October 21, 2016 Leave a comment

I send thanks to all who wrote to the Los Angeles Times in response to our op-ed warning against switching to white meat, and below will share two terrific letters that were published. But first I share heart-breaking news from Catalonia, Spain (the area encompassing Barcelona) about bullfighting and then an equally heartbreaking description of the living conditions for some cage-free laying hens — both in the Friday, October 21, New York Times.

In an article, page A6, by Rachel Minder, titled “Bullfighting Ban Is Overturned in Spanish Court” (on line it is the more specific: “Spanish Court Overturns Catalonia’s Ban on Bullfighting”) we read: 

“The Constitutional Court of Spain overturned a ban against bullfighting on Thursday that had been approved by lawmakers in Catalonia six years ago, a decision that simultaneously outraged separatists in the region and animal activists.

“The court voted 8 to 3 against the Catalan ban, finding that lawmakers from the region could not prohibit a practice that the justices said was enshrined in the cultural patrimony of the Spanish state.”

You’ll find the full article on line athttp://tinyurl.com/hsv3mvn

Another Friday October 21 New York Times article, this one by Stephanie Strom, is titled “Grim Video Shows How Hens Live ‘Cage Free’” (page B2).  (The online title is, “How ‘Cage-Free’ Hens Live, in Animal Advocates’ Video.”

It opens:
“After years of pressure from animal advocates, dozens of food companies have committed themselves to ‘cage-free’ eggs produced by hens not living in the cramped quarters known as battery cages.

“Now, however, some of those same advocates are turning their attention via video cameras on the farms where cage-free eggs are produced. Using some of the same tactics that drove food companies to move away from caged hens, advocates are asking whether the conditions for the cage-free chickens are much better.

“On Thursday, Direct Action Everywhere, an all-volunteer animal advocacy group, released a video of a stealth visit to a cage-free barn in California that produces eggs sold at Costco under its private label brand, Kirkland. The video shows dead birds on the floor and injured hens pecked by other chickens. One bird had a piece of flesh hanging off its beak.

“The video focuses on a hen that Direct Action rescued and named Ella. When the organization found her in the cage-free barn, she was struggling to pull herself up and had lost most of her feathers. Her back was covered in feces.”

I will note here that to the best of my knowledge it is not “these same advocates” behind the cage-free push and the new video. The push for corporations to go cage-free has been driven largely by the Humane Society of the United States (and some other great groups) whereas the video documenting some cage-free conditions comes, as the Times states, from Direct Action Everywhere — DxE.  I am grateful to both groups for fantastic work in the field. While cage-free conditions can be awful, they are better than confining animals for life in spaces so small they cannot move. Helping to partially alleviate the suffering of millions of beings by persuading corporations to stop buying eggs from caged hens is not always the most awe-inspiring work but it is work well worth doing. Yet I am also grateful to activists who do not make it easy for people to pretend that everything is okay if they are eating eggs from cage-free hens — especially now that wonderful plant-based alternatives
are increasingly available.  

You’ll find the full article on line at  http://tinyurl.com/h5nwkxq

Both articles provide opportunities to speak for animals, with letters to the editor: letters@nytimes.com Please be sure to always include your full name, address and phone number.  You are likely to see the stories covered elsewhere as well. Please respond whenever you can.

Again I send thanks to all who responded to the op-ed that Peter Singer and I had in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times about the danger of switching to white meat. (http://tinyurl.com/jd5wbbx ).   The Thursday, October 20, Los Angeles Times carried two strong letters in response. The first, from United Poultry Concerns president Karen Davis, questions the idea that pound for pound chicken is responsible for less environmental degradation than beef (which we noted is a common reason for choosing chicken, while we rejected the conclusion that chicken is therefore a better choice). While I wish her letter hadn’t given the impression, to anybody who had not read our piece, that we’d written an op-ed suggesting people should eat chickens instead of cows, I appreciate her having shared with LA Times readers the information she has about environmental degradation caused by the chicken industry. The second letter, from the superb activist Stewart David, reminds us that “an educated consumer
is the meat, dairy and egg industries’ worst nightmare” and recommends vegan diets. I hope you will check them out at  http://tinyurl.com/gm8b3fg and they will inspire you to write letters to the editor. You need not be as articulate as either of those writers to get published. A quick punchy line or two is just as likely to get notice — especially in your local paper. Animals need your voice everywhere.

Message from the underground

October 20, 2016 Leave a comment

​I take a break from media coverage to let you know about two terrific events coming up in the next few weeks in Southern California. I am sharing them with my whole list as I see there are still some cheap flights from the east coast and you never know who might decide, last minute, to come grab some sunny animal friendly fun.

SoCal Vegfest will be held over Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30, at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. There’s a terrific line up of speakers, music, cooking demos, and exhibitors — with great food! I am speaking on Sunday at 2:30pm, about easy veganism and upbeat activism. Farm Sanctuary’s Gene Baur is speaking Sunday at 12:45 (he is also speaking on Saturday), Native Foods founder Tanya Petrovna has a cooking demo right before my talk and Chef AJ has one right afterwards, so naturally I think Sunday afternoon would be a fabulous time to come. Or come for the whole weekend! Learn more athttp://socalvegfest.org 

Then from ALDF:

On Saturday, November 5, 2016, The Animal Legal Defense Fund embarks on its maiden voyage in Los Angeles, with “Cruise for a Cause: Making Waves for Animals.”  Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s executive director Stephen Wells, founder Joyce Tischler, and other animal advocates for this unique opportunity cruise along the coast of Marina del Rey on a luxury yacht.  The evening will feature live music, auction items, plant-based delicacies, a hosted bar, and more entertainment, TBA.  This is a fantastic opportunity to meet the Animal Legal Defense Fund program directors and learn about the ground-breaking accomplishments for animals in 2016. 
Featuring a special private acoustic performance by Moby!
Find out more and buy tickets at  http://aldf.org/cruise-for-a-cause/

Update from animal rights

October 12, 2016 Leave a comment

There is so much going on for animals in the media today! The Los Angeles Times has a front page story on the Just Mayo wars and also an op-ed weighing in on Montreal’s possible pit bull ban, the New York Times and Fortune Magazine have covered Tyson’s investment in Beyond Meat, and the New York Post tells us that New York State may soon ban animal circus acts!
The Los Angeles Times front page headline reads, “Battle Over Mayo.” The subheading is, “The egg industry waged a secret campaign to crush an upstart vegan spreadmaker.” Many DawnWatch subscribers are already somewhat familiar with the story; a front page article on it gives us a terrific opportunity to write letters on behalf of plant-based eating!
Reporter Geoffrey Mohan opens with:

“With its egg-free recipe, Just Mayo had become a darling of vegans, a hot investment for Silicon Valley venture capitalists and an avatar for alternatives to industrial agriculture.
“But to the nation’s $7-billion egg industry, Just Mayo posed an existential crisis so serious that a federally supervised trade group launched a secret two-year campaign to thwart the San Francisco start-up that makes it.
“….Federal investigators did not find the campaign amusing, slamming the American Egg Board for overstepping its congressional mandate and chiding its overseers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a lengthy investigation that was quietly released on the agency’s Freedom of Information library page late Thursday.”
You’ll find the full story on line at http://tinyurl.com/hc6qvbk
If pit bulls are more your thing, please check out Bronwen Dickey’s Los Angeles Times opinion piece, “Don’t typecast pit bulls” (page A13). It deals with Montreal’s proposed pit bull ban, which is currently on hold. It is a fascinating piece. One of my favorite paragraphs is:
“Frenzied media coverage follows dog-bite fatalities — at least if a ‘pit bull’ is to blame. (In Montreal’s case, the dog that killed 55-year-old Christiane Vadnais in early June, triggering the latest panic, was registered as a boxer.) For whatever reason, incidents involving dogs from other breed groups don’t inspire quite the same level of public outrage. Just a few days before Vadnais’ attack, for example, a 4-year-old girl was killed by a “husky mix” in the rural Canadian territory of Nunavut. No one in Canada clamored for a ban.”
You’ll find the full piece on line at http://tinyurl.com/h92o79n
Either of the above articles open the door for animal friendly letters to the editor. Please lend animals your voice. The Los Angeles Times takes letters at letters@latimes.com
Tyson Meats’ investment in plant-based “Beyond Meat” is big news for animals and has been covered widely today, including by Fortune Magazine, which assures us that despite the five percent investment Tyson is stressing that “Beyond Meat would remain independent and privately held, led by founder and CEO Ethan Brown.”
The Fortune article ends with a quote from Brown:
“This investment by Tyson Foods underscores the growing market for plant protein. I’m pleased to welcome Tyson as an investor and look forward to leveraging this support to broaden availability of plant protein choices to consumers.”
You can check out the article on line at http://fortune.com/2016/10/10/tyson-foods-invests-beyond-meat/ and can comment below it.
The New York Times article on the issue is titled “Tyson, the Top Meat Processor, Invests in Plant Protein.” (Page B4.)
That article, by Stephanie Strom, has a quote from Tyson’s senior vice president in charge of strategy and new ventures: “The quality of the Beyond Burger is amazing. We think it’s a game-changing product that gives us exposure to this fast-growing part of the food business.”
It tells us, regarding Beyond Meat, “The company’s goal is to take its meat substitutes mainstream.”
You’ll find the article on line at http://tinyurl.com/hvnuxz4. It provides another great opportunity for letters! You can weigh in at letters@nytimes.com
To close tonight, some promising news on the horizon for animals abused by the entertainment industry. A New York Post headline reads, “Circus tense NY beast ban could be end.” (Page 3.) The article, by Michael Gartland and Carl Campanile, opens with: 
“The ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ may soon be forced to fold its tent in New York City.
“The City Council is considering a bill to ban wild and exotic animals from appearing in “entertainment” events, a move that a circus spokesman warned might spell the end of a 100-year tradition in the Big Apple.”
You’ll find the full article on line at http://tinyurl.com/z9d9em6 and can send an appreciative letter to the editor at letters@nypost.com

It is important that papers see that readers are interested in this issue.

SFA and loch lomond

August 22, 2016 Leave a comment

Scotland for Animals has been involved in the campaign to stop the RSPB killing wild goats around Inversnaid at Loch Lomond. As you might remember we made the decision to break off negotiations with the RSPB as a result of their continued refusal to stop culls despite alternative methods of control being available.

SfA welcomes news thScotland for Animals has been involved in the campaign to stop the RSPB killing wild goats around Inversnaid at Loch Lomond. As you might remember we made the decision to break off negotiations with the RSPB as a result of their continued refusal to stop culls despite alternative methods of control being available.

SfA welcomes news that the RSPB has now implemented one of our proposals and begun using contraceptive darts to manage the population. Although this will not bring back the animals already slaughtered by the RSPB it’s a positive development as it may now save those remaining.

This move is a result of your pressure and the fantastic work of locals and Strathard Community Council. As the RSPB is an organisation actively involved in the killing of animals we will be monitoring the situation along with Strathard Community Council to ensure the guns don’t start firing again and a viable herd is maintained.

The RSPB has now implemented one of our proposals and begun using contraceptive darts to manage the population. Although this will not bring back the animals already slaughtered by the RSPB it’s a positive development as it may now save those remaining.

Electric shock collars

July 7, 2016 Leave a comment

“Don’t command him to stop; don’t say anything.  Dial up the juice as high as you think, based on your experience, your dog can handle it. Then hit him hard and keep your finger on the button until he quits chasing.”

This advice comes from a recent article in a gun dog magazine on how to train your dog using an electric shock collar. Yet the vast majority of dog trainers agree that using pain to train is antiquated, dangerous and less effective than reward based training. We’ve long campaigned for a ban on the sale and use of shock collars. These devices are instruments of cruelty in the wrong hands. It’s time to ban shock collars for good.

New documentary : Swine

July 7, 2016 Leave a comment

​SWINE is a new short thriller/documentary from Viva! exposing the untold story of disease and antibiotics resistance in factory farms.
For decades factory farms have been abusing antibiotics. Their actions have cultivated a global environment of antibiotics resistance. SWINE exposes the global health crisis the world’s most cruel and destructive industry is trying to keep quiet.
We stand on the brink of a world without antibiotics. But it’s not too late. This month, join thousands around the world in sharing SWINE and be part of a global movement to end factory farming.

UK bees

May 17, 2016 1 comment

British bees can breathe a tiny sigh of relief. The Westminster government’s decided to keep its ban on bee-killing pesticides south of the Border. [1] Borders don’t mean anything to bees so this is great news for the campaign to protect them in Scotland too.
Here’s how we did it together:  
250,000 of us signed the petition to keep bee-killing pesticides off our fields. We delivered every name to government ministers last week, just before the decision was made.

Thousands of us emailed our MPs to make sure they had copies of our hard-hitting report that proved last year’s decision to lift the ban on pesticides was wrong. And we delivered it directly into the hands of the government’s expert advisors.

We caused a buzz on social media when tens of thousands of us tweeted the UK government ministers making the decision on bee-killing pesticides.

Then amazingly, almost a hundred MPs came to listen to a panel of experts at our event in Parliament last week. [5]

This shows the enormous power we have when we come together. Here in Scotland we have a great chance to go even further. Our government’s already temporarily banned the worst bee-killing pesticides. We could push the government to ban them from Scotland’s fields forever.
More than 13,500 members of 38 Degrees have already signed a petition calling on the Scottish Environment Secretary to ban these horrific chemicals permanently. Imagine the impact it will have if thousands more of us sign up. It’ll really show the newly-elected Scottish Government that we want real action – right now. Please can you take a moment to add your name?