Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Audio Discloses Berman's Secret Anti-Union Meeting

The Huffington Post has obtained audio of a conference call between Washington lobbyist Rick Berman and business officials discussing the need to kill a pro-union measure.

Berman, the president of the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom, met with the co-founder of Home Depot and officials from Bank of America and AIG, the latter two of which had received government bailouts just days before the Oct. 17 meeting.

At issue was the Employee Free Choice Act, a measure that would make it easier for workers to unionize.

Bernie Marcus, Home Depot's co-founder, was livid that this bill could pass, calling it "the demise of a civilization." He and Berman urged listeners to donate millions to Republican members of Congress and to Berman's own Center for Union Facts, an anti-union, pro-business lobbying group, to prevent the United States from turning "into France."
"This bill may be one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life," [Marcus] said, explaining that he could have been on "a 350-foot boat out in the Mediterranean," but felt it was more important to engage on this fight.
Despite Marcus' anxious demeanor during the call -- he joked that he "took a tranquilizer this morning to calm myself down" -- when the Huffington Post spoke with Berman, he passed the measure off as something that even the unions know is going to fail.
"The unions who are a proponent of this have not made it a high profile issue. I think they have learned from their polling that it doesn't poll well, which is why they don't' want to make it a public issue."
Odd then that business officials would be working themselves up in a tither over it.

The irony of poorly run corporations needing a bailout from taxpayers and then using that money to hurt middle- and lower-income employees wasn't lost on Stephen Lerner of the Service Employees International Union.
"Bank of America is now not only getting bailout money. They are lending their name to participate in a campaign to stop workers from having a majority sign[-]up [provision]. The biggest corporations who have created the problem are, at the very time, asking us to bail them out and then using that money to stop workers from improving their lives."
(Thanks to "Integral Psychosis" for writing about the Huffington Post story.)

(Photo courtesy of "Labor is Not a Commodity.")



Monday, January 26, 2009

Coloring Book Draws Misleading Conclusions About Animal Experimentation

The Web site for the National Institutes of Health allows children to download a misleading coloring book about animal experimentation.

"The Lucky Puppy," provided by the North Carolina Association of Biomedical Research, tells children that the purpose of animal experimentation is to help sick animals.

On Page 4 a veterinarian tells two children, "Research is how a scientist looks for ways to make sick animals and sick people well." On the following page, children are told to circle which things need medicine when they are sick. The first picture is of a mouse. So children are going to think that because mice are animals, experimentation benefits them. Of course, the opposite is what actually occurs. Another frequent victim of animal research, a rabbit, is pictured, as well.

What many people don't know -- or don't want to think about -- is that dogs are also used in animal experimentation. A county in Michigan is in the midst of deciding whether it should renew its contract with a firm (a Class B dealer) that takes dogs from the county animal shelter and sells them to medical researchers.

The vet in the book goes on to describe animal experimentation.
"[A scientist] had mice in her lab. They lived in nice, clean cages. They were fed good food. But they were sick with the same disease Lucky had."
(Lucky is the dog the children brought to the vet.) Children who read this won't know that the mice were intentionally made sick.

Nor will they realize the irony of the scientist explaining how mice can be used to treat illness in people.
"The mice in the lab, puppies like Lucky and children like you are all animals. Our bodies might look different, but we really are very much alike under our skin!"

...

It was strange to think that mice, puppies and people all belonged in one big family called animals that even included elephants and tigers. But the more [the little girl] thought about it, the nicer it seemed.
If we're all the same, why is it ok to torture some species of animals?

In the end -- yes, I'm spoiling the story for you -- one of the children in the book declares, "I want to be a research scientist. Then I can help animals and people!"

Incidentally, the NIH site also has a coloring book advocating the benefits of drinking cows' milk.

"Milk Matters with Buddy Brush" encourages children to drink milk to have strong teeth and bones. A chart shows that a slice of cheese pizza has almost 2.5 times as much calcium as a cup of broccoli. Of course, children aren't going to pay attention to the serving size of only one slice. All they are going to think is that cheese pizza is healthier for them than broccoli. The high cholesterol and saturated-fat content of cheese pizza is nowhere to be found.

Nothing like the government lying and misleading its children.

(Image courtesy of the Animal Liberation Front.)




'Wegmans Cruelty'

Most meat-eaters know why many people become vegetarian: so as not to cause the death of an animal.

But most are clueless about veganism. Milk isn't a dead cow, after all. (But the murder of animals is inherent in the industry.) And what's wrong with eating eggs?

"Wegmans Cruelty," a half-hour documentary by Compassionate Consumers, shows viewers exactly what's wrong with eating eggs.

In 2004 several activists from the Rochester, NY-based Compassionate Consumers investigated the facility where Wegmans, a much-loved grocery store chain in the Northeast, bred egg-laying hens. Wegmans sold the eggs in cartons labeled "Animal Care Certified," a worthless "certification" created by United Egg Producers.

The investigators found hundreds of thousands of hens living in battery cages. With several hens to a cage, they didn't have the ability to stretch their wings. They stepped on each other, their feet became sore as they negotiated the wire caging, and feces were dropped on them from the chickens in the cages above them. The activists also found chickens living with decomposing corpses of their former cagemates.

In addition, they discovered chickens with their heads wrapped around the caging, unable to move or to get food and water. The activists took several chickens with them when they left, so they could receive veterinary care. But some died on the way.

A Wegmans spokeswoman had assured Compassionate Consumers that the hens were well cared for, that all had access to food and water and that they were seen by a veterinarian. As the investigation showed, she was lying.

After the documentary was released, three of the activists were arrested. Two pleaded to lesser charges, and Adam Durand went to trial, charged with three counts of burglary, larceny and trespassing. He faced 21 years in prison. He spoke to Australia's Abolitionist-Online about the investigation.
The charge read, "entering a facility with the intent to commit a crime" and in this case it was rescuing hens. Each count carries 7 years in jail so the stakes were pretty high for me but luckily at the trial I was acquitted of all 3 burglary counts. I was also acquitted of the larceny charges but I was still convicted of the 3 trespassing charges.

Usually for a minor offence like trespass there's no jail time for that but in this case the judge wanted to set an example so he gave me a very strict punishment.
The judge sentenced Durand to six months in jail, one year of probation, community service and a fine. He told Erik Marcus of Vegan.com in March 2008 that the judge had to reverse part of the sentence because it was illegal. Durand ended up serving 35 days in jail.

Durand's newest documentary is "Fowl Play," which will be available on DVD after it finishes the film-festival circuit.

While battery cages contribute to creating miserable lives for chickens, eggs that come from "cage-free" chickens still are a result of suffering and murder. The chickens are often crowded into buildings with cement floors. The male chicks who are born are of no use to an egg-laying facility, so they are tossed into garbage bags and smothered or are lobbed into machines that grind them to death. The hens become egg producers and are slaughtered when their production wains.

The only way you can be assured that you're not supporting cruelty is by going vegan.



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Berman's Son Calls Him a 'Human Molester'

The son of the president of the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom has written a scathing commentary about his father.

David Berman of the music group Silver Jews, in telling his fans of his departure from music, wrote the following about Richard Berman:
My Father, My Attack Dog

Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction:

My father.

You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons.

My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molestor.

An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical motherfucking son of a bitch. (sorry grandma)

You can read about him here.

www.bermanexposed.org

My life is so wierd. It's allegorical to the nth. My father went to college at Transylvania University.

You see what I'm saying.

A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.

He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We've been "estranged" for over three years.

Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.

He is a union buster.

When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).

I went off to hide in art and academia.

I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the mean time my Dad started a very very bad company called Berman and Company.

He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.

He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, teachers.

His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.

He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!

The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the english language.

Though vicious he is a doltish thinker and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.

As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda, grew almost too much. my heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.

This winter I decided that the SJs were too small of a force to ever come close to undoing a millionth of all the harm he has caused. To you and everyone you know.

Literally, if you eat food or have a job, he is reaching you.

I've always hid this terrible shame from you, the fan. The SJs have always stood autonomous and clear.

Hopefully it won't contaminate your feelings about the work.

My life has been riddled with Ibsenism. In a way I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.

Previously I thought, through songs and poems and drawings I could find and build a refuge away from his world.

But there is the matter of Justice.

And i'll tell you it's not just a metaphor. The desire for it actually burns.

It hurts.

There needs to be something more. I'll see what that might be.

