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Interviewing The Humane League: Ending the worst abuses of farm animals.

Emma and I are proud supporters of The Humane League. Thanks to our generous donors, we have so far raised 5000 Euros for them, which goes directly towards funding their operations. We believe strongly in their work, and feel confident that the money is being put to the best possible use. Not all charities are created equal, so impact and effectiveness were strong criteria when we were choosing who to raise money for. I had the privelege of interviewing one of the organisations longest term employees, Jon Camp. I ask him questions which I am genuinely curious about, and his answers are highly insightful and optimistic, as you will find out. Emma and I have been happily and healthily vegan for about 6 years and continue to be inspired by this ethic on our bicycle trip. We all know what happens inside the concrete walls of intensive animal farms. At the end of the day, it's simply about giving our fellow conscious and feeling animals the respect they deserve.

"In 2005, almost 100% of companies supported [chicken] battery cages. Today, we’ve reduced that share by more than one-third. Considering how slow industries can be to adapt, I think this rate of change is stunning." - Jon Camp

Could you give a brief overview of what THL is?

The Humane League is an animal protection nonprofit committed to ending the abuse of animals raised for food. We run highly strategic campaigns to get the largest food companies on earth to improve the lives of farm animals.

Who are you, what is your position at THL and what is your favourite characteristic about yourself?

I’m Jon Camp, and my position is Associate Director, Donor Relations. My favorite characteristic about myself is my kindness and concern for others, human and nonhuman alike.

Do you see the world being vegan within the next 100 years?

While I can’t say whether or not the world will ever go completely vegan, I envision that our food choices will be substantially different 100 years from now and will involve significantly more vegan options and alternative protein sources (such as cultivated meat, meat that comes from the cells of the animal without causing any harm to the animal).

Aside from the impact that you have working at THL, what is your favourite thing about the job?

Well, yes, I do love knowing that at the end of each day, I did what I could through my work to make the world better for farm animals. Other than that, I love working with THL donors! I find our supporters to be generous and inspiring individuals, and getting to partner with them to create progress for farm animals adds tremendous meaning to my life. Additionally, I like my colleagues a lot—they’re smart, talented, funny, thoughtful, and have a lot of cool interests outside of animal protection.

Why should someone who is not already vegan, still consider donating to THL?

Our supporters come to us with so many varied and intersecting perspectives, values, and priorities. Some really care about holding massive corporations and conglomerates accountable to more than just their bottom lines. Others come to us out of concern for the environmental impacts of animal agriculture on our planet. But at the end of the day, we all find common ground in the idea that animals deserve better. The Humane League’s efforts to get the largest food companies on earth to end the worst abuses for farm animals will require a diverse group of not just vegans, but vegetarians and conscientious omnivores, coming together to create change. Whatever your dietary choices are, we welcome your support with gratitude and enthusiasm!

Why does THL prioritise incremental steps towards reducing animal suffering (for example by promoting cage free hens), as opposed to directly advocating for veganism?

When we look at successful social movements here in the US (such as the marriage equality movement or the movement to legalize marijuana), we see a trend of starting with imperfect reforms and then leveraging those incremental gains to establish larger reforms.

Progress begets progress, and while we don’t have the public consensus behind widespread veganism, poll after poll shows that people oppose animal cruelty and support better treatment for farm animals. And so we work to create the progress that we’re able to create while building support and momentum to create more far-reaching change on behalf of farm animals.

We’ve also found that it’s incredibly effective to fight for widespread institutional change—and place the onus on businesses to change what “business as usual” looks like. By focusing our energy on the animal industry itself—rather than on individuals and their dietary choices—we’ve been able to spare millions of animals from terrible abuse right now, while also weakening those industries and really limiting the space they have to get away with animal cruelty in the long run. And the progress we’ve seen in just the last decade or so has been profound. In 2005, almost 100% of companies supported battery cages. Today, we’ve reduced that share by more than one-third. Considering how slow industries can be to adapt, I think this rate of change is stunning.

I’m also reflecting on the fact that we, as THL, are lucky enough to be part of a strong and growing movement, working alongside other amazing organizations who are extremely skilled at, among other things, advocating for veganism. I find it so heartening and inspiring to see that, between our work and the work of our allies across the movement, we have our bases covered.

Why does THL focus on the ethical argument for veganism as opposed to the environmental or health arguments?

We are first and foremost a farm animal protection organization, and creating progress for farm animals is our key focus and area of expertise. We certainly factor in the other harms caused by factory farming, but as an organization committed to ending the abuse of animals raised for food, it’s vital that we stay focused on our mission.

Lewis Bollard recently wrote a great essay on the idea that “People’s love of animals, and distaste for cruelty, is our greatest asset.” I think it really brings home the idea that there is incredible strength in tapping into people’s great love for animals in particular.

How does THL measure and think of impact?

THL has a team of researchers who assess and quantify our campaigns to ensure that we’re having a maximal impact on the lives of farm animals. The areas of research run the gamut from the efficacy of specific campaign tactics to the number of hens out of cages as a result of our corporate campaigns. We’ve recently focused on getting an estimate of how much it costs us to get a hen out of a cage through our corporate campaigns—the conservative number is just $2.63 per chicken!

Ultimately, we’re looking to use our finite resources to ensure that we’re driving as much progress for farm animals as possible. And to do that, it involves research and a willingness to adjust our tactics based on our findings.

How has THL become one of the most impactful (non-human) animal charities in the world (given that you have won numerous international awards), and arguably one of the most effective charities overall?

Thanks for saying that! I’d like to think that THL has won support from donors, activists, and charity navigators because we can point to concrete progress we’ve created through the hundreds of animal welfare commitments we’ve secured; our investment in coalition building (such as establishing the Open Wing Alliance, a global coalition of 99 organizations in 67 countries, and the Animal Policy Alliance, our public policy arm in the United States); and our track record of being a good place to work—prioritizing fair compensation, a healthy work/life balance, and a culture of transparency. We’re proud of the support we’ve established, and we’re committed to retaining and growing that support through running effective campaigns and using our resources strategically.

To conclude, here's a quote from an author I respect. Let's re-engage.

"After all, they are bodies, like us, sensing the world, engaging with it, responding to it, shaping it. In fact, the world that presents itself to us is co-created by other subjects, just as we co-create their world. We are all engaged with each other in a sensual dance of perception, an ongoing dialogue through which we come to know the world. " - Jason Hickel, Less is More

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