living space without proper care.
  3. Turkey meat recalls. Turkey meat product recalls are not uncommon. They spread bacteria because they are forced to live in their own excrement inside bacteria filled buildings. These conditions increase the transmission of bacterial infections, which in turn contaminate the turkey products that humans consume.
  4. Inhumane slaughter methods. Over 200 million turkeys are slaughtered each year in the United States, and 99 percent of them are raised on factory farms. Inside these farms, which are large industrialized buildings, up to 10,000 turkeys are crammed into a single barn. As if the psychological damage of being kept in a stressful environment is not enough, turkeys are slaughtered in horrific ways.
  5. Dismal working conditions on turkey farms. In industrial agriculture, expectations are high to work quickly. When production speeds are increased, animals are not the only ones who are injured. The physical and mental health of workers is often compromised. Being a slaughterhouse worker is considered by some to be the most dangerous job in America.
  6. Health risks of eating turkey. We have been writing about the dangers of consuming meat but somehow turkey is still considered a “healthy choice.” It’s not a healthy choice.
  7. Turkeys are loving mothers. Turkeys form immediate bonds with their young, much like humans. Once their eggs are soon to be hatched, mother turkeys will not leave the nest under any circumstances. When the babies are born, turkey moms keep them close by under their wings until they are old enough to forage on their own.
  8. Turkey production is bad for the environment. Turkey farms, like other factory farms, produce a lot of pollution including water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
  9. It’s a hungry world. Turkeys, like other farm animals, are food factories in reverse. The return only a fraction of the protein and calories fed to them as meat. Many people in the world have food insecurity. We can waste food by feeding them to animals.
  10. Delicious Turkey Alternatives ARE Great. Plant-based turkey alternatives have grown over the past few years. Plant-based turkey brands like Tofurky, Gardein, Quorn, and Field Roast can be found in many grocery stores.

While a lot of attention is given to other farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens, turkeys are often left out. Yet we raise 270 million turkeys each year. It’s great to skip the turkey for Thanksgiving. Even better would be to skip the turkey year round. Let’s make this Thanksgiving a new beginning for skipping eating turkey year round.

Let’s stop the flu

It’s flu season and many are choosing to get the flu vaccine. This choice is generally a good idea but should be made only after consulting your doctor. The vaccine is about 40% effective in preventing you from getting influenza. While getting the vaccine might keep you from getting the flu or lessen the severity it doesn’t stop the disease from occurring in the first place. Wouldn’t it be better to keep the disease from ever happening in the first place than relying on a partially effective vaccine to protect us? We think so and have written an article published in Juniper Online Journal of Public Health. We can actually stop the flu from developing thus preventing many people from getting sick or dying.

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Stella McCartney leads the way to plant-based fashions

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney, daughter of the famous Beatle Paul McCartney, has been a vegetarian all her life.  As a fashion designer, she is well-known for using mostly plant-based materials.  She has been using various leather-alternatives, including one made from grapes and another that is mushroom based. She recently launched a $200 million investment fund for eco-friendly businesses and vegan leather brand, Bolt Threads, was one of the recipients.

Her latest quest is to find a plant-based alternative to using the ordinary silk produced by silkworms.  The worms are killed in the production process, when they are dropped into boiling water so that they unravel the silk they have formed into a cocoon.  The silk can then be collected, but the worms die before they are able to transform into moths.

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Singer/Songwriter Sia is vegan for the animals

Singer/Songwriter Sia Kate Isobelle Furler

Sia has always loved animals, and as a young artist struggling to survive, she vowed that if she ever found success, she would make it her mission to spend the rest of her life trying to help and protect animals.  She loved her dogs and became vegetarian when she realized that chickens and cows could feel, care and empathize just like her dogs could.

Sia, full name Sia Kate Isobelle Furler, is an Australian singer and songwriter, who started her career in the acid jazz band Crisp in the mid 1990s in Adelaide.  She released her first solo studio album in 1997, and then moved to London, and subsequently New York.  By 2014, she broke through as a solo recording artist, when her sixth studio album, 1000 Forms of Fear, debuted at No 1 in the US Billboard 200, and has continued to produce albums and to write many songs for film.

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Cruelty to animals leads to violence against people

Time and time again, we learn that individuals who have committed violent acts against others—whether it be a spouse, a parent, or the 21 schoolchildren and teachers gunned down this year in Uvalde, Texas—also have a history of abusing animals. The mass murderer in Uvalde committed animal abuse and displayed videos of the cruelty to users on a social media platform, and he boasted about how he did it “all the time.”

Unfortunately this is part of a pattern. For example, Payton Gendron, who committed the May 14 racially-motivated mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that left 10 Black people dead, posted videos showing his abuse of animals.

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Animals win court battle

Preparing to dehorn a steer

In 2018, Erin Wing worked for two months at a 1,000-cow dairy farm in a small town in Pennsylvania, where she was one of 10 employees who milked and fed the cows. But something set her apart from the other workers – unlike the other employees Wing wore a hidden camera, living a double life as an undercover investigator for Animal Outlook, an animal advocacy nonprofit.

Wing captured a variety of horrors on film. Some were inhumane but legal and not uncommon in the dairy industry. But she also documented acts of cruelty that seemed wholly gratuitous, like employees beating, stomping on, and kicking cows, and many others I won’t mention because they are so horrible.

