Netherlands phases out meat from castrated piglets

The Netherlands is phasing out the sale of meat from male pigs who have been castrated. Piglets are castrated without the benefit of anesthesia, causing undue suffering to the animals. No mention of actual time line of the phaseout but possibly within the next two years. We are uncertain if this applies to pigs exported out of the Netherlands, though it will apply to animals or meat imported into the Netherlands. The Dutch export nearly 9 million pigs or pig flesh annually.

Reducing suffering is, of course, a noble goal. The easiest way to truly make a dent in the suffering of the 50 billion farmed animals killed worldwide is to not eat them, drink their breast milk, eat their eggs or wear their skins/fur. Even reducing how much animal product you consume is a step in the right direction.

All hens adopted!

Great news: All the hens rescued from a small factory egg-laying farm have been adopted!

Animal Place took in nearly 400 of the 650 hens and worked furiously to place them as quickly, humanely and safely as possible. In about 3-weeks, dozens of people volunteered to adopt hens. And by December 27th, all the hens had been placed into permanent homes.

A big thank you to the animal care staff, education staff, news media outlets who covered the story, and all the adopters and rescuers who helped make this rescue a possibility!!

In Memory: Tony






















1/1993-11/2008

By goat standards, you lived long and well. You were never friendly, preferring to keep your distance from us. Even when we would feed you sweet grain, you would shy away or try to head butt us if we attempted to pet you. Human touch you did not crave and we always tried to respect that.

In your younger years, you were the goats' go-to man, the head honcho. Everyone would follow you to graze upon green hills. Time passed and you aged, you slowed down and spent more time in the barnyard than with the goats. Your organs began to fail you and you struggled with painful bladder stones.

And then one day, you were ready to leave us, to move on. You did not want us to touch you or be with you, dying did not mean you wanted our comfort. You went in peace and with dignity and with that ever present smirk on your face.

We will miss you so much, even if we never hugged you or stroked your angora-soft hair. You had friends and lived and munched on grass and did your goatly things. People often speak of extraordinary animals, those great beings who flit in and out of our lives with their special lessons. You were extraordinarily normal and so incredibly perfect that way.

-Animal Place staff

650 Hens Saved from Slaughter

650 Hens Rescued

henNearly 650 hens from a factory farm are safe and sound, their lives spared because of the dedication and commitment of one individual. Ah, the power of one!

For two years, they have known only wire cages, darkness and overcrowding. Their beaks have been "trimmed", an industry euphemism for the painful severing of up to 2/3 of a hen's beak. Their brothers have all been killed, useless individuals to an egg farmer. Each bird's nails have grown two, three inches long. Feathers are missing, a result of forced molting and too much energy wasted on laying eggs.

hen feetThanks to Animal Place and several shelters, these hens will have a life all chickens deserve - a free one. They will know how dirt, rocks and sand feel beneath their feet. They will see the sun, scratch in the dirt, lay their eggs in nests instead of on a cage floor. Their food will no longer contain antibiotics; their source of light will no longer be controlled by machines. They will receive names and their adopters will appreciate all their individual quirks.

Animal Place wishes you to consider adopting a vegan diet. No matter how nice a farm may be, when the bottom line is money, the individual animal's life is no longer valued. Free-range hens are still slaughtered at a young age; cage-free hens are still debeaked. Their value is not in their wonderful personalities but in how many eggs can be sucked from their slender bodies. Below we offer some alternatives to eggs we hope you will consider.

Egg Alternatives

There are myriad egg substitutes available for baking, we hope you'll try these out.

1) Ener-G egg replacer is a commercial substitute for eggs used in baking. It acts as an excellent binding agent.

2) 1/4 cup applesauce + 1 tsp baking powder for one egg.

3) 1/3 cup flaxseeds ground up and mixed with 1 cup water. One egg is equal to 3 tbsp.

4) 1/2 banana mashed for one egg.

Try Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World or The Joy of Vegan Baking for excellent recipes without eggs.

For scrambled eggs, try scrambled tofu mixed with your favorite seasonings.

Emergency Hen Rescue

It was a little over three years ago when Animal Place, along with several other groups, rescued nearly 2,000 hens from a Gilroy egg-laying operation. Now we are faced with another rescue; this time 1,500 hens from a small cage operation.

We need good homes in California to take in these beautiful birds. They have endured so much; nearly two years in cages, debeaked, never knowing what it's like to run in the grass or stretch out for a sun-bath. If you can adopt a hen or two or know someone who can, please contact us at marji @ animalplace.org (minus spaces) or 707 449 4814. Please include the followig information:

Name:
Phone Number:
Full Address:
Number of hens you can adopt:
When you can adopt birds:

We are limited with how many we can take temporarily, so we're trying our best to find homes for all of the birds before they are slaughtered.

Every year, 250-300 million hens are slaughtered at 2 years of age because their egg production no longer matches the bottom line of money and greed. Currently, 95% of all birds raised for their eggs are housed in cages so small they cannot turn around. Even when not housed in cages, cage-free birds are still debeaked and slaughtered long before their natural lifespan. You can do your part by not purchasing eggs and seeking alternatives for your baking needs by using flaxseed, applesauce, or Ener-G egg replacer. Boundless substitutes are readily available.

Ava tells me what's what

Meet Ava:
Ava had a rough start in life. She was born in a hatchery without a mother's wing to keep her warm. The day she was born, she and 499 other baby birds were plopped into US Postal Service boxes. They were shipped as "perishable matter" until a postal worker noticed that 50 were dead. Through a series of lucky breaks, the remaining chicks were placed into loving homes - ten came to Animal Place as adorable, large, cheeping babies. Ava is the kind of bird people eat; she is bred to grow so fast that she is at market weight at the young age of six weeks. Six weeks! Just a baby. Every year, 9.2 billion of her kind are slaughtered. It's a tragic end to a life worth so much more.

To be honest, that isn't really the story I wanted to share but it's important to know where Ava comes from and why she even exists. Ava is more than her birthplace, she is definitely more than "dinner". She is curious and smart and a little on the goofy side. A couple of weeks ago, she showed me a trust that I definitely deserved (okay, I know I should be modest...) but was nevertheless pleased she shared.

I was outside doing final preparations for an upcoming event and I wanted to check out the poultry enclosure. Ava and her buddies were pecking around in the grass, as they are wont to do, when a couple of turkey vultures glided overhead. Chickens have to be particularly aware of their surroundings, including who's flying in the sky. And even though Ava has been bred for a size and weight never seen in nature, she and her kind still know to be concerned about winged predators. So even though the turkey vultures held no interest in the chickens, nine of Ava's sisters ran underneath a protective overhang. Except Ava.

