Friday, March 20, 2015

Five Films for a Vegan Planet

Guest post by Maria Ramos

In recent years, several outstanding documentary films have exposed the cruelty and corruption of America's meat and poultry industry as well as the collusion of government bodies to make meat products cheaper to produce and harder to avoid—no matter the cost to animal and human lives. Here are five to watch.

Academy Award nominee and animal rights activist James Cromwell (who played the owner of the eponymous sheep-herding pig in the 1995 Academy Award-nominated film Babe), narrates this hard-hitting documentary. Farm to Fridge sheds light on the secrets of America's largest industrial slaughter plants, hatcheries and fish farms. Chock-full of startling images of animals in various modes of suffering—tortured, flayed alive and kept in states of prolonged fear prior to the slaughter—it may be hard to watch, but this is the harsh reality of the nation's dominant food system and must be seen. Much of the hidden-camera footage in this arresting film has been banned by so called "ag-gag" laws advocated by the meat industry that are meant to hide the torture these animals experience and punish those brave activists who are trying to reveal the horrific truth. Viewers will learn about the nightmare existence endured by animals for whom little federal protection exists. Only 12 minutes in length, this film still packs a punch. Find it here on YouTube.

This guerrilla-style film documents the experience of a trio of fast food lovers who commit themselves to a six-week vegan diet. Motivated by a desire to embrace meat-free diets, our heroes learn that so much more than their own well-being is at stake. Vegucated takes the audience on a odyssey of discovery into the cruel depredations of the meat industry to learn that all of Big Ag's promises of humane farming practices aren't worth the corpses they're glued to. You can find Vegucated on Netflix.

This powerful documentary follows Craig Watts, an American chicken farmer and whistleblower determined to expose the cruelty of the chicken industry as he struggles to feed his family and pay his bills while running his farm under impossible conditions. Watts shows the filmmakers first-hand what the average person in his profession endures: poverty wages, unsanitary conditions and the gut-wrenching emotional toll of having to raise hundreds of thousands of sick or dying animals. DirecTV picked up this eye-opening documentary after Fusion filmmakers followed Watts on his remarkable and inspiring journey to hold the poultry industry accountable for their injustices.

Director Robert Kenner takes us down the rabbit hole of America's meat industrial complex in Food Inc., which exposes the largely successful efforts of lawmakers to protect the immoral practices of America's largest meat and dairy producers, the sham behind the cost of plant-based foods vs. animal-based foods that are cheap to produce and the artificial measures that have been taken to make the exploitation of animals more profitable. But while the film provides a ghastly look at the nation's meat-based food economy, Food, Inc. doesn't leave the audience without hope: It also takes the viewer to meet the farmers and reformers who have the ways means and know-how to return good, wholesome and affordable plant-based foods to the market and to make it legal to produce and consume once again. Food Inc. plays on Netflix and on Vimeo with Spanish subtitles.

This 90-minute film examines the plight of factory-farmed animals. It reveals the ugly truth behind the exploitative methods used by factory farms as well as their harmful effects on the environment and public health. It features interviews with prominent environmental activists, health officials and animal rights advocates. The filmmakers craft a compelling case against the practices of factory farms that are more concerned with their own profits than the well-being of their consumer base, the environment and the suffering of the creatures they exploit. You will gain a new perspective on the dairy, meat and animal by-products you consume on a daily basis and compassion for the animals that have been bred for your dinner plate. You can watch snippets of Indigestible on the filmmaker’s YouTube page.

Together, these eye-opening films show audiences the great lengths to which the profit-hungry forces behind America's meat industrial complex have gone to convince consumers that the animals they raise for slaughter are well-treated and healthy—and healthy for you to eat. These works of hard-hitting investigative journalism have the power to disabuse even the most strident supporters of the nation's meat industry. In the end, they make a convincing case that it is possible to raise animals for food in a way that is not tantamount to torture. They also make a strong case for adopting a plant-based diet. These films reveal a harsh reality that finds the majority of American consumers quietly complicit in the unnecessary and morally indefensible suffering of billions of animals every year.

They beg an important question that we should ask ourselves every time we buy our food: Am I willing to bear the true cost of what factory farms are selling?


About the author

Maria Ramos is a writer interested in comic books, cycling and horror films. Her hobbies include cooking, doodling and finding local shops around the city. She currently lives in Chicago with her two pet turtles, Franklin and Roy. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaRamos1889.

More information

To find out why choosing a vegan diet is one of the healthiest decisions you can make for you and your family's health, visit

To get your Free Vegan Starter Kit, visit

To find out if pigs are really as smart as dogs, visit the Humane Society of the United States.

To see a list of vegan/vegetarian celebrities, visit PETA.

To see a list of famous vegans throughout history, visit Wikipedia.

For more information about recent undercover investigations into factory farming, visit Mercy for Animals.

image: A rescued cow enjoys relaxing in the grass and smelling the fresh air and wildflowers at Farm Sanctuary, a non-profit farm animal protection organization that works to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living. Farm Sanctuary  operates three shelters where they rescue, rehabilitate and provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued farm animals: a 175-acre sanctuary in upstate New York, a 300-acre sanctuary in Northern California, and a 26-acre sanctuary in Southern California. For more information, please visit:

Monday, November 3, 2014

What I Used to Say

If you could live a healthy life without contributing to the torture or killing of animals, why wouldn't you?

Be a part of the solution at Mercy for Animals.

Get the facts about factory farming from Farm Sanctuary.

Order your free Vegan Starter Kit from PETA.

Friday, June 27, 2014


These Companies Test on Animals

Friday, June 6, 2014

When Humans Act with Cruelty, We Characterize Them as 'Animals'

"When humans act with cruelty we characterize them as 'animals', yet the only animal that displays cruelty is humanity." - Anthony Douglas Williams

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Video Procter & Gamble Doesn't Want You to See

Procter & Gamble claims to be a "proud sponsor of moms." But it's a lie. The company buys palm oil from companies that are destroying Indonesia's rainforest and the habitat of the world's last orangutans. Because of P&G and its palm oil suppliers, many orangutan babies no longer have a mother. Watch the two-minute video above to see the remarkable extent of the habitat destruction that has taken place in Indonesia.

If you have products that contain unsustainably harvested palm oil, such as Tide, Pantene, Oral-B, Ariel, Gillette and Head & Shoulders, then you are supporting an unsustainable industry that not only contributes greatly to carbon dioxide emissions but to the loss of several species, including endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers.

According to the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), at least 1,500 orangutans were clubbed to death by palm oil plantation workers in 2006 alone. The United Nations warns that no wild orangutans will remain outside of protected areas by 2020 at the current rate of deforestation.

About 90 percent (2011) of the world’s palm oil is currently being produced in Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia’s oil palm plantations alone already cover nine million hectares, an area the size of the state of Maine. 26 million hectares are projected for 2025. The conversion of a single hectare of Indonesian peatland rainforest releases up to 6,000 tons of CO2.

Thanks to activism by individual consumers and NGOs like Greenpeace, Wilmar, the world’s biggest palm oil trader committed to a "No Deforestation" policy in December 2013. And in the last few weeks alone, Colgate, Mars and the Belgian retail giant Delhaize Group have all committed to going forest friendly. It is not necessary to decimate critical habitat to farm palm oil. But P&G, Unilever and NestlĂ© are the largest individual consumers of unsustainable palm oil.

What can you do? When you're shopping, be sure to check the ingredient labels to avoid buying products that contain palm oil. Unfortunately, in some countries, companies are not legally bound to list palm oil as "palm oil" and can merely list it as "vegetable oil" or another chemical term that masks the fact that it is palm oil. Check out this guide, How to Stop Buying Palm Oil and Help Save the Orangutans, to make better choices at the cash register.

And please take a brief moment and join the nearly 372,000 concerned consumers who have told P&G to stand by their commitment to being a "proud sponsor of moms" and stop using killer palm oil in their products:

Get all the dirty facts about palm oil:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Way Too Many People

From the Center for Biological Diversity:

There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and we're adding 227,000 more every day. The toll on wildlife is impossible to miss. Most biologists agree that we're in the midst of the Earth's sixth mass extinction event. This time, it's because of our unsustainable human population growth and overconsumption. 

We need to address these issues before it's too late. We can reduce our own population and consumption to an ecologically sustainable level in ways that promote human rights; decrease poverty and overcrowding; raise our standard of living; and allow plants, animals and ecosystems to thrive. 

It’s time to talk about our unsustainable population growth, overconsumption and the wildlife extinction crisis.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gary L. Francione: "The supposed line between meat and everything else is just a fantasy"

Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or to experience subjectivity. Because sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer, it is held to entail certain rights and is central to the philosophy of animal rights.

The following text is from an article by Gary L. Francione, a pioneer of the abolitionist theory of animal rights and Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University:

"There are some animal advocates who say that to maintain that veganism is the moral baseline is objectionable because it is 'judgmental,' or constitutes a judgment that veganism is morally preferable to vegetarianism and a condemnation that vegetarians (or other consumers of animal products) are 'bad' people. Yes to the first part; no to the second. There is no coherent distinction between flesh and other animal products. They are all the same and we cannot justify consuming any of them. To say that you do not eat flesh but that you eat dairy or eggs or whatever, or that you don’t wear fur but you wear leather or wool, is like saying that you eat the meat from spotted cows but not from brown cows; it makers no sense whatsoever. The supposed 'line' between meat and everything else is just a fantasy–an arbitrary distinction that is made to enable some exploitation to be segmented off and regarded as 'better' or as morally acceptable. This is not a condemnation of vegetarians who are not vegans; it is, however, a plea to those people to recognize their actions do not conform with a moral principle that they claim to accept and that all animal products are the result of imposing suffering and death on sentient beings. It is not a matter of judging individuals; it is, however, a matter of judging practices and institutions. And that is a necessary component of ethical living."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Empathy Does Not Discriminate

"As Abraham Lincoln said, 'Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.' We have complete power over other animals. Our choices decide whether they live or die; whether they are stolen from their homes and family; whether they are caged; and whether they are denied everything that makes their life worth living. We exploit other sentient individuals for our pleasures of food, entertainment, and fashion. Our choices to consume meat, dairy or eggs, to go to zoos or Sea World, and to buy leather or fur, all require us to shut off our empathy and buy in, literally and figuratively, to the exploitation of other sentient beings." -- Beth Levine, psychotherapist, vegan

Read Beth's entire article, "Empathy Does Not Discriminate," at Free From Harm.

Image: Animal Rescue Crusade

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Compassionate Celebration

“Here at Farm Sanctuary, we live with turkeys, so we know they are interesting and intelligent and have complex emotional lives like dogs, cats and other animals," said Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, where each Thanksgiving, volunteers serve a grand feast to rescued turkeys.

More than 45 million turkeys are slaughtered every Thanksgiving. The natural lifespan of turkeys is around 10 years. But on factory farms, turkeys are slaughtered when they are just five-month-old babies.

Domesticated turkeys from factory farms weigh twice as much as their wild brethren, because they are fed growth hormones to become unnaturally fattened—and are kept in close confinement so they have no room to exercise, let alone engage in any natural turkey behavior. All factory farmed turkeys live their entire lives inside dark and filthy sheds, they have no fresh air, no sunlight and no grass to walk on. Many of these unfortunate animals cannot even stand up due to their excessive weight. And those that can have broken or deformed legs from their excessive weight.

"If I had to sum up my experience with the wild turkey, the most profound thing that I discovered is that they are much more complex in their intelligence, their behavior and their problem-solving ability than I ever imagined," said Joe Hutto, a naturalist whose experience raising wild turkey chicks in the Florida Flatwoods was the subject of the award-winning PBS documentary My Life as a Turkey.

