Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Wayne Pacelle and I Agree ~ Gary Francione

Dear Colleagues:

For many years now, I have been arguing that the large animal protection groups are, for the most part, partners with institutional exploiters and are, in effect, lobbying arms of the food industry. They do not challenge animal use; in fact, they actively support institutionalized animal use, and claim that it’s only the welfare or treatment issues that matter. They promote what are largely insignificant changes, many of which actually improve production efficiency and many of which are never even implemented or have dates of implementation many years in the future. They promote “happy” exploitation labeling programs where “approved” animal products are sold with the purported blessing of the animal advocacy community. I have argued that welfare reforms (if they can even be called “reforms” rather than efficiency-promoting changes) make the public feel good about continuing to exploit nonhuman animals.

My views have drawn a great deal of sharp criticism by advocates of animal welfare.

So it is with great happiness that I report to you that Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, agrees with me.

Appearing before the Ohio Livestock Standards Board, which gained the support of HSUS after agreeing to abolish gestation crates after 2025 (so much for “helping the animals here now”), Pacelle praised animal agriculture:

“I do believe that agriculture is a deeply noble tradition,” he said. “There are so many great aspects to it, but we also must put animal welfare into the equation.”

Pacelle calls animal agriculture a “noble tradition” with “many great aspects.” We just need to put “animal welfare into the equation.”There you go. The problem is not animal use per se; the problem is treatment, and welfare reform, such as eliminating gestation crates after 2025, is the solution.

He also said that the welfare reforms supported by the Board:

will make Ohio agriculture “more honorable, defensible and pertinent to the consumer.

Yes, indeed, it will. That’s exactly what I have been saying for more than two decades now and I am glad that Wayne Pacelle agrees with me.

If you are not vegan, go vegan. It’s easy; it’s better for your health and for the planet. But, most important, it’s the morally right thing to do. You will never do anything else in your life as easy and satisfying.


The World is Vegan! If you want it.


Gary L. Francione
©2011 Gary L. Francione

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Comment by Brandon Becker on September 2, 2011 at 2:35
Arild: I agree wholeheartedly that we ought to be resisting the continued attacks on animal activists, such as laws like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Dara Lovitz's book Muzzing A Movement ( offers a great overview of what has happened and should motivate anyone who cares about animals, or even free speech, to get political and refuse to let our voices be silenced by unjust corporatist laws.

Tim: I agree we should strive for solidarity with others as much as possible. I find this much easier to do with fellow vegans who want animal liberation (some would label them "new welfarists") than with non-vegans who only support regulations for most forms of animal exploitation (some would label them "welfarists").

Lizzie: Given the history of "welfare" reforms, it's not at all clear that any are actually reducing suffering. Many are filled with loopholes and go unenforced. Also, if such reforms placate the public (and there is some evidence of this), it could increase suffering over the long-term by making the industries more economically viable and politically acceptable. Engaging in reformist campaigns and collaborating with industry also allows activists to be more easily co-opted, disabling the movement.

Lisa: We can accept "welfare" reforms (even with all the problems named above) as steps in the path to abolition but we must be careful to not get lost in discussions of cage size and killing methods and instead stay focused on empty cages and no killing. It's always better to have less suffering than more suffering but we need to strike at the exploitation that is causing the suffering in the first place. This means first and foremost creating vegans, but also challenging speciesism and building support for animal rights.
Comment by Lisa V on September 2, 2011 at 2:00

Mark, not only is the woman eating the cow not interested in this debate, many vegans aren't interested in this debate, either. Or too much of any AR debate. And believe me, I've tried.


I don't at all wish to squash this or any discourse, but I think we also have to acknowledge that it's just one discourse of many within the vegan/AR movement. "... my life is fabulous, I'm healthy and happy, and I'm vegan - for the animals, ya know - oh, and hey, let me show you this really great recipe ... " THAT is also discourse. Vegan/AR discourse. And in my admittedly limited experience, it's effective discourse if effective means creating new vegans.


"those aren't real vegans!"

"yes, they are!"


I don't think anyone is expecting complete unity, either. I understand the lure of purity, but what I find problematic is when one group or subgroup is claiming to have the one/true/only way to think about or do anything. Mostly because they're never right about being right.

