Thinking About Adding a Friend to Your Household? Adopt and Save a Life!

Here I am, playing with my beloved Dalmatian, Tabathena, when she was a puppy. When I first got her, I didn’t know she was completely deaf. Unable to hear me, she always looked at me intensely and learned to know by the expression on my face what I wanted her to do. When we walked together, Tabathena would always look behind to see where I was and where I was going, and was so attentive that she didn’t even need a leash. Because of her behavior we finally figured out that she couldn’t hear, but that didn’t affect my affection for her, it actually only increased it.

I loved taking Tabathena on walks around the neighborhood. We lived in a very private and quiet neighborhood at the foot of the Hollywood Hills where there was practically no traffic. It was a part of the “Old Hollywood.” Famous directors and actors lived there before Beverly Hills became fashionable. I didn’t have many friends, so afternoons I wasn’t working, rehearsing, or going out on interviews, I would take Tabathena and walk around the neighborhood. I would pass by and sometimes even walk across the large estates in neighborhood, like that of legendary director Cecil B DeMille. Just a few months ago, Angelina Jolie bought the DeMille estate for 23 million dollars. Charlie Chaplin’s property was next to DeMille’s. Other actors who lived at one time in the neighborhood included Mary Pickford and Carole Lombard. I had a friend who lived in the house formerly owned by W. C. Fields; when she and her family moved away, they sold the house to Lily Tomlin.

When I was an adult I learned that Dalmatians are so inbred that many are deaf. Because the sound of sirens will make most dogs howl cringe in pain, Dalmatians, because of their deafness, made ideal mascots on fire engines. I got Tabathena from a litter from a dog owned by my sister Wendy’s friend. The friend’s family bred Dalmatians. Always feeling sorry for the smallest and weakest, I chose the runt of the litter. I didn’t realize at the time that one should never get their dogs, cats, puppies, or kittens from a breeder or pet shop. Besides the fact that purebreds have a lot of health issues, buying a companion animal from a breeder or pet shop takes away the chance to save a life of a wonderful animal who is desperately in need of a safe and loving home.

For years I have begged people who are looking to get a pet (companion animal) to do the ethical and compassionate thing and go directly to an animal shelter or a rescue and ADOPT their next best friend. If for some reason they want a purebred dog or cat, there are “breed rescues” as well as many purebred dogs and cats in shelters and at www.petfinders.com.

Did you know that animal shelters kill healthy, wonderful dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens? One reason is that too many people don’t spay/neuter their pets, and when those pets have litters, these babies end up in the “pound.” Another, as I said, is that when people buy instead of adopting, homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are left at shelters to die. I’ve seen with my own eyes dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds with a rope around their necks, tied to a shelter wall, waiting in line to be taken into the kill room; their little legs shaking. Some of them cry with fear and anxiety. It was witnessing that that gave me the impetus to try to educate the public to adopt companion animals and steer them away from breeders and pet shops.

For more information, please read my essay, “Your Animals are Cutered When They’re Neutered” on my website www.PamelynFerdin.com.

Thinking about adding a friend to your household? Adopt and save a life! Thank you.

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

 

Adopt from a City or County Shelter or Rescue Organization and Save a Life!

When I was four years old I guest-starred on a television show called “The Littlest Hobo.” The Littlest Hobo was a homeless German Shepherd who wandered the Canadian countryside getting involved in all kind of adventures. I guess you could say the show was Canada’s answer to “Lassie.” I played a little girl who gets lost and is found by The Littlest Hobo and, thanks to his intelligence and determination, is reunited with her parents.

Even as a four-year-old, I had a very strong connection to animals. I instinctively knew that animals were smart, loving beings. In the show, there was a scene where I was supposed to have fallen halfway down a steep embankment and was clinging precariously to a bush above a rushing river. The scene called for the dog, whose real name was London, to rescue me by clenching my arm with his teeth and pulling me up the embankment to safety. The wardrobe gal wrapped my arm in a thick bandage, concealed under my clothing and a thick sweater. I wasn’t scared, I knew I had a job to do.

In rehearsing the scene, the director explained to me that I couldn’t “help” London by using my legs to push myself up the embankment, I had to act like a “rag doll” and let London do all the work. But poor London would not clench my arm in his teeth. I’m sure he was afraid he’d hurt me. It took some doing, but finally London’s trainer got him to grip my arm with his teeth and pull me up the embankment, upon which the director called out “Print!”

When my sweater and the wrapping were removed, I had teeth marks on my arm! But I knew that the only reason London gripped me so hard, was because the trainer had forced him and belittled him to do what he instinctively did not want to do; London was a gentle soul.

If you’re looking for a companion animal like London, please adopt from your city or county shelter or contact a rescue organization; never buy from a breeder or pet shop. Five million healthy, loving, darling cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens are killed in shelters (pounds) every year in America because not enough people adopt them. When you adopt, you truly are saving a life!

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

New York Joins L.A. in Banning the Use of Wild or Exotic Animals in Entertainment

 

I photographed these beautiful animals in their natural and rightful habitat on a trip to Africa.

VICTORY! Just two months after the Los Angeles City Council voted to ban the exploitation of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement, the New York City Council made history on June 21, 2017, by voting 43-6 in favor of Intro 1233A, which prohibits circuses with wild animal acts from performing in New York City.

Animals aren’t actors, objects to be imprisoned and gawked at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform painful and confusing “tricks” by means of physical punishment, being beaten and stabbed with bullhooks or tormented with electrical prods. These poor animals are hauled across the country in cramped and airless railroad boxcars or tractor-trailer trucks, kept chained or caged in barren, mind-numbing, filthy enclosures, and separated from their families and friends, all for the sake of human “entertainment.” Most of these animals live shortened life spans; many die still in chains.

Now we can add New York City to the growing list of cities and counties that will not allow this abuse to continue. Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several counties in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Idaho, and North Carolina have also said NO to wild animals in circuses. That’s a huge step in the right direction!

Hopefully NYC will now turn their attention to the plight of the city’s poor, sad carriage horses who suffer and routinely drop dead on the streets of our nation’s biggest metropolis.

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

 

Los Angeles Bans the Use of Wild or Exotic Animals in Entertainment

Protesting in Los Angeles against the use of animals in entertainment.

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on April 25, 2017 to ban the use of wild or exotic animals for entertainment or amusement, passing a motion by Council member David Ryu that affects circuses, other wild animal shows, displays in public areas such as sidewalks and parks, and rentals for parties or events. Los Angeles becomes the largest municipality in the United States to take such action.

I am so very thankful to the City Council for this ban! I can only hope all cities across the country – and the world – follow in Los Angeles’ footsteps.

Animals aren’t actors, spectacles to be imprisoned and gawked at, or circus clowns. Yet thousands of these animals are forced to perform confusing and silly tricks by using physical punishment such as hitting them with bull hooks or tormenting them with electrical prods. These poor animals are hauled across the country in cramped and airless railroad boxcars or tractor-trailer trucks, kept chained or caged in barren, mind-numbing, filthy enclosures, and separated from their families and friends, all for the sake of human “entertainment.” Most of these animals live shortened life spans; many die still in chains.

Now – at least in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and several counties in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Idaho, and North Carolina – this sort of animal abuse won’t be allowed to continue. That’s a huge step in the right direction!

I would be grateful if all who read this post, even those who don’t live in L.A., could take a moment to email the members of the Los Angeles City Council to thank them for their vote and urge them to follow up by drafting the strongest possible ordinance. Feel free to copy mine, or use your own words. Email addresses are listed at the bottom of this post. Thank you!

Dear Council Member,

Thank you for your courage and compassion in voting in favor of the ban on using wild or exotic animals for entertainment in the City of Los Angeles. I urge you and the rest of the Council to draft and approve the strongest and most widely-reaching ordinance to effect this ban.

L.A. City Council members:

David Ryu:
councilmember.ryu@lacity.org

Nury Martinez:
councilmember.martinez@lacity.org

Paul Krekorian:
councilmember.krekorian@lacity.org

Bob Blumenfield:
councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org

Paul Koretz:
councilmember.koretz@lacity.org

Marqueece Harris-Dawson:
councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org

Curren D. Price, Jr.:
councilmember.price@lacity.org

Herb J. Wesson, Jr.:
councilmember.wesson@lacity.org

Mike Bonin:
councilmember.bonin@lacity.org

Mitchell Englander:
councilmember.englander@lacity.org

Mitch O’Farrell:
councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org

Jose Huizar:
councilmember.huizar@lacity.org

Joe Buscaino:
councilmember.buscaino@lacity.org

 

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

 

 

Say NO to Animal Testing!

Here I am holding a rabbit on an episode of “Space Academy.” I remember that rabbit because I could tell he was scared, so I picked him up and held him in my arms and he relaxed.

You know, I’m against vivisection, experimentation on animals. Did you know that product testing labs are STILL vivisecting thousands upon thousands of innocent animals?

Because they are mild-tempered and easy to handle, confine, and breed, rabbits are frequent victims of animal experimenters; more than 170,000 of them are abused in U.S. laboratories every year.

Despite the availability of more modern, humane, and effective alternatives, rabbits are still tormented in the notorious Draize eye irritancy test, in which cosmetics, dishwashing liquid, drain cleaner, and other substances are dripped into the animals’ eyes, often causing redness, swelling, discharge, ulceration, hemorrhaging, cloudiness, or blindness. After the experiments are over the rabbits are killed. In addition, even though internationally-accepted non-animal methods exist, rabbits’ backs are shaved and corrosive chemicals are applied to their raw skin in skin corrosion tests and left there for up to two weeks. These chemicals often burn the skin, leading to tissue damage. The victims of these tests are given no pain relief during this excruciatingly painful experience and, again, after the test is finished, they are killed.

Horrific experiments like those above are being done to cats, dogs, primates, and other animals by laboratories around the world. Please say NO to vivisection and boycott any products that have been tested on animals. Look for products packaged with the symbol that says, “NOT TESTED ON ANIMALS.”

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

 

The Suffering That Goes into a Carton of Eggs

In a 1968 episode of “The Flying Nun,” I played a little girl visiting the Convent San Tanco. In one scene, a tiny baby bird falls from its nest in the convent’s bell tower. The baby’s crying for its mama moves me to near tears. Sally Field’s Sister Bertrille uses her ability to “fly” to return the baby bird safely to its nest.
When I think about birds now I think about the horrific abuse birds – chickens, ducks, and others – endure on egg-laying farms. Egg farms continually breed birds so they have a fresh supply of hens to lay eggs. After two years spending their lives in horribly cramped conditions inside huge warehouses, the chickens stop laying enough eggs to pay for their feed, and they are shipped to the slaughterhouse.
If babies in the hatchery turn out to be males (who, of course, don’t lay eggs), they’re considered useless by-products. Those poor chicks are tossed ALIVE into the trash, crying out for their mothers, or thrown ALIVE into rendering machines to be ground up and used as feed for other animals.
Female chicks have part of their beaks cut off while they’re fully conscious because egg-laying hens are forced to live in such crowded conditions they peck each other. This is why I don’t eat eggs, or any other animals for that matter. Birds such as “broiler” chickens and egg-laying hens live such miserable lives that I simply cannot ethically eat their abused corpses.

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

The Truth Behind the Glossy Heifer Catalogs: A Closer Look at the Holiday Animal Gifting Industry

Here’s a photo of me from a Christmas episode of the short-lived 1967-1968 sitcom, “The Second Hundred Years.” I was nine years old then, and in the episode I played Nancy, a girl who pretended she didn’t want to go to a holiday party when, in truth, she was ashamed to admit she didn’t own a party dress because her single, working mom was too poor to buy her one. Luke, played by Monte Markham, learns Nancy’s secret and gives her a beautiful party dress as a Christmas gift. She, in turn, gives Luke a sampler she embroidered herself by hand. I received a gift, too – after the episode was done I was given the dress to keep. I was thrilled – I loved that dress! Receiving that gift made me happy. Not all gifts turn out the way we intend. Today I know that some gifts people give out of the goodness of their heart result in the suffering and death of humans and non-human animals.

During the holiday gift-giving season, a popular choice for gift donations are programs that send live farm animals as “gifts,” ostensibly to help alleviate hunger and poverty in low-income countries. The reality is, animal gifting does not help the groups it proposes to help; such programs actually harm those communities. The most well-known soliciting organization, Heifer International, is one of the worst offenders. Heifer International would like you to think your donation gives a lift to impoverished peoples when it does just the opposite.

10 REASONS TO SAY NO TO ANIMAL GIFTING HUNGER RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS

  1. MOST DAIRY ANIMAL RECIPIENTS ARE LACTOSE INTOLERANT AND HARMED BY DAIRY.

75% of the world is lactose-intolerant, and 90% of Asian and African populations are lactose intolerant. Increased dairy production is frequently touted as one of the greatest successes of animal gifting programs. But, in reality, both small- and large-scale dairy programs negatively affect the health, well-being, and productivity of people in lactose intolerant populations.

Lactose intolerance occurs when there is not enough of an enzyme called lactase. The result is widespread digestive ills such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, and even vomiting. Consuming milk from other animals is also associated with allergies, asthma, and a host of autoimmune disorders. Most mammals (including humans) become lactose intolerant after weaning. Milk is very specifically created for infants, not adults. Furthermore, there is no need for humans to consume the milk of other animals. Logically, this makes perfect sense but rarely is it fully considered. The resources used to produce dairy ought to be spent on alternatives that provide a higher quality and quantity of calories, protein and calcium.

A typical dairy factory farm.

While animal gifting programs seem to focus on small-scale farming, they have extremely large-scale implications that pave the way for factory farming, and exponentially increase consumption of meat, dairy and eggs throughout entire countries and beyond.

For example, Heifer International is largely considered responsible for the kick-off of industrialized dairy in Japan after World War II. Heifer International boasts that their projects produced 3.6 million gallons of milk in one year in Uganda, and developed a national dairy program in Tanzania. These massive programs were developed despite the fact that 90% of Asian and African populations are lactose intolerant.

  1. MORE FARMED ANIMALS DOES NOT EQUATE TO LESS HUNGER.

Pro-meat biases mean that sustainable plant crops that provide better nutrition and greater income are often overlooked.

A starving cow scavenging trash during 2011 drought in Kenya.

In Ethiopia, over 40% of the population is considered hungry or starving, yet the country has 50 million cattle (one of the largest herds in the world), as well as almost 50 million sheep and goats, and 35 million chickens unnecessarily consuming food, land and water, Severe overgrazing has led to deforestation, soil erosion, and eventual desertification.

