Mini-Review: Baby Chicken (A Heroic Tale Picture Book for Kids), Azod Abedikichi (2014)

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Two Words: Tofu Scramble

five out of five stars

Baby Chicken is a children’s picture book adaptation of a 2013 animated short of the same name. (I haven’t seen it yet, but I plan to!) Directed by Azod Abedikichi and clocking in at 8 minutes, the Claymation film tells the harrowing tale of a wood man (called “Woodman”) who’s horrified to find a baby chick living inside one of the dozen eggs he’s about to boil for breakfast. He heroically saves the other eleven eggs – and their occupants – from a slow, agonizing death by fire. But wait! One of the eggs won’t hatch! It’s enough to shatter a wood man’s oddly external, ruby red heart into a million tiny pieces.

Of course, the premise is rather absurd – chicken eggs bound for the breakfast table aren’t, as a general rule, fertilized – but it helps to put a face on a what has become a mechanized, industrialized, impersonal consumer item. The chickens who were exploited and killed so that you could enjoy your Eggs Benedict were someones, not somethings – a point posited by Baby Chicken in a gentle and amusing way.

Baby Chicken – Trailer from Azod Abedikichi on Vimeo.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Buy ALL the things!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

2012-03-14 - Goodies from Food Fight - 0026

Can I just tell y’all how much I love this “Support Your Local Vegan Grocery” tote from Food Fight? (If only I had a local vegan grocery to support!) Most totes tend toward the dinky, especially for grocery shopping purposes, but this thing is ginormous! Bigger even than the VegNews tote the mag gives out with 3-year subscriptions. And it’s make out of recycle plastic bottles to boot!

As you can see, I snagged it – along with a box full of vegan goodies – during the Emergency Turlock Hen Rescue Benefit Day. Speaking of, Animal Place is selling a special “fancy pants” poster to help raise funds for the 1,000 hens who are still staying with them. Designed by Sharie Lesniak in the Shepard Fairey style (is that a thing?), the poster features a lovely white, red, and blue hen under the heading “ADOPT.”

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It’s super-cute (and yes, I bought one for my own bad self. Along with a tee!)

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Tweeting Mother’s Day (Again!)

Monday, May 9th, 2011

A vegan vanilla cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream and
shredded coconut. Staked in the middle is a cute, pink and yellow sign
wishing the nom-er a Happy Mother’s Day!
CC image via flickr user mishl982.
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In honor of Mother’s Day, I spent much of yesterday tweeting about veganism, motherhood, and the exploitation of female bodies in animal industries (with an obvious emphasis on agriculture). In fact, those of you who follow me on twitter probably saw your feeds flooded by my steady stream of tweets! (Sorry for that, y’all!) In comparison to last year, I planned ahead this time: the day prior, I queued up a bunch of tweets using Hoot Suite, so that they’d begin posting while I was still snuggled up, all warm and cozy in bed (under a dog pile several layers deep, no doubt). Once I awoke and was reassured that it was working correctly, I scheduled the rest of the day, with a tweet going out every five or ten minutes until nearly 11PM. Way easier and more consistent than doing it by hand throughout the day! (Also, possibly less obnoxious, though only slightly so.)

After the jump you’ll find a digest of all of yesterday’s tweets (minus the ones for which I used twitter’s built-in RT feature. For some silly reason, those don’t make it into the list. Sigh.) If you compare this to last year’s round-up – which I totally don’t expect anyone to do! – you’ll find that I recycled many of 2010’s tweets, but also added quite a few new ones as well. This is partially due to laziness on my end, I admit. But also, when I went over last year’s list, I had a hard time trimming it down: so many of the posts, articles, photos, pamphlets, etc. were that compelling. I hope you agree!

I’m already working on a list of resources for Father’s Day (June 19) so if you have a blog, post, idea or theme you’d like to suggest, I’m all eyes!

Smooch!

“Smooch!: Both Tommy (left) and Freedom (right) were rescued from slaughter. Tommy is an Angus, raised for meat consumption. Freedom is a male Jersey, a dairy breed. Male dairy calves are unwanted and sent to auction and raised for veal or backyard slaughter. Now both live at Animal Place and obviously Freedom loves Tommy!”
CC image via Marji Beach on flickr.
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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 25: Vegan nomz & Bowl-a-thons!

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

Vegan cookies are distributed

Vegan cookies are distributed at a Prop 8 rally in Riverside, CA, circa 2008.
CC image via Flickr user lierne.

For this edition of Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, let’s start with some shiny happy news for a change, shall we? Namely, cross-movement bridge-building with vegan nomz and bowl-a-thons!

