NEWS: The Draconian King Amendment, California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Passes First Hurdle, April 20 – April 27, 2018

Protesting to ban fur sales in San Francisco earlier this year, Photo by Michael Goldberg

By Leslie Goldberg


The dreaded King Amendment, deceptively called the “Protect Interstate Commerce Act,” which would destroy states’ abilities to regulate both animal welfare and environmental protection in their states, passed a House Agricultural Committee vote last week. Proposed by Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, the amendment which is part of the Farm Bill takes specific aim at California’s ban on the sale of eggs from hens trapped in battery cages. (Iowa wants to sell its eggs in California.) The King amendment could also overturn states’ regulation of puppy mills, bans on the sale of dog and cat “meat,” San Francisco’s ban on the sale of fur, and other protections. Call your representatives! (HSUS, April 20, 2018)


This week at the California State Capitol, animal rights activists won two and lost one. A bill banning the practice of declawing cats didn’t make it out of the state’s Public Safety Committee. The loss was possibly due to the testimony from two representatives of the veterinary association who argued that the practice was medically appropriate in some situations. On the victory side was the Iconic African Endangered Species Act, SB 1487, which bans the possession of body parts of 11 different African animals including lions and elephants. SB 1487, passed with a vote of 5 to 2 along party lines in the Public Safety Committee. Next stop is a vote in the whole state Senate. The other victory was the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act, SB 1249, which passed the state Judiciary Committee and heads off to the Appropriations Committee. The act bans the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. (Reported by Leslie Goldberg)


The Japanese government has now banned the testing of agrochemicals on dogs. Typically, this type of testing subjected animals to these pesticides (either ingesting or inhaling) for a year. Now the Japanese government has concluded this practice is not only cruel but ineffective. This ban is a big deal – it will save over 4 million dogs a year. (Live Kindly, April 21, 2018)


According to research conducted by the University of Albany and published in a journal called Appetite, people who grew up with pets were the most likely to become vegans and/or vegetarian. And folks who grew up with the widest variety of animals (meaning cats, rodents, farm animals and not just dogs) were even more likely to go vegan or vegetarian in later life. (Bustle, April 21, 2018)


Eating meat in the United States costs about 10 percent more than the world average, according to a study published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Health. But go to Switzerland and you’ll find it costs a whooping 142 percent more! In Norway it’s 67 percent higher and in Hong Kong it’s 61 percent higher. Why so cheap in the U.S.? Government subsidies. There’s a lot not to like in the Farm Bill, besides the King Amendment. (Fin24, April 21, 2018)


Four baboons, using a large barrel which had been placed in their pen for “enrichment” climbed out to freedom from the Institute for Biomedical Research in San Antonio. The facility which houses 2,500 animals and uses them for medical experiments had been the subject of a HSUS undercover investigation. The activists found them kept in “poor conditions” where the apparently underfed animals were eating rocks, wounding each other, engaging in hair plucking and self-biting. Some improvements were made, but it wasn’t enough according to four baboons who made their way onto city streets before being caught. Human activists called for the primates to be released to a sanctuary. So far, the facility hasn’t responded. (Newsweek, April 17, 2018)


DxE co-founder Wayne Hsuing said he was only trying to ask Whole Foods a question but the company doesn’t like to be questioned. A store manager in Boulder refused to answer Hsiung. Instead, she called the police and Hsiung was arrested, along with his intrepid camera person, DxE activist Ateret Goldman. As he attempted to get a Whole Foods manager to have a conversation about Whole Foods’ promotion of “humanely-raised” meat and tried to get her to look at the photos he had brought of the dismal conditions at one of the store’s “humane meat” suppliers, Deistel Turkey Ranch, she asked him to leave. Hsiung, as is his habit, took his time. In the Whole Foods parking lot he was cited for trespassing and taken to jail because he didn’t have his I.D. (Boulder News, April 24, 2018)


DxE activists Zoe Rosenberg, who is 15, and Julianne Perry were arrested this week after chaining themselves to a pen where a cow was to be killed for a California Polytechnic University butchering class. The activists were trying to draw attention to this appalling exercise in needless cruelty. When the truck driver bringing the animal who activists named “Justice” saw the protesters he drove off, never unloading the victim from his truck. As Rosenberg and Perry wailed “Where’s Justice?” police cut their chains and dragged them to jail. (The Tribune, April 23, 2018)


U.S. lawmakers advanced a bill to make eating dogs and/or cat illegal here. It’s not that a lot of Americans eat dogs or cats, but rather, as the Washington Post explained, the measure is to make a strong statement to the international community that eating these animals is wrong. It’s a way for the American government to support international animal rights activists. However, it is not a way to stop our own country’s citizens from engaging in the parallel cruelty of eating cows, chickens, pigs and others. (Washington Post, April 24, 2018)


The State of Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores. The measure also encourages people to visit shelters if they want to acquire an animal. The message is “Adopt, Don’t Shop.” California has already got that message. In this state pet shops must sell dogs and

NEWS OF THE WEEK: Vegan Skater Wins The Gold, Activists Protest At Westminster Dog Show, Feb. 13 – Feb. 19, 2018

Ice skater Meagan Duhamel has been vegan since 2008.


Vegan ice skater Meagan Duhamel of Canada did us proud last week, winning the Gold Medal in pairs skating at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. Vegan since 2008, her coach initially was unenthusiastic about her switch from eating animals to eating plants, believing she would become malnourished. “I felt my body changing,” she told Veg News. “I lost weight, my skin was glowing, my energy levels were on the rise, and I woke up every morning feeling rested and ready to tackle the new day ahead.” Her coach saw her performance and strength improve and eventually came around to asking Duhamel to work with other athletes who were struggling with their diets. (Veg News, Feb. 13, 2018)


The Westminster Dog show, inspiration for the hilarious film, “Best In Show,” was met with animal rights protesters last week in Manhattan where the event is held. The activists, including members of PETA, said the extravaganza promotes dog breeding when many dogs living in shelters need homes. Some protesters brought along their mixed-breed dogs. Ashley Byrne of PETA told the AP, “Events like these just promote the buying of dogs as objects instead of adopting.” (Associated Press, Feb 12, 2018)


Despite the best efforts of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) to stop the establishment of a slaughterhouse in San Francisco’s Bayview District, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 11 – 0 to allow the project to go forward. The ALDF argued that the board should commission an environmental impact report before approving the enterprise but the supervisors countered that the slaughterhouse, which is going to be just over 2000 square feet, didn’t represent serious enough environmental harm. The slaughterhouse will be owned by Saba Live Poultry which is a small national chain of slaughterhouses. Saba owns a facility in Oakland which was the subject of a DxE protest last year. (San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 13, 2018)


In the UK, the Labour party is trying hard to appeal to animal rights advocates, promising everything from allowing renters to keep pets, to a ban on exporting animals for slaughter, to labeling on meat indicating the farm where it came from, and to providing low-cost vet care for low-income people. Meanwhile the Conservative party says it will institute around the clock CCTV in farms and slaughterhouses, ban puppy farms and increase the penalties for animal abusers 10 times. We think nonhuman animals would approve of ALL that. (The Telegraph, Feb. 14, 2018)


Two retired University of Iowa professors along with several animal rights groups including HSUS and environmental groups are calling for a moratorium on building new pig farms in Iowa. Iowa, the largest pig meat producer in the country, has been building or expanding 500 new pig farms a year for the last 10 years. “For several decades the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state governments have failed to regulate the environmental impacts of factory farms,” the groups wrote in a letter to the Iowa General Assembly. “A moratorium will give legislators an overdue opportunity to evaluate the public health, economic and societal impacts of factory farms while providing Iowa’s communities with important statutory protections from further expansion of this industry.” A pork industry spokesman said such an action would be “devastating” to Iowa’s economy and livestock production. (Farm Journal PORK, Feb. 14, 2018)


An Alameda Superior Court judge, Ioana Petrou, ruled against DxE, in its claim of false advertising against Diestel Turkey Ranch. The ranch, which had been subject of a months long investigation by the animal rights network was found by that group to be raising turkeys in dark, filthy, crowded sheds, despite labels claiming the birds had been “thoughtfully raised” and “range grown.” Unfortunately, since this labeling had been approved by the USDA, the judge concluded that the state had no jurisdiction in the matter. “Once the USDA has reviewed and approved product labels, any claim that labels as approved are false or misleading is preempted by the PPIA [Poultry Products Inspection Acts],” Petrou wrote in her final ruling, citing a 2017 lawsuit against Campbell Soup Co. Despite this setback, DxE vows to fight on with its lawsuit, challenging claims made by Diestel in materials not approved by the USDA. (Union Democrat, Feb. 16, 2018)




Drawing by Leslie Goldberg

I just can’t stop thinking about it – a father of four, who served two terms of duty in Afghanistan, drops his 12-year-old daughter off at school and at that moment I.C.E. shows up and drags him off despite the sobs of his kids. The reason this long-term resident with a family and a history of service was grabbed up by Immigration to be thrown out of the U.S. was a 10-yeqr-old DUI charge.

Sickening. This isn’t the America I know. That America is in the back of an I.C.E. van, stolen.

Everyday it’s something else, born out of hate and acted out in brutality. The cruelty takes my breath away.

Obsessively I watch the news at night, hoping for glimmers of kindness, honesty, integrity and courage and sometimes I find those things. Today not so much. I keep thinking about that dad and his family.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

Ending Yulin

yulin dog5

It’s already started. The notorious Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which takes place in southern China, is underway. The “festival” is not a celebration of dogs; it is a celebration of dog meat.

Beagles, golden retrievers, cocker spaniels, collies, chows, muts, you name it, are often stolen from people’s yards and the streets and violently beaten to death for human consumption.

The anti-Chinese racism is underway as well – much of it from passionate dog lovers. Horrified by the practices in Yulin, activists have lashed out at China, perhaps without realizing that only 8 percent of Chinese consume dog meat. Do we forget that 98 percent of Americans consume cows, chicken, fishes, goats and pigs?

Pigs, dogs — are they really so different?

People who live with pigs understand they are not. All animals feel pain, all animals love their young, all animals desire freedom of movement. If animals didn’t feel these emotions and desires, how would they survive?

Animals regarded as mere things or as cogs in a machine in this country suffer – the same as the dogs of China. Yet do you see Americans taking to the streets to protest this violence? Not often. But recently in China over one hundred thousand people came out to protest the dog trade and some animal rights groups based in the United States have joined them asking the government of China to stop this horror. So far, Chinese officials haven’t budged.

It’s not so hard to understand the reluctance. What if millions of Chinese sent petitions calling on the American government to stop the production and consumption of animal products? Would Americans suddenly shut down butcher counters, restaurants and animal farms? Absolutely not.

I would suggest that the American reaction to some Chinese eating dogs smacks of colonialism. Americans and Europeans arrive to save the day and stop the barbarism of the “developing nations.”

How easy it is to point a finger at others and fail to see our own complicity.

The United States kills some 9 billion land animals a year. Each American eats, on average, 270 lbs. of meat per year. Each Chinese person eats about 130 pounds a year. Yet we sit on our couches watching ABC’s recent episode of “Nightline” recoiling in horror at the cruel exploitation of dogs in China.

How helpful it would have been if the producers of the show had also, at the very least, noted the violence, suffering and anguish inherent in our own system of animal agriculture? While the horrors of the dog meat trade are indisputable, true change must start with an unsparing assessment of our own behavior.

True understanding must start with the realization that all nonhuman animals are deeply connected to human animals. Scientists have even shown that rats have empathy and will forgo food to help another rat.When will us humans achieve that same level of compassion?

As the noted animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) proclaims, “It’s not food, it’s violence.”

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —



I would always cringe when I would hear the gym teacher at the end of the class say, “Now go get lunch and be sure and eat a lot of protein.”


Yesterday was a fundraising day for the Y and this teacher who, by the way, is a wonderful person, was giving away ham and cheese sandwiches as part of the effort. She offered one to me and I said, God no, I’m vegan.

“I didn’t know you were vegan,” she said. “Why did you do that?”

I told her that it was for the animals, but I’d also learned that not eating animals has some real health benefits. She said she knew that and I asked if she’d seen “Forks Over Knives.” She said she had and then she asked if I didn’t miss those foods. I said that aside from brief cheese cravings at the beginning, absolutely not and added that since I’d found out about the animals and the health benefits, I had thought, why wouldn’t I do that?

Then somehow she managed to zero in on what can be tough about going vegan – the social aspect. “That’s the hardest part – huh?” the fitness instructor said.

I’ll cut to the chase – today after the gym class she said she wanted to invite everyone to the next fundraising day – which would be vegetarian.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


broc 1

I tend to get nervous when I try to “entertain,” i.e. cook for anybody except my partner Michael. I think cooking can be a sign of love and it pains me to think that I might not be expressing my affection for others very well.

In my anxiety I’ve served overcooked food, undercooked food, bland food, burn-your-mouth spicy food. I’ve left out ingredients. I’ve put in the wrong ingredients. (I once mistook raw quinoa for sesame seeds. Whoops!) I have routinely avoided tasting food before I served it, because, well, what if it’s bad? Or what if I try and “doctor” it and make it worse? I’ve mercilessly berated myself for this ineptitude.

I try to relax but with guests arriving and wanting to visit, I have often delayed returning back to the kitchen to check on things, with predictable results.

Until now, my usual cooking “style” has been to dump everything together, stir it up and hope for the best.

One of the things they’ve taught us in this Forks Over Knives online cooking class I’m taking is how you’re supposed to measure everything out and put each ingredient into a separate bowl before you start cooking. They call that mise en place. It’s fun to pronounce: meez zohn plas (with an “a” like plaza).

Yes, the word seems more fun to say than to do. Why should I bother measuring, preparing and putting aside ingredients in little bowls before I start to cook? says my Monkey Mind. If I have the cumin in my hand at that moment, why not just toss it into the big pot and then go look in the fridge for the next thing in the recipe? Why make extra work for myself?

Sure I’ve seen mise en place on cooking shows. I didn’t know it was mise en place. I thought it was just the TV kitchen help lining up all the ingredients in the little bowls on the counter so the superstar chef could demonstrate the real art of cooking.

I don’t have an assistant (s). Why create another job for myself?


Trying to keep an open mind, or rather, trying to pry open an already closed one, I have recently learned mise en place partly has to do with your “state of mind,” so that you can cook in a calm, deliberate, attentive and methodical manner. It’s to keep a would-be chef from forgetting stuff and for putting the wrong stuff in at the wrong time. It’s a way to not discover midway through a recipe that you don’t actually have that one ingredient that you really really need.

At the earthly level, I’m hoping to learn how to not burn the hell out of everything or how to not throw a still-cold-in-the-middle pan of lasagna on the buffet.

On the spiritual plane, I’m working on something else: to love better. I’m wondering if instead on working to love better in order to cook better, I can cook better in order to love better.

Somebody was telling me about a friend of theirs who ate a simple vegan meal at a Buddhist monastery in Japan. They said it was the best meal they’d had in their entire life. I understand that.

Of course, when it comes to cooking and love, it’s not just love for the people who eat the meal but love for what does or doesn’t go into the meal. How can a dish express kindness and attention when it includes the flesh or secretions of an animal who suffered excruciating pain from the minute she was born until the minute she died? How can serving the murdered corpse of an innocent animal (person) who wanted to live a happy, peaceful life be an expression of loving kindness?

In my cooking class, we’ve been invited to consider the shape and the color of plants – the beauty of plants. No I don’t believe those plants suffer when they are harvested, certainly not the way a fish, cow or pig would at slaughter. Instead plants truly are a gift of nature and are to be revered and consumed with gratitude. And I mean consumed!

My favorite quip from cookbook author and activist Colleen Patrick Goudreau: “How do you keep vegetables from going bad? You eat them!”

Peace from one not-so vicious vegan.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


The Vicious Vegan refrigerator.

There’s not a whole lot I can control in this world, which is very upsetting. I can’t wave a wand and send Donald Trump so far back in time he can’t cause so much trouble, back before microphones, TV’s and real estate. I can’t take away everyone’s freaking weapons, for godsakes. I can’t feed all the hungry people or stop cancer. And so far I haven’t been able to shut down animal exploitation.

But I can control my kitchen god damn it!

I can make sure that all the kale and lettuce is stashed properly in the “Leafies” bin of my refrigerator and the celery is in its designated area. I can arrange all my bottles of vinegar in a cabinet. I can even organize my jars of chipotle salsa on a shelf. I can easily dominate chipotle salsa. The bloody restaurant which calls itself “humane”? Not so much.

But don’t think this kitchen neatness attack was my idea. I simply don’t operate that way. My natural inclination is throw everything in the fridge and hope for the best. Try not to get too upset when I find a three year old potato behind the 2011 almond milk.

I’m taking a Forks Over Knives online cooking course. Yes, yes, yes. It’s WHOLE FOODS, PLANT-BASED, LOW-FAT cooking, which means, among other things, no oil. Or to quote Dr. John McDougall, “Olive oil is not a health food” and “The fat you eat is the fat you wear.”

