Slate

» September 7th, 2012

This piece of mine ran this morning in Slate.

Let me know your thoughts.

117 Responses to Slate

  1. Élise says:

    Thanks
    This is the paper I’ve been expecting for years. Glad it came from you.

  2. jaime says:

    I think your analysis of the inter movement child-like bickering is poignant and the conversation needs to continue. I often feel there is a lot of energy wasted debating tactics, or more accurately putting down others for their choice of advocacy methods. Thanks again, James. Come to DC soon!

  3. Keith Akers says:

    Your article is well spoken; I think it’s great. Veganism can succeed if it appeals to people on a variety of different levels, so it doesn’t necessarily bother me if we have opposing points of view, abolitionists versus HSUS or whatever. In the past I’ve disagreed with the HSUS approach on chickens, but I also recognize that they’ve done a lot of good things, too, like their support for nutritionfacts.org, which I just absolutely adore. If it gets to people shoving each other and going to court with restraining orders, then something has gone wrong; but otherwise healthy disagreement is a sign of a growing movement that is appealing to a variety of different constituencies.

    • Keith Akers says:

      After reading what others have said, I will qualify my comments a bit and say that there is something in between “healthy disagreements” and “shoving people and restraining orders,” something along the lines of attacking them or their character personally. This unhealthy disagreement is also a problem, although obviously not as serious as a physical confrontation.

      I approach this a bit too intellectually, perhaps, and can’t see a problem with the abolitionist vs. HSUS debate, in and of itself. (Like, why is everyone getting so excited about this?) But it’s the character of the debate that’s a problem, and based on other comments, this is going downhill. I’d like to see a bit more clarity on this point. Is it the debate itself, or the way it is being conducted and the insinuations coming out of it?

      • Ellie Maldonado says:

        I’d credit the leaders of HSUS and similar groups with at least average intelligence — so I think they’re fully aware that “welfare” reforms will never lead to animal liberation, that they actually encourage animal consumption, and that farm animals will continue suffer greatly even if the best reforms are adhered to. So in my view, to promote “welfare” activism under the guise of “humane” treatment is deceptive. I have no problem calling HSUS and similar groups a bunch of liars, and the activists who support them extremely naive.

        I also don’t think the problem is with the abolitionist vs HSUS (“welfare”) debate — the problem is “welfare” activism ultimately puts a stamp of approval on animal use! And certainly that’s reason for people who love animals to oppose it.

        • Keith Akers says:

          I don’t see any reason to call HSUS liars. You need to provide an argument why this is necessary.

          It is not obvious that welfare reforms will never lead to animal liberation. One could argue that reforms, such as bigger cages or whatever, will increase the cost of animal products, and that rising costs will dampen consumption, and in general encourage vegans and encourage further vegan efforts (humane or otherwise), and so forth.

          I do not agree with this argument, for a variety of reasons, but the statement “welfare reforms will never lead to animal liberation” is not self-evident. It requires an argument. Your job is to provide that argument and make it as devastatingly obvious a conclusion as possible.

          If you START by calling them liars, any reader that hasn’t already made up their mind about welfare reforms — indeed, even readers who already agree with you — will likely assume that this is just a shouting match, and stop reading. You may (or may not!) score some points with people who agree with you, but you will not convince anyone who doesn’t already agree with you.

          • Sailesh Rao says:

            The technical argument against welfarism is the larger context of animal suffering if we go beyond harvested animals and consider the incidental killing that occurs when we destroy forests and habitats.

            The most massive social experimentation in welfarism is India. Though meat eating is on the increase in India, as a nation, India is still one of the lowest per-capita consumers of meat in the world. And that’s not all due to poverty. Even Mukesh Ambani, who built himself and his five family members a two-billion dollar home in the middle of Mumbai, is a lacto-vegetarian.

            I was raised a lacto-vegetarian, but I woke up when I witnessed the devastation caused by my milk consumption in the forests of India. In India, we drink a lot of milk but don’t eat so much beef with the result that the cows live for 20-25 years overgrazing the forest and essentially destroying it. I realized then that as a lacto-vegetarian, I was depending on beef eaters to clean up my mess after me, but there weren’t that many beef eaters to do this janitorial work in India. As a result, there are almost 300 million heads of cattle in India, and the overall milk production system is therefore tremendously inefficient. Furthermore, I realized that drinking milk was equivalent to eating deer, tigers and other forest creatures who were losing their habitat from all that livestock driven destruction of the forests. (At the moment, a Florida-sized area of tropical forests is being razed down every two years, mainly to accommodate our eating habits.) From that, it was a short step for me to associate drinking milk with eating our children and grandchildren whose future is being devastated by my consumption. And such cannibalism disgusted me and I quit all animal products and turned vegan. For I concluded that veganism is one step where half-measures are truly counter measures.

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Keith, when leaders of a group tell their members and the public that “welfare” reforms make animal use “humane”; that by donating and/or joining the group, they can help end animal cruelty — and they’re not even honest enough to admit: 1. reforms cannot make a significant difference because the overwhelming cruelty remains; 2. that reforms cannot be enforced; and 3. that’s it’s impossible to monitor the treatment of billions of animals — then I think it’s quite fair to say this group is deceitful.

            Awhile ago, HSUS ran an incessant TV commercial, claiming it rescues thousands of animals, and that people can help “end animal cruelty everywhere” if they either donate or join HSUS. I can’t recall if the exact words were it “rescues thousands of animals a year”, or it “rescues tens of thousands of animals”, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer who knew these numbers were untrue, because other advocates have said so on the web.

            Even so, to give HSUS the benefit of the doubt, I looked into its “victory” claims on its web site. I still have the links. Thankfully, before I needed to make an extensive effort, HSUS changed its TV commercial, eliminating the claim that it “rescues thousands” or “tens of thousands of animals”.

            So why do we suppose that happened? It seems likely to me that HSUS was called on its numbers, and it was forced to remove them — or that it knew they would be challenged. So now the HSUS commercial only claims that donations and members can help “end animal cruelty everywhere”, which is also clearly untrue. As long as animals are designated things that exist for human purpose, let’s be realistic enough to admit there’s no way to “end cruelty everywhere”.

            If you want more info about HSUS, PeTA and other groups, check Nathan Winograd. You’ll find shocking reports, such as HSUS recommended killing dogs because of their breed — *even before they were even given temperament tests*.

            Also please note, I’ve said HSUS is decetiful, but I have not called any advocate a liar, even though I was accused of that.

            I think 99% of my posts are polite and friendly, but when I’m told to “Get a life”; that my views on Scully are “pitiful”, that I “make things up”, “etc.”, I have a every right to be annoyed. As for shouting, yes, I did tell someone that she refused to believe the truth because then she’d have to admit that she’s PART OF THE PROBLEM — but this person has long refused to consider my view, and has also insulted me in the past.

            So if you’re thinking the infighting here is all my fault, it’s not.

            About increasing the cost of animal products, I think that might reduce animal consumption as long as people can’t afford them — but economies and salaries change, and unless consumers understand the moral reason to avoid animal products, including the fullness and depth of animal experience, I think that reduction would be very temporary.

            If “respectable”groups are telling the public that farming is “humane”, why ever should they give up animal products? And if people become vegetarians because they think farming is cruel, and “respectable” groups say reforms make farming “humane”, it shouldn’t surprise us that they resume meat-eating.

            Actually, HSUS says reforms increase animal production; the expense to agribusiness is minimal; and it can be offset by other factors. In one report, HSUS also states that consumers are willing to pay the extra price.

            So what do we want? Justice for animals, or an increase in animals who suffer the inherent cruelty of farming, and consumers who believe in fairy tales?

            If we prioritize the animals, I think reality should outweigh our egos, and our need ” to do something to make a difference now”.

            I invite reasonable and polite disagreement with this comment and/or the other comments I’ve posted.

  4. Our rift … More importantly, what are we, as passionate animal activists, going to DO about it? Listen to people who have studied and earned higher-education degrees in human psychology and nonviolence studies (Joy and Cooney) and who know what the heck they’re talking about? Or listen to those with no apparent credentials for having studied the inner workings of the human mind and what patterns of activism bring about effective social change? I know who I’m listening to.

    • James says:

      Janet,
      For the record, I have “no apparent credentials for having studied the human mind.” Still, I feel as if my perspective counts because it is a humane perspective, as is Francione’s, as is HSUS’s. It’s the needless divisiveness that’s perpetuated that I’m addressing in my article. At times, I feel as if advocates actually ENJOY the fighting!
      -James

      • I understand, James. I try to use my head AND heart when it comes to figuring out whom to trust, learn from, and base my advocacy efforts upon. I weigh credentials because they matter. However, I do try to listen to and read, read, read many points of view. Often, I will discover an error in my way of thinking and tweak my advocacy behavior to better align with what I’ve learned or read, to be more effective. It’s about results and what works to the animals’ best advantage, based on experience.

        Someone who has put in the time and effort to study what most effectively motivates human change–or who has studied history and can put a whole movement into meaningful, historical context–counts and makes good sense to me. People who display a willingness to listen and learn and consider other points of view–not just stick like stubborn glue to the one and only way–count and make good sense to me. I pay attention to people who share their revelations or new perspectives about animal advocacy and who humbly ask what other people think–in order to learn and be more effective as a team. I tend to trust organizations that get results and that have proven track records. It’s not about us, after all, it is about the animals and reducing or eliminating their pain and suffering in the most effective and efficient ways. And, there are many more ways to stroke a cat than just one.

        • Ellie Maldonado says:

          I’ve understood and practiced the “welfare” point of view. Fortunately for animals, I’m no longer the naive activist I was then.

          • I’m not getting into a futile and pointless debate with you, Ellie. You’ve made it abundantly clear what and how you think and, frankly, I’ve found arguing with you to be a total waste of time and energy better focused on, you know, actually helping animals. It’s your way or the highway. I’m taking the highway and heading off today to protest Ringling Bros. and meet with a group to find a way to help carriage horses in Old Sacramento.

  5. Elisa says:

    I’ve been vegan for 4 years. I am a great supporter of Gary Francione. I agree with him on just about every point. Yet– he does makes it sound too much (in my opinion) like the HSUS has a downright “warm and fuzzy” relationship with the meat industry. I don’t see it that way. If you listen to the meat industry podcasts (DairyCast, PoultryCast, SwineCast, etc) and if you read industry writings (as you pointed out), it is clear that the relationship is not all candles and roses!

    I am for abolition all the way. I won’t give my time or money to campaigns that are not abolition oriented. Gary’s influence on me is seen when I protest the circus: I have a sign that says “Animals have a right not to be used as property. Veganism is the moral baseline to take that right seriously.” I am trying to “ripen” up the crowd to veganism!

    But– I WILL still cheer when the meat industry starts “crying” over the expenses they will incur because of welfare measures such as the phase-out of gestation crates. Someone on the SwineCast podcast, episode 701 indicated that the cost of that change alone will be $2-3 billion dollars to the pork industry. I’m all for that.

    [So does that mean that if I am willing to cheer for the outcome, then I must be willing to cheer for the method? I have often pondered that question...]

    I hope the expense burden to pork producers will mean that some producers will leave the business. Harold Brown from Farm Kind is waiting and willing to help producers transition to a different line of work that doesn’t include exploiting animals.

    I don’t agree with everything that HSUS does. I don’t give them my money. But I do recognize that they do a great deal of really great work. I used to verbally bash them to some degree but now I don’t. My position has evolved over time. At this point, I want to spend my energy on fighting the industry and not fighting HSUS.

    I will continuing speaking for animal rights and for veganism, and yes, I will keep cheering when the industry gets upset at HSUS. And while I do get *really* annoyed with “happy meat” movement, I do have to remind myself that I am one abolitionist vegan today because I started becoming a ‘caring omnivore’ several years ago.

    My blog is freeheelvegan.com and I have a category tag for “MeatCast Commentaries” where I pull quotes from those podcasts I indicated, and I present an abolitionist view. I also did a circus post called “Elephants in the City” where you can see my circus signs. (I didn’t want to post links here because– on my blog– links are perceived as spam.)

    Thanks for the article, James!

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      I too appreciate Francione’s influence, Elisa, but unlike I understand your post, I would rejoice in the end of HSUS because it approves and encourages animal consumption that is has misleadingly defined as “humane”. Both the industry and HSUS have profited from collaborating with each other.

      Maybe Francione thinks HSUS has a “warm and fuzzy” relationship with the industry because HSUS gets paid for certifying so-called “humane” farms. I think Francione is putting it mildly.

      If outlawing gestation crates will cost the industry money, I think it will find a way to reduce costs in other ways — maybe on cheaper animal feed, or who knows how else? It’s likely we may never know about it, because there’s no way to monitor billions of farm animals.

      If the industry can’t reduce costs in other ways, I think it will pass the expense on to consumers, who will probably just buy cheaper cuts of pork — but I doubt it — I think it’s more likely the industry will cut corners.

      I look forward to reading freeheelvegan :-)

  6. Lucretia says:

    On some level I agree that everything is a step in the right direction, with some steps being a lot more significant than others. But I do question if simply adopting better animal welfare standards does anything at all to question carnism itself. It still implies that animals are food, and that as long as we treat them well it’s perfectly normal to eat them.

    I think efforts would be better focused on making meat consumption readily apparent as a choice (and a deviant one at that) rather than working on campaigns that just reinforce the idea that animals are ever food. In my view groups like FARM and COK do a much better job with this than HSUS.

  7. This just showed up on Twitter and is perfect for today’s discussion:

    “If your main form of animal activism is attacking other animal activists, then you are one of the animal abusers’ best assets.” — Will Potter, author, Green is the New Red

    https://twitter.com/will_potter/status/244077587712860160/photo/1/large

    • Mylène says:

      There are a lot of assumptions and oversimplifications wrapped up in the quote, although it does make for a good fist pumping slogan if you don’t really take too close a look at it.

      Unfortunately, justified criticism is all too often conflated with “attacking” so that its content can be dismissed and written off as invalid.

      I mean, one could actually call a breeder of pomeranians who is non-vegan and who also happens to run a trap-neuter-release group on the side an “animal activist”. To say that criticizing such a person is tantamount to transforming oneself into “one of the animal abusers’ best assets” would be ridiculous.

      • Keith Akers says:

        “Attacking other animal activists” can mean a lot of different things and may be a bit too vague. At some point, though, “disagreement” becomes bitter enough to become “attack.” I would try to unpack the difference between these two.

        One useful exercise would be to come up with specific examples of statements which are bona fide “attacks” (that is, which overstep the reasonable boundaries of debate), and rephrase them so that they have the same intellectual content, but are toned down so that the insinuations of the evil character of the opposition are removed.

        Typically the only way I do this particular exercise is on my own writing . . . especially when I get worked up about something, which is really easy in this business.

  8. John T. Maher says:

    I would like to register my disagreement in the strongest possible terms. The HSUS is the worst sort of institutional enabler and their neo welfarist efforts are holding back real change. HSUS sold out hens in Ohio and orchestrated campaigns against veal crates in Florida where there are almost none. Outside of Agriculture, HSUS, which did not oppose the AETA, testified in the Wilkes County case that all the seized dogs, including puppies, should be euthanized without individual temperament evaluations merely because of their breed. HSUS acts to siphon away funds and consciousness from others who do better. Prof. Francione is by no means the only alternative.

  9. John T. Maher says:

    HSUS can not be considered activists. They seek to essentially sell a HSUS stamp of approval to Big AG. The big misconception JMAC has is that HSUS is trying to act as a transformative agent. We are not all on the same side here

    • Aurelia says:

      John you are part of the problem, remove your emotions and try to logically dissect James’ article and the bigger picture of what HSUS and others are trying to achieve.

  10. After reading this article I’m still not clear why this rift between animal welfare groups (like HSUS) and animal rights advocates (like Gary Francione and whom else, exactly?) is such a threat to the movement. How is it that genuine animal rights activists are being characterized as a major threat to the animal rights movement??

    Have HSUS’ donations been in decline since the mid 1990s? Has their campaigning against gestation crates, veal crates, battery cages, etc. been less effective since the “abolitionist” position was more explicitly articulated by Tom Regan, Gary Francione, Lee Hall, James LaVeck, Jenny Stein, etc.? I suspect that the answer to both questions is “no”. In fact, I think the HSUS is doing a lot more now for farm animals than it ever has in the past. The problem seems to be that the largest non-profit org in the animal protection arena doesn’t have universal support. Well tough cookies. Since HSUS isn’t using their money to advocate veganism and animal liberation, there is every reason for individuals and grassroots groups to use their own money to pick up the slack. I suppose some people won’t be happy until no one in the animal rights movement explicitly advocates for liberation.

    The HSUS/Farm Sanctuary partnership with UEP on the pending egg legislation is a clear example of what mistaken compromises get made in the absence of critical, outside thinking. Even if we were only concerned with animal suffering to the exclusion of their institutional exploitation, this bill would still be a failure. It has a very lengthy implementation schedule (18 years) and includes a self-defeating measure that preemptively negates any extant or future state-level legislation crafted to further lessen the suffering of farm animals.

    It’s no secret that many and perhaps most self-identified abolitionists agree with campaigns to eliminate extreme confinement practices (see Francione’s “Rain Without Thunder” pp. 190-219). But that doesn’t mean it’s sensible to get behind every welfare campaign. We need principles and standards. And, of course, having principles doesn’t mean that we are ignorant of strategy and tactics. The insights of activist authors like Nick Cooney and Melanie Joy are just as useful and important to abolitionists as they are to animal welfare advocates. Saying that “[a]bolitionists don’t buy a word of what Joy and Cooney are saying” is, frankly, bullshit. Cooney’s “foot in the door” and “social norms” recommendations are entirely suitable for vegan campaigning as are many others. Understanding the deep roots of carnism can only empower those working to break its grip on individual minds and our national culture. But self-identified abolitionists have many strategic insights to offer us as well. I sincerely recommend reading some essays on abolitionist history at http://theveganpolice.com/main/?tag=abolitionist-history
    and watching a great video presentation on the legacy of anti-slavery at http://www.humanemyth.org/letsnotgiveup.htm

    I have before me some literature from Farm Sanctuary (Guide to Veg Living) and Mercy For Animals (Why love one but eat the other?). Neither one recommends a complete and overnight transition to a vegan diet. They suggest going vegan or vegetarian one day a week and trying new foods and new restaurants. These are incremental recommendations but they’re entirely consistent with a forthright pursuit of animal rights. Undercover investigations are abolitionist. So are open rescues and sanctuary work more generally. So is anything that actually respects animals’ interests in freedom and well-being.

    • Devery says:

      Thank you for this comment. Well said.

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      I agree with much of your post, but not that undercover investigations are abolitionist. I disagree because these investigations focus on violations of animal “welfare” laws, rather than on the inherent cruelty of farming.

      I also don’t agree with Mercy for Animals, not because they recommend going vegan or vegetarian slowly, but because advocates should not be asking for mercy for animals as if they were inferior beings.

      Same for Compassion Over Killing — advocates should be taking a stand against killing completley, not asking that it be done more compassionately. And as I posted on another topic here, Farm Sanctuary promoted a video that was produced by so-called “humane” farmers, whose main interest was/is in selling meat — the hypocrisy is mind boggling!

      Also as I understand, at least one of Melanie Joy’s initiatives was sponsored by HSUS. Perhaps, that’s why she agrees with them? Nick Cooney works for Farm Sanctuary, and I’ve already said what I think about that.

      • Aurelia says:

        Begging for mercy denotes inferiority?! So we should not bother then, say well leave them to it they can beg for their own mercy. Asking for mercy is appealing to the compassionate side of human nature, it’s what you do everytime you ask that someone become vegan for the sake of the animals, all any of us do is beg for mercy for creatures who CANNOT protect themselves! Does this make them inferior? Well in a way yes, we exert superiority over them by imprisoning them and they are unable to escape. If they could save themselves they would, for whatever reason they can’t and we are roused to fight on their behalf. You know, you said you would credit HSUS with average intelligence and up until now I probably would have done the same for you but I am seriously starting to wonder.

    • Sailesh Rao says:

      The Humane Myth link was very instructive. Thank you so much. I’m struck by the similarity to the strategy and tactics used by the British to colonize and rule India for centuries and which finally resulted in the partition of India even during independence, with all the attendant war and mayhem following it. But the saving grace today is that everything Whole Foods and their “humane” meat business is doing will increase the environmental footprint of their meats thereby making them more undesirable from a climate change point of view. Animal agriculture is now recognized to be the number one contributor to climate change and this industry needs to vanish soon for the sake of our survival as a species.

