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Join HSUS’s Cage-Free Campus Campaign

In a perfect world, no one would eat eggs. But until then, every step toward a more humane life for egg-laying hens is a step in the right direction. The Humane Society of the United States is leading the way, and by taking part in its Cage-Free Campus campaign, you can help.

HSUS persuades companies and schools to stop buying eggs that have been produced in battery cages, and it has seen great success with corporate giants like Google, AOL, Whole Foods, and Wild Oats. (Trader Joe’s has at least gone cage-free for the eggs it sells under its store label, while Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t budged an inch with regard to its U.S. ice cream.) As far as colleges go, Yale, Tufts, Vassar, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dartmouth, among others, have made the switch to cage-free in their dining halls. But a lot of schools still haven’t, and yours might be one of them.

Getting your school to go cage-free might seem like a daunting task, but Josh Balk, the outreach coordinator of HSUS’s Factory Farming Campaign, can help you make it happen. Contact him for articles on going cage-free, the most effective arguments to use when lobbying cafeteria management, tips on how to hold successful meetings, and contact information for nearby providers of cage-free eggs.

So help the hens by getting your university to go cage-free. Josh Balk can be reached at 301-721-6419 and


  1. Comment by


    on #

    Battery cages are the worst confinement devices in factory farming today. Congratulations to all of the students who worked with HSUS to have their schools end their use of battery eggs. I hope there’s more to come!

  2. Comment by


    on #

    If in a perfect world, no one would eat eggs, then let’s create that world. Imagine the good that would come (to all animals) from helping colleges to develop vegan cuisine. Instead, this campaign simply asks college students to spend their dining dollars on higher-priced, niche-market eggs.

    How does one distinguish between HSUS’s campaign and that of farmers who wish to profit from a “value-added” product: “You are also getting into a market which has assured growth; it is forecast to take 40-50% of the market by 2012.”

    This issue is addressed in detail in Capers in the Churchyard (reviewed here yesterday), which reminds us that there are no standards defining “cage-free” and even if there were, more space for domesticated animals trade-off with habitat for free-living animals. “From both an animal-rights and an environmental perspective, it makes no sense to ask for bigger ranges for animals no one should eat.”

  3. Comment by


    on #

    Noah, I sympathize with your view. It’s the perennial debate over whether half-measures are better or worse than no measures at all. But I think that, realistically, most of this country will eat eggs for a very long time into the future. So we might as well lessen the harm that will be done (while still pushing to reduce egg consumption overall).

    Further, I think the more we can get people to think about the origin of their food, the better off the animals are in the long run.

    I agree that we need to be careful to ensure that the eggs bought are from truly pastured hens, clucking around outside, not just pseudo-cage-free hens. But that’s an accountability issue that can be overcome be knowing the source, not an inherent flaw in the idea.

  4. Comment by

    Roseann Marulli

    on #

    I understand your frustration, Noah. I’d love for animals not to be used for food or food production either. But the world just isn’t going to go vegan overnight, so why should hundreds of millions of birds continue to suffer the horrors that accompany battery cages? I think we should alleviate any suffering that we can.

    By the way, many schools, like NYU, offer daily vegan options and even feature completely vegan feasts each month ( It’s not everything, but it’s a start.

  5. Comment by


    on #

    It’s completely unrealistic to believe that colleges are going to completely end their use of eggs. The only question is whether it’s better that the eggs come from hens confined in battery cages, or they come from hens who were able to walk around.

    Of course cage-free farms aren?t ideal (which is why I?m vegan), however at least the hens can walk on solid ground, flap their wings, and lay their eggs in a nest – actions all prohibited by battery cages. There are 300 million egg-laying hens confined in battery cages in this country. Before everyone goes vegan, isn?t better that those hens endure less suffering?

    I believe that promoting veganism is extremely important and I do it regularly. However, so is waging campaigns to ban the very worst factory farming abuses. I think the following essay by Vegan Outreach is perfect in explaining why vegans should support these types of campaigns:

  6. Comment by


    on #

    It’s the perennial debate over whether half-measures are better or worse than no measures at all.
    If you believe that is the debate, then I can understand your confusion. Thankfully the choice is not between doing nothing or pushing for specialty eggs. The choice is really between creating a vegan world or facilitating the exploitation of animals.

    I agree that the world isn’t going to go vegan overnight. But, if the animal rights movement is to succeed, the world will, in fact, have to go vegan. If we in the movement believe that this is “unrealistic,” then what hope does the animal rights movement have?

    We must start building a vegan world now. That is what veganism and promoting it is about. Veganism is not about “lessening harm” or “reducing suffering.” It is the revolutionary enactment of animal rights in the world today.

    We don’t have to sit around and wait for the world to change. We ourselves are the powerful people responsible for changing the world. That change is an incremental process. There will not come a day when all of the cage doors fly open magically. We have to build that world step by step.

    The Vegan Outreach article tries to misappropriate the struggle for the abolition of slavery, but they miss the point. When the abolitionists asked for the end of slavery, they did not try to reform it. They did not push for better conditions of the slaves. That was what the slave owners did in an attempt to pacify the public. But here in the animal rights movement, we take on the role of exploiter and do it ourselves. We can do better.

  7. Comment by

    Olivia Lane

    on #

    I think this campaign for cage-free eggs will do good things for chickens fast, so I’m in favor of it. The problem I have as a vegan activist/ educator is that the consumption of cage-free eggs makes people become self-righteous bourgeois jerks.

    It’s really annoying to be doing vegan outreach and have some selfish rich person (who could afford to eat anything he wanted) smugly tell me it’s okay that he eats eggs because the eggs he eats are cage-free. I always remind them that cage-free eggs are still a product of animal exploitation, inevitable cruelty, and that those hens are still being sent to slaughterhouses once they’re spent. Still, it’s annoying to have to unteach folks half-truths that have learned from animal welfare campaigns.

    Of course, the HSUS and other welfarist groups never told these people that eating cage-free eggs is morally neutral territory. In fact, the HSUS has been actively advocating a vegan diet for at least a year now. It’s just that people put that filter up and only hear what they wanna hear or what’s easy to hear. I just wonder if the cage-free campaign makes it harder for them to hear that the real issue is that they need to choose veganism.

    I think the only solution is to publicly and loudly shame people who eat cage-free eggs. The new slogan for cage-free eggs should be “Cage-Free: The breakfast of self-deluded, half-assed punks everywhere!” Shame is generally the state of mind you want people to be in because it’s so motivating. Eventually they’ll take a bold step and do the right thing. No?

    Okay, I’m kidding and then I’m not. Cage-free eggs are for losers, but in some cases they are the choice of compassionate losers who either don’t have enough info to know that going vegan is the thing to do or they just aren’t there yet. It’s our job as advocates to sort of swallow our bile and help them go vegan. Try making a compliment sandwich: Applaude their good intentions of helping animals, let them know that cage-free eggs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and finally tell them they can help animals even more by dropping eggs and adding hen-friendly foods like tofu scramble and vegan cupcakes to their diet. Of course, this only works if they’re not self-righeous bbourgeois jerks who were eating cage-free eggs just to throw money at a problem they had no intention of really working to alleviate. But hey, it’s worth a shot.

  8. Comment by


    on #

    I just wonder if the cage-free campaign makes it harder for them to hear that the real issue is that they need to choose veganism.
    Witness the Ben & Jerry’s campaign. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. If HSUS mounts a campaign against one ingredient in ice cream what message does that send about the rest of the product? Our silence is complicity.

    HSUS doesn’t advocate veganism (veganism is more than a diet). They advocate “vegetarian eating” in the context of “reducing, refining, and replacing” eating animals. This waters down revolutionary veganism (as described above) into a welfarist tactic.

    An organization with the kind of resources that it has — if it were to put veganism front and center — could do a lot of good, both in the immediate short term by reducing animal consumption, and in the long run in terms of building a vegan world. But if they were to do that, they fear they would alienate their cat and dog donor base, and then they wouldn’t have so many resources. So they choose welfarism. They get modest reforms that they (and industry) can claim as victories, and the donations keep rolling in. But fundamental change? That’s not even on the agenda. That pattern is typical of the non-profit industrial complex.

  9. Comment by

    frank language

    on #

    Anyone promoting a vegan agenda can also alienate people quickly and thoroughly. People I go out to restaurants with smirk and remark to me that I follow veganism like a “religion.” And I’ll even agree that scrambled tofu is obviously different from scrambled eggs; most “vegan equivalent” foods are equivalent but not the same as the foods they’re supposed to replace. People can feel cheated if they get carob expecting chocolate, only to find that it’s not chocolate.

    I find it unfortunate and painful that we have to win people over gradually, but if you live in the world, you always have people making smug asides about how things are; last week at the Candle Cafe, my (73-year-old omnivore) mother saw the sign “Friends don’t let friends eat meat” and said, “That’s not right; if you’re really a friend, you’ll let them do what they want.”

    Most people feel that animal products are necessary; I was at Kiehl’s Pharmacy last week and tried to explain to a saleswoman there that I don’t use lanolin because it comes from wool, and she said, “Don’t the sheep need a haircut sometimes?” This is the mentality that we’re up against, and we’re moving at a glacial pace: three steps forward, two steps back.

  10. Comment by


    on #

    There is no reason why one can’t support the concept of improving conditions, while simultaneously working toward abolition. I am a vegan and an abolitionist, but I am also a realist. Having worked as a nurse for over 25 years, and being an animal activist since the early 80’s, I have learned quite a bit about human nature. Human defense mechanisms are extraordinarily strong. People have the ability to remain willfully ignorant regardless of the facts they are presented with. The more extreme the concepts are and the more further away from their current practices (which often involves eating meat 3 times a day), the more likely (and quickly) they are to reject them. Once you have lost someone, it’s very hard, if not impossible, to recapture their attention/consideration. With every success (no matter how seemingly small), the public is exposed to the issues. This gradually erodes pre-conceived notions and provides us the opportunity to nurture compassion in a way that we will not alienate, and therefore LOSE the public.
    There is no reason we cannot promote veganism as the ultimate goal while pushing for improvements for the animals suffering in the system currently.
    Additionally, we don’t all have to be concentrating on the same thing or coming from the same angle to be effective. Since people differ so greatly, we should be using any and all approaches that we find effective.
    Even if we chose to take different routes to our ultimate goal of abolition, we should be respecting and supporting each other, and working together whenever possible.

    Rina Deych

  11. Comment by


    on #

    Also, to say HSUS is not promoting veganism is not true.
    Here is their site promoting “vegetarianism”:
    They are actually advocating veganism, just calling it vegetarianism so as not to scare away/turn off the public.
    To most average Americans the concept of veganism is alien, so HSUS uses a softer term they are more likely to respond to.
    Other groups use this tactic (which I think is brilliant). The Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary advertises a “Vegetarian Starter Kit”

    Rina Deych

  12. Comment by


    on #

    Hi all,

    I appreciate the work that all people who are protecting animals are doing. My comments are not meant to disparage at all anyone personally, but to be critical of certain tactics and to a much lesser extent, be critical of a well intentioned thinking that may just be unaware of some serious and real concerns or a bit clouded by frustration or anxiety that changes are not progressing as fast as one would like.

    The dangers with animal rights activists changing to supporting welfare campaigns are several, I’ll touch on a few here for starters; 1) the a) moral premise and b) question is turned from a) animals are deserving of respect and compassion and b) shouldn’t animals not be treated like property? to a) the concern for animals’ fundamental interests isn’t so important as long as animals are treated somewhat better, and b) now that chickens are confined in enclosures instead of cages, why don’t you just carry on eating eggs?.

    2) the animal rights movement begins to not have a cohesive message of the very foundation of what our movement is supposed to stand for — the protection of animals’ interests today and tomorrow. By name, ethical principles, and goals alike — if we have no consistency, then we have lost a huge part of our foundation already. 3) people who are ostensibly being told that it’s okay to eat animals and their by-products as long as the animals are treated somewhat better (all the while these same animals are being quikly fattened for the kill) by the very people who are supposed to fight exclusively for their interests and for the future generations of animals’ interests, are apt to feel exceptionally comfortable eating these products because of this. 4) there’s no evidence that welfare campaigns by themselves will consistently lead to rights’ goals and being that activists and organizations’ time and resources are so pressing, short, and precious….well, this danger seems so obvious. 5) I’m convinced that welfare killing will be codified into law and once this occurs then it will be that much more difficult for the AR community to demand the liberation of such animals because the industry is already ‘the good guy’ because they capitulated to the demands of animal rights people and besides, we’d be seen by many perhaps as being disingenuous because if welfare modifications wasn’t our intent in the first place, then what’s ‘up our sleaves’ next.


    p.s. please don’t miss the September 2006 issue of Satya….it is very important for a further understanding of some of the concerns raised above

  13. Comment by


    on #

    HSUS are total hypocrites they ask to abolish ALL ANIMAL AGRICULTURE yet they buy stocks in companies that sell meat.The HSUS, which is not affiliated with local humane societies or animal shelters, was instrumental in passing California?s Proposition 2 in the 2008 elections, which added new regulations to the treatment of egg-laying hens, gestating sows and veal calves.

    The HSUS says it has stock in 38 food-related companies:

    Bob EvansBrinker InternationalBurger King Holdings Inc.Career Education Corp. (Le Cordon Bleu)Carnival CorporationCal-Maine Foods IncCampbell SoupThe Cheesecake FactoryConAgra Foods Inc.Costco Wholesale CorpCracker Barrel Old Country StoreDenny?s Corp.DineEquity Inc.Domino?s Pizza Inc.Einstein Noah Restaurant GroupGeneral Mills, Inc.Hain Celestial Group (Plainville Turkey Farm)Jack in the BoxKellogg?sKraft Foods, Inc.Krispy KremeKroger Co.McDonald?s Corp.P.F. Chang?s China Bistro, Inc.Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.Ruddick Corp (Harris Teeter)Safeway Inc.Sara LeeSmithfield Foods Inc.Sonic Corp.The Steak n Shake Co. Tasty Baking CompanyTim Horton?s, Inc.Tyson Foods Inc. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.Wendy?s/Arby?s Group Inc.Winn-Dixie

    Look at the fine generous job that the HSUS does through their wonderful donations to help animals they take in $86,000,000.00 That is 86 million dollars of that they spent a grand total of _____________ on direct animal care. Not sure how much they spent check their income tax form says it very clearly.
    I will not tell you how much see for your self.
    As far as eating eggs go no matter how eggs are produced they are an animal product so are all you vegans hypocrites .