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Chipotle

Chipotle: We communicate with pigs via telepathy!

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Chipotle: We communicate with pigs via telepathy!

by Wayne Hsiung

There were a lot of inspiring, powerful, and poignant moments at AR2014. But perhaps the most bizarre -- and the instance that most aptly illustrated the near absurd deceptions put out by Chipotle -- involved an initially hostile customer who transformed, for one afternoon, into an animal rights investigator! 

The man in question was struck by the evocative display of human beings wrapped in foil, with a looming butcher standing over them, and stopped to gawk. After he began to jeer -- "Go Chipotle! I love meat! -- I stopped to talk to him. 

"What are your thoughts on the protest, sir?" I asked. 

"Well, it's a protest against meat, right?" he replied. 

 This Chipotle customer and heckler transformed into an animal rights supporter -- and fact-checker -- in a span of 5 minutes due to our protest. 

This Chipotle customer and heckler transformed into an animal rights supporter -- and fact-checker -- in a span of 5 minutes due to our protest. 

"It's a protest against violence."

The man stopped smiling and looked at me quizzically. I went on to ask the man about his interactions with animals. He told me that he had a dog that he loved. I asked him how he would feel if someone hurt his dog. He responded that he wouldn't let it happen. 

"We're doing the same thing -- we don't want to let these terrible things happen to gentle animals -- and we're asking for your support." 

We continued talking for a few minutes, and by the end of the conversation, I had him sold.

"I haven't gotten to that enlightened point that you have already, but I hope to achieve that one day," he explained. 

"It's not about enlightenment. It's about showing that you don't support these violent corporations and traditions." 

He told me he'd go into the store and ask about the animals. And he did. 

What he brought out caused my jaw to drop to the floor. He came back out, almost frantically, laughing and waving a card in the air. 

"You've gotta see this. They say they're telepathic!" he said. 

For a moment, I thought the man was mocking us again, or had gone insane. But when I looked at the card, I saw what he was laughing and waving about. Chipotle, in response to his concerned question, had handed the man a free burrito coupon. On the back, the card described the wonderful conditions its animals are raised in -- standard fare. But that was not all. The card also claimed that the company was able to communicate telepathically with pigs, a breakthrough in trans-species communication that would probably win the company a Nobel Prize! 

The bizarre Chipotle card. 

What did the pigs have to say, in the moments before they were butchered and torn to pieces to serve the company's rapidly-growing empire of violence? Not that they were scared. Not that they were in terrible pain. Not even that they would really really rather not die. No, no, what the company wants you to believe is that, in their moment of telepathic connection with pigs, the pigs told them they were happy to be raised so humanely. 

You know a company has gone off the rails when it starts talking about telepathy with its victims. But I suppose when your entire business model is founded on a fraud, there's not much else you can do.

A house of cards is bound to collapse, though. And as my new friend told me as he walked away, shaking his head. "This company is completely ridiculous. And somebody has to point that out." 

We will, sir. We will. 

Buzzfeed on Chipotle: this Scarecrow is a Scam!

Buzzfeed on Chipotle: this Scarecrow is a Scam! 

by Wayne Hsiung

Buzzfeed pointed out yesterday what DxE has been saying since our campaign launched last October. Chipotle is not all it's cracked up to be! On issues ranging from racial diversity to workers' rights to (of course) the treatment of animals, the Chipotle empire has been built up on a foundation of mirrors and lies.

The post is well worth a read. But among the most gratifying aspects of the post? Almost all of the material, including many specific details, could have been specifically lifted from our campaign! 

Great work to the entire DxE network not just on exposing this one particular company but on puncturing the humane myth narrative that serves as a lynchpin for the entire system of animal agriculture.  

Chipotle's Spokespeople Demonstrate that the Company Does Not Care About Animals Even a Little

Chipotle's Spokespeople Demonstrate that the Company Does Not Care About Animals Even a Little (by Kelly)

At Chipotle's last two "Cultivate" festivals in San Francisco, their keynote speakers have been extremely dismissive of our criticism of the company's humanewashing, in an effort to downplay the violence they profit on.

