Animal Ag Watch By Hannah Thompson-Weeman
Hannah Thompson-Weeman is vice president of communications for the Animal Agriculture Alliance.

Insights from HSUS’ “Taking Action for Animals” conference

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

Each year, the Alliance sends a few lucky representatives to several national animal rights conferences. We do this to keep our members and all of animal agriculture informed of the strategies and tactics our detractors will be using in their pursuit to take meat off of our plates.

Our attendees always come back full of stories and quotes that help show the activists’ agenda in their own words, and their return from this year’s Humane Society of the United States “Taking Action for Animals” conference was no exception. If you follow animal rights activism at all, you’ll know that HSUS is especially dangerous because it depicts itself as moderate and reasonable, despite the fact that it advocates for reducing, refining and replacing meat consumption.

The true intention of the group is certainly made clear by reading through quotes from some conference speakers – which included Nick Cooney, founder of The Humane League (formerly known as Hugs for Puppies – an extremist group affiliated with the convicted terrorist organization SHAC). I’ll let them explain in their own words:

Matt Prescott, senior director, food policy with HSUS, encouraged attendees in the “Helping Big Corporations Become More Humane” panel to approach shareholders and company leaders in a positive way, but to escalate pressure to get results: “When you don’t get the right reaction, be ruthless – find a way to yes.”

Kristie Middleton, also a senior food policy director with HSUS, spoke about Meatless Mondays, calling the campaign “a tiny little trick for a holiday from meat.” Middleton discussed how HSUS is getting food service companies and restaurants on board with the initiative and tasked attendees with going back to their school system and asking for Meatless Mondays, concluding “We can and we will alter the course of history for animals.”

Reasa Currier, HSUS’ strategic initiatives manager for faith outreach, spoke about HSUS’ 15-member multi-faith advisory council, stating that, “Many faith groups are weighing in on industrial agriculture,” and telling participants that people have a duty to “let these creatures engage in natural behavior” and “put aside the differences and work to get something done.”

Suzy Welch, an author, television commentator and journalist, also discussed religion and animal rights, stating that the animal rights movement needs to share its message because it is also God’s message. Welch said that today’s food system (and eating animals) “goes against God,” and added, “I am the church out there because I’m not killing animals.”

Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, began her remarks with a so-called joke: “How many factory farmers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, because they want to keep us in the dark.” Meier also frequently used the phrase “plant protein is in” and stated, “the most important way to protect the environment: go vegan.”

It’s important to understand just how intent HSUS and other animal rights groups are to pressure retailers, restaurants, investors and food service industries into supporting their meat-free agenda – even if those brands don’t realize that is what they are being asked to do. I encourage you to share this information with your customers so they know that adopting Meatless Mondays or agreeing to change one animal care policy for suppliers is just the beginning of a future filled with more and more activist demands in an attempt to remove meat, dairy and eggs from their stores and menus altogether.


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