HSUS vice president Paul Shapiro began his career in activism by founding Compassion Over Killing (COK), a radical animal-rights group in the mold of PETA. COK was known in the Washington, D.C., area for targeting fur-seller Miller’s Furs with harassment. Under Shapiro’s leadership COK’s official magazine, The Abolitionist, was a vehicle to recruit activists, running a recruitment notice for the MF-ALF, which stood for Miller’s Furs-Animal Liberation Front. (The ALF has been labeled a domestic terrorist group by the FBI.) Disingenuously, this recruitment notice had a disclaimer at the bottom: “This article is for entertainment purposes only. COK does not endorse (nor condemn) any illegal acts.” Shapiro and other COK alumni were recruited to HSUS, and now this former instigator is the “expert” who dictates the minutia of HSUS livestock standards to farmers.
HSUS’ food policy director is Matt Prescott. Is he an expert farm veterinarian? Of course not. He is a PETA veteran and was the man behind that group’s offensive “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign. As you can imagine from the title, Prescott compares the food industry to the system of work- and death-camps run by the Nazis to exterminate Jews. “We’ve kept the systems and the attitudes, just changed the victims,” according to Prescott. To make it as clear as possible, he said, “Anybody who eats meat ... is guilty of holding the same mindset that allowed the Holocaust to happen.” Those tasked with preserving the memory of Nazi atrocities were horrified at his use of documentary photographs in PETA’s campaign. Now, at HSUS, he has perhaps kept the attitudes, just changed the scenery.
Prescott’s high position at HSUS highlights another little-known facet of the group. Although vegetarianism and other alternative diets continue to grow in popularity, 99 percent of Americans do not meet the dietary standards of HSUS, which is now a vegan activist organization. HSUS’ former vice president for farm animal issues, Miyun Park, admitted as much, saying, “we don’t want any of these animals to be raised and killed [for food] ... we work on promoting veganism,” meaning a diet free of animal products. Shapiro has added that “nothing is more important than promoting veganism.” CEO Pacelle was the person who implemented a vegan office policy soon after he took over HSUS.
This was a change for the group, whose previous presidents were not vegetarians and who had provided consumer guides to steer shoppers to meat producers who implemented “humane” techniques in their businesses. Since Pacelle took charge of HSUS, its guides are dedicated to promoting veganism. All food recipes on its website are vegan. Not even one uses an animal product, no matter how organic it may be or how free the range was for the producing hen.
Shapiro spoke at the “Animal Rights 2012” conference in Washington, D.C., and made it clear that “humanely raised” animal products is an oxymoron:
“For basically every animal product out there, we need to show people that there is an easy, delicious, and convenient alternative. If it’s pigs they want to eat, let them eat pig products that are made from plants. If it’s chicken, let them eat plant-based chicken products. If it’s turkeys, let them eat these plant-based turkey products, including Tofurky.”
“Pig products that are made from plants” is activist-speak for dishes made of seaweed and treated wheat gluten.
HSUS pursues its vegan strategy on two fronts. First there is its evangelization, with things like its pamphlets and recipe guides. But the other side of it is the political activism mentioned above, aimed at increasing the price of meat, dairy products and eggs. One surefire way to make Tofurky appealing is to make turkey prohibitively expensive in comparison.
That’s ironic given the sentiments of HSUS leader Wayne Pacelle, who seems to fall on the side of the animal-rights movement that is against companion animals in the abstract, if not in the immediate near term. He has said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born,” and has noted, “there’s no special bond between me and other animals.” Like its stance on animal products in the human diet, or its official stance on hunting, HSUS’ stance on pets may start out as one of targeting specific acute abuse, move on to wide-ranging punitive regulation and end in a total ban.
What comes to mind when the average person thinks of the Humane Society of the United States? Does he think of people who harass hunters, encourage extreme action against clothing stores, want to make Tofurky the Thanksgiving staple and long for a day when no cats or dogs are born?
Its very name—the Humane Society of the United States—implies this group aims at an improvement of man’s relationship with animals. But what it wants is the radical reform of almost all human society. It would end the practice of hunting “overnight” if it could. It would put every rancher and dairy farmer in unemployment lines. It would take sausage and eggs off breakfast plates.
Adding to the deception is HSUS’s tactic of appearing to be backed by those it opposes. In a 2010 ballot campaign in North Dakota to ban so-called high-fence hunting, HSUS’ lobbying arm used hunters in ads as a front to disguise its anti-hunting beliefs. This is a similar tactic to environmentalists forming or funding “sportsmen’s” groups like the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Project and Trout Unlimited. HSUS is also using a similar tactic in agriculture, forming state councils of “humane” farmers. It’s a classic divide-and-conquer strategy.
How long can an outfit like HSUS continue to operate? HSUS was founded in 1954 and its success in raising funds has been mostly recent. But the current regime is also facing increasing scrutiny. HSUS is a defendant in federal litigation filed by Ringling Bros. circus owner Feld Entertainment, which alleges that HSUS and two of its in-house attorneys took part in a witness-payment and bogus-litigation scheme. State political leaders, such as Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, have spoken bluntly against HSUS’ agenda. Six congressmen sent a letter to the IRS Inspector General asking for an investigation into whether the group has violated its tax-exempt status by getting involved in excessive lobbying.
HSUS has a sizeable brand. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition supported by restaurants, food companies and consumers to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices. Visit HumaneWatch.org to learn more.
1. ORC International poll of 1,011 adults, April 11-14, 2013. Margin of error ± 3%.