‘After three years, USDA releases previously hidden animal cruelty records’

H. Claire Brown with

On Tuesday, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) announced it had released a searchable database of thousands of inspection reports documenting animal welfare violations at research labs, breeders, dealers, zoos, and other facilities. 

The agency removed many of the records from the internet in early 2017, shortly after Trump took office, citing “privacy concerns.”


As The Washington Post reported last year, the larger issue with the USDA’s enforcement of animal welfare laws under the Trump administration may be that the agency is simply doing fewer inspections and citing fewer violations than it used to. Between 2014 and 2018, the number of inspections decreased from 9,489 to 8,354. The decline in violations cited was far more dramatic: Whereas 6,052 violations were issued in 2014, by 2018 just 1,716 went on the books. That’s a 72 percent decline.

It’s disheartening but not surprising that this seems to be a partisan issue in our government.

‘Burger King Says It Never Promised Impossible Whoppers Were Vegan’

Burger King, saying it never billed its “Impossible Whoppers” as vegan or promised to cook them a particular way, said a proposed class action by a vegan customer over the plant-based patties being cooked on the same grills as meat burgers should be thrown out.

In a court filing on Thursday, Burger King said plaintiff Phillip Williams should have asked how Impossible Whoppers were cooked before ordering one that he said was “coated in meat by-products” at an Atlanta drive-through.

Burger King said reasonable customers would ask about its cooking methods, and Williams would have known he could request an alternative method had he done even “the smallest amount of investigation” on its website or by reading media reports.

I wondered what BK’s angle would be, and I think this how most restaurants will handle vegan products moving forward. No one will call dishes that have vegan ingredients “vegan” anymore. They’ll either call items “plant-based” or they actually won’t say either. By not using both, they’re free to avoid this hub-bub — but it means it’ll be harder for all vegans to actually spot the vegan items. Bummer. I hope that’s not the case.


Anna Starostinetskaya for VegNews:

This week, new advocacy group California Plant Based Alliance (CPBA) formed in Sacramento with the mission of advancing the interests of the plant-based industry in the state’s legislature. CPBA—the first state-level plant-based advocacy group in the country—was founded by Julie Manusco, founder of animal-advocacy organization Social Compassion in Legislation[.] […] In 2016, lobby group Plant Based Food Association (PBFA)—which currently has more than 160 company members—formed to represent the interests of the plant-based industry on a federal level.

I’m interested in seeing how this group will affect the larger Plant Based Food Association. This new group is at the state-level, while the other is at the federal. It might be interesting to see if they’re able to essentially use California as a testing ground for legal arguments before they move to the national level.

Plant Based Food Association Labeling Standards

There write-up is a solid start to a problem.

My dream involves a small ‘V’ placed in a circle at the bottom right of all foods that are vegan. I want to do the Supermarket Twist™ a little less as I pirouette every item to my face trying to read the ingredients list.

And although these aren’t explicitly vegan ideas, I’d also love to see foods state their water-usage, carbon footprint, and… something more complicated: I want something that essentially on a 1 to 10 scale scores that general detriment of a product, like if it’s high on salt or saturated fat or sugar it would be low on the scale while dehydrated vegetables with nothing added to them would be 9s or 10s.

‘‘Ethical Veganism’ Is a Philosophical Belief, British Court Rules’

Elian Porter for the NYTimes:

On Friday, judge Robin Postle at the employment tribunal in Norwich, in eastern England, ruled that ethical veganism qualifies under Britain’s Equality Act as a philosophical belief and that those embracing it are entitled to similar protection as those who hold religious beliefs.

Under the Equality Act, which was passed in 2010, individuals practicing a religion or holding other belief systems are protected from discrimination in the workplace, if those beliefs are compatible with human dignity and don’t conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

A court ruling that a way of eating should be classified in a similar way to religious beliefs makes sense. For many non-secular folks, a diet is one of the few places where we have to adhere to an ideology—like a religion—every day. Adherence and commitment strike a similar chord too.

‘Vegan Man Sues Burger King, Claiming It Cooks Impossible Whopper Next to Meat’

Abdi Latif Dahir for the NYTimes:

Burger King’s beef-free Whopper may not be so meatless after all — at least according to one vegan customer.

That’s the argument being made in a lawsuit filed on Monday in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, in which the plaintiff, Phillip Williams, claims that the fast food chain failed to disclose that its plant-based Impossible Whoppers are cooked on the same grills as beef products.

I’m not sure what the end goal is here. If it’s for clearer labeling, I’m with it. If it’s for Burger King to have to install separate broilers for cooking the Impossible, I’m not.

Veganism is about the larger end-goal of saving lives. And most kitchens don’t have room for vegan and non-vegan grills. If lawsuits like this make chains less likely to carry vegan options, more animals will be harmed — and that’s incredibly disappointing.