With 20,000 petitions created every month on Change.org, it is impossible to keep track of every campaign launched on our platform. But it’s easy to see trends that emerge as our passionate users rally around issues.
In 2015, one of the biggest trends on Change.org was the public’s engagement on campaigns around the treatment of animals for the food industry. Petitions on the site helped convince many of the largest companies in the world to change their animal welfare and food policies.
Some of the biggest victories were around controversial battery cages in the egg industry:
And Shake Shack issued a commitment to go cage-free after Molly Hellring launched a petition.
Massive food service companies Sodexo and Aramark are going cage-free after facing pressure from large national petitions as well as dozens more focused on the universities and businesses they service.
Other victories focused more generally on animal welfare as well as making sure vegan options are available for consumers:
Mercy For Animals also won its campaign asking Canadian dairy supplier Saputo to adopt new animal welfare standards and won similar campaigns for changes at Great Lakes Cheese, Leprino Foods, and Maple Leaf Foods.
The USDA stopped verifying factory farmed chickens as “humanely raised.”
Ben & Jerry’s listened to consumers who signed Jenny Foy and Doug Reed’s petition, and it will offer vegan ice cream options this year. It will also end tail-docking in its supply chain after 133,000 people signed Laura Yanne’s petition.
Steve-O filmed a quick video for his petition, which asks Wendy’s to add a veggie burger. It’s now testing in several U.S. markets.
And signatures on petitions about treatment of animals for the food industry also drove momentum around numerous investigations:
It also went undercover at a dairy farm and documented repeat abuse of cows. It’s hoping the video and petition will get the Dairy Farmers of America to develop better animal welfare standards.
An investigation of a factory farm endorsed as humane by the American Humane Association found mistreatment of those animals. Mercy for Animals is asking that the AHA reevaluate its "humane" stamp of approval.
Candice Bergen helped launch a petition and investigation asking for animal welfare improvements at Tyson Foods suppliers.
Compassion Over Killing integrated a Change.org petition into an investigation at a Hormel pig slaughter plant.
This is just a partial list of the changes made in 2015. Nathan Runkle, the Executive Director of Mercy For Animals, told me, “It’s because of Change.org that hundreds of thousands of caring people have not only learned about the cruelty facing animals on factory farms, but have taken meaningful and effective actions to stop it.”
So the next time someone asks you if petitions on Change.org make any difference, share this blog.
I expect 2016 to be another big year for animals and sustainable food. Wendy’s already committed to switch to cage-free eggs this week, and The Humane League is running a brand new Movement page simply titled End Factory Farming where you can start your own petition.
These are your victories. This is your movement.
Pulin Modi is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org
Is there an animal issue that you care about and want to see change?