Assignment 1: Clean up the flipping kitchen! They didn’t say it quite like that but I got the idea that processed food and radically expired food had to go, as well as any kitchen appliance that smelled like an electrical fire when I turned it on. Forks have to go together. Spoons have to go together. And plates of the same size go together.

I have to say it has been such fun. My soup bowls don’t say, “Plants have feelings too.” The can of olives on the top shelf doesn’t spout off with, “Vegans think they’re better than everybody else.” The jar of mustard doesn’t start proclaiming , “God put the animals here for us to use.”

It’s happy in my kitchen. There are no animal corpses, no chicken periods (eggs) and no cow or goat secretions (animal milk.) I have no qualms about touching anything in the refrigerator. I don’t get flashbacks of wailing suffering pigs or fish in agony. There are no hunting knives, bows and arrows or guns nearby.

No, I’m not really making any recipes yet. I’m just enjoying a chaos-free kitchen.

Later, dudes.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


Activist Leslie Goldberg.

By Leslie Goldberg

I really didn’t know what to make of the DxE video I was watching: Animal rights activists marching into restaurants and yelling about animals who wanted to live and how “meat” isn’t food, it’s violence. The activist/troublemakers usually held AR signs and stony expressions. The restaurant customers looked amused, embarrassed or annoyed. The staff? Angry, then frazzled.

As an animal rights activist myself, generally of the polite variety, I was intrigued, but also intimidated— especially when I’d see a DxE video of someone going into a restaurant alone and starting to shout. I said to myself, I COULD NEVER DO THAT. My husband said, “YOU’D BETTER NOT DO THAT.”

I live close to a Nations Giant Hamburgers, a KFC, a Jack ’n’ the Box and a Burger King – so many opportunities, I thought. But no, I can’t. I just can’t.

Weeks passed and still I kept wondering about DxE. I’d check out the notices on Facebook for Direction Action Everywhere Meetups, held on Saturday mornings at the DxE House in Oakland.
The DxE House. I had a picture in my mind – White frame house, falling apart, in a rough part of Oakland. My imaginary house was…

Read the rest of this essay here.

A recent DxE meetup.


By Leslie Goldberg

If activists are going to wake up the planet to the horror of animal exploitation, we’ve got to change how we talk. We can no longer afford to play into the hands of these industries that exploit animals.

Remember how George Bush twisted words to mean the opposite of what they actually were? The Clean Air Act only allowed more air pollution, not less. The No Child Left Behind Act didn’t help disadvantaged children, it hurt them. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act branded non-violent activism as “terrorism.”

Drawing on the work of cognitive linguist George Lakoff, one of the key speakers at the National Animal Rights Convention 2015, Alex Hershaft gave his audience a hand-out detailing, well, how to talk.

Animal rights activists must never fall into meat, dairy, egg, fish industry double-speak and/or euphemism, he said. We can not let ourselves and the people around us forget that exploited animals are living, breathing, feeling, thinking individuals who want to live just like us. Animals are not things. (And that includes fishes!)

Some of his suggestions:

— Always refer to a non-human animal as “he” or “she,” never “it.”

— Don’t call companion animals, “pets.” We are not their “owners.” We’re their “guardians.”

— Say “animals raised for food,” instead of “food animals” or “farm animals.” Say “animals in laboratories,” not “lab animals” or “specimens.”

— The words “beef,” “pork,” “veal,” and “chicken,” are used to make us forget reality. Instead of these words, say “flesh” or “tissue.”

— Other industry terms that deny animal personhood are “livestock,” “cattle,” “hogs,” “swine,” “poultry,” “layers,” “broilers,” etc. We don’t want to use those terms.

— Don’t allow the dairy industry to own the words “cheese,” “milk,” and “ice cream.” If these items come from animals, designate them: “cow’s milk,” “animal-derived cheese,” or “cow’s ice cream.”

— Don’t join government agencies which kill millions of animals and deny animal personhood and which use terms like “wildlife,” “harvesting,” “trash animals,” or “by-catch.” Instead say “free animals,” “killing,” or “non-targeted dead animals.”

— Refrain from using works like “animal,” “beast,” “pig,” “rat,” or “snake” to indicate a person who is violent, uncouth, messy, disloyal, etc.

— Figure out alternatives to expressions such as “killing two birds with one stone” and “there is more than one way to skin a cat.”

— And please don’t ever, ever suggest that there is a way to “humanely” raise and kill animals for human consumption.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –

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