Taking It All In - Colleen Patrick-Goudreau 1
How Do I Handle Social Situations? - Eric Prescott 6
Some Thoughts on Vegan Education - Gary L. Francione 10
A Comment on Violence - Gary L. Francione 13
Vegan Education: A Background - Dan Cudahy 18
Vegan Education: An Incremental Abolitionist Approach - Dan Cudahy 25
Vegan Education Made Easy: Part I - Gary L. Francione 35
Vegan Education Made Easy: Part 2 - Gary L. Francione 41
Vegan Culinary Activism in 10 Yummy Steps - Isa Chandra Moskowitz 46
Delivering Your Message 53
Tips for Effective Leafleting 55
Conducting Animal Rights Stalls 56
What is Direct Action? - Crimethinc Collective 57
Endless Possibilities for Actions 58
Rules and Tactics for Working with the Media - George Monbiot 60
Action Planning Worksheet 64
Further Information 71
Guiding Principles of Animal Rights 72
About this reader
This collection of articles has been compiled by Animal Rights
Advocates Inc. (ARA) to provide an overview of strategies for
abolitionist animal rights activism. Feel free to photocopy and
distribute it as long as you maintain any original attributions.
Taking It All In
- Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Whether it’s through cooking classes I teach, talks I give, articles I
write or the podcast I produce, many people ask me what they can do
beyond giving up eating animals and their secretions. They’re anxious
to do more, and I commend them. We need them, the animals need
them, and there is much work to do.
But before I offer any suggestions, I feel compelled to guide new
activists through the process of taking it all in. Witnessing the cruelty
inflicted upon animals is a traumatic experience, and between the
learning and the doing, there is the being: the processing of it all.
Based on my own experiences as an activist and the trials and
tribulations I’ve encountered along the way, I offer these suggestions
for newly awakened people in a world that appears to be sleeping.
Knowing Our Intentions and Remaining Unattached to Outcome
When we know where we are coming from, we will have better
success at reaching our destination. When I set out to speak on behalf
of animals, I find it helpful to know what my intention is. Before I teach
a class, record a podcast episode or even answer someone’s question,
I make sure I am clear about my goal: to raise awareness about the
suffering of animals, to be their voice, and to speak my truth. I believe
we’re here to be teachers for one another, and I am grateful for my
role as a conduit. That’s all any of us are. That is why if we don’t speak
our truth, we’re not only falsely representing who we are and what we
believe, but we’re also denying someone their own transformation.
It’s important to note that my intention is not to make the world
vegan or to change someone’s mind. If those were my intentions, I’d
fail every time. It’s not my role to make anyone do anything. All I can
do is speak the truth and hope that inspires others to act on their own
values. That’s why I don’t like the word convert. I prefer inspire.
First Comes Peace
In my opinion, to advocate for animals and veganism is to advocate
for nonviolence and peace. And, not surprisingly, peace is the
byproduct of a vegan lifestyle. It is what you give, create and get back.
It is an unexpected gift.
There’s a very deep peace of mind that comes from disconnecting
yourself with the inherent violence of turning beautiful, living, feeling
beings into butchered bodies. Events that occur at places such as
slaughterhouses, feedlots, factory farms and small farms, processing
plants, egg hatcheries and insemination facilities are beyond our
worst nightmares. That’s why we don’t want to look. We pay others
to do it for us: anonymous workers killing anonymous victims of
our appetites. That’s why those who pick up the blade do so with a
closed heart and a desensitized conscience. It’s ugly, it’s brutal and it’s
To say “no” to that—to remove yourself from the horror, from the
nightmare—releases you from that burden of guilt that so many of
us experience—that low, constant, underlying hum that causes us
to make every excuse in the book to justify our actions, to release us
from our complicity. The hum that causes us to say we feel okay about
eating animals. No prayer I ever said over their dismembered bodies
exonerated me from the part I played. No excuse I ever made washed
the blood from my hands. I only felt free when I stopped participating.
I felt like a weight had been lifted, and I recognized the inherent
connections between animal rights and all other social justice issues.
I believe that the absence of world peace is deeply connected with
our violence toward animals; I would even go a step further and say
our violence toward other humans is rooted in our violence toward
Then Comes Anger
Whereas stopping our participation in the institutionalized
exploitation of animals brings peace of mind, bearing witness to so
much cruelty and suffering can have a devastating effect. Burnout
is common among activists, and many become jaded, hopeless and
angry. And why shouldn’t we be angry? Corporate greed, personal
convenience and pleasure drive the socially sanctioned use and
abuse of billions of nonhuman animals. We live in a world where it’s
considered normal to champion this and radical to oppose it. We live
in a country where our government just passed the Animal Enterprise
Terrorism Act. Of course people are angry.
But anger is not a dirty word. It is a very real response, whose roots go
deep. It’s what we do with anger that will make or break us.
It’s helpful to know the root of the word anger is sorrow. In fact, its
earliest roots referred to something being “painfully constricted,” a
“strangling, narrowing, squeezing, throttling.” It’s anguish—utter
anguish—we feel when we see what happens to animals.
If we reframe anger so we see it in its proper context, we can
recognize that there isn’t a contradiction between the peace that
comes with eating nonviolently and the anger we feel as the result
of so much abuse. The key is transforming anger into action. It’s easy
to become cynical, disheartened and hopeless, but that doesn’t do
anyone any good. Anger can be a great motivator, but how do we not
dwell in the sorrow, anguish and the grief? I think the answer is hope.
Finding the Hope
Hope—it’s everywhere. Those of us who work with the public are in
a very unique position—we get to see change happening. I have the
privilege of witnessing transformations every day—people changing
their lives, their minds, their habits, and it’s incredible to see. I couldn’t
do this work if I wasn’t carried by hope. I’m moved by the people who
take the time to write to me and share their stories of transformation.
It gives me a tremendous amount of hope. Read the stories of those
who are making a difference. Visit an animal sanctuary and look into
the eyes of the animals who have been rescued. Ask other vegetarians
to tell their stories, to share their moments of epiphany. Seek out the
hope. It’s there.
Remembering Our Stories
When we go out into the world newly awakened, we are so acutely
aware of all the animal exploitation around us that we may become
easily frustrated by those we see participating in it. It’s a natural
response. We’re looking at the world through an entirely different lens
and want to shake everyone, make them see what we see. But I can
tell you that we will neither make nor keep many friends if that’s our
approach. We will neither inspire many people nor do ourselves any
good. We absolutely have to remember that we were once unaware.
We have to remember that every seed we plant has the potential to
grow. But it’s not ours to control. Once we plant a seed, we might
help water, nurture and fertilize it, but we have no control over the
outcome. In forgetting our own stories and our own process, we lose
our humility, and in doing so we risk becoming arrogant and bitter.
Bitterness is anger that has dwelled upon, and the root of the word
means “to split.”
Connecting With Others
Remembering our story is important, but so is telling it and hearing
others’. The only way we’re going to do that is by connecting with
other like-minded people. Many people who say they were vegetarian
once but stopped will tell you they didn’t have a lot of vegetarian
friends, they didn’t have a network, a support system. Having a circle
of people in your community—people you can dine with, people
you can cry and laugh with, people who simply speak your own
language—is so important. We can gain so much insight from one
another, but first we have to find one another. How?
Find vegan meetups in your area (www.meetup.com), or start one.
Host a potluck. Have a cooking party. Volunteer with a local animal or
vegetarian group. And when you meet like-minded people, ask them
to tell you their story and tell them yours.
My hope is that we, as activists, understand that in taking care of
ourselves, we are better able to take care of others. When our hearts
are open, we will inspire and attract openness in others. On behalf of
the billions of animals who are at the mercy of humans and on behalf
of the billions of humans who have the capacity to show mercy, I
encourage all of us to create a foundation of truth and compassion,
upon which we will build a better world for humans and nonhumans
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is a contributing writer for Satya. She also
founded Compassionate Cooks (www.compassionatecooks.com) to
empower people to make informed food choices. Through cooking
classes, podcasts, articles, recipes, her first-of-its-kind cooking DVD, and
her upcoming cookbook, The Joy of Vegan Baking, she shares the joys
and benefits of a plant-based diet.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
How Do I Handle Social Situations?
- Eric Prescott
This answer was somewhat modified from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s
answer at VeganUnlimited.com.
When choosing to be vegan, some people are concerned that their
social lives will suffer when they eliminate animal-derived foods from
their diet, since social occasions and food tend to go hand in hand.
The following short guide provides suggestion for how to handle
dining out with others, eating at the home of a non-vegan friends and
how to find food to eat at parties:
1. BE SPECIFIC. Not everybody knows what veganism means, and
it’s important for you to be specific about what your needs are. Some
people may think chicken broth is acceptable (seriously), so be clear
and ask for exactly what you want.
2. BE POSITIVE. Most likely, you made the choice to leave animals
off your plate because it makes you feel good—physically, mentally,
emotionally, spiritually–it’s a very gratifying way to live. If that’s your
truth, then that’s exactly what you should express to those around
you. Your attitude will influence the perception and attitude of others
about what it means to be vegan.
