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An Easter tradition here in the US has been to celebrate life and new beginnings by sitting down to a meal with a honey-baked ham as the centerpiece. Thing is… if most folks took a moment to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday, they might notice that consuming the body of a dead animal doesn’t align with the life-affirming spirit of Easter.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals, with advanced learning and problem solving capabilities. They can use tools, understand commands just like dogs do, they respond to their name only after a few months of being born, and they have a high sense of social recognition, which help them form strong social bonds. Pigs can even learn to play video games!

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The cracked-dry bed of the Almaden Reservoir as seen on Feb. 7, 2014 in San Jose, California.

2013 went down as the driest year in California’s recorded history.  A major reservoir outside of Sacramento has been reduced from 83% to 36% capacity in just over 2 years.  In the Central Valley, 1,200 square miles of land is sinking at a rate of 11 inches a year from the drilling of groundwater.  And the annual measure of the Sierra Nevada snowmelt done every April 1st indicates that the end isn’t in sight.

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Raising animals for food is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide emissions, which contribute to global warming and climate change.

When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, people were concerned about air and water pollution and the survival of endangered species. They talked about how the growing human population was crowding out wildlife and how we all have a responsibility to take care of the planet. Now, 44 years later, there are 3.5 billion more of us in the world, and our appetite for energy, land and meat has skyrocketed.

It’s time for a renewed call to action for the planet and wildlife, and we can start by taking extinction off our plates.

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Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of global warming and is responsible for more water pollution, topsoil depletion, deforestation, and wildlife destruction than any other human activity, yet the public as well as many environmentalists still consume animal products without making that connection. Together, we need to educate folks that a diet change is an easy way to help the planet.

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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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Idaho’s dairy industry is pushing legislation that would make it a crime to document animal cruelty occurring on farms “agricultural operations” within the state. Under Bill SB 1337, any person caught taking photographs, video or audio recordings of animal farming practices could end up in jail for a year and face a $5,000 fine.

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Join us for Meatout on March 20th, when caring activists in all 50 U.S. states and dozens of other countries will encourage their community to explore vegan eating. This year we’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of Meatout, which was started back in 1985 by our founder Dr. Alex Hershaft. In honor of this milestone, we’ve set a goal to distribute 30,000 vegan food samples to illustrate how delicious and convenient vegan food can be. And we need your help to make it happen!

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Me

Me and Esperanza at Animal Acres in Acton, Ca.

I was a vegetarian for 12 years, and although I wasn’t eating meat, I was still consuming dairy and eggs. I didn’t drink glasses of milk or eat omelets, but I did enjoy baked goods that were made with eggs and pizza and pasta dishes with cheese, and I loved dairy ice cream. I somehow rationalized to myself that because I wasn’t eating the actual animal, I wasn’t playing a role in the animal’s suffering or being killed. And I guess I thought “hens lay eggs regardless” and “cows give milk regardless, so what/who does it hurt for me to eat those products?” At the time, I didn’t realize how cruel and abusive the dairy and egg industries really are; so I continued to consume those products, all the while, thinking I was helping animals.

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So it’s the beginning of a New Year, with endless possibilities…time to take stock of how far we’ve come and plan for where we’re headed.

According to statistics, overall meat consumption for the United States is declining and campaigns such as Meatout or Meatless Mondays are rapidly gathering support. We are making real strides for animals. However, everyday we still see the heart-wrenching images and videos of farmed animals being beaten and killed, and we’re taunted by ads that glorify eating more meat, dairy and eggs. And most of us think to ourselves, “What can I do to stop these atrocities? What can I do to help save more animals?”

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Ducklings

The following Editorial was written by FARM’s Founder and President, Dr. Alex Hershaft and appeared in the 2013 FARM Report.

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The history of our movement has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the definition and character of our leadership. The early days were marked by spectacular achievements by individuals, with an ability to mobilize our entire movement that no one has been able to duplicate since. Their deeds alerted the public to the problems of animal abuse and remain an inspiration to this day.

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