Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Memoriam: June Chicken (March 22, 2007 - November 5, 2010)

When we lost our hen Sophia in March of 2009, we were desperate to find hen friends to keep Sara company, so we were lucky to find a couple who were willing to give us two of their two-year old chickens, June and her sister Rose. It was clear that they had no plans to keep any of their chickens much longer, since they had stopped laying regularly, so we know that we'd rescued June and Rose from the slaughterhouse. We knew we could give them a better life, and happily welcomed June and Rose into our family.

June learned to trust us. Shy and nervous when she arrived, she grew into a friendly and affectionate little red hen, the most outgoing of the three sisters. Accepting her role as second in the pecking order, she always seemed to enjoy her life here. She spent her days with Rose and Sara, either in the coop (when snow made it unappealing to them to go out) or roaming the backyard in their large tractor---we move it several times a day and let them out of it as much as we can without exposing them to hawk attacks. (There are LOTS of hawks around here, and as readers of this blog know, we nearly lost Sara to an attack last year.) June was especially fond of dustbathing, and loved to race around the backyard. She loved grated apples and any kind of berry, and sunflower seeds were a favorite, too. When she scampered across the yard and scratched excitedly in the dirt, June reminded us that chickens want only to live safe, peaceful and unrestricted lives, just as we do. Every chicken deserves to live the life June did.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bird Brain is a Compliment

After reading this on's "Top 10 Reasons Not to Eat Chickens"...

"Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals, able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats or dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, “As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens, and people think I’m talking about monkeys.” Dr. John Webster of Bristol University found that chickens are capable of understanding cause and effect and that when chickens learn something new, they pass on that knowledge (i.e., they have what scientists call “culture”). How does your IQ compare to that of a chicken?"

...I decided to try one of the experiments (from the page in the "How does your IQ compare..." link). After all, every time we ask Rose, June and Sarah who the president of the United States is, they answer correctly, with a prolonged "Barrrrrraaaack!" Actually, it's usually June who answers; she's the most vocal, or perhaps just the most political-minded. But I digress...

At any rate, I discovered that our chickens are indeed able to understand that objects still exist even after they are hidden or removed from view, a level of cognition that is actually beyond the capacity of small human children. Bringing the much-beloved tomatoes-and-brown rice treat out to the backyard, I showed Sarah and Rose the food---June was clucking quietly to herself up in the nest box, and thus unavailable---and let them have a little bit, and then hid it away behind a stump. They looked at me for a moment, and then proceeded to ignore me. Sarah started pecking around in the grass for bugs, and Rose began preening herself. But when I tried it a second time, they knew I still had the food! "Look, empty hands," I told them, and busied myself with other things. Nothing doing---weren't forgetting about those luscious bits of August juicy tomato-soaked rice. Of course, I rewarded them with the food. They definitely knew that food was still around.

(Here's a picture of Sarah looking very skeptical, as she often does.)

Here is something else the girls would no doubt like to eat, but can't, as it's up too high for them to reach: a monarch butterfly caterpillar...and the chrysalis that it (or one of its many siblings) formed, hanging on one of the swamp milkweed plants in the backyard.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Wild Blackberry Frozen Vegan Dessert

We made this for the first time recently to celebrate our friend Carell's return to town. It's incredibly delicious as well as healthy.

Wild Blackberry Ice Creme
His website:

2-1⁄2 cups soy milk, nut milk, or oat milk
1/2 cup well-drained silken tofu
1/2 cup raw cashews
1⁄4 cup grape seed oil or canola oil
1/4 cup vegetable glycerin
1/4 cup lecithin granules
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon blackberry extract (optional)
2 teaspoon liquid stevia
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups wild blackberries

1. Place all the ingredients, except for 1 cup of the blackberries, in a blender and process until smooth.

2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

3. Chill the mixture (or begin with chilled ingredients) if required by your ice cream machine, pour the mixture into the ice cream machine, and freeze it according to the manufacturer's instructions.

