Friday, July 24, 2009

Dark Secrets of the Meat & Dairy Industries...

I have been Vegetarian and 90% vegan for over a year now, and have just recently become fully Vegan after learning more horrific facts about the meat and dairy
industries. I have to admit being Vegetarian--and now Vegan--has been one of the best decisions of my life.
Aside from the increase in energy, and general better-well being there are many reason why one should choose to be Vegetarian/Vegan.

I get asked the question "why?" a little too often. I thought the answer would be obvious...animal cruelty is a biggy and's really quite disgusting what you put in your body. I'm separating the answer as to "why" into two different blogs, simply because the cruelty involved is a blog all to itself.
So here's a little blog about some facts I've gathered up and we'll see how you feel about eating that dead thing that sits on your plate on a daily basis.


If you'd like a full-on view of the evils of the meat industry then watch the video on this website. I warn you this video is not for the queazy, it is absolutely horrific and disgusting, and so sad it actually brought me to tears. But it is cold, hard, and true.

I understand that watching a video with the gore and horrific scenes is not for everyone, and is really quite traumatizing, which is why I'm writing a blog about it as well.
I've heard it all from Denial to Attempts to justify it. So I've done the research so you can know the truth for yourselves. I understand that places like PETA can be biased, so I want to make sure you're fully aware that I am doing the research on both sides to separate fact from fiction or over-exaggeration.

Animals eat other why can't we?

I believe there's a common misunderstanding as to why Vegetarians consider eating meat "animal cruelty".

People argue that it is natural to us. That we need meat to survive. That if animals in the wild eat meat then why is it "animal cruelty" when we eat meat?
Well let's put it into simple terms here. Animals in the wild do not produce their meat in factories. Animals in the wild live in a way that is natural to them. There are the hunters and hunted, but it is all a circle of life--come on, we've all seen the Lion King right? The way most of us eat meat is not in support of this natural circle. The animals we eat do not live normal lives and are not free in nature before they are naturally eaten by predators.
There is absolutely NOTHING natural about the way we eat meat. And this is why it is most certainly Animal Cruelty.

Meat factories are anything but the way nature intended. Animals no longer get to roam freely and act like normal animals. They don't get to be happy--yes animals can be depressed too! They will never get to raise their families. They will never do anything that is natural to them. And most won't even see sunlight until the day they are shipped out to slaughter houses.

In addition, other animals do not drink the milk of other animals. Why? Well, let's face it, there's nothing natural about stealing a cow's milk for ourselves instead of it being fed to their babies.

The Animals we eat don't have any feelings....

Come on people, who are we kidding here? I think

the majority of people find justification in eating the animals we eat because we detach ourselves from the fact they are living, breathing, very emotional creatures just like we are. Ask most people, and the thought of eating their beloved cat or dog is horrifying and unheard of. But what's the difference? Absolutely none! Why do you think cats and dogs are fair game in countries like China?

Let's start with banishing the idea that Chickens are stupid creatures and therefore deserve to be eaten. Chickens are in fact as intelligent as your household cat or dog, and have even been compared to the intelligence of monkeys! They are actually compassionate and emotional creatures and even communicate with their young before they hatch. How adorable right? Well, it opens your eyes to the fact that there's really no difference between that poor chicken on your plate and that dog or cat you call your best friend.

Cows are also creatures with feelings, intelligence, and compassion. They are sweet, curious, and clever animals, who are very social and form complex relationships much like dogs form packs. They have also been known to go to great lengths to escape from slaughterhouses. On top of that, Cows, like all animals, form strong maternal bonds with their children. On dairy farms and cattle ranches, mother cows can be heard crying out
for their calves for days after they have been separated. What is more heart-breaking than that?

Pigs are yet another friendly, loving animal, commonly compared to dogs for their loyalty and intelligence (they are actually smarter than dogs!). Against common belief, pigs are also very clean creatures and will, when given the chance, go to great lengths to avoid soiling the area they live in. When allowed to live naturally, these adventurous animals will spend hours a day playing and laying in the sun and exploring their surroundings with their sensitive noses.

