Written by PETA
What do you get when you cross a raven with a chicken? A whole lot of grief from PETA. After learning that KFC has been named the "Official Chicken of the Baltimore Ravens," PETA dashed off a letter to team owner Steve Bisciotti, alerting him to KFC's refusal to implement even basic animal welfare improvements—including switching to an improved slaughter method—and urging him to end the team's partnership with one of the nation's leading bird killers.
Bisciotti is known for his work with Catholic Charities, and PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich points out in his letter that scalding chickens to death in defeathering tanks, as KFC's suppliers do, is hardly in keeping with Catholic doctrine.
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that we owe animals kindness and that it is 'contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly,'" writes Bruce, a devout Catholic himself. "[S]litting birds' throats while they are still fully conscious is a far cry from living up to the value of kindness toward animals."
That sounds like something that birds of all feathers—and faiths—can agree on. You can take a step toward upping your kindness quotient by refusing to eat at KFC until it stops doing chickens wrong.
Written by Alisa Mullins
We know that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. What if you could cheat both? In an opinion piece he wrote for The Huffington Post, PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich proposes that we can do just that by imposing a "sin tax" on meat and dairy products, much like the ones currently levied on products that harm our health and the environment, like cigarettes, alcohol, and gasoline.
It makes sense, considering that raising animals for food is the number one cause of climate change and that eating meat increases people's chances of heart disease, cancer, strokes, and obesity. Vegetarians and vegans also live an average of six to 10 years longer than meat-eaters do. So not only might you cheat death for nearly a decade by ditching meat, you might also get out of paying taxes on it. Now maybe the only "certainty" is that it's time to order a free vegetarian/vegan starter kit.
Read Bruce's complete column here.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich frequently visits colleges across the country and participates in debates about the ethics of eating meat. His debates are usually very popular and well-attended. But recently, Columbia University canceled Bruce's scheduled debate just hours before it was supposed to take place. Why? Because seven years earlier, Bruce interrupted a speech at the school's commencement ceremony to speak out about cruel experiments on animals being conducted in Columbia's laboratories. Guess they didn't want that info to get out. Bear in mind that this is the same school that welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with open arms. Wow.
Today, Bruce participated in a similar debate at the University of Michigan (U-M)—despite the fact that just last week, a PETA member attended the school's conference on survival flight training, calmly took the microphone during a speech, told the audience about the school's use of animals in cruel and archaic training methods, and requested that the school use modern simulators instead.
Hmmm … looks like U-M is a little more open-minded than Columbia. Here's hoping that U-M extends that open-mindedness to exploring more humane training methods.
When PETA heard that the Committee on Bible Translation had revised the New International Version (NIV) of the Christian Bible to use gender-inclusive language, such as replacing "men" with "people," we thought, wouldn't it be great if the new NIV showed consideration for female (and male) animals too? So we wrote to the Committee on Bible Translation and asked them to use "he" or "she" rather than "it" to refer to animals in the next edition of the NIV.
"Language matters. Calling an animal 'it' denies them something," PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich told CNN. "They are beloved by God. They glorify God."
Since God loves all His creation (and if you're not convinced of this, try reading Matthew 25:40, Isaiah 11:9, or Luke 6:36), it's only fitting that humans do the same by showing respect to every living being. Maybe Psalm 50:11 says it best: "I know and am acquainted with all the birds of the mountains, and the wild animals of the field are Mine and are with Me, in My mind." Perhaps if we change the way we speak about animals, our thinking will follow.
PETA V.P. Bruce Friedrich is an energetic and relentless campaigner with a persistently positive outlook on life. He's also coauthor of the brand new, hot-off-the-press The Animal Activist's Handbook: Maximizing Our Positive Impact in Today's World. In the book, Bruce and coauthor Matt Ball suggest a variety of ways to live a meaningful life through effective and efficient advocacy. In their activism journeys, both men made a few mistakes along the way, and they share their experiences with you so that you don't wind up making the same mistakes yourself!
Bruce was able take a minute away from his vital work for animals to answer a few questions for The PETA Files. I'm hoping that you find his responses as motivational as I did (be sure to check out the most memorable campaigning answer—it's my favorite).
Here Bruce is in his own words:
Your dedication to animal rights is inspiring. Where do you look for inspiration? To activists in the field, holding down full-time jobs and still finding time to leaflet, hold demonstrations, keep "Vegetarian Starter Kit" stands stocked, write letters to the editor, post links to videos online, and so much more.
What's one of your most memorable campaigning stories?My wife, Alka Chandna, and I used our Christmas vacation in 2003 to do a string of anti-KFC protests. On Christmas Day 2003, we dropped off big bags of coal at the homes of KFC's CEO, president, and senior VP for public affairs because they'd been naughty to animals. An over-zealous police officer arrested us for trespassing, even though we were just walking up to the door—like Girl Scouts. The guy was screaming at me about trespassing, and I kept saying, "There's no sign saying we can't be here, we're just knocking on his door to ask him to be nice, rather than naughty, this year." The entire thing was caught on the squad car's video system, and the officer was wearing a microphone, so I have a video of the arrest, and it's just too funny. This was trespass number one, so it's the equivalent of a minor speeding ticket. The guy was behaving like Rambo over the equivalent of going 56 in a 55 zone.
If you had the power to change one person's stance on animal rights whose would it be and why? I'd change Bill Gates into a hardcore animal rights activist, so that he would dedicate most of his billions to promoting animal rights. Everyone agrees that causing animals to suffer needlessly is immoral. Of course, eating or wearing animals is absolutely needless. All we really need to do is get people to live according to their values—to be consistent. But we need to educate people so that they think about this reality, and if we had billions of dollars to dedicate to the cause, we could create a vegan U.S. in a very short period of time.
What's one campaigning moment that made you want to say FML? I have a selective memory that focuses on the positive and forgets the negative, so Ingrid calls me Bruce Poppins. Anyway, I can't think of anything other than glorious campaigning moments. Even when things go wrong (like when our Japanese intern who spoke almost no English ended up in the back of a squad car at a demonstration—she was subsequently released without charge), I tend to find that funny rather than dispiriting. I ran into a tree on my bike commute into work today and got a massive gash under my eye and on my shoulder, and all I could think was, "I sure am glad I still have my eye."
Is your family supportive of your animal rights activism? What would you say to someone who feels his or her family isn't supportive? My family is very supportive. I would say not to worry about your family. So many people spend inordinate amounts of time trying to change their family, even when it's clear that they are not going to change. Two things: 1) every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It's only natural that if you're pushing your family, they may push back, for a variety of reasons—they feel judged by you, they don't understand how you could make such a big change without them, whatever. Once you stop focusing on them, you may find that your family finds it easier to pay attention and come along, because once you stop pushing, they stop pushing back. 2) If you convert one person to vegetarianism, you save 100 animals per year, whether that is a family member or some stranger on the street. Take the energy you would have spent on your family and go convert 10 other people who aren't pushing back instead.
How hard is it to find vegan food on the road? What cities do you like or loathe because of their food options? I mostly eat from grocery stores, and I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, mixed nuts, bananas, and bags of pre-washed greens. I can find that stuff anywhere. The only place where I know the restaurants at all is D.C., where I've lived for most of the past 20 years, and I don't know too many here.
If you weren't working for animal rights, what would you be doing? Teaching disadvantaged kids in the inner city or running a homeless shelter (which I did for six years before I joined PETA) or working for Doctors Without Borders or some other global relief organization.
What is the most valuable piece of advice that you could give to someone who wants to start getting active? One person can make a massive difference, and that's deeply empowering—if you convince one person to adopt a vegetarian diet, you've just spared 100 animals per year from misery that is beyond our worst imaginings. A few hours spent leafleting, one letter to the editor, one good conversation, one vegetarian hotline bumper sticker on your car—there are so many things you can do, little and big, that will mean life or death for thousands of animals. Do it!
Looking for a bit more Bruce in your life (after that interview, aren't we all)? Head on over to our Action Center and listen to him on PETA's podcast. Oh, and then buy his book.
Written by Shawna Flavell
Did Sarah Palin's recent interview in front of a turkey-slaughter operation almost cause you to lose your lunch? If so, you're not alone. Even conservative pundit Joe Scarborough says he may well skip the bird this year. With Thanksgiving upon us, here without further ado are PETA's top 10 reasons to pardon a turkey this holiday season:
10. If you wouldn't eat your cat, you shouldn't eat a turkey. As poultry scientist Tom Savage says, "I've always viewed turkeys as smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings. The 'dumb' tag simply doesn't fit." They're as interesting and have personalities every bit as developed as those of any dog or cat.
When they're not forced to live on filthy factory farms, turkeys spend their days caring for their young, building nests, foraging for food, taking dust baths, preening themselves, and roosting high in trees. These social, playful birds relish having their feathers stroked and like to chirp, cluck, and gobble along to their favorite tunes.
9. Factory farms deny turkeys everything that is natural and important to them. Ben Franklin called turkeys "true American originals." He had tremendous respect for their resourcefulness, agility, and beauty. In nature, turkeys can fly 55 miles an hour, run 25 miles an hour, and live up to four years. Yet turkeys raised for food are killed when they are only 5 or 6 months old. During their short lives, they will be denied even the simplest pleasures, such as running, building nests, and raising their young.
8. Turkey consumption might kill you. Turkey flesh is brimming with fat and cholesterol. Just one homemade patty of ground, cooked turkey meat contains a whopping 244 mg of cholesterol, and half of its calories come from fat. Turkey flesh is also frequently tainted with salmonella, campylobacter bacteria, and other contaminants. And a vegan meal won't leave you sprawled on the couch, belt buckle undone, barely able to move.
7. You may stave off bird flu apocalypse. Current factory-farm conditions are breeding grounds for disease. Turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly that many become crippled and die from dehydration. Cooking meat should kill the bird flu virus, but it can be left behind on cutting boards and utensils and spread through something else you're eating.
6. Don't support their crack habit. Dosing turkeys with antibiotics to stimulate their growth and to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them poses even more risks for people who eat them. Leading health organizations—including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association—have warned that the factory farming industry is possibly creating long-term risks to human health through the spread of antibiotic-resistant supergerms. That's why the use of drugs to promote growth in animals used for food has been banned for many years in Europe.
5. There are healthy, humane alternatives. Everyone can give thanks for animal-friendly holiday meals such as Tofurky, Celebration Roast, and Garden Protein's new Veggie Turkey Breast With Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing. PETA's scrumptious holiday recipes will please every palate and make it easier to give up the giblets.
4. Eating birds supports cruelty to animals.When the time comes for slaughter, turkeys are thrown into transport trucks. At the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside-down and their heads are dragged through an electrified "stunning tank," which immobilizes them but does not kill them. Many birds dodge the tank and are still conscious when their throats are cut. If the knife fails to properly cut the birds' throats, the birds are scalded to death in the defeathering tanks.
3. Turkey consumption is bad for the environment.Turkeys and other animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population—all without the benefit of waste-treatment systems. There are no federal guidelines to regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated, untreated animal excrement that they produce each year.
2. Turkey farming contributes to human starvation. Turkeys have to be fed grains, soy, oats, and corn that could otherwise be fed to human beings. Only a fraction of the calories fed to a turkey are turned into meat calories. While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it's about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is.
And the number one reason to give the birds a break:
1. Factory-farmed turkeys have nothing to be thankful for.On factory farms, turkeys live for months in sheds where they are packed so tightly that flapping a wing or stretching a leg is nearly impossible. They stand mired in waste; urine and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. To keep the birds from killing one another in these crowded conditions, parts of the turkeys' toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males' snoods (the flap of skin under the chin). All this is done without any pain relievers.
A PETA investigator recently went undercover at a massive turkey-breeding facility in West Virginia and documented workers stomping on turkeys, punching them, beating them with pipes and boards, and twisting their necks repeatedly. One worker even bragged about shoving a broomstick down a turkey's throat because the bird had pecked at him. Our previous investigations show that such gratuitous abuse is the norm on turkey farms.
Check out VegCooking.com for tasty alternatives that will allow the turkeys to give thanks this Holiday season along with you and your family.
Written by Bruce Friedrich
Burberry representatives denied entry to Bruce Friedrich this morning, an action that we believe clearly violates the rules that govern publicly traded companies. Bruce, appearing as a proxy, had registered in time, confirmed his registration, and showed proper identification and a copy of his proxy voucher card to officials—but to no avail.
One might suspect that the problem here is that Friedrich is an outspoken opponent of the use of fur in Burberry’s clothing, and they don't want their shareholders to hear what he has to say.
Bruce was slated to speak and urge shareholders to end the company's use of fur, as stated in the shareholder statement that PETA Europe had sent directly to Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as well as their chair and chief designer. Included with the statement was video footage showing fur-bearing animals caught in traps, animals chewing off their own limbs to escape, and animals on fur farms crammed in tiny, filthy cages until they were killed by gassing, anal or vaginal electrocution, or having their necks broken.
Since Burberry is based in the United Kingdom, where cruel fur farms are illegal, they have resorted to importing animal pelts from Finland. Says Friedrich, "Burberry might not want its shareholders to hear about the company's support for cruelty to animals so extreme that if the practices it supports were conducted in the United Kingdom, they would be illegal, but it has no right to shut out debate".
Posted by Sean Conner
The latest podcast on the PETA front is "Vegetarianism in a Nutshell," presented by PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. This talk is seriously fantastic and inspiring. If you're already veg, it'll empower you. And if you're not, well … hell, it'll probably convert you!
Bruce discusses the impact of vegetarianism on our lives and the environment, and the whole thing just makes me want to dig into my fave vegan dish and give KFC the bird!
Seriously, though, sit back … put your nonleather-shoed feet up … and take a gander (or a listen) at our newest podcast.
Posted by Christine Doré
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.