Most of the large groups focus on “factory farming.” This is absurd for at least three reasons.
First, these groups claim to be eliminating the “worst abuses” of the system. That is false. The entire system is one big “worst abuse” and the animal groups are merely focusing on (i.e., doing fundraising campaigns on) a few practices that are, for the most part, economically vulnerable anyway. These groups pretend that “factory farming” will be history if the gestation crate is eliminated or if conventional battery cages give way to “cage-free” barns, But that is just wrong. The pigs and chickens will still be tortured and killed.
Second, these groups promote the idea that there is a difference between “factory farm” exploitation and “family farm” exploitation. There is still an enormous amount of suffering and distress on any farm. This fantasy of the idyllic “family farm” is just that–a fantasy. And the animals all end up in the same slaughterhouse much of the time. They are, in any event, all slaughtered.
These groups all promote or support some sort of “happy exploitation” scheme. But these schemes still involve animals being tortured and killed. Their primary impact is to reassure consumers that they can be “conscientious omnivores” and keep contributing to animal groups as they feel good about continuing to eat and wear animals.
Third, if animals matter morally, we should not be eating, wearing, or using them whether they are from “factory farms” or from “family farms” or have a “happy exploitation” label slapped on their corpses. We cannot justify inflicting any level of pain and suffering on another sentient being when the only justification is palate pleasure or fashion. We don’t even need a theory of animal rights for that; it follows simply from the position that animals are not things and that they have moral value.
The problem is not “factory farming.” The problem is all animal farming; the problem is all animal use.
These “factory farming” campaigns have nothing to do with animals. They are fundraising vehicles for the large groups. If you care about animals and think that they have any moral value, you go vegan. It’s that simple.
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 your body.
Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University
©2014 Gary L. Francione