An editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal recently asserted that there would be public outcry if a factory farm had been responsible for the 300,000 gallons of phosphorus-laden manure spilled on Nov. 24 into Six Mile Creek, a tributary to Madison’s lakes.
But in fact, factory farms are the cause of this spill. Two of the three principal dairy operations that pipe poop to the Waunakee manure digester are designated CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The three together hold about 3,000 cows. Some perspective: The EPA estimates that just 2,500 cows generate as much waste as a city the size of Miami.
Media reporting has placed only the digester in the spotlight of blame. And yes, equipment or human error there is the proximate cause, but it’s not the ultimate one. Cows excrete manure, not facilities.
Holding the digester alone responsible for this mess unfairly implicates its principal source of funding, the public. Taxpayers paid for most of this $12 million digester. The remaining money came from Clear Horizons LLC, which will be repaid from the sale of electricity the digester generates. The CAFOs themselves paid nothing toward the cost of construction. And they pay nothing toward its ongoing operating costs.
Imagine any other industry that could dump its pollution costs this way onto taxpayers. It wouldn’t be the manufacturing industry. Consider the recent experience of the Madison-Kipp aluminum die cast factory in Madison. For polluting nearby groundwater, it’s been ordered to compensate neighbors $7.2 million, and a state environmental lawsuit is pending. Why the difference?
The dairy industry justifies its governmental handouts with a fact we can all agree on: Food is vital. Well yes, food is vital, but dairy isn’t. You’ll find little support from nutrition professionals to the claim that cows’ milk is necessary for human health, except from those the industry pays or, like the USDA, it lavishly lobbies.
On the other hand, a growing body of evidence coming from the Harvard School of Public Health, the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, Kaiser Permanente and other medical organizations challenges the claim that dairy is necessary for human health. On the contrary, they report that dairy products are actually harmful, contributing to prostate and ovarian cancer, diabetes, and cardiac illnesses.
The rationale of the digester was to keep manure out of the Yahara chain of lakes, not to produce electricity. And that’s a good thing. “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” issued by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, reports that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gases than all of the world’s cars, trains and planes combined. Its energy byproducts, like those from the manure digester, do not come close to compensating for the environmental damage this industry causes.
What to do? We need legislation at the local, state, and federal levels to hold polluters accountable for the damage they cause. We need governmental subsidies and policies for food that make sense for all of us, not just for the well-organized agricultural interests with deep pockets to pay lobbyists. Unfortunately, helpful changes like these are unlikely to happen anytime soon in the current political climate.
But we have other avenues for progress. Consider purchasing fewer dairy and other animal products. This once perhaps radical idea is going mainstream, and it’s not just those concerned about their health or about animals who are including more healthy, plant-based foods in their diets. It’s also people concerned about environmental issues, whether that’s the pollution of our nearby lakes or global climate change. There was other news at the end of November. Al Gore announced that he’d gone vegan. Our choices matter.
Charlie Talbert is board president of Alliance for Animals and the Environment.
NESTLÉ Foods’ said it had severed all ties with a Wisconsin Dairy depicted in an undercover video of animal abuse released by animal rights group Mercy For Animals (MFA). The video, released Dec. 10, showed workers kicking, beating and dragging cows in a way that noted animal welfare expert Temple Grandin described as “very abusive, cruel behavior.”
MFA, known for its undercover video and fervent promotion of a vegan lifestyle, used the video to target Nestlé’s DiGiorno Pizza brand, calling on consumers to “ditch dairy, ditch DiGiorno.”
The video was filmed in October at Wiese Brothers Farms in Greenleaf, Wisc., near Green Bay. Nestlé purchases cheese for its pizzas from Foremost Farms, a regional cooperative with several cheese processing facilities throughout Wisconsin, including a plant in Appleton, where Weise Brothers delivered milk.
Foremost Farms said they will no longer accept milk from the dairy, which said that it has terminated two employees as part of its own investigation into what happened in the video. Industry sources tell Feedstuffs that the farm has been cooperating with local authorities, including the sheriff’s department and prosecuting attorney, in addition to bringing in outside animal welfare experts to audit and evaluate the farm’s policies, procedures, training and management.
Grandin, the Colorado State University professor, said that the problems depicted in the video indicate an obvious deficiency in those areas.
“My experience has been that when problems like these occur it can usually be traced back to a lack of supervision,” she said. “There are clear problems of employee training and employee supervision seen in this video. It takes strong management to make it be known that there are certain things you just don’t do and won’t be tolerated.”
Jim Reynolds, a professor of large animal medicine and welfare at Western University in Pomona, Calif., agreed, saying that there was “nothing defendable in the video,” and that the cows shown in the footage were under stress, in fear and probably in pain. He said that the types of behaviors shown by workers in the video should lead to criminal charges of animal cruelty.
“The employees seen in the video completely lacked basic understanding of animal welfare and animal behavior,” said Reynolds. “They showed no empathy for the cows.”
