Friday, August 31, 2012

Farm Sanctuary Doublespeak

Farm Sanctuary Doublespeak
 
Farm Sanctuary recently posted a video entitled Welfare reform and vegan advocacy: the facts. This video is full of misleading and inaccurate information and does a great disservice to animal advocates and the animal rights movement. Frankly, Farm Sanctuary and its president, Gene Baur, should be embarrassed by this most recent piece of shameless propaganda.
 
In response to this video, James LaVeck and Jenny Stein of Humane Myth wrote a powerful piece which addresses the core problem with messages such as the one presented in this video. As they state on the Humane Myth facebook page, “The only thing standing in the way of the animal rights movement becoming a great social justice revolution is a poverty of imagination and a shortfall of personal conviction. It is up to all of us to transcend the cynicism of these times, and to reach for something higher.” I strongly urge all animal advocates to read this important article. 
 
In my response to this video (which follows), I basically itemize all of the misleading information, hypocrisy, unsubstantiated conclusions, and illogical arguments contained therein. Points from the video are in bold and my responses are without bold. If you would like to see the referenced back-up documentation that could not be provided online, please ask for such in a comment.
 
It’s easy for discussions to get stuck in sound bites and posturing about who cares more about animals. Animal liberation is not about our own personal purity.
All the people I know who are speaking out against treatment issues are not ego-centric and are not trying to win or seem more pure than anyone else. They just want the movement to have integrity, to be truthful, and to be effective. Attempting to marginalize anyone who questions the strategies and, ultimately, the authority of the large organizations is one of the methods used by these groups to shut down discussion and critical thinking.
 
We can’t just cling to the idea that if we always ask for exactly what we want and nothing less, that that will bring about the best possible world for animals.
Animal rights advocates need to consistently state clearly what is moral and just and not stray from the core message that animals are not ours to use. It is inappropriate, disingenuous, and counter-productive to tell the public that animals are not ours to use and then tell them that eating “higher quality” animal products is a real solution and just as valid as refraining from eating animal products. The same applies to praising animal-using businesses for making untrue statements about how they only sell “humane” animal products.
 
Data Point 1: Welfare reforms reduce suffering and provide immediate good for animals
"Suffering" is a highly subjective term, and it's all too easy to make scientific sounding claims about how this non-scientific, non-quantifiable internal experience is "reduced" by welfare “reforms” supposedly caused by legislation or industry promises. The images that are shown in this video when discussing this “fact” − with the hens in clean, relatively spacious cages and barns− are not even representative of the norm.
 
The first image depicting “enriched colony housing” is not based on reality but is actually from industry marketing materials and doesn’t contain real hens. Very interestingly, this specific system is being used in California by J.S. West & Co. which is challenging the confinement provisions of Proposition 2. Despite claims made by Farm Sanctuary, the law that resulted from Prop 2 does not ban cages; it simply mandates that the included animals be able to exhibit certain behaviors.  Therefore, West claims that it can use battery cages in California without violating the law. Of course, this sort of vagueness and the resulting endless disagreements about interpretations and enforcement of such laws is another reason why campaigns to pass husbandry reform legislation wastes resources that could be better used in other ways.
 
The second image of hens in a spacious barn is also not the norm. As you will note, when this photo is shown, the narrator states “…hens on cage-free farms or in enriched cages suffer a lot less than hens in battery cages.” However, when Paul Shapiro was a grassroots activist doing open rescue work, before he became HSUS Vice President, he was quoted as saying; "But "cage free" doesn't necessarily mean much in terms of quality of life for hens. Eggs labeled "cage free" often come from hens packed side by side in massive sheds. Their access to the outdoors may be only through a tiny opening.”
 
The tragic reality of what life is like for farmed animals on farms all over the US is very different from what is portrayed in the media, in industry marketing materials, and in this Farm Sanctuary video.
 
The so-called “humane” provisions in “welfare” laws are phased in over many years and the language is very vague (see more info about these welfare laws in my first blog). Furthermore, “welfare” laws all contain many exceptions that can be used if an inspector ever does show up and question the facility. And we all should know that the USDA and state agriculture departments are understaffed, underfunded, and friendly with the animal agriculture industry. In my first blog piece, I gave many different examples of HSUS criticizing the USDA for not doing its job. And very recently, the USDA has come under fire once again – this time at a slaughterhouse used by In-N-Out Burger – for being grossly negligent.
 
What makes us think that the USDA is going to enforce these vague laws full of loopholes? Even if a facility is actually fined for violating the law, it will just see the low cost of paying the fine as the cost of doing business.
 
Do we really think that enriched cages (called for in H.R.3798, the federal egg bill, which is supported by Farm Sanctuary and other large organizations) are any better for the birds? According to a HSUS report, hens who live in enriched cages live an extremely unhealthy and miserable existence (this report was published before HSUS partnered with the United Egg Producers to support this fatally flawed piece of legislation).
 
It is true that if the industry actually gets rid of a few of their worst practices based on customer demand or economic motives, this might provide some animals a minuscule reduction in their pain and agony in some instances. But animal rights groups should not be praising them for doing so. And they shouldn’t spend their resources fighting for “welfare” reforms that give legitimacy to the thought that it’s okay to exploit and kill animals for our own use. When we work on treatment campaigns, it’s easy for the industry to answer the problems, to co-opt our message, and even to appropriate our language.
 
However, when we talk about the use and killing of animals being morally wrong, the industry cannot derail, discredit, or co-opt our message. That is why they are so highly motivated to partner with animal advocacy organizations willing to push this undeniable truth under the rug.
 
Two final notes regarding Farm Sanctuary's mixed message about “humane” animal products.  In 2009, this organization launched a campaign and developed a report to let the public know the truth behind “humane” animal products.  In a related press release, Farm Sanctuary co-founder and president Gene Baur said, “Most people will be surprised to learn that even the most stringent standards often fail to meet their expectations about how animals should be treated. For example, in many of these labeling schemes, 'free range' birds still spend their entire lives tightly packed together in sheds, physical mutilations like debeaking and tail docking are still allowed, and there are no requirements for outdoor access for some species. We developed this report to provide the facts and increase the transparency of the labeling process so the public knows what they are purchasing.” 

A Farm Sanctuary pamphlet entitled “The Truth Behind “Humane” Meat, Milk, and Eggs” includes the following statement, “According to Webster’s Dictionary, “humane” means “characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion.” Commodifying and slaughtering sentient animals is incompatible with this definition.”

But isn’t this recent Farm Sanctuary video completely incompatible with its “Truth Behind Labels” campaign?
 
Additionally, a senior Farm Sanctuary staffer, Bruce Friedrich, wrote in 2010 (before he joined the Farm Sanctuary staff) that eating animals is “indefensible” and “eating meat supports cruelty so severe that it would warrant felony cruelty charges were dogs or cats so horribly abused -- and that's true even of so-called ‘humane’ farms.”
 
Friedrich also wrote an entire article indicating his viewpoint about the invalidity of “humane” animal products for the February 2006 edition of Satya Magazine. However, he later asked that this article be removed from the Satya web site. Below are quotes from his article.
 
“Eating “humane meat” causes more animals to suffer on factory farms and die in industrial slaughterhouses – animals who otherwise might be saved by adopting and advocating vegetarianism’s message of compassion.”
 
“Not only are many of the humane labels – like “Swine Welfare” and “Animal Care” – entirely meaningless, describing animals treated in the same way as unlabeled products (see PETA’s discussion at GoVeg.com), but please ask yourself a basic question: Would you be willing to cut an animal’s throat?”
 
“Calling any of these products “humane” – a word that references our very best nature – distorts the meaning of the word.”
 
Friedrich was also a board member of Farm Forward in June of this year when that organization agreed to administer a $151,000 ASPCA grant to turkey farmer Frank Reese (a fellow Farm Forward board member) to assist his “humane” turkey operation. 
 
Data Point 2: The animal ag industry spends millions to oppose welfare reforms, because reforms are bad for the industry
The industry obviously has a multipronged approach to advancing its agenda. Spending money to fight its so-called opposition is one way, and collaborating with wealthy animal advocacy groups is another way. This is how powerful interests achieve their goals. It's well known that major lobbyists donate to both Republican and Democratic candidates.
 
Illustrating how the animal ag industry collaborates with animal advocacy groups, the United Egg Producers (UEP), which represents 95% of all the nation’s egg farms, is strongly endorsing the aforementioned federal egg bill in cooperation with HSUS. According to UEP President Gene Gregory, this bill means the survival of the egg industry. Additionally, hundreds of individual animal ag associations and egg farmers have also endorsed this federal egg bill.
 
James LaVeck wrote a very informative article about how clever the animal industry leaders are and how the large animal organizations are playing right into their hands. It should be required reading for anyone who is bothered by the current state of the movement.
 
Data Point 3: Welfare reforms are followed by a reduction in consumption of the affected animal products
The information in the video about what is going on in Europe is mostly speculative so that really means nothing. What is true, though, is that global meat consumption is skyrocketing.
 
