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Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.

Albert Schweitzer, French philosopher, physician, and musician (Nobel 1952)

Is a landmark vegan crowdfund the sign we’ve all been waiting for?

December 28, 2020
by
Source Vegan for the Planet , @_AnimalAdvocate

Source Surge , Global Vegan Crowd Funder (GVCF)


New site launching soon: Global Vegan Crowd Funder: Crowd Funding Ethical and Ecological Change


A bunch of “crazy” vegans got together and decided to do something amazing: convince the public to chip in and buy a plot of land once used for grazing dairy cows to turn it towards something plant-based. Is their crowdfunding victory a fluke, or is it a sign that the world is finally changing? Jackie Norman looks at other projects at the vanguard of alternative land use.

A landmark purchase is ‘just the beginning’ for an organisation whose mission is to acquire land currently used for animal agriculture, and give it back to nature and the sentient life that depends on it. The Vegan Land Movement made history in September when they successfully won an auction for 3.3 acres of dairy grazing land in the UK, purchased with donations to their funding platform, Global Vegan Crowd Funder.

From the outset, support for buying out the land was high, with donations flooding in on social media from those eager to be a part of something which collectively could make a big difference. The land, at Earlake Moor in Somerset went under the hammer for £16,000 and promises to become a fertile haven in an area surrounded by dairy farming. This huge milestone is a powerful indication of the public desire for change, resulting in another inspiring example of how many areas of farmland are being transformed around the world.


Growing oats with ease

With sales of plant-based alternatives increasing by 25% last year alone, more and more dairy farmers in Switzerland are recognising the extent of animal suffering and working on transforming their land into kinder, more sustainable enterprises where a variety of crops can be grown to benefit both animals and people. One such example is Urs Marti, whose family milked cows for generations. Today, Urs and wife Leandra Brusa are responsible for producing some of the country’s first organic oat milk and also grow polenta corn and lentils:

“We no longer wanted to be part of this eternal cycle in which the cow is inseminated, the calf is taken away, the cow is milked, the calf is fattened and slaughtered – and then everything starts all over again. The animals no longer have to do anything here, except grow old, fat and happy.”

In return, the cows aid the growing process by simply being themselves, helping to cultivate and fertilise the land.


A cow’s milk can only flow when calves are born. Therefore, dairy cows have to be inseminated and give birth all the time. The new-born calves are shredded into dog food or sold abroad. The screams of mothers for their children are bloodcurdling.


Hazelnuts and hiking

Fellow countrywoman Danique Kottelenberg has been instrumental in encouraging her parents, Gerard and Joke, to convert their dairy farm from animals to plants. A sixth-generation farmer, Danique has her eyes firmly set not on milking cows like the generations before her, but using the land to grow hazelnuts and almonds:

“Why are we buying hazelnuts from other countries when they can be grown well here?”

The family’s new sustainable farming plan also includes an edible native forest of almost four hectares, which will produce berries, fruit and nuts. They even plan to create hiking trails in the forest for overnight hikers and would-be foragers, demonstrating there is no shortage of options for those who want to truly make the most of their fertile and beautiful land.


From slaughterhouse to sanctuary

In Beat and Claudia Troxler’s eyes, there is no difference between farm animals and pets. ‘They are all equally valuable and individual’. Until recently, the Troxler farm was like any other ‘normal’ farm. Pigs were fattened and taken to the slaughterhouse every few months. Cows gave birth and their babies were taken and sold. No more, however. Today the farm is a ‘farm of life’, where the only milk in its future is oat milk and if space allows, the couple also hope to take in other animals rescued from the slaughterhouse. ‘Our cows are no longer inseminated and the calves are allowed to stay with their mothers and drink their milk. We have pigs, horses, alpacas. Everyone is happy and will be allowed to live here forever’.


Choosing kindness over cruelty

Shutting the gates permanently on his dairy farm may have been a gamble but for Pierre Zocher and his 110 cows it was worth it:

“A cow’s milk can only flow when calves are born. Therefore, dairy cows have to be inseminated and give birth all the time. The new-born calves are shredded into dog food or sold abroad. The screams of mothers for their children are bloodcurdling.”

Pierre wanted his animals to be treated with the respect and love they deserved, rather than as ‘goods’. There was one major obstacle however – how would he manage to maintain the costs of feed, water, electricity and other essentials for them and the land? Just like the Vegan Land Movement, Pierre discovered there is no shortage of people wanting to help make a difference and he was able to find sponsors for his entire herd, who support his project with EUR 50 per month. The ex-dairy farmer now operates organic agriculture and his cows have a safe home all together for life.


Keeping one step ahead of the plant protein demand

Sixth-generation cattle rancher Richard Traylor is living proof it’s never too late to change. He and his wife Cindy became vegan in 2018 after one of their cows, Honey, became injured and Cindy tried to find a sanctuary where she could live out her days, rather than being sent to slaughter. After reaching out to several sanctuaries with no luck, Cindy connected with fellow Texan Renee King-Sonnen, founder of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary. Not only did Renee find a home for Honey, she was also able to establish positive conversations with the couple about veganism. Today, instead of farming animals, Richard and Cindy are looking into growing all manner of different crops, including fava beans and peas, to keep one step ahead of the increasing demand for plant-based protein.


A lifeline for animals, and farmers

Fellow American Mike Weaver left behind 15 years of poultry farming after becoming disillusioned with welfare and practices and instead repurposed his chicken houses for growing hemp and extracting CBD oil. Both he and the Traylors have embraced the support and inspiration offered by animal welfare groups such as Mercy for Animals, Miyoko’s Creamery and the Rancher Advocacy Program, who are all committed to helping farmers transition away from livestock farming.

Swiss-based agricultural consultant Sarah Heiligtag has noticed a huge increase in farmers wanting to make the change, almost all of them dairy farmers:

“As many as five get in touch every week.  The decisive factor is usually animal suffering.”

There is also the climate aspect: cattle farming is responsible for a large part of the emissions in agriculture. To help combat some of these effects in the Netherlands, the government launched an initiative last month in which livestock farms with high nitrogen emissions can apply for financial support to give up animal husbandry.  Participation is voluntary and is part of the government’s goal to achieve a ‘healthy nitrogen level’ in at least half of its protected Natura 2000 areas by 2030. It plans to provide a total of 1.9 billion euros over the next 10 years to buy out companies who are willing to stop keeping livestock and instead use the land for nature conservation or other sustainable farming methods.

Dutch farmers already successfully implementing their own initiatives include brothers Bart and Tom Grobben, who began converting their dairy farm to soy and soy milk production in 2017:

“Our ancestors back then went with the times by producing cow’s milk.  We as the youngest generation are also now responding to the developments of this time. With our own Dutch soy, we can continue to build on the foundation that the generations have laid before us. Together with consumers and other Dutch farmers, we are building an entirely new galaxy.”


So, what’s next for Earlake Moor?

With the land now safely tucked under their belt, the Vegan Land Movement say they are in no immediate hurry to redevelop:

“We are currently exploring a range of options; most likely the land will be rewilded and perhaps, in conjunction with local groups/volunteers we could consider establishing a community orchard or allotment. We want to see what already grows and flourishes naturally, which will steer us to enable the land to achieve its full potential with our assistance. This first land buyout is the start of what will hopefully be a powerful and transformative change to the way we live, eat and view the world. We are also working on creating a trust structure to protect Earlake Moor and any further buyouts in perpetuity. Other countries have developed structures to do just this and we are taking guidance from these pioneering examples.”

“Our vision is to unite people around this simple idea, which has begun with this small 3.3 acre plot of land. Then we may begin to see more and bigger land buyouts, more rewilding of our Earth, more veganic produce for us all to benefit from and less species’ declines. Imagine for example, the possibility of converting an intensive animal factory farm into veganic mushroom production? This is where the power of the Vegan Land Movement lies, in building a community to effect real change.”

For more information on the Vegan Land Movement and to donate, please visit Globalvegancrowdfunder.org/vegan-land-movement





Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



treat all others as you wish to be treated or you are no more than an expletive, deleted

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



Photographers Capture Powerfully Moving Images of Animal Exploitation Around the World

December 21, 2020
by

Please remember that all animals exploited for human use suffer, no matter the country; animal suffering is not limited to certain locations or areas, an animal whose body is used, manipulated, taken from, and violently killed, is an animal who is abused, no matter the conditions endured prior to vicious, terrifying slaughter, but that 99% of all animals in the United States, and >90% globally, are “produced” in extremely confined, CAFO/Factory Farm conditions. The ONLY humane is vegan. SL


Source One Green Planet , HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene

Animal exploitation and abuse are not an exception nor a rarity in today’s society; they are the norm. They happen everywhere in such an abundance that not supporting animal cruelty is not the default, but a decision that must be made over and over. This is in part a product of anthropocentrism, a worldview that revolves around the notion that human beings are “the central or most significant entities in the world.”

We’re Living in an Anthropocentric World

According to the philosophy of anthropocentrism, humans are “separate from and superior to nature” and “human life has intrinsic value while other entities (including animals, plants, mineral resources, and so on) are resources that may justifiably be exploited for the benefit of humankind.” This philosophy so strongly characterizes the state of our current world and how humans have impacted it, that some scientists refer to the current epoch as the Anthropocene. The general consensus is that the Anthropocene began in 1950 “when human activity started to have a significant impact on the planet’s climate and ecosystems.”

Hidden: Animals in the Anthropocene

Because today’s predominant worldview privileges humans over other animals, animal exploitation pervades all aspects of our society. From our food and our clothes to our traditions and forms of entertainment, animal suffering is commonplace. And yet, animal suffering and cruelty is also still hidden; not despite, but because of the ubiquity of exploitation. It is so pervasive and thus, normalized, that we are able to interact with and support these exploitative practices without truly comprehending or internalizing the pain that they cause.

Existing in a state of willful ignorance, one can look at a product of animal exploitation and only think of the surface-level: the rich taste of a steak, the awe of a circus trick, the cultural significance of a bullfight, the warmth and elegance of a fur coat. However, once we critically evaluate the exploitative structures in our society, as well as realize the inherent value and sentience of the creatures that experience such cruelty, it’s impossible to look at the world in the same way.

HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene by photojournalists Jo-Anne McArthur and Keith Wilson wakes its viewers up. The book confronts the gruesome reality of animal exploitation through disturbingly intimate photographs from around the world. Each image compels its viewer to look at the reality of an exploitative practice that many people would prefer to keep out of both sight and mind. However, to do so is to remain ignorant and complicit in the suffering of countless beings. When presented with another’s suffering that we have the power to do something about, it’s vital that we not only look, but also bear witness.


Industrial Farming

Source: Andrew Skowron/We Animals Media
Dairy farms – Steel barriers, concrete floors, tiled walls and push-button technology make up the habitat of the modern day dairy herd. Poland

The USDA estimates that in 2018 alone, 9.59 billion animals were slaughtered for food in just the United States. Animals that are exploited by the industrial farming industry, are confined to tiny, unsanitary spaces, stolen from their mothers immediately after birth, genetically modified to grow at rates that are too quick for their bodies to handle, and physically tortured until they are slaughtered.


Dog Meat

Source: Jose Valle/We Animals Media 
Who’s next? At this dog slaughterhouse, a butcher chooses the dog he will beat to death with an iron bar while the other dogs look on. China

Dogs that are slaughtered for consumption are kept and transported in terrible conditions. Like many animals used for food, these dogs may be physically abused, denied a sufficient amount of food and water, and confined to tiny cages where disease can spread rapidly. Sadly, there have also been many cases of dogs being stolen from people’s homes or off the streets to be slaughtered for food.


Slaughter

Source: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media
A pig screams as she is clubbed before slaughter. In some small Asian slaughterhouses, clubbing is used to stun pigs. This often fails to render the animals fully unconscious before their throats are slit. Thailand

Slaughter is the final cruelty that farmed animals suffer. However, many don’t even survive the harsh conditions of a factory farm long enough to make it to the slaughterhouse.  When it’s time for slaughter, tens of thousands of chickens are boiled or drowned alive, cows who have become too weak to walk are dragged with chains around their legs, and “uncooperative” animals are prodded and shocked. Animals are often stunnedclubbed, or subject to some other painful practice to render them unconscious or unable to feel pain. Sadly, this often doesn’t work and the animals die a slow, painful death.


Live Transports

Source: Aitor Garmendia/We Animals Media
Ear tags are removed from animals after slaughter and stored temporarily for record-keeping. Spain.

Live animal exports are extremely stressful for the animals involved. These animals will suffer for days without access to food or water until they finally reach their destination – just to be slaughtered. Often times, they are kept in extreme weather conditions without any protection. There have been multiple cases of live transport animals dying due to heat stress or even drowning in overcrowded ships.


Fishing 

Source: Paul Hilton/We Animals Media
A fisherman carries a shark at a market in Lombok, one of the largest exporters of shark fin to China. Indonesia

Finning a shark involves slicing off a sharks’ fins and then dropping back into the ocean, oftentimes still alive. These sharks slowly sink to the bottom of the sea where they will eventually die. There are a variety of methods used to catch fish in the commercial fish industry. Each one usually causes the fish to suffocate or bleed to death while being pulled up. If they are alive when pulled on board, the fish are slaughtered or put on ice and die a slow, painful death. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of marine animals are killed and injured by commercialized fishing practices every year. Dolphins, whales, sharks, sea turtles, and seals often become “bycatch,” the unintended victims of huge fishing nets. Overfishing also disrupts the food chain, leading many marine animals on the road to extinction.


