UC Irvine Dining Services took an important step toward addressing animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Last quarter, they switched from using battery cage eggs to 100 percent organic eggs in almost all of the eating facilities on campus, including all of the residential dining halls.
Prior to this switch, UCI had purchased approximately one million eggs a year from industrial farming facilities that intensively confine hens in battery cages, or small, barren wire cages in which several animals are crammed into a space the size of a file cabinet drawer for their entire adult lives.
It is now widely recognized that battery cages are cruel and inhumane. Major corporations, such as Ben & Jerry’s, Wolfgang Puck and Burger King, are seeking more humane alternatives. Numerous city councils, including several in California, have passed resolutions condemning battery cages. The European Union voted to phase battery cages out entirely by 2012. Major environmental organizations have also condemned such intensive animal confinement systems as damaging to the environment.
In February 2006, we approached UCI Dining Services to express our concern that UCI was supporting animal cruelty by purchasing eggs from battery cage facilities. In the spring of 2007, the UCI Cage-Free Egg Initiative was launched and a group of committed students and faculty gathered petition signatures, held demonstrations and worked to persuade administrators to switch to cage-free eggs.
In early 2008, Jack McManus, Director of UCI Dining Services, announced that the university would go beyond what was asked of them and switch to organic eggs. Organic eggs are even better for the animals and the environment than cage-free eggs. UCI is only the second UC campus to make this significant move, after UC Berkeley. Once Mr. McManus made this decision, he moved swiftly to implement it, with the help of the Aramark representative, Robert Perez.
The students who worked on the UCI Cage-Free Egg Initiative and the thousands more who expressed support through signing our petition should be lauded for their dedication and passion. Their activism made a difference. They can proudly say that they helped to make UCI a more compassionate place.
We wish to express our sincere congratulations and thanks to Jack McManus, Robert Perez and all of the people in UCI Dining Services. They listened to the voices of students and went beyond what was asked of them to exercise true leadership. They have done the right thing for the animals and the environment and have made UCI a better place in the bargain.
Claire Jean Kim
Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies