By Ronnika A. McFall, APR
Deciding to work with Compassion in World Farming was my first experience of the Animal Welfare Movement. Here at Compassion USA, we campaign peacefully to end all factory farming practices. We believe the most significant cause of cruelty to animals on the planet deserves a focused, specialized approach—so we are relentlessly focused on ending factory farming. I wear many hats for the organization, but my primary function is to communicate our cause and campaign activities to media outlets that use their mediums to influence action and policy changes.
I've worked as a public relations professional for almost a decade; half of those years in the non-profit sector, and I've never had a more meaningful job than the one I currently have. Communications and public relations are essential to the Animal Welfare Movement because we cannot effectively run impactful campaigns and support our mission without the public. Supporting Compassion in World Farming is important because whether it is demanding better animal welfare from a top food company, contesting deceptive food labels for consumers, or fighting for a more sustainable future for our children, our campaigns are grounded in sound science and encompass the full scope of the challenges facing our food system—from farmed animal suffering to environmental destruction, social injustice to public health threats.
I was not taught or exposed to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle as a child. In fact, I was raised in one of the millions of low-income households; my childhood home is in south Mississippi. Low-income is known to be associated with poor-quality dietary intake. Compared to those with a higher income, lower-income households' consumers have a lower overall diet quality. It is likely that low-income families have a high awareness of healthy diets but cannot afford good quality food. Income should not be a barrier to making ethical food choices—but it is. This cause has become personal to me. Now that I've been taught better, I can make better choices; but not every consumer will have this type of exposure until later in life. Therefore, we need our policymakers to act and act NOW for the next generation's sake.
There has never been a more pivotal moment in the movement to end factory farming and build a more compassionate and sustainable food system for all consumers, not just high-income families. Only our supporters and policymakers can help us secure a better food future for animals, all people and the planet. I came into this movement not as a vegetarian or vegan but as someone eager to learn the importance of a plant-based diet and advocate for how income shouldn't be a barrier for those wanting to make higher welfare food choices.
It's not a pretty picture to admit that many families are being priced out of nutritious and fresh food because of the conditions they are simply born into. What can I do now to help change this? I'm still learning that part but being educated on the Animal Welfare Movement and communicating to our policymakers through media channels about how millions of low-income families are barred from making more humane purchases is a start. I have the privilege to work on many types of Animal Welfare Movement campaigns every day. Still, out of all of them, I think my work to help lower-income shoppers afford higher welfare foods will not only increase their quality of life but the quality of life for generations to come.