E. Coli for Christmas

Almost 250,000 pounds of beef has been recalled for E. Coli. The meat in question has been shipped to restaurants in six states, but our friends at the Food Safety Inspection Service aren’t disclosing which restaurants received the dangerous beef. Food safety attorney Bill Marler says:

The FSIS has indicated that E. coli illnesses are being investigated by the CDC in connection with the recall. Yet consumers have no information as to what states the tainted steaks were shipped or what retail outlets or restaurants received it. National Steak and Poultry has this information at its fingertips, FSIS should have access to it as well, and it is unconscionable that they have not made it available to the public.

Just yesterday, I posted that quote from FSIS assistant administrator Dr. Kenneth Petersen: “I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health.” Once again, it looks like the FSIS is putting the beef industry first. Link.

Donkeys Just Say No to Christmas

What could be more authentic than having actual real-life donkeys at your Christmas nativity scene? That’s what some Vail residents, clearly with money to burn, concluded.

Unfortunately, the two donkeys installed at the scene jointly reached a very different conclusion: “This blows. We’re leaving.”

Hours after departing, they were picked up near some railroad tracks, where they were obviously waiting to hop a southbound train to warmer and less affluent climes. Link.

Ben Davidow’s Operation Meat Market

A few years ago, a young activist named Ben Davidow decided to give away more than fifty copies of my book Meat Market. He’s just published an essay about the experience, relating how recipients were affected by the book, and what he learned from putting the book into so many hands.

When you do animal protection, there’s a lot to be gained by reading essays by fellow activists. This is particularly the case when an essay reveals experiences that forced the writer to modify his or her approach. In this respect, two of the best such essays are “Why Vegan Outreach?” by Joe Espinosa and Marsha Forsman, and “Letter to a Young Matt,” by Matt Ball. Davidow’s new essay is every bit as worth reading as the essays I’ve just cited. Link.

Spinach Lasagna Recipe

About fifteen years ago, there was a little pasta company operating in a food court in Santa Cruz. They sold the most amazing vegan lasagna, stuff I couldn’t really afford at the time but that I just had to eat regularly. But that was fifteen years ago, and I’ve seen a lot of vegan lasagnas since then, but none that looked quite as good as what that little business offered.

Until now. Check out this photo from the My Veggie Kitchen blog. And click through for the recipe. I don’t have time to cook often, but this is one recipe I’ll be checking out. Link.

Burger Roulette

Writing for the Sierra Club, Carl Pope has an outstanding opinion piece about beef safety. He nails the problem: unlike health care and other issues confronting America, where reform demands complex and delicate negotiations, and compromise from all parties, the problems regarding beef safety could quickly, cheaply, and easily be fixed. All that’s needed is to implement proper testing at slaughterhouses and meat processing plants

And yet nothing is done. Dr. Kenneth Petersen, assistant administrator of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, says, “I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health.”

According to Pope, making a burger from tested ground beef, instead of untested beef trimmings, adds less than a dime to the meal’s cost. But government and industry collectively can’t get it together to make this happen. Why anyone would purchase beef from such a broken system is beyond me. (Via RB and Marler.) Link.

Australian Soy Milk Recall

One of the top soy milks in Australia and New Zealand, Bonsoy, is being recalled. I normally wouldn’t post something like this, but the recalled items appear to be a serious health hazard because they contain excessive amounts of iodine. (Thanks, Peter.) Link.

Mahi Klosterhalfen: Germany’s Animal Advocacy 2009 Year in Review

2009 has been a tremendous year for farmed animal protection efforts in the United States, as Paul Shapiro made clear in yesterday’s guest blog. It’s also been a comparably important year in Germany, so I invited my friend Mahi Klosterhalfen,Vice President of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation, to tell us about the recent victories in his country. Mahi began his activist work in 2007, with a focus on Germany’s egg industry, after he listened to a podcast I did with Josh Balk about opportunities to put an end to battery cage egg production. Mahi writes:

Over the past two years, we’ve put an end to the worst cruelties associated with Germany’s egg production. Battery cages will be outlawed here next month, and the activist efforts we’ve done over the past year has ensured this ban will have great meaning. Initially, most of the egg industry believed they could skirt the upcoming ban by switching over to “colony cages” —which offer only minimal welfare improvements over battery cages. We made sure that this didn’t happen by convincing the German supermarket chains to go cage-free and by targeting the food industry: The list of food manufacturers who have pledged to go cage-free is growing on a weekly basis. It already includes all German pasta producers and many of the largest cookie and cake producers.

The key to these victories is a campaign that builds on what we have learned from Henry Spira: we have built a coalition of eleven animal protection groups—including three of the four biggest organizations in Germany. In addition to assembling this coalition, we constantly stress to companies that our campaigns offer them the opportunity to be publicly praised for meaningful action. We only launch negative campaigns as a last resort, after all efforts at negotiations have failed. And each victory we win puts added pressure on the remaining companies to follow suit.

Progress for farmed animals in Germany is being won on other fronts as well. Other animal protection organizations over here are rapidly putting an end to piglet castration. While factory farms had tried to promote useless painkillers that kicked in after the castration, public pressure has reached the point where the pork industry has begun transitioning to castration-free systems. It now looks like the practice of piglet castration will be abolished here within the next two years.

We have never seen this kind of momentum in Germany before and we’ll work hard to accelerate our progress in 2010.

I can’t begin to express what an inspiration Mahi is to me. He makes achieving huge victories for animals look easy.

Whale Wars Heating Up

It’s looking increasingly like the Sea Shepherd’s efforts to disrupt Japan’s whaling may end in tragedy, as both sides are using ever more aggressive tactics. I don’t have a good feeling about this. (Via Hawthorne.) Link.

Vegan Mango Lassi

Nothing could be easier to make than this. That does it: I’m picking up some mangoes and a carton of soymilk the next time I go shopping.