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This book is a call to action.
Since the beginning of time, there have been—in total—about 110 billion humans who have lived and died. We kill more nonhuman animals than that every single year. Think about that for a second. Our exploitation of nonhumans represents violence on a scale that is unparalleled. The largest number of animals we kill is for food—about 60 billion land animals and at least one trillion sea animals killed annually. And there are many billions more killed every year for various other reasons, including biomedical research, entertainment, and sport.
One thing is crystal clear and undisputable: this horrible and pervasive animal exploitation is not going to end anytime soon.
For the past two hundred years, animal advocacy has focused on treatment. That is, animal advocates have campaigned to get supposedly more “humane” treatment standards, or they have focused on things like the use of animals for fur. But that approach has been a failure and has only made people feel more comfortable about continuing to exploit animals.
The Abolitionist movement concerning animals, which arose in the 1990s, takes the position that the problem is not treatment but use. It’s not a matter of making exploitation more “humane.” It’s not a matter of targeting fur, which is no different from wool or leather. It’s a matter of abolishing animal exploitation.
What does this Abolitionist movement involve?
Abolition involves embracing an animal rights position and maintaining that, just as we reject the chattel slavery of humans, we must reject the status of nonhuman animals as our property. Only then can they be recognized as nonhuman persons. Abolition involves a clear and explicit rejection of the animal welfare position—the idea that it is morally acceptable to use animals as long as we treat them in a “humane” way.
And in order to abolish animal exploitation as a social matter, we must abolish animal exploitation from our individual lives. That means that, if we believe that animals matter morally, we must go vegan. We must stop eating, wearing, or using animals and animal products to the extent practicable. And we must engage in creative, nonviolent vegan advocacy in order to convince others to go vegan.
In Advocate for Animals! – An Abolitionist Vegan Handbook, Gary Francione and Anna Charlton, two of the original pioneers of this Abolitionist movement, provide a practical guide about how you can become an effective voice in this most important movement for justice. They give you all sorts of ideas of how to advocate, and provide many examples of actual discussions so that you can see the sorts of approaches you can use in your own discussions with others.