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Help Stop the Dairy Pride Act and Support Milk Alternatives!

Here’s a ridiculous, narrow-interest bill we’d like to defeat on general principle. It flies in the face of common sense and would hurt animals at the same time. Who thinks of these things?

Pasado’s Safe Haven has posted this description and a two-minute action alert that’s worth our time to follow.

“The dairy industry recently introduced the Dairy Pride Act (S.130) which promotes animal products by making it illegal to label non-dairy foods with terms such as ‘milk,’ ‘ice cream,’ and yogurt.’ This not only includes new products, such as almond milk, but also impacts products that have been around for centuries like coconut milk. The dairy industry is responsible for a tremendous amount of animal cruelty, negative environmental impacts, and human-health hazards – and now they are feeling the threat of increasingly conscious consumers. In fact, with more people becoming food aware, all milk should be accurately labeled, including milk produced by cows, which should be labeled as ‘cow milk.’

 “PLEASE TAKE 2 MINUTES to urge your lawmakers to oppose the misguided legislation of the Dairy Pride Act (S.130) and instead require that dairy products also be labeled correctly.”

Dairy cows’ beautiful, long-lashed sons are veal calves

As I approached one of Seattle Farmed Animal Save‘s monthly demostrations last year, I started driving by by row after row of plastic huts by the side of the road.

I suspected they were veal crates but, despite having gone vegan largely because of the horrors of the dairy industry (dairy pizza was the last thing I gave up), I didn’t want to believe I was driving right by so many thousands of isolated, suffering calves.

As I drove, I began to look more closely at the farms where the plastic huts were located and, sure enough, they were dairies.

I pulled over and looked inside a hut. What — who —  I saw was heart-wrenching.

(Just look at his eyelashes!)

veal calf at dairy

As I peeked into a crate, the calf inside stood up on wobbly legs, his ear tags showing his recent birthdate. Looking across the top of his and the other veal crates, I could see these calves’ mothers standing nearby.

They were so close.

veal crates at dairy (2)

Many accounts and videos attest to the love cows have for their babies. Like any mother, they want to protect and feed their young. Instead, they are separated soon (sometimes minutes) after birth — even on small dairy farms like this — and their milk is taken for humans. Their daughters become dairy cows and, when their bodies give out, they, like their mothers, are killed for hamburger or pet food.

Their sons become veal.

If you eat cheese, you are directly funding the veal industry.

Mother cows live in a Groundhog Day of unbearable grief. They are forcibly impregnated, frequently on something farmers call a “rape rack,” then have their babies taken from them over and over again.

It’s nothing like the picture we paint of small dairies in childrens’ books, on “happy cow” milk cartons and in our own minds (before we learn the truth). And as a recent Mercy for Animals undercover investigation found, the misery does not end there.

There’s video of workers shoving, dragging, and tossing baby calves; cows suffering from diarrhea and breathing difficulties without proper veterinary care; and cows being kicked and hit. Personally, my heart goes out to anyone who works with the animals in the meat, egg or dairy industries, because of the desensitization they experience in order to make a living.

I believe there’s a continuum of suffering and abuse in animal agriculture and that factory farms are worse than smaller and organic farms. But the calves I saw — who were killed as someone’s meal without ever having known even their own mothers — lived at the “better” end of that spectrum. For what? So we can eat pizza and ice cream that has their mothers’ milk in it?

When I went vegan, I finally turned away from my pizza (and ice cream) by thinking at each temptation of the suffering of nearby cows. Now I can add veal calves to that mental picture, although there are so many tastier alternatives that I’m no longer tempted.

I wish everyone could see what I saw that day along the road, make the connection between the cheese, milk and ice cream they eat and the suffering of these gentle animals, and make a change that would greatly reduce the suffering of innocents in this world.

Gratitude, Sorrow for Wolf Researcher Who’s Out at WSU

The Seattle Times reports that wolf researcher Robert Wielgus has accepted a $300,000 settlement from Washington State University and has left the school.

“Wielgus tracked the behavior of wolves and cattle and learned that the state’s policy of killing wolves that had preyed on cattle was likely to lead to more cattle predation, not less, because it destabilized the structure of wolf packs,” reporter Lynda Mapes wrote.

“The research was unpopular with ranchers, who complained to lawmakers in the Washington State Legislature, who, in turn, cut Wielgus’ funding and removed him as principal investigator on his ongoing work, passing the funds through another researcher. It was a highly unusual move that eliminated Wielgus’ money for travel, speaking at conferences or for research in the summer, the peak field months for his work.”

Wielgus filed a lawsuit against WSU saying he was silenced for political reasons — a lawsuit that ends with this settlement. More information from Wielgus, including a video, is posted at Protecting Employees Who Protect Our Environment (PEER).
We remember when he spoke out about the practices of one rancher, for whom the state has killed wolves in the Profanity Peak, Wedge and Sherman packs — and how he went silent after that — and express our thanks for the wolf research he did with integrity and our sadness that he’s no longer doing that research at WSU.

Let PCC Know Climate Change Is a Vegan Issue, Too

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The nonprofit grocery chain PCC Community Markets, which often does a thorough job reporting on the food industry, recently published an article about food and climate change and failed to mention the role of animal agriculture.

Animals raised for food account for 39 percent of total agricultural emissions — a major contributor to greenhouse gases. Animal agriculture is also a major source of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.

PCC has an online customer comment form: https://www.pccmarkets.com/contact-us/

You also can send a message to PCC’s entire board using this email address: board@pccmarkets.com.

Bear Witness for the Turkeys ~ Join Us in Enumclaw on Saturday

Thanksgiving is a time of mixed emotions for many vegans. It’s nice to share traditions and favorite vegan recipes with family and friends — but it’s a holiday that also reminds many of us of the destruction wrought by the arrival of white people on this continent and the deaths of 46 million gorgeous beings every year, birds who were born only to suffer, die and be complained about as “dry, stringy” meat on the tables of Americans.

gary larson cartoon

Next Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Seattle Farmed Animal Save will bear witness to turkeys being sold for local Thanksgiving tables. The group will gather and hold signs on the highway outside the live animal auction at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion (22712 SE 436th St, Enumclaw). It’s a bit of a drive, but you can drop by the Redwing Cafe on your way there or back for a yummy treat.

I’ve never been there before Thanksgiving, but founder Kristina Giovanetti (who beautifully described the power of bearing witness in an earlier NARN post) says it’s what you would expect: Box after box after box of turkeys being sold. No price is decent for a living being, but these animals go for shockingly little.

As you probably know based on Instagram posts from all over the world, the Save Movement is powerful and heartening and heartbreaking, all at the same time. Please join us on Saturday!

Here are photos from a recent live auction — beautiful animals with numbers on them:

Birds in boxes.

Birds in boxes.

chicken

sweet goat

sweet goat2

sweet goats

Q&A With the Founder of Seattle Farmed Animal Save. Join Us in Enumclaw!

Kris stands with the "Animals Are Not Property" sign alongside Ryan and Shannon Hill of Sky's The Limit Sanctuary, Paul and Maggie Bowen, and Dave Roers outside the Enunclaw Live Animal Auction in June.

Kris stands with the “Animals Are Not Property” sign alongside Ryan and Shannon Hill of Sky’s The Limit Sanctuary, Paul and Maggie Bowen, and Dave Roers outside the Enunclaw Live Animal Auction in June.

Kristina Giovanetti is the founder of Seattle Farmed Animal Save, a nonprofit that’s part of The Save Movement, a global effort that started in December 2010 with Toronto Pig Save. The idea is to bear witness to animals sent to slaughter in our own communities. Kris has been holding personal vigils at the Enumclaw Sales Pavilion’s live animal auction for about a year and invites everyone to join her.

The next vigil is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 15. As the Facebook invitation says, “We are a grassroots, love-based, and peaceful organization. We believe in non-violence and the transformational power of compassion. We follow a Tolstoyian perspective in that we do not believe in turning away from suffering, but instead moving closer to it.” It’s a heart-wrenching experience to watch roosters, geese, rabbits and others struggle and cry out as they are auctioned. There are almost always day-old dairy calves, piglets, lambs and baby goats — and once a month, they auction horses that are sold for slaughter.

It’s also powerful to stand on the road outside the pavilion with signs reminding people that animals don’t belong to us, encouraging them to go vegan, and to honk for the pigs. A surprising number of people honk! A lot yell for us to “get a job,” too, which is puzzling and good for a laugh.

Here’s a Q&A with Kris about The Save Movement in Seattle:

What moved you to start a branch of The Save Movement here?
In June 2016, I attended an all-day vigil in Toronto with Anita, the founder of The Save Movement. We spent 16 hours bearing witness outside pig, cow, and chicken slaughterhouses. The pigs deeply affected me – looking into their eyes, you can really see the fear, you can sense their suffering in a profound way.

Pigs are very much like dogs and to lock eyes with them, to reach out and stroke them in an attempt to provide a moment of comfort and then watch the truck turn into the slaughterhouse where you know they will be brutally killed just moments later is a life changing event.

That day in Toronto I became an activist.

When did you start going to the Enumclaw Live Animal Auction? What have you seen there?
When I returned home, I immediately started looking for places near me to connect with the animals and share their stories. My first trip to the auction barn in Enumclaw was in July 2016.

I’ve seen so many horrible things there – the chickens are transported in cardboard boxes with a few air holes punched in the sides. There is a stone-faced woman who always works the birds. She reaches in, pins their wings behind their back and yanks them out of the box. The birds are screaming, literally screaming as she holds them high and waves them around in the air for a few seconds as the auctioneer works the crowd and finally sells them for 3 to maybe 9 dollars. Then the woman shoves the screaming and terrified bird back into the box, head first.

The day-old male dairy calves always stay with me, in my mind, for days after I see them. They still have umbilical cords dangling from their bellies and look absolutely bewildered. They have no idea they are being sold to become veal calves and will spend the next few weeks chained to a crate and will then be killed.

This place sells lambs and baby goats, too. The babies are always very hard to see.  But I think the spent dairy cows are the most heartbreaking of all. They are absolutely skin and bones – it looks like they haven’t been fed for weeks. Their bodies are emaciated and they have large, swollen udders. But it’s the look in their eyes and the way they hang their head that just rips my heart out. These sweet, gentle beings have been impregnated over and over again, and have had their calves stolen from them every single time. Their bodies have been exploited and pushed absolutely to the breaking point. And when their milk production begins to wane, the farmers stop feeding them, then sell them to slaughter to become cheap hamburger meat. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to see them.

What does it mean to you to bear witness as these animals are sold? What is the power of bearing witness? 

Bearing witness is being present in the face of injustice and trying to help.  When we bear witness we become the situation – we connect with our entire body and mind.  And from that, action arises.  The purpose of bearing witness is to provide love and compassion to these animals, to share their stories, to show the reality of animal agriculture, raising awareness to the public, and helping people make the connection.  People need to understand what goes on so they will make the decision to stop supporting it.
How do people react to the protest? What do you think of the calls to “get a job”?  

We get about an equal number of supportive people and angry people, and a lot of people just pass by with no visible or audible reaction.  The supportive people will honk in a friendly manner and give a thumbs up.  The angry people show us their middle finger and yell at us.  The comment to “get a job” is so curious to me because we hear it all the time, and I’ve heard it at vigils all over the world.  I think what they are really saying is that we should do something constructive with our time.

Are there also slaughterhouses near Seattle? Where are they, and what do you know about them? 

Yes, there are two slaughterhouses within an hour of Seattle that we have investigated and will be holding vigils at.  Both of them are north of the city, around Stanwood and Mt Vernon.  The Draper Valley chicken slaughterhouse kills more than 800,000 chickens each week.

Do you plan to have vigils at the slaughterhouses, too?  

Absolutely!  We are learning the truck schedules and will be starting vigils up there very soon.

Seattle Farmed Animal Save

 

Please follow Seattle Farmed Animal Save on Facebook and on Instagram, and join Kris in Enumclaw next weekend.

If you happen to be in Europe this fall, she’ll also be speaking in Luxembourg in September at the International Animal Rights Conference.

Tell Your Lawmakers: Plant Milks Are Milk, Too

A lawmaker from Wisconsin had the bright idea that milk should be labeled milk only if it’s dairy. She wants to limit the use of yogurt and cheese, too. She’s wrong, of course. The dictionary could tell her that.

Nevertheless, Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s DAIRY PRIDE Act (some people need the all caps) has picked up some steam.

Please call you senators to remind them about the dictionary — and that there are more important things to be spending time on than changing the definition of milk.

In Washington state, our senators are:

Patty Murray: (202) 224-2621

Maria Cantwell: (202) 224-3441

If you’re in another state, here’s an easy way to look up your senators’ contact info.

New Ag-Gag in Arkansas: Let’s Stop This Thing

From the Animal Legal Defense Fund:

A proposed new Ag-Gag bill is being considered by Arkansas lawmakers, and we need your help to stop it from becoming law. Factory farms want to keep their cruel practices hidden from the public, and industry lobbyists push Ag-Gag laws to accomplish that goal.

House Bill 1665 has already passed the Arkansas House and moved out of committee in the Senate. The law would allow factory farm employers to sue whistleblowers directly, making them vulnerable to expensive lawsuits all for trying to do the right thing. Such intimidation will effectively keep those who see animal cruelty from speaking up.  Arkansas’s version of Ag-Gag is written so broadly that it would also ban undercover investigations of virtually all private entities, including daycare centers and restaurants. This law would silence conscientious employees who wish to report wrongdoing.

Call or email the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism to politely inform them that if this bill passes, you won’t be visiting the state.

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism: 501-682-7777

It’s incredibly important to always be calm and polite when speaking with decision makers and other officials who might influence them. Keep your call short and simple, and consider using the script below.

“Hello, my name is __________ and I’m calling to let you know that even though Arkansas is a beautiful state, I will not be visiting if HB 1665 becomes law.”

Shut Down this Unlicensed Slaughterhouse

Why is Vilog Livestock, a slaughterhouse in Auburn, WA, still operating, despite losing its license two years ago?

Rickson Vilog, owner of the slaughterhouse, has been ordered to remove all livestock from his property by Dec. 22 or face daily fines. Will that make a difference? Let’s make sure it does!

Please contact the Attorney General’s office and ask that they enforce the law.

Main Phone (360) 753-6200

Consumer Protection (Mon-Fri from 10-3) 1-800-551-4636 (in-state only)

General Complaint Form

Vilog had his first fines in 2011 and is still killing animals. It’s time to shut him down!

 

Tell regulators new ‘humane’ rules don’t fly

The U.S. government wants factory farms that use unanesthetized castration, debeaking, dehorning and prolonged extreme confinement to be able to label their meat as “humane.”

As the Huffington Post puts it, “Up is down, black is white, and this meat was ‘raised with care.'”

Please let the U.S. Department of Agriculture know that the truth actually means something to consumers in this country. We’re in a public comment period for proposed new guidelines from the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and you can leave your comment here.

Here’s what I sent: “You seriously think meat farms should be able to define ‘humane’ on their own? How can you call yourselves regulators any more? The truth actually means something to consumers and to farms that do bother to treat animals with some humanity. Please do your job.”

For context, here’s part of the toothless new proposed guideline:

“For animal welfare claims, such as ‘Raised with Care’ or ‘Humanely Raised,’ FSIS will only approve a claim if a statement is provided on the label showing ownership and including an explanation of the meaning of the claim for consumers, e.g., ‘TMB Ranch Defines Raised with Care as [explain the meaning of the claim on the label]’ or ‘TMB Ranch Defines Sustainably Raised as [explain meaning of the claim on the label].'”

How is that even regulation? Sounds like somebody’s taking a page from bank regulators, who have allowed financial institutions to do way too much self-regulation.

That kind of laziness hurts consumers and, in this case, would hurt farms that have more humane practices. If factory farms can charge higher prices because they’re pretending to treat animals better than they actually do — and have the blessing of regulators in doing so — it could put the smaller, more humane farmers out of business.

Perdue Farms and Kroger have settled lawsuits about such labeling, and now the goverment wants to make it okay.

One Perdue chicken farmer turned against Perdue, a company he’d done business with, because of its misleading claims, as The New York Times reported.

The farmer invited Compassion in World Farming to make this video to show the truth of these chicken’s miserable lives, which include lameness, filth, raw skin and a lack of sunshine and fresh air: