#4 The Five Freedoms

Shimon Peres, the former President of Israel, famously stated that “you are only as great as the cause you serve.”  Peres’s quote reminds us that we should dedicate ourselves to something that we are passionate about and that will have a major impact on our world.  Peres did not dedicate himself to the pursuit of wealth or personal success, but rather worked for peace in the Middle East.  Throughout his life, he fought to achieve this goal even in the face of constant criticism and condemnation.

Simon Sinek explains in a TEDtalk, that success comes from someone’s beliefs and their cause rather than the result or outcome. Learning how to effectively address issues in our community requires that we understand Sinek’s proposition that “the goal is not just to sell to people who need what you have; the goal is to sell to people who believe what you believe. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job; it’s to hire people who believe what you believe.” In order to create change, in order to have an effective social change, you need to find people that share your passion and your goals. This foundation of enthusiasts is built upon shared concern, or aspiration. This structure of passionate and shared concern creating effective social activism can be found in some of the most influential movements in history, and continues to create hope for positive change in the future.  

The concern of mistreatment of animals dates back to the early 1600s, when the Ireland parliament moved to treat their farm animals more humanely. The distinction between the concern of the treatment of animals, and the Animal Rights movement occurred when Peter Singer published Animal Liberation, which depicted the conditions on farms and in laboratories. This publication was to have a major influence on how the animal movement was viewed. The publicity that Animal Liberation created caused immediate pressure on laws that allowed for the cruelty towards animals. Many people read Animal Liberation and became passionately involved in the cause of the humane treatment of animals.  Due to the commitment to this cause, in 1998, the European Union passed the Council Directive 98/58/EC.   This directive concerned the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes, which is based on a revised Five Freedoms: freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury, and disease; from fear and distress. These Five Freedoms have now spread to the United States, and currently hundreds of major food suppliers, producers, and restaurants have signed on to the Five Freedoms.  These changes occurred because there was a passionate commitment by a group to this cause, which has motivated many others to also advocate for similar changes around the world.  What was remarkable about these changes is that a handful of organizations have been successful in “selling” to hundreds of people something that didn’t even know that they believed that you believed.  These organizations made people into believers by convincing them that they shared the same beliefs and passions.

One of the most effective and influential organizations in pursuing a group to its cause is Mercy for Animals. Mercy for Animals mission as a group is centered around four main areas: Corporate Outreach, Education, Legal Advocacy, and finally, the most influential strategy to promote change, Undercover Investigations. Mercy for Animals has been extremely effective in creating passionate supporters by using undercover film to document the horrible treatment of farm animals in this country.  These methods to push towards the better treatment of animals have not only improved the lives of thousands of animals, but have connected, and educated a large community of people who believe that the lives of these animals should be improved and that this cause is an urgent and important one.

Throughout the exploration I have made on behalf of the animal rights issue, the most influential changes so far in the treatment of animals are based on compassion for animals. In Simon Sinek’s design of the golden circle, he explains that when in pursuit of change, you must have passion, and a clear goal based on what you value, then strategize about ways to create eventual change. When considering how to address the treatment of farm animals in Vermont, I believe that the first step, is creating a compassionate connection between the mistreated animals in our community, and the members of the community. With a desire to seek solutions to a social issue, the next step consists of creating a comprehensive plan for the humane treatment of farm animals that follows the Five Freedoms. As many of the neighbors that I have talked to explained, the the main reason for the lack of progress in the movement to improve the treatment of farm animals in Vermont is ignorance, that people either build up around themselves, or true naiveté. As the Mercy for Animals campaign has shown, passionate social action can lead to real change in the lives of the millions of farm animals in this country.



Mercy For Animals. What We Do. http://www.mercyforanimals.org/what-we-do

Featured Photo: Mercy for Animals

Lena Ashooh

3 Responses to “#4 The Five Freedoms

  • Bob Uhl
    7 years ago

    Hi Lena,

    Very nice job on your fourth blog post. I learned quite a bit here, including the four strategies that Mercy for Animals advocates to address the issue at hand. I especially like that you’ve outlined the history of your topic and made the distinction between concern for animal mistreatment and animal rights. I’m also glad you discovered Peter Singer; I myself am not too familiar with his work, but it has the potential to serve as a resource to you throughout your pursuit of this issue.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Mr. Uhl,

      It has definitely been interesting to learn the history of animal rights, and I am excited to begin making connections between how change was successfully made in the history, and what change needs to be made now.

      I am also interested in exploring more of Peter Singer’s work, I agree that he is someone that I could learn a lot from.

      Thank you!

  • Hi,

    Great post! This was very informative. I especially loved how you opened with that quote, it made me want to keep reading. You seem very passionate about this issue which is wonderful. I especially loved your quote:

    “As many of the neighbors that I have talked to explained, the the main reason for the lack of progress in the movement to improve the treatment of farm animals in Vermont is ignorance, that people either build up around themselves, or true naiveté.”

    I find this quote to be true with many issues in Vermont; it can be hard to inspire change in communities where people are used to things being a certain way or are not open-minded.

    I think you are making great progress. Keep it up!


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