DCB

if you want to know what evil Herr Attackdog is currently up to look here:

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/120426/ad_wars:_'dr._evil'_vs._unions_over_employee_free_choice_act/)
Pitchfork Media verified that David Berman did, in fact, write this piece.

After learning about Richard Berman and the CCF, nothing in this piece surprises me. What's surprising, though, is that his son wrote it. We all have relatives who, at the very least, make us cringe, and many of us have at least one to whom we've stopped speaking. I applaud David Berman for making public what is a sad situation.

I wish David Berman success in his next venture, whatever it might be -- his notion of success, not his father's.

(Photo of David Berman courtesy of Drag City.)



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Campbell Foundation Launches Healthy-Living Web Site

The T. Colin Campbell Foundation has launched a Web site devoted to healthy living.

Campbell, a medical researcher, wrote the best-selling "The China Study," about how one's diet affects one's health. After discovering that he could turn cancer "on and off" in mice by manipulating their intake of animal protein and after conducting and analyzing numerous other studies, he realized that a whole-foods, plant-based diet is optimal for human health.

The Campbell foundation's Web site is divided into three parts:
  • "Plant-Based Nutrition" contains audio and visual interviews with Campbell, as well as interviews with vegan athletes. It also offers information about numerous diseases and disorders.
  • "Saved by Nutrition" is a free forum for members to read people's success stories and to find others who share a specific condition.
  • "Courses & Resources" provides information on getting a certificate in plant-based nutrition, finding a health coach and locating a doctor who emphasizes nutrition. Two sites said to be "coming soon" are a guide to veg-friendly restaurants and a locater for a CSA (community-assisted agriculture) farm near you.
So use this site as a resource for improving and maintaining your health, and nourish your body with a whole-foods, plant-based diet.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Animal Lovers Don't Support Slaughter

The phrase "humane slaughter" is an oxymoron, yet that's how Temple Grandin purportedly makes her living.

Grandin designs slaughterhouses and is a legend in the field. She's written a new book, "Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals," which was reviewed yesterday in The New York Times. The title makes me shake my head in disbelief. If animals make us human, why do we kill them? What does "human" mean? How is raising animals and then murdering them for their flesh creating a good life for them?
Ms. Grandin bases many of her observations in "Animals Make Us Human" on the work of a Washington State University neuroscientist named Jaak Panksepp who identified a series of core "emotion systems" in animals: seeking, play, care and lust (on the positive side) and fear, panic and rage (on the negative).
This information should provide anyone with an impetus to go vegan. Animals are not inanimate objects. They are not unfeeling beings. They are like people in fundamental ways.

Yet Grandin doesn't use her talents to end the suffering and murder of animals. She's a mere welfarist who fluffs the pillow while someone else plunges the knife in.
She is often asked, she tells us, "How can you care about animals when you design slaughter plants?"

Her reply is that "some people think death is the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal." She argues that "the most important thing for an animal is the quality of its life."
If an animal is suffering, certainly a quick, pain-free death would be acceptable. But the reason farmed animals are suffering is because they were bred to suffer. A total of 10 billion land animals are killed each year in the United States alone for their flesh. This breeding is wholly unnecessary.

Grandin also has the gall to compare the lives of pets to those of cows.
"The more I observe and learn about how dogs are kept today, I am more convinced that many cattle have better lives than some of the pampered pets. Too many dogs are alone all day with no human or dog companions."
I'd much rather spend eight hours alone in my house than spend my days crowded among hundreds of others, being pumped full of antibiotics and hormones, being impregnated every time I was fertile and having my babies stolen from me. And, of course, in a short time I'd be transported to the slaughterhouse. If it were cold out, my skin would stick to the truck, and I'd have to be torn from the side. Yes, I'd much rather live like my dogs than like a farmed animal.

Despite what Grandin thinks, one can't have it both ways. One can't claim to like animals and then praise the forces that murder them.
She worries about the "totally adversarial" relationship between animal advocacy groups and the livestock industry. She has kind words for companies like McDonald's and Wendy's (she has consulted for both), which are forcing their suppliers to treat animals more humanely. But she also praises activists. "The big companies are like steel, and activists are like heat. Activists soften the steel, and then I can bend it into pretty grillwork and make reforms."
While reforms are like small stepping stones to animal liberation, animals are hurt when the public is coddled with phrases like "humane slaughter."