(Take note, carnists and defensive omnivores: vegans are not, in point o’ facts, all single-minded activists who prioritize nonhuman over human animals. Also: we are quite capable of multitasking, thankyouverymuch.)

Vegan Protest Fuel: Feeding the protesters in Madison, WI

Vegan Protest Fuel is the first of two projects I’d like to share with y’all (and, if you happen to have a little extra scratch laying around, encourage you to contribute to). Started just last week in response to the ongoing protests in Wisconsin, the good folks at Vegan Protest Fuel deliver vegan food to peaceful protesters defending their rights – because “Everyone Needs to Eat.” Naturally, their first campaign is feeding “the tenacious heroes in Madison, WI, who are fighting to preserve their precious collective bargaining rights and for economic justice in their state against a radical conservative governor and assembly.” Over time, they hope to expand their program throughout the United States and, possibly, the world.

Powered by tofu: it’s not just a slogan on a tee, yo.

See also: Food Not Bombs, Food for Life Global, HIPPO, A Well-Fed World and Ample Harvest.

Team Vegan Vixens: Bowling for abortions in the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon!

Team Vegan Vixens needs your support in the National Abortion Access Bowl-a-Thon! Held throughout the month of April,

The Bowl-a-Thon is a nationwide series of local events that allow community members (you!) to captain your own bowling team, participate in a kickass national event – and raise money to help women and girls pay for abortions they couldn’t otherwise afford.

Abortion Funds are local, grassroots groups that work tirelessly to help low-income and disadvantaged women who want an abortion and do not have enough money to pay for it. Abortion Funds help women pay for their abortions, help them buy bus or plane tickets, and even offer women a place to stay when they have to travel for an abortion. Abortion Funds make a difference in women’s lives…and you can join them!

With $236 raised so far, Team Vegan Vixens is currently the top fundraiser for the Chicago Abortion Fund, which ranks #8 overall. Help Team Vegan (Vixens!) represent by pledging your support. Or sign up to participate your own bad self!

Fuck yeah, pro-choice vegans.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 24: Three months o’ links!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Considering I haven’t posted a link roundup in more than three months, this one actually isn’t all that long. What can I say; I’ve used what little free blogging time I’ve had to prepare for the upcoming Vegan MoFo madness. Speaking of which, brand spanking new graphics and an up-to-date press release are now available. Go grab some and spread the word! 400 participants and counting – let’s make it 500, kay? Come November 1st, you can follow the fun on Twitter (VeganMoFo, #veganmofo), the (new!) PPK forums, and Vegan MoFo Headquarters International. See y’all then.

Joel Burns tells gay teens “it gets better”;

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: “You Coming Out or What?”; and

The Bullies Suck T-shirt

In the wake of a spate of suicides, committed by gay teenagers who were each the target of homophobic bullying, the LGBTQ community and its allies celebrated National Coming Out Day on October 11. Together, these events have focused attention on movements to prevent bullying – particularly those aimed at LGBTQ (or perceived LGBTQ) youths – including the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project. The former invites members and allies of the LGBTQ community to upload encouraging videos to its website, the message being that “it gets better”; the latter operates a hotline for LGBTQ youths and young adults in crisis, and also provides resources to parents and educators.

As part of this anti- anti-gay backlash, a number of celebrities and public figures have shared their own experiences publicly – including Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, whose heartbreaking speech went viral and was aired in full on various media outlets, including CNN (where I first saw it). I’ve embedded the video above; even though it’s rather long, clocking in at almost 13 minutes, I urge you to watch the whole thing. It will bring you to tears.

And, while you’re already a sobby, snotty mess, head on over to AR&AO, where Stephanie shares her own “coming out” story. These issues – homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and the like – are relevant to animal rights activism simply because so many activists belong to marginalized groups; nonhumans are not the only animals exploited and mistreated en masse, for no reason other than the simple fact of their birth. All oppression is bad oppression, and all forms of oppression harm individual activists, as well as social movements and the beings for whom we advocate. These are not “special interests,” to be addressed only after the “important” work is done; these are our interests, to be tackled in concert with other “isms.”

To this end, Ari Solomon of A Scent of Scandal, Josh Hooten of The Herbivore Clothing Company and Jennifer Martin of Ink Brigade created a line of t-shirts to show solidarity with the victims of anti-LGBTQ bullying. Called “Bullies Suck,” the tees are available for purchase through Herbivore (just $20, with kids’ sizes, to boot!); all proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project.

