More Information on COVID-19 and Pandemics

More information on COVID-19 and pandemics you may not know:

It’s easy for those of us in the Western world to shake our heads at the gruesome wildlife (wet) markets in China that are the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic now paralyzing the globe. But what’s more difficult is to be honest with ourselves about what kinds of pandemics may be brewing through our own practice of eating animals.

And while the new coronavirus, crippling as it is, might have a fatality rate (proportion of those infected who die) greater than four percent, this catastrophe may be just a dress rehearsal for an even more serious pandemic that could take a more gruesome toll, akin to the 1918 global flu pandemic, which originated in a Kansas slaughterhouse and killed 50 million people.

When that day comes, it’s very likely that such a virus will also have its origin in humanity’s seemingly insatiable desire to eat animals, wild or domestic. The atrocious conditions in which we raise animals today – crowding tens of thousands of animals wing-to-wing or snout-to-snout – serve as amplifiers for viral pandemics.

Indeed, the H1N1 swine flu outbreak of 2009 originated in a pig confinement operation in North Carolina. Factory farms like this cut pigs’ tails off without any anesthesia; thousands slowly die from blood loss. The pigs are stuffed into crates so small they can’t even turn around. Many die from thirst during transport in trucks packed so tightly that those who collapse or die are trampled by others who, in desperation, frantically seek escape.

And while the H5N1 bird flu outbreak in 1997 (case fatality rate: 60 percent) originated in a Chinese chicken factory farm, a similar bird flu in the U.S. just five years ago led American chicken farmers to kill tens of millions of their birds to contain the outbreak. And at this very moment, both India and China have announced bird flu outbreaks originating in chicken factories.

Chickens, like pigs, are tortured in factory farms, crammed so tightly into cages they peck at each other in despair and madness. To combat this, factory farmers mutilate the chickens with a machine that holds them by the head and slices off their beaks with a hot metal blade. As often as not, the blade cuts too close and millions of chickens starve to death.

But you can only play viral Russian roulette for so long, which is why public health experts concerned about zoonotic diseases have for years been ringing the alarm about the industrial farming of animals. Michael Greger, author of Bird Flu: A Virus of Our Own Hatching, calls factory farming a “perfect storm environment” for infectious diseases. “If you actually want to create global pandemics,” he warns, “then build factory farms.”

A 2007 editorial in the American Journal of Public Health on the topic worried that our mass raising and slaughtering of animals for food could be the genesis of the next big global pandemic. Given the connection between industrial animal agriculture and pandemic risk, the editorial observed, “We need to change the way humans treat animals – most basically ceasing to eat them.”

Such a prescription in 2007 might have seemed off the radar as it would have appeared simply too unrealistic. Today, however, technological progress has made it easier to imagine taking the public health experts’ advice more seriously.

Yes, we humans may crave meat, but our concept of “meat” is now becoming far more diverse than in the past. Whereas “protein” was once synonymous with a hunk of flesh from a once-living animal’s body, today many Americans are embracing a type of plant protein that mimics the taste of flesh. There’s the success of plant-based meat alternatives, for example, which are now a popular part of fast food chains’ menus across the country. Many forward-thinking meat companies have even released their own plant-based meat alternative offerings, too. Today’s plant-based meats have all the taste and texture of anything you can find in animal form. You like burgers, sausages, chicken nuggets? There is an almost endless variety of delicious and easy to find meatless product out there. There are plenty of dairy and cheese alternatives too. Looking for something to do while you’re at home? Check them out and find the ones you like the best. You can also purchase through Amazon any number of vegan recipe books.

Whether the concern is climate change, antibiotic resistance, deforestation, animal welfare, or more, the benefits of leaving off the eating of animals and getting our protein source from a plant-based diet, is imperative.

As we hunker down and weather the corona storm now hitting the world, let us take some of our downtime to contemplate that we have the power to reduce the chance of the next pandemic. Wet markets in Asia and elsewhere MUST be shut down, but let’s not stop there. If we have the will to shut down our entire society for weeks on end, surely we have the will to change our diets.

No one NEEDS to eat animals, and together we can “do no harm” to our animal friends and stop inflicting deadly pandemics on ourselves.

Peace to all the animals with whom we share this planet.

Their Wet Market Is Our Factory Farm

This is a follow-up to my March 27 essay about the roots of COVID-19 and other deadly viruses in the abuse, slaughter, and eating of animals.

The writing has been on the wall for years. Animal agriculture, in all of its manifestations — from the disembowelment of pigs to the bloodthirsty “sport” of hunting — is a ticking time bomb. Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, I continue to be stunned by the lack of serious reporting on the source of the problem. Finally, after weeks of sparse coverage, we are beginning to see the issue come to light through figures that have captured the world’s attention, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who stated that “It boggles my mind how when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we don’t just shut it down. I don’t know what else has to happen to get us to appreciate that.”

Since the pandemic began, experts have commented on this connection between animal agriculture and disease outbreaks. What do they say?

“Zoonotic viruses almost always leap to humans directly from our livestock or from wildlife, the slaughter and hunting of which bring susceptible human hosts in particularly close contact with live animals and their infected tissues and fluids. Both farmed and caged wild animals create the perfect breeding ground for zoonotic diseases.” – Liz Specht, PhD, associate director of science and technology at the Good Food Institute. (Wired)

“We invade tropical forests and other wild landscapes, which harbor so many species of animals and plants — and within those creatures, so many unknown viruses. We cut the trees; we kill the animals or cage them and send them to markets. We disrupt ecosystems, and we shake viruses loose from their natural hosts. When that happens, they need a new host. Often, we are it.” — David Quammen, science writer and author of “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.” (New York Times)

“If we want to forestall the evolution of ever-newer, and possibly deadlier, human-adapted viruses, live animal markets must be permanently shut down. Until the Chinese government outlaws these markets, until factory farms housing millions of animals are eliminated, until we take the inevitable logic of disease evolution into account, novel, and potentially deadly, human diseases will continue to arise. Again. And again. And again.”  — Wendy Orent, an anthropologist specializing in health and pandemics, author of author of “Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease” and “Ticked: The Battle Over Lyme Disease in the South.”

“It’s [viral pandemics] about the way we are pushing into the last wild spaces on our planet. When we burn and plow into the Amazon rainforest so that we can have cheap land for ranching, when the last of the African bush gets converted to farms, when wild animals in China are hunted to extinction, human beings come into contact with wildlife populations that they have never come into contact with before…. So as long as we keep making our remote places less remote, the outbreaks are going to keep coming.” – Global health expert Alanna Shaikh. (TED)

Those are just a few. If humans are to survive on this planet, consideration must be given to the roots of the pathogens that threaten to wipe us all out. They’re out there, and they will find their way here. Unless we change the way we live with animals, no amount of soap and hand sanitizer is going to save us.

Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

At the Root of Deadly Pandemics Is the Human Appetite for Animals

In the spring of 1971 I shut down the production of the TV movie “The Forgotten Man” for three days by coming down with the stomach flu, and once I filmed a Barbie commercial when I was sick, throwing up between every take. I suffered a bit then, but those illnesses were not that serious. Amid the global outbreak of the very serious COVID-19 virus, I am doing what I can to stay safe by washing my hands, social distancing, and relying only on credible scientific sources for the truthful information and advisories. I hope you all are doing the same.

The source of the outbreak is believed to be a wet market in Wuhan, China. In a wet market, all kinds of animals, live and dead, are for sale. Fish packed into shallow tubs splash water all over the floor. The floors and counter tops of stalls are slick and red with the blood of animals, killed, skinned and gutted as customers watch. Live turtles and crustaceans climb over each other in desperate bids to escape filthy plastic boxes. Birds and mammals scream. Sick and wounded animals crammed into small cages stacked high drip blood, pus, feces, and urine onto other animals in cages below. In the eyes of all of them there is misery and terror. Water, blood, fish scales and animal guts are everywhere. Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. As the name implies, things are very wet at the wet market.

While wet markets can be found in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, researchers of zoonotic diseases — diseases that jump from animals to humans – pinpoint the wet markets in mainland China as particularly problematic for several reasons. First, these markets often have many different kinds of animals – some wild, some domesticated but not necessarily native to that part of Asia. Many of the customers who visit these markets have developed a pretentious taste for exotic animals – including dogs, bats, pangolins, African serval cats, fennec foxes from the Sahara, marmosets from South America, blue-tongued lizards, iguanas, monkeys, Australian cockatoos, African meerkats, ferrets, rare tortoises, porcupines, snakes and skunks. These rare and beautiful animals can be found at wet markets side by side with pigs, sheep, and chickens waiting to be killed and disemboweled or boiled alive before being eaten. The stress of captivity and imminent death in these chaotic markets weakens the animals’ immune systems and creates an environment where viruses from different species can mingle, swap bits of their genetic code and spread from one species to another, according to biologists and epidemiologists. When that happens, a new strain of virus gets a foothold in humans and an outbreak like this current coronavirus erupts.

China closed over 20,000 wet markets in February, but markets being run by crime syndicates are still selling animals across Asia with impunity. These places of filth and death as well as hotbeds for disease are still operating in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Burma, where millions of dollars are being made in the shipping and trading of “exotic meat” and wildlife. These and all wet markets are a time bomb of coronavirus risk.

For years, scientists have warned that filthy markets crammed full of sick animals are breeding grounds for new, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Some studies claim that by 2050, more people will be dying from antibiotic-resistant diseases than from cancer. What the world is witnessing in horror in 2020 may be someday be common. If we want to stop the next pandemic, there’s going to have to be truly a global attempt to shut these markets down.

The United Nations has found that 70% of new human diseases were directly linked to animals used for food. The World Health Organization has concluded that the consumption of processed meat contributes to the development of cancer. Research as shown that a diet free of animal products dramatically reduces the risk of many chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including heart disease, cancer, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. In other words, a vegan diet is not only better for human health but for the health and survival of animals.

Deadly viruses, devastating forest fires, accelerating climate change – the farming and eating of animals has apocalyptic consequences. Friends of the meat industry and deniers with motives of their own will claim otherwise, but the truth is, we cannot expect to continue living on planet Earth if we continue to eat animals. It’s really that simple: saving human lives comes down to saving animal lives. The easiest thing that you can do for your own health and the world we live in is to go vegan right now and persuade everyone you know to do the same.

An urgent reminder: Pets CANNOT contract COVID-19 or give it to you; don’t dump your animal companions at shelters where they will be killed.

Peace to all the animals with whom we share this planet.

The Suffering and Slaughter Behind Those Wings and Nuggets

Humans, not nature, have engineered a domestic species – the chicken – from its wild counterpart in a way that so grotesquely robs them of all of the richness and complexity of their tropical rainforest lives and at the same time renders their bodies lethally obese within weeks of birth. Through genetic engineering, grotesque feeding methods, and massive doses of hormones, today’s chickens look nothing like they did a generation ago.

These gentle, clever birds are raised to be slaughtered at six to seven weeks old. Before they are sent to their gruesome deaths, they are grabbed by their legs and stuffed into crates packed so tight, they are forced to squat in their own waste for hours and even days. Most are sent on their way with fractured wings and legs, bruises, and open wounds.

In open trucks they ride, with no protection from the extremes of cold, heat, wind, rain and ice. Denied food and water, many of them arrive dead from heart failure, hypothermia, dehydration, starvation and heat stroke.

Once at their destination, the chickens who survived the journey are stuffed, head-first and fully conscious, into a metal cone called a “kill cone.” Pulled through the bottom opening, the chickens’ throats are slashed or their heads hacked off with an axe. Thrashing about in agony, the chickens soon – but not immediately – suffocate in their own blood. When you see a packaged chicken marked “humanely raised” in the grocery store, reflect upon this: the chicken industry calls the savage process of murder by kill cone, “humane.”

Chickens are naturally friendly, loving animals. They love to cuddle and bond with humans, care deeply for their young, enjoy taking dust baths to keep clean, and are among the smartest of birds. How is it then that we can love parakeets, cockatoos, and other pet birds who live in our homes while visiting such suffering and violence upon their cousins? Humans have an amazing tolerance for even the most unspeakable cruelty as long as it is results in batter-dipped body parts in a cardboard bucket.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video about Sally, a beautiful and sweet hen who came from a Chicago slaughterhouse and who is now, thanks to her brave rescuers, living out her life at Georgia’s Place Bird Sanctuary. Some images are graphic, but the story will touch your heart.

Peace to all of the animals with whom we share this planet.

 

We Can All Help Put an End to Animal Testing

“I’m not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t. … The pain which it inflicts on unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further.” – Samuel L. Clemens aka Mark Twain in a letter to the London Anti-Vivisection Society, May 26, 1899.

Right now, millions of mice, rats, rabbits, primates, cats, dogs, and other animals are locked inside cramped steel cages in laboratories across the country. They languish in pain, suffer from extreme frustration, ache with loneliness, and long to be free. Instead, all they can do is wait in fear of the next terrifying and painful procedure that will be performed on them. Stress-induced neurosis causes many of them to spin incessantly in circles, rock back and forth, pull out their own fur, and even bite themselves. After enduring a life of pain, loneliness, and terror, they will be killed.

More than 100 million animals suffer and die in the U.S. every year in cruel chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics tests as well as in medical training exercises and curiosity-driven medical experiments at universities. Animals also suffer and die in classroom biology experiments and dissection, even though modern non-animal tests have repeatedly been shown to have more educational value, save teachers time, and save schools money. Exact numbers aren’t available because mice, rats, birds, and cold-blooded animals, who make up more than 99% of animals used in experiments, are not covered by even the minimal protections of the Animal Welfare Act and therefore go uncounted.

Examples of animal tests, known as vivisection, include force-feeding pesticides to dogs, dripping corrosive chemicals into rabbits’ sensitive eyes, and exposing living primates’ brains for ghoulish experiments. Perversely, products that harm animals can still be marketed to consumers. On the other hand, just because a product fails to kill or maim an animal does not guarantee that it will be safe for humans to use. What’s the point, then, of such tests?

We can help put an end to animal testing and experimentation. Each of us can help prevent animal suffering and deaths by buying cruelty-free products (see my essay), donating only to charities that don’t experiment on animals, demanding alternatives to animal dissection in schools and universities, and the immediate implementation of humane, effective non-animal tests by government agencies and corporations.

Those non-animal tests already exist. Thanks to forward-thinking scientists, there are methods of studying diseases and testing products that don’t use animals and are actually relevant to human health. These practical and cost-effective alternatives include in vitro tests using human cells and tissue, advanced computer-modeling techniques known as in silico models, and studies that employ human volunteers. These and other non-animal methods are not hindered by species differences that make applying animal test results to humans difficult or impossible, and generally require less time and money to complete.

Another way medical science is moving away from experimenting on animals is through the use of Human Simulators. Not long ago, the use of live animals in Advanced Trauma Life Support courses was common. These courses train trauma surgeons and nurses how to respond with life-saving efficiency to acute injuries. Today, nearly all ATLS courses use only non-animal training methods, chiefly the TraumaMan System simulator. Medical school biology classes also use the TraumaMan System simulator to replace dead cats preserved in formaldehyde.

In too many educational and laboratory settings, however, America is still stuck in the brutal and grotesque past. Many countries have banned the testing of consumer goods on animals, including the European Union, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, and elsewhere; can’t we do the same? Why can’t the United States assume world leadership in treating its animals humanely? With the help of all of us, it can.

 

Hunting Is Not a Sport

I grew up in a city where millions of people follow sports, watch their favorite teams on TV or in packed stadiums, and participate in recreational sports like golf, swimming, surfing, running, and hiking. During my acting career I had little time for recreation, but I did enjoy playing tennis and even made my high school tennis team.
Sports can be fun and exercise, of course, is good for you. Do you what is not a sport? Hunting. Where is the sport in pursuing an innocent animal then firing a bullet through it from a high-powered rifle or taking it down with a bow and arrow? Real sports involve competition between consenting parties and don’t end with the slaughter of an unwilling participant. Hunting is not a sport, and people who enjoy killing are not sportsmen or sportswomen. The same goes for fishing.

