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FBI AGENTS ARE devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets that the bureau believes are named Lucy and Ethel.
The two piglets were removed over the summer from the Circle Four Farm in Utah by animal rights activists who had entered the Smithfield Foods-owned factory farm to film the brutal, torturous conditions in which the pigs are bred in order to be slaughtered.
While filming the conditions at the Smithfield facility, activists saw the two ailing baby piglets laying on the ground, visibly ill and near death, surrounded by the rotting corpses of dead piglets. One was swollen and barely able to stand; the other had been trampled and was covered in blood said _Wayne Hsiung* of *Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)*, which filmed the facility and performed the rescue. Due to various illnesses, he said, the piglets were unable to eat or digest food and were thus a fraction of the normal weight for piglets their age.
Rather than leave the two piglets at Circle Four Farm to wait for an imminent and painful death, the DxE activists decided to rescue them. They carried them out of the pens where they had been suffering and took them to an animal sanctuary to be treated and nursed back to health.
This single Smithfield Foods farm breeds and then slaughters more than 1 million pigs each year. One of the odd aspects of animal mistreatment in the U.S. is that species regarded as more intelligent and emotionally complex, dogs, dolphins, cats, primates, generally receive more public concern and more legal protection. Yet pigs, among the planet’s most intelligent, social, and emotionally complicated species, capable of great joy, play, love, connection, suffering and pain, at least on a par with dogs, receive almost no protections, and are subject to savage systematic abuse by U.S. factory farms.
At Smithfield, like most industrial pig farms, the abuse and torture primarily comes not from rogue employees violating company procedures. Instead, the cruelty is inherent in the procedures themselves. One of the most heinous industry-wide practices is one that DxE activists encountered in abundance at Circle Four: gestational crating.
Where that technique is used, pigs are placed in a crate made of iron bars that is the exact length and width of their bodies, so they can do nothing for their entire lives but stand on a concrete floor, never turn around, never see any outdoors, never even see their tails, never move more than an inch. That was the condition in which the activists found the rotting piglet corpses and the two ailing piglets they rescued.

Female pigs give birth in this condition. They are put in so-called farrowing crates when they give birth, and their piglets run underneath them to suckle and are often trampled to death. The sows are bred repeatedly this way until their fertility declines, at which point they are slaughtered and turned into meat.
The pigs are so desperate to get out of their crates that they often spend weeks trying to bite through the iron bars until their gums gush blood, bash their heads against the walls, and suffer a disease in which their organs end up mangled in the wrong places, from the sheer physical trauma of trying to escape from a tiny space or from acute anxiety (called “organ torsion”).
So cruel is the practice that in 2014, Canada effectively banned its usage, as the European Union had done two years earlier. Nine U.S. states, most of which host very few farms, have banned gestational crating (in 2014, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with his eye on the GOP primary in farm-friendly Iowa, vetoed a bill that would have made his state the 10th).
But in the U.S. states where factory farms actually thrive, these devices continue to be widely used, which means a vast majority of pigs in the U.S. are subjected to them. The suffering, pain, and death these crates routinely cause were in ample evidence at Smithfield Foods, as accounts, photos, and videos from DxE demonstrate.

FBI raids animal sanctuaries
Under normal circumstances, a large industrial farming company such as Smithfield Foods would never notice that two sick piglets of the millions it breeds and then slaughters were missing. Nor would they care: A sick and dying piglet has no commercial value to them.
Yet the rescue of these two particular piglets has literally become a federal case, by all appearances, a matter of great importance to the Department of Justice. On the last day of August, a six-car armada of FBI agents in bulletproof vests, armed with search warrants, descended upon two small shelters for abandoned farm animals: Ching Farm Rescue in Riverton, Utah, and Luvin Arms in Erie, Colorado.
These sanctuaries have no connection to DxE or any other rescue groups. They simply serve as a shelter for sick, abandoned, or otherwise injured animals. Run by a small staff and a team of animal-loving volunteers, they are open to the public to teach about farm animals.
The attachments to the search warrants specified that the FBI agents could take “DNA samples (blood, hair follicles or ear clippings) to be seized from swine with the following characteristics: I. Pink/white coloring; II. Docked tails; III. Approximately 5 to 9 months in age; IV. Any swine with a hole in right ear.”
The FBI agents searched the premises of both shelters. They demanded DNA samples of two piglets they said were named Lucy and Ethel, in order to determine whether they were the two ailing piglets who had been rescued weeks earlier from Smithfield.
A representative of Luvin Arms, who insisted on anonymity due to fear of the pending criminal investigation, described the events. The FBI agents ordered staff and volunteers to stay away from the animals and then approached the piglets. To obtain the DNA samples, the state veterinarians accompanying the FBI used a snare to pressurize the piglet’s snout, thus immobilizing her in pain and fear, and then cut off close to two inches of the piglet’s ear.
The piglet’s pain was so severe, and her screams so piercing, that the sanctuary’s staff members screamed and cried. Even the FBI agents were so sufficiently disturbed by the resulting trauma, that they directed the veterinarians not to subject the second piglet to the procedure. The sanctuary representative recounted that the piglet who had part of her ear removed spent weeks depressed and scared, barely moving or eating, and still has not fully recovered. The FBI “receipt” given to the sanctuaries shows they took DNA samples “from swine.”
Several volunteers at one of the raided animal shelters said they were followed back to their homes by FBI agents, who dramatically questioned them in front of family members and neighbors. And there is even reason to believe that the bureau has been surveilling the activists’ private communications regarding the rescue of this piglet duo.
The FBI specified as part of its search that it was seeking DNA samples from piglets they said were named “Lucy” and “Ethel.” But those were not the names the activists used when publicly discussing the rescue of the two piglets. In their videos about the rescue, they called the pair “Lily” and “Lizzie.” Lucy and Ethel were code names the activists used internally, suggesting that agents were surveilling the activists’ communications, either electronically or through informants, in an effort to find the two piglets and build a criminal case against the group.
Subsequent events confirmed that this show of FBI force was designed to intimidate the sanctuaries, which played no role in the rescue.
Weeks after the FBI’s execution of the two search warrants, Luvin Arms, in the midst of an interview with The Intercept, received a telephone call from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, claiming the agency had received “a complaint” that the sanctuary lacked the legally required licenses for animal shelters that are open to the public.
We had never had an FBI visit or a USDA call about licenses, and now suddenly, within weeks, both happened the sanctuary representative said.