  11. Lucas says:

    Allow me to provide some of Francione’s relevant essays to give a better representation of his views on HSUS (and other welfare promoting organizations) beyond simply having a position that “leads him to savage HSUS at every turn”.

    The one you have quoted in your piece: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/the-hsus-united-egg-producer-agreement-two-reactions/

    http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/got-faith-in-animal-welfare/

    http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/wayne-pacelle-and-i-agree/

  12. Lucas says:

    Who exactly is trying to “strong-arm” folks into veganism? And how exactly are they “strong-arming”? It appears that you are referring to those advocating veganism as the moral baseline of the animal rights movement, as the only morally and logically consistent position with recognizing that nonhuman animals are sentient beings and have inherent value. Or is that supposed to be a direct quote from Melanie Joy?

    Please clarify.

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      “Who exactly is trying to “strong-arm” folks into veganism? …. Please clarify.”
      ———-

      Exactly, and since no one has clarified what this means so far, I’ll continue to say it’s ridiculous.

      • Aurelia says:

        By declaring that anything but veganism is morally wrong and sneering with contempt you are insinuating that all non vegans are bad people. This is a sly and backhanded method but it is force nonetheless, you are arrogant enough to believe that your way is the only way and nothing else is good enough, and you actively force this opinion on others. That, is strong arming, also know as arm twisting, or even contemptuous nagging.

  13. Sailesh Rao says:

    While it is true that gradualism has been the norm in some past transformations, Gandhi didn’t ask for lunch passes from the British, Dr. King didn’t agitate for lynch-free Mondays and the leadership of the LGBT civil rights movement isn’t seeking weekend bans on gay-bashing. It can be argued that gradualism prolongs the agony as the sensitive public gets desensitized during the period when they are paying huge amounts of money for their humane meat. It’s a bit like papal indulgences.

    Make no mistake that Big Ag is seeking to divide and conquer the animal rights movement and HSUS seems to be playing into their hands by sanctifying and peddling such indulgences.

  14. Dan Hooley says:

    I very much liked the article. I think that one thing that often is ignored is that many of the people working at HSUS ARE abolitionists. I’ve personally met Shapiro, and I know he is. I can’t say whether or not Pacelle is, but I have my suspicions…

    Anyways, I think that we should also understand that HSUS is one organization working among many. I think that the most effective efforts to abolish animal agriculture needs welfare groups like them (making modest reforms that ease the wider public into rethinking their relationship with animals), but also groups like Mercy for Animals, that have a much more vocal abolitionist approach.

  15. Devery says:

    “Francione’s logic is hard-hitting, but his extreme message is unlikely to resonate widely in a population that’s only 1.4 percent vegan.” In other words, Gary Francione speaks the truth, but since that makes people feel uncomfortable, let’s just gloss over that fact so everyone feels better about themselves rather than making changes that are not only ethical but vital for the continued existence of every living creature on the planet.

    This is disappointing. I am weary of how all the “we need to be united as a movement” rhetoric always, ALWAYS comes from groups with more power, more visibility, and a more diluted stance on animal ethics. Criticisms of HSUS are legitimate as this stance in the end doesn’t really do much and merely reifies animal exploitation as “okay”. Which is a point you, James, have made clearly, admirably, and succinctly many times before. Yes, many people’s journey to veganism happens gradually, and I freely admit mine did as well. But the person who starts out by buying the cage-free eggs isn’t made vegan by the existence of cage-free eggs: they become vegan because their interest in animal welfare leads them to further explore issues and then they read Francione or they read about United Poultry Concerns or Dominion or they read about other vegans and at last see that “free range” is marketing nonsense and they take that information and make an ethical decision. Instead of silencing abolitionists, we need to acknowledge that they are right, and that they are the pole star by which we steer: not castigate and silence them for ruining our ability to feel like we get to play in the superstar sandbox of “importance” which is what I see all over the place. Seriously, how can anyone seriously make the argument that abolitionist vegans are the problem in a movement that claims to be about the abolition of animal use and abuse? What kind of Orwellian bullshit is that?

    In addition, there is a HUGE difference between criticizing an approach or policy and personally attacking another human being. The fact that people in the big money welfare organizations pull out the “divisiveness” card over and over again is more telling about their defensiveness than anything else. And the only consistency in these criticisms is that it is the “established,” “professional” organizations who have money and power who repeatedly silence and belittle their critics. If an abolitionist vegan criticizes HSUS’ “too moderate” approach, and says “Hey, HSUS, I don’t think you should be teaming up with meat producers to essentially reify and legitimize animal slaughter and consumption” the response is always that the critic is unrealistic and shrill and too demanding – that omnivores musn’t be confronted – it might hurt the movement!! If an vegan says “Hey PETA, throwing blood on people makes vegans look like crazy assholes, and you’ve set the AR movement back 50 years with your sexist shock tactics, and your sabotaging of shelter reform, WTF?” the criticism is “PETA DOES MORE FOR ANIMALS THAN YOU EVER HAVE! Why are you HURTING THE MOVEMENT”??? And what do these critiques have in common? Certainly not the tactics being criticized – in each case, it’s the established organizations coming down on their critics. It’s those with more power silencing those with less for the sake of convenience and comfort.
    You know what fucking hurts the movement? People implying that ethical vegans need to be less vegan or somehow they are ruining veganism!
    It is possible to speak out when an organization is doing something one believes to be misguided, craven, or even evil (Hi, PETA!) and yet support the actions and campaigns one finds worthy. For example, I worked for the Pets for Life surrender prevention hotline in NYC for nearly 2 years. Pets For Life is under the aegis of HSUS. I have many disagreements with HSUS . But I wanted to help keep animals out of the NYC shelter system, and I liked this particular program, and it does a lot of good. Shockingly, it was possible for me to be an effective volunteer, save the lives of animals, educate people, and yet disagree with HSUS on other positions and tactics it holds. This is called being an adult. The “childlike” behavior in the movement that I see is people refusing to examine how they want to have their cake made with “free range” “happy eggs” and then not have to question if eating it is really the right thing to do. Wanting to be free from criticism and consequence: that is what is childlike. Choosing comfort over facts, that is childlike.
    Continually privileging the voices and comfort of the powerful over the marginalized is exactly the root of animal exploitation, and to see that dynamic reified over and over again WITHIN the A/R “movement” is just so beyond depressing. THAT is the problem with this movement. Let’s all spend some time on humanemyth.org again, okay? Thanks.

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      Yes!!!

      And Humane Myth is one of the few organizations I respect.

      • Aurelia says:

        Except you can’t ignore the basic truth of divide and conquer. If we continue to fight each other our enemies will win, it’s basic strategy as any historian would know. It might be a boring rhetoric, if it weren’t a simple fact that you ignoran, tunnel visioned idiots continue to ignore…

  16. Sailesh Rao says:

    On another note, any step that increases the cost of animal products most likely increases their environmental impact as well. As it is, the livestock industry is responsible for 51% of anthropogenic GHG emissions and it is set to grow by 68% in the next 15 years. And it is the primary cause of tropical deforestation. Do we really want to support steps that make this worse?

    • Aurelia says:

      Really? Have you done any research at all? Humane methods have a far decreased environmental impacts because of the decreased use of pesticides, growth hormones and grain feeds apart from the fact that you no longer have the concentrated excrement from 1000′s of animals packed into a space big enough for a few hundred flowing into the local waterways!!! For crying out loud think before you type!

  17. Nadine says:

    I believe that adopting veganism is truly a continuum of change. Any step along the way is alleviating the suffering of animals and I celebrate that. Like you point out, only 1.4 percent of the population in the US is vegan, so veganism is still a hard sell. Read the comments on Slate to see just how hard it is…

    Nevertheless, groups like HSUS could very easily assert that while they are going for incremental change, they endorse veganism as the only way to fully remedy the suffering of animals. When groups go out of their way to assert the opposite, it seems pessimistic in the sense that they don’t believe real change is possible. Why not acknowledge the end game, which is the end of animal exploitation?

    Animal agriculture is jarring and uncomfortable; people need to face it instead of placating themselves with welfarists stamps of approval. Veganism may be jarring and uncomfortable to them, but it’s still an important message for them to hear.

    Great discussion as always.

  18. carolyn z says:

    To self-defined abolitionists, to the people who get named new welfarists, to everyone who fights for animals:

    Just… stop it. Take a deep breath and stop talking about your intellectual philosophies for a minute.

    As I see it the point of James’ article is this and hardly any of you seem to be acknowledging it:

    “…the abolitionist approach could attract a lot more supporters if it acknowledged, as HSUS does, that most people are going to embrace veganism on their own—you can’t strong-arm them into it.”

    “Asking people to stop eating animals, as Joy sees it, is more than asking for a change in behavior; it’s asking for a profound shift in consciousness that people make only when they’re personally ready to do so.”

    “Noting that 80 percent of vegans became vegan gradually…”

    ““It is better to be effective than to be right.”

    For lack of a better phrase, just… stop it. Most of yall are completely talking about the wrong thing and have you noticed how many circles it is going in? This isn’t about us being right or wrong, it isn’t our movement, we are advocates for others and we must understand that. Most of you are obsessed with the binary of identities, of philosophies, whether or not you realize it– you are obsessed to the point of shut-down to reality, the reality is this: people are complicated. No amount of concrete philosophizing and being technically right is going to change that.

    As I see it, and as I interpret James’ article, this isn’t about the rightness or wrongness of the arguments and labels. This is about moving the conversation into a new space and talking about human psychology, meeting human psychology where it’s at, and going from there. Nobody who fights for ethical veganism is saying the ultimate goal shouldn’t be complete liberation from all animals. Even Paul Shapiro isn’t saying that– I’m FAR from his biggest fan, but he is trying to understand human psychology (often failing in my eyes, but he’s trying) and that is not something that I believe can be said for Gary Francione and similar thinkers. And that is such a profound failure for animals, it literally makes me want to cry.

    What we’re talking about here is effective advocacy and an understanding of HOW and WHY people make changes, and HOW and WHY our approaches may or may not be working to create empathy and ultimately liberation for animals. We’ve got to step the heck up and move the conversation forward.

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      “As I see it the point of James’ article is this and hardly any of you seem to be acknowledging it:

      “…the abolitionist approach could attract a lot more supporters if it acknowledged, as HSUS does, that most people are going to embrace veganism on their own—you can’t strong-arm them into it.”
      ———

      You think abolitionists don’t know that? The idea that abolitionists are “strong-arming” anyone is ridiculous!

      • carolyn z says:

        It is really interesting you’d say that because calling my idea “ridiculous” is an unnecessary insult and also a way to shut down the conversation, which is just one example of strong-arming.

        I’m gonna remove myself from this convo tho.

        • Ellie Maldonado says:

          I understand you have removed yourself from this conversation, Carolyn, but for anyone who reads this blog, I note that it seemed to me you were quoting someone else. It did not appear to me that you were quoting yourself. You wrote that as you see it, we are missing the point of James’ article, which you quoted as:

          “…the abolitionist approach could attract a lot more supporters if it acknowledged, as HSUS does, that most people are going to embrace veganism on their own—you can’t strong-arm them into it.”

          I thought the above was James’ quote, not yours, and it was not my intention to insult you personally. If that was your quote or someone else’s on another topic, I missed it.

          I also don’t think abolitionists are obliged to accept the implication that we are “strong-arming” people, or that we don’t know people are going to embrace veganism on their own. If my words were offensive, it’s because I regard the implication as offensive, not just to me, but to abolitionists in general.

          • carolyn z says:

            I’m confused. I was clearly quoting James’ article to try to highlight his main points, which I think many of you here are missing for the sake of reverting to the convenient abolitionist/new welfare argument

            You aren’t obliged to accept anything, neither am I, but I don’t understand the point other than that you are being defensive as someone has called you out on potentially being the opposite of productive in language and attitude

            I doubt this comment will be received with anything other than defensiveness

    • Bea Elliott says:

      Thank you carolyn z! Yes people are complicated and so much of the way we view other animals (and eat them) is deeply indoctrinated to a point where that “line” affords no gradual change. The shift does happen a little at a time. When people are met with the all-at-once-idea of no more meat, no more leather, no more milk, no more zoos, no more pony rides, no more pets etc., etc. they just shut down firmly planted in their old ways. I’ve seen it time and again they tune-out without ever being nudged an inch closer to the goal.

      How different things become for them if their baby steps were encouraged and rewarded. I can’t say where, but recently I recall “an advocate” lambasting someone who said they were “reducing” their meat intake moving towards an eventual vegan end. This person wasn’t praised or even offered any help… Just a “not good enough!” rage in return. This won’t help us! It won’t help the animals at all!

      I’m posting this and dropping out of the convo too because it just seems like more of the same infighting. I’d like to leave with one suggestion/comment though… If anyone has a hankering to get vocal about what’s wrong with using animals take it to the users themselves! There’s abundant farming, ranching, breeding blogs on the web and thousands of videos to use as a soapbox. Take it to the real harmers who are selling their sad, ugly, killing wares to the public. Present your ideas on those forums that are truly the “front line” of the whole war. Let’s just stop raiding and plundering each other’s camp!

      Thank you James for offering a closer look at what the problems appear to be.

      • Sailesh Rao says:

        It seems to me that the “not good enough” rage is the issue and I agree with you that a compassionate response is needed. We need to encourage the baby steps but also not lose sight of the end goal. However, the humane meat reforms are literally ruining our planet even faster and are truly counter productive from an environmental standpoint. It pains me when such reforms are encouraged.

        Humane meat reforms are playing on the guilt of the consumer and it is far better to inspire change by exemplifying a compassionate lifestyle. We cannot be good exemplars of compassion if we are flying into rages.

      • Ellie Maldonado says:

        There’s a huge difference between dictating what people should do, and teaching them about nonhuman animals with corresponding moral implications. Please do not associate abolition with the person who “lambasted” a reduction in animal consumption.

        Yes, some people need to take baby steps — eating one vegan meal a week is better than none; but others can and do take giant steps — it’s certainly not impossible with the right moral perspective. So while I don’t think we should criticize baby steps, neither would I celebrate them as if it were monumental accomplishments, because they are not! I also think rewards juvenilize adult consumers, most of whom are capable of understanding this as the moral issue that it is.

        People have a choice as to what they want to hear and read. If they don’t want to read abolitionist literature, whether in print or on a blog, or respond to it, no one is forcing them.

        I think the issue here is the effect of baby steps on the ultimate goal of justice for animals. For the most part, I’ve covered why I think “welfare” reforms harm animals in my reply to Spencer of September 9, 2012, at 7:10 pm, and I invite others to offer a reasoned disagreement — if they have one. I think it’s also reasonable for me to wonder if claiming that’s a waste of time; takes too much energy; or leads to infighting is just an excuse for lack of a reasoned response (?)

        Finally, I don’t think our objections to exploitation would matter one iota to the animal producers, because so far as animals are concerned, the only thing they really care about is their bank accounts — to which “welfare” reforms have added considerably.

        • Bea Elliott says:

          Hi Ellie – Just to let you know I’ve carefully read what you had written and to clarify something… The point of taking the debate to animal users is not necessarily to sway directly, but to influence their many readers/consumers who depend on their version of the truth to make decisions… It’s a matter of righting wrong information – where it matters most.

          Odds are not one welfarist or abolitionist is really changed a bit by this debate among ourselves either… Yet here we are spending precious time convincing the other that our way is true… 99% of everyone here wants to see animals free – I just don’t know the point of arguing so fanatically about how to do it when we could be telling the enslavers our message instead. From the welfarist or abolitionist perspective – I assure you, they don’t want to hear any rendition of it.

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Hi Bea,

            Thanks for reading my posts and clarifying that you meant taking the debate to animal users, rather than producers. I agree it’s important to correct misinformation, and that talking with animal users can be influential. It’s the reason I’ve spent so much time on media blogs.

            And I’ve found that when people learn about nonhuman interests, beyond, of course, their need for more space, they are willing to examine their own animal use. It requires patience on our part and being careful not to make them feel defensive, but in response to our discussions, some bloggers have told me they’ve decided to be vegetarians.

            I do see value in a reasoned and polite debate because animal lives are at stake. If I could be shown that reforms really do lead to rejection of animal products — i.e., the reforms of themselves, not the association and influence of vegan advocates — than I would not be opposed to them.

            But when I read, for example, that eliminating gestation crates increases the production of pigs, I’m horrified! I don’t expect you to comment on this, Bea, but I hope other advocates are just as horrified as I am.

  19. carolyn z says:

    As for any references to Ghandi or MLK above, their approaches worked because they were not just political revolutionaries, they spiritual and psychological revolutionaries. They understood advocacy, social movements, and the complicatedness of people. This understanding does not exclude demands for total liberation. But let’s be real with ourselves and our flaws– let’s please not use them as examples for how we think we are acting when we make our own liberationist demands– we are not acting that way. We are bickering. They were raising personal and mass consciousness with compassion to unprecedented levels and seeking out deep, profound psychological and spiritual practices that enabled a door to open into the mass psyche. If we are going to cite them we cannot leave that out. THAT’s the lesson we need to learn from them.

    • Sailesh Rao says:

      Please take a moment to read this piece I wrote:
      http://climatehealers.ning.com/profiles/blogs/when-east-meets-west-on-climate-change
      For the three questions of Vedanta, there are three movements in our society: 1) the Human rights movement of which Gandhi and MLK were a part of, 2) the Environmental movement, and 3) the Animal Rights movement. But they are just the three branches of a single civilizational transformation movement, though the current power elite would like to divide and conquer each movement separately so that they can maintain their precarious perch within the current system.

      • carolyn z says:

        Thank you, I will. And I do understand the connections between Gandhi, MLK, and these movements. It’s much of what I’ve spent my life studying. I’m just trying to make a point about the necessary psychological and spiritual awareness and integration that needs to happen at the personal and mass levels in order for revolution to take place. I do not see any true investment in this happening currently in the vast majority of animal activists.

        • Nadine says:

          “They were raising personal and mass consciousness with compassion to unprecedented levels and seeking out deep, profound psychological and spiritual practices that enabled a door to open into the mass psyche.”

          “[...]the necessary psychological and spiritual awareness and integration that needs to happen at the personal and mass levels in order for revolution to take place.”

          Carolyn, I really appreciate your expression of the multidimensionality of the revolution. Beautifully said.

          I came to veganism through spirituality and only later discovered the ethical dimension, but my conclusion as been the same that a greater consciousness shift needs to occur at both the personal and societal levels.

        • Sailesh Rao says:

          Fortunately, spiritual activists, environmental activists and animal activists are all being forced along the same path towards veganism. I came to veganism for environmental reasons and now appreciate the other dimensions of the transformation.

          Please hang in there – technology is now in place to enable the raising of mass consciousness in short order, which Gandhi and MLK did not have at their disposal. I would recommend Will Tuttle’s piece here:
          http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/the-positive-revolution-how-changing-the-way-we-eat-can-change-the-world/

      • Ellie Maldonado says:

        Thank you, Sailesh. I’m sorry to learn the forest and culture of tribal villagers has been destroyed, and I very much agree with your article. I also think the animal advocacy movement is fortunate to have persons like yourself who are knowledgeable about the environment and changing climate.

        Although I haven’t studied Eastern religions or philosophy, I’m familiar with the doctrine of ahimsa, which has far better grasp of universal compassion than Western religions and philosophy do. It’s high time, imo, for the religions of the West to evolve beyond their anthropocentric and human supremacist views.

        • Aurelia says:

          You seriously need to take a good hard look at yourself lady, at why you are fighting the way you do, because quite honestly you are delving into troll territory. I don’t know James’ opinions of trolling on his blog but I certainly don’t welcome it and it’s obvious that many others on here don’t either. It would not surprise me if you turned out to be some snot nosed 15 year old boy who was stirring up arguments for the sake of it.

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      So unless we’re also spiritual and psychological revolutionaries, our approaches won’t work? I don’t agree. And as I recall, Martin Luther King warned about compromising our principles.

      In place of the “humane” myth, abolitionists tell the truth, that farming and animal consumption will always cause animals to suffer because they will always violate their most basic interests.

      Farm animals are not better off as the result of HSUS and “welfare” laws. These laws are continually violated, while thousands of vegetarians and even vegans have returned to meat-eating in the mistaken belief that farming is now “humane”. Evn if reforms could be enforced, they won’t change the fact that farming will always be cruel.

      James quoted some of my statements in the Slate article, but as a frequent poster here, I’ve said a whole more than just criticize “welfare”.

      I’ve said repeatedly that I think the way forward is to educate the public about the fullness of the animals’ experience, and that means we have to stop focusing on factory farms. We know that animal consumers are happy to minimize animal interests so that they can continue to feel comfortable — but if a full spectrum of the animals’ experience was known, I think it would be harder to do that, and “humane” farming would be seen for what it is. The only thing abolitionists demand is the truth.

