Following a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Anne Muller of the League of Humane Voters reignited the group’s tradition of a legislative breakfast on May 3, inviting animal advocates and lawmakers alike to learn about the group’s priority legislation and enjoy a plant-based breakfast spread.
The League of Humane Voters’ mission is “to create, unite, and strengthen local political action committees to enact animal-friendly legislation and elect candidates for public office who will vote for and influence animal protection legislation.”
On the menu was a variety of plant-based pastries including donuts, muffins and cupcakes, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
The breakfast reflects the organization’s push for plant-based lunch options in public schools, an idea drafted in legislation sponsored by Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar, D-Queens, and Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, D-Greenwich Village.
Recognizing both the growing number of children with dietary restrictions and the nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet, the goal of the bill (S.996/A.3708) is to require public schools to “offer the student a plant-based food option as an alternative to meals and snacks offered through the food service department,” when options are requested by a student or a person in parental relation to the student.
The success of the “Meatless Fridays” program adopted by New York City schools under the support of Mayor Eric Adams showed public support for the cause, and an increase in the number of students participating in the school’s meal plan.
“A lot of students rely on school lunches for nutrition,” said Andrew Binovi, the director of government affairs at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. That organization is proudly partnering with the League of Humane Voters to expand the accessibility of school lunches.
If passed, the bill would take effect immediately, applying to public school services by the beginning of the upcoming school year.
Representing the New York branch of the Humane Society of the United States, Director Brian Shapiro voiced his adamant support for a bill which aims to “end wildlife killing contests in New York” (S.4099/A.2917).
Twenty annual wildlife killing contests are held across the state, including the “Final Fling for Fox” event in Macedon, the “Squirrel Scramble” in Germantown and the “FoxPro’s New York State Predator Hunt.” These events encourage the killing of wildlife, in a competition for killing the most or the largest animals in a certain time period, the bodies of which are often dumped after the prizes are awarded.
“Wildlife shouldn’t be used for cash and prizes,” stressed Shapiro. “There’s no other natural resource that you’re allowed to exploit that way.”
Citing support from hunters, vegetarians, the general public and the state Department of Environmental Conservation alike, the bill does not aim to put restrictions on “the person’s ability to hunt any wildlife species according to the state’s laws and registrations,” but rather to end the exploitation of wildlife in killing contests.
Supporting 10 bills in total, the League of Humane Voters has set their sights on varied aspects of the animal protection movement, from the push to prohibit the operation of “live markets” in New York, in which animals and fowls are slaughtered and butchered, to amending the education law in relation to animal hatching projects, prohibiting the practice of schools hatching and raising hens due to the lack of proper nutrition required and the eventual disposal of the animals after the project is complete.