The Hoofin’ It culinary tour in Denver attracted fewer than 400 participants
DENVER, WASHINGTON D.C.––Co-sponsored by the Humane Society of the U.S., The Hoofin’ It culinary tour in Denver attracted fewer than 400 participants during four days in August 2014.
The controversy it stirred had by mid-September 2014 raged for more than four weeks, attracting in excess of 1,000 blog posts.
Explained Denver Eater blogger Andra Zeppelin, “Hoofin’ It, brainchild of chef Jensen Cummings, brought together diners, chefs, and ranchers, focused on one hoofed animal each evening: bison, sheep, cow, and pig. Four restaurants in each of four neighborhoods prepared one course each and hosted the touring group for a taste and discussion. Guests walked from place to place, a rancher was the guest of honor, and the sponsors of the events included Imbibe Denver, Heroes Like Us, the Mile High Business Alliance, and HSUS.”
Said Cummings, “As restaurant owners we are committed to serving food that’s responsibly sourced from humane ranchers.”
Observed Zeppelin, “The organizers of Hoofin’ It happily hitched their wagons to the meat industry’s newest marketing buzzwords: ‘humane meat.’ But as PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk explains, ‘There is nothing humane about the flesh of animals who have had one or two or perhaps three improvements made in their absolutely singularly rotten lives.”
Go Vegan Radio
Hoofin’ It emerged into national view on August 13 through an extensive denunciation by Go Vegan Radio host Bob Linden. Linden seized the opportunity to amplify allegations made earlier when he circulated a petition demanding that the Farm Animal Rights Movement exclude HSUS from participation in the AR 2012 animal rights conference, part of a series hosted by FARM since 1981.
Charged Linden on both occasions, with minor variation in phrasing, “The Humane Society of the United States is a subsidiary of the meat industry, partnering with the United Egg Producers, the Nebraska Farmers Union, and Wolfgang Puck to sell animal flesh and animal products, and even has a pig farmer [Joe Maxwell] as its director of rural outreach and development. HSUS is anti-vegan and pro-slaughter.”
HSUS food policy
In truth, HSUS has since January 1, 2005 had a written policy requiring that “At HSUS internal events where food is served and to which staff and/or guests have been invited to participate, HSUS will purchase vegan fare and we will strive to have organic products. External events under the control of HSUS should also provide for the purchase of all non-animal products. If this is not possible,” the HSUS food policy allows, “events should be vegetarian––no meat (including fish and shellfish). For events sponsored by HSUS with other organizations, strong efforts should be made to serve all vegan or vegetarian food. Partnering organizations are to be informed that vegan options should be available and that they are preferred.”
Affirmed HSUS president Wayne Pacelle in August 2012, “All of our events are vegan. There are outside events of which we may be part where we don’t dictate the food choices.”
The latter provision allowed HSUS some philosophical wiggle room in co-sponsoring Hoofin’ It, but many animal advocates were unpersuaded by the form letter that HSUS initially distributed in response to e-mails, calls, and letters of complaint.
“Our farm animal efforts are two-pronged: reduce the number of animals being raised and killed, and reduce the suffering of animals who are being raised and killed,” the letter began. “While the meat industry’s leadership reviles HSUS, there are also farmers and ranchers who agree with us on gestation crates and other aspects of industrialized agriculture. They’re a powerful voice in our campaign to end unacceptable and particularly inhumane practices. We need the public’s support to pass these laws, and it’s a potent statement to have farmers assert that they oppose gestation crates (and other factory farming practices). We’ve always believe that politics is about addition and not subtraction, and some of the most powerful allies are people that some may think are unlikely allies. That’s why we do outreach to small farmers on factory farming issues. This event [Hoofin’ It], sponsored in connection with our Colorado Agriculture Council, is part of our growing work with farmers and ranchers to fight inhumane practices such as gestation crates and tail docking.
“We support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals,” the HSUS form letter continued, “and act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures under their control, and practice and promote humane and environmentally sustainable agriculture. We also sponsor VegFests along with other vegan and vegetarian events around the country. HSUS takes a big tent approach to combat factory farming and both our employees and our supporters consist of those who choose to eat meat and those who choose to be vegan or vegetarian.”
VINE sanctuary co-director Pattrice Jones at her web site hosted perhaps the most thorough consideration of the issues raised by HSUS participation in Hoofin’ It, beginning with her own “Open Letter to HSUS Staff Members,” posted on August 17, 2014.
“HSUS sponsorship of projects such as the festival of animal-eating in Denver helps to expand the market for so-called ‘humane’ animal products,” Jones wrote. “The purveyors of such products need no such help. We are in the grip of a maddening fad wherein even people who have previously eschewed animal products gladly fork over premium prices for the pleasure of consuming animal products while feeling righteous about doing so.
“HSUS management may believe that the struggle against factory farming must include active support for its alternative,” Jones continued. “That is true, and animal advocates have been remiss in not mounting stronger efforts to promote ethical, ecological, and economically equitable agriculture policies and practices. But the alternative to factory farming is not small-scale meat, dairy, and egg production. The alternative to factory farming is large-scale organic farming of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and grains for human consumption. Similarly, the alternative to small-scale meat, dairy, and egg production is small-scale organic cropping of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and grains.
“HSUS management seems to be concerned not to seem anti-farmer,” Jones observed. “If that is part of the reason for promoting such obscenities as small-scale pig farming, it’s not working! HSUS continues to be considered an enemy by animal exploiters who claim to be speaking on behalf of farmers. Again, the remedy is active support for the real farmers who are feeding the world by growing fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and grains for human consumption. They—and not pig farmers—are the ones who feed us. Those who do so sustainably and equitably deserve our vociferous support.
“HSUS has come under attack from powerful animal exploiting industries,” Jones acknowledged, “specifically because of the strength of its work in areas like undercover investigations. Pork producers, puppy mill operators, the circus industry––all have run television ads accusing HSUS by name of being an extremist animal rights organization that only pretends to care about dogs and cats. I can understand why staff or board charged with maintaining the organization might fear losing its base of member/donors,” many of whom are neither vegetarians nor vegans. “But there are smarter and more effective ways to respond,” Jones concluded, “than by duplicitously promoting Meatless Mondays with one hand and promoting Monday lamb dinners on the other.”
Forel, Anderson, & Dawn
Agreed New York City activist Elizabeth Forel, seeming to succinctly speak for most respondents, “I know that HSUS is not a vegan organization, but what they should have done––something that would have been respectful to the vegetarians and vegans in their own organization and many of their donors and board members––is to not get involved with this event.”
Offered Will Anderson, author of This Is Hope: Green Vegans and the New Human Ecology [see review at http://wp.me/p4pKmM-yp], “Please understand that this is not about Hoofin’ It. It is about a fundamental divide within the movement regarding strategies and beliefs. HSUS, like other aged institutions, were founded in an era of welfarism, a link in the history to where we are today. They and their donors were dog and cat-oriented, [and oriented toward] child welfare before that. HSUS and similar organizations are not abolitionist nor vegan in practice. Those organizations are, however, becoming adept at creating new, more profitable market niches for animal agriculturalists and their offal.”
Conceded DawnWatch blogger Karen Dawn, “Nobody has been more effective in fighting the ag-gag laws than HSUS, and little is more valuable to our movement than the undercover video that the ag-gag laws are trying to prevent. HSUS success at fighting ag-gag laws has come from their partnership with farmers. It was that relationship, their ability to persuade farmers rather than vegans to testify against ag-gags, that has made the difference. Having now thought all that through, I feel less sure about criticizing HSUS for their coziness with the ‘humane meat’ farmers, because I see the need for some activism that employs distasteful means for an important end.”
However, Dawn added, “Sponsorship feels to me like it is going too far. I am not comfortable with it, but I don’t think my comfort is what matters most.
Responded HSUS president Wayne Pacelle, a vegan since 1988, who introduced the HSUS policy six months after his ascent to the presidency, “We respect their views and want to address their concerns. We heard from more than a small number of supporters,” Pacelle acknowledged, “that the event––and our sponsorship––made them queasy. Indeed, I think they are right that the very name Hoofin’ It sounded disrespectful to the animals, and that alone raised alarm bells with caring people.
“We get that not everyone is going to be comfortable with all of our approaches to fighting factory farming,” Pacelle said, “and we’ll be mindful of getting involved with events that drive our end goals of reducing suffering and driving consumers to make more conscious eating choices. But we are asking everybody to stretch––corporations, consumers, lawmakers, farmers, and even our supporters and colleagues within the animal protection movement. The kind of change we are seeking won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen if we all head down the same path. We are investing in and promoting plant-based foods so that people have good vegan and vegetarian choices in the marketplace to reduce or replace their meat consumption, and we also want real options supplied by real farmers for people who eat meat and want products that don’t come from abusive factory farms.”
Nestle agrees to reforms
Ironically the ongoing Hoofin’ It controversy overshadowed Pacelle’s announcement on August 21, 2014 that Nestlé, the world’s largest food production company, had agreed “following dialogue with HSUS, Mercy For Animals and World Animal Protection, to “cleanse its supply chain of calves in veal crates, sows in gestation crates, and egg-laying chickens in cages, the forced rapid growth of chickens used for meat products, and the harsh cutting of the horns, tails and genitals of farm animals without painkillers.
“Bundling all of these reforms together,” Pacelle said, “this announcement marks the most comprehensive and ambitious animal welfare program by a global food retailer to date. Nestlé is also promoting the global Meatless Monday movement,” Pacelle added, “via on-package messaging on Lean Cuisine products.”
Karen Davis says
“Get To Hoofin It”: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
By Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns
Probably everyone reading this knows the feeling of going to the computer each day, clicking on email, and experiencing that knot of dread as the messages unfold with their sad and terrible stories about animals, the horrible and endlessly ingenious ways and reasons that our species has for making animals suffer and die, which includes stripping them of their dignity.
If it’s bad enough knowing what the institutions and entities that we expect to hurt animals are doing to them, there is added despair involved in knowing what is being done to animals by organizations calling themselves “humane,” “anticruelty” and the like. It is monstrous seeing our language of care and respect degraded into completely opposite meanings. A perfect example is this:
“We support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, and act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures.” – The Humane Society of the United States
Most people know enough by now about the realities of animal farming, regardless of scale or label, to envision at least some the details of what farmers and ranchers actually do to animals, versus verbalizations about “proper care” and “basic ethic of compassion.”
What these abstractions express and perpetuate in this context is alienation from actual animals. What they demonstrate is lack of respect for animals, indeed mockery of the very idea of “respecting” them. No one who truly respects animals, respects their dignity, feels with and for them, and wishes them joy in life supports “farming” them, because animal farming is about degrading animals meanly to the level of their genitals and their genes, mutilating their body parts, destroying their family life, controlling every aspect of their lives including culling (killing) them as one pleases when they are deemed not “productive” enough to keep feeding, and ultimately murdering them.
How can anyone claiming to respect animals promote a view of them as “dinner”?
Will a call to “Respect Your Dinner” advance your empathy and respect for animals as they lie slaughtered on your plate in barbecue sauce? Maybe the code word here is “basic.” Basic ethic of compassion = lowest possible level. In any case, compassion has nothing to do with the business and consumption of animal products. Its purpose is to gain customers and subvert consciences, to the extent that a conscience exists toward animals made into meals and blessed over in this condition even by their, uh, advocates. Like “humane,” the word compassion in this context is a mockery of both the animals and the meaning of words, including the word advocacy. It is the final gut punch to those we’re supposed to be advocating for.
On one hand, I understand why the HSUS would want to get involved in the “Hoofin’ It” program. The Big Ag/puppy mill/hunting lobbies are really focused on tearing them down in the public eye–and a major tenant of their argument is that HSUS is an “extreme” group that wants to force everyone to become vegan. (As if such a thing could be accomplished, anyway.)
However, the consumptive use advocates are going to attack any group that doesn’t support across-the-board ownership and profitable use of the rest of animal life; it doesn’t matter if HSUS held a free-range meat fry on their front lawn, they’re going to be attacked simply because they are big, successful, and a threat to profits. Therefore, even if HSUS wishes to remain neutral on the free-range farming trend, they don’t have to underwrite events like this.
While HSUS is a big, easy target, I find it amusing that Linden and the other vegan critics aren’t focusing their activism more on all of the regional animal shelters and rescues that raise funds by holding events featuring factory-farmed meat. My local shelter has multiple yearly fundraisers featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and steak–and I know that they are far from the only one. These “humane” groups use donor dollars to support the cruelest industries on the planet–with nary a peep from vegan activists. If vegan activists would join together to put nationwide pressure on regional shelters and humane societies, they could save far more farmed animals every year than if “Hoofin’ It would have been cancelled.
I agree!!! “… I find it amusing that Linden and the other vegan critics aren’t focusing their activism more on all of the regional animal shelters and rescues that raise funds by holding events featuring factory-farmed meat. My local shelter has multiple yearly fundraisers featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken and steak–and I know that they are far from the only one. These “humane” groups use donor dollars to support the cruelest industries on the planet–with nary a peep from vegan activists. If vegan activists would join together to put nationwide pressure on regional shelters and humane societies, they could save far more farmed animals every year than if “Hoofin’ It would have been cancelled.”
Karen Davis says
Regarding local humane societies using dead birds and other animals as bait to raise money for their dog and cat shelters, animal rights advocacy organizations should urge them to serve only animal-free foods at their fundraisers and provide vegan recipes and other encouragements. Through the years (decades), two national nonprofits United Poultry Concerns (VA) and Animal Place Sanctuary (CA) have contacted humane societies and animal shelters upon learning they were using certain animals as bait to raise funding for other animals. In fact, Animal Place created an excellent booklet, including recipes for large gatherings, for distribution that they, and we, have made available to local humane societies and shelters.
At the same time, the effort to persuade local animal societies to serve compassionate animal-free meals at their fundraisers is hampered, not helped, when a large organization like HSUS, claiming to oppose animal cruelty, sponsors events featuring slain animals on dinner plates.. This is harmful role-modeling.
If HSUS, ASPCA and the like are going to participate in and promote “humanely-slaughtered” chickens, turkeys, cows, and others, let’s have video footage of the entire process so that everyone can see what the rhetoric actually means when one of these “alternative” farms does the killing. The same transparency should be demanded of these types of operations as of the designated factory farms. I think people will see there is little or no difference in the fear and struggle and pain of the animals in both cases and in the attitude and behavior of the killers toward their victims. .
Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns http://www.upc-online.org.
erika abrams says
Outstanding coverage by Animals 24/7 on this bewildering co-sponsorship by hsus of conceptually offensive meat marketers. I didn’t dream that both sides could possibly be fairly treated but Merritt’s deft choices worked a minor miracle. I think hsus made a big dumb mistake with this one but I surely don’t want to throw them out with this stinky bathwater (the sponsorship and the event itself). This report helped clarify difficult positions. Pattrice jones’ and wayne’s comments were important inclusions. I loved this crisp breakdown. Thank you.
I can easily see the issue of support for small “humane” farming practices over factory farming to be analogous to the issue of promoting rescue pet adoption over purposely bred pet purchases. Both are aimed at reducing the immediate levels of misery and death among their target populations – farm animals or pets. And both also serve to promote a practice that should not be in place at all – eating farm animals and keeping pets. This is the unfortunate reality of where we are currently in animal protection efforts. But I don’t see one as being any more dangerous than the other.
Jamaka Petzak says
“…But as PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk explains, ‘There is nothing humane about the flesh of animals who have had one or two or perhaps three improvements made in their absolutely singularly rotten lives.”” Oh, that’s rich, coming from that particular person! (I’m hopeful that most, if not all, readers of ANIMALS 24/7 knows via their reading of ANIMAL PEOPLE about the history and views of Newkirk and the practices of the group she heads, which are anything BUT “humane”!)
Patrick Sickles says
From Wayne’s HSUS blog:
Read the comments section:
Stephen F. Eisenman · University at Albany, SUNY
“I have been flowing the story about HSUS’s sponsorship of the Hoofin’ It event last week in Denver in which, on consecutive days, supposed humanely raised and slaughtered buffalo, cows, pigs and sheep were consumed. It now appears the event was even more irresponsible than many of us feared. The providers of the buffalo wrote the following about their animals: “Our two to three year old bulls are grain finished and reintroduced to the herd to create an exceptional hunting experience without sacrificing the quality of the meat. Prairie Ridge provides bulls that weigh from 1,000 to 1,200 pounds, which enables them to have good size, quality hides, full head for wall or skull mounts and excellent tasting red meat. The bulls roam on a natural prairie setting. The challenge will be yours, as buffalo are not easily brought down.” If we read this closely, we learn: 1) these are animals fattened on feedlots and shipped at least twice by truck or train; 2) They are likely slow, overweight, teenagers (mature bulls weigh nearly 2,000 pounds), kept on a restricted range and thus very easily shot; 3) they are “not easily brought down,” meaning hunters have to repeatedly shoot the terrified, suffering animals before they are finally dead. If I was shocked before at HSUS’s sponsorship of a weeklong, meat eating party, I am now horrified by its support of cruel hunting and a meat eating orgy. In fact of course, as Wayne Pacelle must know, there is no humane alternative to a vegan diet.”
That’s an interesting find, considering that HSUS has been so vocal about ending canned hunting.
Paul Shapiro says
I don’t know, brother. Nestle was covered by international mainstream news sources like the NYT and more. I’m not aware of any mainstream news source that focused on the Denver thing at all, let alone national firestorm of attention that Nestle got.
This isn’t to defend the Denver thing, but for what it’s worth, citing HSUS policy for its own events may be off the mark a bit. All events that HSUS puts on are vegan. This restaurant week in Denver wasn’t put on by HSUS. HSUS was one of several cosponsors of the week, but HSUS wasn’t an organizer of it. Again, that’s not to suggest that HSUS should or shouldn’t have been one of the cosponsors, but it’s different from it being an HSUS event.
My two cents, friend.
Bob Linden says
Paul Shapiro, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection for HSUS, should try to protect bison, sheep, pigs, and cows from his own organization, instead of making excuses for its murderous rancher advocacy policies. Since Paul is doing such a poor job, perhaps his position could be eliminated and his “protective” work assumed by his pig “farmer” colleague, Joe Maxwell, the HSUS VP who kills 50,000 “hoofed” animals annually.
Patty Bonney says
I’ve been boycotting Nestle for decades and will continue to do so for their many unethical practices, even if they do follow through on the announcement noted in this article.
One should never use the words “reforms” and “Nestle” in the same sentence, ,paragraph, story, ever. Nestlé’s PR campaign is just that, a way to make more money.
Sam Olsen says
HSUS’s active promotion of the killing and consumption of lamb, bison, and other animals has absolutely NOTHING to do with stopping AG Gag laws. Karen Dawn’s absurd claim to the contrary is a perfect example of just how far HSUS apologists will go to provide Wayne Pacelle with political cover. His loyal enablers have just as much blood on their hands as he does.
In no way does endorsing a “Meatless Monday” somehow excuse them from also endorsing a “Bison Tuesday” and a “Lamb Wednesday.” HSUS is simultaneously on every side of every issue. The only consistency is the advancement of its corporate brand.
A.L.F. Kuba says
Humane rape, humane child molestation, humane slavery, humane holocaust, It is incredible how cruel people align themselves with cruel propaganda in order to continue their selfish, cruel and revolting habit of devouring the flesh and blood of innocent creatures. Webster’s dictionary definition of “humane” and act or acts of kindness and compassion. Commodifying and selling animals as property and sending them to a horrifying death is incompatible and contrary to this definition. Calling an act of violence and death humane is absurd and right down ridiculous and only idiots align with such heartless propaganda.
J. Rich says
Exactly what evidence is there that Nestle won’t be using eggs from “chickens in cages”? Sounds like the same kind of claim used to promote the Rotten Egg Bill? You know, the one that would have kept hens IN cages. Are you sure they aren’t merely switching to a different kind of cage?
In any case, a corporation such as Nestle should not be praised by anyone simply because it issues a press release about some vague ‘plan’ to eventually be more selective in its purchases.
Merritt Clifton says
Re Nestle, what I’m wondering most is what their phase-in time will be. In other words, are they leading their suppliers to make changes, or merely responding, as a mostly European company, to the changes their suppliers are having to make as result of the EU directive against battery caging? This is something that will take some time to know.
Joyce Pollack says
I just posted this to Wayne’s Blog and will copy here. Although most of what I posted has been stated before, I think it’s important to note how supporting an event like this only serves to alienate so many Americans who are struggling and suffering just to survive and who regard animal welfare/rights as a movement supported primarily by elites who care more about animals than about people. This is an elitist, niche marketing event that only serves to foster that illusion.
“I’m sorry Wayne, but this is beyond what I can support. Yes, I am supportive of reforms that reduce the suffering, but the bar is so low, that what we call “reform” is truly pathetic. Likewise, HSUS can support reforms, but to SPONSOR an event like this is beyond what I can possible stomach. Equally untenable to me is the appeal that this events has for niche market elites, who can afford “locally sourced, humanely raised” flesh and totally ignores the reality that caring for animals excludes the vast majority of people in this country who are struggling economically and who resent those of us who care for animals while they are suffering. Alienating the majority of the population is hardly consonant with HSUS’ purported “big tent” appeal.”
Bob Linden says
H$U$ and HSUS-Jr., Mercy for Animals, are animal-betrayal specialists who have perfected the art of deception. That any true “animal advocates” would consider themselves in the same movement as these butchers is proof enough. Even the organizer of the so-called “animal rights conference, FARM, is clueless at distinguishing between “animal advocates” and animal killers. I have been making these accusations for years, censored by FARM, I might add. But even PR-propagandist HSUS could not foresee the potential uproar and threat to its vegan donor revenue stream caused by “Hoofin’ It”, so a diversion was necessary and, of course, groupie group MFA was happy as “happy meat” to oblige with a major announcement that was old news about nothing happening – other than the global sell-out of animals by Nestle’s MFA & HSUS, obviously in their “hot pockets. Now Nestle’s 7300 suppliers of animal flesh and secretions get an animal rights seal of approval. For what? What are these great scam welfare reforms that superficial “animal advocates” will cheer? You can now celebrate what Nestle will call “cage-free”, and also rejoice in Nestle’s use of cruel horrific “enriched/furnished” battery cages, with 67 sq inches per bird – conditions previously condemned by HSUS and MFA before they partnered with United Egg Producers to campaign for them. Nestle’s MFA & HSUS take us for idiots. Who can believe the following IMPOSSIBLE Nestle’s pledge, fed to us by MFA & HSUS? To this end, Nestlé recognises the internationally accepted “Five Freedoms” as applied to animals:
1. Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition
2. Freedom from fear and distress
3. Freedom from physical and thermal discomfort
4. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
5. Freedom to express normal patterns of behavior
Joan Harrison says
Mr. Wayne Pacelle
Chief Executive Officer and President
The Humane Society of the United States
Dear Mr. Pacelle,
I am trying to understand how the Humane Society of the United States—an organization that has done so much for animals, that claims to champion veganism on ethical grounds, that educates large portions of the public so effectively, and that urges ending and preventing horse slaughter because it’s “fraught with terror, pain, and suffering”—is able to back an event such as the “Hoofin It” in Denver, an event premised on and tacitly promoting an indifference toward the torment and premature deaths by slaughter of other once living beings.
(This posting appears in full at “Hoofin’ It: An Open Letter to Wayne Pacelle from Jean Harrison, Ph.D., at http://wp.me/p4pKmM-IR.)