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Archive for the ‘Animal Exploitation’ Category

On issues of “health maintenance” and Veganism, I have come to adopt the following approach:

The correlations between animal (and animal product) consumption and disease or ill health have pretty much been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. And although no one has ever suggested eating a Vegan diet is a *guarantee* of freedom from disease, there is already copious factual evidence that tells us being Vegan can certainly lessen the risks! This, in itself, is more than sufficient reason to eat Vegan.

However, there is a much more meaningful and non-diet related consideration. I suspect most people, when asked if they generally liked animals, could instantly recall images of animals they’d met or seen or known and respond, “Yes”. Like humans, all nonhuman animals are *sentient* and as such at the very least, they deserve inclusion in the moral community. *Any* animal exploitation—animals used for food, clothing, entertainment, household products, etc.—is extremely violent and, as such, participation in animal exploitation, be it direct or indirect, is a very morally conflicted state. And those who are not Vegan seriously need to confront and examine that conflict within themselves before questioning the merits of Veganism.

I refer you to http://vegankit.com/ a hugely interesting and valuable ‘why and how’ Vegan resource, and Gary Francione’s books and website the source of Abolitionist theory and why Veganism is the only path that helps animals instantly and permanently.

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Just a brief note to share, this was actually my response to an email from a friend who expressed some pride at how his congeniality resulted in a positive relation with a young stranger. Just one problem. Part of what enamoured him to the other man was an innocent and jovial imitation of another race… something of a racial “joke” if you will. I attempted to convey the enormous implications of making such a thing *commonplace* in our day to day lives:

“One of the reasons your remarks resonate with young(er) people is because racism, like sexism and all other forms of discrimination, are pervasive among many young people. They get passed on as easily as from one generational slip of the tongue to the next.
I hate to rain on your parade, because I absolutely know you don’t *mean* these impressions with hate, but just hear me out. For the victim, it’s always there whether overt or buried in the background. The vast majority of us are guilty of slurs, no matter how innocently they are intended. Since I awoke to Abolitionism, I’ve found myself trying to make the connection for people in comments and posts on threads on Twitter and Facebook because it relates directly to the speciesist discrimination we inflict on nonhuman animals. It’s this speciesist discrimination that enables and perpetuates their violent exploitation and consumption. And so it is with human on human violence as well.
If you ever start to read up on Abolitionist animal rights (Professor Francione’s books and website I’ve referred you to) you will find the message relating to nonviolence and justice and respect. It applies to all sentient beings—nonhumans and humans alike. I have now become very aware of the many ways we are taught to discriminate and thus exploit and I’m much more conscious of it today. Even a saying like, “I killed two birds with one stone” as an example, that we use to innocently describe the efficient execution of chores, carries with it an extremely violent history. Violence is pervasive in our lives. And so I encourage others to rid themselves of the same conditioning and behaviour in their own lives.
The more you think about justice and respect and nonviolence in your daily life, the more likely you will be to understand why Veganism is not just a diet. It’s a rejection of violence (including “violent speak”) and exploitation in how we think and act, in everything we do.
I hope you read this in the constructive spirit in which it is meant, instead of being offended and getting needlessly defensive.”
For those who are currently not Vegan, I hope this note sheds a positive perspective on the subject. Always consider the victim’s point of view. It is always horrific. Being Vegan is easy.

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Dear (activist),

I am very aware of the years of effort you have personally put into elephant protection. I have been with you in spirit for a long time, including as much letter writing and phone calling as time has permitted. But I have also spent an enormous amount of time studying Professor Gary L. Francione’s abolitionist approach to animal rights. He developed this theory over 25 years ago, while practicing animal law. He went on to be the first to teach animal rights at a US university and has written several pivotal books on abolitionist theory over the years as well. His message is one of justice and respect for all nonhumans with the main tenets being: we must reject the ‘property status’ of animals in order to abolish all animal exploitation and as such it is our moral obligation to stop eating, wearing, or otherwise using animals in any way. This, of course, makes the practice of Veganism the moral baseline of the Abolitionist Movement.

I would highly recommend reading his books. But he also has an amazing website, which hosts copious valuable audio and video content, including many interviews, as well as a huge array of highly logical and very convincing, searchable blog essays:

http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

The reason I wanted to share this with you is because I am absolutely convinced, having watched and learned the history of circus abuses, that our efforts are nothing more than a cat and mouse *game* we play with circuses and owners like the Felds. For every one (elephant) we might save—after an eternity of torture—there are tens or hundreds more coming on stream. You may be aware already but see, for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Elephant_Conservation

Today, elephants, like all animals, continue to suffer enslavement, torture, and misery at human hands in ever greater numbers largely due to public socialization to animal use as normal. This latest effort by the USDA is merely lip service to appease the “irritation” we are to them and circus operators and even zoos. I’m sure the users consider it nothing more than an expense of doing business. And you can be sure this news will be spun to persuade the public that it is now more acceptable than ever to attend animal circuses because they are USDA monitored.

I know you participate in protesting at circus venues, but I would like to invite you to consider modifying those protests to become instead a massive grassroots network of, as Gary Francione calls it, “creative non-violent Vegan education.” As I said, I would encourage you to read on the subject to familiarize yourself with the theory—Veganism is definitely not just a diet, for example—so that you will appreciate not only the futility of the present “Welfarist” path but also the enormous potential for real and lasting and instantaneous change by removing all *demand* for the products of exploitation, be that for food, clothing, experimentation, AND entertainment.

Respectfully yours,

Jeffrey

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In response to a recent request for suggestions for a “Back to School Vegan/AR Tips” Animal Voices radio special to be aired September 7, 2010, I offered the following comments re activism tips and “tapping into Vegan AR communities”:

I cannot suggest strongly enough the importance of identifying the real meaning of AR and Veganism if one is to represent AR correctly. By this, I mean the critical need to understand fully and embrace Abolitionist Veganism as the only meaningful and effective expression of one’s moral obligation to nonhuman animals and indeed to the cause of Animal Rights.

If an advocate learns nothing else, it is absolutely urgent and essential to not allow the New Welfarist positions of groups such as Toronto Vegetarian Association, Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals, Peta, HSUS, and many others to continue confusing the issue of how we use animals with the use of animals at all! These organizations DO NOT represent the Animal Rights cause. Many of them, as well as mass media, have co-opted and corrupted the term. All animal use constitutes slavery and exploitation. The Animal Rights cause stands for the recognition of nonhuman animals’ right to their own interests and freedom from human domination and exploitation. No amount of protest campaigning against suppliers or other users for “better” treatments will free animals from their enslavement. And nor will the suggestion that Vegetarianism is somehow a morally acceptable position. The only way animal exploitation will end is by removing demand for all of the products of animal use and exploitation. This happens instantly when one adopts the Vegan world view—and not just the diet—that is the unequivocal advocation of respect for nonhumans’ moral personhood.

Bottom line is, the only truly effective and productive activism is grassroots Abolitionist Vegan education. All other personal and organizational efforts fall short and are redundant as a result. As a dear Abolitionist Vegan friend recently said, “If we really respect nonhuman animals interests, we should go vegan, stay vegan and promote veganism.”

Finally the greatest resources I can recommend are the books, audio/video content, interviews, podcasts, and searchable blog essays of Professor Gary L. Francione all available at http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

Thank you.

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I read the Manifesto of The Netherlands’ Party for the Animals recently. Marianne Thieme’s election victory last year, I think, was certainly exciting. And I do think it is crucial to change Governments’ behaviour toward nonhumans. But what really changed? I am skeptical about the value and effectiveness of an Animal/Environmental political party that does not clearly and unequivocally promote the rejection of *all* use of any sentient being—human or nonhuman. Unfortunately, change will not come as long as voter thinking does not change. And I am convinced voter thinking will not change without widespread grassroots Vegan educational efforts. As an example, just look at the membership rolls of any large animal advocacy organization or those who vote for any Green Party candidate. The sad truth is, I suspect, very few are actually Vegan. Voters need to hear a clear and unequivocal message that rejects the use of sentient beings. In order to get elected, if a “Green” political party must water down the animal use plank in their platform so much as to assure animals will continue to be enslaved or without any mention whatsoever, then for what change do they stand? For as long as we continue to use and exploit other species, we will *without question* continue to use and exploit each other.

