One turkey became my personal protector when I was trying to clean a barn and was continually accosted by a particularly rude and aggressive bird. Each time the aggressor would begin to close in on me, my hero would waddle over and get between me and his barn-mate. It was remarkable, and it happened over and over (turkeys are very persistent). What made this scene even more touching was the fact that these toms suffered from bumble foot, abscesses on the footpads that resemble corns, a common occurrence in domesticated turkeys. Between their grotesquely large breasts and inflamed feet, turkeys walk very awkwardly and with a lot of effort. I was very touched that such an effort was made on my behalf.

This is an excerpt from an Alternet.org article, Turkeys Are Our Friends, written by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (founder of Compassionate Cooks).

In the article, she also recalls a particular turkey who enjoyed “hugging” her.

“…a particularly friendly turkey became known for her propensity to hug. As soon as you crouched down, she would run over to you, press her body against yours, and crane her head over your shoulders, clucking all the while. It’s amazing how so generous a hug can be given by something with no arms.”

Opal is a perfect example of a turkey who loves to be loved. Opal narrowly escaped slaughter and is living the peaceful life at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, MD.  She very much enjoys being petted. In fact, I (Cindi) watched as she chose to be petted by adoring children and adults instead of eating the special Thanksgiving meal provided for her and the other birds at the sanctuary.

I read an online comment recently where the writer said that although wild turkeys can be clever, domesticated farmed turkeys are stupid.  There definitely are differences between wild and farmed turkeys. Wild turkeys can fly and run fast. Turkeys like Opal can barely walk, in fact many can’t. Wild turkeys are generally brownish, gray, or iridescent green, red, and bronze in color. Domestic turkeys are usually white.

But stupid? The first story above seems to negate that statement. These are birds who can reason and remember. They are even willing to risk their own safety to help another. They are also very affectionate. A turkey may not look, sound, or feel like your family dog or cat, but he or she is just as loving. They will sit comfortably in your lap and even purr when content. People who have adopted turkeys describe scenarios where their turkey sits on the couch with them to watch television. Perhaps the turkeys’ greatest downfalls are also some of their most charming attributes in that they are curious and trusting.

But my favorite adjective used to describe these sentient birds is BRAVE. They endure hideous conditions that would drive most anyone mad, and yet when they have the good fortune to be rescued, they are brave enough to trust again.

So today, on a day when the turkey is traditionally “celebrated” in a cruel fashion, I raise my glass of vegan wine to these brave birds and look forward to a Thanksgiving day where ALL turkeys are respected, honored, fed as dinner GUESTS, and of course, hugged.  Cheers to ALL the animals! ~ Cindi with FARM


If you have ever been to a shelter or other type of Thanksgiving feed-in, you know there are a lot of hungry people in America.  In fact, more than 37 million low-income people face hunger in the U.S. and one out of every eight children under the age of 12 will go to bed hungry.

Yet, a simple solution to hunger continues to be overlooked…….

How many more people could we fit around the proverbial table
(U.S. & globally) if we consumed a vegan diet?

Cow, pigs, chickens, and other farmed animals consume more than 70% of the corn, wheat, oats, and other grains grown in the U.S.  In addition to these grains, 90-95% of soybeans grown in the U.S. are used to feed livestock.  In regard to corn, 99% of corn grown in the U.S. is field corn (not sweet corn that people eat), the majority of which is used for feeding livestock. Instead of feeding people directly, we funnel massive amounts of resources (land, water, fossil fuels, plant products, and fish) into raising animals for food for far fewer people (and often not those who are the hungriest.)

An Acre of Leafy Vegetables produces 15 TIMES MORE PROTEIN Than An Acre Devoted to Meat Production.

Yes, according to an article in Synthesis/Regeneration, 1999, an acre of cereal is estimated to produce 5 times more protein than an acre devoted to meat production; an acre of legumes (such as beans, peas, lentils) 10 times more; and of leafy vegetables, 15 times more.

The land required to produce 1/4 pound of hamburger can
produce 36 pounds of potatoes.

