Paul Shapiro on food scandals, the EU battery-cage ban, and celebrities! Now with alternate Spanish version!  »

It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yes!

The Huffington Post listed its top 13 food scandals of 2011, with HSUS’s exposé of Smithfield Foods ranking #1! Check out the full list. (And for my Spanish-speaking amigos, puede leer mi articulo sobre los puercos en Que Pasa Mi Gente!)

If you’d like to see a nice BBC story about former battery hens (“ex-bats”!) getting a second chance at life, here’s your chance.

Speaking of the EU, here’s an interesting article about member nations facing legal action over not complying with the upcoming historic EU ban on barren battery cages (it was passed in 1999 and takes full effect Jan 1).

Finally, check out this CNN piece about celebrities working with Mercy For Animals to combat abuse of laying hens.

Video of the week: Is there anything more popular than a dog and pig wrestling?


Paul Shapiro on Smithfield, vegetarian stats, and swimming pigs!  »

It’s Paul Shapiro's Animal News You Can Use! Yes! And check out that amazing new graphic from Megan Rascal! Two geniuses, united in genius, saving animals, looking good, and being awesome! Now, onto Mr. Shapiro's news!

Important breaking news today: Smithfield—the nation’s largest pig producer—is recommitting to end its gestation-crate use on company-owned factory farms by 2017. We of course always want more and faster, but considering that no other major U.S. pig producer has any commitment to stop using gestation crates at all, this is certainly welcome news. National AP story on it here.

While Florida has already banned gestation crates, one of its state senators wants to keep the public in the dark about factory farming cruelty, and has reintroduced his infamous “ag-gag” legislation that would make it a crime to photograph these facilities.

Very interesting new poll showing that 16 percent of Americans eat vegetarian more than half the time. Wow.

If you also like eating vegetarian food, and perhaps even listening to a hysterical vegetarian stand-up comedian like Dan Piraro (of Bizarro fame), I hope to be hanging out with you this Saturday night!

Video of the week: How pigs really ought to live.


The Humane Society takes on Smithfield and the McRib  »

The Humane Society of the United States has filed a complaint against Smithfield Foods, who supplies the pork for the McVom, in reaction to a series of videos HSUS says are misleading. You can read the whole complaint in PDF form. The Atlantic has great coverage for you but if you want to watch the videos in question, here’s a pretty great one about gestation:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

I know it’s supposed to show you how great they treat these pigs but does anyone else find this video super-disturbing anyway? And this is what it looks like when you try to sugar-coat it? Jeez louise, that’s messed up. Speaking of messed up, here’s the HSUS’ undercover footage from Smithfield Foods last year:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on!]

You can see how much Smithfield is committed to animal care, right? Well if you have any doubts, Smithfield will clear that right up for you! Here’s my new favorite site: It’s pure comedic genius (I love deadpan). This part is great:

The animals we raise are the core of our business. Their well-being is pivotal to our success, and we do all we can to ensure their safety, comfort, and health. Indeed, our entire operations revolve around sound animal care.

See, I thought CASH MONEY was the core of their business. Because really, C.R.E.A.M. But all this time, it’s actually been pigs. I find that a little confusing though because where does the slaughtering part fit into a pig’s wellbeing? Whether you think animals should be killed for meat or not, you have to admit there’s a bit of a discord there. They should really say something like, “we do all we can to ensure their safety, comfort, and health, except for the part where we kill them and eat them.” There you go, just tack that little bit on the end and it’s much less of a lie. I know I definitely feel more comfortable now. 

And how many veterinarians did that promo video say they have? Like 17? That doesn’t sound like that many when you read this:

 As the world’s largest producer of pork, Murphy-Brown LLC, our hog production independent operating company (IOC), and its subsidiaries, own approximately 460 farms and contract with about 2,135 contract hog producers in the United States alone. Smithfield’s meat processing operations also receive pigs from numerous independent hog producers, whose numbers fluctuate depending upon market conditions.

We’re supposed to believe that a handful of well-paid industry vets can account for the wellbeing of the pigs at all those farms? As we know from what I wrote previously, Murphy Brown can’t even ensure its employees’ safety, but somehow they can care for millions of pigs? 

Smithfield wrote a response to the complaint but there’s nothing really worth mentioning from it. It’s just kind of whiney. 


Hog farm sued for ignoring sexual harassment   »

A woman who used to work at hog “producing” company Murphy-Brown (really?) sued the corporation for ignoring sexual harassment that occurred there:

[The plaintiff] says she and her co-workers were subjected to peepholes in the women’s showers, their underwear being stolen from their lockers and found wet with a substance one reported to be semen, unwanted groping and hugging by male workers, and sex-related drawings in a break room.