Instead of using precious food, water, topsoil, and massive amounts of land and energy to raise livestock, countries like Ethiopia, for instance, could grow teff, an ancient and extremely nutritious grain grown in that country for the past 20,000 to 30,000 years. Teff is very high in protein, with an excellent amino acid profile, and is high in fiber and calcium – one cup of teff provides more calcium than a cup of milk – and is a rich source of boron, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and iron. Researchers have found that teff can be grown by farmers at a yield of 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per acre, with more sustainable growing techniques employed and no water irrigation. Teff has been shown to grow well in water-stressed areas and it is pest resistant.

  1. MORE FARMED ANIMALS MEAN MORE MOUTHS TO FEED.

Many recipients of animal gifting programs struggle to provide even the most basic care to the animals they receive. Animals do not magically produce milk and meat or just “live off the land” by grazing (see below). Animals must be provided food and water in areas where these resources are already scarce, and many of the animals Heifer International gives to impoverished populations care of unaware donors wind up suffering from neglect, dehydration, lack of shelter from temperature extremes, and starvation.

  1. FARMED ANIMALS DO NOT JUST “LIVE OFF THE LAND.”
Zero-grazing animals frequently languish in confinement.

While tempting to believe, farmed animals do not just “live off the land,” consuming only grass and scraps that don’t compete with human consumption. In response to criticism that promoting irresponsible animal agriculture in regions already plagued by desertification and drought, Heifer International and other organizations promote their animals’ “zero-grazing” requirements. “Zero-grazing” is simply a euphemism for “confined in filthy pens.” 

Animal gifting organizations such as Heifer International promote inherently water-intensive animal farming, even in areas identified as water-scarce. Raising animals for food requires up to 10 times more water than growing crops for direct consumption. Additionally, in many arid communities, water is only available from a communal well or reservoir, in which case hydrating animals is a labor-intensive process for adults and children who must travel by foot and can only carry so much. Because of this, hundreds of thousands of animals die a slow death from dehydration.

Initiatives such as micro-irrigation (or drip irrigation) projects for growing crops are far more sustainable and ecologically sound. With micro-irrigation, crops can be grown year-round, harvesting rainwater and precisely redistributing it, and supplying families with sources of food as well as income from surplus harvest. Some families in impoverished countries whose animals have died from dehydration and malnutrition have begun growing crops instead and experiencing food security, better nutrition, and access to healthcare and education from the resulting steady income.

  1. EXPERTS DISAPPROVE OF ANIMAL GIFTING.

The World Land Trust calls animal gifting programs “madness… environmentally unsound and economically disastrous….” WLT concludes that “now that the grave consequences of introducing large numbers of goats and other animals into fragile, arid environments is well documented, it is grossly irresponsible … to continue with these schemes … as a means of raising quick money for charities over the Christmas season.”

Sean O’Neill of the Times of London explains that animal gifting organizations like Heifer International and similar organizations spend exorbitant amounts of money on colorful, glossy catalogs with pictures of cute children hugging and kissing animals wearing Christmas hats along with promises of helping the poor in developing countries, when in fact they do the exact opposite. Children who allegedly benefit from animal gifts are frequently taken out of school to tend to animals. Ultimately, most of their animal “friends” will suffer painful deaths due to disease, dehydration and slaughter.

  1. ANIMAL GIFTING PROGRAMS MISLEAD THE PUBLIC.

Heifer International and similar organizations want their donors to believe that gift recipients and their animals are happy, but they are far from it.  Many gifted animals suffer from confinement, neglect, malnutrition, and lack of protection from weather and temperature extremes. Animals also endure horrific slaughter processes and long-distance transport where they are literally forced to lie down and tied with heavy rope so they can’t get up and die miserable deaths during transport.

According to Animal Nepal founder, Lucia DeVries, “I have been sending letters to Dutch agencies to stop this kind of program for yet another reason: the animals are generally slaughtered in an inhumane manner. In Nepal, for instance, there is only one slaughterhouse, in the capital, Katmandu. This means that virtually all livestock are killed with the often not-too-sharp-knife of rural butchers, causing much suffering to the animal and possibly to the butcher. I’ve met quite a few people who lost fingers while trying to kill a goat.”

  1. ANIMAL GIFTING ORGANIZATIONS ENGAGE IN QUESTIONABLE SPENDING.

Heifer International spent more than $22 million for printing, distribution, processing, and other fundraising-related costs. According to Heifer International’s public tax form, the organization spent $22,359,441 on fundraising alone in one year. Concerns about the priorities and appropriate use of donations apply to all animal gifting programs, but Heifer International raises special concerns because of their annual budget -in excess of $100 million a year – and their well-known luxury spending practices.

Is this where you want your donation to go, to pay for fancy buildings and expensive glossy catalogs that are shipped to tens of thousands of people who haven’t requested or even want them?

Former Indian minister for social welfare and animal protection, Maneka Gandhi, has said, “Nothing irritates me more than charities abroad that collect money and purport to give it to women or children or for animals in Asia or Africa. Very little reaches the country or the cause for which it is meant. Most of it goes toward their own ‘infrastructure,’ which means rent, staff, travel and ‘investigation.’

  1. ANIMAL GIFTING PROGRAMS RAISE CONCERNS FROM CHARITY RATERS.

The Give Well charity-rating organization deemed in their evaluation of Heifer International that the organization lacked sufficient transparency and priority programming to secure positive recommendations or funding. Numerous other charity-rating organizations do not recommend Heifer International as a recipient of your donor dollars because they lack transparency and show no positive results regarding those living in impoverished countries.

  1. THERE ARE BETTER FEEDING PROGRAMS AND GIFT DONATION PROGRAMS.

Due to popular demand, A Well Fed World created a special Plants-4-Hunger  program to provide a compassionate and highly-effective gift-giving alternative.

A Well-Fed World sends 100% of your donation to four hand-picked groups with low overhead and proven successes in high-need areas. These hunger relief projects provide both immediate assistance and long-term community solutions that feed families without harming animals.

They make it easy with one tax-letter, gift card and present. You may also choose to give directly to these groups or choose from their grants list.

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

For the Holidays: Delicious and Cruelty-Free Turkey Alternatives

As a very young child I had a speech impediment. It was a developmental impediment shared by many children, but as an actor it sometimes put me at a disadvantage – except for one time when it turned out not to be a liability, but an asset.

Cast in a commercial for Swanson’s frozen turkey dinners, I struggled with all the R’s in the name of the product. My big line in the commercial came when I was to look up at the actress playing my mother and ask, “May I have some more turkey, please?” Try my hardest, the best I could do was “May I have some maw tuhkey, please?” Expecting to be admonished for messing up the line, I was surprised and relieved when the director thought my delivery was adorable. Not only did he and Swanson’s keep the line in the commercial, they cast me in two more commercials, provided I spoke the line just the same way.

At the time, I thought of turkey as something that came in a tin foil tray or surrounded by stuffing on a platter at holiday time. I had no idea that turkeys are beautiful, intelligent, and loving birds. Neither did I know of the excruciatingly painful lives they lead at factory farms or on oxymoronically-named “humanely-raised” farms.

Turkeys are very family oriented. In natural conditions, turkey hens are devoted mothers who care diligently for their babies. Young turkeys, known as poults, learn crucial survival information from their mother, including what to eat, how to avoid predators, the layout of the home range, and important social behavior.

Did you know?

Turkeys like to eat breakfast and dinner together as a family. They have two main meal times, one mid-morning, the other mid-afternoon. Family units often come together for meals.

Mother turkeys are fiercely protective of their young, and will risk their lives to save their babies. If she senses a threat, a mother turkey sounds a specific warning cry to her brood that means only one thing: run for cover. She may also attack, or pretend to be wounded to distract the predator from her offspring.

When trust has been established, turkeys love to be stroked, snuggled and petted for long periods of time. When receiving such affection, many turkeys make a sound that can only be described as “purring.” Turkeys rescued by sanctuaries, even those who have known great cruelty at human hands, will happily sit for hours having their tummy rubbed.

Turkeys enjoy listening to music, especially classical, and will often sing along!

It is difficult to sneak up on a turkey. They have excellent vision and hearing, even though they have no external ears.

Male turkeys, called toms, love to feel noticed and admired. Toms at sanctuaries are known to follow busy human caretakers from chore to chore, standing off to the side, puffing out their exquisite feathers in a blast of scalloped ruffles, quietly and patiently anticipating the prospect for attention.

We must as compassionate people reevaluate the merciless killing of billions of farmed animals in the name of tradition, and a particularly poignant victim of tradition at this season of the year is the Thanksgiving turkey. The poor bird, lifeless, lying exposed on her back, decapitated, limbs severed, feathers ripped from her body, and organs ripped from her belly through her anal cavity, has suffered, along with millions of her kind, a horrible fate in the name of tradition. Masking violence with the euphemism of gratitude does nothing to ease the turkey’s misery.

Turkeys have been bred to grow so fast and to become so heavy that their bones are too weak to support their weight. They suffer from leg deformities, arthritis and joint pain just in their first few months of life, resulting in lameness so severe that they are sometimes forced to walk on their wings to reach food and water.

Commercial turkeys are artificially inseminated. the industry euphemism for roughly restraining female turkeys, turning them upside down, and violently shoving tubes or syringes of semen into their vaginas.

Turkeys are packed into long, windowless buildings by the thousands. Much like chickens bred for their meat, turkeys are overcrowded on floor systems and forced to live in their own waste. Breathing ammonia fumes and irritating dust causes them to develop respiratory diseases; forced to live in their own urine and excrement, they develop grossly ulcerated feet, blistered breasts, and ammonia-burned eyes and throats.

