Observing an annual pre-Thanksgiving rite, President Trump pardoned two big white fluffy turkeys Tuesday in a photo op at the White House. (Named Drumstick and Wishbone, the birds will end up at an enclosure on the campus of Virginia Tech.) That leaves 46 million other turkeys that won’t get pardoned. Instead, they’ll wind up on someone’s dinner table during this holiday season, a fate that is expected to befall about 245 million gobblers all told this year. And none of them will make the journey from farm to table via the Willard InterContinental Hotel, where Drumstick and Wishbone hung out before Drumstick was ceremoniously presented to Trump.
No animals raised on factory farms are kept and killed under worse conditions than turkeys and chickens, which make up most of the animals raised for food in the U.S. Nearly 9 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food. And because poultry is exempt from the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces, there are not even minimum federal standards governing how they live or die.
Turkeys and so-called broiler chickens are genetically bred to grow fast (to satisfy our love for breast meat) and, typically, grow so big that they can barely walk by the time they are killed. As a result, they can suffer from painful skeletal disorders and leg deformities. The vast majority spend their short lives (about 47 days for chickens) in artificially lit, windowless, barren warehouse barns. So that turkeys won’t peck one another in these crowded barns, their beaks are painfully trimmed.
When it’s time to slaughter them, the live birds are shackled upside down on a conveyor belt, paralyzed by electrified water and then dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades. The birds are supposed to be stunned unconscious by the electrified water, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the birds miss the blades and end up tumbling into the tanks of scalding water, where they drown. These methods are so cruel that they would be prohibited by federal welfare laws — if the animals in question were cows or pigs.
These are the grim realities behind Americans’ traditional Thanksgiving meal. But there are ways to make life and death somewhat better for the turkeys that wind up on your table. Of course, we could all just eat less turkey and chicken, which would reduce the demand for these animals. But to make a bigger impact, the major buyers of chicken and turkey meat need to push their suppliers to adopt less grisly practices.
The Humane Society of the U.S. has launched a campaign to get producers to pledge to raise healthier, less bloated birds, to provide them with better living conditions — more space, more stimulating environments and more sunlight — and, perhaps most important, to render the birds unconscious before they are shackled and slaughtered. The campaign also seeks to persuade buyers to obtain meat only from producers that honor this pledge. Meanwhile, Temple Grandin, the animal science professor known for designing more humane procedures for slaughtering beef cattle, has called for “controlled atmosphere stunning,” a process of using gas to make the birds unconscious before they get shackled for slaughter.
Installing new procedures takes time and money. All the buyers and producers that have signed on to the Humane Society campaign have agreed to fully convert to a new system by 2024. Companies should be held to that time frame, and more should be encouraged to take that pledge. If enough consumers demand it, companies will do it. That’s not too much to ask for the sake of the bird you’ll be carving up on Thanksgiving.
NOV 2, 2017 — A “Ban Fur Farming” demo will be held this Saturday 4th November, 11am to 2pm, outside ‘Vasa Ltd’ fur farm in Vicarstown, County Laois.
The protest is being organised by the National Animal Rights Association who point out that “over 50,000 mink are murdered on this farm every year – all for the sake of ‘fashion’.”
“These animals are suffering every single day, with no one to speak up for them,” NARA states. “Will you be their voice? Please join our campaign to shut down this hellhole once and for all!”
Footage filmed by ICABS at this fur farm – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvX1O9GvsQ4 – shows mink desperately jumping against the bars of the cages that keep them permanenely trapped. After six months, the animals are dragged from the cages and gassed with Carbon Monoxide before the fur is pulled from their bodies. It’s time for the Irish Government to recognise the cruelty and ban this shameful industry.
A newly opened restaurant in Toronto sparked heated online debaterecently by revealing that two dishes on its menu would contain seal meat. Kū-kŭm Kitchen, an Indigenous-owned and operated restaurant, was targeted by an online petition which gained more than 6,300 signatures. The petition called for the restaurant to remove seal from its menu, stating that seal hunting is “violent, horrific, traumatizing and unnecessary”.
