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Vegas - 2016 - Issue 2 - Late Spring - Dita Von Tesse

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PhotograPhy by Wynn Myers. oPPosite Page: eric bean/getty iMages around, and now they're all in these shut-in giant sheds. The public doesn't see that. Wayne and I have jointly sponsored a documentary film called At the Fork that's going to raise consciousness. It's going to have an impact. WP: There are animal documentaries every week that I'm learning about. Look at what Blackfish did with SeaWorld. This was one of the toughest entertainment companies out there. It was able to fend off activist protests for many years, but this single documentary upended that business model for the company. In the wake of that film, I was able to negotiate a landmark deal with the new CEO of SeaWorld and get the company to pledge to end all captive breeding of orcas and sunset its use of these creatures. SeaWorld also committed to a raft of other reforms, including redoubling its commitment to rescue and rehabilitation and joining in our global advo- cacy campaigns against commercial whale and seal and shark finning. JM: It's a great example of the thesis that we're talking about. What Blackfish revealed is the exploitative nature of using animals as entertainment and how these animals are enslaved and abused. And now it has upended the business model, because the public is outraged. WP: If only 15 or 20 percent of people in America are very visibly agitated, they can create a lot of trouble. JM: More like 5 percent, even. So it is evolving very rapidly. We're living in this revolutionary time where we as a people are becoming more conscious. Diets are changing; the way we relate to animals is changing. Social media in particular makes things move very rapidly. In the food business, I've never seen as much change as there is right now, from online delivery to ingredient meals like Blue Apron and Plated to full-meal solutions and food trucks. WP: And we have companies that are innovating, like Hampton Creek, which is providing a plant-based egg substitute that's hidden in the product. The consumer doesn't even know the difference. It's a functional equivalent in terms of the taste and texture. It's not inconceivable that in 30 or 40 years we can produce meat in a laboratory setting where the meat is an animal product but without the brain or the heart and very little in the way of a moral problem. How do these options become embraced by consumers? WP: You need innovation and entrepreneurs who can develop the product and then market it. But I think you also need time—the ideas take a while to seep in. They marinate in society, and as they do, these things become acceptable. Look at gay marriage. We did a ballot measure in California in 2008 to stop extreme confinement of animals on factory farms. We thought we were going to lose, but we won, and we got more votes than any citizen initiative in American history at the time. On that same ballot, voters in California, which is viewed as among the most progressive of states, passed a ban on gay marriage. So from 2008 to 2016, we've seen a complete change on that issue. JM: Society is always evolving simply because old people die and young people come in and reach the majority. Now 80 million millennials are in this society, bigger than boomers. Boomers are retiring, some of them are dying, and so increasingly that millennial generation, which is more interested in the very things we're talking about, is having a greater and greater influence. WP: If you believe that animals matter, that has practical implications for daily behavior, and once you convince people to align their beliefs with their behavior, that's when you have a market opportunity. You have companies that can take advantage of that consciousness, like Whole Foods, Hampton Creek, or Cirque du Soleil. Ringling Bros. was one of the fiercest opponents of animal protection, but they gave up their elephants because they did the surveys: The customers didn't want the elephants traveling to 120 different cities a year, living on chains for 22 hours a day, and they knew that was not something they could invest in while retaining the brand strength of the company, so they changed, which is also why SeaWorld agreed to end any breeding of orcas in order to sunset their use and make the existing whales the last generation at their parks. There are alternative forms of attracting and entertaining crowds. Cirque du Soleil showed that you can have amazing theatrical productions involving human acrobats and feats of incredible physical- ity, and it's just so superior. You don't have any of the moral baggage that comes with orcas or elephants in captive settings. What other changes are happening in entertainment? WP: The film situation is incredible. With computer-generated imagery, we have an incredible revolution that can take the live animals out of the equation but still give viewers a rich and supe- rior experience. When you think of the toughest movie in terms of representing animals, it would probably be Noah. [Director] Darren Aronofsky used CGI to create this incredible animal diver- sity, and it was vivid and alive and authentic. The Planet of the Apes movies are the high watermark for this. You don't need to victimize chimpanzees. This is how social change works: You no longer have the movie industry blocking an effort to protect chimpanzees that are endangered in the Wayne Pacelle (left) and John Mackey wild. There was always an exemption because the bio- medical people wanted to use chimps in experiments, and the movie people wanted to use them, but now we have alternatives to using chimps in laboratories and in the movies. Chimpanzees [are listed as] endangered, and they have a highly protected status now. JM: "Doom and gloomers" are always projecting a problem out into the future, not understanding the con- tinual creativity and innovation part. I get asked a lot by journalists, "What do you think the world's going to be like in 10 years?" Ten years ago, let's see: Tesla cars did not exist. If you go back 15 years ago, no one was using an iPod; no one was using a smartphone, and there was no Facebook, there was no Twitter. The point is, there's continual innovation; there's continual creativity. That's basically the ultimate resource: limitless human creativ- ity. We will solve our problems in ways that we can't even foresee now. WP: We're solving the problems quicker. JM: That's partly because we're so much better con- nected. Innovations are copied quicker. If Whole Foods did something 20 years ago, it would take years for [it] to show up anywhere else. And now when we do a new store, not only can we copy our own innovations; every- body else does, too. Who is leading this current evolution? WP: One thesis in my book is there's really an ensemble cast of people who are driving this change. There are entrepreneurs, consumers who are more  107

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