Retaliation for exposing cruel treatment
What has vested these two piglets with such importance to the FBI is that their rescue is now part of what has become an increasingly visible public campaign by DxE and other activists to highlight the barbaric suffering and abuse that animals endure on farms like Circle Four.
Obviously, the FBI and Smithfield, the nation’s largest industrial farm corporation, don’t really care about the missing piglets they are searching for. What they care about is the efficacy of a political campaign intent on showing the public how animals are abused at factory farms, and they are determined to intimidate those responsible.
Deterring such campaigns and intimidating the activists behind them is, manifestly, the only goal here. What made this piglet rescue particularly intolerable was an article that appeared in the New York Times days after the rescue, which touted the use of virtual reality technology by animal rights activists to allow the public to immerse in the full experience of seeing what takes place in these companies’ farms.
The Times article was published July 6. The search warrant against the sanctuaries was obtained the following month, in mid-August, and then executed on August 31. In the interim, the piglets had become stars of a clearly effective campaign against Smithfield Foods. 
In response to questions from The Intercept, Smithfield insisted that it does not abuse its animals. But, as is typical for factory farms, the company offered little more then generalized denials, accompanied by vague accusations that the videos and photos the activists took are somehow “distorted.”
After they rescued the two piglets, the DxE activists did not try to hide what they had done: They did the opposite. They used a tactic known as “open rescue,” the purpose of which is to publicly detail what has been done to help the public understand the true nature of the abuses.
The activists wrote about the rescue in social media postings that went viral, detailing the horrific conditions they witnessed at Smithfield and describing the suffering of the piglets. They posted videos to Facebook and YouTube that they filmed of the farm and the rescue as it happened, with other videos showing Lily and Lizzie being treated at the sanctuaries and growing into happy, playful, healthy adolescents.
Plainly, the “crime” of these activists that has galvanized the FBI is not the “theft” of two dying piglets; it is political activism and investigative journalism, which exposes the cruelty and abuse at the heart of this powerful industry.
In response to a few media reports on the FBI raids at the sanctuaries, bureau spokesperson Sandra Barker told the Washington Post: _I can say that we were at the two locations conducting court-authorized activity related to an ongoing investigation. Because it’s ongoing, I’m not able to provide any more details at this time._
To an industry feeling endangered by growing public disgust over conditions at industrial farms, driven by scandals within the meat, pork, and poultry sectors, Lily and Lizzie are political and journalistic threats.
Animals like them are vital for enabling animal rights activists to demonstrate to the public in a visceral, personalized way that this industry generates massive profit by monstrously and unnecessarily torturing living beings who are emotionally complex and experience great suffering.

Government power abused to intimidate and punish activists
The Justice Department’s grave attention to a case of two missing piglets reflects how vigilantly the U.S. government uses extreme measures to protect the agricultural industry — not from unjust economic loss, violent crime, or theft, but from political embarrassment and accurate reporting that damages the industry’s reputation.
A sweeping framework of draconian laws, designed to shield the industry from criticism and deter and punish its critics, has been enacted across the country by federal and state legislatures that are captive to the industry’s high-paid lobbyists. The most notorious of these measures are the “ag-gag” laws, which make publishing videos of farm conditions taken as part of undercover operations a felony, punishable by years in prison.
Though many courts, including most recently a federal court in Utah, have struck down these laws as an unconstitutional assault on speech and press freedoms, they continue to be used in numerous states to harass and, in some cases, prosecute animal rights activists. As the Times article notes, these ag-gag laws are one reason activists are forced to turn to virtual reality: to show what really happens inside industrial farms without running the risk of prosecution.
Even more extreme and menacing is the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. As I described previously when reporting on the arrest of two young activists, who faced 10 years in prison for freeing minks from farm cages before the animals could be sliced to death and turned into luxury coats — nonviolent animal rights activists are often designated as “terrorists” under the AETA and are treated in the court system as such, even when no human beings are hurt and the economic loss is minimal:
As is typical for lobbyist and industry-supported bills, the AETA passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (its two prime Senate sponsors were James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.) and then was signed into law by George W. Bush.

This “terrorism” law is violated if one “intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by an animal enterprise … for the purpose of damaging or interfering with” its operations. If you do that — and note that only “damage to property” but not to humans is required — then you are guilty of “domestic terrorism” under the law.
Prior to the 2006 enactment of the AETA, animal rights activism that damaged property was already illegal under a 1992 federal law, as well as various state laws, and subject to severe punishments. The primary purpose of the new 2006 law was to expand the scope of criminal offenses to include plainly protected forms of political protest, and to heighten the legal punishments and intensify social condemnation by literally labeling animal-rights activists as “domestic terrorists.”
The factory farm industry and its armies of lobbyists wield great influence in the halls of federal and state power, while animal rights activists wield virtually none. This imbalance has produced increasingly oppressive laws, accompanied by massive law enforcement resources devoted to punishing animal activists even for the most inconsequential nonviolent infractions, as the FBI search warrant and raid in search of “Lucy and Ethel” illustrates.
The U.S. government, of course, has always protected and served the interests of industry. Beginning when most of the nation was fed by small farms, federal agencies have been particularly protective of agricultural industry. That loyalty has only intensified as family farms have nearly disappeared, replaced by industrial factory farms where animals are viewed purely as commodities, instruments for profit, and treated with unconstrained cruelty.
Lately, opposition is emerging from unusual places. Utah federal judge Robert J. Shelby, an Obama appointee who is a lifelong Republican, recently struck down the state’s ag-gag law on First Amendment grounds, noting in his ruling:

For as long as farmers have put food on American tables, the government has endeavored to support and protect the agricultural industry. … In short, governmental protection of the American agricultural industry is not new, and has taken a variety of forms over the last two hundred years. What is new, however, is the recent spate of state laws that have assumed an altogether novel approach: restricting speech related to agricultural operations.
As Shelby detailed, those ag-gag laws were not used until activists began having success in showing the public the true extent of cruelty that industrial farms impose on animals:
Nobody was ever charged under these [early ag-gag] laws, and for nearly two decades no new ag-gag legislation was introduced. That changed, however, after a series of high profile undercover investigations were made public in the mid to late 2000s.
To name just a few, in 2007, an undercover investigator at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company in California filmed workers forcing sick cows, many unable to walk, into the “kill box” by repeatedly shocking them with electric prods, jabbing them in the eye, prodding them with a forklift, and spraying water up their noses. A 2009 investigation at Hy-Line Hatchery in Iowa revealed hundreds of thousands of unwanted day-old male chicks being funneled by conveyor belt into a macerator to be ground up live.
That same year, undercover investigators at a Vermont slaughterhouse operated by Bushway Packing obtained similarly gruesome footage of days-old calves being kicked, dragged, and skinned alive. A few years later, an undercover investigator at E6 Cattle Company in Texas filmed workers beating cows on the head with hammers and pickaxes and leaving them to die. And later that year, at Sparboe Farms in Iowa, undercover investigators documented hens with gaping, untreated wounds laying eggs in cramped conditions among decaying corpses.
The publication of these and other undercover videos had devastating consequences for the agricultural facilities involved. The videos led to boycotts of facilities by McDonald’s, Target, Sam’s Club, and others. They led to bankruptcy and closure of facilities and criminal charges against employees and owners. They led to statewide ballot initiatives banning certain farming practices. And they led to the largest meat recall in United States history, a facility’s entire two years’ worth of production.
Over the next three years, sixteen states introduced ag-gag legislation.
In other words, both the legislative process and law enforcement agencies are being blatantly exploited, misused, to protect not the property rights but the reputational interests of this industry. Having the FBI, in the midst of real domestic terrorism threats, hurricane-ravaged communities, and intricate corporate criminality, send agents around the country to animal sanctuaries in search of DNA samples for two missing piglets may seem like overkill to the point of being laughable. But it is entirely unsurprising in the context of how law enforcement resources are used, and on whose behalf.

