The Humane Economy by Wayne Pacelle

by Amanda Newsom

Photo: Reynolds Rogers

Photo: Reynolds Rogers

Wayne Pacelle is the type of CEO you can aspire to be like without a guilty conscience. I’ve seen him speak at a Humane Society of the United States Animal Care Expo, and I’ve now seen him speak twice at the University of Georgia thanks to the student group, Speak Out for Species, and the UGA Office of Sustainability. It just so happened that the second time I saw him at UGA was just a few weeks ago as part of his book tour for The Humane Economy.

I’d been so busy working to create this magazine that I didn’t realize he even had a new book out, so I was thrilled to see that he would be coming right after the release so I could see him speak again. (He is a superb speaker, and I encourage you to see him if you get the chance.) But what excited me even more was the topic of his new book. His first book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them, went into detail about our inherent connection with animals. But this book presented a different perspective about the ways we can incorporate animal welfare issues into our everyday lives as consumers. 

When most people say “animal welfare,” the first thing that comes to mind is homeless pets, and that’s where the majority of donations go. While supporting pet adoption is a vital cause, there is also a whole other facet of animal welfare that we need to be talking about more loudly and more often. This hit home with me particularly as I was working on this magazine and its mission—to promote pet adoption, responsible pet ownership and compassion for all animals. What Pacelle talks about in The Humane Economy is what I want to write more about in that “compassion for all animals,” an admittedly expansive range of topics for a four-word description. 

But that’s really what it comes down to and what Pacelle wants us to think about more when making purchasing decisions. We spend $60 billion dollars a year in the United States on items for our pets at home—we have a significant ability to influence other sectors to choose more humane practices with our wallets. And while it can be overwhelming to think about all of the topics Pacelle touches on in this book and why each is so important, we are on the front lines of helping all animals: 

“The humane economy is not some abstraction or far-off concept, partly because animals are all around us. So many of the changes afoot will touch your life and that of the people you know. Indeed, you are—or will be—driving many of these changes, whether it involves the food you eat, the pets you keep, the household products you buy, or the films or wildlife you watch. If we seize the opportunities now available to us—whether as first adopters or those who join the parade of progress—we can help shape the market and accelerate transformational changes for animals throughout the global economy.“

What I love most about Pacelle is that while he is mind-bogglingly knowledgeable about an array of animal welfare issues, he doesn’t present it in a way to make anyone feel shamed or judged by their level of engagement with these issues. He simply wants people to be educated and informed and to take steps toward changing the ways we include animals in all facets of our lives, including our purchasing power.

This book is particularly interesting because it gives insider insight into how Pacelle has worked directly with other CEOs of global companies to encourage them to become innovators in a humane economy, and he talks a lot about how and why a range of companies have progressed. He also discusses some companies that are engaging in innovative research that will likely be the norm one day not too far into the future, such ascultured meats and leather. 

He says that innovative businesses that are doing good for both animals and the economy will ultimately prevail, and he makes plenty of good arguments to support this throughout The Humane Economy. If you love helping dogs and cats, I encourage you to read this book to learn about ways you can expand your reach into helping more animals.