I have several particular objections to the approaches of Animal/Environment parties—even my Green Party of Canada, whose platform seems entirely devoted to human interests. It’s all well and good to appeal to the public to give more consideration to the “interests of animals.” The most glaring failure in the Netherlands manifesto is to have confused this message with distinctly Welfarist language like “if we deem their use as necessary” or to “use sustainably.” As Professor Gary L. Francione has argued so eloquently, the one “right” that urgently needs to be accorded to nonhumans is the right not to be *property*. This simple right addresses the injustice of the commodification of sentient beings and all the misery that goes with it. At the same time, a Vegan moral view eliminates their use to the greatest possible degree.

As with almost all animal advocacy and “environmental” organizations, the Party for Animals suggests that some use might be acceptable if the user gives a greater degree of acknowledgement of the nonhuman’s “interests”. This is an extremely contradictory message to the one of “respect” since to use anyone requires a rejection of their interests.

In the Welfarist – Abolitionist debate, all Welfarist precepts come down on the side of ‘use is permissible’. That’s what 200+ years of Welfare regulations have been about. Welfare laws have *only* resulted in increasing the efficiency of our use. They’ve done nothing to release nonhumans from our domination. The key to understanding Abolition is to recognize that use—any use—must be rejected. Use *can be* rejected. It’s as easy as going Vegan. The crucial detail which the vast majority of organizations fail to recognize is that Veganism is a primary moral obligation of us all. And that requires Vegan education. And only a Vegan electorate will bring change to Government.

Thank you for considering my observations.

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I recently commented on a blog belonging to a Veterinarian who promotes and practices supplementary Holistic care methods. The post tells of a recent invitation he received to appear on a television show about and for women, in their weekly “Pets and Pet Care” segment. He asked for opinions as to what he might talk about if he decided to accept the invitation. I want to share my comment here:

“I would definitely use the opportunity to acquaint viewers with a revolutionary notion. We all should be familiar with the fact that dogs, cats, and other pets deserve our love and the best care possible. But that should come from a respect for them as moral persons first. And once we acknowledge that, it should not be a huge leap to acknowledge that all animals deserve that same respect. And that respect should include one most basic right – not to be exploited (used) as property or resources… whether that use be for food, clothing, entertainment, the making of household products, and yes, even as pets.

I know, I can hear the outrage (of other readers) at the mere suggestion we should abolish (the Institution of) pets but I assure you if you do the research, you will understand that, by our exploitation over centuries, we have turned once free and wild animals into sorry, often weakened, mere shadows of their former splendour and all totally dependent on humans for their survival. The pet industry, through breeders and many other stakeholders, seeks financial gain by continuing this exploitation. And as you know, every year millions of these animals end up being horribly abused, neglected, or dumped in shelters where *most* end up euthanized (or gassed). Then there is the multi-billion dollar international pet food industry, which is basically an offshoot of our own cruel and manipulative “food animal” exploitation.

Needless to say, I think it is our moral obligation to *adopt* companion animals whenever and wherever possible. But it is also our moral obligation to not cause any others to be brought into existence.

With some reflection and research on the subject of Abolition, everyone can determine the most obvious and easiest way to show respect to *all* animals is by adopting a Vegan worldview, and i underline that means not just a diet.

I highly recommend researching the work of Professor Gary L. Francione at http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/ The site has searchable blog essays, links to his books, audio/video presentations and interviews, podcast commentaries, and a lot more. Over the last 30 years Professor Francione has developed his “Abolitionist” approach to Animal Rights and you will see his arguments for Veganism as a moral baseline make a lot of sense.

