Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wrong Direction

My fellow animal advocates:

Almost twenty years ago, when I began speaking up for animals, I lived in South Carolina and didn’t know any other local grassroots activists. Therefore, I depended on the large organizations for guidance. I conducted demos under their banners, distributed their literature, supported their local efforts, signed their petitions, responded to their action alerts, and donated money to them. I even worked as a staff member for one of them for a short period.

Eventually, I became more confident and started working independently on many different projects and when I moved to Asheville, NC I also worked with an effective local organization on many different issues and efforts. But I didn’t stop depending on the large national groups to provide me with additional opportunities to advocate for animals.

The problem, though, was that I didn’t question the core philosophy, motives, or strategies of the organizations with whom I was collaborating. Nor did I continually refine my own philosophy and what message I wanted to send through my advocacy work.

However, several years ago, I began to closely examine the movement with a more critical eye and started doing extensive research on the philosophies held by and strategies used by the various organizations and individual leaders. After doing so, it became apparent to me that the vast majority of the large national animal organizations (with HSUS leading the way) are spending much or all of their precious resources on reform and regulation campaigns and sending out positive (albeit false) messages about “humane” animal products. I knew that this was not the message and these were not the organizations with which I wanted to be associated.

Instead, I realized that the only message I wanted to send was a strong one of ethics, justice, and abolition. I recognize that, as I advocate for animals, the people to whom I speak may choose their own path toward the goal of compassion but I must always be crystal clear in my principled message of veganism. And I must always be aware of the fact that compassionate people will want to be told the truth – that there is absolutely no way to use animals in a non-violent and non-exploitive manner.

I have raised my feelings and concerns about this issue to quite a few fellow animal advocates and most of them were disturbed and started rethinking which organizations they felt comfortable supporting. Many of them asked me to provide them with the complete results of the research that I had done on this issue and so I decided to compile it all in a logical manner and make it available for anyone interested in this topic. The main reason why I spent so much time putting all of this together is that I am concerned about the direction the animal rights movement is going in and don’t think things will change for the better unless we are all fully informed about what the large organizations are actually doing and how these strategies don’t make sense and are not working.

The information I gathered is broken into the following sections:

1.      Points made by staff members of these animal organizations in response to me sharing with them my concerns (following their points are my responses)

2.      Articles which back up my argument that praising and endorsing “humane” animal products does not create a situation in which fewer animals are killed but, quite the contrary, makes people feel better about eating animal products

3.      Evidence that HSUS is the strong determined leader of the ubiquitous “welfare” and “treatment” campaigns

4.      Evidence that even the organizations which used to focus on “usage” and vegan campaigns have gotten caught up in the “welfare” and “treatment” trend

5.      Examples of very expensive “treatment” campaigns that don’t accomplish anything except make people feel better about eating animal products

6.      Statements from other organizations and individuals who share my beliefs regarding this issue and who are disseminating a message not about how we should treat the animals we use but about how animals are not ours to use at all

Every day I find new evidence to support this argument so I feel it is crucial that all of us animal advocates who believe that animals are not ours to use should stand up and say that very loudly and clearly and not support “treatment” campaigns that waste resources and do not make an impact on how many animals are killed every single day. If we all joined our voices and resources together to send out this message, just think what could be accomplished.

Respectfully and for the animals,

Leslie Armstrong
June 8, 2012

PS I invite and would appreciate your responses and comments, however, request that you read the entire essay before responding.

PPS I checked the hyperlinks right before I posted this but if they are broken; you can either do a Google search or ask me for the original source.

ANIMAL ORGANIZATION POINTS (AND MY RESPONSES)


They claim that treatment campaigns (like Proposition 2 in California which set bare minimum standards for the care of farmed animals) make people think about where the animals they eat come from and then many of them go on to become vegetarians

They claim that if people start eating “humane” or “higher quality” animal products, that it can be the first incremental step toward them becoming vegan

I have not seen any real scientific evidence to support these two claims. The only evidence ever provided is all anecdotal. But there is plenty of that sort of evidence to indicate the exact opposite − that when animal organizations endorse animal products and declare them “humane,” people who used to be vegetarians or vegans now feel comfortable eating animals and people who might have become vegetarian or vegan now feel that they don’t have to because “humane” animal products are available. I have worked on vegan issues for over 15 years, tabling, leafleting, etc. and, during the past seven or eight years, more and more people every year tell me, “It’s okay, don’t worry, I only eat animal products who were treated ‘humanely’.”  (See articles below which further demonstrate my point.)

They claim that the general public can handle treatment campaigns more easily than graphic footage or the message that human animals do not have the ethical or moral right to use other animals

This claim is particularly condescending and indicates that the organizations are making gross assumptions about their supporters and the general public. All of the people who I know personally who work at these organizations are themselves ethical vegans because at some point in their lives they opened their hearts and minds to a new paradigm. Do they think that others are less compassionate, less logical, less insightful, and less smart than they are?  We animal advocates cannot control how the public responds to the truth – we can only give it to them. And if we do so in a respectful, compassionate manner, then we are following our own principles and convictions. However, by constantly sending out the message that it is possible to use and kill animals in an ethical manner (which is exactly what treatment campaigns do), animal organizations are reinforcing what many consumers want to believe and what the animal product businesses are telling them. That should not be the mission of animal advocacy organizations. 

They claim that they have to help animals who are suffering now

Of course we all would like to see animals suffer less. But that doesn’t mean that the animal organizations have to praise and endorse the animal product businesses (which are only greenwashing their behavior) and spend millions and millions of dollars and countless other resources to work on these treatment campaigns which don’t ever really do much to relieve suffering, which are typically phased in over many years, which include countless exceptions, and which are not easily enforceable. All of those resources could be much more effectively spent on sincere honest vegan education campaigns.  (See below details regarding the effusive praise and endorsements given to animal product businesses and three treatment campaigns which demonstrate my point.)

