Wayne Pacelle has become one of the most respected names in the animal rights movement. As the president of the Humane Society of the United States and a vegan of 28 years, Pacelle has worked with lawmakers, companies, other non-profits and the public to change the way this country treats animals. Next up? Tyson Foods. But this time, he plans on working for animals from the inside.
With the help of billionaire Carl Icahn, Pacelle is running for the board of Tyson Foods, the second largest meat company in the world. Why would the president of HSUS want to dirty his hands by joining a company that has proven time and time again that they don’t care about animals? To convince them that they should care, both for the sake of the animals and for their bottom line.
While in 2012 McDonald’s, Burger King, Costco, Safeway and Denny’s have all agreed to phase out gestation crates for pigs, Tyson has refused. Pacelle writes on his blog, “The company is not only making the wrong moral decision, but the wrong business decision, too. Any company has to adjust to shifting consumer tastes and demands…Is it not clear by this stampede of companies rejecting crates that there’s no future for this extreme method of confinement?”
Pacelle may not know the ins and outs of running for a board, but Carl Icahn, a giant in the business world, is advising him. Even if he doesn’t win, we hope that the conversation alone will help inspire Tyson to change with the times. Each day people are starting to care more and more about where their food comes from and how the animals were raised. Many already know and others are learning that gestation crates are cruel, outdated and deserve to be ditched for more humane methods.
If Tyson wants to stay competitive, they are going to have to alter their practices to make their customers happy. Pacelle writes, “Animals are at the center of the business model for Tyson Foods, yet it’s lagging badly on animal welfare and there is a widening gulf between its managers’ views and those of its customers and investors. If the company does not treat this issue in a serious manner, it’s going to lose market share, damage its brand, and become an outlier in the industry.”
Perhaps if Wayne Pacelle does win that board seat, he’ll serve as the conscience to a company that, so far, seems to be lacking one.
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