The USDA last week removed from its website much of the information it used to make publicly available regarding animal welfare, including inspection records for zoos, laboratories and commercial breeders.
The agency said it’s the result of a year-long review and that the action was intended to protect certain personal information, according to the Huffington Post.
“Going forward, APHIS [the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] will remove from its website inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication,” it said.
It’s as though the USDA forgot that it operates in a democracy that’s upheld by transparency and public records.
Here’s a list of things you can do personally to help protect animals in the wake of this decision. It’s particularly important to let legislators know that the USDA’s action needs to be reversed.
Here are a few numbers I’ve kept handy lately:
Sen. Patty Murray: 202-224-2621
Sen. Maria Cantwell: 202-224-3441
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (for Seattle): 202-225-3106
I was about to write a post about how the US government was planning to slaughter 45,000 wild horses and burros and provide a call to action.
Good news! After public outrage, the plans have been halted.
It’s a great reminder to speak up for animals. From an article about the decision: “The panel’s recommendation created an uproar among animal rights activists and highlighted the challenges ahead for the U.S. government as it seeks to control the population of wild horses and burros.”
Letters, calls, and petitions DO make a difference. I’ll keep an eye on this issue and post action items if the situation changes.
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.
The True Cost is a groundbreaking documentary that asks the simple question: “Who made my clothes?”
What does that have to do with animals? Well, as an animal rights organization, NARN advocates for all sentient beings to live a full life, to be free, and to not to be used and exploited. People, animals, and the earth are often exploited in the name of business.
The True Cost is playing at Central Cinema (1411 21st Ave., Seattle WA 98122) on Sunday, March 13, 2016 @4 PM.
Click here to see the trailer.
Tickets are only $8 and are available here.
The True Cost pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our clothing?
Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, this film will take you on an eye-opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.
The film sheds light on the wasteful nature of fast fashion and the horrible working conditions in the factories where cheap clothing is made.
We all wear clothes. Even if you don’t follow the latest trends or count “shopping” as one of your pastimes, there’s something in this film for you.
Let’s keep Keith Tucker spinning veggie burgers!
Keith hosts awesome Hip Hop Green Dinners all over the country to spread the word about tasty, animal-free burgers. I was lucky enough to attend one in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood a few months ago — yum! He provides great entertainment, too.
These hip hop dinners change lives by doing something as simple and powerful as serving healthy vegan meals to youth and families who may never have had one before. Keith shows them that veganism is possible, delicious — and necessary, for animals, our health and our communities.
Sponsors like Seattle’s Field Roast help ensure that the Hip Hop Green Dinners are free. So do fundraisers like the one Keith is holding this Labor Day Weekend in Seattle, Baltimore and Miami.
Please join the Big Burger Battle Fundraiser, where you can buy a scrumptious Field Roast burger for a great cause!
Details: Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. at The Collaboratory, 5623 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle.
Seattle Veggie Burgers, represent!
(And thanks to our friend Christie Lagally at Living Humane for the heads up!)
It’s amazing what she’s been able to accomplish:
Bonnie would like to expand these efforts to other counties that offer recreational fishing. If you or someone you know would like to help, please contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and congratulations to Bonnie for all her hard work in pushing to implement the Monofilament Fishing Line Recycling and Recovery Program in as many parks, fishing piers, and marinas as possible!
In his new film, UNITY, writer/director Shaun Monson (the man behind EARTHLINGS) takes an in-depth look at what it truly means to be human. The film presents a message of love, tragedy and hope, all set against the backdrop of some of the most compelling 20th and 21st century footage imaginable.
It’s a one-night cinematic event, playing in multiple locations nationwide on August 12, 2015.
UNITY features a dizzying array of 100 celebrity narrators including Ellen Degeneres, Kevin Spacey, Adrian Grenier, Joaquin Phoenix, Selena Gomez, Adam Levine, Pamela Anderson, Ben Kingsley, Common, Deepak Chopra, Geoffrey Rush, Dr. Dre, Zoe Saldana, Aaron Paul, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Moby, Susan Sarandon.
We were lucky enough to interrupt Shaun Monson’s busy schedule for an interview.
NARN: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (where you grew up, what you did before making documentaries, are you vegan and if so, what made you decide to go vegan? If you aren’t, why not)?
SM: I was born and raised in Southern California. I always wanted to be a movie director, but it was a difficult industry to break into. I got my first chance directing a public service announcement commercial. I have been a vegan for around 15 years. I became one after seeing footage of animals being slaughtered for food.
NARN: Why did you decide to make Earthlings? What did you hope to accomplish? Are you happy with its impact?
SM: I made the film Earthlings because at the time, I was not aware of any film that tackled all of the issues involving human abuse of animals for economic purposes. With the movie Earthlings, I hoped to accomplish awareness of this exact issue. I am happy with the impact. It outdid what I had expected the film to do.
NARN: Why did you decide to make Unity? What do you hope to accomplish with it’s release?
SM: Unity is an extension of Earthlings. Earthlings focuses on the achievement of one group of beings (mainly animals), while Unity focuses on the perception of all beings. Like the last question, I hope to accomplish increased awareness.
NARN: I really like that this movie mentions social justice and other systems of oppression in addition to animal exploitation. Can you say a bit about why those issues are important to you and why you wanted to include them in your movie?
SM: Any time we deal with dominion, it is because a group of beings oppress another for whatever reason. On the surface, it may be social justice, but at the core, they deal with the same problem–dominion and all of its forms.
NARN: What other animal- or environmental-related documentaries do you admire?
SM: I like all of them. I commend anyone who is making an effort to raise awareness of suffering, dominion, injustice and other related issues.
NARN: How widely will Unity be distributed? How can we see it? How can we convince all of our friends to see it?
SM: For starters, theatrical distribution will be worldwide. But, since only a small percentage of the world lives within driving distances of a theater that is playing it, another worldwide release will occur online in the fall. As for encouraging friends and family to see it–tell them that if they are to see one documentary this year, please let it be Unity.
NARN: How did you get all of those celebrities to narrate it?
SM: It started with one, then two, then four, then eight and so on. It kept on multiplying. It took many years–not just to record, but to edit together.
Please watch Unity in theaters tomorrow!
Here’s a can’t-miss event: The Ethical and Environmental Impacts of Eating Animals featuring Gene Baur, founder and president of Farm Sanctuary, and Kathryn Gillespie, UW professor and part of the UW Critical Animal Studies working group.
Where: Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Avenue, Seattle
When: Friday, May 8th at 7:30 pm (doors ope at 6 pm)
Whether you’re a long-time vegan or just thinking about whether veganism is right for you, this will be a terrific evening. Baur and Gillespie will be speaking about animal rights, the value of respecting nature, how to be a conscientious consumer, and have a healthier lifestyle.
Bring your friends and family!
On Saturday, April 11th, 2015 from 2:00 to 4:30 author Ruby Roth will be at Seattle First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard Ave, Seattle, WA 98122) for a special event.
In this one-of-a kind lecture, acclaimed author Ruby Roth explores the transformative power of veganism on society and the individual (children included!). Through an examination of pop culture, the controversial media response to her children’s books, and the obstacles one faces by being vegan and raising vegan kids, Roth reveals the invisible forces that shape public thinking about health, children, and animals, strengthening her audience’s resolve to fight the good fight, overcome social and familial pressures, and engage children in healthy eating and animal rights. Whether you’re a vegan veteran or a veg-curious newbie, whether you’re raising kids or work with children other than your own, whether you’re planning a family or involved in animal advocacy, Roth will inspire you to rethink the status quo as well as our cultural approach to raising kids.
The 90-minute presentation and Q&A portion of the event is designed for adults (babies in arms welcome). Free onsite childcare will be provided on a very limited basis–please see ticket page for full information. The presentation and Q&A will be followed by a book signing and a reading for children of V Is for Vegan. Tickets for adults are $15 and children are free.
Featured on CNN, FOX, Today, and other major media outlets, Ruby Roth is the world’s leading author and illustrator of vegan and vegetarian books for children. Roth has received international attention for her sensitive, yet frank advocacy of a vegan diet and lifestyle. Complementing her degrees in art and American Studies, she has researched animal agriculture, health, nutrition, and the benefits of a plant-based diet for over a decade. Learn more about Ruby Roth at http://wedonteatanimals.com/home and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/wedonteatanimals.
One definition of the word “sport” is as follows: “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. I will let you contemplate such things as baiting, blinds, beer, hunting accidents, night scopes, decoys, lures, hounds, high-powered rifles, crossbows, camouflage AND MANY MORE as you mentally list the reasons hunting and trapping ARE NOT SPORTS.
In view of that…let’s shoot down the mis-named “Sportsman’s Act”. Once again, a small faction of wealthy trophy hunters is pressuring your elected officials to allow the importation of — are you SERIOUS? — threatened polar bear trophies from Canada. They also want to open millions of acres of public lands to “sport” hunting and commercial trapping. And they want to do it without evaluating possible implications for animals, habitat and the opinions of Americans who enjoy our nation’s wild spaces without having to kill the inhabitants. This bill would also permanently strip the Environmental Protection Agency of the authority to regulate lead shot and other ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and would add lead sinkers and other fishing gear to the existing exemptions. To add insult to injury, the bill would direct up to $10 million annually toward improving access to landlocked public lands, allocate a larger proportion of existing federal funding to building and maintaining shooting ranges on federal and non-federal lands, and require federal land managers to consider how their plans may impact hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. Do I need to remind you of the suffering involved for animals left to die slowly of bad shots, for their families and children, for animals trapped for days in agony, whose only release is (maybe) the trapper and his dogs? Hunting and trapping are NOT sports. They are HORRORS.
Please, if you don’t already know who they are and how to get in touch with them, find your federal legislators here: https://secure.humanesociety.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=electedOfficials_federal
and make a brief, polite phone call today to urge them to OPPOSE S. 405, the Sportsmen’s Act, and protect our wildlife and wildlands. (I know you don’t FEEL polite. I don’t either. But let’s pull ourselves together.) Follow up with an email (links at the same site above).