Ava immediately ran over to me and stood next to my leg. She gazed up at me, pitched a nasty glare to the turkey vultures ("Yeah? My human here's way bigger than you!) and started to scratch about in the dirt. I crouched down next to her, reached my hand out, and gently preened her neck feathers for her. She leaned into my palm and sighed. I shook my fists at the turkey vultures, you know, just to show Ava I meant business and was worthy of protecting her. I guess Ava was pleased, for she preened and clucked and went on her way.

It's hard to think of Ava as a "thing" or an "it" or "meat". She's Ava. Lover of wheelbarrow rides, singer of very interesting chicken songs, and hardcore grape addict. It's pretty neat to think she likes me alright too, even though I can't sing, sometimes steal her grapes and feel wheelbarrows were meant for poop and straw, not perching chickens. She forgives all that - she knows I'll kick turkey-vulture butt any time, anywhere for her.

-Marji Beach, Education Coordinator

Humane Holidays: Thanksgiving

Every day should be a humane holiday, where everyone chooses compassion and generosity. And every day can be a humane one by deciding where our money goes, what we put into our bodies, and how we treat ourselves, our fellow humans and the nonhumans of this earth.

This Thanksgiving, start a new tradition by serving a vegan meal prepared with love. We've put together a small menu and some suggestions on what to have at a vegan Thanksgiving.

To see the menu, please visit our website: http://www.animalplace.org/1newweb/thanksgiving.html.

Scratch my back Etta

This is Etta. And me (I'm wearing purple). Our best guess of Etta's age is around eight or nine. In sheep years, that is reaching the esteemed period of Ancient. Five months ago, Etta arrived with seven other animals from a slaughterhouse. She was skinny and nervous, avoiding people at all costs. Who could blame her?

Etta earned her name through what we call "Better Living Through Singing". Etta has a deep, resonating R&B style voice that booms across the sanctuary. We like to think that her namesake, Etta James, would appreciate Etta the sheep's lyrical style and would be honored. Or offended, since Etta the sheep cannot hold a tune and really only has one song to sing called "MEEEHHHHHHH". It's a catchy tune, really.

After Etta opened up her voice pipes, she also discovered a burning desire for back massages. Etta may not be queen of R&B but she is empress of R&R. There is no sheep who loves a back rub like Etta. When you enter her enclosure, she'll stand at attention, gaze intently at you, sing her song "MEEEEHHHHH" and amble over. If you do not immediately offer up your hands for a massage, she will lean into you, ram her head ever so gently into your stomach and sing for you "MEEEEEHHHHHH". Sometimes she gets right in your face and stares really hard, trying to convey the obvious - where's my back rub? Who can resist such charm? As the picture shows, not me.

Why did this lyrical genius end up at a slaughterhouse? It is hard for me to understand. I cannot imagine cooking her up and eating her - she is a being unto herself, full of her own sheep thoughts and sheep feelings, wanting to do her own sheep things. How could I deny her that for something I don't need, like her flesh? And even if I liked the warmth of her wool, there is nothing natural about it nor do I need it to survive. Etta's ancestors and her wild brethren have hair - it keeps them warm in the winter and naturally sheds in the summer, allowing the animal to remain cool. Humans bred domestic sheep to have constantly growing wool. It must be sheared to keep from growing and growing and growing. When that wool (or its lanolin) stops being useful for scarves (or lanolin-related pursuits), the sheep stops being useful to the farmer. Not a very healthy relationship for the sheep.

Etta doesn't opine on these matters, unless they relate to whether the neck massage takes precedence over the lower back shiatsu (they generally don't). She lives in the here and now and perhaps the "where is my back rub?" future. There is nothing to remember and nothing to forgive because all that is good is now, here in this moment of physical bliss. I can't help but enjoy the moment too, even if Etta doesn't return the favor of a back rub.

-Marji Beach, Education Coordinator

The Mighty Quinn

This is Quinn. He is wild-born, but something happened that left him orphaned and near-death. A wildlife rehabber noticed the sickly bird and intervened, took him to a vet and nursed him back to health.

A tame turkey in the California wilderness is not a safe turkey, especially not near a "holiday" that celebrates gratitude through the suffering and slaughter of another life.

So Quinn is now at the sanctuary.

I like Quinn a lot. He is tall and lanky, a bird made for flight and speed. He talks, urgently, inquisitively and intensely. If I had my way, I would sit and talk with Quinn all day. He does not speak like the other turkeys - not because he is wild, but because he has missed out on the passing down of songs from parents to offspring, of the sharing of trills between friends and siblings. His calls are louder, more urgent and lack the the subtleties of the other turkeys.

When I do my (poor) imitation of a mother turkey's trill, he cocks his head to the side, stretches his neck out, takes a deep breath and then screams at me. I'm not sure if he's saying "You're not my mother!" or "Your turkey talk sucks!" but he's curious and pauses always after his yell for my response. I don't know any other turkey talk except that one trill, so we bandy back and forth like this for a few minutes before he decides to see what the real turkeys are talking about.

And if there is one thing turkeys are most adept at it is talking. Their vocalizations are varied and many, their clucks, trills, whistles and gobbles all convey some sort of turkey thought, emotion or opinion (they are VERY opinionated). Sometimes it's obvious - the loud toot toot of an angry turkey hen, the full-throated warble of a courting turkey tom, the indignant yelp of a turkey hen who does not want to be petted, the soft trill of a content hen as she preens...sometimes the turkeys talk for the sake of gabbing or discuss stuff only turkeys really care about (or that humans are too inept to understand). I've seen turkey hens stand up tall, fluff their feathers and begin to wax eloquent on some very important subject. It does not matter that no one is listening for she has something to say and, darnit, she's going to say it loud and clear.

Quinn has missed out on some very important lessons. But he's interested in learning. He stares intently at the turkey hens and watch as they talk. He studies the two old tom turkeys, Leland and Tom, as they puff out proudly, gobble and croon to the girls. He even takes time to check out the chickens and see if they have anything interesting to say (according to him, they don't). And he watches the people as they come and go, clean, talk in a foreign tongue, and he's curious.

While Quinn will never know what it means to be a free turkey in a flock of his peers, he will have an opportunity to live his life in his own turkey way.

Remember the turkeys this Thanksgiving. The wild ones who are brutally shot and stolen from their friends and families. The domestic turkeys shoved callously by the thousands into transport trucks, exposed to freezing temperatures and shipped to a slaughterhouse. The millions upon millions of birds who never know the warmth of their mother's wing, the joy of preening in the sunlight or the simple pleasure of choosing whether to eat the grape or the cantaloupe. They need us now more than ever - this Thanksgiving, show your gratitude by eating a turkey-free dinner. Extend that gratitude throughout the year by switching to a vegetarian diet.

Quinn screeches and toots his thanks. Or what I'll currently label as his "thanks".

-Marji Beach, Education Coordinator

Prop 2 Passes!

You have spoken loud and clear - Yes on Proposition 2! In a landslide victory for the animals, you resoundingly passed Proposition 2, giving more room to the 19 million hens, calves and pigs protected by this measure.

To everyone who spent their mornings, evenings and weekends gathering signatures to get this on the ballot - thank you.

To all the volunteers who leafleted, phone-banked, told their friends, families and coworkers to vote yes - thank you.

To the people who got endorsements and donated their money to getting ads aired - thank you.

To the dedicated, tireless campaign team - a huge thank you for all your hard work.

To you - the voter - thank you for giving a voice to the voiceless.

And to the Humane Society of the United States - thank you for making this happen.

This isn't ending the cruelty inherent to farming, only not eating animals does that. But it is allowing animals enough room to engage in the most basic of behaviors - turning around, stretching their limbs, lying down and standing up. Let's continue the fight for those who cannot fight for themselves and continue promoting veganism, compassion and better treatment of farmed animals.

-Marji Beach, Education Coordinator

Many Thanks!

While we all wring our hands and worry over the elections, especially the (no doubt positive) fate of Proposition 2, I'm posting some gratitude.

A big Thank You to the following:

SFVegan.org for coming out and making vegan pizza for our volunteer appreciation party. Nearly 20 of our dedicated volunteers (who deserve a big Thanks of their own) came out to make sure the chickens and bunnies were healthy. Only after some free labor did we celebrate their awesomeness. SfVegan.org makes a mean pesto pizza - I think our volunteers and staff went through six and could have gone through more but there was this thing called dessert. Thank you SFVegan for being so kind and generous with your pizza-making skills!

Sugar Plum Vegan for donating a platter of mouth-watering vegan desserts for our aforementioned volunteer appreciation party. When I say mouth-watering, I mean it. The Creamie Sandwich Cookies make Oreos look like pixie-sized wimps. Seriously. We enjoyed the Blondies, Gluten free chocolate chip cookies and chocolate dipped macaroons.

McFarland Designs: Every month a charity is chosen to receive 5% of McFarland Designs' sales. For October, Animal Place received $500 toward the purchase of the new 590-acre sanctuary. Not only is McFarland Designs a vegan jewelry maker but its founder is a wonderful friend to the animals - she adopted a total of eight chickens (one of whom is named after me, yay!) from Animal Place. She's adopted ducks and will be welcoming two turkeys from another sanctuary as well.

DaisyWares: A dedicated animal rights activist and lover, DaisyWares founder Roni donates 10% of her store's proceeds to Animal Place. Her jewelry is fantastic (I have a pair of the faux pearl earrings, go faux, go!) and her vegan chapstick is tasty (I mean literally). Check out her shop for some inspirational vegan gifts.

For those of you who have voted or plan to vote within the next three hours (in California, anyways), thank you. If you're in California and haven't voted yet: Think compassion, tolerance and kindness. We won't tell you how to vote on the 11 other propositions (except to again think "tolerance") but we definitely encourage you to vote Yes on Prop 2.

-Marji Beach, Education Coordinator

World Vegan Day

Today is World Vegan Day and we hope you abstain from all animal products today, tomorrow and in the future...but definitely today!

A vegan diet is the kindest diet for the animals, healthiest for your body, and the most sustainable diet for the planet. Take a veg pledge for the future of our non human brethren, humanity itself and the planet.

For more information on World Vegan Day, visit the website: http://www.worldveganday.org/

Howie and Nicholas Reunited

I can't believe we didn't post this here! Sorry!

Howie is a little older and slowing down a bit. Due to some severe arthritis, he spent some solo time on vet-approved stall rest. After two weeks, it was time to let Howie out. We were not sure how the other two bovines, Sadie & Nicholas would take it - they had kept a vigil near Howie's enclosure, so we assumed they would be happy at his release.

What we didn't expect was the love-fest between Howie and Nicholas. For hours, they would groom one another, bump heads and maintain physical contact with one another. What a joyous reunion! By the end of the day, Nicholas' head was a giant spit-ball, though he was definitely squeaky clean. It is beyond our understanding how anyone can claim cattle and other farmed animals don't have emotions or can't form bonds. Howie and Nicholas show otherwise!

5% sales donated to Animal Place

Help the animals at the sanctuary by purchasing beautiful jewelry from McFarland Designs. Every months, she selects a charity and donates 5% of her sales. For October, Animal Place has been selected as the recipient.

The jewelry is beautiful and would be perfect for family, friends or "just for me".

Check out the store and, remember, 5% of every purchase you make will directly benefit the animals at Animal Place. There is no more stylish way to help the critters!

Baby birds arrive at the sanctuary

Twenty-five day-old chicks born in a hatchery in Iowa made a long journey via the postal service to a home in California. Upon arrival, seven of the chicks were dead. The recipient claimed to have never bought the birds, and the hatchery refused to take them back. Silicon Valley Animal Services took in the birds but realized quickly they were not equipped to handle 18 cheeping, needy chicks. They called Animal Place and we agreed to take them.

Young birds cannot regulate their body temperature effectively. It's why they need a mom. Right now, the baby birds are being kept in baby pens with special heating pads to keep them warm.

It is to tragic and tiresome hearing these stories of people buying birds and having those birds shipped through the postal service. In May, 2008 500 "peepers" (industry term: broilers) were rescued by Oakland Animal Services after fifty arrived dead and many were in distress. Thirteen of them came to Animal Place. These birds are lucky. Every year, thousands of baby birds die while being shipped through the mail.

The regulations required to ensure a dog or cat is transported safely do not apply to poultry, and mortality is considered unavoidable. We would not tolerate that treatment with dogs and cats! The postal service has shown an unwillingness to ensure the safety and well-being of the animals they ship. Animal Place encourages people interested in poultry to adopt birds from their local shelter or sanctuary. Never allow living, sentient beings be shipped like they are inanimate objects.

Proposition 2 Update

USDA & The American Egg Board have been ordered by a federal judge to stop violating a federal law that bans expenditure of federal funds on influencing government policy. Read more

The American Egg Board, a government supervised industry group, received approval from the USDA to use $3 million in federal check-off funds for ads that promote eggs using a No on Prop 2 spokesman as the speaker. Federal law prohibits the use of check-off program funds in a way

that may influence government policy.

San Francisco Chronicle: USDA ordered to quit buying anti-Prop 2 ads

Yes! On Prop 2: Federal Court Blocks Multi-million Dollar “Awful Egg Bailout”


September 23, 2008

The United States Department of Justice has subpoenaed records from leading opponents of Proposition 2 - the United Egg Producers (UEP), Golden Oval Eggs, LLC, Michael Foods, Inc. and MoArk LLC- as part of a criminal probe into illegal price-fixing. Read more

Virginia has a baby!














Rescued from a slaughterhouse four months ago, skinny and malnourished, we never thought Virginia was pregnant. Imagine our surprise when she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy!

Virginia is a stellar mom. She responds immediately when little boy calls for her. Checking in every few minutes, she gives him gentle baths and makes sure he stays clean. It's funny to watch him look up to his mom, almost as if saying "What next, mom?" Think good thoughts for little boy and his mom - as an older sheep, Virginia isn't in the best of health. She has problems with her lung from previously untreated infections and her liver is failing. Through all of this, she has shown a remarkable will to live and a strong drive to take care of her baby. We'll do our best to keep her comfortable and happy, while also helping her take care of little boy.

Animal Place will continue to provide safe haven and stellar care for any and all animals who enter our barn doors. While we help them, the animals help us to keep hope alive for farmed animals everywhere. You can help by choosing a plant-based diet, by choosing cotton over wool, by being an integral part of the solution.

Agriprocessor's Inc

Agriprocessor's Inc is charged with more than 9,000 misdemeanors for hiring 32 children at their "kosher" processing plant in Postville, Iowa. In May of this year, the plant was raided and 400 workers were arrested, accused of being "undocumented immigrants". That is nearly 60% of Agriprocessor's workforce (they are now hiring homeless people from Texas to fill the void). Postville has a population of about 2,300 - nearly 18% of their entire population was detained and arrested.

While 2/3 of the animals at Agriprocessor's are slaughtered conventionally, with a captive bolt gun to the head and then bled, a 1/3 of the animals are killed using the traditional practices of shechita. While a little more complex, the ritual slaughter involves restraining a conscious animal and cutting their throat, severing the eosophagus and trachea. No stunning is permitted. In 2004, PETA released video footage showing improper shechita and cruel treatment of cattle being killed. Federal inspectors were caught sleeping and playing card games on the job, not properly inspecting contaminated carcasses and generally not doing their job. While animal cruelty charges were considered, no case was filed. The USDA suspended one inspector and sent warning letters to two others. No ice cream with your pie for you, you crazy inspector-kids you!

Meatpacking plants are dangerous. They have a 100% turnover rate. Life on the processing line is unsafe, with a high rate of accidents and injuries. Workers are denied medical care, overtime pay and sick time. Some spend 50-70 hours a week enduring back-breaking labor and killing sentient, feeling beings. Meatpacking plants are founded on cruelty; their human employees aren't exempt from callous treatment.

Intensive farming is a destructive force. It ruins rural communities. It degrades human workers to objects. And it murder billions of feeling, sentient animals for no other reason than to placate a stomach's growl. Stopping the maelstrom is as simple as making compassionate food choices. Don't support an industry that abuses its workers, destroys the environment and reduces intelligent animals to body parts and "prime" cuts. That is the only way to stop the existence of the Agriprocessor's of the world.

2nd Annual Circus Show & Other Atrocities


Animal Place will be tabling at the 2nd Annual Circus Show & Other Atrocities, an event that showcases more than 100 national and international artists. The performance line-up starts out with Dan Piraro, creator of Bizarro, who will be joined by comedian and MC Keith Lowell Jensen, singer Larisa Bryski and more. Entertainment includes jugglers, belly dancers, firebenders, artist-made midway games and rides, along with raffle prizes! All proceeds will be donated to animal protection groups. This should be a fun event!

The event will be on September 13 from 5 pm - 10 pm at the Verge Gallery at 1900 V Street in Sacramento.

Chalk art and charity of the month!

This past weekend, Brownie Troop #1748, two women and Animal Place volunteer Tracy Heller headed out to Sacramento for the yearly Chalk it up! to Scramento festival. Funds from the festival benefit children's arts education and art activities.

Check out the very awesome mural created to represent Animal Place. We think we can see Nate, the goat, Leland the turkey, Aiden the sheep, Arturo the rooster, and maybe even Olivia, the potbellied pig! The artists were even kind enough to include some rats, mice, ground squirrels and wild rabbits to symbolize how hard we work to live WITH nature, not against it.

A big thank you to Brownie Troop #1748, Tracy Heller and the two artists who assisted with creating this beautiful sidewalk chalk mural!

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In other news, Etsy for Charity has named Animal Place September's Charity of the Month! Every purchase made through their charity store goes directly to the selected charity, this month it's us! You can help the animals by purchasing some of the lovely products at the store.

We think this dashing painting of a rooster looks strikingly like Arturo!

Positive ruling on factory farms out of Missouri

A judge out of Missouri has ruled that industrial hog farms cannot build their large facilities within 15 miles of historic Arrow Rock. The village is nestled on a 300-acre state park that receives more than 100,000 visitors every year. Department of Natural Resources issued a permit to a hog farmer who wanted to build a 4,800 farm 2-miles from the village and park.

According to the National Water Quality Inventory, 38% of assessed rivers and streams and 30% of assessed lakes, ponds and reservoirs are considered impaired because of agricultural activity. This number could likely be higher, especially since a high percentage of impairment could not be correctly identified. Knowing that nearly 40% of our rivers & streams and 30% of our lakes, ponds and reservoirs are polluted because of agricultural operations, why add to the problem with more factory farms? The above 4,800 pig operation would have generated 2 million gallons of manure annually.

Hopefully, this ruling creates a precedence for other communities trying to stop factory farms. Factory farms ruin rural communities, degrade and pollute our environment, and are pure misery for the animals. And the easiest way to stop their ever-increasing presence is to adopt a plant-based diet, doing our best to purchase produce from sustainable, local farms.

Happy ending, new beginning

A year ago, Animal Place took on a challenge - to help place 100 hens and 30 chicks rescued from a cockfighting breeding operation.

The birds came to the sanctuary parasite-ridden and with respiratory problems. Most survived, some just couldn't overcome their previous mistreatment.

We called on our members, volunteers, friends and family to help. And a year later, we are proud to say that all of the rescued hens and roosters have been placed in permanent, loving homes.

Along with the placement of all the birds comes good news that Louisiana has become the final state to outlaw cockfighting - it is now illegal in all 50 states! The battle isn't over - we want to see all fifty states consider cockfighting a felony, along with being present at a cockfight. We will continue to advocate on behalf of all the farmed animals, including the unfortunate roosters and hens used to fight and breed more fighting animals. Our society must take a stand against animal cruelty - banning all blood-sports is a step in the right direction.

USDA sued over fund misappropriation

The USDA is being sued for illegally allowing the American Egg Board to use $3 million to fight Proposition 2, a California ballot measure that would require pregnant pigs, egg-laying hens, and veal calves have enough room to turn around and stretch their limbs.

