Category Archives: Meet Your Meat

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.

Bird Of Courage

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird, instead of the bald eagle? Here is the famous excerpt from the letter to his daughter:

For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birdsfrom our Country . . .

I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

Although the thought of a turkey as our national bird might seem ridiculous to us today, Ben Franklin saw something in this “vain & silly Bird of Courage” that we have completely lost sight of. If only we knew a little more about this amazing bird, maybe instead of being targeted for our plates, the turkey could hold a well-deserved place of honor – like the lazy, dishonest bald eagle.

Reasons to respect turkeys, and celebrate a bird-free holiday:

  • -Wild turkeys can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and can fly at up to 55 miles per hour! But sadly, the turkeys that are grossly manipulated on factory farms cannot fly and often they can barely even stand under their massively overweight bodies.
  • -Evidence indicates that turkeys have been around for over 10 million years! (Homo sapiens have been around for about 200,000.)
  • -Turkeys are rumored to be unintelligent, but most of the evidence to support their supposed stupidity, are actually genetic disorders caused by domestication and selective breeding on factory farms. Wild turkeys are capable of learning the geography of an area as large as 1,000 acres and evading predators through strategic camouflage.
  • -A wild turkey’s natural lifespan averages 10 years. Factory farmed turkeys are slaughtered somewhere between 9-21 weeks.
  • -Turkeys have a wingspan of nearly 6 feet! In the open forests where they naturally live, they are by far the largest bird.
  • -Wild turkeys forage for food such as acorns, seeds, roots, insects and wild berries. Factory farmed turkeys are fed a mixture of corn, soy, growth hormones, antibiotics, scraps from processed turkey carcasses, and even litter and excrement.
  • -Turkeys have more than 20 unique vocalizations that can be heard more than a mile away. They use these voices to recognize and communicate with one another.
  • -Turkeys are social, playful birds that enjoy the company of others. They like to have their feathers stroked and they even chirp, cluck, and gobble along to music! Animal behavior experts say turkeys are social animals that bond and show affection and emotion.

It is devastating that these fascinating birds are manufactured like inanimate objects, that they are not even treated as living, feeling beings. But in the midst of their dark, rancid lives, turkeys have one solitary beam of hope: you. Make this Thanksgiving a compassionate one.

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Breakfast: Whole wheat English muffin with Earth Balance buttery spread
Lunch: Soy nuggets and awesome vegan chocolate pudding from Whole Foods
Dinner: Pasta and salad

Meet Your Meat: Ducks And Geese

Back to the basics today: Meet Your Meat.

Most people don’t think of ducks and geese when they think of cruelty to farmed animals, but over 25 million ducks are slaughtered each year on factory farms. Ducks and geese are both severely abused by the meat and foie gras industries. Kept in small cages, often unable to even move, inside dirty and dark sheds, these birds often suffer from disease and injury, just as chickens and turkeys in similar conditions do.

duck_cage

Ducks and geese raised for foie gras (which literally means “fatty liver”) have a pipe shoved down their throats three times a day so that two pounds of grain can be pumped into their stomachs to produce this “fatty liver” that some diners consider a delicacy. Foie gras is the liver of a duck or goose who has been force fed to the point where his liver is over 10 times its normal size. Only male ducks/geese are used, and females are discarded by the industry, similar to the egg industry. (And by “discarded” I mean: killed either by being suffocated in a garbage bag or by being thrown alive into a grinder.)

GooseForcedFeeding_smFoie gras production has been deemed cruel and inhumane by experts worldwide, including the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare.  The state of California passed a law banning foie gras because of the cruelty involved. (The city of Chicago banned foie gras in 2006, then devastatingly lifted the ban in 2008.)  California proudly joins a list of 15 countries that have banned this cruel practice.

Dr. Ward Stone, the senior wildlife pathologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, has conducted necropsies on ducks who died during force feeding at Hudson Valley Foie Gras and writes, “I eat meat including ducks on occasion. However, the short tortured lives of ducks raised for Foie Gras is well outside the norm of farm practice. Having seen the pathology that occurs from Foie Gras Production, I strongly recommend that this process be outlawed.” You can read his reports here and here.

Nearly everyone has gone to the park as a child to feed the ducks and geese. We still gaze in awe when we watch their perfectly shaped formations fly overhead. Little do we realize that these formations are strategically designed to reduce the air (or water) resistance for the birds in the rear. Ducks and geese fly hundreds of miles each year to migrate. Ducks live in close-knit family groups and geese choose a single partner and mate exclusively for life, even mourning for a significant amount of time when a partner dies.

feeding_ducks geese

If you want to help these fantastic birds, boycott their meat and foie gras and encourage others to do so as well.

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Breakfast: Fresh fruit smoothie with 1 peach, 2 bananas, almond milk & ice
Lunch: Amy’s non-dairy baked ziti
Dinner: Spaghetti with tomato sauce

Meet Your Meat: Eggs

Yes, I realize that eggs aren’t technically meat, but the over 285 million hens that are raised for eggs each year are arguably the most abused of all livestock animals.  These birds spend the entirety of their lives packed 7 or 8 hens to each battery cage.  This gives each animal the space of slightly smaller than a piece of paper.

BIRDFLU-CHINA/

Hens in battery cages do not have room to spread their wings, walk, or even lie down. These animals not only suffer from boredom and frustration, but also have elevated stress and aggression levels, causing some hens to peck others to death. To prevent these behaviors caused by extreme crowding, hens are kept in semi-darkness and the ends of their beaks are cut off with a hot blade.  No painkillers are administered during this painful process.

debeak_lg chicken-debeak-04

Because hens are crammed in their cages, the wire mesh rubs against their skin, rubbing it raw, and the wire mesh on the bottom of the cage (the cages do not have a solid bottom) cripples their feet.

Farmers induce greater egg production through forced molting, which shocks the hens’ bodies into another egg-laying cycle by starving them for days and keeping them in the dark, a stressful situation that causes them to lose feathers and weight. Flocks that are not force-molted are simply slaughtered after one egg laying season.

Battery_Cage_01

Broken bones are also common among these birds, who suffer from a painful condition called “cage layer osteoporosis,” a result of the high calcium demand of egg laying.  A study published in Poultry Science explained that “high production hens’ structural bone is mobilized throughout the laying period in order to contribute to the formation of eggshell.”

Although chickens can live for over 10 years, hens raised for their eggs are exhausted, and their egg production begins to wane when they are about 2 years old. When this happens, they are slaughtered. More than 100 million “spent” hens are killed in slaughterhouses each year. Most are used in processed foods (and are disgustingly sickly like the hens pictured above – yes, that’s what you’re eating).

Millions of day-old male chicks are killed every year, usually in high-speed grinders called macerators, which shred them alive because they are worthless to the egg industry.

(It sickens me that we treat living beings like inanimate objects.)

For more information about the egg industry, visit chooseveg.com.

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Breakfast: An apple and a banana
Lunch: Grilled veggie sub from the deli downstairs
Dinner: Chow mein, tofu stir-fry, and mixed veggies from Panda Express

Meet Your Meat: Turkeys

I have to admit, I had no clue who Shirley Jones was. After googling her, I found out that she played the mom on The Partridge Family (hence her cheese-ball reference to partridges at the start of the clip). No matter who she is, she gives an excellent description of the lives of factory-farmed turkeys.

What always disturbs me about these videos, besides the blatent abuse, is the fact that people are eating these sickly, diseased-looking animals. I mean, their feathers are falling out, they have open wounds, they are flapping around on the ground unable to stand up. If I were to eat meat, I certainly wouldn’t want it to look like that! Gross.

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Here’s a transcript of the video, though I’d recommend actually watching the video instead of just reading this – the images accompanying these words are much more descriptive than the words themselves:

I’m Shirley Jones, with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, with an important message about cruelty to animals. I have a special fondness for birds, and not just partridges, by the way. All birds feel pain and fear, so all of them need to be protected from abuse.

Did you know that there is no federal law protecting farmed birds like chickens and turkeys from standard abuses that include mutilations and being scalded to death while they are still fully conscious? Turkeys, gentle animals that are every bit as interesting and worthy of our concern as dogs and cats, are treated especially badly.