4. Serve topped with the remaining berries.
Makes 5-1⁄2 cups
Serves 6-8

For more fabulous wild blackberry recipes from Steve Brill, go to his website by clicking on the title of this post.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Beautiful Garden

I just got back from Minneapolis from the Their Lives, Our Voices conference put on by Compassionate Action for Animals a few days ago. It was so inspiring to spend the weekend with a large group of people who have been awakened to the reality of the lives of farmed animals. I made some wonderful new friends, and we ate great vegan food together, some of it at the conference, and some at area restaurants. Particularly good was The Hard Times Cafe, where I went for my usual morning soymilk cocoa as well as a few meals, one of which included a veganized Banh Mi sandwich. In between the excellent talks, I bought a book, "An Offering of Leaves," by Ruth Lauer-Manenti, a yoga teacher, that is continuing to inspire me, too. It's a collection of dharma talks in the form of stories from her life about her yogic commitment to ahimsa (non-violence), compassion, and service. One of the things mentioned in the book is the importance of sharing insights into the nature of reality with others. This is something that is often difficult for me, as I tend to be so very certain of things. Since I was trained to be a teacher, I'm talkative and like to share my insights, but I don't always listen well to others.

The conference was mostly about animals who are farmed for their flesh, milk and eggs, how they are treated and killed, about how to do vegan outreach, working with the media to get the message out, etc. It's a healing and exciting place to be, and it's easy to see myself taking action when I'm in a supportive place like that, but I always dread a little the going back out into the world to talk about it to other people. I got a chance to do that right away, though, before I even left town.

I was having breakfast at The Hard Times cafe with one of my new friends, when a taxi pulled up outside just as I was thinking it was time I called one. The driver was just stopping to get coffee, but was happy to have a fare. On the way to the bus station in the rain, he asked me what I'd been doing in Minneapolis. It wasn't easy to say that I'd been at an animal rights conference, because I knew the conversation from that point might be very difficult, but I said it, anyway, feeling a little like I was jumping into deep water. He asked me about what he'd seen recently on tv, some undercover slaughterhouse footage, and said he hoped it was unusual. "Don't they usually kill them humanely?" he asked, putting his finger, like a gun barrel, up to his temple.

We talked some more about the (impossible) idea of "humane slaughter," sitting in the cab outside the bus station, watching the rain fall around us. He had very long white hair and sad eyes in a soft, round face. I liked his gentle voice and the fact that he became so interested in what we were talking about that he had nearly had an accident. He said that he would stop anyone who tried to kill his dog for food, and agreed that if a hurt, bleeding calf appeared on the street at that moment, he would want to help however he could. He said he actually doesn't eat much meat because he can't afford it. "But I tried a veggie burger, and it tasted like, know..." That was funny to both of us. He agreed to give Tofurky brats a try, adding that come to think of it, his favorite food is Chinese food "that's mostly vegetables, anyway."

Then he told me that when he was a child his family had a big garden, and his mother grew "just about everything: rhubarb, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, sweet corn. And we had an apple tree and a peach tree, too, next to the garage, and I used to sit up there on the garage roof, waiting for my dad to come home, just eating peach after peach. He'd get so mad, not because he minded me eating the peaches, you know, but because I kept throwing the pits down on the ground, and he didn't want all those peach trees growing up all over the place."

The image of him as a little boy in a beautiful vegetable garden, eating peaches and planting new peach trees, was such a contrast with what we had been talking about, the killing of animals for food, the awful vision of the slaughterhouse, of death and cruelty. Talking with others about what they can do to stop participating in violence against animals can be so difficult, but it can also be transformative. Deciding to step outside of the safe feeling I had carried with me from the conference so soon was hard; there was a conflict in me. It's not something I can do every time the opportunity arises, but I am very grateful that I had the chance to be honest, to listen to this man, and also that he took the chance to listen to me. It's good that I have my opinions, my knowledge. But that knowledge should lead me to communicate with others.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

It's Mother's Day

PETA just launched a TV public service announcement about the filth and cruelty that they exposed in their undercover investigation of a farm that supplies Land O'Lakes. Apparently, some Philadelphia-area viewers were so sickened by the ad that they complained to the TV station that aired it. (If only they'd complained to the Land 0' Lakes perpetrators of the abuse, instead!) As a result, the station pulled the spot after it had aired just twice. Ironic...if it was a worker defiling their milk or butter, they'd watch,and then call Land O'Lakes to complain, and probably even demand a criminal investigation.

Yes, it's graphic, but this is the reality of the dairy industry: Cows are electro-shocked and jabbed with knives, they live in stalls covered in urine and feces, and sick cows collapse and die. There's nothing pretty about the way that animals who are used to produce milk are treated, but those who still eat products made animals' milk (aka dairy products) sometimes prefer to live in blissful ignorance.

You can make this ad go viral! Help by sharing the pulled ad through blogs, e-mails, and any other way you can think of. And if you are still eating the products made with animals' milk, make a commitment to stop. Think about the other mothers on this Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Reality Check

Here's Natasha surveying The Back Forty (Feet), sitting near the 360 degree swivel table Steve made to put the solar oven on...

Some things have not gone well on our little homestead recently. First, all of our poor bees died over the winter. We don't know if it was because they had mites, or if there wasn't enough sun behind that bee enclosure, or because there weren't enough consecutive warm days this winter for them to get outside to eliminate, or because the hive got too moist inside. Most likely, it was a combination of all of these things. It's not CCD, that's for sure. Lots of people here lost their bees over the hard winter, including our next door neighbor. And it wasn't that they didn't have enough honey. We had not touched their honey, as they wouldn't have had enough if we did. Now we have about a dozen huge jars of it; Steve spent a very sticky Monday in late March with a rented extractor, and then probably another four hours scraping off and cleaning the foundation sheets, (where they build up the comb for their brood), for the new bees, who are doing well. The new spot for the hive is sunnier, behind a beautiful woven willow gate and chicken wire fence that Steve made to keep the cats from getting too close. The willow branches are from our small willow tree that was so heavily damaged by the December blizzard that it had to be taken down; it had to go anyway, so we could put something that will fruit in, but we were still sad to lose it.

Then we discovered that the peach tree has curly blight. Its first year of blossoming, and so beautiful, but it's not well. The treatment, apparently, is to remove lots of blossoms (more than one would usually) so it doesn't use up all its energy fruiting, make sure to give it seaweed extract as fertilizer and water it if there isn't much rain, then treat it organically with copper next spring.

The back yard, frankly, is a mess---on any trip across the yard, you stumble on clods of bare dirt, scraps of wood, fabric, or metal lying about, or holes that the chickens have scratched up for dust-bathing, or half-rotted sheets of cardboard lain down to help curb the invasive ornamentals. It's easy to catch an ankle in a twist of baling twine or a length of cut raspberry cane or multiflora rose that hasn't yet made it to the compost or stick pile yet. I want it to all look nice and tidy, but am realizing that it's hard to do that and still take care of the earth properly. Practicing permaculture is a SLOW process, so we have to wait and make mistakes.

At least the chickens are all happy and healthy, and the bush cherry is blooming beautifully and looks good. We should have cherries this year. I forgot to get a photo of it, as it's in the front, unlike most of our projects. Steve innoculated more shiitake mushroom logs yesterday. The first set, which might not fruit again, were innoculated in the spring of 2007, and we never got around to posting to show how it was done. He bought spores through the mail, and then drilled holes in oak logs that he got from a big old oak that came down on our friend Glenn's land. (Oak is best because the shiitakes prefer it and it holds its bark longer, so it stays moist longer.) The spores get pushed into the holes with the innoculator tool, and then he seals the hole with melted paraffin. Turns out you can use beeswax, too, and we have lots of that, so he'll use it next time. You'll notice he set up shop in the shade; that's so the open holes don't dry out too much while he's working.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Be a Chicken Advocate: The Backyard Chicken Movement

So many people are excited when they hear that we have chickens, and say, "I want to get chickens, too!" After I tell them about what it's really like to have chickens, they aren't always as enthusiastic. The plain fact is chickens poop alot, and they can be a bit noisy. They also require alot of care---it's not like you can just go away and leave them for a weekend, and they need interesting things to do, especially in the wintertime. They need to get out of their coop and scratch around in real dirt, and that means they will eat most anything that they can get to that you've got growing in the ground. Most vets don't know much about chickens, also, so yours might not live very long. So it's not something I recommend to anyone who doesn't really care deeply about chickens. Of course, if someone wants to get them just for eggs or to kill them to eat them, I don't recommend it.

As interest in "urban farming" spreads across the U.S. many cities are considering letting residents keep backyard flocks of chickens. This can present opportunities for people to learn about chickens and other domestic fowl, but also presents challenges regarding the quality of their care and will likely lead to a huge increase in abandoned birds at local shelters. Many urban centers tolerates wanton breeding, swapping, and backyard slaughter, all of which are being actively promoted by many urban farming enthusiasts. Chicken Run Rescue (CRR) encourages animal advocates to take an active role in advocating for chickens and other domestic fowl as this trend continues. Here's what you can do:

* If you live in Minnesota, sign up as a foster or volunteer with CRR to help care for chickens, consider adopting birds who need homes, and apply for chicken permits. (If you're not a Minnesota resident, contact CRR for more information on groups in your state.)

* Become involved in local policy development and standards of care. Lobby for education requirements for permit applicants. Work to ensure that backyard slaughter is prohibited in your city.

* Advocate for roosters - 50% of hatched chicks are roosters and they are killed outright, abandoned, or sold to slaughter. Oppose limits and bans on roosters.

Every year, domestic fowl, mostly chickens, are impounded by urban Animal Control. These birds are victims of neglect, abuse and abandonment, sometimes used as a source of eggs or intended for slaughter, fighting or ritual sacrifice. Some are the discarded outcome of "nature lessons" for children or after a hobby that no longer holds interest. Don't breed or buy- Adopt! There are never enough homes for displaced animals.

I've always been a big fan of "This American Life" and its producer, Ira Glass, so it was great to find this video, where Ira Glass talks with TV host David Letterman about Chickens and why he (Ira) doesn't eat them anymore!
Ira Glass and David Letterman Talk About Chickens

Friday, March 12, 2010

Help a book about peace and justice surpass Karl Rove on Amazon! It’s here! The March 12 Compassion and Health Campaign

This is very exciting! I just got an email from Dr. Will Tuttle, the author of "The World Peace Diet." He says, "Today, March 12, we see "The World Peace Diet" climbing quickly on the Amazon best-seller list, up to #1 in Healthy Living, #2 in Ethics, and #26 overall at 8:30 am PST, and I think there's a good chance we can go all the way to the top! How terrific to go past Karl Rove (currently #3) and plant this message of peace and compassion for all life in the larger public consciousness. This is something we can all participate in and make happen!!"

So, if only because you don't want Karl Rove to win, please read on...

This book, "The World Peace Diet," written by Dr. Will Tuttle, helps you understand the power of food, and the cultural mentality reinforced by our practice of food, for many levels of healing-–physical, psychological, cultural, ecological, and spiritual. Many people have called it a revelation, and one of the most important books of the 21st century. Today, Friday, March 12, Dr. Tuttle is coordinating a special offer for this critically-acclaimed book called “The March 12 World Peace Diet Compassion and Health Campaign.” Many generous and caring sponsors have donated excellent bonus gifts and prizes to anyone who buys The World Peace Diet (TODAY ONLY), and anyone who buys the book on March 12 (only) is eligible to receive them. Here’s the link to this special campaign: - everything is explained there.

You can help strengthen the forces of health, truth, transparency, sustainability, and peace by buying a copy of The World Peace Diet today (for yourself or to give to a library or friend). It’s a great way to help animals, the Earth, hungry people, and all of us, and spread the message we believe in. Also, "The World Peace Diet" is printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper and soy-based inks, so the eco-footprint of buying this book is tiny and the eco-benefits enormous. As Julia Butterfly Hill says: “Use 'The World Peace Diet' as a guide to empower yourselves and others in making dietary choices that are powerful beyond what you can possibly imagine.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

"My" Valentine's Day Monkey

Shopping our way out of the problem of the exploitation of animals (or any other social ill) isn't really as effective as ads would have you believe, but I really do love my new "necklace," a Primate Freedom Tag. It's the same idea as the POW/MIA bracelets from the Vietnam War (and it comes in keychain length, too). Each tag is unique, imprinted with the serial number, gender, date of birth, species, and location of a monkey or nonhuman ape being held for experimentation in one of the United States' Primate Research Laboratories. The tag I chose at random a couple of days ago turned out to be for a male Rhesus Macaque whose birthday is actually tomorrow, February 13. "R98006," who is being held at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, was born in 1998, so his 12th birthday will be tomorrow, the day before Valentine's Day.

I wonder---seriously, I really do wonder---if anyone who is "working" with him will notice this fact, and if they do, will they acknowledge it in a way that he can benefit from? Does R98006 get a birthday or Valentine's Day present of love in any form? Maybe a day of freedom from cages? A day off from being tortured? Perhaps (but not likely) someone will feed him one of the 92 types of plant foods (fresh fruits, leaves, seeds, tubers, and bark) that wild rhesus monkeys normally consume. If he's being kept in a cage alone, does he get to spend his birthday with other macaques? In the wild, living in areas that range from near desert to snowy mountain heights, macaque troops number around 200, on average. Of course, macaques used in research have difficulty socializing normally after living years in isolation---they develop neurotic problems like hair-plucking or self-mutilation---so R98006 might not be able to enjoy the company of another macaque any more.

So the next thing I need to do is contact the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, where R98006 is being held. He may not even be alive any longer, but if he is, maybe they will tell me how he spent his 12th birthday. I'll ask them to tell me how he's being used, if he's caged alone or with other macaques, what the lab's future plans are for him. I hate thinking about all of this, but doing nothing and feeling hopeless about the situation doesn't do me or R98006 any good. He could live another three to eight years, and the time he may or may not have left will likely be just as nasty and brutish as the first 12 years have been.

For me, wearing a Primate Freedom Tag and writing to ask about "my" monkey, is a reminder not only of the hard realities of life for captive primates in research labs, but also of the hope that experimenting on them could become illegal in our lifetime. To learn more, please visit the Primate Freedom Project website.

(Posted by Marina)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

VegInspiration. Feeding the Shadow

Will Tuttle's website has a daily inspiration for going vegan. The words and photos are always beautiful and positive. Thought I'd share today's "VegInspiration":

VegInspiration. Feeding the Shadow

Posted using ShareThis

(Posted by Marina)

Monday, January 11, 2010


Written by Lee Hall, and reprinted from "Action Line," the Friends of Animals' magazine, 777 Post Road, Darien, Ct 06820.

Climate meltdown is the animal farm’s real nemesis. How do agribusiness CEOs react? Some promise to reduce emissions by using new kinds of animal feeds. Others boast of plans to convert methane into electricity. If it’s a small company, perhaps the owners are describing the animals the buy, breed and kill as part of a natural ecology.

Animal activists have joined in, trying to improve husbandry practices or promote supposedly sustainable animal farms. “Incremental steps!” they say. But likely in the wrong direction.

In 1944, when just over two billion people occupied the planet and before the era of mass-scale industrial farming, Donald Watson and a few like-minded “non-dairy vegetarians” developed the vegan platform: Truly idyllic and sustainable animal farms didn’t exist in the early 1900s, and never will. Watson was a vegan-organic gardener -- steering clear of animal manure, bone meal, feathers or blood, instead using compost for fertility. We haven’t all reached this level of dedication in our own lives, and yet this would seem the best example of a model to set forth, so people know what to strive for. And today, there is an international network of vegan-organic farms. So why aren’t more animal and environmental advocates following -- or at least lending their support to -- their refreshing example?

In the 1970s, Peter Singer’s "Animal Liberation" (followed by "Animal Factories," authored with Jim Mason in 1980, and most recently followed by Singer’s and Mason’s "The Way We Eat") described large animal processing plants as horrifying places; but Singer has steadfastly maintained that breeding and killing can co-exist with the idea of treating animals fairly. In other words, Singer appears to believe that the animal factory, not animal farming per se, constitutes the ethical problem.

For humane reasons and also due to the “environmental costs of intensive animal production” Singer says “we need to cut down drastically on the animal products we consume.”[1]

But does that mean a vegan world? That’s one solution, but not necessarily the only one. If it is the infliction of suffering that we are concerned about, rather than killing, then I can imagine a world in which people mostly eat plant foods, but occasionally treat themselves to the luxury of free-range eggs, or possibly even meat from animals who live good lives under conditions natural for their species, and then are humanely killed on the farm.[2]

Farmers, restaurants and grocery chains have seized the opportunity. Whole Foods Market claims “to assist and inspire ranchers and meat producers around the world to achieve a higher standard of animal welfare excellence while maintaining economic viability.” Singer, together with an alarming number of animal-protection groups, endorsed Whole Foods’ Animal Compassion Foundation, which turned out to be quite lucrative for this internationally expanding corporation.

Celebrity restaurateur Wolfgang Puck was bathed in accolades by two wealthy animal-protection societies for buying only “sustainable seafood,” for indicating “interest” in processing plants that use a gas slaughter method, and for only serving chicken and turkey flesh from farms that comply with “progressive animal welfare standards.”[3] Red flag! Advocacy should never be about making exploitation appear to work decently.

It gets weirder still. In early 2009, Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC think tank known for its reports connecting animal agribusiness with climate change, announced a partnership with the Stonyfield Dairy company. The group’s communications director[4] told me, “ Stonyfield buys dairy from conscientious farmers and is constantly pushing those farmers to improve.” The advertising draw? This dairy producer has animal welfare in mind. The reality? Stonyfield uses animals for profit. The planet gets used up in the process. Dairy cows, who live longer than beef cattle and are overfed to stay as productive as possible, are associated with high methane emissions and feed demand.

