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, 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 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.
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.


  1. Hey Leslie,

    This is Nick, I made that blog post for Farm Sanctuary, so just wanted to note a couple responses on your comments re: the data points. Unfortunately what I typed didn't fit here, so my full comments to share with you (and readers) are here:

    I'll paste what fits below though...

    Data Point 1:
    It's disingenuous, and unfair to animals, to throw up our hands and say who really knows what conditions are less bad for animals Suffering is indeed quantifiable to some meaningful degree. We can see which conditions animals prefer, given the choice. We can see how much they're able to engage in natural behaviors. We can see their relative rates of death, injury, disease. Veterinary science is indeed a science, just as medical science is a science. And if we read the science (which I link to in the blog post) we can see that cage-free and colony cages - while still terrible - do reduce the suffering of animals. (And on top of that, animals have been shown to (no surprise) prefer cage-free environments when given the choice - which alone counts for something).

    The fact that different individuals have said different things re: "humane" products is probably because they were speaking to different audiences and trying in each situation to say what would help the most animals and reduce the most animal suffering. At any rate, what people say is not important, it's the data that matters and the veterinary science record makes clear that cage- and crate-free creates a life with less suffering for animals.

    Data Point 2:
    As you allude to, the UEP only supports the bill to ban barren battery cages because they have been legislatively beaten up by animal advocacy groups. they've been forced to the table by the very state anti-confinement reforms that you oppose. As you allude to it, they are not supporting the bill because they want to, but because they feel they have to.

    Data Point 3:
    The fact that global meat consumption is skyrocketing, or that the market share of "humane" meat is increasing, is completely irrelevant to the point that the passage of anti-confinement laws correlates to reduced consumption of that product (because of price and other issues). The sale of "humane" meat and global meat consumption would continue to rise whether or not certain anti-confinement laws are passed in the U.S.

    Also, thank you very much for citing that Poultry Science study from the U.S., which absolutely validates the data shown in the video. The researchers in the study you link to conclude that passing a U.S. ban on cages (all cages) would likely cause a 3% reduction in the number of hens raised (anywhere) for US egg consumption. That would mean nearly 9 MILLION animals not living a life of misery each day. What a monumental achievement that alone would be for animals, even if you think cage-free farms are not that much better!

    As a complete side point: the increase in sales of "humane" meat almost surely means, based on standard agricultural economics, that the total amount of meat being sold is going down since "humane" meat is much more expensive - so ultimately the sale of more humane meat means less animals being raised and killed. But that is completely unrelated to our discussion and the video.

    Data Point 4:
    Yes it's one study, but it is still a rigorous academic study and it shows a correlational relationship. It's clear that such media coverage does not cause people to eat more "happy" meat - and it is likely from the research that the coverage does cause people to eat less meat. At the very least, as you point out, coverage of animal welfare issues and laws and reduced meat consumption correlate.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Data Point 5:
    The data is from the US Department of Agriculture, so i think it's valid, and it's pretty disingenuous to doubt that.

    I agree that there are many reasons meat consumption has gone down; ethanol use and increased corn prices are a major one, as is the recession, and other factors. There are however numerous ag industry reports citing animal welfare concerns as a reason. And at any rate, the point was simply to show that welfare reforms and decreased meat consumption/increased veg eating tend to go hand in hand - so, therefore, there's no need to go around bashing welfare reforms as bad for animals by claiming they lead to increased meat consumption.

    The video is not about "humane labeling" at all, but as another side point, I would point out that the growth in people wanting to eat "humanely raised" animals comes in response to them learning how animals are treated and trying to find an easier way out for themselves than giving up meat. They are not looking for humanely raised meat because of the passage of anti-confinement bills (most people don't even know such bills have been passed; ask 10 people on the street about the federal hen bill, or ask 10 people in michigan about the anti-confinement bill passed there a few years back, and probably 0 or 1 will even be aware of its' existence. Similarly, how many members of the public actually know that animal welfare groups like HSUS, or groups like Farm Sanctuary, supported whole foods' labeling system? Virtually none.) The growth in interest in "humane eating" is an unwanted but inevitable response to all the veg advocacy/anti-farm animal cruelty outreach being done by many groups.

    Data Point 6:
    There's no reason to think that the "Foot in the door" phenomenon should not apply hear. It's disingenuous to say "it's worked in thousands of scenarios, but ours is different." Indeed, studies have found it to work with other deeply engrained social practices and prejudices.

    Other paragraphs from your post:
    Each of us can decide for ourself, but I believe that my goal as an animal advocate is not "to state clearly what is moral and what is just." Rather, my goal is to prevent or reduce the misery of as many animals as possible. Those are not the same goals, and that is the key point of the opening/pontificating/non-data portion of my video blog.

    If my goal were "to state clearly what is moral and what is just," I would be telling every person I pass on the street: to only eat organic food (60+ million animals a year killed by pesticides); to go vegan; to not drive a car (100+ million animals a year killed by cars); to never have children; to give all of their money to vegan advocacy efforts; to not use cell phones (towers kill birds); to become full time vegan activists; to remove the windows from their houses (100s of millions of birds killed each year by windows); etc. These things are what are moral and just. But I think if I did that, I would not succeed at helping many animals. I would like insane to most people, and they would make no change in their life.

    So there is a difference between saying what is moral and what is just, and saying/doing what will spare the greatest amount of misery for animals. Sometimes we can do both at the same time. Sometimes (as the data, and psychology and sociology and communication research makes quite clear) we have to choose between the two.

  4. For a more concrete example, if you were in a room of 20 high school students, and you knew that if you encouraged them to go vegan 1 would go vegan, and if you encouraged them to go vegetarian 3 would go vegetarian, and if you encouraged them to cut their meat consumption in half and 10 would do that - which would you encourage them to do? If the goal is to "state what is moral and what is just", you would encourage them to go vegan. If the goal is to reduce the misery of as many animals as possible, you'd encourage them to do something different, something less than what you actually believe is moral and just. The point of the opening line of the video is that because of the world we live in, these are the choices we as animal activists are faced with. Always telling people to do exactly what we want (go vegan, etc.) does not always lead to the best consequences for animals.

    When we have to choose, it seems to me the only ethical thing to do is to choose the option that spares the greatest amount of misery for animals.


  5. Nick, all you've done here is further demonstrate a lack of understanding of what constitutes both evidence and moral reasoning. Your focus on "misery" is misguided and detrimental to the goal of shifting society into viewing all animals as moral persons, and not things which merely require a somewhat less horrible existence.

    Put your "concrete example" in the context of human beings and hopefully you can see just how much your stated goal falls short, and in fact would further cement the idea that the state of the disadvantaged group is normal and can only be made less painful rather than alleviated completely.

    1. If I had the choice between saying something like "don't ever support any human slavery" and that caused 1 human slave to be set free, or saying something like "support less human slavery" and that caused 3 human slaves to be set free, then absolutely I would say the second thing every time. Same for animals. That is precisely the situation we are often (though not always) in as animal advocates: advocating for vegan vs. vegetarian vs. reduced meat; or promoting welfare reforms that result in less animals suffering and less suffering per animal.

      So, what would you do in that situation?

  6. I too have noticed quite a few people who are no longer vegan because they can now rationalize eating humane meat. They truly believe that the "humane" labels give them the okay to come back to the meat-eating table. I also notice that most of them don't understand the difference between the labels. Organic is often seen as humane. It is incredibly discouraging. I feel that the welfare groups are sending a strong message that it is okay to eat sentient beings.

    I agree 100% with Leslie Armstrong's point that, "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." Most people will not take the time to research what goes on at factory and small farms, and many are just uncomfortable doing so. What has become evident by many online posts (some of them on the HSUS Facebook page) is that when there is a victory, such as banning gestation crates, the public doesn't really understand what that means and that there are other cruel practices that continue at the same places. Many think that all is well. T

    he majority of people are not informed enough to understand what is really happening because these farms keep the public in the dark. I'm a great fan of Farm Sanctuary and humbled by all that Gene Baur has accomplished, but this video truly dilutes the message and I am saddened by that.

