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Posts Tagged ‘battery cages’

“With the passage of Prop 2, California becomes the 5th state to outlaw gestation crates (joining Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado) and the third to outlaw veal crates (joining Arizona and Colorado).  Perhaps most significantly, it becomes the first state to ban battery cages for laying hens, who are killed in far greater numbers than either pigs or calves.”

That’s what awaited me in my email inbox this morning, courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.  How exciting is that!?  No longer will chickens in California have to live like this:

And with California’s lead, the rest of the nation’s egg laying hens might also have a chance to someday live free of cages, able to spread their wings and turn around – such modest requests, really.

I am very excited about this, and want to thank all the animal advocates who worked so hard to make this happen. I know the folks at HSUS and Farm Sanctuary have been working tirelessly to make this a reality, and how wonderful that they have another success under their belt!

To read more about Prop 2, check out these links:

Farm Sanctuary Action Alert: Success on Prop 2!

HSUS: Californians Make History

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle’s Blog: The People Have Spoken

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For a blog that’s about factory farming and animal rights, I realize I haven’t said much about one of the biggest anti-factory farming campaigns going on right now: Yes on Proposition 2 in California.  If passed, Proposition 2 would end the practice of cramming farm animals into cages so small the animals can’t even turn around, lie down or extend their limbs.  This would apply specifically to hens used in egg production, calves raised for veal, and sows during pregnancy.  Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon have passed similar laws, but if Californians vote yes on Prop 2 on November 4th, the ripple effect across the entire country could be substantial.

I guess I’m not sure why I haven’t said all that much about Prop 2.  Part of it is that it seems like such a no brainer to me that I can’t believe there are so many organizations and individuals who aren’t supporting it. I mean, honestly: requiring that animals can stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs is really kind of asking for the bare, bare, bare minimum.  And yet there’s so much opposition?  Who are these people anyway??  Oh look, here’s who they are–click here.  You can see all the lovely organizations who oppose this legislation, and also learn more about instances where they’ve been in legal trouble for animal cruelty and/or environmental offenses.

Anyway, the HSUS came out with a new ‘Yes on Prop 2’ Commercial.  Check it out & send it to everyone you know in CA.  This ballot initiative is important, and I will be sorely disappointed if it doesn’t pass!

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The basis of all animal rights should be the Golden Rule: we should treat them as we would wish them to treat us, were any other species in our dominant position.
~Christine Stevens

Simple as it is, “The Golden Rule” is basically how I try to live my life. In my personal relationships, I try my best to treat others in a way that reflects how I want them to treat me. I don’t always succeed, granted, and I’m no saint, but I really do try, and I think most of the time I do all right. This philosophy has always extended to dogs and cats as well. As a kid, I was insanely in love with our farm cats and couldn’t get enough of them. I’d spend so much time outside in the summers and loved to pet them and play with them, and yes, probably squeeze them a little too tightly at times. As an adult, I have had a pet kitty for 7 years now, and got my dog 3 years after that. They’ve been like my children. I think about what I would like to do if I were a dog or a cat, and I make every effort to bring those things into their lives. My dog LOVES going on walks and being outdoors and going to dog parks, so I walk him a couple times a day, take him to the dog park as much as I can, and we sit outside and enjoy the weather when it’s nice out. My cat loves chasing around these little toy mice, so I make sure she has plenty of them (though they always seem to disappear…hm…).

Anyway, it was only in this past year that I extended this same empathy and compassion – the Golden Rule – to all animals. If I were a cow, what would I want to do? Would I want to be forcibly impregnated year after year, and have my baby ripped away from me so that humans could steal my milk? Would I want to spend my last few months of life in a feedlot, forced to eat food that makes me sick, and to stand in my own waste day after day? If I were a hen, would I want to have my beak cut off? Would I want to be crammed into a cage with several other hens, some of them dead or dying, so that humans could steal my eggs? If I were any other living being, would I want humans–a supposedly more “advanced” animal–to kick me, poke me, prod me, kill me, and eat me?

I don’t think anyone can actually imagine reversing roles with a cow or a hen and saying “yes, that sounds like exactly how I’d wish to be treated if it were me!” Animals of all kinds deserve fresh air, sunlight, clean living quarters, the ability to raise their young, to walk and run freely, and to LIVE.

At the very minimum, I think the Golden Rule requires this, don’t you? It’s simple: treat them as you would wish to be treated were they in the dominant position. More concisely: stop eating them; stop wearing them; and stop buying products that were tested on them. I promise it’s not as hard as you think.

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Not long ago I went to a presentation called “From Farm to Fork: The Environmental Impacts of Animal Agriculture” held at the Bell Museum in Minneapolis. The featured speaker was Gowri Koneswaran, Director of Animal Agricultural Impacts at the Humane Society of the United States. It was a great presentation.

During the first half of her talk, she discussed the conditions on factory farms; namely, she detailed the cruel practices that cause unspeakable pain and suffering to the animals who live on these farms. She showed photographs of egg-laying chickens crammed 6 to a battery cage, with no room to spread their wings, nest, or practice any of their natural behaviors. battery cages

There were pictures of sows forced into gestational crates so small that they could not even turn around, calves in veal crates, and animals living in their own filth because they have no other option.

Gestation crate

These were all issues I have read about and been disturbed by before.

The second half of the presentation, however, was about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. I was floored by some of the data. This site has a great map of the United States showing where factory farms are located (the Midwest is the worst!), and how much pollution has resulted because of them. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, “the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.” And while that alone is troubling, animal agriculture is also responsible for a huge percentage of the much more harmful greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide, most of which comes from animal manure. After sitting through this presentation, I thought to myself, “what am I waiting for? Why don’t I just commit to being vegan?” So I did. Everything I had heard and read about seemed to all point in that direction and I really couldn’t argue with it anymore.

If you want to read more about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, I recommend checking out Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options, which you can find here. It’s like 400 pages, so I haven’t read it all, but you can go through the table of contents and pick out chapters you are interested in and read those. That’s what I did, because, man, 400 pages??

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