Veal calves: horrifically abused by-product of the milk industry  »

Mercy for Animals has released another undercover video, this time from a veal facility in Canada. These little babies are not just confined, they are sick and injured, and get no medical attention. Why would they? They are just “food,” right? And then on top of that, the workers in the factory pretty much torture them. I couldn’t watch the whole video, it’s too sad, but the parts I watched are disturbing.

I hear plenty of meat eaters proudly declare they don’t eat veal. Most people know it’s often a cruel industry. But do people know that veal is a by-product of dairy production? It’s very simple: Cows need to have babies in order to produce milk. Many of the babies born are male. These male calves are useless to the dairy industry. So they are shipped to veal farms.

Even “humane” dairy farms do this. That’s what I always tell people when they say such and such dairy farm is so nice to the cows: ask where the boy calves are. I dare you. 

When I was a vegetarian, I had no idea that the cheese I consumed drove the veal industry. When I found out though, that’s when I became vegan. Of course I learned all the other reasons to be vegan eventually, but the link between dairy and veal is what made me vegan pretty much over night. I just thought to myself, if veal is a by-product of the dairy industry, dairy isn’t very vegetarian at all! Basically, being vegetarian isn’t very vegetarian. 

You can learn more about this investigation and send an email from the Mercy For Animals page.


DiGiorno cheese comes from tortured cows  »

The latest investigation from Mercy for Animals exposes horrific cruelty at a major DiGiorno cheese supplier in Wisconsin. You can watch the video on I watched parts, it’s brutal. I’m not sure lately if I should post these videos on here or not. I want the truth about the horrific conditions in the meat, dairy and egg industries to get as much attention as possible, but then some people criticize me for posting that stuff. Because, truthfully, if you’re vegan, you don’t have to watch this stuff. BUT many of us know cheese eaters who should watch this, so I want to make sure all the vegans at least know about it. What do you think? Should I post these videos? Just share them on FB? Or do a post like this that just links to the vid?

I wish everyone who ate dairy were forced to watch this, Clockwork Orange style! Not really but kind of. But again, if you want to see or find the video to share, go to And if you want to sign the petition, go directly here.


Get ready for whey in everything again  »

Thanks, Greek yogurt craze.

[Cornell dairy scientist Dave] Barbano, who specializes in filtration methods for separation and recovery of protein, has his sights set on the tiny amount of protein in acid whey. He believes it might be usable as an infant formula ingredient. But first Barbano has to figure out how to extract the protein in a cost-effective way, and his research is just getting underway.

The concept is roughly modeled on the success that cheese-makers have had selling products derived from their own byproduct — sweet whey. Sweet whey is more valuable and easier to handle than acid whey, as it has a lot more protein, and is easier to dry because it isn’t as acidic as Greek yogurt whey. Cheese-makers have developed a lucrative business selling whey protein for use in body-building supplements and as a food ingredient. And Greek yogurt makers are eager to follow suit.

Last year the industry produced more than 150 million gallons of acid whey as a byproduct of making Greek yogurt, and they have no idea how to get rid of it all. Yet. Just wait till they figure out how to make a cheap additive out of it, it’ll be a whey-in-everything party all over again. Like useless dairy byproducts aren’t snuck into enough processed foods already. Like we didn’t have enough reasons to hate the dairy industry.

Read the entire article at Modern Farmer to find out the extent of the decadence and wastefulness of Greek-style yogurt production, facts that you can tell all your yogurt-eating friends as they stand in the dairy aisle, trying to decide between Chobani and Fage. Or, more realistically, you can yell about over a drink with your vegan friends, hoping if you’re loud enough some yogurt-eaters will overhear and mend their ways. Passive-aggressive activism!

[Photo by Jared and Corin via Flickr]


Watch out for aspartame, milk-drinkers!  »

imageMore like aspar-tasty!

Per national food-issues watchdog Parke Wilde at U.S. Food Policy blog, little dairy-consumers could be ingesting fun new chemicals in their federally purchased school-lunch milks!

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have petitioned FDA to modify the standard of identity for milk, permitting companies to add a non-calorie sweetener without additional labeling.

The petition proposes to allow dairy companies to add the non-nutritive sweetener aspartame to milk, without being required to label the milk as “low-calorie” or “low-sugar.”  Currently, aspartame is allowed in milk (just as in diet soda), but such milk must be labeled to let the consumer know.

It appears the dairy industry is especially interested in marketing low-calorie flavored milk through child nutrition programs.

Oh boy! What lucky boys and girls, drinking delicious, artificially flavored milk, full of even more artificial sweeteners! And the dairy industry wouldn’t even have to tell them about it! Gosh, you’d think if milk-sellers were so proud of their newest clever way of tricking children into consuming their hell-beverage, they’d announce it in a super-cool ad, not petition the FDA to hide their action. Why, it’s almost as if the dairy industry doesn’t want adults to know what’s inside the new-and-improved, lower-sugar, “better”-for-kids milk products.

The dairy industry lie (by omission) to us? Perish the thought.

[Photo by cinderellasg via Flickr]


Guest post: when you hate on non-dairy milk, you just sound like an idiot.  »

Thanks to my obsessive personality combined with my penchant for evangelism, I am now lucky enough to have a vegan community that includes my mom, sister and three good friends. It’s really great to get to preach to the choir sometimes. Recently many of us have gathered to rant in perplexed fury about the anti non-dairy milk ads that are popping up on the netwaves recently.

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

The conversations usually go something like this:

“Really? Really? The dairy industry is trying to convince me not to use almond milk because I have to shake the box?” 

“Seriously? The diary industry thinks that the Riboflavin in soy milk is more scary to me than the chemicals, pus, and hormones in cow’s milk?” 

Etc. You get the idea. The ads are doing little more than poking the beehive for my non-diary friends.

Which is the point.

You see, these ads are not actually for us as non-dairy milk drinkers. I realized this after another rant session with a vegan friend, when I came up a little stumped. These ad writers are professionals. I don’t think they are stupid enough to think that a convicted non-dairy drinker is actually going to flip on their decision suddenly because they realize they don’t like to shake a milk box. Also, we are a pretty small minority to target with wide-scale video ads. Yes, we’re growing, but the recent Gallup poll reminds us that vegans only make up about 2% of the population. These ads don’t seem to be targeting people who presumably can’t drink milk from lactose intolerance, but those who are choosing not to because of an anti-dairy bias. So who are the ads for?

These ads are not weak arguments aimed to bring non-dairy drinkers back into the fold. They’re actually aimed at dairy drinkers to prevent them from considering the switch to non-dairy alternatives. This tactic was used recently with the so-dubbed “anti-fanboy ads” that Samsung Galaxy III released earlier this year. These ads showed a crowd lined up at an obvious-imitation of an Apple store being drawn into the benefits of a Galaxy 3 and eventually abandoning their cult-like appreciation of their unnamed phone (clearly an iPhone 4s). A cacophony of internet righteousness ensued with much mockery and name-calling on either side. Many people argued that the internet skirmish was intentionally crafted, that the ads weren’t actually aimed to get Apple users to abandon their iPhone but to give a pat-on-the-back to those who hate “Apple fanboys” and say, “welcome to the team.”

These “non-dairy milk is stupid” ads are using the same tactic: they are intended to  reinforce to dairy drinkers that people who would think of drinking anything other than cow’s milk are ridiculous. So ridiculous, in fact, that we don’t even deserve rational logic to argue against. This serves to assuage any doubt that may be raised by the increasing number of people abandoning cow’s milk and affirms, “look at these crazy people who think cow’s milk isn’t God’s gift to the world. Good thing you’re not one of them.”

As for the indignation and fury from non-dairy drinkers as a result, that’s minor collateral damage. Or, one could say, just spilt milk.

Lucky for us, if youtube comments and votes indicate anything, no matter who these ads are actually aimed at, they don’t seem to be very successful. In fact, non-dairy are getting an opportunity handed to us to point out the flaws of dairy. Since the ads aren’t using any strong logical arguments against non-dairy milk, even dairy drinkers watch them with a little bit of “WTF?” This gives non-dairy drinkers the chance to make a case against dairy with dairy-drinkers on our side for once. So, show your friends, and make a day out of mocking how ridiculous these ads really are! It’s pretty fun.

Isaak Brown is a writer, youth worker, and highly enthusiastic and evangelistic vegan. Comments and thoughts are welcome at


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?


To be a healthy vegan, focus on…wait for it…health!  »

Laura has already registered her disappointment (OK, rage) at the new ad campaign from PCRM, which employs fat-shaming as a means to scare people off cheese. This campaign ignores all the good reasons why we should skip cheese—its production involves animal cruelty, eating it is not particularly good for us—and instead goes for a cheap shot at chubby thighs.

The awesome Ginny Messina already addressed why going vegan only to get skinny is likely to lead to disappointment, but she’s followed up with an article that I think is also worth mentioning here. Messina’s post for One Green Planet, The 7 Habits of Healthy Vegans, does a great job of focusing on vegan health regardless of size. Her suggestions apply to everyone—we could all be a bit healthier by eating legumes more often, choosing whole grains, and loading up on veggies. 

I actually did lose weight when I became vegetarian, and I also lost weight when I had to give up gluten. I didn’t lose any extra when I went vegan, but I had already changed my diet pretty drastically by then. Everyone is different. And I have no problem acknowledging that fitting into smaller pants felt great, but I could have gotten there a variety of ways; knowing that I was living my life according to my values and ethics has always felt better than skinny jeans. If you initially go vegan to lose weight and end up loving the lifestyle and learning more about how awesome it is, fabulous. But if your end goal is just a number on a scale, and you’re ignoring everything else that helps to keep us healthy and happy—mental health is part of that, too—then you’re not going to do well, no matter what your diet looks like.

Terri Coles lives in Toronto, where she enjoys barbecuing, feeding feral cats, going to local music shows and getting really mad about hockey games. She blogs about her adventures in plant-based eating at The Vegina Monologues. We edit out all her extra vowels.

[photo by slightlypale via Flickr]


Paul Shapiro presents: Animal News You Can Use!  »

This is from the mighty and awesome Paul Shapiro, the senior director of the Farm Animal Protection wing of the Humane Society of the United States. Paul is not only the raddest and very hilarious and kind and good and a fucking force to be reckoned with, but he’s always a wealth of animal news. We’re gonna publish his updates so that you’re as blessed with new information as we are. YOU ARE WELCOME. Now, pass this info on to all you know, and be better informed, smarter, and more good looking for it. BAM:

I’ve got a piece on the Atlantic site about foie gras and the myth that farm animals love to be abused. Please feel free to leave a comment on the site, since it seems like those of, let’s say…a different view don’t appear to be shy about leaving their own comments!

The LSU paper has a nice story about HSUS’s Meatless Monday efforts. (Remember that awesome video you loved?)

The DC ABC news affiliate had a cool segment about Bill Clinton’s near-vegan diet.

The U.S. Supreme Court had a hearing yesterday on the California downer law that was passed in the wake of HSUS’s exposé at a Southern California dairy cow slaughter plant. You can read Wayne Pacelle’s thoughts on the hearing at this link.

P.S. Video of the week: Dog and pig wrestling. Yep, that’s right.



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]


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.

[image via NDSU Agriculture Communication on Flickr]

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