2014: A Triumphant Year for Farmed Animals!

2014 has been a year of tremendous success in the animal rights movement and FARM is proud to have played a significant role! We invite you to look back on the year and celebrate with us, and also look forward to another amazing year in 2015.

Our annual FARM Report is here and available online. Read all about the Great American Meatout, our biggest Animal Rights National Conference yet, the launch of our third 10 Billion Lives tour, and our hugely successful World Day for Farmed Animals, and more.

Read the 2014 FARM Report here!
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Also check out our year-end video below, starring many of our FARM staffers sharing highlights from the year, as well as our deepest gratitude for your support. We couldn’t have done it without you!

If you are able to fuel our lifesaving work in the new year, all donations made in December will be triple matched by a generous donor! This means a donation of $25 becomes $75 toward the freedom of farmed animals. Your tax-deductible donations can be made HERE.

Thank you again for supporting Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM)! 

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Updates from the Road: 10 Billion Lives Southwest Tour Saves Animals in California

Our 10 Billion Lives campaign is halfway through its fall tours and the crews are changing lives everywhere they go. We recently heard from the National Tour about their experience following Riot Fest. In today’s blog post, we’ll hear from Radish and Lauren, the crew for the Southwest Tour, about their outreach in California. Please leave them a note of encouragement and gratitude in the comments for their sacrifice and hard work! 

Greetings from sunny Southern California! Lauren and I (Radish) have been spreading awareness about the negative impact of animal agriculture and what we can all do to stop it for the last month throughout the Southwestern United States with FARM’s powerful 4-minute documentary.

We started our tour at Ventura College, where we broke the previous record for viewers there on day one! Part of our success there and at other schools comes from our wonderful, dedicated, and knowledgeable volunteers, like Barbara Bear. She helped us draw in viewers and articulate our vegan message for 7 entire event days! Barbara and her husband, Matt, also hosted us in their lovely home the entire time we were in Ventura County. Ventura College would be the first out of nine schools that we’ve spread our message of compassion. For the last three weeks we’ve been visiting community colleges and universities throughout Orange County, and we’ve been met with overwhelmingly positive receptions! I talked to someone just yesterday who had “never been able to make it through one of these videos,” but was more than eager to learn what she could do to help animals. “I’m definitely going vegan after finding out about all that stuff. I just didn’t think our individual actions could make a difference, and I didn’t know what to eat on a vegan diet.” She said that she felt much better equipped to go vegan after sticking around to talk to us for at least half an hour and getting a Guide to Cruelty-Free Eating.

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We try to prepare a lot of our own food on tour, but the temptation of all the amazing vegan dining out options is too much to resist in California! One of our favorite spots that we’ve found is Healthy Junk in Anaheim, an all vegan restaurant serving up delicious food. I got the Fish Burger and Lauren got the Stak & Kale Taco the first time we went there. Another reason we love Healthy Junk is because of all the outreach and community events they host and support! We found out about a Cowspiracy screening through their event board. They even gave us free desserts when they found out what we are doing on tour!

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We’re almost half way through the fall semester, and we’ve already managed to reach nearly 3,000 people not just with our powerful video, 10 Billion Lives, but also with moving conversations. As more and more people become exposed to information and images of animals abused for food production, it becomes even more important for tours like these to be able to talk to people face-to-face. There are many misconceptions about veganism out there, and it is such a great feeling to be able to address those and any concerns people may have about changing their lifestyles to be more in line with their values.

We have one more week here in SoCal before heading to campuses in Arizona and Nevada. We’ll keep you all updated on our adventures from the road! Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers who have taken time out of their lives to help us in our mission of making the world a better place and our donors that make this all possible! Shout outs to our fellow road warriors making positive changes on the East Coast and National tours! And major props to all the amazing behind-the-scenes people at FARM that keep us all going, especially our Program Coordinator, Beau!

-Radish and Lauren

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Keep up with all three of our 10 Billion Lives tour crews on Twitter and Instagram

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FARM Co-founder & President Makes a Splash on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything

On Tuesday, September 23rd, Redditors were riveted by a very special “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) with FARM’s co-founder and President, Dr. Alex Hershaft. Opening up the Internet floor to questions about his experiences during the Holocaust and how they led him to form the animal rights movement in the United States, Dr. Hershaft opened many eyes, hearts, and minds with his deeply moving stories and insights on how animals are treated in society. Below are just a few highlights from this thought provoking question-and-answer session on Reddit.com.

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Dr. Hershaft spoke candidly about his experience in Warsaw and the parallels between what he went through and what farmed animals go through.

“I was born in Warsaw, Poland, on July 1, 1934 to fairly assimilated Jewish parents Jozef and Sabina Herszaft. My mother was a mathematician, and my father was a chemist researching the properties of heavy water (used as a coolant for nuclear reactors) at University of Warsaw with his partner Jozef Rotblat.

“Their research was in great demand, as Western scientists began to recognize the potential of harnessing nuclear energy, and both received visas to continue their work in the U.K. and the U.S. Rotblat left for the U.K just before Hitler invaded Poland in 1939 and eventually received the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for his subsequent opposition to nuclear weapons. My father insisted on visas for my mother and I, but those came too late.

“During the war, our family was forced to move into the Warsaw Ghetto, with  my mother’s parents, across the street from the infamous Pawiak prison. As the Nazis began liquidating the Ghetto in late 1942, sending inmates to the Treblinka death camp, we were able to escape to the Christian side and remain in hiding. My father was tragically caught and presumed murdered. My mother and I were liberated by the allies in the spring of 1945.”

“… I find many similarities between how the Nazis treated us and how we treat animals, especially those raised for food. Among these are the use of cattle cars for transport and crude wood crates for housing, the cruel treatment and deception about impending slaughter, the processing efficiency and emotional detachments of the perpetrators, and the piles of assorted body parts – mute testimonials to the victims they were once a part of.”

When asked about his feelings toward Germans, Dr. Hershaft replied, “I try not to hold hard feelings toward the German people. Their society committed unspeakable acts against innocent sentient beings because of six years of intense indoctrination by the Nazi hierarchy. Our society commits similar acts against innocent, sentient being because of indoctrination by the meat industry.”

One Redditor asked, “Did you ever experience any uplifting moments while living in the Ghetto or was everyday a nightmare?”

Dr. Hershaft replied, “We tried to introduce some normalcy to life by setting up schools, cultural centers, and even a symphony orchestra. Then there were acts of supreme heroism, as when Janusz Korczak, head of a local orphanage, stayed with his children as they were lead to the gas chambers, even though he could have saved himself.”

This deeply moved many readers, some of whom responded:

“This made me stop reading for a while, what a great father and man.”

“I just had to excuse myself to go cry in the bathroom. What a touching story and a brave man. Thank you for sharing these meaningful moments.”

Another Redditor asked, “What were you doing right before you were liberated? Can words even describe what it felt like to be liberated?”

“We were liberated by the Russian army in February of 1945. People were lining the streets, cheering, and throwing flowers at the Russian tanks. It was like getting a new lease on life. I still tear up thinking about it,” Dr. Hershaft resplied.

Many people asked about the acceptability of comparing farmed animal suffering to the Holocaust.

“The analogy must be introduced very carefully, if at all,” Hershaft explained. “People are apt to misperceive it as us equating the value a Jewish life to that a pig’s life. The truth is that the analogy has nothing to do with the identity, religion, ethnicity, or even the species of the victim and everything to do with the commonality and operation of the oppressive mindset. Oppression of other sentient living beings must be detected and eradicated wherever it rears its ugly head. By focusing on the most oppressed sentient living beings on earth, we hope to blaze a path to ending all forms of oppression against all living, sentient beings, including of course, humans. It’s all part of the same struggle.”

Another interesting question posed was, “What would you say the most significant difference between US animal rights is today and what it was like when you began fighting in the name of them?”

“33 years after our movement’s launch at the first Action For Life Conference in 1981, our movement has grown much larger, more sophisticated, and more influential. In the process, it has lost some of its early idealism and solidarity. It has seen profound changes in focus, tactics, and leadership.

“Prior to 1981, animal right activity in the U.S. was pretty much restricted to one book – Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation,” a crude newsletter called “Animals Agenda,” a college student club called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and a lone (though powerful) activist – Henry Spira. The several animal protection and anti-vivisection organizations that had been around for a while were busy curbing abuses of animal companions and animals in laboratories, rather than promoting animal rights and veganism.

“The focus began to shift in the mid 1990s, when Henry Spira dropped his anti-vivisection campaigns in favor of animals raised for food. Compassion Over Killing joined the battle in 1995, and Bruce Friedrich turned PETA’s focus onto farmed animals in 1996. The Farm Sanctuary and United Poultry Concerns sanctuaries took on more of an advocacy role around that time.

“With our movement’s rapid growth, dozens of dedicated volunteers were necessarily replaced by hundreds of employees in corporate offices, with varying degrees of allegiance to animal rights. This, in turn, has led to vastly reduced contact and solidarity among movement activists. Fortunately, we are seeing the most drastic progress for farmed animals than we have ever before seen.”

Many Redditors were amazed to learn that Dr. Hershaft turned 80 years old this year.

“Woah dude, 80 years old? You look extremely young. I would honestly put you at 40 years old. I’m dead serious. You age fantastically. I don’t have a question, but damn man, good for you for looking so damn good at 80 years old,” said one impressed Redditor.

“I was going to say the same thing, you look younger than my 64 year old father,” said another.

“Thank you,” Dr. Hershaft replied. “I’d like to believe it’s due to my vegan diet and daily fitness regiment.”

Hershaft has certainly been eating his veggies for a long time. To another poster, he replied, “I actually became vegetarian in 1961 in Israel, but didn’t go vegan till 1981, because there was so little information about the abuse of animals and the health and environmental benefits of veganism. Veganism was virtually unknown in 1961, became somewhat known in 1976, and embraced by a respectable minority by 1981.”

Some questions popped up regarding “humane meat” and “humane slaughter,” with Redditors asking if that was acceptable or something that Hershaft/FARM supports. Hershaft’s response echoes that of FARM: “I don’t believe that raising of animals for food can be labeled ‘humane.’ For example, chickens are still acquired from a breeder who has killed all the males by grinding them up or suffocating them in plastic garbage bags. Cows have to be impregnated to keep up their milk production and their babies are killed for veal. The cows themselves are killed at a relatively young age, when their milk production drops. There is nothing humane about that.” In response to another, similar question: “Because those of us with access to grocery stores, fresh produce, and convenient plant-based proteins do not need to eat animals to survive, I deem nearly all consumption of animals in the Western world to be unnecessary exploitation. Putting effort into treating animals better when we can simply stop eating them strikes me as a gross misuse of time.”

With THOUSANDS of questions and comments in this AMA, meaningful and thought-provoking discussions were had, with many people more interested in exploring a vegan diet. While the AMA is closed now, you can still read all of the discussions HERE. Also, check out a recording of Dr. Hershaft’s speaking engagement, “From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Fight for Animal Rights,” which happened in Pittsburgh last month. Thank you to Dr. Hershaft for opening up so many eyes, hearts, and minds by sharing his incredible experiences.

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From the Road: Everything is Bigger in Texas, Including Compassion Toward Animals (Part Two)

Students baring witness to the atrocities that take place every day on animal farms.
Students bearing witness to the atrocities that take place every day on animal farms.

Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) spent several weeks in the great state of Texas, educating hundreds of people about the treatment of animals and encouraging people to adopt a vegan diet. We recapped the first half of our time in Texas in Part One. Now, in Part Two, we’re highlighting our last Texas stop and also sharing some of the great vegan eats we enjoyed statewide.

Our time at the University of North Texas in Denton was memorable, to say the least. UNT is home to Mean Greens, the first all-vegan college dining hall. It was very helpful to refer students interested in vegan meals to an all-vegan cafeteria right on their campus. Andy and I ate at Mean Greens multiple times and were happy to recommend it! The food at Mean Greens is a fantastic representation of vegan fare. From cozy comfort foods like pasta dishes, casseroles, soups and stews to fun foods like pizza and soft serve, they really cover it all. Their salad bar is fully stocked and offers a couple different housemade salad dressings (their ranch dressing is the best we’ve ever had) and the Panini station is always open during lunch and dinner, offering pressed veggie sandwiches or a housemade black bean burger. We met with Ken Botts, the man who started Mean Greens, many times while we were at UNT. Ken was greatly enthusiastic and supportive about the 10 Billion Lives tour being on campus and cheered on our work every day.

Andy, Amanda and Ken Botts, the man behind Mean Greens (from left)
Andy, Amanda, and Ken Botts, the man behind Mean Greens (from left)

UNT also has a recently-formed animal rights group called Mean Greens for Animals. This group arranged fantastic volunteers to join us throughout our three days on campus. It was great to connect with these young activists, and their group was yet another on-campus recommendation we gave to viewers who were eager to start helping animals. There’s no doubt in our minds that MGFA will be doing great things for animals!

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Truck Tour Cuisine with The 10 Billion Lives Crew

Mashed sweet potatoes, BBQ Beyond Meat, slaw with Beyond Mayo, and Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Amy's mac & cheese.
Brussels sprouts, BBQ Beyond Meat, slaw with Just Mayo, and Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Amy’s mac & cheese.

Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) love finding vegan meals in restaurants everywhere we go with the 10 Billion Lives tour. And while there really are vegan options everywhere, most of the time we cook our own meals. Though we lack a full kitchen as we’re touring the country, we’re able to whip up some gourmet meals with limited equipment. Since we talk to a lot of people who themselves have limited (or no) kitchen space, are short on time, and are cooking on a budget, we wanted to share some of our favorite meals we make while on the road that use affordable ingredients that can be found in any supermarket, can be made in a rice cooker, and don’t require much prep work.

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From the Road: Everything is Bigger in Texas, Especially Compassion Towards Animals (Part One)

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When Andy (truck tour operator) and I (Amanda, tour assistant) told our friends that we would be bringing the 10 Billion Lives program all around Texas, we were usually met with pity laughs or dropped jaws. Everyone seemed to picture us going into a “Meat Country” war zone. On the contrary, our several weeks in Texas proved that the Lone Star state is full of surprises. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes compassion toward animals.

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“Never Too Late to Go Vegan:” An Interview with Virginia Messina

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Virginia Messina, also known as The Vegan RD, has a few books under her belt including “Vegan for Life” and “Vegan for Her;” both which I highly recommend. In her latest installment, co-authored with Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman, “Never Too Late to Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet,” Messina provides essential nutritional information pertinent to folks who are over age 50. In addition, the trio of authors tackles some of the challenges facing folks who are interested in transitioning to a vegan diet later in life and help guide their readers towards a goal of ultimate health.

I was privileged to have the opportunity to interview Virginia Messina regarding her latest book. My interview is posted below. Messina will also be speaking at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference held July 10th-13th in Los Angeles, California.

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Earth Day 2014: Activists Encourage the Public to Evaluate the Impact Their Food Choices have on the Planet

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Vegan Earth Day 2014 was one of our best yet! More than 154 activists from all over North America distributed our new brochures at local events to encourage people to make the environment-diet connection. While most people leafleted, others gave out food samples or held pay-per-view events. Volunteers in 40 states and 3 Canadian provinces participated in Vegan Earth Day this year, distributing nearly 15,000 of our brochures to the public.

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Skip the Easter Ham and Skip the Cruelty

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An Easter tradition here in the US has been to celebrate life and new beginnings by sitting down to a meal with a honey-baked ham as the centerpiece. Thing is… if most folks took a moment to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday, they might notice that consuming the body of a dead animal doesn’t align with the life-affirming spirit of Easter.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals, with advanced learning and problem solving capabilities. They can use tools, understand commands just like dogs do, they respond to their name only after a few months of being born, and they have a high sense of social recognition, which help them form strong social bonds. Pigs can even learn to play video games!

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All Our Water is Going to a Plant We Don’t Eat to Support a Diet We Don’t Need

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The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir as seen on Feb. 7, 2014 in San Jose, California.

2013 went down as the driest year in California’s recorded history.  A major reservoir outside of Sacramento has been reduced from 83% to 36% capacity in just over 2 years.  In the Central Valley, 1,200 square miles of land is sinking at a rate of 11 inches a year from the drilling of groundwater.  And the annual measure of the Sierra Nevada snowmelt done every April 1st indicates that the end isn’t in sight.

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