Bill Maher on Ingrid Newkirk’s ‘Free the Animals’

Bill Maher, host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” has written a poignant (and, as usual, entertaining) article on the new release of Free the Animals, Ingrid Newkirk’s celebrated book that “tells the riveting, real-life story of the people who put on disguises, use fake IDs, or jimmy their way into laboratories in order to carry out the daring rescues of animals used in experiments and of the insiders, the whistleblowers, who risk their jobs to help them.”

One of those rescues involved Britches, an infant macaque monkey who had his eyes stitched closed and some kind of electrical box put on his head in a really lame and truly bizarre experiment. When PETA released photographs of Britches with his eyelids sewn shut, it was a PR nightmare for his tormentors, who switched to doing more benign things — not as benign as, say, knitting, but at least they stopped using baby monkeys.

Maher discusses the progress that has been made since the book was first published twenty years ago, and the work that is still to be done.

Which brings us to something else that’s changed since the book was first released: the widespread awareness that writing letters to your member of Congress isn’t enough and that bold action is needed to get animals out of laboratories, where dogs and rabbits are treated as though they were pieces of lab equipment. That’s something that the surprisingly normal members of the Animal Liberation Front discovered and is discussed in Free the Animals

You can read the full HuffPost article here, and you can buy the book here.

“Free-Range” Poultry & Eggs: Not So “Free” After All

United Poultry Concerns has published a critical analysis of practices at poultry farms advertising “free range” eggs and meats. Some highlights:

  • Birds raised for meat may be sold as “free-range” if they have government certified access to the outdoors. The door may be open for only five minutes and the farm still qualifies as “free-range.”
  • Apart from the “open door,” no other criteria such as environmental quality, number of birds, or space per bird, are included in the term “free-range.” A government official said: “Places I’ve visited may have just a gravel yard with no alfalfa or other vegetation.”
  • “Free-range” hens are typically debeaked as chicks at the hatchery the same as battery-caged hens. Debeaking is a painful facial mutilation that impairs a hen’s ability to eat normally and preen her feathers.
  • Typically, 2,000 to 20,000 or more hens — each hen having one square foot of living space the size of a sheet of paper — are confined in a shed with little or no access to the outdoors. If the hens can go outside, the exit is often very small, allowing only the closest hens to get out. And the “range” may be nothing more than a mudyard saturated with manure.
  • “Cage-free” means that, while the hens are not squeezed into small wire cages, they never go outside. “Cage-free” hens are typically confined in dark, crowded buildings filled with toxic gases and disease microbes the same as their battery-caged sisters. And like their battery-caged sisters, they are painfully debeaked at the hatchery.

The article also includes findings from visits to specific poultry farms claiming “free range” practices.

You can read the full article here.

The Food Revolution Summit: April 28-May 6

The Food Revolution Summit will take place from April 28 to May 6, 2012. Hosted by John Robbins & Ocean Robbins, this unprecedented international event will feature talks from luminaries in the fields of health, nutrition, ecology, and activism, including Dean Ornish, Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, Frances Moore-Lappé, T. Colin Campbell, Morgan Spurlock, and others. The entire event will be broadcast live for free viewing.

For details and registration (free), visit the website at

No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Food Revolution

The latest book from author John Robbins, No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Food Revolution, reveals the truth: Contrary to industry propaganda, there are no happy cows in modern industrialized agriculture. It also gives powerful and useful resources to help you thrive. Check it out and spread the word!

Skin Trade India: Exposing the Truth about India’s Leather Industry

A new video takes an unflinching look at India’s gruesome leather trade. In the video footage, cattle are tied together with ropes through their noses and beaten mercilessly in forced “death marches” over vast distances. During the marches, cattle collapse from hunger, exhaustion, injury and despair. Handlers force the cattle to continue by breaking the animals’ tails at each joint (the human equivalent of having a finger broken) and by rubbing tobacco, chilli peppers and salt into the animals’ eyes.

The cattle are never offered food or even a drop of water. Illegally crammed into severely crowded trucks, many cattle, including mothers and calves, are trampled or gored during the long journey to slaughter. By the time they arrive, some of the animals are already dead. Many others are so sick and injured that they must be dragged inside, where workers cut the animals’ throats by sawing back and forth with dull knives. Completely conscious animals are left to slowly bleed to death. Some have their legs hacked off while they’re still conscious or suffer the agony of being skinned alive.

You can help put a stop to this cruelty by going leather-free and sharing the video with your friends.

Compassion begins with awareness. Please watch the video here and forward the link to your friends and loved ones.

The Human Cost of Animal Suffering: NYT

Mark Bittman has written a thoughtful, balanced, must-read piece for the New York Times, making a compelling case for all of us (including especially omnivores) to inform ourselves about the suffering of animals in the modern meat industry so that we can make more conscious choices and contribute to a healthier society, not only nutritionally but also psychologically.

Please take a moment to read this well-considered piece on the NYT website and share it with others.

Adopt a Rescued Animal Companion (Or, Better Yet, Two!)

Daphna Nachminovitch of PETA has published a clarification on PETA’s recommendations on animal companions. While they are firmly against buying animals from pet stores, they strongly support adopting rescued animals from pounds and shelters. In fact, they suggest adopting at least two, so your companions will have companions even when you aren’t around. Read her full article for details.