Written by PETA
I love me some Nellie McKay. She just released her new album, Obligatory Villagers, yesterday, so I wanted to give it a quick shout out. Nellie never misses an opportunity to talk about her love of animals and what people can do to make the world a better place for them, and here’s what she had to say when she sat down with the uber-hip peta2 posse recently:
Tell us about the new album, Obligatory Villagers.
It's a rumbus opus, a ragtime sonata. It's about the times we live in.
What animal rights issues are you most passionate about?
Every outrage deserves attention. In terms of scope, ending factory farming & our relationship to animals as food is key, because from there, victory in other areas is inevitable.
Do you think schools should be required to offer students alternatives to dissection? Why?
Schools should not only offer students alternatives, they should completely remove dissection & vivisection from their curriculum. Knowledge without compassion is useless.
Do you have any dissection horror stories from your school days that you'd like to share?
In fourth grade we campaigned to remove formaldehyde jars entombing small animals from the science room. We circulated petitions & met w/the principal & made the teachers really nervous. The jars were removed.
Why did you choose to become a vegetarian?
I was fortunate enough to go vegetarian w/my parents. The sight of caged & suffering animals in animal rights literature elicited an instant response of sadness & anger. Kids have a natural empathy w/ animals.
What's your favorite vegetarian dish?
My Mother's vegan fish & chips w/ brown beans is always on the top of the list.
Any advice for people who want to get involved in animal rights but don't know how to get started?
The biggest thing you can do for the animals, the earth, & humankind (including yourself) is to switch to an animal-free diet. It may not be easy, it may not be instant, but start & watch the world change for the better.
What's up next for you?
I'm working with the Coalition to Preserve Community to prevent Columbia University from demolishing eighteen acres of Harlem to construct a new campus. Among their development plans is a level-3 biotech lab, which would almost certainly include animal research. And of course, I mention ColumbiaCruelty.com wherever I go.
KP was my boss for the first year that I was at PETA, back when I was an editor for the organization myself and spent my days obsessing over em-dashes, misplaced modifiers, and dangling participles (OK, I still obsess over those things, but in those days it was actually useful to someone), so I'm very excited to announce that she's writing a new blog for PETA, which will be focusing on how to keep your canine companion happy and healthy, with an emphasis on weird hippie stuff like holistic medicine and chiropractics. In all seriousness, the blog is a ton of fun, and it's a great resource for anybody who loves dogs—and if you're into alternative medicine, there's probably gonna be a good deal of that for you too.
So head on over to KP's Dog Blog when you get a chance, and let her know what you think. Also, if you have time, I’d be very grateful if you could scour every word of the blog—and if you can find any grammatical errors (even just, like, a comma out of place), report them back to me.
After more than a year of discussions with PETA, CKE Restaurants (the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.) has announced a new animal welfare program that will phase in cage-free eggs, and begin sourcing pork from suppliers that don’t use cruel gestation crates for pregnant pigs. The plan also gives consideration to poultry suppliers that are willing to use controlled-atmosphere killing, which is the most humane form of slaughter available.
Here's what Hardee's spokesman Jeff Mochal said about the change:
"We take the animal welfare concerns very seriously. When you meet with PETA they make a pretty good case. We want to stay consistent with where the industry is at now and where it's heading."
This is another victory for farmed animals, and it is a sign that there is a major upheaval in the industry, with many of the biggest players (with the notable exception of KFC, which is still decades behind) making significant improvements in their animal welfare standards in response to pressure from the animal protection community and compassionate consumers. In just the past year, Smithfield Foods, Maple Leaf Foods, and Cargill Meat Solutions took steps to phase out gestation crates for pigs, and Burger King and Wendy's restaurants made similar changes affecting millions of animals.
I make these points whenever we have a victory like this, but I want to really emphasize them this time:
Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to get these improvements at Hardees and Carls Jr.! And thanks to CKE Restaurants for helping to encourage such significant changes in their suppliers, and the industry at large.
As you may have heard by now, Michael Vick and his three co-defendants were indicted today by a grand jury, and charged with one count of beating or killing a dog in addition to one count of engaging in and promoting dogfighting. The next step is for the prosecuting attorney, Gerald Poindexter, to actually charge these guys. This is PETA’s official statement on the new indictment:
"PETA believes, as most Americans do, that the best way to safeguard animals is for anyone who participates in dogfighting to spend time behind bars and be banned from owning animals for life. Given that dogs who did not perform to the defendants' satisfaction were intentionally killed by electrocution, drowning, hanging, shooting, and being repeatedly slammed to the ground, state felony cruelty-to-animals charges and state felony dogfighting charges are clearly warranted in this case. The federal authorities prosecuted the crimes under their jurisdiction with due diligence, and we look forward to seeing Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter do the same.”