There’s no need in a civilized society for people to hunt. Whether it’s in the mountains and forests of California or on the Serengeti plains, killing for pleasure is evil. The thrill hunters get from murdering innocent animals is utterly beyond my comprehension.

Hunters have invented all sorts of excuses to rationalize their bloody hobby. Spare us the effort  – killing has no justification. Hunting has nothing to do with “conservation” or “population control;” nature has handled those matters quite well for millions of years without the “help” of humans. In nature, most animal populations are self-regulating – when food is scarce, those animals don’t reproduce. Left alone by humans, the delicate balance of nature’s ecosystems ensures the survival of most species.

Few things are uglier than the head or other body parts of a noble animal hacked off and hung on a wall or over a mantel. For their “trophies,” hunters typically seek out the largest, most robust animals, those needed to keep their species’ gene pool strong. “Trophy hunting” weakens the rest of the species’ population. Elephant poaching is believed to have increased the number of tuskless animals in Africa, while in Canada, hunting has caused the horn size of the bighorn sheep to fall by 25% over the last 40 years. Nature magazine reports “the effect on the populations’ genetics is probably deeper.”

Quick kills are rare in hunting, and many animals suffer prolonged, painful deaths when hunters severely injure but fail to kill them. Hunting also disrupts migration and hibernation patterns and destroys families. For animals such as wolves and geese, who mate for life and live in close-knit family units, hunting can devastate entire communities.

The fear and the inescapable, earsplitting noises from gunfire and other commotion that hunters create cause hunted animals to suffer tremendous stress. This severely compromises their routine and their eating habits, making it hard for them to store the fat and energy that they need to survive the winter. Loud noises can also disrupt mating rituals and can cause parent animals to flee their dens and nests, leaving their young vulnerable to natural predators. When animals are killed, families are broken up, leaving the young to perish of starvation, exposure, or attacks by other animals.

Hunters likewise often accidentally injure and kill animals other those they’re hunting, including horses, cows, dogs, and cats.  Dogs used for hunting are often kept chained or penned up when they’re not hunting, and much their lives are spent in miserable conditions.

Those who wish only to enjoy our country’s vanishing wilderness and the beauty of nature are often forced to share wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks, and other public lands with armed individuals on the hunt for animals to kill. Forty percent of hunting in the United States is conducted on public lands, at the cost of millions of dead animals every year. Most federal and state agencies charged with managing wildlife refuges, national forests, state parks, and other public lands are funded in part by the sale of hunting and fishing licenses and hunting tourism, and agencies now go out of their way to encourage these activities rather than regulate or police them. In fact, wildlife departments often kill majestic predators, such as wolves, bears, and coyotes, to increase the elk, caribou, and deer population in certain areas so hunters will have more of those animals to gun down. Talk about upsetting the balance of nature.

Before you support a “wildlife” or “conservation” group, ask first about its position on hunting. Some groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the Izaak Walton League, the Wilderness Society, and the World Wildlife Fund are either in favor of “sport” hunting or make no effort to oppose it. People who care about animals shouldn’t give a dime to organizations who see nothing wrong in killing them.
Peace for ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!

Co-Existence, Not Violence, Is the Answer

As if Australia’s animals haven’t suffered enough from the raging brushfires, officials in that country recently announced plans to shoot and kill thousands of camels. Why? Because thirsty camels have “strayed” into human communities looking for water to drink.

In the United States, federal and state governments are spending tens of millions of dollars on plans to “eradicate” feral pigs. The pigs’ “crime?” Entering into human communities looking for food to stay alive. Local governments in California, Arizona, and other states, have been carrying out the same vendetta against coyotes for decades.