They claim that their efforts are causing the animal exploiting corporations to curb their worst practices

Whether the animal organizations get involved or not, the animal product businesses are going to make most of these very minor changes anyway or at least say they have made the changes. It’s just good business because it provides them with positive public relations and, in many cases, is actually more economically efficient. So, the question is − why do these animal organizations do the following:

·         spend valuable resources to achieve these (basically useless) results?

·         lend their valuable animal advocacy name and give endorsements to animal product businesses?

·         effusively praise the animal product businesses

·         consistently voice their concern for the health and well-being of the animal product industries?

I believe that there are several answers to these questions, including:

·         the animal groups get to increase their membership and fundraise off  these campaigns and so-called “victories

·         treatment campaigns make their members (most of whom are not vegans) feel comfortable and guilt free

They claim that they don’t encourage people to eat animals and they do promote veg eating

·         Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, and PETA actually do encourage people to go veg and they do consistently point out that being vegan is the “best” way to end suffering for animals used for food. However, over the last several years they all have started spending more of their precious resources and credibility on treatment campaigns which is contradictory to their core message (see examples below).

·         In interviews, news releases, blog pieces, etc, very very rarely does HSUS even add the caveat that the only way to end suffering is for humans to stop consuming animal products (see examples below).

·         On its Web site, HSUS does have information about going veg and provides some veg resources but this information is not featured prominently and is presented in such a way that allows and leads viewers to believe that becoming a vegan is just one of several equally valid ways of helping animals (see more information below).

·         By praising and endorsing animal product businesses and working on treatment campaigns, the animal organizations are, in effect, telling their supporters that it is okay to eat animal products as long as they were raised “humanely.” And HSUS literally puts its stamp of approval on animal products.  

ARTICLES REGARDING HOW FORMER VEGETARIANS/VEGANS RETURN TO EATING ANIMALS BECAUSE OF THE “HUMANE” ANIMAL PRODUCT TREND

Return of the Meat-Eaters: Many Lapsed Vegetarians Become ‘Ethical Omnivores’ (Time, 2011)

·         “Indeed, it seems that the latest form of animal activism is not not eating meat, but rather only eating ethical, sustainable meat”

·         “Though we (the writer is a former vegetarian) don’t eat much meat — what we do eat is free range and organic”
Fare Play: Joshua Applestone (Wine Enthusiast, 2011)
·          “I’d been a vegan because I know the horrors of the factory-farmed meat industry - once I knew where my meat was coming from and how the animals were treated, I felt comfortable eating it again”
·         “A feisty vegetarian since age 12,  Reed was a self-described “punk” who swore to abstain from supporting corporations that he believed profited from mistreating animals and has ‘vegan’ tattooed on his neck – but as a butcher, he is the key to a better and more sustainable meat system”
·         “As the ethics and interests of vegetarians and sustainable meat eaters become more shared, the more crossover there is between the two groups”
Eating Animals (the Atlantic, 2011)
·         “A group of longtime vegetarians and vegans converted to the idea that flesh and other food from animals can be ethical”
·         “I realized I didn't have a problem with meat - I had a problem with the inhumane practices of the commercial meat industry”
·         “Once I met the farmers who were striving to raise animals sustainably and ethically, I overcame my aversion to consuming meat”

·         “Rather than urging people to consume only plants, doesn't it make more sense to encourage them to eat an omnivorous diet that is healthy, ethical, and ecologically sound?”
Meet the Ethical Butcher (MOTHER NATURE NETWORK, 2010)

·         “Reed (a butcher and former ethical vegetarian/vegan) has no regrets and is now an enthusiastic meat eater who wants to shift meat consumption to a model that’s sustainable and from local farms”


·         “Many New York vegetarians are giving up the greens and developing a taste for flesh.”

·         “People were encouraged to avoid meat with scary PETA videos and horror stories about factory farming, but these days, newly carnivorous New Yorkers are able to cushion their consciousnesses with locally grown, free range and all-around-happy meat. It’s guilt free grub, and there’s no shortage of eaters buying into it.”

·         “I suddenly woke up to the fact that I had access to meat I feel great about,” says Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan magazines (and former vegan). “I thought all meat was produced in this horrific way, but now I eat some meat raised by my husband or raised on pasture, on green grass under blue sky.”

·         “When you buy meat, buy the right meat”

·         “Look for grass-fed, organic, or locally raised meat”
·         “This year, “Brooklyn Goes Veg” week was cancelled for lack of interest altogether. Last year, during the second — and as it turned out, last — year of the fortnight of legumes and seitan, vegetarian proprietors were already saying their customer base was in steep decline”

·         “Organic, free-range, “humanely slaughtered” meats are now all the rage”

No More Sacred Cows (Newsweek, 2009)
·         “Thanks to the cachet attached to high-end meat, they (former vegetarians) are having their burgers without sacrificing the moral high ground”

VEGETARIAN BUTCHERS (Gourmet, 2009)
·         “Not too long ago, to be a thoughtful eater meant being a vegetarian”
·         “We’re experiencing a new movement of people who can stand behind the meat that they consume and support local farmers”
·         “Eggleston, who had been a vegetarian for more than a decade, resumed eating meat when he started producing it as a livestock farmer and felt able to create a new reality of how animals were raised”
·         “Former vegetarians are the perfect leaders of the movement for sustainable, humanely raised meat”

·         “Customers appear to be increasingly happy to substitute faux gras (poultry liver without the forced feeding) for the real thing”
·         “Sales of the new product surged by almost 60 percent in 2009”

The kinder side of veal (Washington Post, 2009)
·         “The week after "The F Word," chef Gordon Ramsay's popular television program, aired an episode about British veal (from so-called “humanely” raised calves), sales (of the product) at grocer Waitrose jumped 45 percent”
Back in Rack (MetroActive, 2008)

·         “Visitors can visit the ranch, see the pigs, ask questions and be as convinced as I was when I toured the ranch that these animals lived large and rooted around to their hearts' content. Maybe this is part of why meat is back on the menu”
·         “Ranchers began putting pigs on their pastures, letting them roam and forage freely before taking them down to the road to be slaughtered, and then selling the all-natural, artisan-butchered cuts at farmers markets and small local restaurants. All of this expands the possible solutions to the "omnivore's dilemma”
·         “Centering on the issue of choosing what to eat when you can eat everything and anything, the dilemma seems to have eased, thanks to the growth of traditionally raised, naturally fed and humanely treated animals”
·         “So given the increasing availability of small-farm-pastured, sustainably produced meat, are former vegetarians turning into omnivores?  ‘For sure,’ says farmer Dunlop, himself a vegetarian for a dozen years. ‘I was in the same boat when I was in school, and did homework on factory farms and saw the suffering, the incredible stress that these animals undergo,’ he recalls. ‘But I started eating meat again once I began raising my pigs’"
·         “Chef Sims doesn't keep statistics, but he does have the kind of anecdotal evidence that confirms Dunlop's hunch. ‘Once I started putting Niman Ranch, humanely raised meat on our menu a year ago,’ says Sims, ‘two friends of mine, both vegetarians for over 17 years, started eating meat again at our restaurant’"
Why Vegetarians Are Eating Meat (Food & Wine, 2007)
·         “A growing number of vegetarians are starting to eat humanely raised meat”
·         (Those) who have recently converted from vegetarianism, eating sustainable meat purchased from small farmers is a new form of activism—a way of striking a blow against the factory farming”
·         “Former vegetarians are some of the most outspoken proponents of eating meat”
·         “I love animals, and we should not support anything but ethical ranching”
·         “Mollie Katzen, author of the vegetarian bible the Moosewood Cookbook, is experimenting with meat again and says ‘now that cleaner, naturally fed meat is available, it's a great option for anyone who's looking to complete his diet’”
Veal to Love, Without the Guilt (The New York Times, 2007)
·         “At Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant Spago in Beverly Hills, Calif., Wiener schnitzel from humanely raised veal is the third most popular item”
·         “The changes in the industry have had a measurable impact on sales - D’Agostino, the 20-store supermarket chain in New York, said that its sales of veal have jumped 35 percent since it began carrying “certified humane” veal only”
·         “People like Elaine Burden of Middleburg, Va., who stopped eating veal about 10 years ago, have come back – ‘I’m delighted we can have it again,’ she said”
·         “Even a vegetarian can have a change of heart - Zach Schulman considers himself mostly vegetarian and said ‘it (eating “humanely” raised veal) makes sense from an ethical standpoint, and it makes sense sustainably and in terms of supporting a small local farm’”
Caring Carnivore (yoga JOURNAL, 2006)
·         “It makes her feel better about the fact that she now eats meat - she looks for humanely raised organic meat, paying more because she knows she's getting something that's better for the animals”

HSUS INTERVIEWS, BLOGS, NEWS RELEASES, AND WEB SITE PAGES WHICH INDICATE ITS PHILOSOPHY, POSITION, AND STRATEGIES


(My comments are in parentheses.)

Wayne Pacelle (HSUS President and self proclaimed ethical vegan for 30 years) repeats the same mantra here, here, here, here, and here.

“every animal has the same will to live as humans” ( it’s disconcerting and confusing when he constantly implies that eating “humane” animal products - which involves killing animals - is equally as beneficial to the animals as going vegan)

In this article, this video, this piece, and this article, Pacelle states the following:
“We don’t say you must be vegan”
 “I don’t think everyone needs to adopt a vegetarian diet to make a difference.”

“[I’m] not out to liberate all beasts at all costs”
 “We think [animal] farming is a noble profession”

Pacelle on the Ellen Show

“I’m a vegan but people are going to eat meat and if they’re going to eat meat they shouldn’t allow/tolerate the animals to be treated this way.” (Not once did he encourage Ellen’s viewers to go vegan or explain to them that being vegan is the only way to have a compassionate diet)
HSUS responded to Hormel’s announcement about phasing out gestation crates in a news release, and in a CNN interview
·         “Great news from Hormel. We thank Hormel.”
·         “It’s progress and welcome news”
In response to Bon App├ętit’s new “farm animal” “welfare” policies
·         “it turned ‘very good’ into ‘great,’ setting a new high water mark in the food-service sector”
HSUS responded to McDonald’s announcement that it will require its U.S. pork suppliers to outline their plans to phase out the use of gestation stalls in a news release, a Huffington Post piece, and in a CNN interview
·         “it’s important and promising.”
·         “so excited”
·         “yielded significant results for animals and made today's progress possible
·         “Everyone who has worked to give a voice to breeding pigs should take pride in this advancement”
Discussing how HSUS is working closely with the United Egg Producers (UEP) to work on federal legislation (Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012 – see details below) that would supposedly set minimum standards for how the hens used by the egg industry are to be treated, in a news release and during a NPR interview
·         “enthusiastically support legislation”
·         “improve housing for egg-laying hens and provide stable future for egg farmers”
·         “a solution that balances animal welfare and the economic realities of the industry”
·         “figure out a pathway that’s good for the industry and better for animals”

Discussing Smithfield Foods’ Recommitment to the 2017 Phase-Out of Gestation Crates, here and here
·         “an important and welcome move”
·         “a positive, tremendously significant step.” 