3. BE CONFIDENT. Food is a personal as well as political subject
that has been known to bring up people’s defenses, and vegans
have found themselves on the receiving end of ridicule, criticism,
interrogations, jokes, and plain old rudeness. Remaining confident
that the attack has nothing to do with you personally will help you
take the encounter in stride. Also, don’t feel you need to carry the
weight of defending all the benefits of veganism. If asked why you
make the choices you do, speak from your heart and tell your truth.
That is much more powerful than trying to espouse all the latest
nutrition research that supports vegan eating. (Though of course
there’s lots of it, if they are really interested!)
4. BE GENEROUS. Co-workers, neighbors, clients, friends and family
all appreciate the gift of homemade goodies, and every experienced
vegan knows the power of delicious food (we call it “food outreach”).
Anytime non-vegans try your infamous meatless chili or your
decadent dairy- and egg-free cookies, they are exposed to dishes they
may have never chosen on their own, and often they’ll walk away
with a positive new perception about “vegan food.” Food outreach can
be your best friend.
5. BE ASSERTIVE. Plant-based options are available in almost every
restaurant where the focus is not on “American cuisine.” Every other
cuisine, from Italian and Thai to Indian and Mexican, offers plenty of
healthful vegan dishes. But for those times when you don’t have a say
in choosing the restaurant--at an employee lunch or office party--it’s
worth calling the restaurant in advance to find out which menu items
can be made without meat, eggs and dairy, or what they can make
special to accommodate you. More and more chefs are embracing the
opportunity to prepare something innovative for vegan diners that
make the effort to speak up.
6. BE ATTENTIVE. The stereotype that vegans talk about being vegan
all the time is, well, true, but only because once a meat-eater learns
you’re vegan, you become their Confessor, counselor and sounding
board. Though you’ve heard it all before, be respectful, be attentive
and be sensitive. What they are saying may be more important than
what you have to say in response. Ask them questions instead of
7. BE PREPARED. There may be times when a work or family event
centers around meat (like a barbecue) or takes place in a restaurant
that is unfavorable to vegans (such as a steakhouse). At such times, it
might be worth eating something before you go and/or bringing your
own food to eat when you get there. It may be inconvenient, but it’s
better than not eating at all and, once again, the food you bring will
most likely inspire others to try something new, especially if they’re
tired of the same ol’ same old.
8. BE EQUIPPED. There are numerous occasions that offer the
opportunity to bring a dish. Bringing your favorite vegan lasagna
or chocolate cake is a surefire way to ensure that you’ll enjoy the
fare, and it’s a wonderful way to introduce people to delicious and
nutritious vegan food.
9. BE HUMOROUS. Non-vegans as well as vegans can get a little
uptight around such a sensitive subject as food choices. Humor has
a way of diffusing tension. Always keep in mind that whatever jokes
non-vegans might make at your expense, it really has nothing to do
with you. Passive aggressive though these people are, it will help to
respond with humor and levity.
10. BE SELECTIVE. One thing some non-vegans don’t understand
is that to sit in a restaurant watching everyone chewing on the flesh
of animals can be a painful experience for vegans. Eating at a vegan
restaurant is so wonderful--not just because you can choose anything
on the menu, but because it’s a nonviolent atmosphere. There’s a kind
of peaceful feeling when you look around knowing that no animals
were exploited to produce the meals and everyone’s just munching
on wonderful, plant-based food.
If you’d like to read more on this topic, check out Carol Adams’ Living
Among Meat Eaters.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
(Look in their FAQ under Veganism)
Some Thoughts on Vegan Education
- Gary L. Francione
I am going to try to tackle in a preliminary way a subject that
generates a fair amount of controversy and about which I get quite
a bit of email. The subject, broadly speaking, is how vegans should
relate to omnivores given that ethical vegans regard the use of
animals as involving serious violations of their rights not to be treated
as human resources. Do ethical vegans have an obligation to be
confrontational with omnivores and to relate to them the way in
which we would relate to those who engage in serious crimes against
In one sense, you can anticipate my answer to this question given that
I argue that the primary obligation of animal advocates is to engage
in creative, nonviolent vegan education.
It is difficult to educate people about anything if you are
confrontational with them. This does not mean that you cannot
challenge people. As a law professor for almost 25 years now, I
certainly try to challenge my students, but I avoid confronting them
as this is the most effective way to ensure that the educational
process will not work.
Confrontation is a particularly ineffective way of communicating
when people do not even understand the meaning or context of
your position. And when it comes to the matter of animal use, most
people are entirely in the dark. Taking the position that people should
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not consume any animal products is similar to telling them that they
should not drink water or breathe air.
Think about it.
Most people have been raised to think that it is “natural” or “normal”
to eat animal products. They have grown up in homes where an
important part of family life has involved sitting around a table and
consuming animal parts. Their memories of a deceased and beloved
grandparent or other relative are connected to some meat dish that
the relative prepared for holidays. They have been raised in religious
traditions that have taught them that nonhumans lack “souls” or
otherwise are spiritually inferior to humans.
In certain respects, our speciesism is, as a sociological matter, more
deeply embedded—and thereby more “invisible”—than some forms
of discrimination against other humans. Someone with deeply held
racist beliefs may not accept racial equality but understands the
concept. Most humans cannot even process the idea of life without
any animal products.
To the extent that the animal movement has sought to increase
awareness of the problem, its efforts have, for the most part, focused
on issues of “humane” treatment. That is, the animal movement does
not propose veganism as the “default” position. On the contrary,
veganism is characterized as the “difficult” or “heroic” choice. As I
discussed in my essay earlier this month (and in other essays on the
blog), the animal movement actively encourages the consumption of
“happy” meat and animal products.
So when vegans confront omnivores about this issue, they do so
not only in the context of a strong cultural and religious tradition
that regards animal use as completely normal, but in the context of
an animal movement that also regards use as normal and focuses
primarily on treatment. Thanks to the modern animal welfare
movement, which has appropriated the “animal rights” label, vegans
can be dismissed as extremists and confrontation is necessarily
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counterproductive and not merely ineffective.
If we are going to make progress toward a greater acceptance of
veganism, we must educate. And we must educate in a nonviolent,
non-confrontational way that takes into account the social, religious,
and “movement” realities. This does not mean that our use of animals
is anything but a moral outrage; it means only that our efforts to
educate about that moral outrage must take into account how the
vast majority of humans see this issue.
And that brings me to a final comment. Many of those who support
a confrontational approach have friends who are “animal people”
and may be “vegetarians” but are not vegans. Perhaps those are the
people with whom to take a less flexible approach!
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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A Comment on Violence
- Gary L. Francione
I am asked frequently about my views on those who advocate
violence against animal exploiters.
My response is simple: I am violently opposed to violence.
I have three reasons for my position.
First, in my view, the animal rights position is the ultimate rejection of
violence. It is the ultimate affirmation of peace. I see the animal rights
movement as the logical progression of the peace movement, which
seeks to end conflict between humans. The animal rights movement
ideally seeks to take that a step further and to end conflict between
humans and nonhumans.
The reason that we are in the global mess that we are in now is that
throughout history, we have engaged and continue to engage in
violent actions that we have sought to justify as an undesirable
means to a desirable end. Anyone who has ever used violence claims
to regret having to resort to it, but argues that some desirable goal
supposedly justified its use. The problem is that this facilitates an
endless cycle of violence where anyone who feels strongly about
something can embrace violence toward others as a means to
achieving the greater good and those who are the targets of that
violence may find a justification for their violent response. So on and
on it goes.
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This is consequentialist moral thinking and it is destroying the world
as well as leading to some very peculiar contradictions. Much of
the west claims to embrace Christianity. However unclear on some
issues the New Testament may be, it is certainly clear that violence is
to be rejected. Nevertheless, supposedly Christian leaders and their
supposedly Christian electorates justify the most violent of actions
with professed great reluctance in order to achieve a supposedly
greater good, whatever it may be. Those against whom these violent
actions are directed also claim to adhere to religions that reject
violence, but feel justified in using violence in response. So we have
people, all of who claim to reject violence as a fundamental religious
matter, engaging in violence. And we say that humans are rational
and nonhumans are not!
Violence treats others as means to ends rather than as ends in
themselves. When we engage in violence against others—whether
they are human or nonhuman—we ignore their inherent value. We
treat them only as things that have no value except that which we
decide to give them. This is what leads people to engage in crimes of
violence against people of color, women, and gays and lesbians. It is
what leads us to commodify nonhumans and treat them as resources
that exist solely for our use. All of it is wrong and should be rejected.
Second, for those who advocate violence, exactly against whom is
this violence to be directed? The farmer raises animals because the
overwhelming number of humans demand to eat meat and animal
products. The farmer raises those animals in intensive conditions
because consumers want meat and animal products to be as
inexpensive as possible. But is the farmer the only culprit here? Or is
the responsibility shared by the rest of us who eat animal products,
including all of those conscientious omnivores, the non-vegan “animal
people” who consume “cage-free eggs” and “happy” meat, who create
the demand but for which the farmer would be doing something else
with her life? I suppose that it is easier to characterize farmers as the
“enemy,” but that ignores the reality of the situation.
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What about the vivisector, a common target of those who advocate
violence? Putting aside the debate about whether vivisection actually
produces data useful to address problems of human health, most of
the illnesses for which vivisectors are using animals are conditions
that could be avoided entirely or drastically reduced if humans would
stop eating animal foods, and engaging in such destructive behaviors
as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, and a failure
to exercise. Again, who is the real culprit? I certainly do not think that
vivisection is justifiable for any reason, but I find it curious that those
who advocate violence can see vivisectors as detached from the
social conditions that give rise to vivisection—and in these conditions
we are all complicit.
Moreover, we must not forget that there are always multiple ways of
addressing health problems. Vivisection is one way, and, in the view
of many (including myself ), is not a particularly effective choice. The
decision to invest social resources into vivisection rather than in other,
arguably for more effective ways, reflects a political decision as much
as, and probably more than, a scientific one.
For example, the considerable expenditure on AIDS research using
animals has produced little of use to humans suffering from AIDS
and most of what has resulted in longer and better lives for those
suffering from HIV and AIDS has come from clinical trials with humans
who have consented to those trials. It is certainly plausible to claim
that if the money spent on animal research were instead spent on
public safe-sex education campaigns, needle exchanges, and condom
distribution, the rate of new HIV cases would drop dramatically. The
choice to use animal experiments to address the problem is, in many
ways, as much a political and social decision. Animal experiments are
considered an acceptable way of solving the AIDS problem whereas
needle exchanges, condom distribution, and safe-sex education are
So again, the vivisector is not the only culprit here. Indeed, it may
well be argued that those primarily responsible for the use of animals
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in AIDS research are the reactionary politicians who respond to a
reactionary political base that rejects more effective ways of dealing
Third, it is not clear to me what those who support violence hope to
achieve as a practical matter. They certainly are not causing the public
to become more sympathetic to the plight of nonhuman animals. If
anything, the contrary is true and these actions have a most negative
effect in terms of public perception. We live in a world where virtually
anyone who can afford to eat animal products does so. In such a
world, there is no context in which violence can be interpreted in any
way other than as negative.
In other words, in a world in which eating animal products is
considered by most people as “natural” or “normal” as drinking water
or breathing air, violence is quite likely to be seen as nothing more
than an act of lunacy and will do nothing to further progressive
thinking about the issue of animal exploitation.
Animal exploitation is pervasive in our society. This is the case
because we think that the ends (the supposed benefits we derive
from animal use) justifies the means (imposing suffering and death
on billions of nonhumans every year), and because we treat animals
exclusively as commodities and ignore their inherent value. This
situation cannot be meaningfully addressed by applying these
notions to justify violence toward humans.
The fact that at least some “animal advocates” who endorse violence
are not even vegan is truly bewildering. These people care so much
about animals that they advocate inflicting harm on other humans
who exploit nonhumans but cannot seem to stop exploiting
The bottom line is clear. The only way that we are ever going to have
a significant impact on the problem is through nonviolent education.
That starts with our becoming vegans and rejecting violence against
animals in our own lives, and spreads through creative, nonviolent
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This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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Vegan Education: A Background
- Dan Cudahy
This is the first essay in a two-part series on vegan education. This
essay will provide some background on vegan education and
specifically explain some of the differences between welfarist and
abolitionist education, with some good examples of abolitionist
vegan education at the end. The second essay will discuss the
incremental abolitionist approach in more detail.
The abolitionist approach envisions the abolition of the property
status of sentient nonhuman beings. But before we can consider the
abolition of the property status of nonhumans, we must get rid of the
economic perspective that sees nonhumans as nothing more than
consumption commodities on the same level of moral consideration
as things like apples, oranges, grapes, broccoli, and coconuts. But
before we can eliminate this consumption commodity status of
nonhumans, we must be vegan. Therefore, vegan education is at the
core of, as well as the first stage of, the abolition approach.
We might be tempted to object that there are animal welfare laws
protecting “food” animals, and therefore live animals are treated
on a higher level of moral consideration than insentient fruits and
vegetables. As tempting as it might be to view “welfare” laws in animal
agriculture as there “for the animals”, this view is incorrect. There are
only four purposes for our current animal welfare laws, and none of
them have anything to do with the animals’ genuine interests: 1) to
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protect the animal property, as economic property, of the businesses
that own the animals; 2) to protect slaughterhouse workers in the
case of large animals who thrash around dangerously if not handled
“properly”; 3) to protect consumers against diseases like mad cow in
the case of “downers”; 4) to give the consuming public the pretense
that animals are “treated well” in feeding operations, transportation,
The reality is that literally billions of animals annually are treated in
ways that would shock most consumers of animal products. Animal
welfare laws as they pertain to animal agriculture have no connection
to the common public conception of “animal welfare” as it applies to
e.g. dogs and cats. Rather, welfare laws covering animals exploited
for food, experimentation, and entertainment are intentionally
designed to support “customary and accepted practices” through
categorical exemptions of treatment, most of which would normally
be considered felony cruelty if inflicted on, say, a Golden Retriever.
We might be tempted then, as welfarist organizations like HSUS
and Animal Legal Defense Fund do, to suggest that we tighten up
and enforce these welfare laws to “really” protect animals. There are
several reasons why enforcing stronger welfare laws cannot work.
The biggest reason such laws cannot work is strong economic
consumer demand combined with the fact that it is economically,
practically, and logistically impossible to breed, raise, feed, transport,
and slaughter 10 billion animals annually without confining these
beings to live in their waste; debeaking chickens; de-horning and
castrating bulls (without expensive anesthetic); using electric prods
on large animals; using brute force on chickens; transporting animals
in extreme weather conditions that not only cause misery, but
are enough to kill some animals before they get to slaughter; and
running slaughterhouse lines at high rates of speed causing millions
of chicken to miss the neck blade and end up in the boiler alive and
many cows to end up alive at the hide-ripping machine. To eliminate
these cruel “customary and accepted practices” would be so costly
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that the prices of animal products would necessarily rise to several
multiples of the current prices, and only the very wealthy could afford
to purchase the products. Combine the economic impossibility of
such major reforms with the sweeping and devastating effect such
reforms would have on one of the biggest, wealthiest, and most
powerful collective of industries in the world (Big Food: ConAgra,
Tyson Foods, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, KFC, and suburban corporate
chain restaurants, just to name a few of dozens of big businesses),
and it is easy to see that attempting to legislate such reforms through
welfare laws is plainly absurd.
So admittedly, the situation for animals, particularly any significant
improvement in welfare laws, is as bleak as can be imagined.
However, the sole driving force of this virtually absolute economic
and political power that animal agriculture and Big Food have over
animals is consumers, individually and collectively, who support,
demand, drive, and are ultimately responsible for the existence
of the animal agriculture industry and all of its power. If we are to
tackle the problem of the institutional torture of animals, we must
directly educate consumers of animal products and challenge the
cultural acceptability of animal product consumption. Decent people
will have serious moral qualms about the “customary and accepted
practices” and the categorical exemptions in animal agriculture if they
are exposed to these practices. One significant hurdle to exposing the
general public to these practices is the culturally accepted attitude
of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the refusal of many people to allow
themselves to be exposed even when film footage of the horrific
treatment is readily available. Combine this with the industry’s legal
right to keep people, including the media (which is biased in favor of
industry in the first place), off of their property – a right which they
reserve and enforce at least to the full extent of the law – and you can
see that educating consumers is a time-consuming and sometimes
difficult task. However, educating consumers is the ONLY conceivable
way to erode the industry’s immense power and the animals’ only
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chance for relief from the misfortune of being born into an existence
of unimaginable hell.
With that preface, let’s look at an overview of vegan education,
both as it is generally practiced now (i.e. welfarist vegan education
practiced by large welfarist organizations) and as it ought to be
practiced if animals are to have any hope in coming years or decades
(i.e. abolitionist vegan education).
Welfarist “Vegan” Education
Not all “vegan” education qualifies as “the core and first stage of
the abolitionist approach” mentioned in the last sentence of the
first paragraph of this essay. Welfarist “vegan” education – that is,
“vegan” education provided by the predominant “animal protection”
organizations – is antithetical to the abolitionist approach. Let‘s
examine the difference, starting with welfarist “vegan” education:
People exposed to welfarist vegan education may decide to go
vegan, but the reasons they give for going vegan are tenuous and
conditional. Welfarist vegans believe and say things like “veganism is
just a tool to reduce suffering”; or “even if you like meat, you can still
help the animals by reducing your meat consumption”, or “it’s a step
in the right direction”, and “veganism is a boycott of cruelty.” These
statements see veganism merely as a “tool” to “reduce” suffering and
perhaps also to persuade animal agribusiness to treat animals better
and to go along with welfarist attempts at legislative reforms. Because
the abolitionist approach sees the folly in attempting to reform
industry, and sees the use and killing of animals as the fundamental
problem and the poor treatment as merely an unavoidable symptom
of the fundamental use problem, every one of these statements is
antithetical to genuine animal rights advocacy and the abolitionist
approach. Again, all of these statements see the treatment of animals
as the core problem, not the exploitation or killing per se. Indeed,
the leading philosopher of the welfarist camp, Peter Singer – also
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known as the “father of the animal rights movement” – has said
that we can be “conscientious omnivores”. But if 300 million of us
in America can be “conscientious omnivores”, can animals have any
rights or protection by any coherent definition of the word “rights”
or “protection”? Of course not. Not only is it practically ridiculous
from a welfarist standpoint of a vague claim to “decent treatment” in
slaughter, but from a genuine animal rights standpoint, it makes no
sense to talk about the right to anything if one has no right to one’s
For welfarists, there is nothing wrong with being a “conscientious
omnivore” or “demi-vegetarian” (like many welfarists are) and allowing
oneself the “luxury” of a little meat or cheese occasionally. This is
perfectly consistent with welfarist philosophy and why veganism is
looked at by welfarists as some heroic or ascetic thing rather than
a moral baseline. If you’re a welfarist, there really is no compelling
reason to be vegan; veganism really is nothing more than an optional
“tool to reduce suffering.” Since the inception of the welfarist
approach in the mid-1970s, per capita meat consumption has risen
steadily and the treatment of animals has gotten progressively
worse. Additionally, huge populations in other parts of the world
that have so far consumed primarily a vegetarian diet are now being
introduced to moderate to large quantities of animal products by
the gigantic animal agriculture industry, and worldwide per capita
meat consumption is expected to at least double during the next few
decades. After 30 years of the welfarist approach, the meat industry is
stronger than ever and there is no hope on the horizon that anything
will change in this regard. Again, the situation and prognosis for
animals could not be worse, but if there is any hope, it is only through
the abolitionist approach.
