Stand up for animal rights, and the right to know

As highlighted in Friday’s column, polls show that a growing number of people are choosing plant-based foods (“Eating vegan: more popular than ever,” Feb. 22). Why? One major factor is the shocking cruelty to animals routinely documented by undercover investigators working on factory farms.

I was thrilled to speak at the Ivy League Vegan Conference about this important topic because Americans have a right to know where our food comes from. Animal agribusiness, however, is working hard to keep its abusive practices — including intensively confining animals in tiny cages or crates and mutilating them without pain relief — hidden from public view. So far in 2013, industry-supported bills aiming to criminalize undercover investigations have been introduced in nine states.

By going to such desperate lengths to prevent Americans from seeing what hidden cameras capture on film behind closed doors, Big Ag has proven that it in fact has something to hide: the truth.

Each of us can stand up for animals right now simply by choosing to leave them off our plates — and we can protect our own rights as concerned consumers by speaking out against the industry’s attempt to take away our right to know the truth.

Cheryl Leahy

Feb. 22

The author is general counsel for Compassion Over Killing, a Washington, D.C.-based animal rights advocacy organization.