Imagine how different things would be if there were an animal movement that: (1) focused on use and not treatment; (2) that promoted veganism as a moral imperative; and (3) did not promote (and fundraise off) welfare reforms, “happy exploitation,” reducetarianism, single-issue campaigns, etc.
Industries that promoted animal exploitation would respond by trying to keep the public focused on treatment and convincing the public that animal exploitation was really “humane.” Industry would promote the same sorts of “reforms” that animal groups promote—larger cages, more “humane” slaughter, etc.
Individuals who cared about animals but who were not ready or willing to go vegan would reduce their intake of animals and consume supposedly “happier” animal products.
In other words, if we had a movement that sought justice for animals that promoted veganism as a moral imperative, industry would do exactly what it is doing now and individuals who cared but who were unwilling or not ready to go vegan would do exactly what they are doing now.
The difference would be that we would finally have a social movement that no longer partnered with industry and that took a position that is inherently speciesist. The moral message would be clear: “animal rights” means that all sentient beings are equal for the purpose of not being treated exclusively as resources, and that we cannot justify participating directly in animal exploitation irrespective of how (supposedly) “humane” that exploitation is.
The difference would be that we would have a movement that promoted animals as nonhuman persons—beings that mattered morally in their own right—and not just “things” to which we have, at best, duties of “mercy” or “compassion” to exploit in a more “kind” manner.
We would no longer have a movement that is, in essence, a business that sells “happy” slavery. We would have a real movement that rejected *all* slavery.
We would have a movement that made clear that if animals have moral value—and so many people already share that moral intuition–then the only rational response is to go vegan and stop eating, wearing, and using animals.
We would have a movement that finally focused on the fundamental moral issue—animal use—and that stopped promoting and fundraising off the idea that it is better treatment, or substituting other animal products for foie gras or veal, that mattered.
Think about that. And if it appeals to you, then join the worldwide grassroots effort to shift the paradigm from property to personhood.
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.
Learn more about veganism at www.HowDoIGoVegan.com.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
©2016 Gary L. Francione