The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

July 30, 2013

Pigs smart as dogs? Activists pose the question

(Continued)

For Marino and Friedrich, who are both vegans, the goals of the project are twofold — to build broader public support for humane treatment of farm animals and to boost the ranks of Americans who choose not to eat meat.

"This project is not a way to strong-arm people into going vegan overnight but giving them a fresh perspective and maybe making them a little uncomfortable," Marino said.

"Maybe they'll be thinking, 'Hmm, I didn't know cows and pigs could recognize each other and have special friends,'" she said. "That might make them squirm a little, but that's OK."

The major associations representing chicken and pork producers say the farmers they represent already have taken strides to minimize cruel treatment of farm animals.

"While animals raised for food do have a certain degree of intelligence, Farm Sanctuary is seeking to humanize them to advance its vegan agenda — an end to meat consumption," said David Warner of the National Pork Producers Council. "While vegans have a right to express their opinion — and we respect that right — they should not force their lifestyle on others."

Gwen Venable of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association said poultry provides a valuable, affordable source of protein.

"Consumers should be able choose their food based on their own dietary preferences and nutritional needs and without being unduly influenced by any one group's personal agenda," she wrote in an email. "We do not feel that Farm Sanctuary's campaign is reasonable, as the campaign's ultimate goal would be to eradicate poultry and pork from consumers' diets."

Thomas Super of the National Chicken Council said efforts to link farm animals with household pets was part of a strategy to create a "meat-free society." He also contended that the farmers and companies involved in raising chickens have a vested interest in ensuring they are healthy and well-treated.

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