Friday, September 6, 2013

A Cage by Any Other Name Is Still a Cage

I’m admittedly a glass-is-half-empty person. I often find myself feeling disappointed and let down. Yet, in all my disenchantments, I never thought I would feel betrayed by some animal advocacy organizations whose mission I believed was to promote veganism, eradicate animal abuse, and fight for the rights of farm animals.

Tragically, groups like Mercy for Animals (MFA) and Farm Sanctuary, mainstays of the vegan movement, have chosen to collude with the United Egg Producers (UEP) to push forth the Egg Products Inspection Act, a piece of legislation that will do very little to help egg-laying hens but will give the egg industry the federal approval it needs to stay alive and functional for years to come.

For one, the Egg Products Inspection Act will legalize the imprisonment of egg-laying hens in cages and will prohibit state efforts to ban them, effectively keeping chickens caged for the foreseeable future. The bill will also increase cage sizes by about 57 square inches (in some eighteen years), but it will not eliminate them. Hens will continue to be treated as slaves—held against their will, tortured, and mercilessly killed for food. According to the Humane Farming Association, the bill contains no criminal penalties and, should it pass, the meaningless term "enriched cages" will begin appearing on egg cartons.

It comes as no surprise that the ringleader of this rotten legislation is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which continuously flaunts its promotion of "humane" meat and dairy. In fact, I was contacted by a representative of HSUS who urged me to obtain my senators' support for this legislation because, in her exact words, "This legislation seeks to provide a stable future for egg farmers and improve the treatment of laying hens."

The interests of the UEP and that of farm animals are mutually exclusive. We cannot, as animal advocates, both support the egg industry and egg farmers and also seek to eliminate the use of hens as commodities. As much as welfarists prefer to straddle the fence, it is unthinkable and unconscionable to accept some animal abuse just as we wouldn't accept some child abuse. No, the only way to root out the mistreatment of farm animals is to go vegan and energetically support others in going vegan; it's basic economics: No demand = No supply.

Reforming factory farm conditions and attaching an inconsequential label to egg cartons is not going to end egg consumption or animal cruelty. Those organizations supporting this legislation are, instead, undermining the cause by condoning variations of animal slavery and, in effect, simply making people feel less guilty about their continued consumption of animals and animal products.

Moreover, those sensitive to the plight of animals are looking to groups like HSUS, MFA and Farm Sanctuary for direction, and are being misled into thinking that it's acceptable and compassionate to eat eggs, dairy and flesh as long as they are from animals who were treated "humanely." This is blatantly wrong and perpetuates the consumption of animals because now it has been sanctioned by a few prominent groups who have lost their way. In the end, this does nothing to promote the vegan agenda and halt animal exploitation.

When it comes to human nature, most people just want excuses to justify their bad behaviors like eating animals and their secretions. They don't want to change. Sadly, the aforementioned organizations give these people exactly what they want and give the animals precisely what they don't. And this is all the more disappointing. 

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