Compassion Over Killing
Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. with an office in Los Angeles and volunteer chapters in several other cities.Working to end animal abuse since 1995, COK aims to expose cruelty to animals in agriculture and promote vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world.
Started 8 petitions
Martha Stewart: Cut ties with cruel salmon and make a splash with vegan seafood!
I recently worked as an undercover investigator for Compassion Over Killing at a massive industrial salmon hatchery in Bingham, Maine, operated by Cooke Aquaculture. I captured footage of senseless violence against fish on a daily basis and witnessed horrendous living conditions. Fish here were being raised for human consumption in filthy tanks, covered in fungus and suffering immensely. This hatchery farms and raises Atlantic salmon to be sold under its marketing branch, True North Seafood—which has recently partnered with homemaking icon Martha Stewart to supply salmon for her new seafood line. During my time at the hatchery, I witnessed workers throwing improperly anesthetized fish across great distances. Sometimes they were thrown into another tank; other times, into waterless buckets, where they were left to either be crushed by others or suffocate to death. Imagine the horror if this violence were committed against any other animal, like a dog, cat, or chicken! At Cooke, it was like a game to the workers as they attempted “trick shots” and blocked each other’s tosses. I also frequently saw hatchery employees stomping on fish's heads and slamming them against the ground multiple times in failed efforts to kill them. Often, they were left on the ground, still conscious and writhing in pain. Fish at Cooke are routinely vaccinated, yet this procedure, along with fin-clipping (cutting of the fish’s fins in order to identify them), is performed sloppily and carelessly, resulting in even more injury because the fish are often not even properly anesthetized first. The salmon at Cooke are also confined in such filthy, overcrowded, and putrid tanks that fungal infections are the norm. I even saw many fish who were missing eyes because the fish are starved and forced to live in such filthy water conditions that they can mistake each other’s pupils for food as they desperately search for nourishment. Fish are intelligent, sensitive animals who feel pain, stress, and fear just like other animals. Recently, researchers have found that they use tools and can recognize themselves in mirrors. Fish pain receptors are remarkably close to our own--likely from a shared common ancestor. Fish scientist Becca Franks says it best: “The science on fish sentience is clear: fish have the capacity to suffer and feel pain.” Yet they are denied even very basic protections afforded to other animals. Martha Stewart, a self-proclaimed animal lover, shared that she’s happy to partner with True North because the company touts sustainable practices and claims to care about its community. As the world’s major wild fish populations have been cut in half since 1970, commercial fishing is clearly unsustainable for our future. Yet my footage reveals just why factory farming fish is not the solution. The salmon True North is feeding to the public are suffering from painful deformities and are housed in tanks riddled with fungi. Sadly, the cruelty that I caught on camera at Cooke Aquaculture is not an isolated case. As long as there is a demand for Atlantic salmon meat and seafood in general, these murky practices will continue as employees in facilities all over the country are forced to cut corners to turn a profit. Luckily, millions of consumers are realizing that the best way to help fish and to keep our bodies and oceans healthy is by leaving animal products out of our shopping carts and off of our plates, leading to the proliferation of delicious vegan seafood like those from Good Catch, Sophie’s Kitchen, and Ocean Hugger Foods. Even animal meat giant Tyson Foods has jumped aboard with its recent investment in vegan shrimp maker New Wave Foods. After being contacted about COK’s investigation, Cory Baker, COO of Marquee Brands (which owns the Martha Stewart True North Line) replied right away, stating that the company will be opening its own investigation immediately and is committed to “sustainability and of course ensuring cruelty free practices.” The only way for Martha Stewart to cut out cruelty from her salmon line is to drop it completely. Please join me today in urging Martha Stewart to make waves for sea animals by ending her True North salmon partnership and instead pave the way to the future of food by investing in a plant-based seafood alternative. In solidarity,“Pat”Undercover Investigator, Compassion Over Killing P.S. The easiest way you can help create a more compassionate world for all animals is to try more sustainable and delicious vegan eating. Get started here!
Tell the USDA to Halt High-Speed Slaughter Horrors!
