Monthly Archives: October 2010

Viva! vs. the RSPCA…And Don’t Forget the “Donate” Button

Dear Colleagues:

In the wake of a controversy in Britain over the sale of halal meat, which involves exsanguination rather than stunning, and the comment by British new welfarist organization Viva! that, “Consumers can do their bit by boycotting places that persist in selling meat from unstunned animals,” I wrote two essays.

In the first essay, I pointed out that, in addition to jumping on the Islamophobic bandwagon being driven by reactionary media, Viva! was promoting a supposedly “happier” form of animal slaughter when it should be promoting the notion that the only coherent response to a moral concern about animal exploitation is to stop eating, wearing, or using animal products altogether and to go vegan.

Viva! responded and I wrote a second essay in which I noted that Viva! distinguishes between flesh and other animal foods and promotes vegetarianism as a morally coherent choice, characterizes veganism as difficult and “daunting,” sells vegetarian cookbooks with nonvegan recipes, and advertises vegetarian restaurants/inns that serve dairy products. In short, Viva! promotes animal exploitation of the non-flesh variety.

Well, Viva! has just issued an indictment of the RSPCA, which sponsors the Freedom Food label, claiming that the RSPCA is not properly monitoring things and “happy” eggs are not really “happy.” But Viva! is not telling us anything new. It has been clear from the inception of the Freedom Food scheme that it is nothing more than a marketing device to enrich the RSPCA and producers of “happy” animal flesh/products and that Freedom Food animals are tortured just as much animals whose suffering and death are not blessed by the RSPCA. Nevertheless, welfarist groups from the U.S., U.K., and other countries are falling over themselves in a frantic effort to form new partnerships with institutional exploiters that will involve even more “happy exploitation” labels.

Back to Viva! vs. the RSPCA. We have one organization that supports animal exploitation accusing another organization of supporting animal exploitation. I can hardly wait for Viva! to trot out some of its nonvegan celebrities to tell us all that RSPCA nonvegans are less “compassionate” than the Viva! nonvegans. Perhaps PETA can sponsor a “compassionate” mud wrestling contest between scantily-clad nonvegans from Viva! and the RSPCA. Anything for the animals.

But every cloud has a silver lining. Sure, “happy” animal products are not really happy (unless, apparently, they are served at a nonvegan restaurant promoted by Viva!). But you can help. Directly to the right of the Viva! indictment of the RSPCA is the solution: “Help us save animals. Donate to Viva!” and there is a space to put in an amount and a “donate” button.

Ah, yes, the standard refrain of all of the large groups: things are bad for animals but we can make it better. Send us money and we’ll solve the problem. We’ll “save animals.”

That is, of course, a fantasy. The only thing that you will save by clicking the “donate” button is the jobs of the people who work for Viva! There is one way to solve the problem of animal exploitation; there is one way to “save animals”: shift the paradigm away from animals as commodities that exist as human resources and toward the view of animals as members of the moral community, as nonhuman persons. But that will never happen—can never happen—as long as animals are sitting on our plates or are on our backs or feet. The paradigm will never shift in the absence of a strong movement of ethical veganism.

So you can help but not by sending money to anyone. You do not need a large group or a “donate” button. These large animal businesses are obstacles to change and not facilitators of it.

You just need your decision to do the right thing and go vegan.

Make no mistake about it: if you are not a vegan, you are participating directly in animal exploitation. There is no morally significant distinction between flesh and other animal products. There is as much suffering in a glass of milk or a piece of cheese served at some “happy” exploitation restaurant promoted by Viva! as there is in the flesh sold with some “happy” exploitation label. And all animals, whether used for meat or dairy, or whatever, and whether the products are promoted as “happy” or not, end their lives amid the noise and squalor of the same hideous slaughterhouse.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. Despite the negative proclamations of Viva! and many other large animal businesses that veganism is difficult or daunting, it is very easy. And however difficult you may find it to be a vegan, just think of how difficult it is for animals that you are not vegan.

Veganism is better for your health and for the planet. And, most important, it’s the morally right and just thing to do. Ethical veganism is a powerful way of saying “no” to animal exploitation.

If you are vegan, then educate others about veganism. Your own veganism and your efforts to engage in creative, nonviolent vegan education are the most effective ways to help.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione

Effective Animal Rights Advocacy—in Three Easy Steps

Dear Colleagues:

Do you want to be an effective animal rights advocate? It’s easy. Here are three simple steps:

First, go vegan.

If you regard animals as members of the moral community—if you reject the notion of animals as things—you really have no choice but to stop eating, wearing, and using animals or animal products.

You cannot reject animal slavery as long as you are a direct participant in animal slavery through your use of nonhumans as human resources.

Becoming vegan is the single most important thing you can do to help animals and to express your support for justice for nonhumans. Becoming vegan is applying the principle of abolition to your own life. Becoming vegan is saying “no” to animal exploitation.

It’s not a matter of compassion alone; it’s a matter of fundamental justice. Compassion may move us emotionally but veganism is the least that we owe to animals as a simple matter of moral obligation.

Despite that large animal welfare groups blather on endlessly about how difficult it is to be a vegan, that is simply wrong. Going vegan is easy; it is better for your health and for the planet. And, most important, it’s better for your spirit because it’s the morally right thing to do.

Second, do creative, nonviolent vegan education.

Try to talk to at least one other person each day about veganism. You’ll find that it’s easier than you think and that people are receptive.

Don’t fall into the welfarist trap of promoting vegetarianism. There is no difference between flesh and other animal products. Animals used for dairy are usually kept alive longer, treated as badly, if not worse, than “meat” animals, and they all end up in the same slaughterhouse anyway. Don’t promote “happy” cage-free eggs or “happy” meat or “happy” dairy. All of that involves animal exploitation. Don’t let anyone tell you that the public is too stupid or too uncaring to take veganism seriously. That’s elitist propaganda that allows large animal welfare groups to sell indulgences to the public by making people feel better about animal exploitation.

We can recognize that people will “get there at their own pace” but we should not ever concede that the “there” is anything less than veganism. Those who are not ready to go vegan will take whatever interim step they choose but at least the message that veganism is the moral baseline should be crystal clear.

Third, adopt a homeless animal.

There are millions of animals who need homes. We have an obligation to care for these animals. So offer a home to whomever you can: dog, cat, fish, gerbil, turtle—or a cow or goat or chicken—anyone.

Adoption is the best way to add love to your life at the same time you do the right thing by animals.

There you go. Animal rights advocacy in three easy steps. No big groups, no naked women sitting in cages, no merchandising of morality or selling of moral passes needed or wanted.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione