Category Archives: Animal Welfare

8 Reasons To Reconsider What’s On Your Thanksgiving Plate

More than 45 million turkeys are killed each year for just one single day. What an awful way to show thankfulness,  by causing massive suffering. This year, reconsider what’s on your Thanksgiving plate and choose to celebrate the holiday by honoring life and kindness, instead of cruelty and death.

dontsmHere’s 8 reasons to be compassionate this Thanksgiving.

1. Rampant animal abuse

The honest truth is: If you purchase turkey, you are contributing to some of the worst animal abuse there is. There is so much documentation and undercover footage of the abuse that it is undeniable how rampant and horrifying it is. Workers routinely stomp on turkeys, punch them, kick them, beat them with pipes and boards, twist their necks repeatedly, and slam them against walls. One worker even bragged about shoving a broomstick down a turkey’s throat.

Life on factory farms is hell and by purchasing turkey, you are not only condoning, but also directly funding this abuse. Take responsibility for your actions. Just because it’s out of sight, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Choose not to support this cruelty.

2. Modern turkeys are Frankensteins

Turkeys are drugged and genetically manipulated to grow as large as possible as quickly as possible to increase profits. In 1960, the average turkey raised for meat weighed 17 pounds. Today, he or she weighs 29 pounds. Turkeys are now so overgrown they cannot even reproduce naturally; instead, all the turkeys born in the United States today on factory farms are conceived through artificial insemination.

new_sweet_chart

Their unnaturally large size makes it difficult for turkeys to walk and some even cripple under their immense weight. The crippled animals can not stand or walk to get food or water. The rapid growth also causes many turkeys to die from organ failure or heart attacks before they are even 6 months old. According to an investigative report in the Wall Street Journal on the miserable conditions on turkey farms, “It’s common in a rearing house to find a dead bird surrounded by four others whose hearts failed after they watched the first one ‘fall back and go into convulsions, with its wings flapping wildly.'”

figure12

3. Nearly 1 million turkeys and chickens are boiled alive each year

According to the Washington Post, nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys are unintentionally boiled alive every year in U.S. slaughterhouses, where fast-moving lines often fail to kill the birds before they are dropped into the scalding tank. Employees struggle to properly shackle thrashing birds by their ankles on the constantly moving “disassembly line.” When birds are not properly secured, or are improperly stunned, they miss the automated blade which slits their throats, and are still alive when they enter the scalder.

dead_chicken-peta

4. The filth. Oh, the filth!

By the time the birds are sent to slaughter, as much as 80% of the litter on the floor of the shed is their own urine and feces. This results in a buildup of ammonia, causing turkeys to develop ulcerated feet and painful burns on their legs and bodies. The air in these sheds is so polluted with feces and ammonia that most birds suffer from painful respiratory diseases and eye disorders, including swelling of the eyelids, discharge, clouding and ulceration of the cornea, and even blindness.

There is a high rate of viral and bacterial infections from the filth, and sick or injured birds frequently languish unnoticed. When suffering birds are found, they are typically killed via “cervical dislocation or the crushing of the head or vertebrae by striking the birds against a wall or with an object,” says Mercy for Animals.

2010-11-08-TurkeyProduction_ac68d78cbcBut the filth isn’t just bad for the birds, it’s bad for you as well. Consumer Reports’ researchers recently tested 257 brands of raw ground turkey meat and found that 90% of the tested turkey meat had at least one of these five bacteria: enterococcus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and campylobacter. All five bacteria can cause illness and be fatal in some cases. And all five bacteria are associated with fecal contamination. In other words, there is feces on the meat.

5. De-beaking, de-toeing, and de-snooding

Turkeys are crammed so tightly into sheds that each bird only has about 2.5 square feet of space. To keep the birds from injuring and killing each other in such crowded, stressful conditions, parts of the turkeys’ toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males’ snoods (the flap of skin under the chin). All of this is done without pain relievers and the birds do experience immense pain during this.

debeak_lg turkey-21

6. “Free Range” does NOT mean humane

According to the USDA, the terms “free range” and “free roaming” can be used to describe animals that “are allowed access to the outside for 51% of their lives”. It is completely legal (and common) for this “access to the outside” to be a single, small door in the corner of a huge shed that leads to a concrete slab. There are no requirements on the actual amount of time spent outdoors or the quality and size of the outdoor area. For this reason, contrary to popular belief, “free-range” facilities are generally no more than large sheds in which tens of thousands of turkeys are crammed together, living in their own waste. Their beaks and toes are still clipped, they are still fed growth hormones and their legs buckle under their unnaturally large weight, and they are still slaughtered by being hung, flailing, upside down, having their throat slit, and then being scalded in boiling water.

