Watch "The Witness" online!

If you love kitties and other animals and haven’t yet seen the award winning documentary, The Witness, then the time is now! The fabulous production team at Tribe of Heart has announced that the entire documentary is now available to view for free on Tribe of Heart’s new online screening room. Here’s an excerpt from their recent announcement:

One of the most common responses we receive from people who have just seen The Witness is, “I wish everyone could see this film.”

Today, that wish is closer to a reality with the launch of Tribe of Heart’s new online Screening Room, which currently offers The Witness for free online viewing in both English ( closed captions available) and Spanish (both subtitled and dubbed). Ten additional languages will be released in the coming months.

In the award-winning documentary THE WITNESS, Eddie Lama explains how he feared and avoided animals for most of his life, until the love of a kitten opened his heart, inspiring him to rescue abandoned animals and bring his message of compassion to the streets of New York. With humor and sincerity, Eddie tells the story of his remarkable change in consciousness.

If you havent seen The Witness before, or if it has been a while since you last viewed it, please visit Tribe of Heart’s new Screening Room, watch the film and be inspired by this story of one mans remarkable change of heart. Then explore the What You Can Do section of the web site, where viewers of the film can learn more and take immediate action with easy-to-use, state-of-the-art tools for inviting others to view the film and for spreading the word about the availability of this powerful new resource.

(Note: the docu is 45 minutes long. Save some time and then click on the screening room link to watch it.)

Inside Scoops from the Food Biz

Over the next few months, we’ll be posting articles here from folks on all sides of the food business, including food manufacturers, concession managers, folks in the distribution business; activist consumers, school lunch and school garden program directors. These articles are being written specifically for Soy Happy and will shed light on various personal experiences from inside the food biz, along with offering logistical information and suggestions on how you can help in expanding the healthy and vegetarian options offered at your local restaurants, schools and public venues.

First, we suggest a quick article on Foodservice 101. Read our article, “Encouraging Vegetarian Foods at Concession Stands,” printed in the Vegetarian Journal. This will help you establish an understanding of the logistics of the foodservice business before you read the upcoming articles.
Health & Happiness to all!

Turkey stats for Thanksgiving

As we approach Thanksgiving, we offer some statistical food for thought. (In specific, information on turkey consumption in the United States.) The National Turkey Federation tells us the following:

In 2008, more than 273 million turkeys were raised. More than 232 million were consumed in the United States. We estimate that 46 million of those turkeys were eaten at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.

Nearly 88 percen
t of Americans surveyed by the National Turkey Federation eat turkey at Thanksgiving. The average weight of turkeys purchased for Thanksgiving is 15 pounds, meaning that approximately 690 million pounds of turkey were consumed in the United States during Thanksgiving in 2008.

In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture issued a press release stating that the average turkey weight in the U.S. had increased by 4% a year since 1965. In 1965, turkeys averaged 18 pounds; in 2005, they averaged 28.2 pounds. A total increase of 67%. To give you some perspective, United Poultry Concerns has statistically correlated that “if a 7-pound human baby grew as fast as baby turkeys are forced to grow, the human baby would weight 1500 pounds at 18 weeks old.” The turkey industry acknowledges the obvious pain this causes. Feedstuffs, an industry publication, says turkeys raised for food “have problems standing, and fall and are trampled on or seek refuge under feeders.”

As participants in a turkey rescue back in 2001, we have seen this for ourselves. Turkeys we helped to rescue with the Farm Sanctuary that day were mostly collapsing under their own weight and were visibly very sick. (It is widely known that turkeys develop congestive heart failure, lung disease, and many other ailments as a result of their industrialized engorgement.)

It starts when they’re young. Their beaks are trimmed by an electric blade without the use of anesthesia. This is done because of the way they cram these birds together in factory farms. It is unnatural for these birds to be so crammed and their natural instinct is to peck at each other in order to try to get space. Unfortunately, it gets even worse for these birds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture exempts birds from its enforcement of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. What does this mean? The Humane Society of the United States tells us that “Nearly all animals killed for food in the U.S. are chickens and turkeys—more than nine billion each year. They’re shackled upside down, paralyzed by electrified water and dragged over mechanical throat-cutting blades … all while conscious.”

It’s certainly not fun information to read or research, but it’s important to relay and if there’s ever a good time to share it, just before the holidays would be it. Believe it or not, there is good news here! If you enjoy the taste and experience of eating turkey at Thanksgiving, there are amazing vegetarian alternatives out there such as Tofurky’s Vegetarian Feast or Quorn’s Turk’y Roast that will amaze you in taste and texture. (“How do they do it??” you’ll ask yourself. “It tastes like turkey!”) In addition, you can check out some vegetarian recipes for the holiday season c/o the International Vegetarian Union. (You can also google “vegetarian thanksgiving recipes” for a wide array of additional options.)

Thank you for taking the time to consider the information we gave you. It starts with each one of us making compassionate and conscious choices and we hope you will pass it on.

We wish you all a love filled Thanksgiving.

Fab Phillies in it again

The World Series is now underway with the Philadelphia Phillies playing the New York Yankees. They are tied at one game each right now and the next game will be in Philadelphia on Saturday, October 31. If you aren’t already clearly alligned with one team or league, we suggest you consider this idea: root for the Phillies!

Why, you may ask? For all the money and prestige that the Yankees may have, their brand spaking new stadium boasts very little in the way of diverse menu options. Anyone who prefers a vegetarian option is pretty much out of luck right now at Yankee Stadium. The Phillies, however, have so many options (vegetarian and vegan alike) that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has given it the #1 spot in their Top Ten Veg Friendly Ballparks list.

So, for folks who would like a viable vegetarian option to nosh on, root for the team that satisfies! GO PHILLIES!

Schwarzenegger bans tail docking

Encouraging news in California. Today, Governor Schwarzenegger banned the cruel practice of tail docking of California’s dairy cows. For those of you who don’t know about tail docking, this is a brief description:

Tail docking, the amputation of cows tails by applying a tight rubber ring around the appendages until the tissue becomes necrotic and falls off, or is alternatively cut off with shears, is a procedure usually performed without analgesics and causes the animals to suffer acute and lingering pain. It also prohibits them from warding off biting insects with their tails, leading to greater distress during fly season.

Many individuals took action by writing letters to the Governor about this important issue, including Soy Happy. Read the press release from Farm Sanctuary for more information.

Honoring Gandhi on his birthday

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. The U.N. has designated it as a day of international non-violence. In honor of his vegetarian principles, it is also World Farm Animals Day.

To celebrate this man and this day, we invite you to check out these links:

World Farm Animals Day

Biography of Mahatma Gandhi

President Obama leads Mahatma Gandhi birthday tributes

U.N declares 2 October, Gandhi’s birthday, as international day of non-violence

Here are some of our favorite Mahatma Gandhi quotes:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Fans making a difference

First, check out this photo of Jeff, our SH Manager for the New York Mets. This is a photo of him partaking in a delicious veggie (vegan) dog, taken on September 21 at Citifield. He’s been a great advocate for veggie fare there and as a season ticket holder, he can now nosh on veggie dogs and burgers anytime he goes to a game. Yay!

Jeff is an example of one person, one fan, making a difference. He has been steady in his continued effort to speak on behalf of fans who want these options. Now, he is literally eating up the results!
Another example of a fan making a difference is Elizabeth, another Mets fan. Earlier this week, she sent us this message:

I just got back from a game at Citifield and was unable to find a concession stand with veggiedogs and veggieburgers. Several had them listed on the menu, but those stands were closed. The one stand on the promenade level that was open that had them on the menu did not have any and the gentleman at the counter didn’t know why or if they were available elsewhere in the stadium. I was very disappointed but did not want to spend my time hunting for them. I had really gotten my hopes up of once again enjoying a hot dog at a baseball game.”

