This year marked the 30th celebration of Meatout, an international day of awareness devoted to educating the public on the many benefits of a vegan diet. Every year, the campaign and our activists accomplish numerous feats that never fail to impress; however, Meatout 2014 has been a landmark year. With proclamations from mayors and governors across the United States, national and international media press, a network of passionate animal activists behind us, and a coalition of organizations and businesses with a common mission to spare as many animals as possible, Meatout 2014 undoubtedly changed the diets and minds of thousands.

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October 2nd marked the 30th annual World Day for Farmed Animals, bringing worldwide attention to the plight of farmed animals with more than 140 observances throughout nearly three dozen U.S. states, 5 Canada provinces, and 8 countries.

Observances ranged from dramatic and attention-grabbing to traditional educational outreach. Some activists confronted the industry head-on at slaughterhouse demonstrations in over a dozen cities in North America, while others raised awareness through candlelight vigils, memorial services, marches, cage-ins, die-ins, information tables, exhibits, video screenings, leafleting, and feed-ins.

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With activists coming from across the country and around the world, this year’s Animal Rights National Conference turned out to be the largest and most successful yet!

More than a thousand people attended the conference; which was held just outside of Washington, DC at the Alexandria Hilton Mark Center. Over 100 speakers, from 60 organizations participated in plenary sessions and lead workshops. Speakers included Gary Francione, Jonathan Balcombe, Nick Cooney, Will Tuttle, Melanie Joy, Nathan Runkle, Paul Shapiro, Doll Stanley, Will Potter and Brenda Shoss. This year’s program consisted of 80 sessions on problems, organizing, strategy, and controversial issues.

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Over 400 activists joined us outside of the Farmer John slaughterhouse this past Saturday to expose the cruel abuse that goes on inside of the Vernon, California meat processing facility. Those who have ever driven by the plant know too well the foul stench that hangs in the air and the building’s hypocritical murals that depict happy pigs enjoying sunshine and playing in green pastures. There are no happy pigs behind the walls of Farmer John – only dead pigs – Farmer John slaughters 6,000 pigs a day, making it the largest slaughterhouse on the west coast.

The demonstration began with a funeral procession, which included a prop coffin. The march was lead by actors and activists, Elaine Hendrix and Michael Fairman. With so many dedicated activists joining us, it didn’t take long to encircle the entire facility. The mood was somber and many were moved to tears, but a positive feeling of hope radiated from the compassionate crowd. A moment of silence was observed to remember those who have fallen to the greed of animal agribusiness.

During the event, FARM staff and around 90 other activists crossed the street and Occupied McDonald’s. Some held hands, circling the outside of the property, while others, including Elaine Hendrix and Michael Fairman, took over the restaurant, impeding business for a short time.

For three hours, activists from all other the country stood together as one, to speak up for the pigs of Farmer John and for every animal who is trapped within the food industry. Some folks held signs, some chanted, some even took over McDonald’s, but everyone was there to see an end to the needless slaughter of billions of animals.

We would like to thank each and every one of you who came out and joined us, and to all of those who spread the word online. Thank you to Elaine Hendrix, Michael Fairman and Simone Reyes for supporting us. Thank you to the local news stations (KTLA, Univision 34, LA Times) for providing coverage of the event, and to the  police department for ensuring everyone’s safety. To see images from the Farmer John demonstration, please visit our Facebook page.

Another Earth Day has gone by and once again, our results have made a lasting impact! Dozens of activists from all over the country distributed thousands of handouts to local events while our online efforts were just as strong, using all avenues possible to share the vegan message far and wide.

We revamped our Green Your Diet handout which received great acclaim from our activists. While the handout is certainly attractive, the content is what helped change diets. With very convincing information about the correlation between animal agriculture and climate change, there is no doubt our handout made people question if they are making the right dietary choice for the planet.

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Compassionate folks in England take the Meatout pledge.

This year marked the 29th celebration of Meatout, with events taking place across the United States and around the globe. With a fresh new website, band new outreach materials, and hundreds of activists ready to educate the public, this was truly a landmark year.

Thousands took to the streets to gather Meatout pledges, by hosting tabling and leafleting events, while others flocked online to share viral images of their new found commitment to eat vegan for a day with friends and family. The positive feedback we received was overwhelming! Individuals were very excited to try new foods and recipes that they normally wouldn’t try, but they were definitely glad they did – most participates said they would eat animal-free meals more often.

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Our "Green Your Diet" banner helped to lead the march.

…is exactly what more than 40,000 individuals chanted this past Sunday as they marched on Washington to demonstrate to President Obama their stance on climate change, and FARM was there educating the American public how a change in diet can change the climate.

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On Monday, all eyes on were on Washington as our 44th president was sworn into office. Barak Obama’s inauguration speech sounded about the same as his last victory speech and the same as the nation has heard from previous presidents…lots of promises of hope and working together for the common good…to tackle healthcare, climate change, ending a decade of war, and peace and freedom for all.

Well if the president really wanted to start tackling some of these tough issues facing our nation (and the world), he might consider ceasing to endorse big agribusiness (and big oil but that’s another topic for discussion) and ending the war on animals. Reducing America’s demand for animal protein will not only solve violent animal cruelty issues but it would greatly reduce healthcare costs (improving the overall health of the country) and address one of the leading causes of climate change. That would truly be “freedom for ALL.”

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Vegan potlucks build strong communities

Thousands gave thanks this year around turkeyless tables and fed their bodies with nourishing foods void of all animal products. Though that might sound strange to some, us vegans know that there’s a lot more to Thanksgiving than what’s on the table – to us, it’s about what’s not on the table. (Though please don’t be mistaken, vegans love our food and eliminating animal products doesn’t inhibit our taste buds!)

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Note 11/8/12: While FARM helped fund this study and is intrigued by the results, we do not believe that this is the final word on graphic vs. non-graphic imagery. We hope this study and this post contribute meaningfully to the dialogue about this topic.

FARM’s Sabina Fund recently helped fund a study, conducted by Chris Monteiro,* to determine whether images of farmed animals that are low, moderate or high in graphic detail (gore produced by violence) was most effective at improving attitudes toward animal rights. The images used, from low graphic detail to high, were: a dead pig on a muddy slaughterhouse floor, a dead pig on a bloody slaughterhouse floor, and a dead pig with their throat slit on a bloody slaughterhouse floor. The images’ effects on attitudes towards animal rights were measured using the Wuensch animal rights scale, a high score on which indicates positive attitudes towards animal rights, and a low score indicates negative attitudes towards animal rights (Wuensch, Jenkins, & Poteat, 2002). There were multiple interactions between personality characteristics and the effects of the different images, and the two most relevant to activists are discussed here.

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