Then I went at it and by "at it", I mean I made sandwiches because I am on a sandwich fix. Today I used the bbq pulled shreds. After getting past the unappetizing name and look of the shreds, I nuked it and prepared my bread and other ingredients for sandwich heaven. Hummus, sprouts, hot sauce also joined the ranks of Stuff I Like A Lot. Three minutes later, I had an epic sandwich that I scarfed down and enjoyed.
Now I have to admit that a lot of the processed soy products are not kind to my stomach. Or intestines. I'm fine with tofu and edamame but a lot of the meat analogs make my gut revolt. Gardein does not, which is possibly a bad thing, as I don't want to overdo all the processed stuff in my diet. I also get a bit creeped out by eating analogs that are supposed to taste like animal flesh. Eww. But for those of you looking for a vegan "meat" analog that might be a bit gentler on the digestion system, check out Gardein.
Anyways, here is photographic evidence of my sandwich. IT WAS SO HARD TO TAKE THIS PICTURE. Caps are necessary to emphasize how hard it was for me to stop, place the sandwich in an appropriately lit area and then take a picture. And by take a picture, I mean 20.
So get out there and enjoy some vegan sandwiches with some Gardein.
Yeah, I ate that. I hope it inspires your vegan culinary skills, of which you need few to enjoy this sandwich.
Then we received an email from Sheila who is a gifted artist with an interesting background in forensic art. She asked to paint Harold and how could we say no?
Here is the result - we love it! Thank you so much, Sheila! The staff now has another way to remember our special friend, Harold. We have not decided exactly what we wish to do with the painting but whatever we do, it will always be to honor Harold and his grumpy voice.
Also check out Art for the Animals, a nice little project to help shelters and other rescues.
All us vegans were all "GO EZRA KLEIN" when we read "The Meat of the Problem" in Wednesday's Washington Post. I mean, it's been a thorn in our collective vegan side for years that environmental groups continue to tout turning off light bulbs as The Way to Save the Planet when a more powerful way to help the planet is to stop eating animals. Switching from an SUV to a Prius does not come close to helping the earth as much as not eating meat does. Which isn't to say you should strap yourself into a Hummer while gnawing on a hummus sandwich.
Anyways, Ezra Klein may not be leaping onto the vegan bandwagon any time soon, but we will take what we can get. Please read the article, it really is quite eloquent and well-though out (as are most of his pieces).
If you have some time, write a letter to the Washington Post. Try to be more poetic than VEGANS RULE, HERE IS PROOF! You don't have to, of course, but it would be nice.
Remember to keep letters short and include your full name, address and phone number.
You can also thank Ezra Klein for penning the article: email@example.com
Saturday, we welcomed a 5-mos-old Suffolk lamb from a northern California high school FFA program. The student had not been told her lamb would end up at slaughter. Appalled, she sought out the aid of farmers, thinking one would understand this bond, this relationship she formed with the sheep. They didn't, because they could not move beyond the idea of "owner" and "property".
When farmers offered no help, she searched for sanctuaries and found Animal Place. The late-night email said the sheep had until Sunday to find a home. On Saturday, I called up the student and her mom to gather information. The first question I asked was whether the student planned on doing any more animal projects - an emphatic no. After talking with staff, we agreed to bring "Lambie" back to the sanctuary, saving her from the cruel fate of nearly all FFA/4-H animals, slaughter.
There's the betrayal. It stares these children in the face, smiles, wraps its greedy hands around small shoulders and says, this death, this slaughter, this is okay. For months, students have fed, watered, groomed, handled, socialized and, dare I say it, loved these animals. They have gazed into blameless eyes, have nursed sick to health and have been living a lie. When it comes time for the fair, the inevitable auction, children weep for their beloved friends, they cry tears of pain and anger that this animal who they have devoted heart and soul to is slated for death.
Then there is the parental perfidy. Parents see the heartache, know the bond has been formed....and yet. Our society seems to value a cognitive dissonance, a disconnect from empathy and compassion. Parents want their kids to learn responsibility, make connections, but they seem to expect their kids to just "toughen up" and get on with it. Not all parents do this, of course. Lambie's biggest advocate was the student's mother. She refused to acknowledge the teacher's desire to kill Lambie and instead made every effort to follow her daughter's heart.
Schools also play a role. They make deals with local banks to offer loans. These loans pay for the purchase and partial upkeep of the animal. Most students don't have jobs and while creating good credit is a noble thing indeed, the whole concept of a loan sets up the child for failure when s/he wants to save the animal. Now the child has a $2,500 loan to pay off and no money to do so....except the money they get from selling that animal at auction. Some schools purchase the animals outright, maintaining "ownership" rights. Schools tend to be unsupportive of students who want to place their animals in lieu of selling them.
These animal programs are marketed to students as ways to garner "real world experience". In some ways, I guess they do - in the real world, people lie. In other ways, they fail. In the real world, most farmed animals live inside sheds and cages and are slaughtered in high-output processing facilities. Most never see the light of day or roam free. FFA/4-H programs do not emulate how most animals are raised or the scale of production and death. I'm not suggesting they do, either. But there should be duplicity, more honesty.
Little Lambie is lucky. We will place her in an appropriate home or keep her indefinitely at the sanctuary.
We think all children should spend some time with farmed animals, just not in the confines of a farm. Find a sanctuary in your area and encourage kids to visit and, age requirements permitting, volunteer. This is a much better way to learn responsibility and, more importantly, compassion and empathy.
And if you are feeling especially giving after reading this post (and of course you are), please consider a donation to Animal Place so that we may continue doing our life saving work. If you cannot make a monetary donation, check out Willy's wishlist.
The calves are doing great. The end.
Just kidding, but they are doing wonderfully. Both look like fat happy calves with Freedom sporting a little Buddha-belly for his nirvana enlightenment training. Summer is still smaller but is gaining weight and feeling good.
They still love sucking on themselves, each other and the rest of us who would prefer to keep our hair to ourselves. The potbellied pigs actually like the nursing, because apparently they are into strange relationships with calves. Matt, the rooster, pretends to dislike the calves by randomly pecking them but also walks under them and through their legs like he's a calf herder or something.
More importantly, pictures!
Oh noes, Summer has no color! He also has an embarrassing piece of straw on his nose, for shame.
This may indicate I have a calf-butt fetish and so what if I do? You can see Summer's hair is coming back. He lost some hair due to his poor health but it's all growing back now.
Holy crap, they are kissing! KISSING. You may now all die from cuteness (if you haven't already from Summer's adorable toosh).
So there you have it, the official Summer and Freedom calf update. You are welcome.
This past weekend, we tabled at the Animal Rights 2009 conference down in Los Angeles. If you get a chance to attend, you should.
But first, Harris Ranch. I cannot talk about going to LA without the obligatory gripe on the evils of Harris Ranch in Coalinga, right off Hwy 5. Tens of thousands of cattle are "fattened" on dry-lots and slaughtered at the ranch's abattoir. The creep factor increases with the Trifecta of Harris Ranch Evil - shop, stay, dine. You can shop for body parts, stay for a honeymoon, and dine on the flesh of the very cattle who's suffering is in sight, smell and sound.
And then the conference, a breath of fresh air really. Four days of hanging out with people who get it. Plus, vegan food - must convince The Veggie Grill to live in my home and cook for me all the time. Anyway, there is nothing quite so morale-boosting as preaching to the choir. There were a lot of great speakers, panels and exhibits (us included, of course).
Which brings me to language. We, in the animal protection movement, still struggle with this issue. It pained me to hear otherwise enlightened animal activists refer to dogs, pigs, cats and other animals as "its" and "whats". They are not objects. We should call them "he", "she", "who" and never ever "it".
Practice this. When talk to people about other animals, do your best and refer to them as sentient beings, as "she is the dog who loves cookies" or "he is the pig who adores belly rubs" or "they are the cows who love grass". I know it can be a little intimidating but once you have grasped the language issue, do not be afraid to tackle (figuratively) other people. When they are talking about animals and they say "it", ask them "Oh, do you mean he or she?" - get them to consider how words can change how we feel and think.
That's my public service announcement. Now, onto the ice cream.
<--Buy me, you will not regret it
It turns out July is NATIONAL ICE CREAM month. July is also Blueberries month, National Make a Difference to Children month and National Share a Sunset with your Lover month. I feel these things can all be combined - vegan ice cream + blueberries + sharing ice cream with child/lover/sunset = yay! July 21st is also National Tug-of-War Tournament day which my dogs are VERY excited about. VEGAN ICE CREAM will be their reward,
of course. July 11 is National Cheer up the Lonely day which is easily done with VEGAN ICE CREAM.
Now where do you get vegan ice cream? Do not fear, there is nothing mystical about finding vegan ice cream - it is everywhere (which sounds mystical, but isn't). Many supermarkets these days carry Tofutti's ice cream, Rice Dream and So Delicious. My favorite is Purely Decadent Coconut ice cream. They are not lying when they say purely decadent. Now, coconut ice cream may be 40% saturated fat, but this is good, honest, tasty saturated fat so please to be making an exception for it. There is also Temptation ice cream which is tempting but also requires a long trip across country to get it - us northern Californians are hoping that will change soon, because I've heard excellent things about it (plus they have soft serve!)
So, Happy VEGAN Ice Cream month. May it be full of melty goodness.
Now that the Stampede is over, how did things go?
Well, four animals are dead.
A steer suffered significant spinal injuries during the steer wrestling event and was later killed. Why on earth anyone feels it is necessary to "wrestle" steer as a means of entertainment is beyond my understanding.
And then there's the chuckwagon event which has claimed the most animal lives at the stampede. In the past ten years, an average of two horses have died annually during this event alone. This year, three horses died. Two horses died of heart attacks after the race. One horse was killed after breaking his leg during a race.
Most of you already avoid rodeos. That's good. You can also help by avoiding/reducing animal products - most of the calves and steers in these events will be sent to slaughter. It isn't bad enough they are chased and violently handled, they are then sent to an equally horrifying death.
This is the most important section. Help me help myself to some cherry and strawberry plants!
Bare-root or potted fruit and nut trees (apple, peach, cherry, plum, fig, olive, chestnut)
Ornamental (native) plants
Shovels, rakes, hoes, etc.
Animal Care Needs
Hopper silos for grain storage
Econoline (or comparable) van for animal transport
Gift certificate from Western Feed and Supply, 707-448-6568
Farm Equipment/Vehicle Needs
Mountain bikes for farm transport - any condition.
Steel T-posts for fencing
5’ high field fencing
Trailer (mobile home)
Treated wood posts for fencing
Irrigation pipe and fittings
Camper Shell for Toyota T-100
Digital DSLR camera
Picnic tables w/ benches
Hardwood and dimension lumber
Digital weather station
Have any of these items?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know! All in-kind donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Every gift you donate makes a huge difference in the lives of the animals at the sanctuary!
Harold arrived at Animal Place five years ago. He was found tied to a fence at a slaughterhouse, sick, anemic, riddled with parasites, and practically blind. He was treated with antibiotics for his infections, dewormer for his parasites and anemia, and a slew of eye ointments to help his painful eyes recover. The vets questioned whether the corneal ulcers would rob him of his vision forever. Slowly, with gentle care he had most likely never known, received from people he couldn’t see, he started to improve. His anemia cleared, he could see, and he learned some people could be trusted.
He never really came around to being the most social of goats, except when he wasn’t feeling well. Harold sought attention when his teeth were causing him pain. He sought attention when he could feel the restriction of the mass growing in his lungs. Maybe he remembered the first time he was nursed back to health. When he started being social with people a month ago, we encouraged the interactions, picking leaves from the tree he could never reach. We soon noticed he had difficulty breathing. He was examined at UC Davis’s veterinary hospital and found to have a mass or abscess stealing a third of his lung space.
When they recommended restricted movement and isolation, we had a tough choice to make. We knew his time was coming to an end and couldn’t bear the thought of keeping him from his friends. In the end, we let Harold decide – did he want to spend his remaining days grazing alongside his goat friends? He stayed out with the herd. We gauged his quality of life as best we could.
Harold told us when it was time. His breathing worsened and he stopped going to graze with the goats. We scheduled a vet to come and euthanize him at the sanctuary, the only place he knew as home. When I scooped him up to take him to the stall for his last few minutes, his loss of weight and will to fight were shockingly apparent. The entire staff was there as the drugs were administered, and his labored breathing slowed, then stopped.
Deciding when to euthanize is definitely the hardest part of my job. We decide as a group, considering the observations and emotions of each staff member. Sometimes we arrive at the decision to euthanize at different points in disease progression. Regardless of our personal timing, it seems the animals always tell us when they are ready. It could be as dramatic as Val the pig showing us her legs no longer have the strength to lift her heavy body or as subtle as Nancy the goat gradually slowing down then losing the spark from her eyes. Of course its never easy, but having a consensus, especially with the animals, makes us feel more assured of our decision. Providing these animals with a great life includes helping them pass as painlessly as we can, as hard as that can be. I play the images of Harold scampering down the steep hills with his short gait, of him saying hello to the dentistry vet by planting his front hooves mid-thigh, of all the things that made Harold so uniquely Harold and they remind me we gave him the best life possible.
Just this morning, two 3-mos old piglets who we had spayed at UC Davis headed off to their new home in Arizona. The drive no doubt will be a little stressful, though after the first hour or so of driving, the adopters reported both piglets were asleep. Pigs are extremely sensitive to stress during transport, so it was nice hearing a positive update.
On a related though less uplifting note, there is a cow-calf operation next to the sanctuary. It's ironic. Here cows give birth to calves who eventually end up at feedlots and the slaughterhouse. Yesterday, the rancher moved a new bull into the pasture, even though the pasture already has one, very large, very protective bull. The new bull initially spent the first several hours calling to his missing herd, cows and calves he had probably been with for the past eight or nine months. Of course this attracted the attention of the resident bull who just had to flip the new bull up and over the fence. It was a gravity-defying display. How confusing it must be for this bull, to have once been so content with familiar friends to now being unceremoniously flung over a fence. He's back in the pasture and the two will figure out their differences. Some of the cows will take pity (or find attraction in) on the newcomer and all will be well...but these first few weeks are no fun for any of the bovines involved (or those of us who try to leave the property only to be faced with a wayward 1,500 lb angus bull).
Which of course got me thinking about what it will be like for the animals when we move. It can't be anything but stressful and scary. We cannot explain to the animals what's in store for them, that there will be green pastures year-round and more roam to explore. I have a feeling the goats and cattle will be the least stressed, owing to the fact they are very curious animals. The pigs will probably be very melodramatic and angsty for the first few weeks until they find the year-round mud-hole and some good rooting spots. I'm not sure about the rabbits or the sheep (who are fond of one particular hill dotting the property). I'm betting the peepers will find the transport the most unnerving but their new digs full of beautiful and wondrous things. It's a big step up for them, really.
In any event, for those of you who have made moves with animals, let us know how you made the transition easier for them. We want to make this the least stressful move we can!
I admit I struggle when it comes to behavioral research studying emotions and learning abilities. People still think farmed animals are stupid, incapable of feeling joy or anger. Yet study after study is showing otherwise, forcing a shift in thinking (and hopefully behavior change).
For example, the much maligned fishes of the world received a boost in reputation when scientists found they experience pain, can remember locations and behaviors for years, and exhibit similar learning patterns as humans. Nothing legislatively has come from these studies*, but no longer can people logically claim that fish are stupid, emotionless, incapable of feeling pain or that they have a 3-second memory. Pescetarians have to question the ethics of consuming sentient, feeling beings who are killed in manners that even slaughterhouses avoid (not to mention the environmental ethics of consuming fish).