For its part, MFA used the video to encourage the organization’s supporters to bombard DiGiorno’s Facebook page with negative comments, and specifically to promote a vegan lifestyle.
“Although unconscionable cruelty and violence are standard practice for DiGiorno cheese suppliers, caring consumers can help end the needless suffering of cows and other farmed animals by choosing vegan alternatives to milk, cheese and ice cream,” MFA said via its website. “Cows have a natural lifespan of about 25 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years, but the stress caused by factory farm conditions leads to disease, lameness, and reproductive problems that render cows worthless to the dairy industry by the time they are four or five years old.”
According to published profiles of the farm, Wiese Brothers milked more than 4,300 cows in two facilities as of January 2012. Sources tell Feedstuffs that the operation manages as many as 8,600 animals following an expansion project completed last year.
Maybe it was something about what they served in the White House mess in the 1990s. Or perhaps it’s what happens to baby boomer Democrats more than a decade after leaving office. For whatever the reason former vice president Al Gore has gone vegan, just like the president with whom he once served.
Gore’s recent decision to forgo animal products surfaced as an offhand reference in a Forbes magazine piece about Hampton Creek Foods, an upscale vegan product line carried in Whole Foods. Ryan Mac’s article, which posted Saturday, chronicled how wealthy investors including Bill Gates, Tom Steyer and Vinod Khosla have poured money into the company, which hopes to take down the U.S. egg industry with offerings such as a plant-base mayonnaise.
“Newly turned vegan Al Gore is also circling,” Mac writes.
An individual familiar with Gore’s decision, who asked not to be identified because it involved a personal matter, confirmed that Gore opted a couple of months ago to become vegan. Gore’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is unclear why Gore, one of the nation’s most visible climate activists, has given up dairy, poultry and meat products. People usually become vegan for environmental, health or ethical reasons, or a combination of these three factors.
Bill Clinton explained in a 2011 interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta that he adopted a vegan diet primarily for health considerations. Known for consuming a high-fat cuisine while in office, Clinton — who was 65 at the time — said he realized he had “played Russian roulette” with his health for too long, and that since making the switch, “I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy.”
The Humane Society of the United States food policy director Matthew Prescott noted in an e-mail that industrial farm operations are major sources of nutrient pollution, and contribute significantly to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
“Overconsumption and overproduction of meat has given rise to the factory farm, which has put huge threats on the planet and our health,” Prescott wrote. “Whether it’s the whole Clinton/Gore ticket being vegan now, Oprah promoting meat-free eating, Bill Gates backing plant-based foods or the rise of Meatless Mondays, it’s clear that the way we farm and eat is shifting toward a better model.”
Every fall, Well pays tribute to the best part of the Thanksgiving table — the vegetable side dishes!
This year is no exception as we take the turkey off the table and shift our culinary focus to all the delicious foods of the fall harvest. To celebrate our annual “Vegetarian Thanksgiving,” we are starting the Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe database, packed with more than 600 delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes to help you celebrate your holiday.
You can search for recipes by ingredient or you can browse through our collections of favorite dishes. Whether you are looking for appetizers, gluten-free recipes, vegan main courses or vegetarian dishes to wow your crowd, we’ve got you covered!
Click the link below.
Animal rights activists have put up a new roadside memorial on Highway 151 near Mount Horeb celebrating several cows that perished a month ago after a semi-trailer hauling them to slaughter rolled over.
“In memory of the cows who were crushed to death in a truck accident at this spot en route to slaughter,” reads the sign, which the Madison-based Alliance for Animals and the Environment and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, put up early last week. “TRY VEGAN.”
While some cows died in the Oct. 15 crash near Highway E when weight shifted in the truck, other cows escaped and ran loose, prompting officials to close the highway for hours until they were rounded up, according to the Dane County Sheriff’s Office.
The double-decker cattle trailer was traveling from Iowa to a Wisconsin butcher, according to Channel 3000 in Madison.
“PETA hopes its memorial sign will remind tractor-trailer drivers of their responsibility to the thousands of animals they haul to their deaths every day—and remind everyone that each of us can help stop this violence by going vegan,” the organization said in an emailed release Monday.
This is an old post from PETA, but some of you may not have seen these stickers. You can purchase them by visiting AFAE’s Shop Site.
Many vegan Wisconsinites cringe at the sight of “Green Bay Cheeseheads“—not to mention their state’s standard license plate, which reads, “America’s Dairyland,” and features an image of a quaint farm.
Caring drivers in Wisconsin deserve a compassionate alternative to “pro-provolone” plates, so PETA wrote a letter to Governor Jim Doyle pointing out that people who are concerned about cruelty on dairy farms should be offered a license plate that reads, “Wisconsin: America’s Cow Hell,” and comes complete with a realistic image of distressed, sick cows crammed together on a filthy factory farm.
While we wait to hear back from the governor, the Madison-based animal rights organization Alliance for Animals has already produced an “America’s Cow Hell” sticker for Wisconsin drivers to place over the existing “America’s Dairyland” on their license plates. Visit Alliance for Animals’ Web site to order yours today.
