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Media Coverage of California Water Shortage Omits Biggest Culprit — Animal Agriculture

April 7, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

In its extensive coverage of the California drought, the New York Times has consistently focused on the cultivation of crops without so much as mentioning animal agriculture, which is far more water intensive.

Cattle during California drought (photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Cattle during California drought (photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

The glaring omission has sent readers the message that fruits, vegetables and nuts  – not beef and dairy – are responsible for the state’s grave water shortage. Following are excerpts from the NY Times over the past three days.

April 6th: “Even as the worst drought in decades ravages California, . . . millions of pounds of thirsty crops like oranges, tomatoes and almonds continue to stream out of the state and onto the nation’s grocery shelves.”

April 5th: “The expansion of almonds, walnuts and other water-guzzling tree and vine crops has come under sharp criticism from some urban Californians.”

April 4th: ”There is likely to be increased pressure on the farms to move away from certain water-intensive crops — like almonds.”

Cultivating crops might be be water intensive, but it uses a fraction of the water consumed in animal agriculture. On California’s factory farms, which house tens of millions of chickens, pigs and cows, water is used not only to hydrate these animals but also to grow their feed and clean the facilities and slaughterhouses where they are raised and killed.

Cows in a California feedlot

Cows in a California feedlot

Eliminating animal agriculture, which inefficiently uses of a scarce resource and is altogether unnecessary, would undoubtedly help to curb California’s water shortage.

2014 Climate March participants highlighted impact of animal agriculture on water supply

2014 Climate March participants highlighted impact of animal agriculture on water supply

Following are just a few statistics that demonstrate the impact of animal agriculture on the water supply:

  • 2,500 gallons of water are used to produce one pound of beef compared to 100 gallons for a pound of wheat.
  • Vegetables use about 11,300 gallons of blue* water per ton. Pork, beef and butter use 121,000, 145,000 and 122,800 gallons per ton respectively. (*Blue water is water stored in lakes, rivers and aquifers.)
  • Each day, cows consume 23 gallons of water; humans drink less than one.
  • The amount of water needed to produce a gallon of milk is equivalent to one month of showers.
  • 132 gallons of water are used every time an animal is slaughtered.

One year ago (March, 2014), the NY Times published an op-ed, Meat Makes the Planet Thirsty, that included statistics comparing the amount of water used for crops and animals. So why is it omitting this vital information in its current coverage of the drought? Could it be a mere oversight? Or is it something more sinister?

2014 Climate March participants highlighted the the amount of water used in animal agriculture.

2014 Climate March participants highlighted impact of animal agriculture on water supply

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Grieving Mothers

February 9, 2015 by Leave a Comment


There is nowhere on earth where will you find more grieving mothers than the dairy industry. TheirTurn produced a four minute video to explain what happens to them and why we must be their voice. 

Your Turn

The inherent cruelty of the dairy industry is one of many powerful reasons to ditch milk products and become an advocate. Read more.

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Matthew McConaughey’s Texas Ranch Sells Canned Hunts

February 2, 2015 by Leave a Comment

The News

UPDATE (6:00 p.m., February 4) –  Matthew McConaughey’s spokesperson says that he sold his interest in the ranch in 2011, in spite of the fact that LP Ranch’s website described him as a “co-owner” and “staff” member as of February 4th, 2015. His photo was removed from the website on the day the news broke in the mainstream media. Stories about the controversy have been published in The Daily News, TMZ, The Daily Mail and many other media outlets.


Actor Matthew McConaughey, a former spokesman for the “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner” ad campaign, co-owns a ranch that sells canned hunts. According to his company’s website, “We at LP Ranch pride ourselves with our whitetail deer hunts.”

With his brother Mike, actor Matthew McConaughey owns a cattle ranch that sells canned hunts.

With his brother Mike, actor Matthew McConaughey owns a cattle ranch that sells canned hunts.

McConaughey purchased the LP Ranch in 2001. Six years later, the ranch “decided it was time to expand” by selling canned hunts. For visitors spending the night, the ranch offers “Old West” accommodations with a “modern touch” so that “after the hunt, our guests can feel assured to eat some great meals and relax in all out comfort” (unlike the animals who they killed for fun that day).

"Relax in all out comfort" after shooting deer at Matthew McConaughey's Ranch

“Relax in all out comfort” after shooting deer at Matthew McConaughey’s Ranch

LP Ranch also sells horses who are “ready for any ranching task that may be asked of them” and cattle who they “treat in a way that will allow them to be ready for any conditions.” According to his nephew Madison who is LP’s “Cattle Manager,” McConaughey is a “big beef man” who “feels it’s important to raise Angus cattle and support the beef industry.” In fact, McConaughey was a beef industry spokesman  in 2010:

Your Turn

Canned hunts are among the cruelest forms of hunting. Not only is the other “team” unarmed and unaware that they are being targeted, but they are also confined to a fenced in area with no possible way to escape. In 2011, HSUS conducted an undercover investigation of canned hunting operations to educate the public about this outrageous “sport.”

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Class Action Lawsuit Shines Spotlight on Australia’s Live Export Atrocities

November 2, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

The animals aren’t filing a class action lawsuit against the Australia government, even though they are the real victims. It is the cattle farmers who are doing it.

The Australian government is the live export industry’s most powerful ally, but cattle farmers are suing them anyway in an attempt to recoup the money they lost after a temporary live export ban to Indonesia in 2011. At that time, activists exposed abuses at Indonesian slaughterhouses that were so horrific that public pressure forced the government to take swift action.

Photo: Animals Australia

Photo: Animals Australia

Now, the farmers want the government to pay them back for their financial losses, even if it means shining yet another spotlight on the torture inflicted on their animals overseas. The class action was filed just days after Australian media stunned the country with new undercover footage of similar abuses in three Middle Eastern countries.

live export to Kuwait

The new footage, taken by Animals Australia, combined with the cattle farmers’ lawsuit have amplified the battle over live exports, and both sides are digging in their heels. After the damning footage was released, Bill Shorten, a member of Parliament and one the country’s most prominent live export supporters, said “We are seeing that it is possible for increased animal welfare to coincide with increasing export volumes. We see an industry that enjoys more public confidence because we have the best animal welfare system in the world.”

Photo: Animals Australia

Photo: Animals Australia

The ruling Labor party is also a staunch advocate and justifies live exports on the grounds that new regulations -, The Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) – protect the animals by tracing them. Activists, however, say that the regulations are window dressing, as tracing millions of Australian animals from the docks where they are unloaded to their final destinations in the Middle East and Asia is impossible.

On October 30th, one of the few members of Parliament who opposes live exports said that the government protections are an “illusion.”

As the industry and government continue to defend, promote and grow live exports, protests over the past several years have reached a fever pitch.

Live export protest in Sydney (photo: James Morgan)

Sydney, 2011 (photo: James Morgan)

live export protest

Parliament building in Melbourne, 2013

Because the live export industry is protected at the highest levels of government by both major political parties, ending it is an uphill battle that will only be won when the Australian Labor Party calls for a ban. One Australian activist, who asked to remain anonymous, called for a tourist boycott: “The only thing that will get the attention of the power brokers here is money. A boycott by tourists could make a difference.”

Australia is the world’s largest exporters of live animals, sending hundreds of thousands of cattle and millions of sheep to markets in Asia and the Middle East each year.

Your Turn

Visit Animals Australia to take action.

Send an instant message to the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

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Activists Use Provocative & Controversial Tactics to Shine Spotlight on Speciesism

October 26, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

By observing the actions of adults, we are taught as children that animals exist to serve our needs and desires, not their own. Our sense of superiority to other animals is so ingrained that society gives virtually no thought at all to imprisoning them in zoos, labs and factory farms, thereby stripping them of the freedom that they instinctually desire just as much as we do.

Our behavior can best be described as speciesist. As a word and as a concept, speciesism is not yet a part of the public discourse. In an effort to help animals, however, social justice groups are working to change that, employing creative methods from provocative street theater to dramatic protests.

Launched just two months ago, a NYC-based organization called Collectively Free has been stopping people in their tracks with their “Swap Speciesism” events. At Meatopia, a carnivore festival where whole animals were cooked, Collectively Free turned the tables – and turned many heads – by serving samples from a whole human.

free sample meatopia


On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

On the menu: Rack of Man, Human Chops

Wearing a pig mask, Kate Skwire, a Collectively Free performer, used humor to capture the attention of passing carnivores:

“You look like you’d like a piece, m’am. Are you hungry?”

“These are humanely raised, grass fed, local, happy humans.”

“Now tell me that isn’t delicious.”

“This one had a very good life. You don’t have to feel bad about eating this meat.”

The execution (of the event, not the human), was so creative that some Meatopia attendees stopped to give them props. Robert Jensen, one of the participants, said, “A few people said things like ‘I’m not vegetarian, but this is really creative.’ Others said, ‘that’s sick!’ to which we responded ‘it’s sick the other way around too.’ Then they became lost in thought.'”

Collectively Free Meatopia Reactions

Photo: Collectively Free

Another participant, Miriam Lucille, said, “I was holding a sign that says ‘Why love one but eat the other’ showing a dog and a pig, and one man looked at the sign, nodded and said, ‘That’s very true.'” A lot of people took photos because it was eye-catching, and that’s always a good thing.”

photo: Collectively Free

photo: Collectively Free

A San Francisco based group, Direct Action Everywhere, is also aiming to “Disrupt Speciesism” through dramatic and controversial actions inside of and in front of restaurants and grocery stores around the world. A video of one such protest not only went viral but also made national news. In the video, activist Kelly Atlas enters a restaurant and delivers an emotional account of her baby girl Snow, who is an injured chicken rescued from a battery cage.

In 2013, filmmaker Mark Devries made made a critically-acclaimed documentary about the issue. In Speciesism: The Movie, Animal Liberation author Peter Singer sums it up nicely: “The fact that animals are not human isn’t a reason to give less consideration to their interests.”

Humans might be more powerful than other species, but we are far from superior. In fact, because we are the only species that is destroying the planet, some might argue that we are inferior.

Your Turn

To learn more about and get involved in the provocative #DisruptSpeciesism and #SwapSpeciesism campaigns, please visit Direct Action Everywhere and Collectively Free.

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