Yearly Archives: 2011

Debate: The Use of Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Research: A Moral Justification?

Dear Colleagues:

On Tuesday, March 8, I will debate Dario Ringach, Professor of Neurobiology and Psychology, Jules Stein Eye Institute, Biomedical Engineering Program, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles.

The topic:

The Use of Nonhuman Animals in Biomedical Research: A Moral Justification?

Professor Ringach will argue that we are justified in using animals in experiments; I will argue that we cannot justify animal use in this or in any other context.

The debate will take place in the Baker Trial Courtroom at Rutgers University School of Law, 123 Washington Street, Newark, New Jersey, from 6-8 p.m. Vegan refreshments will be served following the debate, which will be videotaped and made available here and on Professor Ringach’s site.

The debate will be sponsored by the Student Bar Association, the American Constitutional Society, and the Federalist Society. The debate will be moderated by John J. Farmer, Jr., Dean and Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law-Newark. Dean Farmer served as Attorney General of the State of New Jersey and as General Counsel of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (commonly known as the 9/11 Commission).

The debate will have the following format:

Professor Ringach will present a 20 minute opening statement focusing on the benefits of animal research and the moral justification for the practice. I will respond with a 20 minute statement that question the practical efficacy of vivisection but focuses primarily on the moral arguments.

We will each have a 5-minute rebuttal.

Professor Ringach and I will then have a question/answer session with each other with his asking me a question, my getting three minutes to reply; his getting 3 minutes to respond and my getting 1 minute for a sur-reply. There will be 4 of these exchanges, which will take approximately 30 minutes.

There will be a 40 minute Q&A with the audience. The event will last a total of approximately 2 hours.

All members of the Rutgers University Community are invited to attend, as are members of the public, but seating will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Professor Ringach and I disagree strongly with each other on this topic and I am confident that we will have a rigorous, provocative, but courteous and civil debate about a subject that is of increasing interest to the public and to educational institutions alike.


If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. You will never do anything else in your life as easy and satisfying.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione

Banned by The Vegan Society for Promoting Veganism!

Dear Colleagues:

The Vegan Society deleted the entire discussion on whether there should be advertisements for non-vegan restaurants/establishments in its magazine, The Vegan, from the Vegan Society Facebook discussion forum, and has banned me from participating on the site.

I wonder why?

On February 21, I received an email from the Head of Information of the Vegan Society thanking me for my comments on the subject and acknowledging that I had “raised a reasonable question” about the policy of accepting adverts for establishments that serve dairy, eggs, etc.

The Vegan Society has been writing to members stating that “[t]he trustees are aware of the comments on Facebook regarding the adverts and are discussing the issues.” But apparently no one else, including members and concerned others who were spending time debating this, are permitted to discuss the issues at the very Facebook page that the trustees were reading to inform their discussion.

And then, without any notice, the Vegan Society decided that the discussion of this issue, which the Society acknowledged raised a “reasonable question” and that the trustees were reading, violated the rules of the Vegan Society forum and deleted the entire Facebook discussion.

I copied most of the the thread before the Vegan Society deleted it and you can view it here. You can decide for yourself about what the Vegan Society regards as illegitimate or unacceptable discourse.

Given that the discussion went on five days before the Vegan Society deleted the discussion, it appears as though when they saw that the great weight of opinion was going against them, they decided that discussion had to stop. It is also fascinating that in the entire discussion period, the Vegan Society responded on the thread once–to say (in part):

The acceptance of advertisements (including inserts) to The Vegan magazine does not imply endorsement.

(Amanda Baker, February 18, 2011)

Now there’s engagement with an issue!

In any event, the one thing that is clear is that it is certainly not clear that the Vegan Society is a vegan society.

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It’s Not 1946

Dear Colleagues:

The Vegan Society has informed me that in the The Vegan, issue 2, Autumn 1946, and in other issues of The Vegan from that period, which were edited by Donald Watson, there were advertisements from vegetarian establishments that catered for vegans.

I suggest that advertising establishments in 1946 that served dairy but not meat necessarily reinforced the idea that meat and dairy are morally distinguishable, which Watson claimed to reject in 1944. There is no getting around the fact that this is a blatant inconsistency.

So it appears as though Watson either did not appreciate the inconsistency between his actions in 1946 and his position in 1944, or he did not believe what he said in 1944. I still respect Watson as a visionary and I will, therefore, assume the former. Given the newness of veganism as an idea in 1944, and given that Britain had just been through World war II and had rationing (that continued well into the 1950s), the historical context was such that it might be understandable that Watson simply did not see the inconsistency.

