If farmed animals had Twitter accounts, this tweet would have been the most retweeted in history. The tweet provides hope that the animal agriculture industry realizes its business is unsustainable–environmentally and in the court of public opinion.
Donnie Smith, the CEO of Tyson Foods, the largest killer of animals in the United States, recently reminded an audience that the world’s population is estimated to total 9 billion people by 2050, an increase of 2 billion people from 2016.
“As a result of this rapid growth, the world will need to responsibly produce twice as much food in 2050 as we produce today. With my simple little math, that means your generation will have to find a way to produce 4.5 trillion tonnes more food, on about the same amount of land and the same amount of water. And you’ll need to do this while maintaining the delicate balance between our need for food and our need to protect the natural resources that provide us that food,” Smith told graduates at the University of Tennessee.
When Tyson Foods announced they purchased a 5% stake in plant-based meat company Beyond Meat, the animals rights organizations that conducted undercover investigations exposing their mistreatment of animals lauded the deal. Better to have Tyson in the company of an ethical vegan operating a successful, sustainable, and more compassionate business they can emulate than leaving them to their own devices.
When the CEO of the company killing more animals than any other company tweets that the future of the company is plant-based, it’s cause for tremendous optimism. Tyson Foods should continue to be held to the same high standard in their treatment of animals, people, and environment–and the benefits and risks of this deal should be scrutinized–but animal rights advocates everywhere should rejoice over the potential of this declaration. If farmed animals could understand it, the chorus of their expressions of joy would be heard around the world.