Smithfield Food’s defenses
It makes sense that Smithfield Foods would be petrified of the public learning of many of its practices. But in this particular case, they are specifically trying to hide the pure evils of gestational crates. This video, taken by an investigator with the Humane Society in 2012, shows the widespread but hideous reality of gestational crates at a Smithfield farm:
In response to the public controversy over this practice,generated by activists filming what was going on, Smithfield announced in 2012 that they would phase out gestational crating in 10 years, by 2022. They then claimed that by the end of 2017, they would transition completely to “group housing systems.” But as the DxE videos show, gestation crates are exactly what activists found in abundance when they visited Smithfield’s Circle Four.
Indeed, when Wayne Hsiung and DxE visited Circle Four over the summer, they saw no signs whatsoever of any construction or reform efforts to move away from gestational crates, Hsiung told the Intercept. As the videos show, Circle Four had thousands of pigs suffering in such crates. That was where the activists found the two piglets, close to death.
When Smithfield learned that The Intercept was reporting on these issues, a spokesperson emailed a statement and invited further questions. The statement claims that in response to DxE’s reporting, Smithfield “immediately launched an investigation and completed a third-party audit,” and “the audit results show no findings of animal mistreatment.”
This is a typical industry tactic: When they claim, as they almost always do, that their paid auditors discovered “no findings of animal mistreatment,” what they mean is that there was no evidence that their employees engaged in activities that corporate procedures explicitly prohibit (such as beating the animals or administering electric shock).
But what the audit does not do is ask whether the procedures themselves (such as gestational crating) are abusive and thus constitute “mistreatment.” Smithfield failed to provide a response to The Intercept’s follow-up questions about what it does and does not mean when their auditors claim no “mistreatment” was discovered; the company simply reiterated that “the animals observed on the farm by the audit team were in good condition, appeared comfortable, free of clinical disease, and showed no signs of fear or intimidation in the presence of people.” Simply review the DxE video above, and the featured photos showing what they found at Circle Four, to judge for yourself.

In its statement, Smithfield also accused the activists who rescued the two piglets of “risk[ing] the life of the animals they stole and the lives of the animals living on our farms by trespassing”, an odd claim from a company that plans to slaughter all of those same animals. 
When asked to specify how the activists endangered the lives of the sick animals they rescued, Smithfield told The Intercept that “the video’s creators violated Smithfield’s strict biosecurity policy, which prevents the spread of disease on farms.” The statement added: The piglets were not ‘extremely ill’ or ‘on the verge of death.’ These piglets, along with other animals living on the farm, are well cared for throughout their lifetime.
But in response, Hsiung told the Intercept: Our activists use better biosecurity protocols than the company’s own employees, as evidenced by the dead, rotting piglets on the farm. Allowing baby animals to rot to death is, in fact, a serious violation of biosecurity and food safety. Taking photographs of animal cruelty is not.
Smithfield also accused the activists of manipulating their film, claiming that “the video appears to be highly edited and even staged in an attempt to manufacture an animal care issue where one does not exist.” But Smithfield did not respond to this question from The Intercept about the staging allegation: “How would these activists stage hundreds of pigs in gestation crates and dozens of piglets rotting to death — all in virtual reality, no less? It would take a Hollywood blockbuster budget and the most sophisticated team of computer-generated imagery for that. What’s Smithfield’s theory about what they fabricated in this video?”
The only specifics Smithfield offered was the assertion that based on the review of animal care experts, it appears piglets were moved from one section of the barn to another to support the inaccuracies and falsehoods described in the video by its creators.
But Hsiung said: The video speaks for itself. I don’t know how we can fake a rotting piglet. Regarding the accusation that they moved piglets, he added: I imagine what they are seeing is piglets in the wrong sort of pen, gestation rather than farrowing. But that is a testament to their own failed animal care practices. We were shocked and horrified, as well, to see piglets born and housed in inappropriate conditions that left them exposed to trauma.
In sum, the industry has long responded to these videos, which they tried in the first instance to use their lobbying power to criminalize, by insisting that the videos are distorted. Yet they never specify what these supposed distortions are. Now that activists are using virtual reality technology, which allows the viewer to see everything the activists see, such claims are even more untenable than they were before.

Revolving door with agribusiness
A recent change in U.S. political discourse, spurred by events such as the 2008 financial crisis, the Occupy movement, and the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, is the increasingly common use of the words “oligarchy” and “plutocracy” to describe the country’s political system. Though dramatic, the terms, melded together, describe a fairly simple and common state of affairs: power exerted by and exercised for the exclusive benefit of a small group of people who wield the greatest financial power.
It is hard to imagine a more vivid illustration than watching FBI agents don bulletproof vests and execute DNA search warrants for Lily and Lizzie, all to deter and intimidate critics of a savage industry that funds politicians and the lobbyists that direct them.
Substantial attention has been paid over the last several years to the “revolving door” that runs Washington, industry executives being brought in to run the agencies that regulate their industries, followed by them returning to that industry once their industry-serving government work is done. That’s how Wall Street barons come to “regulate” banks, how factory owners come to “regulate” workplace safety laws, how oil executives come to “regulate” environmental protections — only to leave the public sector and return back to lavish rewards from those same industries for a job well done.
Though it receives modest attention, this revolving door spins faster, and in more blatantly sleazy ways, when it comes to the USDA and its mandate to safeguard animal welfare. The USDA is typically dominated by executives from the very factory farm industries that are most in need of vibrant regulation.
For that reason, animal welfare laws are woefully inadequate, but the ways in which they are enforced is typically little more than a bad joke. Industrial farming corporations like Smithfield know they can get away with any abuse or “mislabeling” deceit (such as misleading claims about their treatment of animals) because the officials who have been vested with the sole authority to enforce these laws — federal USDA officials — are so captive to their industry.
Courts have repeatedly ruled that private individuals, animal rights groups, and even state authorities have no right to sue to enforce animal welfare laws, because the “exclusive authority” lies with the U.S. government, which has no real interest in actually enforcing those laws.

The current secretary of agriculture, former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, is just one example, but he vividly highlights the revolving door form of legalized corruption that dominates this industry.
Perdue was raised on a Georgia row farm and obtained his doctorate in veterinary medicine. Despite those seemingly benign credentials, the factory farm industry celebrated the news of his nomination by President Donald Trump. The National Chicken Council, for instance, demanded that he be “confirmed expeditiously.” The enthusiasm was for good reason.
Georgia was pretty friendly to food-industry interests during Perdue’s two terms Grub Street reported, and Perdue “took about $330,000 in contributions from Monsanto and other agribusinesses for his campaigns.” In 2009, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the lobbying group for genetically modified foods, namedPerdue its “Governor of the Year” because, it said, “he has been a stalwart advocate of the biosciences in Georgia and truly understands the promise of our industry.” As Georgia governor, Perdue supported the rapid expansionof factory farm giant Perdue Farms (to which he has no familial relation), with its long history of allegations of animal abuse.
And Perdue has extensive ties to the agribusiness sector he’s now supposed to oversee and regulate. The firm of which he is the founding partner and his family owns and runs, Perdue Partners LLC, is an agribusiness at the heart of this industry:
After being confirmed, Perdue wasted little time lavishing his agribusiness industry with gifts. In February, the USDA “abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities,” reported the Washington Post.
Then, two senators who have received large sums from farmers and ranchers — Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Republican Pat Roberts — agitated for the recession of the Obama administration’s mild regulations on organic eggs, designed to improve conditions for chickens, and the Perdue-led USDA “put the new standard on hold and suggested that it might even be withdrawn.”
In sum, with industry insiders dominating the sole agency (USDA) with the authority to regulate factory farms, animals that are captive, abused, tortured, and slaughtered en masse have little chance, even when it comes to just applying existing laws with a minimal amount of diligence. The politics of the U.S. — including the fact that a key farm state, Iowa, plays such a central role in presidential elections — means there are massive forces arrayed behind factory farms, and very few in support of animal welfare.

From fringe to the mainstream
But the animal rights movement, despite receiving relatively scant media attention and operating under the threat of federal prosecutions for terrorism, boasts some of the nation’s more effective, shrewd, and tenacious political activists. They have made significant strides in turning the public against the worst of the prevailing practices on these farms, and more generally, in forcing into the public consciousness the knowledge of how this industry imposes suffering, abuse, and torture on living beings on a mass and systematic scale, all to maximize profits.
Just a decade ago, the cause of animal cruelty and exploitation was a fringe position, rarely appearing outside far-left circles. That has all changed, thanks largely to the efforts of these activists, many of whom have been imprisoned for their efforts.
Most activists say that it was unimaginable even a decade ago for major newspaper columnists such as the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof or Frank Bruni to take up their cause, yet that’s precisely what they have done in a series of columns over the last several years.
If you torture a single chicken and are caught, you’re likely to be arrested. If you scald thousands of chickens alive, you’re an industrialist who will be lauded for your acumen Kristof wrote in one 2015 column. He described the savagery of the process used to slaughter chickens by the millions and scornfully dismissed industry’s claim that no abuse or mistreatment was found by their auditors.
In a column the year before, Kristof detailed the barbarism and misleading claims that chickens are “humanely raised” at Perdue Farms, the company USDA Secretary Perdue helped to expand — and concluded: Torture a single chicken and you risk arrest. Abuse hundreds of thousands of chickens for their entire lives? That’s agribusiness.
And that’s to say nothing of the other significant costs from industrial farming. There are serious health risks posed by the fecal waste produced at such farms. And the excessive, reckless use of antibiotics common at factory farms can create treatment-resistant bacterial strainscapable of infecting and killing humans. There is also increasing awareness that industrial farming meaningfully exacerbates climate problems, with some research suggesting that it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined. Reviewing the meat industry in 2014, Kristof summarizedwhat he learned this way:

Our industrial food system is unhealthy. It privatizes gains but socializes the health and environmental costs. It rewards shareholders, Tyson’s stock price has quadrupled since early 2009, but can be ghastly for the animals and humans it touches.
Bruni wrote in a 2014 column headlined “According Animals Dignity” of “a broadening, deepening concern about animals that’s no longer sufficiently captured by the phrase ‘animal welfare.’” Instead of simply curbing the most egregious abuses, he wrote, a more principled awareness of the intrinsic worth and rights of animals is emerging: “an era of what might be called animal dignity is upon us.”
Some progress is indeed undeniable. Laws are being re-written to recognize that dogs and other pets are more than property; places such as Sea World and Ringling Brothers’ circuses can no longer feature imprisoned animals forced to perform; and some states are enacting laws criminalizing the worst extremes of animal cruelty.
One U.S. Senator, Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey, has placed animal rights protections as one of his legislative priorities. Booker, who has been a vegetarian since college and recently announced his transition to full veganism, has sponsored a spate of bills to fortify the rights of animals: from banning the selling of shark fins to limiting the legal uses of animals for testing to requiring humane treatment of animals in all federal facilities.
While he has been attacked by the New York Post for “animal rights extremism” after he announced his veganism, Booker now regularly and unflinchingly invokes the core principles of animal rights:
I want to try to live my own values as consciously and purposefully as I can. Being vegan for me is a cleaner way of not participating in practices that don’t align with my values. Rather than these legislative efforts being scorned, a spokesman for Booker told the Intercept that Sens. Merkley and Whitehouse have been reliable allies on animal testing and other efforts; the Shark Fin effort has a number of cosponsors as well; and Sens. Schatz, Markey, Warren, Feinstein, Blumenthal have been partners as well.
The devastating costs of industrial farming and the mass torture and slaughter on which it depends, moral, spiritual, physical, environmental, are being documented in scholarly circles with increasing clarity.
A group of public health specialists jointly wrote in a New York Times op-ed in May: “This sweeping change in meat production and consumption has had grave consequences for our health and environment, and these problems will grow only worse if current trends continue.”

In general, the core moral and philosophical question at the heart of animal rights activism is now being seriously debated: Namely, what gives humans the right or justification to abuse, exploit, and torture non-human species? If there comes a day when some other species (broadly defined), such as machines, surpass humans in intellect and cognitive complexity, will they have a valid moral claim to treat humans as commodities whose suffering and death can be assigned no value?
The irreconcilable contradiction of lavishing love and protection on dogs and cats, while torturing and slaughtering farm animals capable of a deep emotional life and great suffering, is becoming increasingly apparent.
British anthropologist Jane Goodall* in the preface to Amy Hatkoff’s groundbreaking book The Inner World of Farm Animals examined the science of animal cognition and concluded: _Farm animals feel pleasure and sadness, excitement and resentment, depression, fear, and pain. They are far more aware and intelligent than we ever imagined … They are individuals in their own right.
All of these changes have been driven by animal rights activists who, often at great risk to themselves, have forced the public to be aware of the savagery and cruelty supported through food consumption choices. That’s precisely why this industry is so obsessed with intimidating, threatening, and outlawing this form of activism: because it is so effective.
Dissidents are tolerated to the extent they remain ineffectual and unthreatening. When they start to become successful, that is, threatening to powerful interests, the backlash is inevitable. The tools used against them are increasingly extreme as their success grows.
To call the FBI’s actions in raiding these animal sanctuaries a profound waste of its resources is both an understatement and beside the point.
The real short-term goal is to target those most vulnerable, volunteer-supported animal shelters, to scare them out of taking care of rescued animals. And the ultimate goal is to fortify and intensify a climate of intimidation and fear designed to deter animal rights activists from reporting on the horrifying realities of these factory farms.
There is a temptation to turn away from and ignore this mass suffering and cruelty because it’s so painful to confront, so much more pleasant to remain unaware of it. Animal rights activists are determined to prevent us from doing so, and we should all feel gratitude for their increasing success in making us see what we are enabling when we consume the products of this barbaric and sociopathic industry.

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The world desperately needs joined-up action on industrial farming if it is to avoid catastrophic impacts on life on earth, according to the head of one of the world’s most highly regarded animal campaign groups.
Philip Lymbery chief executive of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and the author of *Farmageddon* and more recently *Deadzone* said: Every day there is a new confirmation of how destructive, inefficient, wasteful, cruel and unhealthy the industrial agriculture machine is. We need a total rethink of our food and farming systems before it’s too late.
His comments came on the eve of Compassion’s Livestock and Extinction Conference in London which will bring together scientists, campaigners, UN representatives and multinational food corporations including Compass, Tesco and McDonalds.
The conference aims to bring together a wide ranges of voices and connect up the many impacts that factory farming has on our planet. 
The conference comes against a backdrop of alarming exposés of industrial farming.
A week ago a Guardian/ITV investigation showed chicken factory staff in the UK changing crucial food safety information on chickens, while a month ago the European commission admitted that eggs containing a harmful pesticide may have been on sale in as many as 16 countries. 
In the US in August, meanwhile, campaigners identified the world’s largest ever “deadzone”, an area in the sea where pollutants from farms create algal blooms that kill off or disperse marine life, and singled out the US’s heavily industrialised factory farm system as a major cause.

In an interview with the Guardian, Lymbery said that when he began campaigning on farm animals in 1990, it was still largely seen as a cruelty issue rather than something that went far beyond that.
Since taking over as chief executive of CIWF in 2005, Lymbery has focused on moving the issue out of being a technical niche to get people to understand industrial farming as a big, global problem.
We need to go beyond an isolated approach Lymbery says. “Not just looking at the technical problems around welfare, not just looking at the technical issues around the environment, not just looking at food security in isolation, but putting all of these issues together, then we can see the real problem that lies at the heart of our food system – industrial agriculture.”
Lymbery argues that factory farming is not, as some contend, an efficient, space-saving way to produce the world’s food but rather a method in which the invisible costs are actually far higher than the savings.
Factory farming is shrouded in mythology he said. One of the myths is that it’s an efficient way of producing food when actually it is highly inefficient and wasteful.
Another [myth] is that the protagonists will say that it can be good for the welfare of the animals. After all, if hens weren’t happy they wouldn’t lay eggs.
The third myth is that factory farming saves space. On the surface it looks plausible, because, by taking farm animals off the land and cramming them into cages and confinement you are putting an awful lot of animals into a small space. But what is overlooked in that equation is you are then having to dedicate vast acreages of relatively scarce arable land to growing the feed.
The crops fed to industrially reared animals worldwide could feed an extra four billion [people] on the planet.

As the global demand for cheap meat grows, the expansion of agricultural land is putting more and pressure on our forests, rivers and oceans, contributing to deforestation, soil erosion, marine pollution zones and the global biodiversity crisis, he said.
The UN has warned that if we continue as we are, the world’s soils will have effectively gone within 60 years. And then what? We shouldn’t look to the sea to bail us out because commercial fisheries are expected to be finished by 2048
The rainforest homes of the likes of jaguars and the critically endangered sumatran elephants are being razed to make way for intensive crop production and plantations that are feeding factory farm animals ... the mixed farm habitats of once common farmland birds such as barn owls, turtle doves and skylarks are being stripped away, and ... vast quantities of wild fish are being scooped up to feed industrially reared farmed fish and chickens and pigs, leaving the likes of penguins, puffins and other species starving.
Antibiotic use is another red flag area. There is now overwhelming evidence that the routine prophylactic use of antibiotics is leading to the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, and the World Health Organisation has issued warnings that if we don’t do something to curb antibiotic use in both human and animal medicine we will face a post-antibiotic era where currently treatable diseases will once again kill.”
Although some countries, the UK and the US for example, are now trying to cut back, antibiotic use is totally unregulated in other parts of the world: in China the farmers can just prescribe and administer antibiotics for themselves.
Lymbery believes that we already know the answer to this problem. Compassion advocates a reduction in meat-eating (Lymbery himself is vegan) but is not “anti-meat”. In the long term regenerative farming, a broad term that includes all sorts of practices such as rotational grazing, tree planting, improving soils, reducing chemical inputs, silvopasture and increasing biodiversity, is, Lymbery believes, our only hope and a movement whose time has come.
Hilal Elver the UN rapporteur for the right to food, has talked about the need to move away from industrial agriculture towards agro-ecological models. There is a groundswell, it’s almost starting to be a zeitgeist as key thinkers in civil society start to join the dots and see that actually we do need a new style of agriculture which goes beyond industrial agriculture, which goes beyond simple sustainability, which brings us to a point of regeneration.
On the whole national governments have shown little interest in radical farming reform. But there have been a few notable exceptions such as India, Rwanda and Kenya, and the international community and the corporate world is increasingly interested in financing and supporting these models (USaid is funding a fantastic agroforestry project, although they may be hoping that Trump doesn’t realise this). And in the last few months there has been some support from surprising quarters, such as Michael Gove the UK’s environment secretary, and his recent statement that US-style industrial farming will not be copied here. In the recent lead-up to the appointment of the head of the WHO, more than 200 scientists and campaigners signed a letter asking the appointee to promise to look at the “global health challenge” of factory farming which was widely circulated on social media and led to an editorial in the New York Times.
So how likely is it that we will get global action on food and farming?
I am sure that 20 years ago people calling for a solution to climate change were being asked exactly that question says Lymbery. I believe that nothing less will be needed if we are to secure the future for our children.

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What will future generations, looking back on our age, see as its monstrosities? We think of slavery, the subjugation of women, judicial torture, the murder of heretics, imperial conquest and genocide, the first world war and the rise of fascism, and ask ourselves how people could have failed to see the horror of what they did. What madness of our times will revolt our descendants?
There are plenty to choose from.
But one of them, I believe, will be the mass incarceration of animals, to enable us to eat their flesh or eggs or drink their milk. While we call ourselves animal lovers, and lavish kindness on our dogs and cats, we inflict brutal deprivations on billions of animals that are just as capable of suffering. The hypocrisy is so rank that future generations will marvel at how we could have failed to see it.
The shift will occur with the advent of cheap artificial meat.
Technological change has often helped to catalyse ethical change. The $300m deal China signed last month to buy lab-grown meat marks the beginning of the end of livestock farming.
*But it won’t happen quickly: the great suffering is likely to continue for many years."

The answer, we are told by celebrity chefs and food writers, is to keep livestock outdoors: eat free-range beef or lamb, not battery pork. But all this does is to swap one disaster, mass cruelty, for another: mass destruction.
Almost all forms of animal farming cause environmental damage, but none more so than keeping them outdoors. The reason is inefficiency. Grazing is not just slightly inefficient, it is stupendously wasteful. Roughly twice as much of the world’s surface is used for grazing as for growing crops, yet animals fed entirely on pasture produce just one gram out of the 81g of protein consumed per person per day.
A paper in Science of the Total Environment reports that livestock production is the single largest driver of habitat loss. Grazing livestock are a fully automated system for ecological destruction: you need only release them on to the land and they do the rest, browsing out tree seedlings, simplifying complex ecosystems. Their keepers augment this assault by slaughtering large predators.
In the UK, for example, sheep supply around 1% of our diet in terms of calories. Yet they occupy around 4m hectares of the uplands. This is more or less equivalent to all the land under crops in this country, and more than twice the area of the built environment (1.7m hectares).
The rich mosaic of rainforest and other habitats that once covered our hills has been erased, the wildlife reduced to a handful of hardy species. The damage caused is out of all proportion to the meat produced.

Replacing the meat in our diets with soya spectacularly reduces the land area required per kilo of protein: by 70% in the case of chicken, 89% in the case of pork and 97% in the case of beef.
One study suggests that if we were all to switch to a plant-based diet, 15m hectares of land in Britain currently used for farming could be returned to nature. Alternatively, this country could feed 200 million people. An end to animal farming would be the salvation of the world’s wildlife, our natural wonders and magnificent habitats.
Understandably, those who keep animals have pushed back against such facts, using an ingenious argument.
Livestock grazing, they claim, can suck carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in the soil, reducing or even reversing global warming. In a TED talk watched by 4 million people, the rancher Allan Savory claims that his “holistic” grazing could absorb enough carbon to return the world’s atmosphere to pre-industrial levels. His inability, when I interviewed him, to substantiate his claims has done nothing to dent their popularity.
Similar statements have been made by Graham Harvey the agricultural story editor of the BBC Radio 4 serial The Archers, he claims that the prairies in the US could absorb all the carbon “that’s gone into the atmosphere for the whole planet since we industrialised”, and amplified by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. Farmers’ organisations all over the world now noisily promote this view.
A report this week by the Food Climate Research Network, called Grazed and Confused, seeks to resolve the question: can keeping livestock outdoors cause a net reduction in greenhouse gases? The authors spent two years investigating the issue. They cite 300 sources. Their answer is unequivocal. No.

It is true, they find, that some grazing systems are better than others. Under some circumstances, plants growing on pastures will accumulate carbon under the ground, through the expansion of their root systems and the laying down of leaf litter. But the claims of people such as Savory and Harvey are “dangerously misleading”. The evidence supporting additional carbon storage through the special systems these livestock crusaders propose (variously described as “holistic”, “regenerative”, “mob”, or “adaptive” grazing) is weak and contradictory, and suggests that if there’s an effect at all, it is small.
The best that can be done is to remove between 20% and 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions grazing livestock produce.
Even this might be an overestimate: a paper published this week in the journal Carbon Balance and Management suggests that the amount of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) farm animals produce has been understated. In either case, carbon storage in pastures cannot compensate for the animals’ own climate impacts, let alone those of industrial civilisation.
I would like to see the TED team post a warning on Savory’s video, before even more people are misled.
As the final argument crumbles, we are left facing an uncomfortable fact: animal farming looks as incompatible with a sustained future for humans and other species as mining coal.

That vast expanse of pastureland, from which we obtain so little at such great environmental cost, would be better used for rewilding: the mass restoration of nature. Not only would this help to reverse the catastrophic decline in habitats and the diversity and abundance of wildlife, but the returning forests, wetlands and savannahs are likely to absorb far more carbon than even the most sophisticated forms of grazing.
The end of animal farming might be hard to swallow. But we are a resilient and adaptable species. We have undergone a series of astonishing changes: the adoption of sedentarism, of agriculture, of cities, of industry.
Now it is time for a new revolution, almost as profound as those other great shifts: the switch to a plant-based diet.
The technology is, depending on how close an approximation to meat you demand (Quorn seems almost indistinguishable from chicken or mince to me), either here or just around the corner.
The ethical switch is happening already: even today, there are half a million vegans in the land of roast beef. It’s time to abandon the excuses, the fake facts and false comforts. It is time to see our moral choices as our descendants will.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

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A new NASA-sponsored study shows that global methane emissions produced by livestock are 11 percent higher than estimates made last decade. Because methane is a particularly nasty greenhouse gas, the new finding means it’s going to be even tougher to combat climate change than we realized.
We’ve known for quite some time that greenhouse gases produced by cattle, sheep, and pigs are a significant contributor to global warming, but the new research, published in Carbon Balance and Management, shows it’s worse than we thought.
Revised figures of methane produced by livestock in 2011 were 11 percent higher than estimates made in 2006 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a now out-of-date estimate.
It’s hard to believe that belches, farts, and poop from livestock could have any kind of global atmospheric effect, but it’s an issue of scale, and the nature of methane itself.
There are approximately 1.5 billion cows on the planet, each and every one of them expelling upwards of 30 to 50 gallons of methane each day. We typically think of farts as being the culprit, but belches are actually the primary source of cattle-produced methane, accounting for 95 percent of the problematic greenhouse gas.
And problematic it is.
Methane is about 30 times more efficient at trapping the Sun’s radiative heat than carbon dioxide over a timescale of about a century. There may be more CO2 in the atmosphere than methane, but by unit, it’s the more destructive greenhouse gas.
Both NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System research initiative and the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) contributed to the study.

Wolf’s team re-evaluated the data used to produce the IPCC 2006 methane emissions estimates.
The prior estimates were based on relatively modest rates of methane increases from 2000 to 2006, but things changed dramatically afterwards, increasing 10-fold over the course of the next 10 years.
The new figures factor an 8.4 percent increase in methane emissions from digestion (otherwise known as “enteric fermentation”) in dairy cows and other cattle, and a 36.7 percent increase in methane from manure, compared to previous IPCC-based estimates.
The new report shows that methane accounted for approximately 16 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. Other human activities, such as the production and transport of gas, oil and coal, along with the decay of our organic waste, also contribute to global methane emissions.
Importantly, the new estimates are 15 percent higher than global estimates produced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and four percent higher than EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research).
In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food noted Wolf in a release. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions. To which she added:
Direct measurements of methane emissions are not available for all sources of methane. Thus, emissions are reported as estimates based on different methods and assumptions. In this study, we created new per-animal emissions factors, that is measures of the average amount of CH4 discharged by animals into the atmosphere, and new estimates of global livestock methane emissions.
The new research shows that methane emissions slowed in the US, Canada, and Europe, but they’re rising elsewhere. Very likely, the rest of the world is catching up to first-world standards in terms of meat and dairy consumption.

Among global regions, there was notable variability in trends in estimated emissions over recent decades said Ghassem Asrar Director of JGCRI and a co-author of the new study. For example, we found that total livestock methane emissions have increased the most in rapidly developing regions of Asia, Latin America, and Africa...We found the largest increases in annual emissions to be over the northern tropics, followed by the southern tropics.
It’s not immediately clear how, or even if, these revised figures will impact livestock production or public policy, but at the individual level, it suggests we should cut back on our consumption of meat and dairy. The privilege we have over these animals, it would appear, now comes at a hefty price.

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Canada native James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron just started Verdient Foods Inc. a new pulse food processing facility in Saskatchewan that will become the largest organic pea protein fractionation plant in North America.
That comes as the Avatar sequel is underway for a 2020 release and we hear that the characters in the films just might go vegan.
The investment in the Vanscoy facility also comes as production of the four upcoming Avatar sequels officially begins on September 25.
The pictures will be stand-alones but together form the epic saga; the first will open December 18, 2020, followed by the others at Christmastime 2021, 2024 and 2025.
The original 2009 Avatar remains the highest-grossing film at the global B.O. with $2.79B. With this new investment by the Camerons, the question remains: How much will they be talking about plant-based protein in Pandora?

This is not the first time that Cameron has been investing in organic farms. He also did so in New Zealand and has an organic farm in Santa Barbara.
For years, we’ve been on a mission to help the world eat healthy food grown by farmers who have chosen to farm organically said Suzy Amis Cameron.
Jim and I are thrilled to work with Saskatchewan experts at the Food Centre, the University of Saskatchewan and the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, all of whom have long been supporters of the mission to bring healthy food to all.

The area where the Camerons are opening their facility is in a province that has some of the healthiest soil in the world and has been looking at plant-based protein solutions for some time.
The Camerons have entered into a four-year research contract with the non-profit Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre and its president, Daniel Prefontaine to develop value-added organic food products that will be produced by Canadian and global companies using ingredients from their Verdient Foods plant.
Verdient Foods opened its facility this month to help fulfill the increasing global demand for sustainable, organic plant-based protein.

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Clothes, music, vegetables, everything has its stylish moment. And while beet salads and kale everything still saturate trendy restaurant menus (following on the heels of the formerly cool Caprese salad and roasted heirloom carrots), previously ignored produce varieties are trickling in to become the must-eat veggies of the season.
What’s going to finally boot kale off the stylish veggie hotlist? We have a few predictions for the next "it" veggie.
1. Yacón
Traditionally grown in the northern and central Andes from Colombia to northern Argentina, yacón has crisp tuberous roots that taste sweet. (image: chotda/Flickr)
Having a name very similar to bacon probably doesn’t hurt this Peruvian plant's reputation, though its health benefits outshine that of its porky populizer; the perennial daisy is found to lower blood glucose, blood cholesterol and triglycerides. While you could theoretically slice yacón thinly and fry it up with eggs, the sweet tuber is perhaps best suited for boiling, and used in salads or other vegetable-centric dishes.