For every acre of land used to grow food for people, there are 14 acres used to grow food for livestock feed. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat and only 25 gallons to produce 1 pound of wheat. It takes 3 1/4 acres of land to produce food for a meat-eater and 1/6 of an acre to produce food for a vegan. (2006 United Stations Report: Livestock’s Long Shadow)

Around the world, 925 million people are hungry and more than 16,000 children die every day from hunger-related causes. Meanwhile, approximately 2/3 of U.S. grain exports are for feeding livestock, not people. While it would take just 40 million tons of food to remedy extreme cases of world hunger, the farmed animals in Western countries consume more than 540 million tons of food.  Approximately 1.4 billion people around the world could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to cattle in the U.S. alone.

Beyond feeding more people, eating a plant-based diet will improve health and reduce skyrocketing health care costs.  Studies show that eliminating animal products from the diet helps people to avoid and even reverse chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer.  Animal-based products are laden with saturated fats and cholesterol, not to mention containing residual drugs and deadly pathogens. Plant sources of protein are higher in fiber and a wide variety of other nutrients, as well as lower in fat and calories, and less costly too! The protein in dark green vegetables is also easier for the body to absorb and utilize than is animal-derived protein. More info about plant-based protein from PCRM.

The equation is very simple. Less animal-based foods = fewer hungry people. Help more people go to bed healthy and nourished. Live Vegan.

For lots of resources on how and why to live vegan, visit www.livevegan.org.

Heard about our Gentle Thanksgiving ~ Meatout Mondays contest?

The Challenge: Register your Gentle Thanksgiving event & see if you can sign up the most people to receive FARM’s Meatout Mondays E-letter.
The Prize: Choose either a discounted registration for the Animal Rights 2011 National Conference OR something from the FARM online store.

What Makes Meatout Mondays Stand Out: With enticing recipes, featured products, health news, and inspirational stories, Meatout Mondays offers its subscribers vital support. The results are reduced consumption of animal-based foods and hopefully eventual transition to a daily, all-vegan lifestyle. FARM’s Meatout Mondays campaign is not alone when it comes to “meat-free day” programs.  However, there are several features that make Meatout Mondays stand out and many great reasons for your Gentle Thanksgiving guests to subscribe.

A Very Important Difference: One thing Meatout Mondays does differently from many other programs is that it promotes 100% all-vegan recipes ALL the time. A common criticism of programs that use the word meat in their title (i.e. meat-free or meatless) is the suggestion that dairy and eggs are not as important to eliminate, and in many cases they still include dairy and eggs in their recipes.

In addition to the numerous health concerns related to dairy and eggs, consuming these products contributes to the lifelong abuse and eventual slaughter of dairy cows and laying chickens, supports the veal industry, and also the deaths of millions of baby male chicks. Meatout Mondays may use the word meat, but the program helps people eliminate ALL animal products from their meals.  No dairy or eggs are ever included.

The Gradual Approach ~ An Ongoing Debate: Another common criticism of meat reduction programs comes from those preferring a 100% “go vegan” NOW approach.  Critics believe that people who don’t eat meat for one day may eat more meat during the rest of the week or that cutting back will only increase their desire for meat.  Some also believe that a gradual reduction program makes people feel “okay” or legitimized in their decision to keep some animal products in their diet. Although this may be true in certain cases, for many people, going vegan all at once is overwhelming, intimidating, and simply not realistic. Changing habits and preferences can take more time for some than for others. The bottom line is to continue saving and sparing more and more animals and FARM never hides its overall mission of promoting a vegan lifestyle and ending the use of animals for food.

Subscriber Feedback: The gradual approach is apparently effective for many people and feedback from Meatout Mondays subscribers continues to be positive. In a recent survey conducted by FARM, respondents were asked to rate how much of a role Meatout Mondays played in their decision to go vegan. On a scale of 1 (least) to 5 (most), 60.4% rated the impact at 3 or above. Since receiving Meatout Mondays, only 2% of survey respondents reported still eating meat everyday, compared with nearly 19% who ate meat daily prior to receiving the E-letter.  Of the respondents, the percentage who switched to a vegan diet since receiving Meatout Mondays (some for less than 6 months) went up 11%.

The recipes and information in Meatout Mondays appeal to everyone ~ wherever they may be on their personal path to eating a healthier and more compassionate diet. Below you’ll find more great reasons to subscribe to Meatout Mondays.

  • The FOOD! ~ Incredible vegan recipes with easy-to-find ingredients. A variety of hearty main dishes, fresh salads, and sinfully delicious desserts. Lots of staff-tested selections!
  • Great Recipe Resources ~ The featured recipe often comes from a vegan blogger, restaurant chef, or other great vegan resource site. The recipe’s creator is credited and you can add them to your vegan resources.
  • Product Info ~ Looking for the right meat substitute or even an animal-friendly skin care product? Check this area for great vegan products ~ new ones and tried & true favorites too.
  • Coupons ~ Vegan businesses want you to try their products and often give us coupons to share.
  • WHY? ~ Our health articles provide you with the latest information about the many benefits to living vegan, plus links to valuable resources.
  • Good Vibes! ~ A big dose of hope, inspiration, and encouragement comes with our weekly section featuring a person, organization, or business and their vegan story.
  • Reader Input ~ we welcome your comments, suggestions, and recipes! Be the next featured vegan food guru!  There are also occasional contests with prizes to win.
  • Just enough ~ lots of newsletters are a bit TOO newsy. You put it aside to read “when you have time.” Meatout Mondays has just enough info, plus colorful photos to get your taste-buds watering! You won’t want to wait until later!

Learn more about the Gentle Thanksgiving contest! Good luck and we look forward to having more people join the Meatout Mondays (and hopefully Every Day) community! Want to see back issues of Meatout Mondays? Visit the archives. For more help transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, visit FARM’s new Web site, www.livevegan.org.

Another egg recall…..

Surprising? Not really. The company’s name might be different this time, but the players are the same.

It’s a tangled web that all boils down to repeat violators continuing to operate in “business as usual” mode, continuing to house more chickens and sell more eggs than the mind can imagine, continuing to make lots of money while paying occasional fines like they were for overdue library books, and continuing to endanger the health of millions of people, plus subject millions of sentient beings to miserable and cruel conditions.

The company in the spotlight this time ~ Ohio Fresh Eggs ~ Ohio’s largest egg producer with 12 production facilities in Ohio ~ producing over 5 million eggs PER DAY.  One location alone houses 3 million laying chickens.

288,000 eggs (24,000 dozen) from Ohio Fresh Eggs have been recalled by Cal-Maine Foods who purchased the eggs in October and had them repackaged and distributed to various wholesalers and retailers. Cal-Maine issued the voluntary recall after being notified by the FDA that a routine test done at Ohio Fresh Eggs revealed salmonella.

And yes, it is another company tied to Austin “Jack” DeCoster (of Wright County Egg named in this year’s massive egg recall), his right-hand man John Glessner, and Orland Bethel, the owner of Hillandale Farms (also named in this year’s previous massive recall) and who took the 5th during the recent egg recall congressional hearing.

One might suggest Ohio Fresh Eggs did not have a particularly auspicious start as it took over the previous mega-farm, Buckeye Farms, owned by Anton Pohlmann, also known as “The Chicken Hitler.” Pohlmann’s mega-farm racked up so many violations (including contempt of court for failing to obey terms of lawsuits) over the 20 years he was in business that the state had to create a department to deal with him. But yes, you read that right. He stayed in business for more than 20 years.  Finally, Buckeye Farms was taken over by the state and Pohlmann went home to Germany where he had been banned from ever owning animals due to violations there as well.

Jack DeCoster is the largest investor in Ohio Fresh Eggs. He footed the bill for Orland Bethel and Don Hershey to purchase the farm, allegedly to avoid paying capital gains after selling his Iowa hog farms.  Bethel and Hershey, named as owners, contributed $10,000 each, compared to DeCoster’s $126 million.  Hershey was being repaid for money he put into repairing and rebuilding the facilities and Bethel’s Hillandale Farms would receive shipments of eggs from Ohio Fresh Eggs.

John Glessner, DeCoster’s longtime associate whose own company had multiple violations over several years and who was sentenced to jail time (yet never had to serve any of it) for his part in supplying DeCoster with illegal immigrants, serves as Ohio Fresh Eggs’ director of operations.  In a 2008 Columbus Dispatch article, Hershey notes that Glessner runs the show and that Glessner and DeCoster have all the money in it.

Although Buckeye Farms’ record of violations was horrific, Ohio Fresh Eggs has had their share of problems as well. The state tried to shut them down when learning that DeCoster (named a habitual violator in Iowa) was the primary investor and had conveniently not been named as an owner on any of the permits and filing documents. DeCoster appealed and won.

Since receiving it’s operating permit in 2003, the company has received 57 “warnings” and “notices of deficiency from the state,” some as recent as April 2010, plus numerous complaints from area residents about fly and rodent infestations. In 2004, Mercy for Animals released shocking investigative video and photographs of cruel conditions in their facilities.  Yet, a representative of the Ohio Department of Agriculture said the company is watched closely and problems are quickly brought to their attention. In 2006, 4 million eggs from Ohio Fresh Eggs were barred from sale as they had been stored in a barn at room temperature for a lengthy amount of time. A spokesman for the company said the eggs were not intended for retail sale, but were being considered for sale as animal feed.

Warnings? Notices of deficiency?  What is really done about these problems?  Apparently only one violation required legal action and that involved egg wash water from their facility housing approximately 3 million chickens ending up in a creek. In 2009, for that violation, Ohio Fresh Eggs received 3 years of probation, a $150,000 fine, and was ordered to donate another $150,000 to environmental groups. Probably not that big of a bill to a company making millions annually.

So when will these repeat violators be penalized to the point where it actually makes a difference? What will it take for them to either operate safely or shut down? How many chances do they get and why? Why doesn’t it matter when the health of millions of people, not to mention the lives of millions of sentient chickens are on the line? Why would anyone continue to support these cruel, corruption-plagued, violation-laden animal agribusiness industries?

Stay tuned. With 3 million chickens living on one farm (up to 100,000 in a building) and similar mega-factories for pigs (10,000+ in one building), turkeys (25,000 in one building), and cows (as many as 8,000 dairy cows), the next recall is likely just around the corner.

A simple solution, yet consistently ignored.

Reverse disease? Cut health care costs by 70-80%?
Could there really be an easy way to do these things?

A compelling new film, Forks Over Knives, has taken on the bold mission of shining a big bright light on the simple truth that eating a plant-based diet and rejecting animal-based and processed foods can forever change our experience of disease. Armed with two world-renowned men of science, Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, as the film’s primary messengers, the facts are very difficult to ignore.

In addition to following the paths of these two pioneering scientists, the film’s real life case studies are equally powerful and persuasive.  One man, Joey Aucoin, comes to the study with high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. At risk for heart attack and stroke, he was taking nine pills and two injections every day.  Aucoin switched to a plant-based diet and by the end of the study, had reduced his cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, lost weight, and was able to stop using all nine medications! Even the film’s writer & director, Lee Fulkerson, became one of the case studies and experienced first-hand the power of eating a plant-based diet.  In fact, the film crew’s entire core team, including the music composer, Ramon Balcazar (& his entire family!) were so affected by the film’s information that they switched to a plant-based diet.

“One quarter of what you eat keeps you alive. The other three-quarters keeps your doctor alive.” ~ Forks Over Knives

Nutritional scientist T. Colin Campbell and the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn both grew up on dairy farms with nature’s “perfect food” (for calves, they say).  In their studies and travels, both discovered a relationship between chronic disease and the amount of animal-based protein consumed. The findings of Dr. Campbell’s famous China Study revealed that people who consumed the most animal protein also got the most chronic diseases and those who consumed a plant-based diet were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. Independently these men began their research paths and together now, they seek to get the truth out to everyone.

Reviews from people who have attended the advanced screenings have been extremely positive, noting that instead of being a science lesson or a dry docu-drama, it is a well-done film with very interesting and easy-to-relate-to life stories.

So what will you choose? To change what’s on the end of your fork or to potentially be on the other end of the knife?

The movie is due to be released in theaters in March 2011. Until then you can watch for an advanced screening in your area and follow Forks Over Knives on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for updates on the film’s Web site.

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