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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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LVFBPage

We’re excited to announce the launch of a brand new Facebook page as an extension of our ongoing Live Vegan program.

Live Vegan Community is a friendly and uplifting space for veg-curious and newbie vegans to come together, find support, learn about veganism in fun ways, ask questions and share advice.

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The latest news buzz surrounds the flu epidemic that is sweeping the U.S. Currently, 47 states have wide-spread flu activity, with increasing cases and death tolls climbing. The most affected population is infants, the elderly, and those with already compromised immune systems. However, we ALL (as in the the entire world) should be concerned with this recent outbreak because according to the World Health Organization, “We know another [influenza] pandemic is inevitable…It is coming. And when this happens, we also know that we are unlikely to have enough drugs, vaccines, health-care workers and hospital capacity to cope in an ideal way.”

The tv show, The Doctors, did a special episode yesterday regarding the outbreak, reporting that hospitals are over-flowing with patients, people are becoming “sicker” than usual and more deaths are occurring. The show’s host Dr. Travis Stork and his guest doctors all pushed prevention by way of getting the flu vaccine, with only one doctor recommending healthy habits all year by advising individuals to eat right, exercise, properly manage stress and to get plenty of sleep.

As I watched the show, I just kept thinking about that lone doctor that mentioned healthy habits year-round to combat illness and I recalled a chapter from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, “Eating Animals,” in where he discusses influenza and worldwide pandemics. Health authorities have come to a consensus that an influenza pandemic is inevitable and that it will stem from new viruses that move between farmed animals and humans, zoonotic diseases.

And when you stop and think about it, the notion of an influenza pandemic being borne from the world’s farmed animals is not hard to imagine. The world’s birds (domestic and wild) harbor the full spectrum of flu strains and when you look at the current ways of raising these animals for food – genetically manipulated, deformed, drugged, over crowded, and stressed living in waste-coated cages/rooms with no access to fresh air, sunlight, or natural food sources – these practices are anything BUT healthy.

Studies show that chickens and turkeys consumers are purchasing at grocery stores are contaminated with E. coli, salmonella, and campylobacter (a deadly pathogen), among other nasty things like feces, chlorine and antibiotics. Overwhelmingly, food borne illnesses come from animal products, with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reporting poultry as the largest culprit. Studies show that even organic and antibiotic-free chicken have pathogens present at the time of consumer purchase. The CDC reports, 76 million cases of food borne illnesses in the U.S. every year.

On the other side of the coin, we are feeding livestock 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics every year for nontherapeutic reasons, and most of those are illegal in the European Union. America’s food system is the perfect breeding ground for creating drug resistant pathogens or “superbugs.” Not to mention, we are a sicker nation more prone to illness with heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity at all time highs (all of which have been linked to diets consisting heavily of animal products). The country’s increase in demand for animal protein has come at the ultimate price – our health. Jonathan Safran Foer sums it up best, “When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.”

Fortunately, the good news is there’s a cure! Adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet improves human health, eliminates animal suffering and improves the health of the planet. Reducing your intake of saturated fat, animal hormones (and antibiotics), and cholesterol found in animal products and increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals found in plant foods, you fuel your body for optimal health so it can effectively fight off disease. Coupling a vegan diet with regular exercise, proper stress management and plenty of sleep is what the doctor ordered in preventing the flu and other illnesses. Live well this cold and flu season and all year. For more information on adopting a vegan diet and taking back your health, please visit LiveVegan.org.

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Safran Foer, Jonathan. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 2009. Print.

Raising animals for food contributes substantially to global warming and is responsible for more water pollution, topsoil depletion, deforestation and wildlife destruction than any other human activity. That’s why FARM encourages folks to green their diets to help protect the planet and conserve valuable resources.

Recycling, reusing items, reducing energy usage, carpooling and bicycling all help to protect the environment and reduce our footprint on the planet; however, numerous studies indicate that switching to a vegan diet can cut out 90% of the total emissions an individual’s eating habits contribute to global warming. So while these small steps can make a big difference in saving the planet, switching to a plant-based diet can make the biggest impact.

