Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reading Labels

Other Labels
Aside from the labels outlined in previous sections, the following are some other labels that are common on animal products:
Certified:Meat that has been stamped with this label has been “evaluated” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture “for class, grade, or other quality characteristics.”
Grass-Fed:This label is used on beef to indicate that the cow ate a diet of grass—what they would naturally eat—instead of the unnatural and unhealthy grain diets that most cows are fed in order to fatten them up before slaughter. Although cows surely suffer less when they’re allowed to eat grass (grain diets can lead to liver abscesses, constant digestive pain, and death), grass-fed cows are still subjected to mutilations without the use of painkillers and are often killed in the same slaughterhouses as cows from factory farms, and they threaten fragile ecosystems by eating all the grass and other plants and pounding down the earth in the areas where they are kept.
Natural:Use of this label is permitted if the product contains “no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed.” According to farmer Amiel Cooper, “Natural is a virtually meaningless word [when it is applied to animal products].”32
No Antibiotics:This label can be used on beef and poultry products, provided that the producer supplies “sufficient documentation … that the animals were raised without antibiotics.”33
No Hormones:This label applies only to beef. Since hormones are not supposed to be given to pigs or chickens, pork and poultry products cannot legally be tagged with this label without the disclaimer “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”
None of these labels regulate the welfare of animals in any way.

How You Can Help
Go Vegetarian:Adopting a vegetarian diet is the single most important thing that you can do to help animals. The average vegetarian saves more than 100 animals every year! It's easier than ever to go vegetarian, and we have all the help you need to get started. Request a FREE vegetarian starter kit, and then visit for great recipes and products and a shopping guide!
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Organic and Free-Range Products: Better for Your Health?

The Transport and Slaughter of Organic and Free-Range Animals
There are no standards regulating the treatment of organic, free-range, or cage-free animals during transport and slaughter, and many of these animals are shipped on trucks through all weather extremes to the same slaughterhouses used by factory farms. At the slaughterhouse, the animals are hung upside-down and their throats are cut, often while they are still conscious and struggling to escape. Some are still conscious when they are forced into the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tanks or when their bodies are hacked apart. If you’re buying organic or free-range animal products because you think that the animals were given kind deaths, you are sadly mistaken. Read more about what happens to animals during transport and at slaughterhouses.

Organic and Free-Range Products: Better for Your Health?
Organic and free-range meat products are loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, and excess protein, which have been shown to cause heart disease, cancer, obesity, and a range of other serious ailments. Since organic and free-range animals are often killed in the same filthy slaughterhouses used for factory-farmed animals, their flesh is just as likely to be contaminated with bacteria that can make us sick. The only way to protect yourself from the health problems caused by meat is to leave it off your plate for good. Learn more about how meat affects your health.
One reason that consumers buy organic milk is that they think it’s healthier, but in reality, it is just as unnatural for humans to drink the milk of a cow as it is for a dog to drink the milk of a rat. Organic cow’s milk is loaded with as much saturated fat and cholesterol as regular milk, and it is often contaminated with pus and blood from cows who had udder infections and weren’t given medicine because, if they were, the farmers wouldn’t be able to label their milk organic. According to physician and author Dr. Michael Greger, “The dairy herd is sick—these are sick and diseased cows, producing pus-filled milk that even industry standards call ‘unhealthful.’”29 Plus, organic milk is certainly not hormone-free—all milk contains hormones because cows produce hormones naturally. All dairy products—including those labeled organic—increase your risk for a host of illnesses, including heart disease, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, acne, and diabetes.
Organic and free-range eggs are loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. Our bodies make all the cholesterol we need, and eating additional cholesterol in the form of animal products such as eggs can lead to heart disease, obesity, and strokes. Plus, eggs are the primary source of salmonella infection, which sickens more than a million people every year in the U.S.30,31
Organic and free-range farms produce massive amounts of untreated animal excrement that fouls surrounding waterways, and these farms contribute to global hunger because the animals are being fed grain that could go to hungry humans. Read more about how the farmed-animal industry pollutes the environment, sickens rural communities, and contributes to world hunger.
Read more.

Free-Range Chickens-Free-Range Turkeys

Free-Range Chickens
The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that free-range chickens used for meat have access to the outdoors, but many free-range chickens never spend any time outside because they’ve been bred and drugged to grow so obese that they can hardly move. Washington State University farm expert Terry Swagerty confirms that most free-range chickens never go outside because, he says, “They’re not bred for mobility. They’re bred for hogging down food.”23 Or as The Seattle Times puts it, “[T]hey’ve been known to plop down and not walk at all.”24 Richard Lobb, spokesperson for the National Chicken Council, explains in a moment of candor, “If you go to a free-range farm and expect to see a bunch of chickens galloping around in pastures, you’re kidding yourself.”25 Some in the chicken industry are conning consumers by labeling these birds free-range when most are deprived of everything that is natural to them and forced to endure the same conditions as chickens in factory farms—including extreme crowding, cruel breeding, and filthy and disease-ridden living conditions.
Free-Range Turkeys
Like free-range chickens, free-range turkeys are generally not treated any better than turkeys raised in factory farms. Birds who are labeled free-range must have access to the outdoors, but access can mean a hole in the shed that goes out to a tiny, fenced-in mud lot. Plus, like chickens, many turkeys who are sold under the free-range label have been bred and drugged to grow so large that walking is painful or impossible.
University of California-Davis poultry scientist Ralph Ernst explains, “These [free-range turkeys] are raised much like the regular turkeys.”26 Another industry insider, turkey farmer Mary Pitman, says, “Consumers can really be fooled. Some farms can qualify for free range, but they raise [turkeys] in the same conditions as industrial farms.”27A recent investigation into free-range turkey farms found that turkeys on these farms spend nearly all their time in extremely crowded, filthy sheds where the air is so heavy with ammonia that it hurts to breathe, and the birds are bred to grow so obese that they become crippled. The dead are left to rot among the survivors. Learn more about what investigators found and go on a photo-tour of a free-range turkey farm.

The Egg Industry's History of Deceiving Consumers

The Egg Industry's History of Deceiving Consumers
Awareness of the horrors of egg factory farms has increased substantially in the last 10 years. United Egg Producers (UEP), the industry's main trade organization, responded to this concern by slapping a label reading “Animal Care Certified” on each carton of eggs. The “certification” was meant to whitewash the industry's tarnished image. It still permitted all the worst abuses, including allowing factory farmers to cut off hens' sensitive beaks with a hot blade, cram six or seven hens into tiny battery cages where they can't spread even one wing, and house them in filthy sheds with more than 100,000 other birds.17 Compassion Over Killing, a Washington, D.C.-based animal rights group, successfully used legal action to force United Egg Producers to remove the “Animal Care Certified" label. Instead of treating hens better, however, the UEP has now begun using a new misleading label that reads, “United Egg Producers Certified: Produced in Compliance With United Egg Producers' Animal Husbandry Guidelines.” This label still permits the exact same horrible treatment of hens.18
Cage-Free and Free-Range Chickens Used for Eggs
Although many consumers believe that labels such as free-range, free-roaming, or cage-free mean that these chickens spend their days in natural outdoor settings, the label means something entirely different to the egg industry.
Hens on commercial cage-free farms are not kept in cages, but they still have their sensitive beaks cut off with a hot blade and are crammed together in filthy sheds where they will live for years until their egg production wanes and they're sent to slaughter. They never go outside, breathe fresh air, feel the sun on their backs, or do anything else that is natural or important to them. They suffer from the same lung lesions and ammonia burns as hens in cages, and they have breast blisters to add to their suffering.
Although hens in cage-free systems are clearly better off than hens in cages—just imagine a cat or dog living in a tiny cage for two years with five to six other cats or dogs and never leaving that cage until it's time for slaughter—their bodily condition can actually be worse because they are taken from cages and plopped down in their own excrement for years at a time. This does not mean that cages are good, which the industry might claim, but from an animal welfare perspective, “cage-free” means “much better but still extraordinarily cruel.”
Reports from people who have visited free-range egg farms indicate that conditions are no different in these systems. While free-range and organic egg farms are technically supposed to give birds outdoor access, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided that “they may be temporarily confined” for “reasons of health, safety, the animal's stage of production or to protect soil or water quality.” 19 This loophole is big enough to drive a truck through, and the owners of many free-range egg farms take full advantage of it by almost never allowing the birds outside. At a Horizon Foods organic and free-range farm, the hen sheds house more than 400,000 birds—hardly a small, natural, family-run business. Style Weekly reported that “when you pull into the parking lot, there is not a chicken to be seen or a cluck to be heard. To the left of the lot stands the egg-processing plant. To the right, five long windowless 'chicken houses.' Except for the sound of an American flag snapping in the wind, all is silent.”20 Scott Akom, general manager of the Horizon farm, freely admitted that the hens do not see the light of day, and he refused to allow the reporter to actually see any of the free-range birds. He said that all of his free-range hens were currently kept in sheds, telling the reporter, “Free-roaming and cage-free mean the same thing. The chickens are free to go wherever they want. Inside the chicken house.”21 When birds are given outdoor access, it's usually for very short periods of time, and the outdoor area often just consists of a hole cut in the shed wall leading to a small, muddy enclosure.
Male chicks who are born on organic or free-range egg farms are crushed to death or stuffed into garbage bags and left to suffocate because they don't produce eggs and are of no use to the industry. A report in E magazine explained the reality behind this misleading label: “If people got the full story, I would hope they would choose not to consume eggs at all. It's intrinsically problematic to raise chickens for egg consumption. Male chicks are thrown away, even in small-scale operations, since they don't lay eggs. That's 50 percent of the chicks that are destroyed.”22

Organic Animal Products

Organic Animal Products
“Organic” simply means drug- and chemical-free—organic animals can be subjected to all the same types of cruelty that occur in factory farms, and as long as they are not dosed with drugs or fed food that was treated with pesticides, their meat and milk can be labeled “organic.” However, because farmers are accustomed to dosing animals with drugs to make them grow larger and increase their profit margin, very few have been willing to go chemical and drug-free. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, less than 1 percent of animals raised for meat in the U.S. meets the criteria for the organic label.6 Among the farms that are chemical-free, some may continue to dose animals with drugs and then fraudulently label their animal products organic. When the European Union randomly sampled “hormone-free” cow flesh from the U.S., they found that 12 percent of the meat had been treated with powerful sex hormones that are banned in Europe.7
Even if they are genuinely drug-free, animals on organic farms are often treated no better than their counterparts in factory farms. Farmers know that the more animals they raise in the least amount of space, the more profitable they will be. Many organic farms cram thousands of animals together in sheds or mud-filled lots, just as factory farms do. Steve Demos, former overseer of the Horizon Organic brand of milk, explains, “There’s a certain idealistic appreciation for a farm with 10 cows grazing on a hill at sunrise. But there are 280 million people in the Unites States. … Long ago they said that small was beautiful; they forgot to tell you it’s not profitable.”8
Animals on organic farms often suffer through the same mutilations that occur in factory farms. Cattle have their horns sawed off and their testicles cut out of their scrotums, and they’re held down and branded with sizzling-hot irons, resulting in third-degree burns. Pigs on organic farms may have their tails chopped off and chunks of their ears cut out—and some have rings put into their noses in order to permanently prevent them from rooting in the grass and dirt, which is one of pigs’ favorite pastimes. Chickens on organic egg farms usually have their beaks burnt off. None of these animals are given any painkillers.
The living conditions of animals on organic farms are often very similar to the conditions in factory farms. Chickens and pigs are often confined to large warehouses that reek of ammonia and rotting excrement. Many organic cows are sent to factory-farm feedlots to be fattened prior to slaughter, where they live in tiny enclosures caked with feces and mud—cows who are fattened on feedlots can still be labeled organic as long as they’re given organic feed.9 Cows on organic dairy farms may be kept in sheds or filthy enclosures, where they spend their lives mired in their own waste, enduring the strain of continuous pregnancies and the theft of their babies. According to an investigative report by, some organic dairy companies, such as Horizon Organic, are really factory farms in disguise—the report states that the cows “at one of Horizon’s dairy farms in central Idaho … don’t look too happy. … [E]xperts say that a substantial percentage of cows at [organic] farms like Horizon’s are confined to pens.”10
Farmers may not give medicine to animals who are suffering because the farmer can get a higher price for their meat and milk if the animals retain organic status.11 Studies have found that up to one-third of pigs on some organic farms are suffering from untreated infections, and reports also state that organic pigs often suffer from internal and external parasites, which could be passed on to the people who eat them.12,13 Organic chickens on some farms suffer from higher mortality rates than drugged chickens because extremely crowded and filthy housing conditions can lead to parasites and cannibalism.14 When the udders of cows on organic dairy farms become infected from frequent milkings, many farmers don’t give the cows medicine because then their milk would lose the organic label, which allows the product to be sold at a higher price.
Given these facts, it’s not surprising that the Advertising Standards Authority of the British government has ruled that it is deceptive to claim that animals raised on organic farms enjoy better lives than animals in conventional factory farms.15 The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals testified before a British parliamentary committee, saying, “Organic farming is often perceived as being synonymous with high standards of farm animal welfare. However, this perception … appear[s] to be without foundation.”16 Similarly, a commission funded by the European Union concluded that “a growing body of evidence suggests that the animal health situation on organic farms is no better than that reported in conventional livestock production systems

Organic and Free-Range Animal Products: Fact or Fiction?