The San Francisco Chronicle accepts letters, please submit yours in support of Proposition 2 and in opposition to the outrageous behavior of the USDA in permitting an industry group to use federal funds in swaying governmental policy.

Submit letters to: letters@sfchronicle.com - keep letters under 200 words, include your full name, address and phone number for verification purposes.

The L.A. Times ran a small story about this issue in one of its blogs. The blog accepts comments.

PA residents - help stop shooting of dogs

In Pennsylvania, it is currently legal for kennel and puppy mill operators to kill dogs by gunshot. This is not an appropriate or humane method of euthanasia. Just this past week, 80 seemingly healthy dogs were shot to death by puppy mill owners Ammon and Elmer Zimmerman. The animals were killed after an inspection revealed 39 of the dogs needed simple and affordable medical treatment from flea bites. Instead of seeking medical treatment, rehoming or humane euthanasia, the owners shot all 80 dogs, burying their bodies in the compost pile.

If you are a Pennsylvania resident, contact your representative, encouraging support of House Bill 2525, which would make shooting a dog as a form of euthanasia illegal. Sadly, the bill has met with fierce opposition from breeders who seem more interested in maintaining the status quo (i.e. making money) than the welfare of the animals in their care.

You can find your representative by visiting http://www.house.state.pa.us/index.cfm and inputting your zip code or county in the upper right hand box (Find Members By).

If you are not in Pennsylvania, be sure to write letters to the newspapers and agencies publicizing this story. Pennsylvania legislators should know that they are in the spotlight and need to do something post-haste to make sure this does not happen again in the state.

Feel free to crosspost.

The Unusual Cluckspects need homes!


Three roosters and ten hens – they need new digs and fast! They are on the lam, ready to start a new life somewhere safe. Right now, they are “on probation” at Animal Place (www.animalplace.org) but are looking for that home where they can live a long, peaceful life.

Can YOU give these “unusual cluckspects” a new home?

Available as a group or individually, these birds will provide hours of entertainment, show of their superb weeding and gardening skills, and make wonderful companions to the chicken-loving family. Two of the roosters (Oz and Rufus) get along (if there are enough girls to distract them) but cannot go into homes with other roosters. The third rooster, Calvin, would prefer to be an only rooster.

Of course, what’s more important than getting to know your future feathered friends? Their rap sheets may be a mile long, but they have some skills and personalities any bird-brain would appreciate. Bird brain is a good thing, too.

Information on adoptions is below – won’t you help a rooster brother and hen sister out?

Oz
Charged with: Being a highly effective organic gardening machine.

Needs: A new home (preferably with his girlfriends…), may consider allowing accomplice to tag along (though he did botch that infamous yellowjacket sting operation)

Personal statement: Yo! I’m Oz and if you have bugs that need catching, I’m your man. I I’ll also help you out in the weed-eating department.

Rufus
Charged with: Being an accomplice to Oz.

Needs: A place to relax, sun bathe and a nice spot to munch on grapes and lettuce.

Personal statement: Hey everyone, I’m Rufus and if I could go to school, I’d be too cool for it! I love grapes and lettuce. A lot. I even share with my girl friends, even though I could eat about five million grapes a day. Sometimes Oz steals my grapes but that’s cool, I share.

Calvin
Charged with: Strutting around without a care in the world.

Needs: A place to strut, preferably with a nice garden patch to relax and sunbathe.

Personal statement: I’m quite the ladies man, if I do say so myself; and I do. My ideal life would be spending time with a few friendly hens and being able to walk around looking handsome. I don’t think that’s asking much – do you?


THE GIRLS

Bella, Mabel, Alice, Violet, Sandy, Felicity, Delia, Esther, Scarlet, and Penelope combined have a rap sheet the length of a small football field. And they’re proud of it! All have been charged with liking cantaloupe a little too much, stealing corn from each other, and sometimes hogging the perches.

Personal Statements
Bella
I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. Most of my days are spent preening, making myself look good and spending some quality time with Oz (and Rufus, but that’s a secret!) So what if I “bumped” Sandy off the perch? She wasn’t really using it.



Sandy, Esther & Mabel
Esther : I love cantaloupe. If it was considered okay, I’d marry one. Or at least share my nest with one. Or two, even. I’d really love a place where cantaloupes were given to me 24/7, maybe even more than that (48/12? I’m not so good with time).





If you can open up your barn doors (or backyard gate) to these birds, please contact us at Marji@animalplace.org or 707 449 4814. We do ask you to fill out an adoption questionnaire, which we will gladly email to you. If you are zoned for roosters, please help out Oz, Rufus, and Calvin they are wonderful boys who are looking for the right spot to rest their wings. Not in northern California? We are considering out of the area adoptions, so please don’t let distance deter you.

If you cannot adopt, please spread the word about these wonderful birds.

California closes downer animal loophole

We are mildly pleased that Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 2098 (Krekorian) into law, making it a misdemeanor to kill downed animals (for human consumption) or to sell their flesh for human consumption.

Of course, we encourage consumers to make compassionate food choices, like eating a plant-based diet instead of the standard meat-centric Americanized diet. We can prevent the suffering downed animals - ALL farmed animals - endure by choosing a vegan diet.

A "reformed" vegetarian

From the Detroit Free Press - Female butchers find themselves on the cutting edge (ha. get it? cutting edge? creative).

Did you know:

"Butchering is primal. It's really primal. One of my favorite stories is this butcher that we hired, we were sawing a veal in half ... and I was holding the legs and he was sawing it in half -- I felt like I was a cavewoman or something. It was pretty awesome."

In the primal, caveman days, 16-week old male calves housed in crates and produced by neolithic Holstein cows were called veal and cut in half inside a butcher's shop. They had butcher caves back in the day.

After the ancient custom of cutting a baby calf in half, the "reformed" vegetarian ran through the streets of San Francisco naked, spearing anyone who got in her way - you know, just trying to stay in touch with her primal cavewoman roots. Sarcasm aside, primeval in the middle of San Francisco is not possible. Being lost in the woods with only the clothes on your back and alone with a hungry mountain lion - now that's primal!

One customer has this to say:

We were all sort of deciding to go vegetarian and (her husband) was having a hard time with it and he was, 'All right, I'm going to go humanely raised, humanely slaughtered animals.'
There is no such thing as "humane slaughter" - the two words are antonyms. Watching your herdmates die, hearing their screams, and then having your throat cut is never going to be lumped in with hugging puppies and helping grandma cross the road.

If you are so inclined, please write a letter to the editor at the Detroit Free Press:
editpg@freepress.com or letters@freepress.com

Keep it to under 250 words. Include your full name, address and phone number. Avoid the sarcasm used in this post.

