The Backyard Chicken Reality Check: Problems and Recommendations

The backyard chicken movement is in full swing, and shelters are filling up with unwanted and abandoned chickens all over the country. While the media continues to romanticize backyard chicken keeping, would-be chicken keepers are learning only half truths about keeping and caring for chickens. We thought it was time for a reality check. This live recording from Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns, provides a very authoritative and comprehensive review of the most common problems and recommendations for the urban chicken movement. Continue reading

Examining Temple Grandin and the Humane Slaughter Paradox

Browsing Temple Grandin’s official website is a puzzle of ideas and positions on animals in agriculture that could leave you more confused about her conclusions than when you started. For instance, her position on what she calls “humane slaughter” and appropriate methods of slaughter begins, not with an explanation of the benefits to the animal, but to its economic / legal compliance advantages: Continue reading

Creating a Generation of Solutionaries

Whether or not we would have wished this on them, our children must grow up understanding how to solve pressing challenges. Yet, they are still memorizing names and dates of battles. They’re told to “do their best” at school, but what would be best is if we engaged their loving hearts and brilliant minds so that they yearned to play their important roles in the great tasks ahead. Core competencies in core subjects are simply tools. We must make sure that we’re providing our children with the knowledge, skills, and commitment to participate in the creation of a peaceful, sustainable, and humane world for all. And if we embrace such a vision for the purpose of schooling, we will watch our graduates quickly and inexorably solve the pressing, persistent, and systemic problems we face. Continue reading

Enviropig Project, 1st GMO and ‘Trademarked’ Animal, Falling Flat from Ethical, Political and Economic Factors

According to a report in Reuters today, the key backers in Canada’s Enviropig project, Toronto Pig, has withdrawn their financial support, and the financial and political outlook is looking pretty grim for the University of Guelph which is conducting the research. According to the University’s website, “The Enviropig™ is a genetically enhanced line of Yorkshire pigs with the capability of digesting plant phosphorus more efficiently than conventional Yorkshire pigs.” This apparently results in a significant reduction in phosphorus in the animal’s feces and a lower level of phosphorus contamination in fresh water supplies. Continue reading

PBS’s Food Forward Series Clings to Backward, Speciesist Worldview of Animals

Food Forward unfortunately falls into the same predictable speciesist trap as most all of the locavore, sustainable types do. They would have us believe that it’s still okay to use animals in barbaric ways as mankind has done for 10,000 years now as long as we do it on a localized, kindler and gentler scale—as long as we take the power away from the corporate giants who currently do it. It quickly becomes clear that this supposedly more evolved perspective on agriculture leaves the moral question of our relationship with animals mostly unexamined and left to the tyranny of history.
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Teaching the Mentality of Meat: When Beaver Tail Becomes Haute Cuisine

In a recent Huffington Post story celebrating the preparation of beaver’s tail, we discovered just how far a major culinary training institution is willing to go to get attention through marketing and promoting wildlife animals as haute cuisine. As the anonymous HuffPost author says: “That’s right: the furry creatures are good for things beside being cute, building dams and providing pelts for retro hats. They also make for some interesting eating.” Continue reading

What All Animal Advocates Need to Understand about Denial

All social justice advocates, including animal advocates, can expect to face a huge challenge when talking to people about why their cause is important. In the animal advocacy world, food choice is the elephant in the closet. Denial is the norm and it takes many forms. We must not be deterred by it. Accept the reality of denial and seek ways to move beyond it. That is the given that all serious advocates must embrace, rather than become paralyzed by, if we are to become more effective at getting people to warm up to our position. Continue reading

The Buzz on Animal Rights Artist Sue Coe: A New Book and Video

There is a buzz building on Sue Coe’s new collection of work entitled Cruelty: Bearing Witness to Animal Exploitation. The official release of the book is April 15th. Pre orders are being taken on the OR Books website. Richly illustrated with full-color paintings and drawings throughout, Cruel conveys the terrible beauty, and intense suffering, of both the animals so sacrificed and the workers involved in their violent destruction. Continue reading

New Exposé Shows Why There Is More Suffering in a Pound of Cheese Than a Pound of Meat

Most people I talk to are shocked to learn that there is more suffering in a pound of cheese than a pound of meat. Why? The cruelty inherent in dairy production begins with the fact that dairy farms are simply calf breeding factories where female breeding cows are forcibly and artificially inseminated in what the industry refers to as a “rape rack.” Male calves, representing at least half of all offspring, are of no use to the dairy operation, and are either killed or raised for veal. Females are forced into a cycle of continual pregnancy, often machine milked even during their 9-month pregnancies, until they are considered “spent” and then hauled off on transport trucks to slaughterhouses, the same slaughterhouses where meat animals meet their violent end. Continue reading

Dutch Study: Dairy Cows Have Individual Personalities

While human behavior studies are generally conducted with the intention of improving human health and well being, van Reenan’s study of dairy cow temperament sets out to understand the specific “temperament” traits of individual dairy cows who react dramatically different to the same stimuli and situations. The goal of the study is to determine how we can use selective breeding technology to produce cows in the future that will have there “right” personality traits for optimal dairy production on large scale farms. Continue reading

The Rise of Happy Meat and Compassionate Carnivores: A Talk By Vasile Stanescu

There is a new genre of texts which argue for “local” and “humane” farms in terms of helping both the environment and protecting the animals. Stanescu critically engages with these so-called “compassionate carnivores” and their new arguments for “humane” or “happy” meat and documents that the rise of small scale farms can never serve as a truly effective strategy to improve the lives of animals. Instead, He suggests those concerned with suffering of animals should join with animal rights activists to effect positive change. Continue reading

Shoot Undercover Video on a Farm in Utah, Go to Jail

Utah follows Iowa’s lead in criminalizing animal advocacy and animal watch dog groups by signing into law its state’s new ag-gag law. Similar big ag protection laws have been proposed in other states, like Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee. They have been defeated in Florida and Illinois. Continue reading

From Battery Cages to Colony Cages: Progress for Egg Laying Hens?

Almost all of the animal welfare organizations are praising the move from battery cages to colony cages for egg laying hens both here and in Europe. It’s a victory for hens, these organizations would have us believe. It’s a sign that the animal welfare movement is gaining more influence over the poultry industry and progress is being made on behalf of animals. Continue reading

The Incredible Edible Egg… Embryo Sack?

This is a photo of the kind of egg you don’t see at the supermarket or even hear about. Why? You’re not supposed to know about them. If you did, the industry knows how turned off you might become. Eggs like this are truly a “freak of nature,” that is, a product of man’s manipulation of nature. A far cry from the images and language of egg marketing huh? Farm fresh, pasture raised, cage free, free range, organic. Continue reading

Harvard Red Meat Study: Over 100,000 Subjects Studied Up to 28 Years

A new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers has found that red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality. The results also showed that substituting other healthy protein sources, such as fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes, was associated with a lower risk of mortality. Continue reading