Whole Foods Market Has Award-Winning Animal Rights Activist Arrested for Handing Out Leaflets!

laurenFood Empowerment Project Founder and Executive Director lauren Ornelas was arrested by Whole Foods Market on November 16, 2014, for handing out educational pamphlets in front of Whole Foods Market (WFM) in Sebastopol, California. The store manager had complained to police, and when the officer did not make the arrest, the manager chose to make a citizen’s arrest.

Note to my readers – this is a press release from the Rabbit Advocacy Network. It’s stories like this that make me reconsider all of the purchases I make at WFM.

Ms. Ornelas was a participant in a peaceful, legal protest by longtime Whole Foods Market shoppers and animal advocates as part of a national boycott asking WFM to stop the sale of domestic bunny meat—a new item recently added to the WFM meat case.

Ms. Ornelas, who runs a vegan food justice non-profit and has been vegan for over 26 years, said after her arrest, “The Whole Foods Market manager had me arrested because they don’t want their customers to know about their bunny ‘meat.’ WFM does not need to be responsible for the deaths of even more animals.” Margo DeMello, President of House Rabbit Society, adds, “Whole Foods Market has consistently hidden behind their wholly inadequate ‘humane standards’ and unsubstantiated claims of customer demands when rolling out their new bunny meat program. They have also chosen to source their rabbits from Iowa—an Ag-Gag state that does not allow outside verifications of conditions and standards. Whole Foods is attempting to create a demand for bunny meat and is not being transparent about how these animals lived and died.”

The Rabbit Advocacy Network, an international coalition of organizations, animal lovers, and activists led by Mill Valley’s SaveABunny and Richmond’s House Rabbit Society, has been protesting WFM’s June 2014 decision to begin selling bunny meat—the country’s third most beloved furry companion animal. In response, WFM has replied with form letters promoting their humane standards, has blocked social media users from posting comments about bunny meat, and has deleted negative customer feedback on WFM’s Facebook pages.

Marcy Berman-Schaaf, the Founder and Executive Director of SaveABunny, Inc, a San Francisco Bay area-based nonprofit rabbit rescue and adoption center, says, “New Zealand white rabbits are a gentle, loving, docile breed often referred to as the ‘golden retrievers’ of bunnies. They are as intelligent and sensitive as cats and dogs, can use a litter box like a cat, and live with millions of Americans as beloved family members. We expected better community values from Whole Foods Market.”

Ms. Ornelas’ leafleting activity in front of the store was legal, in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980), which established that, in California, private shopping centers become de facto public space when it comes to the exercise of an individual’s free speech rights, and California Supreme Court ruling Ralphs Grocery Company v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 8 (2012), which narrowed Pruneyard to those areas which are designed to encourage shoppers to congregate and relax, like the Sebastopol Whole Foods Market’s outdoor seating area.

Arresting a peaceful protester who was exercising her constitutionally protected free speech rights reinforces the fact that Whole Foods Market has something serious to hide in their rabbit meat program.


If you would like to help support lauren and the Food Empowerment Project, and have a great vegan dinner, come to the Veggie Grill in Corte Madera Saturday, November 22. 50% of the proceeds from their supporters’ purchases will be donated to Food Empowerment Project!

What do you need to do?

1. Come to the Corte Madera Location; Saturday November 22, anytime between 5:00 and 10:00 P.M.

2. Order lots of yummy food. (Don’t forget dessert!)

3. Provide your cashier with our flyer OR simply mention that you have come for the Food Empowerment Project fundraiser. (Very important.)

4. Enjoy!

Be sure to stop by and say “Hi” to the F.E.P. volunteers! (there until at least 9:00)

RSVP on Facebook

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Is Vegan Food the Hottest Food Sector?

Cinnaholic - Gourmet Vegan Cinnamon RollsI found an interesting article on LinkedIn by digital marketer – for, among other things, vegan restos – Shadi Khattab titled The Hottest Food Sector: Vegan Food.

He makes a good case for the growth of vegan food, and especially restaurants, and not just in the usual places.

The Vegan food sector has turned into a steam train and the meat and dairy industry and its legions are slowly seeing their worst nightmares playing out. Well sort of. Huge swaths of people aren’t converting to veganism. Not just yet. But the signs that vegan food is beyond the tipping point and set to be a global contender for the hearts, minds and palette wars are clear and unavoidable.

Native Food CafeHe looks at the success of companies like Cinnaholic and Heidi-Ho Organics on Shark Tank.  Native Foods, a vegan restaurant chain with locations in Southern Cal, Oregon, Chicago, Washington, DC, and more, recently secured $15 million in venture capital funding to keep growing. Hopefully to Northern Cal – their menu looks fabulous!