The controversy again highlighted the often uncomfortable relationship between animal rights and environmental groups and Indigenous communities who are struggling with profound issues of poverty and deprivation.
The work of such activist organisations is crucial in educating the general public through events such as today’s World Vegan Day, and in encouraging government policies that promote a more sustainable future for the planet. But with change comes responsibility, something that Greenpeace recognised in 2014 when it openly apologised to the Inuit people of North America and Greenland for its role in causing them 40 years of grief, hardship and frustration.
This period has been dubbed “The Great Depression” by the Inuit, referring to the seal hunting ban in Europe and, more significantly, the associated drop in public approval of seal products.
While Greenpeace has now halted its anti-sealing campaigns, organisations including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are still running campaigns that Inuit communities say threaten their very existence.
In Toronto, the protest against Kū-kŭm Kitchen’s seal-based dishes prompted a counter-petition by local artist Aylan Couchie, who claims the original petition was ill-informed and that seal products hold historical and cultural significance for Indigenous communities. Couchie contends that targeting a small Indigenous business when hundreds of other restaurants in Toronto use meat from inhumane sources is anti-Indigenous.
The crux of this latest controversy, however, is the meat’s source: SeaDNA, which provides the restaurant with its seal meat, is a company that takes part in the commercial seal hunt every year in Canada.
According to Joseph Shawana, head chef and owner of Kū-Kŭm Kitchen: “We did our due diligence when sourcing our meat. All hunters [at SeaDNA] go through rigorous training to ensure they hunt the seals as humanely as possible. And they only harvest what they need – that is something intrinsic in our Indigenous culture. Only take what you need, not what you want.”
Shawana says he is happy to discuss the issue with the protesters, telling them: “Come visit me at the restaurant: I’d love to answer any questions.” In his view, the controversy stems from misinformation. “The Inuit have never harvested white seal pups – that is very frowned upon. Also, Canada has a huge, federally regulated seal industry. The seal hunt is not what it was like before, when the seal population was less than a million – now it’s over seven million.”
The commercial seal hunt has been a contentious subject between animal rights activists and Indigenous groups for decades. In the 1970s, Ifaw began to mobilise public opinion against the annual hunt of baby harp seals (known as “whitecoats”) off Canada’s east coast. The organisations used photographs of helpless baby seals being clubbed to death by fishermen to create protest campaigns.
After immense public support, in 1983 the European Economic Community (ECC) banned the importing of seal skin and furs for two years. Public opinion against the seal hunt was so strong that demand for seal pelts and furs dropped dramatically all over the world.
As animal rights organisations celebrated the collapse of Canada’s east-coast whitecoat sealing industry, the Inuit in northern Canada – who do not hunt seal pups, only adult harp seals – suffered from the collapse of the market for seal pelts. Despite a written exemption for Indigenous Inuit hunters, markets across the Arctic (both large-scale commercial and sustainable-use) crashed.
In 1983-85, when the ban went into effect, the average income of an Inuit seal hunter in Resolute Bay fell from Can$54,000 to $1,000. The government of the Northwest Territories estimated that nearly 18 out of 20 Inuit villages lost almost 60% of their communities’ income.
And life in these areas has not got any better since. The region is plagued with the highest unemployment rate in Canada, and the highest suicide rates in the world. A second seal ban, enforced by the European Union in 2010, only exacerbated these issues.
Irena Knezevic, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa specialising in communication around food and health, believes that historically, campaigns by organisations such as Peta and Ifaw have gravely impacted Inuit communities:
“I want to be really cautious by first saying this is not true of all vegan and environmental organisations,” she says. “But I do think organisations like Peta, Ifaw and Sea Shepherd have greatly profited from the shocking and spectacular images of seals being clubbed to death.”
