Thursday, February 19, 2009

One McCruelty-free McChicken sandwich. Please drive through.

-- Welcome to McDonald's. Can I take your order?
-- Yeah, I'd like a McChicken sandwich, please. And can I get mine slaughtered with gas?
-- Sorry, sir, that's not on our menu.
-- How do you slaughter them?
-- We dump them out of their crates and hang them upside-down in metal shackles then we cut their throats.
-- I prefer my chicken gassed. It's called controlled atmosphere killing. It's a much more pleasant death.
-- You're from PETA aren't you?
-- Yeah.
-- You guys are protesting against us again?
-- I know, it's been a while. Nine years since our last one. This time we're demanding that you slaughter your chickens with gas. We're calling it our McCruetly campaign.
-- That's what you called that last protest.
-- Just like old times, huh? You guys will cave in the end, you know.
-- I know. Then you'll give us lots of praise for doing the right thing. Sales really go through the roof when that happens. Hey, I got a question for you. I heard if the gas isn't administered properly, the chickens go berserk, shaking their heads around, gasping for air. I hear it's a really excruciating death.
-- That would suck.
-- So shouldn't you guys be encouraging people to stop eating chicken instead? Then the chickens wouldn't get shackled and have their throats slit and they wouldn't get gassed either.
-- What would we dress up as in our protests? A piece of tempeh? There aren't any good vegan costumes.
-- I see your point.
-- 'kay sorry to sound ornery, but I'm really craving a chicken sandwich here. Can you maybe make me up a special order? Gas it out back or something.
-- Sorry, sir, I could check with the manager, but I don't think we have slaughtering capabilities on premises.
-- Look, dude, I'm really hungry. But I'm not ordering a chicken that wasn't slaughtered humanely.
-- We still follow the humane slaughtering procedures for steer.
-- You mean from our last McCruelty campaign?
-- Yeah.
-- Cool. Gimme a Big Mac.
-- Please drive through.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The new cola wars: animal welfare-approved versus Dr. Temple Grandin certified sustainable & humane products

The refrigerated section of the local grocery store is getting crowded with all the humanely treated meats out there.  You've got animal welfare-approved.  Certified Humane Raised and Handld.  Free Farm Certified.  And now a new player has entered the mix:  Dr. Temple Grandin certified sustainable & humane.  They're all targeting the same customers, so competition is bound to be fierce.  It's only a matter of time before the TV commercials hit the airwaves.

Hey, folks, the other guys like to talk about their humane treatment standards, but at animal welfare-approved, we deliver.  We've just received a new shipment of animal welfare-approved meats and we need to make room, so everything in our refrigerated section must go!  You won't believe the rock bottom prices on pork, steak, chicken, you name it, all compassionately slaughtered with the animal's comfort and well-being in mind.  Folks, your conscience deserves the very best!  Animal welfare-approved is the number one humanely treated meat dealer in the tri-county area.  We've got the most rigorous and progressive animal care standards anywhere and our friendly farmers always treat the animals with tender loving care.   But don't take our word for it.  Listen to what Paul and Janice from Madison, Wisconsin say:  "Dear Animal Welfare-approved, we're very progressive people.  We recycle, we only buy free trade coffee, we read the American Prospect and Counterpunch every day.  We were so appalled at the way animals are treated on those factory farms that last week we had a barbecue fundraiser to raise awareness about the plight of these poor creatures.  (Paul's succulent ribs went over big time!)  We feel such compassion for these animals, but how can we stop buying meat?  I mean what would we serve at the next awareness-raising barbecue?  We didn't know what to do.  Then we heard about your animal welfare-approved meats.  Now we can eat all the meat we want and we never have to feel guilty again."  that's right, folks, at animal-welfare approved, we give you all the flavor with none of the factory farm abuses.  So if you're a progressive who wants to feel like you did the right thing without giving up the great taste of animal flesh, make sure to stock up on animal welfare-approved meats today!

