Given Pro-Animal Future’s ongoing dual-ballot measure campaign in the city and county of Denver, we sought to poll Denver residents to better understand their baseline level of support for these two measures, which would 1) ban slaughterhouse operations and 2) ban the sale of fur in the city and county of Denver. Additionally, we sought to gain insight into their general attitudes towards the animals in our food system. Moreover, we tested various messages in support of and opposing both measures to observe the effect, if any, they had on their support or opposition of these measures.
We discovered higher-than-expected support for the slaughterhouse ban, and even higher support for the fur ban. 50.5% of the roughly 1500 Denver residents polled stated that they would “definitely” or “probably” vote yes on the slaughterhouse ban, while 58.0% revealed that they would “definitely” or “probably” vote yes on the fur ban.
In line with past surveys, we found that the vast majority of those polled– over 90% – agreed with the statement “animals deserve to be treated humanely.” Slightly fewer participants (82.7%) additionally agreed that animals under human care should not be subjected to violence or harm. However, this contrasts with strong support for statements such as “Humans have the right to breed animals for slaughter and consumption” and “Farming animals should continue to play a major role in food production because they provide affordable, nutritious protein to all consumers.” Again, these findings align with the results of numerous studies underscoring the cognitive dissonance, and perhaps lack of information, present in the way consumers think about the way farmed animals are raised and treated.
These results reveal a promising base of supporters for pro-animal policies among Denverites. However, it also reveals a very tight race ahead for campaigners of both measures. Our results also reveal the counterintuitive ways in which consumers think about animals in general. While they believe that animals should be treated humanely and should not be subjected to violence or harm, they also strongly believe that humans have the right to slaughter and eat them. This framework of thinking lends itself to the promise the researchers find in stepping back from the consumer frame that the animal rights movement has embraced since its inception, while embracing a “civic” frame– one that seeks change for animals through collective action, like voting, rather than individual actions, like diet change– has for the animal movement.