February 13, 2018

The Dangers of a Commitment-phobe

a cow in a barn

We all know the type: evasive, secretive, refuses to make plans. But it’s not just our love interests that can be cagey. Food companies can be non-committal, too—and instead of heartache, this can cause real animal suffering.

As the ASPCA and others work to improve the lives of more than nine billion pigs, chickens and cows raised on U.S. farms each year, we’re calling on companies to make public commitments: a promise to phase out cruel cages used to contain egg-laying hens, mother pigs or dairy calves; a vow to raise healthier chicken breeds; a policy to source only meaningfully welfare-certified products. 

These corporate statements have huge power to improve the farming system for animals. But once in a while, companies whisper sweet nothings that make you think they mean business when they’re really being flakey. Here are some serious red flags to look out for:

Not setting a date: If a company is serious about phasing out a cruel practice or improving their sourcing, they’ll name a deadline. 

Being wishy-washy: Language like “the majority” or “pending availability” in a policy may be a way of getting out of eliminating a bad practice. Companies should commit to complete change. 

Not making concrete plans: Some companies may buy time by talking about “researching” a problem. While more research is welcome, there are already proven ways to reduce farm animal suffering.  

Doing the bare minimum: A commitment to give animals food and water is nothing to write home about. Farms should have standards for every stage of an animal’s life, and bans on worst practices. 

Being secretive: Companies that are eager to make a difference will be open to reporting on their progress toward their animal welfare goals. 

Won’t put a label on it: If a company “defines the relationship” by verifying animals’ welfare with a meaningful certification, they should label the package or display it clearly on their website. Check out brands that are certified and labelled on our Shop With Your Heart brand list

You can find more examples of trustworthy commitments from companies through our REAL Certified collaboration and on our Shop With Your Heart news roundup

When companies commit to doing away with inhumane practices, it is cause for celebration. But if you’re unsure whether it’s the real deal, join the Shop With Your Heart advocates Facebook group and ask, because animals deserve better than empty promises.