Comment by Mark Jordan on September 1, 2011 at 17:44

In my many years as a vegan activist, I have met and personally interacted with many people with many viewpoints, from the “hardest core” abolitionist to the “hardest core” exploitation regulation reformist, and many points between. One thing that I have found to be strikingly similar in the overwhelming majority of experienced advocates, on all parts of the spectrum, is their genuine and apparent sincere concern for animals. Do some have very large egos? Yes. But does that mean I think that the experienced ones have chosen their form of advocacy lightly or choose to argue for its merits in opposition to other forms in order to obtain some claim to a higher moral ground? No. Some of the biggest egos I have seen have not been in person, rather online, but even in these I sense that they come from a place of strong belief in what is best for the animals and/or what is best for the movement for animal rights. Their strong beliefs and passionate language do not appear to come from a place of desire for selfish personal gain or stature, but rather from the honorable selfless place of wanting to do what is best for animals. And yes, some of the egos, very unfortunately, get in the way of the important thoughts and ideas of the speaker and hinder discussion and development on those ideas.


The woman eating cow flesh may certainly not care about these debates, but who among us goes up to the woman eating cow flesh and attempts to discuss with her why abolition is a better approach than reforming exploitation regulations (or vice versa)? I would guess none of us. We approach her with whatever we feel is the best approach. We have the discussions/debates/disagreements about what is the best approach, best direction for the movement *with other animal advocates* on ARZone, at conferences, in our group meetings, on facebook pages of advocates who are questioning and searching and engaging in discussion, with each other at a protests. I ask what successful movement for social change has not had internal disagreement and debate about strategy, approach, honest critique of past failures? I think all have, and probably haven’t feared and tried to extinguish the discourse in favor of sitting around in a circle together singing songs of complete unity and pretending to agree lest the opposing forces laugh and see weakness.


The differences in working for exploitation regulation reforms and the abolition of animal exploitation are not merely differences on paper or in theory; they are very real actual differences in every day belief, approach, and activism.


PeTA’s goals align with mine? Hardly. I don’t think designers of slaughterhouses, McDonald’s, KFC, or BK deserve praise. HSUS’s goals align with mine? Hardly. This is the “innovation” and “precedent” that HSUS is “excited” to be a part of:
Comment by Carolyn Bailey on September 1, 2011 at 14:07
Lizzie, if the BLE campaign were successful, and the live export of cows from Australia to Indonesia were banned in the future, do you think this would be regarded as a victory by the orgs who are running this campaign and many of those who have supported this campaign? Or do you think both AA and the RSPCA, along with the advocates who are supporting this ban, will continue to work just as hard in the continued advocacy for these cows and every other animal killed in Australia for "food"?

I believe ending live export and having each and every cow who would have been killed overseas, killed in Australia, will be classed as a monumental victory and applauded as such both by AA and RSPCA, and many of the advocates who are supporting it. 

This shows a disregard for the lives, the liberty and the basic rights of these individuals. To applaud this as a "success" or a "victory" would be devastating for every other animal who will continue to be objectified and commodified in Australia in future and also sends an unequivocal message that other animals are ours to be used for our pleasure, when we do so "at home". 

Comment by Lizzie W on September 1, 2011 at 10:30

Continue of above ramble :)

statistical relevance to those politicians presently seeking to promote the bill to ban live export. The public’s input to the question “do you support a ban on live export” simply requires a vote of ‘yes’, ‘no’ or to ‘abstain’ & if you do not vote ‘yes’ then you join those who don’t give a damn about the suffering of the plight of the live export victims. The ethical vegan who promotes the ‘non-use’ of others should possess the self-confidence to believe their support of single issue campaigns, such as BLE, is not going to be interpreted as, in this instance, condoning  killings on aussie soil or the promotion of aussie jobs.

As there is no indication of an imminent cessation of the exploitation of others, every opportunity for any improvements or change that will positively impact on their suffering must be grasped. The plight of disabled humans is relevant, as despite the disabled having been afforded the same rights as all members of the community in many countries, the vulnerability of this group results in their frequent & ongoing physical and psychological abuse. Consequently the welfare of the disabled requires ongoing review & reform. What is the real potential for the human animal to acquire empathy for those who cannot speak? And even if/when nonhumans acquire rights, there is no guarantee that maltreatment will not continue at some level. Addressing welfare issues is always going to be necessary whatever the status of the vulnerable. The unity of those who care is absolutely paramount in this monumental battle. 

Comment by Lizzie W on September 1, 2011 at 10:27

“To the extent that welfarists support veganism, it is important to understand that the abolitionist position on veganism is very different from the welfarist position on veganism.The abolitionist sees veganism as a non-negotiable moral baseline of a movement that maintains that we should abolish all animal use, however “humane” our treatment of animals may be. The abolitionist position maintains that nonhumans have inherent value and that we should never kill and eat them even if they have been raised and killed “humanely.” Abolitionists regard veganism as an end in itself—as an expression of the principle of abolition in the life of the individual” G. Francione.