A few years ago, the Washington Post called today’s factory-farmed turkeys “techno-turkeys” because they’re genetically manipulated and drugged-up so that they barely resemble their wild counterparts. These “turbo-birds” are so genetically and chemically manipulated that the Post described eating turkey as quote, “serving up science for dinner.”

Modern turkeys spend their entire lives cooped up amid their own excrement, never permitted to breathe fresh air, feel the sun on their backs, build nests, or do anything else that’s natural and enjoyable to them. The drugs and Frenkenstein-like breeding cause turkeys to grow more than 6 times as quickly as they would naturally. But their legs can’t keep up and their bones crack beneath them. Others die of stress, overheating, or problems caused by poor ventilation. The air that these animals are forced to inhale for their entire lives can become so concentrated with ammonia that it burns turkeys’ eyes, throats, and lungs with every breath. Even very young turkeys suffer heart attacks, lung collapse, and seizures, when their internal organs simply can’t support their massive, artificially induced bulk.

Cruel culling methods like beating and neck-breaking are standard in the turkey industry. During transport, turkeys are crammed into open-sided trucks and endure long journeys in all weather extremes. Millions every year freeze to death or die of heat exhaustion. Traffic accidents during transport are common, especially just before Thanksgiving. Injured birds who don’t die in the accident are thrown back into the trucks to be shipped, often in severe pain from the accident, to the slaughterhouse.

At slaughter, turkeys are hung upside-down in shackles. Many arrive at the slaughterhouse with broken bones, severe bruises, and wounds. Some are still fully conscious when their throats are slit and they’re dumped into scalding hot feather-removal tanks. In slaughterhouses, suffering animals are ignored, left to languish, or tormented by workers.

Like chickens, turkeys are not included in the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, so they receive no legal protection from abuse.

Please, make your holiday meal, and every meal, one which animals can give thanks to. Try Tofurkey, or UnTurkey, or cook up a great veggie casserole. To find out more, and receive free recipes, nutritional information, and a free DVD, check out PETA’s pro-vegetarian website: GoVeg.com, or call 1-888-VEG-FOOD. Thank You.

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Breakfast: Cereal with soy milk
Lunch: Amy’s Black Bean & Vegetable Enchiladas
amys
Dinner: Soy Chorizo tacos with cilantro and salsa verde

Meet Your Meat: Fish

To eat fish or not to eat fish… 

Some vegetarians choose to continue eating fish (they are technically called “pescatarians”) for a variety of reasons:
1) Fish is a leaner, healthier meat than land-based meat.
2) Many people believe that fish do not feel pain (which is completely untrue). 
3.) People think that fish are caught in the wild, instead of raised on farms like livestock (also untrue). 

Although they may seem alien to us, fish are unique and intelligent beings that feel pain, just as all other animals.

Because we are exhausting our natural supplies of fish, Fish Farms (or Aquafarms) have rapidly become a billion-dollar industry. The aquaculture industry is growing 3 times faster than land-based animal agriculture.  Billions of farmed fish are slaughtered every year.

Fish in aquafarms spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures (overcrowded pools of fish feces, hormone and antibiotic-laden fish feed, and diseased fish carcasses).  Many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries.  Fish on farms will live their entire lives never being able to swim without constantly bumping into other fish.

Conditions on aquafarms are so awful that on some farms, 40% of the fish die before they can even be killed and packaged for food.  Those that survive are starved before they are slaughtered to reduce wast contamination in the water during transport.  Salmon are starved for 10 full days before slaughter.

In the US there are no regulations to ensure the humane treatment of fish. They are not stunned prior to slaughter, so they are fully conscious as they start down the slaughter line.  Their gills are cut & they are left to bleed to death, convulsing in pain.

Large fish (like salmon) are sometimes bashed on the head with a wooden bat, but only some die from this, others are just left in pain as they are cut open. Smaller fish may be killed by draining the tank to suffocate them, or by packing them on ice, alive. Because fish are cold blooded, suffocation on ice prolongs the suffering, leaving them to experience a slow, painful death for up to as long as 15 minutes.

Aquafarms can be land-based or in the ocean.  Land-based farms raise thousands of fish in ponds or concrete tanks.  Ocean-based farms pack fish into a net or mesh cage along a shoreline.

Contaminants from ocean-based farms (that stew of feces, antibiotics, and diseases) spreads to the surrounding ocean, passing diseases to ocean fish and in some cases, increasing sea lice by 1,000-fold. 

Sea lice are a regular occurrence on salmon farms.  They eat at the fish, causing their scales to fall off and creating large sores. In severely crowded conditions, lice even eat all the way down to the bone on the fish’s faces.  Fish farmers call this the “death crown.”

In crowded conditions, small fish are bullied and killed by larger fish, so the fish are constantly sorted to separate faster-growing individuals into size-groupings.  At each sorting, they are netted or pumped out of their tanks and dumped onto a series of bars and grates with varying space gaps to divide them by size.  This practice of “grading” is not only stressful, but also painful, resulting in scrapes and loss of scales.

Since fish are designed, by evolution, to navigate the vast oceans, and use their senses to do so, many fish literally go insane from the cramped conditions. They lose their ability to navigate properly and knock against the sides of the enclosures, or each other, damaging their fins and causing bodily sores.

Additionally, approximately 40% of the fish on fish farms are blind, due to injuries & deformities cause by disease.  Nothins is done to address this since it does not effect the farmer’s bottom line.

Stocking densities (the number of fish per cubic foot of water) are purely a function of profit.  They are raised until the death losses outweigh the benefit of cramming in more fish.

Many species of farmed fish are carnivorous, which means that more fish must be raised or farmed to feed them. It can take more than 5 pounds of fish from the ocean to produce 1 pound of farmed salmon or seabass. But, for the herbivores, aquafarms have begun feeding them fish oil and fish meal in an effort t make them grow faster.  This is exactly what caused the spread of Mad Cow Disease (feeding rendered cow parts to herbivorous cows).  And, of course, the feed is laced with antibiotics and hormones to force fast growth and combat the diseases that are prevalent when too many animals are crammed in to too small of a space.
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Breakfast: Fresh cut pineapple!
Lunch: Peanut butter & jelly sandwich
Dinner: Spaghetti with meatless meatballs (from the frozen aisle)

Meet Your Meat: Pigs

Back to the basics this week: Meet your meat.

Pigs are often compared to dogs because they are affectionate, loyal, and intelligent. Most people are not familiar with pigs because 97% of pigs in the United States today are on factory farms. People would be surprised to learn that pigs dream, recognize names, play video games better than some primates, and lead social lives of the same complexity as primates. In fact, according to Dr. Donald Broom, Cambridge University professor and former scientific advisor to the Council of Europe, “[Pigs] have the cognative ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly [more so than] three-year-olds.” Learn more about the intelligence of pigs.

Pigs on today’s farms are denied all of their instincts. Mother pigs (sows) spend the majority of their lives in individual “gestation crates” which are two feet wide, too small for them to even turn around.

According to a March 2004 article in the Des Moines Register, “A pregnant sow’s biological need to build a nest before having her litter is so great that some sows confined in modern hog buildings will rub their snouts raw on the concrete floor while trying to satisfy the drive.”

This deprived environment causes neurotic coping behaviors such as continual bar biting, obsessive pressing on water bottles, and sham chewing (chewing nothing). One slaughterhouse investigator wrote, “what will remain with me forever is the sound of desperate pigs banging their heads against immovable doors and their constant and repeated biting at the prison bars that held them captive. This, I now know, is a sign of mental collapse.”

Piglets are taken from their mothers as young as 10 day old and are packed into overcrowed pens until they are sent off for breeding or fattening. Because they are not properly weaned from their mothers, they bite each other’s tails, searching for milk. To prevent this problem, piglets’ tails are cut off and the ends of their teeth are broken off, both without the use of pain killers.

Just like all other animals in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), sick pigs are left untreated and either die from illness or are killed by “thumping” (slamming animal’s head against the floor until they die), drowning, or standing on their neck. According to a November 2002 article in the New York Times, “Sick pigs, being unproductive ‘production units’ are clubbed to death on the spot.” Approximately 100 million pigs are killed in the US each year. A Washington Post article reported that, “[hogs] are dunked in taks of hot water after they are stunned to soften the hides for skinning. As a result, a botched slaughter condemns some hogs to being scalded and drowned. Secret videotape from an Iowa pork plant shows hogs squealing and kicking as they are being lowered into the water.”

According to one slaughter plant worker, “After they left me, the hogs would go up a hundred-foot ramp to a tank where they’re dunked in 140° water…Water any hotter than that would take the meat right off their bones…There’s no way these animals can bleed out in the few minutes it takes to get up the ramp. By the time they hit the scalding tank, they’re still fully conscious and squealing. Happens all the time.”
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phB7IMgjYsM&hl=en&fs=1&]
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Breakfast: Cereal with soy milk
Lunch: Falafel pita sandwich
Dinner: Went to a BBQ – veggie burger, pasta salad, cornbread, beans

Meet Your Meat: Cows

This video pretty much sums it up – please watch it:

The one thing the video leaves out is how we’ve even turned something as simple as feeding the cows into an act of abuse and cruelty. For more on what we feed our cows and how it makes them sick, see my posts Feeding Our Food (Part 1) and Feeding Our Food (Part 2).

The unimaginable treatment of these animals is enough to make me quit meat, but on top of that, I am flat out disguted by the fact that the beef we buy comes from sick, diseased, unhealthy animals that are raised in manure up to their ankles. I mean, that’s just gross.
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Breakfast: English Muffin with spray butter, which blatently violates my advice to Eat Food
Lunch: Microwavable brown rice & veggie bowl
Dinner: Pasta with zucchini, tomato, garlic, fresh parsley, pine nuts, and olive oil

Meet Your Meat: Chickens and Turkeys

Chickens and turkeys are by far the most abused animals on the planet. They are crammed into dark, windowless, overcrowded sheds with as many as 40,000 birds per shed. These sheds are filthy with excrement and reek of ammonia.

A writer for The New Yorker visited a chicken shed and wrote, “I was almost knocked to the ground by the overpowering smell of feces and ammonia. My eyes burned and so did my lungs, and I could neither see nor breathe…. There must have been 30,000 chickens sitting silently on the floor in front of me… living in nearly total darkness, and they would spend every minute of their lives that way.”

These conditions cause the chickens and turkeys to develop chronic respiratory diseases, bronchitis, weakened immune systems, “ammonia burn” a painful eye infection, and open, untreated, infected sores and wounds.

(Yes, turkeys and chickens like this are processed for slaughter… mmm.)

Not only is the floor of the shed covered in excrement, but it is also littered with dead bird corpses. The birds that don’t die from diseases cause by filth, or heart attacks caused by the gross weight gain, can die from starvation. Because chickens and turkeys are genetically manipulated and fed huge quantities of antibiotics to promote abnormally fast and large growth, often their legs cripple under their immense weight. The crippled animals can not stand or walk to get food or water. By the age of 6 weeks, 90% of broiler chickens are so obese they can not walk.

Chickens and turkeys are handled very violently. They are roughly grabbed by their legs, necks, wings, and slung into crates, or slammed onto the ground. They are kicked, and stomped on, then left to suffer with broken legs or wings.

Plus, birds are exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, so they have no federal legal protections. At slaughter, chickens and turkeys are shackled upside down by their fragile legs. Their throats are slit while they are still fully conscious, they are then immersed into a pot of scalding water to remove the feathers. Many are still alive when they are scalded to death. Every year, 9 billion (with a ‘b’) chickens and 300 million turkeys are killed for food in the US.

If you eat chicken and turkey, you can watch this:

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Breakfast: Fruit leather and string cheese.
Lunch: Veggie Delight sub from Subway.
Dinner: Stir Fry. Just toss in ANY veggies you like (squash, zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, onion, tomoato, water chestnuts, spinach, those little corn things, even pineapple, just to name a few) and add soy sauce, or teriyaki sauce, or any type of marinade, it doesn’t even have to be Asian, just something you like!