Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fast Food

A big problem for people who want to eat humanely raised food is the fact that most restaurants don't serve it. Humane eaters don't necessarily have anymore time than anybody else, so the necessity of having to resort to a fast food drive-thru window or sit-down restaurant can undermine efforts to eat humanely raised food. Animal rights and animal welfare activists know this, which is why they've stepped up campaigns to convince restaurant chains to use only humanely raised products. Burger King announced such a shift in policy earlier this year, and now CKE Restaurants, owners of Hardee's and Carl's Jr's restaurants, have announced a similar change:

The Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast-food chains will begin purchasing eggs and pork from suppliers who do not keep animals in cages or crates, spokesmen for Hardee's and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Wednesday.

"We take the animal welfare concerns very seriously," Mochal said. "When you meet with PETA they make a pretty good case. We want to stay consistent with where the industry is at now and where it's heading."

PETA said it has used media campaigns and behind-the-scene negotiations since 2000 in an effort to get fast-food and grocery chains to reduce animal suffering.

"Consumers oppose the cruel treatment of animals, so we encourage other restaurants and food retailers to follow CKE's lead," PETA vice president Bruce Friedrich said.

Any effort associated with PETA usually has a whiff of radicalism to it, at least to most Americans familiar with the organization. But PETA has adopted a quite reasonable tactic in using a PR campaign to convince fast food restaurants to make incremental but important changes in their food purchasing policies. For some people this may not go nearly far enough. But the fact of the matter is it's asking a lot of most Americans to go meat-free, whether out of the interest of animal welfare or their own health. A lot of people don't have any ethical objection to eating meat, but they do have an objection to eating meat that comes from animals raised in inhumane and cruel environments. I firmly believe people will pay a little more to eat humanely raised meat, and animal products producers will produce it as long as they know people are willing to pay a little extra for it. PETA, Burger King and CKE seem to agree, and this is another step in the right direction.

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