Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Encouraging Signs Of Late

Staring into the abyss too long not only hurts the eyes, it can crush the soul. To allow yourself to empathize with suffering animals is noble. However, taking in too much suffering, seeing nothing but agony, and seeking out only the negative, can leave the sensitive person feeling defeated, traumatized and alone. That is why here at We're All Animals, I encourage kindred spirits to take out a moment from time to time to look on the bright side. Sometimes it's easy to miss the good things, the encouraging developments. They don't always generate headlines. But they're there.

There are five encouraging developments that are worth highlighting here. All three given me a heightened sense of hope about the future.

1. Denny's is now going gestation crate-free! They'll be joining McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and other fast-food giants in moving away from the practice of forcing pregnant pigs into tiny cages.  It's hard to grasp the significance of this development unless you know a bit about the history of Denny's. Growing up in a conservative Red State, I remember Denny's being the restaurant of choice for ordinary folks, working stiffs, truckers, night owls, flapjack-loving patriots and elderly men and women who sought out big plates of food for cheap prices. Denny's was always the all-American joint, usually located near the freeway, promising comfort food at all hours of the day and night. Denny's, according to the L.A. Times, has more than 1,650 locations across the United States. And they serve an awful lot of food made out of various pig products. So when they start the move away from gestation crates, that will have a big impact.

Said Greg Lindford, Denny's vice president of procurement and distribution: "Denny's takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen seriously. We will endeavor to purchase products from companies that provide gestation crate-free pork and are committed to influencing our suppliers to share in a gestation crate-free vision for the future."

Score one for the movement to jettison gestation crates. Actually, score many! Up here in Canada, the massive doughnut chain Tim Hortons is moving in the same direction.

2. While we're talking gestation crates, the grocery store chain Safeway in the United States is also going gestation crate free. Some vegans may say this is not enough. And they're right. But for these huge chains to acknowledge the cruelty of gestation crates, an issue that wasn't even on the table five years ago (honestly, who in 2007 even knew about gestation crates?) means the animal rights and animal welfare movements are having a huge influence on these corporations.

3. According to Mercy for Animals, meat consumption is on the decline in the United States. This is great news. As MFA notes:
In 2011, compared to 2010, the number of land animals that died for American consumption fell from 8.4 to 8.2 billion, or 242 million fewer animals - including 1 million fewer cows, 5 million fewer pigs, and 240 million fewer chickens. That's a nationwide drop from 8.9 billion in 2005 to 8.2 billion in 2011, or 725 million fewer animals killed. 
It is true that the number of animals dying is still staggering. But the decline is an encouraging sign. MFA points to a growing awareness of cruelty to animals, as well as such gruesome industry practices as the use of "pink slime."

4. The state of California is banning foie gras. The statewide ban goes into effect on July 1. There is also talk that other states may follow California's example (source). For those of you who don't know what foie gras is (even in my omnivore days, I never ate it), it means, literally, "fatty liver." One again, I'll let the wonderful folks at Mercy for Animals explain:
Its production entails extreme animal cruelty and suffering. Pipes are painfully shoved down ducks' throats and they are forced to ingest several pounds of food at once--far more than they would eat naturally. This process is often repeated two to three times a day. The ducks' livers become engorged and diseased, swelling up to ten times their normal size, and resulting in horrific emotional and physical suffering of these unfortunate animals. Most ducks find it difficult to walk and breathe normally. Many suffer from ruptured organs and die. Ducks are typically crammed into small, filthy cages for the duration of their lives, unable to move, walk, or spread their wings. They become so distressed, they sometimes tear out their own feathers or cannibalize each other. 
Kudos to California for banning this hideous "delicacy." Let's hope that other states follow California's example right away. Make no mistake: This ban on foie gras wouldn't have happened were it not for the rising influence of animal advocates.


5: The Collapse of Ag Gag?: Earlier in the year, animal rights advocates became alarmed about the passage of repressive "Ag Gag" laws in Iowa and Utah that have introduced harsh penalties against whistleblowers who expose (through videos or photographs) the insides of slaughterhouses and factory farm operations. For a time, it seemed that Ag Gag laws were spreading across the United States like wildfire. But the movement's momentum is slowing. Efforts to introduce Ag Gag have either died or are dead in several states, including Florida, Illinois and Tennessee (source). Sadly, an Ag Gag law has just passed in Missouri, but thanks to compromises made as a result of pressure from animal advocates, there is a loophole in the legislation that gives whistleblowers 24 hours to report incidents of animal abuse or neglect to law enforcement should they witness such acts. Not surprisingly, the pork industry is calling the law "diluted" (source)

It is true that animals are dying all around us in huge numbers as a result of human cruelty on a massive scale. But people are waking up. Pressure being applied steadily and rigorously to big corporations is working. Slowly, painfully, there is movement away from the insanity, in the direction of what might truly be called "civilization." If we ever get there, we have those kind men, women and yes, even children, who took it upon themselves to become voices of the voiceless, and who fought for the well being of animals, to thank for it. 

1 comment:

  1. Just came across you blog - so, far, I love it. Thanks for the encouraging words. Sometimes the tide of cruelty seems too much.