A Lot of People Are Angry with Me–and They are Right

They are angry that I am what they call an “absolutist” who maintains that we cannot justify *any* animal use.

They are right.

I am an absolutist in this regard–just as I am an “absolutist” with respect to rape, child molestation, and other violations of fundamental human rights. Indeed, I would not have it any other way. Absolutism is the only morally acceptable response to the violation of fundamental rights whether of humans or nonhumans.

They are angry that I reject their purported “empirical proof” that promoting welfare reform and nonveganism is “effective” to help animals and is more “effective” than promoting veganism as a moral imperative.

They are right.

There is no such proof and their purported “studies” are nothing more pseudoscience that these groups use in a self-serving way.

They are angry that I regard all of the large corporate charities as nothing more than businesses that sell out the interests of animals so that they can have broad donor bases.

They are right

I am appalled that these organizations promote “happy” exploitation and “reducetarianism,” partner with institutional exploiters, give awards to slaughterhouse designers, and generally promote the idea that there is a “compassionate” way to exploit nonhuman animals. I reject the idea that we should promote harming animals in supposedly “better” ways so that we can raise greater amounts of money so we can supposedly thereby help animals.

They are angry that I reject the idea that we should not promote veganism as a moral imperative because it’s all a matter of being on a ““journey” and “baby steps” are just fine.

They are right.

Imagine someone saying, “It took me a while to stop being a racist so I think that the civil rights movement should promote the idea that it’s fine for everyone to learn to embrace equality at their own pace. If someone thinks that it’s okay to discriminate against people of color, we cannot make judgments. To say that equality is an unequivocal moral baseline is to take a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. We need baby steps. Let’s start with Racist-Joke Free Monday.”

To take a different position where nonhuman animals are concerned is just speciesist.

They are angry that I believe that everyone can understand why veganism should be a moral baseline.

They are right.

I reject the idea that “single mums” cannot understand moral principles (as stated by Viva! in my recent debate with them at VegFest in London), or that “we need to take into account the limitations of “‘ordinary people'” because they don’t possess the requisite “intellectual and moral abilities” (as stated by Ronnie Lee founder of the ALF), or that people just can’t understand the vegan message because it is too “extreme” (as stated by just about every “animal organization” out there).

I firmly believe that many–if not most–people already embrace moral ideas that can lead them to veganism. It is the large groups telling people that they can consume “with compassion” that is the problem, and not the supposedly limited intelligence of “ordinary people.” “Ordinary people” are not the problem. “Animal people” are the problem.

They are angry that I reject their single-issue campaigns as necessarily promoting animal exploitation.

They are right.

Such campaigns necessarily promote the idea that those animal products that are not being targeted are morally acceptable to consume and thereby perpetuate exploitation and speciesist ideology.

For example, a campaign to oppose foie gras necessarily promotes the idea to the public that foie gras is worse than other animal products, and that those other products are morally acceptable to consume. If this was not the message of the campaign, it would not receive support or donations from people who oppose foie gras but who think that eating animal products is otherwise fine.

They are angry that I maintain that we don’t need these large animal charities and that we instead need to build a grassroots movement of people without “donate” buttons.

They are right.

A shift in the paradigm from animal property to animal personhood is never going to happen unless and until we have a movement of people who are not dependent on donations (and who are not subject to the perverse incentives that thereby result), and who are working in their communities to educate their neighbors, friends, and relatives about veganism as a moral imperative.

The late Nelson Mandela said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Grassroots education does not require bloated organizations, CEOs or Executive Directors, or “donate” buttons. It requires individuals with commitment.

As Margaret Mead once observed: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

They are angry that I link animal rights and human rights.

They are right.

I have done so since I first began my work in the animal movement in the 1980s. We “otherize” humans and nonhumans and this permits us to violate the fundamental rights of all. We need to reject “otherization” altogether. I recognize that this is not a good idea for those who do fundraising because they want to get donations from people who are racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, etc. But that’s a pathetic reason to reject the clear connection between human and nonhuman rights.

They are angry that there is a grassroots Abolitionist movement emerging all over the world.

They are right.

The Abolitionist Movement is spreading. And that is precisely why they all spend so much time trying to suppress the ideas expressed here and on my websites, or reinterpret “abolition” as allowing for welfare reform, single-issue campaigns, “reducetarianism,” and all of the other sell-out approaches that they sell, or attempting to mischaracterize my position or attack me personally and defame me.

The Abolitionist movement promoted here has no office, no charitable status, no employees, and nothing but an idea. People are free to accept or reject that idea. People are free to accept the arguments I make in support of that idea as valid or as not valid. And a lot of people are accepting those arguments as valid and sound, and are embracing the Abolitionist position.

That is threatening the business of animal welfare reform and “happy” exploitation.

That is making petty and malicious people envious.

In sum, I really do understand why they are angry.

And I consider it a measure of the success of the Abolitionist position that they are reacting in this way.


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

©2015 Gary L. Francione