Category Archives: Animal Issues

Home sweet habitat …

By Rebecca Libauskas

Deadly wildfires. Unprecedented flooding. Major hurricanes. With exponential growth in devastating weather events predicted for the upcoming decades, the changing climate is going to affect our homes significantly. So, let’s think about the climate catastrophe’s effect on all species’ homes — and what we can do about it.

art: PETA

Around the world, animal agriculture is the primary contributor to deforestation, air pollution, water pollution and biodiversity loss. It consumes a staggering 83% of farmland and is responsible for more than half of agriculture’s greenhouse-gas emissions, according to University of Oxford research.

And while we bulldoze animals’ habitats to convert them into cruel factory farms, just 18% of our calories — and 37% of our protein — come from meat and dairy. When we can get our nutrition from plants, and consuming them is humane and sustainable, why are we continuing to exploit and kill animals for food?

By replacing animal agriculture and shifting to vegan foods, we could significantly reduce planet-warming greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a new study by scientists from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. So let’s embrace vegan food now, before it’s too late.

This Thanksgiving, forgo the turkey…

Our predicament is urgent. If severe weather continues to increase in frequency at the current rate, we risk losing 167 million houses worldwide between now and 2040 — which is the equivalent of all the homes in the U.S., according to an estimate backed by Professor Andrew Collins at Northumbria University. Just last year, wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes and other natural disasters in America destroyed approximately 15 million houses — that’s nearly one in 10.

Joe knows!

Even though we humans caused the climate catastrophe, we aren’t the only ones losing our homes because of it. Mammals, birds and amphibians around the world have lost an average of 18% of their natural habitats as a result of climate change and changes in land use. During the next 80 years, that could rise to 23%, according to research published in Nature Communications. But that’s why we have protected areas, right?

We think of our treasured national parks as a safe haven for animals, away from human development. But our parks are also suffering from the effects of the climate crisis, including an increase in wildfires, severe drought and rising sea levels. Most recently, Yellowstone National Park and several neighboring areas were severely affected by flash flooding. Soon Yellowstone — home to animals like the endangered Canada lynx — may not be able to support all its inhabitants. And in Yosemite National Park, trees are dying rapidly and animals like the pika are becoming displaced.

Of course, these challenges aren’t limited to the U.S. Zimbabwe just moved 2,500 animals to protect them from drought. And blazing forest fires in Northern Argentina this year forced capybaras, jaguars and other animals to flee their homes.

It is well known that in the Amazon, deforestation has destroyed a great deal of animal habitat. But what may come as a surprise is that the primary source of that deforestation (up to 91%) is animal agriculture, which involves cutting down trees to make room for crops to grow animal feed.

Over a million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, according to a United Nations comprehensive assessment on biodiversity. The analysis shows that the speed at which species are being lost to the world is increasing at a rate that is tens or hundreds of times faster than in the past. But while that sounds bleak, think of the numbers of cows, chickens, turkeys, lambs and goats who are killed every day for food. One estimate states that 200 million animals are slaughtered for food every single day in the world — and that doesn’t even include fish.

Chickens are “transported” like factory parts!

Mansions, condos, cabins, trees, swamps, oceans — our dwellings may look different, but Earth is the home that we all share. So let’s remember that all sentient beings deserve a place to live. Let’s help stop the destruction of our planet — by going vegan.


Why are so many animals left behind in natural disasters, and how can we change that?

By Michelle Reynolds

Vietnam War dog … Now the U.S. military leaves none of its working – or companion – dogs behind in a war zone.

Kittens clinging to the top of a patio umbrella surrounded by rising floodwaters. A dog balancing on a floating bookshelf. Chihuahuas stuck under a collapsed house. Chickens trapped in submerged coops. A dog whose paws were badly burned. These are just a few of the animals PETA fieldworkers have rescued just in the nick of time following natural disasters. Others weren’t so lucky.

We know the dangers. So why, in an emergency, are animal companions so often left behind?

