The last couple of posts got a bit bogged down in philosophical abstraction (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), so I thought I’d offer an example of what I see as a good concrete proposal for changing our treatment of animals.
The “Certified Humane” label is a program of Humane Farm Animal Care, a non-profit “created to offer a certification and labeling program for meat, eggs, dairy and poultry products from animals raised according to Humane Farm Animal Care’s Animal Care Standards.” Go here for a more deatiled description of what the Certified Humane label means. Go here for a list of participating producers. I’m a fan of Nellie’s Nest Eggs, produced in nearby New Hampshire (giving you a animal-friendly and localist twofer if you live round these parts). See the “Eco-Labels” report card for Certified Humane here.
Part of the idea with something like this is that given enough demand for humanely-raised animal products, producers will respond with more options like this. This won’t please hard-core animal liberationists who argue that any use of animals, particularly for food, is immoral – and I’m not going to deny that I have some sympathy for that argument – but I think that the widespread adoption of these kinds of humane practices would be a vast improvement over industrial farming. And I think just about anybody can be brought to agree that humane treatment of farm animals is a worthy goal even if they hadn’t previously given much thought to the matter. It’s also impeccably free-market if you’re worried about the heavy hand of state intrusion.