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Tweeting Mother’s Day

Monday, May 10th, 2010

“Western Union — Happy Mother’s Day – 1942”; CC image via Beyond the Trail [Gary] on Flickr. Please click through to read the photo description!
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In between hour-long calls home to Mom, vegan pizzas topped with Daiya AND Follow Your Heart cheese, gratuitous dog piles, and Boston Cream Pie-induced sugar comas, I spent a good part of yesterday tweeting Mother’s Day. Inspired by last August’s for-the-pigs #oink tweetfest, I compiled a list of facts, photos, blog posts and links that address animal exploitation (with an emphasis on femaleness, family and motherhood), which I shared on Twitter at intervals throughout the day yesterday. While I didn’t manage to use up all my pre-made tweets (I overslept and got a rather late start), I did log 84 tweets, almost all of them Mother’s Day-related. Better yet, because I wrote most of the tweets earlier in the week, I didn’t have to spent too much of the holiday online.

This was a somewhat impromptu action on my part; initially, I considered trying to recruit a few fellow animal advocates to help me out, but I quickly nixed the idea, thinking that most people would be otherwise occupied. Happily, I was not alone in my armchair activism yesterday; on both Twitter and Facebook (and not a few blogs), I saw a steady stream of tweets and status updates emphasizing the plight of nonhuman mothers. Here in the U.S., Father’s Day isn’t nearly as popular as its feminine counterpart, to be sure (a topic for a whole ‘nother feminist-minded post), but I think I’ll try something similar on June 20th. Should you, you know, care to join me. (*smiles*)

After the jump you’ll find all my Mother’s Day tweets. Together, they make an awfully compelling (but by no means exhaustive) argument in favor of a more inclusive vision of motherhood – and, by extension, sisterhood.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 18: My Bloody Valentine

Friday, February 26th, 2010

A neon red-and-white sign declares: “My Bloody Valentine sells out.”
CC image via Penningtron on Flickr.
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Vegansaurus!: What creepy chefs do to get laid

Guest blogger Kristen looks at a Valentine’s Day article which highlights the foods that non-vegan chefs cook for their lovers. Surprise, surprise: many are animal-based, thus transforming the descriptions into an appalling spectacle of sex and death. The original article at Grub Street, for example, is decorated with a disgusting photo of scallops in an orange-and-green sauce/oil slick. Yuck.

Suicide Food: Happy Valentine’s Day: a digression

Just when you thought the butcher’s counter couldn’t get any more grotesque, behold: heart-shaped slabs of “meat”! I shit you not.

The Pursuit of Harpyness: Be A Bitch: To the New York Times Public Editor

In which Roman Polanski’s 13-year-old rape victim is likened to – wait for it – “quarry.” “Quarry” being another word for a hunted “game” animal.

The link above is to a complaint letter (good!) written in response to a piece which ran in The New York Times (bad!); you can read the original piece in its entirety here: Polanski’s Visions of Victimhood by Dennis Lim.

The Discerning Brute: Who Wears The Pants?

Joshua Katcher dissects a trailer for the upcoming documentary “An Emasculating Truth” – brought to you by, ahem, Dockers – which, surprise, is chock full of sexism and speciesism. In particular, the men appearing in the film advocate violence towards animals as an expression of one’s masculinity. Katcher ties this overt encouragement of violence with Levi’s own history of environmental and labor violence towards its employees and their families, many of them poor women of color.

(More below the fold…)

Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 17: F-O-O-D.*

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

“assortment of vegan chocolates”: A dozen+ gorgeous vegan chocolates sit atop a white porcelain cake stand. Nom! CC image via quintanaroo (the chocolate-maker herself) on Flickr.
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Regretfully, I spent most of the long weekend either tossing and turning in bed, or retching and heaving over the toilet (read: vomiting; either way, what a mental image, yeah?), and thus was unable to get much of anything done. The perfect time for a link roundup! The commentary is rather sparse, but seeing as I feel like I’ve been through the ringer and back, I hope you’ll forgive me.

johanna @ Vegans of Color: Vegan cookbooks: helping folks eat the Other

The Vegan Ideal: A Western Vegetarian ‘Foray’ into Non-Western Culture

johanna and Ida provide several examples of the “exotification” of non-Western foods (“African,” “Asian,” Hawaiian and Cambodian, respectively), with an eye on vegetarian/vegan contexts (cookbooks and a veg gathering at veg-friendly restaurant).

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Domination and Rape in Avatar: This Is “Respect” for Animals?

While I’ve seen many a discussion of Avatar‘s problematic racial politics, anti-speciesist reviews appear to be few and far between. This piece from Stephanie is a must-read; the title says it all, really. (Mary also discussed the film back in December.)

Marji @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Sarah’s Diary: Remembering

Marji imagines what rescue hen Sarah’s diary might look like. It is predictably heart-breaking. I’ll be honest; I have not yet been able to read the entire piece.

Of course, I feel rather silly when considering Marji’s description of the “mock-diary”:

This is Sarah. She turns seven this February 14th. She is one of 2,000 hens we were legally permitted to pull from a small, 160,000 egg-laying hen operation. I know this diary is horribly anthropomorphic. I pulled Sarah out of that cage. For hours, I breathed what they breathed, saw and smelled their world. It was horrifying. I have tried, for years, to fathom what it must have been like for them from birth to grisly death. I can’t.

If there were a goddess, surely you’d find her volunteering at an animal sanctuary.

(More below the fold…)

A hen is a mink is a dog is a boy.* Also: site updates and intersectionality links!

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

“Mother hen”: Resting in the grass, a mother hen carries/camouflages four+ chicks under her wings. CC image via topinambour on Flickr.
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Along with The Simple Little Vegan Dog Book, the Book Publishing Company sent me a copy of Karen Davis’s Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, which I’ve had my eye on for some time now. (The book is now in its second edition; you can download the first ed. for free as a .pdf file here, via United Poultry Concerns.) With five out of six chapters down, I’m not yet ready to offer a review, but I will say that it’s excellent – a must read, and a difficult one, at that. Not difficult intellectually, but emotionally: battery and broiler farms are the Seventh Circle of Dante’s Inferno come to life. You will need to read this book from the bottom of a dog pile – soft fur and warm bellies were the only things to keep me from breaking down in tears some nights. The scale and depth of suffering is simply unfathomable.

Anyhow, whether intentionally or not, Davis writes quite a bit about issues of intersectionality in Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs. The gendered nature of egg production is an obvious topic, but the shared suffering does not stop there. For example, Davis explains what becomes of “spent” laying hens – that is, hens whose bodies are (prematurely, tragically, needlessly) depleted of calcium and other nutrients, such that they’re no longer capable of laying eggs. Their fate is a gruesome one, however, it’s only one link in a long chain of abominations:

At slaughter, spent laying hens are a mass of broken bones, abscesses oozing yellow fluids, bright red bruises, internal hemorrhaging, and malignant tumors. They’ve lost 40 percent or more of their feathers, and because they are economically “worthless,” they sit in transport cages in all weathers at the slaughterhouse “until all other birds are dealt with – up to 12 hours.” The slaughtered birds are shredded into products that hide the true state of their flesh and their lives: chicken soups, pies, and nuggets, commercial mink and pet food, livestock and poultry feed, and school lunches and other institutionalized food service and government purchase programs designed by the egg industry and the Department of Agriculture to dump dead laying hens onto consumers in diced up form. **

In order to mask the abuses inflicted upon the bodies and psyches of egg-laying hens, the industry dismembers – nay, grinds – them into unrecognizable bits. These bits are then fed to the most vulnerable among us: enslaved and exploited nonhuman animals, including the dead hens’ kin; “pets,” including dogs and cats; children who attend public schools, particularly those who rely on the school lunch system; “institutionalized food service and government purchase programs,” such as those that “feed” incarcerated men and women; and working-class and impoverished Americans, whose only access to food may come in the form of fast food joints. One injustice fuels the next, with no end in sight. (Sigh. Where’s that dog pile?!)

(More below the fold…)

"…even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings…"

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

 

Prologue
Sound of a Battery Hen

 

 
You can tell me: if you come by the
North door, I am in the twelfth cage
On the left-hand side of the third row
From the floor; and in that cage
I am usually the middle one of eight or six or three.
But even without directions, you’d
Discover me. We have the same pale
Comb, clipped yellow beak and white or auburn
Feathers, but as the door opens and you
Hear above the electric fan a kind of
One-word wail, I am the one
Who sounds loudest in my head.

 
Over the past few months, I’ve written a series of posts on the themes of motherhood, maternal exploitation and deprivation, and the intersection of speciesism and sexism in Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals. Previously, I discussed examples of these vis-à-vis “pork production” and the “dairy industry.”

While Masson also explores the exploitation of sheep, goats, ducks and chickens in The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, the mother-child bond between a mother hen and her chicks receives the most attention of these remaining groups – so I’ll conclude my discussion with a look at “egg production.”

