An animal rights group whose mission is to end the use of animals for human food has planned a protest Sunday at the Cargill Meat Solutions slaughterhouse in Milwaukee.
The Farm Animal Rights Movement says it will be a peaceful demonstration that’s coordinated with hundreds of similar events to observe World Day for Farmed Animals.
But an email sent to the Journal Sentinel by a public relations firm used by the group sounded a bit more menacing.
“Here’s something that should strike fear into the heart of farmers everywhere: Beginning this weekend, animal rights activists will participate in a coordinated, targeted series of demonstrations at slaughterhouses and other agribiz facilities around the world,” the email said.
Animal rights groups have targeted Wisconsin in the past, and some have taken actions such as vandalizing mink farms and releasing those animals into the wild.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest farm group, has butted heads with the Humane Society of the United States and has said that organization is more radical in its animal rights agenda than most people realize.
Farm Animal Rights Movement, based in Bethesda, Md., says it has a “pragmatic abolitionist” approach to promoting veganism, which advocates a diet without any animal products including milk and eggs.
The group strongly objects to the slaughter of animals for food.
“We believe that all animals are equal, and there’s no ethical difference between eating a chicken or a pig and a dog or a cat,” said Michael Webermann, the group’s executive director.
It also doesn’t endorse the consumption of eggs, even from cage-free hens, because it perpetuates the use of animals for food.
“We especially feel that, in a modern society, anyone who has access to a grocery store and a refrigerator doesn’t have a biological need for animal products. It’s an act of pleasure to eat animals rather than a necessity,” Webermann said.
No threat to farmers
The group says no threat to farmers was implied in the email.
“But animal agriculture groups have reason to fear because the number of animals killed for food has been dropping almost every year for the past 10 years. We are seeing a decrease in the amount of meat being eaten per person. I think there are a handful of big players in the industry who should be worried that what they’re doing is going out of vogue and is not going to last much longer,” Webermann said.
A local animal rights group is running the Cargill plant protest for the Farm Animal Rights Movement.
The local group doesn’t plan to block the plant’s entrances or do anything else disruptive, said Ryan Olson, protest coordinator.
The group will try to get the attention of motorists passing the plant on 1915 W. Canal St.
“Instead of doing something like trying to shut down the slaughterhouse, we are just trying to get people to lessen or eliminate their meat, dairy and egg consumption,” Olson said.
Cargill says its slaughter facilities have been designed by cattle expert Temple Grandin, from Colorado State University, to minimize the stress and suffering of animals before they’re killed.
Grandin struggled growing up with autism and says the condition helped her create more humane ways to slaughter livestock. Her designs are used in facilities worldwide.
“It’s our belief that animals raised for food need to live a dignified life, and they need to be harvested in dignity as well,” said Cargill spokesman Mike Martin.
Protesting at noon
The protest will be from noon to about 1:30 p.m.
“We try to tailor our events to the community, and we know that Wisconsin and Milwaukee are not the rowdiest of the U.S. cities, so we don’t want to overdo it,” Webermann said.
But if vegans had their way, there wouldn’t be any farm animals or the hundreds of products made from them, said Emily Metz Meredith, communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance, an organization that represents farmers, ranchers and other livestock-industry interests.
“A lot of people don’t know that animals provide countless other products (besides meat) that we would have to find alternatives for, including materials used to make tires on airplanes, shoes, clothes and crayons,” Meredith said.
“If the vegan dream was realized, all these animals could run free. There would be cows all over the road and chickens running loose everywhere,” she added.
Land for feed, grazing
A lot of land is only suitable for growing animal feed or grazing animals.
Modern farming practices allow 2% of the world’s population to feed the rest of the world, according to the Animal Agriculture Alliance.
“Well-cared-for, healthy livestock and poultry is the key to this efficiency, resulting in the highest quality and most affordable food in the history of the world,” the group says.
MADISON, Wisconsin — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ board is set to consider revisions to the agency’s captive deer policies this week.
The DNR has proposed changing state law to let people keep wild deer in pens if they pay fines and have veterinarians check the animals out. The agency also has proposed changing internal policies to allow DNR workers to return captive deer to the wild and specify they should euthanize captive deer only if the animals are sick or present a health risk to the public or other wildlife.
The Legislature would have to change state law to allow people to keep wild deer as pets. The DNR’s board can implement the other changes. The board is scheduled to consider them at its meeting Wednesday in Pembine.
As this column is published, I am in the 12th day of a hunger strike in solidarity with our bears and millions of other woodland creatures terrified by packs of dogs and traps, suffering and dying in this tragedy.
The Wisconsin my mother loved has turned into hell on Earth for me and my beloved innocent wild friends.
A program of healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction can not only reverse some diseases — it may actually slow down the aging process at the genetic level, researchers reported Monday.
The lifestyle changes affected the telomeres — little caps on the end of the chromosomes that carry the DNA, the team at the University of California, San Francisco report.
The report, published in Lancet Oncology, is based on just a few men, and prostate cancer patients at that. But it shows surprising results: Men who switched to a vegan diet, added exercise and stress reduction had longer telomeres.
The men followed a program advocated by Dr. Dean Ornish, who has long researched the role of a very low-fat, vegetarian diet in improving health. Ornish, a professor of medicine at UCSF, worked with telomere expert Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discoveries.
“Taken as a whole, this is really the first study showing that any intervention may reduce cellular aging,” Ornish told NBC News. “I think these findings are almost certainly not restricted to men with prostate cancer.”
Ornish and Blackburn’s team examined 10 prostate cancer patients who had chosen to try Ornish’s program, and compared them to 25 patients who had not. They all had early stage prostate cancer that wasn’t considered dangerous.
The program includes eating a diet high in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains and keeping fat to 10 percent of calories. The average American gets more than a third of calories from fat. For the first three months, volunteers got take-home meals.
They also exercised, walking at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week, did yoga-based stretching and breathing exercises, practiced relaxation techniques and went to weekly one-hour stress-reduction group sessions. And they gave blood samples.
“We found that telomerase increased by 30 percent in just three months,” Ornish said. Telomerase is an enzyme that affects telomeres. They also looked at gene activity. “Gene expression on 500 genes changed, in every case in a beneficial way,” Ornish told NBC News.
Five years later, the team took blood samples again. The 10 men who followed the Ornish plan had significantly longer telomeres five years later — on average 10 percent longer. The 25 men who had not followed the program had shorter telomeres — 3 percent shorter on average.
“The more people changed their lifestyles, the more they improved,” Ornish said.
Ornish was working with prostate cancer patients who had chosen not to get any treatment for their tumors. Only a few men had given enough blood in the study to make it possible to test their stored samples, so he thinks a larger study should now be conducted.
Ornish says the program is easy to follow. Each of the 10 men had stuck with it for five years and longer — long past the time they were enrolled in the study.
“We are getting 85 to 95 percent adherence to our program,” he said. “We are getting ridiculously high levels of adherence.”
Ornish says that’s because it’s pleasant, and comprehensive. “And most people feel so much better they change their lifestyle,” he said.
“People often think that it has to be a new drug or a new laser, something really high-tech and expensive to be powerful. What we are finding is the simple choices that we make every day are more powerful.”
BARABOO — An animal rights group is calling on Circus World Museum to re-examine its use of performance elephants after a federal inspector found an animal at the facility had “thin body condition.”
But a veterinarian says the animal is not sick. She says Nina, a 50-year-old circus elephant, always has had a slender body composition.
During an unannounced visit to Baraboo in August, a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector noticed that Nina’s “hip bones and shoulder blades were visible,” documents show.
The animal’s handler told the inspector that a veterinarian examined Nina in April. The handler said the elephant was receiving appropriate care.
However, Carson and Barnes was unable to produce medical records or put the inspector in touch with the veterinarian. Because handlers are required to have such records readily available, the inspector found Carson and Barnes Circus — which contracts with Circus World — to be noncompliant.
A USDA spokeswoman said Friday the federal agency has not been able to determine what caused Nina’s thinness.
“We were not provided access to the medical records, so we are not able to determine that,” USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said.
The USDA will conduct an unannounced follow-up inspection at a later date and then determine the appropriate course of action, Espinosa said. Read more here:
Cathy Stepp recently declared that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which she heads, will take direct control of the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center, currently operated by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.
What vital interest do Wisconsin taxpayers have in taking jobs from the private sector and adding them to the government payroll? Secretary Stepp explains that the state needs to recruit more hunters, anglers and trappers. Left largely unanswered is why all taxpayers must ante up to promote pastimes practiced by a dwindling few. The secretary has attempted to cost-justify her decision this way: “Hunting, fishing and trapping is our heritage, it is in our DNA, and it makes us Wisconsin.” More on that notion in a moment. First, consider the DNR’s current numbers about one of our legacies: trapping.
The DNR’s most recent fur harvest summary, for 2011-12, shows the commercial nature of trapping. Muskrats and raccoons comprised 87 percent of fur-bearing animals trapped and killed in Wisconsin, and the skins of 90 percent of them were sold. That 90 percent is about the same percent for the total of all 12 of the fur-bearing species tracked by the DNR. Of the 588,000 mammals snared and skinned, trappers made money on 516,000 of them.
These statistics raise the question: Who is buying all these skins? Most of the trappers’ “harvest” in the U.S. is sold overseas, especially to China.
The Chinese and other countries with low labor costs convert the fur into clothing, much of it exported back to the U.S. as trim on parkas and other winter wear.
But these days you seldom see a “made from” clothing tag that lists muskrat or raccoon, or the third most trapped animal in Wisconsin, opossum.
That’s because the clothing manufacturers know that most Americans have become repelled by the idea of wearing fur. Today many humane alternatives exist. So some manufacturers and marketers mislabel the actual fur as “faux fur” or “fake fur.” It’s a good deal for the trapper and dishonest dealer, but not for all involved.
Within the first 30 minutes of capture, a trapped animal can tear her flesh, rip tendons, break bones, and even knock out teeth as she bites the trap to escape.
Some animals will even bite off their own limbs in a desperate attempt to escape. The fact that an animal would sever her own limb shows how horrible the experience of being caught in a trap is. One study found that 28 percent of mink, 24 percent of raccoon, and 26 percent of trapped fox would actually bite their limbs off in hopes of surviving.
In Wisconsin centuries ago, clothing options were few. People often needed to trap to survive. But what in those days was a violent necessity — and they didn’t call it a sport — is today just a cruel money-maker.
Perhaps barbarity like this is part of our DNA, as Cathy Stepp suggests. But not all human urges deserve celebration or taxpayer support. If we want to use our past as a guide to our decisions and actions today, look to Wisconsin’s progressive heritage of adapting to the times — of challenging traditions that have become unjust, unwarranted and unnecessarily violent. That would be a vision of leadership desperately needed right now at the DNR.
Charlie Talbert is president of the board of the Madison-based Alliance for Animals and the Environment.
Another example of how one can get enough of everything on a vegan raw diet and win the US Open
Serena Williams practices a raw foods vegan diet and she won the U.S. Open this month.
It would have been really amazing to have had her be a keynote speaker for the Sistah Vegan Web Conference and speak about being a top athlete on a vegan diet. I mostly only see pieces about male athletes on vegan diets, but I rarely get to hear about women– black women!– who are top athletes eating vegan.
Wow, with her strong bones and healthy muscle tone, How DOES she get protein and calcium!!!? (You know, the same tired old questions directed towards folk who don’t eat animals or animal products).