Ads at your local supermarket probably go farther on behalf of farmed animals
by Irene Muschel
I just opened my computer and found myself looking at a startling American SPCA fund-raising email that encourages people to support the breeding, raising, and slaughter of animals destined for human consumption.
The email, captioned “Take a Bite Out of Farm Animal Cruelty,” under the guise of wanting to improve the lives of farm animals, attempts to make a false distinction between the experience of animals destined for slaughter who are bred and raised on factory farms and those whose short, miserable lives are experienced elsewhere, although usually ending at the same slaughter houses.
Why doesn’t the ASPCA say beans?
The article states that one should:
• Cut out meat, eggs, and dairy from animals raised in factory farms
• Swap in meat, eggs, and dairy produced on welfare certified farms,
as well as all plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.
No mention is made of beans, egg alternatives, or the enormous number of foods that can
replace animal products.
Going for the lowest bar
The ASPCA states that its “Factory Farm Detox” program is a “one-week commitment to
eliminate factory farmed foods from your diet.”
Wow! Nothing like going for the lowest bar.
What happens after one week?
This is not even as high as the low “Vegan before 6,” pushed by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman, or the “Meatless Mondays” goal promoted since 2003 by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for a Livable Future.
If one signs up for the ASPCA program, lists are given of “Certified Farms by State.” The farms listed are engaged in the breeding, raising, and slaughter of animals.
The “Welfare Certification Labels” and “Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Label Guide” are filled with
confusion, ambiguities, and uncertainty. There are references to exceptions such as
“standards do not extend to breeding animals, transport, and slaughter.”
Unenforced labeling standards
The ASPCA pitch ignores the huge number of undercover videos, including of farms used by
Whole Foods Markets, that have shown––repeatedly––the worthlessness of these labels. Farms that have various purported humane labels have often treated animals brutally.
We should certainly know by now all the problems with false labeling. There have been countless
undercover investigations of fake fur garments with laboratory tests revealing that these garments
often have real animal fur.
The ASPCA does not address the capabilities of the certifying groups who have been known
to be inaccurate in their assessment of a farm’s treatment of animals or its enforcement of
protection of animals.
(For examples, see Courting hen & egg producers leads animal charities into deep @#$%, Fundraising, FADS, “dolphin safe,” & why Ric O’Barry left Earth Island Institute, and Cage-free egg farm fire kills 65,000 hens, revives attention to lack of sprinklers in barns)
Why this message is so pernicious
The ASPCA ignores the reality that there is nothing ethical about the breeding, raising, brutalizing, and slaughter of animals who do not want to be hurt or killed.
This is the ASPCA!
Why do they not care for these animals? Why do they not see the value of his/her life to that animal? How would they feel if someone treated them this way?
What the ASPCA did in “Take a Bite Out of Farm Animal Cruelty” was to give the public a feel-good loop, a feel good pass to continue eating animal products.
That’s why this message is so pernicious. It completely removes incentive from people to care about these animals and stop supporting an industry that brutalizes and slaughters them.
(Irene Muschel, a longtime New York City animal advocate, school teacher, and social worker, lives about a mile from the ASPCA head offices as the crow flies, but a world away as ethics evolve.)
The ASPCA recommendations in “Take a Bite Out of Farm Animal Cruelty” are substantially the same as were issued by the Massachusetts SPCA and the American Humane Association more than sixty years ago, circa 1955, and by the ASPCA, the Massachusetts SPCA, and the Humane Society of the U.S. circa 1990.
The ASPCA policy at that time differed little, if at all, from views expressed by founder Henry Bergh (1813-1888), albeit that Bergh reputedly avoided meat consumption late in life, and did not put his views into a policy statement.
Subsequent to that, in 1991, then-ASPCA president John Kullberg endorsed vegetarianism and was fired for it, while HSUS in 2005 adopted a vegan food policy for HSUS events, albeit compromised by other HSUS programs and policies.
(See How HSUS sponsorship of a meatfest in Denver overshadowed announcement of reforms by the world’s largest food producer.)
Jamaka Petzak says
These high-visibility, high-salaried organizations mislead so many people, as do certain “natural” food stores including the one mentioned in this article. Sharing to socials with gratitude…and wishing people would research the organizations and companies before giving to them or buying from them!
Karen Davis says
Excellent article! I want to puke not only in response to the ASPCA’s betrayal of farmed animals, but also in response to the maudlin fundraisers they constantly run on television showing suffering dogs and cats and implying that they themselves are an animal shelter for abused and neglected “pets.” How do they get away with that? In addition, their false advertising betrays the public trust. People who care about animals (more or less) want an easy way to “help” these animals, and writing a check or looking for “humanely-raised” animal products is the easy answer.
I suppose the ASPCA continues funding a “humane” poultry farm in Kansas run by a farmer named Frank Reese; I forget the name of this farm, but it’s the ASPCA’s way of “helping” farmed animals without doing anything significant other than, as this article says, confusing people about the processes that result in the animals manifested in the food store in the form of flesh, mammary products, and eggs, all magically humane. The ASPCA is indeed a deliberate deceiver of the public and a betrayer of the animals its title dishonestly proclaims to PROTECT FROM CRUELTY.
Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns http://www.upc-online.org
Sorry, but two nations now consider feeding babies vegan diets is child abuse. So I believe in selecting free range eggs and grass fed beef. On the internet I have to deal with the radial raw meat diets for my dogs and now radial diets for my family. I believe in balance, we do vegan lunches and vegetarian Monday, Fish Friday and yes we eat less meat. Being radial and shaming people to eat vegan is no worse than those who shame me because I don’t feed my dogs raw meat. I will never feed my dogs raw meat, they can suffer kidney failure just like us from microbes. I tell my family more people suffer from disease from vegetables than meat, read CDC statistics, so I serve soup as often as I can. There are millions suffering from diabetes, more plants mean more diabetes for most. Please don’t pressure animal lovers to feel that eating grass fed beef is wrong. Eating a radial diet whether vegan or protein (keto) all have problems. More plant means more diabetes for most of the population, more keto has kidney issues. Meat protein is good for brain health fish is good. But please stop shaming us! we all support animals and I’m going to the Denver Stock Show to see wonderful blow dried Highland Cows, they are beautiful, nothing like a clean blow dried Highland cow.
Merritt Clifton says
Courts have ruled in several nations that feeding babies “vegan” diets based on ordinary soy milk instead of breast milk, or a nutritionally balanced vegan infant formula, is child abuse, but there is no vegan objection to breast feeding, and this is a far cry from considering “feeding babies vegan diets is child abuse.”
Books have been written thoroughly refuting the ecological and animal welfare arguments for grass-fed beef, some of which are succinctly summarized in the 2015 documentary “Cowspiracy.” See Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The only real argument for grass-fed beef is that it beats chickenshit-fed beef. Yes, that’s what the “recycled protein” tends to be in bagged “beef fattener.”
I think these “brand name” organizations appeal to the sort of people who long for the days when “loving animals” just meant dogs and cats, farm animals were completely ignored, and diet choices were never called out for the destruction they cause. Those days aren’t coming back (despite the desperate hold many regional shelters have on that attitude, what with their steak dinner and pig roast fundraisers.)
Despite all of the lip service paid to small farms and “happy meat,” these products are expensive, exclusive, and difficult to find––they are not within reach of the average person raising funds for the ASPCA on their Facebook page or tearing up over one of those famous commercials. Instead, what ARE easy to find are feel-good labels that mean little to nothing for farmed animals. You’ll see the label “cage free” on factory farmed chicken meat––meaningless, as no chickens reared for meat are raised in cages, but rather huge, dark warehouse-like barns. “Grass fed” cows can be kept in a feedlot exactly like their non-grassfed counterparts, and just be fed cut or pelleted grass instead of the conventional feed.
The ASPCA used to have the statement on their website that “we believe eating meat is a personal choice,” and I always wondered, well, why don’t they consider buying a dog from a puppy mill, wearing fur, or attending the circus a “personal choice?” Honestly, with an attitude like that, just about anything could be waived away as personal choice, and they could rationalize themselves out of existence. Now their statement does more to acknowledge that farm animals suffer, but still results in a word salad that allows supporters to pretend that they “only eat humane animal products,” just as they “hardly ever eat meat” when they do so each and every day of their lives.