February 15, 2017

Moving Toward More Humane Restaurants

two women ordering at a restaurantWith support and guidance from the ASPCA, restaurant meat supplier Happy Valley Meat Company (HVM) has today announced the adoption of an exceptionally strong animal welfare policy and its commitment to achieving welfare certification for all the animal products it offers. Brooklyn-based HVM provides primarily beef, lamb and pork—from animals raised on small farms—to dozens of restaurants in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, D.C. and Chicago. Many of these restaurants and/or the chefs who run them are leaders within the “farm-to-table” dining movement; now, HVM is helping them back up their claims of higher-welfare ingredients by pursuing formal certification of its suppliers by 2021.

This move will make HVM the first fully animal welfare-certified meat distributor in the nation—and we are confident that others will follow suit. We hope all restaurants dedicated to animal welfare, responsible sourcing and truth in advertising will proactively seek out providers like HVM.

These days, restaurant menus are full of statements like “free-range” and “pasture-raised.” However, a recent investigation by Tampa Bay Times revealed that there is virtually no regulation of claims made on menus about animal-rearing practices, allowing some restaurants to promote one thing but serve another.

Studies show that consumers are willing to pay a little bit more for verifiably higher-welfare products. They’re also willing to travel further to dine at restaurants with higher-welfare menu options. That’s why the ASPCA, through our Shop With Your Heart movement, advocates for the widespread adoption of certain welfare certifications that ban the worst practices (like caging and crowding), verify compliance through independent on-farm audits, and publish standards publicly so individual consumers and larger buyers (like restaurants) know what they’re paying for.

You can ensure that your local restaurants carry higher-welfare products by taking these actions:

  1. Print our request card and drop it off at your favorite restaurant—this tells the owner or manager that you would like them to provide animal welfare-certified dining options and offer more plant-based choices.
  2. Write a Yelp or Facebook review of the restaurant, asking politely for them to source welfare-certified animal products. 
  3. If your restaurant has a Twitter account, consider tweeting the same polite request to them.

Visit our Bring Your Store On Board webpage for ideas how to connect with your local stores, supermarkets and restaurants to make meaningful changes for farm animals—right in your own community!