The Cheesecake Factory—a restaurant chain with nearly 200 locations—announced it is embracing the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare for its farm animal procurement program. The first steps include eliminating pork from operations that use gestation crates by 2020 (two years ahead of its earlier announced timeframe) and switching exclusively to cage-free eggs with a timeline that will be announced within a year. The company tells us it will issue additional statements soon, reminding its customers of the holistic approach it is taking on farm animal welfare issues.
The Cheesecake Factory, which serves more than 80 million customers each year, is the latest major food retailer we’ve had the pleasure of partnering with to announce its support for the Five Freedoms. In a tectonic shift, Walmart, one of the biggest corporations in the world, with sales of nearly half a trillion dollars, embraced this policy two months ago. In March, Aramark announced a timeframe for going cage-free for all of its egg purchases, and tied to that, it became one of the first Fortune 500 companies to embrace the Five Freedoms. General Mills made an announcement with us last month that it will commit to working toward 100 percent cage-free eggs for its U.S. operations .
I wrote earlier today (making it a rare two-blog day) about clerical leaders in Nepal announcing an end to the Gadhimai Festival, which has been the largest animal sacrifice spectacle in the world. It’s been going on for 250 years, and now the killing at the festival will end. What a moment.
Remember, this is also the year that Ringling Bros. announced a phase-out of its use of elephants in traveling acts. We’ve seen a series of announcements from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, urged on in each case by The HSUS, to establish new rules to protect elephants by virtually ending commercial trade in ivory, to protect chimps by classing captives as endangered, and banning imports of four species of large constricting snakes.
Hugo Boss announced an end to all fur sales. We’ve won four federal court cases just this year upholding local ordinances that ban the sale of puppy mill dogs. Yesterday the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld California’s anti-shark finning law. These rulings and others solidify state and local government authority to ban the sale of animals and trade in their parts to prevent animal cruelty, and will help protect a host of similar laws and citizen initiatives enacted around the country.
It was just last month that Pope Francis issued an encyclical, in which he wrote movingly about our responsibilities to all animals. The Pope noted that “our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is ‘contrary to human dignity’.”
There’s much more to do. But this roster of wins should more than quicken your pulse and give you cause for hope that the world is changing for animals – dramatically so, comprehensively, and across all sectors of the economy.