WASHINGTON — During an animal-welfare hearing today on Capitol Hill, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) urged members of Congress to be skeptical of animal-rights activists from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Farm Sanctuary, who discourage Americans from eating meat no matter how “humanely” it is raised. The $150 million HSUS and Farm Sanctuary both promote a vegan diet (completely meat- and dairy-free).

CCF Director of Research David Martosko testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry: “When the topic of discussion is how to make livestock farming better, the complaints of radical vegans should be seen for what they are: an attempt to dismantle animal agriculture, not improve it. Thinking people should instantly recognize their ulterior motives.”

Last week HSUS ranked U.S. cities according to what it called a “Humane Index.” Its “Humane Eats” scorecard judges how “humane” a city’s dining options are by counting only the “number of vegetarian restaurants per capita.” Congress, Martosko said, should be alarmed at HSUS’s apparent judgment that only meatless eating can be called “humane.”

CCF’s message to Congress: No matter how much farmers take animals’ welfare into account, animal-rights leaders won’t be satisfied until all animal protein disappears from the human diet. “HSUS and PETA share the same long-term goals,” Martosko added. “No meat. No dairy. No animal agriculture. Period. HSUS is basically PETA with a nicer wristwatch.”

“Congress,” Martosko continued, “could require U.S. farmers to supply every pig, chicken, duck, and cow with private rooms, daily rubdowns, video iPods, and organic meals catered by Wolfgang Puck. But even this wouldn’t satisfy activists who actually believe farm animals have the ‘right’ not to be eaten.”

Martosko pointed out that family veal farmers bear the brunt of constant animal-rights attacks. And HSUS is working to completely outlaw foie gras, which is raised on a very small scale.

“I’ve never tasted foie gras,” Martosko conceded. “But who are these people to decide I shouldn’t have the chance to try it? When zealots ban books because of their politics, millions of people rise up. Why isn’t banning food for political reasons viewed the same way?”

Complete text of Mr. Martosko’s testimony is available. Contact J.P. Freire at 202-463-7112 for an interview.