Abolitionist Vegan Education: Moral Considerations
In addition to the practical considerations of veganism as the only
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way of eliminating unnecessary animal cruelty, there are significant
moral differences between the abolitionist approach and the welfarist
approach. When we consider the genuine meaning and implications
of animal rights, as set forth in Gary Francione’s Introduction to
Animal Rights, the moral baseline of veganism becomes strikingly
clear. Nonhuman beings have inherent value derived from the morally
relevant characteristic of their sentience and are therefore deserving
of equal consideration. In recognizing their sentience, inherent value,
and equal consideration, we realize that it is a moral imperative to not
consume them or exploit them by using them solely as a means to
our ends. Animals have important interests beyond merely avoiding
pain and suffering. Being vegan is no longer merely a “tool to reduce
suffering” or a “boycott of cruelty”, it becomes an internalized moral
issue on par with the prohibition of intentionally killing innocent
humans or exploiting them solely as a means to our ends. This is why
the issue of what message we are sending in vegan education isn’t
merely a matter of “tactics”; it has moral and philosophical roots that
go much deeper than practical considerations and quibbles over
Abolitionist Vegan Education: Practical Considerations
Let’s consider slavery 150 years ago: If slave welfare - which was
primarily concerned with the treatment rather than the use of slaves
– was the dominant philosophy in our society from then until now,
virtually nothing would have changed by now because the economic,
property, and moral status of slaves would not have changed
significantly. However, because abolition of slavery was the dominant
philosophy in our society after the Civil War and still is today, much
has changed and the descendants of slaves are free of bondage
and property status. The same is true of the welfare versus abolition
situation with regard to nonhuman beings. The predominant
philosophy, welfarism or abolitionism, will entirely determine whether
we live in a vegan society in years or decades to come or whether
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worldwide per capital meat consumption will be at an all-time high in
years or decades to come.
This is partly why the reasons people are vegan are so important, and
not just that people are vegan for “tool” reasons. As a practical matter,
welfarist veganism is completely unnecessary in welfarist philosophy
and therefore tenuous. Abolitionist veganism is a moral imperative in
animal rights philosophy and therefore rock-solid.
In the next essay of this two-part topic, we’ll examine the abolitionist
incremental approach to animal rights and vegan education,
specifically looking at Gary Francione’s Five Criteria of an incremental
approach to forwarding animal rights in society.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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An Incremental Abolitionist Approach
- Dan Cudahy
In the last essay, I provided some background on the difference
between welfarist and abolition advocacy and very briefly explained
why welfarist advocacy hasn’t been and cannot be effective to bring
about any significant changes for nonhuman beings.
If there is any hope at all for significant improvement in the treatment
of nonhumans, it will be due to a viable vegan abolitionist movement
effectively educating a sufficient percentage of the human population
within a nation, and thereby growing into a strong political
movement that seeks to completely eradicate rather than regulate
Animal agriculture, including “free-range”, “organic”, and “cage-free”, is
inherently cruel by the very nature of what must be done to convert
living beings into bodily fluids and small pieces of flesh. Even if animal
raising, transportation, and killing technology could improve to the
point of the billions of nonhumans who are killed annually having
a reasonably decent life free of torture (a delusional pipe-dream, at
best), there is still no moral justification for such speciesism. Would
we painlessly slaughter certain humans because they failed to live a
life sufficiently profound or happy (stick whatever arbitrary criteria
of sufficiency you want here) by our subjective standards? No. And
it is speciesist to torturously or painlessly slaughter nonhumans
because of the arbitrary criterion of species. Sentience is the sufficient
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and morally relevant criterion for the right not to be someone else’s
property, tool, or meal.
In Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights
Movement, (see link on the sidebar) Professor Gary Francione sets
forth five criteria to distinguish abolitionist reforms from welfarist
reforms; the former deteriorating the property status of animals, the
latter reinforcing the property status of animals. The five criteria are as
follows: 1) the proposed change must constitute a prohibition; 2) the
prohibition must be constitutive of the exploitive institution (that is,
a significant class of activity); 3) the prohibition must recognize and
respect a noninstitutional animal interest (that is, animal interests that
are NOT also in the exploiters’ interests); 4) animal interests cannot be
tradable (that is, the animal interest will be enforceable and override
any human “benefit” or property rights); and 5) the prohibition shall
not substitute an alternative, and supposedly more “humane,” form
of exploitation (for example, it must not substitute an activity like
“free-range” for battery cages or “controlled atmosphere killing” for
electrical stunning and throat-cutting, but must eliminate the activity
entirely without substitute).
As Professor Francione clearly and explicitly recognizes in Rain
Without Thunder, the five criteria limit attempted changes to industry
practice that would be so devastating to industry (i.e. resulting in the
elimination of something essential, for example: “killing animals for
food”) that such changes would not have a chance of being accepted
in our current, speciesist society. Only a society with a politically
viable vegan population would accept such revolutionary changes.
Welfarist reforms, of course, merely reinforce property status by
synergizing reforms with the profitability and growth interests of
industry, making consumers feel better about exploiting animals, and
move us further away from animal rights. This, of course, leaves us
with incremental vegan education as the only activity that currently
moves us closer to animal rights.
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A Survey of the Problem
We live in a society that dedicates billions of dollars annually to
pushing people-killing, artery-clogging meat, egg, and dairy
products in mainstream media while the delicious and healthy vegan
alternatives are generally only advertised by animal and health
advocates in specialized publications, pod casts, and on web sites
and blogs. Henry Thoreau wrote something in the 19th century
that happens to be very relevant to our modern efforts at animal
advocacy: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to
one who is striking at the root.” The modern diet of animal products
makes up over 99% of all animal abuse and cruelty in the world – it
is the root of animal cruelty and exploitation. Fur coats, wool and
leather products, animal experimentation, hunting, circuses, and zoos
are all peripheral. In our metaphor, they are the branches (and at 1%
of the number of animals exploited, they are more like the leaves)
on the tree of animal cruelty and exploitation. For about 200 years,
animal advocates have been plucking at the leaves of our society’s
animal abuse problem and have watched those leaves grow back
faster than they can pluck them. The animal abuse tree is thriving and
bigger than ever.
We also live at a time in history when speciesism is so entrenched
in tradition and upbringing, that asking people to forgo animal
products is roughly equivalent, in many social circles, to suggesting
that they live solely on a diet of carrots, cucumbers, and iceberg
lettuce. Thanks to 30 years of movement stagnation through “new
welfarism” (defined as applying welfarist means in the (futile) hope
of attaining abolitionist ends), the ignorance and misconceptions of
what vegans eat, let alone why anyone might be vegan – even among
many young and otherwise reasonably educated people where I live
– is astounding. Fortunately, the ignorance and misconception offers
significant explanation for why many people either are not already
vegan, or at least do not already choose more vegan alternatives.
And as much as ignorance and misconception offers explanation
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for the current behavior, it offers hope that such ignorance and
misconception can be overcome by the patient and persistent effort
of abolitionist vegan education.
As I’ve written in this blog before, we are responsible, as individual
consumers, for animal agriculture’s existence and its billions of dollars
in revenues and profits; however, animal agriculture, including its
large, corporate retail outlets of supermarkets and restaurants, is big
and powerful enough to generate considerably more demand in our
society – through its multi-billion dollar advertising budget and its
political control over government (including programs like the school
lunch program) – than would otherwise exist. The animal agriculture
industry, including its “free-range” and “cage-free” components, is
indeed a gigantic and powerful monstrosity. Fortunately, however,
it does have an Achilles heel: it is also the most vile and morally
repugnant legalized industry in the world. It is responsible for
widespread early human death, disease, and suffering (via heart
disease, obesity, strokes, diabetes, and cancer); inherent and vicious
animal cruelty on a scale that is qualitatively and quantitatively
beyond our conceptual abilities; and environmental pollution that
rivals the coal, oil, and automobile industries. Shining the spotlight on
these disastrous consequences and moral imbecility while educating
people about delightful, healthy, and environmentally responsible
vegan alternatives can provide the leverage needed to eventually
bring this deplorable, destructive, and unimaginably violent industry
to its knees.
Creative and Effective Vegan Education
Effective vegan education can be accomplished through many
different venues and types of activities to fulfill many different talents
and ambitions. Due to scarce resources, it is important to achieve
a combination of low cost and high effectiveness at this point in
the history of advocacy. We can put in thousands of hours, but if
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we’re toiling in the wrong area, it will be for naught. Working smart,
effectively, and inexpensively is what we should strive for.
Working smart means, first and foremost, avoiding welfarist advocacy
of any kind. Welfarism and attempts at reforming industry is marching
down the “happy meat” trail that stays in the stagnant moral lowlands
of Status Quo Valley. Abolitionist vegan education is marching up
the abolitionist trail that leads to fresh mountain air and the glorious
moral highlands of the Abolition Range. You can work as hard as you
want at welfarism, and at the end of the day, month, or year, you
might as well have stayed home and slept in. If you’re not attempting
to educate people on why and/or how to go vegan, you’re not
Blogging and Cyberactivism
One very cost effective way of educating people about veganism
and abolitionist animal rights is to start a blog. A blog’s topics can
span a wide range of vegan and animal-related topics or stick to
one theme, such as vegan cooking. As an exploration of the vegan
and animal advocacy blogosphere will indicate, the potential topics
are sufficiently numerous – even within one theme of veganism
or animals rights – that it is difficult to run out of raw material. The
potential topical areas are numerous: health, nutrition, and vegan
athletic training diets; environmental issues regarding animal
agriculture versus plant agriculture; social change and justice;
cooking and baking; moral philosophy and psychology; stories of
rescued animals; book reviews; and bearing witness to the endless
atrocities inflicted on the innocent.
Joining vegan forums and on-line communities are a good way to
educate also. In addition, they provide a like-minded place for vegans
to discuss common concerns.
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Overall, the Internet is a good resource for education and enables
advocates to reach people we would otherwise never communicate
with. It will be interesting to see what effects the Internet will have on
changing social values during the next 20 to 50 years.
Arts and Humanities
A more difficult and specialized, but nevertheless very effective, way
of educating people about veganism and abolitionist animal rights
is in the traditional forms of the arts and humanities. Writing a fiction
novel, screen play, satire, and even poetry can bring out a strong
message while entertaining readers and viewers at the same time. The
same is true for other art, such as cartoons, painting, and production
of film, radio programs, theatre, documentaries, and music. Many of
these traditional art forms are expensive to produce, but if so much
money weren’t going into useless industry welfare reform campaigns,
there would be much more money available for grants in abolitionist
vegan art projects.
Tribe of Heart, a producer of film documentaries concerning animal
use, has recently (since around 2006) published several articles
rejecting the welfarist approach, and it will be interesting to see to
what extent the abolitionist approach will be promoted by Tribe of
Heart in their upcoming documentary.
Grassroots Vegan Clubs and Associations
If you’re planning to be living in a geographic area for several years
and are committed to forming and building a social group, starting
a vegan club or association is an excellent form of advocacy. If
you’re not sure how long you’ll live in an area, and there’s an existing
vegan or vegetarian association, joining and educating about the
abolitionist approach is a good form of advocacy. There are still many
well-intended people who are vegan or close, but are unfamiliar with
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the abolitionist approach, who may be good candidates for learning
Abolitionist Sanctuaries and Vegan Education Organizations
An abolitionist sanctuary, such as Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, (NOT to
be confused with new welfarist sanctuaries, such as Farm Sanctuary)
is a very powerful resource for abolitionist education. Nonhuman
beings in person convey our message better than any blog or
pamphlet does. Seeing a sanctuary animal in person, as a subjective,
feeling being can do more to destroy cultural prejudices in some
people than reading any book on ethology or animal rights.
In addition, a sanctuary provides unique expertise and education in
the emotional and physical needs of other species which exceed that
of any other group in society. Nobody knows the daily lives and needs
of chickens, pigs, cows, goats, sheep and other beings as well as the
full-time operators of a sanctuary.
Employees in animal agriculture see these beings as commodity units
to convert to marketable products, and their so-called “experience
with animals” is grossly distorted by this built-in commoditization
prejudice, making their opinions on animals’ emotional and physical
needs unreliable at best, and more likely, downright deceptive, even
Scientists are generally far too caught up in ‘objective’ or purely
behaviorist signs of subjectivity, which, even when such ‘objective’
criteria are applied to humans (especially humans who can’t answer
our questions in language), tell us little or nothing about human
subjectivity. The best guide to the subjective experience of another,
whether human or nonhuman, is to live with the other on a daily
basis and apply holistic common sense. While the methods of science
tell us many things about the objective workings of our world, the
methods of science are in an epistemological straightjacket when
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it comes to assessing or describing the subjectivity and subjective
experience of anyone, human or nonhuman. All I can do is laugh out
loud when scientists publish a study “confirming” the common sense
of people who have dogs at home and the study makes a newspaper:
“Scientists confirm [once again] that animals subjectively experience
emotion!” What a bold conjecture to confirm! They might as well
also publish such obvious treats of scientific progress as: “Scientists
confirm that solipsism is false; others do indeed exist!”
An abolitionist sanctuary is where our societal expertise and
experience of the lives and personalities of nonhumans are at their
apex because sanctuary operators live with nonhumans on a daily
basis and apply holistic common sense to gain evidence of their
subjective experience. The daily and yearly evidence of sanctuary
workers living with animals strongly confirms – with the same
certainty that daily evidence of living with humans confirms with
respect to humans – that typical “food” animals experience a wide
range of pleasures and pains, both physical and emotional, have
a strong sense of self, and have very unique personalities of their
own. This makes what we do to them in exploitive industries an
unimaginable atrocity and one of the most severe moral blind spots
to which humanity has fallen prey.
Clearly, an abolitionist sanctuary plays an indispensible role in animal
advocacy, and starting and running a sanctuary, even a small one, can
be effective and rewarding, but it is a very serious commitment and
undertaking. Before even considering this idea, you must be willing
to literally commit your life to it in the form of 40 to 60 hours per
week (depending on the number of animals and how much volunteer
help you have) as long as the sanctuary stays open, not including
whatever work you may need to do to pay for life’s essentials. It
is time-consuming and physically and emotionally exhausting.
Sanctuaries adopt some of the most abused animals in the world
who need very close personal attention and often die young due
to either abuse in their previous lives or genetic defects caused by
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industrial genetic manipulation practiced to maximize rapid and
excessive animal growth and industry profits. The physical work is
hard and the emotional toll of hearing and experiencing a constant
stream of horror stories is too much for most people. That said,
volunteering and becoming involved in sanctuary work as an outside
helper is something many people can do, and it is very rewarding.
Picnics, tabling at festivals, film screening, leafleting, vegan food
tastings, teaching vegan cooking classes, and other social gatherings
are typical of what vegan education organizations do. Also, if funds
permit, billboards and newspaper and magazine advertisements are
also sponsored by vegan education organizations.
Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary is an excellent example of an abolitionist
sanctuary, and the only abolitionist sanctuary of which I am aware.
Compassionate Cooks is an excellent example of a vegan educational
organization which includes vegan cooking classes in their education.
Opening a Vegan Restaurant or Catering Company
Opening a vegan restaurant can be rewarding, but it is also a large
commitment, and plenty of former experience is very helpful, if not
essential. Also, it is better to open a restaurant because you have
restaurant operations experience and a strong desire to open a
restaurant rather than that you think it is an effective way to engage
in vegan advocacy (it is effective, but it probably won’t work for those
who don’t love running a restaurant). A lesser commitment financially,
but still a significant commitment in time if one is to be successful, is
to start a vegan catering company.
Merely being vegan and leading by example is a form of advocacy.
Leading by example is the best form of advocacy toward those non-
vegan family, co-workers, and acquaintances with whom we deal
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every day. As most vegans are well aware, a regular vegan lecture
probably does more to annoy those in regular contact with us than
educate them, but there is a balance to aim for between saying too
much and saying too little.
There are some vegans who are in a unique position as formal
educators, magazine and newspaper writers, and news reporters who
have opportunities to possibly reach more people than most of us do.
Obviously it is a judgment call on how much vegan and abolitionist
education can be done given various constraints on topic selection,
etc, while keeping one’s job in good standing, but a good balance in
this regard is part of everyday advocacy.
Keep It Abolitionist
As I’ve said in the past, going vegan is a personal manifestation
of a commitment to abolition and nonviolence, and vegan and
abolitionist education is a public manifestation of a commitment to
abolition and nonviolence. Welfarist reform is a meat-eater’s cause.
Property status abolition is a vegan’s cause. If you are not vegan, then
go vegan. If you are vegan, then be consistent and advocate going
vegan. Over time, we will incrementally change attitudes, beliefs, and
paradigms, but only if we are in a vegan paradigm to begin with.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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Vegan Education Made Easy: Part I
- Gary L. Francione
One of the things that I hear frequently is that educating people,
particularly strangers, about veganism, is difficult.
On the contrary, our everyday interactions with people provide us
with many opportunities to discuss veganism. This essay will discuss a
couple of examples. I will discuss more examples in future essays.
