Pacelle: It’s not correct, actually. The most I ever talk about veganism is when I talk to the ag community or hunting lobby or someone who is trying to diminish or poke a hole in our work. If you listen to me talking about Prop 2 or any campaign whether it’s clubbing seals or combating dog fighting, I never bring it up. My personal dietary choices are my choices, but the folks within industry bring it up and I rarely do. Our board of directors is a national volunteer board of directors. Very few of them are vegetarian. I have been since I’ve been a teenager. Whatever I do in my personal life does not necessarily reflect the policies of HSUS and we support certified humane programs, we support other farmers, we work with farmers, we think farming is a noble profession.
I think it’s most important to recognize that we all need to eat and consume food. None of us suggest we want to go back to a hunting and gathering strategy. Modern agriculture is here to stay and it’s really about how it’s done. Putting animals and animal welfare into the calculation. Agriculture in my view got lost when it came to animal welfare. It was all about production and it was all about economics. Animal welfare got lost. You can talk about husbandry standards, you can talk about how you are not going to be productive if animals are not treated well, but we know that welfare and production are not tied closely. We know animals can suffer a great deal and still be productive. The basic views we espouse on confinement issues where veal calves or breeding sows or laying hens are in such small cages they can barely turn around, stand up, lie down, engage in the most basic behaviors is a view that agriculture represents that is out of step with common notions of what agriculture is about.
You can pillory HSUS, exaggerate what we are about, but at the end of the day the public is not going to make its decisions about these matters on what agriculture groups or HSUS says. They are going to look at what the ballot question and the legislative proposal offers. If we say animals should be humanely slaughtered, they shouldn’t be dragged if they are downers or moved with a forklift, or we say animals should be allowed to move if they are living for a year, two years or three years and not be crammed into a cage, I think the public will go with our view because that is the common sense view of the world. You can have an echo chamber within the world of industrial agriculture or confinement agriculture and people will say they are just a bunch of vegans and vegetarians that want to end our way of life. That is not the debate. The debate is about confinement systems, humane transport and humane slaughter.