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October 21, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

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.

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