    1. Hi Tamara, I completely agree with your first paragraph, but it's important to keep in mind that the percentage of people who go back to eating meat because of the existence of "humane" meat is tiny. A Psychology Today study found that, of those who go back to eating meat, only about 3% did so for "ethical" reasons (which included humane meat among other things). People were 12 times more likely to go back to meat for health reasons, 8 times more likely to go back to eating meat for convenience reasons, etc.

      So if we're concerned with keeping vegetarians vegetarian, and keeping vegans vegan for that matter, then we should be 12 times more focused on dispelling the meat is healthy myth, and 8 times more focused on making vegan eating more convenient, than we are on dispelling the humane myth.

    2. Nick, dispelling the "meat is healthy myth" is extremely important and T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn seem to be having amazing results getting people to go vegan that way. I think there are many angles in which to address this issue and not everyone is going to take the same path in trying to convince people to stop using animals products.

      So, being fairly new to the activism end, let me tell you what I see from my perspective. I see a lot of people responding to these victories with a sense that the problem has been solved and "Hurrah for the animal groups for doing the work." What I don't see is the animal welfare organizations responding directly to this by saying, "It's a small victory and we are working hard for the animals, but it is going to take all of us to do this and the more of you who reduce or, better yet, stop eating animal products, the more animals will be saved and fewer will suffer." But I don't see that happening and it makes me wonder why. As Leslie pointed out, Wayne Pacelle had an excellent opportunity to say this on Ellen and it was strange that he didn't.

      The other problem is that using the term "humane meat" is such an incredible misnomer and when people really don't understand the reality, it only serves to mislead and confuse.

  7. Do I tell people what I think is moral and ethical?

    First off, I typically don't walk up to strangers in the street and starting spouting about morality and ethics -- mine or theirs.

    Secondly, I don't use the words "moral" and "ethical" unless the listener knows my motives and trusts that I am not judging him.

    Third, I consider carefully whether a person might like to be informed, in a kind, non-presumptuous way, about something he may not know and may want to change, whether it's about a picture windows and flying birds or about the differences between non-organic, regular organic, and veganic or about the joys (and economy) of walking, biking or taking a bus.

    Mostly, I find myself answering questions. I say what I've learned from honest sources. I talk about my actual experiences as a vegan. I tell how I feel: fine, not just physically but spiritually. No, more than fine, I feel guiltless joy, quiet confidence, freedom from doing wrong and freedom to do right.

    Best of all is when I can let my actions speak for me. But that isn't possible when I meet friends only via email, Skype or phone -- when we aren't hanging out over a meal together.

    Sometimes, depending upon the listener and my relationship to him or her, I might even say, especially if asked, that I think anything short of the vegan path -- pursued at the individual's pace, of course -- is not helpful in the long run to them or to anyone else. And then I recommend a book or two that I've read, that might interest them, and that backs up my own words.

    To me, the suffering of others and our own suffering is reduced -- no, is stopped -- only when each of us is as moral as we know how to be. And by moral I mean compassionate, honest, humane (the real meaning of the word, which some seem to have forgotten), affectionate (toward all, not picking and choosing who to be kind to and who to snub), temperate (one can be a temperate-sounding radical!), full of hope (that the ideal is ready to show itself as the practical real) and faith (in the capacity of people to want to do the highest right instead of settling for loophole-ridden, unenforceable cage-free fantasies).

    And, finally, by moral I mean meek. As meek and inoffensive as a lamb. Not full of meaningless statistics that proudly pretend to prove points that either cannot be proved or that are worthless, as they get us and the animals no closer to being freed from the lies that bind us. See,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

    Those moral qualities aren't gained by joining forces with "humane" animal killers or passing "free-range" laws. They are gained by living them, day by day. By gently emerging into them.

    1. Nick,you are right. I have tried to make this simple point to my staunch vegan friends-that if you hit people too hard they will shut down TOTALLY! Less suffering will be alleviated. Better a gradual transition than NO transition at all!

      Signed, a vegetarian who is striving to be a vegan(and getting closer all the time)

  8. Just keep in mind that its great that we can even have this dialogue at the AR conference was the rep for Africa who said the rights/welfare issue couldn't even be discussed there as animals were not thought of having any consideration at all.

    1. Perhaps that makes sense in that context (rights/welfare issues in Africa). However in many western countries, we have had animal welfare for 200 plus years based on the humane treatment principle (that we should not cause unnecessary suffering and death to animals). Our current animal welfare laws reflect this. So most of agree with the humane treatment principle already, so we can take the argument a step further and point out that ALL animal exploitation is unnecessary and therefore unjustifiable according to our own cultural standards.
      Fortunately there are folks promoting veganism in Africa though. Roba (the person you speak of, I believe) is one of them.

  9. Brilliant essay! Every criticism made is spot on.

    I would like to turn your attention to this article:

    In my view, the most telling part of this very well thought out article is: "If possible, work proactively with animal welfare groups (not animal rights groups) to explain the company’s commitment to the humane treatment of animals. This includes allowing access to the plant and slaughter process." The obvious reason for this clear industry-benefitting suggestion is that animal welfare groups like Farm Sanctuary and HSUS have and continue to collaborate with the meat industry to promote happy meat and seek to establish subjective levels of acceptable inhumane treatment.

    It is never a good sign for the animals when industry and orgs that are allegedly supposed to represent the best interests of the animals have the same or very similar ideas about the use of farmed animals. The more that HSUS and FS continue with their happy meat campaigns the more time and the increasingly large amounts of money they will waste endlessly bogged down in a quagmire of rhetoric and subjective "expert" opinion tossing with the industry and their "experts".At the same time, the animals will be paying the price for this very narrow-minded and naive approach to animal advocacy that these groups leaders are pursuing with membership $$$.

    Just as importantly, when FS and HSUS make the case to the public that the fix to the problem is to replace the cramped cage or crate with the cramped shed or (somewhat improved, new fangled) cramped enclosure, this very dishonest and destructive campaigning simply legitimizes the notions that the public has been culturally conditioned to believe....that so long as animals are not suffering greatly, it's perfectly fine to exploit and kill them. It is for these reasons that I have not only pulled my support from these orgs, but I am compelled out of compassion for all the animal victims today and in future generations, to speak out against these destructive campaigns.

    1. And, mmissinglink, at this point I see no difference, other than semantics and titles, between the people who run the largest animal welfare organizations and the "happy meat" producers, butchers and consumers. They all seem equally "culturally conditioned to believe . . . that so long as animals are not suffering greatly, it's perfectly fine to exploit and kill them." The shame is that, in their complicity with both the demand and supply sides of animal-using industry, these (in name only) animal advocates are in fact promoting continued violence against the very beings they claim to protect. The animals are the pawns of their backroom deals and flag-waving victories -- the sacrificial lambs placed on the altar of Plutus.

    2. Excellent points CQ. Common sense tells us that if well known animal orgs spend mass amounts of money and time promoting happy meat and eggs as the fix to the problem, then certainly the majority of the public who actually responds to such campaigns are going to seek to act with respect for (in compliance with) those org's demands. That can mean only one thing logically; if the happy meat / egg campaigns are a success, you will have more people being convinced that it's morally responsible to eat happy meat / eggs.

      And in fact, according to food expert Marion Nestle (an HSUS favorite) in an interview a few years back, notable numbers of vegans and vegetarians have gone back to eating meat ("humanely" raised) precisely because they have been convinced that it's the ethical thing to do.

      It is this type of disastrous consequence of happy meat/egg (husbandry modulation) campaigning that the leaders of orgs like Farm Sanctuary and HSUS want to pretend isn't happening and will want to deny even though their wooden noses are a mile long.