I hope you will consider looking into this monumental but necessary social paradigm shift in the near future. And just maybe some of it could be touched on in this TV interview. It will definitely spark some needed thought and dialogue.

Thank you for your consideration.

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I was raised an omnivore. When I went Vegetarian I, like most other Vegetarians I observe today, thought I was “doing my part” to help animals – lots more than anyone else I knew. I figured I don’t eat meat anymore, I’m making a real statement! But without a second thought I continued to eat eggs, not too often though. They’re very high in cholesterol – not very healthy, right?. And I loved pizza with cheese. I knew it was loaded with saturated fat but hey, it tasted so good. Once in a while can’t be all that bad eh? I went happily about my life wearing leather shoes and using products made with and routinely tested on animals in horrific ways. I was raised ignorant and I continued to be blissfully ignorant. But my conscience was clear. Now, I was helping animals because I didn’t eat them. I was saving animal lives! It made me feel kinda good.

Well during that whole period I knew no other Vegetarians. I was not an animal rights activist by any stretch of the imagination. My initial motivations after all, probably had more to do with reducing saturated fat in my diet than any real awareness of the ethical issues. And without the internet, I had no familiarity with the horrors associated with eggs or dairy or the products made with them and so “understandably” I really didn’t give morality a second thought.

But then I came into contact with someone who said they were Vegan. I’d never heard the term before. A decent seeming person, though their grilling of waiters or waitresses over whether their meals had eggs or dairy in them appeared a little excessive at the time. And I remember their non-leather shoes were not particularly fashionable and though they didn’t have a problem with foot odour, I always imagined their shoes were hot and sweaty because only leather could “breathe”, right? (Of course today, there are all kinds of fashionable, breathable, non-leather products available to consumers.) But my most vivid recollection of this person’s Veganism was that to me and others, they were very subdued about it. Maybe they just didn’t want to “push too hard” or come off as “preachy”. But there was never any discussion about animal exploitation or cruelty or whether animals can feel pain, or shifting paradigms… nothing. They probably had never heard the term “Abolition”. Coincidentally, I do recall they made donations to a group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I thought that was probably good of them to support an organization that was looking out for animals’ welfare because surely no one should be going around hurting cats or dogs, right? I mean they’re so cute! [Of course I now suspect this person was probably lulled into that false sense of security that Peta and other Welfarist orgs are so good at dishing up to their supporters in their almost endless stream of direct mailed, funding raising literature – “Send us money – for this or that cause of the month – and we’ll make sure animals aren’t abused”.]

And so went my (Vegetarian) ignorance… for another 10 years! No one helped me to understand that much like my Omnivore lifestyle, my Vegetarianism was still responsible for phenomenal pain and suffering. Or that in fact egg and dairy production involves even more prolonged suffering than that associated with the eating of meat alone! It would be another 10 long years until my light bulb moment and the flood of personal research that followed quickly, the details of which are irrelevant to my point here. That point being, if someone… anyone!… had the courage of conviction to speak to me more illustratively, more passionately about Veganism and especially about its relative Abolitionist theory I feel sure, knowing what I have learned up to today, that I would have embraced Veganism and Abolitionism much, much sooner! And the double benefit is I would probably have passed on that knowledge and influence to many others in the interim.

And so, I see it somewhat differently than some “quiet” Vegans. I don’t think flattery, forgiving, or tolerance has anything to do with a Vegan message. I do feel Vegetarians, like anyone else including nonhuman animals by the way, deserve respect! But since I have lived the life of an uninformed, disconnected Vegetarian, I feel the most urgent and important duty of a Vegan is to inform… politely, yes, but clearly and consistently inform. We do ALL animals a grave injustice when, given any reasonable opportunity, we do not at least make sure a Vegetarian is fully informed about how much more they could be doing to eliminate animal suffering… and how easy it is. We are not here to force anyone to walk in our foot steps. We should be here to beat down the path whenever and wherever we can.

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