An Introduction to
an activist reader
- Eric Prescott 1
Q&A on Intro to Animal Rights
- Gary L. Francione 6
Veganism: The Fundamental Principle
- Gary L. Francione 16
Animals: Our Moral Schizophrenia
- Gary L. Francione 21
The Importance of Being Honest: Interview with Patty Mark
- Satya Magazine 24
Further Information 33
Guiding Principles of Animal Rights 34
About this reader
This collection of articles has been compiled by Animal Rights
Advocates Inc. (ARA) to provide an accessible introduction to the
philosophy of abolitionist animal rights for activists. Feel free to
photocopy and distribute it as long as you maintain the original
- Eric Prescott
There is a great deal of confusion about the term “animal rights.”
Much of this confusion has been caused not just by the media and
the industries that exploit nonhuman animals, but also by activists
and animal advocacy groups using the term to loosely describe any
actions purported to improve the conditions of animals used by
humans. In other words, rather than promoting the moral or legal
rights of animals, some so-called “animal rights activists” focus on
regulating animal welfare--how animals are treated.
Further confusing the issue, some animal rights activists seek legal
rights for only a select category of sentient nonhuman animals (such
as great apes), based on characteristics such as higher-order cognitive
abilities. The rights theory I put forth here--laid out in far greater detail
in Gary L. Francione’s highly recommended Introduction to Animal
Rights: Your Child or the Dog?--holds that any sentient being has at
least one basic moral right simply by virtue of that being’s sentience:
The right not be treated merely as a means to another’s end.
To be sentient is to be conscious or self-aware, capable of perception
or feeling. Sentient humans and nonhumans feel sensations of pain,
pleasure and so on. When a being is sentient, s/he will naturally have
interests. For instance, the capacity for sentient beings to feel pain
provides them with a clear interest in not feeling pain.
In recognition of this particular interest, we generally consider it
unacceptable to inflict pain on another sentient being unless there
is an extraordinarily good reason. Take the example of a boy who
harms a nonhuman simply to satisfy his morbid curiosity. He straps an
ordinary dog down on a table and cuts her open to have a look inside.
As he does this, the dog yelps, howls, and struggles, but the boy
keeps cutting, ignoring her cries.
I think it’s safe to assume we all find the boy’s behavior objectionable.
Various reasons may be offered for this, from our concern that the
boy has psychological problems--and that these problems could lead
to him harm other humans some day--to our concern that the dog
might belong to another human who has an emotional attachment
to her. But these are not the fundamental reasons for our objection.
We are upset by the example because we recognize that the boy is
causing the dog unnecessary pain.
If the dog was not sentient, then she wouldn’t have an interest in not
being caused pain (because non-sentient beings are unable to sense
pain), and so there would be no harm done. But, of course, we know
that the dog is sentient, and we know that the boy’s actions cause her
Now, if we were to agree that the pain was for some justifiable reason
necessary, we might be distressed by what is being done to the dog,
but we would not object to it as a moral matter. For instance, if the
boy was attacked by the dog and killed her to protect himself from a
similar fate, we might be saddened by her death, but we would say
that it was justified in this particular situation. However, it cannot be
reasonably held that the boy needs to harm the dog merely to satisfy
This example illustrates how, as long as a being is sentient, we
recognize--as a moral matter--that the being has an interest in not
being harmed, which cannot be ignored or overridden unless it is
truly necessary to do so. This belief is based on no other characteristic
than the being’s ability to feel that pain. No other characteristics
beyond sentience are necessary to merit moral consideration.
The principle of equal consideration holds that, as a basic moral
matter, we ought to treat like cases alike. Viewed in terms of interests,
the principle requires that the like interests of various beings must
be given equal consideration. As described above, nonhumans and
humans are alike in at least one important, morally relevant respect:
they are sentient and, as such, they have interests that must be
considered. Extending the principle of equal consideration to all
sentient beings requires that we give nonhumans’ interests equal
weight to humans’ interests. Where our interests are the same, we
must weigh them equally.
So how does this work?
Let’s examine a simple case involving humans. Morally, we disapprove
of killing other humans without justification (e.g., self defense). This
is because we recognize that human beings have an interest in not
being killed. We take this interest very seriously, protecting it with a
legal right. A person’s interest in not being killed does not derive from
skin color, sex, or cognitive abilities. When we give equal weight to the
interests of white and black people, people of any sex or intelligence
level, we recognize that they all have an equal interest in continued
existence, and we accept that we might protect this interest equally.
Species is not the basis for an interest in continued existence, either.
Humans do not have an interest in continued existence because they
are human, but because they are sentient. As previously discussed,
all sentient beings have interests, including a fundamental interest
in staying alive.1 According to the principle of equal consideration,
to whatever extent we respect a human’s interest in not being killed,
then we must also respect a nonhuman’s interest in not being killed.
If we accept that a human’s interest in continued existence cannot be
outweighed by another human’s interest in pleasure, then we must
accept that a nonhuman’s interest in continued existence cannot by
outweighed by a human’s interest in pleasure.
There is simply no non-arbitrary difference between humans and
other animals that justifies treating their like interests differently.2
Remember, we accord equal consideration where our interests
are alike. Because there is no characteristic possessed by sentient
nonhumans that justifies giving their like interests less consideration
than our own, they ought to be protected equally. This brings us to
Recall from the previous article that rights protect one’s interests
against those who would disregard those interests. All sentient beings
have interests, both human and nonhuman, and so they all belong in
the moral community of rightholders. When we say that nonhuman
animals have moral rights, we are basically acknowledging that
some of their interests are like ours and that these interests must be
given equal consideration to our own. So, if we have a moral right
not be killed (even if it might benefit someone to kill us), then our
understanding of the principle of equal consideration leads us to the
conclusion that nonhuman animals have that moral right as well, as
they have the exact same underlying interest.
As discussed previously, we expect that, at some point, legally
defined rights will reflect the moral rights that we already accept.
Moral and legal rights for animals, then, derive from the notion of
equal consideration for their basic interests. Saying that animals have
rights is the same as saying that animals are rightholders. It doesn’t
necessarily say which rights animals have morally, and which they
should be granted legally. Moral rights would, of course, become
better understood as we begin to give the interests of nonhuman
animals equal consideration. The expectation is that legal rights
would follow along the same lines.
While we may not agree on all the specific moral rights possessed
by sentient nonhuman animals, but there must be at least one
fundamental moral right they hold if any other rights are to make
sense: The right not be treated as a thing, as merely the means to
another’s end. This must also be granted as a legal right if any other
legal animal rights are going to mean anything. Nonhuman beings
simply have no legal rights as long as they are regarded as property,
i.e., a means to the ends of a person. Remember, property cannot
have rights, only persons can.
1. Remember, if one is not sentient, one simply has no interests to speak of.
2. There are certainly some interests sentient beings do not have in common. For
instance, nonhumans do not have a demonstrable interest in voting, bearing arms,
and so on, and therefore we are not obligated to consider those interests. After all,
you cannot give consideration to an interest if it does not exist.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
Q&A on Intro to Animal Rights
- Gary L. Francione
There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the public debate on
the matter of animal rights. This confusion is attributable in large
part to the fact that there has been to date no theory of animal rights
that is easily accessible and does not require that the reader have a
background in philosophical theory or law. In an attempt to provide
a theory of animal rights that explains the rights position in a simple
and straightforward way, I have written a book entitled, Introduction
to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?, published by Temple
University in July 2000. The following questions and answers cover
some of the topics that I address in the book.
Is there a difference between the animal rights position and the
animal welfare position?
Yes. The animal rights position holds that that we ought to abolish
the institutionalized exploitation of nonhumans. The animal welfare
position holds that it is acceptable for us to use animals for at least
some purposes, but that we must regulate animal use so that we
treat animals ‘humanely’ and do not impose ‘unnecessary’suffering
on them. Animal welfare advocates maintain that we must ‘balance’
human and animal interests to determine whether animal use is
appropriate in particular circumstances. The animal welfare position is
reflected in legislation, such as in state anticruelty laws.
Does the animal welfare position succeed in providing any
significant protection to animals?
No. There can be no meaningful balance of human and animal
interests because animals are our property. They are commodities
that we own and that have no value other than that which we as
property owners choose to give them. It is simply nonsense to
talk about balancing the interests of property against the interest
of property owners. If someone suggested that you balance your
interests against those of your automobile or your wristwatch,
you would quite correctly regard the suggestion as absurd. Your
automobile and your watch are your property.
They have no morally significant interests; they are merely things
that have no value except that which you, the owner, accord to them.
Because animals are merely property, we are generally permitted to
ignore animal interests and to inflict the most horrendous pain and
suffering or death on animals when it is economically beneficial. The
failure of animal welfare cannot be doubted: there have been animal
welfare laws of various types in existence for almost 200 years and
we are using more animals today, and in more horrific ways, than we
were in 1850.
If animals have rights, does that mean that they have all the same
rights as do humans?
No, of course not. It would make no sense to say that animals have
a right to vote or drive, or a right to an education, or a right to be
free from discrimination in the workplace. The animal rights position
maintains that animals have one right: the right not to be treated as
the resources or property of humans. Treating animals are property is
inconsistent with according animals any moral significance at all; as
long as animals are property, then they will necessarily be excluded
from the moral community.
Our various uses of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, and
science all assume that animals are our resources, and none of these
forms of institutionalized exploitation would be permissible were we
to recognize that animals have this one right not to be property.
What is a ‘right’?
There is a great deal of confusion that surrounds the concept of rights.
For our purposes, we need to focus on only one aspect of the concept
of a right that is common to virtually all theories about rights: a right
is a particular way of protecting interests. To say that an interest is
protected by a right is to say that the interest is protected against
being ignored or violated simply because it will benefit someone
else to do so. We can think of a right of any sort as a fence or a wall
that surrounds an interest and upon which hangs a no trespass sign
that forbids entry even if it would be beneficial to the person seeking
that entry. For example, my right of free speech protects my interest
in self-expression even if other people do not value that expression
and would stifle my speech merely because it would benefit them or
because they disagree with me.
My right to liberty protects my interest in my freedom regardless of
the value that others attach to that interest. If other people think I
should be imprisoned for no other reason than that my imprisonment
will benefit them, my right to liberty will prevent such treatment.
To say that an animal has a right not to be treated as our property
means that the animal’s interest in not being treated as an economic
commodity should be protected and should not be violated simply
because it will benefit humans to do so.
What is the basis of an animal’s right not to be treated as our
The basis is the principle of equal consideration, which holds that
as a fundamental moral matter, we ought to treat like cases alike.
Human and nonhuman animals are alike in at least one respect and
unlike everything else in the universe - they are sentient, or capable
of experiencing pain. Nonhuman animals have an interest in not
suffering just as humans have an interest in not suffering.
We recognize that among humans there is a wide range of interests
in that almost no two humans prefer or want or desire the same
things. Some humans prefer La Boheme; others prefer Pink Floyd.
Some humans have interests in obtaining a university education;
others prefer to learn a trade; still others may be retarded and have
absolutely no interest in either higher education or trade training.
But all humans who are not brain dead or otherwise nonsentient
have an interest in avoiding pain and suffering. Although we do
not protect humans from all suffering, and although we may not
even agree about which human interests should be protected by
rights, we generally agree that all humans should be protected from
suffering that results from their use as the property or commodity of
another human. We do not regard it legitimate to treat any humans,
irrespective of their particular characteristics, as the property of other
humans. Indeed, in a world deeply divided on many moral issues, one
of the few norms endorsed by the international community is the
prohibition of human slavery. And it is not a matter of whether the
particular form of slavery is ‘humane’ or not; we condemn all human
slavery. It would, of course, be incorrect to say that human slavery
has been eliminated entirely from the planet, but the institution is
universally regarded as morally odious and is legally prohibited.
We protect the interest of a human in not being the property of
others with a right, which is to say that we do not allow this interest
to be ignored or abrogated simply because it will benefit someone
else to do so. And the right not to be treated as the property of others
is basic in that it is different from any other rights that we might have
because it is the grounding for those other rights; it is a precondition
for the possession of morally significant interests. If we do not
recognize that a human has the right not to be treated exclusively
as a means to the end of another, then any other right that we may
grant her, such as a right of free speech, or of liberty, or to vote or own
property, is completely meaningless.
To put the matter more simply, if I can enslave you and kill you at will,
then any other right you may have will not be of much use to you. We
may not agree about what other rights humans have, but in order for
humans to have any rights at all, they must have the basic right not to
be treated as a thing.
The principle of equal consideration requires that we treat similar
interests in a similar way unless there is a morally sound reason
for not doing so. Is there a morally sound reason that justifies our
giving all humans a basic right not to be the property of others while
denying this same right to all animals and treating them merely as our
The usual response is to claim that some factual difference between
humans and animals justifies this dissimilar treatment. For example,
we maintain that animals cannot think rationally or abstractly, so it
is acceptable for us to treat them as our property. In the first place,
it is as difficult to deny that many animals are capable of rational or
abstract thought as it is to deny that dogs have tails. But even if it is
true that animals are not rational or cannot think in abstract ways,
what possible difference could that make as a moral matter? Many
humans, such as young children or severely retarded humans, cannot
think rationally or in abstract terms, and we would never think of
using such humans as subjects in painful biomedical experiments, or
as sources of food or clothing. Despite what we say, we treat similar
animal interests in a dissimilar way, and thus deprive animal interests
of moral significance.
There is no characteristic that serves to distinguish humans from
all other animals. Whatever attribute that we may think makes all
humans ‘special’ and thereby different from other animals, is shared
by some group of nonhumans. Whatever ‘defect’ we may think makes
animals inferior to us is shared by some group of us. In the end, the
only difference between them and us is species, and species alone
is not a morally relevant criterion for excluding animals from the
moral community any more than is race a justification for human
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slavery or sex a justification for making women the property of their
husbands. The use of species to justify the property status of animals
is speciesism just as the use of race or sex to justify the property status
of humans is respectively racism or sexism. If we want animal interests
to have moral significance, then we have to treat like cases alike, and
we cannot treat animals in ways in which we would not be willing to
treat any human.
If we apply the principle of equal consideration to animals, then
we must extend to animals the one basic right that we extend to
all human beings: the right not to be treated as a thing. But just
as our recognition that no humans should be the property of
others required that we abolish slavery, and not merely regulate
it to be more ‘humane,’ our recognition that animals have this
one basic right would mean that we could no longer justify our
institutional exploitation of animals for food, clothing, amusement,
or experiments. If we mean what we say and we regard animals as
having morally significant interests, then we really have no choice: we
are similarly committed to the abolition of animal exploitation, and
not merely to its regulation.
Is anything more than sentience required for an animal to have a
basic right not to be treated as our property?
No. There are some who argue that chimpanzees or other great apes
should have rights because of the genetic and mental similarities
between great apes and human beings. But this position merely
reasserts the arbitrary moral hierarchy of human characteristics: the
great apes have moral status because they are like us and it is our
characteristics that define moral significance. Dogs are not similar to
humans in the same ways that the great apes are, but dogs are still
beings who are conscious of pain. If we predicate moral status on
the possession of human characteristics, we exclude from the moral
community more than 99.5% of the animals that we exploit.
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Will animals ever have a legal right not to be treated as things
before there is a change in our general social attitudes about
No. There will be no significant change in the status of animals as
property as the result of court cases or legislation until there is a
significant social change in our attitude about animals. That is, it is
not the law that will alter our moral thinking about animals; it must
be the other way around. It was not the law that abolished slavery
in the United States; indeed, the law protected slave ownership and
the institution of slavery was not abolished by the law but through
the Civil War. Women did not get the right to vote until the United
States Constitution was amended. Animal exploitation is not going to
be ended by a pronouncement of the Supreme Court—at least not
until a majority of us accept the moral position that the institution
of animal property is morally unacceptable. The present-day world
economy is far more dependent economically on animal exploitation
than were the Southern United States on human slavery. Legal
protection for animal interests in not being property will only come
after we as a society become repulsed by our domination of animals
as we were repulsed by human slavery.
Often people say domestic animals, such as cows and pigs, and
laboratory rats, would not exist were it not for our bringing them
into existence in the first place for our purposes. So is it not the
case that we are free to treat them as our resources?
No. The fact that we are in some sense responsible for the existence of
a being does not give us the right to treat that being as our resource.
Were that so, then we could treat our children as resources. After all,
they would not exist were it not for our actions—from decisions to
conceive to decisions not to abort. And although we are granted a
certain amount of discretion as to how we treat our children, there
are limits: we cannot treat them as we do animals. We cannot enslave
them, sell them into prostitution, or sell their organs. We cannot kill
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Indeed, it is a cultural norm that bringing a child into existence
creates moral obligations on the part of the parents to care for the
child and not to exploit the child. It should be noted that one of the
purported justifications for human slavery in the United States was
that many of those who were enslaved would not have existed in the
first place were it not for the institution of slavery. The original slaves
who were brought to the United States were forced to breed and their
children were considered as property. Although such an argument
appears ludicrous to us now, it demonstrates that we cannot
assume the legitimacy of the institution of property—of humans
or animals—and then ask about whether it is acceptable to treat
property as property. The answer will be predetermined. Rather, we
must first ask whether the institution of animal (or human) property
can be morally justified. We cannot justify the institution of animal
(or human) property simply because we are responsible for bringing
certain beings into existence because to do so would beg the central
moral question from the outset. Indeed, it is the property status of
animals that creates the conflicts between humans and animals that
we seek to resolve through our moral analysis of the human/animal
Isn’t human use of animals a ‘tradition’ or ‘natural’ and, therefore,
Every form of discrimination in the history of humankind has been
defended on the grounds that it represents a ‘tradition.’ For example,
sexism is routinely justified on the ground that it is traditional for
women to be subservient to men: ‘A woman’s place is in the home.’
Human slavery has been a tradition in most cultures at some
times. The fact that some behavior can be described as traditional
has nothing to do with whether the behavior is or is not morally
In addition to relying on tradition, some characterize our use of
animals as ‘natural’ and then declare it to be morally acceptable.
Again, to describe something as natural does not in itself say anything
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about the morality of the practice. In the first place, just about every
form of discrimination has also been described as natural as well as
traditional. The two notions are often used interchangeably. We have
justified human slavery as representing a natural hierarchy of slave
owners over slaves. We have justified sexism as representing the
natural superiority of men over women. Moreover, it is a bit strange
to describe our modern commodification of animals as natural
in any sense of the word. We have created completely unnatural
environments and agricultural procedures in order to maximize
profits. We do bizarre experiments in which we transplant genes and
organs from animals into humans and vice versa. We are now cloning
animals. None of this can be described as natural. Labels such as
‘natural’ and ‘traditional’ are just that: labels. They are not reasons.
If people defend the imposition of pain and suffering on an animal
based on what is natural or traditional, it usually means that they
cannot otherwise justify their conduct.
A variant of this question focuses on the traditions of particular
groups. For example, in May 1999, the Makah tribe from Washington
State killed its first gray whale in over 70 years. The killing, which
was done with steel harpoons, anti-tank guns, armor-piercing
ammunition, motorized chase boats, and a $310,000 grant from the
federal government, was defended on the ground that whaling was
a Makah tradition although no living member of the tribe had ever
participated in a whale hunt. But the same argument could be (and
is) made to defend clitoral mutilations in Africa and bride-burning
in India. These are cultural traditions that are required for cultural
identity. The issue is not whether conduct is part of a culture; all
conduct is part of some culture. The issue is whether the conduct can
be morally justified.
Finally, some argue that since nonhuman animals eat other
nonhumans in the wild, our use of animals is ‘natural.’ There are
four responses to this position. First, although some animals eat
each other in the wild, many do not. Many animals are vegetarians.
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Moreover, there is far more cooperation in nature than our imagined
‘cruelty of nature’ would have us believe. Second, whether animals eat
other animals is beside the point. How is it relevant whether animals
eat other animals? Some animals are carnivorous and cannot exist
without eating meat. We do not fall into that category; we can get
along fine without eating meat, and more and more people are taking
the position that our health and environment would both benefit
from a shift away from a diet of animal products. Third, animals do all
sorts of things that humans do not regard as morally appropriate. For
example, dogs copulate in the street and eliminate wastes in a rather
public fashion. Does that mean that we should do so?
Fourth, it is interesting that when it is convenient for us to do so,
we attempt to justify our exploitation of animals by resting on our
supposed ‘superiority.’ And when our supposed ‘superiority’ gets in the
way of what we want to do, we suddenly portray ourselves as nothing
more than another species of wild animal, as entitled as foxes to eat
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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Veganism: The Fundamental Principle
of the Abolitionist Movement
- Gary L. Francione
Many animal welfare advocates claim that the rights position, which
seeks the abolition of animal use, is not practical because it rejects
incremental change and does not provide any guidance for what
we should do now—today—to help nonhumans. These critics of
the abolitionist position argue that we have no choice but to pursue
more animal-welfare regulations—more attempts to make animal
exploitation more “humane”—if we want to do something “practical”
to help animals.
The notion that animal welfare regulations provide significant
protection for animal interests is about as wrong as wrong gets. As I
have discussed in my writing, because animals are property, they are
only economic commodities with nothing but extrinsic or conditional
value. Their interests have no inherent value. As a result, standards
that require their “humane” treatment are interpreted in an economic
sense and limit protection to what will provide an economic benefit
to humans. Purported improvements in animal welfare do very little,
if anything, to increase protection for animal interests; for the most
part, they do nothing more than to make animal exploitation more
economically efficient and socially acceptable. Moreover, there is no
historical evidence that animal welfare regulation leads to abolition.
The welfarists are also mistaken to claim that the rights position does
not provide any practical incremental steps that we can take on the
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road to abolition. There is very clear guidance for incremental change:
Veganism is not merely a matter of diet; it is a moral and political
commitment to abolition on the individual level and extends not
only to matters of food, but to clothing, other products, and other
personal actions and choices. Becoming a vegan is the one thing that
we can all do today—right now—to help animals. It does not require
an expensive campaign, the involvement of a large organization,
legislation, or anything other than our recognition that if “animal
rights” means anything, it means that we cannot justify consuming
meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or other animal products.
Veganism reduces animal suffering and death by decreasing demand.
It represents a rejection of the commodity status of nonhumans and
recognition of their inherent value. Veganism is also a commitment to
nonviolence and the animal rights movement should be a movement
of peace and should reject violence against all animals—nonhuman
Many animal advocates claim to favor animal rights but continue to
eat animal products. Indeed, many “leaders” of the animal movement
are not vegans. That is no different from someone who claims to be in
favor of the abolition of slavery but who continues to own slaves.
There is no meaningful distinction between eating flesh and eating
dairy or other animal products. Animals exploited in the dairy
industry live longer than those used for meat, but they are treated
worse during their lives, and they end up in the same slaughterhouse
after which we consume their flesh anyway. There is probably more
suffering in a glass of milk or an ice cream cone than there is in a
steak. And anyone who thinks that an egg—even a so-called “free
range” one—is any less a product of horrible suffering than is meat
does not know much about the egg industry.
If someone stops eating flesh but eats more dairy or eggs as a result
(as many “vegetarians” do), this may actually increase suffering. In any
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event, to maintain that there is moral distinction between eating flesh
and eating dairy, eggs, or consuming other animal products, is as silly
as maintaining that there is a moral distinction between eating large
cows and eating small cows.
Rather than embracing veganism as a clear moral baseline, the animal
advocacy movement has instead adopted the notion that we can act
ethically and still consume animal products by promoting “humane”
meat based on welfare certifications.
It is, of course, as a general matter, always better to do less harm than
more once we have decided to inflict harm. If we are going to eat
an animal who has been tortured, I suppose that it is “better” to eat
the one who has been tortured less. But putting aside the question
whether “humanely” raised nonhumans are really tortured less
than others, there is a big difference between the position that less
suffering is better than more suffering, and the position that causing
less suffering makes an action morally acceptable. The notion that
the animal movement actively and explicitly promotes the latter
position—that doing less harm is a morally acceptable solution to the
problem of animal exploitation—is deeply troubling.
If X is going to rape Y, it is “better” that he not beat Y as well. It
would, however, be morally repugnant to maintain that we can be
“conscientious rapists” by ensuring that we not beat rape victims.
Similarly, it is disturbing that animal advocates are promoting the
notion that we can be morally “conscientious omnivores” if we eat the
supposedly “humanely” produced animal products sold by “ethically
responsible” purveyors of suffering and death. Not only is such a
position in conflict with the notion that nonhumans have moral
significance, but it strongly encourages people to see continued
consumption as a morally acceptable alternative to adopting a vegan
Moreover, many of the animal organizations portray veganism as
involving a difficult lifestyle that requires considerable self-sacrifice
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and is only for the “hardcore” advocate. I became a vegan 24 years
ago. It was not particularly difficult back then but it is absolutely
absurd to characterize it as difficult today. It is easy to be a vegan.
Sure, you are more limited in your restaurant choices, particularly
if you do not live in or near a large city, but if this inconvenience
is significant to you and keeping you from being vegan, then you
probably were not serious about the issue anyway.
The animal movement will never have even a hope of shifting the
paradigm of speciesist hierarchy as long as it is not absolutely clear
as a baseline principle that it is morally wrong to consume meat, fish,
dairy, eggs, or any other products made from animals.
If, in the late 1980s—when the animal advocacy community decided
very deliberately to pursue a welfarist agenda—a substantial portion
of movement resources had been invested in vegan education and
abolitionist education, there would likely be hundreds of thousands
more vegans than there are today. This is a very conservative estimate
given the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been expended
by animal advocacy groups to promote welfarist legislation and
initiatives. I maintain that having the increased number of vegans
would reduce suffering more by decreasing demand for animal
products than have all of the welfarist “successes” put together and
multiplied ten-fold. Increasing the number of vegans would also help
to build a political and economic base required for the social change
that is a necessary predicate for significant legal change.
Given limited time and limited financial resources, it is not clear
how anyone who seeks abolition as a long-term goal, or who at
least accepts that the property status of animals is a most serious
impediment to any significant change and must at least be radically
modified, could believe that expansion of traditional animal welfare
is a rational and efficient choice—putting aside any considerations
about inconsistencies in moral theory.
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Assume that tomorrow, you have two hours to spend on animal
advocacy. You cannot do everything; you must choose. There is no
doubt in my mind that 2 hours of your time spent on passing out
literature about veganism is, in a number of ways, a much better use
of your time than 2 hours of your time campaigning for bigger battery
cages or for more “humane” forms of animal slavery.
In sum, just as someone who says that human slavery is wrong but
who continues to own slaves is not really an abolitionist with respect
to human slavery, someone who says that animal slavery is wrong
but who does not embrace veganism as a way of life is not really an
abolitionist with respect to animal slavery. Let those of us who accept
the abolitionist approach be clear and unequivocal and promote
veganism in our words and our actions.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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Animals: Our Moral Schizophrenia
- Gary L. Francione
The notion that we should not eat meat or any products, including
dairy and eggs, may appear to be radical and relative to our prevailing
norms of behavior, it certainly is so. But relative to what we say
we believe as a moral matter, it is not radical at all. In fact, when
it comes to animals, our thinking is characterized by a significant
degree of confused and delusional thinking, or what we call ‘moral
We all ostensibly accept the notion that it is morally wrong to inflict
‘unnecessary’ suffering on animals. This moral principle is embraced
by almost everyone and is so uncontroversial that it is embodied in
the law of most nations through anticruelty laws. These laws are often
contained in the criminal code and provide for the imposition of a
fine or imprisonment in the event of violation. As a general matter,
only those moral rules that are widely accepted and uncontroversial,
such as prohibitions against killing other humans, inflicting physical
harm on them, or taking or destroying their property, are enshrined in
There may, of course, be disputes about what constitutes ‘necessity’
but if this concept is to have any meaning whatsoever, it must rule
out the imposition of suffering and death on animals for reasons
of pleasure, amusement, or convenience. If these reasons are not
excluded as justifications, then the moral rule is without coherence.
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We can see this in the human context. If we interpreted the widely
shared moral principle that it is wrong to abuse children as allowing
for an exception in the case of abuse that resulted in pleasure,
amusement, or convenience, the exception would create a loophole
that would render the moral rule meaningless.
