In a recent blog essay (and in my work over the past 15 years), I argued that animal welfare not only fails to provide significant protection for animal interests but that it is counterproductive because it makes people feel more comfortable about animal exploitation. This perpetuates animal exploitation and may even result in a net increase in animal suffering through increased consumption.
Here is a stunning recent example of what I am talking about.
Strauss Veal & Lamb, which claims to process between 18% to 25% of the calves used for veal in the U.S., has set a goal of completely converting from stalls to group pens in the next 2-3 years. Randy Strauss, the company’s CEO, has written that veal crates are “inhumane and archaic” and “do nothing more than subject a calf to stress, fear, physical harm and pain.” Stating that “Animal rights are important,” he said: “We want to be the company to revolutionize the veal industry. There are a growing number of people who, if they feel good about what they’re eating, will eat veal. If we can capture that market, we’re going to increase the 0.6-pound per capita consumption market resulting in a healthier veal industry.” Strauss asserts that veal consumption rose in Europe, where individual veal stalls are now illegal, during the 5-10 year conversion process there. The company has also expressed interest in free-range and organic production.
- Strauss explicitly acknowledges that his goal is to make people “feel good” about eating veal.
- Strauss explicitly recognizes that welfare reform will lead to increased consumption of veal.
- Strauss reports that increased veal consumption occurred in Europe in response to welfare reform.
You can read an article about Strauss, “Revolutionizing the Veal Industry,” the cover story in the December issue of Meat Processing.
Animal welfare reform will not, as some claim, lead to the abolition of exploitation; it will lead to more animal consumption. Animal welfare reform will not lead to eradication of the property status of animals; it will merely reinforce that status.