Greenwashing is an international phenomenon. A few months ago, a British television station the documentary Pig Business, made by Tracy Worcester, who has worked on behalf of Friends of the Earth. Brimming with disturbing images (some of which were excised for the television audience), the film decries pig crates, rough handling, and cheap meat. Worcester points out that foreign pigflesh -- from the US-based multinational Smithfield, for example -- would fail British expectations of handling and housing standards. The film’s promoters laud small farms and local butchers.

“ I think we all fundamentally like pigs, don't we?" Worcester asks. B ut Worcester will eat bacon, the Telegraph newspaper assures its readers -- as long as it’s from “really, really happy pigs.”[5]

Those pigs aren’t happy, dear readers; they’re dead. Meanwhile, the owners of the supposedly happy animals are pressing free-living beings out of former wildlands. Moreover, animal agribusiness is notorious for its heavy use of fuel to transport crops and animals.

To get around that, we’re told we can be “locavores” -- buying dairy, eggs, and animal flesh as well as vegetables from area farmers or hobby farms, or dining at restaurants with local sources. But even Forbes has run an opinion piece questioning these ideas, citing a study by Rich Pirog of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture that connects transport to just 11% of food's carbon footprint.[6] “No matter how you slice it,” the comment observes, “it takes more energy to bring meat, as opposed to plants, to the table. It takes 6 pounds of grain to make a pound of chicken and 10 to 16 pounds to make a pound of beef.”

The conclusion? “ If you want to make a statement, ride your bike to the farmer's market. If you want to reduce greenhouse gases, become a vegetarian.”

Vegan-organic (also known as “veganic”) growers believe we can live without animal farms -- even without the by-products of animal agribusiness. ( The fruits and vegetables we know as organic are usually grown on farms that raise animals or use animal manures and slaughter by-products to fertilize their soil.) Some think a world without animal agribusiness isn’t possible, and call veganic growers idealists. Who’s right?

To answer the question, we could start by asking if continued reliance on animal farms is really sustainable. Domesticated animals must eat, and feed crops are invasive -- planted where great prairies and dense rainforests once flourished. Animal husbandry also puts tremendous pressure on the world’s water. Veganic growers are genuine liberators, freeing the land from grazing and fodder production, taking no more water than necessary, avoiding pollution, and returning part of the harvest to other beings and to the land. They’re cultivating respect, shielding and celebrating the freedom that’s still possible for animals who live in local ecologies.

Of course, vegan-organic growers are idealists; they hope to show society how to live without relying on a system that treats animals as products. But they will in turn point out that organic growing can’t spread much further as it is now, because the manure it uses needs to come from somewhere, and grazing land is already pushing out the rainforests. Trying to change animal agribusiness in increments -- say, by switching to “cage-free” eggs or supporting free-range concepts -- means forgetting that Earth’s space is finite, and the spread of pasture-based farming uproots free-living beings.

Brian Graff of the North American Vegetarian Society says supporting veganics is “not about reaching some notion of perfection.” Graff explains: “Either buying or growing your own vegan organics is just another avenue open to us to minimize our exploitation of the earth and its creatures.”

So if you’re fortunate enough to have veganic farmers in your area, you’ll be doing something important by supporting them. If you already cultivate a garden, seriously consider avoiding the use of manure and other animal derived products. For more about both of these ideas, check out the work of the Veganic Agriculture Network at


1] Quoted in Rosamund Raha’s “Animal Liberation: An Interview with Professor Peter Singer” in "The Vegan" (quarterly magazine of the Vegan Society; Autumn 2006), at page 19.

2] Ibid.

3] Farm Sanctuary joined the Humane Society of the United States in urging advocates to thank Wolfgang Puck for issuing these claims.

4] E-mail from Darcey Rakestraw dated 6 Jan. 2009.

5] Louise Gray and Charlie Brooks, “Marchioness of Worcester: The Aristocrat Standing Up for Pigs” (27 Jun. 2009).

6] James E. McWilliams , in “ The Locavore Myth” in "Forbes" (issue dated 3 Aug. 2009), states: “A fourth of the energy required to produce food is expended in the consumer's kitchen. Still more energy is consumed per meal in a restaurant, since restaurants throw away most of their leftovers.”

To read this article online at the Friends of Animals website, go to