The problem seems to be twofold. First, many evacuation workers and shelters refuse to accept animals, leaving their guardians in a no-win situation. And second, guardians are often unprepared when disaster strikes. But there are solutions.

When Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast, about 44% of New Orleans residents refused to follow evacuation orders, in many instances because the Superdome and other shelters had “no animals” policies. Some residents were threatened with arrest and forced to comply, and some took the dangerous step of reentering the evacuation zone to try to rescue their animals. As a result of Katrina’s heart-wrenching devastation, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006, requiring states that receive FEMA aid to include animals in their evacuation and sheltering plans. Since then, more than 30 states have enacted emergency protection protocols for animals or have plans in the works. Not all evacuation shelters have to accept animals, but options must be provided.

For guardians, it comes down to finding them. And the best time to do that is well in advance of an emergency. Having a plan in place will ensure that the entire family can stay together safely. A quick call to your county emergency management office or local animal shelter may be all it takes to find a list of animal-friendly sheltering options in your area. A simple online search for “animal-friendly evacuation shelters near me” also returns numerous results. In the event that there are no facilities nearby, campgrounds can be a good option, and many hotels that normally don’t allow animals often lift their prohibitions during natural disasters. A few minutes on the phone should yield a solid list.

If you’re required to leave the area, animals are always safer with you than they would be if left behind to fend for themselves. Having a “go bag” ready for them can save precious time when disaster strikes. It should include a harness and leash or a carrier; bowls; medical records; litter and a small litter tray for cats; a favorite toy or blanket; and enough food, bottled water and medication to last at least a week. All animals should be microchipped and wearing current identification tags.

If you see animals who have been abandoned or are lost or injured, try to get them to an animal shelter. Companion animals cannot survive “on instinct” and should never be left outside, especially on a chain or in a pen that prevents them from escaping danger. If it’s not possible to help, note their location and call the authorities immediately.

National Preparedness Month presents the perfect opportunity to make a plan to ensure our animal companions’ safety during emergencies. With the climate catastrophe causing natural disasters to become more frequent, there is no time to waste. Our best friends help us weather every storm, and we should do the same for them.

How eating vegan/vegetarian foods can save our planet!🌎

By Rebecca Libauskas

Today: Rose enjoying her morning java – with French vanilla non-dairy creamer.

Save our planet – go vegan!! photos: PETA.ORG

Investments in meat made from plants have a more profound impact on the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions than other green initiatives, according to a recent report from the Boston Consulting Group.

The report found that investing in the production of vegan meat and dairy reduces greenhouse-gas emissions three times more per dollar then investing in eco-friendly cement technology, seven times more than in green buildings and 11 times more than in emission-free vehicles.

As consumers, we can “invest” every time we go grocery shopping, as well as urging lawmakers to use our tax dollars to develop and expand vegan food production. Doing so will not only help mitigate the climate catastrophe but also prevent animals from suffering on factory farms.

So many cookbooks to learn from …

But let’s not delay: A recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says the effects of the changing climate are worse than experts initially thought, and they advise that we take immediate action. The good news is that interest in vegan food is skyrocketing — even meat-eaters are filling their plates with animal-free cuisine.

There are tons of ready-made vegan meals and desserts you can get at any Worcester supermarket and TRADER JOE’S in Shrewsbury! Deelish!

According to Bloomberg, the market for vegan foods will reach $162 billion by 2030. And the investment bank Credit Suisse expects the vegan food industry to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2050. The search term “vegan food near me” increased by 5,000% in 2021 and was categorized as a “breakout search” by Google. But more than just searching, people are opening their wallets at the grocery store.

So who is driving this shift toward planet-friendly food? Here’s a hint: Avocado toast is vegan. Zoomers (members of Gen Z) and millennials drive the demand for vegan food because they tend to value health, mitigating the climate catastrophe, and ethics. Nearly 90% of zoomers, for example, are worried about the environment, and 41% feel that the changing climate is the planet’s most important issue. Millennials are also more health-conscious than the generations that raised them and more likely to seek out nutritious vegan food. Young people also care more about animals — some even choose to adopt animal companions rather than starting a human family.