Do not be fooled into thinking that turkeys with  marketing buzz words on their wrapper lived better lives than those without the fancy labels.

Free Range turkeys

Free Range turkeys

7. Turkeys are gentle, loving, creatures

In natural conditions, turkey hens are devoted mothers who care diligently for their babies. They form friendships and emotional bonds. Much like dogs, turkeys love to be petted and to play with their turkey friends.

Many turkeys, even those who have known great cruelty at human hands, will happily sit for hours having their feathers stroked. Beatrice (below), a former factory farm turkey rescued by Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, loves to snuggle, despite having been mutilated by humans as a baby.

Loving-Beatrice-the-turkey

Susie Coston, who has worked with rescued farmed animals, including many turkeys, for nearly twenty years, writes: “Prevalent in our society are some deep misconceptions about turkeys: that they lack intelligence, that they don’t have personalities, that there can be no kinship between humans and these animals who appear so very different from us. No one who met this bright, charismatic bird could doubt that turkeys are individuals with minds, feelings, and unique characters – individuals with whom we can have connections, individuals with whom we can share friendship.”

8. Thanksgiving is about thankfulness, not meat

Remember that the intention of the holiday is about giving thanks, showing gratitude, reflecting on what we appreciate and love. I can’t think of a worse way to show thankfulness than brutally abusing and slaughtering 45 million living creatures. Why should the centerpiece of this joyous holiday be the carcass of a tortured animal? This year, focus on the family, on the friends, on the spirit of the occasion, even on the (cruelty-free) food, but not on an abused animal! Begin a tradition of celebrating thanks by choosing kindness, compassion, and life. Fill your table with delicious, meat-free dishes and I promise, not only will your stomach feel satisfied, but so will your heart.

Find recipes (and mouthwatering photos) for a vegetarian Thanksgiving here!

a_vegetarian_thanksgiving_menu

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Over the years, I’ve posted quite a bit about turkeys. Writing a Thanksgiving post about turkeys has sort-of become a tradition on Powered By Produce. Check out some of my previous posts about turkeys if you want even more reasons to leave these beautiful creatures off your plate.

This is your Thanksgiving turkey
Bird of courage
Traditions (that really aren’t)
Honoring Intentions
Thanksgiving Day (dis)Grace
Top 10 Reasons to not eat turkeys
Meet your meat: Turkeys
Meet your meat: Chickens and turkeys
Let’s talk turkey

 

 

This Is Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Over forty-five million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving each year. These animals live torturous lives and experience painful deaths. What an awful way to celebrate our thankfulness, by contributing to massive suffering.

This Thanksgiving, as millions of people stand in line to purchase their mass-produced, drug-laden, sick, abused, inhumanely slaughtered turkeys, I will be thankful that I no longer stand with them.

S.O.S. Save Our Seas!

When we think about animal abuse and environmental destruction on factory farms, we think about cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys, but we often don’t think about fish. However, fish are abused just as awfully as land animals and fishing is destroying our planet just as quickly as factory farms are.

Aquacultures (Fish Farms)

Aquacultures are essentially underwater factory farms. The fish are over-crowded into tanks fully of filthy water (pools full of of fish feces, hormone and antibiotic-laden fish feed, and diseased fish carcasses) and fed a diet that consists of corn, soy, antibiotics, and hormones. Because of the extremely cramped conditions, cannibalism is common.

From the book Eating Animals:

The Handbook of Salmon Farming, details six “key stressors in the aquaculture environment”: water quality, crowding, handling, disturbance, nutrition, and hierarchy. To translate into plain language, those six sources of suffering for salmon are: (1) water so fouled that it makes it hard to breathe; (2) crowding so intense that animals begin to cannibalize one another; (3) handling so invasive that physiological measures of stress are evident a day later; (4) disturbance by farmworkers and wild animals; (5) nutritional deficiencies that weaken the immune system; and (6) the inability to form a stable social hierarchy, resulting in more cannibalization. These problems are typical. The handbook calls them “integral components of fish farming.”

In the filthy tank water, sea lice thrive. These lice attack and feed on the fish, creating painful open wounds and sometimes even eating down to the bone on a fish’s face. This is so common that it has a name: “the death crown.” Salmon farms generates sea lice in numbers 30,000 times higher than naturally occur.

Lesion due to sea lice

The fish that manage to survive the fish farms (a 10 – 30% death rate is seen as good by the salmon industry), are starved for 7-10 days prior to slaughter, to diminish their bodily waste. They are then killed by having their gills sliced off and being tossed aside to bleed to death. The fish convulse, in no doubt what is pain.

For more about fish farms, read my previous post here.

Wild Fish

So, with fish farming being just as bad as factory farming, are wild-caught fish a better alternative?

The most common ways of fishing are longline fishing, trawling, and purse seines. Longlines are heavy fishing lines, covered in hooks,  that can stretch as far as 75 miles. Hundreds of these lines can be deployed by a single boat and there are thousands of boats in commercial fleets. An estimated 27 million hooks are deployed every day.

But longlines don’t just kill their target species (like tuna or salmon). One study found that roughly 4.5 million sea animals are killed as bycatch in longline fishing every year, including 3.3 million sharks, 1 million marlins, 60,000 sea turtles (including many endangered species), 75,000 gulls and sea birds, and 20,000 dolphins and whales.

Among longline bycatch are birds (left) and sharks (right)

And this doesn’t even come close to comparing to the bycatch deaths caused by trawling. As the trawl is pulled along the ocean bottom, it not only sweeps shrimp, but also everything else in its path into a funnel-shaped net. It doesn’t matter what ends up in the net – fish, sharks, rays, crabs, squid, turtles – all will die.  The average trawling operation throws 80-90% of the animals is catches back into the ocean, dead. The least efficient operations actually throw more than 98% of their catch, dead, overboard.

Typical shrimp bycatch

We are literally destroying the diversity, vibrancy, and entire ecosystem of the ocean. It’s like clear-cutting a forrest with thousands of species in it to create a massive field. One quarter of the world’s fisheries are already classified as over-fished or depleted, and the rest are being fished harder than ever. It is predicted that the remaining commercial fish species will be exhausted by 2050, meaning no more wild fish, at all.

For every 10 tuna, sharks, and other large predatory fish that were in our oceans 50-100 years ago, only one remains today. Second only to climate change, overfishing is our biggest sustainability problem. On a daily basis, we remove tons of life from beneath the waves, in shockingly destructive ways. Bottom trawlers with giant nets rake the ocean floor, decimating coral reefs and scooping up all animals that are in the way. If the ocean ecosystem dies, the O2/CO2 balance in the atmosphere gets all out of whack and then we’re really screwed.

Longlines and trawling aren’t just ecologically devastating, they are also cruel. In trawlers, hundreds of different animals are dragged for hours, crushed together, bashed against corals and rocks, and then pulled from the water, causing painful decompression (the decompression sometimes causes the animals’ eyes to pop out or their internal organs to come out of their mouths). On longlines, the animals face a slow death. Some live on the line until they are pulled up and killed, some die from the injury caused by the hook, and some are held captive as they are attacked by predators. 

Purse seines are net walls dropped around a school of fish, and any other creatures in the vicinity, then the bottom of the net is tightened and pulled onto the deck. Fish tangled in the net are pulled apart, but most of the animals die on the deck, where they slowly suffocate, or have their gills cut off while conscious and are left to bleed to death. Sometimes the fish are tossed onto ice, to keep them “fresh,” which actually prolongs their death. According to a study in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, fish die slowly and painfully over a period as long as 14 minutes when tossed into ice.

Thoughts

Although one can realistically expect that at least some percentage of cows and pigs are slaughtered with speed and care, no fish gets a good death. Not a single one. You never have to wonder if the fish on your plate had to suffer. It did.

– Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

What would it take to convince you not to eat fish? Would you still choose to eat fish if the label told you how many sea-lice lesions were on the body prior to slaughter? What if it told you that the fish’s eyes were bleeding from the pollution in the factory farm water? Or if it listed that for the 1 pound of shrimp you’re buying, 9 pounds of rays, sharks, or even dolphins were killed? Or that the boat that caught your fish is contributing to the complete and total decimation of the ocean ecosystem? Are sushi, tuna, or salmon really that important to you?