The problem is that in the case of nonhuman animals, the
overwhelming portion of our animal use can only be justified
by pleasure, amusement, or convenience. Our most numerically
significant use of animals is for food. Humans kill an estimated
53 billion animals worldwide every year in connection with the
production of meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products. This
number does not include the billions more of fish and other aquatic
There is absolutely no necessity for this suffering and death. We
certainly do not need meat or animal products to live an optimally
healthy life. Indeed, mainstream health care professionals are
increasingly of the view that animal products are detrimental to
human health. Animal agriculture is a disaster for the environment
because it involves a most inefficient use of natural resources and
creates water pollution, soil erosion, and greenhouse gasses. The only
justification that we have for the pain, suffering, and death that we
impose on these billions of animals is that we enjoy eating animal
foods, or that it is convenient to do so, or that it is just plain habit.
Our moral schizophrenia is illustrated in the 2007 scandal concerning
American football celebrity Michael Vick. Vick was indicted on and
eventually pled guilty to federal dog fighting and related charges
and was sentenced to prison as a result of these matters. There was
widespread and well justified condemnation of Vick for what he did
with respect to the dogs. Everyone—including those who ate meat
and animal products—condemned Vick. But how is what Vick did any
different from what those who consume meat and animal products
do? What is the difference between sitting around a pit and watching
dogs fight and sitting around a summer barbecue roasting the
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bodies of cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, or fish? Vick apparently derived
pleasure from or was amused by watching dogs fight; those who
eat animal products derive pleasure and amusement from ingesting
those products. The fact that others are paid to do the killing in the
latter situation is irrelevant in terms of the moral justification for the
imposition of suffering and death. In both cases, the purported moral
justifications are identical and must be rejected for precisely the same
Many of us live with nonhuman companions. We love those
nonhumans and we treat them as members of our families. We
worry about them and often rearrange our lives in different ways to
accommodate them and to ensure their well being. We take them
to the veterinarian when they are ill or when they need to have their
teeth cleaned. When they become ill, we often go to great lengths
to get them well. When they die, we grieve them, sometimes for
There is, of course, absolutely no difference between the dog or
cat who is a member of our family and the cow, pig, or chicken into
whom we stick a fork and who we put into our mouths, chew, and
swallow. Nevertheless, we act as though there were a difference.
In sum, you may think that veganism is strange or bizarre. It isn’t.
What’s strange and bizarre is that we aren’t vegans.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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The Importance of Being Honest:
Interview with Patty Mark
- Satya Magazine
Known as the pioneer of the global open rescue movement, Patty Mark
is president of the Australian animal advocacy organization Animal
Liberation Victoria (ALV), which she founded in 1978. Patty is also
founding editor of Action Magazine and director of the ALV Rescue Team.
Patty Mark took the time to answer some questions from Catherine Clyne
about her views on “humane” conditions for farmed animals and vegan
As someone who has investigated cruelty in factory farms and
rescued animals from them, what do you think about efforts to
create more “humane” living conditions for farmed animals?
Working to create more “humane” living conditions for farmed
animals is not the job of animal activists. Our job is to stop animal
farming and shut down slaughterhouses. The quickest way for this to
happen is to get people to stop eating and drinking animal products.
But this isn’t going to happen overnight, and unfortunately many
animal activists consider achieving this to be so overwhelming they
give it little if any of their time and energy. The animal movement is
stuck in the concept of ‘let’s make it better for the animals before they
are killed.’ This has basically been the status quo for the last 25-30
years, even though the hearts and minds of most activists today don’t
want any animals raised or killed for food.
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What are some of the trends you have seen in Australia with
regard to animal welfare improvement?
In the early 80s the Australian government set up a Senate Select
Inquiry into Animal Welfare. It was a broad inquiry covering all major
areas of animal use and abuse. Our movement here was overjoyed
such high level attention was being given to animals. For several
years animal groups from around Australia worked very hard doing
extensive research and writing submissions—it kept us very busy.
The movement’s time, energy, resources and finances were all
channeled into showing the government and the public how animal
farming could be improved. The senators did make some positive
recommendations to lessen animal suffering, but they were only
that—recommendations—little was ever acted on. I cringe now
looking back on these submissions, including the ones I worked on.
We argued for free-range farming vs. factory farming—there was no
mention of not having any animal farming, it wasn’t even considered.
Back then we were also nervous to mention the word vegetarian,
frightened that no one would take us seriously if we did. Vegan was
not even on the radar—that was real outer space! The “modern”
animal movement was in its infancy with little self-confidence, and in
retrospect, very blurred vision.
And today—do we still have blurred vision? The majority of
the animal movement continues with the same approach we’ve
taken for 25 years and things are getting worse for animals.
The numbers killed have never been higher—55 billion each
year globally, and growing—and this doesn’t include [aquatic]
animals. We’ve been working very hard using our scant resources
and small numbers to plug all the little holes in the dam,
effectively keeping it in working order. But let’s think laterally:
do we really want this dam system? Do we want any meat-
eating or milk drinking? Should we help prop up a system we
are inherently against, or should we step way back, take a good
long look and then marshal our troops, evacuate the dam site, go
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upstream and stop the flow?
Yes, it is unbearable to consider what the 55 billion animals are
suffering and enduring today, and they must not be forgotten.
Undercover resistance work to save as many of them as possible
should not only continue but escalate. Spending any time working
with the animal industries trying to make things ‘better’ is having
coffee with the abusers. Animal activists are microscopic in the
general population. We do not have “numbers,” not yet, but our
passion and commitment is a force to be reckoned with. It’s our
responsibility, not to mention smart thinking, to use this wisely.
Promoting free-range, sunshine and fresh air before a “stunned”
slaughter for animals sugar-coats the bits and pieces of their bodies
for the public, but it isn’t getting our job done and it’s dishonest to
the animals depending on our help.
It’s a poor use of our time to engage with animal industries, big
business and governments trying to encourage them to treat the
animals who are at their mercy “better.” It’s time for us to set the
pace and to be proactive. The real work isn’t negotiating with the
animal industries, but with educating the public. The biggest threat
to animal farming is veganism...this is the weakest link chaining the
animals down. The last thing animal farmers want us to do is promote
veganism, so let’s make it first-up.
Factory farms are pretty horrendous in the U.S. What are
conditions like in Australia? Are there national welfare laws
protecting animals from certain abuses?
Factory farms are hellholes worldwide. I’ve been inside them on
four continents and they are all the same, exactly like KFC’s or
McDonald’s—if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. I include
barn-laid [cage-free] and so-called free-range farm alternatives in
this as well. Some of the worst conditions I’ve ever seen were in
RSPCA approved barn-laid sheds: the hens were badly debeaked,
overcrowded, aggressive birds were cannibalizing sick birds and no
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one was there to help them. And let’s face it—all the animals die
prematurely and not lovingly held in someone’s arms.
Free-range eggs are also not what people think. There is currently
a huge scandal here in Australia. On July 27 the Sydney Morning
Herald reported: “As many as 200,000 factory-farmed eggs are being
passed off as free-range each day, in a widespread egg substitution
racket, swindling the consumer of about $13 million annually... The
allegations of egg fraud came after an analysis of data provided by
the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Egg Corporation
and the Australian Free-range Egg and Poultry Association showed
that farmers were incapable of producing the 364.8 million free-range
eggs consumed each year.” Some “free-range” egg farms have hens
roaming outdoors, but many have the hens enclosed in large sheds
with tiny pop holes that are never used and all free-range egg farms
kill the equivalent number of non egg-laying male chicks as they
have hens—mainly by tossing the one and two day old babies alive in
Each state in Australia has a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act
(POCTAA) protecting animals from abuse. But any animal covered by a
“Code of Accepted Farming Practice” is exempt from the POCTAA, and
the Codes of Practice are “recommended,” not statutory. If the POCTAA
stood alone and sincerely covered all animals at all times there could
be no animal farms or abattoirs.
What are your thoughts about the growing availability and
popularity of “humanely raised” animal products in Australia and
also in the U.S.?
I don’t see this as progressive or helpful in the slightest and it certainly
isn’t achieving our aim of wiping out speciesism. Some people
with more money in their pockets will pay the premium, but more
than most because of “better taste” than to ease their conscience.
“Humanely raised” animal products are currently marketed in
gourmet sections of the supermarket. For someone to buy, eat or
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endorse animal products, despite how the animals are raised, priced
or promoted, there is complicity in their murder. There is only sadness
and pain knowing that any animal anywhere was killed to please
someone’s taste buds.
We must always imagine the human condition rising above violence
and killing when it’s simply not necessary. To me it’s perverted to give
an animal a “humane life” (implying the animal has needs and desires)
only to then stick a knife in them, bleed them to death and eat their
body, or let them live only a fraction of their life so you can eat their
eggs. The worst suffering, terror and torment I’ve ever had to witness
was the killing of free-range pigs at a New South Whales abattoir. They
came from their “good life” roaming the paddocks to the loud, foul,
crowded kill lines—smelling the blood and hearing the screams of
the pigs ahead of them nearing the knife. Many foamed at the mouth
in panic and their eyes rolled in anguish and fear. We’ve all read about
Virgil Butler’s experiences on the chicken kill lines [see Satya interview
in February, ‘06]. There are no cozy little slaughterhouses for free-
range hens who get held and comforted when their throat is slit after
laying all those humane eggs for us.
What do you think of the increasing association of (at least
American) animal rights activists and groups with industry, for
example, promoting certification schemes, endorsing Whole
Foods’ Animal Compassion standards or advocating switching to
I believe groups and individuals who do this are well intended and
want to make a difference. I remember in the early 80s I heavily
promoted free-range eggs and sincerely believed it was a good thing.
However, knowing all we know now, and after seeing all I’ve seen
inside animal farms and abattoirs, I think this is a dead end street—no,
worse—it’s the WRONG WAY, GO BACK sign on the freeway. I sincerely
believe more good would be done by spending that time and those
resources on rescuing or taking in factory farmed animals; distributing
vegan literature, promoting vegan cookbooks and restaurants,
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teaching vegan cooking, sponsoring vegan events or school lunches
and organizing regular vegan expos and festivals, which more and
more groups are now doing.
Also, when we align ourselves with any company or product that
exploits and/or kills animals, it destroys our credibility and sends the
wrong message. Animals are our friends—our family. Would we ever
sell our mother out like this? We need to continually question what
speciesism really is, how deeply it can go, the same as with racism
and sexism. Even for those of us who believe we’ve got it all covered,
there’s always more to realize when we walk, fly or swim in someone
else’s skin, sex or claws.
By directing resources into advocating for, even creating,
humane standards for farmed animals, are animal rights activists
supporting rather than challenging factory farming?
Yes, absolutely. Sadly it’s taken me over 20 years to clearly see that
humane standards for farmed animals and promoting any animal
product is not only a waste of our time, but it’s supporting factory
farming and abattoirs. We all become set in our ways (just like
the meat-eaters!), so it’s vital and of utmost importance to always
keep one’s mind open and questioning our attitudes, tactics and
strategies. We can be so grateful for authors like Professor of Law,
Gary Francione, writing against the property status of animals and the
importance of an abolitionist agenda, and for all those groups and
individuals who relentlessly encourage and support a vegan lifestyle.
Do you think labels such as “humanely raised” and “animal
compassion certified” will validate or reduce meat-eating?
Certified Humane, Compassionate, Endorsed By... type labels will
definitely validate what’s in the package. It’s advertising 101 and all
about positive promotion and selling the product. When an animal
organization gives “humanely raised” meat or free-range eggs their
approval, support or endorsement, they are increasing animal
suffering by actually opening up yet another brand. Check it out
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at the supermarket for yourselves, as the free-range eggs and free-
range meat products increase, do the factory farmed egg and meat
products decrease on shelf space? No. The only products we should
be endorsing in our marketplaces are vegan ones.
What do you think the solution is?
There is no easy solution and let’s face it, both animal activists and the
general public will come to their own conclusions in their own time.
We all know the animal movement—as any movement or group of
people—struggles with internal politics, personalities, directions and
factions. I’ve been booted out of the group I founded a couple times
and I’m sure it will happen again. Animal groups, organizations and
activists come and go, and some stay. The important thing for the
long-term is to be a vegan, keep positive, read as much as you can
about strategy and history, keep an open mind and set your eye on
the battery hen in the seventh tier, 30th cage, sixth aisle, or on the
scared little pig with the electric prod bearing down upon him at the
slaughterhouse—and don’t lose your focus.
In the short-term don’t get sidetracked or waste time with internal
politics or what other groups may or may not be doing. Work with
people you trust and who have similar approaches. Never think
“never”—especially about shutting down slaughterhouses. It’s the
most important and heroic quest on our planet. Let’s get human
meat tray ‘displays’ happening on a regular basis—they’ve already
appeared in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. And then there’s
abattoir lockdowns, vegan leafleting, friendly discussions with anyone
who wants to hear more, vision vans with factory farm videos, open
rescues, giving rescued animals a good home, vegan BBQs and recipe
give-aways outside supermarkets. And keep on hand: Introduction
to Animal Rights, Your Child or the Dog? by Gary Francione and
Earthforce! An Earth Warrior’s Guide to Strategy by Paul Watson.
How do we move veganism to the top of the agenda?
I like this question because it’s the answer: veganism—top of the
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agenda. How do we move it there? It’s not going to be easy, but the
key words are patience, determination, persistence and honesty—
done with goodwill. But, the bottom line for activists to always
consider is: just look over our shoulders, if we are not going to give
the hard message for what the animals need, who is?
To learn more about the work of ALV, see www.alv.org.au.
This article can be accessed in its original form at:
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To be sentient is to be conscious or self-aware, capable of perception or
feeling. Sentient humans and nonhumans feel sensations of pain, pleasure and
so on. When a being is sentient, s/he will naturally have interests. For instance,
the capacity for sentient beings to feel pain provides them with a clear interest
in not feeling pain.
The principle of equal consideration requires that we treat similar interests
in a similar way unless there is a morally sound reason for not doing so. If we
apply the principle of equal consideration to animals, then we must extend to
animals the one basic right that we extend to all human beings: the right not
to be treated as a thing.
A right is a particular way of protecting interests. To say that an interest is
protected by a right is to say that the interest is protected against being
ignored or violated simply because it will benefit someone else to do so.
The animal rights position holds that that we ought to abolish the
institutionalised exploitation of nonhumans. It maintains that animals have the
right not to be treated as the resources or property of humans.
The traditional animal welfare position holds that it is acceptable for us to use
animals for at least some purposes, but that we must regulate animal use so
that we treat animals ‘humanely’ and do not impose ‘unnecessary’suffering on
them. Exemplified by the stance of the RSPCA.
A term applied to those who campaign for welfare regulation as a strategy to
lead to the abolition of animal exploitation. For example PETA and most large
“animal rights” organisations. The ‘new welfarist’ contrasts with the ‘traditional
welfarist’ above who does not seek abolition as an end goal.
- 32 -
Animal Rights Advocates Inc: Introduction to Animal Rights: Your
www.ara.org.au Child or the Dog
- Gary L. Francione
Gary L. Francione’s Blog:
www.abolitionistapproach.com Animals as Persons: Essays on the
Abolition of Animal Exploitation
Unpopular Vegan Essays:
- Gary L. Francione
blogspot.com/ Rain Without Thunder: The Idealogy of
the Animal Rights Movement
An Animal Friendly Life:
- Gary L. Francione
Animals, Property and the Law
- Gary L. Francione
Making a Killing: The Political
Economy of Animal Rights
- Bob Torres
Animal Rights/Human Rights:
Entanglements of Oppression and
- David Nibert
- 33 -
Guiding Principles of Animal Rights
1. The animal rights position maintains that all sentient beings, humans or
other animals, have the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.
2. Our recognition of this basic right means that we must abolish, and not
merely regulate, institutionalised animal exploitation - because it assumes that
other animals are the property of humans.
3. Just as we reject racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia, we reject
speciesism. The species of a sentient being is no more reason to deny the
protection of this basic right than ethnicity, sex, age, or sexuality is a reason to
deny membership in the human moral community to other humans.
4. We recognise that we will not abolish overnight the property status of
other animals, but we will support only those campaigns and positions that
explicitly promote the abolitionist agenda. We will not support positions that
call for supposedly “improved” regulation of animal exploitation that promote
one form of exploitation over another. We reject any campaign that promotes
sexism, racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination against humans.
5. We recognise that the most important step that any of us can take toward
abolition is to adopt the vegan lifestyle and to educate others about veganism.
Veganism is the principle of abolition applied to one’s personal life and the
consumption of any meat, poultry, fish, eggs or dairy products, or the wearing
or use of animal products, is inconsistent with the abolitionist perspective.
6. We recognise the principle of non-violence as the guiding principle of the
animal rights movement.
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If you have finished with this reader why not pass it on to someone else.
You may also like to check out some of ARA’s other activist readers:
Animal Rights vs Welfare Reforms
Animal Rights Activism