It's dealing days here at Temple Grandin's House of Certified Sustainable & Humane Products!  Check out this beauty -- a thick, tender top sirloin steak made from a peaceful and contented grass grazing steer.  It's juicy, delicious and best of all it was processed with our unique humane slaughtering methods that guarantee a guilt-free eating experience every time.  How much would you expect to pay for this piece of mind?  Twenty dollars?  Eighteen?  Try just $14.99.  You heard me right.  Our competitors over at Animal Welfare-approved claim they've got demanding humane treatment standards.  But at Temple Grandin's House of certified sustainable & humane products, we've consulted for some of the biggest companies on the planet.  Temple Grandin has written best-selling books on animal happiness, and she's the world's number one authority on designing humane slaughterhouses.  No wonder in taste tests across the country, progressive eaters preferred the humane treatment standards of Dr. Temple Grandin Certified Sustainable & Humane products over our competitors three to one.  Why would you eat anything else?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dr. Temple Grandin certified sustainable & humane products

Temple Grandin has joined with Niman Ranch to introduce "Dr. Temple Grandin certified sustainable & humane" products.  She gave National Provisioner magazine the exclusive.  National Provisioner is the bible of meat production that recently wrote an editorial about the threat posed to the animal agriculture industry by those terrifying people who care about animal suffering.  If National Provisioner thought Temple Grandin sided with people like this, they'd excommunicate her.  So Temple Grandin reassures them:
The thing I'm most concerned with is letting pigs wreck the land.  Pigs will just destroy pasture.
In other words, "Please, oh please, don't group me in with those nutjobs who care about animal suffering.  YOu want proof of my indifference?  Here's a copy of the check McDonald's cut me for consulting services rendered.  Heck, there's a photo of me on the McDonald's website.  Would they put a photo of a rabble rousing activist who cared about animal pain and suffering on their website?  I think not.  I sincerely hope the readers of National Provisioner won't question my motives.  Please believe me when I say animals are simply a means of making money.  YOur readers do it more directly by brutalizing them, slaughtering them and selling slabs of their flesh.  People like me and Whole Foods and Farm Forward and the Animal Welfare Institute, we've got a more roundabout approach.  We're making money off people who want to think they care about the suffering of farm animals and are willing to pay a little extra for a clean conscience.  Guys, please understand, there's a gold mine here and I'm the perfect person to mine it.  I write books with titles like Animal Happiness, so people think I care about the pain and suffering of animals.  I do care, in the sense that appearing to want to reduce that suffering is a highly profitable gig.  I know it's not profitable on the scale your readers are used to, and I bow down before them, but it's a growing market.  It'll only get bigger."

Readers of National Provisioner are still suspicious.  They still wonder if secretly, in her heart of hearts, she really does want to reduce animal suffering.  So Temple Grandin reassures them once again...
Some people who are purely welfare-minded want no [nose] rings at all  -- but the pigs wreck the ground.
There.  She wants to keep the nose rings on the pigs to make sure rooting is so excruciatingly painful that they won't do it.  Okay, that cinches it.  Even the most hardened cynics at National Provisioner are convinced.  They've got nothing to worry about from Temple Grandin. She's one of them.  "Temple Grandin certified sustainable & humane" really means sustainable cash flow thanks to plenty of certified checks.  Make sure to send her VIP passes to the Pork Expo and the K-state Swine Profitability Conference.  She's earned them.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A new member in the Big Greasy BBQ Forum

BUZZ:  Welcome to the Big Greasy BBQ forum, anmlwfre, what's your nic stand for, animal warfare?

ANMLWFRE:  Animal Wel-fare.  I'm from Farm Forward.  It's our mission to improve the lives of farm animals.

BELLYBOY:  The topic today is big juicy sizzling kielbasa.  Don't you love how the juice drips down your chin?  Come on, you can admit it, anmlwfre, you're among friends here.

ANMLWFRE:  Okay, yes, I do love a big juicy kielbasa, provided the pig it came from had ample space to turn around in before it was slaughtered, mind you.

BUZZ:  Wink.  Wink.

ANMLWFRE:  No, I'm serious.

BELLYBOY:  You're a funny dude, anmlwfre

UNCLEMIKEY:  So you say you believe animals should be treated well.  But you slaughter 'em.  Isn't that kind of like a contradiction?

ANMLWFRE:  Not at all.  Hold on, I got rib sauce on my fingers, don't want to get it on my keyboard.  Okay, I'm back.  It's okay as long as you slaughter them humanely.

BELLYBOY:  Humane slaughter.  That's a good one.  Mind if I use that one at my next tailgating party?

ANMLWFRE:  It's not a joke.  We're entirely serious.

GREASEGUY:  Hey, my burger's so juicy it's a good thing I got one of them super absorbent buns.

