Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use: quit meat, save dough!  »


Did you know that the last time meat prices were this high, Reagan was in office? That’s one reason I write in a New York Daily News op-ed that if you want to save money, giving farm animals a bit of a break will also give our wallets a break, too. Amusingly, the paper named the op-ed, “Quit Meat, Save Dough.”

Speaking of money, a major battery egg producer was fined $6.8 million this week after admitting to bribing USDA officials to approve potentially rotten eggs.

And egg-laying chickens are on the political map in Massachusetts, where we’re waging a major campaign to ban battery cages, veal crates, and gestation crates. Here’s the latest coverage.

Want to learn more about these kinds of animal protection campaigns while networking with tons of other like-minded animal advocates and eating off-the-hook vegan food? Come to the Taking Action for Animals conference in DC June 27-30!!!

Paul Shapiro
Vice President, Farm Animal Protection
The Humane Society of the United States
Follow at

P.S. Video of the week: Just a cat playing with a pig. No big deal.


Educational toys for zoo elephants! Because life in a zoo shouldn’t be a complete nightmare!  »

This is Emily (l) and Ruth, the two Asian elephants living at the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, Mass. They’re playing with their new toys, specifically designed by students in the Toys for Elephants class at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

The class has existed for two years, and was created in conjunction with Buttonwood Zoo Park’s director, Dr. William Langbauer, videographer Christen Goguen, and Vicki Croke. The history of the class, a video of the elephants, and a slideshow of these lovely ladies and their new toys are all at 90.9 WBUR’s site, and it’s all great!

As always, we don’t care for zoos as “places to display animals outside of their natural habits,” but they’re not as bad as they used to be (right?). Dr. Langbauer says, “One of our challenges is to give elephants the same sort of environment that they have in the wild…. They don’t need thousands of acres, they need enough room to be able to be together when they want to be together, and apart when they want to be apart.” That sounds reasonable.

We do love the idea of an artistic-scientific collaboration to keep Emily and Ruth sharp. Humans in retirement communities have activities for similar reasons! Not that we’re comparing elephants and the elderly, exactly (though Emily is 49 and Ruth is 54). The point is, if you’re a student at MassArt, you could make toys for elephants, and then see the elephants enjoy those toys, and that sounds pretty great. Plus the ellies look so happy! As long as they’re in a zoo, they might as well be happy.

[photo by Susan Hagner for WBUR]


East Bay Vegan Bakesale! Plus sexy pandas, peek-a-boo owls, and your big fat pets in this week’s (abbreviated) link-o-rama!  »

Hello, tiny owl! This is Sam Adams, a resident of the Pennsylvania Audubon Society Center bird sanctuary, who really wants to be in pictures. So much so that he hogged this nice couples’ wedding photo, but that is all right with us because marriage is patriarchal nonsense, while saving owls is wonderful and right. [photo by Hoffer Photography/Rex Features]

Some events for your non-costume dates
East Bay Vegan Bakesale! Tomorrow, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.! Details here!

No Worries Filipino Vegetarian Cuisine will hold its grand opening celebration tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 30 from 4 to 9 p.m. You can enjoy a special chef’s menu and live music, and an Oakland city official will participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. You know Vegansaurus loves No Worries, and we expect this chef’s menu to be extra-tasty. See you at 1442 Franklin Street (at 15th Street) in Oakland!

Hey Boston-area readers! Friend of Vegansaurus, vegan, and ridiculously talented writer Kevin Fanning is participating in a reading as part of Arts at the Armory in Somerville, Mass., on Monday, Nov. 1. You should go! It is like 15 minutes from Boston, no excuses. Buy a chapbook while you’re there, tell them Vegansaurus sent you.

Have you dreamed of growing your own shiitake mushrooms? You are in luck, San Francisco: the Studio for Urban Projects in conjunction with 18 Reasons presents a one-day workshop on exactly that! Led by Maria Finn, the workshop will take place on Monday, Nov. 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Studio for Urban Projects at 3579 17th St. at Dolores. The registration fee is $45 per person, which also includes all the materials you’ll need to “inoculate and care for your own shiitake log.” Further information, including registration, here.

Friday, Nov. 5 is Worldwide Anti-Whaling Day. We’ll give you a more detailed post next week, but mark this on your calendars now: the Northern California protest is set for 3 p.m. that day at the Consulate General of Japan, at 50 Fremont St. in San Francisco. For now, read the official WWAWD site for more information.

A little light reading
Farm Sanctuary asks that you please send an email to the University of Pittsburgh to politely ask that they stop using live pigs for their Advanced Trauma Life Support courses.

Good news, panda-lovers: All of 19 little pandas were born in captivity this year as of last week, the most since 18 in 2006. Chinese scientists credit their success in part to the panda porn program, which shows dumb young male pandas what they’re supposed to be doing with the female pandas—you have no time for adorable, chaste snuggling, pandas. Get to business or die trying, as it were.

Animals who maybe could use a little less human intervention: your cats and dogs, which are all as MORBIDLY OBESE as ALL ENGLISH-SPEAKING WHITE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, and the Medicare won’t pay for canine-sized Hoverounds, so stop feeding them from your dang plates. Seriously. If you really can’t resist giving your little puppykins treats, toss ‘em some vegetables while you’re chopping them up for your dinner. The dogs I live with eat everything except raw garlic and leafy greens; they love raw onion and every other piece of produce they’ve tried. It’s a win-win! Winston loves bananas, and look how healthy and happy he is! Or at least healthy.

Finally, mark another entry in the Annals of Self-Promotion: Laura’s “Week in Vegan” column debuts in the SF Weekly today! She’s great, go read it!


Movie review: Meat, the thinking person’s slaughterhouse documentary  »

This is a pretty obscure film, but I’ve LOVED Frederick Wiseman’s documentaries* ever since I saw Welfare in law school. So when I learned he once pointed his camera at the inner workings of a slaughterhouse and meatpacking facility in 1970s Massachusetts, I knew I had to watch it. Not only does Wiseman show cattle and lambs rounded up, fed, slaughtered, and turned into meat products, but we also see footage of animal auctions, the rather mundane administration of the company, labor meetings, and marketing discussions—Meat made me feel like I was a part of every aspect of a meatpacking company.

Wiseman refuses to provide narration, thereby forcing the viewer to take what they will from Meat. Thus, the movie plays like a seemingly unbiased, unemotional exposé of an industry typically unexposed to the vast majority of the country. The veil between animal and meat product is the disconnect animal rights activists fight against on a daily basis—despite what the dairy industry would have you believe, I’m pretty sure none of their cows in California are happy. In lifting the veil, Meat felt to me like a precursor to PETA videos. But while that horrific footage will never find their way into a high school classroom or aired on television due to their overtly politicized message, Wiseman presents Meat so evenhandedly that one could actually imagine such market penetration, much to the meat industry’s dismay.

But oh dear god; watching Meat is no less unsettling. Trust me when I say Wiseman doesn’t pull any punches. I’m stating the obvious, but the slaughterhouse scenes are beyond ghastly. I can’t describe my revulsion at watching a cow’s skin, intestines and head being ripped from its body. I’m bracing myself for the inevitable nightmares; the film’s visceral impact is crushing.

I also have to admit feeling really bad for the employees on the slaughterhouse floor, dismembering cows for 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Can you imagine the psychic trauma of that job? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre analogized slaughterhouse workers to a nation besieged by bloody images from Vietnam for very, very good reason. You might think “Well, they should just get another job,” but keep in mind that it’s rarely a seamless process to transfer jobs, particularly in this job market, particularly in certain parts of the country and especially for the undereducated. Anyhow, in addition to screaming “WHY ARE THEY CUTTING UP THAT VERY CUTE LAMB?” Meat also made me ponder the abusive psychological and economic power dynamic involved in the production of every steak.

Put it this way: if PETA videos are the porno of animal abuse videos, designed to grab the viewer’s attention and heighten their emotions, Meat is the calm, investigative PBS special. This is the thinking person’s slaughterhouse documentary—there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write—best for educating your friends and family about the reality of meat production and animal commodification. In this respect, I thought Meat was an utterly engrossing masterpiece. Alternately, in the sense that Meat required me to watch a lot of grisly, gruesome footage of harmless creatures being killed and dismembered like a real-life horror movie, I really hated it.

Damn. Someone owes me some vegan booze for making it through this one! I promise my next installment will be more upbeat! [Ed note: If you would like to watch Meat, Jonas reports having seen a copy at Lost Weekend Video.]

*Wiseman’s fantastic La Danse: Paris Opera Ballet is currently playing at the Roxie. Don’t miss it!

Zach Cincotta is a vegan movie obsessive who, along with his vegan brother, discusses his thoughts on every movie he watches at Le Souvenir d’un avenir. When he’s not slowly burning out his projector bulb, Zach is an entertainment and business attorney representing awesome bands, record labels, and other small businesses. His previous movie reviews for Vegansaurus can be found here, you can contact him here, and follow him on Twitter here. Phew.

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