Posts tagged veganism

Cheese and ammonia

While the connection between the potent greenhouse gas methane and meat production is an easy one (i.e. ever had a dog with … um, ‘flatus’?), the effects of cheese production on the environment isn’t always as well announced and, in this case, is under-reported.  In a recent EPA press release, a cheese manufacturer in Oregon was hand-slapped for releasing dangerous ammonia and not notifying authorities.   See below:

From: U.S. EPA <usaepa@govdelivery.com>
Date: 05/23/2012
Subject: News Release: Oregon cheese processing company pays EPA penalty for failing to report ammonia release

Oregon cheese processing company pays EPA penalty for failing to report ammonia release

(Seattle— May 23, 2012) Columbia River Processing, Inc. failed to report an anhydrous ammonia release at its Boardman, Oregon cheese processing facility in June 2008. The company agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that includes a $42,435 penalty.

On June 30, 2008, an electrical storm caused power surges that disrupted the computers and compressors that control the ammonia system at the facility. The computer failure caused a pressure relief valve to open, releasing nearly 2,500 pounds of ammonia into the environment, according to the EPA settlement. Columbia River Processing failed to immediately notify local and state agencies about the release. No injuries were reported at the time of the incident.

According to Wally Moon, EPA Preparedness and Prevention Unit Manager in Seattle, these cases are about protecting workers, emergency responders and the community.

“When unintended chemical releases occur, every minute counts,” said EPA’s Moon. “Emergency responders need to be notified promptly to react effectively.”

Ammonia is a pungent, toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.

The ammonia release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

For information on EPA’s Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, visit http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/epcra/epcraenfstatreq.html

For more about toxic effects of Anhydrous Ammonia (NIOSH GUIDE): http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0028.html

To automatically receive Region 10 News Releases, subscribe via email at: http://service.govdelivery.com/service/subscribe.html?code=USEPA_C19

 

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The Chronicles of Veg Fest (Seattle, 2012)

VegFest Seattle rocked!  I’m mean, it just really did.  My husband Eric and I attended four years ago, and there wasn’t that much I could eat because I don’t eat dairy or eggs.  This time, I left full to the brim with vegan samples.

Like I said, it rocked!

Our morning started with a “run in” with security (actually I just took his picture.)

Then we met some lively pickle people who raised these ‘pickle-saurus’.  Is this why we have security at Veg Fest?

There was plenty of veggie ‘meats’ to go around.  And a tried a new vegan ‘meat’ called EcoVegan that wasn’t just really good, it was fabulous!

Lots of good books and authors to meet.

But the best part was definitely some absolutely wonderful vegan cheese.   Let’s face it.  Up until about 5 years ago, vegan cheese wasn’t that great.  Now it’s not only good, it’s a delicacy! This one, from HeidiHo Organics was the best at Veg Fest.

We can’t forget how much we appreciate our animal friends and the wonderful people who care for homeless or marginalized animals.  Here are some of their pictures.

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Pet Lovers for Obama is pandering?

Finally a political campaign that takes pet lovers seriously.

For as along as I can remember, my love for animals and my interest in helping all types animals avoid suffering is somehow seen as weak.  Somehow, the fact that I love cats, dogs, rabbits, cows, pigs and sheep and care deeply about wild animals and habitat conservation isn’t taken as seriously as my other beliefs in participatory government, the right to free speech, women’s access to health care and promotion of human rights and respect for all people regardless of religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation, mental health, or political ideology.

The image of an ‘animal lover’ as irrational or unrealistic seems to give other people the right to disregard our thoughts, opinions and judgements as ill-considered or label our decisions as “just because she likes animals so much.”

Yet the truth is that a spectrum of animals lovers, from dog owners to vegans, are scattered throughout our society and, until recently haven’t been noticed by mainstream society as a force to be reckoned with. But why shouldn’t they?  The ideology to protect animals is a closely help belief my many Americans, and is based on our ability to empathize with other beings just like our laws to protect human society.

That’s why I was so “surprised” to see political quibbling resulting from the Obama campaign’s ‘Pet Lovers for Obama‘ that called this sub-campaign simply ‘pandering’ to voters (ref: TheBlaze, The Business Insider).  You can pretty much call any political campaign ‘pandering’ based on the abysmal track record that politicians, in general, have on following through with campaign promises (sometimes through no fault of their own).  So why is “Pet Lovers for Obama” called pandering and “Women for Obama” not?

I think that answer is quite simply that the Obama Campaign thought of it first.  They publicly admitted to Americans that the love you have for animals close to your heart is important, valid and real, and they have confidence in you as a voter to make good decisions.

