Saturday, May 23, 2009

Applauding Token Gestures: HSUS and Wendy's

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced yesterday that it's applauding Wendy's for its recent decision to use a minimum of 2 percent cage-free eggs. It's such a token gesture that's so clearly designed to just drum up some positive welfarist PR:

"The Humane Society of the United States applauds Wendy's for responding to customers' concerns about animal welfare and taking this positive step," stated Paul Shapiro, senior director of The HSUS's factory farming campaign. "Wendy's new policy is reducing the number of birds confined in cruel cages, and is sending a clear signal that it's time for the egg industry to move away from inhumane confinement."
If Wendy's customers were indeed so concerned about animal welfare, would changing how a mere 2% of the chickens used by Wendy's are treated really have that much of an impact on whether or not they continue to spend their money at Wendy's? An overwhelming 98% of the chickens they'll continue eating there will still be subjected to the same brutal confinement. How does the change in treatment of 2% of the chickens in any way make it more ethically acceptable for them to continue supporting Wendy's and continuing to eat the other 98% of the sourced birds?

I wonder what the real concerns were in the first place and suspect that it's not really so much about the chickens as it is about people wanting to try to alleviate some of their guilt.
If Wendy's customers were indeed so concerned about the well-being of these chickens, then wouldn't it make sense for them to just not eat the chickens in question? Are Wendy's chicken products so bewitching and addictive that Wendy's customers just can't not stuff them into their mouths? I guess that they really aren't that concerned after all.

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