Deceptive Advertising by Animal Products Industry Fools Consumers; Advocates Fight Back
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from

December 2016

A 2016 survey conducted with 1,000 Americans who purchase or consume meat, eggs or dairy products revealed that misleading advertising by the animal agriculture industry and grocery stores has succeeded in fooling consumers. The survey showed that:

  • 65% of consumers believe that the label “free-range” means that animals spend most of their time on a pasture. In reality, a legal definition of “free range” does not exist for most farm animals. In fact, farmers do not need to prove that animals have access to the outdoors.
  • 63% believe that “cage free” means the animals have access to the outdoors when it simply means that they are not raised in cages. Advocates point out that, in “cage-free” facilities, cages of steel have been replaced with cages of flesh, as the animals are stuffed so tightly into warehouses that they have little, if any, space to move.

humane slaughter myth
Labels such “organic,” “humane,” and “cage free” are used to deceive customers.

  • 60% believe that “humane” means animals have a better than average quality of life. In fact, the “humane” label is meaningless, as a legal definition does not exist.
  • 46% believe that “USDA organic” means that animals spend most of their time outdoors. However, regulations do not specify the length of time that farmers are required to give animals access to the outdoors, and they do not specify the size or quality of the outdoor space.
  • 46% believe that “natural” means animals have a better than average quality of life. However, “natural” only refers to how meat is processed and is unrelated to the treatment of the animals.

whole foods hypocrisy
It’s not only the companies that supply the animal products that mislead the public. Grocery stores also perpetuate the “humane myth.”

In recent years, companies perpetuating the “humane myth” in order to make consumers feel good about buying their products have been exposed by animal rights groups that have conducted investigations at their facilities.

In 2016, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and PETA exposed corporations that supply eggs, turkeys and pork to Whole Foods, a company that notoriously promotes the animal products on their shelves as humanely raised and slaughtered. These investigations revealed animals living in filthy, overcrowded warehouses, suffering from lack of veterinary care and being physically abused.

humanely-raised chickens
It’s not only the companies that supply the animal products that mislead the public. Grocery stores also perpetuate the “humane myth.”

In addition to conducting investigations, DxE has staged hundreds of protests in Chipotle restaurants and Whole Foods markets in order to educate the public about the animal welfare lies being aggressively marketed by those companies.

direct action everywhere protest

The results of the survey, which was conducted by Lake Research Partners and sponsored by the ASPCA, are available online.


According to Animal Equality, over 56 billion land animals are slaughtered each year by the animal agriculture industry. All of these animals – even those raised in the least objectionable of conditions – are treated as money-making commodities, not as individuals with a desire to live freely and in peace. If the animal agriculture industry and the retail stores who sell their products truly cared about the humane treatment of animals, then they wouldn’t sell them. After all, isn’t killing someone who wants to live inherently inhumane?

With hundreds of cruelty-free, plant-based alternatives to meat, fish, dairy and egg products, making the switch to an animal-free diet has never been easier. Please take the first step using this Vegetarian Starter Kit.

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