Organic and Free-Range Animal Products: Fact or Fiction?
A recent Gallup poll found that 96 percent of Americans believe that animals should be protected from cruelty, yet animals on today's farms receive no protection from even the worst abuses.1 As people become more aware of the horrors of factory farming, companies are responding by adding labels to their products with comforting words such as “organic,” “free-range,” “cage-free,” and “natural.” These labels may conjure up images of animals who roam freely in green pastures, but the reality of life and death for animals on organic and free-range farms is very different.
On organic and free-range farms, most animals are mutilated without the use of painkillers, kept in filthy, disease-ridden sheds, and finally forced to endure a long trip to the slaughterhouse without food or water. There are no humane slaughterhouses—in fact, free-range and organic animals are often sent to the same slaughterhouses that kill animals from factory farms.
Industries that exploit animals like to put out statements or design labels that are designed to trick consumers into believing that they treat animals well. Two of the most heavily marketed “animal welfare programs” are “Swine Welfare Assurance Program” (SWAP) and “United Egg Producers (UEP) Certified.” These labels are simply fancy names for factory farming—both were created by meat and egg lobbying groups, and both simply serve to put a happy face on the absolute worst practices in today's factory farms.
The UEP Certified label reads, “Produced in Compliance With United Egg Producers' Animal Husbandry Guidelines.” What the label doesn't say is that the "guidelines" mean next to nothing. The program allows factory farmers to cut off hens' sensitive beaks with a hot blade, cram six or seven hens into a tiny cage where they can't spread even one wing, and house them in filthy sheds with more than 100,000 other hens.2 UEP had been stamping its egg cartons “Animal Care Certified," but after Compassion Over Killing sued the industry for misleading consumers, the industry was forced to adopt the less deceptive “UEP Certified” label. However, the exact same horrific treatment of hens continues. Watch what happens on UEP-certified farms.
The SWAP label shows a gentle hand cradling a pig. In reality, SWAP allows all the worst abuses, including keeping mother pigs in filthy cement-and-metal crates so small that they can't even turn around and cutting piglets' ears, yanking out their testicles, and chopping off their tails—all without any painkillers. SWAP even allows farms to kill sick piglets by slamming their heads into the pavement.3 Most people would agree that the products from animals who are abused in these ways should not be labeled “care certified” or “welfare assurance,” but the meat and egg industries have adopted these phrases to con consumers and increase their profits.
Animal products with labels designed to make us feel good about eating animals are typically not much better for the animals themselves than the regular animal products are, but they are also nearly as harmful to our health. The only advantage that organic products have is that they are not laced with arsenic, antibiotics, or hormones. Although flesh from these animals might be safer than that from drugged animals, the best choice is to avoid all meat. Organic, natural, and free-range flesh, milk, and eggs are devoid of complex carbohydrates and fiber and are laden with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol, just as all animal products are. Major studies linking the consumption of animal products to heart disease, cancer, and other leading killers suggest that it's these components of animal foods-animal fat, animal protein, and a lack of fiber-that cause disease. Organic and free-range animals are killed in the same filthy slaughterhouses as animals from factory farms, so their flesh is subject to the same bacterial contamination from unsanitary conditions as well.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Vegan Fare...VeggieGrill takes first place!

Some well-meaning vegans have chosen to ignore the fast-food and chain restaurant market because of its emphasis on animal flesh, but the bottom line is this: In order to convince meat-eaters to stop eating animals, vegetarian options must be convenient and available in the places where meat-eaters munch. There will never be vegan or vegetarian options at restaurant chains unless vegetarians and vegans support them. Some of us never thought that we’d see the day when Burger King or Bennigan’s offered veggie burgers, but now that they do, the millions of carnivores who eat there can see that choosing meatless meals is easy and tasty. This is a huge step in the right direction.

Almost every restaurant has at least one vegan dish available. By making educated choices and asking the server for assistance, dining out can be a delicious—and cruelty-free—experience! We put together this handy guide to help you navigate the chain restaurant world.

Arby’s offers a baked potato and a garden salad or side salad with Italian dressing. Finish it all off with an apple or cherry turnover.

Remember going to Baskin-Robbins when you were knee-high to a grasshopper? Awaken the kid in you by trying the chain’s dairy-free and gelatin-free ices and sorbets, which are just as yummy and cooling as ice cream—without the pus and hormones.

Boston Market has several vegan options, including the steamed vegetables, zucchini marinara, tossed salad (without the croutons and dressing), apple cobbler, chunky cinnamon applesauce, cranberry walnut relish, and fruit salad. The servers will also happily customize sandwiches upon request.

Burger King’s BK Veggie™—a flame-broiled vegetarian burger (contains dairy products)—has enjoyed continued success. Every time a customer sees "BK Veggie™," it is a reminder that "having it your way" doesn't have to mean taking a bite out of Bessie.

The French fries, hash-brown nuggets, breadsticks, English muffins, and CrissCuts at Carl’s Jr. are all vegan. In the restaurant, there is an all-you-can-eat salad bar that offers a variety of fresh vegetables and a three-bean salad that can be topped with fat-free Italian dressing. Carl’s Jr. also offers Great Stuff™ baked potatoes.

At Chili’s, you can have the tostada chips and salsa as appetizers, followed by the veggie quesadillas—replacing the cheese and sour cream with extra vegetables—or the Cadillac Fajitas without the meat.

Chipotle offers a vegetarian fajita burrito, but be sure to order it with black beans—the pinto beans are cooked with bacon.

The pizza sauce and dough at Chuck E. Cheese, Little Caesars, and Papa John’s are vegan, while Pizza Hut uses vegan sauce, and its Thin ’n Crispy and dessert crusts are vegan. By omitting the cheese and choosing your favorite vegetable toppings, you can easily make a delicious vegan pizza.

The Broiled Portobello Stack at Claim Jumper is vegan if you ask for an unmarinated portobello mushroom.

Coco’s offers a delicious Boca burger that’s vegan if you order it without the mayonnaise. Just like any other place...if you are vegan ask for no mayonnaise and cheese.

The Daily Grill, located throughout California, offers a vegan grilled vegetable plate.

Even Denny’s—known for its traditional breakfasts, lunches, and dinners—has some vegan options. Denny’s vegan foods include oatmeal, English muffins, bagels, grits, applesauce, fresh fruit, vegetable plates, seasoned French fries, baked potatoes with several vegetable toppings, garden salads with light Italian or oil-and-vinegar dressing, and sandwiches that can be made with several vegetable options. It also serves a vegetarian burger.

Hard Rock Cafe offers a vegetarian burger, a veggie sandwich, and salads.

Houston’s offers a veggie plate and the Vegetarian Burger. Just be sure to order the burger on vegan bread.

Johnny Rockets features the Streamliner, a vegan Boca burger with grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mustard.

Macaroni Grill has several vegan options, including all the pastas with garlic and oil and its Capellini Pomodoro. Try these tasty bites without the cheese: Tomato Bruschetta and Penne Arrabbiata. When opting for a salad, choose the house or garden without the cheese and top it with the restaurant’s balsamic vinaigrette, Italian dressing, or roasted-garlic vinaigrette.

The Veggie Stack sandwich is your vegan option at Mimi’s Café, which is located on the West Coast and in the Midwest.

A great place for bagels, breads, soups, salads, and sandwiches is Panera Bread. A bagel with roasted garlic hummus is one vegan possibility. Each location varies its menu options, so just ask about the vegan options before ordering.
P.F. Chang’s is one of the most vegan-friendly restaurant chains around. Its vegetarian menu is terrific, and everything can be made vegan, from appetizers such as Tofu Lettuce Wraps to entrées like Orange Peel Tofu.

Another restaurant that I was told to add is called Pizza Fusion. I have not tried it before but reading from their website sounds like I will be as soon as they open one near me.
Pizza Fusion is a new take on America’s favorite food. We proudly serve up delicious, gourmet pizza in its purest form - untainted by artificial additives, like preservatives, growth hormones, pesticides, nitrates and trans fats (to name a few). While we’re famous for our pizza, our organic menu features an eclectic variety of gourmet sandwiches, salads, desserts, beer and wine. Additionally, we proudly offer health conscious alternatives for our friends with selective diets and food allergies, such as our delicious gluten-free pizza, brownies and beer and our tasty vegan selections. Coming soon to California San Diego, Santa Monica and Temecula.

Now for my second best place, one of my favorites is Qdoba which offers a range of vegetarian dishes. Made with fresh ingredients. For example: Grilled Vegetable Burrito Fresh grilled red pepper, yellow squash and zucchini sauteed in a flavorful garlic herb seasoning - 100% vegetarian.

A great alternative to Subway is Quiznos Subs. It offers a veggie sub that’s filled with guacamole, black olives, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and mushrooms—just be sure to order it without the cheese and ask for the balsamic vinaigrette instead of the red wine vinaigrette. Grab a side garden salad and some potato chips, and your stomach will be appeased in no time.

The Natural Burger without the Safari Sauce and the Morningstar Garden Grill are the vegan options at Rainforest Café.

Ruby Tuesday offers a fabulous veggie burger that’s vegan if you leave off the mayo and cheese. It also offers a yummy veggie burger wrap and has a terrific salad bar.

Subway’s Veggie Delite—or the Veggie Max-on Italian bread and without cheese and mayo—is delish! Want to spice things up a bit? After visiting Subway, visit the nearest grocery store, purchase some fake lunch meats, and load up your sub!

Several of Taco Bell’s dishes can be veganized simply by omitting a few ingredients. The 7-Layer Burrito can be vegan with five layers—just forgo the cheese and sour cream. The tacos, nachos, and Mexican pizzas are vegan when you ask the cashier to hold the meat, cheese, and sour cream. Or stick with the bean burrito without the cheese.

Now let's talk about wonderful comfort food with out the guilt. My first choice has to be VeggieGrill they have a wide variety of dishes, burgers from Papa's Portabello to Carne Asada all of which are Vegan. Great food with out the guilt. Great locations and great ambient. To wrap it up Love it! VeggieGrill wins my first choice award...if I had one to give!

Head to Wendy’s for a plain baked potato, the Deluxe Garden Salad with red Italian dressing and no cheese, or French fries. You can also ask for a veggie sandwich, which includes everything that would normally be on the burger except the meat—there’s even a button for it on the cash register.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Cheap Meat

Cheap Meat

The New York Times' recent story "Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler" outlined the various ways in which meat-eating is a bad habit, akin to oil-guzzling. Running a piece like this in a paper like The Times should get some people to reconsider the amount of meat they eat, but unfortunately the article didn't mention ceasing the practice all together, which—as the meat-free already know—makes a real impact. While the news that meat-eating is no good may not be all that new to most of us, perhaps we can take comfort in the fact that this idea is finally being considered newsworthy.

Shocking Practices
The Washington Post recently exposed an extreme case of animal cruelty at a meatpacking plant in Chino, Calif. In undercover video footage gathered by The Humane Society of the United States, investigators captured images of slaughterhouse workers trying to get "downer" cows to stand for inspection. Downers are cows that are too ill or exhausted to walk from their transport into the slaughterhouse under their own power. In egregious violation of animal-cruelty laws, the workers were filmed giving downers electric shocks and spraying water up their noses in attempts to get them on their feet. The full video and story can be found here.

Good News, Finally!

And to end on a somewhat upbeat note, USA Today ran a story recently that highlighted the growing interest and membership in animal-rights groups. While the piece is peppered with disdainful remarks from biased sources about the small percentage of Americans who agree with animal activists, it is also full of facts about the growing numbers of PETA and HSUS members, and recent events that have galvanized mass awareness of animal issues. For the full story, click here.

Ingredients Guide

Not sure what kombu is or where to find it? What exactly is agar-agar, and how is it prepared?

Our handy guide takes the mystery out of those unfamiliar ingredients and even tells you where to find them!

Agar-Agar: Sea vegetable that can be used in place of gelatin in many recipes. Available in flakes or bars in Asian markets and health food stores. (Check out our gelatin alternatives section for preparation and substitution tips.)

Agave Nectar: From the agave plant. Can be used as a replacement for honey. Available in natural food stores.

Arrowroot: Starch that can be used for thickening sauces. Use 1 Tbsp. to thicken 1 cup of liquid. Available in health food stores.

Blackstrap Molasses: Unrefined molasses with a stronger taste than regular molasses. Available in health food stores.

Bragg’s Liquid Aminos: Unfermented alternative to soy sauce that can be used to flavor tofu, stir-fries, soups, and pot pies. Available in health food stores.

Brown Rice Syrup: Made from malted brown rice. Can be used in place of sugar, honey, and other sweeteners. Available in health food stores.

Bulgur: Crushed wheat kernels that are typically used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Found in most grocery stores and health food stores.

Carob: Can be used as a replacement for chocolate in baking. Found in health food stores.

Carrageen: Seaweed that can be cooked as a side or used as a gelling agent. (Check out our gelatin alternatives section for preparation and substitution tips.)

Couscous: A nutty-flavored, quick-cooking grain that can be used in place of rice. Found in grocery stores.

Daikon: A large, white, Japanese radish. Found in specialty markets and Asian markets.

Demerara Sugar: Unrefined cane sugar. Available in most grocery stores and health food stores.

Edamame: A green soybean that can be steamed, sautéed, or tossed into soups. Available in Asian markets and most grocery stores.

Egg Replacer: Can be a powdered replacer, like the one made by Ener-G, or puréed tofu. (Check out our egg replacements section for more egg replacers.)

Florida Crystals: A brand of unprocessed sugar. Found in most grocery stores and health food stores.

Galangal: Also known as “Thai ginger.” Similar in taste and appearance to ginger. Found in Asian markets.

Garam Masala: Typically used in Indian food. A blend of cumin, black pepper, cloves, fennel, cardamom, dried chili, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, and other spices. Found in the ethnic section of most grocery stores.

Herbs de Provence: A mixture of dried herbs from the southern region of France. Normally contains marjoram, savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender.

Hijiki: Dark-green sea vegetable that needs to be rinsed before cooking. Found in Asian markets and health food stores.

Kohlrabi: A root vegetable that is similar in taste to cauliflower. To prepare, boil until tender. Found in many grocery stores and Asian markets.

Kombu: Seaweed that is often used as a flavoring agent in soups, stews, and chilis and for braising tempeh. Found in Asian markets and health food stores.

Kudzu: A starchy powder that can be used to thicken sauces, gravies, and stews. Whisk with cold water until smooth to avoid clumping when adding to a recipe. Found in health food stores. (If you do not have kudzu, cornstarch and arrowroot can be used instead.)

Miso:Fermented soybean paste that comes in several varieties. The darker the paste, the stronger and saltier the flavor. Can be used to replace anchovies in Caesar dressing or in a marinade for tofu. Available in Asian markets and health food stores.

Nori: Thin black seaweed typically sold in sheets. Used as a wrapper for sushi. Found in health food stores, Asian markets, or the Asian section of grocery stores.

Nutritional Yeast: Nutty, cheese-like flavored powder. Cannot be replaced with brewer’s yeast or active yeast. Found in health food stores.

Pectin: A natural gelling agent found in fruits that can be used to thicken jams and jellies. Found in most grocery stores.

Quinoa: Pronounced “keen-wah.” A fast-cooking ancient grain that’s loaded with protein. Must be rinsed before cooking. Growing in popularity and can now be found in most grocery stores and in health food stores.

