Animal News

Farm Sanctuary, one of the oldest and best known in the country, is not only a refuge for hundreds of farm animals, it also serves as visitor destination, offering guided tours at both the Watkins Glen, NY (pictured) and Los Angeles, CA locations. The tours are part of a wide-ranging public education program that Farm Sanctuary runs to change people’s attitudes about animals farmed for food, and they recently conducted a study to determine how effectively the tours achieve this goal. The answer: very. As summarized at, people who took the tours reported reducing their consumption of animal products when surveyed two months later. What seems to make the most difference is the direct experience with the rescued animals and learning about the cruelty they would have been exposed to, especially when that information is presented in a softly persuasive manner. For a map and list of U.S. farm sanctuaries, many of which also offer tours, see the Compassionate Farming Education Initiative website.

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Photo by Kameron Kincade on Unsplash

Still looking for the best argument to convince your omnnivore friends to go plant-based for the sake of the animals? According to the scientific literature, it may be as simple as reminding them (or making sure they even know) that what they are eating was once, in fact, an animal. An article in the professional journal Appetite on 01Apr20 undertook a comprehensive synthesis of 33 academic research studies across the fields of nutritional science, sociology, marketing, and psychology to identify how and why people claim to enjoy meat from an animal they would otherwise not wish to harm. The authors found that meat-eaters often suffer from this “meat paradox” and rely on a variety of techniques to deal with their cognitive dissonance, the main one being dissociation of the meat from the animal. Gently reinforcing that association may be the best way to help them resolve that dissonance in favor of animal welfare. The Appetite article is very thorough and scientific, as would be expected, but Erika Peter has written an excellent summary of the article for Faunalytics. Links to both are provided below.

Faunalytics summary:
Appetite article:

embryo, chicks, egg

As the old motivational saying about commitment goes, “in a ham and egg breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.” But it turns out that the chicken is every bit as committed as the pig, and we have the data to prove it. The good, brave people at Faunalytics recently undertook the depressing but highly enlightening task of counting how many days of animal suffering are caused by consuming various animal products. This may the first time we’ve been able to say with any scientific confidence which items on the standard American menu are responsible for the most suffering. Because about 20 chickens are confined and slaughtered for food in the U.S. each year for every cow, sheep, pig, and turkey combined, it should come as no shock that egg and chicken dishes dominate the list. And fish are among the most victimized as well. The study report presents the data in several ways to provide easy to read charts on six different scales, and it also details the methodology used to produce the data.

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This TEDx presentation is from 2016, so it isn’t exactly news. But some news never gets old, and Carl Safina’s 16-minute talk certainly qualifies. Dr. Safina is an ecologist focused on humanity’s relationship with the natural world, author of ten books, founding President of the Safina Center, host of the PBS series “Saving the Ocean,” and the first Endowed Professor of Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University–not to mention one of the best friends an animal could ever have. His gentle presentation style is the perfect accompaniment for exploring the consciousness of animals. 

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The ASPCA is reporting on data direct from the Small Business Administration (SBA) that factory farms are getting most of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds earmarked for farmers. This is occurring despite the fact that the PPP was designed to support small businesses, which industrial agriculture is most definitely not. Just one more reason, according to the ASPCA, to support the Farm System Reform Act (see the 08Jul20 news item, below).

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OK, this is just plain fun. Meet Esther, the pig. Through a devious but effective ruse, she made her way into the home and hearts of two guys, convincing them to go plant based and open an animal sanctuary. And she’s become a popular social media star as well, so who knows how many other humans she’s converted and how many other animal lives have been spared. You go, girl!

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The animal advocacy folks at just reported on a detailed classroom study that was done by the Educated Choices Program (ECP) earlier this year. Over 95,000 students at different grade levels were given one of four presentations (plus a fifth control group) to see if attitudes about consuming animals would change. The presentations focused on either environmental impacts, animal suffering, human health, or ethical aspects of eating animal products. The results? “Nearly 70% of those who had seen an ECP presentation expressed intent to reduce their consumption of meat and other animal products, compared to roughly 40% in the control group.” See the full article for a further breakdown of the comparative results and a link to the actual study data.

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cows, livestock, cattle feed

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a vegan and recent candidate for President, introduced a bill in December 2019 that would help the country move away from factory farming. It mandates an immediate halt to any new Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and phases out the largest existing CAFOs by 2040. The bill also introduces protections for small farmers, including transferring their legal liability for environmental damage to the large conglomerates that they are forced to contract with. Finally, it authorizes a $100 billion fund to help farmers transition from CAFOs to other agricultural operations. Even though Senator Booker’s race for the White House ended the following month, the bill continues to gain co-sponsors, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). And a companion bill was recently introduced in the House by Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign co-sponsor, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA).
      While the growing support for this legislation is welcome news to animal rights advocates, many will understandably question whether it goes far enough, fast enough. The full article, written by Ezra Klein and published by Vox, gives a perspective on the tradeoffs and political realities faced by those working to reform and eliminate a barbaric and oppressive industry and to replace it with something better, not only for the animals but for all of us as well.

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