The Cruel Facts of Factory Farms:

Now that you know those poor creatures are just like your lovely household pet, let's get to the reality of Factory Farms shall we?
The easiest way to approach this is one animal at a time.

This is narrowed down and more basic so if you'd like all the full detailed cruelty that goes on then I encourage you to check out this website.


* There are over 9 billion chickens raised each year in factory farms in the United States alone.
* Roughly 340 million Chickens a year are raised to produce eggs.

*They are kept in tiny spaces and will never get to do anything that is natural to them and never get to meet their parents.
*Chickens are kept in tiny spaces (different on whether they are for flesh, eggs, or to breed):
1. Broilers (birds raised for their flesh) and Breeder Chickens (bred to produce Broilers) are kept in tiny, filthy, windowless sheds that typically hold up to 40,000 birds. (chickens typically function well in groups of 90!).
2. Laying Hens (those exploited for their eggs) are crammed in cages that are 18 by 20 inches and hold five to 11 hens--not enough space for them to raise a single wing!

*In frustration due to their living spaces, all these birds become frustrated and peck each other. The industry's solution? For Breeders and Laying Hens, large chunks of their sensitive beaks are cut off with hot blades--without pain-killers! Broilers are left to peck at each other, often causing injury and death.
*Sometimes their toes, spurs, and combs are cut off as well
*Without the ends of their beaks, many will die of dehydration and weakened immune systems, as well as starvation because they are in too much pain to eat.

*Broiler Chickens are bred and drugged to grow so large too quickly, causing a number of horrible problems including heart attacks, organ failure, and crippling leg deformities.
*Just how quickly do they force them to grow? Well to give you an idea, they are only 6 or 7 weeks old when they are crammed into cages and sent off to the slaughter house.
*Many of them die before the slaughter house because they become so crippled under the weight of their own bodies that they can't even make it to the water nozzles.

*Breeder Chickens are kept alive usually more than a year, and because of this they are more susceptible to disease, organ failure, and death as they also grow too large.
*Industry's solution? Drastically limit the feed given to the Breeder Chickens, adding to their frustration by leaving them in a state of constant hunger.
*Factory Farm operators will also reduce the available drinking water when the birds try to drink more to relieve their hunger, all so that they won't have to clean up wet manure.
*Sometimes plastic rods are also shoved through their delicate nasal cavities, so that they stick out on either side of their face, to prevent the male breeding birds from reaching through the wire to eat the females' food.

*Laying Hens' cages are stacked on top of each other so that they quite literally poop on the birds below them, causing disease.
*Many birds die from disease and are left to rot, while survivors are often forced to live with their dead and dying cagemates.
*After their bodies have been exhausted and their egg production drops, they are then shipped off to be slaughtered, usually for chicken soup or cat or dog food because their flesh is too bruised and battered to be used for anything else.

*As for the male chicks of "Laying Hens", well they are of no use to the meat industry as they cannot lay eggs and are not bred to produce excessive flesh.
*So what happens? They are killed. More than 100 million of these young birds are ground up alive in high-speed grinders called macerators, or are tossed into garbage bags to suffocate.

*For the journey to the slaughterhouse, they are once again crammed into small crates and trucked off under often extreme weather conditions.
*The journey is often hundreds of miles long and the chickens are given no food or water. Millions die simply under the stress of the journey, while millions more suffer broken wings and legs from rough handling.

*At the Slaughter House:
*Their legs are snapped into shackles where they are often broken under rough handling.
*They are then dragged through an electrified water bath which is meant to paralyze them but not render them unconscious. "In her renowned book Slaughterhouse, Gail Eisnitz explains: "Other industrialized nations require that chickens be rendered unconscious or killed prior to bleeding and scalding, so they won’t have to go through those processes conscious. Here in the United States, however, poultry plants—exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act and still clinging to the industry myth that a dead animal won’t bleed properly—keep the stunning current down to about one-tenth that needed to render a chicken unconscious.”."
*Because of this, most of their throats are cut while they are still conscious.
*Some birds miss the cutter blades completely, leaving millions a year left fully conscious to scald to death in the hot water tanks that are used to remove their feathers.


