16 of the Most Shocking, Exciting, and Game-Changing Moments of 2019

Whether it’s major restaurants adding more plant-based options to their menus, gripping undercover investigations, or eye-catching demonstrations, 2019 has been an incredible year for animals.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:
Burger King Debuts Impossible Whopper
In April, Burger King made headlines when it launched the Impossible Whopper at St. Louis-area locations. The launch was a huge success. In fact, a report from inMarket inSights suggests that in the first month after its release, the Impossible Whopper increased foot traffic at these locations by an average of almost 17 percent! In August, the game-changing Impossible Whopper finally became available at Burger King restaurants across the United States.
Millions View McDonald’s TV Ad
The day before the fast-food giant’s annual shareholders meeting in May, a TV ad featuring 25 celebrities urged McDonald’s to adopt a comprehensive chicken welfare policy.
The ad, produced by Mercy For Animals, boasts an A-list cast: Daniella Monet, Emily Deschanel, James Cromwell, Kimberly Elise, Matt Lauria, Joanna Krupa, Daisy Fuentes, John Salley, Alison Pill, and many others. Covered by viral news outlet NowThis, the ad racked up millions of views on social media. Additionally, 800,000 people in the Chicago area, where McDonald’s is headquartered, saw it on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, NBC, and other channels.
ChickieLeaks Launches
In June, Mercy For Animals erected billboards in Georgia, the poultry capital of the world. The billboards asked whistleblowers to speak out against any wrongdoings they had witnessed at Tyson Foods or McDonald’s. In English and Spanish, the signs aimed to reach thousands of people affected by the chicken industry and introduce them to our new resource: ChickieLeaks.com.
Drones Expose Factory Farms in Mexico
July saw the release of Mercy For Animals’ drone investigation of factory farms in southeastern Mexico. The footage reveals the beautiful rainforests of the Yucatán Peninsula ravaged by factory farms. Our drone pilot stated, “I have seen dozens upon dozens of factory farms over the years, but I have never seen anything at the scale of what is being built here.
Baskin-Robbins Releases Plant-Based Flavors
In August, Baskin-Robbins launched its first dairy-free ice cream. Available in two flavors—Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Extreme—the new ice cream is made with coconut oil and almond butter. The world’s largest ice cream chain went a step further in November, making its Non-Dairy and Vegan Coffee Caramel Chunk the flavor of the month!
Mexican Senate Urges Better Treatment of Farmed Animals
Just like in the United States, in Mexico farmed animals have few to no legal protections. But thanks to a move by Mexican legislators in August, this could change. Mexico’s senate approved a point of agreement that encourages the country’s agricultural ministry to overhaul its animal welfare regulations to address the terrible cruelty farmed animals suffer in Mexico.
KFC Tests Vegan Chicken
In August, Kentucky Fried Chicken tested vegan fried chicken that combines Beyond Meat with the chain’s signature secret spices. This move made KFC the very first American fast-food chain to add a Beyond Meat chicken item to its menu. While KFC served the plant-based chicken at only one restaurant in Atlanta, the company will use sales and customer feedback to decide on further testing or a nationwide rollout.
GRILLED: Turning Adversaries into Allies to Change the Chicken Industry
Authored by Mercy For Animals president Leah Garcés and published in September 2019, Grilled tells the harrowing story of how Garcés crossed enemy lines to work with some of the world’s largest food companies in her fight to transform the food industry and put an end to factory farming.
Drones Expose Amazon Destruction
A Mercy For Animals drone investigation released in September revealed the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by animal agriculture. The rainforest is home to more species of plants and animals than nearly anywhere else on the planet. But to help satisfy global demand for meat, it is cut down by thousands of square kilometers per year to create room for cattle pastures.
Demonstrators Turn Heads in São Paulo
Wearing paper gas masks, holding signs, and pushing a 10-foot-long barbecue grill, Mercy For Animals activists in Brazil sent a powerful message: The Amazon is burning, and the world’s appetite for meat is fueling the fires.
The eye-opening demonstration took place in September on the renowned Paulista Avenue in São Paulo. A burning rainforest smoked under the grill’s bars, and on top of them sat a massive “steak.
Disney Adds Vegan Options
In October, Disney’s parks got a whole lot happier! The company added more than 400 plant-based items to Walt Disney World and Disneyland menus. Every quick-serve and sit-down restaurant at every park now offers vegan-friendly options.
Transfarmation Project Kicks Off
In November, Mercy For Animals launched the Transfarmation Project, an avenue for farmers to help rebuild the world’s food system and become part of the solution and leave the problem behind. The project’s mission is to support farmers in transitioning out of animal agriculture and into growing crops used for plant-based products. The result will be a better future for farmers and their families, consumers, animals, and the planet.
Investigation Reveals Mexico’s Slaughterhouses
Also in November, Mercy For Animals released its seventh shocking undercover video of Mexican slaughterhouses. Narrated by Venezuelan actress María Gabriela de Faría, the footage exposes the horrific reality for farmed animals inside Mexico’s government-owned slaughterhouses.
Investigation Uncovers Live Export Horrors
In the same month, a Mercy For Animals investigation revealed live animals dragged from inside an export ship and lifted over 70 feet by their legs. Others are slashed at the throat while conscious and able to feel pain at a slaughterhouse in the Middle East.
Drones Expose California Dairy Farms
Just over a week before Christmas, Mercy For Animals released a drone investigation of California’s dairy farms. Most cows used for milk in California are crowded by the hundreds or thousands in dirt lots, are repeatedly forcibly impregnated, and have their babies stolen.
Mercy For Animals Sues the USDA
In late December, Mercy For Animals joined forces with Lewis and Clark Law School’s Animal Law Litigation Clinic, Farm Sanctuary, Animal Equality, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, Compassion Over Killing, and North Carolina Farmed Animal Save to file its first lawsuit. The suit challenges the United States Department of Agriculture’s deregulation of pig slaughterhouses, arguing that the agency has violated numerous laws intended to protect animals, the environment, and consumers.
While 2019 was truly a momentous year for animals, you can help make 2020 even better. Donate today, and make a difference for animals around the world who desperately need our help.