March 22, 2017, Chicago, IL – Today activists with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) protesting the “myth” of humane meat interrupted the grand opening of Whole Foods Market in Chicago. Just as the ribbon cutting was about to start, activists pushed in front of the speakers with megaphones to tell first-hand accounts of the horrible conditions they witnessed inside of Whole Foods’ farms. The protest follows several investigations finding horrific violence against animals at Whole Foods farms and a letter by over a dozen animal rights groups and public figures condemning Whole Foods Market.
“Every new Whole Foods Market means more animals killed,” said DxE organizer and investigator Eva Hamer. “No matter how many times they tell us those deaths were humane or compassionate, there is no humane way to kill someone who wants to live.”
In January 2015, DxE released an investigative video into Whole Foods supplier Petaluma Farms covered in the New York Times among other outlets. The video documented extensive feather pecking and cruelly mutilated beaks, leading DxE activists to denounce Whole Foods’ five-step animal welfare rating scheme as “five steps of cruelty.” Months later, DxE released another investigative video and report on Whole Foods’ Diestel Turkey Ranch in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post just before Thanksgiving 2015. The video documented suffocating air quality, a 15% death rate, and starvation from botched debeaking.
Following the investigations, over a dozen animal rights groups and public figures, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), famed peace activist Keith McHenry, and United Poultry Concerns signed a letter denouncing the chain and calling for it to cease all fraudulent marketing and support for violence against animals. The letter marked a departure for many groups from a previous letter of support for the retailer. In an Op-Ed for the animal news website The Dodo, PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk denounced Whole Foods’ humane marketing as a charade.
The Lakeview Whole Foods Market has been sold as a glamorous new addition to the Chicago Northside. The 75,600 square foot store includes an arcade, café, sushi bar, and online ordering. The activists disrupted the opening, they say, to protest the expansion of a retailer that kills hundreds of millions of animals each year.
“Behind its glossy facade, the new Whole Foods Market is hiding a superstore of violence. We will interrupt any celebration of this institution until they end all violence against animals,” said local activist Araceli Rodriguez.
Every year over 50 billion land and sea animals are killed for food in the U.S. alone. Animals who are killed for their flesh endure intense psychological and physical trauma, and undercover investigations have found that they are routinely eviscerated while still conscious.
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