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Breakfast: Smoothie with mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries) and banana
Lunch: Vermicelli noodle bowl with tofu and veggies from the Vietnamese restaurant by my office
Dinner: Quick & easy chili (even though it was 107 degrees here today): pinto beans, black beans, crushed tomatoes, green chilies, onion, jalapeno, chili powder

Cheese Addiction Rehab Program

It seems that many vegetarians (myself included*) struggle to make the leap to veganism because of one thing: cheese.

I’ve found that most vegetarians agree that eggs are as easy to drop as the meat. And non-cheese dairy has plenty of not just adequate, but downright tasty subsitutes (butter, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, milk, and even grated parmesan). But cheese seems to be the vegan Achilles heel. What is it about this stuff that causes some of the healthiest eaters and some of the most outspoken animal rights advocates to declare, “I could NEVER give up cheese!”

For a lot of people we’ve talked to, cheese is the lone item that often still has its hooks in them. So many people have complained to us about how hard it was to give up cheese that we almost felt like we needed to set up some kind of support group in the basement of an area church where we served burnt coffee (with soy creamer) and let people talk about how many days cheese-clean they’ve been.

-From the book Vegan Freak: Being Vegan In a Non-Vegan World

Part of the answer lies in the addictive qualities of cheese. Yes, that’s right, cheese is addictive. It’s not like you’re going to go into seizures or begin vomiting when you give up cheese, but certainly the opiate qualities of cheese help to explain what makes it so hard for people to stop.

The principle protein in milk is casein. (Casein makes up 80 – 86% of the proteins in cow milk and 60% – 65% of the proteins in human milk). When we digest casein, something called casomorphins are formed. And these casomorphins have an opioid effect on us (similar to morphine but with one-tenth the power). In other words, it makes us feel good.

Cheese is produced by curdling the milk (by adding rennet, an enzyme produced in mammalian stomachs to digest mother’s milk, which “digests” the milk into cheese – um, gross!). The curds become cheese and the whey (liquid) is discarded. Doing this causes the casein concentration to be much higher in cheese than in milk. This is why Dr. Neal Barnard refers to cheese as “dairy crack.”

But wait, there’s more. Cheese also contains an amphetamine-like chemical, phenylethylamine (also found in chocolate) which is often called an aphrodisiac because it “arouses the pleasure areas of the brain,” and is even used as an anti-depressant because of its mood-elevating qualities.

Evolutionarily, these chemicals are probably present to create a positive association between the baby and its mother and her milk (that’s just a theory). But today, humans consume more cow’s milk than calves do and average cheese consumption in the US has tripled from 1970 to 2008, from 11 pounds per year to 33 pounds per year, per person.

Not to mention that dairy farmers and the USDA are loving this constant growth in sales. In fact, they love it so much that the USDA spends $140 million annually on marketing cheese and making slick deals with companies like Domino’s Pizza and Taco Bell to double the amount of cheese in their products. These deals result in even more cheese sales and even larger waistlines. (Average weight for American females increased from 140 pounds in 1960 to 164 pounds in 2002. Males increased from 166 to 191 pounds.)

With opiates and the US government against us, what’s an aspiring vegan to do?

For starters, because of the addictive quality of cheese, trying to wean yourself off dairy-crack isn’t the right approach because the cravings will continue (you don’t wean a drug addict off heroin in rehab, you remove it cold-turkey). Dr. Neal Barnard recommends making a commitment to go dairy-free for just three weeks. He asserts that this is enough time for your cravings to subside.

To help you through your three week withdrawal period, I’ve created this list of disgusting cheese facts** that you should bookmark and read anytime you have a cheese craving. (You’re welcome.)

  • Cheese is made from milk, and milk contains pus and blood. Animals that are continually milked day after day develop infections and sores on their udders resulting in blood and pus in the milk. You may comfort yourself by thinking that the dairy is pasteurized, but while the pasteruization will protect you from becoming ill, you are still eating pus and blood. As Vegan Freak puts it, “Look at it like this: you could stick a dog turd in an autoclave and render it biologically harmless with significant pressure and heat. Yet, we’re willing to wager that you’d not be anxious to eat it unless you have some very strange proclivities indeed.”
  • In order for mammals to produce milk, they must become pregnant. Dairy cows are continually re-impregnated through artificial insemination within 2-3 months of having their previous calf. Naturally, a cow would nurse her calf for 9 months to 1 year, but the dairy industry removes the calf from the mother after only a few days, so that the milk that was meant to nourish her baby can be made into cheese for you. Separation of calf from mother is extremely traumatic. Both the cow and calf bellow and show obvious signs of distress when they are separated, often continuing for several days, leaving those within earshot in no doubt that it is a harrowing experience for both.
  • The calf that was taken from its mother is slaughtered for veal. (Yes, the dairy industry fuels the veal industry.)
  • Many cows are physically exhausted after 2-3 lactation periods, at which point they are sent to slaughter and end up in “low quality” beef products like ground beef, canned goods, and baby food. If you think no animals are being slaughtered as a result of dairy, you are completely wrong.
  • Cheese isn’t just a disaster for the cows, it’s also a disaster for you. One cup of diced cheddar has a whopping 532 calories, 385 of which come from fat. That includes 28 grams of saturated fat, which is 139% the recommended total daily value. To all that fat, you can add 139 mg of cholesterol and 820 mg of sodium.
  • And forget about being vegan – many cheeses aren’t even vegetarian. Rennet, which is used to curdle the milk into cheese is a stomach enzyme scraped from the stomachs of slaughtered cows. (Vegetarian rennets do exist – synthesized in a lab, no doubt – but it is difficult to to know which cheeses use which kind.)
  • A single dairy cow produces about 120 pounds of manure per day, which is equivalent to the waste produced by 20–40 people. That means California’s 1.4 million dairy cows produce as much waste as 28–56 million people. Millions of gallons of liquefied feces and urine seep into the environment contaminating rivers and groundwater, killing millions of fish, and delivering antibiotics and hormones into our water sources.

Dropping cheese from your diet should just be a natural extension of dropping the meat because whatever reasons you have for giving up meat hold true for giving up cheese (animal welfare, health, environment). To quote No Meat Athlete, “All it takes to stop completely is a decision.”

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*In order to be fully honest, I must confess:

I eat strictly vegan at home, but I’ll sometimes eat vegetarian when eating out or at other people’s homes.

At restaurants, I choose a vegan option if there is one, or I’ll request simple modifications to veganize a dish (I’ll have the chalupa, hold the cheese), but sometimes there isn’t a straightforward vegan option and I’ll choose a vegetarian one instead. (While Austin is extremely vegetarian-friendly, it’s not entirely vegan-friendly.) I also do not scrutinize waiters about ingredients (do you use butter or margarine?). And, I hate to admit it, but I occasionally order items knowing full well that they contain dairy (ahem, desserts).

At friends’ and family’s houses, I’m simply not comfortable asking them to prepare me a vegan meal. I find that people are extremely willing to make me vegetarian meals, as this is a request that everyone understands and respects. But once the word “vegan” comes out, I can immediately sense their intimidation. Even though veganism is only 2 ingredients away from vegetarianism (dairy and eggs), people interpret it as “extreme” and quickly become overwhelmed by the idea of being able to make a vegan meal. So it’s my personal decision (at least for now) to request vegetarian, rather than vegan meals, if I am a guest.

For me, this results in about 2 or 3 non-vegan meals a week. It’s something I’m not especially proud of, but it’s what works for me and my lifestyle at the moment.

**Most of the bulleted facts are from here or here.

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Breakfast: Bean and potato taco from the cafeteria at work

Lunch: Veggie Max sub from Subway
Dinner: Sloppy Joes with Meatless Crumbles and Manwich

What Are We Eating?

I loved this infographic from visualeconomics.com.

And I’m completely floored by the amount of non-cheese dairy! What are people eating so much of that is making up this huge section? Ice cream? Yogurt? (Oh those poor cows.*)
american-average-food-consumption

Mercy For Animals recently released undercover footage from a Texas farm that raises dairy cows. It is one of the most miserable things I’ve ever seen.

Unfortunately, this type of thing is widespread throughout the dairy and meat industries. When you purchase diary, you support this.

Opt for dairy alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, hemp milk, or rice milk. Try soy yogurt and soy ice cream, or coconut milk ice cream. They are all just as tasty, and they prevent the cruelty shown in this video.

