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Archive for December 2011

They kill horses, don’t they?

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By Gemma Vaughan

Horses haven’t been slaughtered in the United States for the last five years. But Congress recently restored funding for U.S. inspectors to oversee horse slaughter, paving the way for horses to be killed and butchered here in the U.S. once again. While killing horses anywhere is contemptible, the decision does provide an opportunity to reexamine this entire issue.

A ban on killing horses in the U.S. doesn’t help horses—it prolongs their suffering. And they will continue to suffer as long as the industries that breed horses for profit—horseracing, rodeo and the carriage trade—keep exploiting these animals for our “entertainment.”

When horse slaughter was banned in the U.S. in 2006, it didn’t stop horses from being killed. Mercenary ranchers who make their living from horse flesh simply jam horses into undersized trucks and haul them for hundreds—sometimes thousands—of miles to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

Horses who manage to survive this grueling journey often arrive at the slaughterhouse with gashed foreheads, broken bones, compound fractures, eye infections and other injuries. They meet their end with a bolt gun, an often slow and agonizing death caused by the carelessness of workers who fire poorly aimed bolt after bolt until the animal finally dies. They are then bled out and skinned, usually in full view of other terrified horses.

Anyone who cares about animals should condemn horse slaughter altogether and call for an absolute ban on both the export of live horses and slaughter in the U.S. One doesn’t work without the other.

Horses have been exploited for human purposes and profit since the beginning of time, and we need to take an honest look at the disconnect between society’s horror over eating horses and its tacit approval of exploiting them in so many other ways. Many of the horses who end up in slaughterhouses used to pull carriages, perform in rodeos or cross the finish line but are now too worn-out to continue.

Even though horses tend to be skittish and sensitive, they are still forced to provide carriage rides on busy city streets and, at this time of year, in shopping mall parking lots for seasonal promotions. Fighting crowds, dodging traffic and trying not to slip on icy streets while hauling oversized loads day after day takes a toll. Accidents have occurred in nearly every location where carriage rides are allowed and many horses have died. But as long as people pay to ride, horses will continue to be worked until they can’t take another step.

The horseracing and rodeo industries are equally culpable for sending horses to their deaths. Horses are bred over and over until “winners” are produced. But not every horse makes money, and continual breeding has led to a critical overpopulation of horses: too many horses, not enough good homes. And just like dogs and cats, unwanted horses are often abandoned, neglected, starved and left to die without veterinary care. Thousands are sold to meat buyers and go from grassy fields to blood-soaked killing floors.

If eating horse flesh appalls you, so should the industries that provide the bodies. People can make a real difference by staying away from the racetrack, shunning carriage rides and steering clear of the rodeo.

Gemma Vaughan is a cruelty caseworker with PETA, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; http://www.PETA.org.

 

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Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

December 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Season’s eatings: How to avoid the holiday spread

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By Paula Moore

If you’re like most people, the turkey probably wasn’t the only thing that got stuffed on Thanksgiving. The average person consumes an extra 600 calories per day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and gains 1 pound during the holiday season. That doesn’t sound like much until you remember that most of us never lose that extra weight. The weight stays on throughout the winter and keeps adding up, year after year. For people who are already overweight, the news is even more depressing: Overweight people tend to gain 5 pounds or more during the holidays.

But you can help fend off the annual holiday spread with one simple strategy: Stick to festive meat- and dairy-free treats and avoid calorie-dense, artery-clogging animal-based foods.

Vegans—people who consume no meat, dairy products or eggs—tend to be slimmer than meat-eaters and more likely to stay slim even during the season of eating.

A British study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that vegans have a significantly lower body mass index than meat-eaters; vegetarians fall somewhere in between. When researchers at the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine asked overweight patients to try a low-fat, vegan diet, not only did the patients lose weight without counting calories—they also kept the weight off during the holidays.

So how bad can some traditional holiday fare be? Let’s look at the numbers. Just one cheese straw contains a third of your daily limit for saturated fat—and who ever ate “just one”? One bite-sized cheese ball can contain more than 500 calories, more than half of your daily limit for cholesterol and almost a day’s worth of total fat. Shrimp cocktail may look harmless, but this perennial party favorite is a cholesterol bomb waiting to happen. A typical serving of shrimp contains two-thirds of the daily maximum for cholesterol.

One serving of prime rib contains 45 grams of fat—and that’s before you add seasonings or a sauce. Turkey is loaded with even more fat and cholesterol than many cuts of beef. A turkey leg contains more than 700 milligrams of cholesterol and more than 1,600 calories—40 percent of which are derived from fat.

And before you toast the season with a glass of eggnog, consider that one cup of this sugar, cream and egg concoction can contain 19 grams of fat and more than 20 grams of sugar. Factor in the risk of salmonella in raw eggs, and eggnog might not be such a good idea.

Eating plant-based foods has other benefits too. The American Dietetic Association, the nation’s largest group of nutrition professionals, found that vegetarians have a lower rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer than meat-eaters, in addition to a lower rate of obesity. And vegans don’t just give their health a boost—they save more than 100 animals a year from immeasurable suffering.

With so many people trying vegan foods these days, you’re bound to find delectable vegan options—such as savory vegetable pot pie, baked acorn squash drizzled with maple syrup, wild mushroom pâté, roasted pumpkin soup, chocolate mousse tart and vegan eggnog—on the holiday buffet. By consciously choosing these good-for-you foods instead of mindlessly munching your way through the holidays, it is possible to survive the season without feeling deprived or packing on unwanted pounds.

And if you should happen to overindulge, it’s never too late to get back on track. Just make eating vegan your number one New Year’s resolution.

Paula Moore is a senior writer for The PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510. For vegan holiday recipes, visit http://www.PETA.org.