Behavioral research is showing us more than we ever knew about animals, like fish. Perhaps that is a slippery slope - I mean, what I feel is useful knowledge may not be what you feel is useful and whether any of us feels it is useful may mean nothing to the animals (even if they are not killed or hurt physically).
Still, I do peruse the abstracts of Applied Animal Behavior Science. Most of the studies leave me shaking my head, some make me smile**, others make me cringe. And some beg the question, "Didn't you know this already?" This is one: "Influence of artificial vs. mother-bonded rearing on sucking behaviour, health and weight gain in calves" which goes about determining whether calves given access to their mother's milk gained more weight, had fewer disease or exhibited less abnormal behavior, like cross-suckling (trying to nurse off other objects or pen mates).
The results? Calves who nursed off their own mother gained more weight and exhibited less abnormal suckling behavior.
Which seems great, on the surface. I mean one could argue that this suggests calves should be with their mothers to avoid abnormal behaviors and promote growth. Dairies separate the calf from the mother the day of birth.
The authors don't suggest this, but to me, the real result is that Mother Nature had it right from the beginning - calves are biologically and behaviorally geared to drinking their own mother's milk. The basic premise of this study is tragic; it's based on a system of rearing that denies the most instinctive, basic bond in most mammals, that between dam and child (or cow and calf, in this case). Everything about dairy farming is abnormal, from the hyped-up milk production to the growth hormones to the separation of cow from calf to this inculturated notion that we human beings should be consuming the breast milk of bovine beings. This just seems like common sense stuff, yet most of us, in the United States at least, grew up thinking that drinking the milk of another species was just hunky-dory. I certainly did.
I can't help but think of the calves in this study. Some enjoyed 30 measly minutes a day with their mother. How glorious those few precious moments must have been, the suckling and warmth and comfort only a mother can provide. The grooming, talking, sniffing and all that comes with communication with a being who gets you. To spend hours upon hours eagerly waiting for those few precious moments. And then there are the calves who didn't get to nurse, who seek with a painful desperation the comfort of a mother by sucking, sucking, sucking on anything in sight. Who know they are missing something but do not quite know what it is, or maybe they do - it's painful either way. Both sets of calves are deprived in one manner or another, both never enter fully into Being A Bovine.
Summer and Freedom, the two newest Animal Place residents, know what it is like to be deprived. They too are like the calves in the study who never had a mom to nurse. They try to nurse ears, hair, people's fingers, pant legs, shoe laces....anything and everything is a potential source of milk, really a source of comfort and contact. We do our best to comfort and help them grow. But none of it compares to their mother, she who knows best, who smells like home and milk and good things. We cannot wait until both are big enough to go out with the other cattle. That is where they will shine, where they will enter a small community of their own. I wish they had known their moms, that they were here to give what is most needed. I wish that for all young.
I can't end this post without asking you to consider dairy milk alternatives - soy, nut, rice, almond, oat. There are vegan cheeses commercially available as well.
*Fish are not protected by any slaughter laws, meaning they experience enormous pain and stress during decompression, suffocation, clubbing and other sordid methods of slaughter. It is unconscionable that they do not.
**One study strapped a tri-axial accelerometer to grazing goats just to see what grazing goats do in their spare time (they graze, apparently).
Or do they?
Well, if you've read the 70+ news articles covering this story, you would think vegans were going to fall apart at the seams, their bones snapping like twigs.
The articles are reporting about this study in the American Journal of Nutrition called "Effect of vegetarian diets on bone mineral density: a Bayesian meta-analysis". I am always fond of Bayesian meta-analysis because it sounds fun and scientificky.
Anyway, the news agencies love to report scientificky stuff in the most unscientific ways, like by saying "vegans have lower bone densities" when, in fact, the actual study showed there wasn't a clinically significant difference and that vegans were not treated more frequently for bone fractures. This means being a vegan does not mean being brittle-boned any more than being omnivorous means being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Contrast that with the findings on bone fractures in the elderly, where 70% of fractures occurred in elderly female. That merited like a line. There are a lot more elderly females who could benefit from further research on this matter than there are vegans who would benefit (because we are not brittle-boned, darnit!)
In any event, my favorite quote is from Nutritionist Dr. Rosemary Stanton:
The push to have everyone eat massive amounts of dairy products is invalidInvalid! Take that, eat massive amounts of dairy products promoters!
My conclusion is that you should eat well and healthy. In fact, take the advice of the American Dietetic Association (which is not a Vegan Group by any means) and what they say in their most recent issue of Journal of the American Dietetic Association
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.
Healthful. Nutritionally adequate. Yummy (well, they don't mention this but they should).
Is our Governor concerned about finding ways to mitigate this serious problem? Well, of course he is. But he is also interested in using diversionary tactics to mock the legislature for doing one of its jobs - you know, passing laws and stuff.
Specifically, Governor Schwarzenegger tweeted the following about SB 135, which would ban the painful amputation of cattle tails:
Instead of working on budget, the Legislature is about to debate whether cows can keep their tails while we're in a fiscal crisisHe even had staff stop working on Governor related issues, traipse down to the hearing room where the bill was being heard and film the hearing in order to post a video on youtube. He also took some time to mention the bill at his press conference. I'm almost positive gubernatorial staff have more important things to worry about.
This tweet of the Governator might have merit if the following conditions were met:
- SB 135 cost taxpayers 23,000,000,000 annually.
- Discussion of SB 135 cost legislators so much time and headache they could not possibly focus on the budget.
According to the analysis, SB 135 will not cost the state much of anything, certainly not anything that is going to put our state any deeper into the red zone. The bill flew through the Senate quickly and is marching on through the Assembly side at a quick pace too, so it isn't as if our legislature is losing sleep or time over SB 135.
Senator Florez, who introduced the bill, says:“stop tweeting his obsession with cow tails and start tweaking the Budget to move us toward a solution.”
Do people still say "Oh, snap!"? If they do, then have at it.
There was a near riot by fellow sanctuary denizens who felt slighted by the fact that I was busy. Yes, it's true. I was busy. Nesting and pecking at the grass and also falling in love. His name is Arturo, he's very sweet and saves grapes for me. So you can understand that I had to spend time with him and my nest and the grass.
But now the grass is dead, I am so over the whole broody nesting business and Arturo is still the love of my life but not so overbearing I can't take some time to update you on the birthdays!
On to the July birthdays! Remember, you can click on the small pictures to see the animals up close and personal (sometimes TOO personal, in my chick-pinion).
This is Olivia and she turns five. She's a potbellied pig with Personality, some may even say she has bigger Personality than me but that's crazy. Olivia has been at the sanctuary since she was my size, which is to say perfectly well-proportioned. Someone was selling her at a flea market, which is just as ridiculous as it sounds.
Iris is what I consider a very pretty rabbit. This is because she has spots and I have spots, so we're practically best friends forever. Iris will be turning four! Now, this will shock you but she was actually stuck in a wire cage for goodness knows how long with a bunch of other rabbits - she could barely turn around! I cannot even imagine. According to the bunny-vine, she's real popular and hasn't let the past get in the way of the present, which is why we're practically best friends forever because this is how I feel too.
Unfortunately, I have to share the chicken enclosure with turkeys. This is a great injustice perpetrated against us chickens by those well-meaning bipeds who do not even realize the great injustice. ANYWAY, I don't want to detract from the birthday celebrations - this is Zarriah. Along with Serena (who looks just like Zarriah) they are turning 9. These two were found wandering the streets of Napa as wee lasses, probably escapees from a "free-range" farm.
Whoa, another turkey? This is Evil Willow. The bipeds just call her Willow. She is turning three and is a grouchy turkey. She puts on a good front with the bipeds, making them think she's all nice and sweet. Wrong! Sometimes she pecks us hens on the head! Rude, I think. But Happy Birthday anyways.