*41 million Cows suffer and die for the meat and dairy industries every year.
*9 million of these cows live on dairy farms.

* At a very young age, Cows are burnt with hot irons (branding), their testicles are ripped off (castration), and their horns are cut or burned off. All done without painkillers!

*Every winter, cattle freeze to death in states like Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota. And every summer, cows collapse from heat stroke in states like Texas and Arizona.

*After about a year, Cows are ship
ped to auction lots and then make the long journey to massive feedlots. Many arrive crippled or dead from the journey alone.
*Feedlots are feces- and mud-filled holding pens where they are crammed together by the thousands.
*The air in these lots are saturated with ammonia, methane, and other noxious chemicals because of the build up of manure.
*These fumes can give the cows chronic respiratory problems, making breathing painful.

*To fatten up the Cows, they are fed very unnatural diets that cause digestive pain, as well as potentially fatal liver abscesses in as many as 32% of cattle. Some actually become ulcerated and eventually rupture.
*Cattle are also pumped full of drugs to make them grow faster and to keep them alive in their miserable living conditions.
*Sick cattle are never taken to see a veterinarian, and instead, many feedlot owners give them even higher doses of human-grade antibiotics in an attempt to keep them alive long enough to make it to the slaughterhouse.

*Dairy Cows are constantly impregnated using artificial insemination every year.
*Their babies are taken away from them generally within a day of being born. All so the milk intended for their calves can go to humans instead.
*If you support the dairy industry, you also support the Veal industry, as the males are destined for veal crates.
*Females are sentenced to the same fate as their mothers.
*After their babies are taken away from them, the mothers are hooked up to machines several times a day to take their milk.
*Using genetic manipulation, powerful hormones, and intensive milking, factory farmers force cows to produce about 10 times as much milk as they naturally would.
*They are pumped full of BGH (bovine growth hormone) which causes painful inflammation of the udder, known as "mastitis". (According to the industry's own figures 30-50% of dairy cows suffer from mastitis)
*There is a little good news, BGH is used throughout the U.S., but has been banned in Europe and Canada because of
concerns over human health and animal welfare.

*A cow's natural lifespan is 25 years, but in the dairy industry they are killed after only four or five.
*By the time they are killed nearly 40% of these cows are lame because of filth, intensive confinement, and the strain of being constantly pregnant and producing milk.
*When their bodies have been exhausted and can no longer provide enough milk, they are sent to slaughter and ground up for hamburger meat, soup, or companion animal food, as their bodies are too "spent" to be used for anything else.

*Back to the male Calves....
*“Veal” is the flesh of a tortured, sick baby cow, and a byproduct of the milk industry.
*The calves are put into tiny, dark crates where they are kept almost completely immobilized so their flesh stays tender.
*They are fed a liquid diet low in iron and has little nutritive value in order to make their flesh white.
*Their poor treatment makes the calves ill and they often suffer from anemia, diarrhea, and pneumonia.
*Frightened, sick, and alone, these calves are killed after only a few months of life.

To the Slaughterhouse...
*The journey can be says long and they go without food for the duration of the trip.
*"Every year, hundreds of thousands of cows are either lame, frozen to the sides of the truck, or all but dead from heat exhaustion when they arrive at the slaughterhouse."

*"Downers", Cows who are too sick or injured to walk, may have ropes or chains tied around their legs to be dragged off the trucks.
*Other frightened Cows are struck with electric prods in their faces or up their rectums, or dragged with chains and forklifts to force them off the trucks.

At the Slaughterhouse....
*They are shot in the head with a bolt gun meant to stun them.
*The lines move quickly however and poorly trained workers miss so that the animals still feel pain. Leaving many cows fully conscious when their throats are cut and limbs cut off.
*The animals are shackled to a moving chain down a fast-moving production line:
*Their bodies are cut apart limb by limb down these lines, where, again, many cows are still alive.


*97% of pigs in the U.S. live on factory farms!

*In nature, pigs live for 15 years, but in factory farms they are sent to be slaughtered after only six months of life.

