Viewing entries tagged
humane myth

Rescuing Hens with Animal Place


Last Friday, Organizers Kelly and Brian helped Animal Place rescue 755 hens from a concentration camp in California's central valley. The next day, several of our activists went to Animal Place's Rescue Ranch in Vacaville, to assist with the girls' health checks.

Working one-on-one with real rescued individuals is very important, first and foremost to the people we're helping, but also because it motivates us in our activism for their cousins. Feeling their little heartbeats and the warmth of their bodies, watching them explore and socialize, hearing them talk to you, and looking them in the eyes turns this abstract, removed idea of "chickens who are suffering" into a much more tangible and powerful conception of real, breathing, living individuals. They are the reason we fight, they are the real faces we fight for.

The "free range" prisons where they had spent their lives were large, crammed, stifling, stale, ammonia-filled sheds, hot in the summer, full of feces and the noise of the hens' calls. Many of the girls had respiratory problems. Every hen had part of her beak cut off as an infant, and was completely covered in lice, many with large colonies of egg clusters the size of my fingernails. And though they were young, because they are forced to lay more eggs than their bodies can handle for long, several were suffering prolapses. Like most hens exploited for their eggs, all were to be gassed once "spent."

At least, those are the external conditions we observed being imposed on them. Internally, on account of my human privilege, I can hardly begin to imagine what they experienced. In their position, I would have felt terribly trapped, not just by the spatial restrictions and the physical immobility of being so tightly packed into that space with other people, but how maddening would it be to not be able to escape the smell or the noise either? How frustrating would it be to have difficulty picking up food, and to not be able to feel the world as I do now with intact fingertips? How infuriatingly irritating would it be to have lice crawling all over me, day in and day out, my whole life? And to never get a deep breath in? How exasperating.

When we were at the sanctuary after the rescue, I found that time and time again, when I picked up one girl after another for a health check, many would lie calmly in my lap, and turn their head around to look me straight in the eye, then quirkily cock their head -- as birds do -- and cluck curiously, as though to ask me what I, this strange giant, was doing to them. But most of them trusted me and let me go about examining them. They were all very eager to explore every inch of the barn, and some would come stand beside the humans doing health checks (and in some instances perch on a shoulder), just watching what we were doing to their sisters. While I held them in my lap, some of them would gently grab my thumb with their little feet, and it flooded me with protective feelings, just as an infant human grabbing your finger does.

I cannot stop seeing this one little girl who didn't want to be caught and checked, but when I turned her on her side and placed her in my lap, she calmed right down, and just looked up at me so casually and by her delicate little cluck I could swear she was just saying, "Oh, hello there, how are you today?" My heart skipped a beat and the moment nearly drew a tear out of my eye, because she was just so sweet, so pure, so totally and completely without hatred or anger or any of these nasty emotions we humans get so hung up on. She's just a youthful child, who wants to explore and play and love. She had just spent her life in a cramped, filthy concentration camp, and here she was just happily moving on with her life three hours later. Though I insist that offensive violence is wrong no matter who the victim, her incredible innocence just made me feel the atrocity that much more intensely.

I am very relieved that they are now almost all -- excepting a few girls in critical condition -- safe and cared for, most adopted out to new homes and some remaining at the sanctuary. But while I smile at the thought of their safety, I cannot help but think of and grieve deeply for the millions who were taken to a kill floor today.

Fight for them, until every animal is free.


Friday Rescue at the Concentration Camp:

Saturday Health Checks at Animal Place's Vacaville Rescue Ranch:

Our Enemies are Clever

Our Enemies are Clever

We CANNOT let animal killers divert our attention away from their violence.

Humanewashers like Chipotle are trying to manipulate the public into believing that killing someone who doesn't want to die is not only perfectly acceptable, but that if you're nice enough to that innocent individual first* then that greedy violence is a good, positive thing.

That insistence that speciesist violence is not only acceptable but a positive thing is moving our culture deeper into speciesism and complacency with violence, and further away from liberationism.

Which is why perpetuating the humane myth (and focusing on welfare, while ignoring the violence of the murder that life ends in, however nicely the animal was treated beforehand) is a threat to the liberation movement.

I'll also insist here that distracting liberationists from violence with plant-based options is a threat to the liberation movement. Being vegan-friendly =/= being animal-friendly, let's not confuse the two, nor let the former distract us from a failure of the latter.

I mean look, Chipotle even has us "animal RIGHTS activists" talking about plant-based food options for human consumers, instead of talking about the animals' rights, which are being violated beyond my human-privileged ability to even begin to comprehend in the slaughterhouses beside those tofu burritos and cute cartoons, RIGHT NOW.

That is why we have to target humanewashers. Utilizing the humane myth and offering plant-based options are a concerted effort by clever advertisers aiming to appease and distract the public so that no one challenges the company's speciesist violence. If Chipotle were genuinely moving our culture towards liberation, they would be challenging speciesism, and they would be saying that violence against innocent defenceless animals is wrong. But they're doing just the opposite, they're staying silent on speciesism (letting it perpetuate itself in its invisibility) and they're insisting that violence against innocent defenceless animals is a GOOD thing. What Chipotle is doing is not "a step in the right direction," it's a pull AWAY from liberationism, intended to keep people from realizing that the violence they engage in is wrong.

No compromise with slavery. No union with slaveholders. Especially the ones who are manipulating the public into believing that slavery and violence are positive things.


*To make matters even worse, this ideology of raising the exploited animals in pastures instead of factories is not one that Chipotle lives up to, but is merely a marketing ploy taking advantage of the lack of regulation in such advertising. Chipotle sources from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

NPR: Is Chipotle the Future of Fast Food?

"Is Chipotle the new model for fast food?" 

It's the question NPR asked yesterday, of a company that is expanding so quickly that it's being compared to Starbucks. In Manhattan, the restaurant has become so ubiquitous that it's difficult to turn a street corner without seeing one on the horizon. 

Chipotle's footprint in New York City. 

Chipotle's footprint in New York City. 

Not only that, but the company charges a premium on its products because they are seen as humane, sustainable, and higher quality. ("The better food costs a bit more money, but consumers turn out to be happy to pay a premium for a superior product," writes Slate's Matthew Iglesias.) "Food with Integrity" is the company's motto. And the company's multimillionaire founder proudly and prominently states on the company website: "It’s our promise to run our business in a way that doesn’t exploit animals." 

Massive expansion plans. Higher profit margins than almost any other company in the industry. And a feel-good message to boot... who could possibly lose

Here's the truth: 

If we want to stop the animal killing industry's continued growth (and yes, it is continuing to grow), we can't settle for the same old campaigns against the same old companies. We have to be strategic and forward thinking. We have to start thinking about effective memes and network effectsWe have to confront the humane myth with a simple, direct, and strong message: Killing animals is not humane. It's not respectful. It's not even food. 

It's violence. And it simply has to stop. 

Predicting Your Opponent's Move


Anyone who has played a competitive sport, or even a good board game, knows that it's vital to recognize not only what your opponent is doing now but also where your opponent is going. Because if you aim for where they are now, they will be gone by the time you respond. 

This is why Chipotle is such an important target -- the company and its Orwellian marketing ("Responsibly Raised! Unconditionally Loved!") show us the future of the meat industry. 

Whenever and wherever the animal rights movement has had success, the industry has responded with promises of reform and humane slaughter. Indeed, that has been the dominant paradigm of discourse for decades. In 1958, when President Eisenhower signed the Humane Slaughter Act -- a more significant and ambitious legal achievement than anything considered since --  he said, "If I went by mail, I'd think no one was interested in anything but humane slaughter." And yet the toll since 1958 has been catastrophic: billions more tortured, enslaved, and killed. More recently, as the Israeli animal rights scene has made unprecedented waves (including pushing the nation's prime minister to raise the issue publicly, and change his diet for ethical reasons), industry has come up with the same response: don't worry because we'll make sure the animals are well cared for

And, sadly, this strategy often works. One can see this by comparing Chipotle's growth with its former owner, McDonald's. Five years ago, the two companies had roughly equal share prices: Chipotle at $53.10 per share and McDonald's at $62.72. But over the next five years, the chart above shows what happened. Chipotle has grown explosively and is now nearly 1000% of its size five years ago! In contrast, McDonald's (though it remains the larger company) has seen the steady year-to-year-growth that you'd expect of almost any company by virtue of inflation. 

The upshot: Chipotle is where the industry is going. Chipotle is where the growth is happening. In a sense, Chipotle (if we are being strategic and predictive, rather than slow and reactive) is the only game in town

As a movement, we need to start responding not just to where the industry was in 1958, but where it will be in the next five years. Finding the new frontier is exactly what we are doing with our campaign: It's not Food. It's Violence

And we hope that you'll join us on December 14