Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Professor Gary Francione and Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary recently had a short, substantive exchange on abolitionism and welfare reform, consisting of two opening statements and a response to each. Below is my summary of the exchange. Obviously, nothing can be settled in a short debate, but I hope to highlight and sharpen the areas of disagreements between the two.
Differences between regulationists and abolitionists
A. Regulationists focus primarily on animal treatment. They generally support: (1) welfare reform, such as “enriched” cages for hens; (2) single-issue campaigns; and (3) the consumption of “happy” animal products. Moreover, regulationists promote veganism only as a way to reduce suffering, not as a moral baseline.
B. Abolitionists reject all animal use on moral grounds, and in addition to rejecting (1)-(3) above, they promote veganism as a moral imperative. Further, abolitionists reject regulationism for three practical reasons:
C. Abolitionists view animal advocacy as a zero-sum game. The more time and money spent on welfare reforms, the less can be spent on vegan/abolitionist education; advocates should focus only on the latter. Doing both sends contradictory and hopelessly confusing messages.
(B) is false: abolitionists can promote veganism as a moral baseline in addition to welfare reforms and single-issue campaigns (examples: Mercy for Animals, Vegan Outreach, PETA, COK, the Humane League, Farm Sanctuary). Welfare reforms reduce suffering, reduce meat consumption, and bring us closer to animal liberation.
I. Welfare reforms reduce suffering
B(i) is false. For pregnant sows, there is a meaningful difference between gestation crates and group housing. Similarly, for chickens who have their throats slit while conscious, painless deaths are meaningfully better. Because reforms lessen animal suffering, when the only alternatives are more suffering or less, that alone justifies supporting them.
II. Welfare reforms reduce meat consumption and move us toward animal liberation.
Egg-consumption declined in EU countries that independently banned battery cages. Moreover, according to the Journal of Agricultural Economics, media coverage of certain welfare campaigns have led to reduced consumption in all animal products.
Animal agriculture spends millions fighting welfare reforms, which refutes the notion that they increase the overall profits of regulated industries. Example: the pork and egg industries spent $10 million trying (unsuccessfully) to defeat Proposition 2.
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