The city of Denver, Colorado, plans to kill more of its Canada goose population this year, after slaughtering 1,600 geese last year. The geese have been visiting Colorado on their migrations for millennia, but some people there consider them a “nuisance.”

The story, sadly, is always the same. When human and non-human interests appear to conflict, humans characteristically resort to the slaughtering of innocent animals.  Instead of portraying non-humans as fellow creatures simply trying to exist, we portray them as enemy “invaders” who are coming to destroy our homes and our neighborhoods. Governments and the media use inflammatory rhetoric like “invading armies of pigs,” “marauding bands of coyotes,” and “raiding parties.” Never mind, of course, that the animals were there first, until human “invaders” pushed them out of their natural habitats.

When we use such language, we contribute to the violence against animals. Violent, militaristic language creates distance between human and non-human animals, erasing them as individuals who matter morally and ethically, and obscuring the reality that humans attack and kill far more non-humans (and humans) than the other way around. This makes it easier to rationalize killing animals rather than searching for ways to peacefully co-exist with them.

Invasive species rhetoric is, of course, not the only way that humans create distance from other animals. We also create distance by calling individual animals “it” and by calling the murder of animals a “cull.” The not-so-subtle message is that only humans and their interests matter, while non-human animals and their struggle to survive don’t.

Human activity is increasingly leaving the other residents of this planet without a place to live. Our species is taking more and more space and, through development and human-caused climate change, making more of the planet uninhabitable. Humans have driven native animals from their natural habitats and introduced others to habitats in which they struggle to adapt and survive. They are losing their homes, food supplies, and breeding grounds to humans paving over wetlands, cutting down forests, strip mining on land, and dumping trash in the sea. It is no coincidence that pigs, camels, geese, coyotes, and other “invasive” species are desperately searching for food, water, and shelter. We create a dire situation for other animals, then punish them when they try to cope with it.

What if, instead of punishing non-humans with violence for trying to survive, we accept that humans are responsible for making it necessary for them to enter our neighborhoods and look for food in our gardens and garbage cans? What if we accept that they are fellow beings who deserve to live as much as we do? Many conflicts with animals can be resolved if we restructure society to be more inclusive of other species. The more territory and resources that humans preserve and protect for other animals (more parks and preserves, for example), the less they will be forced need to enter human communities looking for food, water, or places to live. And, the more accommodations that we create for other animals in “our” communities (by making buildings and roads more animal-friendly, for another example), the less conflict there will be among humans and non-humans co-existing in these spaces.

As we work to build a more just society for humans and non-humans alike, we must at least discuss these conflicts for space and resources without describing animals as “pests” and “invaders” or resorting to violence as the go-to means of conflict resolution. Let’s replace mass exterminations and culls with justice and compassion.

“For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.” – Henry Beston, writer and naturalist

A Matter of Love

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love: love of a spouse or significant other, love of a parents or child, love of friends. There are all kinds of love.

There are few among us who haven’t loved an animal. Maybe it was a dog or a cat a rabbit or a bird, and no doubt you believed your animal companion loved you, too. But do animals really love?

Of course they do. When it comes to the ability to feel emotion, non-human animals are no different than human animals. We all experience happiness, sadness, fear, loneliness, anger, and the bonds of companionship. We all feel love, too. You need only observe animals to know that this is true. Nearly all animals care for their children, share mutual bonds with mates (many species mate for life), show strong attachments to companions, demonstrate compassion for the suffering or wounded of their kind (and often of other kinds), exhibit anxiety and sadness when separated, and joy when reunited, and grieve when a child, mate, or companion dies. It is arrogance to suggest that human love is different, or better, or more “real,” than the love animals feel. Whether you’re a human, a monkey, a whale, or a penguin, love is love.

I’ve had many domestic animal companions and I loved them all. They, in turn, showed me love. Never could I have eaten them or hurt or exploited them in any way. How, then, could I eat, hurt, or exploit other animals just because I don’t know them? That’s why I am vegan.  I cannot be complicit in the suffering, torture and abuse of non-human animals. It’s a matter of compassion, and of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

You Can Help Stop the Slaughter in Shelters Now

On January 10, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a plan to invest $50 million over five years to turn his state into a no-kill animal shelter state. You DO NOT have to live in California to help make this happen, or to make it happen in your state, too.