Photo via Jeanette’s Ozpix

In previous posts, I noted how female non-human animals (like their human counterparts) are especially vulnerable to exploitation because of their reproductive systems. Their ability to give birth – oftentimes referred to as a “miracle” in humans – makes them particularly valuable as the producers of future “commodities.” Their value, unfortunately, does not lead to preferential treatment from their captors. Instead, they suffer especially brutal and prolonged abuse.

As such, females become machines, assembly lines, destined to produce milk, eggs, flesh – and a replacement generation of baby-, milk- and/or egg- machines:

By the mere fact of their sex, sows, hens, ewes, does, nannies, cows and heifers – not to mention mares, bitches, jennies, jills, etc. – are ripe for especially brutal and prolonged exploitation. Oftentimes, this involves a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and baby-napping, culminating with the female’s own death when she’s no longer able to breed or “produce” to her “owner’s” satisfaction.

Certainly, we recognize that the theft of a mother’s child is an atrocity when the victims are human mothers and children. At the same time, we argue that non-human animals deserve no rights because they are mere brutes, “lesser” beings, ruled by instinct and instinct alone. Yet, what is the drive to reproduce and parent if not an evolutionary instinct? And if we follow the popular line of reasoning – i.e., animals are creatures of instinct – does it not stand to reason that the maternal instinct is especially powerful in non-human animals?

Many – if not most – non-veg*ns find it difficult to relate to non-human animals, who (supposedly) are so different from us. At a fundamental level, our differing modes of communication make cross-species communication more difficult, particularly when one species (that would be us) has little interest in communication (and mutual understanding and respect) to begin with. Even so, many humans live with “pets,” the majority being dogs and cats; and, as we’ve come to recognize certain expressions and non-verbal cues in these mammals, such empathy can be extended to other, similar species – such as cows and pigs.

(More below the fold…)

Sangeeta Kumar is Cooking without Eggs

Monday, May 18th, 2009

If y’all are anything like me, one of the most challenging aspects of veganism is cooking without eggs. Sure, there’s that trusty old standby, NRG Egg Replacer, but let’s face it: it’s kind of a pain in the ass to use. You’ve gotta warm the water prior to mixing it with the powder, and it always seems to gum up rather than blend smoothly. And oy, the extra dishes! For this reason alone, I always get uber-excited upon finding an egg-free baked good recipe, since it saves me the inevitable conversion headache.

Well, no more. Mercy for Animals’ Sangeeta Kumar (of the Choose Veg Blog) offers these tips for cooking and baking without eggs, using common household staples, such as vinegar, baking soda, bananas, silken tofu, flax seeds and – of course – NRG Egg Replacer. Each substitute has a time and place, as you’ll see in the video.

(More below the fold…)

On being someones, not somethings.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I’ve heard mention of these campaign/outreach materials from Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary from time to time, but it wasn’t until I received a Mother’s Day action alert from the sanctuary that I clicked on over to check them out. Now that I’ve had a chance to look the materials over, I think I can honestly say that Peaceful Prairie’s fliers and pamphlets – particularly the “Milk comes from a grieving mother” series – are some of the most powerful I’ve seen.

Throughout its materials, PPS stresses the family ties of the (more often than not) nameless, faceless creatures we exploit for “meat,” milk, eggs and the like. When you eat meat, you’re eating someone’s father, brother or son. When you drink milk, you’re drinking milk that was stolen from a grieving mother and was meant to nourish her murdered baby. The exploitation of farmed animals necessarily involves the manipulation and severing of these familial relationships, so fundamental to their (and our) emotional and social well-being and survival. How do YOU say, ‘Don’t kill my baby!’? Should any mother have to?

PPS also gives these animals names and faces, by emphasizing their unique individualities, as well as their relationships to one another: Lillian is more than “just a pig,” more than “pork,” more than the sum of her animal parts. So much more! Lillian is both someone and someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Someone’s aunt. Someone’s mother, perhaps. Lillian is important and valuable and unique because she’s Lillian the individual – there is no other quite like her! – and because she’s Lillian to so many others. Like you or I, Lillian is irreplaceable.

(More below the fold…)

Book Review: The Pig Who Sang to the Moon by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (2003)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I know I offered a semi-review of The Pig Who Sang to the Moon a few weeks ago, but I wanted to write something more appropriate for Amazon, Library Thing and the like. Posting positive reviews of animal-friendly books, television shows and films is a good way to help such media garner more exposure and business – and support the team, too! As is voting for positive review of animal-friendly materials – hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (2003)

A beautifully tragic look at “food” animals

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My first introduction to Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s work was in high school, when I read his 1996 book, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals. At the time, I was a newbie vegetarian, just becoming involved in animal advocacy. When Elephants Weep helped validate my decision to go veg, and reinforced my resolve to stay that way.

