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Statement on Scottish Government animal welfare announcements

May 13, 2017 Leave a comment

Scotland for Animals welcomes the Scottish Government announcement yesterday that some areas of welfare provision are to be reviewed.

We also welcome the inclusion of a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses, however we are disappointed that this will have a very limited protective impact due to it’s scope.
We are further concerned that there is no mention of improvements regarding legislation concerning the farming and slaughter of animals, which by it’s nature and the sheer number of animals involved, presents arguably the largest welfare issue.

We are particularly surprised that given the huge amount of public support for mandatory, independently monitored CCTV in abattoirs and an end to unstunned slaughter these measures have been ignored.

Not least due to SfA’s campaign for proper enforcement and tougher sentencing with regards to animal cruelty we are heartened that the Scottish Government has at long last pledged to review sentencing. 

In light of previous betrayals we hope that this is not yet another round of soft measures and empty promises. There is history of government championing relatively easy wins to gain public approval without the risk of taking on the meat industry or investing hard work in creating a proper legal framework for ending everyday cruelty. 

We will be holding Ministers to account on all of these claims and pressing for the inclusion of meaningful, far reaching changes which are at present not on the table.

“What a Fish Knows” on KPCC’s Take Two 5/11/17

May 12, 2017 Leave a comment

The KPCC (Los Angeles NPR) station show “Take Two” aired a terrific interview this morning with Jonathan Balcombe, author of “What a Fish Knows,” which has just come out in paperback. Balcombe smashes myths about fish such as that they are primitive, dimwitted, emotionless or unfeeling. The six minute interview is a delight to listen to or read. You’ll find it on line at http://tinyurl.com/m8tla4y 
Please let KPCC know you appreciate it by leaving a comment beneath it, or even liking other comments that are already there, and by sharing the interview on social media. Or go to http://www.scpr.org/contact/ and choose “content issues” from the pull-down menu. 

Sea world slump and meat free news

May 11, 2017 Leave a comment

There’s lots of good news: A USA Today headline, Wednesday May 10, tells us, “Crowds fall as SeaWorld changes format; Attendance plunges 15% amid phase-out of killer whale shows.” And last weekend’s papers were bursting with plant-based milk and “clean meat” from meat breweries.

The USA Today article, by Charisse Jones, opens with:
“As it starts to downplay killer whale shows, SeaWorld said Tuesday that it hasn’t been drawing the same massive crowds to its aquatic parks as it has in the past.”

While a good chunk of the article leans towards suggesting that attendance is falling because orca shows are being phased out, the piece ends with a strong quote from PETA’s Tracy Reiman, making clear that the performances are hardly the only issue, and that the public wants to see less rather than more of the orcas in captivity. Reiman says:

“As Ringling Bros. circus prepares to shut down this month because of its failure to evolve, SeaWorld could save itself by not fighting a losing battle against the sea change of public opinion and set a plan immediately to move these long-suffering animals to seaside sanctuaries.” 

You’ll find the full article on line at http://tinyurl.com/mszxps6

USA Today takes letters at letters@usatoday.com or via this form: http://tinyurl.com/zs4ftbu and advises, “Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length. Submissions of 200 words or fewer have the best chance of being published. Letters that include a name, address, day and evening phone numbers, and that are verified by USA TODAY, are considered for publication.”

It is up to us to make sure the public knows that things are not okay now at SeaWorld, just because breeding and orca performances have stopped. Please write. 

Now let me share great news from Parade Magazine, the insert slipped into hundreds of Sunday newspapers in the US and thereby distributed to tens of millions of households. An article and page of recipes titled “Dairy-Free and Delicious: Nondairy Milks Are All the Rage” opens with:

“Dairy alternatives are all the rage. In fact, 49 percent of Americans now prefer nondairy milk. That’s why we’ve created a light springy soup and creamy popsicles perfect for experimenting with new plant-based ‘milks.’ For the soup, we used milk made with pea protein, which is increasingly showing up in products like snack bars or veggie burgers as a meat-free source of protein. For these recipes, any nondairy milk will taste great (as will reduced-fat cow’s milk).”

As Stewart David, who kindly sent me the link, pointed out, 49% must be a taste-test figure. I checked actual sales figures and found out, from statista.com, that nondairy accounted for about ten percent of the US milk market in 2016. Given that when I began working in this movement it was more like 1%, that is still wonderful news! And an article like this will only help those numbers. 

You’ll find it on line at http://tinyurl.com/kesuklq

I was unable to sign in or register to comment, and as there are no comments I suspect others had a similar problem. But clicking the Facebook or Twitter link under the headline is a comment in and of itself, and it helps spread the wonderful word! And, if you like, you can add your own comment on Facebook or Twitter as to why “reduced fat cow’s milk” is not a good substitute for pea-protein milk. Please, at least, hit the button and share the article on social media. 

Meanwhile, Shelley Frost let us know that in last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, “the entire Food + Home section is titled ‘Special Report- What is Meat?’.” She described it as “a 14 page section filled with alternative meat articles that closes with vegan recipes.” Here’s the introduction:
“What is meat?

Does its provenance — a living animal — define meat? Or is it simply the sum of its parts? If something is chemically identical to meat — or for that matter, wine — does that make it so?

“These questions are worth asking, because thanks to a confluence of wealth, innovation and culinary knowledge, the Bay Area is uniquely positioned to be a major player in the global alternative meat industry. The cause is well known: Animal consumption, especially on the factory farm levels, is an unsustainable proposition.

Welcome to the real future of fake meat.”  

Here’s the link to it: http://www.sfchronicle.com/meat

You’ll find articles with titles such as, “Cellular agriculture: Growing meat in a lab setting” and “Faux shrimp leads new round of plant-based proteins” and “‘Meat breweries’ that make protein instead of beer,” which I hope you will love and share widely.

Glasgow animal right protest

May 6, 2017 Leave a comment

An animal rights protest in aid of farmed animals.

Dawnwatch – ocean and over fishing

May 1, 2017 Leave a comment

I am sorry to bring you two sorrowful stories from the Sunday, April 30, New York Times, but glad they made major media, one on the front page, so that we have an opportunity to respond as voices for animals. We read of the oceans being depleted by overfishing, and of a plan in Texas to use Warfarin to poison wild pigs. 
The front page story, by Andrew Jacobs, is titled, “China’s Appetite Pushes Fish Stocks to Brink.” 

It tells us:

“Overfishing is depleting oceans across the globe, with 90 percent of the world’s fisheries fully exploited or facing collapse, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization….

“But China, with its enormous population, growing wealth to buy seafood and the world’s largest fleet of deep-sea fishing vessels, is having an outsize impact on the globe’s oceans.

“Having depleted the seas close to home, Chinese fishermen are sailing farther to exploit the waters of other countries… West Africa, experts say, now provides the vast majority of the fish caught by China’s distant-water fleet…

“In Senegal, an impoverished nation of 14 million, fishing stocks are plummeting. Local fishermen working out of hand-hewn canoes compete with megatrawlers whose mile-long nets sweep up virtually every living thing. Most of the fish they catch is sent abroad, with a lot ending up as fishmeal fodder for chicken and pigs in the United States and Europe.”

It is not only the oceans that are being affected:

“Unable to live off the sea, desperate fishermen have been burning protected coastal jungle to make way for rice fields. But heavy rain often washes away the topsoil, environmentalists say, rendering the steep land useless.”

And while the article focuses on the impact of China, the deputy general director of the Bureau of Fisheries in Beijing, says that criticism of China’s fishing practices is exaggerated, and that, “Chinese vessels traveling to Africa were simply responding to the demand for seafood from developed countries, which have been reducing their own fleets.” He repeats a question he is asked:

“If China doesn’t fish, where would Americans get their fish to eat?” 

You’ll find the full article on line at http://tinyurl.com/lcsuxr9 

I send thanks, as I so often do, to Bruce Friedrich of the wonderful Good Food Institute for making sure we saw it. (Bruce is definitely earning the seat he holds the DawnWatch board!)

Page four of the Sunday Review section brings us the headline, “A Plan to Poison the Wild Hogs of Texas.”

Journalist Kate Murphy tells us that Texas has a feral hog population of 2.5 million, and that the pigs “cause an estimated $52 million a year in damage as the bristly backed hooligans smash through fences, decimate crops, eat baby livestock, dig up internet and water lines, ruin golf courses and cause car accidents when they dart across the road. They also carry diseases that have the potential to devastate cattle and domesticated pig operations, as well as infect humans.”

We learn that the state’s agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, “wants to use chemical warfare to bring about what he calls the ‘feral hog apocalypse.’

She continues:

“The poison? Warfarin (a.k.a. Coumadin), the most commonly prescribed anticoagulant, or blood thinner, for humans.”

Hunters, environmentalists, and animal welfare advocates are all against the proposition. Hunters fear they will not be able to eat or sell meat from wild hogs who may be poisoned with Warfarin. Environmentalists note that animals besides pigs can access the Warfarin dispensers, with “video of a black bear ripping into the device recently caused Louisiana officials to halt plans to follow Texas’ lead ….” 

As for animal welfare, we read:

“According to Jim Hone, an emeritus professor of wildlife management at the University of Canberra in Australia who participated in that research, animal welfare concerns led them to stop using Warfarin. ‘It took on average seven to 10 days for the animals to die,’ suffering all the while from internal bleeding, he said. ‘It didn’t seem humane.'”

Yet, “Warfarin is still used in Australia as a rat poison, just as it is in the United States…”

News from Animal Defenders

April 23, 2017 2 comments

Let’s start with some great news: Guatemala has banned ALL animals in circuses! The 35th country in the world to pass a national restriction on the use of animals in circuses.
Meanwhile it is eleven years since a British Government first promised a ban. Eleven years of animal misery.
When we first exposed the savagery of the British circus industry, we were promised a ban under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.

When we exposed the vicious abuse of the elephants with the Great British Circus, a public consultation was called and 94.5% of respondents demanded a ban. A ban was promised.

When we exposed the blows and kicks that rained down on poor Anne the elephant as she stood chained and helpless, back bench MPs voted unanimously instructing the government to bring forward a ban. A ban was promised and the law drafted. It was never implemented.

At the last General Election almost all Members of Parliament (98%) were elected on a manifesto commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. Those promises are still unfulfilled.

I was due to meet Defra with our team next week to discuss moving the ban forward – the meeting has been cancelled following the announcement of the General Election. We are working to reschedule.  

Perhaps there are those who think we will simply give up on this, frustrated by the broken promises. We will never give up until the abuse is stopped. 

I need you to contact all your Parliamentary candidates in your area (all parties) and urge them to support a ban on wild animals in circuses.

Circus animals need you to write today to the parties as they compile their manifestos urging them to include a commitment to ban wild animals in circuses.I

I know you have done this before and the politicians have let you down, but the animals cannot afford for you to give up! HELP THEM TODAY!

A year ago this month, we completed our mission to close down all Peru’s animal circuses and I flew with Hoover the tiger and over 30 lions to new lives in Florida and South Africa. Yet lions and tigers continue to languish in circus cages in the UK.

DawnWatch today

April 21, 2017 Leave a comment

The advent of herbivorous “butcher” shops is good news – particularly so when it is considered big enough financial news to make the front page of the Wall Street Journal. The Thursday, April 20 front page headline reads, “These butchers sell baloney that’s phony” with the subheading, “Vegan shops hawk veggies that look, taste like real meat.”  
The article, by Erin Ailworth, opens with:

“Michael Abramson has set up his butcher shop in Toronto’s Little Italy to look much like any other, with gleaming knives lining the wall, employees prepping cutlets and someone hand-cranking a sausage stuffer.

“There’s one meaty exception. His choice cut isn’t beef, it’s beet. He’s not proffering lamb, but yam.

“Mr. Abramson, a 62-year-old vegan, is the proprietor of YamChops, a faux meat market where every patty, link, and fillet is made from edible plants. To entice ‘veg curious’ meat eaters as well as vegetarians, he takes great pains to make sure his substitutes look as much like the real thing as possible.”

The bulk of the article is on page A8, where we read, “Mr. Abramson is part of a small but growing community of ‘vegetable butchers’ opening shop from Northern California to Sydney to The Hague, hoping to wow discerning diners with substitute lox crafted from carrots and jerky fashioned from wheat gluten.” The story includes a big photo of the deli case at the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis, looking uncannily like a deli case at any other butcher, packed with various pastrami style meats and sausages. 

Subscribers to the Wall Street Journal can see other photos on line, such as the Herbivorous Butcher’s sumptuous looking “Smoky House BBQ Ribs” and “Barbecue slabs on the grill” at Monks Meats in Brooklyn. 

Unfortunately non subscribers cannot see those photos, or read past the first few paragraphs of the article. It discusses why vegetarians would want food that looks and tastes like meat, and ends with a nice quote from Josh Karant, who teaches about the politics of food at the Pratt Institute. He says that the brisket at Monk Meats won’t fool many carnivores, but he compliments it: “It’s totally its own thing: nothing bloody or Texan about it, but nice and smoky and salty and toothsome…Great with the slaw and pickles too.”

Journal subscribers will find the article on line at http://tinyurl.com/lgxzoa6 . (Others will find a few paragraphs of it.) It opens the door for letters appreciative of the coverage that make any point about health, environment, animal cruelty or animal rights that you feel would be useful in response to this article about the growing popularity of meat-free “butcher” shops. 

The Wall Street Journal takes letters at wsj.ltrs@wsj.com 

Always include your full name, address and phone number.