Letters to The New York Times can be sent to letters@nytimes.com.

Thanks to Mary at Animal Person for mentioning the book review.



Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Hundred Years ...

Although not directly related to animal rights, this poem that I wrote Oct. 27, 2006, is about the continuance of oppression and inequality.

One Hundred Years ...

Blood on the battlefield,
A fight for freedom.
Man against man,
American against American,
Brother against brother.
Cannons blast the sound of hatred.
Muskets protect their dominion.
Rifles defend them from the unknown,
From the fear that change brings.

One hundred years later ...

Blood blackens the pavement.
The cause continues.
Man against man,
American against American,
Brother against brother.
They use pistols to shoot dreams dead,
Ropes to strangle hope,
Fire hoses to force their fear into submission,
Wrapped in a blanket of ignorance
They think will protect them --
Not realizing the monster is inside.

One hundred years later ...

While racism still exists, I'm grateful that progress continues to be made. Today's inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States marks an incredible milestone in the fight for racial equality.



Monday, January 19, 2009

Bill Would Restrict Puppy Mills in Illinois

Two Illinois legislators have introduced a bill that would put limits on puppy mills in the state.

The Dog Breeder License Act -- nicknamed "Chloe's Bill" after a puppy mill survivor -- would restrict people to having no more than 20 unneutered dogs at a time, a tiny number compared to the dozens upon dozens and even hundreds of dogs sometimes found in puppy mills.

The bill also contains such commonsense features as prohibiting the issuance of licenses to people who have been convicted of a felony under the Humane Care for Animals Act or for dog fighting; requiring kennels to have solid flooring, not wire caging, which hurts the animals' feet; and ensuring dogs have proper heating, cooling and ventilation.

Despite such simple demands, I have no doubt that breeders will bawk at this bill. Therefore, Illinois residents must send a letter of support to their legislators. (Send me your e-mail address, and I'll forward you the letter created by The Humane Society of the United States.)

If you don't live in Illinois, contact your legislators and tell them what Illinois has planned. Encourage them to contact the two sponsors of this bill -- Rep. John A. Fritchey, D-Chicago, and Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Mount Prospect -- for guidance to introduce similar bills in their own states.

(Photo of Chloe, courtesy of cbs2chicago.com.)



Desire to Kill Frightening

I spent this past weekend on the property of a wildlife rehabilitation center and was able to be closer to many animals than I ever had been. While none of the animals were there because of a hunting incident, I still couldn't get that image out of my head. I don't understand how someone could look at a beautiful, innocent animal and want to take its life.

I peeked in on a couple of screech owls. I rode along as a goose with a broken wing was released into a heated pond with other previously injured birds. I scattered some feed for two chickens and watched as they pecked at it. I was even able to see the face of a tiny mouse as he poked his head out of the large nest he'd made from the chickens' feathers.

Perhaps the most awesome site, though, was that of six or seven deer foraging for food at dusk. Occasionally one would stand on its hind legs to intimidate the others. They'd also take turns raising a leg and hitting other deer on the back in an effort to get closer to the food.

I was in awe and only wanted to continue watching them. I never had an inclination to end their lives. Far from it. And I don't think that such an urge is natural; I believe it's taught. Children learn to hunt from their fathers usually. Hunters consider the "sport" to be natural, but that's only because it's been ingrained in them from a young age.

A couple of years ago I was at a barbecue. One of the guests was a man who had married into my step-father's family. He hunts and worked for a company that sells hunting equipment. The staff pictures on the company's Web site show men kneeling next to animals they had just killed.

I made my distaste of hunting known but didn't push things because I didn't want to cause a scene. I found it ironic, though, later that evening when a deer came into the large yard. Everyone stopped what they were doing and just stared in awe. I don't know what the hunter was thinking, but I'm sure no one else had a desire to kill the animal.

Sadly this man has two young sons whom he will teach not to love and respect animals but to murder them.

The state of West Virginia hopes more children will learn to hunt. In response to a decline in hunting, West Virginia lawmakers passed a law last spring that permits hunting to be taught in schools -- much to the delight of the National Rifle Association.

It's frightening to know that some parents want to teach their children to be murderers. Kenneth Toombs (how ironic) of Virginia made a pact with his 9-year-old son.
"I made him a deal that for every A he got, he could take a day off to hunt. So he comes home with all A's."
So not only is his son learning to kill, but he's doing it when he should be in school.

Another hunter, Cecil Robbins, gets his rocks off by hunting.
"It's the thrill of that deer coming down through the woods," he says. "When you're sitting in a stand, the deer has no idea you're there. And he walks by and it's kind of like ambushing him."
Hunters, of course, defend their practice by claiming they are actually helping animals. If there is an overpopulation of deer, they say, the deer will starve to death. In fact, though, hunting is harming the survival of species, causing "evolution in reverse." Because hunters want to boost their egos by killing the largest of a species, the weaker animals are left to reproduce, thereby passing on their less desirable genes.
Artificially selecting animals in the wild—in effect, breeding them—is "a very risky game," says [Columbia University biologist Don] Melnick. "It's highly likely to result in the end of a species."
There is nothing compassionate or "manly" about murdering a living being. People who look at an animal and feel excited about the prospect of killing her need to reassess their values and sense of basic decency.

(Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition.)



Thursday, January 15, 2009

Changing of the Guard

Back in January 1993 I remember sitting in my sophomore English class, watching as former President George Bush, first lady Barbara and dog Millie walked down the steps of what had been their home for the past four years.

I felt sorry for them. Even as a 14-year-old not interested in politics, I knew that Bush failed to be re-elected to a second term because he had gone back on his promise of "Read my lips ... no new taxes." Still, it was sad to see them wave goodbye to the press as they descended the steps.

Now another Bush is preparing to leave the White House. Like his father before him, in a few short days George W. Bush will descend the steps to an awaiting helicopter. His wife, Laura, and dogs Barney and Miss Beazley will accompany him. This time, though, as I watch, I won't feel sadness or sympathy. I'll feel excitement, relief, happiness, hope.

Sixteen years ago I had viewed George Bush as a tired old man beat out by someone younger, hipper. The elder Bush wasn't necessarily a bad person; Clinton wasn't necessarily a better person. The country simply thought it was time for a change.

Now, though, I see the younger Bush as an evil man, a corrupt, myopic leader who has led thousands of young Americans to their deaths. He's a greedy man who doesn't care about the struggling middle class or the drowning poor, who doesn't care about the crisis facing the Earth. His focus is on oil and the money he and his friends continue to make from it. He has no qualms about sending his army of teenagers and twenty-somethings to protect his riches and to stroke his ego. Meanwhile in his own country, in the state next to his own, flood waters submerged an entire city while he stood idle.

I don't know what's in store during Barack Obama's presidency. I can only hope it's 180 degrees different from the past eight years.

Like it was 16 years ago, this country is again ready for a change. But this time it's more urgent, more palpable, more life-or-death. When Bush descends the White House steps, I'll cheer.

(Associated Press photo, May 2008)



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Web Site Exposes Berman, Front Groups

The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has launched BermanExposed.org, dedicated to raising awareness about Rick Berman and his numerous front groups.

Berman is the man responsible for the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom, a front group for the meat, dairy and restaurant industries, among others.

Because of CCF's name, many people think it is a consumer-advocacy group. But nothing could be further from the truth. The CCF's primary purpose is to protect Big Business and, as such, condemns scientists, activists and studies that cast a negative light on its funders.

Many journalists, though, don't know the truth about the CCF and frequently quote David Martosko, CCF's No. 1 goon.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said [...], "Richard Berman has become wealthy by deceiving the public through scare tactics, sleazy ads, and bogus websites. BermanExposed.org lists in one place Berman's pay-for-play activities, and demonstrates that his real expertise is making money.

"Before one more story is published citing Berman as a credible expert, we encourage journalists and consumers to take a look at BermanExposed.org to better understand Richard Berman's number one goal: to be the best snake-oil salesman ever."
Three of Berman's front groups appear to have been created recently as a response to the election of Barack Obama for president.
The Employee Freedom Action Committee is an anti-union front group that works to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act.

IncomeTaxFacts.org is a newly created Berman website that aims to undermine President-elect Obama's tax policies.

Rotten Acorn is a site dedicated to spreading misinformation about ACORN, the nation's largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people.
(Image courtesy of BermanExposed.org.)



