Who's Really Behind the Clean Meat Lobby: How a Movement Was Sold Out
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Barb Lomow, CleanMeat-Hoax.com
July 2019

There is no sound ethical reason for vegan/AR advocates to support or to promote the clean meat enterprise. There are already alternatives to eating animal flesh - "meats" made from plants abound. "Clean meat" is therefore an unnecessary and unhelpful construct that diverts attention and momentum away from vegan education. It will assuredly further confuse the public as to what constitutes vegan foods.

This essay, by veteran animal rights activist Barb Lomow, provides a bit of background regarding some of the proponents of “clean meat"--in the hope "that animal rights/justice advocates who are still conflicted as to whether or not to support the idea fully appreciate who exactly is pulling the strings--and why they cannot be trusted to have the animal movement's best interests at heart." [See Throwing Animals - and Animal Advocacy - Under the Bus]

I want to discuss the backgrounds of the two most prominent current promoters of "clean meat," Paul Shapiro and Bruce Friedrich. Both have dramatically backslid over the years from promoting animal rights/veganism to promoting farmed animals as recipe ingredients for human consumption.

The original incarnation of the group that Paul Shapiro founded, Compassion Over Killing, was one that embraced animal rights. Slogans appearing on the back of COK's tee shirts read, "No More Animal Exploitation, The Time Is Now For Liberation," and the title of COK's magazine was The Abolitionist. While for many years COK proved faithful to its original mission of promoting veganism, that began to change in the 2000s, when the COK leadership began gradually dismantling its abolitionist message.

In 2005, Shapiro, along with the other two members of the COK leadership team at the time (Miyun Park and Josh Balk), defected over to the farmed animal division of the Humane Society of the United States. In concert with CEO John Mackey of Whole Foods, HSUS created a nonprofit called the "Global Animal Partnership," which in turn devised a sliding scale of "acceptable" levels of violence and cruelty against the farmed animals who would eventually end up in Whole Foods' freezers and coolers. (Here is a quote from the current Executive Director of GAP: “The thing I love about working for GAP the best, is all of the interaction we have with farmers and ranchers – I love talking with them about how they raise their animals; it’s always interesting and inspiring.”)

Miyun Park was the initial Executive Director of the deplorable GAP, while Shapiro and Balk busied themselves at HSUS promoting various welfare reforms that eventually led to HSUS' direct collaboration with multiple so-called "humane" animal farmers and the hiring of a Missouri pig farmer as a HSUS Vice President. A HSUS Facebook page titled "Farmers' Outreach" was created to glorify and advertise these HSUS-endorsed animal exploiters. The latter were frequently referred to as "colleagues" by Shapiro, Balk, and other HSUS staffers, and their farms/ranches were regularly promoted on that page, including an offer of a "One Dollar Off" coupon for "Applegate Bacon" to HSUS supporters.

In 2018, Shapiro left HSUS under a much-publicized cloud of sexual harassment allegations, right around the same time as he was set to begin promoting his book on Clean Meat. A few months later, Shapiro announced the creation of his new company, "The Better Meat Company", which helps the meat companies get more bang for their buck by adding plant proteins to their animal meats. It was a new low for someone who once was a serious animal rights advocate who promoted, "no more animal exploitation." In no time, Shapiro has gone from endorsing veganism/liberation, to endorsing welfare reforms, to endorsing "happy exploitation" of farmed animals, and now to endorsing "clean meat"--while participating in and directly profiting from the marketing of animal products.

Bruce Friedrich is another prominent "clean meat" salesperson. As in the case with Paul Shapiro, Friedrich (formerly an executive at PETA), once championed the cause of animal rights and veganism. Today, however, Friedrich has explictly distanced himself from animal rights advocacy and veganism, instead focusing on "clean meat" entrepreneurship via his well-funded nonprofit, The Good Food Institute” (which includes John Mackey and Josh Balk as advisors) and the two venture capital firms he has helped set up, Clear Current Capital and New Crop Capital.

As in the case of Shapiro, Friedrich didn't go directly from championing veganism to championing "clean meat." While still an employee at PETA (and later at Farm Sanctuary), he, along with other familiar names such as John Mackey, served as a founding board member of Farm Forward, whose mission was, and still is, to sell the "happy exploitation" of farmed animals by recommending the consumption of animals bred/confined/slaughtered from so-called "non-industrial" farms.

Friedrich is also one of the more prominent voices known to praise major animal exploiters such as McDonalds for announcing meager welfare reforms, the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: slight changes may take place, but the ultimate ending for the victims doesn't differ. Such praise coming from supposed animal advocates only reinforces the public misconception that it's the treatment of animals that is problematic, not the fact that they are being ruthlessly exploited--and killed.

One of Friedrich's staff members at GFI is Matt Ball, who at one point also promoted veganism and animal rights. He was, in fact, one of the co-founders of (the rather misnamed) “Vegan Outreach” before serving a stint as a Farm Sanctuary staff member. These days, in addition to his GFI job, he is the President of the nonprofit "One Step for Animals" whose agenda is not to promote an animal-free diet, but rather to get humans to reduce their consumption of animals by eliminating chickens from their diet, a blatantly speciesist proposition. Ball’s wife is also a GFI staff member, as well as One Step For Animals’ Executive Director.

Leah Garces, the new President of the welfarist group Mercy For Animals, and a "clean meat" proponent (Mercy has donated substantial money itself to GFI), previously held the position of Executive Director at Compassion in World Farming, an unapologetically speciesist, non-vegan, pro-happy exploitation entity. Here is a sample of the anti-vegan propaganda that the U.S. branch sells: https://www.ciwf.com/your-food/meat/ and here is what the headquarters in the UK promotes: https://www.ciwf.org.uk/your-food/meat-poultry/.

It is impossible to imagine a human social justice group allowing a large chunk of its leadership to directly work against its own mission by directly enfranchising and praising human exploiters. But that is just what Shapiro, Friedrich, and others have done in the case of the animal movement. Today, they openly disparage vegans, veganism, and even mock the victims of animal agriculture. For example, in a recent New York Times article promoting "clean meat", Bruce Friedrich declared “I don’t care much if vegetarians or vegans are supportive” of the positions he takes. And in a recent Chicago Sun-Times opinion piece about “clean meat,” Paul Shapiro resorted to tasteless puns to lightheartedly downplay the horrendous plight of farmed animals (“For background on this meaty matter,” “There’s a lot at stake (steak?),” “There should be no bones about it,” etc.).

For the activists who have been working tirelessly for decades to educate the public about veganism, it is demoralizing to be continually undermined by such supposed "advocates" who in reality are openly supporting animal exploitation, to varying degrees, and who even personally receive monetary compensation for doing so, whether from their own companies or from the welfare organizations who employ them.

It's a profound mistake to think we can tinker with the endless branches of animal exploitation, while ignoring the root of the problem: the idea that other animals exist merely to satisfy human desires. Animal advocates need to keep their eyes on the prize. If people who call themselves animal advocates aren't willing to take an ethical stance, or to fight for an end to animals being exploited as human resources, then who will?

There is no sound ethical reason for vegan/AR advocates to support or to promote the clean meat enterprise. There are already alternatives to eating animal flesh-- "meats" made from plants abound. "Clean meat" is therefore an unnecessary and unhelpful construct that diverts attention and momentum away from vegan education. It will assuredly further confuse the public as to what constitutes vegan foods.

For further background information on how our movement got thrown under the bus, these articles make for essential reading:


Barb Lomow is a 25+ year grassroots advocate who graduated from the University of Calgary and is particularly inspired by Gary Francione’s Abolitionist Approach theory, the incomparable art of Sue Coe, and the notable work of Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary in Colorado, Elephant Nature Park in Thailand, and Bat World Sanctuary in Texas.



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