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04/08/2013

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

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It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!

Ever wonder what’s going on in the heads of animal factory operators? Perhaps some rocks in there? I offer some thoughts in a new piece this week. (And so does the CEO foodservice company Bon Appetit Management Co.)

Speaking of, Tim Horton’s is the latest food industry giant to denounce gestation crates and commit to eliminating them.

Seen ag giant Perdue’s “humane” claims on their chicken packaging? So did we. The result? A judge this week denied Perdue’s motion to dismiss the subsequent false advertising lawsuit.

Voice of America has a compelling story out this week noting that “for the first time on record, U.S. per-capita meat consumption has declined for four consecutive years.” In the same vein, BBC News predicts that by 2050, all meat will be bioprinted rather than coming from live animals and has a one-minute 2050 futuristic news segment about it.

For the time being though, if you’d like to get some vegan fast food, Mark Bittman has a good tour in the NY Times of some of the finest.

P.S. Video of the week: Can your dog do the tricks these rats are doing? (Diving for peas is my favorite.)

P.P.S. Okay, it may not be strictly animal-related but let me abuse my editorial power and encourage you to vote for Radiolab, and if you aren’t yet a fan, you should be.

01/04/2013

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

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It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!

Hear the one about the chicken in the burning house? No, seriously. This hero chicken saved her family from a burning house. Check it out.

A Purdue University survey reported on this week by National Hog Farmer has some very interesting findings about Americans. Two include: HSUS is the #1 most frequented source of information for Americans about animal welfare; and 14% of consumers say they’ve reduced pork consumption (by an average of 56%) over the past three years due to animal welfare concerns they’ve heard about.

Mark Bittman had an important column in the NYT this week arguing that Americans need to treat farm animals better and eat fewer of them. Here’s a recent DC NPR (WAMU) on-air commentary from me on the topic.

Finally, pig giant Smithfield announced this week that it’s continuing its US conversion away from gestation crates, has already converted all of its European operations, and will begin converting its Mexican operations, too.

P.S. Video of the week! Need some belated new year’s resolutions? These cats have some ideas for you!

05/18/2012

Beyond Meat: the new vegan meat that’s rocking worlds is coming to Northern California Whole Foods!  »

I’ve been hearing about this Beyond Meat stuff for awhile and NPR’s blog has the scoop, which I guess is actually originally from Mark Bittman but the point is, apparently this stuff is insanely realistic (it shreds!?) and super tasty. I know someone who tried it and was so blown away that he invested in it. That’s commitment, people! Money where the mouth is! I really need to get rich so I can invest in wacky vegan shit. I’d so donate to your Kickstarter, I promise*.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be amazing (WE GET IT, LAURA, IT’S GOOD) and I want to try it and LO AND BEHOLD, it’s supposed to be at Northern California Whole Foods soon! Hot damn! Northern California Whole Foods are notoriously way shittier than most Whole Foods because our buyer is an idiot who doesn’t stock vegan stuff because a vegan probably dumped his dumb ass but the point is: WE’RE GETTING IT IN THE BAY AREA FIRST TAKE THAT EVERYONE ELSE. If you see it laying about at a Whole Foods near you, holler at us! We gotta try it! What should we make with it?? What will YOU make with it? What if it’s TOO realistic?? Are we gonna be all “mmmm so good” and then like, “puke this takes like chicken!” and then “mmm so good” again?? I’m developing an eating disorder just thinking about it!

Here’s a picture of Beyond Meat in a chicken salad from the NPR story:

*maybe

04/24/2012

Which Times reader makes the best case for ethical meat? A Vegansaurus voter’s guide  »


Remember that contest the NY Times announced last month, calling on readers to “Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat”? The quintet of white dudes have chosen their finalists, and now you can read their six top essays and vote on which one makes the best case for (or against!) ethical meat.

I’ve quoted the best part of each one below, for your giggling/eye-rolling/cheering pleasure.

Contestant No. 1 says:

If it is not morally wrong to kill animals, then it shouldn’t horrify us to do so. That may be right. But this recognition has little tendency to remove the sense of horror we feel at what is going on.

Totally, contestant No. 1. If it’s not wrong, why is it so goddamn awful?

Contestant No. 2 says:

Almost 25 years after deciding it was wrong to eat animals, I now realize that it’s not that simple. There is an ethical option — a responsibility, even — for eating animals that are raised within a sustainable farm system and slaughtered with the compassion necessitated by our relationship.

Totally, contestant No. 2. You owe it to your “hapless chickens” to kill and eat them! If you’re not going to do it, how else will you prove your point?

Contestant No. 3 says:

Eating meat ethically, on this view, requires explaining why we kill by pointing to other things of moral worth. This does not justify the killing — if our situation is tragic, that cannot be our aim — but it does suggest how we can eat meat ethically, albeit wrongly.

Totally, contestant No. 3. On the scale of “murdering your children” to “buying some prepackaged chicken breasts at Costco because they’re already separated into servings and all you have to do is dump one on a pan and broil it and now your kids won’t starve on a busy Thursday night,” buying the dead chicken is less amoral.

