Category Archives: Animals

Transport to Slaughter – it’s no fun getting there

transport pigFor farm animals half the misery is just getting there. We’ve written before about the severe and harsh condition on both the factory farm and in the slaughterhouse but the transport from one to the other is just as bad.

Even under the most controlled conditions within the industry, farm animal transport is stressful and harsh. The animals are deprived of food, water, and bedding during transport. Trucks are so overcrowded that animals are unable to rest, and may trample or fight with one another in search of space. Chickens are so cramped that they can’t even turn around or spread their wings. The risk of injury is particularly high during loading and unloading, when electrical prodding and other painful handling methods are often used to move fearful and disoriented animals. Trucks waiting in line to unload is a serious problem, too; animals in trucks that are stalled in queues or stuck in traffic, especially on asphalt in hot weather, are extremely stressed and may even die as a result.

One brave woman decided to do something about this sad state affairs. To help ease suffering during transport, a Toronto Canada woman, Anita Krank, would go up to the trucks and give the animal water through the little spaces on the side of the trucks in Toronto . For this she was charged with a criminal mischief and faced jail time or $5,000 fine. Anita says, “I just find it unfathomable that someone would be charged for giving thirsty animals water.” Fortunately, the Judge found no basis in the charge and declared her not guilty.

While we’re happy she was found not guilty, the best answer to the transportation problem is the same as for the factory farm and slaughterhouse problem. A vegetarian diet helps all three. The solution to this problem also means better health for us and the environment.

Victory for Farm Animals

US District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill

US District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill

The farm animals badly needed this win. They have relied heavily on people documenting abuses on harsh “factory farms” and in the slaughterhouses, but a new law in Idaho would have made this illegal leaving the animals defenseless.  So animal welfare groups cheered the decision on the Idaho law last week from U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill.  The judge found the state’s “Agricultural Security Act” unconstitutional for criminalizing certain types of speech. This would have not only criminalized legitimate reporting by the news media and advocacy groups, they would have also criminalized whistle-blowing conducted by conscientious workers.

What about the handful of other states with similar laws on the books? Laws in Montana, Utah, North Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa have also made it illegal for workers and activists to smuggle cameras into industrial animal operations. A new North Carolina law goes into effect in January 2016. But now those laws’ days could be numbered, according to the lead attorney for the coalition of animal welfare groups that sued the state of Idaho.

Had these laws gone into effect it’s not only the animals who would be hurt. As we have previously reported, abuse of slaughterhouse workers is also all too common. While reporting abuses is very valuable, it is still better to prevent them in the first place and the best way is through a healthy and oh so delicious vegetarian diet.

Goat Farmers Go Vegan

Goat 2After 20 years of producing award-winning goat cheese, farmers Carol and Julian Pearce are now going vegan and so is their cheese. The Pearces are just a recent example of a number of farmers who are choosing to go vegan in order to save the lives of animals. While trying to save the goats on their farm, most end up being slaughtered.  Explaining their decision they say, “We did the best we could for our animals while still producing cheese, but then we realized a vegan farm will allow us to do even better.”

The couple is hoping that their new found love for vegan cheese making will help to spread the message about animal-free cheese, and help them to rescue more animals from the exploitation by the farm industry at the same time. There are many options for animal farmers wishing to give up their current practices in favor of kinder ones. Whether it’s switching from goat cheese to vegan cheese, or from pig farming to vegetable farming, it is possible to create a better future for farm animals. Stories like this one show that it is indeed possible for us to change our ways and to find more compassionate alternatives. We congratulate the Pearces for embracing their new lifestyle and setting an example for future farmers to do the same.

Please don’t eat the bunnies

RabbitsIt breaks our heart. Cute and harmless bunny rabbits are not meant for dinner. Yet it’s part of the latest trend where they’re being served at a number of America’s top restaurants.

Part of the heartbreak is that rabbit farms are not required to follow the Humane Slaughter Act. Rabbits are classified as “non-amenable” animals, a designation that removes them from humane slaughter regulations.  Recently, Last Chance for Animals, a Los Angeles based animal advocacy group, conducted an investigation of Pel Freez, the nation’s largest rabbit processing plant, located in Rogers, Arkansas. We’ll skip the gory details but it’s as bad as we’ve heard about anywhere.

While clearly rabbit slaughter is bad for these cute critters, it’s none too good for us either. Consider that as with other meat, rabbit has artery-clogging saturated fat, cholesterol, and produces cancer-causing heterocyclic amines when cooked, while lacking any fiber or health-promoting phytonutrients.

We haven’t yet seen any rabbit-meat substitutes as there are with beef, chicken and fish, but that shouldn’t stop us from finding better things to eat. Given the creative abilities of the nations top chefs, we’re sure they can come up with something inspired by their humanity. Let’s hope they give it a try.

Kiss a Cow at New Farm Sanctuary

Skiss a cowix months ago, Tracy Murphy met Albert, a day old calf, at a Western New York auction house and knew she had to take him home. Shivering, barely able to walk, Albert had just been separated from his mother and faced slaughter. “He was crying for his mother, and it was the saddest thing I ever saw,” Murphy recalled. “I knew I had to get him out of that situation. I brought him home and the vet came out the next day and said he had a 50/50 chance of living. But he’s doing great now. He’s absolutely the most beautiful steer. He’s friendly, loves hugs, and has known only love here.” And so another farm animal sanctuary began.

Murphy founded the nonprofit sanctuary, Asha, in Newfane, New York, to rescue “farmed” animals and give them a safe and nurturing environment. “Asha” stands for Acres of Sanctuary and Hope for Animals. Asha is also a big promoter of animal-friendly veg diets. “Kiss a cow” refers to the music composed and performed by Dan Crow at their grand opening. From what we can tell no-one actually kissed the cows or the many other farm animals there. But then who knows? After all, we don’t like to kiss and tell!

Vegetarians of Washington is happy to see the continuing growth of the farm animal sanctuary movement that saves the animals, increases public awareness of their plight, and so enthusiastically promotes vegetarian diets. Keep up the good work Tracy.

Slaughterhouse Hotline

TelephoneA new hotline (1-888-209-7177) was just launched by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) so that workers can more safely document the abuse of animals.

As the old saying goes, “if slaughterhouses had glass walls we’d all be vegetarians.” The slaughterhouse operators know this better than anyone, which is why they have pushed “ag-gag” laws through in a handful of key states.  These ag-gag laws prevent the documenting of abuse by criminalizing undercover investigations of agricultural facilities. We have previously reported on the plight of both farm animals and workers in the nation’s slaughterhouses. While horrible conditions persist, the public is kept in the dark.

The bleak conditions endured by animals on factory farms are often made worse by overt violence and neglect,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the HSUS. “Pigs are often beaten. Chickens are stomped on. Lame cows are left for dead. We want whistleblowers to know that help is just a phone call away.

To tackle this problem, the HSUS established a hotline for reporting cruelty and neglect on factory farms, at livestock auctions, and in slaughterhouses. This will empower employees at those facilities who have witnessed cruelty or other unlawful acts.

The HSUS offers whistleblowers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who have committed acts of cruelty to farm animals. Hotline callers will be assured anonymity if they desire it. The HSUS will work with the United Farm Workers to distribute information about the hotline to workers at factory farms, slaughterhouses and livestock auctions.

We applaud the HSUS for their new program and all those who have the courage to call it. Of course, the best way to end the harsh conditions and frank abuse in animal agriculture is simply to go vegetarian- a move the HSUS enthusiastically endorses.

Ebola is caused by Bushmeat!

BushmeatIt turns out that Ebola is yet another epidemic disease, along with influenza, and resistant bacteria, which we get by consuming and/or producing meat. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that 75 percent of all new and emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animal origins.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and is then spread between humans. WHO states that it is believed that fruit bats are the original Ebola virus hosts, but the virus is introduced to humans through close contact with bodily fluids of infected animals including fruit bats, monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, antelope, and porcupines. These kinds of wild meats are known as bushmeat and are consumed in western Africa – the site of the Ebola outbreak and epidemic which has so far claimed almost 5,000 lives.

Despite the fact that the governments of West Africa have banned the bushmeat trade, in response to the Ebola outbreak, people continue to buy, sell, and eat bushmeat as a staple in their diet. Neither the ban on bushmeat, nor the spread of Ebola, has stopped people from consuming a food they have been eating forever.

If you think you’re safe from the infected meat here in the United States, think again. It is illegal to import bushmeat into the U.S., but it has been found and confiscated at JFK International Airport in New York and other U.S. ports of entry. Millions of dollars of bush meat are smuggled into the U.S. every year, and the majority comes from West Africa. A similar problem is faced by European authorities as well. For instance, authorities estimate that every year almost 3 million pounds of bushmeat makes its way illegally into Great Britain alone. While news reports have focused on Ebola being transmitted from people who have travelled from Africa, relatively little notice has been taken of all the bushmeat being shipped into the US and other countries.

While brave doctors and other health workers are doing everything they can to save those already with the disease, and to keep human to human transmission from happening, the only way to prevent these outbreaks from ever starting is by giving up the practice of eating bushmeat. While we have mostly written about disease from factory-farmed meat due to crowded and harsh animal agriculture, wild meats are not really any better. We suggest that those Paleo Diet enthusiasts who promote eating wild meat take note. The only solution to meat-borne diseases is the vegetarian solution.

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