A Betrayal of the Animals

I just got an email containing a press release from a PR firm on behalf of Mercy for Animals.

ScreenHunter_726 Dec. 31 14.40

In the press release, Mercy for Animals praises cage-free eggs:

With the enactment of Prop 2, California is leading the way towards a society in which farmed animals are treated with the respect they so rightly deserve,” says Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals. “As a civilized nation, it is our moral obligation to protect all animals, including animals raised and killed for food, from needless suffering. It’s time for egg producers nationwide to end the cruel and inhumane confinement of hens in wire cages so small they cannot walk, spread their wings, or engage in most natural behaviors.”

It is not clear whether Proposition 2 requires “cage-free” conditions. Some claim that it is satisfied by “enriched cages,” such as the one pictured below.


(photo: Compassion in World Farming)

In any event, the MFA statement is morally repugnant:

First: Confining these poor birds in cage-free barns does not amount to “respect.” And it is outrageous to use that word in this context.

Second: “Cage-free” does not “protect” the birds.

Third: MFA suggests that cage-free addresses “needless” suffering. Since we do not need to consume eggs for optimal health, all suffering in this context is needless.

Fourth: MFA tells us that cage-free is what a “civilized nation” does.

Fifth: And for a so-called “animal advocate” to suggest that cage-free barns are not “cruel and inhumane” is nothing short of a betrayal of nonhuman animals.

Sixth: The word “vegan” appears nowhere in the press release.

This is nothing more than “happy-exploitation” propaganda and for groups like MFA to claim that statements like this are not intended to make people feel better about consuming “happy” animal products is either a matter of dishonesty or delusion.

Here what cage-free looks like. This is what Mercy for Animals calls “respect”:


(Photo: New York Times)

This comes as no surprise. Ever since 2005, Mercy for Animals, along with Peter Singer and the other large animal welfare groups, have explicitly and publicly embraced “happy exploitation”:



If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

And never, ever buy into the nonsensical notion that we need to promote “happy exploitation” in order to get people to go vegan. It’s the opposite: the entire “happy exploitation” industry has one goal: to make the public more comfortable about animal exploitation.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione