Let’s talk about animal agriculture lobby groups, and the so-called vegan “agenda”

On CBC recently, in response to more undercover footage showing horrible abuses of chickens in a mass production facility (aka a factory farm), Benoit Fontaine, a spokesperson for the Chicken Farmers of Canada commented that Mercy For Animals has an agenda (ending animal consumption) and therefore their investigative work should be discounted.  Here’s the transcript of that interview.

This is nonsense on so many levels.  Unfortunately most people don’t have even so much as a cursory understanding of how public relations and lobbying operate, so comments like this leave many nodding their heads and accepting that yes, MFA has an agenda, without taking the next step mentally and acknowledging that poultry industry lobbying groups also have an agenda, and a much more insidious one at that.

This article includes another quote, this one from the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council, which is almost verbatim what I heard during the CBC interview.  A spokesperson for that organization said that  Mercy for Animals was “not being forthright and transparent about their real purpose, which is to stop the consumption of animal protein in Canada.”

What exactly do you think the Chicken Farmers of Canada and Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council are? Neutral and benevolent organizations looking out for the public interest? No, they are a lobbying organization with an AGENDA to make as much money as possible for the poultry industry. Full stop.

The only “agenda” that vegans and organizations like MFA have is to create a kinder, less cruel world for animals and humans. I know that’s my personal “agenda.”

From the National Post article, Ian Duncan, a professor emeritus in animal welfare at the University of Guelph, said while he isn’t completely comfortable with the tactics used by Mercy for Animals, the results speak for themselves.  “At the end of the day, they’re doing good. I say that reluctantly. It’s a pity we have to have spies.”

And yet, here we are.  Make no mistake: 99% of the chicken that is consumed by the public is from operations like this.  The idyllic family farm / backyard happy chicken that most omnivores like to imagine that they are consuming are not the ones you’re buying at the grocery store.  The poultry industry lobby groups make it their business to keep you hoping and thinking that they are, though.

Most people are inherently good and don’t want to cause suffering to other beings, even if they’re chickens.  But it can also be difficult to change… more difficult than simply accepting the stories that we are being spoon-fed by sophisticated and well-funded lobbying groups that are masquerading as neutral, or even benevolent, while reinforcing our current societal norm of eating chickens.

Vegans take a lot of criticism for “forcing their views” on others (for a more detailed examination of this, see my previous blog post on the topic), but the reality is that we are bombarded every day with views being forced on us by powerful and vocal industry lobbying groups that make the vegan “agenda” seem like whispers in the night.

You – and everyone around you – have been subjected to a relentless stream of messaging and advertising, designed to normalize a treatment of animals that most of us find abhorrent when forced to confront its reality.   We live in a society in which  98% of restaurants have animal ingredients in 98% of their menu items, in which every holiday is celebrated with ritualistic dead animal eating,  in which it’s still socially acceptable to mock vegans.

Think about that for a minute. This is the animal agriculture lobbying groups in action.  Please, don’t try to tell me that it’s vegans who are aggressively pushing an unjust agenda.

At the end of the day… whose agenda do you think is more self interested? Vegans, who seek to end harm to animals? Or industry lobby groups with a mandate to maximize profits?

And which agenda would you rather support?


IMG_1493Pamela is an Ottawa-based expert on the topics of veganism and vegan advocacy, sustainability, and ethical consumerism.  She holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Carleton University and has worked in marketing, communications and public relations for 14 years, currently as a consultant for small businesses.  She has been vegan for 13 years, and co-founded Ottawa Veg Fest.


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