*There are nearly 6 million Mother pigs (sows) used a year

for breeding, as soon as they are old enough to give birth.
*They spend their entire lives either living on wet, feces-caked concrete floors in tiny confined metal crates.
*Once artificially and forcibly impregnated, she will spend the entire pregnancy in a "gestation crate" -- a tiny cage only 2 feet wide with not even enough space to turn around or comfortably lie down in.
*After giving birth a sow is moved to a "farrowing crate", a contraption even smaller than a gestation crate, with only a tiny additional concrete area where the piglets can nurse.
*Sometimes workers will tie the mother's legs apart so she cannot get a break from the feeding piglets. And they will often develop "bed sores" on her body from the lack of movement.
*The inhumanity of this is so barbaric that these crates have been banned in Florida, the UK, and Sweden, and will be banned in the European Union in 2013.
*Shortly after giving birth the process repeats itself and endures for about 3 or 4 years until their bodies finally give out and they are sent to the slaughterhouses.

*Piglets are less than one month old when they are taken a
way from their mothers.
*At this time their tails are cut off, some of their teeth are clipped in half, and males are castrated without any pain relief.
*Piglets are often put alone in "battery cages", tiny metal wire cages.
*The cages are stacked on top of each other so urine and poop falls on the piglets in lower cages constantly.
*Once they are too big for the cages, they spend the rest of their lives in overcrowded pens on a tiny slab of filthy concrete where they barely have room to move.
*Remember that these animals are impeccably clean in nature and here they are forced to live in their own feces, vomit, and often with the corpses of other pigs.
*Overcrowding, poor ventilation, and filth cause rampant disease.
*Many have respiratory problems, and 70% of factory farmed pigs have pneumonia by the time they're sent to the slaughterhouses.
*Many others die from infections. At any given time, more than one-quarter of pigs suffer from mange.
*They also often develop arthritis and joint problems as they are forced to grow too big too fast.
*Pigs are fed massive doses of antibiotics to keep them alive.
*On top of this Pigs are also often genetically manipulated to force them to grow quicker.
*Much like Cows, the trip to the slaughterhouse is through extreme weather conditions without food or water where many die of heat-exhaustion in the summer or freeze to the side of the trucks in winter.
*According to the industry, more than 1 million pigs die in transport each year.
*420, 000 are crippled by the time they reach the slaughterhouses.
*And 10% are "Downers"
*Like cows, they are forced or dragged on and off the trucks with metal rods and by beating their sensitive noses.

*At the Slaughterhouses:
*A typical slaughterhouse kills up to 1,100 pigs every hour.
*The slaughter-process is much like that of Cows so instead of repeating it all again...see the details for cows.
*Many will not be properly stunned and be fully-conscious as they reach the scalding-water bath intended to soften their skin and remove their hair.
*A USDA report reveals that the stress and inhumane treatment that animals endure on factory farms and in slaughterhouses contributes to a condition that affects the color and texture of the flesh of one in seven pigs, making it more difficult to sell.


It all starts to sound the same with other animals. Turkeys endure similar conditions to chickens as they are forced to live in inhumane filthy conditions, have their beaks and toes cut off with hot blades without pain-relief. They suffer heart failure, debilitating leg pain, often becoming crippled under the weight of their genetically manipulated and drugged bodies.

"Fish on aquafarms spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food."

On top of the inhumane treatment practices on factory farms, they do take a toll on human health as well. Due to the drug-resistant bacteria associated with rampant over-use of antibiotics on feedlots, many of the antibiotics we use are much less effective now. Other human illnesses are increasing and workers and neighbors of factory farms are becoming ill because of the degradation of land, water, and air quality caused by animal waste--as this waste is much too concentrated to be neutralized by natural processes.

Make A Change...

The reality is not pretty. So hopefully many of you appreciate the time and research I've put into this blog. Hopefully many of you cared enough to read about these animals' unnecessarily painful lives. And hopefully even more of you will make a conscious change in what you eat.

