Vegan Candy and Conversation at the Howl-O-Ween 5K

On October 22, 2022, the New Hampshire Animal Rights League took part in the Animal Rescue League of NH’s annual Howl-O-Ween 5K with table featuring vegan Halloween candy and literature.

During this popular event, where costumed dogs and their people run a 3-mile race, we brought attention to less fortunate animals — those raised and killed for food.

Using Halloween candy as a starting point for talking about veganism, we explained why gelatin is gruesome and dairy is scary, while offering up a list of cruelty-free candy options.

vegan Dog Treats

For our canine visitors, we had two kinds of pumpkin treats — both very popular with the dogs who stopped by our table.

Why Do We Love One and Eat the Other?

Unfortunately, people who love dogs do not necessarily extend that care and concern to cows, pigs, and other animals considered food. To illustrate, among the dog lovers we met at the 5K event was a butcher, a turkey farmer, a pheasant hunter, and a woman who swears by her “paleo” diet.

While these folks haven’t yet recognized that all living beings should be spared unnecessary suffering, we also met quite a few vegans and vegetarians at the event.

Everyone went home with a bag of vegan candy and some vegan literature (shown below), in hopes of planting seeds.

Thank you to our volunteers and to everyone who stopped by our table.

Happy and cruelty-free Halloween!

Record turnout for Annual Summer Outing

After two missed summers due to the pandemic, the New Hampshire Animal Rights League’s summer outing returned on August 21, 2022 at Four Tree Island, Portsmouth with a record turnout!

It was a perfect day to be by the water, enjoying delicious vegan food, greeting old friends and making new ones, and learning about how we can protect the ocean and all sea life.

Vegan picnic fare was provided by Common Roots, a cafe, market, and yoga studio located in Rye, NH. President James Glover spent the day behind the grill (thank you, James!), serving up plant-based burgers and hot dogs. 

The Vegan Pirates proved to be indispensable, jumping in to work the food line, doling out sides of pasta salad, potato salad, vegan lobster rolls, and chips.

Dessert was a decadent platter of mouthwatering vegan brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Special guest!

Just when it seemed things couldn’t be any more perfect, Ariel the Little Mermaid showed up! 

Ariel from Precious Parties by Kayla quickly had a line of children trailing her as she gave out hugs and shared tales of her underwater adventures.

During story time, Ariel read some books about compassion for animals, including sea animals, who are often overlooked. 

Speaking up for sea life

As the Little Mermaid can attest, fish are intelligent animals who feel pain just as we do. Because no U.S. law regulates the treatment of fish, both the commercial fishing industry and fish farms treat fish in ways that would be criminal if they were dogs or cats. 

Fishing is also bad for the environment. Bottom trawlers, commonly used in commercial fishing, drag nets larger than football fields along the ocean floor, scraping up everything in their path, including dolphins and sea turtles, and destroying entire underwater ecosystems in the process.

Posters were on display with information about the harm caused by fishing. (Scroll down to see the quiz questions and answers.)

Quiz

Lobster poster Q: In which three countries is it illegal to boil lobsters alive? A: Switzerland, Norway, and New Zealand

Fish poster Q: Every day the commercial fishing industry sets enough “longlines” to wrap around the entire earth how many times? A: 500

Shark poster Q: What is the best way to help sharks? A: Don’t eat fish. The commercial fishing industry kills more sharks than any other activity.

Turtle poster Q: What is the best way to keep plastic out of the ocean? A: Don’t eat fish. The commercial fishing industry is responsible for 46% of the plastic waste in the ocean.

Recipes

We also handed out delicious fish-free recipe cards. If you would like these recipe cards, just drop us an email at info@nhanimalrights.org and we’ll mail them to you!

Raffle

Lastly, we had a raffle, with the lucky winner taking home a treasure chest containing movie night snacks, 4 movie tickets to Chunky’s, and $20 toward vegan movie fare (yes, Chunky’s has the Beyond Burger!).

Thank you!

Thank you to everyone who came out for this bigger-than-ever summer outing, to all our helpers, and to those who made donations. We couldn’t do this work for animals without your support.

Speaking Up for Chickens at the Market Days Festival

Winner of the Ninja Air fryer

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the Ninja Air Fryer and accompanying plant-based air fryer cookbook. Our lucky winner was Jesse Cote!

New Hampshire Animal Rights League is pleased to share the news of our successful outreach efforts at the Market Days Festival in downtown Concord, NH. 

During this three-day event (June 23- 25), we spread the word about the work we do for animals and answered the question: What’s Wrong with Eating Eggs?

Visitors to our booth learned that there is a great deal of suffering and death involved  in the production of eggs. Whether raising caged or free-range chickens, it is standard practice in the egg industry to:

  • Obtain hens from hatcheries that kill all male chicks at birth. (All American hatcheries kill male chicks.)
  • Cut or burn off hens’ sensitive beaks to minimize how much they can damage themselves and others.
  • Crowd “free-range” hens so densely most never find their way outside.
  • Send hens to slaughter when their egg production decreases and the shells thin, around age 7-12 months.

Eye-Opening Video

We enticed approximately 200 people to watch the following 1-minute video from Farm Sanctuary founder Gene Baur answering the question, “What’s Wrong with Eggs?

Those who watched the video received a free can of vegan cold brew coffee from RISE Brewing Co. along with some conversation about what they had seen.

“Male” Chick Toys

We gave out “male” chick toys to draw people in so we could tell them what happens to the male chicks at the hatcheries that supply hens to egg farms as well as backyard chicken keepers.

 

On the tag, we wrote, “I lived only hours, because I was male — I had no worth, since I would never lay eggs.”

We included a QR code (with warning label) that opens a video of chicks being dumped into a macerator.

Goodie Bags

We handed out close to 200 “goodie” bags containing vegan literature (sampling below), vegan protein cookies from Munk Pack, and meatless jerky from Primal Spirit Foods.

Brochure

We showed visitors some of our favorite egg substitutes and handed out a brochure with more information.

The future is vegan

While much of the food at the festival was not vegan, encouragingly many vendors did offer a vegan option. Deadproof Pizza jokingly called theirs the “Obligatory Vegan Item.”

Free advertising space

On the backside of our tent, we displayed a heartbreaking illustration of speciesism drawn by friend of NHARL Holley Ackerson.

Thank you

Thank you to all our supporters and to everyone who stopped by to learn what’s wrong with eating eggs.

We hope to see you again next year!

Successful Outreach at NH SPCA PAWS Walk

New Hampshire Animal Rights League was on site at the NH SPCA’s annual PAWS Walk Fundraiser to answer the question: “What’s Wrong with Eating Eggs?”

Chickens make wonderful companions, and we encourage adopting birds from an animal shelter, such as the NH SPCA. But there are a number of problems with keeping chickens for the purpose of eating their eggs.

We explained to visitors that there is a great deal of suffering and death involved in producing eggs — even those from “free-range” farms, which are increasingly becoming the target of law suits for deceptive marketing.

Whether raising caged or free-range chickens, it is standard practice in the egg industry to:
  • Obtain hens from hatcheries that kill all male chicks at birth. (All American hatcheries kill male chicks.)
  • Cut or burn off hens’ sensitive beaks to minimize how much they can damage themselves and others.
  • Crowd “free-range” hens so densely most never find their way outside.
  • Send hens to slaughter when their egg production decreases and the shells thin, around age 7-12 months.
We showed visitors some of our favorite egg substitutes, gave away samples of Black Salt (Kala Namak), which can be used to add an “eggy” flavor to dishes, and handed out a brochure with more information, along with vegan starter kits.

Overall, it was a very productive day for NHARL, with lots of meaningful conversations and a bunch of new names for our mailing list.

Letter: Using pandemic federal money for hatcheries is a misuse of funds

Letter to the Editor
The Conway Daily Sun
May 13, 2022 

Using pandemic federal money for hatcheries is a misuse of funds

New Hampshire Fish and Game has a fish hatchery problem. It is being sued by the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy organization, for polluting the Merrymeeting River with wastewater from its Powder Mill Fish Hatchery. According to Fish and Game, they cannot keep pollutant levels within EPA limits because the hatcheries, where staff raise millions of fish each year for “put and take” fishing, are old and in disrepair.

Despite taking in millions in fishing license revenue, which is matched by millions from the federal Sport Fishing Restoration Act of 1950, Fish and Game has somehow not managed to maintain and upgrade the hatcheries appropriately.

Recently, Fish and Game saw an opportunity to receive money for its polluting hatcheries in N.H.’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. First, the department asked for and received $1 million in federal funds for a study to rebuild Powder Mill Hatchery. Then last month, they were back, asking for and receiving $55 million more to rebuild two other of the six state hatcheries.

Those in power think the unnatural process of farm-raised fishing is so important to New Hampshire that it warrants spending a huge chunk of pandemic recovery funding on it.

We each have an executive councilor who represents us and approved this expenditure. Express your outrage that N.H. fish hatcheries are getting money that should be used for pandemic relief. The hatcheries should be downsized or closed if license sales can’t pay for them.

LINDA DIONNE
Raymond

Successful Day at NH Fish & Game Event

New Hampshire Animal Rights League is delighted to share the news of our successful outreach efforts at NH Fish & Game’s Discover Wild NH Day held April 16 in Concord.

During this popular family event that attracts thousands, we spread a message of kindness toward mice and other “uninvited houseguests.”

Despite being stationed in a back corner, our tent attracted non-stop visitors, with people waiting in long lines to spin our “Save the Mouse” wheel. 

Accomplishments

  • Educated hundreds of people, young and old, about the cruelty of using glue traps and poison bait blocks.
  • Sounded the alarm about the dangers rodent poisons pose to owls, foxes, bobcats, and other predators, who can become sick and die from consuming poisoned mice.
  • Connected with fellow exhibitor NH Falconers in our shared desire to protect raptors from rodenticide poisoning. Wildlife rehabilitators have seen a dramatic increase in sick owls and other predators
  • Donated books that encourage living in harmony with wildlife — The Humane Gardener and Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard — for the event-wide raffle.

Literature

We handed out copies of Are You Poisoning Pets and Wildlife? and our own brochure created for this event, Living with Our Wild Neighbors.

Eye-Catching Poster

We displayed the following eye-catching poster from Raptors Are the Solution (RATS) and discussed it with visitors to our booth.

Smart Mouse Trap Giveaway

We gave out more than 50 safe and humane Smart Mouse Traps and provided hands-on, personal instruction.

Postcard Campaign

We invited children and adults to sign or write postcards asking Walmart to stop selling glue traps and JP Pest Services to offer a more responsible approach to rodent control than indiscriminately littering the landscape with deadly poison.

Hundreds of postcards will be in the mail to Walmart and JP Pest Services. Photos of a few favorites are included below.

Mouse Toy Prizes

As a reward for sending a postcard, kids got to choose from an assortment of adorable catnip mouse toys. The mice were a huge hit, even in households without a cat!

Thank you to our volunteers and to everyone who stopped by to learn about the many reasons to be nice to mice.

After all, it’s their world, too.

Letter: Stop animal research

Letter in the Concord Monitor
February 23, 2022

Letter: Stop animal research

A month ago, a truck transporting a hundred macaque monkeys from NY to a quarantine facility in Florida was involved in a traffic accident. The monkeys, packed in wooden boxes, were thrown from the truck. Three escaped. Once found, the three were shot and killed by the police. How the other monkeys fared in the accident was not reported. The monkeys are from the island nation of Mauritius. They were going to a quarantine facility to pre-check for any diseases or viruses they might be carrying before being used for research. The officials who purchased the macaques have not released information about the monkeys that survived the accident. A passerby stopped at the accident out of concern. She looked in one of the boxes, later became ill, and was awaiting test results for monkey-borne diseases.

Have we learned nothing from COVID-19 and other animal-borne diseases that have jumped to humans, such as we also witnessed with Ebola? There are alternatives to using animals in research that are much safer and would cost the taxpayer less money. Imagine how much money it costs to purchase a hundred monkeys, fly them to the U.S. and then house and quarantine them for several months before possibly using them for research. It’s time to stop exploiting, confining, and in most cases torturing animals for research. We need to transition to only non-animal research. If we leave the animals alone, they will leave us alone.

LINDA DIONNE
Raymond

Cows raised for Food

Beef has been getting a lot of bad press lately, and for good reason. Eating beef has been shown to have a negative effect on our health, the environment, and, of course, the animals. Nevertheless, for many beef is still the habitual main course for the big weekend meal, dinner out, and special occasions.

Despite our devotion to beef, consider that our taste for it might be largely learned. Parents often have to urge young children to “eat your meat,” or use catsup or some other sweet sauce to make it appealing. As adults, if we eat beef it’s likely out of habit, perhaps because it was always just there — at the dinner table, in the cafeteria line, on the restaurant menu, and so on. Eating beef might feel like a “personal choice,” but chances are the choice was made for us, long ago.

“But I Eat Only Grass-Fed Beef”

As the truth about what happens to animals raised for food is increasingly reaching the general public, growing numbers of people are looking for meat that they can buy with a clear conscience.

Beef producers have responded to this demand with labels such as “grass fed,” “local,” and “humanely raised.” Such marketing works because consumers want to trust these labels. But even on the best of farms, there are inherent cruelties involved in raising animals for food, including:

  • Shortened lives — Whether grass-fed or factory-farmed, cows raised for food live only about one-eighth of their natural life span. Beef cows are typically slaughtered between two and three years old. “After about 30 months of age, you will start running into tenderness problems…” one one beef producer wrote.

  • Painful procedures — In addition to living very short lives, cows raised for food may be subjected to painful procedures, such as castration and horn removal without anesthesia. Many of the cruelties animals endure on farms are legal because they are “standard agricultural practices.” These methods save time and money, and for that reason standard agricultural practices are widely used, on big and small farms alike. Pain management is suggested but not required.

  • Potential neglect — Even on small local farms, good care, including providing veterinary care to sick or injured animals, is not guaranteed. For example, sometimes cows aren’t given enough to eat, or nothing is done to protect them from swarming flies, a local beef producer told us. Hay and fly control are expensive. If cash is tight, a farmer may cut corners.

Transport and Slaughter

An inescapable fact of eating animals is that they have to be killed. When that day comes, a local beef producer has only a handful of options in and around New Hampshire. This means that beef producers are often pulling a trailer of animals for hours to get to the slaughterhouse. (Anyone selling meat to the public must take the animals to a slaughterhouse; backyard slaughter is allowed only if the flesh is for one’s own household or will be given away.)

Once at the slaughterhouse, by law the animals are supposed to be killed as quickly and painlessly as possible. But our humane slaughter laws represent a goal, not a guarantee. Even with inspectors on site, mistakes are inevitable. Knives miss the mark. Stun guns don’t work on the first try. Shackled animals come loose and fall to the ground.

Make enough mistakes and the USDA will issue a citation and perhaps even shut a slaughterhouse down for a period, but that’s of no use to the animal who was deprived of the one mercy promised by law: a quick and painless death.

“It’s a common thing that happens in other slaughterhouses. I’d like to see the slaughterhouse that doesn’t have this problem.”

Owner, Blood Farm Slaughterhouse

 

Small-scale New England slaughterhouses may make fewer mistakes than larger facilities, but errors are inevitable.

When Blood Farm in West Groton, MA was shut down for violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act as a result of an employee improperly stunning an animal on the killing floor for the third time,  the owner of the establishment was quoted in the Lowell Sun as saying:

Foie Gras

The photo above is of a Moulard duck rescued from the foie gras industry (photo credit Farm Sanctuary)

Foie gras, French for “fatty liver,” is the unnaturally fattened liver of a duck (or, less commonly, a goose). It is produced by force feeding ducks so that their livers grow from six to ten times the normal size. Images of these birds hanging featherless after slaughter show bulging livers that take up the majority of their lower half.

Ducks used for foie gras are generally all males. The female duck’s liver doesn’t grow as well as the male’s, so it is most profitable to raise only males. Female ducklings are destroyed or sold to duck meat farms overseas. This use of males is a break from what generally happens in animal agriculture, where more often than not male animals have little or no value.

While the practice of force feeding birds has been with us for thousands of years, our modern view of foie gras as a delicacy likely comes from its connection to French cuisine. Because dishes such as foie gras appear on the menus of fancy, expensive restaurants, we collectively come to regard them as desirable.

Growing Public Awareness

Because of the work of animal rights groups in targeting foie gras and publicizing their methods, which include inserting a feeding tube down the bird’s throat, the general public is aware that there is “something bad” about foie gras. A number of countries and jurisdictions have laws against the production, import, and sale of foie gras. New Hampshire has no such laws. In many places foie gras laws and bans face ongoing opposition and sometimes get overturned.

The “Humane Foie Gras” Myth

Defenders of foie gras point to the anatomy of ducks in arguing that the force feeding is not inhumane. They point out that unlike humans ducks do not have a “gag reflex,” and for this reason claim that the birds are not bothered by having a tube inserted down their throat. The second defense is that the birds are predisposed to “gorge” as normal pre-migration behavior. Yet an undercover investigation carried out at Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a self-proclaimed “humane foie gras” operation in Ferndale, New York, revealed injured and dead birds, as well as workers talking about the number of birds who die during force feeding.

“Sometimes the duck doesn’t get up, and it dies”

A Hudson Valley Foie Gras worker explains, while demonstrating the force feeding process to a new employee
Oversized livers push against nearby organs, including the lungs, which can make it difficult for a bird to breathe. Arguments about whether or not the ducks suffer and to what extent miss the point, as summed up by Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society of the United States when he argued in favor of the California foie gras ban:

“Is a soft rubber tube better than a hard tube? Maybe, but you are missing the point. You are still forcing them to eat more than they would ever eat voluntarily and inducing a state of disease.”

Paul Shapiro, Humane Society of the U.S.

New Hampshire Restaurants Serving Foie Gras

Various New Hampshire restaurants have served foie gras at one time or another. As of June 2022, New Hampshire Animal Rights League is aware of three restaurants that serve foie gras:

Note: At The Foundry in Manchester, foie gras is no longer on the menu. When asked about the decision, the General Manager wrote, “We decided not to have it on the menu anymore due to non sale and too much waste on product.”

What You Can Do

  • Avoid restaurants that serve foie gras. Consider contacting the restaurant and expressing your concern.
  • Educate friends and family about the cruelty behind foie gras.

My Turn: Taking stock of NH’s fish hatcheries

Op-Ed in The Concord Monitor
December 26, 2021

My Turn: Taking stock of NH’s fish hatcheries

Every year, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department raises more than a million fish in concrete tanks and ponds at six fish hatcheries they operate around the state.

Once the fish reach desired size, they are loaded into trucks and driven all over New Hampshire to be deposited into lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. Depending on where a particular water body is located and how easy it is to reach, fish may be pumped in through a tube attached to the tanker truck, hand-carried in nets or buckets, or even flown in by helicopter in some cases.

Fish stocking has been going on in New Hampshire in some form for more than a century. For those who grew up fishing here, the state’s annual stocking routine may seem normal. But for others, the idea of driving around putting fish into lakes and ponds (and this is not unique to New Hampshire) sounds crazy. The obvious question is, why is this necessary? Aren’t there already fish in the lakes, ponds and rivers?

The answer, according to NH Fish and Game Executive Director Scott Mason, is that the mineral makeup of New Hampshire’s water is such that it cannot support populations of fish big enough or plentiful enough to satisfy anglers.

But their solution, raising fish in hatcheries and then trucking them around to favorite fishing spots, is not without problems, and water pollution at the hatcheries is one of them.

When mass-producing animals in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), whether it’s pigs, chickens or in this case, fish, an inevitable side effect is an accumulation of animal waste. Dealing with this waste has been a thorn in the side of the NH Fish and Game for some time.

At the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery in New Durham, wastewater from the operation is discharged directly into the Merrymeeting River, and for years NH Fish and Game exceeded the pollutant levels allowed under its EPA permit. This contributed to harmful cyanobacteria blooms in the river and also landed NH Fish and Game in court.

Seeing an opportunity in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, NH Fish and Game recently asked for and was granted $1,000,000 from the recovery fund to address the water pollution problems at the fish hatcheries. The grant will be put toward the planning stages of building a wastewater treatment facility at the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery.

In other words, NH Fish and Game will use federal ARPA funds, which are intended to help states recover economically from the pandemic and build more resilient infrastructures, to solve its pollution problem— a problem that NH Fish and Game is wholly responsible for and should pay for out of its own budget.

There are also technical reasons to disqualify the project. While ARPA funds may indeed be used for “necessary investments in projects that improve wastewater and stormwater infrastructure,” the eligibility requirements, which are the same as for the existing Clean Water State Revolving Fund, state that assistance is available for projects to control “non-point sources” of pollution, whereas the fish hatcheries are “point-source” polluters.

As it is the mission of our organization to help animals, what troubles us most about the grant is not the misuse of funds but that it signifies a long-term commitment to the fish hatcheries and stocking program.

“Everyone understands that these definitely need major investments,” Governor Sununu told the Executive Council before they voted to approve the ARPA grant.

Fish stocking concerns us because the practice interferes with nature and raises animal welfare concerns.

A growing body of scientific evidence shows that fish not only experience pain but are also far more sophisticated creatures than once understood. Yet at the hatcheries, fish are crowded into barren tanks with nothing to do but swim in circles.

Once released into water bodies, hatchery fish may be ill-equipped to survive or alternatively may out-compete native fish for food. They may also bring with them diseases and/or parasites that fish raised in crowded conditions commonly endure.

At a time when the public is learning there’s a lot more going on in the minds of fish than we might have realized (consider the popularity of documentaries like My Octopus Teacher and Seaspiracy) New Hampshire is planning a future where fish continue to be treated as expendable objects.

Instead of investing even more money in the fish hatcheries, NH Fish and Game should close them down and redirect the resources toward better managing the state’s water bodies to support native fish.

NH Fish and Game is already doing some of this work and could do more if the bulk of the inland fisheries budget weren’t going toward stocking. Where water bodies have been restored by removing dams to allow streams to run freely, for example, native fish populations have rebounded.

And in contrast to the merry-go-round of stocking, restoration projects are long-term, self-sustaining improvements that benefit not only native fish but also entire aquatic ecosystems.

(Joan O’Brien is a board member for New Hampshire Animal Rights League.)