By Erica Meier, Executive Director
The New Year offers an important opportunity for reflection, which can spark creative ideas for growth and forward progress. As we enter 2019, I’m reminded that this month, January 2019, marks my 14-year anniversary working at Compassion Over Killing (now Animal Outlook).
I moved to the nation’s capital in 1999 and soon started volunteering at Compassion Over Killing. At the time, I was working as an animal control officer in Washington, DC where I responded to emergency calls to rescue injured, stray, and homeless animals as well as helped enforce animal protection laws. As I became more engaged in my volunteer capacity, my interest in seeking justice for farmed animals, despite (and because of) the limited legal protections they’re afforded, became stronger. In January 2005, I was offered the role of Executive Director at Compassion Over Killing, and I haven’t looked back since.
During these 14 years, so much has changed — there have been incredible challenges including the bogus charge that was filed, and eventually dropped, against one of our investigators, and there’s also been so much progress and innovation to celebrate, including major fast food chains rolling out vegan options.
With you by our side, we stand at the forefront of the farmed animal protection movement, disrupting the status quo of Big Ag and waging powerful campaigns that are reshaping the future of food and making a world of difference for farmed animals.
To keep moving compassion forward and in celebration of my 14-year anniversary, I’m aiming to raise $14,000 in the next 14 weeks. Will you join me?
Looking back on all that you’ve helped us achieve during these past 14 years, we created this list highlighting 14 of our major advancements for animals:
- 2005: Following our investigations & legal campaigns, Federal Trade Commission ends misleading “Animal Care Certified” labels on egg cartons nationwide
- 2006: Our investigation at Ebenshade egg factory farm exposes cruel treatment of hens and results in 69 total charges of cruelty filed against both the owner and manager of the facility
- 2010: We persuaded BOCA to go 100 percent egg-free. Since impacting millions of hens, our efforts are now leading BOCA to move away from dairy too–toward an all-vegan line
- 2011: Quorn agrees to reduce its use eggs by at least three million a year and we help announce the U.S. launch of Quorn’s first-ever vegan product. The company has since expanded it’s vegan line internationally
- 2011: Prompted by our research, a class action lawsuit unveils a $9 billion price-fixing scheme in dairy industry that involved killing over half a million young cows. In 2016, consumers are paid a $52 million settlement
- 2012: Our investigation and prime time news coverage of Central Valley Meat leads USDA to temporarily shut down the facility that supplied school lunches. McDonald’s, In-N-Out Burger and Costco drop the supplier
- 2012: Our investigation revealing egregious cruelty at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries leads to the rescue of dozens of ducklings, and facility shutters its doors after allegations of animal abuse were resolved, for the first time, by a lawsuit using the civil California Business and Professions Code
- 2009: We hold the first DC VegFest in the nation’s capital–now 25K people strong
- 2009: We launch VegWeek with inspiration from now-U.S. Congressman Jamie Raskin. Our 2018 campaign inspired a record-breaking 9,306 people to take our seven-day VegPledge, and 85 percent have reduced or eliminated meat from their diets post-pledge
- 2014: CNN breaks our investigation of Pilgrim’s Corp, the second-largest U.S. chicken producer. For the first time in 10 years, broiler chicken suffering is brought to light
- 2014: In response to our campaign, Dunkin’ starts offering almond milk nationwide. In 2018, Dunkin’ confirmed to us that it’s testing vegan donut recipes
- 2016: In the first investigative look inside broiler breeder factories, we expose and get a criminal conviction for the common yet unknown practice of using “nose bones” — and we’ve since nearly wiped this out industrywide. Our video also drove the first trials for cruelty to broilers, the first convictions for cruelty to broiler breeders, and first-ever conviction for a standard industry practice.
- 2017: The New York Times breaks our investigation offering the first hidden-camera look inside a U.S. lamb slaughterhouse. We exposed federal cruelty violations by Superior Farms, a supplier of the nation’s two largest food retailers, Walmart and Kroger
- 2017: We form the Plant-Powered Planet Protectors coalition, marching in DC and San Francisco (2018) to empower thousands to save the Earth with vegan eating
There is so much more we could share — from viral investigations, to powerful pro-veg TV commercials reaching millions, to fighting for justice in the courts and in the court of public opinion. Each day and every day, we’re making strides for animals — and we’re grateful for your support that makes this all possible.
Reflecting on all the changes we’ve seen in the past 14 years, one thing for certain has remained constant: Our steadfast dedication to shedding light on the truth, seeking justice for all, inspiring innovation, and empowering millions to make kinder choices.
As we continue into 2019–the year of the vegan–we hope you’ll continue standing with us and lend your support. Together, we’re building a stronger movement that’s creating a more compassionate world.
Erica Meier, Executive Director
Compassion Over Killing