Is not the goal of all ethical vegans to forever end the exploitation of other animals therefore it is surely potentially divisive to focus on the terms abolitionist and welfarist & could be detrimental to the cause. As Tim has expressed “whatever we do, we ought not be spending time publicly proclaiming that those who should be our best allies are our worst enemies. Tactically, that just doesn’t make sense”. Effective team work is the feature of any efficient program. To divide an already marginal group (a societal perception) is antithetical to a unity. Genuine animal advocates, as distinct from those who consider meat can be happy, view welfare improvements as an urgent intention to intervene on behalf of others pain this surely validates their philosophy to abolish all animal use (consistent with Lisa's comment above). It is paradoxical to concurrently believe that genuine animal activists who negotiate with the exploiters become supporters of the industries and that the masses will heed the vegan message. How can one be so negative to those whose vegan lifestyle denotes an intolerance of exploitation & yet so optimistic of a society that has not applied any constructive empathy to nonhuman animals?

Steven J Bartlett writes of malignant narcissism in his paper titled "Roots of Human Resistance to Animal Rights- Psychological and Conceptual Blocks". Malignant narcissism clearly explains the undeniable attitude of human society to other species. Most humans are inherently unable to empathise with nonhumans ( history reveals they are often challenged to empathise with their own species) & this is incongruent with the expectation of an imminent vegan revolution. Attempts to improve the welfare of others are desperately intended to reduce current suffering. Is not recognition of the rights of nonhumans the motivator for genuine welfare advocacy? It is insulting to those who really care, to infer they are actually promoting the exploitation of animals. To believe that the average consumer will feel good about continuing to exploit nonhuman animals after welfare reforms are applied, is unrealistic as it denies the very selfish nature of the human being. The average consumer feels good about exploiting others anyway as evidenced by their incessant drooling over all varieties of animal products.  Is not incremental creep a better alternative than no change at all? To oppose this is to oppose the scientifically proven construct of quality of life. It is better for the person dying in agony to receive the less-effective analgesia than no analgesia. Those who campaign for other animals to be stunned prior to killing reveal a more genuine concern for their immediate suffering than the person who refuses to negotiate with the industry, irrespective of whether it was just one, or the indeterminate number of nonhumans destined to die in the unforeseeable future.

Refusal to participate in single issue welfare campaigns reveals a denial that the navigation of legislative change does not accommodate our deep & meaning philosophies of animal rights as these are merely transformed to a statistic. In regard to this, your comment Roger, that the ‘banning live export campaign is not the message you want to transmit’ has no stat

Comment by Lisa V on September 1, 2011 at 2:26

Mark, you can easily separate rights and welfare on paper or in your mind, because they're ideas. But in the reality that animals live in every day any additional mercy won is a victory. Not a victory for an idea, but a victory for a living, breathing, feeling being that may suffer just a tint bit less.


It's not dissonant at all, in my view, to believe other animals have the right to their own lives, but to also believe that as long as they're being held and exploited that it does matter how they're treated. 


Should animals have the right to their own lives? Yes


Should we work toward a goal of animals having the right to their own lives? Yes.


As long as animals do not have the right to their own lives, should they be treated in a way that reduces their suffering? Yes.


All of those notions can easily coexist with one another, in thought and in deed.


Comment by Tim Gier on September 1, 2011 at 1:48
I think the debate over welfare vs. abolition is largely a waste of time and energy that has the main effect of allowing partisans to claim the moral high ground compared to each other with little to no empirical evidence to back either side up (although I believe that what evidence does exist doesn't support some of the main claims of at least one abolitionist approach).

The fellow who thinks nothing at all about where his hamburger comes from - and doesn't give a damn even when he might think about it - is completely unconcerned with this philosophical debate. More importantly, I imagine that those who profit the most off the lives and deaths of other animals are quite happy to sit back and watch while we debate how many abolitionists can dance on the head of a pin or why "new-welfarists" are morally confused. Rather than continuing to tell each other how wrong we both are, we ought to remember what is at stake and find common cause.

HSUS is on the record clearly in favor of ending many kinds of uses of other animals. They have ongoing campaigns to end the use of "fur", to end the slaughter of horses, to end various kinds of hunting practices, to abolish puppy mills, and to end all varieties of fighting for sport involving other animals. They also support ending factory farming. We may think that the HSUS doesn't go as far as we would like them to in many, if not all, of these efforts, and we might think that they are presenting a confusing message to the public in that they do not advocate for an end to all use of all other animals. However, I am inclined to think that most of the people who aren't already vegan probably think, from their perspectives, that HSUS is pretty radical. Whatever we might disagree about, I think we would agree that if HSUS were able to be successful in the campaigns I've just mentioned, the world would be a better place. Moreover, I think it's difficult to deny that if HSUS were successful, then the world would be ready for (ripened up for?) even more radical changes. Acknowledging and supporting the work of other advocates, when that work clearly aligns with our own goals, ought to be something we seek to do. Whatever we do, we ought not to be spending time publicly proclaiming that those who should be our best allies are our worst enemies. Tactically, that just doesn't make sense.
Comment by Brandon Becker on September 1, 2011 at 0:35

Roger: Given our individualist society (in Western nations at least), we need to frame our work in a political context if we want to have the political effect you are suggesting as we educate the public. Otherwise, it risks being co-opted by consumerism and thought of as mere "personal choice" rather than a matter of justice to be written into law and enforced as a matter of public policy.

Mark: I agree that rights and "welfare" (as philosophies) are exclusive and am indeed suggesting campaigns that are consistent with rights but are in addition to promoting veganism. As I mentioned in my last two posts, I'm talking about things such as advocating rights (actual rights, such as life and liberty), working to ban forms of exploitation (not merely practices within exploitation), cutting taxpayer funding for animal exploitation (like opposing the recent $40 million USDA purchase from the chicken-flesh industry, "animal science" programs taught at public universities, the government starting companies like Dairy Management to promote cow-milk consumption), and working on other campaigns consistent with rights that are more than just getting others to go vegan.

Promoting veganism is the focus of my group Animal Liberation Action but we also advocate animal rights. And anti-speciesism is the foundation of all our work.

Comment by Mark Jordan on August 31, 2011 at 18:55


It is exactly because animals are under the control of others that they cannot be considered as having anything resembling "rights" in that situation. [They can be said to have "natural"/"intrinsic" "rights", but this is not what is being spoken of when fighting for someone to gain "rights" – if they are intrinsic, you already had them]. Someone who is considered property, someone who is under the control of someone else, has no rights; they have interests, but these interests are recognized, or not, by the controller. Someone who can be killed at will has no "right" to anything. Thus, animal rights and animal welfare are very much mutually exclusive. Fighting for some interest to be recognized, while remaining under control of another, is not fighting for a right – it is asking the controller/owner to recognize an interest of their property/slave. For example, if the HSUS/UEP agreement is still around in 18 years, when it requires action by UEP, a chicken will not have a "right" to furniture - the farmer can slice the chicken's throat whenever they want (i.e. no furniture recognized for the chicken). If someone does not have a right to life they cannot have a right to anything else. Therefore, campaigning for an "improvement" in exploitation regulation is campaigning for the continuation of a lack of rights, the antithesis of campaigning for rights. As Dunayer points out, the age-old chant of “What do we want?” “Animal Rights!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”, has effectively changed to “What do we want?” “Slight changes in the methods of exploitation!” “When do we want it?” “When industry agrees to it!”(which is when it is in their best interests); and “Stop killing chickens!” to “Start gassing chickens!” - adding immensely to the confusion of most about what campaigning for animal “rights” really means.


[I also don’t think that Brandon was saying that we should be campaigning for rights and improvements in exploitation. I think he was also saying that they are mutually exclusive and was suggesting other possible campaigns, but I’ll let him respond to that.]


Brandon/Roger: I tend to agree with Roger – when 99% of the public demonstrates their full conceptualization of animals as property by putting them in their mouth 2 or 3 times daily, the political and legal arena is going to be a tough nut to crack – the theory being politicians and courts follow the will of the people and the current moral viewpoint of the public (although I would think most legal scholars would say the law tends to lag behind public sentiment, sometimes considerably). This is why HSUS, etc. have some insider status – they are not suggesting anything contrary to the property (lack of any right) status of animals (while aiding the PR (and associated sales) of industry). However, I do think this model currently breaks down the more localized you get, and the further away from testing and food you get (i.e. entertainment, possibly “pets”) – city bans on the circus, for example – although this could simply be that the public in many jurisdictions has no interest in the circus, tends to think it unnecessary and perhaps “cruel”, and the circus lobby power is negligible, and/or the circus did not put up much of a fight because there are other cities to stop in…but I’d like to think that it is a reflection of the theory – politicians answered the will of the people on that issue (and sometimes the politicians haven’t answered anything – it was made law by popular vote (ballot initiative)). 


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