vegansaurus!

02/23/2012

Big news: Bon Appétit is ditching gestation crates, battery cages  »

Sweet rescued egg-laying hens at Animal Place. Can’t see the video? Watch it at Vegansaurus.com!

I’ve never heard of Bon Appétit, I thought it was a magazine. But apparently it’s a cafe college food chain thing? With 400 locations. I checked out the site—it looks pretty good. But! That’s not my point! The important news is that Bon Appétit is planning to phase out suppliers that use gestation crates for pigs and battery cages for hens. Instead they want to get meat from “higher-welfare group housing systems” and eggs from cage-free farms. They are also going to ditch foie gras and veal from confined sheep.

They are pretty serious about it; From their site:

Bon Appétit will continue to work with the most responsible meat and poultry producers to pursue Animal Welfare ApprovedFood AllianceHumane Farm Animal Care or Global Animal Partnership certification of their animal welfare practices. These four programs have standards that not only prohibit such cruel practices as gestation crates and battery cages, but also require animals to be allowed to engage in their natural behaviors.

So it’s not just adding a few inches to their cages.

Fedele Bauccio, a cofounder of Bon Appétit, seems like an interesting dude:

“I have never forgotten the terrible things I saw when touring factory farms,” said Fedele Bauccio, cofounder and CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company. From 2006 to 2008 Bauccio served on the prestigious Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, which issued a landmark report calling for an end to gestation crate, battery cage, and veal crate confinement of farm animals.

“We’ve been asking the industry to do the right thing, but we can’t wait anymore,” Bauccio said. “We have to send the message that these practices are unacceptable. If the supply doesn’t catch up by our deadline, we’ll do what we have to — even if that means cutting back on bacon.”

Cutting back on bacon?! That’s un-American!

The Humane Society is on board with kudos from Wayne Pacelle himself. I know we will get some people who will call this “happy meat” and dismiss these changes; Of course ultimately, I want all the animals to be free, but in the meantime, this is going to mean a lot to that chicken who would otherwise be crushed to death on the bottom of a battery cage.

12/05/2011

The Ultimate Vegan Gift Guide!  »

Last week I told you what to buy the omnis in your life, today we shift our focus to what to buy vegans! If you want to make gifts at home, this is not the post for you; but if you want to buy kick-ass vegan gifts for the vegans in your life, you’ve come to the right place! And most of them are gifts that give back in their own way so you can feel good about giving and your vegan can feel good about getting. Wait, did I really say kick-ass? It’s how I felt! That’s how excited I get about buying presents. It’s my favorite thing to do! And here are my top gift picks for vegans:

The Little Vegan Gingerbread House kit from The Cupcake Mint on Etsy

I totally encourage you to make your own vegan gingerbread house but it is kind of a hassle. And really, besides eating the cookie dough, decorating is the best part. So what if the pieces were already made and ready for you to decorate?! And someone sent you vegan candies and frosting to decorate with?! Why, that’d be the best! You aren’t just giving someone yummy vegan food, you’re giving them the gift of wholesome, old-fashion fun! And it always feels good to patronize team VeganEtsy.

This is a great gift for kids, families, holiday-enthusiasts, craft-lovers, or people who love pomp and circumstance but just don’t have a ton of time.

Ritual laptop bag by Matt and Nat for Apple

You can’t really have a vegan gift guide without at least one Matt and Nat product. But Matt and Nat for Apple? Be still my heart! The only snag is this bag only fits the 13 inch Macbook. I don’t have the bitty 13 incher! But if you know someone who does, this is the greatest present. The faux suede lining is made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles and all their packaging is made from recycled materials. They also say they occasionally donate bags to women’s shelters and donate vegetarian meals to homeless people. That’s nice.

The Captain belt from the Vegan Collection

Belts are one of the few accessories dudes get to wear, so they should take them very seriously. Some of them do—and this goes doubly for vegan boys. It is difficult to find the perfect vegan belt! But friends, I may have found it. Not only is the Captain cruelty-free, the Vegan Collection takes great pains to ethically source their products. They visit the factories where the belts are made to make sure they’re on the up and up. They also seek to keep their products as eco-friendly as they can. Kudos! It comes in black as well but I’m partial to brown.

The Friends Series Favorite Sweatshirt by Vaute Couture

There’s not really a better present in the world than a Vaute Couture coat, but unfortunately, buying a coat for someone else is pretty difficult. What’s not difficult is buying super-cute over-sized sweatshirts! I have this sweatshirt and it rules (Meave and Laura actually got it for me because they are the best and they know how to keep me happy!). It’s like Animal Farm meets Flashdance. It’s also just about the softest thing in the world. And it’s printed on an “Alternative Earth sweatshop free sweatshirt made of eco-heather fleece (recycled polyester & organic cotton) with water based ink in the US.” Sounds good to me!

Black Upcycled Wallet by Holstee for PETA

Everybody needs a wallet. But a wallet is hard to pick and a hassle to find! So if you know someone whose current wallet is on its last leg, a new wallet is a good gift. You took all the work out of it for them and they can just transfer their cards and move on down the road!

This wallet is extra cool because it’s, “handmade primarily of newspapers and plastic bags collected off the streets of Delhi, India. The production of this wallet helps reduce waste in Delhi, provides fair-wage employment, and subsidizes health-care and education for each employee’s family.” That’s what I like to hear! Plus, I like the way it looks. That’s always nice.

Oh and keep in mind: PETA is polarizing within the vegan community so make sure your giftee is a fan before you pick up this wallet.

Presto Pressure Cooker

This is our Rachel’s bid for the perfect present for your vegan: a pressure cooker! I don’t really understand them or know what they are but Rachel says they RULE. We don’t know which brand is best but she thinks you’ll be fine with one of these Presto numbers. Rachel says these things make cooking beans a snap! I just use canned beans. I guess that’s bad for the environment? I mean I do recycle the cans. But there’s less waist if you get them in bulk and cook them yourself.

So if you know a big vegan cook and they are without one of these babies, go ahead and change their culinary world!

Vegan Butterfinger from Cocoa V

We all know vegans love to eat and they especially love sweets. And the harder the vegan alternative is to find, the more they are obsessed with it! So procuring some excellent vegan chocolate is always a good gift. When it comes to chocolate, there is one place that holds my heart: Cocoa V in Manhattan. Owned by the co-founder of Blossom, Cocoa V is a chocolate and wine bar—my two favorite things! But to your good fortune, you can order from them online! What to order? Well, anything. They have all sorts of exciting goodies like Earl Grey caramels and chocolate edamame clusters, but I HIGHLY recommend the vegan Butterfinger. It’s out of control delicious. And while getting your pals vegan chocolate is nice, getting it from Cocoa V makes it a bit more special. In addition, Cocoa V chocolate is organic and fair-trade. Holler!

Hannukah Treats from Sweet and Sara

I know, it’s a terrible picture, but you get the idea. Do you have a lovely Jewish vegan in your life? This is the perfect gift! Chocolate dipped marshmallows in Hannukah shapes (I don’t know if that’s how you spell Hannukah but that’s how they spell it so I’m keeping it consistent). And you’ll be happy to know that Sweet and Sara is on the “chocolate we feel comfortable recommending” list over at the Food Empowerment Project. A happy Hannukuh indeed!

Kitty’s Organic Garden set

This is a nice gift for a cat-owner or if you are looking for a present for your little kitty. Actually, lots of dogs like grass too. It aids in digestion! And pet grass is great if someone is having problems with their cat eating houseplants. They have the natural instinct to eat plants and maybe they will stay away from houseplants (that could be poisonous!) if you give them nice grass to chew on. My cat LOVES this stuff. And it’s so cute to watch them eat it because they cock their little heads and do that funny squinty chew. Hilar.

It’s always nice to get a pet-lover a present for their pets because it lets them know that you care about what matters to them. And this 100 percent organic kitty grass is good for the kitty’s health so that is an extra little bit of consideration! Plus, if you buy the kitty garden through the link above, proceeds go to the Humane Society. Good for you!

Paragon Hedgehog Dental Dog Chew

This is a nice present for the vegan dog or the vegan dog-owner. I got these for my dog and he loves them. I don’t even know if he likes the way they taste actually; mostly he just carries it around the house with him and then chews it down very slowly. But he sure loves to carry them around! It’s very cute. He’s very proud.

I have to warn you, there’s a small chance that these aren’t vegan. I’m positive they’re vegetarian but nothing is telling me they’re vegan. BUT there’s a British version that appears to be the same company that I KNOW is vegan. I think they are the same but if you don’t want to risk it, you can order from Veggie Pets in the U.K. Shipping will be more expensive but peace of mind isn’t cheap! And veggie chews are hard to find. That’s exactly what makes this a nice gift, there are almost no vegan dog chews and not many people are aware of this brand. And chewing is good for dogs! It relieves stress! So your vegan dog-owner will be pleased you searched the world for the perfect chew for their sweet pup.

Superhero Vegan kids’ shirt

Know a tiny vegan? Turn them into a superhero with this 100 percent organic cotton, fair-trade shirt from the super-ethical Autonomie Project! And this shirt is extra special because it raises funds for Farm Sanctuary.

This is nice because it makes a celebration out of being vegan. Superheroes are special and so are vegan kids! So vegan kids are essentially superheroes! Don’t check my math. But you know what I mean, it is special to be a vegan kid but it can be good special or bad special—try to make it good special!

Lollihop vegan box gift subscription

This is a no-brainer. Vegans love food and surprises are the best—so surprise snacks every month are great! And remember, if you are one of the first 50 to use the “VEGANSAURUS20” coupon code when you purchase a gift subscription (note: it only works for the gift subscriptions!), you will get 20 percent off your purchase!

This present works for the new vegan, the bored vegan, the acquaintance vegan, the bff vegan—pretty much all vegans. And maybe they will share with you! Surprise vegan snacks for all.

Limited Edition Fair Isle Tiny Tim Pullover from John Bartlett

I wrote about John Bartlett and Tiny Tim previously, and I still love them. And this limited edition Fair Isle sweatshirt is dope! Good for the boy or girl in your life or any pal who likes tripods or rescue dogs. These eco-friendly shirts aren’t just adorable, they raise money for animals saved from high-risk shelters.

I especially like this for dudes because dudes are super cute in sweet animal stuff. It’s like ironic but not at all. If I saw a dude in this sweatshirt? Wham bam! I’d be all over that. And then he could tell me all about the Tiny Tim Fund and I’d be like, “OMG let’s get married as soon as I believe in marriage!”

Hotties with pit bulls calendars from Chako pit bull rescue and Pinups for Pit Bulls

This makes a useful, fun, inexpensive gift that also happens to be adorbs. What’s better than good-looking people with cute dogs? Not much. Chako has got you covered for the hunk-loving pit bull fan and Pinups for Pit Bulls has the ladies. 

A calendar can be kind of not awesome as a present but it is awesome when it’s something cool and benefits a good cause like saving pit bulls. Calendars are corny gifts when you’re just getting someone ANY calendar just to have something to give them. But these are more like collector’s items! And if you know a pit bull-lover, they will like this. And they will like it all the more when you tell them it helps pit bulls too.

Another thing to note is that this is kind of the only time of year you can buy someone a calendar. So you might want to take advantage of that.

Bob Linden Bi-Monthly Vegan Organic Wine Club Membership from the Organic Wine Company

I have to confess to you that I love “of the month” clubs. I always did. I just love surprises! And it’s like instead of one gift, you get one every [other] month! So do you have a vegan in your life who’s less of a foodie and more of a wino? How about a vegan wine of the [every other] month club! Every other month (for as long as you have the membership), the Organic Wine Company will send your giftee three organic vegan wines. They can get good and sloshed, organic style!

I don’t know why it’s the Bob Linden wine club but that seems like a good sign. I looked into the fair-trade options and boy, that’s a bag of confusion! It seems that the U.S. isn’t very fair-trade wine savvy. I resorted to looking up the individual wines on the Organic Wine Company’s site but of course there’s no comprehensive fair-trade wine list because they get certifications in different countries, etc. etc. etc. BUT of the ones I looked up and was able to find info on, a lot were fair-trade. For many of them, I couldn’t find any info. However, like I said, several on the Organic Wine Company’s vegan list are certified fair-trade by one source or another. But if you don’t want to risk it! I found this online store from the U.K. that lets you order mixed cases (yee-ha!) of vegan, organic, fair-trade wines. Remember though, those prices are in GBPs. Baller.

Giant Tofu Pirate Pillow from Pandawithcookie on Etsy

Another gift from team VeganEtsy! I just fell in love with this silly pillow as soon as I saw it. It comes in small too but go big or go home, right? So if you know a tofu-enthusiast (or a pirate-enthusiast I guess) this is a super cute present. It could be a good gift for a kid, too. It’s fun, sweet, and comfy. And you can feel good knowing you are supporting a vegan business!

Grocery Pannier from North St. Bags

Vegans are some biking motherlovers. Not all of them but I think the percentage of vegan bikers runs higher than your average demographic. They are also a farmers market-loving people, no? Then this vegan grocery pannier is the perfect vegan accessory! And this handsome bag is made from salvaged banner vinyl so it’s very environmentally friendly. Plus, North St. Bags is a member of Trillium Artisans, “an innovative, green, nonprofit community economic development program that empowers artisans and actively connects them to markets.” Holler!

This concludes the Ultimate Vegan Gift Guide! I hope I gave you some good present ideas. Like I said last week, gift-giving should be a pleasure, not a chore! So go forth and make your loved ones happy in the way only materialism can!

06/09/2011

Megans of the world: unite to save Megan the chimp!  »

Are you a Megan or do you have a Megan in your life? Come forth and be counted! There is a Megan in danger and we must do something about it! There is a poor 22-year-old chimp named Megan stuck in a horrible lab at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center:

[Video is not scary, just sad. Can’t see it? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com]

If you want to see what else goes on at the NIRC, there’s some effed-up footage from a Humane Society undercover investigation. Bonus: Not only did the undercover investigator find tons of animal welfare violations—i.e., they are breaking laws—this lab is also getting millions of dollars from the government to do this! 

More about Megan from the Humane Society:

Seeking Justice for Chimpanzees
On Mar. 15, 2011, in an effort to bring New Iberia to justice and have any infants bred illegally sent to sanctuary, we filed legal petitions with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.

Megan is just one of the government-owned chimpanzees at New Iberia who gave birth to several babies despite a contractual agreement that the laboratory won’t breed government-owned or supported chimpanzees. If successful, our petitions could help to free Megan and her babies from the confinements of the lab. But with your help, Megan, along with her group of eight companions could all be saved sooner.

Please help retire Megan and the other chimpanzees in her group to sanctuary.

Megan was in this annoying program to test her intelligence but that program is now cancelled, so they are trying to decide if they should retire Megan (YES) and her pals to a sanctuary, or send them off to be in even worse, medically invasive experiments (NO)! That’s the thanks she gets after they use her up? Heartless.

Megans and those who have ever loved a Megan, I call upon you! “Like” my Megans United to Save Megan the Lab Chimp Facebook page to show your solidarity and—at the very least!—fill out this form to send a message to University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s president, Dr. E. Joseph Savoie, and the Director of the National Center for Research Resources, Dr. Barbara Alving. Megan and her co-prisoners are called “Group Megan,” so tell them you want to FREE GROUP MEGAN!

You can also donate here to help all the lab chimps in this screwed-up country. And please, tell everyone about Group Megan and Megans United to Save Megan the Lab Chimp! And guys, let’s plan some big things! I want to see Group Megan’s retirement party on the Today Show! We have a Facebook page; what should we do now?!

04/13/2011

Wayne Pacelle sounds smart on KQED’s Forum!  »

Wayne Pacelle, our favorite greasy-haired smooth talker (sorry, Gavin!), president of the Humane Society of the United States, and hero to animals and those who love them (quite a title!), is in town promoting his new book The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them 

You can meet him Friday, Apr. 15, at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, or on Saturday, Apr. 16, at Reader’s Books in Sonoma. On Facebook, you can also RSVP and check out other places around the country where he’ll be speaking!

Also, he was on KQED’s Forum this morning, talking with that weirdo Michael Crasney about how awesome animals are. It’s definitely worth listening to as he sounds very smart, and regulates idiots who ask stupid questions.

Sometimes that idiot is Crasney, and for that Pacelle gets extra points. He’s also good at speaking to an audience who might not already know about certain animal and food issues, without being a condescending prick or a preachy mansplainer. I’d totally have a crush on him if it weren’t for that g-d hair

09/14/2010

Farmers markets, consumer warnings and political scandal in your egg-recall update!  »

The Humane Society wants us to know that eggs from the farmers market can come from hens treated just as terribly as hens that supply eggs for supermarkets. Many of you are probably like, “duh,” but before I became vegan, I was unaware of this sort of thing. I even assumed “organic” automatically meant humane! But it’s just not so.  Side note: that was actually why I initially became vegan, because if you don’t go directly to the farm, you just don’t know how the animals are treated. But I can’t be running around on farms everyday just so I can eat omelets! I’ve got work to do and dance moves to perfect!

Last week, the Humane Society sent letters to California’s farmers markets asking them to forbid the sale of eggs from caged hens: “To increase food safety, improve animal welfare, and to meet the expectations of their consumers, we hope California’s farmers markets will stop allowing their well-earned ‘halo effect’ to extend to companies and products that don’t deserve it.” LGBT Compassion regularly protests the live-chicken vendors at Heart of the City Farmers Market—did you know that these hens aren’t protected by California’s poultry slaughter laws?

Of course cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean the hen can go outside or anything silly like that, but they generally* do have enough room to spread their wings and actually move in general. And as the Humane Society points out, “cage-free” also means safer, according to the last 10 studies on the subject.

In other egg-recall news, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says consumer notification systems in food-recalls are plain janky. She says it’s imperative for their health that people get up-to-date information and they should be notified within 24 hours of any recall. I’m going to have to cosign this movement as I was talking to friends just last weekend who had heard jackshit about the egg recall. Dang it! I love most of my friends! I don’t want them to die from Salmonella!

Does anyone else remember the E. coli outbreak in spinach in 2006? When I went to Whole Foods around then, every single bag of spinach had an E. coli warning—have they done that with the eggs? I don’t know, I don’t buy eggs, but I doubt it. And you know why? Politics!

That’s right, in the world of food safety, corruption abounds. A survey released yesterday by the Union of Concerned Scientists showed that almost half of the scientists and inspectors at the federal agencies in charge of food safety say big business and congress has interfered in their work. This was a problem under the Bush administration and apparently there’s been little improvement under Obama. From the LA Times:

"What we found is that action is needed to curtail interference in science, both political and that driven by the private sector," said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "We have two very different agencies giving very identical responses, and this suggests the need for broad reform."

Inspectors responding to the survey reported pressure from their own agencies to make problems disappear and to help offending companies remain open even when there are clear violations. So basically, we’re screwed! Business over safety, that’s the American way.

Speaking of business and corruption, Grist had a good piece yesterday about the crazy egg empire of Jack DeCoster. DeCoster owns Wright County Egg, one of the egg factories subject to the recall, and according to Grist writer Tom Philpott, he’s “one of the most reviled figures in industrial agriculture.” DeCoster views violating food safety laws as no big deal, and paying fines as another part of doing business. OMG this guy rules! Wright County Egg is only the ninth-largest egg producer in the U.S. BUT! DeCoster may very well be numero uno of the egg market! BUT! It’s very confusing! Philpott tries to get to the bottom of it:

[There are] four large egg producers—DeCoster Family Farms (Wright County Egg), Hillandale Farms, Ohio Fresh Eggs, and Quality Eggs of Maine—which [are] controlled by or have extremely intimate links with Jack DeCoster. The Cal-Maine list of the largest U.S. egg producers puts the hen flocks of DeCoster Family Farms, Hillandale, and Ohio Fresh at 9 million, 14 million, and 7.6 million, respectively. It doesn’t list Quality Egg of Maine, but the Boston Globe says it keeps 5 million hens…. [T]hat amounts 35.6 million hens under management by companies owned by or tightly linked with DeCoster—more than 10 percent of the nation’s total flock (340 million).

Philpott is not done yet but I’ll keep you updated. God bless his tireless soul!

I know our vegan readers don’t buy eggs, but many of our friends and loved ones do. One thing we can do is get them hip to the farmers market jive and tell them to always ask egg vendors if the hens are cage-free, and to ask farmers market organizers if they allow eggs from caged hens. I find that even when omnivores don’t care how animals are treated, many of them are über-scared of food-borne illnesses so the increased danger caused by small cages is a good thing to make them aware of. Everybody now: BABY STEPS!

*This is an update. Cage-free doesn’t necessarily mean they can spread their wings or anything superfluous like that. FYI.

[Top image from Animalvisuals.org; click to see full chart. Bottom from Grist]

02/24/2010

It’s Vegansaurus Video, y’all! Here is the first installment, STARRING ME, and a bunch of nobodies. Screw ‘em.

I kid. There’s Robin! And Liz from VegNews! And Jen from Sugar Beat Sweets! And Karin from The Humane Society! And Christine and Doris the Chicken from Harvest Home Sanctuary! And Jerrard and William from Cycles of Change APC!

Vegansaurus video was produced, directed, edited, and pretty much everything else-d by genius Will Scovill. His beautiful wife Jen Oaks did the super-sweet titles. They are an adorable powerhouse couple of awesomeness, hire them to do everything!

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