Whatever your vote in local, statewide or national elections this coming November, please remember that your voice as an animal lover, as a pet owner, and/or as a vegan/vegetarian matters.  Remember to vote.

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Nope, ‘dontfearthevegan’ (.com)

Pigs at Pigs Peace

My husband and I were enjoying lunch at our all time favorite vegan restaurant, Wayward Vegan Cafe when we enjoyed a pleasant surprise.  A young Girl Scout was selling vegan cakes to raise money for her troop and our local Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

Her courage led us to the website dontfearthevegan.com.  It’s a site on great vegan cooking and vegan lifestyles, including a great entry on being a vegan girl scout.  Check it out here.

Also, you have to try this vegan cake!  Why bother with animal products when vegan baking tastes this good!

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Sad, but true. And it doesn’t have to be this way.

Factory farming is likely one of the greatest atrocities of our modern-day.   Cows, pigs, sheep, lambs, and chickens suffer horribly and needlessly in the name of profit and even in the name of “progress”.  Meanwhile, while our government subsidizes animal-based agriculture at the expense of tax payers, the increase in human consumption of meat and dairy has led to extraordinary health problems due to obesity, cholesterol, and excess protein intake resulting from eating those animal products.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Factory farming is not necessary.   See the video below shown during the recent Grammy Awards.

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Why Occupy Wall Street includes the fight for animal welfare

When the Occupy Wall Street protests began to thrive in the US and around the world, frequent commentary on lack of focus or specific demands seem to litter the media.  But the more I watched and waited,  I began to realize this movement has never been out of focus, it’s just too big for our current lens.

Some realization came while watching a compelling commentary by a literature graduate student in NY regarding his efforts to establish a library at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations (see YouTube).  He knew that his efforts to simply provide knowledge was a protest in itself.

This is equally true with the issue of animal welfare.  Once people are aware of animal cruelty and torture — particularly in the case of farm animals —  no matter how gruesome the reality may be, the knowledge of the issue allows us the option to forgo participation in a cruel system, and often easily disarm the problem by economic participation in the alternatives.

But this isn’t breaking news….

As was so eloquently reported by One Green Planet and effectively detailed in this article by the Animal Legal Defense Fund,  the ‘Occupy’ movement has included the welfare of animals as a justifiable demand on the reform of, not just corporate America, but America in general.

From vegan-ism to banning pet stores sales, our struggle to stop the cruel and horrific treatment of farm, wild and companion animals has often glided  along side other issues of  inflation, pesticide use, heart disease and environmental degradation — or so we may have thought.

But, as it turns out, we are not alone — whether meat eater, farmer, feral cat rescuer, hunter or conservation biologist, none of us wants the cruel treatment of animals, just like none of us wants to be controlled by corporations exhibiting  greed, inequality and illegal or abusive action.

So I find it very natural that Occupy protests include the demand for corporations to end the cruel, industrialized and institutionalized  treatment of animals.  This demand is no longer too big to be considered for mass reform. In fact at this point, improving welfare for animals in all situations, is practically a simple first step.

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Milk cows get some assistance from a Seattle law firm

Here is an interesting and tragic article on a group trying to end systematic killing of dairy cows.  Like all factory farming, dairy-farming, which depends on constant breeding of cows, ends up being a cruel practice when new-born calves are taken from their mothers shortly after birth and mothers are used for milk than then slaughtered.   In this case, a law group in Seattle is assisting the Compassion Over Killing group when one of their investigations into animal welfare revealed what appears to be milk price-fixing by additional slaughtering of cows.  See article here.

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“…moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.” ~Gandhi

October 2 is World Farm Animals Day, but cruelty is being largely ignored in the US.  While cats and dogs and other pet animals enjoy a certain level of protection from welfare groups, farm animals continue to be the victims of horrible industrialized abuse for meat production.

While meat has been a part of the human diet for centuries, factory farming has not.  While animals have been killed for human food for eons, factory farming has made this practice into something that most people would call completely inhumane.

Given our diversity of backgrounds,  I realize that not everyone can be vegan or vegetarian, but we can be humane.  Check out some ways to make easy changes to stop the needless suffering resulting from meat production at the FARM website.

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AMONG THE ANIMALS: Sanctuary goes hog-wild over saving pigs

Visitors to the sanctuary greet a pleasant pig

Copyright (C) Pacific Publishing Company

Originally published in City Living Seattle, Sept. 14, 2011

By Christie Lagally

“Any plans for the weekend?” my coworker asked.

“Yes, I’m visiting a pig sanctuary,” I said emphatically. My co-worker’s face displayed curiosity and confusion.

“Why do pigs need a sanctuary?” he asked. I said I’d find out.

Pigs Peace Sanctuary in Stanwood, Wash., is a picturesque meadow farm providing a permanent home for all breeds of rescued pigs. For 17 years, caretaker and Sanctuary founder Judy Woods has maintained and cared for her charges. My husband and I visited Woods on a quiet Sunday afternoon in August.

The first two pigs we met were a cross-section of the Sanctuary’s population. Ziggy, a 9-month-old pink Yorkshire pig was brought to the farm sporting only three legs but a great attitude about life.

Joy, a pot-bellied pig

Ziggy was enjoying her private water pond when we arrived, and she hopped up to get her head scratched. She shares her hut with the most recent sanctuary arrival, Boris, a potbellied pig who was victim of blatant neglect in his previous home, leaving him nearly blind and unable to walk.

Woods explained his recovery would take time and extensive medical care, but she had seen this happen before. Each of the 191 sanctuary pigs has a special and often-difficult story.

Finding sanctuary

Many of the residents are former pet pigs, those sold from pet stores or breeders marketing potbellied pigs as “perfect household pets.” These animals are frequently abandoned, abused or neglected when an apparently unsuspecting individual purchases a piglet and soon discovers they live with a pig who can tear down wallpaper and requires frequent attention, care, exercise and feeding for the next 18 years.

But it’s not just pet pigs that find sanctuary here. Pigs Peace is also a permanent home to pigs used for medical research, taken from horrible conditions on factory farms or cast off from the entertainment industry.

The flip side of these sad stories is that Woods and supporters of Pigs Peace have made it possible for the animals to live their lives as happy pigs. Each of the pigs has specific piggy friends. Pigs, on a warm summer night, will forgo their cozy, hay-filled barn to camp in the meadow and actually build a small hut for the party.

“If people feel the work we do is important, we need them to support the Sanctuary,” said Woods, who works on fund-raising and updates Facebook daily to keep the public informed on the pigs.  (Pigs Peace is hosting a “Walk for the Animals” on Saturday, Sept. 17, around Seattle’s Green Lake to support the Sanctuary. More information is on-line at pigspeace.org.)

Pigs getting carrots

Eating pork?

A young couple from Issaquah  was also visiting that day. Heather Faoro and her husband said they have always liked pigs, but this was their first opportunity to visit a pig sanctuary.

And while the couple doesn’t claim to be vegetarian, Faoro said that she and her husband don’t eat pigs.

“It’s hard to bond with these animals and not make that shift,” Faoro said of their decision to stop eating pork.

While a visit with the Pigs Peace residents leaves you pondering the ethics of meat consumption, the organization provides a workable solution to this quandary.

In the heart of Seattle’s University District is an upscale vegan grocery called Sidecar for Pigs Peace. Store manager Doh Driver and her team of volunteer store keepers operate the colorfully displayed grocery offering a wide variety of foodstuffs, including high-quality mock meats, vegan marshmallows and even vegan cat and dog food.

Driver says some of the most popular items include a cheese substitute out of Scotland called “Sheese,” and vegan corndogs, a customer favorite.

A happy life

As the sun was setting on our Sunday evening visit to Pigs Peace Sanctuary, Ziggy came out to say goodbye. She had been eating carrots with a fellow pig and was rooting through the grass for the pieces.

Ziggy enjoys a scratch from Eric

My husband, Eric, stooped down to scratch her stomach when I witnessed the most potent moment of the evening. While Eric scratched, Ziggy slowly closed her eyes, and the edges of her long snout-covered mouth tipped decidedly upward in an unmistakable smile of deep contentment.

While I knew almost nothing of pigs, in that moment, Ziggy told me so much about the beautiful nature of these animals, and the reason we need a sanctuary for pigs.

CHRISTIE LAGALLY is a freelance pet columnist who manages the website Sniffing Out Home: A Search for Animal Welfare Solutions at http://www.sniffingouthome.org.

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My Cat, Pit Bull and Pig Education

Best Friends Pig Week photo

I’ve been learning a lot lately about cats and pit bulls as I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to interview representatives of the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project and the BullsEye Dog Rescue.  My education has been nicely supplemented with almost daily emails from Best Friend’s about pit bulls and cats.

As it happens, this week I am hard at work (just kidding — this is tons of fun!) learning about pigs and the dedicated individuals who promote veganism as a way to “opt out”* of the cruelty involved in industrialized meat, dairy and egg production. As such, the Best Friend’s email newsletter in my inbox this afternoon was timely once again because they are celebrating Pig Week! Yes, Pig Week!  From pot bellies to farm beauties, the Sanctuary cares for the lot.  Learn about some pigs on the Best Friend’s website.

* Note that “opt out” is a wonderful phrase used by Doh Driver, manager of the wonderful vegan Seattle grocery, Sidecar for Pigs Peace.

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