Seitan: Made from wheat gluten. A perfect substitute for meat in any dish. Found in health food stores and Asian markets. (Check out our meat substitutes section for preparation tips and a recipe for homemade seitan.)

Stevia: A naturally sweet herb with no calories. Much sweeter than sugar. Found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores or in health food stores.

Sucanat: A semi-refined cane sugar that tastes like brown sugar.

Tahini: Made from sesame seeds and also called “sesame butter.” Found in the ethnic foods aisle of most grocery stores.

Tamari: True soy sauce. Fermented from soybeans. The wheat-free version of shoyu, another soy sauce. Found in Asian markets and most grocery stores.

Tamarind: A fruity and sour pod from a tropical evergreen. Found in Latin, Asian, and Indian markets. Tempeh: A cake of pressed soybeans. Found in most grocery stores and health food stores. (Check out our meat substitutes section for preparation tips and more information.)

Turbinado Sugar: Light brown raw sugar that has been partially refined and washed. Found in more grocery stores.

Umboshi: Tart Japanese plum that is dried and pickled. Found in health food stores and Asian markets.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ecological Apocalypse: Why Are All The Bees Dying?

GM, toxic chemicals, chemtrails destroying eco-system, threatening very survival of humanity.

The alarming decline in bee populations across the United States and Europe represents a potential ecological apocalypse, an environmental catastrophe that could collapse the food chain and wipe out humanity.

Who and what is behind this flagrant abuse of the eco-system?

Many people don't realize the vital role bees play in maintaining a balanced eco-system.

According to experts, if bees were to become extinct then humanity would perish after just four years."

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man," said Albert Einstein.

Others would say four years is alarmist and that man would find other food sources, but the fact remains that the disappearance of bees is potentially devastating to agriculture and most plant life.Reports that bee populations are declining at rates of up to 80% in areas of the U.S. and Europe should set alarm bells ringing and demand immediate action on behalf of environmental organizations.

Experts are calling the worrying trend "colony collapse disorder" or CCD."Bee numbers on parts of the east coast and in Texas have fallen by more than 70 percent, while California has seen colonies drop by 30 to 60 percent," reports AFP."

Approximately 40 percent of my 2,000 colonies are currently dead and this is the greatest winter colony mortality I have ever experienced in my 30 years of beekeeping," apiarist Gene Brandi, from the California State Beekeepers Association, told Congress recently.The article states that U.S. bee colonies have been dropping since 1980 and the number of beekeepers have halved.

Scientists are thus far stumped as to what is causing the decline, ruling out parasites but leaning towards some kind of new toxin or chemical used in agriculture as being responsible. "Experts believe that the large-scale use of genetically modified plants in the US could be a factor," reports Germany's Spiegal Online.

Bee populations throughout Germany have simultaneously dropped 25% and up to 80% in some areas. Poland, Switzerland and Spain are reporting similar declines.

Studies have shown that bees are not dying in the hive, something is causing them to lose their sense of orientation so that they cannot return to the hive.

Depleted hives are not being raided for their honey by other insects, which normally happens when bees naturally die in the winter, clearly suggesting some kind of poisonous toxin is driving them away."In many cases, scientists have found evidence of almost all known bee viruses in the few surviving bees found in the hives after most have disappeared.

Some had five or six infections at the same time and were infested with fungi -- a sign, experts say, that the insects' immune system may have collapsed."A study at the University of Jena from 2001 to 2004 showed that toxins from a genetically modified maize variant designed to repel insects, when combined with a parasite, resulted in a "significantly stronger decline in the number of bees" than normal.

According to Hans-Hinrich Kaatz, a professor at the University of Halle in eastern Germany and the director of the study, the bacterial toxin in the genetically modified corn may have "altered the surface of the bee's intestines, sufficiently weakening the bees to allow the parasites to gain entry -- or perhaps it was the other way around. We don't know."Kaatz was desperate to continue his studies but funding was cut off.

While we are lectured by government to change our lifestyle and cough up more taxes for the supposed peril of man-made global warming, an environmental catastrophe that could eliminate the human race in the figurative blink of an eye is looming.Why are major environmental groups and lobbyists ignoring this mammoth threat to our very existence?

Where is Greenpeace? The hyperbole surrounding man-made global warming is swallowing up all the attention while real dangers like the rapid die-off of bee populations and its link to GM food is largely shunned by governments and activist foundations.Is it a stretch to hypothesize that government mandated spraying of crops with deadly chemicals as well as toxic substances contained in chemtrails could be part of a deliberate program to eliminate the bee population?

Or is this just another example of big business flagrantly abusing the eco-system in order to drive up profits?

The elite have publicly stated their desire to significantly reduce world population on numerous occasions.

Just yesterday we featured a story about a British Government Ministry of Defence report that postulated on the future use of bio-weapons to thin the human population in under 30 years.

Making bees all but extinct would be a swift and plausibly deniable method of enacting global population reduction long dreamed of by the maniacal sociopaths that control the world.

Either way, this issue represents an overwhelming threat to the food chain and an environmental crime of the highest order, for which the perpetrators need to be brought up on charges of accessories to genocide, should a deliberate effort to endanger the food chain be proven, and the chemicals responsible immediately banned.

Please circulate this article to environmental groups and demand they investigate who and what is killing our bees!

Meat and the Environment

Meat and the Environment Would you ever open your refrigerator, pull out 16 plates of pasta and toss them in the trash, and then eat just one plate of food?

1 How about leveling 55 square feet of rain forest for a single meal or dumping 2,500 gallons of water down the drain?

2,3 Of course you wouldn't. But if you're eating chicken, fish, turkey, pork, or beef, that's what you're doing—wasting resources and destroying our environment.

Animals raised for food expend the vast majority of the calories that they are fed simply existing, just as we do. We feed more than 70 percent of the grains and cereals we grow to farmed animals, and almost all of those calories go into simply keeping the animals alive, not making them grow.

4 Only a small fraction of the calories consumed by farmed animals are actually converted into the meat that people eat.

A major 2006 report by the United Nations summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry. Raising animals for food, the report said, is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity.

Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale ….

5 Growing all the crops to feed farmed animals requires massive amounts of water and land—in fact, nearly half of the water and 80 percent of the agricultural land in the United States are used to raise animals for food.

6,7 Our taste for meat is also taking a toll on our supply of fuel and other nonrenewable resources—about one-third of the raw materials used in America each year is consumed by the farmed animal industry.
8 Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population of the United States, and since factory farms don't have sewage treatment systems as our cities and towns do, this concentrated slop ends up polluting our water, destroying our topsoil, and contaminating our air.

9 And meat-eaters are responsible for the production of 100 percent of this waste—about 86,000 pounds per second!

10 Give up animal products, and you'll be responsible for none of it.

Many leading environmental organizations, including the National Audubon Society, the WorldWatch Institute, the Sierra Club, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, have recognized that raising animals for food damages the environment more than just about anything else that we do. Whether it's the overuse of resources, unchecked water or air pollution, or soil erosion, raising animals for food is wreaking havoc on the Earth. The most important step you can take to save the planet is to go vegetarian.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Homemade Bath Bonbons

If only there was a silver bullet for the perfect bath. Something absolutely pure that infused the bath with emollients and natural fragrance. Something that didn't have sneaky toxic ingredients (like parabens and synthetic fragrance) and didn't cost a fortune.

Oh, wait, there is!
Homemade bath bonbons, and you can easily make them with kitchen cabinet ingredients.

SIMPLE SOLUTION: Like many kids, my daughters have sensitive skin. I spent ridiculous amounts of money on very expensive all-natural bath products for them—money that was going down the drain since my youngest daughter was still a mess of itchiness post-bath. So we threw open the kitchen cabinets and started playing around with coconut oil, cream, honey and other ingredients known for their salubrious effect on skin. My daughters think this is intriguingly gross (slimy! sticky! lumpy!) and hence, they adore it. So it's become part of our nighttime routine: We mix up a batch of homemade bath goop, the girls soak, and then step out of the bath like soft, glowing, little goddesses.

And then there was the bonbon bonus. I started noticing that my hands were exceedingly soft after their bath. Of course, I needed to ditch my commercial bath products too. So I took the plunge and started playing around with a few bath concoctions of my own. Here is my favorite formula.
9 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (see note)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons baking soda
3 tablespoons sea salt
3 drops ylang ylang pure essential oil (optional)

Since coconut oil has a melting point of 76 degrees F, the temperature of your oil will make a difference in the method you use. Coconut oil does not need to be refrigerated, but once you make the bonbons keep them there so that they don't melt. You can't start with refrigerated coconut oil because it is very hard, so start with room temperature.

If your room temperature is above 76 degrees, the oil will be liquid—you will need to stir in the ingredients and then pour the mix into an ice cube tray, mini muffin tin, or similar receptacle. Then refrigerate until hardened, remove (you may need to briefly set the container in warm water to release the bonbons) and store in a jar in the fridge.

If your room temperature is below 76 degrees, the coconut oil will be softly solid (as opposed to hard solid like straight from the refrigerator). You can mix the ingredients and then scoop by rounded tablespoon onto a baking sheet or plate to chill in the fridge. Once hardened, remove (you may need to set the sheet or plate in shallow warm water to release the bonbons, or line the sheet with wax paper first) and store in a jar in the fridge.

Dissolve one or two bonbons in your bath, get soft. Makes 12 bonbons.

Note: Coconut oil is commonly used in food, but has been used as a skin moisturizer for centuries by people living in the tropics. Studies show that it imparts significant improvement in skin hydration and increases skin surface lipid levels. Buy virgin coconut oil, which is unrefined, and if you can find it select a fair trade brand.
Coconut oil is available in health food stores and some supermarkets.