      • carolyn z says:

        Ellie with all due respect– you seem super smart and like a really awesome person– I think you are completely missing all of my points and I don’t have the energy to go in circles about this.

        • I’ll link elbows with you on that, Carolyn. I’ll take the highway right beside you. What a waste of time and energy is arguing with someone who makes stuff up: “thousands of vegetarians and even vegans have returned to meat-eating” and then carries on with her argument as if this were a true or even provable statement, in other words, based on a false premise.

          It is much the same style of argument employed by her mentor, Francione, complete with the use of air quotes to emphasize their exceptionally sarcastic and condescending tone. “I’ve said repeatedly,” is a repeated refrain, and I’m repeatedly tired of the repetition. Too bad being given a bit of Slate ink went to somebody’s head.

        • Ellie Maldonado says:

          Carolyn, with all due respect to you, who I also think is super smart and awesome, I don’t understand what points I’m missing.

          • Aurelia says:

            You wouldn’t, Carolyn and Janet I join you in your frustration, I haven’t had any luck getting through to her either. I’m glad to see more people coming out of the woodwork who know that a sensible approach is needed if we are to achieve anything in the fight to end animal cruelty, Thank You.

  20. Susan Valle says:

    “United we stand, divided we fall.”
    ~Aesop

  21. Anyone notice “Prof” Gary Francione’s comments on the Slate article? First, he prefaces his “Dear James” letter by insulting his abolitionist followers, noting how they “very generously borrow and then regurgitate, often inaccurately” HIS ideas. How dare they!

    The seven paragraphs that follow are riddled with fallacies, false premises, false dilemmas, bold but doubtful assertions, and finally an invitation to James to join him in what he terms a “discussion.”

    Having listened to two or three Francione “discussions,” I can almost guarantee any discussion with the Prof would quickly spin out of control into a one-sided, Gary-controlled free-for-all–unless certain precautions are taken. I would advise anyone who considers taking him up on his “discussion” offer to hire a competent and neutral moderator to conduct a fair debate, disallow fallacious arguments, disallow false premises, have questions for discussion mutually prepared and selected ahead of time, and insist on timed responses, with opportunity for rebuttal at the end. No cheating. No bullying. No dominating the discussion. Fair and square.

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      Which fallacies, false premises, and false dilemmas did Francione post?

      • Dear “Prof” Gary Francione,

        I find it bewildering that you would preface your brief comments by insulting your steadfast abolitionist followers, noting how they “very generously borrow and then regurgitate, often inaccurately” your ideas. One would think you would thank your regurgitative fans. Imitation, after all, is the highest form of flattery.

        It is also bewildering to me how your next seven paragraphs are riddled with fallacies, false premises, false dilemmas, bold but doubtful assertions, dubious claims about what other people “think,” and poorly supported opinions, coming from a professor and all.

        You write, “The animal welfare position explicitly accepts that animal life per se has no moral value and that we do not harm animals if we kill them painlessly.”

        Where did you read that?! This is the fallacy of false premise. The fact that someone believes in animal welfare does NOT mean that person “explicitly accepts” that animal life has no moral value. Iin fact the reverse is probably more like it. The one simply does not follow the other, and, I’d wager, rarely does. Nevertheless, you advance your argument on this false premise.

        You disagree “that animal welfare reforms actually do provide significant improvements for animal welfare.”

        Have you asked, for example, the cows who now will get to keep their tails because the dairy industry has decided not to endorse cutting them off, as a direct result of public outcry when the large animal groups exposed this horrific industry practice? I’d say that’s a pretty significant improvement in the cows’ welfare, at least from their perspective.

        You cite HSUS’ literature that says “welfare reforms actually increase production efficiency,” as if HSUS’s use of the science argument is a bad thing.

        If science shows that the vastly more humane group housing of sows makes better economical sense for agribusiness, then it is scientific evidence we can and should use to convince them to switch from their exceedingly cruel gestation crate systems to more humane group housing. (Again, ask the pigs if they agree.) What is your problem with animal groups appealing to science? After all, agribusiness is the first to claim their systems are “science-based” and, as such, acceptable. It is fair game, then, for animal groups to fight science with science.

        You ask, “So why does industry fight?” And answer your own question, “Because that is all part of the symbiotic relationship that exists between industry and these large groups.”

        Wrong again! Industry fights because of the threat to their bottom line. These large groups (HSUS, Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and others) expose to the public agribusiness’ filthiest secrets and their most egregious “standard industry practices,” arousing the ire of consumers, and, potentially costing agribusiness big bucks in having to convert existing systems to meet consumer demands for more humane systems.

        And do please stop accusing, and perpetuating the myth, that animal groups achieve victories for animals IN ORDER TO raise funds. They do not. They do it for the animals. Nonprofits can’t operate without funds! Donations are their sole means of doing the work they do. Stop begrudging their fundraising efforts. If fundraising happens to follow a particularly effective animal advocacy campaign or undercover investigation, they have every right to use that positive momentum to the animals’ advantage (more funding means bigger and better campaigns and investigations to help the animals). It costs money, and lots of it, to do battle with agribusiness and all the other animal user/abusers.

        You say, “The issue is whether we are going to make the argument that people ought to make that moral choice [OR] reassure them that they can discharge their moral obligations by eating “happy” animal products and consuming “compassionately, …”

        This is not an either/or issue. It is possible to encourage people and offer support when they take steps toward veganism without reassuring them about any happy or compassionate meat-eating choices they may make. We CAN do the one without doing the other so your reasoning fallacy is that of false dilemma.

        You find it “bewildering” that “James thinks we are going to make people more receptive to a vegan message by deciding, along with Joy, Cooney, and others that the public simply is not ready to hear a serious argument about animal ethics.”

        First, how do you know what anyone thinks? And second, when and where have McWilliams, Joy, or Cooney publicly stated or written that “the public simply is not ready to hear a serious argument about animal ethics”? This is the fallacy of projection. You are projecting your conclusions and ascribing them to others, whether or not they are true. As to your claim that animal welfare groups avoid discussions about the vegan message, why do you suppose they have links to vegan recipes and vegan support on their webpages and videos of their undercover investigative work? If those aren’t vegan-makers, I don’t know what is.

        Finally, you invite James to “discuss these issues,” since you are “both academics [who] try to look at ‘big picture’ issues.”

        To that, professor, I would advise anyone who considers taking you up on your offer to hire a competent and neutral moderator to conduct a fair debate, disallow fallacious arguments, disallow false premises, have questions for discussion mutually prepared and selected ahead of time, and insist on timed responses, with opportunity for rebuttal at the end. Nor should any interrupting, bullying, or dominating the conversation be allowed. I’ve seen how you operate in so-called “discussions,” and it ain’t pretty or fair.

        For the Animals,

        Jan Weeks

        • Ellie Maldonado says:

          Hmmmmmm…… you had posted another reply that was removed. No matter, I’ll respond to this one, but first, since you accused me of making up the fact that thousands of vegetarians are resuming meat-eating because they think animal farming is “humane”, here are some of the articles that verify what I said:

          1. “Most Vegetarians Return to Meat Eating”
          (‘Sustainably Raised, Grassfed Meat Proves Enticing to Vegetarians’)
          http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/most-vegetarians-return-to-eating-meat/

          (I note: Despite what former vegetarians claim, we all know that we can be perfectly healthy, if not healthier on a plant food diet. Poor health is usually just an excuse for returning to meat-eating, though I think there are some people who have no idea about nutrition, and wouldn’t know what plant foods are needed. Or maybe they’re just too lazy to find out (?) — apparently the journalists who write this stuff certainly are.)

          —–

          2. “Why Vegetarians Are Eating Meat” By Christine Lennon
          ‘A growing number of vegetarians are starting to eat humanely raised meat. Christine Lennon talks to a few converts—including her husband and famed author Mollie Katzen.’
          http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/why-vegetarians-are-eating-meat

          —-
          3. “Return of the Meat-Eaters: Many Lapsed Vegetarians Become ‘Ethical Omnivores’ By Zara Kessler, June 30, 2011
          http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/06/30/return-of-the-meat-eaters-many-lapsed-vegetarians-become-ethical-omnivores/

          ( I note: Of course, they wouldn’t think meat eating is ethical unless the industry and groups like HSUS told them them the meats they approve of are “humane”.)

          —-
          4. “Some vegetarians beat a ‘humane’ retreat back to meat” http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43549229/ns/today-food/

          (I note: Ditto on my above note.)
          —-

          5. “Once Vegetarian and Vegan – Return to Eating Meat”
          http://www.organicauthority.com/health/once-vegetarian-and-vegan-return-to-eat-meat.html#s.abqz62veibaaa
          Quote: “’Now I try to stick to whole, simple, organic foods, free range poultry and eggs, and grass fed beef (on the rare occasions I eat beef). I still have residual vegan guilt for partaking in the eating of animal flesh but it gives me comfort to know that they were treated humanely before they died,’ Fudacz reveals.”

          (I note: So obviously, if people become vegetarian for “welfare” reasons, when “welfare” groups claim animals are treated “humanely”, it can also condone the return to meat-eating. And you wonder why I fight this monster of animal “welfare”? )
          ———-

          6. “Our Relationship With Animals” by Hal Herzog
          http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2010/11/an-interview-with-psychologist-hal-herzog-on-anthrozoology-and-our-relationship-with-animals/

          (I note: According to this article, about 70% of vegetarians return to meat-eating, and many people who claim they are vegetarians do so within a matter of days. Unfortunately, the author, Hal Herzog, doesn’t challenge the often claimed excuse that vegetarianism caused them ill health. I think that’s really something advocates need to work on.)

          • The first of your sources is hardly credible, Ellie, and nowhere did I see anything that supports your claim that “thousands of vegetarians and even vegans have returned to meat-eating.”

            Consider this from your Psychology Today link:

            “Indeed, according to a 2005 survey by CBS News, three times as many American adults admit to being “ex-vegetarians” than describe themselves as current vegetarians. This suggests that roughly 75% of people who quit eating meat eventually change their minds and return to a diet that includes animal flesh.”

            Sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it, until you take into account the survey was conducted seven years ago by CBS News! Furthermore, where is the link to THAT study, what was the sample size, was the sample random, how was the study conducted, was it scientific or peer-reviewed? Why is that information excluded?

            Then, further down we read how it was determined what motivated this supposed 75% of “American adults [who] admit to being ‘ex-vegetarians’” (NOT ex-vegans):

            “To study the motivations of ex-veggies, Morgan Childers and I set up a website that included a survey related to eating. Then we put out a call for ex-vegetarians through Internet sites devoted to topics like health, nutrition, and the treatment of animals.

            “Over the next week or so, seventy-seven former vegetarians took our survey.”

            A sample of 77 volunteers? C’mon, Ellie! That’s hardly an statistically relevant or random sample. And, since the first of your sources is shaky, at best, I’m damned if I’ll wade through the rest of your links. You have to look at who or what organization is behind the articles you link to. Who or what sponsors the websites they’re on. Who conducted the research, if any actual research was done, who sponsored it, and, most importantly, who paid for it. Nine times out of ten it will be someone or something with a vested interest in the desired “results.”

            If you can provide a single solid, verifiable, peer-reviewed, trustworthy, scientific study that supports your “thousands-of-vegetarians-and-even-vegans” claim, then provide it. Show me the study and show me who sponsored and paid for it. But, don’t expect me or anyone else to ferret out the truth of your claim by listing a string of websites. The burden of proof is on you.

          • Spencer Lo says:

            Hi Ellie,

            Thank you for those helpful links, which I plan to read carefully. But at first glance, I’m not sure they support your claim that vegetarians are backsliding *because* they think animal farming is “humane,” since the most cited reason is health. If health is the reason, then vegetarians would backslide anyway — whether there is “humane” meat or not. I realize that a healthy meat-free diet is entirely possible, but it’s likely that most people don’t know what a well-balanced one looks like. Hence they get sick. The solution, then, is more education on well-balanced meat-free nutrition.

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Janet, some of the links I posted are from 2011, but there’s no reason to think the stats from 2005 would be
            vastly different now.

            Two of the articles state 70% and 75% of vegetarians return to animal consumption, and though there hasn’t
            been a vast scientific study with thousands of former vegetarians, consider the link James posted to the farmer who claimed chickens only have “one bad day”.

            Do you think an animal farmer would “specialize in vegetarians returning to meat-eating”, if there weren’t a market for that? If there were only a few, it wouldn’t be worth his effort. And it’s likely, of course, that other animal farmers are doing the same. Vegetarians who return to meat-eating are among the consumers who make “humane farms” wealthy.

            Do you realize that includes Molly Katzen who wrote the famous vegetarian, Moosewood Cookbook? When a vegetarian who’s famous for writing a cookbook decides to eat “humane” meat, that speaks volumes!!! Will you brush that aside as well, and say it’s only one person?

            Do you not see that claiming to legislate “humane farm reforms” negates the reason people become vegetarians? That’s not rocket science, Janet. You just don’t want to believe that the promotion of “humane” products has any effect on vegetarians because that means YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

            Well, it’s time to forget yourself, Janet. It’s time to admit, like so many other activists, including myself have admitted, that we made a mistake in supporting “humane reforms” because they encourage meat-eating.

            I promise the animals that I will not forsake their interests by condoning the self-serving activism that HSUS, PeTA, Farm Sanctuary, and some other groups promote — and I think it behooves their supporters to stop believing in fairy-tales and do the right thing.

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Hi Spencer,

            You’re welcome for the links. Although some acknowledge that “humane”, or “grassfed”, or “free-range” meat was a big factor in vegetarians eating meat again, I agree the reason most often given is ill health.

            It’s just that there are so so many healthy vegetarian recipes on the web, as well as groups and vegan dieticians who cover vegan nutrition. So unless someone is living without a computer, and also doesn’t have access to vegetarian/vegan literature, I think poor health is probably just a cop-out.

            I also say this because I frequently post on News blogs, where former vegetarians make the same claim.
            Though they use impersonal screen names, not one is willing to talk about which plant foods they ate that were supposedly so deficient. So it seems to me that they’re
            making excuses. Or if they really ate poorly, they know their poor choice of foods was the problem, rather than vegetarianism of itself.

            In any case, more education on vegetarian/vegan nutrition can only be a good thing.

            If you’d like to read another article by a former vegetarian that I haven’t posted above, here’s
            “Why I Started Eating Meat Again after 12 Years as Vegetarian”. It’s written by someone who
            unfortunately focused on factory farms, and in this case, among the other reasons she gives, she admits
            that her iron was low because she probably slacked off:
            http://www.greenphonebooth.com/2010/01/why-i-started-eating-meat-again-after.html

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Sorry that post was so choppy, Spencer. I hope that doesn’t make it uncomfortable to read.

          • Spencer Lo says:

            Ellie,

            Slackers certainly have a poor excuse, I agree, though I’m inclined to think that for people who try hard and yet find that their diet is still deficient, it could very well be that their problem elides obvious solutions. I’m not a nutritionist, nor an expert, so I don’t want to make too many strong claims about health. I haven’t had any problems yet (thankfully), but if I ever do, I hope figuring out the right diet won’t be difficult.

            However, I want to raise some points about McWilliams’ Slate article, and get your take on a few things. I apologize if you already addressed these issues elsewhere. The way I see things, supporters of incrementalist legislation (“welfare reform”) are making a fairly simple argument: various suffering-reduction measures (e.g., ban on gestation crates) meaningfully reduce the suffering of millions of animals in the short-term, which could not otherwise be accomplished. That’s a good thing, if you care about animal suffering. Moreover, in addition to reducing suffering in the short-term, such measures will raise public consciousness about how poorly animals are treated, which in turn could lead more people to become more ethical in their dietary habits (note: more ethical doesn’t mean perfectly ethical), and perhaps eventually to veganism. And eventually, when enough people go vegan, the demand for meat will be so reduced that factory farming goes out of existence (one of the end goals).

            Thus, the incrementalist argument is a simple means-end rationale: if we want to reduce meaningful suffering now, if we want to get rid of factory farming someday, various suffering-reduction measures are necessary (though not sufficient). This is not to say that other forms of advocacy (vegan education) isn’t necessary to the larger goal, but it’s a important part. To me, this argument sounds eminently reasonably, because it explicitly takes the interests of animals into account. So why do animal rights activists like Gary Francione object to suffering-reduction measures?

            From what I can tell, Francione has two objections. The first is that the various suffering-reduction measures don’t reduce suffering meaningfully at all, and the second is that they make people more comfortable about continued consumption, which prolongs exploitation. Is this right? What I’d like to know, Ellie, before I respond substantively to them, is whether the two objections run independently. In other words, suppose you and Francione could be convinced that, as an empirical matter, the reform measures *do* meaningfully reduce suffering for the animals now. In that case, would you still object to them on the basis of the second objection?

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Hi Spencer,

            In reply to your comment of September 9, 2012 at 4:21 am, just a note on nutrition: Though it may sound simplistic, I think if we want to be vegan, our first requirement is an adequate supply of nutritious plant foods — people who live in remote societies may not have that option. But if we do and we’re committed to a vegan choice, we may need to educate ourselves on vegan nutrition. Some of us have food allergies, but there are ways to work around them.

            There are now vegan dieticians who specialize in vegan nutrition, food allergies, and prevention of chronic disease. Dina Aronson is a vegan dietician who wrote “Food Allergies Survival Guide”.

            Also here’s a chart comparing plant and animal sources of protein:
            http://www.soystache.com/sources_of_protein.htm

            About Professor Gary Francione, despite what may seem my connection with him in the Slate article, I am not one of his “steadfast followers” – nor is he my mentor, as Janet claimed. As it happens, I agree with Francione on animal rights theory, and on “welfare” reforms — though with newly gained insights, I would add a few reasons to what he explained in a 2002 Interview, and I expect he would add more reasons as well:
            “Interview With Professor Gary L. Francione On the State of the Animal Rights Movement” by Lee Hall of Friends of Animals: http://www.friendsofanimals.org/programs/animal-rights/interview-with-gary-francione.html

            One thing I’d add is that I think it’s impossible to end factory farms, because there isn’t enough land to convert to pasture based systems. Even with the animal confinement of factory farms, we are already in a land deficit.

            Also, giving farm animals more land robs free-living animals of the habitat they depend on for survival; and at least hundreds of animals have been deliberately killed at the behest of farmers and ranchers. So if we care about animals, we should be caring about them too. “Free-range” farms increase animal deaths!

            I’m sure Sailesh Rao could better explain the environmental impact much better than I can.

            What I can say is that eliminating factory farms will certainly not end cruelty to animals, because as long as animals are farmed, their most fundamental interests will be violated. If all factory farming could end tomorrow, animals would still be subjected to the same mutilations imposed on them now to prevent injuries from aggression, and in turn a decrease in profit — dehorning, debeaking, tooth filing, castration. They would still be subjected to ongoing artificial insemination and the continual and emotionally painful separation of mothers from young. Male chicks and weak infant females would still be killed. And when useful animals reach slaughter weight or become less productive, they will still be killed at a fraction of their natural lifespans. (Don’t count on them being stunned before their throats are slit.)

            We want to reduce animal suffering, but we also need to be realistic — “welfare” reforms do not make a significant improvement in the lives of animals, and since they ignore the root of animal misery, they also will never end it. More information is available on Humane Myth:
            http://www.humanemyth.org

            Another important consideration is that to whatever extent reforms might be beneficial, they cannot be enforced, because it’s impossible to monitor the treatment of billions of farm animals. This is also why I don’t think efforts to reduce suffering can be seen as an empirical matter. There have been numerous and continual violations, and there will be more.

            That’s to say nothing of the deliberate cruelty, beyond the inherent misery of farming, that’s imposed by disgruntled or (who knows?) psychologically ill farm workers, regardless of how animals are farmed.

            It’s been a long time since I’ve read the Interview with Professor Francione that I posted above, but if I recall correctly, Francione does say “welfare” reforms make consumers feel more comfortable with animal use. I’d go further in saying the notion that farming can be “humane” has convinced vegetarians and vegans to resume meat-eating. When even famous vegetarians are now eating “humane” meat, that speaks volumes. And I know from many years of experience on media web blogs, that consumers are actually proud of eating “free-range” products. No, I can’t prove this with a scientific study, but I think people who refuse to believe it are part of the problem.

