Get a Taste of Farmed Animal Lives with Farm Sanctuary’s Virtual Experience

fsvirtualexperienceWhat’s it like for animals raised in factory farms, and how does that compare to their natural lives? Farm Sanctuary, a farmed animal education and advocacy organization, recently launched Virtual Experience, which is designed to teach the public about factory farming conditions. People can also learn about some of the rescued animals that live out their lives in peace on one of FS’s two sanctuaries.

Visitors to the virtual experience take on the role of a photographer who is taking pictures of animals in factory farms and at the sanctuary. Clicking on various images on the screen reveals quotes, factoids, images and video, providing information.

The factory farming section of the exhibit includes graphic photos and video, so it’s not for all ages. However, the Sanctuary part of the exhibit will help connect anyone with rescued animals.

Check it out and share it with others.

WebSpotlight: VegFund Helps You Serve Fabulous Vegan Food in Your Community

veganfoodYou’ve been there: the fundraising dinner to help the local humane society help companion animals; the environmental club meeting focused on helping protect wildlife; the human rights fair dedicated to eliminating oppression — all great causes working for a more compassionate, just world, and what’s on the menu? Animals.

Sometimes organizations working for a better world forget about the impact of the food we eat on people, the planet, and especially animals, so it’s great that there’s a new resource available for citizen activists.

VegFund.org helps “fund the distribution of vegan food at local events.”

If you can find an event (preferably one that wouldn’t normally have vegan food) in your community at which you can serve free vegan food, then you can apply to VegFund for possible reimbursement of your food and supply expenses. (See application details.) According to their website, VegFund grants thousands of dollars every week to people organizing vegan food at events.

If you’re someone who has cash to spare, you can also donate to VegFund, so that they can offer grants to other activists.

Image courtesy of JP Puerta via Creative Commons.

Animal Visuals Offers Glimpse into Lives and Deaths of Farmed Animals

The principal at Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee knew that it was difficult for students to envision just how many 6 million is when they were studying the Holocaust (the number of people who were exterminated by the Nazis), so they decided to collect paperclips (one clip to represent one person) to help create a visual representation (see the documentary about the project it became).

Likewise, when we ask people to think about the number of land animals killed for food in the U.S. each year – more than 10 billion – the number alone can be a poor representative of the depth and breadth of suffering and death involved. Recently I found a powerful little visual representation of the number of chickens (9 billion), pigs (116 million) and cows (35 million) killed in the U.S. for food in 2008.

Created by Mark Middleton, founder of Animal Visuals, the brief video shows little animated cow, pig and chicken carcasses sliding along a slaughterhouse line at the average rate of slaughter (such as 287 per second for chickens). The data for the animation comes directly from the USDA.

When you sit and watch all those bodies swinging (and sometimes kicking) along the lines across your screen, and note the counter tallying up the number of cows, pigs and chickens who are being killed during those brief seconds that you’re watching, it’s a visceral image, without being too graphic, so it’s a great little too to share with others. (There’s also a link to “stop” the killing lines and find out about vegan resources.)

Middleton’s goal with Animal Visuals is to “provide compelling visuals and interactive media to empower animal advocates, educate the public, and expose the injustices of animal exploitation.”

He has also created a Virtual Battery Cage, which offers a glimpse into what a battery hen endures while in her cage. The “virtualization” also includes sound and factoids. Although I’m glad this tool exists, I don’t think it’s as strong as the slaughter animation; but, it’s still a new and different perspective.

Look for Middleton to create more such tools in the future.

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming MOGO-esque Portland Area Events

I finally had a chance to update our Events page with some upcoming Portland area events. New ones include:

A World of Warfare: Dynamics of Conflict in the 21st Century
April 6-8
Lewis & Clark College Templeton Student Center, Council Chamber (615 SW Palatine Hill Rd) Portland
For the 47th annual International Affairs Symposium, learn about issues that surround warfare in the 21st century, from using private firms in war, to preparing for tomorrow’s conflicts to debating international law.
Free and open to the public.

Human Trafficking Information Session
Tuesday, April 7, 9:30 am – noon OR
Tuesday, April 21, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Franciscan Spiritual Center (6902 SE Lake Road, Suite 300) Milwaukie, OR
“Join us for a fact-filled session conducted by the Oregon Coalition to Combat Trafficking in Persons. We will discuss the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, victim identification, victim needs, immigration relief for international victims and much more.”


Gluten-free Baking Class

Thursday, April 16 @ 7 pm
Sunnyside United Methodist Church (3250 SE Yamhill St.) Portland
Vegan baker and Try Vegan PDX member Chelsea Lincoln will be leading a class on gluten-free baking, from learning about different flours to learning to bake pancakes, biscuits and cupcakes. $10 fee for supplies.
Find out more.