Murphy-Brown’s lawyers said they did everything they could to stop the harassment. They also suggested the women drilled the peepholes themselves? OK. The jury decided the corporation didn’t take adequate measures to stop the harassment but didn’t act in malice, so they awarded the plaintiff $30,000.

Not that sexual harassment doesn’t happen everywhere all the time, but the meat industry has a history of not giving a shit about its employees. We’ve all read “Blood, Sweat, and Fear" by now, right? Smithfield Foods, the corporation that owns Murphy-Brown, is allover that study. But here’s Smithfield’s policy on harassment:

Smithfield is committed to providing our employees with a nondiscriminatory work environment free of any type of harassment per company policy and the law. Supervisory employees must investigate all complaints of harassment and employees are advised on their responsibility to report violations. The company will take appropriate disciplinary actions for violation of policy or law.

"Free of any type of harassment" means free of sexual harassment. But they don’t mention sexual harassment specifically, which is a big red flag to me. You don’t even address it in your workers’ rights policies? At least pretend you care about it on paper.

Like I said, sexual harassment happens allover all the time but here’s my main point: If they can’t keep their own employees safe, how can we trust them to keep “humane” conditions for the animals they are charged with? Animals who can’t complain to the boss, who are completely helpless and voiceless?

For a laugh, a quote from Murphy-Brown’s site:

"At Murphy-Brown, our commitment to producing high-quality pork products while protecting the environment and promoting animal welfare isn’t just a motto, it’s how we operate."

Yeeeah, doubt it.

As a bonus, here’s the Humane Society’s video on gestation crates and conditions for hogs at Smithfield Foods:

[Can’t see the video? Watch it on]

Keep up the good work, bros. 


Today is for the pigs!  »

Happy National Pig Day

Today, Smithfield “Foods” celebrates these beautiful, smart, and amazing creatures by eating them! Makes sense. Whenever I really want to express my love for Jonas, I murder him and get out the George Foreman! What? He’s delicious and that overrides all other moral obligations I have not to be a fucking psychopath. Ugh, the best/WORST part of Smithfield celebrating the animals they’re murdering is that they’re inviting the public to e-tour the cages where they keep the pigs awaiting slaughter. Seriously! They obviously think it’s acceptable to keep pigs in enclosures that I wouldn’t inflict upon my worst enemy and I have some HATE, you know? Can you imagine if people kept their kids like that? Or their dogs? And both kids and dogs are stupider than pigs! This whole thing is very confusing. What’s more, the awful place they show in their video is obviously cleaned up, so that leaves it to your imagination (or you know, the countless documented horrors) to dream up what the majority of their “farms” look like. Shudder.

In more slit-your-wrists news, CNN covers the South Korean mass burials of live animals and it’s the fucking saddest. Spread the word! Shoot me in the face!

Okay, it’s not all terrible news. Today is a day for us to celebrate pigs by looking at how cute and special they are and talking about how much we love them. Which is a lot because OMG PIGS! Maybe we can all tell at least one omnivore some pig fun facts today and let them know that their bacon had a mom, and she was FUCKING AWESOME.
That’s Mohawk! He wants you to volunteer at Harvest Home Sanctuary, where you will love him and give him scratches and snacks and you guys will be bff. 


Well I say! It’s time for the adorability and tragedy of this week’s link-o-rama!  »

BUNNIES BUNNIES BUNNIES! Adopt yourself a bunny from the East Bay SPCA—4651 Gleason Dr. in Dublin—at tomorrow’s Adopt-a-Rabbit Day, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.! Five different rescue groups will have rabbits there for you to fall in love with, because rabbits are like cats for a dog-person: they’re super-cute and loving, but also neat and tidy, and they like to have time for themselves, and when they tire of your adoration they will just hop away, but their displays of affection are ridiculously exuberant. You guys if I don’t get to adopt a rabbit soon I WILL EXPLODE WITH YEARNING. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Back to the matter at hand: please contact Anne with questions.

Did you know that Mission Mission features adoptable animals of the SF SPCA every Friday? This week’s future-best-pals are Shortstop and Sassy!

Super-duper vegan-friendly events!
Tomorrow’s Beehive Market is having a free ice cream social, featuring Scream Sorbet and Rocket Ship Vegan Ice Cream! Get over there sometime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. because missing free ice cream would be SO STUPID, goodness.

OK, it’d be cool to miss it if you were attending Animal Place’s Barn Warming, instead! It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at AP’s new facility (600 acres!) in Grass Valley; you can meet the animals, shop at the Compassionate Marketplace, turn your children—should you have any—loose in the Kids’ Corner, and buy a vegan lunch for $5. You cannot bring your own food or animals, however. Details and driving directions here.

Hello, Bijou the bunny! What’s that? You’re available for adoption at tomorrow’s Adopt-a-Bunny event at the East Bay SPCA? My word!

Vegan-pertinent articles for perusal
The FDA released a set of guidelines on the use of antibiotics in eatin’ animals this week; unfortunately (and as usual), they’re late to the party, fucking weak, and only offering them for “comment,” anyway, because the FDA is ineffectual. KQED addressed the subject on Forum as well, though the conversation mostly gave me the angries. Do you think, with only four companies controlling THE ENTIRE MEAT MARKET—and becoming bigger conglomerates daily—that they are going to change any of their business practices without being forced?

Well at least the state of Ohio isn’t totally rotten: the Humane Society made a deal with Governor Ted Strickland to implement a number of the demands that were moving toward becoming a ballot measure (like our Prop. 2 in 2008) in November, which HSUS will put on hold while the state phases out veal crates and gestation crates, and bans things like strangling farm animals and transporting downer cows for slaughter. More details here.

What’s new in the ocean (besides the great big fucking oil spill, coverage of which by The Rachel Maddow Show has been quite good, incidentally)? They’ve got magic-science salmon soooo close to FDA approval. These fish have been genetically engineered to “grow to market size in 16 to 18 months” instead of the usual three years! HOORAY! Other magic-science water-breathers include Paul the octopus, who lives in Oberhausen, Germany; described by Der Spiegel as “cuddly,” Paul is nationally adored for his “ability” to “predict” Germany’s World Cup wins. Nothing in that sentence was a lie. Now, would you like to cement your hatred of SeaWorld, and keeping orcas in captivity? Read this article about Tilikum in Outside magazine; it’s unbelievably heartbreaking (also, enraging).

Clementine, you darling! Are you looking to get adopted as well? Any time between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., at 4651 Gleason Dr. in Dublin? You got it!

It’s summer, and that means composting! Seattle now requires all takeout containers and cutlery to be compostable, and Serious Eats has an at-home composting guide. Seems simple enough, really. Plus it’s good to try to reduce your garbage, considering our obscene carbon footprint.

It’s summer, and that means eating (kidding, every season means eating, duh)! Jeremy Fox will include charcuterie—with an ear- and skin-focus!—with his “plant-based” cuisine at Plum when it opens in September. GROSS and BOO. Spice Kit opened in the FiDi and looks to have decent veg options; Mission Chinese Food is open and is offering (apparently) four vegan options, plus THEY DELIVER, OH MAN; the Village Voice even did a little roundup of delicious NYC-area veg dishes.

Miss Tisha! Is it true that people can bring their rabbits for introductions to potential new best friends at Adopt-a-Bunny day as well? And the East Bay SPCA is offering free bunny nail trims, too? How wonderful! [all photos courtesy East Bay SPCA]

Hey the Richmond, would you like your own farmer’s market? Richmond District Greens is working hard to set that up—help your neighbors and everyone wins! Fun fact: part of the Richmond used to be known as Beer Town, and it was quite wicked.

Our own Sarah E. Brown was on the radio, discussing veganism, the Tree of Life, the Healing Patch, and your Vegansaurus! We’re the famous-est, you guys.


Paula Deen hit in the face with a ham! Pig fights back from beyond the grave! In the first-ever documented animal poltergeist incident the angry spirit of a gentle pig who never hurt anyone popped motherfucking hick Paula Deen right in the kisser. That’s what you get for calling dead flesh protein, you redneck weirdo. Now go deep-fry a mayo-covered cake or something, psycho.
No say on who did it but i know evil Smithfield Foods (Paula is hocking their hocks) will try to spin this like, “we were raising foods for poor kids, these AR activists are ruthless!” which we all know is a bunch of b-s but in the spirit of the holidays, donate to local food banks that serves healthy, veg food or Food Not Bombs.
(Thanks to Mark Shrayber for this gem!)

Paula Deen hit in the face with a ham! Pig fights back from beyond the grave! In the first-ever documented animal poltergeist incident the angry spirit of a gentle pig who never hurt anyone popped motherfucking hick Paula Deen right in the kisser. That’s what you get for calling dead flesh protein, you redneck weirdo. Now go deep-fry a mayo-covered cake or something, psycho.

No say on who did it but i know evil Smithfield Foods (Paula is hocking their hocks) will try to spin this like, “we were raising foods for poor kids, these AR activists are ruthless!” which we all know is a bunch of b-s but in the spirit of the holidays, donate to local food banks that serves healthy, veg food or Food Not Bombs.

(Thanks to Mark Shrayber for this gem!)

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