Topics to consider:
- Writing about a vegan diet which is healthier than a meat-based diet as well as environmentally friendly and kind to animals.
- Writing about the incongruity of "humane" and "slaughter", emphasizing that no matter the size of the slaughterhouse, an animal's life is needlessly ended to sate a want, a taste, not because we "need" meat. Not to mention that the animal needs to be transported (very stressful) and hears, smells and sees the slaughter of his/her fellow herdmates.

Nevada may kill wild horses

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering killing thousands of wild horses in Nevada - your help is needed to stop this massacre. Horses are being killed because ranchers think their "right to farm" supersedes the horses' right to live. The BLM has traditionally rounded up these beautiful animals and kept them in long-term holding facilities. Citing the struggling economy and lack of adoptions, the BLM is considering killing the horses.

How YOU can help:
1) Write a letter to the Nevada State Office of the BLM and the Las Vegas Field Office. Time is of the essence, so get your letters in as soon as possible!

Nevada State Office of the BLM
1340 Financial Blvd.
Reno, NV 89502
(775)-861-6400

Las Vegas Field Office
4701 Torrey Pines
Las Vegas, NV 89130
(702) 515-5000

Talking Points for your letters/calls:

-The wild horse has been a striking symbol of the South West for as long as we can remember. They remain an important part of our history and represent our freedom. By killing these beautiful animals, we not only destroy one of the most important residents of Nevada, but we destroy a piece of our state’s history.

-Methods of euthanasia include shooting the animals. Shooting feral, fast-moving animals is dangerous and can result in unnecessary suffering. Further, these are herd animals - watching their herd-mates be shot is cruel.

-Suggest that the BLM entertain alternatives to killing by suggesting tax breaks to large landowners that allow wild horses to run on their land.

-Humane forms of birth control are available and can contain population growth, and help the horses retain their freedom.

2) Adopt a horse! If you or anyone you know can adopt one these animals or shelter them, please contact Shari Warren at shari@nwha.us or Jerrie Bertola, Wild Horse and Burro Specialist at (702) 515-5000

New York School Considering Chicken Slaughter

Source: UPC Alert

High School Curriculum to Include Chicken Slaughter?
ISSUE:
(Ontario County, NY) Due to vocal supporters of the high school's previously banned hands-on chicken slaughter project, the Canadaigua Academy is now considering reversing its earlier decision to eliminate the project. The project, which had been part of the school's curriculum for the last 3 years, was canceled earlier this spring following a public outpouring of objections. The ecology class project had students raising chicks in pens and ultimately slaughtering, plucking, gutting, and barbecuing them. While the supervising teacher argued that the class serves to "educate people to the true cost of today's diet," the inherent violence of the meat industry does not justify its reenactment in our classrooms.

Recent News Story:

Canandaigua classroom chicken slaughter rethought
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, June 12, 2008

Related Links:

The Canandaigua Academy
The Canandaigua City School District

ACTION:
Since the Academy and School Board seem to be influenced by public opinion, please weigh in and let them know the world is watching. Polite letters may be sent to the addresses below, encouraging Principal Erdle and the School Board to follow through with their previous decision to cancel the project, thereby demanding compassion in their classrooms and adhering to their high standards.

Lynne Erdle, Principal
Canandaigua Academy
215 Granger Street
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Tarry Shipley, School Board President
Jeanie Grimm, School Board Vice-President
Canandaigua City School District
143 North Pearl Street
Canandaigua, NY 14424

Letter Writing Tips

Chickens are not usually protected by state anti-cruelty laws due to built-in exemptions such as those for 'traditional farm and animal husbandry practices.' Download a free copy of your state's laws here: Animal Protection Laws of the United States and Canada

When CAFOs attack!

In flooded Missouri, Governor Matt Blunt decided that industrial farms with manure "lagoons" (aka shit-pools) could bypass the minimal environmental laws and saturate wet fields with mushy-feces. Yum! Tomatoes anyone?

No doubt this will help make 2008 The Year of the Dead Zone.

Where's the beef?

Nebraska Beef Ltd. is expanding its beef recall to 5.3 million pounds.

According to the US government, the meat may contain disease-causing bacteria. This is strikingly similar to claims that the earth may revolve around the sun or that air may contain oxygen.

In other news, tomatoes may no longer be the prime suspect in The Salmonella Outbreak. Its salsa cohorts jalapeƱos, spring onions, and cilantro are also being thoroughly examined. Funny enough, salmonella do not spring forth from the juicy goodness of a saucy san marzano; salmonella "are microscopic living creatures that pass from the feces of people or animals to other people or other animals." Scapegoat tomatoes - the caprine residents at the sanctuary sympathize.

BABY GOATS take over the sanctuary!

Adele is one of the six goats and two sheep Animal Place took in from a slaughterhouse in Watsonville. She was pregnant and recently gave birth to two healthy kids, a boy and girl. They spend their days climbing the other goats, pretending they can eat hay and keeping a close eye on Adele (lest she try and make off with their milk). Kids are exuberant bundles of energy, making life very interesting at the sanctuary.

Adidas - Impossibly Inconsistent

Adidas plans to avoid purchasing wool from Australian producers that mulesing or “clip” the rear flap of skin off of their sheep.

Mulesing is the cutting away of the rear skin flap on wool sheep to prevent flystrike. It is painful, often taking weeks for the animal to recover. No anesthesia or pain relief is required or offered.

It may seem “nice” that Adidas is taking this stance, but they show their true colors by continuing to argue that it is “ethical and humane” to slaughter kangaroos for use in their soccer shoes. The millions of dead kangaroos and their clubbed babies would, if they were alive, probably disagree.

Corporate responsibility should not be so inconsistent – Adidas continues to celebrate cruelty with their use of leather while pretending to care about the suffering of mulesinged sheep.

Pea-brained chickens? How rude!

The SF Bay Guardian published an article regarding the current California ballot measure that would ban gestation crates, veal crates and - shock of shocks- battery cages.

While "balanced", there are some rather outlandish comments made in the article. If you are of the letter-writing persuasion, please write to the editor of the SF Bay Guardian regarding this article. Regardless of your feelings on welfare reform, this is a chance to get farmed animals more press. Letters can be sent to letters@sfbg.com. Please keep letters under 200 words. Include your full name, address and contact phone number for verification. Police, concise letters are more likely to be printed.

----

Arnie Reibli, who manages a 160,000 hen operation in Petaluma, has this to say about the quality of his farm: "I use myself as a judge to see what my animals will like," he says. "I go into the building just as I am. If I'm comfortable without a mask, without any protection, then the birds must be too."

What specious logic! If he really wants a feel of a battery cage, he might consider setting up shop in a small closet with six strangers. No room to stretch his arms. A wire floor upon which to defecate. Perhaps the first digits of his fingers will be cut off to prevent scratching himself and others. More importantly, Arnie has the choice to leave. A choice denied to birds locked in metal cages.

Arnie continues, ""They don't have intellect. Chickens probably have brains the size of a pea."

For a "chicken farmer", he shows astounding ignorance of the species. Chickens have a language, and use representational signaling to communicate; behavior previously associated only with primates. Learning studies in England show chickens have a concept of the future. Their cognitive abilities when it comes to memory and spatial awareness are astounding.

Brain-size is hardly a determining factor in how animals are treated. Chickens can experience stress, fear, frustration, boredom. They have the biological and behavioral capacity to feel pain. And on the flip-side, chickens know what joy is, they experience the emotional ties bonds and friendships form. They are denied every positive behavior in a battery cage, and their intellect - which Arnie erroneously claims they lack - is crushed and battered by cruel confinement.

And farmers want us to believe they know these animals? Knows what is best for them? Even while they are incapable of seeing the amazing, emotional, intelligent beings right in front of them? Mind-boggling!

Animals rescued from slaughterhouse arrive

Six goats and two sheep are safe and sound at Animal Place after being rescued by Santa Cruz County animal control services from
a slaughterhouse. The goats and sheep are in poor shape, suffering from malnourishment, respiratory infections and hoof problems. Here, they will find kindness, good food, medical care and a bright future.

Twenty goats, two sheep, one cow and two rabbits are lucky survivors of a cruelty investigation Watsonville, California. Nearly a hundred pigs, goats, sheep, cattle, rabbits and chickens remain at the site. The animals were part of a live market and slaughterhouse, where buyers pick an animal to be killed and butchered on site.

Even though the animals had no food, no water, no shelter, even though they were skinny, diseased, with some unable to walk, state agricultural officials deemed the facility in compliance with state laws. That will only change when people stop seeing farmed animals as commodities and start seeing them as sentient beings, as capable of pain as dogs and cats.

We need your help!
The lucky eight at Animal Place need intensive care. They all have respiratory infections, overgrown hooves, and need special feed to get healthy. You can help with their recovery and rehabilitation by donating today. We rely exclusively on the kindness of people like you to help us help the animals.

Homes needed - after they get healthy, we'd love to find compassionate homes for these rescued goats and sheep. If you are interested in adoption, please contact us at info@animalplace.org or 707-449-4814. The animals won't be ready for placement for at least a month.

Poultry not considered livestock

I looked up the definition of livestock just for giggles. By definition, any animal raised for profit on a farm or ranch is "livestock". Seems simple enough.

Imagine my surprise (and sadness) when I read about a judge ruling that the nine billion birds killed each year for consumption aren’t actually livestock and don’t need to be rendered insensible to pain prior to their throats being slit.

Let’s back up a second - stunned insensible? According to the federal Methods of Humane Slaughter Act, livestock must be knocked unconscious before the final killing blow. This usually translates to a physical blow to the head for cattle, sheep and goats and an electrical stunning for pigs. But what about the most killed species, the birds? They have consistently been excluded from this basic protection since the law’s inception. Birds do not need to be stunned into an unconscious state - that is nine billion animals who can legally have their throats cuts open while conscious.

Poultry processors generally submerge birds in an electrified water bath, which just doesn’t sound like much fun. Studies show that, if improperly electrified (and they often are), an electric water bath only renders the bird immobile but not unconscious. She can feel every thing done to her, but she cannot physically move away from the pain - what a sad, scary way to die.

I know it’s oft-repeated here, but you have the power to implement change. You can certainly choose to contact federal and state officials, imploring them to implement basic standards of welfare when killing farmed animals. Better yet, you can choose to step out of the system and refrain from eating any product that resulted in the suffering of another feeling, sentient being.

-Marji Beach, Program Coordinator

Swim back, Flipper!


Photo courtesy of freephotosbank

Swim aside, Flipper, there's a new aquatic-genius in town --- the goldfish!

Apparently, people think fish only have a 3-second memory span. Please ignore the silliness of arbitrarily assigning memory abilities.

A 15-year-old student discovered goldfish have pretty decent memory, spanning an entire week (which is saying something, considering I can barely remember this morning's breakfast).

Now his study is probably not going to be published in the Annals of Fish Geniusness (sadly, not a real word), but it does bring up a good question: If fish do have good memory, are those tiny bowls people dump them in really fulfilling their "fishiness"?

We hope this intelligent student's experiment convinces some people that fish can only hold onto a thought for a fleeting 3-seconds...because, as of yet, there are no studies on how long a fish holds a grudge!

In all seriousness, we encourage people not to buy fish and to seriously analyze their current aquariums, making sure the welfare of the animals take precedence over space concerns.

-Marji Beach, Program Coordinator

Helping animals is easy

By now, you've probably read or seen one of the over 2,000 media accounts involving the cruel treatment of cows sent to slaughter and the subsequent recall of 143-million pounds of beef. Cruelty charges are being laid, schools are making sure their beef isn't from the Chino, CA slaughterhouse and legislation is being proposed to close a loophole that permits downed animals from entering the human food chain.

We are duly impressed with the coverage this industry-standard cruelty is receiving. It's about time. We don't want it to overshadow the fact that this slaughterhouse is not unique, and the treatment of these animals not aberrant within animal agribusiness.

A big thank-you to the Humane Society of the United States and their dedicated undercover investigator for exposing this cruelty.

Times are changing, and we believe it will be for the better.

How You Can Help:

1) Press Pause:
That's right, pause and consider your dietary choices.

If the time isn't right for a vegan diet, reduce your consumption and nominate a day of the week as your Meat-Out day.

If the time is right (and we hope it is!), go vegan!

There are a plethora of mouth-watering and tasty-recipes available on the internet and at your local bookstore!

Try Veganomicon, Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Planet, How it all Vegan, and the very important Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Becoming vegan is a fun experience - it is a kindness we extend to the animals, our bodies and the planet. A win-win situation for all, really.

2) Contact the USDA:
Contact USDA secretary of agriculture, Edward Schafer.

Ask him to:
- close the loophole permitting such blatant cruelty to animals.
- stop allowing downed animals to enter the food chain.
- require USDA inspectors spend more time present at federally-inspected slaughterhouses.

Email: Edward.W.Schafer@usda.gov

3) Change the Menu: Here's a truth animal agribusiness doesn't like to share: the beef that ends up in government-funded school programs come from sick, diseased, overworked dairy cows.

Why? It's cheap.

And the solution shouldn't be to just buy meat from other slaughterhouses. It should include a serious reflection on what we do and do not want to teach our children. If we want to imbue a sense of compassion, of what is right and what is wrong, then perhaps we should encourage a trend of vegan menu options, instead of replacing one cruel product with another. After all, there is no escaping this fact: in order to produce cheap meat at a fast pace, animals must be mistreated from birth to death.

What you can do: Visit
CHOICE, a website that will assist you in getting vegetarian menu options available in your child's school. If you're a teenager, advocate on behalf of the animals and encourage menu changes at your school.

Triple threat - Bovine buddies

It's time for a meet and greet. Let's start with Animal Place's cattle because, hey!, we only have three…

The slideshow shows off our dapper bovines, enjoy!

Nicholas
From backyard "trash" to sanctuary star, Nicholas is the darling of the sanctuary with his mocha eyes, long lashes and playful attitude.
Age: 1.5 months
Breed: Jersey
Color: Brown (or a pale mocha…)
Likes: Chewing on scarves, hair, grass, pot-bellied pigs, hay, neck skritches
Dislikes: Not being fed exactly on time, goats who stare at him
Story: Nicholas was found tied in a yard, auction stickers glued to his body. He was only two-days-old. Animal Control confiscated him, called us and bam! Nicholas was on his way to his new digs. Nicholas is a by-product of the dairy industry; an unwanted male calf destined for the veal crate or a backyard slaughter.

Sadie
From abused dairy cow to Howie-seducer, Sadie is now Queen Cow at the sanctuary.
Age: 9 years
Breed: Holstein
Color: Penguin black-and-white (but don't mention the penguin part to Sadie)
Likes: Alfalfa, handsome steers, full-body massages, apples
Dislikes: Frisky steers, pigs, medicine
Story: Sadie was a dairy cow. Contrary to popular belief, there are no happy pastures for retired dairy cows – they're slaughtered at a young age. When she was about six, Sadie was sent to auction for eventual slaughter. A veterinary university bought her so that students could poke and prod before selling her back at auction…what a great lesson to teach! A vegan vet student coordinated her rescue, and now she spends her days grazing with Howie and talking to Nicholas.

Howie
From a shelter night-drop box to wheelbarrow-crushing steer, Howie is our loveable lug of a bovine.
Age: 12 years
Breed: Charolais
Color: Sandy brown
Likes: Wheelbarrows (the tipping of), hay, pears, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes, head-butting the pigs
Dislikes: Head-butting goats, having to move out of anyone's way
Story: Howie's mom died giving birth. The farmer stuffed the one-day-old calf into a drop-off box at a shelter. When FFA (Future Farmers of America) heard about the calf, they wanted to raffle him off to the highest bidder…so they could kill him. And the shelter was okay with that! Animal Place garnered media attention and, smartly, the shelter agreed to place Howie with us. Twelve-years-later, Howie thrives and quite popular with visitors.

Remember, your actions affect their lives. Reduce and eliminate. Then go vegan.



Rethinking the meat guzzler

A New York Times article by Mark Bittman details the effects meat production has on our environment. Health problems and animal cruelty are mentioned in passing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html?_r=1&ref=world&oref=slogin

If you do not have a NY Times account, get a free log-in id from www.bugmenot.com (just enter the URL in the search box).

Highlights:
- The United States comprises 5% of the world's population, yet slaughters 15% of the world's total farmed animals (10 billion).
- A third of all ice-free land is directly/indirectly involved in meat, dairy and egg production.
- Nearly 20% of all greenhouse gases are produced by the livestock industry.
- Two to five times more grain is required to produce the same caloric amount through livestock than direct consumption of grain.
- Americans consume twice the maximum, suggested allowance of animal protein a day! Humans only need about 30 grams of protein a day, yet Americans consume around 110 grams.

The production of animal products is a burden to the environment, our bodies and necessarily cruel to animals.

Reduce and eliminate - it isn't hard to do!

Pigs don't want that honor

In the UK, there's been a lot of open discussion about food choices. We have Jamie Oliver televising the killing of a chicken and smothering of male chicks. Eggs from battery caged hens will be banned by 2012 and gestation crates are already being phased out. News stories detail the journey of families choosing to raise animals, name them, pet them, claim they "love them", and then slit those cherished ones throats.

Here's one of those stories: Compassionate Carnivores

For several months, this family took superb care of two pigs, Gnasher and Rasher and then murdered them. Can you imagine doing that to your companion dog or cat? Look them in the eye and say, "Hey, it's been a great six months - time to shoot you in the head and eat you!" In countries (like the UK) where dogs and cats are viewed as "companion animals", there would be outrage both moral and legal. Yet there is nothing intrinsically different about the emotional capacity, ability to feel pain, ability to relate to people or intellectual capabilities betwen pigs and dogs...why is one "food" and the other a "companion"?

The article goes on to quote philosopher Roger Scruton, who writes, "Duty requires us therefore, to eat our friends".

It might just be me, but that has to be one of the creepier philosophical opines. When I look at my friends, I'm not sizing up their hams or determining how long their meat will last in my freezer. I don't tell my friends that I love them so much, sorry about the whole I have to slit your throat and eat you bit. No one wants to be friends with someone whose going to kill and eat them. The human family raising Gnasher and Rasher were not their friends - they were humans who could not see past their momentary gustatory wants and desires. There is nothing friendly about the end result for Gnasher and Rasher.

"The animal brought to the table will have enjoyed the friendship and protection of the one who nurtured him, and his death will be like the ritual sacrifices described in the Bible and Homeric literature - a singling out of a victim, for an important office to which a kind of honour is attached."

I really wish these so-called "compassionate carnivores" would stop couching the killing of friends in such euphemistic ways. Honor? Important office? Friendship and protection?

I doubt Gnasher and Rasher were particularly honored about the whole throat-slitting business. Farmed animals would probably be okay without the honor, friendship, protection and ascension to an important office that humans want to give them. Knowing farmed animals (and I do), they would like to graze, snooze, meander around looking for food, play, annoy each other, make friends, fight, make babies, and live their life according to their emotions, instincts, and preferences (kinda like people, really). They have little interest in being eaten.

As always, it boils down to this fact: We don't need meat to survive. Being "friends" with your "food" doesn't change this fact, nor does it make the rather brutal violation of trust any more or less cruel than the way animals are treated on factory farms. Killing other living, sentient beings - when we don't need to - is not compassionate, kind, nice, friendly, protective or any other adjective guilt-ridden humans want to think up. It's actually quite petty and mean.

Now, we are all on our own paths. Some of us arrive at the aforementioned conclusion sooner than others. Some of us never arrive. For the animals' sakes, please consider eliminating meat, dairy and eggs from your diet. If you aren't ready for that commitment, at least limit your meat and dairy intake - choose to eat heart and planet healthy.