Last week, Animal Equality gathered in Madrid, Spain, to conduct a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food. As it launched its “No Animals in Cages” campaign, members and volunteers called on Minister Luis Planas to maintain his 2021 position to gradually transition to cage-free systems in Europe. The activists held signs with the campaign slogan: “Stop Cages.”
While in Madrid, Animal Equality representatives also delivered a letter to the Ministry. The letter called for all species to be included in its updated legislation, for imports to meet Europe’s cage-free standards, and for ambitious deadlines to be implemented in the country.
These developments follow a 2021 European Parliament vote, which overwhelmingly supported a European citizens’ initiative titled “End the Cage Age.” The initiative received over 1.4 million signatures and was backed by more than 170 animal protection organizations, as well as veterinarians.
As a result, the European Commission will be responsible for drafting and publishing updated animal welfare legislation in 2023.
Spain Falls Behind Europe in Animal Confinement
Currently, Spain has more animals in cages than any other European Union member state.
Chickens, rabbits, pigs, calves, ducks, quail, and geese live in extreme confinement in Spain, with some unable to turn around or engage in natural behaviors. Egg-laying hens and rabbits are generally allotted a space smaller than a piece of paper.
With 87% of its animals in cages, Spanish demonstrators noted a discrepancy with its neighboring countries. 66% of animals in France, 59% of animals in Italy, and 13% of animals in Germany are kept in cages.
While the European Union cages more than 300 million animals for all or a significant portion of their lives, its latest scientific reports conclude that the welfare of animals cannot be guaranteed if they are confined in cages.
The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) even recommends that hens used in egg production should be housed in cage-free systems.
Fighting for Farmed Animal Legislation in the U.S.
While further demonstrations will be taking place across Spain within the next few months, advocates caution that it is not the only country in need of reform.
That is why Animal Equality’s work in the United States approaches the issue of extreme confinement from both legislative and corporate outreach angles.
Proposition 12, a ballot measure passed in California, is known as the United States’ strongest farmed animal protection law. Its intent was to phase out the extreme confinement of mother pigs, hens, and calves raised for veal, though it has since been contested by the pork industry at the Supreme Court.
In order to support this ballot measure, Animal Equality garnered over 600,000 signatures leading up to its 2018 vote. The ballot measure was supported by an overwhelming majority of Californians, though its future status has yet to be determined.
Reforming the U.S. Corporate Supply Chain
Meanwhile, Animal Equality has launched several corporate pressure campaigns in the United States to eliminate gestation crates in their supply chains.
These metal crates, which confine pregnant and mother pigs to a space so small they can’t turn around, are banned in Sweden, the U.K., and ten U.S. states. These animals suffer from numerous health problems, including extreme muscle weakness, which often causes them to unintentionally smother their nursing piglets.
Despite a commitment it made ten years ago to phase out the use of gestation crates, American diner icon Denny’s still allows them in its supply chain.
In an effort to hold Denny’s accountable, Animal Equality has been taking action against the multi-million dollar restaurant chain. Supporters have joined these efforts by emailing Denny’s executives and joining in on multiple protests at Denny’s locations.
Animal Equality’s corporate outreach team also published an ad in the San Antonio Express to urge the owner of one Denny’s Restaurant Franchise Group to “do the right thing.”
Similar tactics were used in a pressure campaign against Compass Group, which boasts profitable clients such as Google, Nike, Boeing, and Bank of America. After a protest outside a Bank of America branch in Austin, Texas, Compass Group quickly strengthened its animal welfare policy.
Delaware North, the fourth-largest food service provider in the nation, later followed suit.
Finally, as a key member of the Open Wing Alliance, Animal Equality has contributed to similar campaigns to free hens from cages. These campaigns have successfully pressured renowned cruise lines and hotel chains to update their animal welfare policies.
Animal Protection Starts with Your Plate
While legislative and corporate campaigns have been featured in headlines around the world, the future for animals trapped in cages ultimately depends on consumers.
By transitioning to a plant-based diet, consumers send a clear message to corporations that animal abuse will not be tolerated nor funded.
Fortunately, adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle is more convenient than ever. You can join millions of Americans who have already taken the plunge, resting assured that you are sparing lives from suffering with each bite you take.
Meat, dairy & eggs are never cruelty-free. The ultimate way to support farmed animals is to leave their suffering off your plate.