Real Food DailyAnother restaurant, Real Food Daily has four locations in the Los Angeles area with one in LAX. The LAX location is the first plant-based eatery located in an airport anywhere in the world.

Veggie GrillRecently a Veggie Grill opened in one of the trendy open air malls here in Marin and more are opening soon in the Bay Area. They have locations on the West Coast in Washington, Oregon and California. Whenever we visit – more often than I’d like to admit – the place is hopping.

So, perhaps the answer to the question above is YES!

Khattab is looking at veganism as a marketer, and he likes the commitment vegans make to their lifestyle.

Vegans are a committed bunch who network, rally and force the discussion on animal welfare and environmental health as well as any political organization can.

And he sees trouble ahead for the meat industry

Meat industry has seen a huge downturn in their profits. Besides losing share to veggie oriented diets, the meat industry can’t seem to keep its facilities clean causing recalls of tainted meat into a regular activity. In 2013 alone 13,096,784 pounds of meat and poultry were recalled according to the USDA. As the meat industry loses more money and market share they will as they always have, try to push their plants to process meat at faster clips in order to squeeze more profits to make up for losses. This in turn will cause more mistakes and more outbreaks hence more recalls. The cycle unfortunately for them is self-defeating.

All of this is great news for a committed vegan. Khattab ends with this perspective.

Anyone who is friends with a vegan/ vegetarian on social media is given a daily or weekly dose of reality news feeds and tweets on the plights of farm animals, lab animals and circus animals. Social media doesn’t influence those who are staunch meat eaters and abusers, but it does affect those on the fence, the secondary adopters. As more movies, videos, petitions and information is constantly being presented along with viable alternative solutions, it’s hard to think Veganism will ever go back to some outer rim practice unable to affect the overall world it exists in.

I also wanted to share the illustration he used for his article. It is a beautiful drawing by freelance illustrator Roger Olmos. Enjoy!

Roger Olmos Illustration

Chris Hedges: Saving the Planet, One Meal at a Time

Chris HedgesI have been reading Chris Hedges columns at Truthdig for years. He tells it like it is. I was delighted to see his latest column about going vegan.

My attitude toward becoming a vegan was similar to Augustine’s attitude toward becoming celibate—“God grant me abstinence, but not yet.” But with animal agriculture as the leading cause of species extinction, water pollution, ocean dead zones and habitat destruction, and with the death spiral of the ecosystem ever more pronounced, becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species. It is one that my wife—who was the engine behind our family’s shift—and I have made.

The column makes the case for why animal agriculture is at the root of many of the world’s problems – climate change, deforestation, water pollution, hunger. It also, as I have written about before, talks about how the animal ag industry has built a wall of restrictive laws around the devastation and agony they create to shield the public from the truth.

The animal agriculture industry has used the excuse of national security, public safety, trade agreements and the need for business secrets to pass what are known as ag-gag laws in about a dozen states and, on the federal level, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, all enhanced with anti-terrorism laws to criminalize anyone who investigates or challenges the industry. It is illegal under the Patriot Act to issue statements or carry out actions that harm the profits of the animal agriculture industry. Radical change, as with every challenge to the power of our corporate state, will have to be built outside the structures of power, including the leading environmental groups, which have refused to confront the livestock industry.

It includes quotes from Comfortably Unaware author Richard Oppenlander; journalist and author of Green is the New Red, Will Potter; and the co-directors of Cowspiracy, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn.

Kuhn and Anderson laid out the problem.

“So many more people have a connection to animal agriculture, both in society and government, than have a direct connection to the oil industry,” Kuhn said. “The oil industry employs, relatively speaking, a very small percentage of people and is controlled by a very small percentage of people. The agricultural industry, both animal agriculture and commodity grains fed to those animals, involves a much bigger demographic. Politically it is a lot more challenging. Corporations such as Cargill, one the largest commodity food corporations in the world, is able to create U.S. policy. The government says it needs to have affordable food, which means giving massive subsidies to these corporations. The belief is that we have to eat animal products to survive. It is not something that is even questioned. The fossil fuel industry is more easily challenged with the argument that there are alternatives. People do not feel there is an alternative to eating animals.”

Please read the entire column and make the commitment to going vegan – for the health of the planet and your own also.

We have only a few years left, at best, to make radical changes to save ourselves from ecological meltdown. A person who is vegan will save 1,100 gallons of water, 20 pounds CO2 equivalent, 30 square feet of forested land, 45 pounds of grain, and one sentient animal’s life every day. We do not, given what lies ahead of us, have any other option.