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Advancements for Farm Animals Become Reality

The HSUS Farm Animal Protection campaign progresses one step -- and one bite -- at a time

  • tempting tempeh salad lunchbox

    Changes to our eating habits are one sign of progress for farm animals. Michelle Riley/The HSUS

by Paul Shapiro

The longest journeys begin with single steps. We've still got a very long way to go, but Americans have made some impressive strides for farm animals in recent years.

Perhaps the most promising news for America's farm animals to date came this summer, when the United Egg Producers and The HSUS agreed to jointly pursue federal legislation that would phase out barren battery cages for egg laying hens. The bill is soon to be introduced in Congress and will require an enormous amount of work to enact.

Even one year ago, such a bill being politically feasible would have been unthinkable.

We've been pushing for reforms in the egg industry for years. Now, we're seeing not just the potential for real advancements on the horizon, but also real results today.

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Take, for example, the animal welfare-minded purchasing choices made by large food service providers. Just last week, Harvard announced it was transitioning to 100 percent cage-free eggs, joining food giants Unilever and Subway. Other academic institutions, hospitals, and restaurant chains like Moe's are participating in the national Meatless Mondays movement. Even convenience stores like 7-Eleven are adding new meat- and dairy-free offerings.

These examples show how concern for farm animals is moving into the mainstream—and changing the American diet.

How mainstream?

Many celebrities and other influential advocates have joined the revolution in healthy and humane eating.

  • Oprah has a health- and weight loss-oriented diet guide that is entirely free of animal products.
  • Ellen also has a guide, featuring A-list celebrities who are helping animals by changing their diets.
  • CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta did an entire special based on Bill Clinton's life-changing diet.
  • The former president and COO of McDonald's Corporation just opened a new restaurant chain, LYFE Kitchen, devoted to socially responsible eating with a menu that includes numerous meat-free offerings and products from farms with high animal welfare standards.

These are the types of things few animal advocates could have conceived of just a few years ago, yet today they're a reality.

What can you do to help farm animals?

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Paul Shapiro is the senior director of farm animal protection for The HSUS. Follow him at twitter.com/pshapiro.

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