Although turkeys have claws, if they are treated with kindness and given plenty of space, they will not use their claws against others. With the tremendous overcrowding and brutal handling at commercial turkey farms, stressed turkeys use their thick nails to defend themselves. Because of this, turkey farmers use shears to cut off – without anesthesia – not just the nails, but the first and second section of the turkey’s toes so they will not grow back. Disregard what you may believe about “humane” farms or “free-range” turkeys; the same painful surgery is performed on those birds. The open wounds often get infected and swell, making it incredibly painful for the turkeys to walk. I’ve visited with rescued turkeys at sanctuaries and seen for myself their terribly deformed feet and the swollen stumps of what used to be their toes.

The similarly cruel practice of debeaking is also routinely performed, in which a large portion of the beak is burned off while the turkeys are still chicks. Debeaking is performed using sharp shears, a heated blade, or a high-voltage electrical current. Turkeys’ beaks are loaded with sensory receptors, much like human fingertips, and this painful procedure severs and exposes nerves. Some turkeys starve to death before they are able to eat again; others die of shock on the spot. Not only are debeaked turkeys painfully mutilated, but turkeys use their beaks to preen, to groom, to peck and to eat, natural activities impossible with a disfigured beak, and the cause of lifelong suffering for those who survive the procedure.

At the slaughterhouse, turkeys are shackled by their feet and dragged upside down through an electrified water bath designed to stun them before their throats are cut. But in commercial slaughterhouses, the killing lines move so quickly that many of the turkeys are not properly stunned. The next station consists of an automated blade that cuts their throats as they pass by, so that the turkeys slowly bleed to death. Those turkeys not properly stunned suffer a slow, painful death or continue to flap and writhe, and miss the blade. Tens of thousands of fully conscious turkeys whose throats were not slit proceed to the next station on the assembly line – the scalding tank, which loosens their feathers for removal. Those turkeys who survived are boiled alive.

 

I urge you watch these short clips I have personally selected, then continue on to learn about some delicious alternatives to serving the flesh of this noble bird this holiday season.

The first is a wonderfully uplifting short video about Hildy, a turkey rescued from a commercial farm who was lucky enough to live out her life with people who loved her:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSDCrL6eSvY&sns=em

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMx7w9DD7Xk&sns=em

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRxNj3bbqyc&sns=em

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxpGdcFvKxo&sns=em

There are numerous delicious vegan options for holiday entrees, such as Tofurky Roast, Field Roast’s Celebration Roast, and Gardein’s Savory Stuffed Turk’y, just to name a few. A stuffed pumpkin or other large squash can also make a beautiful main course. All the traditional side dishes can be made vegan easily with non-dairy milks and other plant-based alternatives. There is even vegan eggnog, and I can personally attest that it is delightful! More info about these yummy alternatives follow.

Please remember, it’s not just turkeys who suffer and die needlessly. Nearly 10 billion land animals are slaughtered for food every year in the U.S. alone. Three million of those animals are young dairy cows killed when their overworked bodies stop producing as much milk. Please visit this Guide to Going Dairy Free (https://freefromharm.org/food-products/your-guide-to-going-dairy-free-plant-based-milks-cheeses-and-more/) to learn about amazing plant-based milks, whipped creams, cheeses, yogurts and much more. And please learn more about the cruel dairy industry here: https://freefromharm.org/videos/farm-animal-investigations/the-spiked-nose-ring-a-symbol-for-all-dairy-cruelty/

Now, whether you’re looking for store-bought, order-online, or make-your-own options, it’s easy and delicious to veganize your favorite holiday main dishes. Here are just a few:

  1. Tofurky Roast: available in stores, and many stores will special order for you. http://www.tofurky.com/what-we-make/holiday/feast/
  2. Maple-Apple Cider Tofu with Stuffing and Apple Cranberry Chutney; recipe from Vegan Dad. http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2010/10/maple-apple-cider-tofu-with-stuffing.html
  3. Vegan Pastrami Roast; recipe from The Vegbergers. http://vegbergers.blogspot.com/2012/03/superior-vegan-reuben.html
  4. Native Foods Wellington: A long, loaf-shaped, elegant puff pastry filled with savory seitan, stuffing, orange-glazed sweet potatoes, kale, and herbed mushrooms. Served with mushroom shallot gravy. http://vegetarian.about.com/od/specialoccasionrecipe1/fl/The-Native-Foods-Wellington-Vegan-Thanksgiving-Option.htm
  5. Amazing Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks; recipe from Isa Chandra, The Post Punk Kitchen. http://www.theppk.com/2011/11/seitan-roast-stuffed-with-shiitakes-and-leeks/
  6. Match Meats Stuffed Holiday Roast: Match Meats creates some of the most authentic, realistic-tasting vegan meats out there. At only $13.99, the Holiday Roast, which serves six, is one of the budget-friendlier options. Available in some stores and for order online. http://matchmeats.com/wp1/match-premium-vegan-stuffed-holiday-roast/
  7. Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute: available in some stores, and many stores will special order for you. http://fieldroast.com/product/hazelnut-cranberry-roast-en-croute/
  8. Savory Country-Fried Seitan Cutlets with Spiced Breadcrumbs and Maple Marinade; recipe from Kathy Patalsky. http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2011/09/05/labor-day-country-fried-seitan-cutlets/

