I’m with Jean in thinking that almost any step toward better treatment of animals is a good thing. If more people are buying humanely raised meat, then animals are suffering less, which is all to the good. The hard-line vegan position of opposing any reforms short of total abolition of animal farming just isn’t going to do much to better the lot of the billions of actually existing animals in the factory farming system. (I do think the radical vegan position is a valuable ideal, just not one that is likely to see widespread adoption in our lifetimes.)
All that said, the denizens of hipster butcher shops and vegans-turned-bacon-aficionados profiled in these articles come off as incredibly smug and annoying. Can we please stop pretending that getting your meat from a trendy, high-end butcher shop constitutes some primal experience that deeply connects you with the cycle of life? Why is it that so many foodies, including but not limited to Michael Pollan, seem to believe that the truest way of communing with an animal is killing and eating it?