There are some people who are just never going to stop eating meat. Never. Nuparoonie. They just won’t. If they start choosing happy meat then at the very very least they are actively thinking about and making choices with their food, rather than obliviously buying whatever is cheapest or tastiest without regard to the environment, their health or even the origin of their food (obviously no offence intended to people who buy the cheapest cut out of financial necessity. I'm not talking about you really. But you could totally be vegan and not spend more money. More on that another time I think).
Anything that reduces the reliance on CAFOs is something. I would prefer that the obdurate omnivore had some awareness of the context in which they shop and eat, and made a choice that was in some way informed, than condemn all happy meat of out of hand. Babysteps.
In this way, I suppose I am supporting a welfarist approach. I haven’t yet written about my position on the AR/welfare split, suffice it to say that I am AR supporting welfare. Although my own decisions are based on a simple AR position (that I have no right to take life and that each creature has the right to their own, rather than a more complex argument encompassing liberation theology or opposition to welfare measures), I support welfare initiatives and believe that they are worthy and useful. They are worthy because they reduce suffering. They are useful because they do raise awareness within people who may not otherwise stop to think, and I do not believe that they are placatory and thus anti-animal. Oaks, acorns, and all that.
I also find a welfare position the most effective when trying to explain my veganism to people unfamiliar with it – while most people reject the idea that we have no right to kill animals (even if we can bring ourselves to do it ourselves! An argument I abhor), they will respond to a discussion about cruel treatment of animals as it is less confrontational to their own choices, and connects with their own experience of pets. I don’t think this is a cop out at all – it is using the best form of dialogue in the circumstances to encourage thought and connection.
So back to the point – happy meat has some benefits when linked to a welfare perspective, which when used in a particular way can be effective, and that’s better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.
But it doesn’t make it right. Or happy.