30 March 2012

Tim Hortons' animal welfare video insults public intelligence

In response to pressure from The Humane Society of the US about animal welfare in their supply chain, Canadian mega-chain Tim Hortons released this video to address concerns. HSUS and others have termed this response greenwashing, but I think it's worse than that.

I think they are counting on the fact that you aren't smart enough to see through some pretty blatant manipulation. In the video, images of clean floors, sparkly factory equipment, pristine white eggs, and uninjured birds are set to placid music and speeches delivered by warm feminine voices.

Only girl-next-door pretty, soft-spoken female employees are introduced, or even shown. Touchy-feely dialogue talks about how much they care about the animals, how interesting it is to watch them change and grow. Now... watch it without the sound on. What you'll notice is rows upon rows of adult birds crammed in tiny cages. What you'll notice is that they are living cogs in a giant machine. What you'll notice is imagery similar to The Matrix - a dystopia, where life is subjugated to technology. What you'll notice is that these birds will never see the sun, will never care for their own chicks, will never get out of those cages until they die. What you'll notice is that, no matter what nonsense they spew about animal welfare, what they're showing is a factory, not a farm.

 It's also interesting to note that while the issue raised by HSUS was the treatment of pigs, the chain chose to focus their response on egg-laying chickens. Why? Because they're banking on the public misconception that animals aren't killed in egg production, they're diverting your attention to a less charged subject. They don't want to show you the rows and rows of pigs crammed into gestation crates without even enough room to turn around, not because the chickens are really any better off, but because that's an image you might connect to death.

There are no pretty white eggs to show you, and if they show you bacon, you might make the connection that it's the pig's flesh. Tim Hortons is insulting your intelligence, but I think you're smarter than that. Whether you eat meat and eggs or whether you don't, I think you know that this company is paying lip service to HSUS's concerns and trying to fool you into thinking that they're actually doing something about it. If you agree, please go click the Dislike button underneath the video, and let Tim Hortons know their ploy isn't working.

Kasey Minnis | Facebook | @veggiemightee | Blog
Fort Lauderdale, FL That rare and elusive species known as the native Floridian, Kasey is passionate about protecting other endangered creatures. She lives by the principle “compassion and crochet for all,” and enjoys teaching others – including her husband of 20 years and two beautiful children – the benefits of cruelty-free eating by feeding them tasty vegan treats from her kitchen. Contact Kasey at kasey@thisdishisveg.com.

Photo credit: Screen capture