Claiming a shift in consumer demand, Whole Foods Market decided last week to sell only pre-killed lobster meat, around the same time that The Miami Herald ran a story covering developments in "free-range" veal farming. These stories are significant because both developments were met with applause from some national animal-rights groups. What kind of "animal liberation" groups praise business decisions that still result in people eating meat, you ask? Ones that are only telling you half the story.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had this to say about the lobster decision: "PETA applauds Whole Foods for joining Safeway in making the kind decision to spare lobsters — complex animals who feel pain and can live to be 100 years old — from living in filthy, cramped tanks." (Of course, PETA’s claims about lobsters and pain are dubious.)
Meanwhile, Farm Sanctuary praised a free-range veal farmer as innovating on the cutting edge of "a mini revolution in farming in general to raise animals more humanely." (Likewise with the "humane" claim here, which veterinary scientists dispute.) The fact of the matter is that every "reform" demanded by animal-rights activists is aimed at the goal of taking meat off our plates forever, no matter how nicely they praise each baby step.
When the Center for Consumer Freedom debated Farm Sanctuary president Gene Bauston on the BBC in 2004, he had literally nothing to say when asked to describe what "humane" livestock agriculture would look like. PETA’s president, Ingrid Newkirk, was much less bashful at the "Animal Rights 2002" convention: "There is no hidden agenda. If anybody wonders about — what’s this with all these reforms — you can hear us clearly. Our goal is total animal liberation."
PETA, Farm Sanctuary, and the Humane Society of the United States will, of course, continue to publicly insist that they’re only interested in "reforms." As soon as one of them serves "humane" veal, "free-range" chicken, or pre-killed lobster in their cafeterias or at a celebrity gala, we’ll believe them.