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Universal Cancels Premiere of ‘A Dog’s Purpose’


PETA has called for a boycott of the film after a video surfaced of a German shepherd forced to perform in artificial rapids.

Amid the controversy surrounding a troubling video which revealed a stressed German Shepherd was forced to perform in artificial rapids on the set of the upcoming A Dog’s Purpose, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment have canceled the movie’s premiere, which was to have taken place in Los Angeles this weekend.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has called for a boycott of the film and is pushing for further action, calling on the director of the Amblin production, Lasse Hallstrom, and producer Gavin Polone to pledge never to use animals in films again and to rescue the dogs from Birds & Animals Unlimited, the training and handling facility said to be the provider of the canines. (The Hollywood Reporter wrote about alleged federal Animal Welfare Act violations at the company’s Acton, Calif., headquarters on July 11.)

In cancelling the premiere, Universal and Amblin on Thursday issued a statement saying, “Because Amblin’s review into the edited video released yesterday is still ongoing, distributor Universal Pictures has decided it is in the best interest of A Dog’s Purpose to cancel this weekend’s premiere and press junket. Amblin and Universal do not want anything to overshadow this film that celebrates the relationship between humans and animals.

“Since the emergence of the footage, Amblin has engaged with many associated with the production of the film, including safety personnel, trainers and stunt coordinators as part of their in-depth review.  While we are all disheartened by the appearance of an animal in distress, everyone has assured us that Hercules the German Shepherd was not harmed throughout the filmmaking.”

A Dog’s Purpose is scheduled for wide release on Jan. 27.

Hallstrom did not return a request for comment about PETA’s most recent demand. Polone, however, was forceful in a conversation with THR (for which he regularly writes opinion columns about industry issues). A prominent Hollywood vegan and animal rights activist, he contends “PETA wants to fire up its base and it’s not productive. It’s also kind of crazy — I’m the person they should be strong-arming? This is a movie about promoting the idea of animals as sentient and deserving of empathy and rights.”

Polone went on to note that he’d worked with PETA in the past, but disagreed with its contention that no animals should be used in production. The organization has argued that CGI should solely be employed, but others in the industry insist that such technology would be cost-prohibitive. “It’s naïve and untenable and will never happen — we all know that,” the producer says. “What’s needed is a replacement for the [American Humane Association],” the non-profit monitoring group financed by producers that’s tasked with on-set animal oversight. (It’s known for its “No Animals Were Harmed” accreditation.) He continued, “There’s a person there all the time and clearly they are ineffective. That’s the issue and that’s what needs to be corrected.”

For its part, PETA has written to the AHA to ask for a complete copy of a report that the monitoring group claimed on Wednesday it had initiated as soon as it saw the footage, bringing in an independent investigator to spearhead. (It also placed the on-set AHA safety representative on administrative leave.) “We’re hearing that the monitor did not report [the incident] to her supervisors but the AHA gave the movie an acceptable rating anyway,” says Lange. “We don’t know if that is true, but we’re asking.”

When contacted by THR, the AHA declined to address PETA’s request. In 2013, THR exposed a history of complicity, internal cover-ups and failed investigative work at the monitoring group.


Vegans, rejoice: Baileys Almande is Now Vegan


Vegan certified Irish cream to hit store shelves by March. Liquor company Baileys has obtained vegan certification for its Irish cream beverage Almande Almondmilk Liqueur. The company launched Almande as a dairy-free alternative to Baileys Irish cream last May, which received an outpour of excitement from the vegan community. While the brand did not initially intend to release a vegan product, support from those interested in a cruelty-free Irish cream beverage led Baileys to investigate the formulation of Almande—where they discovered the presence beeswax.

“I sincerely apologize for the confusion,” Baileys representative Dominic Benigno told VegNews in June. The new vegan-certified beverage was reformulated to serve the vocal vegan community, according to Director of Liqueurs at Diageo North America—Baileys parent company—Nicola Heckels.

“We are very excited about the positive interest Baileys Almande Almondmilk Liqueur has received since our recent test launch in select cities around the US,” Heckels told VegNews. “Particularly, the vegan community has expressed great interest in the product both here in the US and beyond.” The new Baileys Almande Almondmilk will be available nationwide in March, with an official vegan symbol stamped on bottles.

The First-Ever All Vegan Chicken Shop Is Now Open In London

London is obsessed with chicken. There are countless Morley’s in the South and an entire KFC enterprise built around North, East and Central London. And this January London has also become home to the first-ever all vegan fried chicken shop, serving up a bunch of bargain buckets for our meat-free brethren. The Hackney-based shop will be the birthchild of the all-vegan brand the Temple of Seitan. It will serve a range of vegan fried chicken, whether you want it in a subway sandwich, in strips, or just as a straight-up bucket of popcorn chicken.Temple of Seitan fried chicken (Photograph: Hannah Sierp via Twitter)

Temple of Seitan fried chicken (Photo: Hannah Sierp via Twitter

“We’re looking forward to providing a vegan alternative for Londoners craving a takeaway,” Rebecca McGuinness of Temple of Seitan told the Fat Gay Vegan.

All the chicken will be made from seitan, a meat substitute made with wheat protein powder that can be seasoned to taste like all your favourite meat-based flavours.

Now, most people say that by going vegan or vegetarian they would miss out on chicken, McGuinness explains: “It was one of our favourite foods before we were vegan!”.

“As there are so many chicken shops in London we felt that if there was a vegan alternative, it may persuade people to give it a go,”

“And if they liked it maybe they would change their minds about what they perceive vegan food to be.”

The Temple of Seitan started making fried chicken to fill in the gap in the market and its now become known as their signature dish.

Follow the Temple of Seiten on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to find out more.



Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years


ELLENTON, Fla. (AP) — After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press that the show will close forever in May. The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise. “There isn’t any one thing,” said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”

France Passes Bill Ordering Cameras in All Slaughterhouses


France has just made history. In response to growing public outcry against slaughterhouse cruelty, hygiene concerns, and safety violations revealed in footage released by French animal rights group L214, the French National Assembly passed a bill for mandatory cameras in all French slaughterhouses. The bill passed 28 to 4, signaling a major change in the way both the public and officials view the animal agriculture industry. The bill will go into full effect in 2018 if it clears the Senate vote, but there will first be a trial run in July 2017.  Starting in the summer, 263 French slaughterhouses will have cameras placed in areas where all animals are “moved, held, immobilized, stunned and killed.” While those concerned with animal rights have a reason to celebrate, this is more than just a victory for animals in France — it is a victory for slaughterhouse workers, too, who are routinely exploited by the animal agriculture industry. This move mirror’s Israel’s recent decision to install cameras in their slaughterhouses.

The higher ups in the French animal agriculture industry made their thoughts on the bill very clear. Some of those in the industry have responded to the government’s apparent attack on the industry by “dumping truckloads of manure in front of ministries, blocking traffic with trucks, burning tires, and hanging [dead] pigs from highway overpasses.” French Minister of Agriculture Stephane LeFoll invoked “respect for slaughterhouse workers” as one of the key reasons for why this bill should not go live in the near future. But, is it really about respect for slaughterhouse workers, or is the French animal agriculture industry already sweating bullets about the expected blowback when what happens behind the doors of slaughterhouses is no longer kept behind closed doors?

In the United States, factory farm jobs have one of the largest turnover rates in the country, ranging from 95 to 100 percent annually. 70 percent of workers suffer from respiratory conditions and there is little job security for workers, most of whom come from low-income and non-English-speaking families, leaving them with little choice of where they can find steady employment. Tyson Foods became infamous for routinely denying its workers bathroom breaks, resulting in many employees wearing diapers. On top of that, they have failed to provide adequate care to injured workers and have been routinely fined by the federal government for failing to pay workers overtime. So, we’re not really buying LeFoll’s “respect for slaughterhouse workers” argument.

LeFoll’s other argument against cameras in French slaughterhouses is a “farmers’ crisis.” According to an article on Medium, French “agriculture unions are pushing for further government relief for ‘Made in France’ meat and dairy products while they battle waning meat sales.” We can understand why the animal agriculture industry has a reason to be afraid of being under constant scrutiny by the federal government. Recent undercover investigations by L214 have exposed widespread abuse in slaughterhouses, revealing footage of “animals being tormented, brutalized and butchered by callous workers while still alive.” Under this new bill, any violations will incur a penalty of “6 to 12 months of prison and fines from 7500 to 20,000 Euros ($8000 to $21,000)” … and the cameras won’t be monitored by the federal government, which like the United States, subsidizes the meat and dairy industry. When the new law goes into effect, slaughterhouse footage will be overseen by an independent commission and a national slaughterhouse ethics committee. They’re right to be afraid.

Lucky for anyone who finds that what happens behind slaughterhouses unsavory, there has never been a better time to give plant-based protein a try. Vegan options are popping up in grocery stores and restaurants everywhere, and plant-based meats are becoming more and more like “the real thing.”

Heads Up! Burger King’s French Toast Sticks Are Vegan

If you’re new to vegan eating, finding things to eat when you’re on the road or out with friends can sometimes feel overwhelming. Luckily, many of your favorite chains offer delicious plant-based options. While Burger King has a relatively underwhelming selection of plant-based options for lunch, they do have something that no other fast-food chain has: vegan French toast sticks. Yep, you read that right. Burger King’s French toast sticks are vegan, making this fast-food chain perfect when you’re in a pinch or just lucky enough to be around a BK during breakfast hours.

Birkenstock Introduces All-Vegan Line to U.S. Market


So as it turns out, the world’s most popular hippie shoemaker, Birkenstock, has been missing a beat all these years: It has not offered its American tofu-eating, Phish-following fans a vegan option.

But now those dark days are over, thanks to Birkenstock’s new leather-free line of clogs and sandals, being released to U.S. animal lovers starting on Jan. 9, Yahoo Style has exclusively learned.

“When our customers told us that they wanted vegan editions of Birkenstock’s classic sandals and clogs, we listened,” the German-based company’s head of communications, Jochen Gutzy, tells Yahoo Style. “Birkenstock was always concerned about choosing the best raw materials from natural resources. With our selection of vegan styles, we can keep taking steps closer to an even more sustainable and compassionate future.”

While vegan versions of the iconic clunky-comfy shoes — deemed “stylish” and even “sexy” by Vogue as of 2013 — have been available in Europe for several seasons now, they were hard to come by in the U.S.; the closest thing has been the line of sandals made with manmade Birko Flor uppers, but with suede linings of its contoured foot beds.

“This season, we are offering more styles to the U.S. market and marketing them as a true Vegan Collection,” U.S. company spokesperson Scott Radcliffe tells Yahoo Style. “We decided to increase our product portfolio with vegan styles to cater to Birkenstock fans that look equally for animal-friendly products as well as comfort and style.”

The first run of the shoes in the U.S. will include 30,000 pairs in various models, such as the classic Boston clog and the city-chic Gizeh thong sandal, with foot beds made from a soft and breathable microfiber.

This is welcome news to vegan activists, including PETA, which recently honored the vegan version of Birk’s Madrid sandal with a Vegan Fashion Award in Germany.

“Every day, PETA hears from shoppers who are looking for vegan-friendly retailers, and Birkenstock now fits the bill,” Anne Brainard, PETA director of corporate affairs, tells Yahoo Style. “These iconic vegan styles meet the skyrocketing demand for footwear that’s as trendy and comfortable as it is kind to animals and the environment.”

Leather fashion products aren’t environmentally friendly and are not a natural animal byproduct. The skins must be treated through a highly toxic tannery process that includes the chemical chromium, which harms both the environment and the tannery workers.

But a growing awareness in recent years has led to major growth of vegan leather options, from labels including Matt & Nat, Stella McCartney, and Novacas.

“People say, ‘I need to have leather shoes,’ and don’t really know why they’re saying it,” vegan fashion blogger and designer Joshua Katcher told Yahoo Style for a story on cruelty-free fashion recently. “It’s because of the effective marketing that has gone on for a very long time around leather. The leather industry owns words like genuine, real, authentic, durability. It doesn’t mean that nothing else can be durable and high quality and feel supple and all of those things.”

Find the full Vegan Collection ($30–$110) online at and at select retailers nationwide.

Via Yahoo

London is getting an all-vegan kebab spot


2016 may have been a truly terrible year, but 2017 is already looking up – in terms of delicious vegan food, anyway. Not only will we be getting London’s first fried chicken restaurant, but meat-free people will also finally be able to get in on the joy of kebabs. In February, London will officially be home to What the Pitta’s permanent restaurant. What the Pitta, if you haven’t guessed, is an entirely meat-free kebab restaurant. At the moment it’s a popup, appearing in locations in Shoreditch, but from February 1st it’ll become a permanent spot in Boxpark Croydon.

Singapore is Asia’s second most vegan-friendly city


SINGAPORE — From meatless burgers to dairy-free ice-cream, the Republic is a food paradise not just for meat-lovers but for vegans too. On Tuesday (Dec 27), the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) Asia listed Singapore as Asia’s second most vegan-friendly city for its “roaring vegan scene” suited for diners looking for a low-key lunch to a decadent dessert. In top spot is Taipei, capital of Taiwan, famed for its bustling night markets and street snacks such as fried chicken cutlets and roasted pork buns. It, however, also has a wide array of vegan joints, Peta Asia said.

Chiang Mai was ranked third, while Makati, a city in the Philippines, and Bangalore rounded up the top five.

The cities were judged by an expert panel of Peta Asia staff who travelled all over the region to sample vegan restaurants and street-food.

“They were judged on the number of vegan restaurants based on population, the variety of options available at non-vegan restaurants, the range of cuisines offered, and the notability of the local vegan movement,” said a spokesperson for Peta Asia.

In Singapore, notable vegan eateries highlighted by Peta include VeganBurg, a burger joint that serves up “meat” patties made of vegan ingredients, and Genesis Vegan Restaurant, which prepares popular local Chinese style dishes like “fish head” vermicelli and “chicken” rice.

This is the first time the organisation has come up with an Asian version of its ranking of vegan-friendly cities.

In 2013, it published its first list of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world with Austin, Texas, in the US topping the charts. This year, another American city, Portland, Oregon, was ranked as the world’s most vegan-friendly city.

On the need for an Asian edition of the global rankings this year, Peta Asia spokesperson said: “With the ever-increasing vegan options at restaurants throughout the region, we wanted to honour the cities that are plant-based eating havens and make more people aware of the healthy and humane dining options that are available in their cities.”


New study reveals ancient Egyptians were mostly vegetarian


New research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science and reported in Live Science has shed light on the ancient Egyptian diet. By analysing the carbon atoms in mummies that had lived in Egypt between 3500 BC and 600 AD, the French research team were able to determine that ancient Egyptians were largely vegetarian.

The analysis was carried out on the remains of 45 ancient Egyptians that had been sent to two museums in Lyon, France during the 19 th century, and involved a cutting-edge technique involving the measurement of carbon ratios taken from bone, tooth enamel and hair.

We had an approach that was a little different,” explained Alexandra Touzeau, who led the research team at the University of Lyon. “We worked a lot with bones and teeth, while most researchers study hair, collagen and proteins. We also worked on many different periods, with not many individuals for each period, so we could cover a very long time span.

All carbon atoms are taken in by plants from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the process of photosynthesis. By eating plants, and the animals that had eaten plants, the carbon ends up in our bodies. Analysing this carbon can actually reveal what a person has eaten.

The results revealed that the ancient Egyptians were mainly vegetarian and their diet was primarily wheat- and barley-based. Cereals, such as millet and sorghum, formed a minor part of their diet (less than 10 per cent).

One of the most unusual discoveries was that there seems to have been little fish in their diet. Most people would probably expect the ancient Egyptians living along the Nile to have eaten a lot of fish, and archaeological excavations have found mummified fish in large quantities. However, at least in the 45 individuals studied, fish was not prominent in their diets.

“There is abundant evidence for fishing in Egyptian wall reliefs and models (both spear and net fishing), and fish shows up in offering lists.  There is also a lot of archeological evidence for fish consumption from sites such as Gaza and Amama,” said Kate Spence, an archaeologist and specialist in ancient Egypt at the University of Cambridge in England. “All this makes it a bit surprising that the isotopes should suggest that fish was not widely consumed.”

In ancient cultures vegetarianism was much more common, except in nomadic populations, and eating meat was a development that occurred more recently.

Featured image:  Ancient Egyptian wall painting depicting food and wine preparation. Image source .

Via Ancient-origins

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