Back in July 2019, we announced that we had joined forces with our friends at the Open Wing Alliance (OWA) to author a letter to Subway to highlight their ethical obligation to remove cage-produced eggs from their supply chain.
OWA’s approach is a strategic one, targeting major food producers and outlets around the world, urging them to make more compassionate changes to their sources of eggs and chicken meat. Initiated by The Humane League, the Open Wing Alliance brings member organizations together to create a unified front in their campaign to free egg-laying hens from cages.
Subway has now announced their commitment to source only cage-free eggs in all Southeast Asian countries where it operates, plus Taiwan and South Korea. It is thought that they made this decision in response to pressure from groups like Asia for Animals Coalition, Open Wing Alliance and South American group Sinergia Animal.
Hens are very underestimated animals. They are intelligent and social and display complex behaviors and the ability to problem solve. Read more about these amazing animals in this piece.
But hens don’t get to express any of their natural behaviors in caged life. Caged hens are basically treated like egg machines for human enjoyment, and humans kill 50 billion hens per year for food. The only way to reduce this number is to reduce overall demand.
Although we welcome this news, the trouble is that many people are still under the illusion that free range hens live an idyllic outdoor lifestyle. However the reality is still an intensive farming practice, although thankfully they do have the freedom of movement and social interaction.
While progress is being made on the huge task of reducing demand and promoting veganism, we can also try to give currently living hens better living conditions.
That’s why we consider Subway’s commitment to end cage hens in their Asia supply chain by 2025 a welcome victory. It will have a positive impact on the welfare of a large number of animals to come.
Featured image: hens in battery cages in a factory farm. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality.