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Activism Reader


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This collection of articles has been compiled by Animal Rights Advocates Inc. (ARA) to provide an overview of strategies for abolitionist animal rights activism.

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Activism Reader

  1. 1. ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISM an activist reader
  2. 2. Contents 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 Glossary 70 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.
  3. 3. 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 -1-
  4. 4. 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 pointless. 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 -2-
  5. 5. 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 animals. 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 -3-
  6. 6. 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.” -4-
  7. 7. 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 (, 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 alike. Colleen Patrick-Goudreau is a contributing writer for Satya. She also founded Compassionate Cooks ( 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: -5-
  8. 8. How Do I Handle Social Situations? - Eric Prescott This answer was somewhat modified from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s answer at 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. -6-
  9. 9. 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. -7-
  10. 10. 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 simply responding. 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. -8-
  11. 11. 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) -9-
  12. 12. 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 humans? 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 - 10 -
  13. 13. 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 - 11 -
  14. 14. 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: - 12 -
  15. 15. 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. - 13 -
  16. 16. 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. - 14 -
  17. 17. 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 politically controversial. 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 - 15 -
  18. 18. in AIDS research are the reactionary politicians who respond to a reactionary political base that rejects more effective ways of dealing with AIDS. 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 nonhumans themselves. 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 - 16 -
  19. 19. vegan education. This article can be accessed in its original form at: - 17 -
  20. 20. 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 - 18 -
  21. 21. 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, and slaughter. 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 - 19 -
  22. 22. 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 - 20 -
  23. 23. 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 - 21 -
  24. 24. 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 life. 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 - 22 -
  25. 25. 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 tactics. 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 - 23 -
  26. 26. 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: background-part-1-of-2.html - 24 -
  27. 27. Vegan Education: 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. 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 - 25 -
  28. 28. 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. - 26 -
  29. 29. 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 - 27 -
  30. 30. 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 - 28 -
  31. 31. 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 working smart. 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. - 29 -
  32. 32. 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 - 30 -
  33. 33. the abolitionist approach, who may be good candidates for learning more. 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 self-deceptive. 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 - 31 -
  34. 34. 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 - 32 -
  35. 35. 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. Everyday Advocacy 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 - 33 -
  36. 36. 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: incremental.html - 34 -
  37. 37. 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 abandoned car. 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 - 35 -
  38. 38. 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 tools.” “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 eggs?” “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 - 36 -
  39. 39. 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 with interest.” 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 time.” 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 - 37 -
  40. 40. 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 - 38 -
  41. 41. 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 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 - 39 -
  42. 42. 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: - 40 -
  43. 43. 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 desirable. 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 - 41 -
  44. 44. 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 from another. 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 morally acceptable. 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 - 42 -
  45. 45. 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 baseline. 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 - 43 -
  46. 46. 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 treat them. 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 - 44 -
  47. 47. 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: - 45 -
  48. 48. 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, - 46 -
  49. 49. 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 based culture. 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 door-to-door salesman. 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 - 47 -
  50. 50. 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 happen! 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. - 48 -
  51. 51. 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 goods 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. - 49 -
  52. 52. 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 hurt either. 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 - 50 -
  53. 53. 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, but lots of people use A few examples of wonderful blogs are veganyumyum. com,, and 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 10. Cook!!! 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 - 51 -
  54. 54. 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 tastes good… 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 ( Her next book, Veganomicon, is due out in stores this fall. This article can be accessed in its original form at: - 52 -
  55. 55. 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. - 53 -
  56. 56. The following is a brief list of things not to do when communicating your message. DON’T: • …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. • …assume. - 54 -
  57. 57. 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 on. • 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 uncomfortable. - 55 -
  58. 58. 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 attention. 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 - - 56 -
  59. 59. 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: - 57 -
  60. 60. 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 Open Rescue Writing Letters Non-Violent Direct Action Banner Drops Video Activism Lobbying Politicians Growing Own Food Speaking Your Truth Vegan Catering 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 Books Fundraising Activities Vegan Bake Sales AR/Vegan Events/Gigs - 58 -