Someone wrote to me and said that a welfarist who promotes “cage-free” eggs and other forms of “happy exploitation” suggested that the abolitionist approach was limited and did not provide an effective program for change while welfare reform had a wider and more effective effect.
I would call that nonsense but it would be an offense to nonsensical things.
Think about it.
First of all, imagine the effect we would be having if all of the large groups promoted veganism as a moral baseline instead of promoting “cage-free,” “crate-free” “meatless this,” and “veg/veggie/veg*n that.”
Imagine what would be happening if all of the millions of animal dollars spent by these groups on promoting welfare reform and “happy exploitation” went into a clear, unequivocal vegan message that recognizing the moral value of animals *means* that we cannot eat, wear, or use them–however “humane” we may be. Just imagine how the social discussion about animal ethics would shift.
Second, in 2013, *everyone* has the ability to reach many. I am one person. I have no organization. I have no employees. We can all educate many!
Third, never underestimate the effect of engaging in creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy with small numbers of other people. Your effect will be exponential even on that level.
Fourth, the primary effect of the welfare reform/”happy exploitation” movement is to make the public feel *more* comfortable about animal exploitation. Indeed, it is silly to suggest otherwise. Would so many exploitative corporations be investing in “happy exploitation” if it was going to cause them to go out of business? Of course not! Does Whole Foods think that its “Animal Welfare Rating” program, promoted by the welfarist crowd as “pioneering,” is going to lead to veganism and to their meat/dairy/egg sales drying up? Come on. Get real already.
Fifth, look at the effect that the abolitionist movement has had in a few short years. Without any big organization and fundraising efforts, there is a grassroots movement emerging. We have changed the conversation within the movement. We can extend this to the society as a whole. Unfortunately, it’s the welfarists, who control the large organizations and who have formed actual partnerships with institutional exploiters, who are the biggest impediment.
You can choose to promote animal rights or you can choose to promote “happy exploitation.” There is no third choice. Don’t choose the latter just because welfarists tell you that nothing else will be effective in helping animals. That’s just wrong–on several levels.
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.
Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University
©2013 Gary L. Francione