The purpose of welfare reform campaigns and single-issue campaigns (SICs) is to build coalitions that include those who believe that animal exploitation per se is morally acceptable and who just object to the target of the particular welfare reform campaign or SIC. Such campaigns must play to the lowest level of the spectrum or they will lose that part of the coalition.
And that is precisely the problem.
A welfare reform campaign that aims to phase out gestation crates for pigs seeks to build a coalition that includes people who eat animal products, including pork, but who agree that the gestation crate is not “humane.” A welfare reform campaign that aims to phase out the traditional battery cage for laying hens seeks to build a coalition that includes people who eat eggs from hens confined in an “enriched” cage or in one big cage known as a “cage-free” barn. An SIC that targets foie gras seeks to build a coalition that will include people who eat meat but who think that foie gras is morally distinguishable from other meat. An SIC that targets meat seeks to build a coalition that will include people who consume dairy and eggs. An SIC that targets fur seeks to build a coalition of people who wear wool, leather, or silk instead of fur.
Because welfare reform campaigns and SICs seek to build coalitions of people, many of whom engage in conduct that is indistinguishable from the target of the particular welfare reform campaign or SIC that they are supporting, these campaigns necessarily promote the animal exploitation that is not the target of that welfare campaign or that SIC. That is, the reform campaign must characterize the reform of the use or the products that are not the target of the SIC (but are morally indistinguishable from it), as more “humane” or “compassionate,” not just as a factual matter (it supposedly causes less suffering), but as a normative or moral matter. In other words, welfare reform campaigns and SICs communicate to the public that the supposedly reformed use or the non-targeted product is what people ought to support.
So a campaign against the gestation crate must promote non-crate pork as a normatively desirable choice—as what people ought to support and consume. If the campaign even suggested that all meat consumption or even all pork consumption was morally wrong, those who object to gestation crates but otherwise think meat or pork consumption is fine would not support or donate to the campaign.
To put this in simple terms: if Mary consumes meat but agrees that the gestation crate is cruel, she is going to donate to a campaign that she understands as saying that consuming animal products other than crated pork is morally better than consuming crated pork and that she is behaving more morally than people who consume crated pork. She is not going to support and donate to a campaign that says that what she is doing is no better morally than what those who consume crated pork are doing. As we can easily see, this situation results in promoting the idea that Mary’s animal exploitation is morally acceptable.
An SIC against foie gras must promote the idea that eating a piece of steak, chicken, or fish, or pâté from the liver of a goose that has not been force fed is what people ought to do. If the campaign even suggested that people should stop eating all animal products or even just all meat, those who think that force feeding geese is wrong but that eating animal products is otherwise fine would not support—or donate to—the campaign. An SIC against fur must promote the idea that people ought to wear wool or leather instead of fur. If the anti-fur campaign even suggested that it was also immoral to wear wool or leather, those who think that it is tragic that seal cubs are clubbed or foxes are caught in leg hold traps but who wear wool and leather would not support or donate to the campaign. A campaign against the gestation crate cannot be understood to be promoting the eating of no pork, no meat, or no animal products, or it would fail to create a coalition because those who eat pork or other animal products would not support it.
All of these regulatory campaigns must engage in the pretense that the targeted activity or product is morally distinguishable from the activities or products that are not the subject of the regulatory campaign and that the latter are morally desirable alternatives. If those who are continuing to participate in animal exploitation are not told that their exploitation makes them “compassionate” people, they will not support the regulatory campaign. People must be made to feel comfortable and they are made to feel comfortable by an insidious pretense that the target of the campaign is immoral and their own conduct is not immoral, or is so much less immoral.
So, in effect, the coalitions for welfare reform and SICs all have one thing in common: they involve a broad spectrum of people who “care” about animals promoting exploitation that is supposedly more “humane,” or promoting animal products or uses that are not the target of the welfare reform campaign or SIC.
A particularly pernicious effect of coalitions is that they render the moral imperative of veganism, which we will explore in greater detail when we come to Principle Three, as meaningless. By bringing together nonvegans and vegans (that is, vegans who support welfare and SICs) in order to form a group of people with a common goal, a coalition creates the false notion among its members and among the public that there is no moral difference between someone who deliberately exploits animals by being nonvegan and someone who does not do so by being vegan. Coalitions portray the act of not eating, wearing, and using animals as irrelevant or negligible to doing justice to animals. This, in effect, prevents veganism from being viewed as a moral requirement.
Is it possible for these campaigns to not promote animal exploitation? No. The only way that these campaigns can build coalitions is by promoting animal exploitation. Could welfarists reformulate these campaigns and promote welfare reform with a campaign that explicitly said, “We are promoting larger cages for laying hens but we oppose all animal exploitation however ‘humane,’ and we regard veganism as a moral imperative yet are seeking larger cages for chickens as an interim measure while we move toward the abolition of all animal exploitation”? Could they promote a single-issue campaign that explicitly said, “We regard all animal ‘foods’ as equally unjust and violative of animal rights, and we regard veganism as a moral baseline but we are targeting foie gras now and, as soon as we prevail, we will move on to other animal foods”? Sure, those are campaigns that could be promoted. But the only people who would support—donate—to such campaigns would be those who embraced animal rights. Such campaigns would have a great deal more moral integrity but they would be completely ineffective from a fundraising point of view. And that is precisely why no animal advocacy group has ever promoted those campaigns.
Gary L. Francione
From: Gary L. Francione and Anna Charlton, Animal Rights: The The Abolitionist Approach (2015), 41-43.