Author Archives: Gary L. Francione

The Vegan Society: You Decide

In the face of significant criticism for embracing “flexible veganism” in the form of its “You don’t have to be vegan to be buy products with the Vegan Society Trademark” rebrand, The Vegan Society put out a statement on August 5, 2014 that read, in part, that its “aims and objectives remain unaltered from those of our founders 70 years ago.” Here is a portion of the statement:

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Is this accurate? Let’s see.

Here is Donald Watson, who founded The Vegan Society in 1944:

We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves, and we believe the spiritual destiny of man is such that in time he will view with abhorrence the idea that men once fed on the products of animals’ bodies. (Watson, 1944)

Here is Watson, in a 2002 interview:

Take the broad view of what veganism stands for – something beyond finding a new alternative to scrambled eggs on toast or a new recipe for Christmas cake. Realise that you’re on to something really big, something that hadn’t been tried until sixty years ago, and something which is meeting every reasonable criticism that anyone can level against it. And this doesn’t involve weeks or months of studying diet charts or reading books by socalled experts – it means grasping a few simple facts and applying them.

Here is Jasmijn deBoo, present CEO of The Vegan Society:

The full slogans of the Love Vegan campaign so far are as follows:

“You don’t have to be vegan to love vegan lipstick.”
“You don’t have to be vegan to love vegan trainers.”
“You don’t have to be vegan to love vegan ice-cream.”

We know that we need to be inclusive and non-judgemental if we are going to encourage and support large numbers of people to go vegan and stay vegan.

deBoo justifies the shift from veganism as a moral imperative to a focus on getting people to buy products that have The Vegan Society Trademark:

As we receive no government funding, the vast majority of our income is generated by our Vegan Trademark registration scheme. Having more vegan products registered with the Vegan Trademark achieves three things: it gives people more confidence when shopping for vegan products, it shows companies and retailers that the vegan market share is growing, and it funds The Vegan Society’s charitable work.

From Watson’s vision of veganism as a moral imperative to deBoo’s vision that “You don’t have to be vegan to buy products that have The Vegan Society Trademark” and not being “judgemental” about the exploitation of animals.

Watson in 2002:

We don’t know the spiritual advancements that long term veganism -I mean not over years or even decades, but over generations, would have on human life. It would be certainly a different civilisation, and the first one in the whole of our history that would truly deserve the title of being a civilisation. Full stop.

Vegan Society Ambassador Fiona Oakes in 2014:

Veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people.” (Oakes, BBC Radio)

“[U]naltered”? I know what I think. But it’s for you to decide.

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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
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

Speciesism in a Nutshell

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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
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: Vegan Society “Ambassador” Claims That Promoting Veganism as a Moral Baseline “Damages” Animals

Fiona Oakes, Marathon runner and “Ambassador” of The Vegan Society, who stated on BBC Radio that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people” and who reinforced the notion that those who promote veganism as a matter of moral baseline and moral imperative are “aggressive, petty. . .fundamentalist nutters” stated that my position critical of her upset her “for the animals, the damage such comments and aggression do them.”

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So those who advocate for veganism as a matter of moral principle are causing “damage” to “the animals.”

Ms. Oakes made this statement in a thread on the Facebook page of Tim Barford Manager of VegFestUK, who supported Oakes, claiming:

Sadly it it is true that many people don’t get on well with a vegan diet and get very ill on it. Not an ethical justification obviously, but a plain statement of fact.

Yes, that’s right. Just in case that you cannot wrap your mind around this, here’s the post:

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Also, in response to a claim by someone that “people…like” me “prevented [him] going vegan for years. To think of all the animal cruelty [he] contributed to because the frightening enthusiasm of such people held [him] back,” Oakes expressed agreement and stated:

People are generally frightened of what they do not know or understand at the best of times but when it is presented to them in a ‘frightening’ way also, then they just back away and the aggression they are encountered with gives them the perfect ‘ excuse’ to do so.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, see for yourself:

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So Oakes agrees that promoting veganism as a moral baseline is preventing people from going vegan and that explaining veganism as a moral baseline in a creative, nonviolent way is “aggression” and “frightening”?

You really cannot make this stuff up.

In my judgment, people like Fiona Oakes and Tim Barford are doing tremendous damage by reinforcing the idea that there are two options: (1) being a “fundamentalist nutter” who acts like a “radical extremist who just appears to be dictating to everyone what they should and should not do” or (2) stating that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people” because “many people…get very ill” on a vegan diet.

There is a third option: creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy.

But that does not fit with the new program of moral relativism and “flexible” veganism of The Vegan Society, for which Oakes and Barford are acting as cheerleaders.

Many people do care morally about animals. It is time that we stop treating them like idiots and engage in discussion with them about why their own moral concern should lead them to stop participating in the exploitation of animals and to go vegan.

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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
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

ADDENDUM, added August 6, 2014:

Bob Linden of Go Vegan Radio invited Fiona Oakes to his show to discuss these issues with me. She declined. Her spokesperson stated:

[W]e don’t want to continue the debate as it is essentially detrimental to the animals and the vegan cause.