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Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter and a cup of applesauce
Lunch: Black bean tacos from Taco Cabana
Dinner: Pasta with olive oil, garlic, spinach, tomato, and broccoli

Movie Review: The Cove

I just watched The Cove, the Oscar award-winning documentary about the  annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan. I’m not going to go into details about the film because this is a blog about American food issues, but I do just have a few quick thoughts:

  • This movie left me feeling completely disgusted with humanity (as does all of the animal abuse/slaughter evidence I see). It is so sad to see how callous humans are; what little regard we have for life, for majestic intelligent beings, for our fellow creatures.
  • It angers me beyond belief that the Japanese government pays small, poor countries to support them on this issue. I don’t understand how the representatives of the International Whaling Commission from Japan, and the countries which Japan has paid off, can live with themselves.
  • I am once again feeling entirely overwhelmed and helpless in this quest to enlighten people about animal abuse and slaughter. Dolphins are considered the most intelligent of all animals, yet we can’t even stop their slaughter for meat. If we can’t save the dolphins, there’s sure as shit no hope for the cows.


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Breakfast: Smoothie with banana, pear, spinach, flaxseed, almond milk, and ice

Lunch: Big salad with spinach, chickpeas, kidney beans, mini corn, and a chopped Morning Star Chik Patty
Dinner: Pumpkin ravioli with homemade vegan pesto

Quote Of The Day Friday #7

The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. Happiness is never better exhibited than by young animals, such as puppies, kittens, lambs, etc., when playing together, like our own children. The fact that the lower animals are excited by the same emotions as ourselves is so well established, that it will not be necessary to weary the reader by many details. Terror acts in the same manner on them as on us, causing the muscles to tremble, the heart to palpitate, the sphincters to be relaxed, and the hair to stand on end.

– Charles Darwin

Warning: This video makes me really sad.

This Just In: Fish Are Not Vegetables

I think the second-most frequently asked question I hear (immediately after the protein question) is, “Do you eat fish?”

People, FISH ARE NOT VEGETABLES.

I (semi-)understand some of the ambiguity – There are many “vegetarians” who eat fish. And these vegetarians are confusing the heck out of people! Ok, I don’t want to get into semantics or labels here (but I’m just saying, vegetarians who eat fish are technically called pescatarians) because perfectly fitting into a category is not what vegetarianism is about. However, I do want to get into the disconnect between mammals and fish.

Understandably, it is much more difficult for us to imagine or empathize with the life of a fish, than the life of a pig or cow. I mean, they live underwater, something we can never experience, and we can’t really interact with them.  They don’t cuddle or enjoy being pet by us, they don’t appear to show emotions, and they don’t even make any sounds so we have no way of knowing if they are experiencing pleasure or pain, or anything at all.

But here’s the thing – Fish are animals, just like you and me, and all animals feel pain. Even though they do not express their pain in ways that we recognize (or maybe they don’t express it at all), does not mean that they don’t feel it! Science backs me up here: A) Fish have central nervous systems. B) Pain is built-in defense mechanism that all animals have to protect themselves. C) Many studies/experiments have shown that fish feel pain. Here is one. Here is another one.

Mercy For Animals recently did an undercover investigation at a catfish farm in Texas. This video is what they found. (I dare you to watch this video and then tell me that fish don’t feel pain.)

For those who didn’t (or couldn’t) watch, the video shows:

  • Workers using slicers and pliers to pull the skin off of live fish
  • Fish flailing and struggling as their skin is pulled or sliced off
  • Skinned fish still moving, gasping, and bleeding on the table
  • Workers tearing (with their hands, not knives) the heads off live fish

In the US each year, approximately 8.4 billion fish are killed for food. Fifty percent of those are farm-raised. Not one single federal law exists to protect fish from abuse on aquaculture factory farms, during fishing events, or at slaughter. The next time you want to eat fish, imagine the pain it felt as its skin was ripped from its live, flailing body. Not very appetizing.

