Caribou Coffee (also available in K-cups) began serving its popular Chicken Apple Sausage breakfast sandwich with cage-free eggs. Caribou, the company, is involved with a number of causes that promote environmental sustainability.
In fact, the Humane Society of the United States has positively acknowledged Caribou for its move to use eggs from more humane sources.
But is Caribou's move toward cage free eggs an act animal rights activists, the nation's most vocal vegans, can appreciate?
Animal rights activists have worked for years to reduce, if not totally eliminate factory farming of animals for human consumption. Egg laying chickens live in long, tight rows of wire cages. 90 percent of the eggs humans eat come from chickens who live in wire cages.
If people really are what they eat, then most of us eat a fair amount of chicken embryos that belonged to imprisoned chickens. Belief in the rights of animals maintains that animals must not be subjected to cruel treatment. Cruel treatment ranges from outright abuse like kicking, punching and neglect. Or the imprisonment of animals in caged environments that are decidedly contradictory to and crueler than their natural habitats.
Caged and factory farmed animals are crowded in small quarters and often fester in their own feces.
Egg cartons labeled cage-free mean the animals are not caged, are free to roam open spaces that are not necessarily outdoors. The are likely caged in barns where they engage in many natural behaviors. Free-Roaming labels on poultry products means the hens were cage free before slaughter.
That animals have rights is a revolutionary, far out idea to many people. And animal activists are aware that man's dependency on animal fat, milk, and eggs, on personal and corporate levels, dates back to the age of the world's first humans.
In this new age where ideas that make life and work easier are profitable, there is huge applaud for companies like Caribou Coffee that have make commitments toward maintaining the earth's natural environment and reducing the torturous route of animals for food production.
Other companies that have gone cage-free:
Unilever (sells Hellmann's mayonnaisse)
Aramark (the food supplier to big companies, colleges, and prisons)
Alligator Brand Fresh Pasta (Australia)
Coles Brand Eggs (Australia)
Bon Appetit (United States)
Born Free (United States, limited locations)
Ben and Jerry's
Eggland's Best (United States)
Amora Brand foods (western Europe)
Calve brands (western Europe)
The Humane Society of the United States has an online "brief guide to labels and animal welfare." The list explains labels on egg cartons. Check the list here.
Caribou Coffee maintains that its decision to go cage-free on its breakfast sandwiches is "naturally aligned" with the company's core values of providing quality food. The company also asserts that this is "just one step" in their larger efforts for "more responsible practices."
Caribou Coffee breakfast sandwiches net 20 percent of company profits.
Bottom line: Until the all the world is vegan, the humane act of giving animals a quality life before they're wrestled for human consumption is a step up in the ladder of human animal dignity.
Ideally, when humans are behaving as their highest selves, they are giving and sharing with all other creatures and life in the environment.
NPR "What the Rise of Cage-Free Eggs Means for Chickens"
Caribou Coffee Press Release