Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Anyone who claims that ethical veganism, as it is represented in the abolitionist approach to animal rights, is a single-issue campaign understands neither abolitionist ethical veganism nor single-issue
Ethical veganism is the notion that we should not eat, wear, or use animals for human purposes. Ethical veganism reflects the view that we cannot distinguish among various types of animal exploitation for moral
purposes and that we should abolish animal exploitation altogether.
Ethical veganism is the application of of the principle of abolition in one’s individual life and requires that one eschew all forms of animal use or consumption.
Ethical veganism recognizes that all sentient beings have an interest not only in not suffering but in continuing to live. Therefore, killing animals for human use, even if we have treated
animals “humanely,” is fundamentally unjust.
Single-issue campaigns focus on particular uses of animals, or on particular species. Examples: a campaign against fur; a campaign against the use of wild animals in circuses; a campaign against white
veal to encourage the consumption of red veal or against battery eggs
in favor of “cage-free” eggs; a boycott of a state because it allows
the killing of a particular “favored” sort of animal, such as wolves.
All mainstream animal organizations promote SICs. No mainstream group
has adopted ethical veganism as its exclusive, or even a, central focus.
An ethical vegan would not support any animal exploitation. Therefore, to say that ethical veganism is a SIC is to fail to understand the nature of ethical veganism or the fact that SICs rest on
distinguishing among various forms of animal exploitation and promoting
the notion that some forms are worse than others and, by implication,
that other forms of exploitation are morally desirable or morally
One can, of course, use the expression “veganism” to apply only to diet in the sense that one who does not eat any animal products may be considered to have a vegan diet. This use of “vegan” is more restricted
than the notion as I have developed it in my abolitionist theory.
Promoting a vegan diet is more like an SIC than is promoting ethical
veganism and the abolition of all animal use. But the practical reality
is that if people rejected eating any animal products, we would see a
rejection in all sorts of other animal use. The most significant form
of animal exploitation–the form that “legitimizes” all the
others–involves using animals as food. If you dislodge that use, you
dislodge all others.
But let us be clear: abolitionist ethical veganism rejects all animal use. As such, to call it an SIC is to fail to understand what ethical veganism is or to misrepresent it.
Gary L. Francione
© 2010 Gary L. Francione
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