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Breakfast: Smoothie with bananas, peaches, almond milk, and ground flaxseed – which, by the way, is an excellent, cruelty-free alternative to fish oil as a source of omega-3!
Lunch: Thundercloud‘s Nada-Chicken Parm sub. Yum!
Dinner: Chalupas! With refried beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, cilantro, and salsa

A Thought Experiment

Imagine yourself in a crowded elevator, an elevator so crowded that you cannot turn around without bumping into (and aggravating) your neighbor. This elevator is so crowded that you are often held aloft, which is kind of a blessing because the floor is made of wire that cuts your bare feet.

You are stuck in this elevator for days, weeks, months. After some time, those in the elevator will lose their ability to work in the interest of the group. Some become violent, others go mad. A few, deprived of food and hope, become cannibalistic.

There is no respite, no relief. No elevator repairman ever is coming. The doors will open once, at the end of your life, for your journey to the only place worse…

This is the life of an egg-laying hen.

Battery_Cage_01

The New York Times published this graphic which illustrates how many eggs produced in the US come from battery cages. (Go to that link. NOW! It shows the actual space allotment per hen for battery cages & “cage free” hens.)

The graphic explains the breakdown as follows:

97% of all eggs produced in the United States are from hens that live in tightly packed battery cages, with no way to roam outside. These eggs are unethical by any standard. They pose a threat to human health by increasing the spread of Salmonella, they endanger the environment, and they are cruel to animals.

2% of US eggs are from cage-free birds, which live exclusively indoors. These, too, are “factory farmed” eggs, as birds are tightly packed in windowless sheds and each has only slightly more space than a battery caged hen.

1% of US eggs are from “free-range” birds that have the option to go outdoors. (The key word here is ‘option‘.) These systems vary widely, from the entire flock roaming in the grass, to the entire flock in a windowless shed with a small door, that is opened for only 30 minutes a day, that leads to a concrete slab. (More info on the myth of “free range” eggs.)

This means that fewer than 1% of eggs produced in the US would meet the standard of a non-vegan who cares about animal welfare, or environmental destruction, or public health.

In other words, if someone cares about these issues, and decides to live their values, then they would avoid eating eggs the majority of the time.

From a speech by Norm Phelps:

“You can’t walk a mile in the shoes of a battery chicken, because battery chickens can’t walk a foot, much less a mile. But stand for an hour in the cage of a battery chicken, Stand jammed so tightly in a cage with other birds that you cannot turn around or stretch your wings. Stand up to your knees in your own excrement and the excrement of your fellow prisoners while being constantly splattered with the feces and urine of prisoners in cages stacked above you. Breathe air so poisonous with ammonia from the urine that your jailers and torturers have to wear protective masks when they enter the building. Never see sunshine. Never breathe fresh air. If you are injured or fall ill, just suffer; nobody cares, nobody is going to send for a doctor. If you die, so what? It’s cheaper that way.”

“This is the existence of a battery hen from shortly after she is born until the moment she is slaughtered. She never sees sunlight, she never breathes clean air, she never takes dust baths or pecks in the dirt, she never sleeps on a perch or sits on a nest, all activities that are vital to the mental as well as the physical health of chickens. This is her life, joyless, hopeless, saturated with suffering 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the two years that she is allowed to live, a bleak, abysmal, agonizing existence without friendship, comfort, or consolation.”

The egg industry is often regarded as the cruelest of all the factory farming industries. At the end of these animals’ miserable lives, they are slaughtered, for processed products like chicken nuggets and chicken soup. (Yes, you are eating those sickly-looking hens from the picture above.)

Do not support this cruelty; do not support the egg industry.

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Breakfast: A bagel with peanut butter
Lunch: A salad from the salad bar at Whole Foods (side note: after frequenting the downtown Austin Whole Foods, aka the “flagship,” I realized today that the Whole Foods in north Austin by my job is absolutely pathetic in comparison!)
Dinner: Pasta (gotta carbo-load for the marathon this weekend!) and a side of asparagus

Quote of the Day Friday #2

A veteran USDA meat inspector from Texas describes what he has seen:

“Cattle dragged and choked… knocking ’em four, five, ten times. Every now and then when they’re stunned they come back to life, and they’re up there agonizing. They’re supposed to be re-stunned but sometimes they aren’t and they’ll go through the skinning process alive. I’ve worked in four large [slaughterhouses] and a bunch of small ones. They’re all the same. If people were to see this, they’d probably feel really bad about it. But in a packing house everybody gets so used to it that it doesn’t mean anything.” – Slaughterhouse