So saying that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people,” and referring to those who promote veganism as a moral imperative as “fundamentalist nutters” is not detrimental to the animals and the vegan cause, but discussing it is.

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Moral Schizophrenia: Alastair Graham, the “Michael Vick” of Scotland

Alastair Graham was sentenced to 9 months for killing a dog named Bruno, who apparently had bitten Graham. He tied the dog to a tree before dousing him in petrol and burning him to death. Graham, was also banned for keeping animals for life. He was sentenced to an additional 36 months for his part in a separate attempted robbery.

According to the BBC:

Graham pleaded guilty on indictment to causing the dog, called Bruno, unnecessary suffering by causing his death in the fire on 24 or 25 April.

Many people are outraged at what Graham did and regard it as unacceptable that the maximum jail term for Bruno’s killing is one year.

What Graham did was terrible. He inflicted suffering and death on an animal and had no justification for what he did. He caused unnecessary suffering and death.

But how is he any different from most of the rest of us?

I suggest that, before we condemn Graham as being a moral monster, we consider that we kill approximately 60 billion sentient land animals every year (and guesstimates of about a trillion fish) for food. No one with any expertise maintains any longer that eating meat, fish, dairy, eggs, etc. is essential for human health. Indeed, many mainstream health professionals are recognizing that animal foods are detrimental to human health. And animal agriculture is an ecological disaster.

The bottom line is that the best–indeed only–justification we have for inflicting all of that suffering and death is pleasure: we enjoy the taste of animal foods. The animals we eat and from whom we get milk and eggs have, under the best of circumstances, had lives filled with suffering and distress and have been killed in violent and painful ways. There may be a psychological difference between those who inflict suffering and death directly and those who pay others to do it. But there is no moral difference.

Like Graham, we are all responsible for the unnecessary suffering and death of other sentient beings.

If you believe that what Graham did was morally wrong–and it most certainly was–you should consider going vegan and thereby stop your direct participation in the exploitation of nonhuman animals. Indeed, if you believe that animals matter morally and are not merely things, going vegan is the only rational thing to do.

The Graham case is yet another example of the sort of moral schizophrenia that we see all the time: we all agree that it’s wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals but the overwhelming majority of us do it every single day.

And we never spend a second of time in jail.

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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
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

Manager of VegFestUK Tim Barford: “Many people . . . get very ill” on a Vegan Diet

Tim Barford, Manager of VegFestUK, expressing support for Vegan Society Ambassador Fiona Oakes, who said on BBC Radio that veganism is not “for everyone” and “not probably for very many people,” had this to say:

Sadly it it is true that many people don’t get on well with a vegan diet and get very ill on it. Not an ethical justification obviously, but a plain statement of fact.

He said it here:

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He elaborated:

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As Tim mentions in the above comment, he has agreed to come on Go Vegan Radio with Bob Linden on August 3, 2014, to discuss this with me.

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If animals matter morally at all–if animals are not mere things that exist as resources for human use–than veganism is the only rationally response.

If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Going vegan is easy, better for your health (as a matter of plain fact) and the heath of the planet, and most important, it is what we owe morally to nonhuman animals.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

ADDENDEUM, added August 4, 2014

On August 3, Tim Barford and I discussed this issue on Go Vegan Radio. The discussion can be heard here.

During the discussion, I asked Tim to retract his statements.

On August 4, he retracted them:

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Neither Fiona Oakes nor Vegan Society CEO Jasmijn de Boo participated in the discussion despite being invited by Bob Linden.

ADDENDUM, Added August 6, 2014:

According to the website for London VegFest London 2014:

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This is, to say the least, most disturbing.

Welfarists Have Always Been Hostile to Abolishing Animal Exploitation

In doing research into the history of veganism, I was interested to see that Lewis Gompertz (1783/84–1861), a vegan on moral grounds who also believed in the notion of human and nonhuman equality, was a co-founder in 1824 of the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which became the RSPCA.

The SPCA governing Committee included people who hunted and who ate meat and other animal products. They objected to Gompertz’s veganism and moral views. So they engineered a resolution that limited membership in the SPCA to Christians. Gompertz was a Jew, and he was forced to resign.

It is interesting that from the very beginning of the modern “animal movement,” the welfarists have been hostile to vegans and those who opposed animal use.

It is also the case that anti-Semitism has a long history amongst some “animal advocates” that persists to this day.

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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
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione

An Observation

In human history, no conduct has generated more vacuous excuses than animal use.

Attempts to justify animal use have generated some of the most profoundly silly statements ever made.

The desire to consume animal products has clouded some of the most brilliant minds who ever lived, reducing them to making statements that a small child could easily see are just nonsense.

If animals matter morally, we cannot morally justify eating, wearing, or consuming them. Period. End of story.

You can try as hard as you want to come up with excuses, justifications, and rationales. You will, however, only generate nonsense.

Going vegan is the only rational response to the recognition that animals matter morally. If you reject the idea that animals are things that exist only as resources, you have no rational option other than to go vegan.

*****

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
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University

©2014 Gary L. Francione