Sunday, January 11, 2009

People Across U.S. Protest Petland

I joined animal lovers across the country in protesting near Petland stores yesterday.

In November The Humane Society of the United States released the results of its eight-month investigation of Petland stores, alerting the public to the company's sale of puppies from puppy mills.

The results really shouldn't have surprised anyone. Where else would Petland get its puppies except from places that churn out obscene numbers of dogs?

I don't like the term "responsible breeder," as I don't think it's responsible to breed dogs when millions die in shelters every year. "Reputable breeder" is a bit more tolerable. Reputable breeders meet the families who will buy their puppies. They also require that if the family, for whatever reason, no longer wants to keep the dog (at any point), the family return the dog to the breeder.

Petland's employees don't care who purchases the puppies. The only requirement is that the customer has the money to do so. Two years later when little Billy develops an allergy to the dog, Petland isn't going to take the dog back.

I was especially proud to protest the Naperville, IL, Petland, as 10 days earlier the local newspaper printed a feel-good story about the store. The owner had given a child a puppy at the request of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

That same newspaper printed a great story about yesterday's protest.

After an hour standing in a snow bank, my fingers and toes were painfully cold. (Yeah, I admit I went into a restaurant for about 20 minutes to warm up.) But the response from motorists was positive, with many honking their horns and giving us a thumbs-up. One 20-something guy even rolled down his window to ask me what was going on. When I told him Petland gets its puppies from puppy mills, he said that was the end of him shopping there.

I hope hundreds of people across the country reached that same conclusion yesterday. If you'd like to add a puppy (or a dog) to your family, please adopt from a shelter or rescue organization.

(Photo by Corey R. Minkanic, courtesy of The Naperville (IL) Sun.)



Friday, January 9, 2009

Chicagoans Urged to Go Veg

Dr. Terry Mason, Chicago's health commissioner, is encouraging residents to go vegetarian for the month of January.
"For the entire month, I'm not eating any meat," he has told listeners to his Sunday morning radio show, "Doctor in the House," on WVON-AM. "If it walks, runs, hops, flies, swims, crawls or slithers, I won't eat it. If it has eyes, I won't eat it. If it had a momma and a daddy, I won't eat it. . . . I'm going to focus on eating a healthy and delicious variety of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. . . . And I want you to do the same."
Mason is especially targeting the African-American community, which disproportionately suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He recently spoke to a group at Soul Vegetarian East, a vegan restaurant on Chicago's South Side. Vegan Chicago, a meetup group to which I belong, ate there in November. Even meat-eaters wouldn't have known that the macaroni and cheese, barbecue rib tips, carrot slaw, cornbread and lemon cake were all vegan.

Although Mason is only asking people to go vegetarian for one month, he plans to go vegetarian permanently. Last year he went veg for seven months.

While anytime is a great time to go veg, why not start the New Year off with a 30-day veg pledge?

(Photo of vegan mac 'n' cheese from Soul Vegetarian East in Chicago.)



Thursday, January 8, 2009

Burger King Launches Another Marketing Stunt

A cologne that smells like a grilled animal carcass.

A marketing promotion that allows people to send angry e-mails to those who piss them off.

Who are the ad wizards who came up with these?

Ad execs who work for Burger King. In December the company released Flame by BK, a supposed meat-scented cologne for men. Sound appealing, ladies? Even when I was a meat-eater, if my man smelled like meat, I'd tell him to take a shower.

In a second pathetic marketing campaign, this time to entice people to try its new spicy Angry Whopper, Burger King lets people send an Angry-Gram e-mail to others who upset them.

Do we really need this? Isn't the world already too full of angry people? When I order food in a restaurant, I don't want to be reminded of what angers me.

Ironically, though, the Angry Whopper is fitting. How desperate must a person be to murder innocent animals? How cold-hearted must a person be to market animal flesh for a living? People in these professions -- from the unskilled worker on the kill floor to the exorbitantly paid CEO running the company -- have severed ties with their humanity, with basic compassion.

And through our meat-eating upbringing, Americans are conditioned not to think of what they're eating as animals. "Meat" is not the same thing as a pig. A "burger" isn't a cow.

Perhaps, though, if children were taught to respect animals, to respect living beings, we'd have fewer murders in this country, less hate and fewer reasons to be angry.

(Photo courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.)