Today, my colleague Paul Shapiro participated in a debate sponsored by WBUR, The Boston Globe, and UMass Boston about Question 3 – the statewide ballot measure in the Commonwealth that bans cage confinement of veal calves, breeding sows, and laying hens, and also stipulates that selling animal products from immobilizing cages and crates won’t be allowed in the state, no matter where they originate. So far, the opponents have not mounted the same sort of full-court press as when Prop 2 was on the ballot in California eight years ago. And by all accounts, Paul dominated the debate. You can watch the full debate here.
Paul is a good debater, but he also had a strong hand to play. Who really can defend confinement so extreme that animals can barely move? And with 200 major food retailers pledging to cleanse cage confinement from their supply chains – from McDonald’s to Walmart to Dunkin’ Donuts to other low-cost food sellers – who can reasonably argue that welfare improvements like this are not practical?
What’s more, it’s happening throughout the world, even in countries where people spend a larger share of their money on food. Today, at a press conference in Mexico City, our Humane Society International team announced with CMR, one of the leading restaurant operators in Mexico, that the company will switch to exclusively cage-free eggs in its entire supply chain. CMR will ensure that only cage-free eggs are served at all its restaurants throughout Mexico – including Wings, Chili’s, Olive Garden, Fonda Mexicana, Red Lobster, La Destilería, The Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bistro Chapultepec, and El Lago – by 2022.
“Animal welfare is a priority corporate social responsibility issue around the globe, and we’re proud to join this important initiative,” CMR’s CEO, Joaquín Mier y Terán, stated in our joint release today.
Forward-thinking companies like CMR take animal welfare seriously. We’re proud of the work we’re doing with food companies abroad, and the cascade of cage-free egg announcements we have helped generate in recent weeks and months. Just last week, I shared that Compass Group, the largest food service company in the world, pledged to go cage-free in the 50 countries in which it operates. Sodexo, the second largest food service company, also recently did the same. We’ve worked with major Mexico-based companies Alsea, Grupo Toks, and Grupo Bimbo on their recent announcements to only source cage-free eggs.
There are naysayers out there, people who swim against even the strongest tides of decency and progress, but these voices cannot prevail in a world where we are now starting to honor basic standards of care for animals.
We’re only 48 days out from the vote on Question 3, but every day, major companies are voting in the United States and other parts of North America and throughout the world for more responsible treatment of animals in agriculture. I’m confident that Massachusetts voters are going to stand with animals and with nearly the whole of the food retail sector in making it the fourth state in a row to pass a ballot measure to ban cage confinement of farm animals.