Entertainment

Source: Aitor Garmendia/We Animals Media
Inglorious death. In the horse yard of the bullring in Azpeitia, a bull is hung by his hind leg to bleed out before being butchered at the local meat works. Spain

Using animals as a form of entertainment is widespread and takes on many forms: bulls stabbed multiple times with 8-inch blades, dogs trained to fight each other to the death, elephants stabbed with bullhooks so that they will perform unnatural tricks, orcas taken from the wild and kept in tiny tanks – the list of ways we exploit animals as a form of “entertainment” goes on. Not only do these poor animals suffer repeated physical abuse, but also often suffer from zoochosis, which may cause animals to harm themselves and others as a result of being in captivity. Despite the heartbreaking degree of cruelty and abuse, many humans still view these abusive activities as “fun” and “enjoyable.”


Culture & Tradition

Source: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media
Animal sacrifices are still made to Kali, the goddess of time, power, creation and destruction, at this Nepalese temple. Nepal.

While ritual sacrifices and similar ceremonies may seem like they belong to a different time period, they still are a part of many cultures and religions today. For example, at the Gadhimi Festival in Nepalthousands of buffaloes, goats, and chickens are sacrificed to the goddess Gadhimai, and before the Jewish high holidays, a small portion of people participate in Kapparot, which includes swinging or circling a live chicken around someone’s head and then slaughtering it. Animals are also murdered en-masse for traditions such as Thanksgiving, which, for many Americans, revolves around eating a turkey; Grindadrap, an annual whale and dolphin hunt in the Faroe Islands); and the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. Sadly, culture and tradition are common excuses that people use to justify harming animals all around the world.


 Fashion

toad purses
Source: Britta Jaschinski/We Animals Media
Frog Purse – This year’s accessory. Confiscated purses made from cane toads. USA

Farming animals for their skin and fur is similar to animal agriculture practices as the animals are kept in tiny, unsanitary cages, where they suffer from illness and injuries. Animals that are sheared, like lambs and alpacas, may have their tails or other parts of their bodies cut off without anesthesiaroughly handled; and subject to other forms of abuse that cause severe injuries as well as emotional distress. Other animals, like minkscrocodilescows, and rabbits, are brutally killed by being gassed, skinned alive, or electrocuted, to name a few examples.


What Can You Do

Images Courtesy of We Animals Media

You can view more images like these ones and read more about the multitude of ways that we exploit animals in HIDDEN: Animals in the Anthropocene. The book features a foreword by Joaquin Phoenix and also focuses on other aspects in our society that involve animal exploitation, such as catastrophes, wildlife markets, research, and more.

Even though it’s easier to only recognize animal abuse in practices that belong to other cultures, other countries, or even just other people, displacing blame onto others is merely a way to absolve ourselves of responsibility. It’s important that we continue to evaluate the ways that our actions impact human and non-human animals. We all have a responsibility to help those who are suffering and do what we can to change the systems that allowed that suffering to take place. Educate your friends and family members about what goes on in various exploitative industries. Email your government officials and encourage others to do the same. Change starts with ourselves, but there’s no reason that it has to stop there.





Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



as we sit and contemplate a world forever altered
perhaps by man and by fate
do we hear other voices in the room
or are they drowned out by our
own gloom.
do we feel the heartbeats
of all on earth so dear
ALL the beings
who ALL belong here.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



They haven’t had water for five days.

December 14, 2020
by

When referring to unacceptable animal cruelty, please remember that pigs, cows, chickens, and mink do not enjoy the social status of other animals, such as dogs and cats, and their abuses are accepted under a moniker of “welfare” and “humane”, both terms compromised by humans to categorize animals whose own bodies are controlled, violated, mutilated sans pain relief, separated from family, and violently, terrifyingly killed.

In the United States, all ten billion land animals exploited for food each year are specifically exempt from the Animal Welfare Act, and nine billion poultry are additionally denied any (oxymoronic) coverage under the Humane Slaughter Act, a meaningless regulation that requires animals be violently killed.

To die prematurely, exploitatively, fearfully, unwillingly is ABUSE, those nice human-created labels and laws are not meant to protect animals, they are meant to protect humans from moral discomfort causing the needless and violent death of trillions of animals killed globally each year.

For the “small, local, organic farm” preachers, the animals don’t care where you live, and providing food for an animal before you kill him or her doesn’t mitigate your contribution to their loss of body autonomy and forced and fearful death in an industrial slaughterhouse. And the global demand for animal “products” require they be confined in predominantly extremely intensive conditions, forced to endure diseases, pain, abnormal genetic variations, squalor, bodily violations and intrusions, and violent death.

Protecting animals, considering their welfare and well-being, and practicing humane approaches all PRECLUDE exploiting/killing them. Anything you do to a pig would be an illegal violation if done against cats, dogs, and humans. That you can pretend otherwise does not nullify the animal’s hellish experience so you can enjoy a five-minute tasty snack: no meal should require suffering.

Furthermore, Ag-Gag laws are pretentious violations of constitutional rights, no person or entity should be granted the lawful ability to hide illegal activity, including cruelty and gross negligence, from the public to whom they “market” animals and from whom they derive profit. To all who champion such egregiously abusive laws, I ask, “What are you hiding?” To match your claims of “welfare” and “humane” (which have been consistently proven false), where is the transparency? The public has a right to and an interest in your business; that you profit from social ignorance and intentional suffering as inflicted on vulnerable, defenseless animals, and then take herculean steps including more time, money, and resources to conceal abuse rather than fight abuse is a disgustingly greedy, inhuman, utterly shameless, and appalling market strategy. SL



Source CTV News

For seven weeks, a man, who asked to be identified only as Elijah, worked at a farming facility in Putnam, Ont., 30 km east of London.

His job as a hog farm technician at the Arnold Barn, which is managed by Paragon Farms, included tasks like feeding, moving and vaccinating pigs. W5 has agreed to protect Elijah’s true identity.

However, Elijah had another motive for working at the barn. Using a hidden camera, he recorded hours of video footage at the facility.

“It’s not necessarily the safest job that I could be working, but I did it because I see that these animals are suffering,” he told W5’s Sandie Rinaldo.

Animal Justice, a Canadian animal law advocacy organization, hired Elijah to go undercover, and shared some of the video he recorded with W5.

The footage documents what Elijah claims are instances of animal abuse and neglect, including disturbing images of farm workers forcefully slapping and hitting pigs with plastic boards, and jabbing them with pens.

Other filmed incidents include workers discussing how pregnant sows had been deprived of drinking water for several days, workers castrating male piglets without the use of painkillers and filthy conditions in the barn.

W5 offered to show the video to the general manager of Paragon Farms, with an opportunity to comment afterward. A lawyer acting for Paragon sent W5 a written statement indicating, in part, that “Paragon Farms immediately inspected the barn in question” and “welcomed an inspection by … the Animal Welfare Services branch (of the provincial government) within hours of being notified of the allegations. No material concerns were identified.”

The statement added that a veterinarian “with expert certification” inspected the animals and “has not identified incidents of abuse or neglect.”

THE END OF UNDERCOVER WHISTLEBLOWERS?

Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, believes that because there is no proactive provincial monitoring or inspection of farm facilities, neglect and abuse of livestock remains hidden and free of scrutiny. Only a complaint can trigger an investigation of a farm by provincial authorities.

“We urgently need more transparency in the food system because the meat industry keeps animals behind closed doors without any government oversight or inspection,” Labchuk said.

“There’s no way for Canadians to learn the truth unless a brave whistleblower goes in there and films this footage and exposes it to the public.”

Hidden camera video filmed by animal rights groups and shared with journalists have helped raise public awareness of conditions and animal mistreatment in farms and slaughterhouses.


Arnold Barn
Would you allow your cats and dogs to be confined in such manner for weeks on end? Of course not, it would be shockingly cruel AND illegal. So why are you condemning these innocent creatures to such horrific fates?
Source CTV News

But undercover filming by employee activists at livestock facilities may soon become outlawed in Ontario.

This past June, the Ontario government partially proclaimed the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, known initially as Bill 156.

Promoted by Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman as a way to improve the protection of farms, farmers and their livestock from trespassers and biosecurity risks, the act may soon make it illegal for undercover activists like Elijah to work and film at farm facilities under “false pretenses.”

A similar law, initially known as Bill 27, was passed in Alberta late last year and Manitoba is looking to follow suit.

Critics call them “ag-gag” or agricultural gag laws. Modelled on U.S. laws that have been introduced in 29 U.S. states since 1990, only six states still have these laws on the books. The rest have been defeated or deemed unconstitutional.

Professor Samuel Trosow, who teaches law at Western University in London, believes these types of laws are problematic.

“The way that Bill 156 has been written, same thing for the Alberta law, does violate Section 2(b) of the Constitution that guarantees everyone freedom of expression,” Trosow told W5’s Sandie Rinaldo in an interview.

“I don’t think this is about protecting farmers in their homes. I think this is about protecting large corporate producers and their factory farms from the public scrutiny that results when people come in and take films.”

While a section of Ontario’s Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act currently prevents people from interfering with animal transport vehicles, the provision regarding false pretenses, which may prevent employee whistleblowers from filming inside farm facilities, has yet to be proclaimed.

Labchuk intends to challenge the law if and when that happens.

“If you ask ordinary Canadians what they think, they’re appalled when they hear that the government’s trying to shut down transparency on farms and hide from them where their food comes from.”





Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



as humans consider themselves to be superior,
their actions show only that they are
inferior!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



Factory: The industrial exploitation of pigs

December 7, 2020
by

Please remember that the methods of pig exploitation demonstrated here are status quo globally, and Spain exports millions of tons of “pig meat” to other countries yearly: the only humane method of pig consumption is rejecting it completely, they all suffer. And for those who champion treating animals well as being important, then NOT killing them is more so. SL

Source Tras los muros (Glass Walls) , World Animals Voice

By: Aitor Garmendia
Veterinary Advisor: Alfonso Senovilla
Translator: Liz Tyson

With a population of over 30 million individuals,1 the Spanish pig farming industry has established itself as the largest producer of live pigs within the European Union and, in 2020, is expected to exceed Germany, which had ranked first until now, in the number of animals sent to slaughter for the first time. In 2019, the largest pig processing slaughterhouse in Europe commenced operation in Binéfar, in the Huesca province of Spain. It is estimated that this plant alone will lead to the death of 160,000 pigs per week. Under the relentless pursuit of production, animals endure systemic suffering and institutional neglect.

Between 2019 and 2020, supported by a team of individuals who have chosen to remain anonymous, I carried out an investigation into 32 pig farms, located in Castilla y Leon, Aragon, and Castilla-La-Mancha. In these places, I discovered and documented the consequences of the structural violence that takes place within industrial animal agriculture.

The lack of veterinary oversight, the failure to meet basic legal welfare standards, and the abuses described in this report are not isolated incidents, but an inherent part of the industrial explotation and production of animals.

Power, propaganda and the right to information

The images obtained from within the farms and slaughterhouses, thanks to undercover investigations, hidden cameras, or infiltration into the industries’ workforce reveal to the public an image which is very different from that which the meat industry chooses to show in its publicity campaigns. These images, which leave no doubt about the true practices of the industry, have managed to amplify a societal debate that meat producing corporations now cannot avoid.

Nevertheless, thanks to investment in costly propaganda efforts and its influence on both powerful public entities and the media, the industrial animal agriculture industry has sought to control the narrative, thus influencing public opinion and impeding our ability to exercise our right to information.

This power and influence has been made clear in a series of recent events:

In 2016, the industry was involved in a plot which sought to counter the negative narrative presented in a report which demonstrated the link between the consumption of meat and risk of cancer.2

In February of 2018, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and the Environment, Isabel Garcia Tejerina, came out in defense of the meat production sector following a report which documented pigs with deformities and cannibalism in a farm supplying pigs to the meat products brand El Pozo.3, 4 Days later, in an attempt to confront the social turmoil caused by the images, the industry placed advertorials, which were designed to look like objective articles, in various mainstream media outlets. In March of the same year, the Superior Justice Tribunal of Castilla-La-Mancha condemned the local government and the meat production supplier, Incarlopsa – the main meat supplier to supermarket chain, Mercadona – for covering up failures to meet animal welfare standards in the company’s pig slaughterhouse.5

More recently, in July 2020, the «Let’s Talk About Pork from Europe» campaign was launched. According to the campaign’s press pack, it was designed to challenge the supposed false claims which have been leveled at the pig farming sector.6 The campaign, financed to the tune of more than 6 million euros ($7 million USD, £5.4 million GBP) by the European Union, will last for three years and is being coordinated by four powerful industry lobby groups: Organización Interprofesional Agroalimentaria del Porcino de Capa Blanca, l’Interprofession nationale porcino, Aligrupo y Grupalto.7

In 2019, the Department of Agriculture, Farming, Fisheries and Food of the Generalitat of Catalunya threatened fines of up to €100,000 euros ($117,000 USD, £90,200 GBP) for anyone who gained unauthorized access to farms. The announcement of these measures arose from pressure from the industry following mass occupations of farms by animal rights activist.8, 9 The Generalitat accused the protesters of breaking animal welfare laws and defended the measures as a means to guarantee compliance with the law. However, in the absence of protests, the apparent concern for compliance with animal welfare laws does not appear to be of interest to the same authorities. In 2013, of 22,616 farms located in Catalunya, only 1,825 were inspected.10 Furthermore the images obtained by the occupations of the farms revealed non-compliance with the law on the part of the farms that would otherwise not have come to light. The only thing that the measures implemented achieve is to guarantee the impunity of the animal agriculture industry. In place of increasing control and improving transparency, the authorities instead chose to protect the industry and punish those who spoke out against its abuses of animals.

In the United States, the industry has operated for years under the same principles:

The powerful meat lobbies have succeeded in introducing «gagging» (known colloquially as «Ag Gag») laws which prohibit undercover filming inside of farms.11, 12 These laws, which were explicitly designed to protect the large meat production corporations,13, 14, 15 have also now been implemented in other countries, including Canada and Australia.16, 17, 18, 19 Civil rights organizations, those which defend freedom of the press, human rights and consumer rights, farm workers unions, ecological organizations, and animal rights advocates have warned that these laws compromise freedom of expression, the right to information, animal welfare, workers’ rights, and food security and safety.20

The Spanish pork industry in figures

In recent years, the growth of exports of both pork and its derivatives has resulted in the Spanish pork industry becoming the largest in the European Union.21 In addition, with a turnover of more than €15,000 million euro ($17,500 million USD, £13,500 million GBP),22 the industry is the largest producer in the Spanish farming sector, representing 14% of the final agricultural product and 39% of livestock production.23

The population of pigs in Spain is the largest in the whole European Union1 and the third largest globally.24 The figure, which at the beginning of 2020 was 31,828,141,25 was obtained by calculating the number of live pigs in existence at a given time of year rather than, as official statistics report, the number of pigs slaughtered each year. The Spanish pork industry produces the most pigs in its farms in all the European Union.

Spain is second only to Germany when it comes to animals sent to slaughter (52,982,310 in 2019) and in the tons of meat produced (4,641,160 in 2019).26 This apparent anomaly between production and slaughter is due to the fact that Germany imports more animals for slaughter from other EU countries (information received from the General Directorate of Agricultural Productions and Markets in May 2020).

Furthermore, these figures do not include animals who are killed on the farms themselves for economic or other reasons, or those who do not survive the conditions on the farms. In the farrowing phase alone, casualties can exceed 20% of litters.27

This means that millions of pigs die each year before reaching the slaughterhouse.

Other data that helps to explain the development of the sector and to predict the direction in which it is headed relates to the evolution of the number of farms. Despite the fact that the number has decreased significantly (from 218,110 in 1999 to 87,540 in 2020),25, 28 farms have increased their capacity and now send 15 million more pigs to slaughter than they did two decades ago. According to the latest report from the Spanish Pig Reference Data Bank (BDPorc), the number of sows present in the farms included in its database has multiplied by four.27 This increase in production comes from factors such as technological innovation, genetic selection and farms with much higher capacity, which are now capable of housing a greater number of animals.

Inside the factory farm

More than 95% of the pork consumed in Spain comes from intensive farming systems.29 The farms can be closed cycle and contain all phases of production (gestation, maternity and fattening) in one or more geographically close locations or may be dedicated to covering only one of the phases. In the latter situation, the pigs destined for fattening are later transported by trucks to the fattening farm.

All farms operate under similar standards and are governed by the same regulations. Regardless of their size or their phased structure, the quality of life of the pigs is compromised in all of them, whether they are huge mega-farms or small family-run facilities. In their sheds, pigs exploited for meat production are housed on concrete floors in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and females selected for their reproductive capacity spend part of their lives trapped in iron cages, known as «gestation crates» and «farrowing crates». Confinement prevents the natural behavior of pigs. The inability to meet their innate needs and carry out their natural behaviors severely compromises their welfare. The frustration of their interests and needs can also lead to numerous physical health problems.30

Unlike other species, pigs lack sweat glands and their ability to dissipate heat is very limited. If they have the right conditions, they look for cool places, streams and puddles to take mud baths or rest. However, on intensive breeding farms the temperatures can be very high —something common in hot months of the year— and given the impossibility of accessing a place to cool off, they have no choice but to wallow in their own excrement.31

Even the air inside the pig sheds is unhealthy. The accumulation of dust combined with the humidity and vapors produced by the feces and urine of the animals generates a harmful atmosphere which can affect the health of both the pigs themselves and farm workers.30, 32, 33

Many pigs succumb to the horrendous living conditions and die on the farm. Their bodies are often not removed by farm workers and they can end up being eaten by other pigs, or by cats and rodents. During this investigation we found animals in states of severe suffering —trembling and convulsing, seriously injured or with respiratory problems—. Corpses were found in varying states of decomposition or having been partially consumed in the farrowing, transitional and fattening areas. Some had been there for days or even weeks.

The industry invests millions of euros in propaganda —some using public funds— in order to project an image of its work which bears little to no resemblance to reality. The confinement systems of the factory farm impede the physical and psychological well-being of the animals, seriously affect their health and compromise their quality of life. In addition, animal welfare inspections are scarce and the pig protection regulations that exist are not always complied with, nor are they fit for purpose.

The phases of exploitation

The farms are made up of different areas that meet the productive needs of each phase. In order to maximize efficiency, many of them have high levels of sophistication and monitoring, mainly in the most critical phases of the process, that is, during labor and forced weaning. The extent to which technological resources are available varies from one farm to another.

During the course of this investigation, we were able to document each phase of the exploitation process; however, it has not been possible to obtain images of some specific handling and management practices. In addition to the farms which we have accessed, I sought permission from others to document the practices such as castration, tail docking, teeth cutting and insemination. In every instance, the request was denied.

While there are differences between one farm and another, the images presented below, as well as the description of each phase, are representative of industry-wide standard practice in pig farming.

The investigation has been carried out without permission and in exercise of the right of access to information. The farms have been selected at random and the irregularities discovered correspond only to these farms, not to others. However, as long as the industry continues to prevent critical press access to its facilities and slaughterhouses, and given that the images and information obtained as part of this work demonstrate serious instances of suffering and neglect, it seems prudent to adopt a precautionary principle and assume that these standards are representative; leaving it for the industry itself to lift the veil of secrecy and prove otherwise if this is not the case.

Gestation area

The process of industrial pig farming begins in the gestation rooms, where sows are inseminated and kept in individual crates for intermittent periods of several weeks. These sheds contain no bedding material where the sows can rest comfortably. Instead, the flooring is hard concrete, with openings to allow feces and urine to be flushed out. These openings are not always effective, and excrement accumulates at the rear of the crates. In two of the gestation rooms to which we have accessed the slurry had overflowed and formed puddles under the crates.

The law does not limit the amount of time that sows can be kept in these crates, and only mandates specific periods when they must be group housed. This period includes «from four weeks after mating to the seven days before the expected date of farrowing».34 Outside of this period, it is completely legal to keep sows —naturally social animals— in individual cages.

The first time a sow is inseminated, she will be around eight months old and the procedure will be carried out in the crate. If she falls pregnant, she will spend the next four weeks in that crate, as per the legal allowances mentioned above. If it is discovered, following an ultrasound, that she is not pregnant, she will be kept in the crate and inseminated again until the procedure is effective. Those sows deemed no longer productive can also be housed in the crates while they await transfer to the slaughterhouse.

One week before she is due to give birth, the sow is transferred to the farrowing crate, where she may remain for up to five more weeks. Just days after her piglets are weaned, she will be inseminated again. This cycle is repeated throughout the sow’s productive life, until she is deemed no longer of use and sent to slaughter.

Gestation area, pig farm.

Measuring approximately two meters (6.5’) long and seventy centimeters (2’) wide, individual cages severely restrict the animals’ movements and impede their natural behavior. They cannot turn around or interact with other sows and their bodies can exceed the width of the cages. Various studies carried out during the gestation period confirm a whole series of health problems associated with confinement in cages. When lying down, the body of the sow is pressed against the bars and their limbs, extended towards the adjacent cages due to lack of space, can become crushed. This spatial restriction has been identified as a cause of injuries and wounds that cause pain and suffering.35

Likewise, the sharp edges of the crate’s slatted floors injure their feet, and sows that are starved of food can suffer snout damage when trying to access the feeder in adjoining cages.35 Exercise deprivation negatively impacts cardiovascular health,36 muscle mass, and bone density37. Different stereotypies —obsessive, repetitive movements which are indicators of mental distress— have also been observed in many of them: biting bars, chewing despite their mouths being empty, pushing against the trough, head bobbing, repeatedly putting their snout in the gutter or rolling their tongue.30, 38, 39, 40, 41

Another factor affecting the health of the sows is poor hygiene. During the weeks they are confined, the feces accumulated in the cage can come into contact with the vulva. This has been identified as one of the main causes of urinary tract infections.30, 42 Rodents and flies are also a potential source of disease transmission.43 In most of the gestation sheds we have visited there were populations of rodents, flies, and cockroaches.

Group accommodation is not without its problems either. The natural tendency of sows to establish hierarchies is a behavior that occurs regardless of whether the animals are kept in confined systems or not. When they are in groups —mainly when new sows are introduced to the group— agression increases, often leading to younger animals being injured. In environments where food is scarce or limited, competition for food can also lead to fights. 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 The prevalence of lameness and hoof injuries is more frequent when sows are kept in groups.49, 50

According to data obtained through the PigCHAMP data management program, during 2007 the mortality rate of breeding sows in Spanish farms was 9.9%. In the report where these results are analyzed, associated causes of mortality —all of which have been evidenced before in scientific literature— include: high prolificacy, abdominal torsion and other abdominal conditions, heart failure, cystitis, problems related to the limbs and feet, pneumonia, ulcers, endometriosis and uterine prolapse. The report indicates that percentage of deaths increases and tends to double during the hot season.51

Artificial insemination utensils scattered on the floor at the entrance to the gestation shed. Castilla-La Mancha, 2019.

Maternity area

One week before giving birth, the sows are taken to the farrowing area, where the most delicate phase of production takes place. Due to this, the technical oversight and control is higher here than in other areas of the farm and the rooms are equipped with devices for more extensive control of temperature, humidity, and ventilation. In addition, each sow has a file that records the estimated date of farrowing (and subsequently the actual date), the number of piglets in gestation, and their current status.

The enclosures in the farrowing areas are modular and are comprised of a farrowing crate for each sow and an area for the piglets, from where they access their mother’s udder. The floor is hard, made of metal or plastic, and has a grate system for the evacuation of excrement. Piglets require an ambient temperature higher than that of the sows and each enclosure has a heat lamp or underfloor heating to prevent hypothermia and thus achieve higher production levels. In some farms these lamps were broken and we found piglets shivering with cold.

The sows are kept in these cages until the end of their allowed lactation period, which ranges from 21 to 28 days. The farrowing crates are similar in size to the gestation crates and, likewise, restrict a large part of the animal’s movement, negatively affecting their health and preventing natural behavior.

The cage system is designed to avoid crushing of piglets by sows, a frequent cause of death. However, although the studies that exist show contradictory results, some confirm that the mortality rate in this type of cage and in «free-range» farming systems can be similar.52, 53, 54, 55 In any case, the concern shown by the industry on this matter is not to mitigate or prevent the suffering of piglets, but to maintain and increase production levels. When all other criteria are equal, a larger litter is more beneficial to the industry than a smaller one.

Piglet mortality during the lactation phase is high. The BDporc system places it at 19% (2019)27 and the Red Nacional de Granjas Típicas (RENGRATI) between 9% and 15% (2018).56 Recent advances in pig reproduction have led to the creation —via targeted selection programs to enhance prolificacy— of genetic lines of sows that produce higher numbers of piglets. Consequently, the health and life of the animals has been further compromised, and their mortality rate increased.57, 58, 59 One of the most common problems derived from large litters is unequal weight distribution of the piglets.60 Size difference presents particular problems for the smaller animals and gives them a lesser chance of survival. For example, they generally demonstrate lesser ability to thermoregulate, they find it difficult to compete for their mother’s milk, and they demonstrate poor physical coordination. These issues increase the probability that the smaller piglets will die from hypothermia, starvation or crushing. Furthermore, the prolonged labors associated with larger litters also increases the risk of intrauterine hypoxia (where the fetus is deprived of oxygen in the womb).60

Numerous studies have concluded that the intentional manipulation of genetic lines to create sows who produce large litters clearly has a negative impact on the health and welfare of the animals themselves. Despite this, the practice remains legal and within the parameters of regulatory frameworks for animal welfare.

The following section outlines some of the procedures which take place during the farrowing phase which compromise the physical and psychological wellbeing of the animals involved. These are standard procedures, used in a systemic manner across the entire pig farming industry, perfected and approved by veterinary entities and compatible with current animal welfare laws.

Forced weaning

Weaning is one of the most critical life stages of the pigs. After being forcibly separated from their mothers, piglets are exposed to multiple stressors, the consequences of which can be lethal. They suffer an unexpected change of environment, a new feeding regime, and they share space with other animals with whom they must compete for food.61

An experiment carried out with a group of pigs revealed that, under conditions free from human intervention, domestic sows suckle their young for up to three months.62 In confinement systems, piglets are weaned abruptly, when they are separated from their mother and transferred to the transition area just 21 to 28 days after birth. It is performed prematurely, during a period where the mother would naturally be continuing to feed her young, and when there is still a strong bond between mother and piglets. In the time immediately after separation, the piglets make loud vocalizations. These responses are most common in those who have been weaned too early and may indicate distress over separation from their mother.63

Mutilation of the genitals, the tail, and the teeth

The European Union directive that establishes the minimum standards for the protection of pigs recognizes that castration, as well as tail docking, and partial cutting of the teeth are practices that are «harmful to the welfare of pigs, especially when executed by incompetent or inexperienced people».32

Despite the fact that the legislation itself identifies the aforementioned procedures as a cause of suffering, it not only permits them, but also allows them to be carried out without anesthesia in the first seven days of a piglet’s life.

Castration is carried out for two primary purposes: (i) to avoid the sex odor of the meat —which occurs in pigs when they reach maturity and which some consumers find unpleasant— and (ii) to reduce aggressiveness in the pig pens. Intact pigs —the term used to describe uncastrated males— are more efficient in terms of feed conversion but the most important European markets do not accept meat from these animals.64 According to a survey carried out by the European Federation of Veterinarians (FVE) and the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission (DG SANTE), 15% of male pigs in Spain were subject to surgical castration in 2015, with 61% of male pigs across the whole European Union being subjected to the same. Respectively, it was carried out without anesthesia in 91% and 95% of the cases.65 Castration has also been associated with higher mortality rates.66

Caudophagia is an anomalous behavior of pigs biting one another and is known to occur when the appropriate environmental conditions are not provided for, such as within the systems of confinement adopted by industrial farms.67 One of the most widespread measures to deal with this behavior is tail docking. The procedure consists of the amputation of part of the tail and, according to various studies, causes acute pain and stress.68 Legislation prohibits it from being performed routinely, however, an audit by the European Commission carried out in Spain during 2017 found that an estimated 98.5% of pigs had been subjected to the procedure regardless. The report also concluded that the authorities have not adopted effective measures to prevent it.69

Another mutilation that piglets are subjected to shortly after birth is the cutting of their canine teeth; a measure that seeks to avoid biting injuries between piglets and damage to the mother’s udder. It is usually carried out with a pair of pliers, which are used to cut the tips of the teeth, or with an electric file to file them down.70 Files are used more rarely as this method is more expensive. As with tail docking, it is a procedure which can cause acute pain71 and its routine application is prohibited by law.

Branding and identification

The law requires that pigs be identified with a tag or tattoo as a means of tracing them to the farm of origin.72 Tags are made up of two pieces which are joined together in a painful procedure73 which pierces the ear. The tattoo is made by punching holes in the skin with an inked awl, which is pressed into the skin using pliers.

The physical and psychological well-being of the piglets is compromised as a direct result of these procedures. Furthermore, piglets may be born on the accumulated feces of their mothers, while the crates prevent natural physical bonding between the piglets and their mothers. Large numbers of piglets die from hunger, thirst, disease, or crushing.

When piglets die, they are not always removed immediately. During our time documenting the farrowing areas, we saw corpses of pigs lying in corridors, accumulated in a corner, in plastic buckets, on wheelbarrows, and even inside the enclosures themselves, along with their living siblings. Some bodies showed signs of having been there for days or having been partially eaten, probably by cats or rodents.

In one of the farms we discovered a water leak. The affected sow had not been moved to a dry room and remained in these wet conditions overnight. In another, cats shared the enclosure with sows and piglets. On the ground we found bones, the remains of dismembered pigs and we also witnessed a cat eating a dead piglet.

Transition area

After weaning, the piglets are moved to the transition area or loaded onto trucks to be transported to the slaughterhouse. They may otherwise be transferred to another farm where their fattening process is completed.

When they enter the transition area, they weigh between 6 and 8 kg (13 and 17.5 lb) and remain there for around 40 days.56 Later they are transferred to the fattening area weighing in at around 20 kg (44 lb). These figures correspond to average values and may vary depending on the production strategy, the end destination of the animals, or the genetic line in each farm.

The rooms in the transition area are organized one behind the other, along one or more corridors and are equipped with devices for temperature control and ventilation. The ground on which pigs sleep, rest, defecate and urinate is made of hard metal or plastic grating. The enclosures have feed hoppers that supply the feed automatically and push buttons from which the water is obtained.

When piglets from different litters are mixed fights for establishing hierarchies within the group take place. Aggressions cause injuries and affect the welfare of the pigs. Castilla-La Mancha, 2020.

The diet they receive during this phase is administered through a feeding program aimed at developing the pig’s full growth potential. This seeks to obtain the maximum performance level and the highest possible weight at the point of entry into the fattening process. It is a particularly delicate stage for production, because the negative impact caused by the abrupt change in diet —which would occur gradually outside of the exploitative situation of the farm— and the environment where the piglets grow74 can drastically influence the profitability of the business.75

One of the most stressful parts of the process is the mixing of pigs from different litters in the same enclosure. The establishment of a new social hierarchy —something which would have been firmly in place in the natal litter—76 is decided via aggressive interactions which compromise the welfare of the animals.77, 78 In addition, the lack of space and overcrowded conditions contributes to increased instances of aggression.79, 80, 81 Regulations demand that pigs weighing 20 kg (44 lb) must have a minimum surface area of 0.2 m2 (2.1 sq. ft.) each.2 This corresponds to a surface area less than four sheets of paper.

All these factors affect the health of pigs, their immune system and predispose them to new diseases.82 The bacteria Streptococcus suis and Haemophilus parasuis are among the most frequent causes of disease in weaned piglets.83, 84 These pathogens enter the farm through asymptomatic carriers. Once stabilized in the population, transmission occurs vertically, from mother to child, and later horizontally, between pigs outside the farrowing area.85, 86, 87, 88 Infections caused by both bacteria usually remain in their bodies without manifesting. However, the conditions that occur in intensive production systems help the development of different conditions and lesions.89, 90, 91, 92 The clinical signs associated with both infections are, among others, nervous disorders (meningitis), depression, anorexia, skin lesions, tremors, despondency, seizures, leg shaking, poor coordination, pneumonia, abscesses, or dyspnea. They can also lead to the death of the affected animal.93, 94

We found pigs that showed the symptoms outlined above (see multimedia report): leg shaking, seizures, tremors, emaciation, skin lesions and apparent weakness. In one of the enclosures, where the word meningitis had been written in chalk on the wall, a group of pigs exhibited several of these signs at the same time. In another enclosure, we found decomposed bodies that appear to have been eaten by other pigs.

In 2018, in Spain alone, more than one and a half million pigs died during this phase.28 As production increases, it is likely that this figure will increase.

Fattening area

The last stage of the exploitation on the farm takes place in the fattening area, where the pigs remain for around 140 days until their final transfer to the slaughterhouse. They are usually housed in large sheds, whose interior is divided into rooms occupied by more than a dozen individuals. Ventilation is controlled by opening windows, unlike in the maternity or transition areas where it is regulated by more sophisticated devices. Temperature is an environmental factor that, when not controlled, will affect the well-being and health of pigs. The increase on temperature during the hot season can cause heat stress and even lead to death. The floor of the enclosures is made of hard concrete with a partially grated area under which the slurry accumulates. The only natural light the pigs receive is that which enters through the windows, which are usually dirty and semi-opaque.

Respiratory conditions

Inside the sheds, the pigs are exposed to a combination of gases and particles that, in high concentrations and for a prolonged period, result in damage to their respiratory system. Gases such as methane and ammonia —produced by the slurry accumulated in a pit under the floor of the enclosures—, different infectious agents, as well as dust from feed and dry fecal matter, have been associated with various lung conditions, such as pneumonia and pleurisy, as well as with higher mortality. 95, 96, 97, 98 JPorcine Respiratory Disease Complex (PRDC)99, 100 is a multifactorial disease caused by the aforementioned pathogens, other environmental elements, and differences in management practices and production systems. Due to its incidence in production and its subsequent economic impact on the industry, it is considered to be one of the major concerns for pig health today.101, 102

A study carried out in 39 Spanish fattening farms revealed that 71% of pigs suffered some type of lung disease.103 Another study that analyzed the ailments of more than 2 million pigs showed a similar figure: only 32 % of the pigs arrived at the slaughterhouse with healthy lungs.104

Caudophagia and cannibalism

The most widely accepted hypothesis about the origin of tail biting among pigs (caudofagia) is that it is an abnormal form of exploratory behavior.105 Pigs spend a large part of their daily activity budget exploring their environment using their snouts; mainly to collect, carry and manipulate food.106 This behavior is also used as a way of obtaining novel information from the environment or simply to satisfy their curiosity.107 If they are deprived of the appropriate environmental conditions and their natural behavior is restricted, this exploratory behavior is redirected towards other stimuli, such as the tail of other pigs.

Caudophagia happens gradually. Initially, the animal tolerates the bite until injuries break the skin and cause bleeding. As the bites become more severe, the pig stops resisting the persistent biting and the resulting injuries can cause infections in the skin, vertebrae, and muscles.108 Various studies carried out in the EU indicate that the prevalence of tail injuries are in an average range that varies between 3% and 10%. However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) warns that these studies have been carried out exclusively in slaughterhouses and that the prevalence on farms is likely to be even higher.109 In the most acute stages, tail-biting can lead to cannibalism. The blood attracts other pigs who then chase the injured animal in groups and devour their hind parts, which can result in the pig’s death.108, 110 Ears, flanks and limbs have also been documented as being cannibalized in farms.111, 112

Tail injuries —some of them serious— have been observed in the vast majority of fattening sheds. In one of the farms we were able to verify the presence of cannibalism during two separate visits. In addition to the remains of bones and rotten bodies, we documented a group of pigs devouring a corpse in an apparent state of decomposition.

Rectal prolapse

Rectal prolapse consists of parts of the rectum being forced out through the anus due to increased abdominal pressure and a weakening of the sphincter and anal tissues. It is a painful and relatively common condition113 that can manifest at all ages, but its presence is more frequent in pigs between 6 and 20 weeks of age. Various factors that can influence its development have been pinpointed, such as infections, low temperatures, the density of animals per enclosure, genetics, or nutritional deficiencies. If the pig that suffers from this condition is not isolated, they may end up being cannibalized by the rest of the group.114, 115 A study carried out in a farm in Murcia found a prevalence of rectal prolapse of 4% and 8% in each house. Only half of the pigs recovered from this condition.116

Abnormal swellings: abscesses and hernias

Two of the most striking physical abnormalities that can affect the health of pigs are hernias and abscesses. These appear as lumps, mainly in the abdominal area, under the groin, or under the neck. Hernias occurs when a part of the intestine pushes out of the abdominal cavity but, unlike prolapse, remains under the skin. An abscess consists of a pus-filled cavity that contains dead cellular material and many bacteria. It originates with the entry of these microorganisms into the body through lesions on the skin or orifices. We found pigs with these swellings on all farms with a fattening area. Some were large and apparently serious, with open wounds caused by rubbing on the ground and coming into contact with excrement. The vast majority of affected animals had been isolated; however they did not appear to receive veterinary care.

Eye infections

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, delicate membrane that lines the eyeball and eyelids. Permanent exposure to microorganisms, poor ventilation, the presence of high concentrations of toxic gases, and excess dust have been described as potential causes.117, 118 Many pigs were suffering from eye conditions, some serious, in enclosures with infrastructural deficiencies and poor hygiene.

Euthanasia methods: killing at the farm

As already indicated, many pigs do not survive the extreme exploitation that is meted out to them. Others have injuries or illnesses that, for the purposes of profitability, it is not deemed financially viable to treat. They can also suffer from conditions that are considered a risk to other animals and production or to public health. If these circumstances occur, the pigs must be killed on the farm itself under the protocols required by law, which, as will be seen later, does not always happen.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) has recently published a guide detailing the procedures to be applied when killing pigs and under what circumstances. It should be noted that in this guide the term euthanasia119 is used to refer to the killing of animals who could regain their health but who do not receive adequate veterinary treatment due to the lack of profitability associated with providing that care.

The killing procedures allowed by law are the following: captive bolt pistol and subsequent severing of the spinal cord or cutting of the throat; forceful blow to the head by means of a heavy object —examples are cited: hammer, truncheon or metal pipe— for pigs weighing less than 5kg; free projectile weapon, such as pistol, shotgun, rifle, or revolver; electric shock for pigs weighing more than 5kg; asphyxia by inhalation of gas in containers; or lethal injection. Except for the latter, which must be carried out by veterinary personnel, all procedures can be carried out by farm operators.

Veterinary neglect and lack of institutional control

According to the latest figures provided by the Government, the number of animal welfare inspections carried out during 2017 was 11,195 out of a total of 364,430 livestock farms. Non-compliances were found in 19.38% of them.120 If these percentages are assumed to be representative of the total number of farms, the number of farms that did not comply with the regulations and were not inspected can be extrapolated to higher than 59,000. The quality of inspections that are carried out is insufficient, their duration is very limited, and they lack the ability to detect all irregularities.

In order to confirm whether the breaches observed during the investigation were isolated events or routine procedures, we entered some of the farms more than once. During the first visit to a fattening shed, we documented the presence of dead animals in different enclosures. Months later, during the second visit, the bodies were still in the same position. On both occasions we witnessed cannibalism, corpses in a state of decomposition, and remains of bones.

Another event that reveals the absence of institutional control and the impunity that livestock farms enjoy occurred months before starting this work, while I was conducting an investigation into slaughterhouses with Linas Korta. Taking advantage of the opportunity, we visited several farms that we saw from the road with the intention of documenting the handling of the animals. At the entrance to one of them was the corpse container, where the bodies of the animals that have died are thrown awaiting their collection and subsequent disposal. As we usually do in these cases, we lifted the cover. At the bottom, among the corpses and excrement, lay a trembling piglet, who was barely weeks old, clearly in a state of agony. He died hours later at the veterinary clinic we took him to.

It isn’t possible to know the specific number of pigs that suffer from these or other horrors, but the circumstances described give an idea of the institutional helplessness they are forced to endure.

Animal welfare – reality or propaganda?

There is a widespread and mistaken perception that animal welfare measures, if correctly applied, significantly prevent animal suffering. Consequently, when images of abuses perpetrated against animals come to light, the demand is that the administration must do better at implementing the law and meeting out punishment. This is because there is little understanding of what legal protections mean in practice. It is also convenient for consumers to trust that the laws are protecting animals as it helps to reduce their feelings of complicity.

Animal welfare laws, as currently written and structured, lack the power to protect animals. Indeed, they were neither conceived for this purpose nor does the production framework in which they are applied, as has been seen, permit for animals to be meaningfully protected. Since its inception, the purpose of the law has been to limit specific practices, but it was not designed to prevent or question the suffering inherent in the planned and systematic exploitation of animals. Therefore, it is not surprising that the European Union directive which establishes the minimum standards for the protection of pigs, allows forced weaning, genital mutilation and the confinement of sows in cages where they cannot even turn around;30 or that the guide for the euthanasia of animals in pig farms drawn up by MAPA allows for a sick piglet to be killed by hitting them with a metal pipe instead of providing them any kind of treatment. In fact, the guide recognizes that it is only «sometimes» that attempts are made to prevent death. Furthermore, in parallel to the evolution of these regulations, laboratories continue to develop genetic lines of animals with higher growth rates or prolificacy to the detriment of their welfare.121

None of the facts found during the investigation are foreign to the industry or public administrations, which act in collusion and understand the emerging social concern about the treatment that animals receive on farms and slaughterhouses. They know that certain trade-offs are unavoidable. Therefore they implement some changes, such as quality or ethical standards labelling, that is then used to pretend some kind of welfare or freedom for the animals, which in reality never has and never will exist.

According to the Eurobarometer on the Attitudes of Europeans Towards Animal Welfare, 94% of citizens consider that it is important to protect the welfare of farm animals and 64% state that they would like more information about the conditions in those found by animals exploited on farms.122 This work has been carried out in the exercise of the right of access to information in order to present evidence to inform the public debate against the shielding of the livestock industry and the lack of institutional transparency.

I will end with these words, taken from a livestock magazine published in the 1970s, which accurately describes the historical function assigned to animals destined to serve us as food: «Forget the pig is an animal. Treat him just like a machine in a factory».123


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  123. Byrnes J. (1976) Raising Pigs by The Calendar at Maplewood Farm. Hog Farm Management, p. 30. Citado en John Robins, Diet for a New America (Novato, California: New World Library, 1987).




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Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



pigs are pigs but man is the swine

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



The biggest scam that you’ve never even heard of (how one industry lied to the world).

November 30, 2020
by
Please watch, a couple brief graphic displays of infant abuse based on consumers’ dairy consumption and industry’s dairy corruption. Please remember that 587,000 calves were killed in 2019 in the US alone so the human species beyond infancy could drink the milk naturally intended for a different species’ infants, who are killed instead. USDA

Source Surge Activism

We’re told that milk is important for a strong healthy body, and if you stop consuming dairy most people will turn around and say, “wait, how are you going to get your calcium?” But everything we’ve been led to believe about dairy is a product of marketing, advertising, and government collusion. This is how the dairy industry lied to the world.

Download my free 122 page e-book: http://earthlinged.org/ebook

Make the switch to vegan & get all of the support you need: http://switchtovegan.co.uk

(Please note that “non-dairy” is different from “dairy free” labels and can indicate a small amount of milk byproducts in foods.)


Free Vegan shopping list HERE

Free Dairy-Free PDF:





Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



cows are not food
nor are they libation choices
we who are humane
we shout
we are their voices!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



Stop Sunshine Coast Council from destroying beloved Sarge

November 24, 2020
by
Source GoFundMe

Please sign HERE

Source Change, Facebook


We are in a fight to save our beautiful family dog Sarge from being killed by Sunshine Coast Regional Council in Queensland.

Sarge has been a part of my family for 8 years, and it’s been nothing but pure love since I picked him up at 8 weeks old. Sarge had a very normal life interacting with all kinds of dogs at off-leash beaches and off-leash parks where he had no issues. He has lived happily with babies, children, a rabbit, cats, guinea pigs, and other dogs. He went to puppy pre-school and passed everything and was always well-behaved.

Unfortunately, in 2016 at age 6, Sarge was declared a dangerous dog following an incident where a small dog was killed. There were no visible injuries to the small dog; we were all incredibly devastated as we knew this is not what Sarge had intended to happen, he was just trying to help his pack member who he thought was in trouble. This declaration was imposed by Noosa Council with no objection from me as his owner. There were no further incidents or problems when we lived in the Noosa council area.


Please read rest on Facebook

Please sign HERE





Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



Please in the spirit of holiday giving We all want sarge to keep on

Living.

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



United States: Tell the Small Business Administration Not to Fund Bigger Factory Farms – please comment

November 23, 2020
by
Related: Why a cheeseburger can cost less than fruit, Earthling Ed

Source Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)


Go to the Federal Register website and click on the green button – “Submit a Formal Comment”

Type in your comment, using the below as a starting point


Sample Comment

I urge the Small Business Administration not to finalize this rule and to instead redirect federal funding away from corporate animal agribusiness. The proliferation of corporate-controlled concentrated animal feeding operations that cruelly confine billions of animals is polluting our air and water, threatening public health, and putting rural communities at risk. The Small Business Administration should be supporting small business—not propping up corporate animal agribusiness.


Finish filling out the form and press “Submit Comment”


Background

The animal agriculture industry attempts to paint itself as a collection of small family farms, but nothing could be further from the truth. Large — often multinational — corporations have overtaken animal agriculture in the United States. There is nothing small about this cruel and destructive industry, yet the Small Business Administration (SBA) is proposing a rule that will allow it to give small business loans to even larger factory farms.

Unfortunately, the SBA has a history of enabling the animal agriculture industry’s exploitation of funds. In 2018, the SBA Office of the Inspector General released a report concluding that the SBA guaranteed approximately $1.8 billion in loans to factory farms that did not actually qualify as small businesses. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has urged the SBA not to fund the corporate animal agriculture industry and is currently suing over the federal government’s decision to exempt federal funding for factory farms from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The SBA was created in 1953 “to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.” Funding the corporate owners of the animal agriculture industry with loans intended to help small businesses betrays the SBA’s mission. This industry is neither small nor competitive—it is controlled by a handful of large, highly consolidated corporations that are destroying actual small business and siphoning wealth from rural communities.

Factory farms intensively confine thousands, and even millions, of animals until they grow large enough to be trucked to slaughter. Not only do they hurt animals, factory farms threaten public health by spreading antibiotic resistant bacteria and zoonotic diseases and pollute the air and water. These environmental effects are especially harmful in marginalized communities, where factory farms are disproportionately sited.

The SBA should not be using public money to further entrench this industry at the expense of animals, the environment, and rural communities. We need your help in asking the SBA to reconsider its proposal to expand federal funding of factory farms.



Follow the steps below to submit a comment to the SBA by December 1st and urge them to reject this reckless rule.

Go to the Federal Register website and click on the green button – “Submit a Formal Comment”

Type in your comment, using the below as a starting point


Sample Comment

I urge the Small Business Administration not to finalize this rule and to instead redirect federal funding away from corporate animal agribusiness. The proliferation of corporate-controlled concentrated animal feeding operations that cruelly confine billions of animals is polluting our air and water, threatening public health, and putting rural communities at risk. The Small Business Administration should be supporting small business—not propping up corporate animal agribusiness.


Finish filling out the form and press “Submit Comment”




Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



shut these torturers all down
we do not want
any factory farms around!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

United Nations: Ban Fur Farming Worldwide

November 20, 2020
by
Warning, as is all animal exploitation, fur farming as demonstrated on this video is graphic, violent, and indefensible. Please remember that when you purchase animal “products”, those “products” used to be live beings capable of pain and suffering and fear, and they were viciously, unwillingly killed for said “products”.

Please sign HERE

Source Change, Herbivore Club

Wearing fur clothing in cold weather is an ancient practice, the source for this material came from the wild. As human populations grew, furs, leathers and hides for use in clothing came from farmed animals such as sheep (sheepskin), rabbits, cattle, pigs and goats. The earliest records of breeding mink for fur in North America were in the 1860s. Foxes were first raised on farms for fur in Prince Edward Island in Canada in 1895.

Starting in the latter half of the 20th century, producers and wearers of fur have been criticized by animal rights activists because of the cruelty involved in animal trapping and because the availability of natural fibres such as hemp, flax, and cotton, and synthetic fibers (from petroleum oil) that competed with animal derived fibres such as fur and wool.

Today, the majority of the fur clothing industry’s pelts come from animals raised on farms. The rest is from animals caught in the wild. The most farmed fur-bearing animal is the mink, followed by the fox. Asiatic and Finnish raccoon and chinchilla are also farmed for their fur. The majority of fur farms are in Northern Europe, followed by North America, and the rest are dispersed throughout the world, in countries such as Argentina and Russia. 

Fur used from animals caught in the wild is not considered farmed fur, and is instead known as ‘wild fur’. Most of the world’s farmed fur is produced by European farmers. Denmark is the leading mink-producing country. Other major producers include China, the Netherlands, the Baltic States, and the U.S. Finland is the largest United States supplier of fox pelts. The United States is a major exporter of furskins. Major export markets include China, Russia, Canada, and the EU. Exports to Asia as a share of total exports grew from 22% in 1998 to 47% in 2002. China is the largest importer of fur pelts in the world, therefore making them the largest re-exporter of finished fur products.

Animals on fur farms spend their entire lives confined to cramped, filthy wire cages. Fur farmers use the cheapest and cruelest killing methods available, including suffocation, electrocution, gas, and poison.

Whether it came from an animal on a fur farm or one who was trapped in the wild, every fur coat, trinket, and bit of trim caused an animal tremendous suffering – and took a life.

Several EU Member States have recognised the inherent cruelty of raising wild animals in intensive confinement and have already taken steps to restrict or ban fur production altogether. Austria and the United Kingdom are the two countries that have thus far passed legislation to fully prohibit the breeding of animals for fur production.

Production of fox and chinchilla fur was banned in the Netherlands in 1995 and 1997, respectively. Following a long phase-out period, all fox and chinchilla farms were eradicated by 2008. The Dutch Parliament also voted in favour of a ban on mink production in the Netherlands in June 2009. This legislation would lead to the phase-out of all mink farms by 2024. At present, the Netherlands is Europe’s second largest mink producer.

Although it is the world’s largest fur producer, Denmark recognised the inherent welfare problems associated with raising foxes in captivity and consequently prohibited fox farming in 2009. The Danish ban does, however, included a phase-out period for fox producers.

Sweden also effectively ended fox farming in 1995 through an amendment to its Animal Protection Ordinance, which required that foxes be kept in such a way that they can engage in natural behaviours, such as digging. This legislative change rendered fox farming economically unviable and all Swedish fox farms closed by 2000.

Finally, it should be noted that Croatia has already passed a ban on fur farming in December 2006.

We now request the United Nations to consider banning the practice of fur farming globally for the following reasons:

Animal welfare on fur factory farms

The main species, namely mink and fox, that are reared on fur factory farms are wild animals. As the European Commission’s own Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) concluded in its 2001 report, “The Welfare of Animals Kept for Fur Production”:

“…these species, in comparison with other farm animals, have been subjected to relatively little active selection, except with respect to fur characteristics. There has thus been only a limited amount of selection for tameness and adaptability to captive environments.” 

Mink and fox are carnivores, predators and highly inquisitive, active animals, with complex social lives. Unlike most other types of farm animals, who tend to be flock or herd species, mink are solitary by nature. Mink and fox are territorial and, in the wild, go to great lengths to defend their territories. 

Kept in small, wire cages, animals on fur farms have been found to exhibit stereotypical behaviour (such as pacing along the cage wall, repetitive circling/nodding of the head, etc.) as well as self-mutilation (i.e. sucking or biting of the animal’s tail fur, or other parts of their pelts). 

Studies on Swedish farms showed that 70-85% of the adult minks were performing stereotypic behaviours. This is a serious behavioural disorder and a clear sign that the animals are stressed and can not act naturally.

Killing methods for fur animals

The methods used to kill fur animals also barbaric. Mink, for example, are generally gassed to death after being placed one after the other in killing boxes.

Carbon monoxide (either pure source or associated with other gases) is the most widely used technique for killing mink. EU legislation continues to permit the use of gas produced from engine exhaust, despite scientific evidence which shows that even filtered exhaust gases induce unconsciousness in mink more slowly than pure CO, while first provoking excitation and convulsions. 

EU legislation also continues to allow the use of carbon dioxide as a manner of killing mink. The aversiveness of carbon dioxide and the practical difficulties in achieving reliable high concentration of gas in the killing chamber make CO2 an unpalatable and unacceptable method for killing mink in groups. Semi-aquatic and highly evolved physiologically to hold their breath, mink are able to detect a lack of oxygen in their blood and are prone to hypoxia, which means that they can suffer particularly during gassing.

Finally, anal electrocution is also a permitted means of killing animals on factory fur farms. However, electrocution requires considerable restraint, and use of electrodes inserted into orifices. If cardiac arrest is caused without first inducing unconsciousness, there is potential for the animal to experience severe pain and distress. It should be noted that New York State banned electrocution of foxes; this method was also banned in the UK before fox farming was prohibited there altogether.

Impact on the environment

The farming of animals for fur – while a profitable venture for fur farms – has proven to be an environmental disaster for the planet.

The intensive confinement of animals, in it’s self, has always been of environmental concern. With thousands of animals being kept over a small area, the build-up of excrement is obvious concern, as it will either be soaked into the soil and end up in our ground water, or it will run off into near-by streams as a result of heavy rain. There is an obvious health factor involved with groundwater contamination. Each mink skinned by fur farmers produces about 44 pounds of feces in his or her lifetime.

The nitrogen of these farms also impedes the wintering of trees. This accounts for added frost damage and easier access for insects and fungi into the weakened tree.

Fur farms are a source of air pollution as well due to the tons of ammonia they produce every year.

Fur is only “natural” when it’s on the animal who was born with it. Once an animal has been slaughtered and skinned, his or her fur is treated with a soup of toxic chemicals to “convert the putrefactive raw skin into a durable material” (i.e., to keep it from rotting). Various salts – along with ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, and other chromates and bleaching agents – are used to preserve and dye fur. Furs are loaded with chemicals to keep them from decomposing, and fur production pollutes the environment and uses up precious resources. Producing a fur coat from ranch-raised animals takes more than 15 times as much energy as does producing a faux-fur coat.

During the coronavirus pandemic, fur farms have been implicated as incubators for mutations to quickly arise further complicating efforts to tackle the virus, leading the killing of thousands of animals.

Considering the above facts and with all the natural and synthetic materials available today, there is simply no justification for this disgusting industry to continue and we request the United Nations, and all individual nations therein, to consider a ban on fur farming globally.


Please sign HERE




Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



How to Shoot a Cow in the Head… and Other Unhelpful Suggestions

November 16, 2020
by
Since these lovely cows, as naturally intended, free and happy, are not exploited for food, no “graphic” warnings are required.


Bella, Iolana, Naevia, Anela and Mirijam were rescued as calves by the Hawaii Lava Flow Animal Rescue Network and rehomed at Magical Creatures of Hamakua Animal Sanctuary. In July of this year, in an extension of the rescue efforts of Magical Creatures, they were relocated to Gentle World’s agricultural property known as VeganLand, where they now have endless grass to graze.


Source Gentle World: For the Vegan in Everyone

By Angel Flinn

I’m sure the offer was intended to make life easier, but it struck me instead as doing quite the opposite.

Excuse me, Google, but I knew exactly what I was looking for when I entered my original search. And while I (ordinarily) appreciate the efforts of the zillions of bots making my search experience more efficient, I would far prefer that they use the data at their disposal to identify me as someone who would never, in any of the alternate realities they might conceptualize, even consider trying to find out how one goes about shooting a cow in the head.

In the moment it came as quite a profound shock, dropping on to my screen and transforming my consciousness in an instant, at the end of an afternoon spent in the company of cows who were not only very much alive, but very happy to be alive, and very much an unmistakable expression of the irrepressible enthusiasm of life itself.

The cows I had spent the past few hours trying to shoo (not shoot, Google, but shoo) are under two years old. If they were human, we would call them adolescent. They are the size of adults, but still filled with the energy and eagerness of youth. They kick their back legs in excitement and leap in the air when something makes them happy. They gallop passionately in our direction when they think the yellow object we’re carrying contains their alfalfa pellets. They head-wrestle in earnest. At evening time, when the sun disappears from the sky, they run for the sheer pleasure of running. They play.

At just under two years old (about the age of a ten-year-old child, in human terms) they also happen to be within the exact age range wherein cows raised to be eaten are, in fact, shot in the head.

When the search giant made the leap of turning my word ‘shoo’ into the phrase ‘shoot in the head,’ automated though the algorithm may be, the results offered a telling snapshot into the zeitgeist.

It reminded me of the time when my searches for advice about easing the suffering of an elderly rabbit in my care led to information about how to quickly kill rabbits being raised for food. I had been struck then, as I was now, by how matter-of-factly Google can offer up the coldest of suggestions.

How to shoo a cow ?

Are you sure ?

Or did you perhaps mean:

How to shoot a cow in the head ?

Which cow’s lovely head could I possibly have been wanting to harm in any way? Bella, whose delightful forehead is marked with a distinctive white heart in between two adorable chocolate-colored curls, and who can almost always be seen at the front of the herd, accompanied by her fearless friend Iolana? The diminutive but oh-so-friendly Naevia? Naevia, with her little black yamukeh, can be seen kicking her back legs in delight in this video, and running around and around in circles in this one. Could you, dear reader, bring yourself to shoot her in the head? Surely no one would ever want to hurt the endearingly shy but strikingly beautiful Anela, or gentle Mirijam, whose white forehead triangle can be seen mirrored, like a hidden surprise, on the underside of her soft, velvety neck.

The reason, by the way, that I was asking Google how to shoo a cow was because I had suddenly found myself surrounded by these five, as they had learned that I had (foolishly) brought along food to share. I had subsequently learned very quickly that I didn’t know the first thing about how to stop them from moving rapidly in my direction, shoulder to shoulder, closing in on me like a moving wall of cows.

And when one of them crashed her way through the makeshift fence that I thought was separating us, I had also learned that trying to push her back into the area where I wanted her to be was very much like pushing on exactly that: a wall. A warm, soft, breathing wall that stood staring back at me as if she thought I was rather ridiculous, but with all the immovability of a wall nevertheless.

Yes, I’ve seen how one compels a cow to move. I know what hyah! sounds like, and I had even been told recently, by a well-meaning cowboy trying to school me in the tricks of the trade, “it’s okay to hit ‘em in the face.”

Different worlds.

Honestly, it goes against all my instincts to act in an intimidating way toward these girls at all. They had been rescued only relatively recently from a living hell inflicted upon them by others who look and sound at least somewhat like I do, and the only thing I ever want my presence to confirm to them is that people can actually be good…

And so, I doubt that I’ll ever be particularly good at shooing them. Mostly I want to lie down in the grass next to them and rest my head on their sides. When they push their heads against me, I want to push back with my hand and see if they’ll learn how to treat me as another (slightly more fragile) head-wrestling partner. When they move determinedly in my direction, I want only to stroke their beautiful faces and let them know that I think they’re just wonderful.

As for shooting, I think I’ll stick with the method that seems to work for me:

Using a camera.




Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



perhaps our world would be more sane
if more humans had hearts
and a brain!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


The Absolute Worst of Cognitive Dissonance

November 9, 2020
by

Please note that if you consume or use animals in any way, you should watch this video; there are a few brief, graphic parts, but they come with a warning so you can literally look away as you currently do. SL


Source Cosmic Skeptic YouTube

Cognitive Dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change. There is one particular area in which this is especially present, and in which it constitutes the norm, rather than the exception.


Links:

‘Why It’s Time To Go Vegan’: https://youtu.be/gcVR2OVxPYw

‘A Meat Eater’s Case For Veganism’: https://youtu.be/C1vW9iSpLLk


Sources

[1] 7 billion male chicks killed each year: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579119310636?via%3Dihub

[2] British male chicks ‘humanely gassed’: https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/hatched-discarded-gassed-what-happens-male-chicks-uk-10088509.html?

[3] Treatment of UK dairy cows: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9sSDTbJ8WI

[4] Most pigs slaughtered in UK killed by gas chamber (page 6): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/778588/slaughter-method-survey-2018.pdf

[5] Around six million calves killed per year in the EU for veal: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/farm-animals/cows/veal-calves/

[6] Animal slaughter counter: https://thevegancalculator.com/animal-slaughter/


Additional Links:

Patreon Cosmic Skeptic

PayPal Cosmic Skeptic




Download Your FREE Vegan PDF HERE

Order a FREE vegan kit HERE

Download Your FREE Dairy-Free PDF HERE

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge HERE

Click HERE for more Dairy-Free

Fish alternatives can be found HERE

Learn about eggs HERE

Find bacon alternatives HERE

Take PETA’s Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide along with you next time you head to the store! The handy guide will help you find humane products at a glance. Order a FREE copy HERE

Searching for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics, Personal-Care Products, Vegan Products, or more?
Click HERE to search.

Free PDF of Vegan & Cruelty-Free Products/Companies HERE

Click HERE to find out How to Wear Vegan!

Want to do more than go vegan? Help others to do so! Click below for nominal, or no, fees to vegan literature that you can use to convince others that veganism is the only compassionate route to being an animal friend:

PETA HERE

Vegan Outreach HERE

Get your FREE Activist Kit from PETA, including stickers, leaflets, and guide HERE

Have questions? Click HERE



the disconnect between heart and brain
the inability to acknowledge the feelings
of others
criminally insane!!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Ethical Vegans Must Reject Donald Trump. Period.

October 30, 2020
by


Note: Regarding Protect the Harvest’s ludicrous and deceptive claim of the nonexistence of factory farms, “family” has zero legal distinction regarding farm size; indeed, a “family” can refer to Kraft, Ford, Trump, Smithfield, and Walmart. The government defines size, and anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of Google can easily find this data. To suggest that the greater than 10 billion land animals killed annually in the US alone come from Uncle Ted’s backyard hinges on desperation to continue the animal holocaust unseen and socially accepted. SL


EPA:



USDA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines AFOs as agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs congregate animals, feed, manure and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland. There are approximately 450,000 AFOs in the United States.

A CAFO is another EPA term for a large concentrated AFO.  A CAFO is an AFO with more than 1000 animal units (an animal unit is defined as an animal equivalent of 1000 pounds live weight and equates to 1000 head of beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2500 swine weighing more than 55 lbs, 125 thousand broiler chickens, or 82 thousand laying hens or pullets) confined on site for more than 45 days during the year.  Any size AFO that discharges manure or wastewater into a natural or man-made ditch, stream or other waterway is defined as a CAFO, regardless of size.  CAFOs are regulated by EPA under the Clean Water Act in both the 2003 and 2008 versions of the “CAFO” rule.


Additional resources:

Large animal feeding operations on the rise

99% of U.S. Farmed Animals Live on Factory Farms




Ethical Vegans Must Reject Donald Trump. Period.

Source Free From Harm

By Rosemary Thompson

Veganism, at its essence, is the recognition that all animals have the right to bodily integrity. Humans do not own the bodies, families or lives of other animals – we can be guardians to animals in need of rescue, but animals are never our property or commodities.

Donald Trump has demonstrated, over and over again, that he sees animals only as obstacles to be cleared or resources to be used to serve corporate interests and generate maximum profits.

But his actions don’t reveal a detached view of other species as objects or commodities so much as a seething contempt – for the natural world, for animals and for anyone trying to protect them.

Putting animal haters in charge

At every turn, Trump has placed people who actively oppose animal welfare, wildlife and environmental protection in leadership roles at the agencies responsible for carrying out those protections. Not surprisingly, this fox-guarding-the-hen-house strategy has resulted in dire consequences for animals and their habitat.

In 2016 he selected Brian Klippenstein, executive director of a particularly vile organization called Protect the Harvest, to serve as senior advisor to the USDA – the agency charged with safeguarding animals used in commerce.

Protect the Harvest exists to “save the agricultural industry from the growing threat of the radical animal rights movement” by lobbying against animal welfare legislation, supporting ag-gag bills and promoting animal commoditization in all forms – including circuses, rodeos, dog and horse racing, horse carriages, puppy mills and horse slaughter.

One of the group’s campaigns aims to soothe consumers’ growing concern regarding confined animal feeding operations by assuring the public that factory farming is just a “fictional concept created by activists.”

Next, Trump chose to appease animal agriculture and fossil fuel industry elites by putting climate change denier Scott Pruitt in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency – a move that led to the rollback of several critical climate and pollution regulations, along with the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

Pruitt, once honored with an award for his contribution to the success of the beef cattle industry, has described himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” and “a big fan of beef.”

Though he resigned in 2018 under the weight of numerous legal and ethics investigations, EPA leadership continues to prioritize industry demands over keeping the country’s air and water clean. In March the agency used the COVID-19 chaos as a cover to release polluting industries from monitoring and reporting requirements.

Perhaps the most stunning hire Trump made was William Perry Pendley, a former oil and gas attorney he installed to wreak havoc on the Bureau of Land Management. That’s the agency charged with conserving public lands – such as national parks – in 11 Western states and Alaska.

Pendley, who spent the bulk of his career lobbying for oil companies’ rights to drill in pristine wilderness, does not believe public lands should exist at all.

He has joked on video about illegally killing and burying endangered animals, and tweeted that climate change is like a unicorn because “neither exists.” He also has a grotesque obsession with eradicating wild horses and burros – insisting that they (rather than cattle grazing or resource extraction) represent an “existential threat” to public lands.

A judge recently ruled that Pendley’s service violates the Constitution because he was never confirmed by the Senate, but so far he has refused to leave his post.


Hens inside an Organic Valley “free range” chicken shed.


Denying farmed animals space to move

While the average consumer may believe an organic label on meat and dairy products indicates humane treatment, in many cases it means nothing of the kind. Popular mid-sized chicken producer Organic Valley allows its birds only five square feet of space each – less than one-eighth of the room European chickens have.

But a 2016 USDA rule would have required organic producers to provide chickens with enough open space to move around and stretch their wings, and give cows and pigs 24/7 access to an outdoor area.

The new regulation would have helped smaller farms that could more easily comply, but because it could have disadvantaged large industrial farms that pack up to 180k birds into one building, the Trump administration delayed the rule’s implementation several times and finally withdrew it altogether.


Photo by Tommaso Ausili


Forcing slaughter plants to kill faster

Time is money, and moving more animals through the slaughter line per minute means more profits for the meat industry. It also means less oversight, more mistakes, and greatly increased animal suffering.

The Trump administration removed line speed limits for many chicken and pig processers, and has begun to do the same for cow slaughterhouses. The new rule also allows untrained workers, rather than federal inspectors, to ensure the plants are complying with humane handling and food safety protocols.

Compassion Over Killing (now Animal Outlook) took undercover video at a Hormel supplier that was piloting the new policy and killing an additional 120 pigs per hour. The horrifying footage showed animals who were not effectively stunned wounded and writhing in agony, and others reaching the kill floor with obvious dripping and infected pustules.

Trump’s new line speeds mean 11.5 million more pigs will suffer and die in U.S. slaughterhouses each year.


Trump specifically restructured the USDA to protect animal abusers instead of animals.


Failing to enforce animal cruelty laws

Once Trump’s new USDA leadership was in place, the agency promptly removed all animal welfare records from its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website – which prevented welfare organizations, activist groups and the public from viewing abuse citations and monitoring animals used by exhibitors (like circuses, marine mammal parks and roadside zoos), breeding operations and research facilities.

USDA Animal Care inspectors were told to fundamentally change the way they worked with animal industries. Their job was to help businesses avoid violations, not to protect animals and enforce the law.

The agency’s new mission was laid bare in a shocking Washington Post article that led with 300 raccoons cooking alive in 117-degree heat at a fur farm, inspectors who tried to rescue them, and a subsequent order from the Trump administration to put the animals back.

Sadly, several inspectors and veterinarians who were unable to do their jobs simply quit – and left the animals with even less hope.

The USDA has been carrying out fewer inspections and issuing fewer citations for animal welfare violations. From 2016 to 2018 the number of citations declined from 4,944 to 1,700, and the number of enforcement cases plummeted by 92%.

The Trump administration said there were so few cases because the agency was doing such a good job educating the industry about proper animal care. But former Animal Care veterinarian William Stokes said the inspection process was broken, and “untold numbers” of animals were suffering as a result.

Please read rest HERE





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Tyranny of the callous, cruel and clueless

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


False advertising law: a tool for the animal protection movement

October 26, 2020
by
Calf muzzle to prevent nursing. Source Amazon

Please note: any animal commodified, exploited for human benefit or preference, is an animal abused, you simply cannot deny the inherent rights of animals, use and take from their bodies, reproductively exploit them, separate their families, mutilate them, and kill them violently in any “humane” manner or according to a (human-manufactured) description of “welfare”.

The idea of “happy cows” or “laughing cows” or “free range” are myths perpetuated by greed and supremacy, no mother chooses to be separated from her infant and no infants wish to be violently killed or macerated.

The goal here is to remove these euphemistic descriptions and expose the fundamentally inhumane and unethical practices endemic in all farming operations, from small to CAFO and intensive sizes. SL


Source Animal Equality

Humane-Washing submission form HERE

How consumer protection litigation can advance the movement for farmed animals

How can laws designed to protect consumers be used to spare the lives and reduce the suffering of those who are consumed? Well in fact, there are various ways in which consumers’ and farmed animals’ interests actually overlap, particularly when it comes to the way meat, dairy, and egg products are marketed. 

This article provides an overview of how consumer protection legislation—in particular, laws against deceptive advertising and marketing—allow activists to litigate issues of farmed animal treatment in court.

THE CONCEPT OF “HUMANE-WASHING”: Animal and consumer advocates often use the term “humane-washing” to describe the use of words or images that convey a level of animal care and treatment that does not represent reality. Common examples are the use of phrases like “humanely raised” or “commitment to animal welfare,” or the use of imagery depicting animals outdoors in green pastures. Sellers of meat, dairy, and egg products use these misleading marketing tactics because they know consumers are concerned about the way farmed animals are treated.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Why should farmed animals (and those to advocate for them) care whether meat, dairy, and egg products are deceptively marketed to omnivorous consumers? Well for one thing, humane-washing reduces transparency. It hides the truth about factory farming and undermines the work of farmed animal advocates and others who work to educate consumers about the realities of factory farming. Imagery of animals in green pastures reinforces the illusion of the animal agriculture industry as an arcadian endeavor, reflective of “Old MacDonald’s Farm” of childhood yore. If the average consumer believes these representations—and many do—they will likely be less motivated to advocate for change or to reduce animal products in their own diets.

LAWS AGAINST FALSE-ADVERTISING: Across states and nations, laws and regulations exist to protect consumers from false and deceptive marketing practices. All 50 U.S. states have statutes against consumer deception, and, at the federal level, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing similar national standards. 

Under these laws, a commercial representation is unlawfully deceptive if it is (1) likely to mislead a reasonable consumer and (2) important to that consumer’s decision-making. Humane-washing fits this description: Animal welfare is important to consumers, and phrases like “humanely raised” and bucolic imagery mislead consumers into believing the animals were raised under conditions far better than they actually were. Many state laws use a similar test, meaning humane-washing practices are unlawful at multiple levels of government.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Humane-washing is everywhere: online, in the grocery aisle, on social media, in billboards and bus ads, and even on TV. Keep an eye out for examples of humane-washing as you go about your day, and point it out to friends and family when you see it. By drawing attention to the misleading nature of these advertisements and product labels, we can shatter the myth.

In addition, the best possible way we can help animals is simply by refusing to eat them! Check out Love Veg for tips to get started: TRY PLANT-BASED NOW!


SPOTTED POSSIBLE HUMANE WASHING? LET US KNOW!




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the truth cannot be hidden by
euphemistic
platitude
unrealistic!!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson


Stop the Veggie Burger Ban: Please sign petition

October 20, 2020
by
Not graphic

Not graphic

Please sign petition HERE

Source ProVeg International

The European Union is currently considering banning established and widely understood terms such as ‘burger’, ‘sausage’, and ‘steak’ for plant-based products. Additionally, the proposed EU ban would prohibit dairy-related terms, such as ‘yoghurt style’, ‘cheese alternative’, and ‘butter substitute’

The main argument behind this proposal is to avoid consumer confusion. However, terms such as ‘veggie burger’ and ‘veggie sausage’ provide important information regarding the taste and uses that people can expect from a product. Consumers buy plant-based products precisely because they know these products offer similar taste experiences and functionalities to their animal-based counterparts.

The proposed restrictions would be in direct contradiction to the EU’s stated objectives in the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy of creating more sustainable and healthier food systems. The Farm to Fork Strategy explicitly states the need to empower consumers “to choose sustainable food” and to make “it easier to choose healthy and sustainable diets”. 

Add your name and tell the European Parliament not to accept the proposed veggie burger ban.





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banning the humane is basically insane!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



New Documents Reveal How the Animal Agriculture Industry Surveils and Punishes Critics

October 19, 2020
by

Source The Intercept

By Glenn Greenwald

This week’s SYSTEM UPDATE on this topic — with Dr. Crystal Heath, one of the veterinarians targeted by these industry campaigns for retaliation — can be viewed on The Intercept’s YouTube channel, or on the player above.

ANIMAL AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY GROUPS defending factory farms engage in campaigns of surveillance, reputation destruction, and other forms of retaliation against industry critics and animal rights activists, documents obtained through a FOIA request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveal. That the USDA possesses these emails and other documents demonstrates the federal government’s knowledge of, if not participation in, these industry campaigns.

These documents detail ongoing monitoring of the social media of news outlets, including The Intercept, which report critically on factory farms. They reveal private surveillance activities aimed at animal rights groups and their members. They include discussions of how to create a climate of intimidation for activists who work against industry abuses, including by photographing the activists and publishing the photos online. And they describe a coordinated ostracization campaign that specifically targets veterinarians who criticize industry practices, out of concern that veterinarians are uniquely well-positioned to persuasively and powerfully denounce industry abuses.

One of the industry groups central to these activities is the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which represents factory farms and other animal agriculture companies — or, as they playfully put it, they work for corporations “involved in getting food from the farm to our forks!” The group boasts that one of its prime functions is “Monitoring Activism” by which they mean: “We identify emerging threats and provide insightful resources on animal rights and other activist groups by attending their events, monitoring traditional and social media and engaging our national network.”

Animal Agriculture Alliance website

Indeed, the Alliance frequently monitors and infiltrates conferences of industry critics and activists, then provides reports to their corporate members on what was discussed. As The Intercept previously noted when reporting on felony charges brought against animal rights activists with Direct Action Everywhere, or DxE, for peaceful filming and symbolic animal rescues inside one Utah farm that supplies Whole Foods and another owned by Smithfield — an action that showed how wildly at odds with reality is the bucolic branding of those farms — the Animal Agriculture Alliance issued a statement denouncing the activists for (ironically) harming their animals and urging law enforcement and “policymakers” to intervene on behalf of the industry against the activists.

In the emails obtained by the FOIA request, the Alliance and its allies frequently encourage their members to alert the FBI and Department of Homeland Security regarding actions by activists. In response to a project by DxE to create a map tracking factory farms, Lyle Orwig — chair of the agricultural company Charleston/Orwig, Inc. and a member of the Alliance board — proposed the retaliatory step of “taking photos of every DXE [sic] member” and posting them to the internet while accusing them of being “opposed to feeding the hungry.”

ONE PERSON SINGLED OUT for retaliation in these discussions was a popular, respected Bay Area veterinarian, Dr. Crystal Heath. As a local CBS affiliate television profile of her explained, Dr. Heath is the kind of veterinarian who we all as children are taught to admire.

Rather than working for corporations or state agencies engaged in cruel animal experimentation, or for factory farms making a large salary to provide the veneer of medical justification for their barbarictorturous practices, Dr. Heath has devoted herself to shelter medicine, working for years with the Berkeley Humane Society and other nonprofit animal rescue groups, where she “has spayed and neutered more than 20,000 animals.” The CBS broadcast report provides a full picture of the humanitarian and self-sacrificing nature of her work.

But to the Animal Agriculture Alliance and its industry allies, Dr. Heath somehow became a grave danger, an “extremist” whose name needed to be circulated within her profession as someone to be aggressively shunned. And that is exactly what they did. What prompted this targeted campaign against her was nothing more than her use of her veterinarian expertise to express criticisms of industry abuses and excesses.

In May, The Intercept reported on a gruesome mass-extermination technique being used by Iowa’s largest pork producer, Iowa Select Farms, to kill large numbers of pigs which were deemed unnecessary and in need of “depopulation” due to the pandemic. The technique, called “ventilation shutdown,” or VSD, involves cutting off the air supply in barns and turning up the heat to intense levels so that “most pigs — though not all — die after hours of suffering from a combination of being suffocated and roasted to death.” The pigs who survive this excruciating ordeal are then shot in the head in the morning by farm employees. A video report produced by The Intercept and the video documentarian Leighton Woodhouse — based on footage obtained inside an Iowa Select barn by DxE as the pigs were slowly dying — was viewed by more than 150,000 people.

Numerous veterinarians were shocked by the use of this unspeakably cruel and gratuitous mass-extermination tactic, which imposes extreme, protracted suffering on highly intelligent, socially complex, sentient animals. And it created serious problems for the industry, with McDonald’s demanding an explanation it could use publicly, and even discussions — from the National Pork Producers Council — to invent a new, more pleasant and euphemistic name for the extermination technique:

One of the veterinarians indignant about ventilation shutdown extermination programs was Dr. Heath. She was part of a group of hundreds of her veterinarian colleagues to launch a campaign urging the American Veterinarian Medical Association to withdraw its approval of the use of this technique in limited, proscribed circumstances. Though the AVMA says it was not involved in the specific use of the extermination technique by Iowa Select, its guidelines approving of VSD were, as The Intercept documented, cited as justification by the company and its allies.

Dr. Heath was quoted in one news report on the controversy as saying: “I believe the majority of AVMA members do not approve of VSD except as a ‘last resort’ depopulation method and AVMA intended VSD to be used only in extreme conditions of infectious or zoonotic disease outbreaks or natural disasters. AVMA approval has allowed pig and poultry producers to use VSD as a cost-savings procedure to cheaply destroy unprofitable or excess animals.”

Due to her criticisms of these factory farm practices and her work with DxE in advocating industry reform, industry groups focused on her. In one email from April, a vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, Hannah Thompson-Weeman, revealed that an “alert” had been sent about Dr. Heath to California members, accusing her of engaging in “extreme activism” and encouraging groups to “spread the word to your veterinarian contacts in California” — where Dr. Heath practices — “using private, members only channels.”

Following that “alert,” Dr. Heath began experiencing targeted campaigns against her online and within her profession. Though it cannot be proven that this was the result of the Alliance’s “alert,” what began happening to her for the first time in the wake of that alert tracked the language used against her by these industry groups. (The Alliance and Thompson-Weeman did not respond to The Intercept’s request for comments. Thompson-Weeman locked her Twitter account yesterday after we previewed this article and the SYSTEM UPDATE episode. The AVMA has denied that it was involved in Iowa Select’s use of VSD.)

What perhaps alerted the Alliance was one veterinarian group that accused her of being “part of an active campaign to cause as much harm as possible to our clients and ourselves,” announcing that they had alerted the Alliance about her. Veterinarian groups on Facebook posted their own warnings about her, and she was banned from some groups. Comments began appearing on her own Facebook page, purportedly from other veterinarians, accusing her of “deranged activism,” being “a liar who makes up stories,” “bastardizing our profession through every available method,” and claiming that she is “literally, by name, a topic of conversation in board rooms from Ag business to organized veterinarian medicine across the nation. Your name is literally toxic.”

What alarmed Dr. Heath most was the emergence online of anonymous flyers which contained a “BEWARE” warning at the top, along with her photo and a string of accusations, some of which were false, that claimed she harbors “an agenda that doesn’t include anything positive for our profession” and “expresses fondness” for “domestic terrorist organizations.” It warned that even allowing her access to the social media pages of veterinarians could be dangerous, and thus urged that she be blocked from all online forums, personal profiles, and social media groups.

It goes without saying that this sort of a campaign could be devastating to the career opportunities or ability to earn a livelihood of any veterinarian. Fortunately for Dr. Heath, she believes her hard-earned reputation with area clinics developed over many years will enable her to continue to work, but she believes, for very good reason, that “alerts” and campaigns of this sort would make it extremely difficult if not impossible for her to find work anywhere else. For a younger or less-established veterinarian seeing what was done to her, they would obviously think twice about speaking out or working against the factory farm industry, the obvious goal of such campaigns.

That the U.S. Department of Agriculture was in possession of the emails and other documents circulated by industry groups, and thus produced them as part of the FOIA request, indicates that, at the very least, government officials are being included in these discussions (the flyer about Dr. Heath and other social media postings regarding her were obtained by The Intercept from Dr. Heath, not by the FOIA request). What is clear is that the animal agricultural industry essentially operates their own private surveillance and “warning” networks, and uses their extensive influence within the halls of government power to aid their efforts to punish and retaliate against its critics and activists.

Dr. Heath is my guest on this week’s SYSTEM UPDATE. The episode, which can be viewed on The Intercept’s YouTube channel or on the player above, first reviews these new documents in detail obtained by the FOIA request, and I then speak to Dr. Heath about what she has endured as a result of her speaking out against this very powerful industry.





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in the name of greed, indeed and in deed!!!

Karen Lyons Kalmenson



‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Is More Fact Than Fiction for Dairy Cows

October 12, 2020
by

Source Sentient Media

By Caroline Christen

An exhausted mother draws near to her baby. After the strenuous process of giving birth, she is bonding with the new being she has just brought into the world. Seemingly moments later, the newborn is gone. The mother, her listless face contorted in pain, is attached to a breast pump monitored by a surrounding group of people. When a dip in milk production appears on her record, her custodians exchange glances of displeasure.

This scene is part of the award-winning television series The Handmaid’s Tale, which is based on Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name about reproduction under totalitarian rule. Dystopian stories like The Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World have enjoyed a surge in popularity in the U.S. as the political climate prompts growing concerns about women’s reproductive rights. The 2010s have seen the release of other feminist dystopian stories like Vox, Gather the Daughters, and a movie adaption of The Giver—a novel by Lois Lowry about a society trying to live without emotions. In 2019, Atwood published the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, called The Testaments. Some dystopia genre fans view or read these stories for inspiration to prevent real-life future dystopias, while others do so simply to gain reassurance that we live in a better and kinder world. But do we? Upon a closer look, a system of reproductive exploitation that easily surpasses Atwood and Huxley’s dystopian brainchildren already exists in our world.

Fictional reproductive dystopias tend to follow a distinctive pattern. Typically, such narratives describe a social issue that unravels to the extreme and prompts rulers to seize reproductive control, which they claim is necessary for the sake of humans’ continued survival. The Handmaid’s Tale is premised on an environmental disaster that renders most women unable to conceive children. Some of the remaining fertile women, so-called “handmaids,” are forced to bear babies for the elite class. Women who fail to bear children are forced to work in a polluted area where they survive no longer than three years. In The Giver, some girls are turned into “vessels” at age 12 and expected to conceive children, who are then assigned to chosen couples. Some fictional dystopian societies resort to using reproductive technology as another way to control the population. The rulers of Brave New World mass-produce human clones to fulfill specific social functions: “Alphas” become factory owners and “Epsilons” toil as sewage workers. As dystopian stories near their climaxes, protagonists often discover that their societies’ rules rest on faulty premises. Handmaid’s Tale protagonist June learns that it is actually the men of Gilead, not the women, who are infertile. In The Giver, Jonas discovers that human emotion should not be forbidden, but rather celebrated. Both June and Jonas ultimately become rebels who rescue children from lives of reproductive tyranny and early deaths. Such parallel story arcs, per dystopian genre expert Keith M. Booker, can reframe as troubling some contemporary “practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable.”

The next big dystopian story may have already been written. Imagine a young female named Paulina, whose purpose is determined by authority figures before her conception. Paulina’s mother is artificially inseminated to conceive a baby who, upon maturity, shares her outstanding ability to produce milk. Paulina’s father is kept far away in a semen collection center, from where he fathers hundreds, possibly tens of thousands, of children. After her birth, Paulina’s keepers separate her from her mother and raise her on milk replacer. Soon after puberty, Paulina is artificially inseminated, just like her mother. After she gives birth, Paulina’s keepers take her baby from her in order to sell the milk that she begins to produce. Paulina would have repeated this cycle of conceiving and losing her offspring until becoming physically spent, except that something happens that her keepers consider a disaster: Paulina gives birth to twins, which results in inflammation that severely scars her uterus. During the next round of inseminations, Paulina does not conceive again. After a few more unsuccessful attempts to impregnate her, Paulina’s keepers decide to send her to her death.

What’s most disturbing about the above dystopian tale is that it is not a work of fiction. Paulina, until 2019, was a Holstein cow kept on a German dairy farm for six years. Like the handmaids in Atwood’s dystopia, her perceived worth was based solely on her ability to produce offspring and lactate. Paulina had the misfortune of conceiving twins, something known for causing complicated pregnancies and producing infertile freemartin cows—female calves who are born as part of a set of multiples that includes a male. No details about Paulina’s offspring are known, though her daughters presumably shared her fate of reproductive servitude. Her sons and any daughters deemed unfit to become dairy cows were either killed and eaten at 16 to 24 weeks old or “disposed of” during their first weeks of life. As the non-producing offspring of a dairy cow, rather than a beefier cattle breed, their lives would be deemed worth less than the feed that they would require. Rather than exemplifying unusual cruelty, the swift disposal of unwanted calves is routine on dairy farms, where only fertile female animals yield significant economic gain.

Like Paulina, most of the world’s 264 million dairy cows are born by means of reproductive technology. Since the 1930s, dairy farmers have been manually inseminating cows with sperm from bulls who are considered to be genetically superior. Artificial insemination has become so widespread over decades that repeatedly combining the same genes has led to severe inbreeding among cows. As of 2019, most of the 9.3 million U.S. dairy cows are the descendants of just two bulls born in the 1960s. Some female cows, particularly those with traits most desired by farmers, are also being forced to produce increasingly more offspring; these cows receive hormones to produce eggs that are fertilized into embryos and then used to impregnate other female cows. Slaughterhouse workers even remove egg cells from the ovaries of genetically-desirable dead cows to create new cow embryos. And the list of practices akin to dystopian fiction continues. Dairy cows are cloned. Farmers try to create more docile herds by killing individuals who resist when humans handle them. Dairy farmers then go on to brand the resulting more docile cows as “bad mothers” whose motherhood instincts have been “bred out” of them; the farmers claim that removing their calves is “for their own good”—despite maternal deprivation being a form of psychological torment that causes both cows and calves extreme distress. Similar to Brave New World, the dairy industry attempts to shape its victims’ personalities for its own benefit.

If the dairy industry practices described thus far do not sound dystopian enough, consider that consumers are heavily influenced to regard the food intended for baby cows as indispensable to humans. Over the last century, dairy producers, in addition to implementing their own marketing campaigns, have systematically convinced governments to tout their product as “nature’s perfect food.” Without receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies, which it has for decades, the dairy industry would not likely be viable. According to a 2019 study, the E.U. annually spends between €28.5 billion and €32.6 billion, nearly a fifth of its budget, to support animal agriculture, including dairy. In the U.S., the government has been financially rescuing the dairy industry since the 1930s, when the end of World War I led to a milk surplus and subsequently falling prices. The U.S. government’s support of the dairy industry continues to this day. Such reliance on governmental backing—a trademark of many fictional dystopian societies—ensures not only that cows’ milk remains a staple but also that the industry itself survives despite not being profitable on its own.

By so often invoking pictures of free-roaming cows on green meadows, the dairy industry conveys a deeply misleading and even utopian image of dairy farming. This glossy facade and dairy industry jargon obscure the reality that the industry’s profits are mostly derived from the exploitation of female individuals. In the U.S., newborn Paulina would have been called a “heifer” prior to giving birth, an “open cow” between her pregnancies, a “dry cow” when she was not lactating, a “springer” shortly before giving birth, and a “cull cow” once her profitability declined. Her slaughter would have been euphemized as “retirement.” In a truly dystopian manner, dairy farmers refer to cows according to how fertile, and therefore profitable, they are. Like an authoritarian propaganda department, the dairy industry manipulates both consumers and farmers into believing that its practices are ethical and “humane,” while using jargon and euphemisms to objectify sentient beings and minimize their distressing experiences.

Like June’s trauma of losing her baby as described in The Handmaid’s Tale, Paulina’s suffering as a dairy cow was entirely unjustified. Dairy products are not only unnecessary for humans to consume but can be harmful to human health. Dairy cheese is the number-one source of saturated fat consumed in the U.S.—a country struggling with an obesity epidemic. Diets high in saturated fat also contribute to heart disease, and dairy is linked to increased risks of several types of cancer. Despite studies showing that 95 percent of Asian-Americans and 70 percent of African-Americans cannot digest dairy without experiencing unwanted symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps, official U.S. dietary guidelines continue to characterize dairy as an “essential” food group. Dairy further poses a threat to global health by contributing to ecological degradation, including greenhouse gas emissions, and to an unjust food system that exploits vulnerable workers. Paulina’s life as a dairy cow was reduced to providing humans with her milk for no vital reason, as all nutrients found in dairy are present in other foods. Some pulses, seaweeds, leafy greens, and fortified plant milks even contain more calcium than cows’ milk. Like Gilead’s ruling elite, the dairy industry falsely presents its oppressive system as the only means to ensure a healthy human population—but in reality, humans can choose more compassionate, sustainable, and healthy alternatives to dairy.

As more people are experiencing awakenings akin to those of the protagonists in dystopian tales, public resistance to the dairy industry is rising. Animal advocates are increasingly speaking out on behalf of dairy cows and other farmed animals, including hens and sows, whose lives are reduced to laying eggs and bearing offspring for human benefit. Like The Giver’s protagonist Jonas, who realizes that his society normalizes violence by conditioning its members to suppress their emotions, animal advocates go through a process to unlearn the harmful social conditioning that underlies animal consumption. Viewers of news footage showing unmarketable male dairy calves being lined up and shot may experience horror, similar to how Jonas reacts upon witnessing a twin baby being killed in a birth center because of a societal policy of erasing genetic kinship. Further mirroring the dynamics of The Giver, dairy farmers stigmatize “emotive language” by animal advocates in an attempt to systematically erase animals’ suffering. Fortunately, in both dystopian tales and the animal agriculture industry, even the antagonists sometimes experience their own Jonas-like awakenings. Some former dairy farmers are overcoming dairy farming’s “numbing effect” and transitioning to other livelihoods.

Very few individual farmed animals are lucky enough to be saved from certain death—but Paulina is one of the rare survivors of animal agriculture. Shortly before she would have been killed, in 2019, she was rescued by the German sanctuary Hof Butenland Stiftung. The facility is run by animal advocates Karin Mück and Jan Gerdes, a former farmer; Mück and Gerdes together transformed Gerdes’ farm into a place where animals can live out their days safe from neglect, abuse, and slaughter. Ten months after her arrival, Paulina has settled in well at Hof Butenland, where she is reportedly loyal to her close circle of animal friends and happy with her position in the herd. Freed from a life of dystopian exploitation, Paulina has transformed from a nameless “milking cow” into a cherished individual with inherent moral worth.

The parallels between animal agriculture and Atwood’s and Huxley’s stories are striking. Dystopian authors themselves seem to make this connection; Huxley, in devising a society that maximally exploits humans’ reproductive abilities, even uses the dairy industry term “freemartin” to describe human characters. As Paulina’s story demonstrates, fertility dystopias are confined to neither science fiction nor human-centric abuse. Millions of thinking, feeling individuals presently suffer, largely unnoticed as the dairy industry’s live “stock.” Humans who care about reproductive freedom can and should reconsider whether a truly just society would permit economic gain to be derived from systemic reproductive exploitation. If the dairy industry was showcased as part of a dystopian T.V. show, who would the audience root for—the cows or the humans? When the next season of The Handmaid’s Tale airs, remember Paulina—and order that latte with oat milk.





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Karen Lyons Kalmenson

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