Contestant No. 4 says:

For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks.

Totally, contestant No. 4. We are all made of stars, which means if you say, “Thanks for not being a predator and for being made of delicious tissues, cow,” paying for someone to raise and kill and cut it up for you is like completing the circle of life. Also Native People, and Hakuna Matata.

Contestant No. 5 says:

Aside from accidental roadkill or the fish washed up dead on the shore, [lab-grown, in vitro meat] is perhaps the only ethical meat.

Totally, contestant No. 5. While it’d probably weird me the fuck out, if you really want meat, it’s got to be harmless, lab-grown tissues that were never part of a sentient being. I feel you.

And contestant No. 6 says:

The eating of animals is paramount to the production of food in a system that embraces the whole of reality. This is why eating meat is ethical. To not consume meat means to turn off a whole part of the natural world.

Totally, contestant No. 6. If you don’t eat meat, you might as well be a robot who eats oil, or like, one of those gross poor people who eat nothing but Oreos and Home Run Pies (for the fruit) and never sees the sun. It’s unrealistic not to eat meat!

I don’t know who I’m voting for. Maybe the proponent of the in vitro hamburger, because I like the “roadkill and pre-dead fish are the only ethical meat” argument. Maybe the one who points out that “killing things feels wrong because it is wrong, how about listening to your gut, jerks.” What about you? Who’s got your vote? You’ve only got till midnight tonight, April 24, to do it, so read up.

[Image from NYT by Russell Bell]

03/20/2012

The New York Times wants to know why eating meat is ethical, I’d totally like to know too.  »

NYT has issued an essay challenge that has had me chuckling all day:

"Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat: A Contest"

I think this is an excellent challenge, because for real, tell me. However, I just can’t imagine a solid answer. Of course if I could, I probably wouldn’t be vegan. 

Let’s pretend they don’t call everyone “carnivores” throughout the article, because I think they did that to appeal to the many omnivores who don’t understand what that word means. I cannot however ignore that they called vegans “[vegetarians’] hard-core inner circle.” Vegetarians are more like the soft shell of hard-core omnivores. If we were picking teams, I’d go with all the lactose-intolerant people first; you still have the death, but there’s a little less torture. But again, I guess they are trying to appeal to “carnivores” who only know vegans as The Other.

The panel of judges is my favorite part because it’s like, “let’s round up every white male who writes about why you should go vegan without actually going vegan!” Ta da: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. I think the white male part says more about society than food writing in particular but they could have found at least one vegan judge. Shouldn’t a solid argument be able to sway the opposition? The group we have here is pretty much dudes who are looking for a good reason to eat meat—that seems a little skewed.

I also love the rules:

Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.

Because you know they are still going to get a million and one essays about the American right to eat hamburgers and why bacon tastes good. Happy reading, bros!

I for one am really curious to see the winning essay. I’m going to be so disappointed if it’s the same-old bullshit! I would really like to see a proposed reason to eat meat other than “it tastes good” so I can respect my omnivorous peers a little more. What would really be funny though is if no one comes up with a winning essay. I mean, these dudes haven’t found the ethical reason to eat meat, and they’ve been working on that for a while! It would be really funny if the whole thing just dies because they couldn’t get a good enough entry.

What I’m really hoping is that after reading a million awful attempts to justify eating meat, these judges just get totally embarrassed that they aren’t vegan yet and finally walk the walk!

[Image from NYT by Russell Bell]

03/19/2012

Paul Shapiro presents: HSUS on CNN, Bittman on humans, and a goat with dance fever!  »


It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!

Happy Meatless Monday! HSUS’s MM video is nominated for a Do Gooder Award (in the “Large Organization” category), so please vote for it!

Want more evidence of how important it is for animal advocates to be politically active? Check out the Des Moines Register’s article on the very large donations from agribusiness that Iowa’s ag-gag proponents received.

I was glad to be on CNN Headline News with the wonderful Jane Velez-Mitchell and my similarly awesome coworker Dr. Michael Greger to discuss factory farming and antibiotic use. As well, I had a good time doing an hour-long conversation about farm animal protection on Pennsylvania Cable Network (kind of like C-Span for PA) with the head of an industry group called Penn Ag.

Mark Bittman’s been tearing it up lately with his latest great NYT piece on the “Human Cost of Animal Suffering.” Don’t miss this one!

Video of the week: A Dancing Goat. No more words needed. Bonus video: The beef industry’s new video opposing the federal hen protection bill pending in the Congress….

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pshapiro.

02/15/2012

Paul Shapiro presents: Animal News You Can Use!  »


It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yay!

I’m honored to be on CNN Headline News this weekend with the great Jane Velez-Mitchell discussing progress for pigs and HSUS’s latest undercover investigations into gestation crate factory farms. Check it out.

In a new piece about HSUS, the editor of Pork Magazine calls us “well organized, well funded and relentless.” Always nice to be able to agree on something

NPR did a nice piece on Morning Edition this past Friday about the federal effort to ban barren battery cages and require “eggs from caged hens” labeling on egg cartons. While we’re on the topic of NPR, Marketplace had a great piece by the awesome Mark Bittman about why Americans are eating fewer animals.

Want to read a new interview with Wayne Pacelle about his campus dining hall advocacy when he was in college? Your wish = my command.

But wait, there’s more!

Compassion Over Killing this morning released a new undercover investigation at a gestation crate factory farm in Iowa, a state where big ag interests are currently trying to ban such exposés with an “ag-gag” bill. Check it out and share.

The media coverage on our announcement that McDonald’s is moving to end gestation crate confinement in its US supply chain was significant. There’s too much to include here, but just a few selected excerpts:

CNN Money: “McDonald’s said it will get its pork suppliers to phase out the use of immobilizing cages for pregnant pigs, a move that was applauded by the Humane Society of the United States, but not the pork industry.”

MSNBC: “Earthquake in the pig business: McDonald’s to end use of restraining crates”

NY Times: “The buying power of McDonald’s adds a significant new dimension to the war on the practice.”

Chicago Sun-Times editorial board: “Now let’s ban those torture pens for pigs in Illinois.”

NY Times blog: “In the world of big-time meat supply, there are two kinds of producers: those who sell to McDonald’s and those wish they could.”

Chicago Tribune: “By setting the process in motion, McDonald’s could be providing the tipping point to change in the $97 billion pork industry.”

Lincoln Journal Star: “In calling for phasing out gestation crates for pregnant hogs, the world’s largest restaurant chain will put much more pressure on pork producers than any state ever could.”

Video of the week: I’ve been shocked by how many people actually cared to watch my winning contribution to a Super Bowl party food contest, but here you go:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!]

01/24/2012

Animal News You Can Use: a Paul Shapiro production!  »


It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!

Like good news? Here you go: Americans are eating 12 percent less meat than we were just five years ago. For real. Interesting takes by Mark Bittman and Forbes on the issue.

Not so good news: Six states—Florida, New York, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and Nebraska—now have “ag-gag” bills pending in their legislatures; the bills seek to criminalize whistle-blowing at factory farms. See what Wayne Pacelle’s got to say on the topic.

In better news, did you see that Martha Stewart’s speaking out for farm animals? Check her out.

Back to bad news: In a sickening display of the foxes guarding the hen house, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture leaked confidential info about an upcoming cruelty raid on a Butterball turkey facility in advance. Weak.

And finally, some really good news: Video of the week: Rat and cat sharing. I’ve seriously watched this thing like five times now. It’s just amazing.

01/11/2012

Chickens are the 95 percent!  »

Jan. 5 was National Bird Day, for which the Food Empowerment Project posted an amazing piece on chickens, who are the vast majority of animals used for food.

It starts:

When discussing what to post on Facebook for National Bird Day on January 5, my partner and I agreed that although ducks and turkeys should be recognized, we should talk about chickens raised for meat. Why? Because of the 10 billion land animals killed for food in the U.S. each year, more than 9 billion of them are chickens. In fact, my partner said, they are the 95 percent, and that’s when the image you see was born.

Damn, that is sad. You hear so much about people giving up eating red meat for their health and you have to think, the chickens are still suffering. Now, this is a totally unresearched idea that I’m pulling straight out of my butt, but the amount of people I know who “just” eat chickens and/or fish often order the chicken and/or fish dishes when we’re out. It’s not like they get to tofu stir-fry, you know? If you eat that way, you’re not really helping animals; you’re just eating more dead chickens and fish.

Maybe giving up eating a few kinds of animals is part of your path to quitting altogether — and that’s rad! If it is, I’d think about that information up there, finish reading the Food Empowerment Project piece, and then ponder how awesome and special chickens are. Because they are SO RAD. Look how cute they are in sweaters! And how interesting and inquisitive they are, and how much they love dust baths! Then! Maybe just stop eating all the animals? There are SO MANY good vegan meats, especially ones that TASTE JUST LIKE CHICKEN—so really, there’s no reason to eat all that gross ol’ animal flesh. Do it, Rockapella!

Finally, this Mark Bittman piece about how American meat consumption is down is really hopeful. I wonder if that matches up with meat production at all? Or if the government is just buying off the excess and chucking it? Or you know, putting it into school lunches. So smart, our government! And it runs so well! Signed, SIR GRUMPS A LOT.

01/03/2012

Mark Bittman presents: Recipes for the Semi-Vegan  »


We know, we know, but we’ve had our ups and downs with Mr. Bittman, and overall, we like him. And free recipes by a New York Times food writer are free recipes by a New York Times food writer, you know? I vote we forward this link to all our non-vegan pals, and start the year off right: converting everyone, forever. Nothing says “I cherish our relationship” like telling people they’re living wrong!

Remember, you only get 20 free clicks per month on nytimes.com, so make ‘em count and copy down these 10 recipes right away.

[thanks to all the readers who sent us this link! It’s always nice to get tips!]

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