Please click here to take action on this issue by urging the NFL to add cruelty to animals to its conduct policy.
I know, I know. I just used an almost identical subject line last week in the “Shoplifting Seagull” entry, but I couldn’t resist. Just like I couldn’t resist sharing this amazing story about a pigeon who befriended an injured baby monkey at an animal sanctuary in China. Check it out here.
With that in mind, PETA VP Dan Mathews wrote the following note to Mr. Zombie:
“We at PETA would like to thank you for making clear in Halloween that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals are likely to move on to humans. Although audiences wince during scenes showing the young Michael Myers mutilating animals, following it up with the school counselor articulating how this is the first step to becoming a maniac was perfectly done. Hopefully, with the attention focused by your movie on this link between animal cruelty and human violence, more people will recognize the warning signs among people they know and deal with it more forcefully.”
Not only was the cat used in this scene fake (of course), but guess what? Rob Zombie is an ethical vegetarian, and has been since 1982, when he saw slaughterhouse footage in high school. Turns out that some zombies don't eat flesh at all. Who knew?
And just this morning, she sent a letter to clothing retailer Burberry's creative director Christopher Bailey urging him to end the use of fur in Burberry designs once and for all. Here's what she says:
"For the sake of basic decency and humanity as well as for the sake of your company's reputation, won't you please stop using real fur in your designs?"
You can the full letter here, and for a little horror movie about the practices that Burberry supports, click here.
PETA’s regulatory testing division recently fired off a letter to Samuel H. Wilson, acting director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), urging him to cancel planned experiments on mice involving artificial butter flavoring and its ingredients. Yes, I said artificial butter flavoring, the stuff in microwave popcorn.
One ingredient in artificial butter flavoring, diacetyl, is suspected of causing a debilitating—and sometimes deadly—lung disease in dozens of workers and now possibly in consumers as well, and the NIEHS’ knee-jerk reaction is simply to do more animal tests. Keep in mind that producers accounting for 80 percent of the market for this product have already stopped using diacetyl or announced plans to do so, and as our regulatory testing watchdogs pointed out, in experiments that have already been conducted, mice who were forced to inhale diacetyl didn’t develop the same symptoms of obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) that humans did. It sounds like the NIEHS has never heard Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote that goes something like this, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different results.”
In response to PETA's warnings—which were originally submitted to the NIEHS' National Toxicology Program (NTP) in May—one scientist acknowledged that although "it's not clear how one would extrapolate findings from the animal studies to humans. … [T]hat does not lessen my enthusiasm for this study." In our newest letter, we point out that while the NTP conducts cruel experiments on mice, workers—and possibly consumers—will remain at risk for OB. How about we cut to the chase and instead of conducting irrelevant animal experiments and further delaying the protection of workers and consumers who are exposed to diacetyl, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration immediately rescind its "generally recognized as safe" designation for the chemical?
Jessica Sandler, PETA’s director of regulatory testing said it best,
“There's a crisis looming for countless workers and consumers who are exposed to diacetyl, and once again, the government's answer is to try to mimic in animals the effects already seen in people. Not only is this completely illogical approach blatantly cruel, it also directly jeopardizes the health of the citizens that the agency is charged with safeguarding."
I’ll keep you posted as this case develops, and in the meantime, here’s a great page about PETA’s behind-the-scenes battle to stop animal testing.
For some reason, fish are often the last animal people cut from their diets when they go vegetarian, so if you're someone who's been thinking about giving up eating fish but never got around to it, this is a great time to take the plunge. PETA has a whole site about the lives of these fascinating animals at FishingHurts.com, and once you've checked that out, if you'd like to celebrate Fish Amnesty Day by giving up fish for good, click here to take PETA's pledge to be veg.
I will be marking this momentous occasion with a meal at my favorite vegetarian sushi restaurant, Kotobuki. Happy Fish Amnesty Day, everyone!
Click here to order a free vegetarian starter kit.
Don’t worry if you don’t get that subject line. It’s just a shout out to my homegirl, Anuradha “Slim Shady” Sawhney, who does a hell of a job running PETA India.
The point of this post is really to give props to the whole gang over at PETA India, who just released the incredibly exciting news that the city of Mumbai will no longer allow elephants within its borders. Mumbai's compassionate decision will spare many elephants a lifetime of abuse and neglect, and it sends a powerful message to other towns and cities across the country. You can check out the full story here.
Now PETA India is expanding the campaign to other cities, and they’ve enlisted India’s A-list to help. They just sent this petition, featuring heavy-hitting Indian celebs like Dilip Kuman, Saira Banu, John Abraham, Raveena Tandon, and others, to Chief Ministers across the country, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more on this issue soon.
Way to go PETA India!
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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.