I've researched plenty of articles on the internet and there is no evidence to suggest that any of this information is false. I've provided links for your peace-of-mind or for the skeptical as well. The issue is becoming more widely brought to our attention and people are starting to express they want change.
As I've said before, I do not have a problem with people eating meat. But I do have a problem with the way we eat meat, and well, you should too. Make a change and take a stance. Express your concern and let's decrease the inhumane treatment on factory farms. Become vegetarian, shop free-range and organic (which is better but still not perfect), or even decrease the amount of meat you eat.

If you have a problem with this, as I do, then show your opposition against factory farmed animals' conditions and hopefully change will come.


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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Oh SOY! Why Does Everyone Hate Thee?...

If you're Vegetarian, and even more so if you're Vegan, then chances are you love all the soy-products readily a

vailable out there to replace all those in-humane meat and dairy foods.

But perhaps you have heard some people bash soy, warning you that it is not good for you. Perhaps even had friends or family that do not support your decision to be vegan or vegetarian and try to convince you that soy is evil and should not be trusted. Perhaps even by throwing random articles or little tid-bits they may have heard from the internet or word of mouth in your direction.

So then the question remains, if there is controversy then why? And are these evil tales told regarding your beloved soy products true or false?

I am vegan and I largely take Soy for granted so I decided to look deeper into the issue in the hopes to resolve some of the mixed opinions surrounding this vegetarian delight....unfortunately the more you research the more confusing it seems to becomes. My belief is that the mystery surrounding soy is much like your friends trying to telling you it isn't healthy for you, except instead of friends it's the multi-billion dollar meat and dairy industries threatened by your decision to stop eating animals. However this is just speculation and I did look deeper, spending hours of research onli

ne trying to find reliable sources. What I discovered was that there is no solid answer as most research is in-conclusive, however this is what I came up with; Soy is healthy in Moderation. Of course I did not just decide this for no reason, read on for my reasons and for information you might find useful to save yourself the same time-consuming research I went through.

There are four possible dangers that scientists associate with eating too much Soy--and I will emphasize this, TOO much Soy!! These issues are that the Estrogen levels can disrupt possible hormone function, they contain a toxin that can possibly cause digestive problems, another toxin that can rob the body of minerals, and lastly that it can cause Thyroid disfunction.


You may have heard people warning males that if they eat soy then they'll grow boobs. Or that you don't want women to increase their estrogen levels--we all know how much fun the pill can be right? This may be a large stretch from reality but let's get down to why the exaggerations exist.

Indeed, Soy contains high levels of phytoestrogen. What is phytoestrogen you say? It is an estrogen-like compound in soy known as isoflavones, which occupies estrogen receptors and has weak estrogen effects.

The problem comes down to the estrogen levels in our bodies. These levels change as man and woman age and develop an imbalance--their estrogen ratios become higher. Why is this bad? Because the hormone imbalance is a major reason causing breast cancer and prostate cancer. But no, not feminine guys.

So, back to the phytoestrogen levels found in soy...

These Phytoestrogens mean increased estrogen levels in the body, however they are also a good thing when not over-consumed because they occupy the estrogen receptors in the body where other stronger estrogen may otherwise take over. However, if you consume too much then you end up with more receptors filled that may otherwise be empty. Therefore, the resolution comes down to a simple matter of balance. As with anything you eat or put into your body there is a matter of not over-consuming. Even with healthy foods, and even with water, put too much of it in your body and you will run into problems. This is the exact same with Soy.

Another note, Phytoestrogens have many other good health benefits, as reported in this article:

"phytoestrogens have health benefits including potential reduction in breast cancer, prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease risks, possible protection against osteoporosis (bone loss) and menopausal symptoms. Besides, both flavonoid and lignan phytoestrogens have antioxidantactivity."

If you look at the chart in that article you will also find that there are higher Phytoestrogen levels in Flax Seeds which is considered a super-food!


The research is really quite inconclusive for these next two issues associated with Soy: The toxin levels that inhibit proper digestion and absorption of Minerals. Some researchers claim it's bad, some claim these toxins can help the body.

For example, one article mentions 'Trypsin Inhibitor' found in soybeans which is the harmful toxin responsible for digestive and nutritional problems. On further research however this is a problem with raw soybeans...and how many people eat raw soybeans? Research shows that most, but not all, the Trypsin Inhibitor is removed when raw soybeans are soaked in water, and also is removed in the production of various manufactured soy products. There is also no clear evidence that the remaining trypsin inhibitor that remains has any harmful effects on humans.

Next on our list of possibly harmful Toxins are Phytates, which, yes, are found in soybeans. These Phytates bind to essential minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc in the digestive tract and prevent them from being absorbed. Soaking and fermenting techniques remove these Phytates, which are also found in a number of other grains. Not all soy products go through this process however, such as tofu, soymilk, texturized soy protein, or soy protein isolate. Still more contradictions arise with other reports that say Phytate levels are not necessarily a bad thing and may shield us from dangerously high levels of minerals such as iron. And there are even some animal studies that suggest phytates stop the growth of cancerous tumors.


There was only one issue with Soy which does seem to have sufficient evidence, and this is related to Thyroid disfunction. These reports claim that Soy consumption leads to the suppression of Thyroid function, i

ncluding hypothyroidism, and inhibits the proper consumption of people taking Thyroid medication. The tests seem to prove truthful although many say that these issues would arise only if you were already apt to hypothyroidism to begin with "For soy to actually cause hypothyroidism, you'd have to be bordering on hypothyroidism to begin with". Also a good thing to note here is that all these reports spoke of people who over-consumed Soy products, which brings me back to the thought that perhaps it is all just a matter of Balance for all these possible problems.


There are a million different inconclusive reports around soy products and one thing I have always been weary about is that the majority of soy products out there are GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GMO) and over processed which always lead to health problems. So I came to wondering if all the controversy surrounding Soy is simply due to the fact it's GMO. Unfortunately I couldn't find any articles with the possible "harmful" effects of soy being related to the GMO process. However, with the majority of soy products being Genetically modified you can be pretty sure any research regarding the controversial food is centered around the majority consumed--which, yes, would be GMO.


Among all the Negative information creeping about the internet there are just as many, if not more, studies claiming it is good. And on top of that, there are plenty of people saying Soy is a super-food and many health-practitioners recommend it.

"Soy protein is found in products like tofu and soymilk to soy nut butter and cereal. Soy protein is heart healthy (helps lower "bad" cholesterol levels) and is rich in phytonutrients. Aim for up to 25 grams of soy protein per day."

To add, Soy is considered a near-perfect protein, and is packed full of compounds that fight disease and promote good health. Not to mention Soy's isoflavones are still said to prevent cancer, cut cholesterol, reverse osteoporosis, and help reduce menopausal symptoms. I have personally seen it in health books for women (sorry I haven't checked the ones for men) under lists of things to prevent cancer, never on the list that causes cancer. On top of that it is also recommended at anti-aging clinics, and many doctors and nutritionists say that "Anyone who wants to live longer should be eating this food."

My Little Conclusion...

All of the controversial research aside, there are a million chemicals, Toxins, and other digestive disrupting foods found in the foods non-vegetarians rely on. Meat takes 6-8hours to digest alone and even longer to digest when consumed with dairy. Meat and dairy are also high in hormone levels and a number of other toxins. So why is all the controversy so high on Soy and not on Meat? Perhaps this is where we should be focussing more attention. Or perhaps all the pesticides and chemicals absorbed in non-organic food. But all that is another story...or blog.

My point is that perhaps all the controversy surrounding Soy has been blown out of proportion and it all really does just come down to a matter of Balance. In the right amount Soy is indeed a super-food, but if over-consumed you may run into the health problems suggested above. If we are going to focus so much attention on whether Soy is good or bad for you then perhaps first we should be reevaluating our diet as a whole (and our meat-eating friends' diets) to see what we eat too much of and what we don't eat enough of.

So to conclude, Balanced amount of Soy=Good. Too much Soy=Bad. And of course if you are going to eat Soy, stay away from GMO products and stick with the good ol' certified Organic Stuff.


Some of the sites I found helpful...I googled a lot more but these are the main ones I took information from.

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