ANMLWFRE:  YOu're making my mouth water.  I mean provided the steer the burger came from had plenty of grass to graze on before it was slaughtered.

BUZZ:  You crack me up.

ANMLWFRE:  I'm serious, guys.  We at Farm Forward believe factory farming is one of the most important issues of our time.

BELLYBOY:  Look, anmlwfre, you're our kind of people.  You like big hunks of juicy meat just like we do.

ANMLWFRE:  Well, I must say, I feel a kinship too.

GREASEGUY:  Yeah, at first I thought you were one of those freaks who don't eat meat but you're pretty cool.

ANMLWFRE:  Are you kidding!  By being so rigid about not eating meat and dairy, those people are setting the animal rights movement back a hundred years.  It really annoys the CEO's of the big fast food places when they hear someone refuses to eat their products.  I ought to know, at farm forward we consult for them all the time.

CHOWHOUND:  Hey, anmlwfre, I once scarfed down eight kielbasas in one sitting.

ANMLWFRE:  Impressive.

CHOWHOUND:  How about you?

ANMLWFRE:  The other night at a benefit, they served some delectable lamb medallions.  My wife had to attend an art gallery opening, so I helped myself to hers.

BELLYBOY:  Pretty cool.  So where did you say you're from again?

ANMLWFRE:  Farm Forward.  Don't mean to boast but Jonathan Safron Foer is on our board of directors.

CHOWHOUND:  Who's that?

ANMLWFRE:  He's only one of the most accomplished writers of his generation.  He's going to do a reading from his latest book this weekend.

BELLYBOY:  Cool.  He writes books on barbecuing?


BUZZ:  He going to read a passage about how much he loves juicy ribs, smothered with sauce?

CHOWHOUND:  I don't get it, anmlwfre, how does having this rib cookbook writer guy on your board help animals?

ANMLWFRE:  He's not a rib cookbook writer.  I told you.  He writes literary fiction.

UNCLEMIKEY;  He must be real creative.  He the one who came up with humane slaughter?

BUZZ:  This consulting with big fast food places sounds like a good gig, anmlwfre.  Bet they pay you plenty.

ANMLWFRE:  Money's not what's important.  We get to communicate our point of view.

CHOWHOUND:  About how delectable pork medallions are?

ANMLWFRE:  No, our broader point of view.  Our mission statement, if you will.

BUZZ:  Hey, anmlwfre, I just marinated some chicken breasts and threw 'em on the grill.  you'd love 'em.

ANMLWFRE:  Sounds tasty.  Provided the chickens had access to sunlight before they were slaughtered.

CHOWHOUND:  I got five words:  pass me the hot sauce.

ANMLWFRE:  I got two words:  me too.

BUZZ:  anmlwfre, I'm glad you joined our Big Greasy BBQ forum.

ANMLWFRE:  Thanks for making me feel so welcome.

BELLYBOY:  And thanks for giving me that joke about humane slaughter.  Don't worry, I'll give you credit.  I ain't into stealing other peoples' jokes.

ANMLWFRE:  It's not a joke.

CHOWHOUND:  This guy cracks me up.

ANMLWFRE:  I've got to go attend another fund raiser.  I'll be back later.  Enjoy your kielbasa, everyone!

BELLYBOY:  We will.  Provided the pig had plenty of space to turn around in before it was slaughtered.  Ha ha ha!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

World Egg Day was Oct. 10, but it's still not too late to send a card!

So I was visiting the American Egg Board website to read about their new advertising campaign featuring incredible people who do incredible things thanks to incredible eggs and I was struck by something else:  World Egg Day was October 10th.  And here we are in February.   I have to be honest here.  I'm kind of pissed at the people who made my 2008 calendar because October 10 was completely blank.  I mean aren't calendar makers supposed to help us out and remind us about the important holidays?  Whatever.  It's too late to bitch about it now.  I missed it.  I'll have to make sure not to miss 2009 World Egg Day.

But, guess what, apparently it's not too late to send your 2008 World Egg Day greeting after all.  On the American Egg Board site, you can still create your own World Egg Day card and email it to people.  You can add cool shapes, paint on your egg, add backgrounds, even write on your egg.  I'm not sure about the etiquette here.  Sorry it's late works if you send a card a couple weeks after the holiday, but it's five months late now.  I guess I'll have to trust the American Egg Board on this.  Let's see, what should I say on my card?  Happy World Egg Day, the day we commemorate the hatcheries where the laying hens come from.  Half the chicks born there are male so they have to be disposed of.  Sometimes they're ground up in machines, sometimes they're tossed in garbage bins, where they die of either suffocation or starvation.  Thing is, I'm not sure if that's the message the American Egg Board had in mind when they created World Egg Day.

Stop!  That's way too cynical.  The American Egg Board didn't create the holiday.  It came about by popular acclaim.  They just help us commemorate it.  Anyway I've got other things to worry about. Like I was all set to send a World Egg Day card to my friends Sarah and Tom but now that I think about it I'm pretty sure I didn't hear from them last World Egg Day.  So fuck 'em, they're off my list.   back to what I should say on the card.  I could talk about how World Egg Day is a time to reflect on the laying hens who spend their two years in beyond-comprehension misery in their cramped cages until productivity declines and it's slaughter time.  Greeting cards often work their magic with rhyming verse.  Maybe I should try that.

On this special World Egg Day,
We celebrate the hens who lay.
And when their laying days are done,
An electric bath until they're stunned.
Shackle the legs, slice the neck,
The eggs were yummy, so what the heck.
To these hens we give our thanks
As they're boiled alive in the scalding tank.

No!  That totally misses the spirit of the holiday.  The American Egg Board would be horrified.  They give us the tools to design and write our very own World Egg Day cards and this is how we show our gratitude? The Senior VP of Marketing offers up his own favorite egg-based recipes and this is how we repay him?

These living, breathing hens feel pain as much as American Egg Board Senior VP's of Marketing feel pain.   23 million chickens are killed each day in the US so people can have their chicken meat and their eggs.  Happy belated World Egg Day.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Animal welfare and the power of self-delusion

In a recent article in the London Times, a long-time vegetarian wrote that she has now gone back to eating meat.  The reason?  Animals are raised more humanely now.  I had an email exchange with a friend about the article.  At one point he wrote, "to say I think eating meat is okay implies I'm indifferent to animal suffering.  That isn't true.  I do believe animals shouldn't suffer and die to satisfy human desires.  I eat meat because I am a hypocrite.  I'm violating my beliefs."

But is that his belief just because he says it is, even though his behavior contradicts him?  What constitutes a belief?  If I say I believe in helping the homeless and then I kick the first homeless person I see in the head, have I just violated my belief or was I maybe deluded when I claimed it as a belief?  That may sound like semantics but it's not.  People who think they believe in the rights of animals cling stubbornly to this belief.  They don't want to give it up.  They like that part of themselves.  I know "animal lover, animal advocate" makes up a big part of my friend's self-image.  If he were forced to abandon that belief, he wouldn't like the person who remained.

But he can only call himself a hypocrite for so long.  Eventually, he'll have to make a choice.  He either believes animals have the right not to suffer and die for our pleasure or he doesn't.  Either he supports the horrors of what happens to these animals or he rejects it.  Not so fast, say the "animal welfare" proselytizers.  You don't have to choose.  You don't have to abandon your cherished self-image.  There's a middle ground between the horrors of factory farms and giving up the consumption of the animal products you love so much and the middle ground is this:  you can support our campaign to improve the lives of these animals before they're slaughtered.  We'll push for bigger cages for laying hens.  We'll demand more space for hogs to roam around in.  We'll confront the big fast food companies.  We'll demand more humane treatment for all farm animals.

So now people like my friend are able to grasp hold of that middle ground, that purgatory, and it allows them to keep their self-image intact.  I really do care about the well-being of animals.  I  am doing my part to reduce their suffering.  I don't have to give up eating meat and dairy after all.  Phew.

This is the problem with animal welfare campaigns.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Promoting animal welfare by stapling green numbers in their ears

You are one lucky steer is all I can say, number six.  You were born on an animal welfare-approved farm.  That means you get to romp around in green fields under blue skies until your number is called, which, don't worry, won't be for a while yet since Number One's just getting locked into the head clamp now.  If you'd been born on one of those inhumane factory farms that care nothing about the well-being of animals  ... excuse me, Number Two!  It's your turn, Number Two!  Hey, no worries, Number Six, but you might want to start romping around soon because it looks like this Animal Welfare-approved farmer likes to work quickly.

You know, you should be proud of yourself, Number Six.  You're making so many people feel so much better about themselves.  You see, a lot of people are appalled at the conditions of the factory farms.  Not appalled enough to stop eating animals like yourself, mind you, but appalled just enough to be willing to pay a little extra for the flesh of animals that got a chance to romp around in green fields under blue skies before they were slaughtered.  Excuse me.  Number Three!  It's your turn, Number Three!

I only wish you got a chance to meet the compassionate people who will be eating you, Number Six.  They're really going to enjoy it and not just because they crave the taste of your tender flesh.  They'll be able to eat you with a clean conscience.  You don't know anything about consciences because you're just an animal.  A conscience is what helps us humans do things that are morally just, like slaughter and consume other living beings ... oops, that's not what I meant to say, I must have gotten distracted by the wailing of Number Three.  It seems the friendly Animal Welfare-approved farmer didn't slaughter Number Three properly the first time and he's in an awful lot of pain right now.  Hopefully he can hearken back to his memories of romping around in green fields under blue skies and it will distract him from his pain.

Number Four!  Number Five!  It's your turn.  Hey, what's up, Number Six, you're shaking, you look so frightened.  Please don't wast this time when you should out romping around, your turn's getting closer.  Ah, I see.  I know why you're not romping around in green fields under blue skies.  It's because you're actually stuck in a cage.  I can explain.  When we talk about romping around in green fields under blue skies, it's more of a symbolic thing.  It's our intention that counts and our intention is to get people who buy Animal Welfare-approved products to think you get to romp around.  You're a realist, Number Six, I can see that you are.  You understand that people who like thinking they care about your welfare have a lot of disposable income.  Well, enough said about that, eh?

Well, Number Six, it's almost time.  I know you'd thank us if you could for bringing you up here rather than in one of those inhumane factory farms.  Come here, let me give you a pat on the head before you go.  That's something they'd never do at one of those impersonal factory farms.  They'd send you straight to the slaughter without giving you a friendly pat on the head.  That really gets me so worked up.  What kind of inhumane people would slaughter a fellow living being without giving it a friendly pat on the head first?  Oh, the world we live in!  Well, Number Six, looks like the friendly animal welfare-approved farmer is calling you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Gifts for the hog butcher who has everything

Hog producers who go to the Pork Expo in June won't come away empty-handed.  There's all kinds of cool gifts and mementos to bring home.

Yes, it's unique all right.  Not many desktop items symbolize your role in the slaughter of over a hundred million living beings each year.  But this pig cell phone holder isn't just decorative.  When the call comes in from the boys on the farm that they were playing around with the piglets, maybe got a little carried away with those sharp metal stakes, that some of the undercover footage might not go over so well when it hits the local news, the hog producer can take that call using his pig cell phone holder!

Pig Lighter.  It's only human nature.  People get to boasting.  Hog producers are no different.  They start comparing numbers, going for bragging rights.  "You processed fifty thousand last month?  Ha, that's nothing.  I could slaughter fifty thousand in my sleep.  Says who?  Says me."  Then just when things are about to get heated, the hog producer pulls out his pig lighter and offers to light his competitor's cigar and camaraderie reigns once again.  And note the placement of the lighter device, right where the stun bolt shatters the pig's skull.  "It's perfectly aimed, right above the brain.  Maybe I should hire the guy."  This observation can make a good ice breaker when the hog producer experiences any awkward lulls in social settings or when he simply needs a fresh supply of banter to amuse other folks in the pork production world.

An adorable plush pig that, according to the product description, makes an "oink oink" sound when you squeeze it.  I don't mean to find fault.  The Pork expo gift committee is no doubt harried and overworked.  But is "oink oink" the only sound they could think of making?  What about the screams of ungodly terror at the pig's final moments.  That's what the hog producer wants memorialized.  That way when his kids ask him what sound does a pig make, Daddy, daddy can squeeze the plush toy, which emits the terrified wailing of the slowly dying hog, and say, "that's the sound a pig makes, kids."

Yes, the product description is right.  This handmade treasure is sure to be passed down from generation to generation.  A rope tailed oak piggy bank like this has family heirloom written all over it.  I even think the folks at the pork expo gift committee were a little too modest.  It won't just be passed down.  Future generations will fight over it.  Who did grandpa Pig Slaughterer leave the roped tailed pig bank to?  Families have dissolved over less than this.

Anyhow, this is just a small sampling of the exciting gifts available at the Pork Expo.