The Importance of Compassion
A few weeks ago, I delivered a speech in Ely, Cambridgeshire to a large audience which was primarily comprised of farmers. I was there at the kind invitation of Toppings the UK independent book store to speak about my new book, Sixty Harvests Left. I talked about the importance of a sustainable animal-friendly, nature-friendly food system, so vital for the health of our planet. And indeed, all life on Earth.
It was an engaging event with lots of insightful and challenging questions, so much so we over-ran.
I remember clearly, one farmer who offered both an important insight and a question:
“I am involved in Fenland Soil. My struggle is political. Until we get the politics right in the US and Europe, we won’t be able to drive the big change in food systems needed. What is your view?”
It was a great question. And I couldn’t agree more.
Changing the hearts and minds of governments is so important. As is influencing supermarkets and other business leaders, investors and community leaders to drive food systems transformation.
It’s a big job but one that we are building a movement to do. Through the work of you, our supporters at Compassion in World Farming, we are making real progress at all these levels in getting the voice for change heard. We really are all in this together
I gave the farmer the example of Compass Foods (UK & I) who Compassion publicly recognised this year through our first ever Planet-friendly Award. They received this for a ground breaking commitment to reduce their animal-sourced proteins by 40% by 2030 and to shift 70% of their top 5 food categories to higher welfare, nature-friendly regenerative farming by 2030.
Why is this so significant? Because Compass is the biggest food service company in the world. And a key focus of Compassion’s corporate outreach. By adopting such an ambitious, holistic approach to sustainable food production in the UK and Ireland, Compass are proving that transformational change by corporates is entirely possible.
Billions better off
Compassion’s corporate engagement programme is in its twelfth year in encouraging company commitments to giving animals better welfare and therefore better lives.
And I am so proud to say that in this time, we have achieved company commitments to better welfare adding up to more than 2.5 billion animals annually.
We now work with over a thousand businesses worldwide to create change. Amongst this list are companies as diverse as Waitrose, Walmart, Unilever, Tesco, McDonalds, Nestle, Costco (US), Compass Group and Carrefour. Working with them improves the lives of many millions of animals every year.
And that’s not all. Here are just a few highlights from what has proved to be another very busy year for us all here at Compassion in World Farming.
- In March, a new report by policy experts was released showing that that both EU and national financial mechanisms can be used – some of which are already available to farmers – to support the transition to cage-free animal agriculture across the EU
- In April, we celebrated an historic moment, after the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill completed its passage through Parliament in the House of Lords. A truly outstanding milestone meaning animal sentience will once again be enshrined in UK law.
- Activists across the globe joined forces, in June, to call for an end to the cruel practice of live animal exports on Ban Live Exports: International Awareness Day. The day of action mobilised 100,000 people and 132 organisations in 45 different countries.
In October, we marked World Octopus Day by leading NGOs from all over Europe to urge the EU to ban the cruel and environmentally damaging practice of octopus farming to mark World Octopus Day.
- Keeping up the pressure, we released our sixth public report monitoring corporate progress on cage-free egg commitments, showing that that 75% of the 232 tracked companies are reporting good progress, thereby getting many more hens out of cages.
- And last but not least, we successfully worked with Marks and Spencer on the launch of their higher welfare ‘Oakham Gold’ chicken which alone achieved a media reach of 180 million people.
Last but very definitely not least, we launched a brand-new campaign called the End of the Line for Factory Farming, www.END.IT . This exciting new initiative will see us build the biggest ever global movement – backed by individuals, forward-thinking companies, high-profile supporters and other NGOs – dedicated to ending industrial animal agriculture and transforming our global food system once and for all. For the benefit of animals, people and the planet.
In closing, may I say a heartfelt thank you once again, to you for all of your unwavering support.
And may I also wish you and your loved ones, a very, very happy festive season.
Keep safe and take care, wherever you may be in the world.
And thank you again for caring about farmed animals and helping to create a more compassionate world.