          • Spencer Lo says:

            Hi Ellie,

            You are clearly very knowledgeable about these matters, and I enjoy learning from your comments, although I’m inclined to disagree with your view that, on balance, welfare reforms are negative from an abolitionist perspective — even Francione recognizes that “new welfarists” favor abolition as a long term goal (currently reading his Rain Without Thunder). But I admit this is a complex (and divisive) debate, and since I’m still relatively new to the issues, I’ll avoid taking firm stances for now.

            I agree there is something perverse about consumers being enthusiastic with “happy meat,” as evidenced by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT’s article. But it may be a step-up from consumers being enthusiastic about garden-variety factory-farmed meat, for the following reason: there is less distance between people who morally discriminate only against consumption of factory-farmed animals and abolitionists, on the one hand, and people who do not morally discriminate against consumption of animals at all and abolitionists, on the other. With the former meat consumers, animal interests do matter morally — however imperfect those interests are weighed. I think that’s progress, but obviously it can’t end there.

            Today I published a post on animalblawg about wrongs of “Happy Meat”: http://animalblawg.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/whats-wrong-with-happy-meat/. Would welcome your thoughts.

        • Ellie Maldonado says:

          You wrote in reply to Francione:

          “You write, ‘The animal welfare position explicitly accepts that animal life .. has no moral value and ..we do not harm animals if we kill them painlessly.’ This is the fallacy of false premise. The fact that someone believes in animal welfare does NOT mean that person “explicitly accepts” that animal life has no moral value.”

          [ People may be individuals, but animal "welfare" accepts the killing of billions of farm animals, and millions of research and homeless animals each year, as well as the brutal exploitation of others animals who often die in the process, or as the result of injuries. The only "welfare" guideline is that they be treated "humanely", which means absolutely nothing, and neither does it express moral value in animal lives. ]

          ———-

          “You disagree ‘that animal welfare reforms … provide significant improvements for animal welfare.’ Have you asked …. the cows who now will get to keep their tails….?

          [ Do you honestly think cows care significantly about their tales? I think cows would much rather advocates campaign for their lives.]

          ————

          “You cite HSUS’ literature that says “welfare reforms …increase production efficiency,” as if HSUS’s use of the science argument is a bad thing. If science shows that .. vastly more humane group housing of sows makes better economical sense for agribusiness, then it is scientific evidence we can and should use to convince them to switch from their exceedingly cruel gestation crate systems to more humane group housing.”

          [ I don't think Francione is suggesting science is a bad thing, but rather that increasing production and efficiency is a bad thing in animal agriculture. It likely means an increase in the number of animals who will be farmed and killed? And if not that, it still benefits the people who kill animals for profit. How can you possibly think that's "humane"?]

          ——–

          “These large groups (HSUS, Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, and others) expose … agribusiness’ filthiest secrets … arousing the ire of consumers … potentially costing agribusiness big bucks …to convert existing systems to meet consumer demands for more humane systems.”

          [ Nope, all agribusiness needs to do is get rid of people who violate "welfare" laws, which leaves the inherent cruelty of farming untouched. Agribusiness is also exceedingly adept at ownership and profit -- just ask the U.S. Congress. And any money it spends on so-called "humane" sytems will be subtracted from other areas, or made up by charging higher prices. The only real threat to animal agribusiness is rejection of animal products.]

          ——–

          “…. please stop accusing …perpetuating the myth, that animal groups achieve victories for animals IN ORDER TO raise funds. They do not. They do it for the animals.”

          [ The animals are very secondary. They celebrate what they call "victories" because it gives activists the impression they're making a difference, which encourages membership and donations. Anyone who can think critically, absent bias in favor of these groups, can see these "victories" change little, and can even be miscontrued on behalf of agribusiness.]

          ——-

          “ ‘The issue is whether … people ought to make that moral choice [OR] reassure them that they can discharge their moral obligations by eating “happy” animal products and consuming “compassionately, …’
          This is not an either/or issue. It is possible to encourage people and offer support when they take steps toward veganism without reassuring them about any happy or compassionate meat-eating choices they may make. We CAN do the one without doing the other so your reasoning fallacy is that of false dilemma.”

          [ It is an either or issue, because veganism and "humane" farming are polar opposites. No one can work in two opposite directions. ]
          ———-

          “You find it “bewildering” that “James thinks we are going to make people more receptive to a vegan message by deciding, along with Joy, Cooney, and others that the public simply is not ready to hear a serious argument about animal ethics.”

          … how do you know what anyone thinks? …. when and where have McWilliams, Joy, or Cooney publicly stated or written that “the public simply is not ready to hear a serious argument about animal ethics”? This is the fallacy of projection.

          ——–

          [ I doubt Francione wouldn't make such a comment unless he had reason to think they said something to that effect. How do you know they did not say "the public isn't ready" on their websites or on a blog? ]

          ——-

          “.. to your claim … animal welfare groups avoid discussions about the vegan message, why do … they have links to vegan recipes and vegan support on their webpages and videos of their undercover investigative work? If those aren’t vegan-makers, I don’t know what is.

          [ Because these groups are duplicitous, and I think Francione was probably refering to their public statements, not their websites. Undercover investigations lead to punishing specific offenders, not to veganism. HSUS did an expose presented on ABC News. I can't even count the number of bloggers who absolved themselves by claiming they only eat "free-range" and "humane" meat.]

          • Spencer Lo says:

            Hi Ellie,

            If I’m understanding you correctly, an objection you have to welfare forms is that they increase efficiency, which benefits humans, and that’s bad. But I think this objection overlooks something important, which is that what’s beneficial for humans can also be beneficial for animals, and what ultimately matters here is the animals.

            For instance, suppose a slave-master works his slave all day but only provides him with a cup of water to quench his thirst. The slaver-master is being obviously cruel, but he’s also being inefficient — if he kept his slave well-hydrated throughout the day, he’d work more productively. Now suppose legislation could be passed that would require slave-masters to hydrate their slaves throughout the day, which would have two effects: a) reduce suffering, and b) increase inefficiency. If that were the only way for slaves *now* to become hydrated, would you support it? I would, even though I know it has benefits to slave-maters, because the suffering of slaves is what matters. Although profiting off more efficient slaves is bad, their suffering is worse — to me, that’s the choice. From what I can tell, it’s a similar choice in regards to animal exploitation.

          • Sailesh Rao says:

            Spencer, if welfare reform increased the efficiency of animal agriculture, it would then reduce the cost of raising meat, milk, eggs, etc. and therefore, industries would be doing it themselves. From the price stickers on “humane” animal products, I conclude that welfare reform DECREASES the efficiency of animal agriculture, thereby necessitating more suffering among animals as more of them have to be raised to meet consumer demand.

            This rift is similar to the rift that Gandhi faced when he told upper class Indians that they cannot discriminate against untouchables within Indian society while agitating for freedom from British rule. We need to unite under one banner and I feel that banner is unadulterated veganism.

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Since it may be difficult to place the order of comments, my above comment of September 8th, 2012 at 3:58am is a response to Janet Weeks reply to Francione.

          • Ellie Maldonado says:

            Hi Spencer,

            In reply to your post of September 9th at 4:21 am, I’m not opposed to helping humans, and I’ve supported human rights.

            I do oppose any measure in animal farming that would result in more animals being bred, raised, and killed — and/or increase corporate profit, because I think that would add strength of the agricultural lobby.

            I think the problems with “welfare” reforms are more complicated than quenching someone’s thirst, but to answer your question, addressing the need for life sustaining water would be my first priority.

          • Spencer Lo says:

            Hi Ellie,

            You are clearly very knowledgeable about these matters, and I enjoy learning from your comments, although I’m inclined to disagree with your view that, on balance, welfare reforms are negative from an abolitionist perspective — even Francione recognizes that “new welfarists” favor abolition as a long term goal (currently reading his Rain Without Thunder). But I admit this is a complex (and divisive) debate, and since I’m still relatively new to the issues, I’ll avoid taking firm stances for now.

            I agree there is something perverse about consumers being enthusiastic with “happy meat,” as evidenced by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT’s article. But it may be a step-up from consumers being enthusiastic about garden-variety factory-farmed meat, for the following reason: there is less distance between people who morally discriminate only against consumption of factory-farmed animals and abolitionists, on the one hand, and people who do not morally discriminate against consumption of animals at all and abolitionists, on the other. With the former meat consumers, animal interests do matter morally — however imperfect those interests are weighed. I think that’s progress, but obviously it can’t end there.

            Today I published a post on animalblawg about wrongs of “Happy Meat”: http://animalblawg.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/whats-wrong-with-happy-meat/ Would welcome your thoughts.

          • Spencer Lo says:

            Hi Ellie,

            My response you hasn’t been going through, so I’m giving this another attempt!

            Just wanted to say that you are clearly very knowledgeable about these matters, and I enjoy learning from your comments, although I’m inclined to disagree with your view that, on balance, welfare reforms are negative from an abolitionist perspective — even Francione recognizes that “new welfarists” favor abolition as a long term goal (currently reading his Rain Without Thunder). But I admit this is a complex (and divisive) debate, and since I’m still relatively new to the issues, I’ll avoid taking firm stances for now.

            I agree there is something perverse about consumers being enthusiastic with “happy meat,” as evidenced by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT’s article. But it may be a step-up from consumers being enthusiastic about garden-variety factory-farmed meat, for the following reason: there is less distance between people who morally discriminate only against consumption of factory-farmed animals and abolitionists, on the one hand, and people who do not morally discriminate against consumption of animals at all and abolitionists, on the other. With the former meat consumers, animal interests do matter morally — however imperfect those interests are weighed. I think that’s progress, but obviously it can’t end there.

            Today I published a post on animalblawg about wrongs of “Happy Meat”: http://animalblawg.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/whats-wrong-with-happy-meat/. Would welcome your thoughts.

  22. Mary Finelli says:

    This is the comment I posted in response to the article:

    The Humane Society of the U.S. engages in a variety of approaches to farmed animal advocacy. Some are better than others, and there is valid reason for criticism of some, such as those that promote the consumption of animal products. Each needs to evaluated based on its own merits and demerits. The title/subtitle of this article shows bias, and the matter is not as simplistic as James McWilliams describes it to be.

  23. Lain says:

    WOW James, what you do not understand about 3D (distraction+disinformation=dissonance) marketing and the “intentional creation of shills” (HSUS) is EVERYTHING!

    Very sad to see someone so intelligent in some areas, not have a clue about welfare vs. rights, and basic oligopoly marketing is heartbreaking for the nonhumans, to say the least! Will not be sharing your writings any longer.

