Monday, December 14, 2009

This Is The Abolitionist Vegan Movement

I listened to Erik Marcus's podcast where he interviews Foer on his book "Eating Animals." With all the things Marcus's discusses on his podcast, he greatly misrepresents the abolitionist veganism movement on so. Many. Levels. That we could probably sue him for distortion. I would like to clarify what the abolitionist veganism movement is:

(From Vegan Wikia:)


1. The animal rights position maintains that all sentient beings, humans or nonhuman, have one right: the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.

2. Our recognition of the one basic right means that we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation–because it assumes that 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 race, sex, age, or sexual orientation is a reason to deny membership in the human moral community to other humans.

4. We recognize that we will not abolish overnight the property status of nonhumans, 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. We reject any campaign that promotes sexism, racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination against humans.

5. We recognize 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, fowl, fish, or dairy product, or the wearing or use of animal products, is inconsistent with the abolitionist perspective.

6. We recognize the principle of nonviolence as the guiding principle of the animal rights movement.

Abolitionist vegans think that animal exploitation is immoral. We work to educate people about why it's immoral. We don't think people who participate blindly in the system are immoral; we are all trapped in a society where you can't avoid animal exploitation even if you try, as Gary Steiner points out in his essay for the New York Times. HOWEVER, abolitionist vegans are not going say that veganism is the "last step," as Foer and Marcus suggest veganism is. The "first step" is not to continue to exploit animals by buying "free-range eggs" or "grass-fed cows" or "organic milk." What would it say about us, the abolitionist vegans, who find animal exploitation morally wrong, if we did tell you to do that? Besides, being vegan is the easiest thing to do in the world. It is, in fact, not rocket science.

Veganism is the first step if you care about animals. As Gary Francione says, "Veganism is not just reducing suffering; it is commitment to justice and refusal to participate in animal slavery." We're not going to ask you to continue to participate in an immoral system — that is disingenuous. We're asking you to take our arguments, think over them critically, do some research; we trust you to do that.

I would finish with my personal story: I had absolutely no interest in vegetarianism (let alone veganism) or how animals were treated before I was vegan. Absolutely none. Then, one day, I listened to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau talk about chickens, and what cruelty is done to chickens. At the end of the podcast, she didn't say "stop eating chickens but continue to eat everything else." She didn't say "buy free-range chickens." She asked me to think about what I heard. So I did. And I became vegan right then and there. Sure, I had slip ups (I learned that whey is actually cow milk protein, for example). But I stayed committed. And I'm still vegan and I will never go back.

I close with Fracione's words again: ""Go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for you; it’s better for the planet; and, most importantly, it’s the morally right thing to do." No BS. No veganism is the "last step." Do it. Us abolitionist vegans believe in you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Answer Me This Welfarism

Long time, no post! My thoughts for today, following the conversation with Erik Marcus via Twitter, about Foer's book, "Eating Animals." Marcus is interviewing Foer for his podcast and he asked Twitter readers what he should ask him. When he took a jab at Ab_Vegan, I jumped in and we had a very strange debate of Marcus defending welfarism and putting Foer's words in his mouth that he was really promoting vegetarism in his book. But Foer's words disprove that. He says things like "Also it's very hard [to be vegan]. Vegetarianism is very easy."

Or, "But I went to farms where animals were treated better than I treat my dog, and it would just be impossible to try to honestly argue that they don't have good lives. So of course, they're killed in the end, but our lives are destined for death also."

I kept pushing back on Marcus, saying Foer should be vegan AND Marcus should be debating him on the conclusion of his book — that animals should be treated better and still eaten — not saying "This is the best book ever!" (You can read the entire conversation on Twitter — I replied to most of Marcus's posts.)

In the end, Marcus said to me, "Why this attachment to [Foer's] choices? Get out there & be the best advocate u can be."

My response was, "Because you are the host of and he is not vegan and is not promoting veganism in his book/interviews."

I would like to say I have nothing against Foer and his book "Eating Animals." I just disagree with his ultimate conclusion — that we should treat the animals raised for food better. I also think us, as vegans, shouldn't be promoting yet another "treat-animals-better-before-we-eat-them" book or, a "happy meat!" book. (Ironically, I told my friend about this debate, and said "Vegans shouldn't promote a book that tells you to continue to eat animals" and she agreed! She isn't even vegan!)

But, I have to ask, since this is what the welfarism movement is promoting: where are we going to get all this land to raise happy, grass-fed, able-to-perform-natural-instincts animals? There can't be a field somewhere in the USA that has a bunch of happily roaming chickens, dropping eggs here and there. That's an unsustainable food production model. IF that happens (which I largely doubt), food prices might go up, but the outside world will just meet the demand for cheap animal products. We'll end up getting our beef from Brazil, where 80-percent of the rain forest is being cut down for cattle grazing. (Think of all the wild animals that slaughters.)

We'll get our eggs from some other random country, and the cycle will continue. We'll just be further detached from it because we really wouldn't see it then. Animals will still be exploited. They'll still suffer. This needs to be addressed in the welfarism movement if they want to continue to defend their position.

The best thing to do to get people to stop using animals is to promote veganism. For an excellent definition of veganism, we can turn to Gary L Francione, who said, "Veganism is not just reducing suffering; it is commitment to justice and refusal to participate in animal slavery."

Let's not tell people that by treating animals better yet still consuming them is the way to go. I daresay it will cause more suffering in the long run. So let's promote a book that says "go vegan!" rather than "treat animals better," huh?