Texas Tech Students Win PETA Contest

Texas Tech PETA ad. The small print at the top reads: Slaughterhouses are so filthy that more than half of all meat is contaminated with fecal bacteria

Congrats to four students at Texas Tech who recently won a PETA ad campaign. The ad, seen above, was completed as part of a Public and Social Service Design class. The ad is provocative, in the usual PETA style, without crossing the line into racism, sexism, sizism, or general deplorable insensitivity like many PETA ads. Well done, students!

The ad references the fact that the source of e.coli contamination in food is often animal manure in slaughter houses. This is the reason why meat must be cooked to certain safe temperatures and why ground meat–like hamburger meat–carries more contamination risk.

The students are not (yet) vegan themselves. I hope they check out the new animal rights group that’s forming at Texas Tech and learn more about how animals are treated in food production.

Veganizing UTA

UTA Vegan Club table at a recent health fair. Photo from the club's Facebook page.

I am continually impressed with the vegan club at the University of Texas at Arlington. So while I’m proud of their work on Resolution 11-19, I’m not at all surprised at it.

Resolution 11-19 asks for better labeling of ingredients and vegan options in the cafeteria and for more and more varied healthy vegan options. The National Restaurant Association estimates that about twenty percent of university students are vegetarian, and it’s likely that that figure is even higher at UTA because of the large number of international students from countries where vegetarianism is more common.

In working on this resolution, the vegan club sought opinions and support from other university organizations such as the Indian Students Organization, the Environmental Society, and several nursing groups. It’s just this kind of networking and energy that makes the group so successful.

Congrats to the Vegan Club on the passage of Resolution 11-19! The future of Texas looks bright.

Austin: Rally Against Ringling Bros.

Action for Animals is hosting a rally against Ringling Bros Circus tonight in protest of animal abuse. Ringling Bros has been cited by the USDA for sick and injured animals. Animals are routinely beaten, shocked, dragged, and chained as part of their circus training. Come to the rally tonight to show that this is not acceptable. The rally will be at the Erwin center from 6 to 7:30 PM. More information can be found on the Facebook page.

What You Can Do For Veganism

Hey, you! Yeah, you there in your flip flops and pajamas. (Still? At this time of the day?) You in the small town or the vegan-unfriendliest city on the planet. There are lots of new vegan initiatives that need your participation.

We’ve talked a lot about the awesomeness of vegan bake sales on Lone Star Plate. About how they create community and share veganism on the nicest terms possible. The idea of small-scale community activism is taking off. Read on for what you can do to spread a little vegan love around your community.

The first new movement is the vegan bake sale shrunk down to the size of your kitchen. Or something. Gary of Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale wants you to bake or cook something tasty and vegan for your neighbor. And that’s it. Wrap it up pretty and take your casserole or cookies over to your neighbors (you’ve been meaning to meet them, right?). Tell them it was baked with vegan love. Or, at least that you made it for them, and, by the way, it’s vegan.

Gary is calling this Neighborhood Vegan Food Sharing Week. NVFSW takes place June 18 to June 25. That’s this weekend. Gary also thinks it would be neat if you bought food to your office this week. Other than needing a snappier name (veganhood? Who Are the Vegans in Your Neighborhood?), this is super easy outreach for anyone who has a kitchen and fellow human beings nearby. You can “like” the Facebook page and share in the comments what you’re making for your neighbors or coworkers.

The next initiative is Gary’s too. He’s full of awesome ideas. And, I imagine, vegan cupcakes. For this one you don’t even have to leave your house, which is great for hermits like me. Gary is calling it “Veganizing, submitting, and commenting on recipes in non-vegan food sites”. The name. I know. But stick with me here.

This is just what you think it is. Become part of a large online food community (Gary suggests All Recipes, Mixing Bowl, or Taste of Home. But any food site should work.), write about recipes or comment on other’s recipes, and just be your awesome vegan self. I especially like this because I can pretend that all those hours I’ve spent on The Kitchn, Serious Eats, and Chow now count as vegan outreach instead of procrastination. Score!

This takes a little more finesse than you might expect at first. You can’t just vegan bomb these sites. You need to actually become a member of the community, read and interact with folks. Don’t make vegan spam, folks! Gary has set up a Facebook page for this as well, and you can also read a post he wrote about this on Our Hen House.

The final idea is the easiest of them all since someone else is going to do the work. The fabulous Gabrielle Pope and Panda Cookie are starting a blog about YOU. They want to highlight all the awesome vegan outreach and animal volunteerism of ordinary people in ordinary places. And their blog has a pretty great name, too: Vegans on the Move.

From their blog:

Our theory is that no action is too small. We want to know about the every day vegan on the street who is advocating for the animals, fostering community and putting out some positive goodwill to spread the vegan word. Do you host a vegan potluck every month in Columbus, OH? We want to know. We know that vegans come in all shapes and sizes and locations and we want to present evidence that we are everywhere and that even a small action is important.

This is more or less why I write for Lone Star Plate, so I’m down with this. I know lots of folks who write about vegan food in Houston or New Orleans, convince burrito shops to expand their vegan options, and plan bake sales at the drop of a hat, all great candidates for Vegans on the Move. 

Gene Baur Traveling in Texas

In celebration of Farm Sanctuary’s 25th anniversary, Gene Baur is traveling across the U.S. in the same VW van he rode around in 25 years ago, selling veggie hot dogs to raise the money that would give Farm Sanctuary its start. Baur is planning to explore vegan culture across the nation, from the food to the people.

Baur’s travels will take him through Texas. He’ll be in Dallas on May 28 and in Austin on May 30. You can follow his journey on the Just Eats Tour website. I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say about the Texas vegan movement!

While Baur is in Dallas, the Black Vegetarian Society of Texas is holding a walk-athon/bike-athon and potluck where Baur will speak about his work with Farm Sanctuary. Entry is $15. For more details, see the BVST Facebook page.

The Just Eats Tour is also collecting great vegan recipes and pledges to go vegan for the duration of the 21 day journey.

Mercy for Animals Video: Hart, Texas

I really hate to write about this, but I don’t think it’s something I can leave unsaid. Mercy for Animals has done another undercover animal investigation, this time of a calf farm that raises animals for use in dairy farms. The farm is in Hart, Texas, between Lubbock and Amarillo. The video they released yesterday is horrifying. I was only able to watch the first few seconds of it, and even that haunted me all last night.

According to Mercy for Animals, the video shows workers
  • Workers bludgeoning calves in their skulls with pickaxes and hammers – often involving 5 to 6 blows, sometimes more – before rendering the animals unconscious
  • Beaten calves, still alive and conscious, thrown onto dead piles
  • Workers kicking downed calves in the head, and standing on their necks and ribs
  • Calves confined to squalid hutches, thick with manure and urine buildup, and barely large enough for the calves to turn around or fully extend their legs
  • Gruesome injuries and afflictions, including open sores, swollen joints and severed hooves
  • Ill, injured and dying calves denied medical care
  • The budding horns of calves burned out their skulls without painkillers
  • MFA has turned their evidence over to local law enforcement, but how many other similar farms are there out there without undercover investigators documenting cruelty like this?

    The video is here on MFA’s website. It plays immediately when you click on it.

    Dedicated Texan Animal Rights Activist Shirley Wilkes-Johnson

    From Shirley’s Facebook page

    It’s with a sad heart that we say goodbye to Shirley Wilkes-Johnson. You might know her as the voice of Vegan World Radio, as the founder of the Lone Star Vegetarian Network and the Vegan Chili Cook off, or through her work in the Houston community.

    I met Shirley last year at the Chili Cook off launch dinner, and she spoke passionately about the vegan world she longed to live in. Over 50 years as a vegetarian, half of those egetarian for over 50 years and vegan for about half of those, she could still speak with fire about making the world better for animals, the planet, and ourselves.
    Erik Marcus and Kaz Sephton, president of the San Antonio Vegetarian Society, share their memories of Shirley here.
    I know it was sometimes a struggle to raise enough money to keep Vegan World Radio on the air, and I think it would be a lovely tribute to Shirley if we donated to KPFT in her memory.

    Lately in Dallas

    Dallas has a thriving chef-led food scene. And since Wall Street Journal declared 2011 the Year of the Vegetable, it’s not surprising that veganism and fine dining are colliding. The Libertine Bar and Dallas Vegan are collaborating to present a 5 course vegan dinner, complete with beer pairing. The dinner will be April 20, at 7 PM. Details about the menu and making reservations can be found at Dallas Vegan.

    A new Vietnamese Buddhist restaurant D’Vegan has opened in Dallas. Kristy Yang of the Dallas Observer reviews the restaurant favorably. Judging by Yang’s review, I’m looking forward to trying the pho.

    Eddie Garza, Texas animal rights advocate and former Lone Star Plate contributor, has left Dallas for New York City in order to head the New York Mercy for Animals campaign. A Texas native, Eddie has been a strong advocate for animals. Besides working as the Texas campaign coordinator for Mercy for Animals, he created the blog Vegan Dallas, and with it, improved community and spread the word about vegan options in DFW. Along with current Vegan Dallas blogger Jamey Scott, Eddie also co-founded the Texas Veggie State Fair. Most of all, Eddie created bridges with the larger Dallas community, showing that being a vegan Texan isn’t all that different from just being a Texan. Congratulations, Eddie!