The Hidden Cruelty at Whataburger

According to recent studies, the American public cares deeply about farm animals and wants them to be protected from suffering. So it’s no surprise that as consumers become aware of the horrific ways in which most egg-laying hens spend their lives—crammed into battery cages with no space to spread their wings, stretch their necks, or engage in any natural behaviors—the demand for cage-free eggs increases. And thanks to consumer demand, more than 2300 of the largest companies worldwide have made commitments to source 100% of the eggs they use from cage-free hens. 

However, once the positive media coverage subsides, some companies don’t keep their cage-free promises. One highly profitable company, Whataburger, jumped on the cage-free bandwagon 12 years ago but hasn’t reported any cage-free progress, has no cage-free policy on its website, and displays no public evidence of a transition. 

Fortunately, many other fast-food industry leaders are reporting progress, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box, and White Castle. Even global giant Restaurant Brands International (RBI), the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons, and Popeyes, is reporting progress, despite having over 29,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. 

Whataburger uses approximately 28+ million eggs at its 946 locations, impacting an estimated 101,853 hens that still suffer in battery cages. And with plans to expand to Nashville and Kansas City this year, its egg use will increase and so will the number of hens who suffer.   The Humane League, a nonprofit that is pushing companies to source cage-free eggs, is calling on Whataburger to produce a roadmap detailing how it plans to meet its cage-free goal for hens in its supply chain. If you’d like to help hold Whataburger accountable and let its executives know that you don’t want cruelty with your meal, please click here.

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  1. This article is so important in exposing Whataburger. Companies like these need to do better for the animals

    1. Thank you Janani, we think all businesses need to consider their impact on the animals. Even the less obvious ones outside the food industry.

  2. Hi! I just wanted to reach out because I really appreciate you bringing attention to this important issue! Animals deserve to be treated with respect and should not be trapped in cages. Thank you again and I’ll share this article with my family and friends!

  3. Whataburger is busy putting profits above all else. I was disappointed to hear that they care so little about the extreme suffering they are causing the animals they exploit. They need to catch up to the times and implement a 100 % cage-free policy. More importantly, they need to follow through, unlike last time!

    1. We find it very disappointing too Benjamin! You would think a company like theirs would at least care about its reputation, even if they don’t care about the mistreatment of animals.

  4. Profiting off of the publicity of going cage-free and then failing to show any progress towards that commitment is dishonest to customers and cruel to hens. Substantive change and transparency are needed!

    1. Couldn’t agree more Devin! Consumer concerns over animal welfare are only growing across all the food sectors. They are not only missing an opportunity, but they are also disrespecting current and potential customers while contributing to animal suffering.

  5. 100k+ hens suffering every day in cages. Imagine the scale of the suffering. Please do better, Whataburger.

    Thanks for this article.

    1. Michael, it is mind boggling to think about the amount of suffering involved. Thank you for caring!

  6. Whataburger just cares about money. I know that’s how a business works but, valuable and trustworthy companies and franchises will make drives for better morals as they grow.
    Stop supporting animal abuse, Whataburger!

    1. Tiffany, we agree that they should be striving to do better as a business. And we would add that with the way the market is trending, you would think they would be moving that direction too in order to protect their future bottom line. Short sided thinking!

  7. I am grateful to the good people who will not be at peace until the genocide of animals is ended. Everything to not let the populace forget that good people are being killed helps usher in the age of peaceful living.

    1. Rebekah, it definitely requires good conscious people to bring about positive change. Thank you for being one of them!

  8. Hens are sentient individuals and deserve so much better than this. I hope Whataburger will find the compassion and integrity to start keeping its promise!

    1. Cara, we agree that sentient beings deserve far better! It’s heartbreaking to think of the fear that they endure before they heartlessly killed for someone’s sandwich.

    1. You are right Lauren! We are all animals. I never understood how anyone can look into any animal’s eyes and not see the emotional being that deserves love and respect.

  9. Please be Transparent about your animal welfare policies as soon as possible! Please and Thank you.

    1. Noelle, we appreciate your support! Unfortunately, I don’t think Whataburger is going to be reading this editorial. This is more to inform the public of what’s happening and inspire others to speak up.

  10. Wow, I didn’t know what Whataburger was hiding. I assumed all US companies were using cage free eggs. Seems like the bare minimum.

    1. Lauren, if I’ve learned anything after all these years, it’s that we always need to keep an eye on companies. Even ones we think are okay can go astray.

  11. Thank you for sharing this story. It’s unconscionable that Whataburger continues to profit off this cruelty. It’s time for them to follow through and go cage-free.

    1. Libby, we agree that Whataburger’s behavior unconscionable and that they should go cage free!

    1. Jess, we look forward to a day when campaigns like this are no longer needed. No animal should endure cruelty in any form.

  12. Thank you for reporting on this issue! It’s so important that companies live up to their promises. I won’t be going to Whataburger until I see an update on this from them! I encourage others to do the same.

  13. Thank you for covering this important issue!! I hope Whataburger sees this and makes change ASAP

  14. Thanks for this article. It’s disturbing how Whataburger chooses to keep adding more and more restaurants to increase its egg use, and chooses to do nothing about responsibly buying those eggs. How do you not even have a single animal welfare section on your website in 2023?? Imagine doing worse than Jack in the Box on animal welfare…. embarrassing.

  15. It’s so disappointing to see Whataburger break a promise to be more responsible and ethical. I can’t believe some companies are still allowing such cruelty in their supply chains.

    1. It is disappointing Gustavo. They’ve broken their promise to both consumers and animals.

  16. Whataburger needs to be held accountable for its non-existent welfare policies! There is no excuse for this cruelty.

  17. Hi, I would love to see Whataburger be a progressive company and move away from animal abuse. Whataburger, I believe in you to do better. Please ban cages and do the right thing for your communities.

    1. Janet, if more consumers like you speak up, maybe they will see the light and become more progressive.

  18. I hope whatburger does what is right for animals! Its such an important part of consumer interest, as it should be!

  19. Whataburger is most definitely a nasty piece of work. It truly does not care about its customers since Whataburger tricked them with a untrue cage free commitment. And obviously, Whataburger has some nasty people who are finding out the abuse done to caged hens yet they keep dodging our questions about animal welfare! Be honest Whataburger and find compassion!!

    1. Barbie, it does seem as if they don’t care about the animals or their customer’s concerns. Let’s hope public pressure forces them to change.

  20. Whataburger is cruel, greedy, and dishonest. If they treated dogs or cats like they treat chickens, they would be in jail for animal cruelty.

  21. Whataburger made a promise in 2011 to go cage-free, and yet has never publicly reported on any efforts to honor its promise. Please start reporting on your progress now – the public cares about animal welfare and is watching!

  22. Customers believed Whataburger when it made the commitment to phase out its use of eggs from caged hens. Yet now I have found out that Whataburger might have been lying to its customers. I’m not fond of companies that don’t have integrity.

    1. We’re with you Zehra! If they weren’t lying, then what other possible explanation could there be for the way this has dragged out?

  23. 101,853 hens that still suffer
    Please read that number again. Each year. That is approximately how many hens suffer.
    I know my heart breaks knowing that just 1 could suffer when there is a solution.

    Please do the right thing.

    Animals deserve better.

  24. Thank you for bringing attention to this! It is so disappointing that Whataburger is not being transparent about its cage free progress. It is extremely important that companies follow through on their commitments. We need to hold them accountable to their cage free committment!

    1. Thank you for the support Richard! We totally agree on the need for transparency and follow-through.

  25. It is extremely disappointing that Whataburger has failed to keep their promise to end their use of horrendous battery cages, never publicly reported any progress towards their cage-free goal and has no mention of their 2011 cage-free promise, or any Animal Welfare Policies at all on their website. It is absolutely unacceptable that Whataburger continues to support animal abuse!
    Whataburger made a promise to customers to stop supporting the horrific and unnecessary cruelty of trapping hens in squalid wire battery cages by adopting a cage-free commitment. It is extremely important that Whataburger keeps their word, follows through on their cage-free promise, and publicly reports progress towards their cage-free commitment with clear Animal Welfare Policies on their website, so customers know they are keeping their word. This is crucial for the hens suffering in cramped, filthy, inhumane wire battery cages, and for the customers who believed Whataburger was doing the right thing and ending their use of barbaric battery cages.
    I really hope Whataburger will follow through on their promise and go 100% cage-free as soon as possible, as the longer they delay, the longer hens will suffer in horrific cages.

    1. We couldn’t agree more Sophia! It does seem like they talk a big game initially, but then fail to follow through repeatedly. Lets hope that enough public pressure from consumers pushes them to do the right thing this time.

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