"They are sentient beings. By every measure and every definition of intelligence, in their environment and in their world they are without questions much more intelligent than I was."[Hutto was quoted in The Inner World of Farm Animals, by Amy Hatkoff.]

Please take a moment to join over 5,000 caring and concerned individuals who have signed a petition supporting the humane treatment of turkeys at Hargin Farms, where video footage has revealed horrific animal cruelty—including instances of putting turkeys through a grinding machine while they are still alive. This is obviously no way to treat a sentient, intelligent and emotional animal.

As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in his major work on ethics from 1839, On the Basis of Morality, "The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion in the only guarantee of morality."

For a truly compassionate season of giving and thanks, instead of eating a turkey, consider adopting one from Farm Sanctuary, which was founded in 1986 to fight the abuses of factory farming and encourage a new awareness and understanding about farm animals.

Ready to host a cruelty-free holiday celebration? Visit Eat Drink Better and Buzzfeed for tips and recipes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Photographer's Excellent Adventure: Landfill Dogs

Here's a simple and beautiful idea by one photographer trying to save death row shelter dogs—using her camera and car.

Every week, Shannon Johnstone, who teaches photography at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, goes to her local animal shelter to take a picture of a dog who needs a home. The dogs she photographs have been homeless for at least two weeks and will be euthanized if they can't find a forever home.

But Johnstone doesn't just take photos while they're stuck in their cages at the shelter. She takes the dogs for a ride in her car and brings them to the local landfill. That's where she takes gorgeous outdoor portraits of them while they romp around, enjoying nature during a few precious moments of freedom.

"My goal is to offer an individual face to the souls that are lost because of animal overpopulation, and give these animals one last chance," her artist statement reads. "This project will continue for one year, so that we can see the landscape change while the constant stream of dogs remains the same.

"However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty. I hope the viewer also sees the beauty in these homeless, unloved creatures."

See more of Johnstone's photos from her "Landfill Dogs" series and read the full story at Huffington Post.

Want to save a dog's life by making him or her part of your forever family? Visit the ASPCA website for a nationwide database of dogs looking for loving homes.

Can't adopt but want to do something—and have a panache for taking photographs? Take a cue from Johnstone. Grab your camera, spend some time with a few shelter dogs from your local shelter and share your photos with the world. Who knows, you might help one lucky pooch find a forever home.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How Cool Is James Cromwell?

Actor James Cromwell is one of the coolest cats in Hollywood. 

The Academy and Emmy Award nominee became a vegetarian in 1974 after seeing a stockyard in Texas and experiencing the "smell, terror and anxiety." He became an ethical vegan while playing the character of Farmer Hoggett in the movie Babe in 1995. He frequently speaks out on issues regarding animal cruelty for PETA, largely the treatment of pigs. In February 2013, Cromwell was arrested for interrupting a University of Wisconsin Board of Regents meeting while showing a graphic photo of a cat to protest alleged mistreatment of animals on campus. [Wikipedia]

Now the star of the television series American Horror Story is fighting to end a real-life American horror story: The horror of being a pig in the American food system.

If you do one compassionate thing for animals today, this is it. Join more than 250,000 caring individuals who want Walmart to get out of the business torturing pigs. Sign James Cromwell's petition on Together, we can make the lives of these intelligent and emotional animals better.

Dear compassionate consumer:

My name is James Cromwell, but you probably recognize me as Farmer Hoggett from the movie Babe. It wasn't until I spent a lot of time on set working with pigs that I realized how similar they are to our cat and dog companion animals -- they're loving, sensitive, and curious creatures. 

When I heard that Walmart sells pork from suppliers that keep pigs in tiny, cramped gestation crates, I was horrified. Undercover investigations in Walmart supplier factories have revealed sickening abuse of these animals -- from slamming baby piglets on the ground to beating pregnant sows.  

Gestation crates are so appalling that companies like McDonalds, Burger King, Safeway and Costco have either stopped using them or have committed to phase them out soon. But Walmart continues to stand by their suppliers' violent practices.

Walmart likes to tout its low prices, but when it comes to the pork sold in its stores, animals are left to pay the highest price of all -- a life of misery, torture, and deprivation. Gestation crates are so small that pigs, often pregnant with litters, can't turn around, lie down, or move, and are driven insane.

Gestation crates are considered so cruel that they are already outlawed in nine U.S. states and the European Union. 

Animal welfare experts worldwide agree that these crates are inherently inhumane and should be phased out.

Nearly every major food provider in the country has stopped or committed to stop using gestation crates, including similar companies and brands like Kroger and Kmart -- even Walmart Canada. Walmart continues to support this blatant animal abuse by selling pork from suppliers who confine pigs in tiny crates, but I believe we can put a stop to that. 

Public outcry has effectively pushed almost every major food company or grocery chain in the U.S. to stop sourcing pork products from suppliers that keep pigs in gestation crates. A campaign even convinced Au Bon Pain to do so, and with your help, Walmart will soon follow suit. 

Thank you. 

James Cromwell

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Philippines: Thousands Feared Dead in the Wake of Haiyan

A man stands atop debris as residents salvage belongings from the ruins of their houses after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines. Photo by Erik de Castro / Reuters

[The following is excerpted from an email from Raymond C. Offenheiser, the president of Oxfam America.]

I'm sure you've seen the news—thousands of people may be dead in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the islands on Friday.

Oxfam teams are on the ground assessing the extent of the damage and are ready to deploy water and sanitation materials to those affected.

Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, is quite possibly the most powerful storm to ever hit land. Communication lines between some provinces are cut and many areas are experiencing total blackout. Our teams are reporting urgent needs of food, clean water, medicine and shelter.

The coming hours and days will be critical. In an emergency like this, every moment counts.

Oxfam staff are now on the ground in Northern Cebu, Northern and Eastern Samar and Leyte in the Eastern Visayas region of the country. People in some areas still recovering from a massive 7.2-magnitude earthquake just last month. Now, in Cebu local officials are reporting that virtually every home and building has sustained damage. Even the town hall—which had served as the evacuation center—needed to be evacuated.

We just heard from Tata Abella-Bolo, a member of our team, "The scene is one of utter devastation. There is no electricity in the entire area and no water. Local emergency food stocks have been distributed but stocks are dwindling. The immediate need is water."

Children are begging for help, holding up signs that read, "Help. We need water, food and medicine."

Even as we assess the damage in the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan is headed to Vietnam, where massive evacuation efforts are under way. Flash floods, land slides and storm surges are all major risks.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Open Letter to Macy's Regarding SeaWorld Float in Thanksgiving Day Parade

[Note: Please feel free to use any or all of the following text to write your own email to Macy's. Email addresses at the bottom of this post. You can also sign petitions at and]

October 16, 2013

Jim Sluzewski
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications & External Affairs

cc: Robin Reibel, Macy’s Group Vice President, Media Relations, Cause Marketing & Visitor's Center; Holly Thomas, Vice President, Macy’s National; Julie Strider, Director, Macy's National; Orlando Veras, Media Relations Manager, (Events and Special Campaigns), Macy's National; Alison Kmiotek, Media Relations Manager, Macy's National; Elina Kazan, Vice President, Macy’s New York City Office; Deanna Williams, Director, Macy’s New York City Office; Alyssa Bendetson, Media Relations Manager, Macy’s New York City Office; Marissa Nicolaescu, Media Relations Manager, Macy's New York Office; Oceanic Preservation Society Press Office; PETA Street Team;; Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)

Dear Jim Sluzewski:

As a longtime Macy’s customer, corporate social responsibility journalist and animal welfare activist, I was dismayed to learn that Macy’s is planning to include a SeaWorld float in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

