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? A 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.
Exclusive Interview: Meet the Dads of Esther the Wonder Pig! »
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!
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
Piglet Yoda falls off truck, gets a chance at life! »
Here is your sweet story for the day! This little piglet, named Yoda by the sanctuary that adopted him, was in a truck on his way to the slaughter house when he managed to escape. Police found him and now he’s a proud resident of the Wishing Well Sanctuary in Canada!
"He just loves to crawl into people’s laps and be held. He’s a little angel," says Bronfman [Wishing Well Sanctuary founder].
Bronfman says Yoda has a few bumps and scrapes, but the vet gave him a clean bill of health last night.
She says Yoda is doing everything a little pig should be doing, and she’s even bought him a little sweater to keep him warm.
The Wishing Well Sanctuary permanently adopts animals, meaning that Yoda never has to leave the farm.
"He’s just going to live the rest of his, god willing, long life. And will be happy with the other pigs and all the attention. There is always somebody on the farm, and he will just be loved for the rest of his natural life," says Bronfman.
Omg I can’t wait until I get my own piglet! I think I will name him Spaz. Wouldn’t that be cute? “Hey, Spaz! Come get your brekkie!”*
*I was just told Spaz is a derogatory term. I had no idea! I’m very sorry to have offended people. If you read the Wikipedia entry, I think you’ll see the origin of my confusion.** Instead, I will name my piglet “Knowledge.” Knowledge Rascal.
**also interesting (to me at least) about what wiki says is that I did learn the term from the The Elastik Band’s song. Thanks for nothing, bros!
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, animals!
Ever wonder what the US pork industry’s response to the EU’s farm animal welfare progress is? Check out my new piece about one industry leader’s recent bizarre, xenophobic rant.
Speaking of the US meat industry’s failures, in all 11 states it introduced ag-gag legislation in 2013, we killed their efforts, meaning that zero states this year passed an ag-gag bill!
We know that pigs suffer similarly to how dogs suffer. Would knowing that they’re as smart as (or smarter than) dogs change the way we think about—and treat—them? That’s what our friends at Farm Sanctuary are asking in a new campaign covered by the Associated Press this week.
If you agree with them that farm animals have interests that matter, you’re likely to also agree with NY Times columnist Nick Kristof’s potent column this week, in which he asks, “will our descendants be mystified by how good and decent people in the early 21st century — that’s us — could have been so oblivious to the unethical treatment of animals?”
Speaking of the future, do you think cultured meat will be a part of it? See the Telegraph’s story on the promise this holds.
Finally, Bill Clinton gave a fascinating interview to AARP this week about his near-vegan diet, noting,"I decided to pick the diet that I thought would maximize my chances of long-term survival."
Video of the week: Wild crow allows human to remove porcupine quills from him. Amazing!
Animal Place turns 24! Let’s party! »
To celebrate its 24th year of hard work as an animal rescue group and beautiful sanctuary, our beloved Animal Place is having a party, and we’re all invited!
Lucy cordially invites you to our 24th birthday party—our Pig-Out BBQ Birthday Bash. While you may celebrate all the animals, Lucy wants to celebrate food with you the most. Bring a watermelon or cantaloupe: At 2 p.m., we’ll let you give them to the big pigs! Be welcomed with some bluegrass music by local band the Fruit Jar Pickers, and enjoy vegan hot dogs from Field Roast and burgers from Amy’s kitchen. Cupcakes will be available as well—because what’s a birthday party without cake!
When: Saturday, July 6
Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (food served 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)
Barns are open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets are $15 per person, and include a vegan hot dog or burger!
You can arrive any time, but if you want to hear a birthday speech from Executive Director Kim Sturla and enjoy feeding the pigs some watermelons and cantaloupes, then be sure to stop by the pig barn at 2!
Pre-registration is required. Open to all ages—a great event for the family!
[Photo of Lucy by Marji Beach]
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! »
It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, animals!
It was a roller coaster of a week, with the biggest news being that the House farm bill—which contained no animal welfare improvements but did contain Iowa Rep. Steve King’s anti-animal provision—was killed yesterday!
(Regrettably, the meat industry lobby prevented a House vote on federal legislation to help egg-laying hens. The fight continues.)
In related news, want to read a great Mother Jones story? The title says it all: “You Won’t Believe What Pork Producers Do to Pregnant Pigs.”
The New York Times editorial board this week slammed the animal ag sector, calling it an “industry that thrives on ignorance.”
And finally, check out this article: “Study suggests chickens are smarter than toddlers.”
P.S. Video of the week: Stephen Colbert’s take last night on the farm bill dispute between Rep. Steve King and HSUS. It’s truly amazing.
P.P.S. 140 years ago this week, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting. Oh, how societal norms change …
Interview! Rory Freedman on her new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals »
New York Times bestselling author Rory Freedman is a living legend in the animal rights/vegan world. After launching a revolution with her Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bastard series, Rory Freedman has continued to work tirelessly to promote animal rights issues in Los Angeles and worldwide. The charismatic animal rights champion and kind-hearted dog mom took time out of her hectic book tour schedule to discuss her wonderful and unique new book, Beg: A Radical New Way of Regarding Animals (Running Press).
Vegansaurus: I loved the book! I read it overnight and was really impressed by the depth and feeling you’ve put into this work. How do you consider Beg to be different for readers who may be familiar with the Skinny Bitch series?
Rory Freedman: I think that the good news for fans of Skinny Bitch is it’s the same heart that drove me to write Skinny Bitch that had me writing Beg. I had a spiritual transformation while writing this book, and I’m no longer swearing. The good news is the book is still funny and deep in the way Skinny Bitch is. This language is a lot gentler, for people who might have been offended. Funny.
What inspired you to write Beg?
In Skinny Bitch, I found thousands of people whose lives had been changed and now went vegan. I thought great—now what? Great, these people now know about the animal issues, but will they understand about rodeos, zoos, circuses, animal testing, and other things that cause deaths and misery and torture of millions of animals per year? I thought that people were primed and would get it, so I think it’s a natural follow up for Skinny Bitch. Skinny Bitch is really a vegan manifesto cloaked in a diet book. I wanted to write this book once and for all to document everything that happens to animals.
What can animal lovers learn from Beg?
Researching and writing this book was an important part of my transition from a regular-human animal lover to more aware animal lover. It is about learning each of the ways we can do better for animals. As much as I knew about things in broad strokes, as an animal lover and vegan, I had to ensure details were correct and accurate. It’s always eye-opening to think about things that go on so easily and are so pervasive.
Even still, a lot of people who are dog and cat lovers don’t understand what happens in order for animals to look a certain way we’ve deemed appropriate for breeds. Tail docking and ear cropping, which I discuss in Beg, are examples of this. I didn’t know about this as a child or as a younger adult. Then one day when I was 30 I met a dog that opened my eyes to this. I grew up with a mini schnauzer, and when I was 30 I met a schnauzer that was strange—it had bigger ears than the childhood dog I knew. I didn’t know some had bigger ears, but it turned out they all have bigger ears naturally, it’s just that some when puppy breeders will have the dogs’ ears chopped off or tails dropped off. I stood there astounded when I found this out. I didn’t know what they were talking about. Doberman pinschers normally have floppy ears, but they covet that mean, agressive look in breeders. That will come as a shock to animal lovers.
What are some animal activism tips that might surprise Vegansaurus readers?
I’ve had a transition that’s been happening lately and gradually over many years as an activist and vegan. It’s evolving so I’m becoming a better activist. I am still as passionate, but I am feeling more diplomatic. I’m allowing this journey for many people to come from where they are now from where we’re hoping they’ll end up. Animals are suffering each day. I’m really getting that everyone is on their path and I have to love and accept everyone while on this work, and allow that people will find their own way. By the grace of God I found vegetarianism, animal activism, and veganism when I did. It doesn’t say anything about me. It just works out the way it did. I have to allow that it will be by the grace of God for others to find their own path. It is important to take action while also being loving. The most attractive thing we can be as activists is loving.
The author with her three dogs
Vegetarians and animal lovers often love seeing animals in films and in cute Internet videos/websites. You discuss animals and entertainment at lengh in your book. Care to elaborate?
We’re always being accused of anthropomorphizing animals, of giving animals human qualities we don’t have. Sometimes they’re wrong. We just understand that animals feel pain, like humans do, but as moviegoers, some might be confused when we see a chimp that seems like he or she is smiling in a movie or TV commercial. Chimps don’t smile in the wild. It was something that was new to me when speaking to primatologist while doing research for the book. Chimps have what’s known as a “fear grimace.” Even though it looks like a smile because it seems like our own, they’re actually scared because in the wild when chimps are frightened, they grimace. They don’t do it when they’re happy. There is also no way to provide for them in entertainment the way mother nature could. We can’t provide for their unique needs. We’ve seen time and time again that movie sets are dangerous for animals.
Some of my friends want to adopt pigs (myself included). You have a pretty intense section about pigs and what happens to them on factory farms. Have you ever considered adopting a rescue pig, and how easy is it to adopt?
I’ve never been asked that. Adopting a pig has crossed my mind, but not in my adult years as someone in the animal rights movement. I’ve had dogs now for 12 years. It’s such a big responsibility, it’s so all-encompassing, I can’t imagine adding to my brood right now. I can see the temptation. They’re darling animals. They are so smart and individualistic. I can imagine having one would be great fun and it’d be beautiful for anyone who is committed to taking care of one.
What is the “Beg for Change” campaign?
The Beg for Change Challenge Campaign is an exciting way to get people involved, for vegans and activists and “normies.” You can hashtag #BegForChange and/or share a picture of your adopted dog. You can brush your dog and share a pic after you’ve bushed him or her, you can tag a photo of their pile of hair. Then, we can notice leather or animal skins, and use social media to document what we notice. If you spend 15 minutes on peta.org, you can tell the world what you see that is shocking. You can watch “What skin are you in?” and share your experience. This starts off easy to get people involved and becomes more interesting, challenging, and eye-opening, and activists can spread the world.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us, Rory! Thank you for putting this great book out there.
To learn more about Beg and get involved with the Beg for Change Challenge campaign, check out Rory’s website.
Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use »
It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yay, Paul! Yay, Animals!
Big week, so buckle up!
First, the Sunday New York Times had a cover feature about the meat industry’s efforts to ban investigations by HSUS and fellow animal protection groups. It even included a full-color HSUS photo of a crated pig on A1 of the paper. As well, the NYT editorial board condemned the industry’s effort, noting “the ag-gag laws guarantee one thing for certain: increased distrust of American farmers.”
(Another interesting NYT story)
Speaking of pigs, remember last year’s major HSUS investigation into a then-Tyson supplier gestation crate confinement facility? Well, we announced this week that several of the people caught on the video were convicted of criminal animal cruelty.
Finally, I did a half-hour segment on Miami’s NPR affiliate this week about the need to reduce per capita rates of meat consumption.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. Video of the week
P.P.S. Live in Mass? Hope to see you Sunday!