The Speciesism of “Plural Approaches”

In response to a critique of welfare reform and other approaches that actually promote animal exploitation, some supposed animal advocates say that we need “plural approaches.” They say that, in addition to promoting veganism as a moral baseline, we need to promote “happy” exploitation, and moral relativism (e.g., veganism is a matter of “our journey” and of some totally subjective “who you are space).”

Think about this sort of position in any human rights context. Take, for example, the problem of racism. Imagine that someone said that, in order to deal with racism, we needed “plural approaches,” and that we should promote equality as an absolute matter but we should also promote equality as a non-absolute matter.

Imagine that they said:

“Every step in the journey toward equality is a good one so we ought to encourage Racist-Joke-Free Monday”; or

“People won’t stop being racist overnight so we need to encourage Racism Reducetarianism;” or

“My baseline is that there aren’t any baselines and it’s all on a continuum and opposition to racism is a matter of your personal ‘who you are space’.”

We would rightly regard that this proposal for “plural approaches” to racism was itself racist.

“Plural approaches” are never appropriate where fundamental rights are involved. We recognize that in the human context.

But where animals are concerned, many “animal advocates” think it’s fine.

That’s what we call “speciesism.”


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

Gary L. Francione
Board of Governors Distinguished Professor, Rutgers University Law School

©2016 Gary L. Francione