The Animal Rights Movement: Moving Backwards

Here is a video of the talk I gave at George Brown College in Toronto, Canada, on August 12, 2016:

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

Embracing veganism as a moral imperative and advocating for veganism as a moral imperative are, along with caring for nonhuman refugees, the most important acts of activism that you can undertake.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione

Essay on Domestication and Pet Ownership

Our essay on domestication and pet ownership was published by Aeon.

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It’s generated quite a bit of controversy, including being the subject of a comment by Wesley Smith in the The National Review.

The Abolitionist position on domestication is also explored in other posts on this site, including here and here.

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

Embracing veganism as a moral imperative and advocating for veganism as a moral imperative are, along with caring for nonhuman refugees, the most important acts of activism that you can undertake.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

Anna E. Charlton
Adjunct Professor, Rutgers University School of Law

©2016 Gary L. Francione & Anna E. Charlton

A Plea To Feminists Who Are Vegetarian But Who Still Consume Dairy or Eggs

Please rethink your position.

Dairy products represent a fundamental violation of the rights of nonhumans. Dairy is not morally distinguishable from meat.

Indeed, dairy represents a violation of rights that should be of great concern to feminists:

Cows are repeatedly and forcibly impregnated using a device called the “rape rack.”

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Their babies are taken from them immediately after birth (and a day or two or three later in “happy” farms) to stop the calves from taking milk. Male calves are sold for veal. Females become part of the dairy industry. Cows are wonderful mothers who grieve the loss of their babies. Anyone who has observed the separation of cows from their calves knows that it involves horrible, prolonged suffering on the part of mother and baby.

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Cows routinely suffer mastitis (inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue), a very painful condition, from repeated contact with the milking machine.

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Dairy cows end up in the same slaughterhouses as their “meat” counterparts.

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Dairy represents a commodification of the reproductive process of the cow and her relationship with her baby. It represents violence that should be of concern to us all, including, and particularly, those who claim to be feminists.

Eggs raise a similar concern in that hens, who are wonderful mothers, never get to see or to interact with their chicks.

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Breeders are confined in automated sheds where males and females mate although artificial insemination of poultry is also used. Eggs are collected and sent to hatcheries, where males, who cannot lay eggs and are not suitable for meat, are killed by being ground up, gassed, or suffocated as soon as they are sexed.

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The females are sent at a day or two of age to grow-out farms where they are raised in cages or in a floored rearing facility. They never interact with their mothers.

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Egg-laying hens spent no more than two years in the hell of a battery (conventional or “enriched”), or of a “cage-free” or “free-range” barn, until they are “spent” and slaughtered. They are periodically starved to maximize production. They are debeaked and declawed.

Again, the female’s reproductive system is commodified and manipulated, and her relationship with her chicks is destroyed.

If you are feminist vegetarian but you are still consuming dairy or eating eggs, you are drawing an arbitrary line between humans and nonhumans.

And this is precisely what speciesism is.

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

Embracing veganism as a moral imperative and advocating for veganism as a moral imperative are, along with caring for nonhuman refugees, the most important acts of activism that you can undertake.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione

“If Animals Matter Morally, Then We Cannot Treat Them As Commodities”: Interview with Prof. Gary L. Francione

Prof. Francione was interviewed by Earth Island Journal on his latest book, his animal rights theory known as the Abolitionist Approach, and his views on animal welfare and the moral personhood of animals.

The online interview can be found here

A pdf of the interview can be downloaded here

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option—it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione

 

Animal Rights and Slavery/Rape Analogies

Ever since the early 1990s, I have been arguing that the regulation of animal exploitation is not only immoral (if it is morally wrong to exploit animals, it is wrong to promote the supposedly “humane” exploitation of animals), but is, as a practical matter, doomed to failure because the property status of animals means that animal interests can never prevail over the interests of human owners. I have argued that the regulation of animal exploitation fails for the same reason that the regulation of slavery failed.

Some “animal advocates” seem to think that discourse of this sort presents a problem of “appropriation” because only Black people can properly talk about slavery.

But the position that Black people have some sort of proprietary interest in discourse about slavery ignores that the race-based slavery that existed in the United States (or the West generally) in the 1600s-1800s was not the only slavery that has ever existed. Chattel slavery existed before that time and it exists now. And most of that chattel slavery has not been along lines of race but along lines of tribe and religion.

Moreover, even in the case of race-based slavery in the United States, I make it clear that it is the legal, political, and social mechanisms of slavery that are analogous to the use of animals as chattel property. It is that discussion that reveals the requirements of abolition rather than welfare reform. The analogy is most sharply focused on the mechanisms of oppression—not just the resulting suffering. That focuses on the analogy with animal rights rather than animal welfare. The essentialist vegans think the slavery analogy is all about the suffering of the slaves. That is incorrect.

I have always been critical of welfarist/new welfarist groups that juxtapose images of lynched Black people with pictures or other depictions of animals hanging in slaughterhouses in the same way that I object to comparing animal exploitation to the Holocaust. Comparing evils in this way does nothing to advance understanding and has a great potential for misunderstanding and offense. But the fact—and it is a fact—remains that there are important parallels between the regulation of chattel slavery and the regulation of animal exploitation.

African-Americans have experienced-based expertise in the legacy of slavery, but we must all understand the mechanisms and supporting principles of slavery—human and nonhuman—if we are going to rid the world of this evil.

The regulation of animal exploitation fails for the exact same reasons that the regulation of chattel slavery failed. If a sentient being is chattel property, the interests of that being will always count for less than the interests of the owners of that property. In substantially all of the conflict situations, the property must lose and the owner must prevail or else there is no institution of property in beings of that sort (whether human or nonhuman). In both chattel slavery and animal exploitation, beings are treated as having only an extrinsic or external value; they have no inherent or intrinsic value. They are merely things. Chattel slavery (race- based and non-race-based) and animals as property are completely analogous in legal and economic ways.

If there is any dis-analogy as a conceptual matter, it is not between chattel slavery and animal exploitation. There, the analogical fit is perfect and inescapable. Many welfarists/new welfarists compare the regulation of animal exploitation, which they promote, to the struggle for civil rights in the United States. The latter involved—and continues to involve because equality is a very long ways away—the issue of how to treat persons fairly. Animals are still chattel property. They do not have moral personhood. We cannot talk about how to treat things in a “fair” way.

When I talk about “abolition,” I am not using that term to refer to the experience of slaves. I am talking about the mechanism that has been used in the past and must be used now to dismantle any institution of property that establishes and perpetuates the status of sentient beings used exclusively as resources for others.

In any event, to say that such an analysis “appropriates” discourse that is properly that of Black people alone is, I am afraid, transparently absurd. I am not using the slavery analogy to denigrate the experience of slaves. I am using it because the analogy helps us to understand the legal, jurisprudential, and economic reasons why the regulation of sentient beings who are considered as property cannot work.

Other “animal advocates” declare that men cannot discuss rape in the context of talking about animal exploitation. That is, they cannot draw an analogy between the violation of fundamental rights that occurs in the context of rape and the violation of fundamental rights that occurs when we kill and eat animals.

As in the case of slavery, when I use rape as an analogical concept, I am not using it to denigrate the experience of rape victims. I am using the analogy because I believe it fits and it can help us to understand the deep structure of animal exploitation.

In my view, the use of words and concepts in contexts like this is a matter of analogy. Our experiences shape how we understand things but, in the end, the only relevant question is whether the analogy fits. Having been on dairy farms and seen the way that cows are impregnated and the way that they have to be secured because they don’t like what’s happening, I believe that it is analogous to rape as do many women I know who have actually seen what goes on in dairy farms, including women who have been rape victims. It is a sexual battery; the cows do not consent.

Rape is a violation of a fundamental human right. It is different from non-fundamental rights violations. It is analogous to the violations of fundamental rights that constitute domesticated animal use. The analogy holds. If someone is offended by the analogy and objects to its use, we need to know why the analogy does not hold and in many years of doing this work, I have yet to hear anything other than some version of “human women matter more morally.”

I was recently at an academic conference at which animal ethics were discussed but only as a part of the event. I argued that talking about “happy” exploitation was analogous to talking about “happy” rape or “happy” child molestation. A woman who identified herself as a feminist objected to my analogy. I asked her why. All she could say was that she did not think that exploiting animals was as “serious” as rape. I am not sure what she meant by that and she had no reply when I asked her what she meant. There is no non-speciesist response to that question.

And if we cannot talk about matters even as relevant analogies if we have not experienced them, then none of us can talk about the exploitation of nonhuman animals.

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option — it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

Embracing veganism as a moral imperative and advocating for veganism as a moral imperative are, along with caring for nonhuman refugees, the most important acts of activism that you can undertake.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione

Advocacy Tip: Judge Action, Not Individuals

You cannot have a useful discussion intended to change the behavior of another if you approach that other person as someone who is evil. That’s just common sense.

So always make sure that the person with whom you are talking understands that you are focusing on the immorality of animal exploitation as an institutionalized practice and that you are not judging that person as an individual. Approach that person as someone who has not yet really grappled with the issues involved in animal ethics and you are there to educate—and not to judge.

On the other hand, you should always be clear that veganism is a moral imperative. That is, if animals have moral value—if they are not just things—then our moral obligation is to stop eating, wearing, and using them. Anything less than that represents continued and direct participation in animal exploitation.

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option—it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione

 

The Importance of Veganism in Economically Deprived Communities

In economically deprived communities in the United States, health problems hit people harder than they do in other places because, despite Obama Care, there is still a tremendously inequitable distribution of health resources. Therefore, it becomes even more important to educate people in those communities about how animal foods are harming them, and how a plant-based diet can be healthier and less expensive than a diet involving animal foods. It is also important to stress how many healthy meals can be made easily and with a minimum of time and effort.

When I hear people spouting off about how it’s “elitist” to say that veganism is easy, or that veganism is a matter of “white privilege,” I am reminded of something a Black activist said many years ago (a paraphrase): “The standard American diet is the slave master’s revenge. We’ve got to educate poor people everywhere that the food in poor communities is as dangerous as the drugs.”

Finally, the idea that people in economically deprived communities cannot understand or identify with the message of animal rights is nonsense. I teach in a University in one of the poorest cities in the United States. Many people in that community understand the moral message more readily than many in affluent communities.

What is truly elitist is the position that some people, whether “single mums” (as someone from the UK animal welfare group Viva! said in a debate I had) or people in depressed urban areas, can’t understand veganism as a moral baseline.

I should add that the “animal advocates” who promote the “veganism is elitist” and “it’s not easy for the poor to go vegan so it is not a moral baseline for them” positions are all people who promote or support transparently speciesist positions.

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option—it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione

Animal Ethics: Simple Common Sense

Many animal advocates seem to think that if you deliver a vegan message to someone who is not willing to go vegan immediately, that person won’t do anything at all. These animal advocates conclude that we should, instead, promote cage-free eggs, crate-free pork, and reducetarianism.

On what is this assumption founded?

Common sense tells us the opposite. If you present a vegan message to someone who is concerned about animal ethics but is not prepared to go vegan yet, they will most likely do something short of going vegan, and will not do nothing.

But you can be absolutely certain that if you tell such a person that they do not have to go vegan to satisfy their moral obligations to animals, they won’t. If you tell people in this group that it’s acceptable to eat cage-free eggs, or “happy” meat, or that it is morally acceptable for them to be “conscientious omnivores” or reducetarians,  that is precisely what they will do and all that they will do.

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option—it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione

Guest Essay: Dear Vegan Feminists, Where Are You? An Open Letter

This essay was originally post on Ecorazzi.com. A troll appeared and posted a number of problematic messages. The matter was reported to Ecorazzi and they removed the post for the time being until they return from the Chicago Vegan Food and Drink Festival. In the interim, the essay is available here.

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Dear Vegan Feminists, Where Are You? An Open Letter

Judith Woolf

Dear Vegan Feminists,

Let me open this letter by stating that I’m one of you. It took too many years for me to understand the concept of justice as it related to both others and myself, but now I’m one of you. So while I address this letter to you it’s not a blanket condemnation of those of you who identify as such. It is, instead, a plea to those of you who’ve let me down to do better in the future.

I’m going to be upfront and tell you that Judith Woolf isn’t my real name. I can’t tell you what my real name is and I can’t tell you details of what I endured because I’m still afraid of him…so afraid that I can’t even say his name.

I survived domestic abuse. I won’t claim that I escaped, because I still live with it every day: the fear, self-hatred, doubting and questioning. What I’ve gone through is so deeply a part of me that at times I forget where it ends and I begin. And I haven’t yet begun; I mostly still see myself through his gaslighting and contempt; I don’t yet know who I am, and most of the time I hate the version of me that he tried to make me believe existed. But that’s another story that will probably never be told.

What I want to know is where you were when I needed you. Where were you when Vegan Publishers posted an essay comparing being uninvited from a conference or unfriended on Facebook to domestic violence? Where were you when I asked for my story and those of others like me not to be reduced to a comparison with a mere Facebook spat?

Did you forget about me and others like me when you circulated this comparison online to score points against people you don’t like…at any cost? Did you think about me, a survivor, when I explained what psychological abuse looks like (and how much it differs from personal grievances), or did you instead prefer to defer to the words of an “internationally recognized researcher in the area of violence and abuse prevention”?

You speak of the value of lived experience. Well instead of heeding mine you gave voice to an academically privileged white man despite repeatedly asking such men to stay in their lanes. Why wasn’t I heard? Is it because lived experience only matters to you when it fits with the story you want to promote, when it’s “testimony” about the perceived harms caused by those you paint as your enemy?

Why didn’t you come to my defence when someone with claimed that my profile was a sockpuppet account for Gary L. Francione?

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By failing to amplify my voice and by failing to defend me when I was accused of not being a real person you erased the experiences of so many other women like me. We don’t exist for you, it seems, when we’re more useful to ignore…when we disrupt your narratives about who the “baddies” are. Because we don’t sing from your hymn sheet, we don’t count.

Dear Vegan Feminists, you’ve let me down. I’ve gone it alone for too many years now and I know what isolation is like (the one I survived made sure of that), so you can’t harm me any more than I’ve already been harmed.

I’m writing this because there are others. Some are struggling to find a way out and some don’t even know that what’s happening to them is abuse because they don’t have a sense of their own personhood. And every time you allow someone to turn our experiences into cannon fodder, or every time you close your ears to our voices when we’re pleading to be heard, every time stories of domestic abuse become battlefields for your pseudo-intellectual struggles, you force us to lose all over again.

Dear Vegan Feminists, listen. Our lives are not pawns in your games. Our stories aren’t weapons. Our experiences matter because we lived them. Our personhood has been denied once; don’t put us through that again.

The Speciesism of “Plural Approaches”

In response to a critique of welfare reform and other approaches that actually promote animal exploitation, some supposed animal advocates say that we need “plural approaches.” They say that, in addition to promoting veganism as a moral baseline, we need to promote “happy” exploitation, and moral relativism (e.g., veganism is a matter of “our journey” and of some totally subjective “who you are space).”

Think about this sort of position in any human rights context. Take, for example, the problem of racism. Imagine that someone said that, in order to deal with racism, we needed “plural approaches,” and that we should promote equality as an absolute matter but we should also promote equality as a non-absolute matter.

Imagine that they said:

“Every step in the journey toward equality is a good one so we ought to encourage Racist-Joke-Free Monday”; or

“People won’t stop being racist overnight so we need to encourage Racism Reducetarianism;” or

“My baseline is that there aren’t any baselines and it’s all on a continuum and opposition to racism is a matter of your personal ‘who you are space’.”

We would rightly regard that this proposal for “plural approaches” to racism was itself racist.

“Plural approaches” are never appropriate where fundamental rights are involved. We recognize that in the human context.

But where animals are concerned, many “animal advocates” think it’s fine.

That’s what we call “speciesism.”

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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.

If animals matter morally, veganism is not an option—it is a necessity. Anything that claims to be an animal rights movement must make clear that veganism is a moral imperative.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.

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

©2016 Gary L. Francione