Tag Archives: California

California encourages plant-based options

Patient eating Hospital foodCalifornians who are in a hospital, nursing home or prison may soon be able to choose a totally plant-based diet.  State Senator Nancy Skinner has introduced Senate bill 1138, which requires these institutions to make a vegan meal available to those who request it.  While the option of a vegetarian meal was already required, this new bill allows for the option of meat-free, fish-free, dairy-free and totally vegan meals. Read more

Thirsty in California

Since we last reported on the drought in California and how a vegetarian diet could help, the drought has only gotten worse. As Californians cut residential water use by 25 percent under Governor Jerry Brown’s unprecedented mandatory restrictions, pressure on the drought-stricken state’s water resources continues to come from its robust agriculture industry, which accounts for about 80 percent of the state’s total water consumption, with livestock claiming the lion’s share.

Some of the vegetarian naysayers complain that since so much of California’s meat is eaten around the country, it would take a national effort to save California’s water. To this we reply, good idea! Let’s all do our part and go vegetarian to save California from an all-too-thirsty fate. Others point to global warming as the main culprit. Maybe so, but we have a diet for that as well.

While we are happy to get the word out about the environmental benefits of going vegetarian, we really wish the environmental organizations would join us. So far only a very few do. However, since even the government is starting to talk about the environmental impact of animal foods, we have high hopes that this omission will change in the not too distant future.

California Bans Foie Gras

Foie gras, which is French for “fatty liver,” is the diseased and enlarged liver of a duck or goose, produced through force-feeding. If producing foie gras doesn’t cross the line between harsh conditions and outright cruelty, we don’t know what does. Fortunately, now the public is finally taking a stand against it and a legal ban against foie gras has just gone into effect in California.

Here’s just a bare outline of some of the almost too gruesome details of foie gras production. Each day for several weeks, a pipe is shoved down the birds’ throats to force-feed them. As a result, the birds’ livers, diseased with hepatic lipidosis, grow up to 10 times their normal size. The livers are then sold as foie gras. Force-feeding causes a number of injuries: bruising or perforation of the esophagus; hemorrhaging and inflammation of the neck resulting from the repeated insertion of the pipe into the throat; and asphyxia caused by food improperly forced into the trachea. Wounds of the esophagus may subsequently become infected. Force-feeding also results in numerous illnesses and disease, including hepatic lipidosis, bacterial and fungal infections, malnourishment, and lameness. For these reasons, mortality rates for force-feed ducks are 10 to 20 times higher than those for non-force fed ducks.

If you find such conditions disturbing you’re not alone. According to a 2004 Zogby poll 77 percent of U.S.adults believe the process of force-feeding ducks or geese to produce foie gras should be banned. Behavioral evidence suggests ducks and geese experience fear, as well as acute and chronic stress from the multiple daily force-feedings and the pain associated with them.

Nationally, several restaurants and retailers—such as Costco, Safeway, Target, Giant Eagle, PCC Natural Markets, Whole Foods Market, and Wolfgang Puck—refuse to sell foie gras. Internationally, due to the animal cruelty involved, more than a dozen countries—including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel (formerly the world’s fourth-largest foie gras producer), Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Argentina—have either outright prohibited force-feeding for foie gras production, or have interpreted it as illegal under existing anti-cruelty laws.

Congratulations to the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, and a host of other animal rights and welfare groups for helping to get the new Californian law passed and the ban put into effect.