“All told, we documented over 300 incidents that we believed violated Pennsylvania’s laws,” says Will Lowrey, an attorney with Animal Outlook. The Pennsylvania State Police opened an investigation, and over a year later it announced that the district attorney of Franklin County in Pennsylvania would not press charges against the farm as a corporation, its owner, or the 14 current and former employees.

The DA’s decision wasn’t surprising. Many undercover investigations that document cruelty to farmed animals don’t result in prosecution.  According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are no federal animal welfare laws regulating the treatment of the billions of “food animals” while they’re on the farm. Further, while all 50 states have cruelty statutes, most explicitly exempt common farming practices, no matter how abusive and cruel.

But some progress is being made. By getting laws passed, animal advocates have been able to ban or restrict the use of some customary farming practices, mostly cages and crates for hens and pigs, in 14 states. Due to a quirk in Pennsylvania’s legal code — the ability of private citizens to challenge government officials’ decision not to prosecute — Animal Outlook was able to circumvent that invisibility and set a new precedent for animal law. The organization’s initial petition was denied, so it appealed to Pennsylvania’s Superior Court.

Last month, in a precedent-setting decision, the court’s three-judge panel ruled that the lower court was required to order the Franklin County district attorney to prosecute Martin Farms for animal cruelty, including over common practices like dehorning without pain mitigation. Citing Dr. Holly Cheever, a veterinarian who reviewed the investigative footage, the decision went on to state that “the technique used by Martin Farms as shown in the video caused the calves to be ‘in agonizing pain, shown by their violent thrashing and bellowing.’” As an aside, there’s a lot of unacknowledged pain involved in the dairy industry.  See Do Animals Feel Pain?

The judge characterized the district attorney’s position on exempting dehorning without pain mitigation as “absurd,” creating a crack in the meat industry’s ironclad legal armor, which gives us hope for the future.

Heatwave kills cattle

The heatwave that gripped the country recently wreaked havoc in southwest Kansas, where temperatures reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Kansas is one of the US’ biggest cattle farming states, with a population of more than 6.5 million. As if being a farmed cow isn’t hard enough, thousands of cows died as cattle struggled to acclimatize to the sudden change in temperatures. Shocking footage of thousands of dead cows has emerged during the intense Kansas heatwave.

Heat stress is caused by a combination of high temperatures, humidity, and wind speed, and results in negative impacts on both animal welfare. It was early enough in the year that many of the cattle had not yet shed their winter coats making the heat stress even worse. As forecasts point to a warmer-than-average summer, and climate change turns up nighttime temperatures, heat stress among the state’s millions of cattle continues to be a growing concern. The amount of water cattle drink doubles from winter to summer. On a hot day, a 1,500-pound steer could drink up to 30 gallons — roughly enough to fill a bathtub.

Extreme heat doesn’t just impact farm animals, either. Last year, more than one billion of Canada’s marine animals, including mussels, snails, and clams, died in a heatwave. By cutting back on your consumption of animal products, you are saving these creatures from suffering in a changing climate, at the same time as reducing the emissions as a result of animal agriculture, which helps to reduce the severity of that change.

Vegan cosmetics market grows

Rabbit being tested.

It’s not just what goes into your body that matters. It’s also what goes on it. Many people want cosmetics and skin care products that are not tested on animals and have no animal derived ingredients and if you’re one of them you’re not alone.

Vantage Market Research’s recent analysis of the Global Vegan Cosmetics Market finds that an increase in the popularity of “veg trends”, the rising consumer consciousness towards the source of origin of cosmetic products, and the high prevalence of many skin problems coupled with the growing health concerns regarding the negative impact of petroleum-based cosmetic ingredients are expected to result in a large growth of the animal free cosmetics market.

The Global Market revenue was valued at $15.1 Billion in 2021 and is forecasted to reach $21.5 Billion by 2028. This parallels the large growth in plant based food products which is expected to grow to $162 billion in the next decade. Buying animal free cosmetic and skin care products can make a big difference to the animals who supply the ingredients and especially the animals these products are tested on.

Animals are still suffering and dying to test shampoo, mascara and other cosmetic products. Terrified rabbits, guinea pigs and other animals have these products forced down their throats and dripped into their eyes before they are killed.

Testing cosmetics on animals is not only cruel it’s also unnecessary, because companies can already create innovative products using thousands of ingredients that have a history of safe use and do not require any additional testing. Plus, modern testing methods (such as human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models) have replaced outdated animal tests with new non-animal methods that are often faster, less expensive and more reliable. Many countries and some US states have already banned animal testing for cosmetics.

We can help end cosmetics testing on animals by buying products that are not tested on animals or have animal derived ingredients.

Boiled alive!

There are chickens literally being boiled to death in slaughterhouses. Slaughterhouses don’t have glass walls for a reason. It’s often been said that if slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarians. But glass walls or not these stories need to be told.

Chickens are being boiled to death in slaughterhouses across the country, right under the noses of USDA inspectors. We’re absolutely appalled at the cruelty.

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NZ stops live animal exports

New Zealand is taking a step in the right direction for animal well being, although there’s still a long way to go. Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor has announced a permanent halt to live animal exports by sea, effective next year 2023. We’ve said before that while there’s cruelty in factory farming and at the slaughterhouse, there’s also cruelty in transportation, with decades of repeated evidence of suffering and death.

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