We told her to contact the Mets immediately and relay her experience to them. She needed to share with them exactly what she shared with us. Feedback is so important, we told her, and they will likely pay heed. The very next day, we got this message from her:

“I emailed Citifield yesterday and this morning received a phone call from the Sous Chef for the stadium who was very apologetic. He said they should have been available and they’re going to investigate to see why they were not there. He even gave me his phone number to call the next time we come to the stadium. I was very pleased to have confirmation that the Yves products are still on the menu.”

May these two Mets fans be an example to everyone: you have the ability to make a difference! It takes only a few minutes to share your feedback with the places that call you a customer. Fill in a suggestion card or write a note, make a call, or send an email. Sometimes, that gesture is all it takes. Be it a baseball stadium, a restaurant, a deli or your company’s cafeteria.

Gene Baur & Farm Sanctuary

Have you heard of Farm Sanctuary? If not, let me tell you about it. In one short sentence, it describes itself this way:

Farm Sanctuary

works to end cruelty to farm animals and promotes compassionate living through rescue, education and advocacy.

Farm Sanctuary is the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization. It’s President and co-founder, Gene Baur, has been a dedicated and effective advocate for farm animals for over 20 years. Thanks to his organization, people are being educated and inspired to take action and laws are being changed.
Farm Sanctuary has two farms in the United States: one in Northern California and the other in upstate New York. There, rescued animals of all types have the opportunity to live their lives fully, in peace, acting as ambassadors to those who visit, letting their histories be an example on why things need to change. The animals at the farm are rescued from a variety of overtly cruel conditions. (In 2001, I participated in what was called “The Great American Turkey Rescue,” which resulted in the rescue of 96 turkeys.)
Celebrities of all kinds have come out in public support of Farm Sanctuary and its important work. Right now, Kim Basinger, Bill Maher, James Cromwell and Bob Barker are among many others who are urging California’s Governor to ban the practice of tail docking on dairy cows.
Gene Baur has a wonderful new blog and we encourage everyone to check it out and share your comments there. And if you haven’t been to either of the farms, go! The experience will be a heart-warming one not to mention, potentially, life-changing.
Gene and FS, keep on keepin’ on!

SF Examiner article on Mets’ new veg options

The San Francisco Examiner published an article yesterday, entitled “Mets’ Citi Field is vegan-friendly.” We’re cited in this article, as well. Here’s an excerpt:

Until recently, baseball stadiums were notoriously harsh for vegans. Typically, the only vegan items sold were the famous peanuts and cracker jack. Then came along Soy Happy, a consumer advocacy service that promotes and facilitates vegetarian options on mainstream menus. Recently, Soy Happy has been working hard to get veggie dogs and burgers in Major League Baseball stadiums.

Share your comments below the article!

O’s now offer Veggie Dogs!

The Baltimore Oriole’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards is now offering veggie dogs along with veggie burgers! Fabulous fan and former SH Manager Patti just attended a game and was told by the concession staff that they were Lightlife’s Smart Dogs, which are also vegan and certified kosher. The veggie dogs are made to order so they won’t be overcooked. This means you’ll have a short five minute wait before the truly hot dog is ready. 🙂

The ballpark’s online A-Z guide has a listing for Vegetarian Food Options. This is how it reads:
Vegetarian Food Options
Oriole Park is proud to have recently been named one of the Top 10 Vegetarian-Friendly Ballparks in all of Major League Baseball. In addition to several salad options located at various concession points throughout the park, vegetarians and vegans can enjoy vegan-friendly hot dogs, burgers and buns at Pastimes Cafe on Eutaw Street. Also, several dietary-specific options are provided at Noah’s Pretzels located on the lower concourse near Gate C.

We’ll continue to update the menu listing for the O’s and all other parks, so check out the Venue Reference Guide for the latest on vegetarian options at all MLB stadiums.