PLUS:

Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-Less Roast is so delicious! This is actually my favorite of all of the turkey alternatives I have tried. It’s delicious, and a bargain! Here’s how Trader Joe’s describes it: “A few years back, we teamed up with innovators in healthy and convenient, plant-based foods to create a turkey-less stuffed roast. Made with seasoned soy protein and organic ancient grain flour, it was touted for its remarkable texture and flavor. But rest on our roasts, we do not. Driven to make this main course as delicious and desirable as possible, we’ve punched up the wild rice stuffing with bursts of cranberries and coated the roast in crispy breading, seasoned with herbs and red pepper flakes. Now breaded, our Turkey-less Stuffed Roast with Gravy has never tasted or looked better.”

Gardein Holiday Roast. The deservedly popular plant-based meats company, Gardein, offers a knock-your-socks-off-delicious vegan Holiday Roast. Look for it in the frozen section of your grocery store. Many retailers like Target and Wal-Mart carry Gardein products as well. You can also ask your store to order the product for you. Visit the Gardein site to find out which stores nearest you carry their foods. http://gardein.com/products/#where-to-buy

The Pardon, from No Evil Foods. Now shipping nationwide in the U.S., The Pardon, from the popular plant-based meats company No Evil Foods in Asheville, NC, is a savory, hand-crafted artisanal plant-based roast. Once baked, the herb-rubbed exterior takes on a crispy, golden-brown sheen that breaks through to tender, succulent, juicy plant meat. This protein-packed roast carves magnificently, and the combination of ingredients and technique allow The Pardon to uniquely recreate the experience of eating a traditional turkey dinner, without any of the cruelty. The Pardon serves eight and runs $25. http://www.noevilfoods.com/product/preorder-meats-of-strength-the-pardon-mail-order/

Vegan Herb Roasted Chik’n from The Gentle Chef Cookbook. Check out this mouth-watering recipe gallery from Chef Skye-Michael Conroy’s The Gentle Chef Cookbook. Chef Conroy has pretty much veganized every meat, egg, and cheese dish on the planet, in an effort to make it as easy (and delicious) as possible for animal food lovers to go vegan without feeling deprived. His plant-based meat recipes are made from seitan, and include easy, step-by-step instructions for all the traditional holiday meat centerpieces, including vegan versions of Baked Ham, Herb Roasted Chicken, and Carving Board Roast Turkey. Other recipes include vegan bacon, sausage, sandwich meat slices, nuggets, meatballs… the list goes on and on. See for yourself! http://thegentlechef.com/SeitanandBeyondImages.php

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

Why I Am Vegan

I became vegan over twenty years ago after reading the books The Case for Animal Rights by Dr. Tom Regan and Diet for A New America by John Robbins, and by watching videos showing animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. So gruesome were the images I saw, I could barely keep watching. Everything I read and saw confirmed to me that not only do animals have the capacity to suffer, they do – horribly. I decided I simply couldn’t continue to participate in something that inflicts such suffering upon poor, innocent animals.

From the time I was very young, I remember feeling sorry for the animals I saw or heard about being treated cruelly. I remember, too, when playing the voice of Fern in the animated movie “Charlotte’s Web,” how I felt reading the wonderful words of author E. B. White about animals having personalities, and experiencing fear, anxiety, and happiness. Whether it was an animal I was working with on a set or my own animals I cared for growing up, looking into their eyes, how could I deny that animals feel the same emotions we humans feel?

Although I was only 12 years old, when Fern sang her love song to Wilbur the Pig, it touched me to the core. Fern loved Wilbur, and rightly so. Pigs, like all other animals, including chickens, sheep, and cows, are smart and sensitive. Many people think of pigs as dirty, but if they would visit sites like adaptt.org and veganoutreach.org, they would learn a great deal of new, revealing information about animals that may make them rethink their own dietary and lifestyle choices. Did you know, for example, that pigs have very sensitive skin and burn easily from the sun, so, just as human animals put on protective sunscreen, pigs roll in the mud to keep cool and protect their skin? Pigs, like other animals, should be respected and not exploited or abused. Instead they are horribly abused in factory farms and slaughterhouses, their throats cut, and their still living bodies hung upside down to bleed out, to be cut up and delivered to meat packing plants.

Poor dairy cows are artificially inseminated by a machine known in the industry as a “rape rack,” and kept pregnant their whole miserable lives, pumped constantly for milk until they collapse of brittle, calcium-depleted bones, then trucked in hot boxcars to the slaughterhouse. Every time a dairy cow gives birth, her babies are taken away from her, their umbilical cord still hanging, to be shipped off to “veal farms.” There, they are chained by the neck so they can’t move and fed an anemic diet, so that their flesh is tender and white when they are slaughtered, still in infancy, to be processed as veal.

Dairy is an extremely cruel industry. Did you know “human animals” are the only animals on the planet who consume another species milk after being weaned from their mother? How bizarre is that? I drink almond or soy milk and enjoy vegan cream cheese, vegan mayonnaise, and other vegan cheeses. I could go on and on. Google vegan substitutes for ANY animal product and you will find awesome alternatives.

Finally, a word or two about Charlotte herself, played so beautifully in the film by the late Debbie Reynolds. Charlotte demonstrates that spiders are clever creatures, spinning magnificent, complex webs, something completely beyond the ability of humans. Like other animals, Charlotte the spider protects her babies with love and care. Even spiders ought to be respected!

If you really want to see a movie with heart, soul, humor, and beauty, do get a copy of the animated version of “Charlotte’s Web” starring Debbie Reynolds, Henry Gibson, Paul Lynde as a hilarious rat, Agnes Moorhead, and yours truly. Better still, watch it together with your children or grandchildren.

And if you want to learn more about opposing animal cruelty and choosing compassion (and better health, as well), please visit adaptt.org and get the brochure “Why Vegan” from veganoutreach.com.

If you’re interested in watching some awesome documentaries about how to start the process towards veganism, see “Cowspiracy,” “Forks Over Knives,” and “What the Health.” For an even larger selection, go to nutriciously.com/best-vegan-documentaries/

Your Pets are “Cutered” When They’re Neutered!

About ten million healthy cats, dogs, puppies and kittens are killed each year in animal shelters across the United States. The numbers overwhelm us and, in an important sense, that number diminishes the true horror of the situation, reducing the impact to a confused statistical jumble.

Ten million individual lives. Who can understand a number that big? To appreciate the magnitude of this crisis, one must look into the eyes of the individual dogs and cats waiting to be killed in our animal shelters. I have seen them myself, with ropes around their necks, their legs literally shaking. They looked up to me as if to say, “I just want to be loved. Please help me, I don’t want to die.” They watch as the others who go before them are slapped on a stainless-steel table, a needle filled with poison thrust into their beating hearts and then, sometimes while they are still breathing, dumped onto a cement floor like so much garbage.

Who is responsible? Why DO animals die? The  responsibility for the mass execution of animals in our shelters each year is shared by us all. It is the fault of one uniquely powerful, incredibly myopic and self-centered species, the human. Many of us treat animals like a cheap commodity and take them for granted. They are not accorded the intrinsic value they deserve; the value that a caring, compassionate person may begin to understand if you look into the eyes of all animals. But there are three things that you can do to prevent these unnecessary deaths.

First, we must all be aware that breeding equals killing. There is no adequate justification for the purposeful or accidental breeding of any owned companion animal no matter what the commercial value. Spaying and Neutering is a responsible step to prevent companion animals from giving birth to more and more puppies and kittens. It’s not only healthier for the  individual animal, but it will help stop the killing of those in the shelters. There are low-cost spay/neuter facilities if a person can’t afford to pay the usual $80.00 it costs to spay or neuter a companion animal. Also, most shelters will spay and  neuter the adopted dog or cat before they are taken home by their new family. With the advent of “early spay/neuter programs” a puppy or kitten can be neutered  starting as early as eight weeks of age.

Secondly, only go to an animal shelter or rescue to adopt your next best friend, NOT to a pet store or     breeder. Behind the facade of the pet store window is hidden the gruesome puppy mill industry. Within these breeding farms, puppies endure extreme deprivation during their first weeks of life. At six to eight weeks of age, puppies are crammed two to a crate and shipped to any of the thousands of pet shops across the country. These puppies, jostled from truck to truck and finally to air cargo bays, may endure days in transit. The adult dogs who are used to produce the “cash-crop” of puppies are forced to spend their entire lives in cramped cages or pens. And because profit is the ultimate goal of the puppy mill owner, these poor breeding dogs are kept in conditions that will barely keep them alive and producing. When the adult females are so worn out from giving birth to litter after litter, she is killed because she is no longer profitable to the puppy mill owner.

Even AKC breeders who let you see their facilities are in fact putting a price on the heads of animals who look a certain way and have a certain bloodline. But how can a person base a dog’s or cat’s worth by these criteria? That’s what the Nazis did in Germany. They placed a high value on an individual only if they had blond hair and blue eyes and were of the “correct” bloodline; all other individuals were “worthless.” A dog or cat’s value is NOT in what their AKC papers say; each dog or cat is a unique individual. And those dogs and cats, puppies and kittens who are waiting at your local shelter to be rescued and given a chance at life will be killed if  people continue to frequent pet stores and breeders.

Last but certainly not least, the hope for the animals is to be found in a human culture which learns to feel   beyond itself. We must learn empathy, we must learn to see into the eyes of an animal and feel that it’s life has value. Nothing less will do.

 

 

 

For more information, please visit:

friendsofanimals.org/program/dont-delay-neuter-or-spay/

www.peta.org/issues/companion-animal-issues/overpopulation/spay-neuter/