– A loaded cattle trailer traveling from Iowa to a Wisconsin butcher rolled over Tuesday night closing Highway 151.
The crash happened west of Mount Horeb, near County Highway E, when the load shifted causing the semitrailer to rollover, according to a release. Deputies on scene said wind could have been a factor. They also said the double-decker trailer may have been more prone to tipping.
Authorities closed both lanes of Highway 151 for several hours. Traffic was diverted at Highway 78 just outside of Mount Horeb.
Officials said the driver of the semitrailer is injured but the extent of the injuries is unknown. Authorities believed the driver would be okay.
The double-decker cattle trailer was transporting around 32 head, and the two levels made it more difficult to unload. With the top level sitting on its side, some cattle appeared stuck in the trailer. Area farmers continued to pitch in throughout the night to help haul the cattle off the road.
Authorities also say some cattle may have escaped when it first happened, though, so far there have been no reports of seeing any missing livestock.
According to the release, several of the cattle died at the scene. At least a couple had to be shot at the scene. A company from Marshall was called to take the carcasses away for rendering, which will then be used for products like pet food.
Local farmers assisted at the scene.
More and more people each day are deciding they want to transition to a vegan-inspired lifestyle. They “get” that it’s a healthier and kinder lifestyle for themselves, animals and the planet.
Surveys commissioned by The Vegetarian Resource Group and Vegetarian Times tell us that almost 2 million Americans identify as vegan (add a million who are vegan except for honey), and more than 15 million Americans consider themselves willing to eliminate animal foods.
And, yet, I hear every day from people who are intimidated by the idea of making the shift to this plant-based, heart-based lifestyle. They feel overwhelmed, anxious and unsure.
Their big question usually is, “Where do I start?”
Now, of course there’s no single right answer to this question. However, I’ve found one somewhat surprising starting point that has worked incredibly well for my clients, family and friends.
This starting point? Green drinks.
Yes, green drinks — juices and smoothies made with dark, leafy greens and other whole plant foods — are what I’ve found to be the perfect place to begin the transition to a vegan-inspired lifestyle.
As I’ve started people with adding just this one thing to their daily lives, I’ve now seen time and again that it works in motivating them to keep moving deeper into what I call “plant-based eating and heart-based living.”
Why Does It Work?
After experiencing the power of starting people with green drinks so many times, I have a theory about why it works. I made a video about this theory for my online program, and I’ll explain it here as well. The theory is two-fold:
1) It’s Psychological
When I tell people we are only going to add one positive thing to their lives, it’s psychologically acceptable to most of them.
We aren’t taking anything away. We’re simply learning something new to bring into their lives that will help them feel better. I tell them — and it’s true — that even if they just did this one thing, they would improve their health and wellbeing.
Everyone I’ve worked with has looked at me in relief (“You’re really not taking anything away?!”) and has been willing to add green drinks to their lives to start.
2) It’s Physiological
The amazing benefit of adding daily green drinks to someone’s life — especially if they’re not getting those dark, leafy greens regularly in their current diet — is that they feel physical effects of this addition very quickly, often within the first week!
By infusing their bodies with the optimal nutrition that greens provide, in the easily-assimilable form of green drinks, I’ve seen people experience fast and tangible improvements in their digestion (chronic heartburn gone), energy (no afternoon slump), skin (hello, rosy cheeks of my youth!), mood (that glass is half-full), cravings (pear is my sugar now!), mental clarity (no more lost keys) and more.
Experiencing these health improvements, in their own bodies, so powerfully and quickly, is amazing motivation to keep going.
It’s All Connected
I’ve heard many a current vegan who started on the path because of their health say that when they began eating healthier whole foods and less animal foods, they experienced shifts that were not just physical, but also mental and spiritual. They started to make connections between everything they consume, how it comes to be and how it affects us, other living beings and the environment.
It’s as if when we start to replace the processed junk food and animal suffering we grew up ingesting with whole plant-based foods grown from the earth, a fog begins to lift, and we’re able to see more clearly and feel more deeply. (This was my own journey, too.)
I believe that just by adding nature’s all-powerful nutritional boost of green drinks to our systems, we light the first spark to ignite this process.
Dark, leafy greens are optimal nutrition. Dr. Joel Furhman found them to be the only 100-ranked food on his 1-100 scale of nutritional value, and he advises we consume them every day. And, as “the mother of the green smoothie movement” Victoria Boutenko tells us, drinking our greens allows us to get way more of them, helps them taste better to our palates and makes them more easily digestible for our generally compromised GI tracts.
Green drinks are detoxifying, alkalizing, energizing, balancing and healing. So by starting people with them as they take their tentative first step toward a vegan-inspired lifestyle, I’ve found we help create a positive opening in their bodies, minds and spirits right at the get-go. And then we just roll forward from there.
So, if you’re one of the 15 million Americans willing to move toward a vegan-inspired lifestyle but you’re not sure where to start, why not try just adding this one thing to your life, and see what happens?