Over Memorial Day Weekend, the Chicago Tribune ran a wonderful story on the cover of its magazine section, Sunday May 27, headed, "Ruffling feathers; Once Viewed as Crazies, Animal Rights Activists Say Their Message is Starting to Get Through."
Proving the point, New York Newsday, one of the countries most widely distributed papers, has a great story on fake meats, on Tuesday, May 29.
The Chicago Tribune magazine cover story, by Mick Dumke, is huge -- over 4,000 words long -- with loads of great photos.
It opens telling us that PETA protests KFC, using leaflets informing people "the chain's suppliers abuse chickens--routinely breaking their legs, cutting off their beaks and scalding them alive before they're slaughtered for food." We learn that protesters get some snide comments, but mostly support. We read of a protester handing out leaflets to three kids who came running to her:
"Pollock happily set them up--they're the future of the animal rights movement, she says--and the mother, stuffing the leaflet in her purse, thanked her."
"Animal rights activism is associated with outlandish tactics. But as most animal liberationists will tell you, it's the polite efforts at persuasion, like those on display that Saturday, that ultimately win hearts and minds."
"It seems undeniable that, over the past two decades, the ethical arguments of the animal rights movement have caught on with a broader public. Even many skeptics now agree that animals feel pain, should not suffer unnecessarily and should not be subject to every human whim. Their lives, on some level, clearly matter.
"Examples of the change abound: Mary Kay, Revlon and other cosmetics firms no longer test products on animals; many school systems offer alternatives to dissection in science classes; companies like MasterCard, Visa and Sears have stopped sponsoring the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus because of concerns about animal treatment; clothing-makers Tommy Hilfiger, J. Crew and Ralph Lauren have gone "fur-free"; several states have restricted use of "battery" cages--so restrictive that animals cannot move--to house pigs and chickens; Chicago and other cities have banned foie gras; zoos in several cities, including Chicago, have stopped housing elephants; two of the last three horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. --were recently shuttered by court order, and a third, near DeKalb, is on the bubble; many law schools, from Harvard to Chicago-Kent, now offer programs in animal law; animal cruelty charges have been filed against factory farms and furriers after PETA investigations;
and most restaurants now offer some sort of vegetarian fare."
Princeton Professor Peter Singer, author of "Animal Liberation" is quoted: He comments, "There is growing awareness of the cruelty we routinely inflict on animals, especially in farming, and more people are turning away from that cruelty."
He says, "Concern for the well-being of children growing up in America would require that we teach them to read; concern for the well-being of pigs may require no more than that we leave them with other pigs in a place where there is adequate food and room to run freely."
"I don't say that speciesism and racism are exactly the same." But "in all these cases, a dominant group has developed an ideology that allows it to use those it considers inferior as a means to its ends."
Daniel Haugh from Mercy for Animals is also quoted:
"We live in a society where we learn to dissociate our pets and ourselves from what we eat, but those animals suffer. The most compassionate way people can make a difference immediately is by taking on a vegetarian diet. Every vegetarian saves 95 to 100 lives a year."
And also quoted is 18th Century, philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who applied his concept of utilitarianism to the animal kingdom, asking: "The question is not 'Can they reason?' nor 'Can they talk?' but 'Can they suffer?' "
PETA tactics are explored, with PETA activists noting that "the organization is more interested now in information and outreach than over-the-top demonstrations, but the old images still shape the way many people think about the animal rights movement." We read, "Smith realized this a couple of years ago, when she was interviewed for a magazine article. When a photographer got ready to take her picture, he asked her if she could look more like 'an angry activist.'"
We read about circus protests, and about "clips of an elephant being beaten by a circus handler."
The article explores some difficult questions:
"Surveys have found that few Americans are comfortable with the idea of animals being abused or neglected, yet they also struggle with the implications: Dogs should be walked regularly, so shouldn't cows be allowed to graze? Do tigers at the zoo really have enough room? Should shampoos be tested on animals before they're sold to people? Is it right to eat veal? Wear leather?"
Omnia Ibrahim, the Chicago-area events coordinator for Mercy for Animals comments, "I think people are really defensive about their food," says "I think it's hard to think something is wrong that you've done your whole life."
Of her commitment to animal rights activism she says, "There are a lot of horrible issues in the world, but to me they're all connected: It's about looking out for life," she says.
It is a positive and heartening article, well worth reading, which you will find on line at
Please send the Chicago Tribune a supportive letter. The Tribune takes letters at http://tinyurl.com/4lsug
New York Newsday's Monday, May 29 article by Joseph Dionisio is headed, "GO FAUX for low-cal, low-fat eating; Meatless 'meats' are increasingly going mainstream." (Pg B12)
"Barbecue season may be the high holy days for carnivores, but it rarely puts vegetarians in a state of bliss.
"While meat-eaters devour grilled steaks and juicy ribs, vegetarians have long had few options for their main courses. But thanks to the burgeoning mock-meat industry, that's changed in recent years. As more Americans forgo animal-based foods - for health or moral reasons - faux meats are increasingly going mainstream.
""Fake meat can certainly be incorporated healthfully, especially if it's replacing something in your diet that was high in calories,' says Gretchen Garlow, a nutritionist at Stony Brook University Medical Center. 'People are looking to eat in a more healthful way, so these products may ease them away from their former eating habits.'"
The article provides lots of good information and recommendations. You'll find it on line at http://tinyurl.com/284ceq
Supportive letters will encourage similar articles in this widely read paper. Newsday takes letters at email@example.com
Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published.
Yours and the animals',
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Date: Tue May 29 13:58:22 2007