“For many years, France was rather backwards in terms of its thinking of animals,” he said in a Skype interview. “But L214 has made a lot of progress based on the methods of Spira, who showed the animal movement that it was possible to win against big corporations and revered institutions.”
Over the past two years, L214 has pushed dozens of French supermarket chains and cattering companies to commit to stop selling battery-cage eggs by 2022 or 2025. Across the world, including in the United States, large food companies have committed to transition to cage-free eggs only.
Yet L214’s methods have failed to convince politicians, and their demands have angered many who see in animal products a vital component of France’s culture and economy.
“The animal industry didn’t wait for L214 to tackle animal welfare,” said Jean-Baptiste Moreau, a lawmaker from Mr. Macron’s party, La République en Marche, and the commissionner of the agriculture and nutrition bill, referring to efforts by the livestock industry to improve animal welfare.
In many ways, Mr. Macron’s backtracking is hardly a surprise. French farmers are under increasing economic stress. There has been a quiet epidemic of suicides in recent years, with hundreds taking their own lives, leading the Ministry of Agriculture to make the issue a national cause.
Unlike several other European countries, such as Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands, France does not have political parties that have made animal welfare a priority.
As a sign that L214 is fighting an uphill battle against politicians, a majority of lawmakers have chosen to ignore the organization’s call for CCTV in slaughterhouses to defend those who work there.