THE FALLACY OF THE HUMANE ECONOMY
If you use animals, you are guilty of animal cruelty. If we don’t use animals, we will be better off as a society.
Those two sentences are at the core of Wayne Pacelle’s message in his soon-to-be-published book, The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals. According to Mr. Pacelle, it is only through his so-called “enlightened consumer” that animals are truly cared for and nourished.
The animal rights industry has always attempted to appeal to humans through the heart. They’ve used a strategy of emotional bombardment to sway consumers into a vegan lifestyle devoid of meat consumption and animal usage. It has worked quite well for them in that regard. Most of the folks who join their ranks can only see the argument from an emotional point of view, not a rational one.
Lately though, it seems that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its allies are refocusing on a new plan centered on convincing society that not only is a vegan lifestyle better for animals, but that it makes sense from a commercial aspect for humans as well.
Follow with me for a second. Imagine that you’re an animal rights supporter trying to convince your friend or family member that a vegan lifestyle is right for them. What would you possibly say that would make them think their current way of life is wrong for their long-term well-being?
Certainly you could make the health appeal, but as studies have shown, a diet rich in meat is much more efficient for acquiring protein and the other essential vitamins and minerals we need to survive.
Perhaps you could argue that animals were not meant to be food – unfortunately, you’d first have to convince most of the rest of the species on this planet that the food chain is a farce perpetuated by “Big Survival”.
No, you’d have to appeal to their logical side. What about their wallet or purse? Surely there are economic advantages to a vegan lifestyle. The “Humane Economy”, as Pacelle claims, would allow us remove our need for animals and instead focus on innovators who are creating new ways for our society to live happily and healthy.
Pacelle’s new book will attempt to convince its readers that all animal use is animal cruelty. Never mind how the animal is treated under your care. Take for instance the latest zoo protest in Dallas, where animal rights activists are arguing that recent elephant additions should be released back into the wild, despite the fact that they were rescued in order to prevent them from starvation.
Does it matter that these elephants are being placed in a caring environment where they can be happy and healthy? Not to these activists, who see it as imprisonment.
It is imperative that we always view these animals through a compassionate lens - that is one thing on which we can all agree. It is also true that an emerging consciousness among consumers for animal welfare to be taken into consideration in business practices is not necessarily a bad trend.
What we, and many logical people, have tried to inform the American public of, is the fact that animal welfare is not the same thing as animal rights, an important distinction that needs to be recognized. It is ridiculous to suggest that you cannot care for animals when you have dominion over them.
The “Humane Economy” concept has allowed HSUS and other animal rights groups to pressure U.S. industry into caving to their demands. SeaWorld just made the decision to end its killer whale breeding program and phase out their use at parks. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will end the use of elephants by 2018. Egg producers are being forced by restrictive new laws to completely upend their operations in order to meet absurd cage standards that don’t supply any extra safety to hens.
A major question about veganism is its viability on a large scale. Some will argue that it is a more efficient means of feeding the world, but that assumes you can motivate U.S. food producers to each accept less money for more work in order to maintain the production that organic vegan production would require. Under the animal rights industry’s demands, you’d also have to forget about genetic modification and biotechnology as a way to grow more food, so that method is off the table.
According to Jayson Lusk and Bailey Norwood, researchers who studied potential impact of vegetarianism on the economy, many vegan/vegetarian foods are less efficient to produce than meat. They note that “Livestock can be produced on otherwise relatively unproductive land, whereas fruits and vegetables, along with being inherently more expensive, require high-quality, productive land; land which, in the U.S. anyway, is relatively rare.” The disruption in business that Wayne Pacelle openly touts would have disastrous effects on American businesses and workers. From Lusk and Norwood’s research:
“Lusk also found that a large-scale shift towards vegetarianism could have some unintended side effects. For one, it could help cause “economic hardships to those working in the livestock and meat processing sector who would then have to find alternative employment.” Additionally, because a drop in meat consumption would drive down the price of corn and soybeans (both of which are commonly used as cattle feed), a shift towards vegetarianism could also mean that crop producers might find their products have suddenly decreased in value, causing hardships for farmers, too.”
For an industry that is already struggling with the dwindling number of new food producers entering the field, this would be catastrophic.
The types of changes “The Humane Economy” is advocating would cause a major shift in food production that would be impossible for farmers to adapt to, and as we all know the immense costs of a dramatic switch would be passed on to consumers, whom HSUS is trying to convince a “Humane Economy” would benefit.
This may be difficult for an executive from a Washington, D.C.-based animal rights organization to understand, but there are real consequences to pushing the vegan lifestyle on our society. The food producers we defend, and who he gives little consideration, would be devastated. Low income families who rely on affordable food at the grocery store would face additional hardship in feeding themselves. Americans would struggle mightily, and the results would not be great for society.
That doesn’t seem very humane to us.