According to Knezevic: “It is disingenuous to say the commercial hunt does not affect or impact the Indigenous hunt. It does, and if you look at it, less than 100,000 seals are killed in Canada each year – while at the same time, two million minks are farmed and killed in Canada every year: 20 times as many, but we don’t see much promotional material with minks by these organisations.”
Ashley Byrne, campaign specialist at Peta, says the organisation’s stance has always been against the commercial seal hunt, not that of the Inuit:
“We have always been very clear about the fact that our campaign is focused entirely on ending the commercial field slaughter only. [This] accounts for about 97% of seals killed in Canada, and has nothing whatsoever to do with the Inuit subsistence hunt. The Canadian government has to hide behind the Inuit people in a dishonest attempt to justify the commercial slaughter, but there’s two different things and our campaign is against the commercial hunt,” says Byrne.
When asked what Peta’s response is to the Inuit community impacted by the campaigns, Byrne suggests public support for cruel products will fall and that alternatives should be explored by the Inuit and the Canadian government.
“We have seen a lot of products fall out of favour as a result [of our campaigns], and you know that is progress. It wouldn’t be right to drag this ethical progression back. With many of these other products that fall out favour, we’ve always advocated for job retraining, for people to be able to use their skills in industries that aren’t dying; [industries] that aren’t being propped up by tax dollar [subsidies].”
According to the Inuit, however, moving into another industry is not only impossible, but offensive: for them, seal hunting holds great cultural significance.
Inuit vs activists: a decades-old conflict
Angry Inuk, a documentary made by filmmaker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, depicts the decades-old conflict between animal rights and environmental groups and the Inuit. Aaju Peter, an Inuit lawyer from Nunavut, is one of the activists featured in the documentary; she witnessed first-hand the devastation the seal bans caused her people.
“We are trying to feed our communities. When our hunters catch seal they share it – it is the most nutritious food our children and communities can eat. But because the hunter can no longer afford fuel and ammunition due to the collapse of the seal market, it’s really making it hard,” Peter says. “We are the most food insecure region in any developed country. Something needs to change.”
A report by the Conference Board of Canada found that Nunavut, a territory in northern Canada, was the country’s most food insecure region, with more than half of the Inuit population reporting moderate-to-severe food insecurity. According to the nonprofit organisation Feeding Nunavut, seven in every 10 preschoolers in the area live in food-insecure households, often going to sleep hungry and missing out on essential nutrition.
Although the Canadian government has tried to strengthen the sealing industry by giving tax subsidies to fishermen and enforcing strict quotas on the number of seals allowed to be harvested in a season, vegan and animal rights organisations are not backing down on their fight against the seal hunt.
Tanya Tagaq is an Inuit throat singer from northern Canada. In 2014, she received death threats from animal rights activists after she posted a picture of her infant daughter next to a dead seal for the Sealfie campaign. The same year, after she received the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, she shouted “Fuck Peta” during her acceptance speech in a show of support for the seal hunt. Peta responded with a statement saying she was ill-informed and should “read more”.
“I was born and raised [in Nunavut] and I know how the system works, how people harvest meat and how they process it,” Tagaq says. “The world is burning up for a reason, because people have totally forgotten how to respect the earth, the land, ourselves and each other. The idea some people can’t comprehend is that we [Inuit] might have the key to how to respect animals and how to respect the land. We’re all on the same side here.”
Tagaq says she feels compassion for animal rights activists, because most of them are not aware about the truth behind the seal hunt and other Indigenous practices. “They need to know we have the right to live off of our natural resources, without someone telling us what we are allowed to sell. Seals are our cows, they are our beef and leather, yet cattle markets haven’t crashed due to public opinion and animal rights opposition.”
She adds: “We have the right to hunt. We have the right to use renewable resources to feed our families. We have the right to survive.”
As for Kū-Kŭm Kitchen, its owner Shawana has no plans to change his restaurant’s menu: “I am paying homage to our northern brothers and sisters,” he says. “I will continue to sell seal meat.”
