Animal Rights at a Wedding Reception

For Lorraine Dooley, having a World Farm Animals Day event did not involve a march or a vigil outside of a slaughterhouse, but instead meant sharing the message of compassion for animals at her wedding reception via an animal rights table.

“It didn’t take away from the beauty of our wedding, and I felt better because I was able to share what I know with other people, without being oppressive or pushy,” said Lorraine.

I (Cindi) recently talked with Lorraine by phone about her reception and her experience with animal rights and veganism. One thing that stood out was that sharing her special day of celebration with the animals was a very natural extension of Lorraine’s personal and passionate style of activism.

And we may be talking with Lorraine again soon. Her husband, John a.k.a. “Dooley,” is a firefighter and is the chef for his crew at the station. I suggested Dooley check out Rip Esselstyn’s Engine2Diet and get back to us here at the FARM blog with his thoughts.

Lorraine & her husband, "Dooley"

Cindi w/FARM: What materials were available on the animal rights table and where was it located?

LORRAINE: The table had tons of literature from different organizations, such as FARM and PETA. There were also Veg Starter Kits.  I also purchased tens of copies of the books, Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz and The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan to give away on the table. I wanted to provide one book that was a little lighter, as well as something pretty hard-hitting. We had a poster over the table to welcome people and to make sure they knew that they were free to take the materials with them. We put the table in a lounge area near the restrooms so people would be sure to pass by it! It was fairly low-key, yet still very effective.

FARM: How did the idea for the animal rights table come about?

LORRAINE: I initially suggested a vegan wedding, but I knew it was not likely to happen. Although my husband enjoys vegan food and prepares a lot of vegan meals; he still eats meat, but only from local farms we have thoroughly researched and personally visited. Many of the wedding guests were his and were also meat-eaters, so a vegan wedding was out. If I couldn’t have a vegan wedding, I wanted to at least be able to provide information and make more people aware of the issues involved with eating animal products. I knew I would have a lot of people’s attention that day and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to help people get more informed.

FARM: How was the table received by your guests?

LORRAINE: It was a super big hit!  All the books and literature were taken. I am hoping it impacted people’s lives, but don’t have specific feedback yet. Even if someone took a book with good intentions of reading it, but changed their mind and gave it away, hopefully it will still be valuable to someone else.

FARM: Did you encounter any resistance to the idea of having the table?

LORRAINE: No, my fiancé-husband understands the issues and was great about it. My mother, however, didn’t want me to do it at first, but then in the months leading up to the wedding, she actually became a vegan! She had always been a meat-loving Italian woman and had been very resistant to reading animal-rights materials I gave her. But one day I got her to sign a PETA petition about “pet” dogs and cats. Then I asked her, “what if your pet was a pig or a cow?” And she got it! Before I knew it she had not eaten any animal products in 3 weeks!

FARM: How did you become a vegan?

LORRAINE: Things began to change for me when I was 9 and went on a school field trip to a “Days of Yore” type of reenactment on a farm where they killed an animal, hung it up, and cut it up. I was so freaked out when I realized that this is where my meatballs come from.  I immediately stopped eating everything I associated with an animal. This was huge considering I came from a European family where food and meals, like a 7-course Christmas Eve dinner, were a serious part of life. My grandfather was a professional chef and so he was a little upset when I became a vegetarian, but he still tried to accommodate me, and overall my family was pretty respectful. Dairy came later as I had not yet made that connection and didn’t realize that just because the animal didn’t die, did not mean there was not any suffering involved. I gave up dairy and have been vegan for about a year.

FARM: What other types of advocacy or activism do you participate in?

LORRAINE: I do a lot of one-on-one, advocacy for the animals. For example, I give away a lot of books and DVDs to friends and co-workers.  Instead of loaning books out, I buy someone a copy and make them promise to pass it on when they are done. If I have lunch with a coworker and we end up talking about my vegan meal, they may find a book on their desk the next day! I participate in local rallies, write letters to the editors of magazines for PETA, and leave literature on the subway or in markets. Although ideally I would prefer for everyone to go vegan, when talking with people who are more insistent on eating meat, I especially talk with them about the realities of factory-farming, about doing research regarding the availability of humanely raised animals on local farms, and about being willing to pay a lot more for those products.

FARM: Do you have any suggestions for anyone else who might be interested in having an animal rights table at their wedding reception?

LORRAINE: Make as much available as you can, such as different kinds of literature and also veg starter kits. If you can purchase books to give away, that is also really effective. Mostly, don’t be afraid. Many of our guests were meat-eating Irish folks, firefighters and Marines, (like my husband) but it was still really well received!

Read More

Got Truth? In Search of an Honest Dairy Label

A federal appeals court recently struck down a ban in Ohio that prohibited the labeling of dairy products as “rbST free” or “hormone-free.”  The court also challenged previous rulings by finding that dairy products from cows given rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin, also known as Monsanto’s Posilac) ARE compositionally different from dairy products from non-treated cows in that they have increased levels of IGF-1, periods of lower nutritional quality, and increased somatic cell counts (i.e. more pus).

Using artificial hormones, which several countries have banned due to human and animal welfare concerns, increases milk production (up to 10%) and thus many dairy farmers insist it is vital for staying in business.  Dairy farmers have argued that allowing farmers who do not use artificial hormones to label their milk as hormone-free is unfair and misleading. The recent ruling changes the picture considerably and is somewhat of a positive step from a consumer standpoint.

But a REAL consumer victory would involve REAL TRUTH IN LABELING about dairy.

Even without artificial hormones, milk contains many naturally occurring hormones, allergens, fat, cholesterol, pesticides, drugs, pus, and yes, feces. These items are even more concentrated in dairy products such as cheese, ice cream, and butter.

USAGE: Intended for calves only. Hormones in the milk, such as IGF-1 cause rapid and substantial growth in calves. A calf may go from 65 lbs to 400 lbs in one year!

CALCIUM WARNING: Drinking milk actually accelerates bone loss as a result of adding excess animal protein to the body and thus, causing calcium and other minerals to be pulled from the bones to lower acid levels. “Osteoporosis is caused by a number of things, the most important one being too much dietary protein.” Science 1986; 233(4763)  Plant-based protein has far less of an acidic effect on the body than animal protein. Leading medical authorities on diet and disease, such as Dr. John McDougall, agree that the calcium-losing effect of protein in the body is not controversial in the scientific community, it is well-proven.

HEART & DISEASE WARNINGS: Consuming dairy products substantially increases your risk of heart disease as a result of the high saturated fat and cholesterol content. Insulin-dependent diabetes, allergies, colic, obesity, and iron deficiency in infants are also associated with dairy consumption. (see PCRM article)

CANCER WARNINGS: Dairy consumption increases the risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.  As noted in John Robbins book, The Food Revolution (citing a 2000 Health Professionals follow-up study) men who consume more than 2 servings of dairy products daily increase their risk of prostate cancer 70% more than men who consume no dairy.

ANIMALS & THE PLANET Were Harmed in the Making of this Product: In a dairy cow’s short life before becoming ground beef, her male babies will live short horrific lives before being sold for veal and her female calves will be fed milk other than hers and then put through a continuous cycle of forced impregnation and lactation. These sentient “milk machines” will endure painful years of standing on concrete attached to automated equipment and will suffer through the extraordinary pain of being separated from their calves. Read a compelling Animal Rights & Oppression blog post about this separation.  Dairy cows given artificial hormones often suffer from severe mastitis, hoof diseases, sores, internal bleeding, and deformed calves.  Yet, the FDA took only 90 days to approve Monsanto’s hormone and ruled it safe for humans and cows.

The Earth cannot escape the “Dairy Warning Label” either. Although dairy scored second to beef in terms of nitrogen pollution (a big contributor to dead zones), as Americans eat far more dairy than beef, dairy’s nitrogen footprint is much bigger.  Pollution and environmental issues are inevitable when dealing with football field-sized lagoons of waste.


Ditch the dairy, grab some greens, and sit in the sun for about 15 minutes a day (no sunscreen). Humans, like cows, get the calcium they need from a plant-based diet! Calcium is far MORE bioavailable in brussels sprouts, broccoli, and other dark green vegetables and we can get our Vitamin D from the sun and/or Vitamin D enriched foods. Get more info here regarding sources of calcium.  There are also numerous healthy dairy alternatives available now in stores, including coconut milk, nut milks, and soy. Visit GoDairyFree.Org for lots of resources!

Additional PCRM article

Read More

A Global Respect for Animals 2010

THANK YOU for helping to make World Farm Animals Day 2010 a great success!  The campaign included a wide variety of creative events to honor and respect the nearly 60 billion animals who are raised for food and suffer & die each year.

The campaign got off to a strong early start with a banner display during a congressional hearing regarding the recent massive egg recall. On October 2nd, events officially took off with activities such as a vigil outside of a slaughterhouse, compelling photography and art exhibits, a dramatic funeral march, a pro-vegan talent show, numerous spirited marches, vegan food events, video screenings, and much more. But with more meat industry protests, classroom activities, scores of marches, and even an animal rights table at a wedding reception, the action didn’t end on October 2nd! Check out the 2010 Report and watch the 2010 World Farm Animals Day video (below). And again, THANK YOU for participating and for all that you do for the animals!

Read More

More college students choose a vegetarian diet

In his book, Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer reports that approximately 18% of college students in the U.S. are vegetarian.  In a recent video interview with the Commonwealth Club of California, he points out that these students are not just at big urban schools where one might expect to find larger concentrations of vegetarians, but they are also at schools in America’s “heartland.”  He also noted that half of this group of vegetarian/vegan students want more vegetarian options available to them on campus.

This growing collegiate trend toward a plant-based diet was highlighted recently in a Philadelphia Inquirer article. The article featured information from Bon Apétit Management Company which services more than 4,000 corporate, college, and university accounts. Based on information the company collected from college and university students in 2005-2006 and then again in 2009-2010, there was a 50% increase in vegetarian students (up from 8% to 12%) and the percentage of vegan students doubled from 1% to 2%.

PETA2, the student wing of PETA, recently released their annual nominee list for the Most Vegan Friendly College, which includes encouraging examples of schools where university staff regularly meet with student representatives to discuss new menu options. As off-campus restaurants begin offering more vegetarian and vegan options, the pressure for campus dining facilities to compete gets even greater.  Even the University of Texas at Austin, in the heart of cowboy country, offers a great variety of hard to resist vegan foods, including vegan barbeque riblets! Go to the Peta2 site today to place your vote!

Millennials, also known as members of Generation Y, range in age anywhere from adolescence to around 30, and thus include traditional college-age students.  According to a Pew Research Center article, millennials are reported to be the most progressive generation in modern history.  In the above-mentioned interview, Foer says that the conversation is changing, particularly on college campuses, from “why don’t you eat meat?” to “why do you eat so much meat?” He suggests that eating meat could go the way of cigarette smoking.  It will still be legal and people may still choose to do it, but far less often, and if they do, particularly in excess, it will require more of an explanation.

If you are a college student and would like to see more vegetarian/vegan options at your school, check out FARM Underground’s information and resources.  If you are not currently in school, but would like to see more of your area restaurants and stores offering compassionate menu choices and products, check out Compassion Over Killing’s Restaurant Outreach Guide, filled with tips on approaching your favorite establishments.  Also, Mercy For Animals’ VegetarianDining Campaign site, offers PDF files including a guide to veganizing your school cafeteria and a resource guide for restaurant owners

Read More

The ANTI-National Pork Month Photo

Momma pig & her babe: snoozin'. Photo credit: unknown.

I think that this picture could be the ANTI-National Pork Month photo. Let’s make October and all months, a time to CELEBRATE these beautiful animals, not eat them.

The photo says it all.

There is soft earth and hay to make a nest  – VS –  a concrete slab.
There is fresh air and sunlight – VS –  dark, cramped confinement and toxic fumes.
There is peace, comfort, and rest – VS – miserable distress, pain, and fear.
There is purpose and real value to life – VS – being an object to use and discard.
There is connection and bonding – VS –  separation and loneliness.
There is love.

What are the moral implications for each of us as individuals, and for us as a nation and world, for permitting millions of these highly intelligent, sentient, and affectionate animals to endure lives where they see no sunlight, cannot feel the soft dirt or warm hay under their feet, cannot turn around, cannot root in the ground or build a nest for their young, are not given any kind of pain relief when having their bodies mutilated (i.e. teeth, tails, and testicles cut), and cannot live out anything close to their natural lifespan (approx. 15 years)?

What are the costs to our health as the rates of high cholesterol and heart disease soar and as the risk of pandemics increases as our antibiotics become less effective due to the excessive amounts given to these animals?  And what is the cost to our planet as she struggles to handle the massive amounts of waste (football field-sized lagoons) produced by these enormous farms, amounts that far outweigh human waste?

Today, approximately 98% of the 10 billion land animals raised for food in the U.S. come from a factory farm. They endure conditions much like the ones described above, not to mention the fear and pain associated with the slaughter process. Each year, the U.S. raises and slaughters 105 million pigs for food and approximately 90% of them are confined for at least part of their shortened lives.

There are more than enough great reasons to “just say NO” to “pork” every month. And if you just really love sausage ~ allow yourself to try a compassionate alternative, such as grain-based Field Roast or Gimme Lean. You might be surprised! Your body (& the pigs & the Earth) will thank you.

What can each of us do to make more compassionate choices in our lives and to help others to learn about the many serious consequences of their daily food choices?

Request a free vegan starter kit or sign up for the Meatout Mondays E-letter.
There are many Web resources with more info about pigs raised on factory farms, try Mercy For Animals and Compassionate Action for Animals for starters.

Read More

The Co$t of Disappearing Rainforests

As rainforests rapidly disappear, you may wonder…. how does this really affect me?  Well, for one thing, we will all need to open our checkbooks. Yes, the UK government and British scientific experts are putting a price tag on the loss of natural resources, globally and for each nation.

Developed by Pavan Sukhdev, a former banker turned environmental economist, Teeb, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project has begun to calculate the value of nature and the cost of its loss.

The loss of biodiversity through deforestation alone will cost the global economy up to $4.5 trillion dollars each year ~ $650 for every person on the planet, and just a fraction of the total damage being wrought by overdevelopment, intensive farming, and climate change.

Cattle raising is the world’s largest driver of deforestation. An alarming statistic from a 2009 Greenpeace report revealed cattle are responsible for approximately 80% of the deforestation in the Amazon region. Cattle operations in the Brazilian Amazon are responsible for 14% of the world’s annual deforestation, more forest loss than the total deforestation in any country outside Brazil except Indonesia.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, recently demanded urgent action regarding the loss of biodiversity worldwide. “Too many people still fail to grasp the implications of this,” he said. “We have all heard of the web of life. The way we live threatens to trap us in a web of death.”

The UK government, working with Brazil, will use the upcoming (Oct. 18) Convention on Biological Diversity, a summit of 193 nations in Japan, to urge countries to sign an agreement to share the benefits of biodiversity.

For more about Teeb and the economic impact of deforestation and biodiversity loss, visit the Teeb Web site and read this UK Independent article.

