Tofu Shouldn’t Hurt

It had all makings of a perfect outing for a vegan, homeschooling family like ours. The trip to the local tofu factory promised to be fun and educational, with plenty of photo-ops and information that would make for great blogging when it was over. But it wasn’t fun. And while it was an education and gave us plenty to write about, what we learned and what we must now report are not what we had in mind when we recently plunked down $40 for an hour long tour of Hodo Soy Beanery in West Oakland.

The first things to greet us when we walked through the doors of Hodo Soy Beanery were some of the cruelest devices in use by humans in their effort to kill the non-humans who share our planet: sticky glue traps. These contraptions are designed to ensnare their terrified victims and then kill them slowly. A study of glue traps,

Found that trapped mice struggling to free themselves would pull out their own hair, exposing bare, raw areas of skin. The mice broke or even bit off their own legs, and the glue caused their eyes to become badly irritated and scarred. After three to five hours in the glue traps, the mice defecated and urinated heavily because of their severe stress and fear, and quickly became covered with their own excrement. Animals whose faces become stuck in the glue slowly suffocate, and all trapped animals are subject to starvation and dehydration. It [can] take anywhere from three to five days for the [animal] to finally die. This is nothing less than torture.

And so rather than enjoy the tour, we spent our time checking to make sure the traps were empty. And we spent the days and weeks afterward trying to educate the owner of Hodo Soy about how cruel they were and, more importantly, about the cruelty-free alternatives that were available for his factory, including “rodent proofing”:

The most humane and effective method of rodent control is to deter them from entering your facility in the first place by fully rodent-proofing. This would entirely eliminate the need for any further action on your part. Unfortunately, most “pest” control companies rely on the constant and continual application of traps, glues and spray pesticides in order to bill you for them. A “pest control” company would not necessarily make you aware of this option, as it would permanently seal your facility and make any further action on their part unnecessary. In other words, they would not get paid every month.

Part of the tour included a video about the history of the company, started by a man named Minh Tsai, who claimed his goal was to reclaim tofu an artisan food for all people—rebranding tofu as more than just a vegetarian meat alternative.  And while we are all for more people eating tofu, we thought that Mr. Tsai was more than a little naïve to open his doors to his customers, many of whom are no doubt vegetarian and vegan, only to have the first sight that greets them be devices that are universally condemned by animal protection organizations.

Like it or not, vegetarians and vegans are a large part of his consumer base, and for us, the reason we stopped eating meat is the same reason we would never support a company that uses glue traps: we don’t want animals to suffer, and we don’t want animals to die, and we certainly don’t want to sponsor or condone such cruelty with our consumer dollars, either.

When we got home, we wrote the owner a letter, expressing our concerns. And we closed with our great hope he would do the right thing:

As we watched your video, it was very evident you have great love for your craft. And as we listened to the guide explain how your products are vegan and all the dishes served for us to taste are vegan, it appeared that you knew who your market was and you wanted to be sensitive to their love of animals. [We] explained to the kids that [we] would write to you because [we] believed that when presented with the issue in all its stark truth, you appeared to be a man of integrity and good sense, and [we] hoped, and expected, you would do the right thing. [We] told them that it was [our] hope that if [we] explained to you the degree of cruelty associated with the use of glue traps, you would want no part of them.

We were wrong. His response was that humans matter more than rodents and that he was merely complying with the law. And while he did say he would “look into” the other techniques we suggested, there was no commitment to remove the cruel devices. In fact, he closed by saying that he hoped we understood the “delicate and necessary nature of food production.” Glue traps being neither delicate nor necessary, we responded by providing him information gathered from our research which disproves the claim that he must use glue traps to comply with the law.

We also asked for an assurance that he would remove the glue traps and receiving none, nor the courtesy of a reply, we have no choice but to do what conscience dictates. We have no choice but to bring this matter to the attention of our fellow vegans, vegetarians, and other concerned tofu-eating animals lovers. We have no choice but to ask all kind and compassionate people to boycott Hodo Soy Beanery until they pledge to go glue trap free and embrace humane, cruelty-free, non-lethal alternatives.

Please do not buy their products in grocery stores and let the grocery stores know why. Do not buy their products at Farmer’s Markets and let Hodo Soy know why. Send them an e-mail, write them a letter or give them a call. If you see their stand in a public place, please gently approach them to express your concerns. Most importantly, let them know how you feel on their Facebook and Twitter pages, which are the quickest way for us to reach other Hodo consumers with our message.

Let Hodo know you will avoid all Hodo products until they commit to go glue trap free. BECAUSE TOFU SHOULDN’T HURT!

Telephone: (510) 464-2977
Mail: Hodo Soy, 2923 Adeline Street, Oakland, CA 94608


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