The We Animals Archive — changing the world for animals, one photograph at a time

Last month, photojournalist, author, and educator Jo-Anne McArthur launched the We Animals Archive,* a free archive of photography depicting our relationships with animals around the globe.

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Creator of the We Animals project, author of two books (We Animals and Captive, due for release this summer), and subject of the critically acclaimed documentary Ghosts in Our Machine, McArthur has been documenting the plight of animals for more than a decade, telling their individual stories with her thought-provoking and moving imagery.

McArthur’s photography evokes a spectrum of emotion —  from heart-wrenching and haunting to joyful and beautiful.

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals

The We Animals Archive is a collection of hundreds of images and videos of animals in the human environment, many of which have never been seen before — animals we use for food, clothing, research, experimentation, work, entertainment, and companionship.

Some words from the photographer:

“I’m thrilled to be releasing the We Animals Archive into the world. My work has shown me that, so often, the animals languishing in cages on fur farms, suffering at the end of a rope, or even resting peacefully in the arms of their rescuers, are invisible to so many of us. I want these images to be used in the hope that people truly see the way animals currently exist in our society.” – Jo-Anne

The archive is a free resource for individuals, organizations, and media outlets around the world who are working to help animals. To date, the We Animals images have been used widely on social media, for banners and posters, in slide shows, newsletters, and even on book covers and for billboard campaigns. Browse the We Animals images and start planning how you might use them to educate and enlighten!

Find out more about this wonderful archive and the simple steps required to request photos in  this short video by McArthur herself:

VegFund highly recommends that you take advantage of this great resource in your outreach efforts. And please share widely with your activist buddies!

Support this project: weanimals.org/support

*The We Animals Archive is free to use for animal rights groups, not-for-profit and charity organizations, and educational organizations. The archive is also available on a commercial basis to commercial and media organizations. View Terms of Use.

The Brutality of the Modern Chicken Industry

Of all the animals raised to be slaughtered for food, birds are quite probably treated the worst.

Why is this the case? It is easy to just think that once living creatures are viewed as commodities, whose flesh is to be sold for profit, the brutality is inevitable.

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The news organization Fusion did a deeper investigation. If you know anyone who doubts that birds suffer in today’s system, please share this with them. If you want to give these animals a voice, please consider a contribution to our work together.

 

The Beast, Healthy Vegan Diets, and The Death of Meat

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Beyond Meat’s High-Protein Veggie Burger Is the Best Thing to Ever Happen to Vegans (and anyone who wants to make more compassionate choices!)

The great Ginny Messina RD lays out the plan for a healthy, cruelty-free diet.

UN Endorses Veganism

The Nasdaq market warns investors of the coming “Death of Meat“!

 

The Health Argument vs. Ethical Argument: Which Is More Powerful?

By Sarah Hanshew, 2014 Summer Intern

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Cease Animal Torture hosts a table at their university in California, including some vegan health information and an environmental argument for going vegan.

“I’m vegan because I’m really concerned about animal welfare.” “I chose to become a vegetarian because I wanted to lose weight.” “The environment really suffers from animal agriculture, and that’s why I chose not to eat meat.”

All of these are common reasons for choosing and maintaining a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, but is there one reason that’s more common among non-meat eaters? Are health arguments more convincing than ethical arguments? Activists could benefit from knowing these answers because they are frequently questioned about the reason(s) behind their lifestyle choice. By knowing which argument is most effective, activists could be more fruitful in encouraging their audience to choose vegetarianism or veganism.

Published research studies on vegetarianism reveal that there are two primary motivations for a meat-free diet: health concerns and ethical considerations (Fox & Ward, 2008). A recent online study conducted by Winthrop University showed that a majority of vegetarians (including vegans) chose to be and stayed vegetarian for ethical reasons. A little over 80 percent of the subjects that were surveyed online stated that their original reason for becoming vegetarian was of an ethical nature. Almost 83 percent of those subjects also stated ethical reasons for why they have remained vegetarian (Hoffman et al., 2013).

So now that we have this information, how can we as activists use it to our advantage?

Because a majority of people choose to be vegetarian and remain vegetarian due to ethical concerns, an ethical argument is what we can best use to persuade our audience to choose a compassionate lifestyle. Here are some tips on how to be as effective as possible during activism:

  • Make your words powerful. This is especially important. Try to use strong, vivid language as you share with your audience the facts and atrocities behind factory farming and why you believe it isn’t ethical.
  • Create powerful imagery. Ask them if they can picture their cat or dog in the same place as a factory farmed pig, cow, or chicken. That’s something that is sure to stay with them.
  • Prepare. This is something so crucial for activists. If you want to appeal to people with an ethical argument, it is important to know your facts. Maybe you can learn the statistics on the numbers of animals killed or harmed, specific types of abuses, and answers to some common objections you will hear.
  • Be positive. In addition to sharing negative statistics, you may also want to spread awareness of how many animals’ lives are saved each year just by maintaining a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
  • Be confident. This may be easier said than done, but showing confidence really makes a difference during activism. If you believe in yourself and what you are saying, your audience will have an easier time believing you!

Do you have any great activist tips? Please share them with us in the comments!

References:

Fox, N. & Ward, K. (2008). Health, ethics and environment: A qualitative study of vegetarian motivations. Appetite, 50(2-3), 422-429.

Hoffman, S.R. et al. (2013). Differences between health and ethical vegetarians. Strength of conviction, nutrition knowledge, dietary restriction, and duration of adherence. Appetite, 65, 139-144.

Meat Logic: Why Do We Eat Animals?

By Sarah Hanshew, 2014 Summer Intern

meatlogic_cover_400“Humans are omnivores.” “Humans need to eat animals to live.” “It’s natural; animals eat other animals.” “We’ve been eating meat since the beginning of time.”

Have you ever heard any of these rationalizations for eating meat? Maybe you’ve actually said something like this in the past. But how accurate are these arguments? What would happen if many of these rationalizations were refuted all in the same place, one by one? Emmy-nominated writer and producer Charles Horn wanted to find out.

He reveals in his book, Meat Logic, that many of the rationalizations used for eating animal productsappear to be based not on emotion but on reason and logic. What he tests, and what his book is truly about, is the logical soundness of each rationalization.

There is a rationalization for everyone if you want it bad enough.” (p. 130)

Horn begins the book with a little background on philosophy, animals, and the basis for animal rights in order to give readers a general understanding of the dispute over eating animals. In the core part of the book, 31 different rationalizations for eating animals are individually put to the test. He provides scientific and philosophical evidence into language that makes it easy for readers to understand and really profit from the knowledge he provides. He is able to contest each of the aforementioned rationalizations in just a couple pages.

Horn states in the book that he didn’t expect every reader to change their mind about eating animals, but he is still “quite hopeful about the future.” He recognizes that more people will change their eating habits once they gain more knowledge about the subject.

If you are an animal activist and are looking for more effective ways to address those opposed to veganism, then this book is a must-read. It can also act as a great reference tool! If you are interested in the rationale of why humans eat animals, then read this book and allow it to challenge you and inform you and maybe even inspire you.

Have you already read Meat Logic? We would love to know what you thought of this book. Let us know in the comments below.

Vegucated: Three People. Six Weeks. One Challenge.

Film Review By: Sarah Hanshew, 2014 Summer Intern

cover_vegucatedFor those of you who haven’t seen the successful and praised documentary Vegucated, written and directed by Marisa Miller Wolfson, it shows the journey of three meat-eating New Yorkers who pledge to implement a vegan diet for six weeks. All three participants agree to take on this challenge with the hopes of living a healthier lifestyle.

Watching this documentary is what inspired me to become vegan in the first place, and it completely changed my outlook on what it really means to be vegan. Vegucated is full of useful information and I firmly believe that anyone, vegan or non-vegan, can benefit from the knowledge gained through this documentary.

The documentary kicks off with Marisa introducing the courageous partakers who all have very different backgrounds. Tesla is a college student living in Queens, Brian is a bachelor from California, and Ellen is a psychiatrist and single mom. All three reveal to Marisa their meat- and dairy-filled refrigerators and admit that they are a bit anxious about the six weeks ahead of them.

Marisa starts off by getting them “vegucated.” She takes them to a local health food store, and she shows them the vast amount of meat- and dairy-free options that vegans have. They also get a few medical tests done so that they can see their health progress at the end of the six weeks.

Marisa not only educates them about the supermarket, but she shows them the truth behind animal agriculture as well. All three of them are shocked to see footage of the cruelty that lies within slaughterhouses and factory farms. Brian is especially surprised by how emotional he feels after seeing such horrific images. After watching the footage he says, “You can really see that these animals are experiencing pain.”

Along their journey, Tesla, Brian, and Ellen also get to meet with some professionals and longtime vegans that share their knowledge and wisdom. It’s extraordinary to see their minds and tastes change so much over the course of six weeks just by learning and experiencing new things. (Plus, it’s fun to see everyone enjoying vegan s’mores around a campfire!)

Is it possible that three tremendously different people can all change their views, lifestyle, and health in six short weeks? Find out by watching the enthralling Vegucated documentary. You might end up being inspired by the educational tactics used by the filmmakers and maybe learn to use them in your own activist work.

If you have watched it, don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments!

The Chain

Book Review By: Sarah Hanshew, 2014 Summer Intern

the chainWith the suspense novel The Chain comes the incredible story of Jude Brannock, an animal welfare investigator trying to uncover the animal abuse that takes place in the small town of Bragg Falls. Author Robin Lamont, an animal advocate currently living in New York, uses her professional experience as an actress, a private investigator, and a prosecutor as inspiration for her novels, including this page-turner.

The story begins as Jude Brannock arrives in Bragg Falls, a town that survives only with the local meat packing plant, D&M Processing. Jude, an employee of the animal rights group The Kinship, comes from Washington, D.C. with plans to meet Frank Marino, a D&M worker who has an exposing undercover tape of animal abuse at the plant. Upon her arrival, Jude discovers that Frank was found dead in his car just days earlier. Without Frank or the tape, Jude has no concrete evidence of the supposed animal abuse.

Jude’s passion for her work is what keeps her in Bragg Falls even after the knowledge of Frank’s death. She suspects that extreme measures were taken to destroy any evidence of animal abuse at the plant, so she sticks around to do more investigating.

It becomes clear to Jude early on that her presence is unwelcome in Bragg Falls because people see her as a threat to the town’s livelihood, regardless of any knowledge of conditions at D&M Processing. The knowledge she does gain from a few concerned citizens reveals the horrific, yet very real, treatment of slaughterhouse pigs.

Jude’s entire stay in Bragg Falls is shaped by misfortune and harassment from the town, and what stands out most from her journey is her unwavering conviction. She is brought down time and time again, but continues to fight for what she knows is right. What is also striking is how relatable Jude reveals herself to be. She isn’t just a hardened shell of a woman; she recognizes how difficult her line of work is and the emotional toll that comes with her job. Any animal advocate would easily relate to her character, and she makes this story seem so real.

This informative and inspiring novel is a must-read for anyone wishing to learn more about slaughterhouse animal abuse and the importance of advocacy for animals. Prepare to be on the edge of your seat!

What do you think about The Chain? Let us know in the comments below!

July/August 2014 Volunteer Spotlight: Sarah Hanshew

photoI have always loved and cared for animals, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I took my love and care to the next level. In 2012, I became a vegetarian, and it wasn’t until I watched the documentary Vegucated that I decided to become vegan. I learned that being vegan is the best way to live a kind and compassionate life and that animals don’t deserve to be killed for food.

Since becoming vegan, I have taken a great interest in animal rights and wish to promote veganism as much as possible. I started with my family by explaining to them my reasons for being vegan, and I have shared with them my knowledge of the horrific, yet very real, treatment of animals in factory farms and slaughterhouses. My biggest supporter is my mom, and even though she is not vegan, we enjoy a vegan meal together several times a week.

My drive to promote veganism to others is what attracted me to intern with VegFund, and it is thrilling to start my first venture as an animal activist. I am excited to use my educational background with writing and social media to successfully engage and interact with others through VegFund’s blog and their Save Farm Animals Facebook campaign. It is an extreme privilege to have this chance to help others help animals, and I am excited to continue my activism in the future.

Meatonomics: An interview with author Dave Simon

By Kimberly Dreher, VegFund Program Director

Meatonomics, a new book by author Dave Simon, exposes the hidden economic forces that drive the animal agriculture system and explores the ways in which these forces affect consumer spending, eating, health, prosperity, and longevity. In the book, Dave discusses how the public has largely lost the ability to decide for themselves what – and how much – to eat. Instead, those decisions are manipulated by meat and dairy producers through artificially low prices, misleading messaging, and heavy control over legislation and regulation. A must-read for activists, this book will provide you with a better understanding of how the animal agriculture industry operates and what can be done to address the broken system.

VegFund recently caught up with Dave to learn more about his important book.

VF: How did the idea for Meatonomics come about?

DS: A few years ago, I emailed a factory farming video to a bunch of omnivorous friends and asked them what they thought of it. The most interesting response came from the dean of a major law school, who said that while the images in the video were disturbing, the humans were likely acting illegally and for that reason, the behavior was exceptional and anomalous. That is, in his view, the images in the video didn’t portray a systemic problem or suggest a need for change.

At the time, I didn’t know whether this was accurate or not. But I decided to start digging around, and what I found in my research was really shocking. In the past few decades, animal food producers have engaged in a relentless legislative campaign to emasculate anti-cruelty protections for farmed animals. They’ve also made it much harder for consumers to investigate, criticize or sue them. 

These dozens of recent laws don’t help animals or consumers – they help only meat and dairy producers. And they help in monetarily important ways; by helping producers keep costs low, they help ensure higher profits. As I learned more about factory farming’s economic forces and consequences, I thought the material was worthy of a book.

VF: In doing research for the book, were there any statistics that you found especially surprising?

DS: Yes – there are a lot of very surprising statistics in this field.  A few dozen of the most interesting are posted on the book’s website, but here are a few that stand out:

  • The U.S. spends about $38 billion to subsidize meat and dairy, but only about .0004 of that, or $17 million, to subsidize fruits and vegetables. 
  • A hot dog and a baked potato contain the same amount of protein – about 5 grams.
  • 200 million pounds of bycatch (dead birds, fish and marine animals) is discarded each day in the world’s oceans as an unintended consequence of fishing. This mass killing of animals – some with inherent economic value, and some with value as feed for commercially fished species – has devastating economic and ecological effects. The U.N. says fishing represents a “net economic loss” for the world.

VF: What do you think are the two most important things vegan activists can do to effect change?

DS: I think the single best thing vegans can do is encourage other people to consume less meat and dairy, or even better, to go vegan. There are a number of ways to do this, but the two I like best are handing out vegan literature in public, and inviting friends, coworkers or family members to eat at vegan restaurants where they can experience firsthand how easy (and tasty) it can be to be vegan. Anyone interested in handing out flyers can get them free from Vegan Outreach.

Another thing people can do is push for changes in law and policy. This takes more effort but, when successful, has the potential to affect thousands or even millions of people and animals. I propose a meat tax in the book and would certainly be interested to see that rise to the level of national discussion, but there are many other campaigns people can get involved in.

VF: What’s the main message you want readers to take from this book?

DS: I hope people will see that meat and dairy producers, often with the help of governments, are aggressively influencing consumer behavior in ways that are creepy, misleading, and inappropriate. The result of this heavy influence is that consumers are routinely manipulated into supporting animal agriculture practices that are unethical, unhealthy, and ecologically and economically unsound.

VF: Is there anything else that you would like to share with readers?

DS: As Gandhi said before successfully completing the unthinkable task of dismantling British rule in India, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Don’t ever be afraid to ask for change. Ask restaurants to provide vegan options. Ask friends and family to go vegan. Ask legislators to pass humane laws. There’s no harm in asking, and you might be pleasantly surprised to get what you asked for.

Be sure to visit www.meatonomics.com where you can order a copy of the book, find out about Dave’s book tour, and learn more about this important topic by reading the informative posts.

Dave Simon is a lawyer and vegan advocate. He works as general counsel for a healthcare company and serves on the board of the APRL Fund, a non-profit dedicated to protecting animals. Dave received his B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and his J.D. from the University of Southern California. He lives in Southern California with his partner, Tania Marie, and their rabbit, tortoise, and two cats.