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As I (Cindi Saadi) finish up my last week working with FARM and my last official post for the FARM Blog, I decided to share a few thoughts about a topic not often specifically discussed: the importance of vegan outreach for seniors in our communities.  On the heels of a very successful Meatout campaign packed with so much passionate vegan outreach, I want to highlight some of the significant benefits of including seniors as part of the vegan outreach audience. And for purposes of this post, “seniors” are people age 60 and over.

Vegan outreach activities are frequently focused on the younger crowd and for reasons that make good sense. After all, young people are forming and refining their life beliefs and tend to be more open to considering new concepts and challenging traditional models. The younger years are an ideal time to become aware of the impact of diet on our health, the animals, and our global environment, and to make beneficial changes. And of course, young people have a lifetime ahead of them to affect change for future generations.

This factory-farmed pig wants people of all ages to hear the vegan message!

Although many outreach efforts do not set out to exclude any group of people, one concern is the risk of limiting vegan outreach for seniors because of assumptions that they are less open to new ideas and less willing to change. Although this may be true in certain cases, it is not true across the board. Seniors may have well-established beliefs, but everyone is capable of change. When presented with real, compelling information, most seniors will consider it thoughtfully. And as far as a senior having less time ahead of them than a younger individual, see the section below about people with incredible accomplishments after age 60. Plus, each moment we have is precious, no matter what age.

So seniors might be a more challenging audience, but the benefits of including them, in my opinion, are well worth it and can have significant positive outcomes for the vegan/animal rights cause.

And one thing is certain…. the animals want EVERYONE to hear the vegan message, no matter how young or old we are!

Here are a few of the benefits to / reasons for including seniors in vegan outreach:

WISDOM: Seniors have a wealth of invaluable life wisdom to offer. I often wonder how my father keeps such a library of information in his head, from important facts to solutions to your everyday household emergency. I can often skip the Internet and simply call Dad. People in other countries (perhaps more so than in the U.S.) revere, protect, and respect their elderly community members and place great value on their contributions and wisdom. Thus, given the many significant health-related benefits of a plant-based diet, introducing senior folks to a vegan lifestyle would likely increase the amount of time we have our wise ones with us. And having them with us, fortifies us. Continue reading »

When California’s Proposition 2 passed by a landslide last November, requiring the state to end the tight confinement of veal calves, chickens, and breeding sows, the industry was forced to respond. Though the law doesn’t go into effect until 2015,  The Wall Street Journal published a piece on Wednesday explaining California’s egg and poultry producers’ plan to adapt to the new animal welfare standards .

Are they going to abide by regulations? Maybe a few of them. Are they going to willfully stop raising animals for food? Not a chance. Instead, animal abusers in California are being invited by lawmakers to move to Nevada, Idaho, and even states as far as Georgia that won’t plague them with pesky anti-confinement laws.  The article explains:

In Idaho, as lawmakers convened Monday, Republican state Sen. Tim Corder said he would introduce legislation designed to attract California chicken farmers who might consider relocating. In Nevada, Pershing County is aggressively recruiting poultry farmers in California, the nation’s fifth-largest producer of eggs. Georgia’s poultry industry also has reached out to some California farmers in a bid to woo them eastward, California egg-industry officials say.

This article, better than any other I’ve come across, demonstrates why animal welfare measures are NOT the best path towards animal liberation. At their best, farmed animal welfare measures increase people’s awareness about factory farming, potentially inviting them to consider a vegetarian or vegan diet, while hopefully eliminating the worst abuses of industrial animal farming. At their worst, however, welfare measures  cause dedicated activists to spend millions of dollars and countless hours, only to have animal abusers exploit loopholes and to have meat-eaters’ consciences cleared of the guilt that they should rightfully feel when they consume animal products.

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