Commentary #21: “The Animal Rights Debate,” the Abolitionist Approach Discussion Forum, and a Response to Nicolette Hahn Niman

Dear Colleagues:

In this Commentary, I discuss three issues.

First, I talk about my new book, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation?, co-authored with Professor Robert Garner, and published by Columbia University Press.

This book focuses on the debate ongoing in the animal advocacy community: should we pursue welfare reform as a means to the end of achieving animal rights? I argue against welfare reform; Garner argues for it.

Second, two weeks ago, on October 26, 2010, we launched the Abolitionist Approach Forum, a place where those interested can discuss the theoretical issues concerning abolition and veganism and practical ideas on creative, nonviolent vegan education, as well as exchange information about nutrition, vegan food, raising vegan children, etc.

So far we have 200+ members and the discussions are terrific. There are only two rules: civil, respectful discourse and no promotion of violence.

If you are interested in learning more about vegan philosophy and the abolitionist approach to animal rights, consider joining the Forum.

Third, I present a response to Nicolette Hahn Niman, of the Niman Ranch, which sells “happy” meat that is, according to the website, “Humanely Raised on Sustainable U.S. Family Farms and Ranches.”

In a recent essay published in The Atlantic, Dogs Aren’t Dinner: The Flaws in an Argument for Veganism, Ms. Niman denies that we suffer from moral schizophrenia when we treat some animals as members of our families but stick forks into others. Her analysis, in a nutshell, is that, as a cultural matter, we have a different relationship with dogs than we do pigs.

That is precisely the problem: as a cultural matter, we treat some sentient nonhumans as things and some as persons. But cultural norms cannot serve as any sort of justification of cultural norms! If they could, then racism, sexism, and all sorts of discrimination and human rights violations would be justified.

I hope that you enjoy the Commentary.

If you are not vegan, why aren’t you vegan? It is not necessary in any way for humans to exploit nonhumans. So why do it? Going vegan is easy; better for your health; and, most important, the very least you can do if you regard animals as having moral significance.

If you are vegan, then educate others in a creative, nonviolent way.

The World is Vegan! If you want it.

Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione