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04/30/2013

Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use!  »

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

Another big week: Ellen DeGeneres had Wayne Pacelle on her show to talk about the ag-gag fight, while we waged a full court press urging Tennessee’s governor to veto the ag-gag bill now on his desk that would essentially ban whistleblowing exposés of animal cruelty. You can see the new TV ad HSUS is running, along with significant other efforts we’re putting into the state, leading to coverage noting that “never has Gov. Bill Haslam received so much communication on a single issue.”

Nearly every major newspaper in Tennessee is urging Gov. Haslam to veto the bill. The Tennessean decried it as “despicable and unconstitutional.” The Daily News Journal called the bill “ridiculous, immature and idiotic.” The News-Sentinel also put it bluntly, ridiculing the legislation as a “mendacious and despicable measure.”

The ACLU is now getting more involved in the ag-gag battle, including in Tennessee. Meanwhile, in Indiana, the state’s ag-gag bill advanced further in the legislative process, leading the Indianapolis Star to editorialize against the bill, calling it “extremely misguided.”

Here’s a new interview of mine on the ag-gag issue and other farm animal protection topics.

Finally, legislation to ban barren battery cages for laying hens and require battery cage egg cartons to be labeled as “eggs from caged hens” wasre-introduced in the Congress this week, enjoying support from a wide array of animal protection groups and the egg industry’s trade association, though still opposed by nearly every national meat and dairy trade group.

P.S. Video of the week: And the lion shall lay down with the lamb …

P.P.S. New resources of the week: A new HSUS Earth Day-themed Meatless Monday infographic, and a new site by some friends of mine you may be interested in checking out!

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.

02/15/2012

Paul Shapiro presents: Animal News You Can Use!  »


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

I’m honored to be on CNN Headline News this weekend with the great Jane Velez-Mitchell discussing progress for pigs and HSUS’s latest undercover investigations into gestation crate factory farms. Check it out.

In a new piece about HSUS, the editor of Pork Magazine calls us “well organized, well funded and relentless.” Always nice to be able to agree on something

NPR did a nice piece on Morning Edition this past Friday about the federal effort to ban barren battery cages and require “eggs from caged hens” labeling on egg cartons. While we’re on the topic of NPR, Marketplace had a great piece by the awesome Mark Bittman about why Americans are eating fewer animals.

Want to read a new interview with Wayne Pacelle about his campus dining hall advocacy when he was in college? Your wish = my command.

But wait, there’s more!

Compassion Over Killing this morning released a new undercover investigation at a gestation crate factory farm in Iowa, a state where big ag interests are currently trying to ban such exposés with an “ag-gag” bill. Check it out and share.

The media coverage on our announcement that McDonald’s is moving to end gestation crate confinement in its US supply chain was significant. There’s too much to include here, but just a few selected excerpts:

CNN Money: “McDonald’s said it will get its pork suppliers to phase out the use of immobilizing cages for pregnant pigs, a move that was applauded by the Humane Society of the United States, but not the pork industry.”

MSNBC: “Earthquake in the pig business: McDonald’s to end use of restraining crates”

NY Times: “The buying power of McDonald’s adds a significant new dimension to the war on the practice.”

Chicago Sun-Times editorial board: “Now let’s ban those torture pens for pigs in Illinois.”

NY Times blog: “In the world of big-time meat supply, there are two kinds of producers: those who sell to McDonald’s and those wish they could.”

Chicago Tribune: “By setting the process in motion, McDonald’s could be providing the tipping point to change in the $97 billion pork industry.”

Lincoln Journal Star: “In calling for phasing out gestation crates for pregnant hogs, the world’s largest restaurant chain will put much more pressure on pork producers than any state ever could.”

Video of the week: I’ve been shocked by how many people actually cared to watch my winning contribution to a Super Bowl party food contest, but here you go:

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

01/24/2012

Animal News You Can Use: a Paul Shapiro production!  »


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

Like good news? Here you go: Americans are eating 12 percent less meat than we were just five years ago. For real. Interesting takes by Mark Bittman and Forbes on the issue.

Not so good news: Six states—Florida, New York, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and Nebraska—now have “ag-gag” bills pending in their legislatures; the bills seek to criminalize whistle-blowing at factory farms. See what Wayne Pacelle’s got to say on the topic.

In better news, did you see that Martha Stewart’s speaking out for farm animals? Check her out.

Back to bad news: In a sickening display of the foxes guarding the hen house, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture leaked confidential info about an upcoming cruelty raid on a Butterball turkey facility in advance. Weak.

And finally, some really good news: Video of the week: Rat and cat sharing. I’ve seriously watched this thing like five times now. It’s just amazing.

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

04/05/2011

The Humane Society of the United States: animal welfare group, or TERRORISTS?  »

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

Major lolz but also: Major WTF OMG!

The best part is that this ridiculous video was made by some group called Missouri Farmers Care, which looks suspiciously like A FRONT for big meat and dairy and the industries that support them, like corn and soy. Prime example: they’re funded by one Mr. Dale Ludwig,* the executive director/CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. Hmm, I wonder who has money to lose if animal agriculture slows down in Missouri? Could it be the asshole who is providing all the GMO soy feed?? And get this, “Before coming to the soybean office, Mr. Ludwig worked in the agribusiness marketing and communications industry with Monsanto and Cargill.” Man, this guy is THE WORST. I LOVE that Missouri Farmers Care is ostensibly about protecting and nurturing farmers when this fucker could give two shits about them. He worked for Monsanto! You know, those seed patenting psychos who go after the small-scale, indie farmer on the regular. Oh, and I like how the Twitter feed for Missouri Farmers Care is just a mouthpiece for big beef and dairy. Way to represent the real farmers, you d-bags.

I’m thinking this looks like something that the Vegan Omnivore Alliance should go after, right? Yo, Tom Philpott! What up, homeboy?

In conclusion, if you want to support the Humane Society of the United States because they’re rad and you’re not a psycho, you can buy The Bond, the brand-new book by HSUS President Wayne Pacelle. It’s all about the human-animal bond and all that magical shit. You’ll love it.

*This link wasn’t working on Firefox earlier (Firefox, you’re killing me, bro) so here’s a cached version.

Much additional reporting and many foul words added by Laura!

02/21/2011

How’s President Obama doing so far with animals?  »

Happy Presidents Day, y’all! There are some presidents we love: Lincoln, FDR, and Taft*. There are some presidents we strongly dislike: Buchanan, Andrew Jackson (ugh he sucked so bad in so many ways, including that whole gross-ass cheese thing), Dubya, and the very attractive scoundrel Warren G. Harding. Actually, I’d really like to get into presidential politics in regards to animal welfare and learn about more than just their pets, but I think that’s another post. If you have any thoughts/information on past presidents and animals, please leave them in the comments, or email me. If you know a shit-ton (technical term), perhaps you’d like to write a guest post? We love presidential history! It is the most fun! Except when it’s awful and bloody and racist and sexist and THE WORST.

RELATED: The Humane Society of the United States released a report card for President Obama in regards to his action on animal issues. Want to see his grade? Yeah, you do!


*Based almost entirely on awesomeness of his fat and his pet cow, Pauline Wayne. Not vegan, I know, but he had a pet cow! And he shipped her back to Wisconsin with him because he believed she would “bring dignity to his herd.” I mean, COME ON.

[Pauline pic via Pictzz]

12/17/2010

Mike Vick wants a dog. For serious.  »

This is my dog Figaro, in his Eagles jersey. It was the first piece of clothing I ever bought him. When I adopted him in Philly, he weighed a measly ten pounds—he should be twenty-five or so. Everyone was staring at his skelator body and making comments so I got him the Eagles jersey, 1. to cover up his ribs, 2. to ingratiate him with the sports-obsessed city of Philadelphia. I put the shirt over his bony ribs, took him to our favorite dive and a star was born! He was a hit. Everybody welcomed a new Eagles fan into the world.

Figgy has not worn his Eagles Jersey since Micheal Vick became a member of the team. We were not pleased, to say the least! How could my beloved Eagles throw morality to the wind and hire this dog-murderer? BECAUSE PEOPLE CARE MORE ABOUT SPORTS THAN ANIMAL CRUELTY. This isn’t that big of a surprise to me but it’s still disappointing. I guess you just hope people will pull through for you when they are faced with an issue like this but Vick scores touchdowns and that’s the bottom line for many.

I’ve written about Vick on vegansaurus before but the issue seemed to have died down recently. When I was in Philly for Thanksgiving, I saw that Vick is more popular than ever. Guess we’re over this whole dog torture thing! Now we can get back to football. Hu-freaking-za. But just when you think we’re done with it, Vick announces to TheGrio.com that he wants to own a dog again! (there’s a lame commercial at the beginning, sorry!):

Yeah, he really said it. And now we have to reevaluate the situation. Has Vick redeemed himself at all? Of course he can’t get a dog yet anyway, the judge ruled he can’t have a dog for at least three years. But if he could, is that really a good idea?

Since his release, Vick has been working with The Humane Society to educate kids about dog-fighting. The Humane Society’s president Wayne Pacelle, who has worked with Vick, had this to say, from CNN.com: “He’s been going through counseling, he’s been speaking to kids twice a month, and he needs to interact with animals,” said Pacelle. “If he continues to hit these markers, then if his daughter wants a dog two or three years down the line,… I’m saying that we should be open to that possibility.”

PETA also weighed in on the issue; from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Just as convicted pedophiles aren’t allowed free access to children, anyone who is responsible for hanging, electrocuting, or shooting dogs and who causes them to suffer in other unimaginable ways should never again be allowed access to dogs,” Lisa Lange, vice president of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “All things considered, it is a very small price to pay, especially compared to the suffering endured by the dogs who were abused and killed in the Bad Newz Kennels.”

Yeah, I’m not really sold on this pedophile-comparison. The “small price to pay” comment is definitely on point though. But what about redemption? Has Vick made up for some of the damage he did? When asked about the HSUS work with Vick, Pacelle makes good points. From CNN.com:

"What he did is terrible, there’s no question about that," Pacelle said. "But this is an issue of protecting animals in the future. And endlessly flogging Michael Vick is not going to save one animal. But putting him to work in communities to save animals and educate people about the problem of dogfighting — especially with at-risk kids — is the way to help the problem."

What Vick is doing with the HSUS does seem like the right thing to do. He can’t make up for what he did but what he’s doing now could go a long way to preventing dog-fighting in the future. Just telling kids it’s “wrong” is a positive step for the movement. Though I don’t think it’s an excuse, when Vick says no one ever told him dog-fighting was wrong, I believe him. You can’t underestimate the influence one’s childhood has on them. But still, as an adult, you have to know electrocuting an animal is not OK, right?

Ultimately, if you want my opinion (and I know you do!), should Vick be allowed to get a dog? HELL NO. Why does he even have to ask? It’s annoying. It’s like, you’re doing good with your community service, don’t rock the damn boat. I love dogs and if I was touring around the country talking about how great dogs are, I’d probably want one too, but big deal! You know why you can’t have a dog, suck it up. And sorry you look like a jerk to your daughter but guess what: you are a jerk! And that is one of the consequences. I do think it’d be great for him to volunteer with shelter animals and donate every last cent he has to help abused dogs. Maybe if he did that and maybe if his reason for wanting a dog was, I don’t know, because he wants to help a dog, then maybe I would feel differently. But he wants to play hero for his daughter and show people he’s changed—those are not good enough reasons to let him get a dog. If he ever mentions anything about ending suffering or changing a dog’s life, then we’ll talk.

12/29/2009

I Love the Noughties: A Vegan Decade in Review  »

If you had to pick a single word for vegan in the ’00s, it would be “mainstream,” as we watched veganism get wrestled away from the Birkenstocks-and-hemp set. Celebrity vegans and vegan fashion changed the public face of a movement that had been left for dead, and the food came along for the ride, with cupcakes and melty cheese pizza replacing granola. We even went political, passed some laws, lost some rights, and ran for president. Our fad diets beat their fad diets, and now here we are, 10 years later. Older? Wiser? Better dressed and topped with frosting? Let’s see how it all went down.

2000: Alicia Silverstone goes vegan and ushers in the Celebrity Vegan Decade. Yes, there were vegans before 2000, like Ian Mackaye, but it was still a fringe thing, for college activists and crusty old punks. In the ’00s, going vegan equals getting press, with celebrities coming out of the pantry left and right. It was the decade that gave us PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Alive award, and high profile announcements from Natalie Portman, Ellen Degeneres, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kristin Bell, and other stars like supermodel Petra Němcová and MMA cage fighter Mac Danzig. Love or hate celebrity culture, it’s here to stay, and now it’s going vegan.

2001: Stella McCartney leaves Chloe to start her own designer label, starting the first high fashion vegan shoe line. While most of what she does is out of the price range of mere mortals, in a very real way, this was a good thing for the perception of vegan fashion. “But if I went vegan, I would have to shop at Payless” would no longer be an excuse, and the false dilemma between ethics and looking good was finally gone.

2002: Atkins Diet goes mainstream and gets cred. Dr. Atkins’ book had been out since 1972, but it wasn’t until the early ’00s that people gave it a real try. In 2002, a Duke University study appeared to confirm the worst fears of vegans, that Atkins dieters lost weight and lowered their cholesterol. Of course we all know what happened in the end. Like any fad diet, the guru died and the company went bankrupt, leading to its fiery demise. Why was the Atkins diet such a big deal for vegans? It was the first fad diet to attack the “eating less meat is healthy” argument at the jugular. In the end, we were still right, but not without spending a few years in the low carb wilderness. Dark times.

2003: Dennis Kucinich announces that he will run as the first vegan for president of the U.S. of A., then wins the election with 76 percent of the vote, dissolves the Senate, and ends factory farming by executive decree. Okay I made up like half of that. But admit it, you decided to vote for this guy, sight unseen, the second you heard he was vegan, and his flappy ears or anti-abortion stance didn’t scare you away. Hell, I did. He also helped heal the left after the Green Party split in 2000 that gave us George W. Bush, by giving all of us lefties some hope that the Democratic party doesn’t have to completely suck. After all, any political party with a high-profile vegan politician couldn’t be that bad, could it? Okay don’t answer that. Anyway, give it up for the D-Kuch for making vegan history! Dennis, I present you with this gold plated dino-statue as Vegansaurus’s highest honor. As soon as I have a sec to ‘shop that up.

2004Wayne Pacelle becomes the first vegan president of the Humane Society of the United States, making that one for two in the “first” and “vegan president” category. For the first time, a vegan is president of the largest animal protection group in the world. He completely broadened/shifted its focus on to farm animals. It makes sense because the vast majority of animals suffering in this world are the ones we eat.

2005: Vegan cheese that melts hits the stores, with the first known appearance of Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet. “It melts!” the label proudly trumpeted, reminding us of past disappointments, fraught with casein and other milk-based substances that were needlessly present in the so-called cheese replacements of the day. True vegan pizza was finally possible, and so was GRILLED CHEESE (and the great pre-Vegansaurus Mac and Cheese Bake-Off). And with that, we kicked off a revolution in the greatest vegan technology advancement of all. Teese, Dr. Cow, Follow Your Heart, Daiya—before the ’00s, such things were only found at the Whole Foods on Fantasy Island.

2006: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World takes over the world. Seriously, where would we be without this book? It combined every element of vegan baking into a single handbook, a canonical scripture to be read aloud during holy days of rest. Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World appeared at exactly the right time, just as the global cupcake phenomenon was reaching a fever pitch, and convinced a skeptical omnivorous world that vegan baking is not only passable, but preferable.

2006: The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act passes, expanding the War on Terror to tofu. Last I checked, violence was already illegal, and politically motivated violence was already doubleplus illegal, but apparently we needed a special law to target animal rights activists. I’ll be the first to admit that our cause, just like every other cause, has its extremists that could use a chill pill. However, the new law did nothing to provide exemptions for whistle-blowing and other undercover investigations, and codified the right of animal enterprises to uninterrupted profits at the expense of free speech. The ACLU, unfortunately, allowed this abomination to pass. Thanks, jerks!

2007Spotted: Victoria Beckham carrying a copy of Skinny Bitch while shopping in Los Angeles. Skinny Bitch had been out since 2005, but it took Posh Spice to get it on the bestseller lists. While the idea of going vegan to lose weight is hardly new, this was the first successful attempt to bring animal rights philosophy and PCRM’s nutritional science to the diet frenzy mainstream, by weaving our beliefs in with the ideals of Americans who desire “skinny” over “healthy” (these ladies are NOT actual nutritionists, you guys). Those of us on the vegan-lifer side of the fence know that being vegan is anything but a fad diet (and come on, we have pizza and cupcakes now, we’re enjoying life as much as anyone else) but as a subversive social experiment, Skinny Bitch was the first of its kind.

2008: Oprah goes vegan for 21 days. You don’t mess with the Oprahnator. Oprah speaks, everyone listens, and in 2008, she spoke about going vegan. “How can you say you’re trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?” she wrote at the time. Which is a nice thought, but do we stop thinking about what happens to the animals after 21 days? I didn’t really get it. Anyway, Oprah has a way of sprinkling her magic credibility fairy dust on everything she touts, which means “You’re what?” is no longer the Jeopardy answer to “I’m vegan.”

2008: Proposition 2 wins in California! Although not the first animal protection law to win by popular referendum (voters in Florida and Arizona passed laws of their own in 2004 and 2006) we won a truly epic battle that will protect calves, hens, and pigs from horrible confinement. Prop. 2 won with 63 percent of the vote in the U.S.’s most populous state, and as they say, as California goes, so goes the nation. Put that in your gestation crate and smoke it.

2009: Martha Stewart has a vegetarian Thanksgiving, Obama adopts a breeder dog instead of a shelter dog, and Jonathan Safran Foer proposes that we all eat our pets or give up meat. It was a freaky-ass year.

Erika, Maria, Laura, Megan Rascal, and Meave also contributed to this post. We are fam-i-ly! I got all my sisters with me! OK I’ll stop now.

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