Back in the 1990s I was the Director of Public Relations for New York’s City’s Center for Animal Care and Control. The CACC ran the city’s animal shelters, and I saw first-hand what happens behind closed doors in those death camps. Animals brought into the shelters have three days in which to be adopted. What happens after three days? These innocent, healthy, adoptable animals are taken to what’s called the “kill room.” They are held down and injected in the neck with a drug that causes decompression of their heart and lungs. The animals die slowly and in pain and terror. The poor, lifeless bodies are then dumped in a pile in a refrigerated room and later thrown onto garbage trucks and sent to rendering plants, where they will be ground up for fish food sold in the Pacific Rim countries. It’s brutal, it’s sickening, and I witnessed it with my own eyes. I witnessed the same thing in Los Angeles.

It doesn’t have to be that way. No-kill shelters, only “euthanize” animals who are terminally ill, irremediably suffering, and cannot be rehabilitated. No-kill shelters strive to find permanent homes for all the dogs and cats they take in.

Governor Newsom’s budget proposal to turn California into a no-kill state must pass. To do so, it needs the support of the California state legislature. This is where you and I come in. Remember, you don’t have to live in California to contact these legislators listed below and urge them to support the California for All Dogs & Cats proposal.

This has nothing to do with politics or being red or blue, Republican or Democrat. Send a message to legislators that compassionate citizens refuse to be a party to the mass slaughter of animals. Here’s a link to a list of California state legislators with their contact information. Take a few minutes to send an email, make a phone call, or mail a letter telling them to support no-kill animal shelters and save the lives of innocent animals. Then, contact your own state legislators and urge them to pass a similar bill. Healthy, adoptable, loving animals are being killed by the thousands or millions in your state, too.

Spread the word, stop the slaughter.

Make Your Super Bowl Party Animal Friendly!

Growing up, I wasn’t a big football fan, but in 1969 I got to visit the Los Angeles Rams training camp for a photo shoot to promote the movie, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown.” We recreated Lucy’s favorite gag – holding the ball for Charlie Brown to kick then pulling it away at the last moment. Rams kicker Bruce Gossett, filling in for Charlie Brown, was a good sport, and we had fun.

This weekend is the Super Bowl, and football fans everywhere will be gathering to watch the game and devour untold tons of snacks at Super Bowl parties. My heart breaks when I think of all those chicken wings and other animal products laid out on snack tables. Every wing, sausage, and cold cut reminds me of the innocent lives who suffered and were slaughtered to become snacks. It’s heartbreaking.

There are many mouth-watering vegan alternatives that can make your Super Bowl party 100% cruelty-free. Have you tried Beyond Sausages from the Beyond Meat company? They’re juicy and delicious, and they smell and cook great on the grill. There are plant-based Buffalo- and barbecue-style “chicken” wings that your guests will tear into and ask for more of.

Like coleslaw and potato salad? Make it with dairy- and egg-free Veganaise. I enjoy it on sandwiches, and it’s so much healthier for you.

Offer your guests a beautiful and delicious cheese plate using vegan cheeses. I like the ones made by Daiya, but there are many others. Treeline has a scallion soft spread cheese that is delicious, and Myokos has a good smokey-flavored hard cheese. Supplement your cheese plate with fruits, nuts, and crunchy vegetables. Vegan queso is great, there’s guacamole, and coconut yogurt makes a great base for all kinds of dips. Vegan cheeses are great on pizza, too!

There are vegan meatballs and vegan burgers. I like a hearty vegan chili. Recently I had a great Kung Pao cauliflower. Be creative!

You can find some great recipes for vegan appetizers, dips, and other snacks here.

A lot of people think eating vegan means a steady diet of salads and raw carrots. Get over it! In the 21st century, an amazing and delicious variety of vegan foods are available everywhere. Make your Super Bowl party truly super and 100% cruelty-free.