LA bans bullhooks! Huzzah! »
Yay! Good news for eles! Los Angeles has officially banned the use of bullhooks—i.e. that awful fire poker-looking thing above that Ringling Brothers and other circuses use to “guide” elephants. They also happen to use it to beat elephants. Because they love them so much.
As the LA Times says, this kind of just makes it so circuses can’t go to LA. As the LA Times also says,
Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros., said the ordinance would have the effect of “kicking us out of Los Angeles.”
Ringling allows trainers and elephants to be in close proximity — or “free contact” — and therefore the tool must be used for safety purposes, Payne said. He contends that the company’s handlers use it professionally and humanely.
The Assn. of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits North American zoos, has instructed all its members, by 2014, to allow only restricted contact between keepers and elephants — meaning there will be a barrier at all times between person and pachyderm. Although the association does not expressly prohibit bullhooks, restricted contact lessens the need to use them.
If the circus can’t come to town without bullhooks, then it shouldn’t come.
Sadly, apparently it might take up to three years to take effect but it’s still a super great advance in the terrible treatment of imprisoned eles.
A classic Megan Rascal cartoon.
Oh snap, the LA Times is featuring a recipe for vegan “clam” chowder. Thanks for those scare quotes, copy editors, because otherwise we might all be confused about whether there were “really” “clams” “in” the “chowder.”
The dish uses soaked cashews for creaminess and smoked mushrooms for smokiness and my personal favorite, kombu, for that taste of the sea. Looks hella involved and hella good. Thanks, Los Angeles!
Save the wolves! Keep them protected! »
This whole budget business is messy as my room. All these goddamn riders! One such rider is the de-listing of wolves as an endangered species in Idaho and Montana. This is utter bullshit and really sad. From Earthjustice via the LA Times: “For the first time in history, Congress is removing a species…from the Endangered Species Act based on political, rather than biological, judgments.” Like I explained last week, wolves are being attacked for eating livestock and competing for “game” with hunters.
I don’t really sympathize with livestock farmers but that’s a better reason than that of the hunters; at least it’s like about their livelihood (as animal abusers). It’s like I’m sorry the wolves are making it more difficult for you guys to hunt but isn’t that part of the point? If you want easy, go to the damn grocery store. De-listing an endangered species so you have an easier time hunting is just depraved thinking and sneaking it into the budget agreement is so slimy.
From Friends of Animals, here’s how you can help:
Listed below are the phone numbers and contact info for the Senate. Please call not only your own senators, but every Senate Democrat as many times as you can. Please also pass this information along to other animal advocates. Wolves need every voice possible.
Capital Switchboard Numbers: give the name of the senator and you will be transferred to their office. You will then either speak to a staff member, or to voice mail on the weekend.
When possible ask to speak to each senator’s environmental aide. This will give you a better chance to get your message across because you will be talking to someone who is familiar with the issue.
The delisting language must be stripped out of the final bill:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
522 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224.3542
Toll-free for Nevadans: (866) 736.7343
INDIVIDUAL LIST OF SENATORS:
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.)
Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.)
Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.)
Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Comments: (202) 456.1111
Switchboard: (202) 456.1414
Another important thing to note is that this isn’t just about wolves: “as [Josh Mogerman, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C.] said the rider could mean threats to additional species in the future. ‘There’s a process in place for dealing with these issues in the courts. But by Congress acting, it’s just a completely different animal,’ he said. ‘You look down the [Endangered Species Act], you see critter after critter and plant after plant that are probably inconvenient to special interests all over the country. And what [they] have done is opened the door to removing plants and animals from the ESA by whim, rather than science.’”
[Cartoon by me, photo from Living With Wolves]
LA Times book review: Oogy! »
In the Los Angeles Times yesterday I came across a review of this adorable book, Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love. The book is about a bait dog found outside Philly that was adopted by a loving family. Oogy the dog was found almost dead, with all kinds of injuries and without an ear. The animal hospital that found him was seriously considering putting him to sleep but this beat-up dog was so sweet, they couldn’t. They say, despite his injuries and the horrible way he’d been treated, he was giving out licks to everyone and wagging his tail all over the place. Jeez Louise, are dogs not THE BEST?
And guess what: Oogy is going to be a therapy dog!
Oogy’s triumph — not so much the lap-of-luxury life that he now enjoys, but his ability to overcome cruelty — has led Levin to begin training Oogy to become a therapy dog, particularly for those who are wounded and disfigured. “I believe that Oogy will be able to help those in need to understand that scarring, disfigurement, and trauma, whether physical or emotional, do not have to define who they are…. That no matter what has been inflicted upon them, love and dignity are attainable,” Levin writes.
The reviewer seems to only half like the book. She says it needs more doggie antics, and that “Oogy has loads of personality and charm to spare,” which they could feature a little more. I definitely like antics! But the book sounds really sweet anyway—not that I’m going to read it. Well, I’ll consider reading it but in the end, I probably won’t. See, I’m allergic to reading. It’s a terrible affliction but I’ve learned to deal. You guys, however, can totally read it and tell me what happens!
Farmers markets, consumer warnings and political scandal in your egg-recall update! »
The Humane Society wants us to know that eggs from the farmers market can come from hens treated just as terribly as hens that supply eggs for supermarkets. Many of you are probably like, “duh,” but before I became vegan, I was unaware of this sort of thing. I even assumed “organic” automatically meant humane! But it’s just not so. Side note: that was actually why I initially became vegan, because if you don’t go directly to the farm, you just don’t know how the animals are treated. But I can’t be running around on farms everyday just so I can eat omelets! I’ve got work to do and dance moves to perfect!
Last week, the Humane Society sent letters to California’s farmers markets asking them to forbid the sale of eggs from caged hens: “To increase food safety, improve animal welfare, and to meet the expectations of their consumers, we hope California’s farmers markets will stop allowing their well-earned ‘halo effect’ to extend to companies and products that don’t deserve it.” LGBT Compassion regularly protests the live-chicken vendors at Heart of the City Farmers Market—did you know that these hens aren’t protected by California’s poultry slaughter laws?
Of course cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean the hen can go outside or anything silly like that, but they generally* do have enough room to spread their wings and actually move in general. And as the Humane Society points out, “cage-free” also means safer, according to the last 10 studies on the subject.
In other egg-recall news, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says consumer notification systems in food-recalls are plain janky. She says it’s imperative for their health that people get up-to-date information and they should be notified within 24 hours of any recall. I’m going to have to cosign this movement as I was talking to friends just last weekend who had heard jackshit about the egg recall. Dang it! I love most of my friends! I don’t want them to die from Salmonella!
Does anyone else remember the E. coli outbreak in spinach in 2006? When I went to Whole Foods around then, every single bag of spinach had an E. coli warning—have they done that with the eggs? I don’t know, I don’t buy eggs, but I doubt it. And you know why? Politics!
That’s right, in the world of food safety, corruption abounds. A survey released yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists showed that almost half of the scientists and inspectors at the federal agencies in charge of food safety say big business and congress has interfered in their work. This was a problem under the Bush administration and apparently there’s been little improvement under Obama. From the LA Times:
"What we found is that action is needed to curtail interference in science, both political and that driven by the private sector," said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "We have two very different agencies giving very identical responses, and this suggests the need for broad reform."
Inspectors responding to the survey reported pressure from their own agencies to make problems disappear and to help offending companies remain open even when there are clear violations. So basically, we’re screwed! Business over safety, that’s the American way.
Speaking of business and corruption, Grist had a good piece yesterday about the crazy egg empire of Jack DeCoster. DeCoster owns Wright County Egg, one of the egg factories subject to the recall, and according to Grist writer Tom Philpott, he’s “one of the most reviled figures in industrial agriculture.” DeCoster views violating food safety laws as no big deal, and paying fines as another part of doing business. OMG this guy rules! Wright County Egg is only the ninth-largest egg producer in the U.S. BUT! DeCoster may very well be numero uno of the egg market! BUT! It’s very confusing! Philpott tries to get to the bottom of it:
[There are] four large egg producers—DeCoster Family Farms (Wright County Egg), Hillandale Farms, Ohio Fresh Eggs, and Quality Eggs of Maine—which [are] controlled by or have extremely intimate links with Jack DeCoster. The Cal-Maine list of the largest U.S. egg producers puts the hen flocks of DeCoster Family Farms, Hillandale, and Ohio Fresh at 9 million, 14 million, and 7.6 million, respectively. It doesn’t list Quality Egg of Maine, but the Boston Globe says it keeps 5 million hens…. [T]hat amounts 35.6 million hens under management by companies owned by or tightly linked with DeCoster—more than 10 percent of the nation’s total flock (340 million).
Philpott is not done yet but I’ll keep you updated. God bless his tireless soul!
I know our vegan readers don’t buy eggs, but many of our friends and loved ones do. One thing we can do is get them hip to the farmers market jive and tell them to always ask egg vendors if the hens are cage-free, and to ask farmers market organizers if they allow eggs from caged hens. I find that even when omnivores don’t care how animals are treated, many of them are über-scared of food-borne illnesses so the increased danger caused by small cages is a good thing to make them aware of. Everybody now: BABY STEPS!
*This is an update. Cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean they can spread their wings or anything superfluous like that. FYI.
Fascist jerky landlords can suck it! (and no, this isn’t about Ike’s Place) »
Just saw this good news from the LA Times!:
State legislation that would make it illegal for landlords in California to require animal declawing or devocalization as a condition of tenancy passed in the Assembly on a 63-7 vote Thursday…
AB 2743 also would forbid landlords from giving preferential treatment to tenants with declawed or devocalized animals and from advertising in a way designed to discourage applicants whose animals have not been declawed or devocalized.
Yay! Go kitties, shred the carpet, shred the carpet, go kitties! And puppies, your vocal cords will soon be safe!
This seems like maybe it’ll be hard to enforce but still, a very positive step! I HATE the idea of devocalizing dogs. It’s completely crazy. Someone actually suggested I do this to my dog Figaro. I’m serious! I mean, the boy does seem to be 75 percent lung power—he’s loud as all getup. But I’m always like, he talks way less than I do! And everybody LOVES me. But can you imagine? If you couldn’t talk? Barking is just how a dog expresses her or himself; if they can’t bark, how are they supposed to tell you when Mitsy is breaking into your brand-new bag of pita? I ask you!
And declawing—don’t get me started! Did you know declawing is pretty rare outside of North America? BECAUSE IT’S INHUMANE AND CRAZY! It’s illegal in many countries and I swear it’s the same countries where capital punishment is illegal. I’m not saying causation but I think there’s totally a correlation. Countries advanced enough to recognize the death penalty as cruel and inhumane are also advanced enough to recognize the need to protect those who can’t protect themselves—like poor lil’ kitties. It’s like that Gandhi quote, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” DUH EVERYBODY.
In other animal cruelty news, here’s Figaro in his latest photo shoot!:
(It’s cruelty because I’m making him read Nathanial West. But I’m like, put down the Cosmo and get some damn culture, Figaro!)
Hey L.A.! The Getty Museum has an exhibition on right now called "In Focus: Tasteful Pictures" that’s exclusively food photographs. Moreover, all 150 pieces are “non-digital” photos, they come from the Museum’s permanent collection although some have never been shown before, and the earliest is from the mid-19th century. Fancy! If I were there, I would go. This L.A. Times article makes it sound interesting enough, anyway, plus art education is important! And photography is pretty easy to appreciate (i.e., “like,” i.e., “understand what’s going on,”), I think. Whatever, I don’t know anything, but I like looking at representations of food, and it’s so common now you forget that it can be more than an illustration of your meal. HA, look at me “discussing” art. The above photograph is called Still Life with Fruit and Decanter, shot in 1860 in London by Roger Fenton.
Hey L.A.! The Getty Museum has an exhibition on right now called "In Focus: Tasteful Pictures" that’s exclusively food photographs. Moreover, all 150 pieces are “non-digital” photos, they come from the Museum’s permanent collection although some have never been shown before, and the earliest is from the mid-19th century. Fancy! If I were there, I would go. This L.A. Times article makes it sound interesting enough, anyway, plus art education is important! And photography is pretty easy to appreciate (i.e., “like,” i.e., “understand what’s going on,”), I think. Whatever, I don’t know anything, but I like looking at representations of food, and it’s so common now you forget that it can be more than an illustration of your meal.
HA, look at me “discussing” art.
The above photograph is called Still Life with Fruit and Decanter, shot in 1860 in London by Roger Fenton.
Whales: maybe a little less screwed »
According to the LA Times, Monday marked the end of an expedition in which scientists concluded that we don’t have to kill whales in order to study them. To this I say 1. BRAVO! and 2. ADOY!
Japan uses this claim that they need to kill whales in order to study them as a way around the International Whaling Commission’s 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Of course they do sell the whale meat after they “study” the whale but that’s just like so nothing goes to waste of course. Not because they just totally want to sell whale meat.
The expedition was proposed by Australia (yay Aussies!) and approved by the commission. It is the first of five expeditions they’re going to do. Yeah, it’s just the first one and already they are like, Hey Japan! Kiss it!
From the LA Times:
The scientists’ research focused on whale numbers, what they eat, how they move between food patches and how they travel to and from their breeding grounds in the central Pacific.
"All of those questions can be and are being answered using nonlethal techniques," expedition leader Nick Gales told reporters Monday.
Although Gales acknowledged that Japan does some “marvelous” nonlethal whale research, he said “the component of their work that results in the killing of the whales” is not the type of science the commission requires.
Japan was like, OK hippies, how are we supposed to know what’s INSIDE the whales? I’m sure there are ways to do this or eventually there will be ways but here’s my suggestion: Hey science! Why do you have to know what’s inside everything all the time? It’s a complete obsession. And I think we’ve been nursing this fetish long enough! After all, it’s what’s on the outside that counts in this business called life!
[Adorable whale pic from the LA Times]
Weekend events, miracle stories, bacon-hate, breast injections, a passel of crazies and more in this week’s massive post-holiday link-o-rama!!! »
Opening tonight at the Roxie: Mine, a documentary about New Orleans residents searching for their lost pets after Hurricane Katrina. Tickets are still available for tonight’s shows at 7 and 9, and it plays through Thursday, Jan. 14. The Roxie is at 3117 16th St., between Valencia and Guerrero Streets.
The long-awaited first-ever East Bay Vegan Bakesale is happening tomorrow, Saturday Jan. 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Issues, at 20 Glen Ave. at Piedmont Avenue in Oakland!! This will be super-exciting, don’t be a jerk and miss out!!
After Saturday’s bakesale, head over to the Rocket Dog Rescue and Muttville fundraiser beer bust at Mix Bar, at 4086 18th St. at Castro Street. There’ll be snacks, entertainment, and a raffle; the fun is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m.
On Sunday, Jan. 10 from 3 to 7 p.m. is the Food Not Bombs Vegan Chili Showdown! It’s at 3030B 16th St. at Mission Street, across from the 16th Street BART station. The entry fee is $7, and FNB will provide music and cornbread. MUSIC AND CORNBREAD ALL RIGHT.
Have you heard of Green Coriander? It’s a new take-out-only Indian place in San Francisco that’s offering a 20 percent discount to anyone who mentions they read about it on Mission Mission (you could say you were directed to them through MM via Vegansaurus, too, if you wanted). This week’s menu is nearly all vegan, too!
The Kitchn lists its top 25 meatless recipes from 2009, 19 of which are vegan!
A (borrrrrrring) Q & A with Food, Inc. director Robert Kenner, in which he says he is “not setting out to be a vegetarian,” which, duh and shut up, although he does say something about “chang[ing] the argument” of a libertarian, so that’s not so bad.
And then the LA Times comes back with a sound op-ed on food and farming, and not yelling so much about all of it because civility.
YES YES YES times 1 billion: the first page of the first chapter of Nicolette Hahn Niman’s new book, Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms is available online now!!! Hypocrisy has a new handbook, AWESOME!
Even Foster Farms is grossed out by the “water, salt, lemon juice solids, natural lemon flavor, cane juice, corn syrup and other natural flavorings” injected into chickens post-slaughter to make them more appetizing to consumers.
Did you catch the Bob Barker interview about the Sea Shepherd on Rachel Maddow’s show on Tuesday night? It was great, as is nearly everything to do with the great Bob Barker.
Finally, Grub Street proves that we are not the only ones totally grossed out by bacon on goddamn everything.
Vegan feminist hero Jill at I Blame the Patriarchy alerts us to the repulsive practices of the Bravo Meat Packing slaughterhouse in New Jersey.
It’s an epiphany miracle: a frozen kitty comes back to life!
"This guy is really afraid of cats and his friend is trying to help him with his fears! That is so helpful and nice." We really, really love The Awl.
We really, really do not love crazy people who get their cats tattooed. Also, who the fuck tattooed the cat? All of you are insane assholes.
Francis Lam rebuts that ultra-obnoxious “plants have feelings, so get off your high (figurative) horses, vegetarians” New York Times op-ed; unfortunately, he ends with precious little “just say grace for everything you’re eating” attempt to absolve the eater of culpability for everything on his/her plate, including animal products, and in doing so resolves nothing. Nice going, smarty.
The Huffington Post thinks it’s clever: a fake meat slideshow! Look, without Tofurky deli slices, Soyrizo, or shrimp crafted from root vegetables, it is incomplete to me.
What’s going on with soybean cultivation? Oh, only that growing so much of it to feed all those animals you omnivores eat is the main contributor to the destruction of South American rainforest. No big.