Regarding the USA, there is plenty of evidence that consumers want “higher-quality” animal products and are willing to pay the price. In this article, agricultural economists conclude that, in the US, higher egg prices most likely won’t affect consumption. A University of California Davis study showed how the sale of “humane” meat is dramatically increasing. This article shows that when a major NY grocer started selling “humane” veal, his sales went up 35%. Certified Humane (sponsored by HSUS) reports that selling “humane” animal products will increase sales.
 
Data Point 4: Media coverage of animal welfare issues causes people to eat less meat
The one study used in this video to misleadingly “prove” this point claimed to show that when media attention was paid to animal welfare issues, meat consumption decreased. This study only shows a small correlational relationship between the two variables - it does not come close to showing a causal relationship which is viewed as the gold standard of research.
 
Data Point 5: Welfare reforms go hand in hand with decreased meat consumption
My response to this one is basically the same as my response to Data Point/Fact 4. The charts and graphs in the video may show a loose correlational relationship between “welfare reform” and reduced meat consumption but they definitely do not show a causal one which, as previously mentioned, is the standard for valid research. Correlational relationships prove nothing.
 
This unscientific and unconvincing conclusion doesn’t take into account that if animal product consumption is, in fact, decreasing in certain areas or in certain segments of the population or for certain brief periods, it very easily could be caused by many different factors, including an increased awareness of how animal products affect our health and the environment or an increase in pricing due to the state of the economy, weather conditions, or food shortages.
 
To be more specific, it is stated in the video that meat consumption has decreased dramatically over the past ten years, especially since 2005. To be clear, I am not convinced that the chart used in the video contains valid data. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the data is accurate. Then, according to this chart, meat consumption does not really start to decrease until closer to 2008 – when the US economic recession started and when the largest beef recall in history occurred due to food safety concerns. Failing to consider major factors such as these raises even more questions about the credibility of the argument being made.
 
European countries with stronger protections for farmed animals also have more vegetarians.
This is one more instance of the video featuring a possible correlational relationship (which proves nothing) but not providing any evidence of a cause and effect relationship.
 
The organizations sponsoring and endorsing welfare reforms are carrying out the overwhelming majority of efforts to encourage vegan eating.
Yes, some of the organizations listed in the video do both welfare campaigns and promote veganism (to varying degrees). However, what goes unaddressed is the negative impact their very generously funded "humane" animal product initiatives have on vegan advocacy. Large numbers of community educators report that since major animal advocacy organizations started endorsing and promoting "humane" animal products in the mid-2000's, they have seen more and more people who reject the vegan message and instead express their concern for animals by buying the "right kind" of animal products, most often from Whole Foods. The CEO of Whole Foods, John Mackey, sits on the board of HSUS.
 
In this article, this video, this piece, and this article, HSUS President Wayne Pacelle states the following:
“We don’t say you must be vegan”
“I don’t think everyone needs to adopt a vegetarian diet to make a difference”
“[I’m] not out to liberate all beasts at all costs”
“We think (animal) farming is a noble profession”
 
Pacelle on the Ellen Show
“I’m a vegan but people are going to eat meat and if they’re going to eat meat they shouldn’t allow/tolerate the animals to be treated this way.” (Not once did he encourage Ellen’s viewers to go vegan or explain to them that being vegan is the only way to have a compassionate diet.)
 
HSUS Vice President for Farm Animal Protection, Paul Shapiro, stated in one interview and confirmed it in another interview:
HSUS “does not have an ‘anti-meat’ agenda, is not plotting the demise of animal agriculture”
 
The following terms are not included in the index of Pacelle’s book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them: vegan, vegetarian, diet, or plant-based diet.
 
HSUS recently put an animal killer on its payroll when it hired Joe Maxwell, a pig farmer, as its director of rural affairs. Mr. Maxwell’s job is to provide more marketing opportunities for so-called “humane” animal killers. Maxwell (along with his partners) sends 1,000 pigs every week to be killed.
 
The most recent HSUS magazine glorifies “humane” farms on eight pages and not once is veganism mentioned in the article.
 
In the President’s Note (not available online) of this same magazine, Pacelle touts his organization’s husbandry reform “victories” and states, “While virtually all animals used for food will go through the unenviable process of slaughter, the run-up to that moment – in short, the bulk of their lives – need not be filled with privation, misery, and fear.” This horrifically hypocritical statement is reminiscent of another of Pacelle’s jewels, “And yes, they are going to have at least one day when they go to slaughter but the rest of their life does not need to be one of misery and deprivation.” 
 
Hence, claiming that HSUS promotes veganism is not credible when those types of comments and its extensive collaboration with the industry is taken into consideration.able online), Wayne Pacelle refers to all the work that HSUS has done to support and promote "humane" animal products. One statement by Pacelle stood out for its astonishing incongruity. "While virtually all animals used for food will go through the unenviable process of slaughter, the run-up to that moment – in short, the bulk of their lives – need not be filled with privation, misery, and fear." This horrifically hypocritical statement is reminiscent of another of Pacelle's jewels, "And yes, they are going to have at least one day when they go to slaughter but the rest of their life does not need to be one of misery and deprivation.” We all clearly know that HSUS is not an animal rights organization but I just cannot wrap my brain around the fact that people who I thought believed in a vegan philosophy actually are able to accept a paycheck from and defend this dangerous organization that is moving the cause of animal rights backwards in very high gear. http://www.humanesociety.org/news/magazines/2012/07-08/back_to_the_land_revolution.html
 
 
Data Point 6: People who make a small change become more likely to make a large change
Obviously, “the foot in the door phenomenon” may have some merit in certain situations. However, it is not a valid argument for using treatment campaigns.  Eating animals is so ingrained in our culture that even individuals who care about animals are going to use every rationalization and justification they can to continue to do so with a clear conscience. And the treatment campaigns give them plenty of help in that regard. (See my blog piece for many articles about how former vegetarians/vegans are eating animals again in response to the trend of “humane” animal products which are happily promoted by animal organizations.)  
 
Additionally, our movement should be about social justice and about what is morally right. It should not be about appeasing animal-eating members of the large organizations and it should not be about claiming “victories” that can be used for fund-raising purposes. Sadly, though, these seem to be the real reasons why the large organizations are all now working on treatment campaigns and not the disingenuous reasons shown in this video and in other such propaganda.
 
For information about how to respond to this type of organizational double-speak, please read these compelling and important articles from Humane Myth about how the large corporate groups are using tried and true PR tactics in order to shut down discussion of these issues.
 
 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

FARM President Hershaft Changes His Tune

The Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012
Farm President Alex Hershaft Made
An Amazing Turn-around Regarding This Bill  
Summer 2011 
Below is a speech (in its entirety) that Hershaft gave at Animal Rights Conference 2011 (a portion of which was included in my earlier blog, “Wrong Direction”). 
Welfare or Abolition 
This summer, we launched a highly effective vegan outreach program called Pay-Per-View. We pay people $1 to watch a four-minute clip of graphic undercover factory farming and slaughterhouse footage. In the past few weeks, we have generated more than 4,000 individual views, mostly at street fairs and rock concerts. The reactions are dramatic: viewers cry and vow never to touch meat again. 
But now, this magnificent grass roots effort is facing a serious threat. Is it a devilish scheme cooked up by the meat industry’s marketing types? Well, yes. But, perversely, it’s also a scheme hatched, nurtured, or at least, abetted by the very same organizations that produced these highly effective undercover videos. 
Yes, I am referring to the recent welfare agreement [Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012] forged with the egg industry, that most egregious torturer of animals. It contains vague promises of industry’s support for legislation that would increase cage size in 18 years. However, its biggest impact is to lull caring consumers – the very people we’ve courting, into thinking that the atrocities they’ve witnessed at our PPV booth may be going away. That it’s safe to eat meat again. Consumers are hearing that message, however unintended, because they’re desperately searching for a way to justify and continue their flesh-eating habits. 
But, isn’t a bigger cage an improvement for the animals? Don’t we owe them improved conditions on the way to a vegan world? 
The improvements are not gonna happen. Never have and never will. How do I know? Been there. Done that. 
In 1978, I was testifying before Congress in support of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Sitting at the witness table next to me was another supportive witness – the president of the American Meat Institute. What did he know that I didn’t know? He knew that the Act would be a terrific, no-cost marketing tool for the meat industry. He knew that his buddies in Congress would provide no funding for enforcement. And so it was, to this day. 
In the 1980s, we led the national veal ban campaign. We would picket Italian restaurants and leaflet their patrons, demanding that the calves be unchained and let out of their tiny crates. Then, one day, we ran into a sympathetic owner who asked us to help him procure “humane” veal, free of these atrocities. These are the kind of issues that plague welfare reforms. 
Yes, it took us 15 years or so, but eventually, we got the message loud and clear: the only effective, long-term solution to the obscenity of animal agriculture is to encourage reduced consumption of animal products, leading to the ideal of veganism. It’s the abolitionist approach. 
This approach has been much maligned by our welfare reform colleagues, so let me clear up any misunderstandings: 
Yes, we do support a gradual, incremental approach to animal liberation, but one vegan meal at a time – not one inch of cage space at a time. The distant goal must be a vegan world – not a world with animals in huge cages. 
Yes, we do care about the suffering of billions of animals here and now, but we care even more about the hundreds of billions of animals yet unborn. 
Yes, we do believe that welfare reforms work, but only when they are proposed and implemented by the meat industry, to lure caring consumers to their products – not when they are proposed and abetted by animal rights organizations, which are viewed as ethical beacons by their supporters. 
Welfare reform campaigns are not just inconsistent with, but actually destructive of animal rights advocacy. Proponents of welfare reforms are fond of citing abolitionists of slavery calling for improved treatment of the victims while calling for their release. But this is a flawed argument, for release is never an option for animals. Legitimate human analogies are abortion and death penalty, where release is not an option. In fact, no self–respecting pro-life advocate has ever called for humane abortions. No reputable death penalty opponent has requested a more nutritious last meal. 
When we ask for improvements in the treatment of animals we exploit, we are implying agreement with their exploitation. 97% of consumers favor improved treatment of animals, yet 98% continue to eat them. Welfare reforms are a win-win solution for consumers and the meat industry. Only the animals lose. 
We are a movement based on the highest ethic of respect for life. Our challenge to the consuming public should be not “what is the right way to exploit and kill animals,” but “what gives us the right to exploit and kill animals?”

Fast forward less than one year later…. 
Recently, Hershaft dramatically contradicted himself when he announced that he “favors” passage of the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012. His explanation for this major shift (full of nonsensical double-speak) is below with my responses in parentheses in a different font and following Hershaft’s piece.  
Some of FARM's supporters have inquired about our position on HR 3798, the bill that would replace state laying hen welfare standards with national ones, including conversion from traditional to “enriched” battery cages.

After extensive reading and discussions, we have decided to favor passage of HR 3798, for these reasons

  • Because HR 3798 is likely to lead to a substantial reduction in egg consumption, and therefore, to the number of hens used for food (his reasoning for the reduction is that eggs will be significantly more expensive but HSUS states the opposite – see below)
  • Because HR 3798 will phase out state-wide cage-free campaigns that use large numbers of animal dollars and volunteer activists, and create the impression that it’s OK to eat eggs (how is supporting a federal bill any different – it also creates the impression that it’s OK to eat eggs)
  • Because HR 3798 involves minimal animal resources in its enactment and none in creating the impression that it’s OK to eat eggs (this bill does use precious resources − HSUS stated that the bill is its top legislative priority which involves substantial lobbying hours and this bill costs the animal groups that support it their integrity and, by its very nature, this bill does imply that it’s okay to eat eggs)
Industry sources estimate the long-term increase in production cost associated with introduction of “enriched” cages to be 15-17% (again, these numbers are not supported by HSUS experts). The increase is unlikely to affect individual consumption of shell eggs, because eggs will remain a cheap source of protein and no suitable alternative is available. On the other hand, the increase is likely to have a substantial effect on food processors and food servers (restaurants and food services) who are very sensitive to cost increases and are likely to have suitable alternatives. Pursuit of such initiatives with individual states and retailers, in lieu of a national standard, would not generate the desired price increase for food processors and servers, because these industries would continue to source their eggs from cheap out-of-state producers (again, since his argument about cost increase is expertly disputed, the claimed result is suspect and unlikely).
Some important notes:
  • FARM believes that the only effective solution to the tragedy of animal agriculture is the promotion of veganism, along with reduction in the consumption of animal products.
  • FARM favors welfare reforms only when they are likely to reduce the number of animals used for food, do not redirect resources that should be used for promotion of veganism and reduction of animal consumption, and do not create the impression that consumption of animals raised under improved conditions is acceptable (these requirements are clearly not met by HR 3798)
  • FARM is not signing on as an official supporter of this bill – we merely favor its passage as a more effective alternative to the status quo and to state initiatives in reducing the number of animals used for food. (It’s all about semantics…..if FARM publicly “favors” this bill, how is that different from being a “supporter?”)
Hershaft argues that this law will increase the cost of eggs and, therefore, egg consumption will be reduced. However, the bill’s chief proponent, HSUS, says something very different. According to a HSUS report[1], an independent research organization found that – if the bill becomes law – the cost of a dozen eggs might be raised by only 2 cents spread over an 18 year period, which it further explains is less than the natural price fluctuations.
Some advocates believe that Hershaft changed his position on this bill in an effort to convince HSUS to participate in AR Conference 2012 after being absent from the conference for approximately eight years. According to the conference Web site, HSUS Vice President, Paul Shapiro, will speak.

What do you think?


[1] This report can be found by going to www.hsus.org and searching for “egg producers” and then refining search to the last 30 days and then clicking on Egg Bill FAQ dated June 12, 2012.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Another blogger writes compellingly on this subject

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive and responded positively to my first blog post. It's been very encouraging to find so many like-minded people.

Anyone interested in this issue will want to read where did the movement’s morals go? This blogger also wrote another very important post, veganism: necessary but not sufficient.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wrong Direction

My fellow animal advocates:

Almost twenty years ago, when I began speaking up for animals, I lived in South Carolina and didn’t know any other local grassroots activists. Therefore, I depended on the large organizations for guidance. I conducted demos under their banners, distributed their literature, supported their local efforts, signed their petitions, responded to their action alerts, and donated money to them. I even worked as a staff member for one of them for a short period.

Eventually, I became more confident and started working independently on many different projects and when I moved to Asheville, NC I also worked with an effective local organization on many different issues and efforts. But I didn’t stop depending on the large national groups to provide me with additional opportunities to advocate for animals.

The problem, though, was that I didn’t question the core philosophy, motives, or strategies of the organizations with whom I was collaborating. Nor did I continually refine my own philosophy and what message I wanted to send through my advocacy work.

However, several years ago, I began to closely examine the movement with a more critical eye and started doing extensive research on the philosophies held by and strategies used by the various organizations and individual leaders. After doing so, it became apparent to me that the vast majority of the large national animal organizations (with HSUS leading the way) are spending much or all of their precious resources on reform and regulation campaigns and sending out positive (albeit false) messages about “humane” animal products. I knew that this was not the message and these were not the organizations with which I wanted to be associated.

Instead, I realized that the only message I wanted to send was a strong one of ethics, justice, and abolition. I recognize that, as I advocate for animals, the people to whom I speak may choose their own path toward the goal of compassion but I must always be crystal clear in my principled message of veganism. And I must always be aware of the fact that compassionate people will want to be told the truth – that there is absolutely no way to use animals in a non-violent and non-exploitive manner.

I have raised my feelings and concerns about this issue to quite a few fellow animal advocates and most of them were disturbed and started rethinking which organizations they felt comfortable supporting. Many of them asked me to provide them with the complete results of the research that I had done on this issue and so I decided to compile it all in a logical manner and make it available for anyone interested in this topic. The main reason why I spent so much time putting all of this together is that I am concerned about the direction the animal rights movement is going in and don’t think things will change for the better unless we are all fully informed about what the large organizations are actually doing and how these strategies don’t make sense and are not working.

The information I gathered is broken into the following sections:

1.      Points made by staff members of these animal organizations in response to me sharing with them my concerns (following their points are my responses)

2.      Articles which back up my argument that praising and endorsing “humane” animal products does not create a situation in which fewer animals are killed but, quite the contrary, makes people feel better about eating animal products

3.      Evidence that HSUS is the strong determined leader of the ubiquitous “welfare” and “treatment” campaigns

4.      Evidence that even the organizations which used to focus on “usage” and vegan campaigns have gotten caught up in the “welfare” and “treatment” trend

5.      Examples of very expensive “treatment” campaigns that don’t accomplish anything except make people feel better about eating animal products

6.      Statements from other organizations and individuals who share my beliefs regarding this issue and who are disseminating a message not about how we should treat the animals we use but about how animals are not ours to use at all

Every day I find new evidence to support this argument so I feel it is crucial that all of us animal advocates who believe that animals are not ours to use should stand up and say that very loudly and clearly and not support “treatment” campaigns that waste resources and do not make an impact on how many animals are killed every single day. If we all joined our voices and resources together to send out this message, just think what could be accomplished.

Respectfully and for the animals,

Leslie Armstrong
June 8, 2012

PS I invite and would appreciate your responses and comments, however, request that you read the entire essay before responding.

PPS I checked the hyperlinks right before I posted this but if they are broken; you can either do a Google search or ask me for the original source.

ANIMAL ORGANIZATION POINTS (AND MY RESPONSES)


They claim that treatment campaigns (like Proposition 2 in California which set bare minimum standards for the care of farmed animals) make people think about where the animals they eat come from and then many of them go on to become vegetarians

They claim that if people start eating “humane” or “higher quality” animal products, that it can be the first incremental step toward them becoming vegan

I have not seen any real scientific evidence to support these two claims. The only evidence ever provided is all anecdotal. But there is plenty of that sort of evidence to indicate the exact opposite − that when animal organizations endorse animal products and declare them “humane,” people who used to be vegetarians or vegans now feel comfortable eating animals and people who might have become vegetarian or vegan now feel that they don’t have to because “humane” animal products are available. I have worked on vegan issues for over 15 years, tabling, leafleting, etc. and, during the past seven or eight years, more and more people every year tell me, “It’s okay, don’t worry, I only eat animal products who were treated ‘humanely’.”  (See articles below which further demonstrate my point.)

They claim that the general public can handle treatment campaigns more easily than graphic footage or the message that human animals do not have the ethical or moral right to use other animals

This claim is particularly condescending and indicates that the organizations are making gross assumptions about their supporters and the general public. All of the people who I know personally who work at these organizations are themselves ethical vegans because at some point in their lives they opened their hearts and minds to a new paradigm. Do they think that others are less compassionate, less logical, less insightful, and less smart than they are?  We animal advocates cannot control how the public responds to the truth – we can only give it to them. And if we do so in a respectful, compassionate manner, then we are following our own principles and convictions. However, by constantly sending out the message that it is possible to use and kill animals in an ethical manner (which is exactly what treatment campaigns do), animal organizations are reinforcing what many consumers want to believe and what the animal product businesses are telling them. That should not be the mission of animal advocacy organizations. 

They claim that they have to help animals who are suffering now

Of course we all would like to see animals suffer less. But that doesn’t mean that the animal organizations have to praise and endorse the animal product businesses (which are only greenwashing their behavior) and spend millions and millions of dollars and countless other resources to work on these treatment campaigns which don’t ever really do much to relieve suffering, which are typically phased in over many years, which include countless exceptions, and which are not easily enforceable. All of those resources could be much more effectively spent on sincere honest vegan education campaigns.  (See below details regarding the effusive praise and endorsements given to animal product businesses and three treatment campaigns which demonstrate my point.)

They claim that their efforts are causing the animal exploiting corporations to curb their worst practices

Whether the animal organizations get involved or not, the animal product businesses are going to make most of these very minor changes anyway or at least say they have made the changes. It’s just good business because it provides them with positive public relations and, in many cases, is actually more economically efficient. So, the question is − why do these animal organizations do the following:

·         spend valuable resources to achieve these (basically useless) results?

·         lend their valuable animal advocacy name and give endorsements to animal product businesses?

·         effusively praise the animal product businesses

·         consistently voice their concern for the health and well-being of the animal product industries?

I believe that there are several answers to these questions, including:

·         the animal groups get to increase their membership and fundraise off  these campaigns and so-called “victories

·         treatment campaigns make their members (most of whom are not vegans) feel comfortable and guilt free

They claim that they don’t encourage people to eat animals and they do promote veg eating

·         Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, and PETA actually do encourage people to go veg and they do consistently point out that being vegan is the “best” way to end suffering for animals used for food. However, over the last several years they all have started spending more of their precious resources and credibility on treatment campaigns which is contradictory to their core message (see examples below).

·         In interviews, news releases, blog pieces, etc, very very rarely does HSUS even add the caveat that the only way to end suffering is for humans to stop consuming animal products (see examples below).

·         On its Web site, HSUS does have information about going veg and provides some veg resources but this information is not featured prominently and is presented in such a way that allows and leads viewers to believe that becoming a vegan is just one of several equally valid ways of helping animals (see more information below).

·         By praising and endorsing animal product businesses and working on treatment campaigns, the animal organizations are, in effect, telling their supporters that it is okay to eat animal products as long as they were raised “humanely.” And HSUS literally puts its stamp of approval on animal products.  

ARTICLES REGARDING HOW FORMER VEGETARIANS/VEGANS RETURN TO EATING ANIMALS BECAUSE OF THE “HUMANE” ANIMAL PRODUCT TREND

Return of the Meat-Eaters: Many Lapsed Vegetarians Become ‘Ethical Omnivores’ (Time, 2011)

·         “Indeed, it seems that the latest form of animal activism is not not eating meat, but rather only eating ethical, sustainable meat”

·         “Though we (the writer is a former vegetarian) don’t eat much meat — what we do eat is free range and organic”
Fare Play: Joshua Applestone (Wine Enthusiast, 2011)
·          “I’d been a vegan because I know the horrors of the factory-farmed meat industry - once I knew where my meat was coming from and how the animals were treated, I felt comfortable eating it again”
·         “A feisty vegetarian since age 12,  Reed was a self-described “punk” who swore to abstain from supporting corporations that he believed profited from mistreating animals and has ‘vegan’ tattooed on his neck – but as a butcher, he is the key to a better and more sustainable meat system”
·         “As the ethics and interests of vegetarians and sustainable meat eaters become more shared, the more crossover there is between the two groups”
Eating Animals (the Atlantic, 2011)
·         “A group of longtime vegetarians and vegans converted to the idea that flesh and other food from animals can be ethical”
·         “I realized I didn't have a problem with meat - I had a problem with the inhumane practices of the commercial meat industry”
·         “Once I met the farmers who were striving to raise animals sustainably and ethically, I overcame my aversion to consuming meat”

·         “Rather than urging people to consume only plants, doesn't it make more sense to encourage them to eat an omnivorous diet that is healthy, ethical, and ecologically sound?”
Meet the Ethical Butcher (MOTHER NATURE NETWORK, 2010)

·         “Reed (a butcher and former ethical vegetarian/vegan) has no regrets and is now an enthusiastic meat eater who wants to shift meat consumption to a model that’s sustainable and from local farms”


·         “Many New York vegetarians are giving up the greens and developing a taste for flesh.”

·         “People were encouraged to avoid meat with scary PETA videos and horror stories about factory farming, but these days, newly carnivorous New Yorkers are able to cushion their consciousnesses with locally grown, free range and all-around-happy meat. It’s guilt free grub, and there’s no shortage of eaters buying into it.”

·         “I suddenly woke up to the fact that I had access to meat I feel great about,” says Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan magazines (and former vegan). “I thought all meat was produced in this horrific way, but now I eat some meat raised by my husband or raised on pasture, on green grass under blue sky.”

·         “When you buy meat, buy the right meat”

·         “Look for grass-fed, organic, or locally raised meat”
·         “This year, “Brooklyn Goes Veg” week was cancelled for lack of interest altogether. Last year, during the second — and as it turned out, last — year of the fortnight of legumes and seitan, vegetarian proprietors were already saying their customer base was in steep decline”

·         “Organic, free-range, “humanely slaughtered” meats are now all the rage”

No More Sacred Cows (Newsweek, 2009)
·         “Thanks to the cachet attached to high-end meat, they (former vegetarians) are having their burgers without sacrificing the moral high ground”

VEGETARIAN BUTCHERS (Gourmet, 2009)
·         “Not too long ago, to be a thoughtful eater meant being a vegetarian”
·         “We’re experiencing a new movement of people who can stand behind the meat that they consume and support local farmers”
·         “Eggleston, who had been a vegetarian for more than a decade, resumed eating meat when he started producing it as a livestock farmer and felt able to create a new reality of how animals were raised”
·         “Former vegetarians are the perfect leaders of the movement for sustainable, humanely raised meat”

·         “Customers appear to be increasingly happy to substitute faux gras (poultry liver without the forced feeding) for the real thing”
·         “Sales of the new product surged by almost 60 percent in 2009”

The kinder side of veal (Washington Post, 2009)
·         “The week after "The F Word," chef Gordon Ramsay's popular television program, aired an episode about British veal (from so-called “humanely” raised calves), sales (of the product) at grocer Waitrose jumped 45 percent”
Back in Rack (MetroActive, 2008)

·         “Visitors can visit the ranch, see the pigs, ask questions and be as convinced as I was when I toured the ranch that these animals lived large and rooted around to their hearts' content. Maybe this is part of why meat is back on the menu”
·         “Ranchers began putting pigs on their pastures, letting them roam and forage freely before taking them down to the road to be slaughtered, and then selling the all-natural, artisan-butchered cuts at farmers markets and small local restaurants. All of this expands the possible solutions to the "omnivore's dilemma”
·         “Centering on the issue of choosing what to eat when you can eat everything and anything, the dilemma seems to have eased, thanks to the growth of traditionally raised, naturally fed and humanely treated animals”
·         “So given the increasing availability of small-farm-pastured, sustainably produced meat, are former vegetarians turning into omnivores?  ‘For sure,’ says farmer Dunlop, himself a vegetarian for a dozen years. ‘I was in the same boat when I was in school, and did homework on factory farms and saw the suffering, the incredible stress that these animals undergo,’ he recalls. ‘But I started eating meat again once I began raising my pigs’"
·         “Chef Sims doesn't keep statistics, but he does have the kind of anecdotal evidence that confirms Dunlop's hunch. ‘Once I started putting Niman Ranch, humanely raised meat on our menu a year ago,’ says Sims, ‘two friends of mine, both vegetarians for over 17 years, started eating meat again at our restaurant’"
Why Vegetarians Are Eating Meat (Food & Wine, 2007)
·         “A growing number of vegetarians are starting to eat humanely raised meat”
·         (Those) who have recently converted from vegetarianism, eating sustainable meat purchased from small farmers is a new form of activism—a way of striking a blow against the factory farming”
·         “Former vegetarians are some of the most outspoken proponents of eating meat”
·         “I love animals, and we should not support anything but ethical ranching”
·         “Mollie Katzen, author of the vegetarian bible the Moosewood Cookbook, is experimenting with meat again and says ‘now that cleaner, naturally fed meat is available, it's a great option for anyone who's looking to complete his diet’”
Veal to Love, Without the Guilt (The New York Times, 2007)
·         “At Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills, Calif., Wiener schnitzel from humanely raised veal is the third most popular item”
·         “The changes in the industry have had a measurable impact on sales - D’Agostino, the 20-store supermarket chain in New York, said that its sales of veal have jumped 35 percent since it began carrying “certified humane” veal only”
·         “People like Elaine Burden of Middleburg, Va., who stopped eating veal about 10 years ago, have come back – ‘I’m delighted we can have it again,’ she said”
·         “Even a vegetarian can have a change of heart - Zach Schulman considers himself mostly vegetarian and said ‘it (eating “humanely” raised veal) makes sense from an ethical standpoint, and it makes sense sustainably and in terms of supporting a small local farm’”
Caring Carnivore (yoga JOURNAL, 2006)
·         “It makes her feel better about the fact that she now eats meat - she looks for humanely raised organic meat, paying more because she knows she's getting something that's better for the animals”

HSUS INTERVIEWS, BLOGS, NEWS RELEASES, AND WEB SITE PAGES WHICH INDICATE ITS PHILOSOPHY, POSITION, AND STRATEGIES


(My comments are in parentheses.)

Wayne Pacelle (HSUS President and self proclaimed ethical vegan for 30 years) repeats the same mantra here, here, here, here, and here.

“every animal has the same will to live as humans” ( it’s disconcerting and confusing when he constantly implies that eating “humane” animal products - which involves killing animals - is equally as beneficial to the animals as going vegan)

In this article, this video, this piece, and this article, Pacelle states the following:
“We don’t say you must be vegan”
 “I don’t think everyone needs to adopt a vegetarian diet to make a difference.”

“[I’m] not out to liberate all beasts at all costs”
 “We think [animal] farming is a noble profession”

Pacelle on the Ellen Show

“I’m a vegan but people are going to eat meat and if they’re going to eat meat they shouldn’t allow/tolerate the animals to be treated this way.” (Not once did he encourage Ellen’s viewers to go vegan or explain to them that being vegan is the only way to have a compassionate diet)
HSUS responded to Hormel’s announcement about phasing out gestation crates in a news release, and in a CNN interview
·         “Great news from Hormel. We thank Hormel.”
·         “It’s progress and welcome news”
In response to Bon App├ętit’s new “farm animal” “welfare” policies
·         “it turned ‘very good’ into ‘great,’ setting a new high water mark in the food-service sector”
HSUS responded to McDonald’s announcement that it will require its U.S. pork suppliers to outline their plans to phase out the use of gestation stalls in a news release, a Huffington Post piece, and in a CNN interview
·         “it’s important and promising.”
·         “so excited”
·         “yielded significant results for animals and made today's progress possible
·         “Everyone who has worked to give a voice to breeding pigs should take pride in this advancement”
Discussing how HSUS is working closely with the United Egg Producers (UEP) to work on federal legislation (Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 – see details below) that would supposedly set minimum standards for how the hens used by the egg industry are to be treated, in a news release and during a NPR interview
·         “enthusiastically support legislation”
·         “improve housing for egg-laying hens and provide stable future for egg farmers”
·         “a solution that balances animal welfare and the economic realities of the industry”
·         “figure out a pathway that’s good for the industry and better for animals”

Discussing Smithfield Foods’ Recommitment to the 2017 Phase-Out of Gestation Crates, here and here
·         “an important and welcome move”
·         “a positive, tremendously significant step.” 

In a blog entitled Better Days Ahead for Farm Animals in Ohio, regarding the ballot initiative which supposedly would create minimum standards of care for animals used by the agriculture industries
·         we need to sit down with people with a different orientation and find common ground”
When outlining so-called progress for “farm animals” in Ohio, Omaha, and Illinois, Pacelle reassures farmers
·         “(HSUS) embraces a pathway forward for animal agriculture”

When responding to accusations by the Missouri Farm Bureau that HSUS wants to end animal agriculture, Pacelle lays out all the reasons why these claims are false.
When responding to the passage of Prop 2 in California (which supposedly set minimum standards for how the animals used by the animal agriculture industry are treated – see details below)
·         “as a result, you’ve brought forth a new, more compassionate age.” (Saying this about using and killing animals is like saying someone is more pregnant. You either are or you aren’t. And when animals are used for food, it is not compassionate – there is no more or less about it.)
·         “people do not want their farm animals treated with wanton cruelty.”(I guess he thinks that people are okay with these animals being treated with just regular cruelty)
·         “There is no valor in defending the abuse of animals” (but that is exactly what HSUS is doing by endorsing the animal agriculture industries)
·         “millions of California voters chose stewardship, responsibility, mercy, care and selflessness.” (Killing animals is not responsible, merciful, or careful. What is accurate is that millions of Californians want to eat animals but also want to not feel guilty about it and Prop 2 give them that opportunity)

Pacelle spoke at TEDx Manhattan and TEDx Fruitvale
·         “whether we’re vegan, vegetarian, or a carnivore, we can all make choices (he touts using “higher welfare” animal products) that have ‘better’ consequences for the animals”
·         “There are now many small farmers who are properly caring for the animals”
·         “….in the past, animals were in outdoor settings where they interacted with each other and had a decent life. And yes, they are going to have at least one day when they go to slaughter but the rest of their life does not need to be one of misery and deprivation.”  (Interestingly, in the documentary, Free Range, the following was said by a so-called “humane” animal farmer.  [We treat] animals properly, with respect” (4:12). “They have a very good life. They just have one bad day at the end” (4:55))
Pacelle during an MSNBC interview
·         “They [animals used for food) were going to be slaughtered at some point but they were going to have a decent life.”
·          “People are going to continue to eat meat”
·          “One thing that we share is the belief that all animals, including those raised for food, deserve some semblance of protection from abuse.” (The term “semblance” according to Webster’s means “outward and often specious appearance or show” which makes sense because animals who are used for food only get pretend protection from abuse – the killing part makes that pretty obvious.)
·         “we believe in the spirit of cooperation and in finding practical solutions that work for consumers, retailers and producers” (what about solutions for the animals?)

HSUS Vice President for Farm Animal Protection, Paul Shapiro, stated in one interview and confirmed it in another interview
HSUS “does not have an ‘anti-meat’ agenda, is not plotting the demise of animal agriculture”

In Pacelle’s book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them
·         “The old standards of animal husbandry, which at their best, showed a decent respect for the natures and needs of farm animals and obvious ethical boundaries” (page 105)
·         “If animals are going to be raised for food, and be slaughtered for us, then we owe them something in return, and it starts with a little more respect and kindness.” (page 134) (what is respectful, ethical, or kind about killing sentient beings?)
·         Pacelle does say that he stopped eating meat and states that humans don’t have to eat animal products to be healthy and so the only justification left is that we do so for taste and pleasure but he never suggests that readers do the same. The following terms are not included in the book’s index: Vegan, Vegetarian, Diet, or Plant-based diet.
·         At the end of the book, Pacelle includes the section 50 Ways to Help Animals. In the item about farmed animals, instead of reminding readers that the only way to eat compassionately is to eat an all plant-based diet, he obfuscates once again and gently suggests the Three Rs of Eating (the linchpin of the HSUS Humane Eating campaignReducing the consumption of animal-based foods, Refining the diet by avoiding products from the worst production systems, and Replacing animal-based foods with plant-based foods). After he listed the third R – Replace meat and other animal based foods with vegetarian foods – he added, “as you are comfortable doing so.” (Further helping readers assuage their guilt about causing the killing of animals.)
The HSUS Web site
·         The page entitled, Eating humanely Doesn’t Have to Be All Or Nothing, gently suggests to readers that they might want to “take a significant first step by becoming a flexitarian”
·         Another page tells readers to “go at their own pace
·         HSUS is a big proponent of being veg only one day per week, as seen here, here, here, and here (not once in these pieces does it say that to truly eat compassionately, meatless Tuesdays should be added, then meatless Wednesdays, etc.)
·         On its Humane Eating and Statement on Farm Animals and Eating with Conscience Web site pages, HSUS promotes embracing the 3 Rs which puts out the message that – in regard to eating humanely – eating a vegan diet is on equal footing with eating “humanely” raised animal products
1.      Reducing the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods
2.      Refining the diet by avoiding products from the worst production systems (e.g., switching to cage-free eggs)
3.      Replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods
·         HSUS does have vegetarian recipes and a vegetarian guide on its site but they are not prominently featured
·         The HSUS Guide to Meat-Free Meals boldly features − as a veg role model − a food reporter who eliminated some animal products from his diet for health reasons but still happily eats them after 6 pm each day. (Could they not find anyone who is animal product free all the time?)

HSUS AND OTHER ANIMAL ORGANIZATIONS MAKE HYPOCRITICAL, CONTRADICTORY, CONFUSING, AND MISLEADING STATEMENTS AND EXHIBIT HYPOCRITICAL, CONTRADICTORY, CONFUSING, AND MISLEADING BEHAVIOR  

When reporting HSUS successes, Pacelle states that its mission is to prevent cruelty in the first place (a much repeated mantra). And, as mentioned previously, Pacelle consistently states that “every animal has the same will to live as humans”

However, HSUS is working to increase marketing opportunities for animal exploiters.

HSUS has on its board of directors John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods which is one of the largest purveyors of animal products in the United States.

HSUS helped develop and plan the Wolfgang Puck Company’s “humane farm animal treatment program.”

Pacelle effusively praises Puck for serving animals who were raised and killed using so-called “humane” standards. 

At the 2008 HSUS Genesis Awards (which uses the slogan “cruelty can’t stand the spotlight”), Puck was honored and given special recognition.  

In 2007, a HSUS-sponsored conference gave a forum to a panel of so-called “humane” animal killers, including Nicolette Niman of Niman Ranch, which at the time was responsible for the deaths of 1000s of animals per week.

HSUS is a partner with Certified Humane which puts the HSUS stamp of approval on so-called “humane” animal parts.

HSUS recently put an animal killer on its payroll when it hired Joe Maxwell, a pig farmer, as its director of rural affairs. Mr. Maxwell’s job is to provide more marketing opportunities for so-called “humane” animal killers. Maxwell (along with his partners) sends 1,000 pigs every week to be killed.

Pacelle suggests that egg buying consumers should choose “higher welfare” choices such as “cage-free,” “free-range,” and “organic” options that offer the animals a better life than that of their caged counterparts. And HSUS also spends a considerable amount of money and other resources on a campaign which promotes “cage-free” eggs, and is working on legislation with the United Egg Producers which would supposedly set so-called “humane” standards on egg farms.

However, HSUS states on its site that the majority of egg labels have little relevance to animal welfare or, if they do, they have no official standards or any mechanism to enforce them. It goes on to describe how hens from these so-called “higher welfare” facilities lead horrible lives involving beak cutting, forced molting, and how the male chicks are killed at birth.

Here and here, Farm Sanctuary explains that using animals for food can never be humane and gives reasons why such terms as “cage-free” and “free-range” are meaningless:

·         “When animals are seen primarily as production units or commodities for sale - whether by factory farms or so-called “humane” operations - the animals’ welfare tends to be secondary to economic concerns.”
·         “Regardless of the welfare standards followed at any farm, all animals raised for food are slaughtered at young ages...” No matter how well they are treated, these animals’ lives are cut drastically short.”
·         “According to Webster’s Dictionary, “humane” means “characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion.” Commodifying and slaughtering sentient animals is incompatible with this definition.”
·         “Labels such as “free range,” “free roaming,” and “cage free” provide no assurance that animals are treated humanely, and animal suffering is common despite labels suggesting otherwise”

In an interview, Farm Sanctuary co-founder and president, Gene Baur went on record  saying that “compassion and slaughter do not go together.”

However, Baur sat on the advisory board of the Whole Foods Animal Compassion Foundation whose mission was to convince consumers that raising animals for food and then killing them can be humane and compassionate.

Farm Sanctuary lent its animal advocacy name to and helped plan Wolfgang Puck’s “humane” animal treatment program.

In 2011, Farm Sanctuary hosted the National Conference to End Factory Farming which featured many speakers who promote animal farming (as long as it’s “sustainable” or “humane”) and some who profit from animal killing. Also participating were high ranking officials from Compassion Over Killing, Mercy For Animals, and HSUS.

Recently, Baur applauded Chipotle for its television advertisement showing how “wonderful” non-factory farms are and said “efforts like Chipotle's, which educate the public about industrialized animal production, are a step in the right direction.” At the end of the ad, the farmer puts a crate in a Chipotle truck. One has to assume it’s a dead cow or pig.

Mercy For Animals President Nathan Runkle blogged that “The best way to truly live humanely is to withdraw your support of the meat, dairy and egg industries by transitioning to a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle.”

In one of its pamphlets, MFA explains that “humane” animal products are a myth. 

In the video, Fowl Play, which was produced by Mercy For Animals, both its investigator and its veterinary expert explain how hens in “cage-free” facilities are forced to endure extreme cruelty. 

However, a few years ago, Mercy For Animals spent valuable resources on a campaign to convince Trader Joe's to pledge to sell only “cage-free” eggs.

Mercy For Animals, along with Farm Sanctuary, HSUS, Compassion Over Killing, and several other national animal organizations joined ranchers, animal farmers, and animal product sellers to endorse Ohioans for Humane Farms  whose mission is to “protect” animals by advocating for “humane” animal farming practices. This coalition worked on a ballot initiative which sent consumers a positive message about eating so-called “humane” animal products.

Mercy For Animals declared itself a “proud ally” of OHF and provided significant support for its ballot initiative.

HSUS encouraged its Ohio supporters to attend an Ohioans for Humane Farms fundraising event at which chickens, cows, goats, and lambs were on the menu. See the invitation here (on the video starting at 0:28).

Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives and former PETA vice president, wrote that eating animals is “indefensible” and continued with “eating meat supports cruelty so severe that it would warrant felony cruelty charges were dogs or cats so horribly abused -- and that's true even of so-called ‘humane’ farms.”
However, Friedrich sits on the board of Farm Forward whose mission is to promote animal agriculture by “increasing the market share of more ‘humane’ sustainable family farms.” The organization’s board also includes several members who benefit financially from killing animals, including the president of the Poultry Institute. Recently, Farm Forward took on the job of administering a $151,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) which will help a poultry ranch “humanely” raise and sell more chickens and turkeys.
Friedrich also declared that a weak and unenforceable bill that might sometime in the distant future minimally change the way hens on egg farms are housed is a “victory.”
Peter Singer’s organization (Animal Rights International), HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, PETA, Mercy For Animals, Vegan Outreach, Compassion Over Killing, and other animal organizations signed a letter to Whole Foods President John Mackey praising his corporation for setting farm animal “compassionate” standards.
Peter Singer (referred to by some as the father of the animal rights movement), argues only against “factory farming” and suggests that instead of eating animals from factory farms, compassionate people should choose either vegan foods or animal products from producers who allow them to live a decent life
In 2007, Compassion Over Killing changed the name of its magazine from Abolitionist to Compassionate Action.
HSUS Vice President Paul Shapiro founded Compassion Over Killing and, during his tenure there, the organization’s magazine continually made statements confirming its abolitionist stance, including, “…promoting veganism must be a high priority for any organization that claims to be working for animal liberation” and “…promoting veganism ought to be the primary focus of the American animal rights movement.”
In 2004, Shapiro explained in a Christian Science Monitor article that the “cage-free” label usually means that the hens are “packed side by side in massive sheds.”
However, Shapiro now appears to be very comfortable sitting down with Wolfgang Puck for a congenial conversation about how the animals the chef serves were supposedly treated “humanely” before they were killed.
In 2002, Miyun Park, the long-time president of Compassion Over Killing, stated that “…animals cannot liberate themselves. The only hope they've got is that enough caring people will do everything in their power to finally free them from the enslavement they've been forced to endure for far too long.” That same year, she also declared, The abuses forced upon farmed animals at livestock auctions, factory farms, and slaughterhouses are horrifying. Anyone who cares about animals should refuse to support such cruelty by going vegetarian."
However, Park is now the executive director of Global Animal Partnership (GAP), an organization whose mission is – not to free animals from enslavement – but to “improve” their lives as they are being enslaved. This organization’s board includes ranchers, animal farmers, and animal product sellers.

In their biographies on the GAP site, all the other key players provide specific information about the organizations or companies with which they have been associated. However, Park’s bio doesn’t mention that she worked for Compassion Over Killing. Instead, it only states that she has “worked to improve the welfare of farm animals.” And in her bio, Park states that she believes that “the multi-stakeholder foundation on which our organization is firmly rooted can bring about the greatest advancements—for animals, producers, consumers, and purveyors alike.”

LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGNS THAT DO VIRTUALLY NOTHING FOR ANIMALS BUT INSTEAD WASTE ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF VALUABLE RESOURCES and HELP ANIMAL ORGANIZATIONS RECRUIT MEMBERS AND RAISE FUNDS



HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, and other organizations spent an enormous amount of volunteer time and just under $1.4 million on this ballot initiative.

At the time of the initiative, there were only two hog farmers in the state of Florida who would be affected by this amendment and that is one of the major reasons why there was minimal opposition to the amendment.

Below are the substantive sections of the resulting law.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to confine a pig during pregnancy in an enclosure, or to tether a pig during pregnancy, on a farm in such a way that she is prevented from turning around freely.
(b) This section shall not apply:
(1) when a pig is undergoing an examination, test, treatment or operation carried out for veterinary purposes, provided the period during which the animal is confined or tethered is not longer than reasonably necessary.
(2) during the prebirthing period.
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) “enclosure” means any cage, crate or other enclosure in which a pig is kept for all or the majority of any day, including what is commonly described as the “gestation crate.”
(2) “farm” means the land, buildings, support facilities, and other appurtenances used in the production of animals for food or fiber.
(3) “person” means any natural person, corporation and/or business entity.
(4) “pig” means any animal of the porcine species.
(5) “turning around freely” means turning around without having to touch any side of the pig’s enclosure.
(6) “prebirthing period” means the seven day period prior to a pig’s expected date of giving birth.
(d) A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082(4)(a), Florida Statutes (1999), as amended, or by a fine of not more than $5000, or by both imprisonment and a fine, unless and until the legislature enacts more stringent penalties for violations hereof. On and after the effective date of this section, law enforcement officers in the state are authorized to enforce the provisions of this section in the same manner and authority as if a violation of this section constituted a violation of Section 828.13, Florida Statutes (1999). The confinement or tethering of each pig shall constitute a separate offense. The knowledge or acts of agents and employees of a person in regard to a pig owned, farmed or in the custody of a person, shall be held to be the knowledge or act of such person.
 (g) This section shall take effect six years after approval by the electors.
One could logically argue the following points about this law:
·         It is still legal to confine animals in any size enclosure for up to 49% of any day
·         It is still legal to confine animals in enclosures all the time as long as the enclosure is large enough for the animals to lie down, stand up, and fully extend his or her limbs and turn around freely
·          The exceptions involve vague definitions which will make the law difficult to enforce (see below for more information regarding enforcement)
·          The consequences for violators are very limited and, if anyone was actually fined, they would most likely see the fine as just the price of doing business
HSUS contributed $4.1 million of the almost $11 million that was spent on this ballot initiative.
Below are the substantive sections of the actual law that resulted from Prop 2.
25990.  Prohibitions.  In addition to other applicable provisions of
law, a person shall not tether or confine any covered animal, on a
farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents
such animal from:
   (a) Lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs;
and
   (b) Turning around freely.

25992.  Exceptions.  This chapter shall not apply:
   (a) During scientific or agricultural research.
   (b) During examination, testing, individual treatment or operation
for veterinary purposes.
   (c) During transportation.
   (d) During rodeo exhibitions, state or county fair exhibitions,
4-H programs, and similar exhibitions.
   (e) During the slaughter of a covered animal in accordance with
the provisions of Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 19501) of Part 3
of Division 9 of the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to humane
methods of slaughter, and other applicable law and regulations.
   (f) To a pig during the seven-day period prior to the pig's
expected date of giving birth.
25993.  Enforcement.  Any person who violates any of the provisions
of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction
thereof shall be punished by a fine not to exceed one thousand
dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period
not to exceed 180 days or by both such fine and imprisonment.

One could logically argue the following points about this law:

·         It is still legal to confine animals in any size enclosure for up to 49% of any day
·         It is still legal to confine animals in enclosures all the time as long as the enclosure is large enough for the animals to lie down, stand up, and fully extend his or her limbs and turn around freely
·          The exceptions to this law are many and will make the law extremely difficult to enforce (see below for more information regarding enforcement)
·          The consequences for violators are very limited and, if anyone was actually fined, they would most likely see the fine as just the price of doing business

HSUS reached an agreement with the United Egg Producers (UEP) to work together on this federal bill which, according to HSUS, is “a solution that balances animal welfare and the economic realities of the industry” and will “improve housing for egg-laying hens and provide a stable future for egg farmers.”

HSUS enthusiastically supports this bill and has made it a top legislative priority in Congress. This, of course, seems to indicate that the organization will spend a significant amount of resources on trying to get the bill passed.

In addition to HSUS, this bill is supported by Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, In Defense of Animals, and other national organizations.

However, other national animal organizations (even those which support some “welfare” campaigns) are not in favor of this legislation which they see as not just a huge waste of resources but a gigantic step backwards.

According to Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns, “Even if HR 3798 passes, the majority of hens will remain entombed in battery cages on factory farms," "They will be locked into a federal law administered by the USDA which does not even enforce the 54-year-old 'Humane Slaughter Act.'"

According to Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals, “There is no such thing as an ‘enriched’ battery cage. HR 3798 is an outrageous attempt by the egg industry and its cohorts to enrich themselves at the expense of laying hens and the public at large”

According to Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of California who is regarded as an expert on farmed animals by many in the animal advocacy community, including Compassion Over Killing and Mercy For Animals, “The cages defined by the legislation will in no meaningful way reduce the unimaginable suffering endured by the hens but will be used by the industry as a means of defending this indefensible practice. Even if this legislation passes without amendments, the situation would be worse for the hens because it would be setting a disastrous precedent; battery cages would be codified in federal law.”

According to Bradley Miller, National Director of the Humane Farming Association, "The egg industry is seeking to establish egg factory cages as a national standard that could never be challenged or changed by state law or public vote"

Other organizations which oppose this legislation include Last Chance for Animals, Action for Animals, and Northwest Animal Rights Network.

Interestingly, just two years ago, HSUS indicated how shady it thinks its new partner is by asking the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate a criminal investigation of the UEP and several of its members. The request was based on insider information that shows that egg industry executives allegedly fixed egg prices in an intentional scheme that caused prices to rise as much as 45 percent between August 2007 and March 2008—the fastest pace in 30 years. According to Jennifer Fearing, chief economist for The Humane Society of the United States, "Factory farming interests claim they cannot afford to give hens enough room to spread their wings, yet they're gouging consumers through secret deals, collusion and retaliation. Consumers and animals continue to suffer while the egg industry cuts corners and lines its pockets."
This bill includes an air quality provision which requires that (two years after the bill is enacted) ammonia levels should not exceed 25 parts per million which is the exact same maximum standard already required by the UEP certified guidelines. And actually the UEP currently suggests that, ideally, the ammonia levels should be less than 10 parts per million.
The bill also includes a provision which requires that (two years after the bill is enacted) feed-withdrawal and water-withdrawal molting shall be banned. This exact same ban is already required by the UEP certified guidelines and has been in place since 2006.
Following are some of the reasons why it is completely baffling why some of the largest animal advocacy organizations support this bill:
1.      Its definitions confirm how insignificant the bill is:
·         “adequate environmental enrichments” includes perch space, dust bathing or scratching areas, and nest space but won’t be specifically defined by the Secretary of Agriculture until a later date
·         “free-range” is defined as “not housed in caging devices” and “provided with outdoor access” which could and usually does mean one small window for thousands of  hens in a warehouse
·         “cage-free” is defined as “not housed in caging devices” which can and usually does mean that the hens are crammed into warehouses and don’t have even that small outdoor access window  
·         “enriched cages” is defined as “116 square inches (less than a legal piece of paper) of individual floor space per brown hen” and “101 square inches (7 more square inches than a piece of letter size paper) of individual floor space per white hen” and it means the hens are provided “adequate environmental enrichments” (see above definition)
2.      The phase in period is complicated and very long:
·         9 years after enactment, new cages have to provide “adequate environmental enrichments”
·         15 years after enactment, existing cages have to provide “adequate environmental enrichments”
·         3 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 90 square inches of individual floor space (less than a piece of letter size paper) for brown hens and 78 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         6 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 102 square inches of individual floor space (less than a piece of legal size paper) for brown hens and 90 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         9 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 116 square inches of individual floor space (still less than a piece of legal size paper) for brown hens and 101 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         12 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 130 square inches of individual floor space (less than a fed ex envelope ) for brown hens and 113 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         15 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 144 square inches of individual floor space (less than most laptop computers ) for brown hens and 124 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         4 years after enactment, existing cages have to provide 76 square inches (less than a piece of letter size paper) of individual floor space for brown hens and 67 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         15 years after enactment, existing cages have to provide 144 square inches (less than most laptop computers ) of individual floor space for brown hens and 124 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         Other complicated phase-in provisions
3.      There are significant exemptions:
·         Hens already used for production are virtually not affected
·         Existing cages put into operation between 1-1-08 and 12-31-11 will not be affected until 18 years after the date of enactment
·         Businesses with less than 3,000 hens will never be affected
4.      Important points and questions
·         Is this weak and unenforceable bill − which may or may not be passed − worth HSUS agreeing to not do undercover investigations of egg farms?  Furthermore, while HSUS is working with the UEP on this bill, it stands to reason that it will be very hesitant to criticize the egg industry.  
·         Even after the 15 year phase-in period, the birds will only be provided with space that equals less than two sheets of paper and the hens will – for the most part – still have to stand on wire caging.
·         Why are “enriched cages” even included in this bill as a so-called improvement when its chief supporter HSUS argues that hens who live in enriched cages live a miserable and extremely unhealthy existence?
·         What about all of the male chicks who are killed every day at hatcheries as a result of the egg industry?
·         What about de-beaking the hens?
·         What about killing the hens when they no longer produce enough eggs?
·         The “humane” labeling will make consumers feel guilt free and, therefore, they will buy even more eggs
·         How will this law with so many extremely complicated provisions be enforced? (see below for more information regarding enforcement)

Enforcement of treatment laws
1.      There are many reasons to believe that the USDA and state agriculture departments are not motivated to vigilantly enforce animal welfare laws.
2.      From a HSUS news release, “The fact is, Congress and the USDA have been in the grip of the agribusiness lobby for decades”
3.      In his book, The Bond, Pacelle states that the USDA has poor oversight and that it does not conduct unannounced visits at slaughterhouses (pages 102 and 103) and discusses how the USDA and the animal food industries have an improper connection (page 108)
4.      From Pacelle’s testimony to Congress:
a.       “The agency [USDA] has failed to follow its official interim policy”
b.      “The USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General chastised the agency for its inconsistent application of policies and regulations”
c.       “The problems engendered by the USDA’s loophole are exacerbated by its lax enforcement”
d.      “The agency has too often ignored complaints about serious animal welfare abuses”
5.      The USDA supposedly enforces certain humane laws but it also is mandated to promote US agriculture products and, obviously, these two mandates create a conflict of interest.
6.      According to Marion Nestle, author of Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism, "A second reason for the friendliness is the revolving door between government and industry. Job exchanges between industry lobbyists and the USDA are especially common, not least because 500 or so department officials are political appointees selected on the basis of party affiliation. As early as 1974, reports identified numerous USDA officials who were previously employed by the meat and dairy industries or who left the USDA to work for those industries."
7.      The USDA’s budget is so strained that it recently proposed that it should turn over chicken slaughterhouse inspection duties to slaughterhouse employees
8.      State agriculture departments usually have very strong ties to the animal agriculture businesses in their community. Just two examples:
·         A North Carolina Department of Agriculture official tipped off a turkey farmer about an upcoming raid which was triggered by animal abuse allegations.
·         The Illinois Department of Agriculture consistently ignores the state’s Humane Care for Animals Act and acts as an obstacle to any humane legislation considered by lawmakers.
9.      In response to the above referenced NC situation, Pacelle stated “You’ve got a real unholy alliance between the industry and the government agencies.”  (02:30)

A FEW OF THE OTHER INDIVIDUAL ANIMAL ADVOCATES AND ORGANIZATIONS WHO AGREE WITH MY POINT OF VIEW AND WHO ARE SPREADING THE CLEAR STRONG MESSAGE THAT VEGANISM IS A MORAL IMPERATIVE AND THE ONLY WAY TO END ANIMAL EXPLOITATION AND SUFFERING


Stephanie Ernst (animal rights advocate and freelance writer and editor)

Please, let’s hold each other accountable, even when that’s difficult to do (and yes, even when we know there are good, well-intentioned individuals inside groups). Please, let’s firmly stand together to say that this is not okay. Please, let’s change course. Please, let’s stop making excuses for what is inexcusable. Please, animal rights advocates, let’s fight for what we actually believe and stop supporting groups and campaigns that are less than honest, that do not reflect what we know to be right and just, and that give credibility and the “humane” label to the exploitation and killing of animals. Let’s show more loyalty to the nonhuman animals than to the groups that keep selling them out.


If living ethically is important to you, please remember that there is nothing humane about “humane” animal farming, just as there is nothing ethical or defensible about consuming its products. When confronted with the fundamental injustice inherent in all animal agriculture—a system that is predicated on inflicting massive, intentional and unnecessary suffering and death on billions of sentient individuals—the only ethical response is to strive to end it by becoming vegan, not to regulate it by supporting “improved” methods of exploitation.

The question is not, “How do we treat the animals we’ve enslaved?”; but, “Why are they here in the first place?”
Click here to read more.
Gentle World (a vegan intentional community)
The partnership between animal welfare groups and industry to promote economically efficient animal exploitation is considered a “win-win-win” not only for both sides of the partnership, but for consumers as well. Consumers are assured that they can be excused for their indulgences in the products of animal misery, due to these so-called “higher standards” of welfare, and welfare groups win by receiving tens of millions of donation dollars annually for acting as the industry “regulators” and the developers of these ridiculous labels.
But the biggest winners, by far, are the animal exploiters themselves, who not only receive consulting advice by “welfare experts” and prominent animal activists, but are also given awards and special endorsement from advocacy groups. The payoff they receive in increased consumer confidence must have them laughing all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, the most basic rights of an increasing number of animals are still being sold out to fulfill the trivial desires of those who insist on consuming and using the products that come from their bodies.
Click here to read more.

[B]ut roughly 97% of the potential donors to animal charities eat chickens. Thus, few organized groups choose to risk their growth potential as the world’s forests are cut down for animal farms and animal feed. It’s easier for the heads of charities to maintain that a return to something like the old family farm will restore an “ethic” to our relationship with the planet and its life.

To read more, go here.

Boston Vegan Association
The BVA rejects all forms of advocacy that seek to reform, regulate, or otherwise make the human use of animals more humane, on the grounds that such activities are counterproductive to the goal of ending animal use. For the same reason, the BVA rejects all forms of advocacy that seek to end only particular uses of animals. Instead, the BVA commits its resources exclusively to nonviolent vegan education. The BVA holds that educating people about veganism and vegan advocacy is the only way to make progress toward ending animal use.

Humane Myth

To the industry will go animal organization endorsements of an ever more bizarre array of “humane” products and “compassionate” practices. To the animal groups will go a pocketful of “partial victories” as well as a few gratuities like conference sponsorships and high profile publicity opportunities. By making the process so orderly and rational, by whittling it down to a few key players with an unspoken understanding of the arrangement, all parties involved will receive a regular supply of what they need to keep growing at a rapid clip. More money. More customers/members. More political connections. More ability to dictate the terms of public discourse.

To read more, go here.

My Face is on Fire (vegan education blog)

So perhaps, then, it isn't an oversimplification to assess HSUS' goings on with the millions in donations it receives as its -- quite literally -- investing in the continued practice of treating nonhuman animals as things existing for human pleasure.

To read more, go here.

Alex Hershaft (President of Farm Animal Rights Movement)

Yes, we do support a gradual, incremental approach to animal liberation, but one vegan meal at a time – not one inch of cage space at a time. The distant goal must be a vegan world – not a world with animals in huge cages.

Yes, we do care about the suffering of billions of animals here and now, but we care even more about the hundreds of billions of animals yet unborn.

Yes, we do believe that welfare reforms work, but only when they are proposed and implemented by the meat industry, to lure caring consumers to their products – not when they are proposed and abetted by animal rights organizations, which are viewed as ethical beacons by their supporters.

When we ask for improvements in the treatment of animals we exploit, we are implying agreement with their exploitation. 97% of consumers favor improved treatment of animals, yet 98% continue to eat them. Welfare reforms are a win-win solution for consumers and the meat industry. Only the animals lose.

We are a movement based on the highest ethic of respect for life. Our challenge to the consuming public should be not “what is the right way to exploit and kill animals,” but “what gives us the right to exploit and kill animals?”

Unpopular Vegan Essays (blog written by Dan Cudahy who also co-authored Creative, Non-Violent Vegan Advocacy (A Beginner’s Guide)

Let us not measure our progress in insignificant welfare “victories”, which, during the short time they last, only serve to perpetuate the exploitation paradigm and make consumers feel better about their purchases of animal products.

There are significant business (fundraising) reasons why welfare efforts are essential to PETA and HSUS to thrive under the current system of industrial animal abuse. The business reasons can be summed up in the following eternal business cycle as follows: donations-campaigns-“victories”-donations-campaigns-“victories”-donations…; you-get-the-point. Since there are so many different ways in which we exploit and inflict cruelty on animals, the opportunities for the welfare-campaign business cycle will last literally centuries.

To read more, go here.



The following piece was taken from a book written by activists and scholars and edited by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. Nothing in the book specifically references the animal rights movement but these points clearly could be applied to this very movement or any social justice cause.


[T]he NPIC [non-profit industrial complex] promotes a social movement culture that is non-collaborative, narrowly focused, and competitive. To retain the support of benefactors, groups must compete with each other for funding by promoting only their own work, whether or not their organizing* strategies are successful. This culture prevents activists from having collaborative dialogues where we can honestly share our failures as well as our successes. In addition, after being forced to frame everything we do as a “success,” we become stuck in having to repeat the same strategies because we insisted to funders they were successful, even if they were not. Consequently, we become inflexible rather than fluid and ever changing in our strategies, which is what a movement for social transformation really requires. And as we become more concerned with attracting funders than with organizing mass-based movements, we start niche marketing the work of our organizations. Framing our organizations as working on a particular issue or a particular strategy, we lose perspective on the larger goals of our work. Thus, niche marketing encourages us to build a fractured movement rather than mass-based movements for social change.