The problem that comes along as animal rights ideologies expand into the mainstream is that companies will inevitably look for a way to capitalize and profit from our most generous and kindest instincts. The more that the public becomes aware of the horrors of factory farming and modern industrial animal agriculture, the wider the chasm becomes between the two (loosely speaking) “solutions” to the problem.
There are those who have seen the plight of animals as indicative of a larger philosophical problem: that humans cannot view animals simply as resources or products and that we must recognize their right to exist, to live without pain or human interference. These people adopt a Vegan lifestyle because it is the natural first step to combating the use of animals as products.
The other idea is to simply try to find a better, more ethical way to use animals as products. As the Vegan population is growing, there is also a growing market for “kinder” products such as free range meat, cage-free eggs, etc. There is a term for this phenomenon. It’s called “humane washing”, advertising products as morally acceptable on the basis that the animals in question were treated kindly.
The idea of a humane animal product is a contradiction in terms, as evidenced most recently by The Humane Society’s complaint to the Federal Trade Commission against Rose Acre Farms. Rose Acre Farms, the nation’s second largest egg producer, has been making claims that their eggs are produced in idyllic conditions, with their hens able to roam as they please, socialize, and scratch and peck to their heart’s content. The halcyon picture painted by Rose Acre Farms however has turned out to be nothing but a marketing ploy to sell factory-farmed eggs to a public that is increasingly concerned with the treatment of animals.
According to the complaint filed by the HSUS, their undercover investigation found “birds trapped in the wires of battery cages, unable to reach food or water, birds with broken bones and untreated, prolapsed uteruses, the mummified corpses of hens in cages with live hens, and abandoned hens that had fallen into manure pits.”
The complaint asks that the FTC take action to force Rose Acre Farms to cease their advertising which the HSUS calls “deceiving”.
For years the industry didn’t want consumers to know how farm animals were treated, and now that the public knows about the conditions in factory farms there is an attempt to assuage consumers’ guilt through advertising.
One thing to do if you care about animal suffering is not to buy into advertising claims from the people who make money off of animal suffering; instead, go Vegan.
Photo: Katie Brady