How much protein do you need each day and where can a vegan find it? Is fish oil really the best source of Omega 3? (And what’s Omega 3?) What are the greatest factors in making our weather unstable and changing the climate of our Earth? The answers to these questions and many others await you at Friends of Animals’ newest website, Vegan Means.
The Internet provides an overwhelming amount of information on most any topic, vegan living included. V egan Means has distilled some of the information, and offered carefully considered new commentary, to provide an attractive and easily digestible platter of knowledge relevant to those who decide to opt out of animal-based businesses.
By avoiding much of the celebrity fluff and media puff found on some websites, Vegan Means presents a broad scope of up-to-date, high-quality information in a succinct format. With this comprehensive base of vegan knowledge, the reader is given guidance to pursue topics in greater depth if desired.
The content is carefully reviewed and selected to appeal to a range of readers: the curious, the beginner and the long-time vegan. Easy to navigate, the website explores two main paths of information: the whys and the hows of the matter. Under the whys, the reader will find material about the exploitation of animals, particularly for food, clothing, and entertainment. The reader will also learn of the devastating impacts of animal agribusiness on our environment, and how we as individuals can address those impacts. Read a discussion of vegan history and philosophy, and the links with non-violence and social justice, to see that the way we eat has effects extending well beyond our own plates.
In the how section, readers find carefully researched nutritional information that illuminates health facts critical to human well-being. Newer vegans will find the ‘Becoming Vegan’ section a useful guide to navigating the social situations which arise for vegans, such as how to help friends and family understand what the vegan commitment is all about.
Also included are recipes delicious enough to win over the toughest critic, and culinary tips such as substitutions for eggs and butter, and information on common food sensitivities. And if you find your questions still aren't answered, you can “ask-a-vegan” by sending in your questions to a seasoned vegan here at Friends of Animals — who will provide thoughtful and informative answers.
Whether as a quick reference or an in-depth read, Vegan Means will enlighten the reader in a wide range of areas. In addition to the changes one can make at a personal level, the website also addresses approaches to activism and the sharing of information. In both respects, it thoroughly covers the basics and then explores the deeper, more complex issues involving our ability to live on this planet with a minimal impact on those with whom we share it.
As an organization devoted to ending the exploitation of animals, we at Friends of Animals believe it’s essential to cultivate in our personal lives what we would like to see in the world around us. To us, “vegan” means a commitment to live as harmoniously with the planet and all its inhabitants as possible, and thus help bring this vision of the world into being. We invite you to be a part of it. Welcome to www.VeganMeans.com.
Thanks to our friends at Ánima for providing this document in Spanish on their web site.
Polls show most of the British public opposing animal circuses, and today, fewer than 50 undomesticated animals are owned by four British circuses, including seven tigers, five lions, eight camels, several zebras and an elephant called Anne. Only the Great British Circus still uses lions and tigers. The owner insists they enjoy a good life, despite their cramped quarters.
“Circus animals have a very mentally and physically stimulating day, rather like police dogs and police horses who at the end of the day go back to their stable or kennel because that's all they require,” says lion trainer Martin Lacey.1
The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 was expected to pave the way for a ban on non-domesticated animals in circuses by 2008 — if scientific evidence would prove animals in circuses were suffering. But a group of experts, including six eminent vets, concluded there's no proof that circus animals suffer more than other captive animals. They took captivity itself for granted as acceptable, although captivity is what’s fundamentally wrong with the way we treat circus animals — and the other animals, too.
Some campaigners hope to see circuses subjected to the Zoo Licensing Act, because many British circuses will fall short of zoo standards and go out of business. But such a strategy suggests that zoos provide an acceptable quality of life to animals who should have been allowed to stay in their habitats to experience freedom. Underscoring the wrong done by zoos is the recent death of a young Siberian tiger known as Tatiana, who broke out of confinement in California’s San Francisco Zoo, killed a person, and was shot.
The zoo's director of animal care and conservation, Robert Jenkins, could not explain the 300-pound cat’s escape, for the enclosure involves a 15-foot-wide moat and 12-foot-high walls.2 But near closing time, just outside the enclosure, the tiger caught and killed one person. A zoo employee dialed 911. When a group of four police officers arrived, the cat was reportedly attacking another person about 300 yards away, in front of the Terrace Café. Several police officers shot the cat with handguns.
