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?


  1. Thank you for another blog post Jay!

    One of my reasons for promoting Veganism is that no matter how laying hens are treated, all roosters are treated as "useless" and ground up alive as DAY OLD CHICKS, no different to my own lttle friends!

  2. It's astonishing the arguments Erik will make to defend his buddy.

  3. Uh-oh! You said the magical phrase that will have the Weston A. Price fanatics in here trying to hijack the conversation: "Where are we going to get all this land to raise happy, grass-fed, able-to-perform-natural-instincts animals?"

    Nice article though :)

  4. I would like to say I have EVERYTHING against Foer and his book "Eating Animals." He is doing terrible, terrible things for the animals and is nothing but a fame and profit monger.