Compassion Over Killing

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Compassion Over Killing
Compassion Over Killing logo.png
Founded 1995
Founder Paul Shapiro
Focus Cruelty to animals in agriculture
Key people
Erica Meier

Compassion Over Killing (COK) is a nonprofit animal protection organization based in Washington, D.C., founded by Paul Shapiro and currently led by Erica Meier. Formed in 1995, COK's primary campaigns are to advocate against factory farms and promote vegetarian eating. While it welcomes those who are interested in animal welfare who eat meat, the group encourages a transition to a plant-based diet, even if gradual or part-time.[1]

Activities and campaigns[edit]

COK's activities and campaigns include:

  • Distribution of vegetarian dietary starter guides.
  • Manufacturing and distributing pro-vegetarian commercials on television.
  • Direct street canvassing and distribution of organization position materials.
  • Protesting in front of restaurants.
  • Distribution of vegetarian restaurant guides.
  • Writing letters and op-ed to local newspapers.
  • Restaurant outreach program advocating for restaurants to serve vegan food.

In 2005, egg producers dropped an "Animal Care Certified" label from their products after Compassion Over Killing filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising on the part of the egg companies.[2] Compassion Over Killing said that the egg label implied that the care of the animals had met a certain standard of animal conditions, which the egg producers had not; the National Advertising Review Board agreed that the label was deceptive.[2] The FTC complaint was dropped when the egg industry agreed to exchange the label in favor of one stating, "United Egg Producers Certified".[2]

The organization has since launched successful campaigns urging Morningstar Farms, Boca, and LightLife to use fewer eggs in their products.

At the 2009 Taking Action for Animals conference hosted by the Humane Society of the United States, Erica Meier introduced Compassion Over Killing's new campaign to urge Dunkin' Donuts to remove animal products from its donuts. Compassion Over Killing had already started a campaign for Dunkin' Donuts to stock soy milk in its shops,[3] which the company did in certain regions.

US VegWeek: As of 2014, COK has completed their sixth VegWeek. VegWeek is a campaign where people make a pledge to participate in the pro-veg movement for one week. In 2014 over 6,000 people participated, including federal, state, and local representatives, celebrities, and community members. [4]


Compassion Over Killing has also conducted multiple undercover investigations on the conditions of animals raised for food in the U.S.

The group conducted an investigation into the living conditions at Maryland henhouses, documenting corpses found in group cages and rescuing some of the hens found in the worst conditions.[1] One of the farms documented, owned by ISE America, housed more than 800,000 hens.[5] Following a tipoff about substandard conditions at the farm, COK requested permission to visit the farm before proceeding with an undercover investigation.[5]

The egg industry said that conditions found in photos and videos produced by COK did not give an accurate view and it was illegal for Compassion Over Killing to remove the hens.[1] The spokesperson for the owner of the farm in question said that the conditions found at the farm were "normal industry practices."[6] While one of the farms asserted that the video footage was not taken at its farm, Compassion Over Killing had filmed its GPS location as well as mail addressed to the farm in question.[7]

In early 2006, a Compassion Over Killing investigation inside a Pennsylvania egg farm led to criminal charges of 35 counts of animal cruelty against the owner and manager of the farm, the first case of its kind.[8] Although, charges were pressed by a local animal control officer after viewing a video provided by COK, the owner and manager of the farm were eventually acquitted in 2007. [9]

In 2013, a COK activist was arrested (although charges were eventually dropped) in Colorado for filming alleged cattle abuse at the Quanah Cattle Company and failing to report the abuse “in a timely manner.” COK executive director Erica Meier stated this is a “shoot-the-messenger strategy aimed at detracting attention away from the crimes of those who actually abused animals.”[10]


  1. ^ a b c Montgomery, David (2003-09-08). "Animal Pragmatism: Compassion Over Killing Wants to Make the Anti-Meat Message a Little More Palatable". The Washington Post. p. C01. Archived from the original on 2012-12-30. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  2. ^ a b c Hernandez, Nelson (2005-10-04). "Egg Label Changed After Md. Group Complains". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  3. ^ Rueb, Emily S. (2008-05-14). "Real World, Real Annoyance in Brooklyn". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  4. ^ US VegWeek. 15 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b Singer, Peter (2005). In Defense of Animals. New York, New York: Scribner. p. 174. ISBN 0-7432-4769-8. 
  6. ^ "Md. Egg Farm Accused of Cruelty". Washington Post. 2001-06-06. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  7. ^ McNeil Jr, Donald G. (2004-07-25). "The Nation: Gaining Ground; At Last, a Company Takes PETA Seriously". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  8. ^ "Pennsylvania egg farm hit with cruelty charges". USA Today. 2006-01-11. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  9. ^ "Update: Pennsylvania Court Finds that Animal Abuse on Egg Factory Farm is Legal". Compassion Over Killing. 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  10. ^ Taylor Radig Filmed Alleged Cattle Abuse At Ranch, But Got Arrested For Not Reporting It Immediately. The Huffington Post, 24 November 2013.

External links[edit]