Reasons For Optimism in 2004
- Subject: AR-News: Reasons for optimism
Ten years ago, all of the following would have been assumed to have been
a long way off, and yet here we are, looking at the following figures,
prosecutions, initiatives, and so on, and they've happened. Rather than
state, for each item, "this couldn't have happened 5-10 years ago,"
please just assume that if it's down here, consider it to be a
remarkable thing indeed.
* A Gallup Poll on animal rights in May 2003 found that Americans
support passing strict laws concerning the treatment of farmed animals,
62% to 35%, while 96% of Americans say that animals deserve some
protection from harm and exploitation, and 25% say that animals deserve
"the exact same rights as people to be free from harm and exploitation."
* Animal behaviorists are finally studying society's most
neglected animals-rats, mice, and farmed animals (chickens, pigs, cows),
and they're publishing their findings, so we now know that rats and mice
dream, play, and have a sense of fun, and we know that chickens, pigs,
and cows are every bit as interesting and intelligent as any dog or cat.
* Just last year, Florida banned gestation crates, marking the
first time a standard agricultural practice has been banned in the U.S.,
and the state (a conservative one) banned them by a margin of 55-45
* Last year, five of six ballot initiatives passed. In the past 13
years, 17 of 25 ballot initiatives for animals have passed. In previous
history, only one ballot initiative for animals had ever been passed
(and it was overturned).
* The very first felony cruelty prosecution for cruelty to farmed
animals took place a few years back in Belcross, N.C., when PETA went
undercover on a pig farm there. We secured more felony indictments in
rural Oklahoma as well after another investigation. These are not
bastions of progressive thought, yet they saw that pigs are more than
* In 2000, McDonald's eliminated some standard abuses of
laying hens, the first time any large company had said that birds have
some interests that matter. Burger King, Wendy's, and the trade groups
for fast food restaurants (National Council of Chain Restaurants) and
grocery stores (Food Marketing Institute) are being brought along.
* This year, The New York Times and The New Yorker both did
stories that discussed chicken intelligence, which had never happened
before. Once people start to see chickens as interesting and deserving
of respect, some basic protections are sure to follow, and fewer and
fewer people will eat them.
* A study this year funded by Safeway in the UK (not the same as
Safeway here) suggested that all the UK will be veg. by 2047, at present
rates of change.
* Last year, Burger King introduced a veggie burger in all of its
8,000 U.S. outlets. McDonald's is now test marketing one in more than
500 restaurants in California. Top companies see that the future is in
vegetarian foods: In 1999, Kellogg's bought veggie food maker
Worthington Foods, and Kraft bought Boca Burger, the best veggie burger
manufacturers. Check out <http://www.BocaBurger.com> www.BocaBurger.com
to see how much they're promoting it!
* Last year, two drunk guys were convicted of felony cruelty for
abuse of a calf, and misdemeanor cruelty for psychological abuse to the
calf's mother, who watched them drag her calf behind a truck. I have
this article if you'd like it.
* In the last few years, Germany put animal rights into their
constitution, the UK banned fur farming and an array of standard farming
practices as cruel. The EU is keeping countries out on the basis of
animal concerns. Just last night, the House of Commons voted
overwhelmingly to ban fox hunting. Can the U.S. be
* This year, Matthew Scully, senior speechwriter for George W.
Bush, published Dominion to rave reviews across the media spectrum. The
book does the best job of putting forth the perspective
of a pig. Among other amazing developments, Charles Colson and Pat
Buchanan were both deeply influenced and wrote and talked about the
book. Buchanan did a cover story in American Conservative about it and
Colson recorded two of his weekly commentaries on it!
* Animal Law is now taught at more than 20 law schools, where 10
years ago it was only taught at Rutgers and the Vermont Law School.
There are also two animal law casebooks. The first just came out in
2000, and is already in its second printing.
* A Zogby poll on vegetarian issues and concern for animals
indicates that a majority of Americans in all ethnic groups sometimes,
often, or always eat vegetarian at home. It was commissioned by PETA.
* Teens are the future, of course, and they're going veg. in even
grander droves! See www.PETA2.com, which is already more popular than
the vegetarian site, even.
* Two years ago, the U.S. Congress provided the first-ever
appropriation for the development of non-animal test methods by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA currently requires more
chemical toxicity testing on animals than any other federal agency. In
these painful tests, tens of thousands of animals (including birds,
mice, fish, frogs, rats, and turtles) are killed each year. Dogs are
poisoned with pesticides, and industrial solvents are smeared into
rabbits' eyes. Congress provided $4 million for the EPA's FY 2002 budget
"for the research, development, and validation of non-animal,
alternative chemical screening and prioritization methods."
* The Christian Vegetarian Association was founded a few years
ago, and Catholic Priest Fr. John Dear, S.J., has spoken out about
vegetarianism as a moral imperative for Christians. Even the Vatican has
spoken out about the degree to which modern factory farming systems are
a violation of Catholic teachings about kindness for animals. Last
month, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Linzey, a professor at Oxford and Anglican
Priest recently likened cruelty to animals (e.g., fox hunting) to rape
and child abuse (victimizing those who are weaker).
* Dennis Kucinich is, as far as we know, the first ever vegan
Presidential candidate, and he speaks about his veganism openly.
* Natural Foods Merchandiser (Jan 03) reports that retail sales of
vegetarian products have increased by 20 to 40 percent annually for the
last five years. In 1996, U.S. retail sales of veggie foods were $3.1
million; by 2001, sales had jumped to $1.25 billion. Mintel predicts
sales will hit $2.8 billion by 2006. Five to nine percent of American
adults-9.7 million to 17.4 million-are "almost vegetarians" who eat some
meat, poultry or fish, and another 38.6 million to 48.2 million
Americans-20 percent to 25 percent of the population-are "vegetarian
inclined," eating four or more meatless meals a week.
* The American Dietetic Association now has a vegetarian nutrition
specialist, a vegetarian working group, and advocates a vegetarian diet,
noting" a considerable body of scientific data suggest[ing] positive
relationships between vegetarian diets and risk reduction for several
chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity,
coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some types
* Starbucks, 7-11, and just about every grocery store in the
country all now sell Silk brand soy milk, which is a boon to cows and
their calves! Even John Stossel (ABC News) did a piece promoting Silk as
a tastier alternative to cow's milk (It was his "Give me a break"
segment, mocking the dairy industry for trying to stop soy milk from
being called milk!).
* Just this year, the NIH issued instructions to federally-funded
laboratories about how to properly kill mice and rats (who are not
covered under the AWA) after PETA's investigation into the Univ. of N.C.
revealed cruel killing methods and animals reviving in the "dead animal"
* There are now 17 cities with bans on animal circuses; this
happened for the first time in 1990 and they've been picking up steam,
with 9 bans in just the past two years.
* There are now six states with student dissection laws
a student's right not to dissect animals), 3 more states with statewide
policies, and 5 more large school districts that guarantee a student's
right not to dissect.
* Within just the last few years, more than 20 leading U.S.
colleges and universities have allowed their students to choose
* Despite years and years of defensive rationalizations, it is now
true that two-thirds of all U.S. medical schools, including Harvard,
Stanford, Columbia, and Yale, have eliminated the use of animals to
Postlude, in the "won that battle" category:
In the early eighties nearly all cosmetic companies claimed to test
their products on animals out of necessity, but now there are over 550
cruelty-free companies that sell cosmetics that have not been tested on
animals. Major product testers such as Gillette, Estee Lauder, Revlon,
Avon and Mary Kay no longer test their products on animals.
And on the fur issue, fur sales are in the toilet, designers are giving
the stuff away, their own spokesmodels don't even wear the stuff
(Giselle), and this year, we actually hosted a cruelty-free fashion show
during fashion week, another first!
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