    • John T. Maher says:

      @Lain Harshly phrased but right on target. To which I add the meaning of disagreement in post-structuralist terms and the meaning of liberation. I think HSUS raises over $40 billion annually and yet they do not operate a single farm sanctuary or shelter in their own name. They do operate a nice retreat consisting of cottages in Maine for sympathetic academics working on HSUS friendly dogma to retire to in the summer for Mint Juleps. I do not think pets are allowed [must check that one]

  24. Karen Davis says:

    This article doesn’t adequately represent the issues that many animal people are concerned about. It isn’t just about reform versus no reform. Many animal rights advocates do support certain reforms depending on how they are crafted and carried out. Suggesting that we can eliminate factory farming and still consume readily available animal products is part of the current welfare reform rhetoric that many of us oppose, because it is a lie. And there is more. I think it is misleading for the writer to talk about the 2012 Animal Rights conference almost as if he had been there and could neatly summarize the conference as Welfare vs Abolition, HSUS vs Tribe of Heart. This representation is simplistic to a fault, and it is especially upsetting to see it in a publication that is read by people many of whom know little or nothing about the complexities of our concerns within the animal advocacy movement. Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns.

  25. Charlie Talbert says:

    Thanks to the commenters who realize *how* you make your point is just as important as the point itself. In my observation and personal experience, heated rhetoric changes no hearts and no minds.

  26. Vance says:

    Overall, disappointing work from someone of whom I expected better. The framing of Francione’s extremist rants vs. the patient if mildly flawed successes of HSUS seems shallow and almost hasty, which is odd from a writer who more often strikes me as contemplative, perceptive and deliberate. The lack of any mention of Wayne Pacelle’s on-the-record promise that HSUS does not have the goal of ending animal agriculture — which is either a bald-faced lie or a salient admission of its lack of commitment to veganism — is just one example. Another is the failure to even cite, let alone engage, James Laveck’s in-depth survey of the divide-and-conquer methods of big industries in co-opting activist movements (as referenced by Lain above). The reader is left with the impression that you are either unaware of this level of discussion about what’s going on or consider it totally irrelevant. Either position seems hard to square with the quality of journalism I associate with you.

  27. Sailesh Rao says:

    It is a bit like the mouse that found its cheese will repeat the same path through the maze looking for the cheese. HSUS found its cheese in the humane meat agenda and it has no reason to change its path. I’m sure that HSUS is full of good people who have rationalized their nibbling at the cheese.

    Unfortunately, the livestock industry will always put out plenty of cheese for the humane meat agenda and if not HSUS, some other organization will find the path through the maze. We shouldn’t get too worked up about it, but point out that humane meat is environmentally insane meat (or else, it should cost less!).

  28. Beat around the bush and insult me all you like, Ellie, you still haven’t produced one shred of scientific proof to support your claim. I’m done.

  29. Ellie Maldonado says:

    This response by Lee Hall to Martin Balluch is both relevant to our discussion, and well worth reading:

    “MORE INDUSTRY REFORM… OR THE VEGAN PARADIGM?” Lee Hall* responds to Martin Balluch

    http://www.veganmeans.com/Hot_Topics/INDUSTRY_REFORM.htm

  30. Sailesh Rao says:

    Spencer, if welfare reform increased the efficiency of animal agriculture, it would then reduce the cost of raising meat, milk, eggs, etc. and therefore, industries would be doing it themselves. From the price stickers on “humane” animal products, I conclude that welfare reform DECREASES the efficiency of animal agriculture, thereby necessitating more suffering among animals as more of them have to be raised to meet consumer demand.

    This rift is similar to the rift that Gandhi faced when he told upper class Indians that they cannot discriminate against untouchables within Indian society while agitating for freedom from British rule. We need to unite under one banner and I feel that banner is unadulterated veganism.

  31. Jane Quarrrington says:

    Wow. I’m not suprised you need a break.

  32. Sailesh Rao says:

    Here’s Colleen Patrick-Goudreau on “Happy Cows”, etc. “It would be funny – if it weren’t so sad – to continually witness how desperately we try to paint a happy picture of what is inherently violent and utterly unnecessary. Exploit females’ reproductive systems and breed them at our will, but look! They’re happy! Take away their babies, but look! They’re happy! Take the milk of the females and kill them when they’re no longer “profitable,” but look! They’re happy! Your attempt to demonstrate that this is the best we can do still fails. The nutrients we need are plant-based; we get calcium from cows’ milk because they eat calcium-rich greens. We can stop going through the “middle cow” and go directly to the source ourselves: calcium-rich greens. And we skip the saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, animal protein, and lactose, which we’re not supposed to be consuming into adulthood anyway! We’re supposed to be weaned – just like the calves get weaned – and move onto solid foods. We don’t drink our own human milk into adulthood, and we – just like every other animal on the planet – have NO physiological need for human OR non-human milk once we’re weaned. When we stop trying to go backwards and actually move forwards, we’ll stop seeing desperate attempts to make the ugly palatable. I look forward to that day.”

    And when that day comes, we will have saved the environment, reversed climate change, addressed world poverty, ended animal suffering and become a more enlightened species. I dream of that day often and know that it will come soon so that my granddaughter, Kimaya, has a thriving future on this planet and not on some asteroid searching for water on a passing comet…

    • Ellie Maldonado says:

      Thanks, Sailesh, for posting Ms. Patrick-Goudreau’s message, and for sharing your dream of a just and enlightened world. It’s my dream too.

  33. curt finch says:

    Jimmy, You’re a great writer. Awesome job

  34. Ellie Maldonado says:

    For those who believe HSUS supports justice for animals, listen to his own words. He doesn’t even think people should be vegetarians, as long as they buy “humane” meat:
    http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/being-vegan-help-animals

  35. Bea Elliott says:

    Hi Janet – What’s that saying about throwing away the baby with the bath water? I don’t get the idea that James has endorsed Ellie in any particular way except to quote one thing she said as a reference place to where he wanted to continue from…

    I can understand your anger and frustration… But honestly is it the fault of the James McWilliams blog that has provided a forum to discuss differing ideas really the culprit of harm? Or rather individuals who might abuse the open-air format?

    I believe your compassionate voice is just as important here as anyone else’s… It’s a shame we have to grow thick skin to protect ourselves even from each other. If I could, I’d give you a layer of mine… But since I can’t instead I offer some kindergarten wisdom: Opinions are like belly buttons…

    Stick to what your heart tells you – And please don’t be bullied away from your contributions here. <3

  36. Scott82 says:

    Anyone concerned about the abuse of animals on factory farms should OPPOSE recently introduced egg industry legislation (HR 3798 and S 3239) that would keep laying hens IN battery cages forever, and eliminate the rights of states and voters to do anything about it! Visit http://www.StopTheRottenEggBill.org to learn the facts and take action.

  37. Spencer Lo says:

    Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT piece exudes great enthusiasm for “happy meat” as an alternative to the consumption of tortured factory-farmed animals. Both are morally problematic, of course, but I’m wonder whether anyone here could see if is this progress in the following sense: for people like Kristof, who condemns factory farming, there is less distance between his immoral viewpoint and abolitionism. Sure, he now needs to be persuaded that all meat consumption is unjustified, but doing that would take less work (dialectically speaking) than if he were in favor of any form of meat consumption.

    If anyone is interested, I wrote a post over at animblawg about why “happy meat” is wrong (directed at people who adopt Kristof’s viewpoint): http://animalblawg.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/whats-wrong-with-happy-meat/. Would welcome any thoughts.

  38. Spencer Lo says:

    Ellie,

    I tried several times but my reply to you hasn’t been showing up, and when I repost, I get a duplicate message. Here’s another go.

    You are clearly very knowledgeable about these matters, and I enjoy learning from your comments, although I’m inclined to disagree with your view that, on balance, welfare reforms are negative from an abolitionist perspective — even Francione recognizes that “new welfarists” favor abolition as a long term goal (currently reading his Rain Without Thunder). But I admit this is a complex (and divisive) debate, and since I’m still relatively new to the issues, I’ll avoid taking firm stances for now.

    I agree there is something perverse about consumers being enthusiastic with “happy meat,” as evidenced by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT’s article. But it may be a step-up from consumers being enthusiastic about garden-variety factory-farmed meat, for the following reason: there is less distance between people who morally discriminate only against consumption of factory-farmed animals and abolitionists, on the one hand, and people who do not morally discriminate against consumption of animals at all and abolitionists, on the other. With the former meat consumers, animal interests do matter morally — however imperfect those interests are weighed. I think that’s progress, but obviously it can’t end there.

  39. Spencer Lo says:

    I’m curious to know what people think of this: http://www.humanespot.org/content/welfare-reform-and-vegan-advocacy

    • Sailesh Rao says:

      Couldn’t see the video on that web site, but we have to be careful with the cited statistics. Did the media coverage of the supposed welfare reform cause the meat consumption to go down or did meat consumption go down anyway due to health and environmental reasons and the welfare reform cause some people who would have switched on a compassionate basis to hold off on eliminating their meat consumption?

      Worldwide, the livestock industry is on track to grow by 68% in the next 15 years alone. This is a catastrophic environmental disaster in the making and therefore, the number one task that the Carbon War Room has identified is the INTENSIFICATION of worldwide Livestock production.

      We know what INTENSIFICATION means. It is Welfarism here and factory farming over there, where there aren’t so many pesky laws to govern the industry’s behavior. And the industry’s soaring growth continues…

  40. Sailesh Rao says:

    Robert Grillo graciously invited me to blog at FreefromHarm.org. I’ll be doing so from now on, with an environmental perspective on the animal rights issue. Here’s my first piece and it includes a Dan Piraro instant classic cartoon:
    http://freefromharm.org/agriculture-environment/happy-cows-and-pink-elephants

  41. [...] piece by Professor James McWilliams of Texas University State, who also wrote about related issues here and [...]

  42. Aurelia says:

    James, quick note. You said ” who seek the eradication of not only animal agriculture but also all animal ownership and exploitation through ethical veganism.” Is this to say that you would consider owning pets wrong? I’m curious, as far as I knew veganism applied to comsumption of animal products, namely eating them but also avoiding leather clothing and cosmetics containg animal products etc. Do you suggest that pet ownership should also be eradicated?

    • Aurelia says:

      I also want to say a good article, well written. Hopefully this will go someway to showing abolitionists the harm they do by continually fighting everyone else who are trying to achieve many of the same goals albeit in a different manner. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to prevent any cat from ever being skinned ever again.

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