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Archive for the ‘Abolitionist Commentary’ 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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***** No graphic content *****

I can’t help getting irritated when I see the term Vegetarian, especially used to describe a person, business, menu item, recipe, etc. because there is always the implied suggestion that being “meatless” is all that is required to “be healthier” or to “help animals”… as if that is somehow morally acceptable.

I don’t mean to sound accusing by any means because it’s a misunderstanding most Vegetarians make and live with by what they eat, wear, and use in their lives. But sadly, these actions very negatively impact billions of innocent nonhuman animals, including fish, every year. I too, at one time, was just as ignorant of the injustice and horrific misery involved in using animals for their secretions. And I wasted ten long years in that condition. When I finally awoke to Veganism, and through Professor Gary L. Francione to Abolitionist Veganism, my entire world view changed completely and forever. I encourage you to read Professor Francione’s work, which may be found in his books, searchable essays, audio, and video content at http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/

And if by chance you’ve been of the understanding there is a “humane” way to produce food and other products from animals or their secretions, I can assure you after much research, there is not! I strongly encourage you to read the related post (and its associated links) from Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, entitled “The Faces of ‘Free Range’ Farming.” They are, so far as I am aware, the *only* farm animal sanctuary who also serves effectively as a preeminent source of Vegan education.

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I recently wrote to a man who kindly answered a question several years ago. I’d like to share it with you:

Last night, while perusing my seldom used Gmail account, I came across an old thread I’d saved when I first got my account about 3 years ago. I was considering Google AdSense for my blog (which I regretfully neglect due to a preoccupation with my Twitter account—@MacVegan). In the thread, you had answered my question about AdSense.

I remember your civilized comments to my question very well.

Anyway, this time I got interested in your works through your Google profile, enjoying your recent Tea Party blog post. They are indeed a frightening political evolution, by the way, the likes of which are evident here in Canada as well, with corporate and mass media interests running the show—and the current Federal election campaign.

I was amazed to read your detailed bio on your LowGenius site, particularly your tech/music background. I come from similar roots as well, though I was only a musician for a few early years sparked by my exposure to blues in the ’60’s and especially Paul Butterfield. I then dabbled in the business for a few years as a booking agent but found there were too many cut-throat types of people to deal with for my liking. The last 31 years have been spent as a television news video tape technician of all things where in the last 15 years its transition to digital sparked my interest in computers though not quite in the same areas, it seems, as you.

I also had a look at your sad street life video essays on your Youtube channel. A terribly unfortunate experience to endure, I’m sure.

I just wanted to respond by saying I sincerely hope you continue to make steps toward all your goals. I want to offer you encouragement to persevere. You certainly have lots to offer. And I hope you don’t think it too forward of me to also suggest you check out Veganism. Don’t laugh. Let me explain.

I’m retired now as of 2009. Unfortunately, I was cut off in a traffic accident 6 months after retirement, and though fortunately not badly disabled, I am still dealing with several weekly therapies to cope with prolonged hip pain. I’ve been Vegan for 15 years or more and I’ve used much of the past several years reading up on Vegan philosophy as relates to peace, justice and respect. I found it to mean much more than just the diet that is its popular perception. And indeed, there is a growing international “Abolitionist” trend that acknowledges *any* animal use is exploitative and therefore unjust. The reason I thought you would/should be interested in this is that your obvious social awareness lends itself to that logical extension which includes nonhuman animals in the moral community. It’s not about the popular notion of, say, PETA “Animal Rights” <-(not) Activists throwing paint on someone's fur coat. As you said three years ago, this would clearly be a criminal act and results in no true understanding of the larger notion of our use of animals as "property" nor how unjust this notion is. As is the case with both human and nonhuman slaves, the Abolitionist approach is entirely about respect and justice. And so Veganism follows that logic as a necessary baseline—a minimum show of respect every human can easily practice in what we eat, wear, and use.

When you have a chance, please consider checking out the works of Professor Gary L. Francione at http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/. There is a vast array of information including video, an audio podcast, and several invaluable books Professor Francione wrote formulating and refining the Abolitionist theory.

Thanks for reading and take care of yourself.

I hope my letter meets with a favourable response.

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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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