Thursday, March 15, 2012

Calf's Horns Burned Off by Farm Worker: Caught on Video!

Ok, I admit it.  This time I couldn't even watch the whole thing.  I just can't differentiate in my mind the difference between these innocent dairy cows and my beloved pet dogs.  Watching these farm workers hit, poke with rods, and otherwise abuse these defenseless enslaved animals was too much for me today.

I do watch these sorts of videos regularly though.  Especially if I've been sliding from vegan to vegetarian too often for my own comfort level for a while.  I force myself to watch one of these videos and in so doing find new motivation too not support the dairy, egg, and honey industries.  

It's easy to equate dead meat on your plate with the animal that was probably abused and brutally killed to provide it for you, it's harder to remember why the milk, cheese, yogurt or eggs on dinner table come from the exact same kind of conditions.

I'm feeling rather guilty about the cheese sandwich I had for dinner at a work event last night.  Think I'll go strictly vegan for a few days and then go to the co-op this weekend to buy some food I feel comfortable eating (from responsible local farmers).  I should really plan some trips out to farms this summer to tour the living conditions myself too...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Honeybee deaths linked to insecticide exposure

As a fellow vegan recently stated on FB: We need to take care of the bees, because the bees take care of our food!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What about the sweet little honeybees?

For years there has been a debate over the use of honey by vegans, some claim its okay for vegans to use and others claim under no circumstance is it fundamentally or ethically vegan at all.  Here is some more information from PETA about why many vegans won't consume honey:
Honeybees are not native to North America
Although there were 3,500 native bee species of bees pollinating the flowers and food crops of North America when European settlers landed on its shores in the 17th century, the colonists were interested only in their Old World honeybees’ wax and honey. They imported the insects, and by the mid-1800s, both feral and domesticated colonies of honeybees were scattered all over the United States. As a result of disease, pesticides, and climate changes, the honeybee population has been nearly decimated, but since the demand for the bees’ honey and other products remains high, these tiny animals are factory-farmed, much like chickens, pigs, and cows are.

Bees Need Their Honey 
Plants produce nectar to attract pollinators (bees, butterflies, bats, and other mammals), who are necessary for successful plant reproduction. Bees collect and use nectar to make honey, which provides vital nourishment for them, especially during the winter. Since nectar contains a lot of water, bees have to work to dry it out, and they add enzymes from their own bodies to convert it into food and prevent it from going bad. A single worker bee may visit up to 10,000 flowers in one day yet and, in his or her lifetime, produce only one a teaspoonful of honey.

Honeybees Do Not Pollinate as Well as Native Bees
Approximately one out of every three mouthfuls of food or drink that humans consume is made possible by pollinators—insects, birds, and mammals pollinate about 75 percent of all food crops. Industrial beekeepers want consumers to believe that honey is just a byproduct of the necessary pollination provided by honeybees, but honeybees are not as good at pollinating as many truly wild bees, such as bumblebees and carpenter and digger bees. Native bees are active earlier in the spring, both males and females pollinate, and they are unaffected by mites and Africanized bees, which can harm honeybees. But because most species of native bees hibernate for as many as 11 months out of the year and do not live in large colonies, they do not produce massive amounts of honey, and the little that they do produce is not worth the effort required to steal it from them. So although native bees are more effective pollinators, farmers continue to rely on factory-farmed honeybees for pollination so that the honey industry can take in more than 176 million pounds of honey every year, at a value of more than $215 million.

Manipulating Nature
Profiting from honey requires the manipulation and exploitation of the insects’ desire to live and protect their hive. Like other factory-farmed animals, honeybees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation.

The familiar white box that serves as a beehive has been around since the mid-1850s and was created so that beekeepers could move the hives from place to place. The New York Times reported that bees have been “moved from shapes that accommodated their own geometry to flat-topped tenements, sentenced to life in file cabinets.”

Since “swarming” (the division of the hive upon the birth of a new queen) can cause a decline in honey production, beekeepers do what they can to prevent it, including clipping the wings of a new queen, killing and replacing an older queen after just one or two years, and confining a queen who is trying to begin a swarm. Queens are artificially inseminated using drones, who are killed in the process.  Commercial beekeepers also “trick” queens into laying more eggs by adding wax cells to the hive that are larger than those that worker bees would normally build.

Since late 2006, farmed honeybee populations have succumbed yearly to a disease called “colony collapse disorder.” Although scientists have yet to find a cause, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says researchers continue to focus on key possibilities that include “bee management stress,” “pesticide poisoning,” and “inadequate forage/poor nutrition.”

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why don't factory farmers like undercover cameras?

Because even without workers kicking and beating animals on a daily basis, the minimum "humane" care looks like this: