I was listening to NPR while getting ready for work on Friday morning, as I do, when this story from Planet Money came on, and ugh, you guys. In “Meet Claudia, the High-Tech Cow,” Adam Davidson tells us all about how today’s dairy cows are more machine than animal, their every action carefully monitored, controlled, and adjusted for optimum milk-producing capability.
It’s so gross, you guys! Dairy is absolutely disgusting. As are the extremes of capitalism: ”The free market forced that to happen,” he says. “Because either you were going to make a lot of milk … quickly and efficiently … or you wouldn’t be in business.” Money makes the world go round! And turns cows into literal milk machines! Fuck a living creature, we need cheap milk from perfectly replicated robots. Of course the story says nothing about the cows’ living conditions or quality of life, what with them having none to speak of. To wit: “Claudia,” the cow “Ferrari,” gets a name, while the cows that aren’t as genetically perfect are just numbers.
Technology is great and I am happy if modern science is solving our problems. But when technological advances detract from the value of other creatures’ lives, how valuable is it?
OMG RIDIC! It’s a baby cow! It looks like the love child of Alf and a Beanie Baby! Do they always look like that? So fuzzy! So cute! I NEED one. I’ll trade my kidney for one! And you can have my liver too—though it’s partially damaged.
This is from the Humane Society’s Farm Animal Protection Campaign Facebook page. Cute pictures appear to be a trend over there so “like” them for more! (There’s baby piggies!)
UPDATE: Apparently this photo was taken by Matthew Rawlings who works at a vet clinic.
Paul Shapiro Presents: Animal News You Can Use! (Thanksgiving Edition!) »
It’s time for the next installment of Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! This time, it’s THANKSGIVING-STYLE, boooy! Take it away, Paul! I’m thinking we might need an adorable graphic for this? Anyone want to make us one? In return, I will give you a gigantic Thanksgiving high-five! What a feeling!
Well, if you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have heard about Mercy For Animals’ potent new investigation at Sparboe Foods, one of the sole egg producers in the country lobbying against the federal effort to ban barren battery cages. In the wake of the investigation, both McDonald’s and Target dropped Sparboe as a supplier.
MFA’s investigation resulted in massive news coverage, including a powerful 20/20 segment along with much other ABC News content (including a couple minutes of me hanging out with chickens talking about battery cages). Amusingly, a spokesman for the egg company claimed the video was “staged,” only to have the company later publicly correct him, asserting they have no evidence of that.
The NPR affiliate in DC sat down with me for lunch to talk about veg eating and Meatless Monday. You can listen to the six-minute segment here.
Finally, the headline says it all: “Talking Turkey: 9 out of 10 retail turkey samples contaminated with fecal bacteria.”
Have a nice holiday… :-)
P.S. No, the above video of me with chickens isn’t the video of the week. This cow playing with a ball is.
On Listeria, Cantaloupe, and Cows: A Rant »
Rarr! Cantaloupe are scary now. That sucks. Though this one from chrisdonia on Flickr is obviously cute and awesome.
You’ve most likely heard about the whole huge Listeria food-poisoning thing going on, right? If not: Twenty-five people have died and more may still from food poisoning that, it turns out, came from eating cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Colorado that was contaminated with Listeria bacteria (which I love saying and laugh every time I hear, even though Listeria bacteria are nasty little buggers).
This outbreak saga has been dragging on for a couple months now, and because it started in Colorado, I ended up hearing about it pretty early on, before they’d even figured out the cause. At first, all the news stories talked about how Listeria most often shows up in processed meats and cheeses. “Ick!” I thought. “Luckily the vegans are safe.”
THEN it turned out that the deadly stuff was coming from cantaloupe. And that’s when I got mad.
I’d just finished reading the excellent Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, of which he devotes a big chunk to detailing the connection between CAFOs (factory farms) and infectious disease. The gist: We’re all gonna die of the plague because of the horrible diseases that thrive in those hellholes, whether we support them or not.
Thus it was with great confidence that I began proclaiming that the cantaloupe thing was going to trace back to factory farming somehow. Poor plants, taking the fall for what was at heart a systemic problem with the meat industry. Anything that makes people eat less fruit is a national tragedy in my book.
Well, last week the FDA release their first report about their investigation into Jensen Farms.
I was right. Kind of.
Turns out that gross equipment in Jensen’s fruit-packing house helped spread the Listeria. And no one can be quite sure where the bacteria came from. But the FDA’s best theory is that a particular truck that hauled damaged fruit to a cow farm might have brought the bacteria back.
I wish the evidence were clearer-cut. Obviously the cantaloupe farmers messed up, and it’s not all the meat industry’s fault. BUT STILL. I challenge you all to be agents of the cantaloupe’s resurrection. Buy melons when they’re in season! Eat them! Don’t get poisoned—buy from small farmers and wash the outsides! But redeem the poor cantaloupe!
And let’s get rid of factory farms, already.
Does a body REALLY FREAKING BAD, GUYS »
A team of Spanish and Moroccan scientists analyzed 20 samples of cow’s milk using the most highly sensitive test of its kind, and discovered they contained 20 different painkillers, antibiotics and growth hormones. WTF?! You heard right: The results, which were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, showed that cow’s milk contained traces of anti-inflammatory drugs commonly used as painkillers in animals and humans. Check the totally terrifying graphic below:
Dr. Evaristo Ballesteros of the University of Jaen in Spain, who led the study, told the Daily Mail that “We believe this new technique will help provide a more effective way of determining the presence of these kinds of contaminants in milk or other products.” Using the same tests, Ballesteros and his team also found traces of painkillers ibuprofen and naproxen, hormones, and the antibiotic triclosan present in human breast milk. If these findings are true in Spanish and Morrocan milks—human and animal alike—they are likely true for milk produced in the USA and all over the world.
Scary stuff, kids—get off the udder!
[infographic via the Daily Mail]
Kayla sent in this chart of all the things made from dead cows with the note, “Overwhelmed!” and I get it, because this shit is crazy overwhelming. Yeah, if something isn’t explicitly marked vegan (and even if it is), you might be consuming or using a food or product that isn’t vegan. It sucks but that’s life. Vegans just try to avoid as much of the shitty stuff as possible.
It’s pretty easy to not consume dairy, eggs, gelatin, and meat, and it’s equally easy to check a package to see if it has whey or casein in it. It’s easy to look for the vitamins that don’t use gelcaps and lotions that aren’t filled with lanolin (having stuff marked as vegan is really helpful for that stuff). It’s harder to not use rubber, walk on cement, and whatever else institutionalized use of animals products exist. Just use your brain. Plus, if you cut off the money to the main evil industries, the smaller benefactors of animal part leftovers—think, wallpaper, linoleum and shiz like that— will eventually have to figure out some alternatives. It’s about hitting animal-exploiting industries in the hardest way possible.
The whole point is, don’t let the fact that there are animal products in rubber make it okay for you to eat a rack of lamb, you know? These are things you can avoid, and things you can’t. Control what you can, and let go of the rest. You’re doing great! You’re the best! Around! And if you get confused and have any questions, ask Sarah! Also, for the record, I assume everything I eat at restaurants is covered with rat feces, and I’m cool with it! Living in the world is messy, and that shit just strengthens your immune system, right? Maybe?
[note: we were unable to learn who created this image]
Yvonne the renegade is the coolest cow in Europe »
NPR has collected the amazing story of a six-year-old German cow called Yvonne, who three months ago got past an electric barrier and escaped to the forest, where she’s been living ever since. Why did she run? Perhaps a sense of impending doom, as her owners had intended her for the slaughterhouse. Her nominal owners have offered 10,000 euro for her safe return, but in the time as a fugitive Yvonne has become a sort of folk hero for the residents of Zangberg.
Yvonne has successfully avoided accidental and deliberate death so far, and brought significant, international attention and tourist traffic to Zangberg. Not bad for an animal who might’ve been Zangberg’s supper. Everyone’s happy! Except maybe her previous owners, and the people who run Gut Aiderbichl Animal Sanctuary—they want Yvonne to make a permanent home at their facility, but they can’t catch her, either. Some of us just need to be free.
[photo by Josef Enzinger/dapd via NPR]
Big news: cows also suffer in extreme heat »
Those of us on the East Coast, especially in the concrete sauna otherwise known as NYC, are well aware of the suffocating heatwave that’s settled in this summer. If you thought New Yorkers were cranky before, the bar has definitely been raised due to the weather as of late. Now, imagine you can’t sweat.
Cows cannot sweat. Nor can they crank up their A/C, or dip into Victoria’s Secret for a while to browse frilly things while they cool off, or hit up the closest Starbucks for a Venti Mocha Frap. Instead, they become exhausted and debilitated, and they lose their appetites. This leads, of course, to a decline in milk production by as much as a third. Cows in Texas have become so overheated and lethargic that they drink so much water it actually kills them. While some dairy farmers are installing fan and sprinkler systems to alleviate the heat and cool off the poor bovines, this is only to maintain productivity and keep business booming. Perhaps we should start looking at the bigger picture and just stop treating these distinguished animals as if they were machines in the first place. After all, there are plenty of delicious milk alternatives out there, and I’ve never seen a lethargic almond.
The not-so-sweet side of Cadbury chocolate. This video is fairly mild as far as scary farm videos go but still very sad. Milk-drinkers are so delusional! They really seem to have no idea that if they are drinking the milk, the calves aren’t.
Those calves are so cute, it’s so sad they take them from their moms. And of course the males are useless to a dairy farm so they get sold off as veal or as the video shows, pet food. “And all so people can have their milk.”
Top 10 links of the week: a festive boat ride through the sea of veganism! »
[This poor turtle got his leg burned and it had to be amputated. Poor guy! I’m glad they gave him a wheel but am I the only one who thinks this wheel is kind of difficult to maneuver? He’s using it kind of like a stub, it looks like.]
Brooklyn Bliss is doing a giveaway for a four-piece Paul Labrecque curly hair care kit valued at $92! They tell me the brand is vegan. Go enter or whatever, you curly-headed bastards.
The NYT has the story on what happens when you get rid of top predators. It’s bad. Didn’t we talk about this last week? I could look but I am tired and it’s hot.
Here’s a dumb article about locavorism vs. not eating meat. What if you eat neither meat NOR dairy?
Apparently they have less cattle in America so beef costs are going up. I’m sure they can just get more from the Amazon! Slash and burn, baby!
Here are some stories from people who had terrible health issues that went vegan and got healthy!
In South Dakota, 1,500 cows died from heat exhaustion. Poor ranchers, am I right? Guys, they will lose money!