After our disruption of a cooking demonstration at the festival last year, Culinary Manager Nate Appleman said, “We’re mixing the chicken and the pork… I love all animals the same, so I want to use both of them!” Appleman has also made it clear that “humane” rhetoric is just about selling the product, saying, “You put tripe in a bowl and tell them it’s from a humanely raised cow, and they’re going to eat it.”

And at the Cultivate festival we disrupted just a few weeks ago, Chef Graham Elliot played “Meat is Murder” as he walked on stage (before we even made our presence known), and when we demonstrated, he joked about foie gras, in an effort to mock the animals and dismiss their oppression. And you can see in the image above that he's behind Brian, pretending to be like a campy killer from a horror movie, making a joke not only of our comparison between violence against nonhumans and humans alike, of all violence.

They source from animals exploited in the same awful conditions as every other fast-food chain, and they get more sales and substantial premiums from their "humane" rhetoric. Their CEO has literally promised that Chipotle will never exploit animals, when the vast majority of the company's money is made from products that include using animals without their consent (and in crying protest of that violent use). If that doesn't already define "humanewashing" for us, the way their spokespeople are so incredibly dismissive of concern for violence against animals should make it abundantly clear that the company's claims of caring about animals are utterly superficial.

Chipotle is not animal-friendly. Chipotle a leader in the oppression of our nonhuman kin. We have to make it clear to the world that discriminating against, using, and killing other animals is not a positive thing to feel good about.

Portrait Banners

Portrait Banners

We have just started making a series of banners for our (and your!) actions, that feature dignified portraits of nonhumans, of various species of people who are exploited by humans for a variety of purposes.

Why make a series with “dignified,” portrait-like photos that have no indication of the violence? It's a similar motivation to the "Someone, Not Something" images we make and share on our Facebook page, and the placards we printed for our Stories of Liberation action: We want to challenge speciesism and demonstrate these beings' personhoods. In nonhuman advocacy, we habitually see images of these animals being victimized, and we think we should also be showing them how they should be, to share a story of how things could be. We also think it is important to contrast the prevalence of images of "what is" with such images of "what could be" in order to not normalize images of their subjugation, which may reinforce notions of the human-supremacy hierarchy if no alternative vision is posed. Further, in our confrontation of speciesism, we want to very clearly signal our own respect for these beings, to encourage other humans to do the same, by sharing representations of them as they want to be -- by showing images of animals who are not (at least in the moment of the photo) being subjugated and degraded.

I (Kelly here) also think of it like this: We humans who use photographs of ourselves typically want to present ourselves to others as a respectable, unique and personality-rich individuals. So as an exercise in nonspeciesism, if these animals had Facebook pages (just hear me out), judging by the kinds of images that we humans post of ourselves, it seems reasonable to assume that we’d be more likely to see images like these as their profile photos, as opposed to images of the individuals suffering and being dominated and demeaned -- the kind of image we tend to choose to not share of our own selves. Since we know these animals prefer respect and equality to degradation and subjugation, we should present images of them as they want to be seen by those who currently see them otherwise and oppress them because of that perception.

This is not to say that images of the violence are not valuable. (When they are not just a horrifying graphic scene, that is, but images that clearly show the personhood and emotional experience of the victim.) We just want to make sure that we also show these animals as they want to be seen, and as they want to be, could be, and will be at the end of our story. To bring about species equality, we have to make it clear to people that our nonhuman sisters and brothers are people too.

So, here they are! If you follow our Organizing Principles, you are free to use any materials we create. Direct Action Everywhere is YOU!

Chipotle is Watching You

Chipotle is Watching You (by Kelly)

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These photos of Chipotle's subway ads for the "Cultivate" festival they brought to San Francisco look like a scene out of George Orwell's 1984. "[Chipotle] is watching you." 

And even for this blatant indication of their corporate model and effort at infiltrating the public consciousness, they still have people buying their image of being a small, foodie company, comprised of impossibly bucolic farms, and run by well-meaning people who just want to make the world a better place. Their marketing department is just that clever.

The humanewasher is intent on making people identify as strongly with their brand as possible, because when a brand becomes part of your identity -- becomes a part of your conception of you -- you feel compelled not just to hold onto it (to go there all the time), but to promote it (to tweet about it and wear shirts advertising it), and even to defend it (to walk by protestors calling out "I love Chipotle!" or "Go protest at McDonald's!").

Like I said, their marketing department is clever... but no amount of manipulative propaganda can stand up against the force of truth now can it? It's violence, and they can't distract people from that forever.

But we take a page from their playbook, by learning to enable and empower people with a liberationist identity that they feel so strongly attached to that they have to hold onto it, promote it, and fight for it with every watt of energy they have. Chipotle has doting fans because the company is skilled at selling those fans a hip identity... but Hipness will never inspire the commitment and drive that Justice can.

I am a liberationist, and will be until every animal is free.

(Thanks Darren Chang for the photos!)

Why workers hate Chipotle

 Chipotle CEO Steve Ells feasts on a $300 million pay package while his workers (and animals) suffer. 

Chipotle CEO Steve Ells feasts on a $300 million pay package while his workers (and animals) suffer. 

Why workers hate Chipotle

by Wayne Hsiung

The New York Times writes today about how Chipotle's own shareholders overwhelmingly voted down an executive pay package for CEO Steve Ells, who has received $300 million in recent years while paying his employees less than $10/hour, and other corporate kingpins. The vote occurred as labor protests against abuses by fast food chains, including Chipotle, expand worldwide. 

This reminds me of a point we've made over and over again. Chipotle and its corporate ilk are bad, not just for animals, but for America. They talk about sustainability while refusing any sort of environmental audit or accounting. They brag about how much they love their workers while driving them to insanity with time pressure and piddling wages. And they glow to the world about how much they love animals while killing millions every year. 

The era of robber barons is over. Smart corporations that seek to continue their exploitative practices have to repackage oppression in an ethical veneer. And this is one of the many reasons we selected Chipotle as the focus for our It's not Food, It's violence campaign. And it is why, as you will hear more about in the months to come, we have had current and former Chipotle employees come to us with allegations of corporate abuses. 

A company that would do such horrible things to animals for profit will not leave vulnerable human beings untouched. And so, today, DxE stands in solidarity with the workers all over the world who point out that there is something deeply problematic about our fast food nation, and increasingly, our fast food world. 

How Two Nobel Prize Winners (and one Iron Giant) Shaped DxE

PALS (Phoenix Animal Liberation Squad) interviews Wayne Hsiung on the Origins of DxE, Creative Disruption, and How Two Nobel Prize Winners (and one Iron Giant) Shaped the DxE Model

by DxE

PALS organizer Saryta Rodriguez is writing a book about the animal rights movement. But she recently published a sneak preview of an interview about DxE.

In the interview, Saryta explores the origins of DxE, the importance of "disrupting business as usual", and the influence of two Nobel Laureates in establishing DxE's model of activism. 

Here's an excerpt: 

SR: What inspired you to start this particular coalition? Why not just join any of the many pre-existing animal liberation organizations out there? What did you hope to bring to the table that others perhaps do not?

WH: There are a million animal groups out there; but what makes us different is primarily that we are squarely focused on movement building. Most animal rights groups attempt to shift particular actors (whether corporate or state) or the public. While we don’t neglect those objectives, we also are keenly aware of the importance of building a stronger and more robust movement to effect real change. I was influenced in this by my studies of intervention into human rights causes. It turns out that most attempts to fix problems have little to no effect. The reason, as Nobel Prize winner Douglass North found, is that institutions—particularly “soft” institutions, such as culture and trust—are the ultimate cause of (and solution for) most social ills.

Check out the full interview here

(Video) A Memorial for Animals Appears (DxE Bay Area - April)

Gone but not Forgotten

by Ronnie Rose

This is for those who are gone. For those whose cries were drowned out in the dark night, whose terror and screams are stuck inside the slaughterhouse walls. The endless pain that you have suffered, the lonely days you stared at the cold walls of your prison, without any hope—this is for you. 

These words won't bring you back, nor will they fix what has been done to you. Your body has been abused, your feelings have been ignored, your dreams of freedom have been shattered...

But what these words do is carry the truth—and that can never be forgotten. Every animal who has been cut-up and treated as no more than a meal by companies like Chipotle, did not want this fate. Each moment they were prodded, kicked, forced into a crate, or loaded onto a truck—they wondered to themselves: Why is this happening to me? When will it end?

That is why we are here: to tell Chipotle and to tell the world your story. We are here because we know that your lives have meaning. We know that your desires to love, to play under the open skies, to live in the comfort of a community—are real. And even though your time here was brief, it will not be forgotten. We will NOT let it be forgotten!

We will not forget! We will NEVER forget! It's not food, it's violence!

$1 billion reasons to protest... but all we need is one

$1 billion reasons to protest... but all we need is one

by Wayne Hsiung

Chipotle shareholders lost over a billion dollars yesterday, as the corporation announced disappointing earnings. This was a bit of a shocker to the market and press, which have been using terms such as "unstoppable" to describe the company's astonishing growth. Could the market -- and the public -- finally be catching on to Chipotle's house of cards? Could the vulnerability the corporation disclosed in its 10-K filing (of activist groups tarnishing their brand by revealing the brutal truth about its corporate practices) finally be coming into fruition?

But as we prepare our protest this weekend, let's remember that we do not need $1 billion reasons to protest the company. We only need one.

Because even if the company were "merely" torturing one animal, that would be more than enough reason to join our protests. Imagine, for a moment, that the company had kidnapped one human child, or one puppy. Imagine that they stole her from her crying mother, placed her in a dank and dirty pen, mutilated her as she cried out in unfathomable pain, and finally, slit her throat, after days, weeks, or months of misertable imprisonment, on the day she was designated to die... to die for the crime of being born "different." Imagine that just one child had to live through a life of utter desolation, and sadness, and pain, in order for this violent corporation to earn its bloody profits. 

Wouldn't one be enough? 

And yet Chipotle has transformed not just one, but tens of millions of acts of brutality, into something to be supported, praised, and even ethically lauded. And in doing so, it is leading an entire industry -- an entire nation -- down a nightmarish path to a world where killing innocents is not just accepted but positively celebrated.

There are so many well-meaning people, even within this movement, who have been duped by these corporate lies. They tell us that Chipotle is "making progress." That it's "one of the good guys." Or that "they're doing something for vegans."

But none of those rationalizations can face up to the power (and trauma) of one tortured soul. And it is for her, that we will speak tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. Until our movement frees itself from the tentacles of a duplicitous industry.  Until the public wakes from its centuries-long blindness to the atrocities raging all around us. Until our friend, that helpless little pig, is finally free from her torment and pain. It is for her, and not for the $1 billion in damage, that we will speak. And it is for her, that someday soon, our movement will win. 

Chipotle to Employee: Victim of Domestic Violence? You're Fired!

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Chipotle to Employee: Victim of Domestic Violence? You're Fired!

by Wayne Hsiung

The New York Daily News wrote yesterday about a woman who was fired from her job at Chipotle... for being assaulted by an abusive boyfriend. The company, of course, regales the public with tales of workplace integrity and enthusiasm. It describes every one of its employees, other than its lowest crew member, as a "manager." And CEO Steve Ells talks in a recent Netflix documentary about how he cares for every employee that his corporation -- a 1600+ location monstrosity -- hires. 

But when it came to Natasha Velez, a line worker who chopped vegetables and made guacamole, Chipotle's conception of care apparently did not run very far. And this is par for the course. Chipotle talks a big game -- emphasizing its sustainability (while refusing to make any sort of accountability report), killing millions of animals (while talking about how much it loves them), and promising to never exploit its workers (while paying them a pittance... and then punishing them for being hospitalized by abusive boyfriends). 

We will be writing more about this in the weeks to come. But Chipotle's lies, in short, extend far beyond animal cruelty, as horrific as the animal cruelty is. In more ways than one, Chipotle represents everything that's problematic about corporate America -- a focus on appearing to do good, rather than actually doing good. And by confronting Chipotle, we help to build a vision of the world where we are no longer dependent on, duped by, and even desperate for corporate illusions. We help to build a truly better world.