2. Pattypan squash
Also known as scallop squash, Peter Pan squash and custard marrow, pattypan comes in yellow, green and white varieties.
Perhaps the silly name of this late-summer squash has thwarted it from reaching full-on cult status, but its adorable shape lends itself pretty perfectly to social media, a sure sign of popularity. At Brooklyn’s Sauvage, Chef Chad Richard uses pattypan on his menu, and believes it's rising in popularity thanks to its unique shape and color. And it's packed with magnesium, niacin and vitamins A and C.
Treat pattypan squash just like you would yellow squash or zucchini Richard advises. It's great grilled. Or take the smaller varieties and shave them thin to garnish a salad. At his restaurant, Richard char roasts pattypan, marinates the small squashes in olive oil infused with garlic, shallot and thyme, and finishes the dish with sherry vinegar.

3. Turnips
Grown in temperate climates worldwide, the turnip may have first been domesticated before the 15th century BCE.
You probably didn’t expect to see this homely vegetable on this list, and to be honest, neither did we, but upscale, highly acclaimed chefs are using turnips in innovative, intriguing recipes that may just boost turnips' lifelong lackluster reputation.
At St. Louis' Vicia, Chef Michael Gallina uses purple top turnips as taco shells.
Young, petite turnips can be so sweet and delicious all on their own, but larger turnips, in particular purple top varieties, make the perfect taco shell Gallina said. They are crisp and fresh, slice easily on a meat slicer, and can hold up to just about any topping.
Plus, the turnip's root is high in vitamin C, while turnip greens are loaded with calcium, folate, lutein and vitamins A, C and K.

4. Microgreens
USDA scientists analyzed key nutrients in 25 different varieties of microgreens and found that red cabbage microgreens (above) had the highest concentrations of vitamin C. These nutritious microgreens are ready to harvest just 10 days after planting.
Once reserved for fancy, tweezer-wielding chefs, microgreens, tiny vegetables, harvested after sprouting, but before maturing into full-grown leaves, are no longer limited to restaurant kitchens. Packing a super-fresh flavor, microgreens are the more nutritious, substantive answer to herbs and sprouts on everything.
Bridgehampton, New York’s Good Water Farms grows 35 varieties of microgreens, which owner Brendan Davison says are "four to six times more nutrient rich than their mature leaf counterparts," meaning not only are they tasty, but healthy additions to your diet. Good Water delivers CSA-style microgreens to its Long Island neighbors, and sells living trays to chefs to use in professional kitchens. Add microgreens as a garnish to pretty much anything or try them on their own with curry vinaigrette.

5. Ugly produce
Some may think these carrots are ugly. But when it comes to food, beauty is in the hands of the cook.
Say goodbye to perfectly symmetrical, unbruised fruits and vegetables. Dan Barber’s WastED movement has raised awareness of food waste and the way we value food beauty, making bruised tomato salad and broccoli stem puree the new “cool” thing to eat.
Barber’s sold-out WastED popups pushed food scraps and imperfect produce at posh destinations (most recently, Selfridge’s in London) for over $15 a small plate. That ugly lettuce leaf? Instagram (and environmental) gold. Try a puree, like roasted beet hummus, to disguise ugly vegetables into something delicious.

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How Factory Farming Is Driving the Sixth Mass Extinction
Forests that are home to endangered animals are being cleared to grow feed crops for livestock at factory farms.
According to University of Texas at Austin professor Raj Patel an expert in ecology and food systems, our demand for meat is driving the sixth mass extinction.
Patel is one of many leading academics who contemplate declaring a new age on Earth, called the Anthropocene, since the fossils of soon-to-be extinct animals will form a line in the rocks of the future.
In an interview with the Independent, he said We’re losing species we have never heard of, those we’ve yet to put a name to and industrial agriculture is very much at the spear-tip of that.

Similarly, in 2016 the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London published a report asserting that animal agriculture is causing a mass extinction.
The report concluded that animal populations declined by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012, and losses are expected to reach 67 percent by 2020.
Forests that are home to endangered animals like the Sumatran elephant are being cleared to grow feed crops for cows, pigs and chickens at factory farms.
Fish like anchovies and sardines are being caught in alarming quantities to be made into feed for farmed salmon, pigs and chickens. This means that penguins and other animals who naturally feed on these fish now face a grave situation.
Animal agriculture, including land for grazing and growing feed crops, now uses more than one-third of Earth’s landmass. What’s more, the World Bank reports that animal agriculture is culpable for nearly 91 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction.

To make matters worse, animals raised for food produce 7 million pounds of excrement every minute. This waste often pollutes waterways and nearby ecosystems, killing wildlife and destroying habitats. One case in point is the recently announced dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, which is the largest ever recorded.
Furthermore, animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined, exacerbating the perilous effects of climate change.
But not only does animal agriculture devastate wildlife and the environment; it causes immense suffering to billions of farmed animals.
Pigs, cows and chickens at factory farms live tortured lives. They suffer unspeakable cruelties, such as extreme confinement, barbaric mutilations and horrific deaths.

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The future of food is plant-based! Thanks to growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly and meat- and dairy-free options, we have seen an explosion of plant-based food on the market.
According to some estimates, the plant-based meat market is set to reach $5.2 billion by 2020 and could make up one-third of the market by 2050. What’s more, plant-based milk is set to reach $16.3 billion in 2018. And now we have more exciting news to share!
According to a new Neilson report commissioned by Plant Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute, plant-based foods have grown 8.1 percent since last year!

Nielsen analyzed data from several food categories over a 52-week period. The data represents foods that replace animal products, such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy.
According to their findings, plant-based dairy alternatives are the fastest-growing category, with a whopping 20 percent growth and $700 million in sales over the last year. Plant-based milk is up 3.1 percent since last year and cow’s milk sales are down roughly 5 percent.
There is a revolution going on in the plant-based meat space said Bruce Friedrich Executive Director of The Good Food Institute. Right now, the sector is small, but growing, and we are working hard to create a viable market sector. It is especially impressive to see that all the plant-based companies are working cooperatively because a rising tide will lift all boats.

While it has long been the case that people are leaving meat and dairy off their plates more frequently, seeing the incredible rise in plant-based foods as a market sector is a clear indication that consumer habits are changing for the better.
As we approach a population of 9.8 billion by 2050, we are being forced to answer the question of how we’re going to feed the world without completely exhausting all our natural resources. The answer to this question is falling on the shoulders of companies that are developing more sustainable plant-based products that are not only better for animals, but much better for our own health.

Nielsen’s report is an indication that a food industry dominated by plant-based proteins and alternatives is not as far off as many would think.
Demand for plant-based product development has spiked by close to 140 percent, with the plant-based food sector overall valued at $5 billion.
With food giant Nestlé recently buying Sweet Earth Natural Foods, as well as Tyson Foods, Inc., the world’s largest meat producer, having a five percent ownership stake in plant-based protein producer Beyond Meat, it’s clear plant-based foods are here to stay.

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As a highly effective medium of spreading the vegan ideology, documentaries can bring the movement to a wider audience, and they have the ability to change the lives of thousands.
Following the success of acclaimed - and controversial - What The Health, films that advocate for a vegan lifestyle continue to gain traction among viewers.
We've rounded-up five new or upcoming documentaries that will have a profound impact on people.

Presenting itself as the Australian version of Earthlings, Dominion exposes the brutal reality of factory farming across the Australian continent.
The feature-length documentary was directed by Chris Delforce known for making Lucent, from organization Aussie Farms.
By exploring six primary facets of our interaction with animals, Pets, Wildlife, Scientific Research, Entertainment, Clothing and Food, the film will question the morality and validity of our dominion over the animal kingdom said a spokesperson for Aussie Farms.
The footage featured in the film contains 'the most recent, highest-quality footage from across the country'.

The Game Changers
Coming from award-winning director and vegan environmentalist James Cameron who will produce, the feature highlights a range of plant-based athletes, soldiers, and cultural icons, who thrive on a vegan diet.
The filmmakers are hoping to 'dispel the myth that you need protein from animals to become a real man'.
The world’s strongest guy is a vegan said director Louis Psihoyos.
The world’s fastest guy, Carl Lewis, was the first to break 10 seconds, and he did it when he was a vegan.
The Game Changers is scheduled to be released later in 2017.

Eating Animals
Narrated and produced by vegan actor Natalie Portman, Eating Animals is based on a book of the same title by Jonathan Foer - and has been well-received by critics.
The film aims to educate its viewers on the horrors of animal agriculture by going undercover at factory farms and slaughterhouses.
Eating Animals' director Christopher Quinn stated: _It was a real eye-opener to actually see what farming was, which was people wanting to run from you, not wanting you to see the system that was in place, including these vertically integrated structures._
He added: _They know deep in their core it is not right, but I actually think there is a lot of hope in that, the fact that they still know a guy with a camera shouldn’t be coming around here because it is wrong._
The documentary made its world premiere last weekend at the Telluride Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation.

Meat the Future
While not technically a vegan film, this documentary will probably be of some interest to many vegans, vegetarians, and reducetarians.
It follows Memphis Meats' CEO and co-founder Dr. Uma Valeti, often considered a key name in the 'clean' (i.e. lab) meat movement.
Set to be released in 2019, Meat the Future is not another doomsday survey that leaves audiences feeling overwhelmed with information overload, according to director Liz Marshall.
She adds: _This is a documentary that grapples with significant global challenges, while looking to what is possible._

Promises is a new short film by We Animals - a project which documents animals in the human environment through photography.
The short was directed and produced by Jan Sorgenfrei who goes on an investigation into the industrial farming of chickens.
It also showcases the burden that all investigators must carry with them: leaving the animals behind.

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When most people go vegan, the number one question that tends to get asked of them is usually “where are you going to get your protein from?” Sound familiar? Yes, protein is indeed an important part of a healthy diet, and if you’re keen on growing your own food, it’s a good idea to have a few solid sources growing in amongst your herbs and lettuces. Read on to discover 10 delicious, plant-based, nutrient-dense foods you can cultivate in your own garden.

This gorgeous plant can be grown pretty much anywhere, and its seeds are an incredibly rich source of protein. Those seeds can be cooked like quinoa as a pseudo grain into a gorgeous, crunchy dish that can be served either savory or sweet. Try cooking it like breakfast porridge with cinnamon, apples, and maple syrup.
Amaranth leaves are also edible, and are prepared in the same way spinach is. Those leaves don’t have as much protein as the seeds, but they do have some protein content, as well as iron and calcium.

Squash and Pumpkin Seeds
Growing pumpkins and squash is a lot of fun, and serves multiple purposes, especially if you grow small, easy-to-manage varieties like Luxury Pie Pumpkin or Lakota Squash.
Not only can you carve these hardy gourds to creep out your neighbors at Halloween, you can eat the vegetables’ flesh in soups, pies, and muffins, and then roast those glorious seeds of theirs into crunchy, protein-rich snacks.

Sunflower Seeds
Not only are sunflower seeds incredibly high in protein, they also have very high levels of magnesium and vitamin B6. Sunflowers are gorgeous, sunny additions to anyone’s garden, and in addition to providing you with nutrient-dense food, they’ll also attract pollinators to your yard.
In permaculture, they’re often referred to as the fourth sister in the traditional guild of corn, beans, and squash: beans can climb up sunflower stalks, and they draw bees over to fertilize other crops.

Green Peas
These tasty little gems are packed with protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium (the latter being great for alleviating winter depression) and are as delicious as they are pretty to look at.
Even better, peas are incredibly easy to cultivate, and can be grown indoors as well as out in your garden, which is great for adding some edible greenery to your living space over the winter months.

Green Beans
Just 1/2 a cup of fresh green beans contain about four grams of protein, and they’re a great source of vitamin B6 as well. You can cultivate either pole or bush varieties, and you can pick the haricots verts right off the vine while they’re new.
Just steam them or sautee them lightly, and serve with a bit of Earth Balance or a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of salt.

Dry Beans
If you let those green beans mature fully, the seeds within will ripen into the rich, creamy beans we use for everything from soups and stews to chili, or even brownies. Beans are one of the top protein sources for people around the world, and they’re also full of magnesium, fiber, and iron.
There are so many different types that you can cultivate, from creamy white Hutterite soup bush beans to spotted, fuchsia scarlet runner pole beans. All are delicious, easy to grow, and ideal for any vegan diet. You can even sprout them for a raw, crunchy snack.

Are you familiar with these wonderful little tubers? Apios americana, also known as the potato bean, is a perennial, indigenous North American vine with tuber roots that taste… well, mildly like potatoes. Groundnuts have 17 percent crude protein (that’s three times the amount of a regular potato), and thrive in damp woodlands without a lot of direct light.
You can boil them, mash them, stick them in a stew… anything you’d do with a regular or sweet potato, and since they’re perennial, they’ll come back year after year.

Hazelnut (filbert) bushes don’t take up a lot of space, and start producing nuts more quickly than nut-bearing trees like walnuts, pecans, or chesnuts. If you plant 2- or 3-year-old bushes, you’ll be able to harvest nuts even more quickly. Hazelnut bushes can thrive in almost any soil type, but need full sun for a good 4–6 hours a day. In addition to protein, each nut will also provide you with calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin C. How’s that for a nutrient-dense powerhouse?

People who don’t suffer from peanut allergies can grow these fabulous plants as easily as they can grow potatoes. Although they thrive best in warmer, southern climates, those of you who live a bit further north can also grow them with ease: you’ll just need to get cultivars that do well in a cooler climate with a shorter growing season.
They’ll need about 100 frost-free days to reach maturity, and since they’re tropical, they’ll need to be grown in the warmest, sunniest spot you can offer them.

Adding this one in for honorable mention, but with good cause: most people don’t realize just how much protein leafy greens have to offer, and kale is one of the easiest (and tastiest) members of the brassica family that you can grow.
It also has a crazy-high amount of both vitamin C and vitamin A, and you can eat it at any stage of its development: use the baby greens in salads, maturing leaves in salads or smoothies, and braise the older leaves like you would cook collard greens.

Whenever possible, aim to cultivate heirloom, organic seeds in your garden, and be sure to share those seeds with your friends and neighbors so they can grow them in their own yards!
Biodiversity is incredibly important, and by choosing organic seeds, you help ensure future plant generations are healthy, and unsullied by genetic machinations thanks to companies like Monsanto.
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