The media paused for a moment, as though in shock; then came the stories about how unusual the attack was: The dead zoo customer, and two others who were attacked in the same incident, must have been drunk. An unidentified source said they carried slingshots. The fence was lower than the standard height. The zoo management had previous problems. And so forth — essentially painting the picture that the tragedy belonged to this zoo, not all zoos.
Advocates walked into the same trap. A San Francisco media outlet quoted Elliot Katz, who presides over California-based In Defense of Animals, as saying this particular zoo has a history of provoking the cats and inducing them to growl for audiences in “public feeding spectacles.”3
Sounding like a PR advisor to zoos, Katz said the public feeding should end, and told the paper zoos must adopt the mindset of a haven or sanctuary that places the quality of life of animals above public entertainment and exploitation.
In the same article, Fred Rabidoux, a minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco, was far clearer.
“Why are we subjecting these animals to such unnatural conditions?” asked Rabidoux. “The right thing to do is to respect the right of each animal to live its life in surroundings that nature put it in.”
And in one of the most powerful demonstrations we’ve seen, performer Patti Smith, in a New Year’s concert the close of 2007 in New York City, called the zoo a prison and the described the tiger’s death as the spilling of God’s blood.
Siberian tigers are classified as endangered. Tatiana was shipped to San Francisco from the Denver Zoo a few years ago, with zoo officials planning to get her to mate.4 A year ago Tatiana had seized and bitten the arm of a keeper. Clearly, Tatiana’s own plans differed from those who claimed power over this individual. This was one of the world’s free souls. For that, they killed her.
Is there really a justification for zoos? It is fashionable today for zoos to claim they preserve animals — treating animals rather like living museum specimens. Some zoo professionals do care about protecting real habitats; but it seems many think zoos offer a suitable substitute for the areas where animals would be naturally born. Animals are individuals, and although preservation of their communities is important, what good is that if they and their mates, whom they do not choose, and their offspring, who are imposed upon them, can only live behind massive, chain-linked and electrified fences?
We ourselves may well be headed for extinction, because so many animals with whom our physical lives are intertwined are disappearing from nature. If the trend carries on at the current rate, more than half of all plant and animal species are expected to be gone by 2100. This unremitting spate of extinctions — even more than escalated climate change — is the most certain threat to human life on Earth.5
What if we found out we’d face extinction, and some of us were urged by a species of people from another planet to be whisked off of Earth to be conserved? What if you were offered this chance? There would be no Earth’s nature for you, ever again. To be conserved you’d be brought to another planet, kept behind a fence, fed and occasionally moved between sites to be bred. Would you agree?
A Washington, D.C. law school’s branch of the Animal Legal Defense Fund recently brought speakers from the Humane Society of the U.S. to discuss the environmental impacts of meat. Although the HSUS speakers discussed litigation to address greenhouse gas emissions, they ignored the obvious answer: simply opting out of animal agribusiness. A law student reported that the HSUS advocated organic meat, “extolling its virtues of being less harmful to the environment and containing more nutrients.”6 The HSUS PowerPoint presentation even offered websites to help the audience buy meat.
The school’s Animal Legal Defense Fund group “invited speakers from the Humane Society because it assumed they'd discuss the harmful effects of eating meat, not the benefits of eating meat,” stated the disappointed student. It’s good to see law students rightly critical of such presentations, but the content of the HSUS talk would come as no surprise to regular readers of this column. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has long worked in tandem with the HSUS to promote purportedly superior animal products.7
The HSUS presentation also mentioned technology to curb pollution from large meat companies — which costs big money. The speakers admitted that much flesh production is moving to Brazil, but then suggested subsidies for Brazilian beef companies so they can buy the technology.
Remember Audre Lorde’s saying about trying to dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools?8 The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has submitted a shareholder resolution with Supervalu, claiming the grocery chain's current chicken suppliers use “cruel and inefficient” electrical stunning, when they ought to gas the animals instead.9 PETA’s recommended killing method, reportedly used by some European suppliers, slowly replaces the oxygen that birds breathe with inert gas.
PETA holds stock in numerous animal agribusiness corporations. If these companies are the masters, then attempting to help run them from a shareholder’s position is using the master’s tools. On the surface they might seem to beat the masters at their game, but this will not create genuine change.
Instead, why not replace the masters? Why not invest in companies and restaurants that are committing to changing society by offering truly peaceful foods?
One cannot replace the masters and simultaneously invest in them and tinker with their tools — which reinforces the social agreement that the systematic oppression of birds and other animals is normal. In the words of Vegan Society founder Donald Watson, “The only way this problem can be eased is by veganism becoming more and more acceptable in guest houses, hotels, wherever one goes, until one hopes one day it will become the norm.”
Europe ’s egg industry, involving more than 300 million laying hens, is going through a period of change as the European Commission prepares to phase out regular battery cages by 2012.10 After that, cages will still exist, but the space allowance per bird will be about double that of the cages used by most U.S. companies.
When the transition to either modified cage or shed storage is completed in 2012, industry costs will increase substantially more than the European Commission first estimated. By then, even after paying duties, U.S. and other producers could ship in and sell cheaper eggs.
It’s unlikely the U.S. producers will be pressed to change their systems. Most voluntarily subscribe to the United Egg Producers Certified scheme. Mark Oldenkamp, and egg company VP who chairs UEP’s Producer Animal Welfare Committee, says the voluntary certification scheme “really took shape in the late ’90s when we said we needed to do something to not have the type of regulatory activity that occurred in Europe happen here in the United States.”11 And UEP’s lead has been followed by most of the world beyond Europe. So will all European producers really be expected to modify their operations?
Switzerland phased out battery cages by 1992, and sustains egg production in part by support payments, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare, “to produce an apparently satisfactory outcome.” These groups sound easily satisfied. Seventy percent of Switzerland’s two million laying hens are packed in crowded industrial sheds.
“Action is needed to ensure that producers are not put at a disadvantage in the market place when they adopt higher-welfare, higher-cost systems,” state the RSPCA and Eurogroup. These groups have suggested that the World Trade Organization allow national and commission funding for Europe’s egg producers, preferential trade rules for “high-welfare eggs,” and reductions in animal feed costs.
North American activists, take note. One can either teach eggless cooking (a most enjoyable undertaking), or one can promote “cage-free” eggs or modified cages — and wind up in the position of making sure they sell. Which one is animal advocacy? The answer is obvious.
- 1. Gillian Hargreaves, “What's the Future for Circus Animals?” – BBC News (7 Dec. 2007).
- 2. Jordan Robertson, “Zoo a Crime Scene After Tiger Attack” – Associated Press (26 Dec. 2007).
- 3. John Han, “ Animal Rights Group Calls for Change in Zoo Policy” – Fog City Journal (4 Jan. 2008).
- 4. “Zoo a Crime Scene After Tiger Attack” (note 2 above).
- 5. See Julia Whitty, “ Gone: Mass Extinction and the Hazards of Earth's Vanishing Biodiversity” – Mother Jones (Jun. 2007).
- 6. Jennifer Dillard, “HSUS Says: Eat Happy, Clean Meat” – AnimalBlawg (entry updated 29 Nov. 2007); available: http://www.animalblawg.com/wordpress/?p=199
- 7. For example, the ALDF website has a section geared to Student Animal Legal Defense Fund branches titled “SALDF Project Ideas: Cage-Free Campaign.” It reads: “The Humane Society of the United States' Cage-Free Campus campaign helps students work with their schools' dining services to discontinue their use of eggs from hens confined in battery cages.” For more information about this campaign, the reader is sent to the HSUS website. The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund branches at Harvard, the University of Miami, and other law schools have accordingly promoted the HSUS’s egg campaign to popularize so- called cage-free eggs.
- 8. In the original speech, Lorde said “[t]hose of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women” should not be ignored as that would automatically undermine the feminist mainstream’s call for change. I acknowledge that any use of Lorde’s famous phrase in other circumstances cannot accurately represent the rich context in which it first appeared.
- 9. Frederic J. Frommer, “PETA Urges Supervalu to Buy More Humanely Slaughtered Poultry” -Associated Press (20 Dec. 2007).
- 10. Eurogroup for Animal Welfare and Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, “ Hardboiled Reality: Animal Welfare-Friendly Egg Production in a Global Market” (Sep. 2001).
- 11. “ Livestock Producers Take Proactive Approach to Animal Welfare” – Farmscape ( Canada), Article 2373 (20 Jan. 2007).
The San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition is on a mission. The non-profit is ready to “eliminate the breeding of feral and free-roaming cats through the practice of Trap-Neuter-Return” — a highly effective means of decreasing the number of animals who are brought to San Antonio Animal Care Services. It can’t come too soon. According to coalition director Linda Sowdal, the death of 1,000 animals in a week at the city-run pound has been a “normal event” for the past few decades.
Each year, some 50,000 dogs and cats are deposited at San Antonio’s pound. The adoption rate is abysmal: about 95% percent are killed. Every cat who enters Animal Care Services in a trap is killed, presumed feral and therefore not adoptable. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of them are someone’s pets, and the others can be neutered and monitored by caregivers familiar with the Trap-Neuter-Return method.
What is Trap-Neuter-Return? It’s a humane, focused way to stop cats from breeding. Caregivers provide food, monitor the health and sterilize each and every cat in a given area, and this safely phases out colonies of abandoned domestic cats and their offspring.
The San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition works to educate the public about the plight of feral cats, the effectiveness of Trap-Neuter-Return and the general need to sterilize pets. Additionally, the coalition provides support to individuals who work with cats.
In February, Friends of Animals, through our well-known certificate program, pledged $50,000 to spay and neuter feral cats in San Antonio. Involved in this effort is a wide variety of individuals and local groups, including the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition and Kathryn Bice, president of the Animal Resource Center. Sowdal says the funds will cover sterilizations for about a thousand unowned cats through the clinic at the Animal Resource Center.
San Antonio Animal Services has decided it’s time to achieve “no kill” status, and the certificates “will go a long way to reduce the intake numbers over the next four years, simply by reducing births during that time,” Sowdal notes. San Antonio’s City Council is already moving to require that all dogs and cats that are kept outside be sterilized. Funds will be diverted from the current “catch and kill” to free and low-cost sterilization and vaccination services — a move the Feral Cat Coalition strongly supports.
When asked why San Antonio has put so many animals to death, Sowdal speculates that some people do not consider animals to have any value and simply assume that, as taxpayers, they have a right to a free disposal service for unwanted animals.
Sowdal further speculates that ignorance about the health benefits of sterilization also plays a factor.
Furthermore, Sowdal observes that some people still believe “nature should take its course,” but points out that surveys clearly show that a vast majority of people will sterilize their pet “if cost and convenience were favorable.”
And that’s just what the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition, with the help of Friends of Animals, aims to ensure.
For more information, visit:www.sanantonioferalcats.org
Cheers to the North American Vegetarian Society for their ongoing commitment to educating people about the benefits of a plant-based diet. For the past 33 years, they have hosted Vegetarian Summerfest — a festival that celebrates vegetarianism, helps create and foster community and empowers people through education on a wide range of issues.
The 34 th annual conference is set for June 18 th through the 22 nd — with participants being able to choose the duration of their stay. A host of outstanding speakers are featured, including Friends of Animals’ own legal director, Lee Hall, who will connect vegan activism with the key global issues of our day: climate change and extinctions.
The food, prepared by International Gold Medal winning chef Ken Bergeron , is divine.
To find out more, visit: www.vegetariansummerfest.org
North American Vegetarian Society
PO Box 72
Dolgeville, NY 13329
Cheers to Mayor John Banks, who, in an interview discussion of a rodeo held in Auckland, New Zealand, said “teasing and distressing these animals for entertainment is unacceptable, undignified and wrong, and if we look into our heart, most people will agree with me.” Mayor Banks went on to express the hope that rodeos will be banned, adding, “I hope those who witnessed the rodeo will give some thought to the cruelty the animals suffered for their pleasure.”
Direct your thanks and support to:
His Worship the Mayor John Banks
Auckland Town Hall
Cheers to vocalist and guitarist Frank Nero , of the 2008 Grammy-nominated group My Chemical Romance, and Frank’spartner Jamia Nestor. In lieu of purchasing novelty gifts for guests at their wedding they decided to invest the money to the animal advocacy group they trust to put it to the best use: Friends of Animals. The band’s latest CD, The Black Parade, is available at independent music stores across North America.
Jeers to the fashion of releasing live butterflies — marketed as an alternative to throwing rice, confetti or bird seed—at weddings and other celebrations. Companies breed butterflies, often Monarchs and Painted Ladies, then ship them in small envelopes or boxes; guests are told to release these stressed insects at the end of a ceremony—if the butterflies survive transport, that is. Indeed, butterflies are beautiful beings, but a respectful view of animals entails appreciating them in their natural setting. Please direct your respectful comments and objections to this misguided practice to the following three popular companies:
8037 W. McNab Rd.
Tamarac , Florida USA 33321
Greathouse Butterfly Farm, Inc.
20329 State Road 26 East
Earleton, FL USA 32631-6807
Kirkwood Butterfly Company
P.O. Box 5758
Clearwater , FL USA 33758
29 January 2008
Friends of Animals & Denver University Environmental Law Clinic Petition EPA to Stop Caged Bird Trade
Denver, Colo. and Darien, Conn. — Today, Connecticut-based advocacy group Friends of Animals, together with the environmental clinic at Denver University’s Sturm College of Law, petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to domestically and internationally protect tropical birds most wanted by pet traders.
“Listing these birds under the U.S. Endangered Species Act,” said DU Environmental Law Clinic director Jay Tutchton, “will head off collectors, increase funding and attention for habitat protection, and draw scrutiny to projects proposed by U.S. government and lending agencies such as the World Bank.”
Named in the Petition are Hyacinth macaws, Blue-throated and Blue-headed macaws, Military macaws, Grey-cheeked parakeets, Yellow-billed parrots, Red-crowned parrots, Thick-billed parrots, Crimson shining parrots, Great green macaws and Scarlet macaws as well as Philippine, White, and Yellow-crested cockatoos.
Lee Hall, legal director for Friends of Animals, said, “The pet trade threatens the continued survival as well as the freedom of these birds, beings who must also cope on habitat desired by ranchers and energy developers. The U.S. market for these birds must be closed.”
Notwithstanding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and U.S. law, traders can obtain many of these birds with permits. Trappers may set snares on perches, use ladders to raid nests, set the bases of trees afire to flush birds out, and shoot adult birds in the wing to allow capture.
Chicks are especially prized. Collectors will even cut down trees to get to them — killing 60% of the chicks as the trees fall, and depriving birds of future nesting sites. Most surviving birds die in transit between traders.
Said Kay Bond, supervising attorney of Denver University’s environmental law clinic, “We’ve filed for a positive answer within 90 days, and we hope the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will act on this Petition before one or more of these communities of birds go extinct due to human activity.”
Where they live:
Yellow-billed parrots live in the wet limestone forests of Jamaica. Red-crowned parrots live along the northeast Mexican coasts, a population in Veracruz having disappeared. Thick-billed parrots once lived in the southwestern U.S. but are now seen only in Mexico. Military macaws live in fragmented canyon and forest habitat from Mexico to Peru, having disappeared from Argentina. Blue-throated macaws live in Bolivian palm groves; Grey-cheeked parakeets live in coastal areas along the border between Ecuador and Peru . Hyacinth macaws live on the edges of Brazilian palm forests, while b lue-headed macaws live in parts of Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia.
Scarlet macaws are found in pockets throughout Central and South America; only about every two years do they lay two to four eggs. Once widespread throughout Central and South America, Great green macaws are now only found in pockets in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Less than 2,500 free-living Great Green macaws are left. In Costa Rica, only 25-35 pairs remain; in Ecuador, they number less than 100 individuals. They’ve been seen bagged for sale in Nicaraguan markets.
Crimson shining parrots live in forests and agricultural lands as well as around human habitation on the islands of Fiji . Yellow-crested and White cockatoos live in Indonesia where they are suffering the effects of the pet trade and habitat destruction. Philippine cockatoos are currently found on only a handful of islands within their historic range.
The Environmental Law Clinical Partnership at University of Denver Sturm College of Law provides legal representation to environmental and animal-advocacy non-profits with the help of DU law students. http://www.law.du.edu/envclinic
Friends of Animals, a non-profit, international animal advocacy organization, was founded in 1957 to cultivate a respectful view of nonhuman animals, and advocates for free-living birds to live unfettered in their natural biocommunities. http://www.friendsofanimals.org