“We humans are an extraordinary and creative species. We can solve the problem of animal cruelty with focused attention. We can maintain our lifestyles and enjoy life, and do so without hurting animals in the process. The old construct of “humans or animals” is an anachronism. We are on this small planet together, and our fates are bound up together,” said Wayne Pacelle of The Humane Society Of The United States.
If you are looking for a great book to read then Pacelle’s eye opening book is the one you for you.
Wayne Pacelle was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for Global Looking Glass about his book.
Do you feel animal rights and human rights go hand and hand?
There’s so much evidence that there is a close correlation between animal cruelty and other adverse outcomes in society. In homes where there is animal cruelty, there are often other forms of domestic violence present. On factory farms, there is not only mistreatment of animals, but harsh conditions for the workers and massive outputs of waste that degrades local communities. It’s an axiom of my work that when individuals exhibit cruelty to animals, they become that much more hardened to the plight of others – whether they are people or animals.
What has been your most memorable animal rights victory and the most challenging?
I am fortunate to have played a role in a cascade of wins to halt animal cruelty. One of the most memorable and important and challenging was the voters’ approval of California’s Proposition 2 in 2008. That ballot measure, to ban extreme confinement of animals on factory farms, not only garnered more votes than any prior citizen initiative of any kind, but I knew if we passed it that its effects would be felt far beyond the borders of California. Now, nearly eight years after voters backed it by such a wide margin, it’s played a catalytic role in more than 175 food retailers agreeing to phase out the extreme confinement of animals on factory farms – with veal calves and breeding sows to come out of their crates and laying hens to be freed from their cages in the years ahead.
Do you have a favorite campaign that you have worked on?
In the late 1990s, I mobilized our team at HSUS to ban cockfighting in every state in the nation – at a time when the spectacle was legal in six states (Oklahoma, for example, had 42 cockfighting arenas). We outlawed it everywhere, and passed a strong federal statute to make cockfighting a felony, and it’s so satisfying to be able to fill big gaps in the legal framework and to criminalize this kind of malicious and staged cruelty.
What can we learn from companies like Chipotle and Whole Foods?
They were the pioneers in the food retail business, providing that companies can demonstrate an ethical concern for animals and enhance their profits. Without their demonstrating the principles of the humane economy in the marketplace, we would not have seen so many other companies follow with new procurement policies against extreme confinement of animals on factory farms.
Do you feel that people are desensitized to the treatment of farm animals and how have companies like McDonald’s influenced their treatment?
We as a society are deeply disassociated from the backstory of food production. We get our food in a supermarket or a restaurant, and we have no information on how those animals are treated. When McDonald’s made announcements that it would phase out its purchasing of pork from operations that confine the sows and laying hens, that reminded consumers that their eating habits are bound up with very important moral questions.
What inspired your book? What was the writing process like?
I want to remind people that adhering to animal protection values is no longer a sacrifice or a hardship, but instead, it’s an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to do good in the world and express the best part of our humanity. And it’s an opportunity for business and government to provide for people and in the process to do no harm to animals. Every business or government program involving animal cruelty is now at risk and ripe for disruption, and that’s a good thing.
If you could choose a specific chapter that people who read your book should focus on what would it be and why?
I think Chapter Three, titled “The Chicken or the Egg – Or Neither?”. The combination of moral intention and human innovation is going to give us food choices that we never imagined and that will allow us to be healthier, well fed, and morally conscious.
Who should read your book?
Ha! As every author would say, every man, woman, and child on the planet! It’s really not just for business leaders or economists, but for everyone, since our lives intersect with animals in more ways than we know. It’s a bit of a guidebook for living a conscious, morally alert lifestyle.
Is there any animal rights issue that gets very little attention that should be focused on more?
We are mounting a major campaign to end the dog meat trade in China and South Korea. I think few people realize the magnitude of this enterprise, even though they may be vaguely aware of the severity of the abuse that the dogs endure. The scale and the intensity of suffering demands our attention.
Courtesy Image: The Humane Society Of The United States