Imagine a world in which we don’t exploit animals for food. …

Suffering and a brutal death on American factory farms!

The science is getting close, and clean meat, dairy and egg innovations are being developed. One company is producing dairy protein through fermentation, eliminating the need for cows. Another makes cultivated meat from animal cells, creating cruelty-free chicken breasts and beef. The facility is the largest cultivated meat factory in the world, and the company intends for its products to be available for purchase sometime this year.

Try an IMPOSSIBLE BURGER or make “impossible” meatballs for your next spaghetti dinner. Rose has made these meatballs and they’re so tasty!

A comparison study shows that by 2030 — when large-scale commercial production of lab-grown meat may be possible — pound for pound, lab-grown meat could potentially contribute 92% less in greenhouse gases and use 95% less land and 78% less water than conventional beef.

But we don’t have to wait for new products to hit supermarket shelves. Many grocery stores, restaurants and fast-food establishments carry meatless and dairy-free options. There is even a new vegan hard-boiled egg that looks and tastes like the real deal.


Our current food system is hungry for change, so let’s feed it — by going vegan.

Try one of these “subs” next time you bake!

Which dog breeds are the least healthy? These eight might top the list

By Michelle Reynolds

Mixed breeds like Rose’s Jett – a rescue from WARL, adopted by Rose 15 years ago – are often healthier than “purebreds” who can be overbred and develop genetic traits that lead to all kinds of illnesses, including cancers. pics: R.T.

All caring guardians want the same thing for our dogs: a long, healthy, happy life. But even with excellent care, certain breeds are more likely to have you trekking to the vet’s office than to the dog park. While all “purebred” dogs are predisposed to genetic conditions that cause discomfort and disability, one group stands out from the rest.

Dogs who have been bred (and typically inbred) to have the flat faces that the American Kennel Club and some social media influencers tout as desirable are afflicted by an uncomfortable, debilitating and sometimes fatal condition called brachycephalic syndrome. In short, it means that their disfigured snouts and constricted airways leave them struggling just to breathe. Far from being “normal,” the flat faces often associated with French bulldogs, English bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese, Boston terriers, boxers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, shih tzus and certain other breeds cause them myriad health problems, including sleep apnea, coughing, gagging, retching, vomiting, tiring easily, collapsing, fainting, dental issues, eye problems caused by misshapen skulls, laryngeal collapse caused by chronic stress on the cartilage, and strain on the heart from fighting for air.

It can be tough or even impossible for these breathing-impaired breeds to go for a walk or to run and play with their guardians. And according to a recent study at the University of California–Los Angeles, such facial deformities may even hamper their ability to smell. This condition affects all the things that matter the most to dogs.

During the hot summer months, breathing impairment can turn deadly. Dogs must be able to pant in order to cool themselves. And with narrow, restricted nostrils and windpipes, these dogs often can’t cope. They’re at least twice as likely to suffer from heatstroke as other dogs.

Lilac enjoying her bowl of water at the dog park. Keep your dogs hydrated during the summer “dog days!”

It’s little wonder that in Germany, breathing-impaired breeds are referred to as “tortured breeds,” and the breeding practices that result in pain and distress for dogs are restricted, as they are in Austria, Norway and the Netherlands. Elsewhere, breeders persist, despite knowing how much anguish these dogs endure, just to suit the latest fad. As long as people keep spending thousands of dollars to buy suffering “designer dogs,” breeders will keep churning them out.

The best way to spare breathing-impaired breeds a lifetime of misery is not to buy or breed them.

If you already have one, please take extra precautions during physical activities and in hot weather. Signs of heatstroke include restlessness, excessive thirst, thick saliva, heavy panting, lethargy, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and lack of coordination. If someone you know has their heart set on purchasing one of these breeds because they think it will get them Instagram “likes,” talk to them about adoption. Shelters are full of “purebred” dogs who were bought on a whim and then dumped once the excitement wore off or they became “too much work” or the vet bills started to mount. They’re also overflowing with one-of-a-kind dogs who are equally deserving and less likely to have chronic health issues.

Providing a cherished adopted dog with a full, healthy and joyous life – that should be the goal.

IMG_20180106_092011 (1)
Lilac and her beloved Cece!

America! Worcester! Alarming new study shows it’s time to get serious about eating better!

By Heather Moore

Vegan Rustic Stew. Many Americans don’t eat enough veggies, fruits and whole grains.

Fewer than 7% of Americans are in excellent cardiometabolic health, which is measured by evaluating a person’s weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol levels and signs of heart disease.

Tufts University researchers came to this sobering conclusion after assessing 55,000 people older than 20 between 1999 and 2018. The study’s lead author, Meghan O’Hearn, says it’s “deeply problematic” that less than 1 in 15 adults in one of the wealthiest nations in the world is in optimal cardiometabolic health. Not surprisingly, factors such as economic instability and systemic discrimination are linked to a higher risk of health problems.


A similar study, involving American Heart Association (AHA) metrics—eating habits, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass and blood composition—shows that only 1 in 5 Americans have healthy hearts.

There are lots of vegan and vegetarian options at TRADER JOE’S, PRICE CHOPPER, PRICE RITE and other supermarkets. Photo: PETA

This is terrible news, but there is a solution. Eating wholesome vegan foods instead of animal-derived ones can improve one’s overall health, including most, if not all, of the conditions evaluated by Tufts and the AHA.

Fruit, vegetables, grain, legumes and other vegan foods are cholesterol-free and high in fiber and other important nutrients. They’re also generally low in saturated fat, which is linked to viscous (thick) blood and high blood pressure. If you eat animal fat, you may have thicker blood, so your heart has to push harder just to keep the blood flowing.

Buying farm fresh veggies and fruits at an REC MOBILE MARKET on Vernon Hill. photo: R.T.

When scientists with the University of Warwick in the U.K. compared seven different eating plans, they found that eating primarily vegan foods is the best way to lower blood pressure, which is thought to be the number one factor in strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. The researchers concluded that sticking with vegan foods could prevent nearly 5 million premature deaths a year.

According to vegan cardiologist Dr. Joel K. Kahn, author of Dead Execs Don’t Get Bonuses, between 80% and 90% of chronic health problems, including heart disease, can be prevented by exercising, refraining from smoking, getting enough sleep, managing stress and — most importantly — eating exclusively nutritious vegan foods.


But choosing vegan foods over animal-based ones will not just improve your health — it will likely help you save money, too. Vegan foods tend to cost less, especially when you factor in the money you’ll save on hospital bills, medications and other healthcare costs by avoiding artery-clogging animal-based foods.

Some easy peasy vegan cooking options.

Not only that, but eating vegan foods instead of meat, eggs and dairy can help combat the climate catastrophe, conserve much-needed resources and, best of all — save lots of animals. It’s a win-win situation!

Vegan nachos. Try the plant-based IMPOSSIBLE BURGER the next time you make hamburgers, meatballs or tacos! IT’S TASTY AND ANIMAL-FREE! photo: PETA

PETA is working to make wholesome, affordable, versatile vegan foods available everywhere, including in food deserts. You can make a difference in your community by purchasing and enjoying healthy vegan foods and encouraging your family and friends to do the same.

And when you eat no meat, you save – ANNUALLY! – the lives of 200 animals suffering in America’s factory farms! Photo: PETA

Planning to buy your child a “starter pet”? …

By Michelle Reynolds

A “starter” pet needs extra special care.

After my German shepherd mix passed away, I wasn’t ready to adopt another dog. But my single-girl condo felt empty. So when I got an e-mail about two guinea pigs who needed a home, I thought, “Perfect! How hard could it be?” Looking back, I realize that Alicia Silverstone had nothing on how clueless I was.

Don’t get me wrong, Duke and Bogart are cute, charismatic and perpetually doing things that make me laugh. But I would never recommend guinea pigs to my friends with kids — for a lot of reasons.

First of all, guinea pigs put you through an approval process that’s similar to the one you use when you meet people on Tinder. Guinea pigs require you to convince them that they should like you. And even then, some will never like to be picked up or held. And after you’ve been bitten, you learn your lesson.

Second, they are messy. Like, apoopcalypse messy. Since their teeth grow constantly, they chew constantly as well. Food pellets, hay, chewing blocks and vegetables add up to an amount of waste that is … let’s just say that if Daniel Day Lewis ever made a movie called There Will Be Poop, he would film it in a guinea pig habitat. And that means washing fleece beds, ramp covers, cloth toys and towels about twice a week.

Third, if you’re thinking that smaller animals equal smaller expenses, think again. I spend more money to meet the needs of these 2-pound animals than I did to feed a 75-pound dog. I’ve also found that vet bills tend to go way up when you tack on the word “exotic.”

This is probably a good place to mention that around the same time that I adopted Duke and Bogart, I also began adopting mice rescued from hoarding and other horrible situations. Mice are incredibly cool. Gus loved to curl up on my shoulder while I worked on my laptop, and Valentine’s construction projects were so impressive that I was always buying him building materials. But mice come with their own unique needs and their own costly medical expenses.

For one thing, their lifespan is just one to two years, and that meant a lot of end-of-life vet visits for mine. My mouse Jaq developed an upper respiratory infection, a painful illness that mice are highly susceptible to. Mice can sometimes recover from URIs, but it’s imperative that they get veterinary care right away. Sadly, however, despite daily treks to the vet for oxygen treatments and help getting medicine into his tiny mouth, Jaq didn’t pull through.

Mice are also nocturnal and have to sleep all day to stay healthy. So from dawn to dusk, I was as quiet as … well, you know. And for those of you who haven’t yet told your new husband who just finished a year of teaching and is starting summer break that he needs to be quiet all day long so the mouse can sleep … you will get a kick out of his facial expression when you do.

We were able to work it out with a closed door and a white noise machine, but that just underscores my point: Even small animals have specialized needs. They are complex individuals. If they get too cold, gerbils go into hibernation. Rabbits don’t like to be picked up and may struggle so hard that they can break their back. Betta fish are carnivorous and need to eat insects and larvae. A major study just found that the main cause of death for captive hamsters is stress caused by dissatisfaction with their living conditions.

Profit-driven pet stores market these and other animals as “starter pets” and sell them like cheap toys. Many don’t even provide information about proper care. It’s easy to see why a quick scroll through Petfinder brings up so many who’ve been cast out of their homes. Kids get bored and lose interest — no surprise — or parents weren’t ready to invest the considerable amount of time and money that these animals require. And the ones who make it to shelters are the lucky ones — many of their cohorts don’t survive.

If you and any other adults in your household are ready to provide the distinct habitat, nutrition, grooming, exercise and veterinary care that a small animal needs, you’re in luck because there are many small animals eager to find a permanent home with someone who cares. And if the kids want a companion who will play with them, there are many dogs and cats waiting for homes, too.

Westminster’s “Breed Standards” 🐕‍🦺mean misery for dogs – and the people who buy them!

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

A husky pup. Full-blooded Siberian Huskies, German Shepherd Dogs, and many large, fast-growing dog breeds often develop hip dysplasia. This arthritic condition is painful – and genetic, the result of over breeding, in-breeding …

Mutts like Lilac are “out-bred.” This often happens in Appalachia or the Deep South, as poorer folks often breed their dogs for health and a good temperament.
– R.T.

Rose’s Lilac

For the second year in a row, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was rescheduled from winter to summer as a result of the pandemic. But in light of all the misery that the breeding industry causes dogs and the people who buy them, the show shouldn’t just be delayed — it should be permanently canceled.

“Purebred” dogs are predisposed to a slew of serious health and behavioral problems, including unpredictable aggression. This results in enormous suffering, hefty vet bills, heartbreak and sometimes even hospitalization for dog guardians. If you’ve experienced these kinds of issues with an American Kennel Club (AKC) – registered purebred, PETA wants to hear from you.

The AKC’s “breed standards” — which are used to judge purebreds at Westminster and other dog shows — call for distorted physical features and traits that can be achieved only through harmful breeding practices.

For example, dachshunds, with their elongated spines, often endure excruciatingly painful disc disease or other debilitating back problems. Many bulldogs, pugs, Pekingese and other brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds can barely breathe — let alone go for a walk or chase a ball — without gasping for air because of their unnaturally shortened airways.

Cavalier King Charles spaniels are bred to have such tiny heads that more than 70% of them suffer from syringomyelia, a neurological disease, by age 5 — because their skulls are too small for their brains. Afflicted dogs often scream in pain, scratch themselves raw, grow progressively weaker or even become paralyzed.

In order to pass down certain traits called for by the AKC, many breeders orchestrate canine incest — mating mothers with sons and fathers with daughters. This practice greatly increases the odds of passing on debilitating afflictions such as hypothyroidism, epilepsy, cancer, allergies, heart abnormalities and hip dysplasia.

Labrador retrievers — the most popular breed in the U.S. — are prone to bone disease, hemophilia and retinal degeneration. Doberman pinschers, Great Danes, Irish wolfhounds and German shepherds are susceptible to sudden death from cardiac disease. Can you imagine the horror of watching your beloved dog suddenly drop dead during a walk or a game of fetch?

The cost of veterinary treatment for these health conditions can add up to many thousands of dollars over the course of a dog’s life, causing some families to experience financial hardship. Some people face the agonizing decision of whether to euthanize or surrender their sick purebreds to animal shelters because they can’t afford the extensive veterinary care required.

And if you purchase a purebred, there’s no way of knowing whether your dog will be afflicted with canine rage syndrome — another sinister side effect of breeding for appearances. Springer spaniels, cocker spaniels, golden retrievers, Dobermans and other dogs frequently purchased as family companions are prone to this horrific disorder, in which they become uncontrollably violent without warning or provocation and sometimes even attack the people they love.

The AKC knows that its breed standards cause dogs and their guardians terrible hardship, yet it refuses to make even simple changes to them that could reduce these problems. For example, pugs’ predisposition to spina bifida, a congenital abnormality linked to their curled tails, could be decreased if its standard did not stipulate that “the tail is curled as tightly as possible over the hip.” And deafness would afflict fewer Dalmatians if the AKC would not automatically disqualify dogs with patches, who are less likely to be deaf.

But clearly the AKC isn’t interested in protecting dogs or humans.

It’s up to caring people to push back against breeding for appearances and all the agony that it causes: Never buy purebreds, and don’t watch Westminster or other dog shows. If you already have an AKC-registered purebred dog who became ill or violent or who died prematurely, notify PETA. And if you’re ready to give a dog a lifetime of love and care, please opt to adopt a one-of-a-kind, healthy mutt from an animal shelter.

Mutts like Jett are one-of-a-kind and often healthier than “pure-breds.” CECELIA file photo

Can we save the planet with food?

By Rebecca Libauskas

Our planet, earth, is a living organism, and every one of us is a part of its body. But that body is burning up with fever.

💙💙💙💙💙💙 art: PETA

The past four years have been the warmest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This warming is an alarming trend, and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that a global average temperature increase of more than 2.7°F would be catastrophic. Experts predict that with an increase of this magnitude, extreme weather events will become more frequent and have permanent consequences for the environment. But this diagnosis isn’t just for some future planetary ailment — we already see the symptoms everywhere.

Scientists have observed severe hurricanes linked to warming oceans over the past few decades. And recent research suggests that increased heat and aridity are the main reasons for the more extensive and powerful fires out West. These phenomena are linked to human-caused climate change. But that’s not all.

New record highs in greenhouse-gas concentrations, sea-level rise and ocean acidification indicate that we are causing disastrous changes on land, in the ocean and in the air, according to the World Meteorological Organization. This is bad news for all species.

What we eat matters!

What can we do? When we’re ill, we must take care of ourselves. Why not extend that same remedy to our planet? Raising animals in order to exploit or kill them for food is like drinking poison when we’re already in the ICU. Eliminating animal agriculture is “our best and most immediate chance to reverse the trajectory of climate change,” according to research published in the journal PLOS Climate.

Go, Joe!

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of water and air pollution, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. It dominates a whopping 83% of all farmland and generates more than half of farming’s greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a University of Oxford study. Precious ecosystems are ruined and replaced by animal farms, whose products deliver only 18% of our calories and 37% of our protein. This system is not sustainable or healthy.

The Earth has finite land, water and energy resources, and raising animals for food exhausts them. Approximately 70 billion animals are raised each year for human consumption, and nearly 16% of global fresh water and a third of the grain produced worldwide are used to support them. But eating plants directly — instead of diverting them through animals — would be an ethical, sustainable, healthy solution.

A model developed by scientists from Stanford University and the University of California–Berkeley shows that a worldwide shift away from animal-based foods in the next 15 years would have the same beneficial effect as a 68% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions through the year 2100. Other experts and studies have reached similar conclusions: A study published in Science, for example, shows that producing protein from soybeans in the form of tofu creates only 4% of the emissions that raising and killing cows for meat does. And growing protein-packed peas and nuts creates less than 1%.

Embracing vegan foods would eliminate animal agriculture’s soil degradation, deforestation and greenhouse-gas emissions. This would help to stop the climate catastrophe while securing our global food supply. But time is of the essence — we can’t let a sick planet get sicker. For the sake of the Earth, we must act now.

Every human can have an immediate impact by ditching animal-derived foods and switching to healthy vegan options. There are plenty of delicious choices already on the market and more on the horizon. Plus, each of us can save the lives of nearly 200 animals every year simply by going vegan.



We may save the earth – but not in leather shoes!

By Ingrid Newkirk

Ingrid with some friends

… The United Nations has just warned that we must slash greenhouse-gas emissions by 43% by 2030 and reach peak emissions before 2025 at the latest — or time will be up and the game will be over.

With the stakes so high, it’s easy to feel despondent. But if governments won’t act, we can, and individual acts do add up, as surely as individual bubbles create a pot of boiling water. Here’s one often overlooked, simple action among many that does make a difference: Ditch leather.

Leather is an extremely lucrative coproduct of the meat industry, which is one of the world’s biggest polluters and contributors to the climate catastrophe. Animal agriculture — of which leather is an integral part — is responsible for nearly one-fifth of all human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions.

Clearing land to raise animals and grow crops to feed them is a leading cause of deforestation, including 80% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. A report released late last year by the conservation group linked more than 100 fashion brands to Amazon deforestation via their leather supply chains. Brazil supplies more than 20% of the world’s total leather exports, making it the single largest source of animal hides.

And remember the admonition not to waste water? Well, animal agriculture uses a massive amount of water, contributing to droughts and the spread of wildfires, and the chemical- and waste-laden runoff from factory farms poisons our waterways — killing fish, creating algal blooms and potentially spreading disease.

Formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives and various oils, dyes and finishes — some of which are cyanide-based — are used to prevent animals’ skin from rotting in the buyer’s closet.

PETA Germany investigated the billion-dollar leather industry in Bangladesh and found child workers soaking hides in harmful chemicals. Its investigators visited the poor residential district of Hazaribagh in Dhaka, where 15,000 laborers toil in more than 200 tanneries. Workers stand barefoot in toxic chromium effluent and handle acids and bleaches that can cause chronic skin diseases, respiratory conditions and cancer. According to the World Health Organization, 90% of workers in Hazaribagh’s tanneries will die before they’re 50. And the scene is repeated along India’s waterways and elsewhere.

And then there are the animals. More than 1.4 billion cows, goats and sheep — and millions of other animals — are killed for leather every year.

Buying leather supports both slaughterhouses and factory farms — in which animals’ eyes and lungs burn from the reeking ammonia fumes emanating out of their own accumulated waste and they’re also castrated and dehorned without any painkillers.

PETA’s most recent exposé of the leather industry’s live export horrors revealed that after enduring a grueling journey halfway around the globe in filthy conditions and without sufficient food or water, some cows are so weak and sick that they no longer have the strength to stand up. So a crane is employed to hoist them up off the ship by one leg, which can cause excruciatingly painful joint dislocations and broken legs. At the slaughterhouse, the animals are often killed without even being stunned first: They’re pushed to the ground, sometimes they’re tied up and their throats are cut.

The good news is that there are many options that don’t subsidize violence and misery or destroy the environment. Today’s innovative vegan leather offerings are made out of everything from pineapple leaves and apple peels to cactus, cork and mushrooms. One creative company in India makes biodegradable leather out of discarded temple flowers that would otherwise end up in the Ganges.


According to the latest data from the Higg Materials Sustainability Index, a ranking system created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, cow leather contributes more to global warming, water pollution, water depletion and greenhouse-gas emissions than any synthetic or plant-based vegan option.

Killing animals for their skin comes with the same environmental baggage as killing them for their flesh. Leather destroys the planet, kills animals and endangers workers. Why not embrace environmentally friendly and ethical fashion by going leather-free? Our earth really can’t wait any longer.

When the punishment encourages the crime

By Kathy Guillermo

Prediction: The winning jockey of this week’s Kentucky Derby will be fined for a whipping violation. I’m confident of this because there’s a huge financial incentive to break the rules.

Horse racing: an inhumane “sport”! Photos: PETA

Jockey Frankie Dettori was fined $13,600 in March for “using the whip to excess” on the winning horse Country Grammer in the $12 million Dubai World Cup. In contrast, his 10% share of the first-place prize money was a whopping $750,000. The fine was just a token cost of doing business.

When Sam Waley-Cohen recently rode Noble Yeats to victory in the 2022 Grand National, he was banned for nine days and fined £400 for whipping violations. Had he not been an amateur jockey, he would have pocketed £50,000 to offset the paltry £400 fine.

Many horses die every year due to injuries and doping – at all levels of American race tracks.

And when Victor Espinoza was fined $1,500 for whipping Express Train more than six times in the 2022 Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap to win by a head, his jockey’s winning share for that race was $39,000, so the $1,500 fine was a tiny fraction of his paycheck for that race. Espinoza is also known for hitting American Pharoah 32 times in the stretch of the 2015 Kentucky Derby, so he knows how to calculate the risks and rewards of relentlessly beating a horse.


Increasing fines and suspensions to make them commensurate with the prize money would be a start. But more must be done. Currently, only the jockey is held responsible. Trainers and owners can quietly tell the jockey to win at all costs and that they will cover any fines, and maintain their hefty overall profits.

Furthermore, proceeds from jockey fines and suspensions don’t reimburse the betting public, which is regularly bilked by the cheaters.

There is, however, a simple fix, and it’s only two letters: DQ.

Horses under jockeys who violate whipping rules should be disqualified. This means no prize money for the jockeys—and nothing for the trainers or owners, either.

Just as Maximum Security was disqualified in the 2019 Kentucky Derby for interference—a ruling that was made before any official finishing order was posted—whipping violations must also be adjudicated by stewards right away. They should review the number of strikes and any other potential whipping violations and take immediate action.

Making a quick decision on a whipping disqualification would also avoid situations such as the fiasco at last year’s Kentucky Derby, when Medina Spirit’s drug disqualification wasn’t official until months later. Bettors who put their money on the ultimate winner, Mandaloun, lost out. Winning money redistributed to trainers and owners months later doesn’t trickle down to the bettors.

Ultimately, and most importantly, this new policy would protect horses. We need deterrents for whipping infractions, not “encouragement”—racing’s euphemism for painfully striking a horse. With plummeting approval ratings of the sport, the last thing the racing industry needs is for egregious whipping to be penalized with only a slap on the wrist.

Churchill Downs should take preemptive action and establish disqualification protocols for whipping violations to avoid yet another shameful scandal on the first Saturday in May.