My Dinner at Erik’s “Happy Meat” Diner

Dear Colleagues:

This past Sunday, February 25, I had a lovely chat with Erik Marcus from Erik’s Diner. Erik took the position that welfarist reforms are providing significant protection for animals and leading to abolition and I argued that these reforms are largely meaningless and are doing nothing more than making people feel comfortable about continuing to exploit animals. I also argued that an abolitionist movement ought to employ abolitionist means to achieve the goal, and that this means that we should focus our time and resources on creative, nonviolent vegan/abolitionist education as well as the hands-on care of individual animals. It was a lively discussion, which went on for about 2 1/2 hours!

Bob Torres at Vegan Freak was kind enough to make an MP3 file of the discussion for me to post. You may listen to the entire show at:

Erik Marcus Debates Professor Francione on Abolition vs. Animal Welfare

I hope that you enjoy the show.

You will note that a good part of our discussion focuses on the campaign, promoted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and others, to portray cage-free eggs as some sort of “victory”. I take the position that cage-free eggs do not provide any significant improvement in the quality of life for hens and merely delude people into thinking that they are doing something morally significant by consuming eggs from hens tortured in cage-free facilities rather than in conventional facilities. Erik maintained that the difference is analogous to that between Abu Ghraib and a “minimum security prison,” although Erik admitted that he has never been to a “cage-free” facility and is unable to rebut the statements of those who have been to these facilities and who claim that they are every bit as bad as a conventional egg farm.

Intrerestingly, not even the Director of the HSUS Farm Animal Campaign, Paul Shapiro, appears to agree with Marcus about “cage-free” eggs. From a 2004 article in the Christian Science Monitor: “But ‘cage free’ doesn’t necessarily mean much in terms of quality of life for hens. Eggs labeled ‘cage free’ often come from hens packed side by side in massive sheds, Shapiro says.” Of course, that was before Shapiro went to work for HSUS. He now maintains that “cage-free” eggs are a “socially responsible” alternative to conventional eggs. I disagree with both Marcus and the post-2004 Shapiro.

An interesting anecdote: Some years ago, when Shapiro first started Compassion Over Killing, he attended a lecture that I gave in New York City. He spoke with me after my talk and said that he would never “sell out” to the national organizations. Although I am sure that Paul thinks that he is doing the right thing, I am honestly perplexed as to why he thinks it appropriate to promote “cage-free” eggs.

Anyway, enjoy the podcast. I will not be posting on Wednesday as this rather lengthy program will take you a while to listen to in its entirety. I also posted a blog entry yesterday concerning a recent interview of Jane Goodall in which she said that she did not oppose all vivisection and that vegetarianism is “not necessarily an option that everyone has to adopt.”

Between the Vegan Freak podcast and my dinner at Erik’s “Happy Meat” Diner, I have decided that I enjoy the podcasting format and I am going to start my own podcast soon. I am not a tech-savvy person, so it will take some time for me to get up to speed, but do stay tuned for a launch later in the spring.

Gary L. Francione
© 2007 Gary L. Francione