  • More than half the world’s estimated 10 million species of animals, plants, and insects are in the tropical rain forests.  50,000 of these species disappear every year due to deforestation.
  • Referred to as the “Lungs of our Planet,” the rainforest plays a key role in stabilizing our climate and recycling carbon dioxide into oxygen.  If the Amazon is destroyed, some fifty times the annual greenhouse gas emissions of the USA could be emitted.
  • In Brazil, 90 indigenous tribes have been destroyed. The loss of these tribes includes centuries of invaluable knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest plants, trees, and other species.
  • Experts agree that by leaving the rainforest intact and sustainably harvesting its many resources, the economic value per acre is far greater than if cleared for cattle operations and timber.

For more facts about the rainforests, click HERE.

Read More

A Mother Hen & Her Chicks ~ The Bond

When given the opportunity, a mother hen enjoys lovingly teaching and nurturing her baby chicks. The chicks find sweet comfort under the shelter of mom’s wings and mother hen takes great pleasure in her wise and protective role.  As more people become aware of the cruel realities of the egg, dairy, and meat industries and make compassionate changes to their diet, fewer of these sentient beings will have to live the horrific, loveless lives they are subject to now.  Here’s a glimpse of the loving bond between mother hen & chick in a beautiful video excerpt from Tribe of Heart’s Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, soon to be released on DVD.

As we continue to observe World Farm Animals Day, we remember that at least 9 billion chickens are raised and killed for meat each year in the U.S. alone.  In addition, approximately 300 million “spent” hens and 250 million male baby chicks are killed each year in the U.S.  These sentient and intelligent animals are robbed of experiencing natural behaviors and relationships and instead live horribly painful, miserable lives. Read the REAL story about the life of a hen in, The Life of One Battery Hen by Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns.

Read More

FARM Exposes Agribusiness at Chicken Council Conference

Activists gathered in front of Four Seasons Hotel in DC for the National Chicken Council Conference

FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement) staff and volunteers provided a much-needed voice for animals in the nation’s capital on the 6th of October.  We gathered in protest in front of the Four Seasons Hotel where the National Chicken Council was holding their 56th annual conference, as a part of FARM’s Dirty Secrets campaign, a project of World Farm Animals Day. FARM’s Dirty Secrets campaign aims to expose the ways in which animal agribusinesses manipulate the government, institutions, and the public in order to sell more of their cruel products.

Animal Agribusiness industry trade associations, such as the National Chicken Council, are founded and funded by individual companies to represent a specific industry. They all profit from the slaughter of innocent beings.

Voicing this message through bullhorns to the chicken-killing industry leaders and the public, our chants included: “Stop the killing, stop the pain… Chicken Council is to blame,” “Body parts they are dealing…from slaughtered birds who had feelings,” “Polluting the air, polluting the water… profiting off the animal slaughter” and “There’s no excuse for animal abuse!”

Our graphic photos displayed the reality of chicken slaughter and carried such messages as “25,000,000 Slaughtered Every Day in the U.S.”, “Chicken Council…Bribing Politicians and Lying to the Public since 1954”, “Weapons of Mass Destruction – Go Vegan!” and signs with quotes from Gandhi.

In between conference sessions, attendees of the National Chicken Council Conference gathered in front of the hotel and watched as demonstrators chanted messages.

This year, the hotel was more prepared for our presence, and security and police were there before activists showed up. This was no deterrent for the protestors, who belted out the message that the National Chicken Council is not welcome in DC and there will be protests at every national conference they hold in the district.

The hour and a half protest sent a clear message to industry leaders and the public that raising and killing innocent beings for profit is unnecessary and unethical. The protest brought attention to World Farm Animals Day, highlighting not only the chickens, but all of the 58 billion land animals who are raised and killed in the world’s farms and slaughterhouses every year.

This is the third consecutive year FARM has held a presence at the annual Chicken Council conference and we are vowed to be back every year to expose the inherent injustice of the National Chicken Council and all of animal agribusiness.

Special thanks to the dedicated volunteers who came out for the event!

Read More