Cargill Phases Out Hog Crates: The Myth of Baby Steps

June 17, 2014

Cargill Crates

Photo: WikiMedia/HSUS

Cargill, one of the nation's largest pork producers has announced it will phase out its practice of using hog gestation crates. The company joins 60 other large companies that have made a similar transition, including General Mills, Target, and Supervalu. 

The crates, standard in animal agriculture, are used to hold pregnant sows and are so small the animals can not turn around or lie down. Breeding sows, who average two and half pregnancies per year, spend a vast amount of life suffering these miserable conditions and their complications. But while group housing may allow the animals slightly more freedom, there is no telling that it will increase the animals' safety or lessen their suffering.  We know the conditions that most "cage-free" chickens suffer—tens of thousands, sometimes one hundred thousand birds stuffed into a dark warehouse where broken limbs, disease, and fighting abound. Getting rid of crates, also, can not stop the abuse rained down upon the animals by factory workers. 

Big picture, this BUSINESS decision will be a win for the animal agriculture industry. By tossing a crumb to animal rights and appeasing the generally uninformed and uninterested public, they can continue producing their end products with more public consent and leeway than ever. 

Nevertheless, many activists will celebrate this shift. The Humane Society, known for its welfarism, congratulated Cargill's decision saying, "[This] decision brings us closer to the day when gestation crates will be relics of the past in the pork industry.  Americans simply don’t support locking animals in cages barely larger than their bodies, and Cargill is right to be leading its industry away from the practice.” 

This is "green-washing," a mere fantasy, a skewing of reality that bolsters the myth of "baby steps."

There is a difference between personal baby steps and corporate baby steps. I have patience for, and of course even celebrate people taking small steps toward veganism because we share the same essential goal and a life-centered vision for a world in need. But when it comes to major companies, there can be no "baby steps," for there is no shared goal, but rather an antiethetical vision based on profit and public relations—all over life and sustainability. 

My point is not to be a hater but to stay clear on the end goal. It doesn't matter what changes the animal agriculture industry makes because we will never see eye-to-eye. Our focus should remain on promoting veganism—the only shift that will truly change the marketplace.

How do you feel about Cargill's decision? Leave a comment below:

Entertaining Non-Vegan Guests

June 9, 2014

vegan menu

From the time my friend non-vegan friend Diane threw a vegan party—lovely!

As promised, I'm taking questions! Here's one from a fellow newsletter member, A.K. from the UK:  

Q. My vegan fiancee and I are getting married. We intend to provide tea and coffee after the reception meal, but I don't want to serve cow's milk. Do I tell invitees in advance (thus encouraging them to bring their own, and "making a fuss about it"), let them find out when they're here (thus aggravating lots of people and encouraging them to ask all the questions we get asked so often), or, though I'm wary of this, just provide cow milk from a local, "humane" farm?

A. Entertaining non-vegans is a common quandry, but feeling torn about what to serve is more about us than our guests. What should be a celebratory event/holiday dinner/birthday party/etc. may still inspire guilt and ambivalence if you're still thinking of your vegan ways as "abnormal." Like a punk rock kid at a prep school, you "know" (assume) the other kids are basically disappointed with you and think your choices are weird and annoying. Well, the bully species can smell this apologetic scent of surrender a mile away. It actually makes them hungry, I think. 

What advice would you tell our young punk rocker? Should he cave and throw on a collared shirt or rock his spikes with pride?

Be proud! The way you think and eat is beautiful, and entertaining is about sharing—beautiful food from wonderful recipes, a gorgeous table or buffet full of sparkling candles, shiny dinnerware, and fresh flowers! Forget "veganism," think beauty, marketing, and presentation! Change your own approach to entertaining, stop anticipating predatory reactions, and envision your guests stunned with delight at the exceptionally gorgeous options (remember—you can always serve a variety of vegan milk options, for example—hemp, almond, oat, rice, etc.). 

Anyway, I don't ever recall having seen a menu manifesto on any party invitation—brides and grooms don't generally explain why they're serving fish or chicken. Every party menu has its limits. So stick to normal protocol. Surprise your guests with a gorgeous spread, or, if you're including a menu on the invitation, just lay out the options without any explanation or defense (make it sound gourmet—use adjectives! "Loose-Leaf Lavender Infusion Tea with Steamed Almond Milk, Orange Blossom Oolong with...) 

But by all means, don't compromise your deepest beliefs, especially when you're the center of the party. You are the host, you get to decide...and what a great opportunity to share vegan choices. 

Got questions? Email Ruby here

May Favorites + Vegan Wins + Progress

May 28, 2014

First—I had SUCH a great time getting to know you all in the comments of my last blog about "angry vegans"—don't ever stop leaving me notes! I LOVE your philosophies and the way you support one another. You put me in such a good mood, I wanted to thank you—the very least I can do is share all the great things that have happened in the world recently. Check it out below and be happy!
Thank you, as always, for being part of this community!

Favorites + Wins + Progress:

This AMAZING 103-year-old is exposing Sea World's lies!

Do you know vegan Oh Dear Drea? She's got a gajillion readers and I understand why. #tooCute

 A (vegan) book you can give to non-vegan friends and family who have health/mood problems.

Kids reading to cats...why?

Forget the party at a hotel ballroom—this bar-mitzvah boy skips it (and becomes a real man).

A legal good riddance to this Indian tradition.

21 million other people watched this brave cat rescue her best boy. 

Jenny from the block starts eating vegan.

This fantastic elephant news is a thorn in the side of Ringling Brothers Circus...may it grow so big it takes them down in all cities!

Is the U.S. on its way to what would be a landmark victory over the circus?

This lawyer is fighting to give animals legal personhood...and now we'll get to watch!

Another film coming down the pipeline to help our movement! (T-shirts designed by me!)