Witness for Peace Northwest Speaker Tour: NAFTA Turns 15 Free Trade, Food Security and Migration in Mexico
Thursday, April 16th @ 7 pm
Multnomah Friends Meeting House (4312 SE Stark) Portland
A discussion with Baldemar Mendoza Jiménez, Agro-ecologist with the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez, Oaxaca. Take a deeper look at the effects of NAFTA, including resistance to genetically modified (GMO) corn, the impact of migration on sending communities, and the struggle for food security in Oaxaca ’s indigenous communities.
This event is open to the public. Professional translation (English-Spanish) provided.


Isa Chandra Moskowitz Cooking Demo

Sunday, April 26 @ 2 pm
Hollywood Library (4040 NE Tillamook) Portland
Renowned vegan chef and Post Punk Kitchen founder Isa will be demoing delicious dishes.
Free tickets for seating will be given out 30 minutes prior to the program.


Let Live Activism series: Effective Tabling and Leafleting

Sunday, April 26 @ 2 pm
NW IDA Office (1732 NE Alberta St.) Portland
Vegan Outreach volunteer leafleters will be offering a training on effective leafleting. Topics covered will include:

  • Overcoming shyness
  • Choosing appropriate leafleting venues
  • Understanding your target demographic
  • Preparation of supplementary leafleting materials
  • First Amendment rights and other legal issues
  • Formulating effective responses to common questions

Check out the Events page to find more. Email us if you know of good MOGO-esque events happening in the area.

Mark Your Calendar: Jeffrey Masson at Powell’s April 3

faceonyourplateWell-known for diving into the depths of animal emotions in books such as Dogs Never Lie About Love, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, and The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson has a new book out this month that focuses on who ends up on our plates and the consequences of eating them.  Heralded by one reviewer as “Intelligent, absorbing and very easy to digest, this is an essential book for any person who thinks and/or eats,” The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food (W.W. Norton, 2009) examines the health, environmental and spiritual impacts of industrial agriculture and of eating animals.

Masson will be appearing at Powell’s (1005 W. Burnside) here in Portland, Oregon  on Friday, April 3, at 7:30 pm. Here’s his current book tour schedule.

Celebrating 10 Vegan Years By Biking 600 Miles for Farmed Animals

People honor anniversaries in different ways.  Some throw parties, some go on trips, some buy flowers, some turn within and meditate, some drink copious amounts of liquor….and some ride their bikes 600 miles.

Herbivore Clothing Company owner Josh Hooten has decided to memorialize his 10 years of being vegan by biking from Portland, Oregon to the Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California. Josh is recording his training and trip on his blog, Bike Ride for Animals. He’s also hoping to raise $10,000 for Farm Sanctuary. Josh says:

“I’m going to ride my bike 600 miles to help rescued farm animals. The first week of May, 2009, I will leave Portland, Oregon for Tillamook, then ride South to Orland, California. My final destination is Farm Sanctuary, one of my favorite animal advocacy organizations.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the farm several times and I always leave inspired. Getting to meet the animals and the people who care for them is a very powerful experience. I’m raising money on this ride to help Farm Sanctuary provide that experience to others.”

If you’re interested in supporting Josh’s efforts, you can give a donation; you can also spread the word if you have a Facebook account by becoming a fan.

If you’re not familiar with Farm Sanctuary, they are an amazing non-profit organization that focuses on rescue, legislation, education and advocacy for farmed animals. They have  locations in Orland and in Watkins Glen, New York (I went there for the first time last summer and couldn’t get enough pig and cow snuggles.)

In addition to their website, they’ve recently debuted several blogs, including:

~ Marsha

Image courtesy of Josh’s Facebook page.

WebSpotlight: JackNorrisRD.com

veganstirfryWhen it comes to nutrition and health information, vegans have to be extra careful — not because it’s more difficult to eat healthfully on a plant-based diet than with an omni diet (because it’s usually actually easier) — but because many people who want to justify their poor eating choices will look for any excuse to dismiss the health benefits of a vegan diet.

Additionally, for vegan advocates who want to spread the good word about the many positive reasons to go veg, it can sometimes be tempting to spread information that hasn’t been properly verified, or to exaggerate health claims a little bit — not through any desire to intentionally deceive, but because of a deep passion for people, animals and the planet.

With a news media that regularly prints health and nutrition stories that contradict each other, that focus on a tiny detail rather than the larger context, and that mislead and sensationalize, it’s important to have veg health information you can feel confident is accurate and credible.

That’s one reason I’m really excited that Jack Norris, Registered Dietician and President of Vegan Outreach (one of my all-time favorite non-profit groups) has started his own blog with “news for vegan advocates and those eating plant-based diets.” Vegan Outreach (VO) is well-known for working hard to ensure that their information is accurate and credible; many of their quotes and statistics come from industry sources. As part of VO, Jack has a website, VeganHealth.org, which provides great information for those interested in the health aspects of a vegan diet. Now Jack’s blog will provide more frequent health information, analyze recent research, and answer questions. His blog has just started, but already he has tackled a great question — one that many people have asked me: “How can I get plant protein without soy?”

If you’re interested in or concerned about vegan health, be sure to bookmark this blog or subscribe to his RSS feed.

~ Marsha

Thanks to Vegan.com for the heads up.