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09/12/2014

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use: The meat industry just despises Meatless Mondays  »

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After working with HSUS, a school district outside of Austin, Texas, was one of many to implement Meatless Mondays this fall. While parents and students seemed pretty psyched about it, Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples — whose political campaign was bankrolled by the meat industry — didn’t exactly share their enthusiasm. He even penned a rant against the school district in the Austin American-Statesman this week. Today, the paper’s editorial board published an editorial of its own simply crushing that rant, noting that, “the near-comic rhetoric of Staples’ commentary stood as a refutation of its own argument.” You’ve really got to read the whole thing.

The San Francisco Chronicle also wrote this week about more California schools that HSUS helped implement Meatless Mondays programs.

The industry isn’t just lashing out in the school districts; it’s also doing so in the legislatures. I was glad to be on America Tonight this week discussing the meat producers’ attempt to silence whistleblowers with ag-gag bills.

And the good news is that nearly all ag-gag bills introduced in the last couple years have been killed, while more and more food companies require animal welfare improvements in their supply chains, as described in a new piece by my coworker Matt Prescott. As well, just this week, another major pork producer announced it’s abandoning gestation crates throughout its entire supply chain.

Video of the week: These pigs aren’t ready for summer to be over—they love their swimming pools!

06/23/2014

Adorkable rescue piglets to brighten your Monday!  »

Omg, lil piglets, you need to stop. This is Magpie, Rudy, and Georgina Grace Wiggle Bottom, three new residents at Animal Place! They have a sad story (as usual):

The three piglets were born at a petting zoo which, like most petting zoos, profits off cuteness and discards the animals when they age. In this case, the birth was unexpected and the zoo didn’t want any of the piglets at all—in fact, two were sold for slaughter before an individual could intervene. We ache for these two piglets who will never know joy like the pigs at Animal Place. Luckily, the three remaining piglets were saved and brought to our sanctuary.

Luckily indeed! And lucky for us to have another cute reminder of why we don’t support bullish like petting zoos. Sure, tell me how you’ve seen with your very own eyes how they treat the animals sooooo nice…until they don’t need them any more! Bullish. 

Thanks again, Animal Place! Donate here so these little babes can eat yummy food and live with new friends for the rest of their lives. 

05/16/2014

5 adorable piglets who are so much more than bacon  »

imageJulia and her piglets! Julia was super abused before she was rescued by Farm Sanctuary, at which point she gave birth to a boatload of adorable piglets!

The pig’s sentience—its status as a non-object capable of suffering—morally trumps my desire to eat a BLT, no matter how much pleasure it gives. No life is worth a sandwich I don’t need. 
-James McWilliams for 
the Atlantic

The mere mention of bacon makes most meat-eaters giggle with glee. It’s basically the pinnacle of American gluttony, decadence, and indifference. It’s not just a food, bacon has become a punchline, yucking it up on Tshirts and memes across the country. Meanwhile, pigs, who are not only smarter than your dog but also emotionally complex, are suffering relentless anguish

According to the National Pork Producers Council, the numbers are reproachful:

Today there are more than 67,000 pork operations compared with nearly 3 million in the 1950s. Farms have grown in size; 53 percent of them now produce 5,000 or more pigs per year. Nearly 21 billion pounds of pork were processed from about 110 million hogs in 2011. A total of 2.3 million metric tons of pork valued at more than $6.3 billion was exported in 2012.

If I can translate that for you: a hundred million pigs are killed a year, and the factory farm industry is booming. That means gestation crates, pollution, disease, and cruelty. 

I know people like the taste of bacon. That’s not a justification for the suffering it causes. Maybe human babies taste great, that’s not a good reason to eat human babies. The “but it tastes good” argument is nothing short of vapid and shallow. You’re choosing sensory pleasure over morals. When is that ever the right way to make decisions?

In conclusion, here are 5 adorable piglets who were rescued from certain death and suffering. These are living beings who deserve more than being someones lunch. Take it away, cutie pies! 

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1. Leon Trotsky

Kicking us off is Leon Trotsky from Edgar’s Mission! Leon was injured at a farm and therefore “useless.” Thankfully, a kind person got Leon to the safety of Edgar’s Mission where he was fitted for his very own training wheels. 

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2. Edgar

This is Edgar! He’s one of those fell-off-the-truck rescue stories. Now he lives at Snooters Farm Sanctuary!

3. Marigold

Here we have Marigold from Animal Place! She’s playing in the straw like a total goofball! Her exact history is unknown, she was found roaming the streets in Sacramento, but they guess she was probably purchased from an auction for backyard slaughter. Not dice!

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4. Stanley

Hello, Stanley! Stanley is all growed up now but this is him getting some belly rubs as a baby. He’s another escapee found running up and down a busy road. Now he lives happily at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary!

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5. Eric

And of course, we close out with wee Eric from Farm Sanctuary! Eric was left to suffer with a leg injury because the medical attention he needed would cost more than the farmer thought he was worth. We think Eric is worth a gagillion dollars and all piglets are worthy of a happy life without pain!

All of these piglets were intended to be meat on someone’s plate, but thanks to random events, they escaped their grim fate. But most pigs—billions of them—are not so lucky. The overwhelming majority of pigs are still suffering in deplorable conditions. What can you do? Click on any of the shelter links above and donate in the name of your favorite piglet. More ideas? Visit Mercy For Animals. But the best and easiest thing you can do is GO VEG.

Share this list with your friends and spread the message: animals matter!

05/08/2014

Help Esther the Wonder Pig and her Dads build a farm sanctuary!  »

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You guys, Esther the Wonder Pig and her two dads are doing an IndieGoGo to raise money to build a farm sanctuary!

In case you’ve been living somewhere other than the Internet, Esther was a sweet little pig who grew up to be a 450-pound even sweeter pig! Her dads, who were inspired to go vegan after adopting her, dreamed of buying a farm animal sanctuary where they could care for animals who have been abandoned and/or abused. Now it’s finally becoming a reality: They bought a property for $900,000 CAD in Campbellville, Ontario, about 45 minutes from Toronto, but they need our help to raise the rest of the funds before their 60-day grace period is up!

Donate to the sanctuary and win sweet perks like:

  • Meeting Esther
  • Esther T-shirts
  • Grand opening sanctuary tour VIP tickets.
  • Custom metal plates engraved with your name

… and more!

The campaign goes until June 30. At the time of this post, they’ve raised about $83,000, but are aiming to raise $400,000 Canadian! I’m told those are pretty similar to normal dollars. Click here to donate!

04/04/2014

THIS PIGLET IS TOO CUTE! You can skip to :30, that’s the best part. It’s so adorable. 

I can’t wait until I get a piglet! I’m going to love her or him sooooo much. But until we all get our own piglets, we can support the lil’ guys at Animal Place!

03/14/2014

Piglet near death finds sanctuary and happiness!   »

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

From Free From Harm:

On February 20, Indraloka Animal Sanctuary in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania got a call about a piglet in need of a home. A week earlier, a humane police officer had responded to a citizen complaint about a situation of extreme animal neglect: two emaciated piglets who were being raised for “backyard meat” had been languishing for months in an uninsulated, outdoor pen during one of the harshest winters in decades. Night after night for weeks on end the two piglet brothers huddled together through sub-zero temperatures, whipping winds, and blistering blizzards. With no straw or bedding in their exposed pen, they were forced to lie in ice and freezing mud. 

Sadly, one of the piglets died before help came to rescue them. One piglet though, now called Jeremiah, was saved. You can see the story of his recovery above. It’s all similar pictures for the first few minutes but at 3:50 there’s adorbs footage of happy Jeremiah! 

Thinking of this young pig in the freezing cold breaks my heart. But to see him now! Incredible! And I’ve said it before but this makes me say it again: animals’ capacity to trust and forgive is amazing. 

Read the rest of the story at Free From Harm and donate to the Idraloka sanctuary to help animals like Jeremiah!

02/20/2014

Breaking: Humane Society finds cannibalism, cruelty, and disease at Kentucky pig factory  »

HSUS released a new undercover video today from the Iron Maiden pig factory in Kentucky. Besides awful gestation crates, they discovered that the factory takes piglets who die from “Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus” and feed them to mother pigs. It’s done in an effort to immunize the pigs. Freaking disgusting. Vegansaurus friend Paul Shapiro said of the factory, “The entire atmosphere at this facility is awful for animals, many of whom are perpetually immobilized and suffering from body sores, diarrhea attacks and prolapsed uteruses.” And it’s all for bacon? Our society is unbelievable. 

I’m wondering, am I the only one who immediately feels claustrophobic when I see the pigs in the gestation crates? NYT article describes gestation crates pretty chillingly:

They live out their adult lives without exercise or meaningful social interaction; it’s like a life sentence of solitary confinement in a coffin, punctuated by artificial insemination and birth.

Awful. As the article title asks, “Is That Sausage Worth This?” 

You can read more about the exposé on the Humane Society’s site, including a description of the video if you don’t want to watch. They also have a link to a petition but other than that, I’m not sure what we can do besides raise awareness and be vegan. If anyone knows about other ways to help, please share in the comments.

02/10/2014

Exclusive Interview: Meet the Dads of Esther the Wonder Pig!  »

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Thanks to her dads Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, tens of thousands of fans (us included!) get to peek into the surprising and always adorable daily doings of Esther The Wonder Pig, the clever, undeniably photogenic 400-pound pig! It’s truly a delight each day to browse Steve and Derek’s witty status updates and glamorous pics of Esther living her genius, safe, and cozy life in Toronto with her loving dads and dog siblings!

Vegansaurus’ Sarah E. Brown interviewed Esther’s loving dads about life with Esther, how she came into their lives, and their future plans to continue spreading awareness about pigs as pets, not food.

Vegansaurus: What surprised you most about adopting Esther when she was a “mini-pig”?

Steve & Derek: How much attention she needed. It was like having a child running around the house. We couldn’t let her out of our sight or she would get into everything!

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V: How did you two meet? How long have you been together? How long into your relationship did Esther come into the picture?

S&D: We’ve been together for over 13 years now. Steve is a realtor, Derek is a professional magician. We met as teenagers working at a restaurant. Esther didn’t come along until about 12 years in.

V: On social media, we all get to see the amazing images of Esther in her full glory—we also get to see her sassy personality. How did you decide to start documenting her presence in your life through social media and your website? And who posts most of the updates?

S&D: We really only wanted somewhere to share her with family and friends. We had no idea she would become so popular, so quickly. This has been a really unexpected and sometimes overwhelming experience. We had no idea she would touch so many people in such a deep and profound way. It’s amazing. Steve mostly does the updates, but Derek adds in his fair share of input.

V: How did you decide to name her Esther?

S&D: We just wanted a fun and “comfortable” name. For whatever reason, Esther seemed like a very traditional, human name and it just clicked. There wasn’t really any sort if inspiration in particular, it just worked.

V: You’ve recently gotten a lot of press, and over 76,000 followers on Facebook (congrats!). In your recent Mercy For Animals (MFA) interview, you talked about how people have reached out to you. What’s the coolest connection you’ve made so far since adopting Esther and telling your story?

S&D: That’s really hard to answer. We’ve heard from some incredible people. Some that still make our heads spin to be honest. We got to do an interview with Sam Simon, and we’ve been on Ellen’s good news blog. Friends at Mercy for animals and PETA have shared about us. There have been some amazing people that run blogs of their own, and have become good friends already. We even have some celebrity followers on Twitter. It’s really crazy.

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V: Besides apples, what are Esther’s favorite foods?

S&D: She loves pretty much any fruit or candy. They’re just like humans so if it’s a treat for us, it’s a treat to her.

V: Do you recommend adopting a pig? What is your advice to someone thinking of adopting a pig in an urban setting?

S&D: Be super careful. They are a ton of work and will require some major life adjustments. We had to pig proof our house, learn how to manage and train her and it’s way different than a dog. Pigs are so smart! Esther can open doors, cupboards, and even our fridge. We had to re-evaluate where we keep everything! It was a huge learning curve. We wouldn’t really advise it only because if the work it took. She’s awesome now but caused many a soul searching conversations. It was tough. We wouldn’t trade her for the world but it definitely wasn’t easy. Our advice is do plenty of research and make sure you’re up for the challenge. If you do decide you’re up for it, know it is the most incredible and rewarding experience of our lives. She really opened our eyes and as far as we’re concerned, made us better people. We love her like you wouldn’t believe.

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V: Are there any resources that helped you when you first went vegan or first adopted Esther (i.e. pig care tips, etc.) that you’d like to share?

S&D: We found it really hard to get information and hope to change that. We learned on our own as we went along, taking the odd note from websites or our vet. That was the hardest part: How the hell do you teach a pig?

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V: Do you have any future plans you’d like to share with our readers?

S&D: We do want to start a sanctuary and will start fundraising very soon. We’ll be opening the Esther store on our website

Thanks so much, Esther’s Dads, Derek and Steve! And thanks to Esther for being so, well, wonderful!

All images included with permission by and courtesy of Derek and Steve and Esther the Wonder Pig.

01/08/2014

According to Mercy for Animals, this video was created by 13-year-old Kyle Kelleher. It’s pretty amazing. I suggest making a shortened version though. But jeez! How long did this take to make?! What were YOU doing when you were 13? NOTHING GOOD I BET.

11/25/2013

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

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

After a massive on-the-ground campaign throughout New Jersey to override Governor Christie’s veto of our gestation crate bill, animal advocates flooded the statehouse this past Monday in anticipation of the state senate’s vote. While Monday was disappointingly not the pigs’ day, the vote will come up again next month, so stay tuned!

We did win an important vote this week on gestation crates, with shareholders of Cracker Barrel overwhelmingly voting to support the company moving away from using gestation crate-derived pork.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the executive director of the prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production said this week that “They finally got the attention of the industry because everywhere they went up against the industry, the Humane Society won.”

HSUS this week joined with environmental and community groups in announcing plans to sue a breeding pig factory over manure spills in Iowa. And speaking of gestation crates, check out NBC’s national coverage of Mercy For Animals’ new undercover investigation at a Tyson Foods-contracted gestation crate facility.

Finally, worried about how to feed a growing human population? Try eating less meat, says Fox News this week. And the Norwegians seem to be getting the message. The Norwegian army takes on a battle against climate change by implementing Meatless Monday. A military spokesperson states that “It’s about being more concerned for our climate, more ecologically friendly and also healthier.”

Video of the week: This might be one of the most unlikely friendships I’ve ever seen. Remarkable!

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