If you have experiences relating to this article that you’d like to share, please email us at email@example.com
Just like on land, damage caused by Hurricane Irma varied throughout the waters surrounding the Florida Keys and one of Monroe County’s most profitable industries: Commercial fishing.
The Category 4 hurricane on Sept. 10 delivered a blow to the Keys spiny lobster harvest about a month into the most economically important season for the commercial fleet.
Billy Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, said on the bayside, lobster traps moved an average of 3.5 to 5 miles during the storm. On the oceanside, traps moved 8 to 15 miles on average and the greatest movement of a trap was 18 miles, from Key Largo to southwest Matecumbe Key.
Initial estimates show 43 percent of the 350,000 lobster traps in Monroe County waters were lost or displaced, he said, adding about 17,500 have been recovered. The Middle Keys took the hardest hit with about 80 percent of traps lost or misplaced.
“As soon as guys had recovered their personal lives, they were able to get out there and on Oct. 6, the stone crab season kicked in,” he said.
They deployed stone crab gear with the first pull on Oct. 15 and were looking for displaced lobster traps at the same time, he said.
Production for stone crab season, which runs through May 15, is expected to be fair, Kelly said. The lobster season ends March 31.
“Lobster season’s not totally over. There are lobster to be caught, but you have to be geared up for it,” said James Platt of Marathon. He owns both a charter business, No Slack Sportfishing, and a commercial fishing business, Marathon Crab and Lobster Co., and said both sides of the business have taken a hit. Thankfully, the majority of his traps are for stone crabs.
“But some of my friends that have a lot of lobster traps have lost as many as 75 percent of traps or more. Some were able to recover a few and build a few new ones and some of the guys fishing in deeper water are actually doing pretty well,” he said.
Still, the yield for spiny lobster this year is going to be down considerably, Kelly said.
“You can still go to the fish market and get them at a good price, we just won’t have as many as we caught last year,” he said.
Crab claws rank second only to spiny lobster in importance to the Florida Keys commercial fishing industry. All 1,071,544 commercial stone-crab traps in Florida, a number limited by state law, require a state-issued tag.
COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WSET) – An 18-year-old Jimmy John’s delivery driver has been charged after he hit a gaggle of geese in Colonial Heights, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
DGIF officials say the incident took place along Roslyn Road on October 24.
They say Roberto Pietri drove through a gaggle of geese, killing two of them.
VDGIF says Pietri was charged on October 25, after a concerned citizen brought the incident to the department’t attention.
He’s facing three misdemeanor charges: driving with a revoked license, unlawfully hunting and killing a wild animal, and killing migratory game bird in violation of board regulations.
A DGIF spokesperson told WTVR this appeared to be an accident and that Pietri was “unable to stop.”
Last June, animal rights activists celebrated the news that the U.K. ban on fox hunting would remain in place. The Queen’s speech for the opening of a new Parliament made no mention of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for a vote on the fox hunting ban, meaning that it cannot be repealed until at least 2019.
One of the events leading up to this success was a huge demonstration held on May 29 when thousands of people, including Care2 activists, marched through London in protest against the government’s decision to re-open the debate on fox-hunting.
That was a huge victory, but there is still much work to be done. Saturday, August 12, will see another protest, “Make Badger Culling & Hunting History,” headed up by Care2 along with the Badger Trust, the League Against Cruel Sports and the Born Free Foundation.
Thousands of animal lovers united in their determination to stop the government from playing politics with British wildlife will gather in London’s Cavendish Square at 1:30 pm and conduct a peaceful protest march to Theresa May’s Downing Street home.
Grouse shooting season begins on August 12, according to the Facebook group, and badger culling season also begins in August.
As if racing their hearts out weren’t enough, some greyhounds are retired to dog blood banks where they lived caged all day long, except for outings to get their blood drawn.
PETA last month exposed one such kennel, The Pet Blood Bank, Inc., in Cherokee, Texas, which houses about 150 retired greyhounds — solely for the purpose of extracting and selling their blood and blood products.