      And on top of this, some of these org's leaders then have the gall and mean spiritedness to attack those who want the best for the animals and who point out the real problems and dangers of happy meat campaigning. I've seen it happen many times. Defenders (including employees of these animal orgs) of these harmful happy meat campaigns will even claim that people like me are "being divisive" and that I am only criticizing happy meat campaigning animal orgs because my writing makes me feel good! I kid you not. This is the mindset of some of these people.

    3. When I write "actually responds to such campaigns" naturally I mean responds proactively.

    4. Your stand-out line include:

      -- " will have more people being convinced that it's morally responsible to eat happy meat/eggs." Imagine that: "morally responsible" to kill and eat the innocent (and explain that they "give themselves" to us for this very purpose)

      -- "... even though their wooden noses are a mile long." Perfect comparison to Pinocchio!

      -- "[They claim that] I am only criticizing happy meat campaigning animal orgs because my writing makes me feel good." After feeling good and guilty for having lustily gorged on a murdered chicken's wings, they have to find some guilty pleasure they perceive YOU indulge in, I guess. Equal opportunity blame and shame.

  10. Naturally I oppose the exploitation and killing of animals. The industry isn't doing their business the wrong way when they follow the law, it's the animal orgs that promote "humane" farming that are doing the business of helping animals the wrong way. That's why I am critical of animal orgs that promote happy eggs and meat and promote the notion that the problem is that the cage is a few inches too small. After all, the business of the industry is to make the most profit efficiently by exploiting and killing animals regardless of whether or not the end animal product gets adorned with an HSUS label of praise or whether sanctuary farmed animals are exploited and killed. Why on earth should it be the business of animal orgs to help facilitate that in some way (that's a rhetorical question of course) especially if we know that the result is worse for animals in the long run?

  11. HSUS clearly wants to "provide (a) stable future for egg farmers" with their egg bill. Is that really what we want to acheive here?

  12. One of the things that frightens me the most about orgs like Farm Sanctuary endorsing and promoting "humane" meat is that if happy meat is such a noble thing to promote, are we to expect that next Farm Sanctuary will promote Sanctuary Meat....after all, if they are helping to expand markets for "humane" meat (which even they acknowledge they are), wouldn't this be the most compatible with their advocacy, the most humanely treated farm animals? I could even envision the bucholic sounding commercials that Farm Sanctuary would create or endorse for Sanctuary Meat. It sends chills down my spine to think that this organization pleads for money for care of amazing animals at the sanctuary while at the same time endorses the exploitation and demise of countless other amazing animals.

    Grass roots activists should never forget that Farm Sanctuary fully backed this:

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. mmissinglink, I just want to tell you that you sound absolutely ridiculous. I'm sure you accomplish more for animals than Farm Sanctuary does by sitting on your couch and "envisioning bucholic sounding commercials". CQ, you're just as bad. Just because an organization adopts an approach that you don't agree with in order to HELP animals, doesn't mean you get to make such idiotic statements to try to smear them. Stop daydreaming and come back to reality.

  13. Nick, despite your continued efforts to persuade me (and others) that treatment campaigns are an appropriate use of FS's resources and despite your unconvincing attempts to argue with the points I made in my essay, I stand by everything I said. I do have one question for you, though. You obviously are intersted in continuing to argue your position so, on the blog page with the video in question, why are the comments closed?

    1. Hey Leslie, it's not specific to that blog post, the entire site doesn't have comments enabled for various reasons. One is that it is indeed EXTREMELY time consuming to respond to everything that people have and the many varying opinions (as this post and these replies demonstrate), and I simply don't have the time to do that to all the comments that would be posted in response to any of the blog posts on the CCC blog page.

      My hat is off to you for having the time and making the effort to do that, in an ideal world I'd do the same. Thanks for letting me weigh in with my two cents in response-

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments and the additional resources.

    mmissinglink, it appears that the link you provided will not open without an account with meatingplace which requires providing personal info. Is there a way around that?

    1. Hi Leslie, I can post the text of the article here but the question is, is that legal?

    2. Hi mmissinglink, To be on the safe side, I would say, don't post and I guess there is no other way to do it. So, for those of us who would like to see the meatingplace article, please let us know if we sign up for an account, will we receive an endless barrage of emails from this site? Thanks.

  16. The more I reflect on Farm Sanctuary's stance on this, the more disturbing it becomes to me. Nick Cooney writes: "'s important to keep in mind that the percentage of people who go back to eating meat because of the existence of "humane" meat is tiny." However, the vegan movement relies on the fact that the more vegans there are the more they will, in turn, convince others to go vegan. Doesn't the same hold true for those turning to "humane" meat? Right now our society is choosing to remain ignorant and turning a blind eye to the way these animals are raised and killed. As others have said, this gives them the okay to continue to support the industry without guilt.

    And, I don't believe that people will eat less meat because humane meat is more expensive. By now, we know that there is an addictive side to animal products. I was incredibly addicted to dairy before going vegan. I can tell you, that back then, if I craved animal products and the "humane" products were too expensive, I would have rationalized that it was okay to occasionally eat the non-humane foods, because I "mostly" ate humane meat. We are up against cultural values, addictions, convenience, the media, and the dairy and meat industries. Because of this most people are not making educated, rational decisions.

    1. Great points Tamara. I have made similar points on other forums based on what I had read in various professional resources and what common sense tells us. When people are being led to believe (by orgs that are allegedly supposed to advocate for the best interests of the animals) that they can be ethical meat and egg eaters, then it takes very little rationalizing to slide down the slippery slope and justify conventional meat/egg eating....especially when the economy is doing poorly. Giving people the green light to eat happy meat and eggs is the business of the happy meat/egg producers, it shouldn't be the business of animal protection org leaders....especially sanctuary leaders! It is beyond disturbing that we see such leaders join hands with industry to give that green light and legitimize the exploitation and killing of animals for a gustatory indulgence.

      The other thing we need to keep in mind is that there is an economic interest for leaders of these animal products-pushing orgs like FS and HSUS. If an org fails to be successful, it looses money and can collapse. That means that there is an economic interest to use every rationalization possible to try to support their campaigns.

      The Psych Today article that is trumpeted by some happy meat activists as being some sort of evidence that happy meat / egg campaigns are somehow good for the victims of these campaigns, at the same time failing to mention that the article is based on a simple questioning of 77 former vegetarians. Whether or not we can extrapolate the results of 77 people to all the ex-veggie people out there, I can not say...and may not even tell us much. What I do know is that the Herzog questionaire is not a study, just a questionaire. There's a lot that we can not glean from this questionaire including, and most importantly to this discussion, is what specifically was the reason the 77 gave up meat initially. It's not enough to say that the change was due to "ethical reasons". "Ethical reasons" is very broad. It's important to know the details not just the broad generalization. Was it because they had learned that it's okay to eat meat and eggs so long as these products have some sort of "humane" label on them? I can not know from what is published. It's the why behind why they went vegetarian or vegan in the first place that is most important for our discussions here. Therefore mentioning the article in such discussions can not provide helpful evidence in favor of husbandry modulation (welfare reform) campaigns.

    2. (con't)
      On the other hand, there is no question that the happy meat/egg part of the animal use industry is growing due to consumer demand. We know for certain that orgs like FS and HSUS are spending money (how much exactly I don't know) and time pushing happy meat to the public in various ways. It would be irrational to believe that people aren't persuaded by such campaigns into believing that happy meat/eggs isn't an ethical eating choice. It is similarly irrational to believe that notable numbers of vegans and vegetarians aren't returning back to eating meat (as Ms. Nestle indicates) not having anything to do with these happy meat/egg campaigns. Therefore, we should understand that happy meat/egg campaigns logically result in some or many people (including notable numbers of vegans and vegetarians) being led to believe that one can be an ethical animal body parts eater. The equation being presented in these happy meat campaigns is: Morally responsible - eating "humane" meat/eggs. It's the same equation that a rapidly growing segment of the animal exploitation industry is advancing.

      How can the same message being pushed by those who profit off of animal exploitation and killing and those who are allegedly supposed to advocate on behalf of animals be a good thing for the animals? How can it be good for the animals when these two groups (the pro-"humane" animal exploiter groups and the pro-"humane" animal advocacy groups join together in coalitions to endorse and promote happy meat and eggs? Why is the latter now in the business of doing the same marketing as the former? If it seems Orwellian to you, maybe that's because it is.

    3. (meant to write)
      The equation being presented in these happy meat campaigns is: morally responsible = eating "humane" meat/eggs.
      (the dash should have been an equals sign)

  17. Hey everyone: For starters, I know both Leslie and Nick personally (have been welcomed into both of their abodes while traveling!) and know that making the world a better place for animals is authentically and passionately at the core of both of their lives. I'm super-grateful to know both of them -- both are stalwart champions for the animals and truly amazing, lovely human beings

    I do full-time campus vegan outreach. I've interacted with at least a million students over the last decade and will echo what Nick said -- that the particular welfare reforms that we in the movement see as such a big deal seem to be off the radar of the overwhelming majority of everyday folks (although granted, all I can speak for are college students -- just one demographic, but perhaps the most receptive demographic to vegan eating due to their willingness to consider this issue).I get way more students expressing concerns about convenience and health than students seeming complacent because they eat "happy meat" (which does happen, but infrequently, and would happen regardless of HSUS/FS reforms). And for a huge chunk of those who do know about the reforms and/or "happy meat," this knowledge hasn't made them less willing to hear the vegan message. As someone who wants as many people to be converted to vegan eating as possible, I haven't at all seen welfare reforms act as a hindrance to my work (and if they did, I'd still have to weigh this against the good that comes from the very tangible suffering decreased by welfare reforms).

    I also agree that it's important to do what is moral and just, and I think that everyone who has commented on this thread does do that. It's just that some of us are coming to different conclusions about what constitutes the most "moral and just." In regards to helping animals, for me, what is moral and just is doing whatever it takes to reduce as much animal suffering as possible. That doesn't always translate to saying what is the closest to my own personal ideology. Like Nick said, asking exactly what would do the most good for animals -- going vegan, eating organic, committing to doing activism, not spawning kids, giving as much of our money to advocacy as possible -- isn't always going to get the results we would like. So I'm assuming that all of us advocate less than our total ideal. It's just that we vary on how much less than our total ideal we should advocate for. We vary on what the optimal message is. But most likely, none of us advocate exactly what we want the general public to do. And my hunch is that the animals are better off because we refine our message rather than always speaking "straight from the heart."

    To Nick's credit, he has coupled his arguments with data. For those whose belief it is that welfare reforms hinder vegan advocacy, it's important to back that up with data. I know that if I saw compelling evidence that welfare reforms hurt our vegan advocacy efforts, I would think less favorably about welfare reforms (which I currently see as a powerful practical tool to reduce animal suffering). I don't have any great desire to want to favor welfare reforms; I don't personally work on them and only favor them because the data I've seen seem to indicate that reforms compliment -- and not hinder -- our vegan advocacy work. The problem is that the "abolitionist" arguments don't tend to rely on hard data -- they too often rely on implying that certain activists are selling out, comparing past movements to ours (even when circumstances were radically different in those movements), and anecdotal evidence.

  18. History has not shown the welfare v. abolition debate to have produced much relative to the energy that has been put into it. HSUS and FS have not invested less in reforms because of the discussion. The main thing that this discussion has been successful at is in pitting certain members of the animal advocacy community against others -- on issues that are often very "inside baseball" and abstract to the general public whose hearts and minds we're trying to change. And unfortunately, it hasn't produced that many effective vegan advocates, just anti-welfare activists. If we were to add up all the time that has been spent debating this issue and compare that to the results that have come from it, we would likely see it has been, for the most part, a colossal squandering of precious time and resources. Imagine how many new vegans there would be if we spent all that time doing actual outreach to the general public! (Note: I'm not saying we shouldn't have this discussion. But we should do it in the most civil (which Leslie has been) and fair-minded manner possible, assuming that those we're discussing this with have the best interests of animals in mind, and we should sincerely ask what the results of this discussion have been)

    For those who want more of the movement to focus more and more energy on vegan advocacy, we should spend our time doing this work -- actively engaging the general public -- and then coming back with results and showing these results to the advocacy community. And if we want to show that welfare reforms hinder vegan advocacy, we should do the hard work needed to get the data to prove this (though we shouldn't want to show anything, we should go after the data impartially). Every activist I know wants to do what is in the best interest of animals, and the proof will always be in the vegan pudding. When more of us can show that vegan advocacy gets more and more people to go vegan, we'll attract more people to it. I'd love to see more and more effective vegan advocates out there; I'd be thrilled to have leafleting help in every city I go to.

    Thanks for hearing me out! I have great respect and appreciation for all of you working to better the lives of animals.

    1. Hi Jon,

      Thank you for sharing your perspective. Thank you for your advocacy efforts on college campuses. I appreciate your dedication to trying to make a difference for animals.

      I used to support and volunteer for some of the national orgs that I now oppose (I should say oppose some of their campaigns). Additionally, for years, I was involved with public outreach on issues of farmed animals, fur, circuses, etc. I was a core member of FaunaVision from it’s inception and I continued public video outreach even beyond the active FaunaVision campaigns. Because of this, I have been able to interact directly with the public….many thousands of people over the years. I’ve been involved with many forms of animal advocacy years before FaunaVision….and still to this day. I’m sure that I have a pretty good sense of what motivates people and also public sentiment toward the issues I engage the public in.

      During those early years of my involvement in the animal advocacy movement, I never put any real critical thought into my advocacy efforts and I eagerly supported anything done by these groups including husbandry modulation campaigning (h.m.c. - or “happy meat campaigns”, aka “welfare reform”). I assumed that all organization’s efforts were based on tried and true results for the animals and were the only best campaigns to help the animals. I never once stopped to think that maybe these orgs really aren’t always campaigning in the most effective, meaningful, or ethical way for the animals today and for future generations. It wasn’t until about a decade later that I started to critically consider the campaigns of the movement and it wasn’t until then that I started to realize that maybe I should really carefully look into which campaigns are good and effective and which are not. Today, after lots of independent thinking, lots of critical assessment, lots of paying attention to public sentiment and social trends and many other things, and to lots of reading and listening, I am clearly convinced that there are some very significant and damaging aspects to h.m.c. and it is for this reason that I not only don’t support certain campaigns but actively challenge supporters of those campaigns – challenge them to reassess their support.

      I do believe that activists who support h.m.c. are not people who want to see animals suffer or want to intentionally impede the progress or goals of abolitionists. I never claimed that nor has anyone on my side, that I am aware of. I am convinced though, that those who support h.m.c. have not looked at the bigger picture as closely as they believe they have and that h.m.c. can in fact impede abolitionists work and the goals of abolition.

      It seems to me, in the very least, haughty, for some h.m.c. supporters to dismiss out of hand things like logic, common sense, historical similarities to other social movements, and all anecdotal evidence. I have never claimed that I have smoking-gun “proof” of arguments like husbandry modulation campaigns have never led to abolition. I do argue though, that there is some evidence and lots of common sense and logic to suggest that such campaigns impede abolition goals. It’s rather foolish in my opinion to conflate “I haven't at all seen welfare reforms act as a hindrance to my work” to mean empirically that h.m.c. doesn’t impede abolition goals. First of all, Jon, you’re the one who insists “it's important to back that up with data” What you’re claiming about what you have experienced in your college campaigning is not data at all, it’s anecdotes. It’s hypocritical, in the very least, to suggest that our side needs data but then go on to making your case with anecdotes. Do you not see the double standard you are implying Jon? And I don’t mean to say that this double standard is held by you alone. I’ve seen that position being taken by many people, but especially on your side of the argument.

    2. (con't)
      I have seen just the opposite of you in my advocacy work. I can tell you about some of the conversations I’ve had with people, conversations which support my arguments on this issue. But to you and others on your side, that’s probably ‘just abolitionist’s anecdotal evidence and not worth my time’. That’s the attitude I am seeing from your side.

      I have not seen any empirical evidence to date to support the argument that h.m.c. leads to abolition goals. I honestly believe that such evidence does not exist at this time. But I am also not one who dismisses out of hand the oppositions arguments based on logic, common sense, and anecdotal evidence. I believe that when the information from all these factors are pointing in the same direction, that it is worth strongly considering the arguments based on these factors. That’s why abolitionists ask h.m.c. supporters to treat our positions with seriousness and a sense of urgency.

      As someone in this thread already noted (it may have been Leslie), facts can lie. Therefore, what you perceive as smoking-gun proof that a particular argument is factual, may not at all be proof of that. Over the past few years, I've looked at some of the "data" that some h.m.c. supporters put forth as proof of their arguments (that husbandry modulation (welfare reform) campaigns lead to abolition and do not in any way impede abolition goals) and none of what I'd read was valid data to infer proof of such arguments. Anecdotally perhaps, one could infer some evidence to support maybe one of those claims that are made, but not proof. That's because the data (at least that which I have reviewed) was either not derived from specific enough questioning, was based on very short term analysis, was missing pertinent input information, or any of a variety of disqualifiers, in my view. As to what specifically a study would need to contain to qualify it as valid in proving certain arguments….that would be a whole other discussion thread I think. If there’s such a thread that exists, I don’t know of it. But moving on….

      Concurrently, a common error I see when some people look at data is that they confuse correlation with causation and then try to support their argument based on that confused misunderstanding. It’s very possible and even likely that this is happening with the best intentioned people in the movement.

      You are correct, Jon, to say that [people] eat "happy meat" infrequently, and [it] would happen regardless of HSUS/FS reforms. That’s something I’ve been saying for a few years now and it’s an argument which supports my position. The fact that people would eat “happy meat” without the h.m.c. from HSUS and Farm Sanctuary (FS) could not mean anything (logically) except that these sorts of products can have a viable place in the market in spite of FS and HSUS h.m.c. But some representatives from FS and HSUS argue that this is not the case, that only through pressure from h.m.c. will “humanely raised” products be viable. There are many factors outside of h.m.c. that can drive the “happy meat” market to expand, including vegan outreach. As I’ve already noted in this thread previously, the truth is, some portion of the public who responds proactively to specific campaigns will act in accordance to the message of that campaign. Other people naturally (who respond) will act in a manner that falls short of the campaigns’ message.

    3. (con't)
      So, for example, when I conducted my vegan campaigns, many times I would be at the same exact location, consistently, week after week. That gave me the opportunity to engage with some of the same people who’d seen my vegan campaign in some previous week. There were people I’d engaged with over a period of time in one location who adopted a vegan diet as a result of being convinced it was the right thing to do. At the same time, there were also people who adopted a diet that fell short of this; they began eating more locally produced, organic, and “humanely raised” animal products….and I never once suggested to them to do this. The point of this is to say that we activists don’t have to do the work of the happy meat industry to promote, endorse, or laud their products of misery, suffering, and inhumaneness….we just don’t. So why are some of you doing this??? Why is FS and HSUS carrying on with the business of doing this when it is not only not necessary in order so that this market is viable, but at the same time it legitimizes the whole rotten notion that so long as animals are not treated in the worst ways possible such as in factory farms, everything is just fine. Do you really not get this point Jon? Why reinforce, even if on a small scale, these awful notions most people already have.

      Contrary to what might be a common misperception in our movement, there are plenty of farmers who actually believe that animals should be treated better than the ways animals are treated in factory farms. The sentiment, or at least a portion of it, even inside the industry is that industry needs to reform. It’s one of the reasons that they value Temple Grandin so much. To somehow think that the only way that the industry can reform it’s husbandry practices is through constant, severe pressure from animal advocacy groups is not clear thinking at all in my view. Since other factors are already driving industry to make husbandry reforms, we already know that animal advocacy groups need to partner and collaborate with industry to make these shifts. Of course, the shifts will come about more rapidly with the added pressure from HSUS, FS, and other groups, but there are dire consequences to that collaboration and partnership and to persuading the public that the problem is only that the worst conditions of factory farming is the only real problem worth campaigning for.

      No one disagrees that a refined message is optimal but there’s a huge difference between a refined message and an untruthful message. That’s one of the core disappointments many on my side have with h.m.c. It’s untruthful to suggest (from the perspective of what’s humane for the animals) in any way, shape, or form that the fix to the problem is to alleviate only the worst conditions of factory farming.

      I’ve given some of the reasons in my previous posts (but numerous other abolitionists have made similar and more articulate arguments) to support my position. I am not going to rewrite all those arguments here….especially for someone who may selectively dismiss some or all of it as useless anecdotal evidence or whatever.

    4. (con't)
      Finally, not that I’m asserting that you’ve done this Jon, but I’ve seen it happen many times in these discussions of this issue - h.m.c. supporters suggesting that it is abolitionists who criticize harmful husbandry campaigning who are the one’s being divisive. That’s an arrogant thing for those people to say and I am offended when they do. If anyone is being divisive, it is those h.m.c. supporters who are advocating a message that is antithetical to the ideals of many other grass roots activists who believe that exploiting and killing animals is wrong, even when you stick bucolic looking labels on their packaged vestiges….and then basically insisting to those who challenge the h.m.c. supporters to shut up by claiming that we are divisive. Likewise, I have seen more than once from some leaders and defenders of “happy meat” campaigns, that our logical, well thought out criticisms of some h.m.c. are merely a personal, self-serving practice that we engage in for some cathartic benefit. That has to stop. If you disagree with our criticisms, just say that you disagree and state why.

      Thanks for your time,
      Louie Gedo

    5. (correction)
      << Since other factors are already driving industry to make husbandry reforms, we already know that animal advocacy groups need to partner and collaborate with industry to make these shifts. >> should read Since other factors are already driving industry to make husbandry reforms, we already know that animal advocacy groups DON'T need to partner and collaborate with industry to make these shifts.

  19. I suggest that when making a video such as this, it would be helpful to hire a trained social scientist with a PhD who knows how to run multivariate regression analysis and how to clean data. There are data and data analysis issues both in the presentation and in the responses. I have made this point on a number of occasions to animal advocacy groups, but so far my comments have not elicited a response. Until animal advocacy outfits produce professional data, strong data-based arguments will not be made and our movement will be factionalised and not as effective as it might otherwise be.
    Katya Burns MIT PhD

    1. Thank you for this important comment Katya. I agree. Determining which strategies work should be scientifically studied. However, the core social justice message - animals are not ours to use - precludes strategies such as collaborating with and praising animal killing industries.

    2. I agree fully's an important point (and one that I already touched on in my previous post here, but certainly not as eloquently as you have) you make. I just hope that the people who use such studies in an attempt to try to justify their positions and campaigns take your recommendation very seriously.

    3. Hey Katya,

      It's a salient point, just keep in mind that most of the data points are presenting the results of published, peer-reviewed academic studies from trained researchers. Very few of the data points presented are ones that need further analysis; in fact it's really only Data Point 3 that lacks this and could be subjected to such further analysis. If you have any interest in helping with this, that'd be wonderful - my email is, I'd love to be in touch with you about this.

      A little summary re: where the research is from: Data Point 1 points solely to published, peer-reviewed research. Data Point 2 is just a list of facts and not something that allows for or needs more detailed analysis. Data Point 3 could indeed use a more thorough analysis re: the reduction in egg consumption rates in countries that have banned battery cages, and I specifically put all the raw data online in excel form in case anyone wants to do that. Data Point 4 is a published, peer-reviewed academic study. Data Point 5 is not something that would allow for more detailed analysis, it is merely showing that reduced meat consumption is happening at the same time as confinement bills being passed and the industry talking more about animal welfare. Data Point 6 is based on published, peer-reviewed academic studies.

  20. mmissinglink; Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    Yeah, you raise a good point. For me to just state anecdotal evidence and to then question you for doing so, that's me operating on a double standard. You're right.

    Nick, however, did back up his claims -- there is some good evidence out there that welfare reforms don't impede the progress of vegan advocacy.

    Historical similarities are important. But there is a big difference between, say, a practice (human slavery) where those enslaved could organize and fight back (though, it wasn't easy) and where a huge percentage of the general population opposed such a practice and were willing to die to end it, to, say, animal slavery, where the animals can't speak up (other than through their advocates), over 90% of the US engages in eating animals, etc. Sometimes I feel that the "abolitionists" think that all you need to do is post a Frederick Douglass quote about slavery and that this will then guide us as to how exactly we should direct our efforts, and it will show what a fool anyone who takes a different approach is. And I quote "abolitionists" because most every vegan advocate I know doesn't want animals raised and killed. It's just that those whose beliefs align with a particular strain of animal rights philosophy have come to see themselves as the chosen ones who could use that term (not that I care what I call myself, though).

    Even if certain welfare reforms didn't lead to abolitionist goals, there could still be an ethical argument for engaging in them. The day when we all stop eating animals is likely going to be a long time from now. And it might be technology that plays more of a role in when this will be than any particular form of advocacy. So if in the meantime, if a whole hell of a lot of suffering can be spared (and it is tangible and urgent suffering to those enduring it), I think it would be unethical to impede that, even if it doesn't lead to the goals of abolition (though I think a case could be made that it does). Taking an injured animal to a vet doesn't lead to the goals of abolition, but it is the right thing to do, and the alleviation of suffering to that animal means the world to that animal. If there is relatively low-hanging fruit, there are those who are set on pursuing welfare reforms, these welfare reforms would alleviate suffering, then I won't stand in the way of it.

    There is a lot of talk about FS and HSUS promoting happy meat. While I'm sure you can find select cases of HSUS doing this, the majority of the work they do for farmed animals (other than veg advocacy -- which they do a lot of) consists of welfare reforms. Working to ban cruel practices is different than actively promoting a particular brand of meat. Again, I'm sure you could find a case where they did do this, but the majority of what they do (welfare-wise) is work to ban particularly egregious widespread practices.

    And civil questioning of tactics shouldn't be silenced, fair enough. But again, it should be done (as you have) assuming (unless proven otherwise) that the individuals you're engaging in this discussion with have the best interests of animals in mind. I've had enough sanctimonious and mean-spirited rhetoric thrown at me, and the organization I work for, to know that this isn't always the case.

    Again, you raised some interesting points, and I appreciate you taking the time to respond and hear me out. -- Jon

  21. Hi Jon, I appreciate you commenting on this piece and I appreciate all of your dedicated vegan outreach.

    First, I’d like to say that although I’m sure all of us have had to deal with mean spirited rhetoric from the public, I feel confident that everyone commenting here is coming from a strong animal rights perspective.

    One of your central points is that you give Nick credit for backing up his arguments with data. However, as I show in this essay, his data is not valid. He indicates in one of his comments that the Kansas State study should be seen as rigorous and conclusive because it may show some sort of correlation between media coverage of welfare issues and people eating less meat. However, any scientist will tell you that even if two variables are correlated that doesn’t mean that one causes the other. To prove a causal relationship, you have to rule out all of the plausible alternative explanations, something this study did not do.

    Have you read the essay Magical Thinking or Historical Reality? by James LaVeck and Jenny Stein? Following is a passage from this powerful piece.

    The great social movements of the past were built on the bedrock of conviction and clarity, not on an ever-shifting foundation of pessimism and habitual collaboration with exploiters. The leaders of these movements were able to inspire millions of people to join in, and it was not by convincing them to betray their own ideals or to manipulate the public with clever lies. Quite the opposite, they encouraged those seeking justice to pursue their ideals with ever-greater integrity and passion, and to share with the public the very same truths that inspired their own awakening.

    BTW, since you know Nick, do you know why his blog page which contains the video does not accept comments?

    Thanks again Jon.

    And, again, I do appreciate all of the very thoughtful and respectful comments.

    1. Hi Jon,

      As I've mentioned already in my previous post and as Leslie and Katya have noted, the so-called smoking gun that some on your side claim to have is not a smoking gun at all. Conflating correlation with causation is just one of several problems that is suffered by conclusions that are derived by people who may not be qualified to either interpret the data properly or not qualified to even assess whether the data can even support conclusions that are assumed they conclude.

      I am not an expert in that area but even as a layperson I can tell you that what may be going on here is that some folks, knowingly or unknowingly, may be juggling the facts to their positions.

      As to different social movements having some significant dissimilarities, of course this is one here on this side contends otherwise. But all successful social movements share some important similarities....which LaVeck writes about in some of his essays. I don't think I need to rewrite what LaVeck already has written. I'd encourage you to review the essay Leslie noted as well as review the materials here: Further, no abolitionist I know has ever insinuated that any ground gained will be swift or easy....never. That's a complete misperception of anyone who thinks that this is my belief. There was not anything quick or easy about any social justice spite of the fact that the subjects in all of them were human.

      I disagree that if there may be some suffering today that can be prevented that this is the only worthwhile criteria we need to concern ourselves with. To me, for the animals, it's just as important to consider what happens tomorrow or five years down the road. What exactly are the trade-offs of the husbandry modulations that may be gained today? There are many significant ones to be concerned with, including the legitimizing of false notions the public may already have which have resulted in the very systems that the animals have been made victims of and to which we all oppose. Why this doesn't seem to be an incredibly important concern and factor for some activists and leaders is truly bewildering to me.

      Lastly, in my view, "happy meat" campaigns do not necessarily exclude welfare reform (husbandry modulation) measures. In my view, it's all about how a campaign is framed that makes it a "happy meat" campaign. One (of several) good example of a happy meat campaign that was supported fully by HSUS and FS was the OFHF campaign which, if you read the mission statement of that coalition like I did, unmistakably asserted that the goal of the coalition was to advance "humane" farming in the state of Ohio. Of course, the OFHF website had been taken down quite some time ago and so I have no link to offer you for that mission statement.

      Anyway, these are my views. Thanks again for considering them.

      Louie Gedo

    2. (typo)
      Meant to write << I am not an expert in that area but even as a layperson I can tell you that what may be going on here is that some folks, knowingly or unknowingly, may be juggling the facts to FIT their positions. >>

    3. Thank you Louie for all of your informed and important comments.

    4. Hey Leslie,

      Your claims about the Kansas study is just completely false, and you do a great disservice to your readers to make such claims.

      You claim, "He indicates in one of his comments that the Kansas State study should be seen as rigorous and conclusive because it may show some sort of correlation between media coverage of welfare issues and people eating less meat. However, any scientist will tell you that even if two variables are correlated that doesn’t mean that one causes the other. To prove a causal relationship, you have to rule out all of the plausible alternative explanations, something this study did not do."

      That is the opposite of reality. The study - a peer-reviewed, published academic study published in the Journal of Agricultural Economists and reviewed and included by its editorial board as sound science - concludes "Results suggest that media attention to animal welfare has a small, but statistically significant impact on meat demand. " We are absolutely talking about causation here, and the results are statistically significant. Anyone who wants can access the study here: or read the summary here: .

      This is just as blatant a falsehood as when you claimed in your initial post that this study - - indicates that there would probably not be a decrease in egg consumption if a cage-free bill were to be passed in the U.S. In fact the study concludes that there would be a 3% reduction in egg consumption, or 8,000,000 hens no longer suffering in battery cages.

      If you believe that (as you explicitly state in another reply), regardless of what the data says the impact will be for animals, animal advocates should never "collaborate" with the industry, then that is a philosophical position you are of course free to take. But to state that peer-reviewed studies say one thing when in fact they state the exact opposite is just completely disingenuous and should not be a part of any friendly discussion and debate. It just takes us further away from the truth.

  22. the big issue imo is that unless one promotes veganism as the root of the issue, any kind of welfare reforms are just so much fluff. people speak of reducing suffering as if it were some kind of quantitative value which can be measured. it sends the wrong message when organizations such as FS & HSUS make the welfare aspects the focus instead of the abolition of violence and exploitation of ALL non-human animals. i am still aghast at the support for the egg bill by these and many other supposed animal rights organizations when this bill would make the so called "enriched" battery cages (i.e. a few more inches and a stick in every cage) a required industry standard for ALL states and indemnify the egg producers from ANY abuse or cruelty charges with no other improvements possible EVER. so called "happy" and "humane" products just make people feel a little better about slaughtering helpless baby animals for their own personal gratification and justify continuing to support the consumption of animal products-to the victims involved there is no difference.

  23. Good points anon. To me it's inherently problematic that leaders who allege to hold animal rights (or abolition) views spend vast amounts of peoples money and resources in campaigns to collaborate with some industry forces to standardize allowable subjectively more humane levels of exploitation for and harm of animals. That's the business of industry to do and they do it with or without HSUS and FS (they have their Temple Grandin's and a whole host of other welfare experts), not the business of animal protection groups like farmed animal sanctuaries to push.

  24. Just wanted to note that, like Jon, I don't engage in welfare reform activities with Farm Sanctuary. All I do, 24/7 for Farm Sanctuary, is try to get our volunteers and others to do vegan advocacy. (See Like Jon I have no personal stake in this, and all day today and tomorrow and the next day I'll be doing nothing but trying to increase the amount of vegan advocacy going on in the U.S. But I think it's important for information like that in

    Also, in regards to Farm Sanctuary, I can tell you that there is no money spent on "promoting happy meat" (unless you mean supporting bans on factory farming practices, but that is not the same thing as promoting happy meat); one of our main goals, which is in our mission statement, is to promote a vegan world; and that we distribute a large quantity of leaflets pointing out the cruelties of "humane" meat, milk and eggs each year.

  25. Hey Leslie, Louie, et al,

    I'm currently on the road doing college outreach, and will have limited Internet time for the next two months, so I apologize if I don't respond to something in particular.

    I haven't read that particular essay, but have read other pieces by the TOH folks, and haven't found what I've read to be too convincing. I thought the Witness was great (had tears in my eyes while watching it) and ditto for the first PK. I haven't seen the new version of it, though thought the first version was mighty effective as it was, and know multiple individuals who have gone vegan from it. But I think TOH took the same trajectory that many other effective activists have taken -- from effective outreach to the general public, to ineffective (and sometimes rude and accusatory) inreach to fellow activists.

    I say ineffective (and this is all my humble opinion -- I appreciate the opportunity to speak honestly, and I appreciate that this isn't taken personally, just as I don't take criticism of my tactics personally, and welcome honest discussion) because I'm not seeing any tangible results from this. I see some leafleters who have stopped leafleting because of material not being pure enough, and then these leafleters not doing much effective outreach with this newfound time. HSUS is going to continue to do welfare reforms, that's what they do, and they haven't displayed any sign that they won't be doing that. It's like trying to convince a Muslim to accept Christ as his/her savior. HSUS is not going to accept James LaVeck as their lord and savior. :-) And they've got the infrastructure to wage these battles, they're successful with their particular battles, and they'll likely continue. They're not spending time on why those with a different strategy than them are wrong; they're waging battles and winning them. And while many activists spend time criticizing them, we're losing opportunities to really practice what we preach -- vegan advocacy. Many young minds are missing the opportunity to learn about this. Instead of waging successful vegan campaigns, we wage ineffective anti-welfare campaigns.

    The great social movements of the past have featured a lot of conviction, but they've also consisted of lots of pragmatism and compromises (including the abolition movement). And the effective animal advocacy of today is indeed inspiring lots of people. I've been pleased to see Vegan Outreach distributing more and more booklets each year, getting more and more people out leafleting. And I see the welfare campaigns as not full of pessimism, but optimism that we can mobilize and make tangible (though not perfect) progress for animals. I certainly am not inspired by the inreach of TOH, but I was inspired by their films. So if we want to inspire the next generation of activists to vegan advocacy, let's actually get out there and do this. Anti-welfarist essays are not inspiring to most, I'm assuming.

    And I'll once again echo that reduction of suffering is no trifling matter, especially when certain policies impact millions of animals. I certainly appreciated having painkillers given to me before having a temporary pacemaker inserted through my neck this summer as I was treated for Lyme Disease. The pain reduced by the painkiller was more than a random subjective experience. And if there is relatively low-hanging fruit, HSUS wants to spend its money on such, and it is going to reduce the real suffering of millions of animals, I think we're doing animals a disservice by impeding that.

    Again, though, I know we disagree on this, and there's probably not much I can add to this discussion at this point. But thanks again, everyone, for hearing me out. And I do hear your points and understand where you're coming from, and I realize that, like me, you're pursuing a strategy that you sincerely believe is in the best interest of our animal friends. Take care! -- Jon

  26. Nick, you've got to be joking. FS promotes happy meat/eggs with campaigns that endorse any contention or insinuation that the fix to the problem that farmed animals face is to get rid of the worst part of factory farming as is done with H.R. 3798, the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 and a whole range of other FS campaigns. I have seen for myself, FS campaigns in which crated veal is condemned but in the same campaign not as much as even a peep is made against any other sort of veal production inhumane treatment, violence, exploitation, and killing. These are Baur's own campaign words; "This week the governor of Maine signed into law a bill that will protect farm animals by banning veal crates and gestation crates!" - -

    Are you joking Gene? Animals are now protected because a bill was signed to ban the worst condition in factory farming? Really Gene? That's the equivalent of endorsing producers that condemn the use of the veal and gestation crates. In fact, this is precisely what the OFHF coalition mission statement stated overtly (promote humane farming), a coalition that FS unapologetically was a key supporter of).

    All of these happy meat/egg endorsing campaigns require salaried people to brainstorm the ideas, create campaign material, make phone calls, office(s) running equipment and electricity to facilitate these campaigns, etc. How can you even think to suggest, Nick, "...there is no money spent on "promoting happy meat"? How is that possible in the actual world we live in?

  27. The following is in response to Nick and Jon’s comments. Statements in quotes were taken verbatim from one of their comments or from the study being discussed.

    Regarding the Poultry Science article:
    Nick states, “The researchers in the study you link to conclude that passing a U.S. ban on cages (all cages) would likely cause a 3% reduction in the number of hens raised (anywhere) for US egg consumption. That would mean nearly 9 MILLION animals not living a life of misery each day.”

    Nick quoted the article incorrectly and, therefore, changed what the authors said.

    What the authors actually say is, “That is, a shift to a noncage system that raised costs of production by 40% would lower the output of eggs by about 3%.”

    Based on estimates regarding cost increases for noncage systems, the authors made a prediction about the possible reduction in egg output – not about a reduction in the number of hens raised in the United States or elsewhere.

    A United Egg Producers (UEP) study (quoted and relied on by HSUS) concludes that the increase for switching to a noncage system would be much lower than the estimates used by the authors of the Poultry Science article. UEP predicts that switching to a cage free system would only increase costs of production by 8-24%.

    If the US switched to a noncage system, Nick claims in one comment that nearly 9 million animals would not live a life of misery and in another comment claims that
    8 million hens would no longer suffer in battery cages.

    I have no idea where he gets these numbers that he throws around. Hens housed in cagefree systems produce fewer eggs (4% fewer according to the authors of this study). Therefore, any possible decreased consumption of eggs based on a cost increase due to the switch to cagefree systems is offset by the fact that in a cagefree system more hens are needed to produce the same amount of eggs.

    More importantly, despite what Nick stated, hens suffer greatly regardless of the housing system used, as strongly argued by Farm Sanctuary.

    Nick claims that this study decisively shows that a switch to a noncage system would be a “monumental achievement.” However, caveats in the study itself clearly indicate that the conclusions are hardly compelling. According to the study’s authors, “The effect on quantity is small because the quantity demanded responds little to price and because some of the negative demand response to price is offset by an increase in willingness to pay for eggs perceived to be produced using a more desired housing system” and “In that illustration, we find that the primary effect would on the price of eggs with relatively small effects on the quantity of eggs produced or consumed in the United States” and “Egg consumption in the United States tends to be relatively unresponsive to price changes.”

  28. Regarding the Kansas State study :
    Nick implies that this study is beyond question simply because it is peer reviewed and published. To the contrary, though, after reviewing the entire study, I feel perfectly comfortable questioning its validity and worth. Scholars regularly find problems (including bias, subjectivity, etc) with the peer review system which is certainly not perfect.

    As indicated in the research methods section of the study, assumptions and presumptions are substantively used and the authors admit that there is the possibility that their presumptions may not hold true. Quotes below.
    “…we assume that publically available information affects consumer perceptions of product quality, which in turn influences exercised consumption decisions. In our analysis of US meat demand, consumer perceptions of product quality are presumed to be influenced by media information regarding animal handling and welfare concerns.”
    “The first possibility is that the meat purchasing decisions of representative US consumers are simply not influenced by animal welfare information provided by the media.”

    In this study, the authors use both negative and positive articles about animal welfare and they recognize that this is limiting. Quotes below.
    “That is, articles touting the positive animal care by farmers (possibly released by livestock producer groups) and articles noting negative aspects to the well-being of animals raised for human meat consumption (possibly authored by consumer activist groups) are equally weighted and summed to form one index.”
    “It is also possible that the typical US consumer has no net response to animal welfare information received because the positive and negative information received essentially cancel each other out. In particular, it is possible that consumer demand is enhanced by some media attention (possibly by articles from livestock industry sources promoting existing husbandry practices) and reduced by alternative media (potentially including articles from concerned consumer groups seeking to ban select currently prevalent production practices). This possibility is missed by our single index, linear aggregation approach that gives all articles equal weight.”

    The authors also make the following statements which greatly decrease the impact of their conclusion.

    “Using likelihood ratio tests we reject the null hypotheses of…animal welfare effects extending beyond one-quarter after a media article’s release.”

    “The extent to which consumers ‘leave the meat complex and never come back’ as a result of animal welfare concerns is beyond the scope of this analysis.”

    As I said in my original post, the study’s authors did not consider all logical and possible reasons (e.g. increased awareness of the harm animal products do to our health and the environment) that may have caused any reduction in meat consumption and, therefore, it cannot be definitively concluded that there is a strong causal relationship between the two variables.

    That substantial limitation, coupled with the other limitations admitted by the authors, should cast serious doubt on the validity of this study.

  29. It’s important to remember that Nick works for Farm Sanctuary and Jon works for Vegan Outreach. They are both close to many of those who work for HSUS and other national organizations (e.g. Jon’s boss, Vegan Outreach President Jack Norris, is married to Alex Bury, a HSUS fundraiser).

    Nick states that Farm Sanctuary doesn’t spend money promoting happy meat. Actually, I never claimed that it spent any money on such promotions. I did, however, give factual examples of how the organization and its leaders praise, provide forums to, and give public relations boosts to animal killers. (For details, read this post and my prior piece.)

    Nick and Jon both claim that welfare reform efforts equal less suffering (Jon says “a whole hell of a lot”). I guess they work under the dubious assumption that promises from animal killers are kept and vague laws are followed and enforced. Please read this blog piece and see my prior piece for details about why their assumptions are illogical and their arguments are weak.

  30. Jon states, “There is a lot of talk about FS and HSUS promoting happy meat. While I'm sure you can find select cases of HSUS doing this, the majority of the work they do for farmed animals (other than veg advocacy -- which they do a lot of) consists of welfare reforms.”

    Unfortunately, HSUS does waste millions of dollars and other precious resources on so-called “welfare” reforms that aren’t effective. (Read this piece and see my previous blog piece for details.) Since Jon and Nick both stated that they do not participate in welfare reform efforts and only do vegan outreach, obviously that is the type of effort they truly believe in. Therefore, I imagine that they would be thrilled to have access to the millions spent on “welfare” reform efforts so they could greatly increase their vegan outreach efforts.

    Despite Jon’s efforts to minimize it, there are numerous examples of HSUS and FS promoting happy meat and giving positive media attention to animal exploiters/ killers. (See links and more examples in my previous piece.)
    The most recent HSUS magazine glorifies “humane” farms on eight pages and not once is veganism mentioned in the article.
    Both FS and HSUS have praised, promoted, and worked in conjunction with Wolfgang Puck and Whole Foods so they can sell more “humane” animal products. (Click here for more examples and links to back up documentation.)
    FS President Gene Baur recently publicly praised Chipotle for promoting non-factory farm animal products.
    Any time an animal using/killing business offers up some vague promise to try and convince its suppliers to eliminate some husbandry practice at some distant point in the future, HSUS and other national organizations waste no time effusively praising that company. (Click here for more examples and links to back up documentation.)
    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.

  31. Jon claims that HSUS does a lot of veg advocacy. That is not true (click here for my reasoning). Furthermore, any veg advocacy that HSUS does do is negated by the following (see links and other evidence in my previous post):
    HSUS senior officials say 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”
    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, 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.

  32. Despite their lengthy, convoluted, and misleading comments, neither Jon nor Nick adequately answered the following questions (see this blog piece and click here for back up documentation):

    Is it okay for the ASPCA to give $151,000 to Frank Reese to expand his turkey operation?

    Farm Sanctuary’s Bruce Friedrich was on the board of the organization, Farm Forward, that agreed to administer this grant to the turkey farm. Is it okay that a Farm Sanctuary senior staff member was involved with this deal?

    Is it okay that HSUS has a pig farmer on its staff who works to create a larger market for so-called “humane” meat?

    Whole Foods (WF) is the second largest retailer of animal products in the country and sponsors a meat festival. Is it okay that WF CEO, John Mackey, is on the HSUS board?

    Is it okay that Mackey was a featured speaker at a Farm Sanctuary conference and that WF was a major sponsor of that conference?

    Is it okay that Nicolette Niman from Niman Ranch and other ranchers were given a forum to promote their animal using/killing businesses at a HSUS conference?

    In the Farm Sanctuary video, when trying to show that enriched cages are such an improvement for hens, why did Nick have to resort to using a graphic created by the company that makes such cages and one that doesn’t even use real hens?

    Instead of relying on the company that makes the cages to tell us how real live hens live in such systems why don’t we face the reality of how hens are exploited and killed regardless of what type of facility in which they live?

    I encourage readers to email Nick and Jon and leaders of the large organizations and ask them for honest answers to these important questions.

  33. I also encourage readers to read the most recent HumaneMyth essay which compellingly explains how conflicts of interest and industry collaboration are damaging animal

    Readers may remember that comments were never open on the Farm Sanctuary blog which contains the video in question. However, I did allow Nick and Jon and others the opportunity to comment for several weeks. In debates, one person gets the final word and, since this is my blog, this time it will be me. Therefore, I am closing the comments for this blog piece at this time.

  34. Oops, sorry. I didn't realize that hyperlinks don't work in the comment section. Below is the link to the HumaneMyth essay referenced in my last comment.


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