Vegan Action Visits Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary


Have you ever spent an afternoon with a gang of baby turkeys? During the summer of 2014, the board of Vegan Action visited Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, one of the few farm sanctuaries located on the East Coast. The chicks (baby turkeys are actually called poults!) were rescued and brought to Poplar Springs to be cared for among other feathered friends, including a flock of turkey toms and hens, peacocks and peahens, geese, ducks and, of course, chickens. Lucky for these baby turkeys, they were rescued and sent to the sanctuary to live their lives socializing (turkeys are very social creatures!) and running through the fields and forest.


In addition to the turkeys, we met a flock of sheep, including Adam, one of the most affectionate sheep I had ever met, a litter of young pigs and a cow named Caroline. Located on 400 acres, Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary provides care, rehabilitation, and permanent sanctuary for neglected, abandoned or unwanted farm animals. Poplar Spring staff and volunteers educate the public on farm animal and wildlife issues and promote compassion and treatment for all animals.


The Maryland-based sanctuary is part of a tradition of caring people responding to the brutality of factory farming. The very land where the sanctuary calls home was once a traditional farm sending many animals to slaughter each year.  In the US, factory farming dominates food production where animals face inhumane living conditions where they require large amounts of antibiotics to stay alive. In addition to the drugs administered to simply stay alive in unhealthy living conditions, the animals are also given drugs to grow unnaturally fast and large. This treatment of animals exists to maximize profits at the expense animal, environmental and human health. According to the USDA data, the number of dairy cows has remained relatively constant over the past five years (approximately nine million) however the amount of milk production has steadily increased during the same time period.


To find out more about Poplar Spring’s work to care for animals rescued from factory farming, as well as the staff’s commitment to veganism, please visit their website or on Facebook.

Cuckoo for Cocokind!

It appears that the time-intensive 10-step skin routine popular in South Korea has made its way to the United States, promising youthful, healthy and dewy skin. Unfortunately, many of these Korean products either contain animal ingredients (such as collagen and snail mucin) or test on animals, and companies that do make vegan skincare products are hard to find in the states.
That’s where cocokind, a company we certified around the holidays, comes in!
Cocokind offers an extensive range of organic vegan products that can be used in a 10-step routine, with the whole line containing only natural (and pronounceable) ingredients. Serums, oil cleansers, toners and more are available to leave your skin soft and glowing, making them perfect for those with dry or dull skin. We can vouch for their Rosewater Toner, Facial Repair Serum, and Matcha Moisturizers, which are all aaaa-mazing, and while we haven’t tried their two newest products (yet!), an Organic Ultra Chlorophyll Mask and an Organic Sea Moss exfoliator, they sure do look awesome.
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Thanks, cocokind, for the amazing products and for letting us vegans experience the 10-step routine as well! Want an example of how to incorporate these products into your routine? See our example below!

Cocokind-based 10 Step Routine:

  1. Prepare for your double-cleanse by removing eye-makeup (if you wear it!) with the Organic Eye-Firming Oil. Gently sweep away makeup with a cotton round. This eye oil can also be used as your nightly eye treatment later on!
  2. Time to cleanse! Rub 1-2 pumps of the Organic Facial Cleansing Oil into hands and massage into skin using upwards motions. You’ll feel all the grime coming out of your pores. Wet a towel with hot water and place onto face, allowing the steam to open up your pores, pulling out the oil. Once you feel steamed, use the other side of the towel to wipe any residual oil off. Short on time? Skip the rag and rinse with warm water, then pat face dry.
  3. While cocokind doesn’t have a typical cleanser, we follow up here with a gentle soap, like Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soaps (the tea tree variation would be good for acne!) or a complexion bar by Chagrin Valley Soap. If you have a konjac sponge, use it along with whatever cleanser you’re using! We recently certified Riverlight Naturals’ charcoal sponges, but most konjac sponges are inherently vegan.
  4. Is today your exfoliation day? Using the Organic Sea Moss Exfoliator, get a tiny dab of the powder and wet it with a teaspoon of water (or rosewater). Apply the gel to your face and lather for one minute before rinsing! Pat face dry.
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  5. Not your exfoliation day? What about masks? While sheet masks look more fun, the Organic Ultra Chlorophyll Mask leaves behind less waste – and makes you look a little less like a peely human, too. Mix a spoonful of the mask with equal parts water in your hands, then apply the green goo to your face! After looking like a swamp monster for 20-30 minutes, wash off the mask.
  6. Now it’s time to tone! You can either spritz the Organic Rosewater Facial Toner directly onto your skin, or dampen a cotton ball/pad with the rosewater and swipe! The pH-balanced toner feels amazing and is great for stressed or sunburned skin, so it’s great for hot summer nights.
  7. We’d stick an essence here if we had any recommendations! Have a favorite vegan essence? Let us know!
  8. Are you feeling extra dry? The Organic Facial Repair Serum will be your HG. Try out half a pump unless you need a little TLC, then gently pat into skin until absorbed.
  9. Almost there, promise! Once the serum has absorbed, it’s time to follow-up with the amazing Organic Matcha Face Moisturizer. Scoop a little out and gently massage into skin. Take a second to get a whiff of the beautiful green tea scent…you won’t regret it.
  10. FINALLY! Now going back to the Eye-Firming Oil, pat a little more of the oil around your eyes, moving very gently. The skin around your eyes is super fragile!

10-steps not enough for you? Too much? Adjust to your preference! Whatever you use, your skin will surely be soft and dewy after using the coconut oil-based goodness of cocokind.


Virtual Reality Technology Finds Great Use in Animal Rights Organizations

With virtual reality devices becoming more-and-more popular in the United States, it was only a matter of time before animal rights and welfare organizations began using VR headsets as a tool to get people to realize the horror of large-scale factory farms, slaughterhouses and the life of animals before they’re cruelly extinguished.

A number of organizations are currently using immersing virtual reality technology (in the form of headsets and rotating chairs), with the notable leaders being Animal Equality with “iAnimal,” Last Chance for Animals and PETA’s 2014 “I, Chicken.”

NPR contributor Barbara J. King participated in Animal Equality’s program at the Sundance Film Festival in early February, where she became immersed in a virtual factory farm and pig slaughterhouse. There, she watched as the pigs were left bleeding, alive and in pain, on the floor of the slaughterhouse.

“I had just witnessed the moment of their deaths, I thought,” King said in her February NPR piece. “But I was wrong. The pigs soon regained some degree of consciousness. Their limbs in spasm, their bodies jerking on and on and on, they were bled out slowly on the slaughterhouse floor. In VR, you are there with them, at no remove, with no distancing mechanism available.”

After persevering through the 12-minute experience, she continued. “You can’t avoid what comes next, when the next pair of pigs is forced up the slope.”

King ended her article with saying that the images she saw in “iAnimal” continued to linger “behind her eyes,” over a week later.

One of our own board members, David Phinney, experienced Animal Equality’s VR at the 2015 Natural Animal Rights Conference.

“It was incredible,” Phinney said. “Literally the most powerful thing I’d seen since watching ‘Earthlings’ for the first time and realizing that these horrors existed. I think it’s the future of outreach and will have an extraordinary effect on people, magnitudes more than current pay per view programs.”

Similar to “iAnimal,” Last Chance for Animals’ VR footage used two industrial farm facilities, containing both chickens and pigs. As VICE author Peter Holslin said in his December article, the animals in the 360-degree scene were “held in miserable-looking cages and pens, doomed for slaughter,” helplessly crying out as the viewer watched. Last Chance for Animals used their VR technology at events to raise awareness of factory farm cruelty before the upcoming holiday season, where millions of animals are killed for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

PETA’s project, “I, Chicken” is slightly different from the other two organizations mentioned. Where “iAnimal” and Last Chance for Animals put the viewer into a factory farm (“iAnimal” switches between views) to witness what animals go through, “I, Chicken” puts you in the place of the chicken.

According to PETA’s website:

I, Chicken couples the most cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) hardware available—including wireless VR goggles, motion-capture cameras, and a powerful computer—with guidance from leading VR psychologists in order to immerse participants in a world where they can flap their wings, communicate with other chickens, take dust baths, and engage in other natural chicken behavior. But as participants soon learn, life for any of the 26 million chickens slaughtered every day isn’t a walk in the park.

The video changes from a video game-like simulation of a chicken’s life to the birds getting crammed together in a claustrophobic-inducing area, moments before their death.

Though the technology is still new (and, arguably, pretty expensive), we believe we will be seeing lots of it at events as the years move on. Will VR programs replace the popular and effective “Pay-to-View” initiative often seen at events? Maybe. If anything, they appear to be more effective, at least according to what Phinney said earlier and NPR writer King.

“I have watched, read and taught about animal suffering in factory farms before. I knew it was bad in factory farms in the U.S., England, Europe, China and Latin America. Yet, something extra-powerful comes across in VR. The heightened visual closeness brings about heightened emotional attunement and, thus, the true extent of the cruelty to individual, sentient animals.”

“iAnimal” has a release date of March 1, but organizations other than the ones mentioned may currently be using this technology at events. If you see “iAnimal,” or any VR animal rights video, please email us about your experience.