Fast-forward thirteen years. I picked up Masson’s latest ethology tome, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, on a whim. Remembering his earlier work, I expected a beautiful, brilliant, touching look at the inner lives and experiences of farmed animals. I was not disappointed.

In The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, Masson lays out the evidence – from the highly scientific to the folksy anecdotal – which points to a wide range of emotional experiences in farmed animals, including love, grief, sorrow, joy, empathy, altruism, fear, trust, friendship, contentment and the like. Far from being unfeeling brutes, the billions of animals bred, farmed and slaughtered for human consumption (10 billion annually in the U.S. alone) have complex emotional and intellectual lives. Some of their emotions – such as the strong maternal instinct – mirror our own, while other emotions and intellectual abilities far surpass those of humans. For example, when suffering egregious cruelties (such as those found on modern factory farms), non-human animals can’t always identify the source of or reason for their pain and abuse. This serves to heighten their fear, such that some species of non-human animals may actually have a greater capacity for suffering than humans. Clearly, this could – should – have profound implications vis-à-vis our treatment of non-human animals, particularly those of the “farmed” variety.

Masson structures the book so that each chapter covers a different species of farmed animals: pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, cows and ducks, in that order. He juxtaposes information about the animals’ emotional lives – thoughts, feelings, sentience, capacity for joy and sorrow, etc. – with the brutal reality for the vast majority of these “owned” animals. Treated like milk and meat machines, dehumanized and objectified, their individuality obscured and their needs ignored, farmed animals suffer the worst of humanity’s whims and wants.

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Egg laying hens and Trappist monks in LA Times — 3/15/07

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Mar 15, 2007 5:53 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Egg laying hens and Trappist monks in LA Times — 3/15/07

The Thursday, March 15, Los Angeles Times, includes terrific coverage of PETA’s campaign calling attention to the treatment of hens raised by a Trappist Monastery in South Carolina. The story, by Stephanie Simon, is headed, “PETA calls for monks’ repentance” (Pg A9.) The accompanying photo says it all. The indoor shot of a huge shed full of endless rows of battery cages, each stuffed with hens, has the caption: “‘God’s Precious Creatures’: Mepkin Abbey’s hens are caged according to U.S. industry egg standards.”

Indeed, they are caged according to the US egg industry’s appalling standards.

Simon opens:

“Quoting the pope and Roman Catholic teachings, the nation’s largest animal-rights group has accused a Trappist monastery in South Carolina of raising hens for its egg business in an inhumane manner.

“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA — which secretly videotaped the hens — demanded Wednesday that the state attorney general and agricultural officials investigate Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, S.C.

“The group criticizes the monks for keeping their hens tightly caged, and accuses them of misleading consumers with the text on their egg cartons, which hails the abbey’s agricultural operation as part of a ‘centuries-old tradition’ that exemplifies ‘caring cultivation of the earth and its creatures.'”

(More below the fold…)

DawnWatch: Resolutions and bills against battery egg cages 3/7 -3/8/07

Friday, March 9th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Mar 8, 2007 8:30 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Resolutions and bills against battery egg cages 3/7 -3/8/07

By 2012, the entire European Union will have phased out conventional battery cages in which egg-laying hens are confined. Many US colleges and natural food stores have stopped selling eggs from battery caged hens, and some state legislatures in the US are considering farm animal welfare legislation that would ban battery hen cages. No such legislation has passed in the US as yet.

Two newspaper stories this week note legislation dealing with the issue:

The Wednesday March 7 Hartford Courant included an op-ed by HSUS’s Michael Markarian headed, “Chickens Need Room To Stretch.”

It tells us that on Friday, the Connecticut legislature’s Environment Committee “will hold a public hearing on House Bill 7304, which would require the most basic protection for laying hens in the state: that they have enough room to spread their wings, rather than be cramped in tiny wire cages. The measure would essentially prohibit the confinement of laying hens in so-called ‘battery cages,’ and require that the state’s egg purchases come from cage-free producers.

Markarian tells us:

“Nearly all egg-laying hens nationwide are confined in cages so restrictive that the birds can barely move, let alone engage in many other natural behaviors such as walking, perching and dust bathing. Each caged laying hen has 67 square inches of floor space – less than a sheet of letter-sized paper – on which to live for nearly her entire life, leading to extremely high levels of stress and frustration.

(More below the fold…)

COK: Pledge To Not Buy Battery Cage Eggs

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

UPDATE, 3/14/07, via Compassion Over Killing:

Help End Animal Cruelty: Ask Morningstar Farms® to Stop Using Eggs!

