A Simple Question

An article, Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas, reports:

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.
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“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

So here’s my question:

Why is every animal advocate and every large animal organization not working to get to that 10% rather than promoting welfare reform, “compassionate” consumption, and “happy” exploitation?

Why are HSUS, ASPCA, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing, Compassion In World Farming (CIWF), The Humane League, and World Society for the Protection of Animals campaigning for “enriched” battery cages, particularly when HSUS and CIWF have explicitly acknowledged that “enriched” cages fail to provide an acceptable level of welfare?

Why are PETA, HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, Viva!, and Vegan Outreach signing a public letter expressing “appreciation and support” to Whole Foods for its “pioneering” program, of “happy” exploitation?

Yes, I know “we won’t have a vegan world overnight” (the favorite way of welfarists to mischaracterize the abolitionist position) but we don’t have to get the whole world to go vegan “overnight.” We just need to build a solid vegan movement of 10%. But let’s be conservative and say that we need to reach 20%. We could do that.

But we’ll never get there as long as we are telling people that they can do right by animals by consuming “happy” animal products.

We will, of course, appeal to donors who want to continue eating animals and are happy to pay for a stamp of approval from animal advocates so that they can consume animal products with a clear conscience.


If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

©2013 Gary L. Francione