Virtual Reality for factory farm chickens, would they be better off?  »


Austin Stewart, an assistant professor in Iowa State University’s College of Design, is getting a lot of attention for his recent project Second Livestock. The project proposes fitting factory farmed hens with devices to give them a “virtual free range” experience. Apparently it’s a joke, or rather a “social experiment” as sites like TechCrunch are calling it. Stewart did an interview with the Ames Tribune on the project, stating, “The goal of the project is to raise that question of how do we know what’s best, or what is humane treatment, and also to look at how we treat ourselves. We’re living in these little boxes, just like chickens.”

I can’t tell if he’s trying to sound dumb or if they just aren’t going about quoting him very well. But the Second Lifestock site is very thought-out, so I wonder if he’s not just fucking with his interviewer to keep the whole thing vague. I suspect, or hope, that the project is actually a satire of the lengths people will go to to maintain industrial farming. However, at the moment, Stewart doesn’t shed much light on the realities of factory farming. Maybe that’s to come?

What are your thoughts? 


Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

It’s that time: WE LOVE PAUL!!!

Big news: We banned gestation crates for pigs, veal crates for calves, and tail-docking for cattle in Rhode Island. The governor just signed the bills! This makes RI the ninth state to ban gestation crates, seventh on veal crates, and third on tail-docking.

Today’s Washington Post has an interesting story about a battery egg producer who started a fake new industry trade group to help the pork and beef lobbies try to kill hen protection legislation. (In fact, the beef industry’s trade group says its “number one priority” is to kill the federal bill.)

Today’s Chicago Tribune has a big story on the battle in California about force-feeding ducks for foie gras. (The ban takes effect July 1 and is being fought by agribusiness interests.)

Back to the Post, it had a good op-ed in Sunday’s paper asking why meat is being served at the Rio climate conference, and HSUS’s CEO had a nice blog about that op-ed.

Video of the week: Baby goats being cruelly exploited for their massage talents… :- )


Animal News You Can Use: Gestation crates are out, mini pigs are in!  »

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

Big news this week: Kroger—the nation’s largest grocery chain—announced that it wants its pork suppliers to accelerate the phase-out of gestation crates, and a Senate committee in New Jersey unanimously passed a bill to ban gestation crates. Here’s a good story about both, and the wonderful Jane Velez-Mitchell has a good op-ed on today on why it’s time to end this cruelty.

Just yesterday, Pork Magazine (which you no doubt subscribe to) editorialized that “pork producers are fuming” at the success of our campaign against gestation crates. Boo hoo. Another industry commentator noted this week, “Sadly, the die [sic] is cast…For pork producers, it is better to switch than fight.”

Speaking of fighting, there was an important national AP story this week on the federal effort to ban barren battery cages and how a coalition of major meat/dairy trade groups are vigorously trying to kill the bill. (Have *you* called your Senators yet? If not, call 202-224-3121 and ask them to co-sponsor S 3239!)

Video of the week: Three of you independently suggested this one, so you know it’s gonna be good:


Paul Shapiro presents: Big Ag is lying to you about animal welfare!  »

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

Reuters has a good piece on HSUS’s new FTC complaint against the National Pork Producers Council for its grossly misleading claims related to animal welfare in the industry.

Speaking of misleading, you may be amused to see the enormous shifting that Kreider Farms (the battery egg producer HSUS recently investigated) is doing.

And speaking of investigations, a new investigation in Britain reveals horrific cruelty toward pigs at one of the biggest pork suppliers to the country’s supermarkets.

And finally, breaking news: Study shows red meat can takes years off a cow’s life.

Today’s video of the week was suggested by my friend Zoe Weil, and it is seriously amazing. If you were afraid you’d go to your grave before seeing a dog double-dutching, your fear is now over.

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]


Paul Shapiro presents: Everyone hates the Humane Society!  »

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

Reuters put out a powerful story today about our work that states “no activist group is more loathed by the agricultural community than the Humane Society of the United States,” and quotes the Farm Bureau as saying “It is HSUS and its issues that truly deserve our attention because of the threat they pose to our society.” We’ll take it.

Last week’s release of HSUS’s latest battery cage investigation brought an onslaught of coverage. You already saw the NYT column, and I was honored to be on ABC World News about it, and Wayne Pacelle discussed it on Ellen. The Associated Press article about it was widely picked up, and a few other selected highlights include CNN, TIME, LA Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Bloomberg, and more.

Finally, pretty cool that a new investigation at a farm animal slaughter facility led to felony cruelty arrests.

P.S. Video of the week: Yep, you guessed it: sloths French-kissing:


Yo, vegetarians! New footage from yet another idyllic egg factory!  »

From Paul Shapiro:

I’m about to conduct a press conference in Washington, D.C., to release shocking new footage of HSUS’s latest undercover investigation at a battery cage egg factory.

The New York Times covers our investigation today in a powerful column by Nicholas Kristof, “Is an Egg for Breakfast Worth This?” [Ed.: Kristof, have all our babies.]

This investigation of course underscores the need to pass HR 3798, federal legislation that would reduce the suffering of hundreds of millions of animals in the egg industry.


[Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus! And then make all your egg-eating friends enjoy it, too!]


Big news: Bon Appétit is ditching gestation crates, battery cages  »

Sweet rescued egg-laying hens at Animal Place. Can’t see the video? Watch it at!

I’ve never heard of Bon Appétit, I thought it was a magazine. But apparently it’s a cafe college food chain thing? With 400 locations. I checked out the site—it looks pretty good. But! That’s not my point! The important news is that Bon Appétit is planning to phase out suppliers that use gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for hens. Instead they want to get meat from “higher-welfare group housing systems” and eggs from cage-free farms. They are also going to ditch foie gras and veal from confined sheep.

They are pretty serious about it; From their site:

Bon Appétit will continue to work with the most responsible meat and poultry producers to pursue Animal Welfare ApprovedFood AllianceHumane Farm Animal Care or Global Animal Partnership certification of their animal welfare practices. These four programs have standards that not only prohibit such cruel practices as gestation crates and battery cages, but also require animals to be allowed to engage in their natural behaviors.

So it’s not just adding a few inches to their cages.

Fedele Bauccio, a cofounder of Bon Appétit, seems like an interesting dude:

“I have never forgotten the terrible things I saw when touring factory farms,” said Fedele Bauccio, cofounder and CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company. From 2006 to 2008 Bauccio served on the prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which issued a landmark report calling for an end to gestation crate, battery cage, and veal crate confinement of farm animals.

“We’ve been asking the industry to do the right thing, but we can’t wait anymore,” Bauccio said. “We have to send the message that these practices are unacceptable. If the supply doesn’t catch up by our deadline, we’ll do what we have to — even if that means cutting back on bacon.”

Cutting back on bacon?! That’s un-American!

The Humane Society is on board with kudos from Wayne Pacelle himself. I know we will get some people who will call this “happy meat” and dismiss these changes; Of course ultimately, I want all the animals to be free, but in the meantime, this is going to mean a lot to that chicken who would otherwise be crushed to death on the bottom of a battery cage.


Paul Shapiro presents: Animal News You Can Use!  »

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

First, some good news: A bill (H.R. 3798) was introduced in the Congress this week to ban barren battery cages for laying hens, ban starvation molting, require egg producers to label “eggs from caged hens” on their cartons, and more.  You can see a joint statement from major animal protection organizations on why they support this bill, and a joint statement from nearly all of the agribusiness trade groups on why they oppose it. Who would you side with?

I was on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday talking about the above effort to help laying hens. Check it out.

Some bad news: The U.S. Supreme Court this week struck down portions of a law passed in California shortly after HSUS’s landmark Hallmark/Westland slaughter plant investigation (which led to the largest meat recall in U.S. history). While federal regulations still prohibit the slaughter of adult downer cattle for human consumption, the parts of California’s law prohibiting slaughtering other downer animals are no longer in effect.

Back to good news: Get a coffin, since Florida’s “ag-gag” legislation is now officially dead. However, Iowa is still debating its whistle-blower suppression bill, and similar bills are still pending in other states.

Time has a compelling online video about undercover investigations and these ag-gag bills that you won’t want to miss.

Video of the week: Ever try to teach a pig to sit? Here you go.


This week’s Animal News You Can Use: A Paul Shapiro Production!  »

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

I’m on CNN Headline News tonight with the wonderful Jane Velez-Mitchell talking about agribusiness efforts to ban undercover investigations at factory farms. You can watch the segment here. Please forward it to friends!

The NY Times had an interesting story about the rise of vegan bodybuilders. (For some reason they failed to interview me… :- )

Here’s a very touching story about the last hen to be confined in a barren battery cage in the UK. (The EU law banning barren battery cages took effect Jan. 1. The US will soon have a similar bill introduced in the Congress that much of the animal movement is rallying behind and much of the agribusiness industry is trying to kill—stay tuned!

Finally, you know something’s messed up when the chicken industry is trying to fight the EPA’s upcoming dioxin limits by saying they would essentially render its product “unfit for consumption.”

Video of the week: Top picks of the cutest farm animal videos of the year!


Paul Shapiro on food scandals, the EU battery-cage ban, and celebrities! Now with alternate Spanish version!  »

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

The Huffington Post listed its top 13 food scandals of 2011, with HSUS’s exposé of Smithfield Foods ranking #1! Check out the full list. (And for my Spanish-speaking amigos, puede leer mi articulo sobre los puercos en Que Pasa Mi Gente!)

If you’d like to see a nice BBC story about former battery hens (“ex-bats”!) getting a second chance at life, here’s your chance.

Speaking of the EU, here’s an interesting article about member nations facing legal action over not complying with the upcoming historic EU ban on barren battery cages (it was passed in 1999 and takes full effect Jan 1).

Finally, check out this CNN piece about celebrities working with Mercy For Animals to combat abuse of laying hens.

Video of the week: Is there anything more popular than a dog and pig wrestling?

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