Compassion Over Killing and Vegan Outreach are teaming up with compassionate people everywhere to ask Morningstar Farms® to stop using eggs in its product line.

Morningstar Farms®, which is owned by the Kellogg® company, is currently purchasing eggs produced by hens confined inside barren wire battery cages. Battery caged hens are typically provided with a meager 67 square inches of space in which to live—that’s less than the size of one sheet of notebook paper. These birds are so intensively confined for their entire lives that they are denied their natural inclinations to spread their wings, perch, preen, or even walk.

Morningstar Farms® has long been a leader in supplying delicious vegetarian foods to a growing market. Let them know that the market also wants them to remove their support from the cruel battery egg industry. Please encourage them to join with companies like Gardenburger®, which last year announced it has taken eggs out of all its products except for one private-sourced item.

Take action today by submitting your comments online!

Please also call Kellogg®’s customer feedback hotline:

1-800-962-1413.

Hours (Eastern Standard Time):

* Mon. – Thurs.: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
* Friday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

1. Say: “Representative.”
2. Press 2 for product information
3. Press 1 for general inquiries

It is crucial that Morningstar Farms® hear from consumers like you—please forward this message widely! Thank you for helping make a difference for egg-laying hens.

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After getting a few emails regarding the Morningstar Farms action alert from United Poultry Concerns (UPC) that I posted a few days ago, I went poking around the Compassion Over Killing-sponsored website http://www.morningstar-egg-facts.com, which eventually led me to http://www.eggindustry.com. The Taking Action section offers suggestions to help you go egg-free, including the following petition:

Lend your voice to the animals by pledging to not buy eggs from caged hens*.

More than 275 million egg-laying hens are currently suffering in wire battery cages in the United States today. This archaic and inherently cruel system of confinement has been outlawed in many European countries, and barren battery cages are being phased out of the entire European Union by 2012. No such legislative advancements, however, exist in the U.S.—yet.

The hens need your voice! Consumers who don’t want to support the very worst abuse of the egg industry can speak out for egg-laying hens by refusing to buy egg from caged birds and help set the stage for a nationwide move away from battery cage egg production.

Go lend your Jane Hancock, and then visit the action center for additional ways to spread the veganism. Also, be sure to check out http://www.morningstar-egg-facts.com for more info on Morningstar Farms and their use of eggs in their vegetarian patties.

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UPC: Urge MORNINGSTAR FARMS to Stop Using Eggs

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

UPDATE, 2/22/07:

Compassion Over Killing (COK) has more info available at Morningstar-Egg-Facts.com, including a handy-dandy contact form. Also, it’s been a while since I’ve feasted on a Gardenburger – since I made the transition from vegetarian to vegan, actually – but apparently they’ve veganized all but one of their veggie patties. Good stuff.

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Via United Poultry Concerns:

Urge MORNINGSTAR FARMS to Stop Using Eggs

Morningstar Farms, owned by the Kellogg company, uses eggs from battery-caged hens in its products. Battery-caged hens are jammed into tiny wire cages in filthy buildings. Their lives are totally miserable. For information about battery-caged hens, visit http://www.upc-online.org/battery_hens.

United Poultry Concerns is joining Compassion Over Killing and Vegan Outreach in urging our members and all compassionate people to ask Morningstar Farms – a leader in providing delicious vegetarian foods – to remove the eggs from its products. Tell them that many vegan consumers – would-be customers – await this positive change!

Whom Do I Contact & How?

Call the Kellogg customer feedback hotline at 1-800-962-1413.

Write to: Morningstar Farms, c/o Kellogg Consumer Affairs, PO Box CAMB, Battle Creek, MI 49016

Go to the Morningstar Farms website at http://www.seeveggiesdifferently.com and follow the Contact Us instructions. The problem is, you must submit your date-of-birth and name a specific product for your message to be completed and sent. Therefore, United Poultry Concerns will gladly deliver your message to Morningstar Farms via regular mail, if you will please do the following:

Compose an email request to Morningstar Farms asking the company to remove the eggs from all of its products. Include your first & last name and your regular mailing address w/zipcode, as you would in a regular letter. Ask Morningstar Farms for a reply. Be polite. Submit your email, addressed to Morningstar Farms, to Info [at] upc-online.org. We will forward your letter to Morningstar Farms.

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Book Review: Bird Flu by Michael Greger (2006)

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Well, it took me long enough, but I’ve finally read and reviewed Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, by Michael Greger (2006). The review is posted on Amazon, but in the spirit of supporting independent publishing, if you decide to buy a copy, hop on over to Lantern Books to make your purchase. Dr. Greger has also made the book, in its entirety, available for free online: http://birdflubook.com – so really, you’ve got no reason not to read it.

Just to add to the review I posted on Amazon – a longer version of which I included after the jump – this is one of the rare books I’d recommend to anyone, veg*n or omni, ARA or anti. Greger does address animal welfare issues in the animal agriculture industry, however, this isn’t his main focus. Rather, he explains how our mistreatment of animals actually comes back to bite us in the arse, time and time again. For example, commonplace factory farming practices make livestock more susceptible to disease. Because of various anatomical and biological similarities that chicken and pigs (in particular) share with humans, these diseases reproduce, mutate and evolve in their avian and swine hosts until they’re capable of infecting people. Case in point: bird flu, which may very well cause the next global pandemic.

Given that Greger is the is Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture for the HSUS and was previously Farm Sanctuary’s Chief Medical Investigator, I think it’s safe to say that he’s a vegetarian or vegan, with at least a strong animal welfare streak. Even so, he avoids calling for the worldwide adoption of veganism. His most radical suggestion is a global moratorium on (chicken) meat/egg production: cycle through the existing flocks of broiler and laying birds, and then simply stop breeding more in order to eradicate bird flu from all domestic bird sources. Implicit in the plan is the eventual return to chicken and egg production, albeit on a less intensive scale (read: no more factory farming and artificially cheap meat). Not exactly ideal by animals rights standards, but still too radical to actually happen anytime soon.

So, while the book isn’t explicitly an animal rights (or even welfare) treatise, it does make a very compelling case for the humane treatment of animals – if not for their sake, then for our own. And, quite frankly, self-preservation might be the only argument to sway some hard-core omnivores.

If you’d like to learn more, Dr. Greger will be updating the online version of the book; he’s already noted some important corrections, such as how Tamiflu cannot be readministered through urine (!). He also maintains a newsletter, “Dr. Greger’s Pandemic Updates”, over at Google Groups. And do check out Dr. Karen Davis (of United Poultry Concerns) and Dr. John Oxford’s (.pdf; Centre for Infectious Diseases) reviews, too.

And, of course, a video summary for the bibliophobic among us:

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my basement bunker fortress of solitude, rearranging my canned corn.

(More below the fold…)

COK: Demand Truth in Labeling on Egg Cartons

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Via Compassion Over Killing:

Demand Truth in Labeling on Egg Cartons

In September 2006, COK co-filed a federal rule-making petition calling upon the Food and Drug Administration to mandate labels on egg cartons clearly identifying how those eggs were produced (i.e., “Eggs from Caged Hens”). The egg industry is fighting this effort tooth and nail, begging the question: What do they have to hide? The obvious answer is: quite a lot.

More than 95% of eggs produced in the U.S. come from birds confined in wire battery cages so restrictive, they can barely even move—a practice that most consumers oppose. The use of animal welfare claims on egg cartons, however, is not federally regulated, and enabling the industry to indiscriminately use phrases such as “animal friendly” or images of hens roaming around outside, even if those eggs came from battery-caged birds. You can help protect hens and consumers by submitting comments in support of this petition.

Please tell the FDA today that you support this petition!

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DawnWatch: Ben & Jerry’s commits to egg producer changes — NY Times and others — 9/27/06

Friday, September 29th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Sep 27, 2006 7:37 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Ben & Jerry’s commits to egg producer changes — NY Times and others — 9/27/06

Ben & Jerry’s has committed itself to abandoning its current egg supplier and phasing in the use of eggs that come from hens housed under higher welfare standards. That story is in a few papers today, Wednesday, September 27. Associated Press coverage means it is likely to be in more tomorrow.

The New York Times carries the story as part of Marian Burros’s “Eating Well Notebook” on the front page of the Dining Section (F1). Burros heads the piece, “Et Tu, Ben and Jerry?” and writes:

“First Chicago banned the sale of foie gras. Then Whole Foods stopped selling live lobster. Now Ben and Jerry’s has pledged not to use eggs that come from a farm that the Humane Society of the United States has accused of being cruel to its laying hens. Animal rights activists are on a roll. While they pursue high-profile cases they are also signing up farmers who, in exchange for taking a pledge to treat their animals humanely, are permitted to label their products ‘Certified Humane. In its latest efforts on behalf of animals, the Humane Society has shamed Ben and Jerry’s into changing to eggs from cage-free hens by calling the company hypocritical for criticizing ‘giant industrial farming operations’ on its Web site.”

(More below the fold…)