SeaWorld enslaves and confines animals to small tanks at marine parks around the country, where they are forced to perform unnecessary tricks for "entertainment." Animals imprisoned at SeaWorld often die prematurely from stress and other captivity-related causes. More than a dozen beluga whales, for example, have died prematurely at SeaWorld San Antonio since 1993. Beluga whales have a natural life expectancy of 35 to 50 years in the wild, but in captivity, they are subjected to a life of deprivation and isolation in tiny concrete tanks.[1]

Orcas "are highly social animals, that tend to live in cohesive groups, so it's quite an artificial environment to capture them and put them in a small area," said wild orca expert Dr. Andrew Foote of the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom.[2] Other cetaceans, like dolphins and whales, are also highly intelligent and live in complex social groups. It is a travesty that these incredibly intelligent, sensitive and family-oriented animals have been kidnapped and imprisoned by SeaWorld.

Thanks to the film Blackfish and PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld for violating orcas’ right to freedom under the 13th Amendment, people are increasingly aware of the dire consequences of captivity at SeaWorld, and thus, attendance is down.

That's not to mention the recent victory in which the Georgia Aquarium’s application to import wild-caught belugas and send many of them off to SeaWorld was denied, all thanks to the thousands of concerned citizens who signed a petition as well as the actress Kim Basinger, who submitted a strong appeal on PETA's behalf.

Don't let Macy's fall on the wrong side of this growing debate. Don’t let Macy’s tell millions of Americans that the cruelty of marine mammal captivity is an acceptable form of family entertainment. Don’t let Macy’s allow the SeaWorld float to be a part of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. If it will be included in the parade, I will join the growing number of anti-SeaWorld activists in protest.

The main purpose of Thanksgiving is remembering what we are thankful for and appreciating what we have. I appreciate and am thankful for the beauty of the natural world, and all of its creatures living peacefully as nature intended. I am not thankful for SeaWorld, which has been a destroyer of nature and killer of innocent animals. A SeaWorld float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be a serious affront to the spirit of Thanksgiving.

According to Macy's online statement regarding corporate social responsibility:

"We believe that contributing to a more sustainable environment is good business practice and the right thing to do for future generations. As a leading national retailer with a significant workforce, we have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in improving the environment...we will be as aggressive as possible in changing for the better to preserve...wildlife."[3]

Supporting the unethical message of SeaWorld is clearly not in line with Macy's philosophy. Partnering with SeaWorld is clearly not in the long-term interest of Macy’s.

It is my sincere hope that you will take the appropriate measures to prevent the SeaWorld float from being a part of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. If it does take part, Macy’s will have lost my patronage, and I will urge all of my friends and family to stop shopping at Macy’s as well. I will also write an article about your decision to include the SeaWorld float and how it is at odds with Macy's stated desire to do "the right thing...for future generations." The captivity of marine mammals is not the right thing to do and Macy's should steer very clear from organizations like SeaWorld.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing your reply regarding this important ethical matter.


Reynard Loki
New York, NY



NOTE: Please send your own email to Macy's. The emails of the recipients of the above letter:


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tony Makris Is an Evil Coward

Dear NBC,

In a recent NBC Sports episode of the NRA-sponsored "Under Wild Skies" series, a "brave" hunter and PR strategist named Tony Makris (also an NRA lobbyist) hires a guide in Botswana to kill an elephant for its ivory.

Makris proceeds to shoot the animal in the face numerous times, then chuckle while it issues its dying groans. He expresses pride in bringing the coveted ivory back to camp.

This has nothing to do with "sport" of any kind. Cancel this show and end all association with the coward Tony Makris. Instead, make a contribution to an organization that works for conservation of African wildlife. NBC: You are as complicit as Makris in the capricious death of this elephant. 

The Undersigned

Take a moment today and join the more than 5,600 people who have signed this petition to reach the goal of 10,000 signatures.

Sign now: