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:
Local vegan boutique Drizzle & Shine donates a portion of sales to a different non-profit each month. Food Empowerment Project is their non-profit for July. In addition to donating a percentage of the monthly sales total, Drizzle & Shine is hosting Food Empowerment Day at the store and will be offering 10% off all purchases with an additional 10% going to Food Empowerment Project.
Come visit and meet some of the local FEP volunteers and try some fair-trade, vegan chocolate!
Where: Drizzle & Shine, 102 15th Ave East (Capitol Hill), Seattle, WA 98112
Date: July 30th, 2016
Time: From noon to 4 pm.
Food Empowerment Project is an organization that is working to create a more just and sustainable world through the food choices we make. They are a fantastic organization that is creating a more compassionate society by spotlighting the abuse of animals on farms, the depletion of natural resources, unfair working conditions for produce workers, the unavailability of healthy foods in communities of color and low-income areas, and the importance of not purchasing chocolate that comes from the worst forms of child labor.
Check out their app, Chocolate List, in Google Play or in the Apple App Store. It’s a great resource to help you source companies that make vegan, slave-free chocolate.
Even if you missed NARN’s letter-writing party this week, there’s still a way you can write to advocate for the billions of pigs, cows, chickens and other animals who, every single day, endure a living hell of unspeakable torture:
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1966 sets minimum standards for animal care and guards against abuse. However, the more than 9 billion farmed animals that die each year and many small animals used in laboratories are excluded.
Two laws are in place for slaughter and transport, but they are full of loopholes and rarely enforced. State anti-cruelty laws also fail farmed animals by exemption, leaving the agricultural industry to self-regulate and put profits before animal stewardship.
No federal law saves farmed animals from having their testicles, tails, horns, beaks and toes cut off without anesthesia or pain management. No federal law prevents male chicks (“byproducts” of the egg industry) from being tossed onto conveyor belts and ground up alive. No federal law stops geese from being force-fed until their organs fail, or chickens from being starved so they’ll start laying eggs again, or fish from being exposed to light 24 hours a day to speed their growth. No federal law saves animals from being confined in spaces so small they can’t turn around, stretch out, extend their wings or lie down comfortably.
NARN and In Defense of Animals invite you to tell your Congressional lawmakers that farmed animals need to be included in the Animal Welfare Act. Feel free to personalize and submit the letter below to:
Dear [Lawmaker name here],
As a voter who cares deeply about animals, I’m asking for an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 54) to extend legal protections to farmed animals.
Shockingly, there are no laws in place to protect the more than nine billion farmed animals who are slaughtered in the United States every year from abuse and acts of cruelty while they are being bred and raised. Farmed animals, like pigs, fish, sheep, cows and chickens are routinely subjected to painful and barbaric procedures.
As you know, animals are confined in spaces so small they can’t turn around, stretch their limbs or extend their wings, or lie down comfortably. Without anesthesia or pain management of any kind, their testicles, tails, horns, beaks, and toes are cut off. Male chicks in the egg industry are tossed onto conveyor belts and ground up alive. Geese are force fed until their organs fail, while chickens are routinely starved to induce egg laying, and fish are exposed to light 24 hours a day to speed their growth.
Farmed animals are exempt from the AWA and from most state anti-cruelty laws, leaving the agricultural industry to self-regulate and put profits before animal stewardship. While some animals exploited for food are covered under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, no federal law regulates how farmed animals are bred and raised.
Recently proposed amendments, such as the amendment concerning captive marine mammals, have sought to address gaps in the Animal Welfare Act. Farmed animals should not and cannot continue to be left vulnerable to acts of cruelty.
Every day, billions of pigs, cows, fish, chickens, and other animals face unspeakable suffering and torture. Please stand up for their welfare and amend the AWA to include standards for the housing and treatment of farmed animals.
We’re reposting this great article with permission from Ducks and Clucks:
The backlash continues to grow against the urban farming trend when it comes to backyard flocks. In recent years, cities across the US have revised land use codes to permit backyard flocks. But now those same cities are seeing an increase in neighbor complaints, dumped and surrendered chickens and even rat infestations.
It’s a complex issue with emotional and political implications including social justice, personal freedom and self-sufficiency. But animal shelters and rescue groups will tell you it’s just gotten out of hand.
I have been rescuing and rehabilitating ducks and clucks for over nine years now. There hasn’t been a single day in that time when I am not at or beyond capacity. I don’t know of any reputable, safe sanctuary in the entire NW that isn’t also at capacity and constantly seeking safe homes for dumped poultry. Not one. It’s becoming a crisis and the animals are suffering.
One of the biggest problems we see when people decide to get backyard chickens is the information available is almost entirely skewed towards the positive aspects of urban flock keeping. Just look at this beautiful spread of chicken coops and accessories by Williams Sonoma:
You know what’s missing from those professionally-photographed and beautifully-styled yuppy urban farms? A LOT. A WHOLE LOT.
Here’s our collage of the reality of many backyard flocks. This is just a few snapshots of what happens every day with backyard flocks. Not quite as romantic and beautiful as the Williams Sonoma catalog, is it?
This collage includes aggressive ducks or roosters that bite children, infected wounds from dumped geese attacked by dogs, chicken $#!t covered in flies, an injured rescued rooster covered in lice, a raccoon bite down to the vertebrae, raccoons, bloody wing from raccoon attack, hawks, $#!t-covered deck and porch, and rats… lots of rats.
So obviously we discourage backyard flocks. You don’t rescue over 100 birds in 9 years and come out thinking backyard flocks are an awesome idea. This isn’t to say that everyone is doing it wrong. But enough people are regretting their choice to get flocks that it’s causing a big problem for shelters and sanctuaries, and way too much unnecessary suffering for the animals caught in the middle.
So here’s our list of tips to seriously consider before ever taking on the commitment of a backyard flock. But honestly? Just don’t do it.
Tip #1: Protecting urban chickens is costly but required. Chicken wire is not predator proof. Hens are extremely vulnerable to predators like hawks, eagles, raccoons and dogs. Raccoons can reach right through chicken wire to eat hens through the wire, and often work in groups. Eagles and hawks don’t pick up hens and fly away with them, they just take a piece. Roomy coops with hardware cloth on all sides, top and bottom can provide safety for urban hens.
Tip #2: Roosters may be illegal where you live. When hatching chicks, what will you do with all the male chicks? There is no local or state agency to help with animal control issues for urban flocks. Resources at local shelters are very slim and most aren’t well-equipped to house poultry or other farm animals. Two roosters will fight and injure each other. Factory farms and hatcheries routinely grind up male baby chicks while they’re still alive. It is difficult to acquire hens without taking part in the cruelty that male chicks face. Ask before you buy, “What happens to the male chicks?”
Tip #3: Hens get sick. What will you do? When a hen is sick, do you know where to go for urgent treatment? It is important to ensure that even backyard hens are free from suffering and neglect. Basic veterinary care for infections, parasites or injuries can start at $80 and run into the hundreds of dollars. Birds are much better than dogs or cats at hiding illness, so it is critical to get them care quickly. Are you prepared to ensure your birds don’t suffer?
Tip #4: Chicken feed attracts rats and chicken droppings attract flies. Cleaning and maintaining urban coops on smaller lots can be difficult and time consuming. Flies and rats bring parasites and illnesses with them that can infect hens and other household pets. Rat populations can easily get out of control and often damage homes.
Tip #5: Hens don’t lay eggs every day. Many urban farmers get hens to ensure their families have humanely-raised, fresh eggs to eat. But hens have natural cycles that change as the seasons change, and sometimes they don’t lay eggs. Laying an egg every day takes a lot of nutrients, especially calcium. Poor nutrition or poor breeding can cause many hens to be prone to reproductive cancers and other maladies like prolapse and egg binding. First-time farmers often need to be reminded that hens are not egg-laying machines and each hen is an individual. Egg-laying hens reach their peak at 18-months but can live more than 10-years.
Tip #6: Hens crow too. While generally not as loud as roosters, hens crow too. Hens cluck in the morning quite early to be let out of their predator-proof nesting areas. In the summer when days are long, the hen crows can begin at 4:15am. Neighbors will tend to think you are illegally keeping roosters if they hear crowing, and may complain. Also, some hens cluck loudly when they lay eggs. It is important to keep in mind if you have close neighbors.
Tip #7: Each hen has a unique personality. While some breeds have specific characteristics, every hen is her own chicken. While they can be charismatic, emotional and interactive, some hens will attack and injure less dominant hens, especially if space or food is limited. Other hens will eat their own eggs. Some will chase other household pets or pluck out their own feathers. They are unique individuals and don’t always get along.
In summary, because hens are easy to hatch and cheap to buy, they are often treated as disposable animals. And hens that no longer lay eggs are considered useless. But when it comes to suffering, all animals are created equal. With proper care and attention, hens can live up to 10+ years. Before becoming responsible for the care and happiness of any living being, do all the research you can, and be wary of anyone who makes urban chicken coops seem simple and easy. It is a years-long commitment with daily, required care.
P.S. If you still still STILL think a backyard flock is for you, ADOPT! Please adopt. Do not buy or hatch while so many healthy, beautiful, loving, friendly birds languish in shelters.
By the board of NARN
After news spread that a beloved Seattle restaurant, Bamboo Garden, which had been marketing and advertising itself as vegan, was serving ingredients containing dairy and eggs, emotions have been running high within the vegan community. As a vegan animal rights organization, we at NARN share your shock, dismay, and disappointment on hearing the news. It felt like such a betrayal, especially since many of us have been going there for years, having had countless meals there with many of our fellow activists and friends, often before and after demos, protests, tabling and outreach. Who can miss the animal rights pamphlets in the lobby, including “What’s Wrong With Dairy and Eggs,” or the “Meat Free Zone” lobby sign with featured illustrations of eggs and dairy crossed out with the word “Vegan” written in large red letters? While those pamphlets were not reflective of the views of Bamboo Garden and just a result of them allowing activists to leave pamphlets and post signs in the lobby, the vegan branding was present in many ways. The business’s legal name (Chinese Vegan Inc), email address, and Yelp description were just a few places Bamboo Garden identified as vegan.
Obviously at a vegetarian or omnivore restaurant, our vigilance is up, asking questions to ensure that there aren’t any undisclosed animal ingredients in what we order. At a restaurant where it was advertised that everything but the fortune cookies were vegan, we felt safe. Even when people have asked, they were assured that all the faux meats were vegan. Now it is apparent that is not the case, and many people are angry that their ethics were compromised.
We certainly understand these feelings, but we have noticed that some of the social media reactions included troubling racism, as well as unnecessarily spiteful and malicious comments.
While the racist comments have been dealt with swiftly by group administrators, it is still disappointing to see; part of being vegan is being compassionate towards people as well as animals. Feeling betrayal is one thing, but hate is simply not justified or excusable.
Since the initial expose, a few members of the vegan community modeled true compassionate behavior and reached out to Bamboo Garden. Two of those individuals, Lee and Jamie, met with Bamboo Garden to discuss ways to assure greater transparency and allow customers to order items that have been confirmed to be vegan. They looked at the ingredients list of every packaged food used at the restaurant, combed through the entire menu and reorganized all 120 dishes to distinct categories: vegan, can be made vegan, and vegetarian. They also created a template for new menus that clearly state what is, what can be, and what isn’t vegan.
Lastly, efforts are underway by those individuals to identify wholesale restaurant suppliers that can bring in more vegan and kosher food items to the kitchen, with the long-term goal to have Bamboo Garden become a truly vegan restaurant.
Since the initial story, others have approached Bamboo Garden for an explanation, and while the owners were contrite and anxious to clear things up, they gave seemingly contradictory information. We wanted to find out ourselves, so two NARN Board Members (one of whom spoke Cantonese) and another associate that spoke Cantonese arranged for a meeting with the owners. We knew that language and cultural barrier might have been an issue, so having Cantonese speakers talk to the owners was a vital part of clearing up the confusion. At that meeting, we were told that at the time of the ownership change in 2011, the person who became the owner and ordering manager was given instructions of which supplier to use, but not specific products. Over the years, certain products were discontinued, the supplier recommended similar ones in place of the original products. The products were checked for the proper kosher designation, but the actual ingredients were never checked. While the owner/ordering manager is vegetarian, the kitchen staff are not vegetarians and knew less about vegetarianism than the manager. They just prepare the food as directed. The owners stated they want to make amends with all of their customers — they did not intentionally lie about what they have been serving, but acknowledged they were wrong and will learn from the situation.
At the moment, Bamboo Garden has no plans to become a vegan restaurant. One stumbling block they cite is an apparently difficulty finding products that are vegan and kosher. Maintaining their Kosher Certification (which is Dairy Kosher and was not violated according to Rabbi Gallor of their certifying organization, Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle) is important to Bamboo Garden. Additionally, the owners of Bamboo Garden simply don’t seem interested in being an all vegan restaurant, but they do want to cater to vegans. While we remain hopeful that they will eventually become a vegan restaurant, since that is the best thing for the animals, it is understandable that many of us will have a hard time trusting them again. It’s up to each of us individually to make that judgment for ourselves. If you do patronize Bamboo Garden again, we do encourage you to clearly state that you are vegan, or that you want a vegan meal. Ask about ingredients, and ask to view packaging, if you feel any doubt.
Following is the conversation that took place (in Cantonese) on April 27 with a co-owner of the restaurant:
Bamboo Garden: I have never looked at the ingredients. I didn’t know about the ingredients since I was an employee. I took over the responsibility of the inventory after the switch of the ownership.
NARN: You have been here for a long time?
Bamboo Garden: Yes. It wasn’t me that was ordering the restaurant products.
NARN: What about the kitchen staff?
Bamboo Garden: They know less than me. They won’t understand vegetarianism. They are not vegetarians. They just prepare the food as told….. When they asked to see the ingredients, I was nervous that there was something wrong. They mentioned the ingredients having milk, and I didn’t know.
NARN: How long has Bamboo Garden been ordering from these suppliers?
Bamboo Garden: For as long as I have been here. I was directed to the suppliers we ordered from, but I’m unsure if the products themselves are the same ones the old owner had been ordering.
NARN: Do you know if the products being ordered prior to the 2011 ownership switch were vegan? How many years have these products containing dairy/eggs been served?
Bamboo Garden: I really don’t know. I was told where to go to reorder, and over the years, certain products would get discontinued and the suppliers would send me similar ones in place of the original products. We haven’t read the labels or ingredients. We just knew they were vegetarian.
Bamboo Garden: I just knew the OU symbol [the kosher designation]. I never knew D means dairy. When I saw OUD, I knew it meant OU. We have someone coming in regularly to inspect and ensure that everything is Kosher compliant. We just listen to the Rabbi, and we are told everything is good to serve.
NARN: What was the reason you didn’t allow for the people to see the packaging when asked?
Bamboo Garden: I didn’t know what that meant. I also didn’t know what they were looking for. I was really nervous and was afraid of what consequences may follow if I were to give them the packaging (lawsuits, etc.) I now know that was a mistake on my part, and I am sorry for not letting them see the packaging.
NARN: What is your plan moving forward?
Bamboo Garden: We are getting help from [vegan community members] Lee and Jamie, and they are helping us figure out what is vegan and vegan friendly. We will have everything clearly labeled on our menus. They are coming back in a few days to show us their revisions. We have been encouraged to ask every single customer (on the phone/dine-in) to distinguish if they are vegan and make sure they do not get something that has eggs and dairy.
NARN: In the interim, are you confident that you know what all the ingredients are as of today?
Bamboo Garden: Yes, they (Lee and Jamie) walked us through the kitchen, looked at all the ingredients, sauces, and have taught us what to look for. Honestly, it wasn’t until the pictures surfaced online, with the ingredients circled that I knew there were dairy and eggs in there. The word whey is completely new to me. I only know the words milk and eggs , but now I know what to watch for.
NARN: To confirm, this will remain as a vegetarian restaurant, and not a vegan one?
Bamboo Garden: We have thought about it, and we don’t have plans to be a vegan restaurant. It doesn’t seem possible at this time because we need to be remain as a Kosher restaurant. If there is something that is both Kosher and vegan, it would make everything easier…. We have vegan chicken available as of right now since February, due to the ones we usually order were out. However, we still have the some of non-vegan chicken in the kitchen. We have tested the vegan chicken out and have been told by customers they prefer the old (vegetarian) ones. At this point, we have made the decision to continue carrying both and will re-order the vegetarian versions once they become available again.
NARN: Is there a message you would like to send out to all of Bamboo Garden’s patrons that have been impacted by the recent happenings?
Bamboo Garden: All I can is sorry. We are sorry and I would like to apologize to everyone who has been affected by this. We want to make amends with all of our customers; we have had many that have been supporters of this restaurant for decades. We did not intentionally lie about what we have been serving, but we acknowledge we are wrong. We have been very wrong and we will learn from this. If they are willing to come to Bamboo Garden, I can apologize in person to each customer….. All I can say is sorry. I’m unsure if I can say anything beyond that in person (if customers return), as I don’t speak the English language well. Thank you for giving us a chance to have a statement.
Amazingly, King County has drawn up plan to sell land to the largest landowner in the Snoqualmie Valley — a confinement dairy that uses GMOs, Roundup and synthetic fertilizers — rather than to Seattle Tilth.
A King County Council committee will vote Thursday on the sale of the Tall Chief Golf Course to Keller Dairy, already the area’s largest landowner.
King County bought the property in 2013 for about $4.5 million to save it from development.
Despite a strong proposal from the highly respected non-profit Seattle Tilth, the county’s Natural Resources and Parks Department decided to sell the land for roughly $700,000 to expand the dairy.
Speak out against King County Ordinance 2015-0425!
It’s urgent: Messages must be sent before 8 a.m. Thursday:
We’re ramping up for a busy week. Here’s a rundown of some of the ways you can get involved in the next few days.
Fri Nov 27 from 9am-11am
Vegan Outreach Downtown Seattle
Meet at 4th & Pine, in front of Starbucks
This is a chance to hand out vegan recipes and Why Vegan booklets to the crowds who will be congregating for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. People love the recipe books and it’s a great way to make a positive impact.
Fri Nov 27 from 11am-1pm
Fur Free Friday Downtown Seattle
Nordstrom Downtown Seattle, 500 Pine Street
After leafleting, it’s demo time! Hold a sign, hand out a flier, or simply be part of the group of people who oppose fur. There’s no need for cruelty in the 21st century.
Fri Nov 27 from 1pm-10pm
#BlackLivesMatterFriday 2.0 : The Quest For Freedom
Westlake Park, 401 Pine Street
After demos, let’s show solidarity with other groups. This event isn’t organized by NARN, but it’s important that we support our fellow activists. Oppression and injustices are rampant and we need to stand with others to make changes.
Sun Nov 29 from 6pm-9:30pm
No New Animal Lab Home Demos
Meet at Starbucks, 800 12th Ave, Seattle
This event isn’t organized by NARN, but we stand with the No New Animal Lab campaign and encourage you to attend protests at the houses of people involved in the plans to build a new underground animal lab at the University of Washington.
Tue Dec 1 from 6:30pm-8:30pm
NARN Letter Writing Party, Fur Free Friday Edition
Wayward Vegan Café, 801 NE 65th Street
Join NARN members, animal activists, and other vegans for a letter writing dinner at Wayward Café! We’ll be upstairs with stationery, stamps, and addresses. Just bring yourself!
Well, there’s no shortage of events in Seattle in the next week. Have a peaceful Thanksgiving, eat lots of delicious vegan food, and plug into the community however you can.
Wondering how you can help animals this weekend? Wonder no more. This weekend in jam-packed with amazing opportunities to help animals.
October 2nd (today)
Today is World Day for Farmed Animals. It’s a time to fast, learn, and educate others on the plight of the 10 billion animals this country eats every year.
This afternoon is the March on UW. At 2 pm, at The University of Washington’s Red Square, hundreds of animal rights activists will march against the university’s plans to build a new animal testing lab. Please join us!
This evening is the circus demo in Everett. Help us educate circus-goers that animals do not belong in the circus.
October 3rd (tomorrow)
The Global March for Elephants, Rhinos, and Lions is happening from 1-2:30 pm tomorrow in downtown Seattle. The march starts at Westlake Center and is part of a worldwide effort to save wild animals from poaching.
October 4th (Sunday)
Another circus demo is Everett begins at 11:30 am. Please join us and let Ringling Bros. know that we won’t stand for animal abuse.
Friday, October 2, is a big day for animals — a trifecta of sorts for people wanting to do something to help animals used for research, entertainment and food all in one day.
It’s also World Day for Farmed Animals, and even if you’re protesting at UW or in Everett, there are things you can do to acknowledge the day and make a difference for pigs, cows, chickens and other farmed animals:
Have you heard that Whole Foods sells rabbit meat? In Defense of Animals recently wrote about the pilot program.
There’s no justification for eating any kind of animals, but it’s especially disturbing that, as more Americans are cutting back or omitting animal products, Whole Foods is promoting rabbits.
Rabbits are the fifth most popular pet, which makes this “food” introduction especially confusing.
And as with any industry that profits from animals, rabbits in the supply chain are treated cruelly and suffer immensely.
You can help!
Please follow the link to IDA’s factsheet. It includes a number you can call as well as a form you can fill out. Here’s info from IDA about what to say when you call:
Whole Foods corporate phone number: 512-477-4455
Here are some talking points to get you started: