Paul Shapiro presents: Tyson Foods exposed and Safeway gets on the humane train! »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!
Greetings from Denver, where I just conducted one of three HSUS press conferences today announcing the results of our latest factory farm investigation (the fourth agribusiness facility HSUS has exposed in 2012 so far).
This investigation reveals truly appalling cruelty to pigs at a Wyoming gestation crate confinement operation that supplies Tyson Foods. Please watch and share this important new exposé.
This comes on the heels of the joint announcement by Safeway and HSUS just yesterday that the country’s second largest grocer is now formulating plans to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
(And BTW, did you hear that? No? It sounded to me like the sound made when the legislative leadership in California delivers a smack-down to those who want to keep force-feeding ducks for foie gras legal in the state.)
You didn’t share that investigation link yet? Do me a favor and please do…pigs will thank you.
P.S. Video of the week: Yep, you guessed it.
Starbucks bought Evolution Juice! Is this good news or bad news? »
As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Starbucks has bought San Bernadino-based juice company Evolution Juices for an estimated $30 million! Starbucks plans to carry Evolution in their cafes, and also to open juice bars* in the next year. Starbucks has already dropped the “Starbucks Coffee” from their logo, much like Apple dropped “computers” from theirs when they started carrying iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Now, because I am honestly interested in your opinion, tell me: Is this good news or bad news?
I feel torn about this move by Starbucks. On one hand, I shop at Whole Foods and Safeway, and have bought the Just Greens Evolution juice at both. I obviously patronize corporations, so I don’t see the big deal about Starbucks buying Evolution to spread juice to the masses. How is that a bad thing? Plus, I like Starbucks because their internet is not spotty, and I need that in order to write outside of my home. I will always choose to buy coffee from a mom-and-pop operation, but if I need to use the internet to work, Starbucks is the only place I can go that doesn’t let me down.
Starbucks is taking on selling more vegan food options, and now juice (plus beer and wine, right?), and I don’t see this a bad thing. So many people frequent Starbucks; isn’t it a perfect outlet to spread veganism to the masses? Isn’t that what we want? Or are we trying to keep veganism like our favorite indie band—all to ourselves?
The interior of an Evolution store—someone needs to use their spell check! I can’t hate too hard, many of you point out my spelling flaws and it’s super embarrassing! (Though I appreciate it!)
On the other hand, I don’t want to lose the sense of community we gain with small, local business. I don’t want corporations to take over the world, and the hippie in me hates shopping at chains, as I truly believe in supporting local cafes and juice shops. Especially because I live in a city, and I can do just that! I also appreciate that both my college town (Arcata) and my neighborhood (Upper Haight) refuse to let Starbucks in. However, what does one do when they don’t live in a city, but the suburbs, where chains are prevalent? What if you can only get raw juice, or soy in coffee, or vegan food at Starbucks, Safeway, or Jamba Juice? Can we have both? Can we shop at both local and corporate and be OK with ourselves?
I will buy juice and vegan food where it is available, and if it’s available to a larger demographic of people, then I see that as a win for the animals and therefore the environment (except all the plastic packaging). On that note, I will hardly go to Evolution, or buy beer at Starbucks, because I prefer cold-pressed raw vegetable juice and dive bars.
As long as Starbucks is going to try to take over the world, I would like to see an emphasis placed on using compost-friendly packaging! Biodegradable cups would be a fantastic start, Starbucks! Pave the way for corporations to start taking responsibility for the planet by using little to no plastic!
*The first Evolution juice bar opened on March 19 in Bellevue, Wash.
iPhone app review: VegScan makes late night junk food shopping easier »
If you’ve been vegan for longer than a year or two, you probably already have your own tricks for picking up packaged food and deciding if it’s vegan in two seconds or less. My first trick is to look for cholesterol. If there’s more than 0 mg, it’s automatically not vegan (it doesn’t go both ways; plenty of non-vegan food has no cholesterol). Then I look for the allergens in bold at the end: “Contains milk, eggs.” Finally, I scan the ingredients from the middle out, where the whey is usually hidden. After being vegan for long enough, you want this go as quickly as possible. You want your Oreos and you want them now.
But, what if it’s 2 a.m. and you’re plastered? Nothing makes sense, labels are blurry, and you mostly don’t care if those Cocoa Rice Krispies are fortified with D3 or not, because who can remember if D2 or D3 is the wrong one, anyway? Really what you want is a simple yes or no. Enter the VegScan iPhone app: stop thinking, start scanning.
To test this out under real world conditions, I decided to get drunk and go for a Safeway midnight junk food run. Because do we really need VegScan at Rainbow or Whole Foods? Probably not. I have two beers, two shots of whiskey, and two shots of vodka, and I’m ready for Safeway. For me, that’s plenty, but not too much; I still need to be able to operate my phone/not lose or drop it.
Using VegScan is dead simple. After you sign up, you can start scanning right away. All you do is hold the camera over the barcode, and press the button. Done. The app immediately tells you if the product is vegan or not.
Or at least it would, if they had enough data. VegScan is still pretty new, and all the data is crowdsourced, meaning that if a product isn’t in there, it’s up to you to type it in and mark if it’s vegan or not. To their credit, they make a game out of it with badges and points (I’m already ranked #11!) but if you’re not the kind of person who enjoys sorting your bookshelves by color on your days off, this could annoy the hell out of you.
Of all the products I scanned, only one matched (Top Ramen Oriental Flavor). Others that didn’t match: Thomas’s English Muffins, Yellow Tail Merlot and Chardonnay, Munchos, PrimoTaglio Provolone Cheese, Chex Mix Original, Doritos Salsa Verde, Guinness, Tostitos Hint of Lime, Baken-ets Pork Rinds, Skippy SuperChunk, bulk Safeway bread rolls, Silk Original Flavor, Hostess Donettes (powdered). So, if you ever scan any of those, you’ll see my opinion of whether or not they’re vegan, and you can vote on whether or not I was lying.*
If you’re a seasoned vegan with the Accidentally Vegan list practically memorized, VegScan probably won’t be too useful. But if you’re obsessed with organizing data—and you know who you are—hurry up and start scanning. Future drunk vegans need you.
As Laura says, “Morningstar is pretty lame but they do have some vegan options, including the only riblet now!” And lord knows Vegansaurus loves a riblet. Go to your Safeway and get these coupons from the freezer case before they expire on Dec. 31! Or obtain them in some other, easier way; however you see fit, I’m not here to judge, or ask questions. Two dollars is a lot of money to save in these trying times! It is roundtrip bus fare to get those damn riblets.