In any event, it’s not 1946. There’s been plenty of time to see that a policy that apparently started in 1946 cannot be reconciled with the position that meat and dairy are morally indistinguishable. The inconsistency is clear and blatant.

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I Wonder What Donald Watson, Founder of the Vegan Society, Would Think

Dear Colleagues:

As those of you who read this site (see my blog posts: 1, 2) and are familiar with my work as a general matter know, I regard Donald Watson (1910-2005), founder of the Vegan Society in Britain, as a remarkable person and one of the most enlightened minds of the 20th century. I wrote the entry for Watson in the recently published Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism. This site also has an essay from Eva Batt (1908-1989), who played an important role in the early days and throughout the history of the Vegan Society. Although I do not join organizations and, therefore, I am not a member of the Vegan Society and I do not regularly receive its magazine, The Vegan, I have been interviewed in The Vegan and I wrote an article for the magazine.

It is, then, with surprise and great disappointment that I relate the following.

After receiving several emails from vegans in the U.K. concerned about particular essays in The Vegan by an author who promotes the view that we ought to shift our focus away from veganism and speciesism because that will alienate people, I requested that the Society email me a PDF copy of these essays as the magazine is available only in hardcopy and is not online. The Society graciously replied and emailed the materials to me.

I noticed that in addition to the essays about which members expressed concern, the most recent issue of The Vegan, contained a review by Rob Jackson, the Vegan Society Education Officer, of my new book, co-authored with Professor Garner, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?. A central focus of the book is my argument that creative, nonviolent vegan education/activism is the most important form of incremental change and that a movement that wants to abolish animal use should focus its efforts exclusively on veganism. Garner argues that vegan education is important but he supports animal welfare reform campaigns that I reject for various reasons, both theoretical and practical. I am also very critical of the “flexitarian” and “happy meat” phenomena; Garner sees these things as representing progress.

Let me be very clear: Mr. Jackson did not say anything negative about the book and I would not care if he did. But his review of the book did not mention veganism once. I am not kidding. Not once.

Frankly, to say that Mr. Jackson missed the point of the book would be an understatement. Although some “reviewers” only read the first few pages of a book they’re “reviewing,” had Jackson read only the introduction to the book, and did not read the book itself, he would have seen even there that a central theme of the debate was about whether a movement that sought to vindicate the rights of animals should really be a vegan movement or whether it should be a welfare reform movement. In the book, I am critical of the large animal organizations for not taking the position that veganism is an unequivocal moral baseline.

But there is not a single hint in The Vegan, the magazine of the Vegan Society, that the book is a debate about whether a coherent theory of animal rights requires veganism and vegan advocacy. I am sorry, but that is downright peculiar.

And then, as I was scrolling through the issue further, I saw something that I found even more bewildering and more disturbing.

On page 3 of The Vegan is an advertisement for the Lancrigg Vegetarian & Organic House Hotel and Green Valley Cafe & Restaurant. Lancrigg is described as a “A Haven of Peace & Inspiration.” There is an attractive picture of the building, which is in the Lake District of England. I went to the Lancrigg restaurant page and saw that patrons of the restaurant could get breakfasts that included poached eggs and homemade Danish pastries made with local organic cheese. I downloaded the sample menu and saw dinner items that included various cheeses, mayonnaise, ice cream, cheese cake, etc.

I scrolled further and saw that at least two more non-vegan places were advertised in the classified section.

I was confused. A while back, I criticized Viva! for promoting Lancrigg (as well as other non-vegan restaurants/inns and for selling non-vegan cookbooks). Although Viva! claims to be a vegan organization, it explicitly promotes vegetarianism and claims that veganism is difficult and daunting, and it promotes welfare reform campaigns. But the Vegan Society?

Continue reading

Interview on New Book

Dear Colleagues:

On Wednesday, February 16, I did an hour-long interview on my new book, My most recent book, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, co-authored with Professor Robert Garner of the University of Leicester. The interview was on the Progressive Radio Network with host Caryn Hartglass.

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If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione

Interview in The Believer

Dear Colleagues:

I was very pleased to have been interviewed by award-winning novelist, Deb Olin Unferth in the The Believer, a widely-circulated magazine that deals with the arts and general culture.

I hope that you enjoy the interview, which is here.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. You will never do anything else in your life as easy and satisfying.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione