My Tofu AnniversaryPosted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF's Director of Communications on June 15th, 2009
While I wouldn’t turn down gemstones, platinum, or even costume jewelry, I’m pretty sure the appropriate gift to offer me this month is tofu—I’m celebrating ten years of being vegan.
A number of our bloggers here at ALDF take advantage of the more personal format of our blog to talk about their own reasons for being vegan. Special thanks especially to ALDF attorney Matthew Liebman for sharing great tips on how to make the transition to veganism, favorite podcasts about veganism, and even the occasional recipe—hello, Chick-O-Stick ice cream! Why, though, so much emphasis on food from an organization focused on animals and the law?
Farmed animals—those raised for the meat, dairy, and egg industries—are among the most abused in the United States, in numbers that are so staggering as to be almost incomprehensible. Investigations and industry whistleblowers have discovered abuses on farms and in slaughterhouses that are so horrific, most people cannot even bear to witness them. Despite their vast numbers, and the severity of the abuses they experience, farmed animals receive only miniscule protections by our legal system today. As a result, the Animal Legal Defense Fund seeks to develop creative legal strategies that allow us to improve and expand upon current law, looking toward a day when farmed animals receive basic protections under our legal system.
Excluded by most state animal cruelty laws and the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), farmed animals are particularly at risk for large-scale exploitation and abuse since the advent of factory farms, which mechanized and exponentially expanded the production of animal products at the expense of humane animal care.
The 28 hour law, enacted in 1873 and amended in 1994, covers farmed animals during transportation only. The law states that when animals are being transported for slaughter, the vehicle must stop every 28 hours and the animals must be let out for exercise, food, and water. Animals are often tightly confined and transported in outrageous heat and cold, and the only requirement is that they receive a break every 28 hours. Many truck drivers do not adhere to this rule, especially when the trip is only slightly over 28 hours. The law is rarely, if ever, enforced. The United States Department of Agriculture also claims that the law does not apply to birds.
The Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act is similarly limited. Originally passed in 1958, the Act requires that livestock be stunned into unconsciousness prior to slaughter. This is usually accomplished through electrocution when dealing with pigs, and captive bolt stunning for cows, goats, and sheep. The Act excludes birds, who make up more than 90 percent of the animals slaughtered for food, as well as rabbits, fish and other animals routinely raised for human consumption. It also permits ritual slaughter in which the animal is not rendered unconscious before slaughter. Unfortunately, enforcement of this Act has been inconsistent, and animal protection organizations continue to uncover and expose pervasive and horrific violations of it.
Individual states all have their own animal cruelty statutes; however many states have a provision to exempt standard agricultural practices—meaning farmed animals are on their own.
As long as the law so clearly fails to protect factory farmed animals—those slaughtered for their flesh and those who are raised for their milk and eggs—the easiest way to know you are not contributing to their abuse is by refusing to economically support these industries. It’s why I’ve been vegan for ten years and counting.