For example, in January of this year, I had to take Robert, one of our
dogs, to see a specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary
School. There was a woman—I will refer to her as “Jane” for purposes
of this essay but that was not her real name—sitting with me in
the waiting area. Jane had a greyhound with her. And, as always
happens when two humans are in such a place with their nonhuman
companions, we got to talking about what health problems had
brought us to Penn. And that led to how Jane had adopted her dog
from a rescue group and how our dog was found living under an
After a minute or two of discussing how horrible the greyhound
racing industry is, I told Jane that I used to teach at the University of
Pennsylvania many years ago, and that Penn was notorious for the
horrible experiments, testing, and “educational” procedures that it
performed on dogs and other nonhumans. She said that she had
heard about Penn’s animal experiments and I mentioned how strange
it was that one part of the building was devoted to the application
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of veterinary medicine to help the animals who were loved by
humans and another part of the building was devoted to torturing
nonhumans who were not members of anyone’s family. Jane made
the point that it really made no sense that we treat some dogs or
cats as family members and we treat some dogs and cats as “research
“How true,” I said. “But in many ways, we’re all just like these Penn vets.
We treat some animals as family members and we harm others.”
She look bewildered. “What do you mean? I would never hurt a dog or
cat.” I moved the conversation away from dogs and cats and starting
talking about cows, pigs, and chickens, and how they are really no
different from dogs and cats. There is something very strange about
the fact that we regard some nonhumans as family members, as
beings whom we love and whose personhood we recognize, while,
at the same time, we stick forks into other animals who are no
different—morally or empirically—from those whom we love.
Jane was silent for a moment and then asked, “are you a vegetarian?”
“I’m a vegan,” I replied.
“You mean you don’t even drink milk?” she asked.
“That’s right. I don’t eat eggs, or any dairy products.”
“I can understand not eating meat. But what’s wrong with dairy and
“Everything. The animals used in the dairy or egg industry are kept
alive longer than most of their ‘meat’ counterparts, are treated worse,
and end up in the same horrible slaughterhouse.”
Jane looked troubled.
“But isn’t it really hard to be a vegan?” she asked.
“Absolutely not,” I replied. “It’s unbelievably easy and it’s better for you
and for the planet, in addition to being the right thing to do if you
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regard nonhumans as members of the moral community.” I spent a
few minutes talking about the health benefits of a vegan diet and the
ecological disaster of an animal-based agriculture.
Our conversation stopped for about 30 seconds and then Jane asked,
“could you get me some information about how to go vegan?”
“Sure. Give me your email address.” She did.
We talked for a few more minutes about the wide range of vegan
foods that are now available, and Robert and I were then called in to
see the vet. Jane was gone when we came out. That afternoon, I sent
Jane a number of things to read about veganism—both about the
moral, health, and environmental issues concerning veganism, and
some practical information on nutrition and making quick and easy
vegan food. That evening, I got a short reply, “Thanks. I will read these
Two weeks ago, I got an email from Jane—the first I have heard from
her since sending her the materials. It read, in part: “I am about 60%
vegan already and am working toward 100%. I already feel better
both as a matter of my spirit and my body. I am using the vegan dog
food that you recommended and she loves it! Thanks for taking the
Veterinary hospitals and offices are always great places to start
up conversations about veganism. People are focused on their
nonhuman companion and are emotionally very open to thinking
more abstractly about nonhuman animals as a general matter. I
cannot recall ever being in a veterinarian’s office (and we have had up
to seven rescued dogs at one time, so we’ve had plenty of experience
at the vet’s office) where I did not start up a conversation with
someone that drifted to veganism.
Another great place to talk about veganism is on an airplane.
When you order any sort of special meal on a flight, those meals are
usually served first. The air host comes over and asks whether you
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ordered a “special meal.” I always respond, “yes, I ordered a vegan meal
with no animal products whatsoever.” Most of the time, the person
sitting next to me, or the two people sitting on either side (if I am in a
middle seat) ask me whether I have allergies or why I have requested
such a meal. This, of course, opens the door to a discussion about why
it is that I am a vegan. Depending on the delay between getting my
meal and the distribution of everyone else’s, I have had about 20% of
the people I talk to ask the air host whether there is another vegan
meal when the cart comes around. (Actually, I never start eating
my meal until the cart comes around in the event that this happens
and there is no extra vegan meal as I will happily give mine to my
neighbor and have done so on a number of occasions.)
Some of the best discussions I have had on animal rights and
veganism have occurred on airplanes, particularly transatlantic flights.
You are stuck next to someone for about 7 hours and people are
often very happy to spend at least some of that time talking with the
person sitting next to them.
One of my favorite stories occurred several years ago. I was on my way
to Paris and was seated next to a woman who had a fur coat. She was
not wearing the coat, but had it against her seat. I was reading a copy
of my Introduction to Animal Rights, which, at the time, I was thinking
of doing a second edition and I was considering changes that I might
make. The flight was delayed leaving Newark Airport, so we had some
small talk about connecting flights that we had in Paris. She saw my
book and asked, “is that a good book?” I smiled and said it was an
“excellent” book! She asked me if I was an “animal rights type.” I replied
that I was, and she spent the next 30 minutes (during which we were
still at the gate) talking about her 2 dogs and how much she was
going to miss them while on the business trip to France, etc.
And then she raised the issue of her fur coat. She said, “my coat must
offend you. I’m sorry.” She started explaining to me that it was a
“ranch raised” fox coat and that the animals were not caught in traps.
I explained how “ranched” animals are tortured as much as trapped
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ones, but I made the point that I found her fur coat—whether “ranch
raised” or trapped—no more offensive than a coat made of leather
or wool. She seemed astounded by this. “You don’t wear wool or
leather?” “No,” I replied, “I am a vegan.”
I spent the next 15 minutes (still at the gate) explaining what
veganism is and assuring her that veganism provides a wide variety
of exciting and healthful food choices, and is the logical choice for
anyone who cares about nonhuman animals. I then suggested to her
that the foxes that were killed to make her coat were no different from
the dogs that she was very sad to be leaving behind in New York for
two weeks. We then started talking about our “moral schizophrenia”
that affects and infects our thinking about nonhumans.
The plane took off, the meal service started, I was given my vegan
meal and my neighbor asked the air host immediately whether there
was an extra vegan meal on board. There was an extra meal and she
requested it. We spent the next several hours talking about animal
rights and veganism and I confessed to being the author of the book
that she had asked about!
About two months after that flight, I got an email from this person.
She had given her fox coat to an animal group that would use it in
anti-fur demonstrations and she had ordered Introduction to Animal
Rights from Amazon.com and had read it. She was working toward
veganism, using a technique that I had suggested to her where she
gave up all animal products for one meal, then for 2 meals, then 3,
and then for all snacking. Another 2 or 3 months went by and she
wrote to say that she was completely vegan.
Vegan education is challenging. We live in a culture in which most
people assume without thinking that consuming animal products is
“normal” or “natural.” Vegan education is time-intensive work; it often
means working one-on-one and spending a good deal of time.
But every day life presents us with all sorts of opportunities to
educate others and the most effective opportunities are calm, friendly
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exchanges between two thinking human beings.
And every person who goes vegan is a vital contribution to the
nonviolent revolution that will eventually shift the paradigm away
from animals as property and toward animals as persons.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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Vegan Education Made Easy: Part 2
- Gary L. Francione
A friend of mine recently asked the following question: “What do
you say to people who are vegans and who educate others about
veganism but who are also concerned about circuses, hunting, and
other particular forms of animal exploitation. Do you advise that they
not address those issues at all and just focus on veganism?”
Of course not.
It is certainly the case that I do not advise that advocates spend their
time and resources on single-issue campaigns. The reason is simple:
single-issue campaigns invariably convey the impression that some
forms of animal exploitation are morally distinguishable from others
and are worse or should be singled out for special criticism. For
example, a campaign against fur conveys the impression that there
is some morally relevant difference between fur and other forms of
animal clothing, such as leather or wool. A campaign against eating
animal flesh conveys the impression that eating flesh is morally more
objectionable than drinking milk or eating eggs. A campaign against
conventional battery eggs suggests that “cage-free” eggs are morally
This problem is inherent with single-issue campaigns in a society in
which animal exploitation is regarded as normal. If X, Y, and Z are all
considered as normal practices in a society and are closely related,
then a campaign against X, but not against Y and Z, suggests that
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there is some relevant difference between X on one hand and Y and Z
on the other. For example, we live in a society in which it is considered
as normal or “natural” to eat animal flesh and other animal products.
A campaign that focuses on flesh conveys the impression that there
is a moral difference between flesh and other animal products,
which is not the case. The proof of this is found in the fact that many
animal advocates are vegetarians but are not vegans. If they draw a
distinction, then what can we expect from the general public?
This situation is to be distinguished from one in which X, Y, and Z
are all regarded as objectionable activities or practices. For example,
we all regard genocide as a bad thing whether it is happening in
Darfur, Somalia, or Bosnia. If we have a campaign to stop genocide
in Darfur, that does not mean that we think that genocide in other
places is acceptable. We regard rape and pedophilia to be morally
objectionable. A campaign against one does not imply any tacit
approval of the other or any view that one is morally distinguishable
This inherent problem with single-issue animal campaigns is
exacerbated by the fact that animal groups that promote these
campaigns often explicitly praise exploiters who may stop or modify
some exploitative practice but who continue to engage in other,
related practices. For example some animal advocates praise “cage-
free” eggs as the “socially responsible” alternative to conventional
battery eggs. Many large animal advocacy organizations sponsor
or approve of “humane” labels that are placed on animal products.
A prominent animal ethicist claims that being a “conscientious
omnivore” is “a defensible ethical position.” This conveys a very clear
and explicit moral message: some forms of animal exploitation are
Moreover, single-issue campaigns not only create the misimpression
that some forms of exploitation are qualitatively different in a moral
sense from others, but often result in false “victories.” For example,
the single-issue campaign in California against foie gras (1, 2) resulted
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in a law that was actually supported by the one foie gras producer
in California because it immunized him against any legal action until
2012 and will probably be repealed before it ever comes into force if
foie gras production can be made to be more “humane.”
So I am not a fan of putting time and money into single-issue
campaigns. I maintain that our time, effort, and other resources are
better placed in promoting veganism. As long as 99%+ of the planet
regards the eating of animal foods and consumption or use of animal
products to be acceptable, we will never make the paradigm shift
that we need to make if we are going to dislodge the notion that
humans have a moral right to exploit nonhumans. We need to build
a nonviolent movement for abolition that has veganism as its moral
But that does not mean that we should not oppose particular types
of exploitation. For example, last weekend, a horse, Eight Belles, who
ran in the Kentucky Derby was killed immediately after the race and
on the track when her ankles gave out as a result of her running
for a duration and at a speed for which she was not suited. I was
interviewed on a radio show and asked about my views on the matter
of Eight Belles. I explained that I opposed all horse racing but as part
of my general view that humans have no moral justification for using
nonhumans at all, including for food. The host of the program picked
up on that and talked about how he very much loves and cares for his
dog but had a barbecue that past weekend at which he consumed
other animals. So in a matter of a few minutes, the connection
between horse racing and other forms of exploitation, particularly
eating animal products, was made.
When we do discuss and criticize particular forms of exploitation,
it is important to make clear that we regard the particular practice
as morally unjustifiable and not that we think that the practice or
activity can be made to be better if only we regulate it so that it is
more “humane.” And it is crucial to make clear that our opposition to
the practice or activity is part of our overall opposition to all animal
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use. We should not shrink away from making clear that we seek the
abolition of all animal exploitation.
So when you are confronted by a particular practice or activity and
want to or are asked to comment, you should do so if you are inclined.
Just be clear that the solution to the problem is not to make the
activity or practice more “humane,” but to recognize that the practice
is transparently frivolous, as are most of our uses of nonhumans, and
should be abolished–as should all animal exploitation.
Here are two examples:
Q: I was reading about foie gras. The way they make it is terrible, isn’t it?
A: It surely is. But it’s not really different from everything else we
eat. The steak you had tonight, or the glass of milk you drank this
morning, involved a production process every bit as horrible as that
involved in foie gras. And we have no right to kill nonhuman animals
just because we think they taste good irrespective of how well we
Q: The circus is coming to town. What do you, an animal advocate, think
about the use of animals in circuses?
A: I think it’s terrible. We impose suffering and death on animals for
sheer amusement and that is really inconsistent with what we claim
to believe when we express our agreement with the idea that it’s
wrong to inflict “unnecessary” suffering on animals. But then, using
animals in circuses is really no different from eating animals, which
is also something that involves our pleasure or amusement and is
just as inconsistent with what we say we believe. There is no way to
make sense out of the fact that we treat some nonhuman animals as
members of our families and we stick forks into others or torture them
for our enjoyment in circuses, zoos, or rodeos.
Whether you should spend your time and energy on legislation
concerning circuses is another matter. As I have said, at this point
in time, the cultural context is such that it makes far more sense to
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spend our time focused on the use of animals for food, which is the
primary practice that, in effect, legitimizes other forms of exploitation.
But if you do decide to campaign against circuses, your campaign
should, at the very least, oppose the use of all animals in circuses
and have no exceptions, and make clear that circuses are no better
or worse than other forms of animal use, all of which should be
abolished if we are to take animals seriously.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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Vegan Culinary Activism
in 10 Yummy Steps
- Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Vegan food is too inconvenient. It just doesn’t taste good. How many
times have you heard something along those lines? It seems too
many conversations about animal liberation end with those deal-
breakers. Now imagine a world where we didn’t have to deal with all
that, where going vegan is welcoming, fun and, most importantly,
delicious. Today it’s easy enough to look around and see that America
is a much more vegan-friendly place than it was 10 or 15 years ago.
Supermarkets are stocked with vegan burgers, tofu, tempeh and
other protein-rich foods. Cafés offer soymilk, tofu cream cheese for
your morning bagel and the occasional vegan muffin. Maybe even
your meatball lovin’ grandma enjoys vegan ice cream.
The thing is, just seeing the word vegan—in the supermarket, at bake
sales and cafés—is doing more than we know to promote veganism.
People are often turned off by images of downed cows and debeaked
chickens, and, of course, they should be. But while most people know
in their hearts harming animals is wrong, their reaction more often
than not is to turn away rather than to turn vegan. Presenting the
vegan lifestyle in a positive light makes thinking about it easier. The
more readily available vegan food is, the more the word vegan is out
there and associated with something positive and yummy, the easier
the transition will be. That is where culinary activism comes into play!
Every time I hear animal rights activists engaging in heated debate,
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I want to shout, “Shut the hell up and go invent a good tasting soy
cheese!” Because it’s true, without one we are doomed. Of course, we
can’t all invent a good tasting soy cheese (but can someone? Please?),
so I humbly offer 10 steps even the most activist-phobic among us
can use to help create a vegan world. While these things may seem
obvious, maybe even insignificant in light of what animals are going
through every day, look at it as a chipping away at our meat and dairy
Also, dealing with issues of animal abuse can take a toll on a person’s
psyche, make us cynical, depressed and, worst of all, make us lose
hope. It’s important that we keep our spirits up, and sometimes
seeing the words “Vegan Muffin!” in a bakery’s display case can feel
like reading a newspaper headline declaring “Bush Impeached!”
To that end, here are 10 yummy ways to do your part in creating the
vegan world we all want to live in.
1. Get vegan products into your corner store or supermarket
You don’t wanna waltz into a store you’ve never been in armed with
AR literature and demand soymilk. Remember, they have security
alarms under the counter. It’s simply not enough to ask for vegan
items, you have to get specific. Write down the names of the products
you want—better yet, bring in empty boxes of the products for
the shop keeper. Small stores like to order from only two or three
distributors so their supplier may not carry the brand you prefer. For
that reason, asking for products from larger companies ups the odds
for you. Also, if you are asking a store where you are not a regular
customer, make sure you buy something so it doesn’t seem you are a
Larger supermarkets are a little trickier since the manager makes the
buying decisions. Usually, if you ask to speak with the manager they
will make the time for you. Again, ask for specific items. It’s helpful
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to point out that lots of people have food allergies and will purchase
dairy-free and egg-free things if only because of that.
2. Get cafés to carry vegan items
I admit it, I get jealous when I see people walking to the train in the
morning with their muffin of choice and coffee. Of course we can
bake our own but there’s a certain feeling of normalcy when you can
walk into a café and snag a baked good.
If the café does their baking on the premises, bring in a sure-fire
recipe. The least socially awkward way to proceed is to first request
a vegan muffin. Then, depending on how it goes, tell them you will
return with a recipe. This way you don’t come off as a crazy-carrying-
around-muffin-recipe-girl. Make sure to test the recipe beforehand.
Also, pick something simple that doesn’t call for egg replacer or flax
seeds. When you return with the recipe, bring a sample of the muffin.
Show them you mean business.
If the café doesn’t do their baking on the premises find a wholesale
vegan bakery in your area. More and more are popping up all the
time so do some research; ask around on internet message boards.
Bakeries often deliver up to an hour away so maybe there’s one you
aren’t aware of. Once you find the bakery, call and see if they will
deliver to your target café. If they will, the next step is to give the café
the contact info for the bakery and vice versa. Make vegan magic
If you can’t find a vegan bakery, find any bakery and ask if they would
consider producing a vegan muffin. Again, harness the power of the
all-mighty food allergies!
3. Bring vegan goods to a bake sale
Any bake sale, not just one specifically geared toward animal issues.
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Sometimes we are wary of marking our baked goods as vegan,
thinking people won’t want to try them. But try making your sign
really pretty, as if “vegan” were a desirable selling point. Write it in
bright colors, surround it with hearts—pimp your vegan goods!
Remember, as long as your cookie looks good people will purchase it.
If you choose not to disclose the veganitude of your items in writing,
then at the point of sale tell them as an aside, “Oh and the great thing
about this is that it’s vegan!” No more shall we mumble “vegan” under
our breath, say it loud and proud!
4. Write to companies and get them to produce more vegan
Get lots of people to write, call and send e-mails. You can write
something like, “Dear so and so, I really used to enjoy your crackers
back when I suckled at the teat of death, but now that I am vegan I
won’t eat them. Can you please change your murderous ways?” (Only
leave out the part about suckling at the teat of death and the part
about them being murderers.)
5. Get your school or work cafeteria to serve vegan options
A petition would work really well here. Make sure your petition takes
into consideration how healthy vegan foods are. Lots of people
have had success with getting their cafeterias to carry vegan items,
especially in colleges where many people are on the four-year meal
plan. PETA has a wonderful guide to veganizing your college cafeteria.
6. Make your friends and family vegan-friendly
Bring vegan dishes to holiday gatherings—any social gathering,
really. Just get vegan food out there to the masses starting with the
ones closest to you.
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As gifts, buy them vegan cookbooks to go along with something they
“really want” (no, it doesn’t have to be Vegan With A Vengeance, but
that isn’t a bad choice!). Or take them out to a great vegan restaurant.
Cook them a yummy vegan meal. Prepare dishes familiar to them:
soups, chilies and curries. But here’s a suggestion: don’t break out the
nutritional yeast on the first date.
Yes, it would be great if you could make everyone vegan but the next
best thing is to make them vegan-friendly. You never know when they
will be met by the anti-vegan—that guy who wears the People for
Eating Tasty Animals beer hat. Having people who aren’t vegan but
are in your corner helps in our defense.
For people you are really close to and that will love you no matter
what, replace some of their non-vegan things with vegan ones. Store
Vegenaise in their refrigerator door, push the half and half to the
back with that ancient jar of apricot preserves and put the Silk Coffee
Creamer front and center. Hopefully they will try these things once
they are in the fridge, and if they don’t, well, you’ve voted vegan with
your wallet and that’s okay, too.
7. Bring cookies to the office
We all know the one cubicle everyone gravitates to, the one whose
inhabitant always has a tissue, handiwipes or that ubiquitous bowl of
candy on her desk. Well, guess what? That person is now you. Bring in
vegan cookies and candies a few times a week. Your co-workers will
love you for it and might even be willing to listen to the reasons why
you are vegan. As for the handiwipes and tissues, well, those don’t
8. Offer to write a food column for your local paper
Put that GED to good use and sharpen up your writing skills. Call your
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local newspaper and ask if they have any need for a recipe column. A
good pitch is to say that it will be a column about local foods, offering
recipes that are seasonal, healthy and will feature your area’s best
produce. Sneak the word vegan in there when you get a chance, but if
your ’hood isn’t ready for it, don’t be pushy. Just get it out there.
9. Start a vegan food blog
The Blogger’s Choice awards are a great example of how effective a
good food blog can be. Readers nominate and vote for their favorite
blogs, and last year, among the hundreds in the running, Vegan Lunch
Box won as Favorite Food Blog. No, not favorite vegan food blog, but
favorite food blog overall. Is that not progress? At the time of this
writing, the top three blogs in the food category are all vegan ones. It
doesn’t take much to get started, just a decent digital camera and an
internet connection. (I prefer wordpress.com, but lots of people use
blogger.com.) A few examples of wonderful blogs are veganyumyum.
com, letsgetsconed.com, blogspot.com and blog.fatfreevegan.com. If
you don’t cook but would still like to do a blog, you can photograph
and review food from restaurants, like my good friends do at
Don’t just cook but cook! First learn the basics—cook with every
vegetable you can get your hands on. Learn how ingredients act,
experiment with different methods—grilling, sautéing, broiling.
Watch cooking shows (if you can stomach seeing all that meat),
read cooking magazines and cookbooks, and cook cook cook! Even
if you think you are the worst cook in the world, keep at it, you’re
bound to get better. Even if you are lazy, even if you are busy—vegan
culture needs you to cook. The more you cook the more you will be
connected to your food. Cooking like a madwoman is actually what
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made me vegan and what keeps me vegan. Nourish yourself, love
your food, share your food and maybe the world will follow. Who
knows, you might be the one to invent that soy cheese that actually
Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the author of Vegan With a Vengeance: Over
150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Logo-Free Recipes That Rock and co-
author of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes
for Cupcakes That Rule. She co-hosts the public access/podcast vegan
cooking show, The Post Punk Kitchen (www.theppk.com). Her next book,
Veganomicon, is due out in stores this fall.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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Delivering Your Message
Although animal rights issues may be clear in your mind, it can be
difficult to effectively communicate your message. However, whether
you are speaking to a large crowd, in front of a camera or one-on-one,
this is one of the most important things you can do for animal rights.
Below are a few tips to consider when speaking on behalf of animals:
1. Consider your audience.
2. Be consistent.
3. Be simple and concise.
4. Minimise the number of messages.
5. Be genuine.
6. Be informed.
7. Rehearse and anticipate questions.
8. Get at the root of the question.
9. Beware of false dichotomies.
10. Remember who/what you are representing.
11. Remain calm.
12. Use humour, but try not to be sarcastic.
13. Maintain eye contact.
14. You don’t always have to answer the question.
15. Separate the people from the problem.
16. Focus on interests, not positions.
17. Be soft on people, hard on the problem.
18. Insist on using objective criteria.
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The following is a brief list of things not to do when communicating
• …use language and concepts that are unfamiliar to people
outside the movement.
• …skimp on preparation.
• …overload your audience with information.
• …use the same message or material for all audiences.
• …speak too quickly.
• …avoid eye contact.
• …become agitated or aggressive.
• …dismiss common questions.
• …speak for too long.
• …be distracted.
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Tips for Effective Leafleting
Handing out informative, well-designed leaflets is a great way to
educate people about animal rights issues. Leafleting is an art anyone
can learn! Here’s some tips to make the most of your leafleting time:
• Don’t wait for people to approach you; few will. Try to be
outgoing and friendly: walk up to them, and hand them a flier
with a friendly smile and a positive comment like, “Would you
like some information on stopping animal cruelty?” Then move
• Make eye contact (but don’t be pushy).
• Try to place the leaflet directly in front of a passing person’s
stomach so it’s less effort for them to take it from you.
• Hold the flier so that the title can be clearly seen by passersby.
• Prepare some brief answers ahead of time to questions such as,
“Who’s doing this?” or “What’s this all about?”
• Take people’s telephone numbers (ask for both work and home
numbers) if they seem interested, but don’t get caught up in a
conversation that distracts you from your job.
• Don’t waste time arguing. Say politely, “I think, if you read this
material, you might change your mind,” and turn away.
• Try to get someone else to leaflet with you, especially in
potentially hostile territory, such as a circus or rodeo.
• Pick up discarded leaflets before you leave the area.
• Dress neatly and conservatively (depending on the context) so
that people will take your message seriously. It’s best to mirror
the clothing style of those you are leafleting without appearing
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Conducting Animal Rights Stalls
Stalls are an important campaigning tool that can reach people that
would otherwise not have any contact with animal rights advocates.
A stall can be set up wherever there is a large group of people in one
place. Approach local events, such as community fairs, concerts and
markets, to ask if you can set up a stall.
Some places require you to obtain permission either from the local
council or from the owner of private property so it is important to
check first. Setting up stalls without permission can be OK if you are
not creating any disruption or obstructing anything but if the police
ask you to move on it is wise to do so.
Collecting money at stalls requires a permit for street collecting so
ensure you have suffiicient time to organise any required documents.
To create an effective stall you will require a portable table, an eye-
catching banner, a range of leaflets and other resources for people to
take, a sign-up sheet for people to add their email or other contact
details so they can get further information sent to them, and most
importantly two or more confident and enthusiastic people to staff
the stall. Poster diplays are optional but can be useful for attracting
ARA can provide you with free resources, sign-up sheets and has
banners and poster displays for loan. We may also be able to provide an
experienced stall staffer to keep you company if given enough notice.
If you know of an event that you would like to have an ARA stall at, please
contact us to discuss your requirements and the details - email@example.com
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What is Direct Action?
- Crimethinc Collective
Direct action is any kind of action that bypasses established political
channels to accomplish objectives directly.
Direct action, simply put, means cutting out the middleman—solving
problems yourself rather than petitioning the authorities or relying
on external institutions. Any action that sidesteps regulations and
representation to accomplish goals directly is direct action.
In a society in which political power, economic capital, and social
control are centralised in the hands of an elite, certain forms of direct
action are discouraged, to say the least. These forms are of particular
interest to those who struggle against hierarchy and oppression.
There are countless scenarios in which you might want to use
this kind of direct action. Perhaps representatives of despicable
multinational corporations are invading your town to hold a summit,
and you want to participate in protests against them as more than
just another body holding a sign; perhaps they’ve been there a
long time, operating franchises that exploit animals and ravage the
environment, and you want to draw attention to or hinder their
misdeeds; perhaps you want to organize a festive, community-
oriented event such as a street party. Direct action can plant a public
garden in an abandoned lot or defend it by paralyzing bulldozers; it
can be used to occupy empty buildings to house the homeless or to
shut down government offices. Whether you’re acting in secret with a
trusted friend or in a mass action with thousands of others, the basic
elements are the same.
Find out more by downloading A Civilian’s Guide to Direct Action from:
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Endless Possibilities for Actions
Here are a bunch of ideas (big and small) brainstormed at the first Get
Active animal rights workshop run on 8 February 2009 with a group of
animal rights activists. Use these to spark your imagination to come up
with even more!
Vegan Cooking Classes Leafleting
Animal Rights Book Clubs Animal Sanctuaries
Making Zines Documenting/Investigating/
Reporting Animal Abuse
Non-Violent Direct Action
Growing Own Food
Speaking Your Truth
Stalls & Displays
Vegan Exercise Groups/Fun Run
Teams Celebrity Patrons
Animal Rights/Vegan Social Clubs Petitions
Resource Production Humane Education
Publishing Animal Rights Vegan Vegan/AR Merchandise
Vegan Bake Sales
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