The products, PETA reported, are distributed by Patterson Veterinary Supply, Inc., which did about $3 billion worth of business in 2016.
After the the PETA expose and a story in The Washington Post, Patterson Veterinary Supply announced it would take steps to correct the horrible conditions they described.
But PETA says no steps have been taken, even after they had Paul McCartney send a pleato the company.
Patterson Veterinary Supply initially announced it would terminate business with the The Pet Blood Bank, Inc.
It also promised to support “efforts to ensure that the animals receive appropriate care.” Bu PETA says it has seen no evidence of any such efforts.
The whistle-blower was Bill Larsen, 60, a former employee of the blood bank who went back to work there and was horrified by how conditions had deteriorated.
Larsen, who took the incriminating photos, said he unsuccessfully sought help from local animal shelters and a state agency before contacting PETA. “I just like dogs,” he said, and “hate for any animal to get treated like that.”
The photos show kenneled dogs with open wounds, rotting teeth and toenails curling into their paw pads.
The blood bank was founded in 2004 by Austin entrepreneur Mark Ziller, who said he initially sought volunteers and used a bloodmobile. When that did not turn up enough dogs, the company began using retired greyhounds housed in a kennel on a private farm northwest of Austin, the Post reported.
Ziller said he sold the company in November 2015 to Shane Altizer, whose family owns the farm in Cherokee.
“The Pet Blood Bank had a noble mission: It provided blood for veterinarians to use in lifesaving transfusions,” Ziller tod the Post. After viewing the photos PETA obtained, he added, “To see the animals in that state is beyond depressing.”
Altizer did not deny that the images were taken there, but said they predated his 2015 purchase of the company or were “moment snapshots” unrepresentative of overall conditions now.
Blood banks help save thousands of animals a year, but they are also profit-driven and unregulated.
With more medical procedures being used by vets, transfusions are more often required, and animal blood banks struggle to meet the demand. Only one state, California, regulates such operations and requires annual inspections.
Greyhounds are considered especially desirable as donors because they typically have a universal blood type and have big neck veins that make drawing blood easy.
Veterinarian Anne Hale, former CEO of the nation’s first and largest commercial animal blood bank, said she visited the Pet Blood Bank this summer and was “pleasantly surprised” with conditions there. After viewing the PETA photos and video though, she said, “It appears that the facility was ‘cleaned up’ before our touring … I agree that this facility should be addressed. This certainly suggests that regional, state and/or federal regulation is warranted.”
Former Beatle McCartney, who wrote a letter on PETA’s behalf, wants to see all the dogs removed from the facility.
“I have had dogs since I was a boy and loved them all dearly, including Martha who was my companion for about 15 years and about whom I wrote the song ‘Martha, My Dear,’” McCartney wrote. “I join my friends at PETA in asking you to pay these greyhounds back, and to let them retire from the dirt-floored, barren conditions in which they are kept isolated and alone.”
Discarded Greyhounds Imprisoned, Neglected, and Farmed for Their Blood
Imprisoned in an old turkey shed are approximately 150 perpetually penned greyhounds—many already used, abused, and discarded by the notorious dog racing industry—who neurotically spin in circles, jump up and down, cry out, and hide in the jagged old chemical tanks that serve as their only shelter.
At a kennel doing business as The Pet Blood Bank, Inc., in Cherokee, Texas, these animals, who’ve already endured lifelong deprivation, are now being exploited for blood products, most of which are distributed by Patterson Veterinary Supply, Inc., a corporate giant with sales of nearly $3 billion in 2016 alone.
Update: On September 22, 2017, one day after PETA exposed the blood farm, Patterson Veterinary Supply announced that “the conditions and treatment described and pictured … are horrific and unacceptable. … We have terminated business with [The Pet Blood Bank, Inc.], and we will work to support … efforts to ensure that the animals receive appropriate care.”
But for nearly a week, Patterson Veterinary Supply ignored questions about the specific ways in which it would assist the dogs. Then, on September 28, 2017, this multibillion-dollar company, which had pledged—in writing—to help the dogs, posted this cop out on a webpage created just a day earlier, which has nothing on it but this disappointing and unacceptable statement.
Solitary Confinement, Severe Deprivation
With few exceptions, the greyhounds are solitarily confined in unsanitary dirt-floored wire cages devoid of any form of enrichment.
They are deprived of everything that is natural and meaningful to them, including exercise, companionship, and the opportunity to bond with a human family. Out of boredom and despair, they just dig and chew on the old filthy chemical tanks that serve as their shelter, leaving sharp and jagged edges that sometimes injure them. Some dogs pace, spin endlessly in circles, jump up and down, and cry out when approached. Others are so terrified that they cower and lose control of their bladder or bowels.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written about vegan demographics. Do we care? Should we care? Probably not, but since Jane and I are coming up on ten years as vegans in a few months, I figured now was a good time to look at the vegan demographic statistics. As you might suspect, it’s not easy to determine how many vegans there are. It’s not like you enter that information on your census report. There are all sorts of polls on vegetarians and vegans. I like getting my data from faunalytics.org. Most, but not all of the following information is from their site.
We are the one (half) percent
So how many vegans are there in the USA? Based on a sampling of 11,000 adults, aged 17 and over, only two percent of Americans are vegetarian. Only one-in-four vegetarians — or 0.5% of the USA adult population — is vegan. Only half of one percent of the USA population — or 1.62 million of us — is vegan.
(Is 11,000 a reasonable sampling? Perhaps you are think that this sampling is too small and is therefore skewing the results. I suspect otherwise. This sampling is, by far, the largest such sampling that I’ve found. Most other such polls are usually only looking at about 2,000 people.)
There are many former vegans than there are current vegans; there are more than five times as many former vegetarians/vegans than there are current vegetarians/vegans. Said differently, 84% of vegetarians/vegans abandon their diet. Extrapolated out, that means that there are 8 million lapsed vegans as opposed to the 1.6 million current vegans.
Only about one-in-eight Americans has ever considered themselves vegetarian/vegan. Roughly 88 percent of Americans have always considered themselves omnivorous/carnivorous.
So who are the 1.6 million vegans? You might be surprised to find that the average age of a vegan today is 42. I suspect that many people think that most vegans are in their 20’s and 30’s. According to this research, those young adults only account for about half of all vegans.
What is less surprising is that 74% — almost three-in-four vegans — are female. Most vegans are left leaning politically and are not religious.
So perhaps it comes as no surprise that the typical vegan is female, left learning, non-religious. Let’s look at longevity. As we have seen, there are many more former vegetarians/vegans than people who currently eat this way. The survey suggests that for many, it’s fleeting. Only about one-third (34%) maintained the diet for three months or less, and more than half (53%) of former vegetarians/vegans adhered to the diet for less than one year. So it appears that people try this lifestyle on for size and for one reason or another, half of them go back to their normal, traditional diet after a year or less.
If you are thinking that the current vegetarians/vegans might return to their former omni eating ways, only 12% of the current vegetarians/vegans in the survey have been eating this way for less than a year. Therefore, 88% of those who claim to be vegetarian/vegan have been so for over a year, presumably many have been eating this way for several years.
While this might come as a surprise to some, there are more vegans in the lower end of the income range. The average American earns $54,000. The largest concentration of vegans is in the sub $50,000 income range.
Why the discrepancy? It’s probably age related; there are more vegans in their 20’s and 30’s than there are in their 50’s and older. Older adults are more likely to have higher incomes than younger adults.
The Huffington Post article suggest that younger people are more likely to be vegan and tend to have lower incomes than older people:
Six percent of survey respondents between 18 and 34 were vegetarians compared to only two percent who were over 55. Young people are also more likely to make less money than older adults as more of them are students or are starting their careers.
(The information reported above from Faunalytics indicated that the average age was 42. This survey from VRG suggests that there are far fewer vegans in their 50’s than in their 20’s. The VRG survey which sampled 2,000 adults also found a closer ratio of vegans based on gender than the Faunalytics survey of 11,000 found. The VRG survey suggests that women make up only 55% of vegans. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that Faunalytics determination that women account for 74% of vegans seems more accurate to me.)
Why are you vegan?
Participants in the study were asked about their motivations for eating a vegetarian/vegan diet. A great many people indicated that they are vegan for health, taste, and humanitarian reasons.
The same questions were asked of former vegetarians/vegans. There is a statistically significant association between nearly all of the motivations tested and whether an individual is a current or former vegetarian/ vegan, with the exception of cost, social influence, and wanting to follow a food trend.
Most Vegan Friendly Cities in America
According to PETA, the most vegan friendly cities in America are:
Los Angeles, California
New York City, New York
San Diego, California
There are many websites which have their own way of determining which cities are most vegan-friendly. Having never been to Detroit or Richmond, I have to say that those locations come as a surprise to me. Several of the other large cities appear on everyone’s list.
Vegan Demographics: Largest Concentration of Vegans (by country)
The following two tables are derived from data gathered by Wikipedia
These are the only ten countries that they have listed for vegans. It comes as a surprise to me that there are so many vegans in Japan. Maybe it’s just the volume of people that skews this data somewhat. According to this table, there more than 3 million of the 127 million residents of Japan are vegans.
Vegan Demographics: Largest Percentage of Vegans (by country)
As you can see, Israel has the largest concentration of vegans, with five percent of the population indicated to be vegan. The USA only ranks fifth on this list.
Please not that the data from Wikipedia suggests that 1.5% of the USA population is vegan, whereas the data from Faunalytics indicates that only 0.5% of the USA population is vegan; just one-third as many.
Several weeks into the Montgomery Parks bow-hunting season, appellate judges in Annapolis on Thursday heard attorneys argue about whether this method of culling deer is animal cruelty.
Bethesda resident Eilene Cohhn has spent about two years challenging a deer-management policy that she believes is inhumane and unnecessary. Her representative, a staff attorney with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, argues that it’s also unlawful.
“The (Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission) has the right to kill deer. They don’t have the right to make them suffer before they die, if that is avoidable,” attorney Jenni James said, adding that using sharpshooters is preferable.
But an attorney for the park system contended that prohibitions against mistreating animals deal primarily with harming pets, not killing deer.
“I would submit that the animal cruelty code really has no application to hunting at all,” MNCPPC attorney William Dickerson said.
James rebutted that she doesn’t believe the archery program counts as “hunting,” in the legal sense. While most people think of hunting as a sporting activity done for fun or for food, MNCPPC established the archery program to help control the deer population, she said. Therefore, it shouldn’t qualify for the hunting exemption to the state’s animal cruelty law, James argued.
The three judges who listened to the roughly hour-long debate pressed James to explain what distinguishes Montgomery County’s bow hunting from similar lawful activities across the state.
“Why can’t they, on their land, authorize the same thing that could be done on Fort Frederick State Park?” Judge Donald Beachley asked, referring to a park west of Hagerstown.
James said the park system’s purpose—to thin the deer herds—and ability to choose other options set this situation apart.
Beachley also referenced a state bear hunting program and asked whether that, too, violates the animal cruelty laws because its objective is population management.
The PETA attorney responded that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has greater authority to run hunting programs than MNCPPC.
The judges spent less time questioning Dickerson, although they did ask him whether the MNCPPC hunt follows DNR guidelines. Dickerson said it did.
They also pushed back on Dickerson’s suggestion that the animal protection laws don’t have any bearing on hunting activities; Judge Andrea Leahy noted that the statute requires hunters to use the “most humane method reasonably available.”
Montgomery Parks in 2015 added archery to its deer management program, which also includes shotgun hunting and Park Police sharpshooting. Through the program, groups of insured archery hunters take aim at deer in parts of Great Seneca Stream Valley Park in Germantown and Watts Branch Stream Valley Park in Potomac from September through January, according to its website.
For about 20 years, MNCPPC has been hunting deer as a strategy for controlling an overpopulation problem that can damage wild habitats and increase the likelihood of car crashes.
It decided to explore bow hunting in parks near communities or other areas where shooting a firearm might be unsafe.
Cohhn said her home backs up to Stratton Local Park in Bethesda, and she often has deer meandering through her yard.
“I’ve gone out at night, and they’re on my porch. They’re the babies,” she said. “They’re beautiful animals.”
Cohhn said she wishes people could coexist with deer, but if officials find it necessary to curb the population, sharpshooting is a more humane approach than archery.
The likelihood of maiming a deer instead of killing it rises with archery, compared to shooting, James said. Deer shot with an arrow tend to die more slowly, she added.
Parks officials report that in its first two seasons, the archery pilot program wounding rate was 7 percent and 3 percent, an indication of how many deer were shot but not immediately killed.
Cohhn filed her lawsuit about two years ago in Montgomery County Circuit Court. After a judge last year ruled against Cohhn and PETA, she appealed her case to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals for consideration.
James said she doesn’t know when to expect the appeals court judges to issue a decision in the case.
I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast and will gleefully take on any challenge that nature can throw at me: scaling ever higher mountain peaks, hiking across continents or whitewater rafting. Overcoming my fears and pushing the limitations of my body past what I thought was possible—that’s the best feeling of victory that I can imagine. My trophies are the blisters on my feet and the sight of a sunrise from 14,000 feet above sea level captured on my iPhone. I don’t need a head on my wall or to watch an animal needlessly bleed to death in order to feed my ego.
I’m tired of hearing the same defensive arguments from hunters, who actually constitute only 5 percent of U.S. adults. (They’re just really loud.) Look, if killing cornered animals with enough firepower to take out a small nation compensates for the lack of power that you feel in the rest of your life, just say so. But don’t perpetuate myths about hunting that don’t hold up. My favorites of the bunch include the following:
It’s better to eat animals who lived in the wild their entire lives than it is to eat animals from a factory farm.
This argument confounds several issues. First, anyone with a brain knows that the factory-farming system is a problem for the animals, the environment, and our health. Eating almost anything is a better option. But let’s drop the BS: Hunters are not killing animals primarily to feed their families. Meat from a kill is a byproduct, yes, but hunting is a “sport”—and an expensive one at that. And I’m not just talking about the $10,000-a-head safari hunters—big-game hunters actually spent more than $4 billion in 2011 on “special equipment” (items such as dune buggies and snowmobiles) and another half-billion on taxidermy alone. Tell me that’s all in the name of putting good-quality food on the table. A third of all hunters go for small game, as in squirrels and raccoons—and I just don’t believe that grilled ‘possum is being served at 4 million dinner tables.
Hunting is necessary to keep down the population of “pests.”
Let’s not forget that we are encroaching on land that was the home range of those “pests” in the first place by building highways, developments and strip malls. When we take more and more land away from animals, of course they’re going to venture onto “our” roads and farms. A much more humane way of dealing with the problem is through sterilization, which has been proved to work by ecologists. Hunting actually increases the population problem by killing off the oldest male animals for their trophy quality while leaving the females and young to—guess what?—expand the population.
Kids should learn early that nature is harsh.
Yes, animals experience pain and suffering. But they also have complex lives that include time for play, tenderness, and care. Watching dolphins leap into the air from a kayak just a few feet away can teach far more about the natural world than shooting a frightened animal with a high-powered rifle can. I want to teach my kids about respecting all life and not taking what isn’t theirs just as much as I want to teach them about keen observation and physical endurance. Besides, killing animals doesn’t teach kids that nature is cruel—it teaches them that humans are cruel. And sadly, that’s a lesson that kids will learn all too soon anyway.