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Why are cage-free petitions still a thing?

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Today I was invited to sign another useless petition.

On a change.org page, a petition to get Taco Bell to go cage-free is begging for 500 signatures. Now, even if we are to excuse the fact that asking for cage-free hens is a pointless endeavour, and that how chickens are raised for meat isn’t the issue, 500 random online signatures are not going to change the animal use of the fast food industry.

But of course I’m not going to ignore how pointless this endeavour is even if it gathered five million signatures. Apparently following policy in the US, a Mercy For Animals worker has decided to plead for the Canadian Taco Bell branches to follow suit. Pointing out that competitor companies have taken notice to consumers ridiculously demanding this “reduced” abuse of chickens almost makes me want to laugh out loud, as if they’re saying everyone is doing it. We shouldn’t sleep easy knowing the billions of chicken facing slaughter are, by our standards alone, slightly more comfortable before their gruesome deaths. And we certainly should not celebrate that the same chains who make their profits from killing and selling countless animal lives are now somehow better for making this change. And heaven forbid we take the credit for these changes when they do happen.

For Taco Bell to do the right thing, they’d have to stop using animals. But many activists don’t want to come off as judgemental, and they end up basically saying “go ahead with killing, but please be nicer about it, okay?” You’ve heard this from me before, but these single issue campaigns don’t tackle the problem of animal exploitation at large because they make people comfortable with continuing equally vicious acts because they’ve done something. How many people who sign this cage-free initiative will still use animal products in their lives? Nowhere on the petition does veganism come up, or how one person refusing to use animals would mean more change than the opening of all the cages at the farm that supplies Taco Bell. Our actions are obviously greater than our signatures. 

They say “you won’t believe how taco bell gets their eggs,” and ignore how they get their meat, cheese, and other animal products. Will the “comfort” of the chickens who produce their eggs change the lives of the cows they use, too? Or do we need these 500 signatures first, so you can build a petition for the rest of Taco Bell’s practices later?

Time, effort, and the love of these activists is being inappropriately placed on counterproductive endeavours like these petitions. Even if Taco Bell said “sure” to cage-free tomorrow, it wouldn’t stop people from supporting them; it would actually do the opposite. Rather than shouting about one unacceptable practice of one single corporation in a sea of corruption, speak to others about going vegan. Going vegan would mean rejecting far more than just cages, than just Taco Bell, and would do more than taking just baby steps.

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