The head of the Humane Society, with the help of Carl Icahn, got McDonald’s to change its policy toward pork. Sixty brands followed.
In 2011, Wayne Pacelle got a phone call from a man he didn’t know. Mr. Pacelle is president of the United States Humane Society, the animal-protection group. The caller was Carl Icahn, the activist investor. “I understand you are working against animal cruelty,” he said, “and I’d like to help.” The Humane Society had many supporters in business, politics and the arts, but Mr. Icahn was a step above: He could get the attention of powerful CEOs anywhere in the world.
After several meetings with Mr. Icahn, Mr. Pacelle decided to aim high. He asked Mr. Icahn for his help in changing the policy of McDonald’s, one of the world’s greatest brands.
The Humane Society had already urged McDonald’s to adopt a more humane approach to the treatment of animals and had won some public support during a yearslong campaign. Still, as Mr. Pacelle writes in “The Humane Economy,” he suspected that the company “might need an extra kick in the pants that only [Carl Icahn] could deliver.”