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May 02, 2013

Honoring Leaders in Building a Humane Economy

The animal protection movement is blessed to have so many talented people determined to make this world better for animals, and committed to taking intentional actions to make it a reality. But in any major social movement there will also be a few truly matchless figures whose ability to move the agenda is deserving of special recognition. That’s the case with Henry Spira (1927-1998), the pioneering animal advocate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, whose advocacy resulted in major corporations joining with animal protectionists to achieve humane reforms. Henry thought big and dreamed big, and when it comes to our own corporate policy work at The HSUS, we’re cut from the same cloth.

Henry had a particular approach that drew upon his long experience in other movements. He knew how and when to apply pressure, and he operated from the premise that it was not just desirable but essential to ensure that the major institutions he engaged with came away feeling proud and convinced about the rightness of the reforms they had embraced. 

SpiraNot long ago, we joined with some of Henry’s close friends at Animal Rights International, the group he founded, to establish the Henry Spira Humane Corporate Progress Awards. These awards acknowledge corporations, individual business leaders, and other innovators and entrepreneurs for their contributions to the advancement of animal welfare. It is “conscious capitalism” put into practice. 

It is our hope that the awards will inspire many others to help build their piece of the humane economy, which I talk about in my book, “The Bond.” The awards recognize the critical role the marketplace plays in addressing animal issues and reinforce The HSUS’ commitment to the integration of humane principles within business and industry, a commitment we shared with Henry and his colleagues at ARI.

Our inaugural year honorees for 2012 include Aramark, Burger King, and Sodexo for working to eliminate some of the worst factory farming practices from their supply chains, and for Sodexo’s promotion of Meatless Mondays; CeeTox, Inc., a Michigan-based contract testing organization, for its work to replace the use of animals in chemical and other product testing; and the Consumer Specialty Products Association, which brokered an industry-wide agreement in which manufacturers committed to voluntarily add a bittering agent to antifreeze and engine coolant to prevent accidental poisoning of children and animals, who are attracted to the sweet-tasting liquids.

If you’d like to learn more about Henry Spira, you might consider reading Peter Singer’s wonderful biography, “Ethics into Action: Henry Spira and the Animal Rights Movement.” It’s a superb account of Henry’s life and his studied approach to animal welfare reform. Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Henry Spira Humane Corporate Progress Awards.

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