Most chicken slaughter plants in the US kill up to 140 birds each minute. That’s more than two birds every single second. I’d seen the haunting footage, and I knew that even at these speeds, suffering is rampant. But then I worked undercover for Compassion Over Killing (COK) inside an Amick Farms slaughterhouse, which operates under a dangerous USDA high-speed slaughter program, where many government inspection duties are placed in the hands of the plant itself. At Amick Farms, birds are killed at a reckless pace, putting their welfare, along with workers and consumers, at risk. The cruelty I documented inside this high-speed house of horrors was a living nightmare.At Amick, which kills more than one million birds per week, violence and critical errors were rampant as workers struggled to keep up. I saw birds being punched, shoved, and thrown down the recklessly fast-paced kill line. Other birds slowly drowned in the electrified stunning baths during equipment breakdowns. I also captured footage of “red birds,” with blood visible under their skin—a sign that they were scalded alive.Throughout the chicken industry, birds endure egregious abuse, severe overcrowding, filthy conditions, and the crippling effects of unnaturally rapid growth—all before being trucked, sometimes for several hours, through all weather extremes to a gruesome death. And even at the already staggering rate of 140 birds killed per minute at most slaughterhouses, workers are forced to keep birds moving down the rapidly running kill line as quickly as possible, risking their own safety and animal welfare. At even higher speeds, these dangers are alarmingly exacerbated.Amick is one of 24 chicken plants that the USDA allows to run at these incredibly high speeds. The National Chicken Council recently petitioned the USDA to completely eliminate any speed caps for plants nationwide—and although the USDA denied that request after hearing from more than 100,000 concerned consumers, it is now granting waivers to individual plants to run at up to 175 birds per minute, like at Amick Farms. Up until recently, there were 20 increased speed plants, but the government just handed out four more individual waivers, with plans to give out more.At such speeds, animals can endure even greater suffering. Not only do machines break down, trapping birds in electrified water baths where they drown, but workers are forced to take inhumane and dangerous shortcuts to maintain the fast pace, often causing harm to themselves in the process too. Working at Amick even for just a short time, my knuckles were swollen and my hands were in constant pain. I couldn’t close my hands, and my fingers would not touch when extended. In the filthy and fast-paced assembly-line environment, many workers also removed their shirts in the extreme heat, putting themselves at further risk as they operated dangerous machinery without even basic protection.This is the second time in just a few years that a COK investigation has exposed the horrors of high-speed slaughter, yet instead of abolishing this inhumane and dangerous program, the USDA drives it forward.In late 2015, a COK investigator worked inside Quality Pork Processors, a high-speed pig slaughter plant supplying Hormel Foods, revealing pigs shocked, dragged, and pulled to the kill floor; pigs covered in feces and pus-filled abscesses processed for human consumption with a USDA seal of approval; and much more. COK has since hand-delivered over a quarter million signatures against high-speed slaughter to the USDA’s offices.Slaughterhouses are already hell on earth for birds, who aren’t even afforded the minimal protections granted to other animals under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). And now, instead of taking steps to reduce the suffering of these animals, the USDA wants to speed up kill lines to boost industry profits under the guise of “modernization.”Please join me in urging the USDA to put the brakes on cruel and reckless high-speed slaughter today—and instead grant these birds bare minimum protections under federal law.In solidarity,“Jordan”Undercover Investigator, Compassion Over Killing P.S. The easiest way you can protect chickens, and all animals, from this abuse is to try healthy and delicious vegan eating. Click here to get started!
Dunkin’: A Vegan Donut Would Be a Slam Dunk in Our Non-Dairy Coffee!
Like most Americans, I love a good donut—sprinkles, chocolate icing, cream-filled, you name it. But I was disappointed to see that Dunkin’ Donuts, the nation’s largest donut chain, doesn’t offer a single vegan donut for millions of potential customers like me who are choosing to eat plant-based for animals, the environment, and their own health.Several years ago, thousands of Compassion Over Killing’s supporters asked the donut giant for vegan options, and Dunkin’ responded to this demand with a statement on its website: “You’ve Asked and We’ve Heard,” as it poured out almond milk (which it now offers nationwide!) for its coffee. And yet all of Dunkin’s donuts still contain egg and/or milk ingredients. Now it’s time to make our voices heard once more: Join me in telling Dunkin’ we want a vegan donut to dunk in our coffee!More and more Americans are choosing plant-based fare as the public grows increasingly aware of the vast animal suffering in the dairy and egg industries, in which exhausted mother cows are slaughtered when no longer able to produce milk, and male chicks, considered useless, are even ground up alive. Many consumers are ditching cholesterol-packed dairy and eggs for their own health or to cut their carbon footprints. With plant-based eating on the rise, sales of dairy alternatives are soaring, and big brands like Starbucks, Duncan Hines, sweetFrog, and Breyers are already dishing up vegan sweet treats.But consumers are hungry for a vegan donut nationwide, and as the leading donut chain, Dunkin’ has a major opportunity to attract a massive segment of potential customers by offering one. In fact, industry magazine QSR recently cited offering vegan options as #7 in its list of “100 Ideas for Improving Your Restaurant Brand,” while international restaurant consultants Baum+Whiteman named plant-based eating the 2018 trend of the year.Please join me today in asking Dunkin’ for a slam dunk in our coffee today: a vegan donut on its menu!Sincerely,Antoine Knighton, the Vegan Ref
Kraft a Better BOCA and Ditch Dairy!
As a staple at cookouts, on camping trips, and on restaurant menus nationwide, Kraft Heinz’ BOCA brand has long been a household name at the forefront of the meatless market. But while other veggie burger brands have embraced the soaring demand for dairy-free dining in recent years, the majority of the BOCA burgers and bowls lining grocery store shelves still contain unhealthy, cruelly produced cow’s milk.In 2009, BOCA took a major, promising step forward by committing to dropping all eggs from its line after hearing from tens of thousands of consumers who were hungry for fully plant-based burgers through a campaign by Compassion Over Killing and other organizations. Yet today, although BOCA has recognized that “consumers are increasingly looking for plant-based options,” most of its meatless products contain cow’s milk. Join us in telling parent company Kraft Heinz that it’s time to ditch the dairy and make BOCA an all-vegan brand!At least 60 percent of adults worldwide can’t digest cow’s milk. Millions more are cutting out milk not only for their own health, but also for the environment and for animals, who, as a recent Compassion Over Killing investigative video exposed, suffer a systematic cycle of cruelty in the dairy industry. On factory farms, dairy cows are impregnated by artificial insemination year after year; each newborn calf is taken from them shortly after birth so their milk can be sold for humans; and when their exhausted bodies can no longer produce milk, these mother cows are sent to slaughter because they’re no longer considered profitable.As more and more Americans turn away from cow’s milk, dairy alternatives are flying off the shelves, with sales projected to reach $35 billion by 2024. To meet the meat-free, dairy-free demand, brands like Gardein, the Bill Gates-backed Beyond Meat, and Field Roast are already producing completely vegan burger lines, and even fast food giants like White Castle are dishing up plant-based patties. After hearing from consumers, meatless brand Lightlife also jumped aboard in 2017, announcing its transition to a 100% vegan line. If Lightlife can do it, why can’t BOCA?A new report by international restaurant consultants Baum+Whiteman has named plant-based dining as the 2018 trend of the year, citing factors like a 257% increase between 2012 and 2016 in vegan-labeled food and drink products at grocery stores. BOCA is falling behind in this plant-based revolution--but it can reposition itself as an industry leader in this rapidly growing market by dropping dairy for good.Join us today in telling Kraft Heinz that consumers are craving an all-vegan BOCA brand, and it’s time to ditch the dairy!
Little Caesars and Papa John’s: Take a Slice out of Cruelty—Offer Vegan Cheese!
I recently worked inside one of the largest dairy factory farms on the East Coast, one that touts its innovation as the first in the country to implement machine-milking of cows, known as “robo-milking.” Yet the horrors I documented at Mason Dixon Farms as a Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator reveal the much darker reality of this massive dairy factory. At Mason Dixon, which supplies to Land O’Lakes and Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the largest milk marketing cooperative in the US, I witnessed violent abuse of mother cows on a regular basis, including workers kicking cows in the face or udders, jabbing cows with their elbows, bending and twisting their tails, and even punching them for fun. One time, I even saw a cow who was too weak to stand up being electrically shocked over 100 times. On this massive factory farm, 2,500 cows live in hazardous conditions, often getting stuck on large water troughs, unable to free themselves, and falling. Cows even walk in water contaminated with formaldehyde, which workers often handled without proper protective gear. I also watched as terrified cows were turned completely on their sides by an enormous machine, and then they had all four legs restrained so that their hooves could be sawed down in a frightening process. While this facility is not in the Papa John’s or Little Caesars supply chains, the cruelty I documented at Mason Dixon is, sadly, not an isolated case. Footage like mine has revealed time and time again that suffering is inherent in the dairy industry—from newborn calves being ripped from their mothers shortly after birth for the veal industry, to exhausted mother cows being trucked off to the slaughterhouse when they’re no longer producing milk. These haunting images are the sad reality of Big Dairy in America. Fortunately, however, millions of consumers are now waking up to the cruelty—as well as the health and environmental hazards—behind every carton of milk, and are increasingly choosing dairy-free options. Sales of dairy alternatives are soaring, even outpacing those of dairy itself, and the market is projected to reach $35 billion by 2024. But pizza giants like Papa John's and Little Caesars have yet to take a stand against the misery behind every bite of mozzarella and offer consumers an alternative: vegan cheese. So while pizza chains like Mellow Mushroom, Lebron James’ Blaze Pizza, and Pieology are shaping the future of pizza by offering dairy-free cheese options, Papa John’s and Little Caesars are lagging behind. As leaders in the pizza industry, Papa John’s and Little Caesars have an opportunity to make a meaningful change for consumers and cows alike through a simple addition to their menus. Please join me in urging these chains to take a slice out of cruelty and offer vegan cheese. In solidarity, “Ross” (Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator) (*this language was updated from an earlier version)
Big Dairy: Got Confusion? Call it “Cow Milk”
Sales of almond, soy, coconut, and other plant-based milks are soaring, on track to reach $20 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, consumer demand for dairy is tanking as Americans become aware of just how cruel the dairy industry is to cows, how it has cheated consumers, and the havoc that dairy milk can wreak on our bodies (got lactose intolerance?). As each generation consumes less milk than the one before it, Big Dairy is panicking. The industry is left crying over spilled milk—literally, dumping millions of gallons of unwanted milk down the drain. Big Dairy is desperate, and it’s turning to the FDA to help squash the rise of plant-based milks. In 2010, the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) urged the federal government to block the use of words like “milk” and “cheese” on the labels of dairy-free products. Six years later, that hasn’t worked, so the NMPF is back at it, this time by whipping up members of Congress to write to the Food and Drug Administration about how such labeling is “misleading and illegal.” Truly misleading, however, are current dairy product labels, which do not state what’s really inside: bovine mammary secretions, produced by cows and comprising just the right mix of proteins and hormones for their calves to grow hundreds of pounds in mere months. If it is in NMPF’s own interest in ensuring that labels “clearly identify the true nature of the food,” as noted in its 2010 petition, why not clearly identify dairy as “cow milk?” (*this language was updated from an earlier version). The NMPF claims that it’s worried about confusing consumers. That’s exactly why the NMPF should label its own products as “cow milk,” “cow cheese,” and “cow ice cream.” That way, consumers will understand what they're really buying. After all, cow milk is produced by cows (for cows and their calves), so why not just say it?! Many consumers are no longer swallowing the industry’s lies about happy cows and healthy bones. More and more people are choosing nutritious and delicious plant-based milks over cruelty- and cholesterol-filled cow milk. Join us in calling on the NMPF to make it easier on shoppers to know the “true nature of the food” they’re buying by clearly labeling its products as Cow Milk.
Tyson: Stop Starving Birds
Tyson Foods keeps its breeder birds perpetually starving and desperate for food. When I started my investigation, I was prepared to see animals forced to live in miserable conditions, but I wasn’t prepared for just how extreme that misery actually is. This is the first time anyone has worked undercover inside a “broiler” chicken breeding factory farm.The egregious abuses were the most horrifying to witness: Tyson employees kicked, swung, and threw live birds by their wings, violently shoved them into cages, inhumanely and improperly killed them, and even punched or suffocated some animals to death. Workers also ran over birds with forklifts, crushed them with transport cages, and left them to slowly die.I was also shocked to discover a cruel and painful practice that few people even know about — it’s never before been documented on hidden camera: workers grabbed young male breeder birds by their heads and stabbed dull plastic rods or “bones” through their sensitive nostrils, commonly referred to as “boning.” The wide plastic rods block the birds from fitting their heads inside certain food containers in order to limit what and how much they eat.The good news is that after watching our investigative footage, Tyson announced that it’s immediately ending this cruel and barbaric practice. But there’s still a crucial underlying issue that Tyson needs to address about this practice: why was it being done in the first place?Tyson’s chickens have been genetically manipulated to grow so unnaturally obese so quickly that they often collapse under their own weight and some suffer from heart attacks. With such extreme growth, these birds have developed extreme appetites. However, unlike an average “meat” chicken, who will be slaughtered at less than two months old—before these ailments fully manifest—breeder birds must survive much longer. Thus, to prevent these breeder birds from growing too big, too quickly, Tyson deliberately starves them -- leaving the birds in a constant state of hunger.So while Tyson is taking a step in the right direction by ending the cruel practice of “boning,” these birds will continue to starve and suffer until the company stops breeding and raising birds who have been genetically manipulated for fast growth.The best way we can help birds is to leave them off our plates, but we can also take a stand against cruelty by telling Tyson to stop starving birds! - Rusty, a Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator
Not So Fast, USDA: Stop the Unhealthy & Inhumane High-Speed Slaughter!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to expand a flawed pilot program that allows select slaughterhouses to dramatically speed up their slaughter lines, while simultaneously pulling back on government oversight. I recently worked undercover at one of these pilot facilities, and captured on video the shocking ways this program fails to protect animal welfare—and American food safety. Please join me in telling USDA and Hormel it’s time to stop this high-speed, reduced-inspection pilot program, known as HIMP. By shifting key inspection responsibilities to the slaughterhouses themselves, while also allowing these plants to operate at extremely high kill speeds, this program is allowing animal abuse and food safety problems to increasingly go unchecked. Consumers deserve more, not less, oversight in food production. Before going undercover at Quality Pork Processors in Austin, Minnesota, I knew that I would see appalling abuses and nightmarish animal suffering—that’s unavoidable at a slaughter plant, especially one that processes 1,300 pigs each hour. But what I didn’t expect was how rare it would be to encounter a government inspector, or how many pigs would be processed into SPAM or other Hormel products despite being sick, injured, riddled with pus-filled abscesses, or covered in feces. Even knowing what I did about animal cruelty, I naively believed that the government was at least making sure that the food supply was safe—but I don’t believe that anymore. Now, I know that our government has rubber-stamped a program that gives the profit-driven pork industry free reign to “monitor” itself. I documented plant employees, under pressure to keep up with the facility’s high operating speeds, dragging, kicking, beating, and excessively shocking pigs. I even saw pigs regaining consciousness on the slaughter line—a major violation of federal law. Let’s demand that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service live up to its name and do just that—meaningfully regulate and inspect our nation’s slaughterhouses. It can’t continue to bow to pressure from industry giants like Hormel. We must end this high-speed slaughter program, which replaces highly-trained inspectors with untrained, industry employees—with devastating results for animals, workers, and consumers. In Solidarity, Scott David (former Compassion Over Killing undercover investigator) October 2017 Update: With a proposal to expand the dangerous HIMP pig slaughter program on the horizon, chickens and turkeys are facing a similar threat. The industry has petitioned the USDA to lift the current maximum line speed of 140 birds per minute (that’s already more than 2 birds every second!). Such a waiver of the cap would essentially allow plants to operate at any speed—a serious danger to animals, workers, and consumers.In 2015, I worked inside Mountaire Farms in North Carolina—operating at speeds of up to 140 birds per minute. I saw live birds being thrown into piles with the dead as workers only had time to perform split-second checks of their condition, fallen birds being thrown across the room, and birds having their heads caught in the shackles as workers rushed to keep up. As investigations and government inspection records reveal, improper shackling can even lead to the kill blade slicing birds open in places other than their throat, and the birds then entering the scalding tank alive. Yet the industry has ignored these risks in a sly attempt to line its own pockets by trying to make slaughter lines run even faster. Please join me in telling the USDA, “Not so fast!”