The trade website Pizza Marketplace ran a piece yesterday about how supposed "animal rights" groups PETA and HSUS are tag-teaming to take on the pizza industry. According to the site, both organizations "are 'crashing' Papa John's and Domino's shareholder meetings". What they mean by this is that HSUS has recently used its supporters' dollars to become a shareholder in Domino's Pizza and that PETA has done the same with Papa John's. PETA has, of course, been doing this sort of thing for years. I remember back in 2003, for instance, when it proudly announced its having become "part owner" of Tyson Foods, Inc., the world's second largest processor and marketer of the flesh of chickens, cows and pigs.
Why on earth would two organizations that promote themselves as advocates for animals and let others misrepresent them as "animal rights" organizations choose to profit from animal exploitation? Both PETA and HSUS claim that these actions were taken to give them each an official say in the decisions each pizza company makes (via shareholders' meetings) with regards to the animal flesh and secretions it uses to garnish the products from which it profits -- the animal flesh and secretion covered products from which supposed animal advocacy organizations PETA and HSUS also now profit. So will PETA and HSUS try to convince these companies to stop exploiting animals? Nope. Will PETA and HSUS maybe opt for the token gesture of trying to convince these companies to incorporate some animal-free substitutes for the dairy cheese and animal flesh they use on their pizzas? Nope. A half-hearted attempt to get them to use less animal flesh or secretions? Nope. According to Pizza Marketplace :
The Humane Society of The United States' Kristine Middleton said she would address what she said is [Domino]’s practice of using pork from suppliers that confine breeding pigs in gestation crates.So HSUS bought stock in -- and is profiting from -- a company that uses the flesh and secretions of cows, the flesh of pigs and chickens and the flesh of fish. And why? To talk to Domino's about using gestation crates? As Gary L. Francione stated in his 2007 interview with Eric "Happy Meat" Marcus, enlarging or getting rid of gestation crates is like offering someone a "string band on the way to the gas chamber". Furthermore, aside from the fact that it does nothing to address animal use, it would only serve to make people feel more comfortable about eating pig's flesh on their pizza. This is how HSUS justifies profiting from the use and exploitation of non-human animals. As for PETA, the self-described "animal rights" group:
Stephanie Corrigan from PETA said the group would like to work with Papa John's on the company's dairy standards. "We're looking at the dairy farms they're using and encourage pizza companies to make sure their suppliers implement the most basic animal welfare standards," she said.While PETA is profiting from the use and exploitation of animals, it wants to try to ensure that the companies exploiting the animals in question at the very, very least offer those animals "the most basic animal welfare standards". How charitable of them! While this is going on, the people over at the industry-front Center for Consumer Freedom (via its HumaneWatch site) are having a really good laugh, chortling that "PETA has been doing this for years [and that] [t]hey never got more than about 3 percent of support from any shareholders." I wonder, on the other hand, what percentage of the world's third largest pizza delivery company's profits PETA will get; with Papa John's over $1B in revenue in 2007, I'm guessing that it could be a nice chunk of change.
Of course, one does have to take what spews out of the Center for Consumer Freedom with a grain of salt, since they do also insist that in seeking to regulate various companies' use of animals and in choosing to profit directly from the use and exploitation of non-human animals, that somehow, HSUS has a "vegan agenda". It seems to me, however, that if HSUS actually had anything even vaguely resembling a "vegan agenda" that it would actually spend some of its millions seriously advocating for veganism. It doesn't. Furthermore, as long as HSUS can trick its financial supporters into allowing it to sell them indulgences while profiting from the actual hands-on exploitation of animals -- its bread and Earth Balance, why on earth would it have any interest whatsoever in actually advocating for the actual end of animal exploitation? Why on earth would it seek to educate consumers about not providing demand for animal exploitation, if doing so would ultimately affect its own profit margins?
I love pizza with the sort of ferocity that most people reserve for chocolate or reality TV shows. Thankfully, my pizza fix comes animal-free quite easily now. Between the vegan cheese and meat substitutes available on the market right now, the frozen vegan pizzas and the hundreds of other plant-based ingredients available to use as toppings, there's no need for a single animal to be enslaved and then slaughtered for anyone to indulge themselves in a slice.
Of course, you won't be hearing about that from HSUS or PETA, now, will you?