Have a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving coming up, of course I have to bring up the Turkey. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and guess what… I don’t even have to eat turkey to enjoy it. I know it’s tradition, but tradition doesn’t mean it’s right. The turkey industry is a very cruel industry and it shouldn’t be ignored just because of a silly tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat on Thanksgiving too. I’m not telling you not to stuff yourself, just skip the turkey. Think about what that turkey went through before reaching your table.

The Turkey Industry

Every year about 40 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving. Turkeys, like other animals raised for food, are raised on factory farms. Factory farms are meant to mass produce animals and maximize profit, but come at the expense of the animals. Turkeys are packed into filthy, overcrowded sheds with thousands of other turkeys, where they spend their whole lives. Their beaks are cut off without pain relievers to keep them from killing each other from the stress.

Turkeys are genetically manipulated to grow as big as possible, as fast as possible. In the 1960s, it took 220 days to raise a 35-pound turkey. Due to selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs, it now takes only 132 days. Turkeys grow so big and fast they often become crippled under their own weight and suffer organ failure. They can’t even reproduce naturally and must be artificially inseminated. After 14 to 20 weeks, turkeys are transported to slaughter without food, water or protection from extreme temperatures.

In the United States, unlike many other countries, there is no federal legislation  protecting turkeys (or other poultry) on the farm, in transit, or during slaughter; and most state anti-cruelty statutes do not apply to farm animals.

This is a video from an undercover investigation from Mercy for Animals

Having a Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving

As long as people continue to eat turkey, this nightmare will continue. The best thing you can do for them is to keep them off of your table this Thanksgiving. There is the option of the faux turkey, but if that is not something you would consider, just leave the turkey out altogether. Cruelty is not a way to celebrate. There are also other ways you can make your Thanksgiving cruelty-free that are not as noticeable changes, such as vegetarian or vegan gravy, stuffing and other vegetarian or vegan side dishes. Here are five ways from PETA to veganize your Thanksgiving and tips for a vegan holiday.

You can also make a difference by taking part in the Adopt-A-Turkey Program by Farm Sanctuary. Through this program you can sponsor a turkey living at Farm Sanctuary that has been rescued.

Like I said, I love Thanksgiving and love to eat. My favorite cruelty-free foods to eat on Thanksgiving are mashed potatoes, vegetarian stuffing and green bean casserole. What are some of your favorite cruelty-free foods to eat on Thanksgiving?

Peta Does Porn?

No doubt PETA has used some racy tactics in the past to catch peoples attention, but with the announcement of PETA launching a pornographic website, PETA.xxx, it has people wondering if PETA is going too far to promote its messages.

PETA.xxx is planned to launch in December and is going to be used to promote animal rights and vegan diet messages.

PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said the site will feature “tantalizing” videos and photographs, which will lead viewers into animal rights messages.

PETA has used semi-nude celebrities including Eva Mendez, Elizabetta Canalis and Pamela Anderson in its “I’d Rather Go Naked” campaign. PETA has also previously worked with porn stars, including adult film stars Sasha Grey, Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson to get messages across. Rajt said, “the racy things we do are sometimes the most effective way that we can reach particular individuals.”

Some people may love PETA’s cause, but not support PETA because of the extreme tactics used. Sometimes when I tell people I am a supporter of Peta, they call me “one of those crazy PETA people.” Could it be these extreme tactics have pushed people away and given potential supporters bad impressions?

Being a public relations students I can’t help but wonder if PETA.xxx is a great tactic or a bad PR stunt. I will discuss both.

Great Tactic

Who’s to say PETA.xxx is going to be an absolute failure, when its already gained headlines around the world? It seems PETA’s idea of creating buzz about its cause is already working. This story had been covered by newspapers, TV, radio and blogs.

Also, PETA has used racy tactics in the past that have been successful and people seem to be attracted to sex. If PETA can stun people who are expecting the worse from this website with tasteful content, it just may be a success. Just because the people are nude, does not mean it cannot be done in a tasteful manor.

Bad PR Stunt

PETA has had some harsh critisim in the past for exploiting women in its campaigns and messages. PETA.xxx could be another piece used against PETA in this argument.

Also, exploiting porn may not be the best way for PETA to get its massage across. Although controversial tactics may have worked for PETA in the past, a pornographic website may be taking it too far.

Another concern is who PETA is trying to target with peta.xxx. Although it is trying to reach a new audience, it seems the target is a little off. People who are looking at porn certainly do not want to see it with pictures of dead animals. It may catch men’s attention, but a large number of PETA’s supporters are women and this can be a dangerous way for PETA to alienate its them. This may cost PETA its credibility, reputation and image.

What do you think? Is PETA taking its racy tactics too far? Do you think this is a great tactic or bad PR stunt?

Puppy Mills: The Real Cost of The Doggy in the Window

The other day I was watching on of my favorite shows, Animals Cops, on Animal Planet. Although the show can be sad at times, the episode I saw was especially upsetting. In the episode, the SPCA confiscated hundreds of dogs from a dog-breeding facility where the dogs were kept in horrifying conditions. This dog-breeding facility was called a “puppy mill.” Little did I know, puppy mills are common practice.

Image taken from sonomapets.com

Puppy Mills

According to the ASPCA, a puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. These puppy mills keep dogs in inhumane conditions to cut costs. Dogs are often kept in small wire cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs. They are confined to these cages for their entire life, in filthy conditions, and denied veterinary care.

Female dogs are bred as many times as possible with little to no recovery time in between. Puppies are torn away from their mothers and sold to brokers who pack them into crates for transport and resale to pet stores. The breeding dogs are sick, wounded and malnourished. The mom and dad of the puppy at the pet store are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive, along with the many puppies born with overt physical problems that make them unsalable to pet stores. When the dogs breeding usefulness is over, they can be killed or dumped.

Here is footage from a puppy mill rescue by the Humane Society of the United States

How to Avoid Puppies from Mills

Adopt a Puppy: Every year millions of dogs die in shelters waiting for a home. The best way to find your perfect dog is through a shelter or rescue organization. By adopting, you can help a dog that may have otherwise been euthanized and help end puppy mills by decreasing demand for puppies. Although you may have your heart set on a specific breed, there are many loving dogs who would be perfect pets. If you are set on a specific breed, but want to adopt, there are also breed-specific dog rescue organizations. Find adoptable puppies in your area at PetFinder.com

Find a Responsible Breeder: Responsible breeders take good care of their puppies and provide them with a loving and healthy environment. Never buy from a breeder before seeing where the dogs are raised and meeting the puppies parents. Most responsible breeders want to meet you and make sure the puppy is going to a good home.
If a breeder refuses this, it can be an indication that the puppy is from a puppy mill.

Do Not Buy From Pet Stores: Pet stores are what keep puppy mills in business and the puppies in demand. Although pet stores will deny buying from puppy mills, chances are they do or buy from brokers who buy from puppy mills. Pet stores such as Petland have been caught buying its dogs from puppy mills.

Do Not Be Fooled by Websites: Puppy mill websites can be masked with cute pictures of puppies and claim to have high standards of breeding and care. Many puppy millers pose as small family breeders online, in newspapers and magazine ads. Online, there is no way of knowing if these claims are true. Do not trust them. Also beware because many of these websites can be scams.

Have you ever adopted or rescued a dog? If so, I’d like to hear about it.

Cosmetic Animal Testing… The Ugly Behind Beauty

Photo taken from Google Images

Eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss and hairspray are essentials to many women when starting their day. When putting on  mascara it feels great to know it’s a safe product and you’re not going to go blind because of it. But next time you’re beautifying your face, look at the cosmetics you use, was the product animal tested? Now think of the animals who actually have gone blind from of it.

Although many agree that products should be tested for the safety of humans, no law requires that cosmetics and household products be tested on animals. Every year millions of animals are poisoned, burned, blinded and killed in barbaric animal testing methods. Even though the results of animal tests are often unreliable or not applicable to humans, rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other animals are forced to swallow or inhale massive quantities of a test substance or endure the pain of a chemical eating away at their sensitive eyes and skin.

Watch this video “Testing 1,2,3” for a better picture of what is really going on.

Although the demand for products not tested on animals is increasing, some companies such as SC Johnson, Johnson and Johnson and Unilever are still using animal testing because they have done it for so long and simply do not have the vision to try new and better ways.

Many alternatives to animal testing are available today. Instead of measuring how long it takes a chemical to burn away the cornea of a rabbit’s eye, manufacturers can now drop that chemical onto donated human corneas. Other effective and sophisticated alternatives like Episkin®, use artificial human skin that can replace some animal tests in a fraction of the time and cost. Technologies like these are being continually developed.These technologies can give a better idea of what the products can do to humans and not animals.

How you can help:

To help stop this unnecessary animal cruelty, all you need to do is be a more conscious consumer. Next time you are shopping for cosmetics including any personal-care products such as hairspray, shampoo and even deodorant, check  the labels to see if the product is animal tested.Sometimes it can be hard to tell what products are cruelty-free because of all of the different ways it can be conveyed on the package. The main standard suggested is the Leaping Bunny, which was put out by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC). The Leaping Bunny Program administers a cruelty-free standard and the internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo for companies producing cosmetic, personal care, and household products.

PETA has also compiled a list of companies who do not test. You can check this list to see if the products you use made the list or search the list for your next cruelty-free purchase.

What do you think about animal testing? Do you plan on ditching any of your products for  cruelty-free ones?

Have You Met Your Meat?

When I began getting involved with animal rights and learning about animal cruelty, it all started with a video named “Meet Your Meat.” Now that I’ve decided to write this blog and share what I know, I thought it was only right to start you all off on the same foot. Of course if I’m going to tell you how to change your habits and live animal friendly, you probably want to know why you should even care.

It amazes me how so many people eat the meat given or available to them, but don’t bother to question where that meat is coming from. I know I was guilty of this at one time, but now realize ignorance is not always bliss. Once I learned the conditions these animals are kept in and the cruelty they endure before being slaughtered for my own personal gain, I wanted no part of it.

We see pictures of farms everywhere with happy cows grazing freely in green grass, but the reality is, most animals raised for food live miserable lives in confined, dark facilities called “factory farms.” Factory farms were created to mass produce animals and keep up with demand. The animals are treated simply as commodities to be exploited for product.

Picture taken from Google Images

Animals used for food are genetically manipulated to grow as large as possible, as quickly as possible and often become crippled under their heavy weight. Chickens have their beaks seared off with hot blades and male cattle and pigs are castrated, all with no pain killers. The animals spend their brief lives in dark and crowded warehouses before being cramped onto trucks and transported to slaughterhouses. Many die during transport because of the harsh conditions or are so weak by the time they arrive they can’t walk off the trucks. Once in the slaughterhouses, the animals are hung upside-down and their throats are slit, often while they are completely conscious.This is the reality of where most meat comes from.

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” – Paul McCartney

Here are some options to stop the support of factory farms and live more animal friendly:

Vegetarian: Did you know by becoming a vegetarian you can save more than 100 animals a year? When I decided to stop supporting animal cruelty, I decided to be a vegetarian. I don’t eat any meat including chicken and fish. Some people decide to eat only chicken, but because chicken are small, the average meat-eater is responsible for the deaths of more chickens than cows. This is why when choosing not to eat meat, chicken should be the first thing cut from your diet. I get asked what I eat just because I am a vegetarian all the time and I say “everything you do, just without meat in it.” It’s really that easy.

Vegan: Going vegan is also an option. Vegan is a lifestyle people follow in which they avoid the use of animals for food, clothing and other human purposes. Vegans do not eat any animal byproducts including eggs, milk and gelatin. Although I would like to eventually transition into a vegan,it can be hard to do because the options are more limited.

If you are looking for motivation, go to www.meat.org to sign a pledge to be a vegetarian for 30 days. The Web site also includes free vegetarian or vegan recipes and a free vegetarian starter kit.

Other Options: If you are not willing to stop eating meat, there are other options to live more animal friendly. Humanely-produced meat from ethical farms is available. Also, organic or free-range meat is an option, but be careful because the guidelines to get these labels on products may not be as humane as it sounds or looks on the package. The animals can still be exposed to animal cruelty and conditions just as bad as factory farms. However, just being conscious of where your meat comes from can make a difference.

It’s up to us to make a difference. What are you planning on doing to live more animal friendly?