In a blog entitled Better Days Ahead for Farm Animals in Ohio, regarding the ballot initiative which supposedly would create minimum standards of care for animals used by the agriculture industries
·         we need to sit down with people with a different orientation and find common ground”
When outlining so-called progress for “farm animals” in Ohio, Omaha, and Illinois, Pacelle reassures farmers
·         “(HSUS) embraces a pathway forward for animal agriculture”

When responding to accusations by the Missouri Farm Bureau that HSUS wants to end animal agriculture, Pacelle lays out all the reasons why these claims are false.
When responding to the passage of Prop 2 in California (which supposedly set minimum standards for how the animals used by the animal agriculture industry are treated – see details below)
·         “as a result, you’ve brought forth a new, more compassionate age.” (Saying this about using and killing animals is like saying someone is more pregnant. You either are or you aren’t. And when animals are used for food, it is not compassionate – there is no more or less about it.)
·         “people do not want their farm animals treated with wanton cruelty.”(I guess he thinks that people are okay with these animals being treated with just regular cruelty)
·         “There is no valor in defending the abuse of animals” (but that is exactly what HSUS is doing by endorsing the animal agriculture industries)
·         “millions of California voters chose stewardship, responsibility, mercy, care and selflessness.” (Killing animals is not responsible, merciful, or careful. What is accurate is that millions of Californians want to eat animals but also want to not feel guilty about it and Prop 2 give them that opportunity)

Pacelle spoke at TEDx Manhattan and TEDx Fruitvale
·         “whether we’re vegan, vegetarian, or a carnivore, we can all make choices (he touts using “higher welfare” animal products) that have ‘better’ consequences for the animals”
·         “There are now many small farmers who are properly caring for the animals”
·         “….in the past, animals were in outdoor settings where they interacted with each other and had a decent life. And yes, they are going to have at least one day when they go to slaughter but the rest of their life does not need to be one of misery and deprivation.”  (Interestingly, in the documentary, Free Range, the following was said by a so-called “humane” animal farmer.  [We treat] animals properly, with respect” (4:12). “They have a very good life. They just have one bad day at the end” (4:55))
Pacelle during an MSNBC interview
·         “They [animals used for food) were going to be slaughtered at some point but they were going to have a decent life.”
·          “People are going to continue to eat meat”
·          “One thing that we share is the belief that all animals, including those raised for food, deserve some semblance of protection from abuse.” (The term “semblance” according to Webster’s means “outward and often specious appearance or show” which makes sense because animals who are used for food only get pretend protection from abuse – the killing part makes that pretty obvious.)
·         “we believe in the spirit of cooperation and in finding practical solutions that work for consumers, retailers and producers” (what about solutions for the animals?)

HSUS Vice President for Farm Animal Protection, Paul Shapiro, stated in one interview and confirmed it in another interview
HSUS “does not have an ‘anti-meat’ agenda, is not plotting the demise of animal agriculture”

In Pacelle’s book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them
·         “The old standards of animal husbandry, which at their best, showed a decent respect for the natures and needs of farm animals and obvious ethical boundaries” (page 105)
·         “If animals are going to be raised for food, and be slaughtered for us, then we owe them something in return, and it starts with a little more respect and kindness.” (page 134) (what is respectful, ethical, or kind about killing sentient beings?)
·         Pacelle does say that he stopped eating meat and states that humans don’t have to eat animal products to be healthy and so the only justification left is that we do so for taste and pleasure but he never suggests that readers do the same. The following terms are not included in the book’s index: Vegan, Vegetarian, Diet, or Plant-based diet.
·         At the end of the book, Pacelle includes the section 50 Ways to Help Animals. In the item about farmed animals, instead of reminding readers that the only way to eat compassionately is to eat an all plant-based diet, he obfuscates once again and gently suggests the Three Rs of Eating (the linchpin of the HSUS Humane Eating campaignReducing the consumption of animal-based foods, Refining the diet by avoiding products from the worst production systems, and Replacing animal-based foods with plant-based foods). After he listed the third R – Replace meat and other animal based foods with vegetarian foods – he added, “as you are comfortable doing so.” (Further helping readers assuage their guilt about causing the killing of animals.)
The HSUS Web site
·         The page entitled, Eating humanely Doesn’t Have to Be All Or Nothing, gently suggests to readers that they might want to “take a significant first step by becoming a flexitarian”
·         Another page tells readers to “go at their own pace
·         HSUS is a big proponent of being veg only one day per week, as seen here, here, here, and here (not once in these pieces does it say that to truly eat compassionately, meatless Tuesdays should be added, then meatless Wednesdays, etc.)
·         On its Humane Eating and Statement on Farm Animals and Eating with Conscience Web site pages, HSUS promotes embracing the 3 Rs which puts out the message that – in regard to eating humanely – eating a vegan diet is on equal footing with eating “humanely” raised animal products
1.      Reducing the consumption of meat and other animal-based foods
2.      Refining the diet by avoiding products from the worst production systems (e.g., switching to cage-free eggs)
3.      Replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods
·         HSUS does have vegetarian recipes and a vegetarian guide on its site but they are not prominently featured
·         The HSUS Guide to Meat-Free Meals boldly features − as a veg role model − a food reporter who eliminated some animal products from his diet for health reasons but still happily eats them after 6 pm each day. (Could they not find anyone who is animal product free all the time?)

HSUS AND OTHER ANIMAL ORGANIZATIONS MAKE HYPOCRITICAL, CONTRADICTORY, CONFUSING, AND MISLEADING STATEMENTS AND EXHIBIT HYPOCRITICAL, CONTRADICTORY, CONFUSING, AND MISLEADING BEHAVIOR  

When reporting HSUS successes, Pacelle states that its mission is to prevent cruelty in the first place (a much repeated mantra). And, as mentioned previously, Pacelle consistently states that “every animal has the same will to live as humans”

However, HSUS is working to increase marketing opportunities for animal exploiters.

HSUS has on its board of directors John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods which is one of the largest purveyors of animal products in the United States.

HSUS helped develop and plan the Wolfgang Puck Company’s “humane farm animal treatment program.”

Pacelle effusively praises Puck for serving animals who were raised and killed using so-called “humane” standards. 

At the 2008 HSUS Genesis Awards (which uses the slogan “cruelty can’t stand the spotlight”), Puck was honored and given special recognition.  

In 2007, a HSUS-sponsored conference gave a forum to a panel of so-called “humane” animal killers, including Nicolette Niman of Niman Ranch, which at the time was responsible for the deaths of 1000s of animals per week.

HSUS is a partner with Certified Humane which puts the HSUS stamp of approval on so-called “humane” animal parts.

HSUS recently put an animal killer on its payroll when it hired Joe Maxwell, a pig farmer, as its director of rural affairs. Mr. Maxwell’s job is to provide more marketing opportunities for so-called “humane” animal killers. Maxwell (along with his partners) sends 1,000 pigs every week to be killed.

Pacelle suggests that egg buying consumers should choose “higher welfare” choices such as “cage-free,” “free-range,” and “organic” options that offer the animals a better life than that of their caged counterparts. And HSUS also spends a considerable amount of money and other resources on a campaign which promotes “cage-free” eggs, and is working on legislation with the United Egg Producers which would supposedly set so-called “humane” standards on egg farms.

However, HSUS states on its site that the majority of egg labels have little relevance to animal welfare or, if they do, they have no official standards or any mechanism to enforce them. It goes on to describe how hens from these so-called “higher welfare” facilities lead horrible lives involving beak cutting, forced molting, and how the male chicks are killed at birth.

Here and here, Farm Sanctuary explains that using animals for food can never be humane and gives reasons why such terms as “cage-free” and “free-range” are meaningless:

·         “When animals are seen primarily as production units or commodities for sale - whether by factory farms or so-called “humane” operations - the animals’ welfare tends to be secondary to economic concerns.”
·         “Regardless of the welfare standards followed at any farm, all animals raised for food are slaughtered at young ages...” No matter how well they are treated, these animals’ lives are cut drastically short.”
·         “According to Webster’s Dictionary, “humane” means “characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion.” Commodifying and slaughtering sentient animals is incompatible with this definition.”
·         “Labels such as “free range,” “free roaming,” and “cage free” provide no assurance that animals are treated humanely, and animal suffering is common despite labels suggesting otherwise”

In an interview, Farm Sanctuary co-founder and president, Gene Baur went on record  saying that “compassion and slaughter do not go together.”

However, Baur sat on the advisory board of the Whole Foods Animal Compassion Foundation whose mission was to convince consumers that raising animals for food and then killing them can be humane and compassionate.

Farm Sanctuary lent its animal advocacy name to and helped plan Wolfgang Puck’s “humane” animal treatment program.

In 2011, Farm Sanctuary hosted the National Conference to End Factory Farming which featured many speakers who promote animal farming (as long as it’s “sustainable” or “humane”) and some who profit from animal killing. Also participating were high ranking officials from Compassion Over Killing, Mercy For Animals, and HSUS.

Recently, Baur applauded Chipotle for its television advertisement showing how “wonderful” non-factory farms are and said “efforts like Chipotle's, which educate the public about industrialized animal production, are a step in the right direction.” At the end of the ad, the farmer puts a crate in a Chipotle truck. One has to assume it’s a dead cow or pig.

Mercy For Animals President Nathan Runkle blogged that “The best way to truly live humanely is to withdraw your support of the meat, dairy and egg industries by transitioning to a kind and compassionate vegan lifestyle.”

In one of its pamphlets, MFA explains that “humane” animal products are a myth. 

In the video, Fowl Play, which was produced by Mercy For Animals, both its investigator and its veterinary expert explain how hens in “cage-free” facilities are forced to endure extreme cruelty. 

However, a few years ago, Mercy For Animals spent valuable resources on a campaign to convince Trader Joe's to pledge to sell only “cage-free” eggs.

Mercy For Animals, along with Farm Sanctuary, HSUS, Compassion Over Killing, and several other national animal organizations joined ranchers, animal farmers, and animal product sellers to endorse Ohioans for Humane Farms  whose mission is to “protect” animals by advocating for “humane” animal farming practices. This coalition worked on a ballot initiative which sent consumers a positive message about eating so-called “humane” animal products.

Mercy For Animals declared itself a “proud ally” of OHF and provided significant support for its ballot initiative.

HSUS encouraged its Ohio supporters to attend an Ohioans for Humane Farms fundraising event at which chickens, cows, goats, and lambs were on the menu. See the invitation here (on the video starting at 0:28).

Bruce Friedrich, Farm Sanctuary Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives and former PETA vice president, wrote that eating animals is “indefensible” and continued with “eating meat supports cruelty so severe that it would warrant felony cruelty charges were dogs or cats so horribly abused -- and that's true even of so-called ‘humane’ farms.”
However, Friedrich sits on the board of Farm Forward whose mission is to promote animal agriculture by “increasing the market share of more ‘humane’ sustainable family farms.” The organization’s board also includes several members who benefit financially from killing animals, including the president of the Poultry Institute. Recently, Farm Forward took on the job of administering a $151,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) which will help a poultry ranch “humanely” raise and sell more chickens and turkeys.
Friedrich also declared that a weak and unenforceable bill that might sometime in the distant future minimally change the way hens on egg farms are housed is a “victory.”
Peter Singer’s organization (Animal Rights International), HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, PETA, Mercy For Animals, Vegan Outreach, Compassion Over Killing, and other animal organizations signed a letter to Whole Foods President John Mackey praising his corporation for setting farm animal “compassionate” standards.
Peter Singer (referred to by some as the father of the animal rights movement), argues only against “factory farming” and suggests that instead of eating animals from factory farms, compassionate people should choose either vegan foods or animal products from producers who allow them to live a decent life
In 2007, Compassion Over Killing changed the name of its magazine from Abolitionist to Compassionate Action.
HSUS Vice President Paul Shapiro founded Compassion Over Killing and, during his tenure there, the organization’s magazine continually made statements confirming its abolitionist stance, including, “…promoting veganism must be a high priority for any organization that claims to be working for animal liberation” and “…promoting veganism ought to be the primary focus of the American animal rights movement.”
In 2004, Shapiro explained in a Christian Science Monitor article that the “cage-free” label usually means that the hens are “packed side by side in massive sheds.”
However, Shapiro now appears to be very comfortable sitting down with Wolfgang Puck for a congenial conversation about how the animals the chef serves were supposedly treated “humanely” before they were killed.
In 2002, Miyun Park, the long-time president of Compassion Over Killing, stated that “…animals cannot liberate themselves. The only hope they've got is that enough caring people will do everything in their power to finally free them from the enslavement they've been forced to endure for far too long.” That same year, she also declared, The abuses forced upon farmed animals at livestock auctions, factory farms, and slaughterhouses are horrifying. Anyone who cares about animals should refuse to support such cruelty by going vegetarian."
However, Park is now the executive director of Global Animal Partnership (GAP), an organization whose mission is – not to free animals from enslavement – but to “improve” their lives as they are being enslaved. This organization’s board includes ranchers, animal farmers, and animal product sellers.

In their biographies on the GAP site, all the other key players provide specific information about the organizations or companies with which they have been associated. However, Park’s bio doesn’t mention that she worked for Compassion Over Killing. Instead, it only states that she has “worked to improve the welfare of farm animals.” And in her bio, Park states that she believes that “the multi-stakeholder foundation on which our organization is firmly rooted can bring about the greatest advancements—for animals, producers, consumers, and purveyors alike.”

LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGNS THAT DO VIRTUALLY NOTHING FOR ANIMALS BUT INSTEAD WASTE ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF VALUABLE RESOURCES and HELP ANIMAL ORGANIZATIONS RECRUIT MEMBERS AND RAISE FUNDS



HSUS, Farm Sanctuary, and other organizations spent an enormous amount of volunteer time and just under $1.4 million on this ballot initiative.

At the time of the initiative, there were only two hog farmers in the state of Florida who would be affected by this amendment and that is one of the major reasons why there was minimal opposition to the amendment.

Below are the substantive sections of the resulting law.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to confine a pig during pregnancy in an enclosure, or to tether a pig during pregnancy, on a farm in such a way that she is prevented from turning around freely.
(b) This section shall not apply:
(1) when a pig is undergoing an examination, test, treatment or operation carried out for veterinary purposes, provided the period during which the animal is confined or tethered is not longer than reasonably necessary.
(2) during the prebirthing period.
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) “enclosure” means any cage, crate or other enclosure in which a pig is kept for all or the majority of any day, including what is commonly described as the “gestation crate.”
(2) “farm” means the land, buildings, support facilities, and other appurtenances used in the production of animals for food or fiber.
(3) “person” means any natural person, corporation and/or business entity.
(4) “pig” means any animal of the porcine species.
(5) “turning around freely” means turning around without having to touch any side of the pig’s enclosure.
(6) “prebirthing period” means the seven day period prior to a pig’s expected date of giving birth.
(d) A person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082(4)(a), Florida Statutes (1999), as amended, or by a fine of not more than $5000, or by both imprisonment and a fine, unless and until the legislature enacts more stringent penalties for violations hereof. On and after the effective date of this section, law enforcement officers in the state are authorized to enforce the provisions of this section in the same manner and authority as if a violation of this section constituted a violation of Section 828.13, Florida Statutes (1999). The confinement or tethering of each pig shall constitute a separate offense. The knowledge or acts of agents and employees of a person in regard to a pig owned, farmed or in the custody of a person, shall be held to be the knowledge or act of such person.
 (g) This section shall take effect six years after approval by the electors.
One could logically argue the following points about this law:
·         It is still legal to confine animals in any size enclosure for up to 49% of any day
·         It is still legal to confine animals in enclosures all the time as long as the enclosure is large enough for the animals to lie down, stand up, and fully extend his or her limbs and turn around freely
·          The exceptions involve vague definitions which will make the law difficult to enforce (see below for more information regarding enforcement)
·          The consequences for violators are very limited and, if anyone was actually fined, they would most likely see the fine as just the price of doing business
HSUS contributed $4.1 million of the almost $11 million that was spent on this ballot initiative.
Below are the substantive sections of the actual law that resulted from Prop 2.
25990.  Prohibitions.  In addition to other applicable provisions of
law, a person shall not tether or confine any covered animal, on a
farm, for all or the majority of any day, in a manner that prevents
such animal from:
   (a) Lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs;
and
   (b) Turning around freely.

25992.  Exceptions.  This chapter shall not apply:
   (a) During scientific or agricultural research.
   (b) During examination, testing, individual treatment or operation
for veterinary purposes.
   (c) During transportation.
   (d) During rodeo exhibitions, state or county fair exhibitions,
4-H programs, and similar exhibitions.
   (e) During the slaughter of a covered animal in accordance with
the provisions of Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 19501) of Part 3
of Division 9 of the Food and Agricultural Code, relating to humane
methods of slaughter, and other applicable law and regulations.
   (f) To a pig during the seven-day period prior to the pig's
expected date of giving birth.
25993.  Enforcement.  Any person who violates any of the provisions
of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction
thereof shall be punished by a fine not to exceed one thousand
dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for a period
not to exceed 180 days or by both such fine and imprisonment.

One could logically argue the following points about this law:

·         It is still legal to confine animals in any size enclosure for up to 49% of any day
·         It is still legal to confine animals in enclosures all the time as long as the enclosure is large enough for the animals to lie down, stand up, and fully extend his or her limbs and turn around freely
·          The exceptions to this law are many and will make the law extremely difficult to enforce (see below for more information regarding enforcement)
·          The consequences for violators are very limited and, if anyone was actually fined, they would most likely see the fine as just the price of doing business

HSUS reached an agreement with the United Egg Producers (UEP) to work together on this federal bill which, according to HSUS, is “a solution that balances animal welfare and the economic realities of the industry” and will “improve housing for egg-laying hens and provide a stable future for egg farmers.”

HSUS enthusiastically supports this bill and has made it a top legislative priority in Congress. This, of course, seems to indicate that the organization will spend a significant amount of resources on trying to get the bill passed.

In addition to HSUS, this bill is supported by Farm Sanctuary, Mercy For Animals, Compassion Over Killing, In Defense of Animals, and other national organizations.

However, other national animal organizations (even those which support some “welfare” campaigns) are not in favor of this legislation which they see as not just a huge waste of resources but a gigantic step backwards.

According to Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns, “Even if HR 3798 passes, the majority of hens will remain entombed in battery cages on factory farms," "They will be locked into a federal law administered by the USDA which does not even enforce the 54-year-old 'Humane Slaughter Act.'"

According to Priscilla Feral, President of Friends of Animals, “There is no such thing as an ‘enriched’ battery cage. HR 3798 is an outrageous attempt by the egg industry and its cohorts to enrich themselves at the expense of laying hens and the public at large”

According to Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine, University of California who is regarded as an expert on farmed animals by many in the animal advocacy community, including Compassion Over Killing and Mercy For Animals, “The cages defined by the legislation will in no meaningful way reduce the unimaginable suffering endured by the hens but will be used by the industry as a means of defending this indefensible practice. Even if this legislation passes without amendments, the situation would be worse for the hens because it would be setting a disastrous precedent; battery cages would be codified in federal law.”

According to Bradley Miller, National Director of the Humane Farming Association, "The egg industry is seeking to establish egg factory cages as a national standard that could never be challenged or changed by state law or public vote"

Other organizations which oppose this legislation include Last Chance for Animals, Action for Animals, and Northwest Animal Rights Network.

Interestingly, just two years ago, HSUS indicated how shady it thinks its new partner is by asking the U.S. Department of Justice to initiate a criminal investigation of the UEP and several of its members. The request was based on insider information that shows that egg industry executives allegedly fixed egg prices in an intentional scheme that caused prices to rise as much as 45 percent between August 2007 and March 2008—the fastest pace in 30 years. According to Jennifer Fearing, chief economist for The Humane Society of the United States, "Factory farming interests claim they cannot afford to give hens enough room to spread their wings, yet they're gouging consumers through secret deals, collusion and retaliation. Consumers and animals continue to suffer while the egg industry cuts corners and lines its pockets."
This bill includes an air quality provision which requires that (two years after the bill is enacted) ammonia levels should not exceed 25 parts per million which is the exact same maximum standard already required by the UEP certified guidelines. And actually the UEP currently suggests that, ideally, the ammonia levels should be less than 10 parts per million.
The bill also includes a provision which requires that (two years after the bill is enacted) feed-withdrawal and water-withdrawal molting shall be banned. This exact same ban is already required by the UEP certified guidelines and has been in place since 2006.
Following are some of the reasons why it is completely baffling why some of the largest animal advocacy organizations support this bill:
1.      Its definitions confirm how insignificant the bill is:
·         “adequate environmental enrichments” includes perch space, dust bathing or scratching areas, and nest space but won’t be specifically defined by the Secretary of Agriculture until a later date
·         “free-range” is defined as “not housed in caging devices” and “provided with outdoor access” which could and usually does mean one small window for thousands of  hens in a warehouse
·         “cage-free” is defined as “not housed in caging devices” which can and usually does mean that the hens are crammed into warehouses and don’t have even that small outdoor access window  
·         “enriched cages” is defined as “116 square inches (less than a legal piece of paper) of individual floor space per brown hen” and “101 square inches (7 more square inches than a piece of letter size paper) of individual floor space per white hen” and it means the hens are provided “adequate environmental enrichments” (see above definition)
2.      The phase in period is complicated and very long:
·         9 years after enactment, new cages have to provide “adequate environmental enrichments”
·         15 years after enactment, existing cages have to provide “adequate environmental enrichments”
·         3 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 90 square inches of individual floor space (less than a piece of letter size paper) for brown hens and 78 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         6 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 102 square inches of individual floor space (less than a piece of legal size paper) for brown hens and 90 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         9 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 116 square inches of individual floor space (still less than a piece of legal size paper) for brown hens and 101 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         12 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 130 square inches of individual floor space (less than a fed ex envelope ) for brown hens and 113 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         15 years after enactment, new cages have to provide 144 square inches of individual floor space (less than most laptop computers ) for brown hens and 124 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         4 years after enactment, existing cages have to provide 76 square inches (less than a piece of letter size paper) of individual floor space for brown hens and 67 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         15 years after enactment, existing cages have to provide 144 square inches (less than most laptop computers ) of individual floor space for brown hens and 124 square inches of individual floor space for white hens
·         Other complicated phase-in provisions
3.      There are significant exemptions:
·         Hens already used for production are virtually not affected
·         Existing cages put into operation between 1-1-08 and 12-31-11 will not be affected until 18 years after the date of enactment
·         Businesses with less than 3,000 hens will never be affected
4.      Important points and questions
·         Is this weak and unenforceable bill − which may or may not be passed − worth HSUS agreeing to not do undercover investigations of egg farms?  Furthermore, while HSUS is working with the UEP on this bill, it stands to reason that it will be very hesitant to criticize the egg industry.  
·         Even after the 15 year phase-in period, the birds will only be provided with space that equals less than two sheets of paper and the hens will – for the most part – still have to stand on wire caging.
·         Why are “enriched cages” even included in this bill as a so-called improvement when its chief supporter HSUS argues that hens who live in enriched cages live a miserable and extremely unhealthy existence?
·         What about all of the male chicks who are killed every day at hatcheries as a result of the egg industry?
·         What about de-beaking the hens?
·         What about killing the hens when they no longer produce enough eggs?
·         The “humane” labeling will make consumers feel guilt free and, therefore, they will buy even more eggs
·         How will this law with so many extremely complicated provisions be enforced? (see below for more information regarding enforcement)

Enforcement of treatment laws
1.      There are many reasons to believe that the USDA and state agriculture departments are not motivated to vigilantly enforce animal welfare laws.
2.      From a HSUS news release, “The fact is, Congress and the USDA have been in the grip of the agribusiness lobby for decades”
3.      In his book, The Bond, Pacelle states that the USDA has poor oversight and that it does not conduct unannounced visits at slaughterhouses (pages 102 and 103) and discusses how the USDA and the animal food industries have an improper connection (page 108)
4.      From Pacelle’s testimony to Congress:
a.       “The agency [USDA] has failed to follow its official interim policy”
b.      “The USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General chastised the agency for its inconsistent application of policies and regulations”
c.       “The problems engendered by the USDA’s loophole are exacerbated by its lax enforcement”
d.      “The agency has too often ignored complaints about serious animal welfare abuses”
5.      The USDA supposedly enforces certain humane laws but it also is mandated to promote US agriculture products and, obviously, these two mandates create a conflict of interest.
6.      According to Marion Nestle, author of Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism, "A second reason for the friendliness is the revolving door between government and industry. Job exchanges between industry lobbyists and the USDA are especially common, not least because 500 or so department officials are political appointees selected on the basis of party affiliation. As early as 1974, reports identified numerous USDA officials who were previously employed by the meat and dairy industries or who left the USDA to work for those industries."
7.      The USDA’s budget is so strained that it recently proposed that it should turn over chicken slaughterhouse inspection duties to slaughterhouse employees
8.      State agriculture departments usually have very strong ties to the animal agriculture businesses in their community. Just two examples:
·         A North Carolina Department of Agriculture official tipped off a turkey farmer about an upcoming raid which was triggered by animal abuse allegations.
·         The Illinois Department of Agriculture consistently ignores the state’s Humane Care for Animals Act and acts as an obstacle to any humane legislation considered by lawmakers.
9.      In response to the above referenced NC situation, Pacelle stated “You’ve got a real unholy alliance between the industry and the government agencies.”  (02:30)

A FEW OF THE OTHER INDIVIDUAL ANIMAL ADVOCATES AND ORGANIZATIONS WHO AGREE WITH MY POINT OF VIEW AND WHO ARE SPREADING THE CLEAR STRONG MESSAGE THAT VEGANISM IS A MORAL IMPERATIVE AND THE ONLY WAY TO END ANIMAL EXPLOITATION AND SUFFERING


Stephanie Ernst (animal rights advocate and freelance writer and editor)

Please, let’s hold each other accountable, even when that’s difficult to do (and yes, even when we know there are good, well-intentioned individuals inside groups). Please, let’s firmly stand together to say that this is not okay. Please, let’s change course. Please, let’s stop making excuses for what is inexcusable. Please, animal rights advocates, let’s fight for what we actually believe and stop supporting groups and campaigns that are less than honest, that do not reflect what we know to be right and just, and that give credibility and the “humane” label to the exploitation and killing of animals. Let’s show more loyalty to the nonhuman animals than to the groups that keep selling them out.


If living ethically is important to you, please remember that there is nothing humane about “humane” animal farming, just as there is nothing ethical or defensible about consuming its products. When confronted with the fundamental injustice inherent in all animal agriculture—a system that is predicated on inflicting massive, intentional and unnecessary suffering and death on billions of sentient individuals—the only ethical response is to strive to end it by becoming vegan, not to regulate it by supporting “improved” methods of exploitation.

The question is not, “How do we treat the animals we’ve enslaved?”; but, “Why are they here in the first place?”
Click here to read more.
Gentle World (a vegan intentional community)
The partnership between animal welfare groups and industry to promote economically efficient animal exploitation is considered a “win-win-win” not only for both sides of the partnership, but for consumers as well. Consumers are assured that they can be excused for their indulgences in the products of animal misery, due to these so-called “higher standards” of welfare, and welfare groups win by receiving tens of millions of donation dollars annually for acting as the industry “regulators” and the developers of these ridiculous labels.
But the biggest winners, by far, are the animal exploiters themselves, who not only receive consulting advice by “welfare experts” and prominent animal activists, but are also given awards and special endorsement from advocacy groups. The payoff they receive in increased consumer confidence must have them laughing all the way to the bank. Meanwhile, the most basic rights of an increasing number of animals are still being sold out to fulfill the trivial desires of those who insist on consuming and using the products that come from their bodies.
Click here to read more.

[B]ut roughly 97% of the potential donors to animal charities eat chickens. Thus, few organized groups choose to risk their growth potential as the world’s forests are cut down for animal farms and animal feed. It’s easier for the heads of charities to maintain that a return to something like the old family farm will restore an “ethic” to our relationship with the planet and its life.

To read more, go here.

Boston Vegan Association
The BVA rejects all forms of advocacy that seek to reform, regulate, or otherwise make the human use of animals more humane, on the grounds that such activities are counterproductive to the goal of ending animal use. For the same reason, the BVA rejects all forms of advocacy that seek to end only particular uses of animals. Instead, the BVA commits its resources exclusively to nonviolent vegan education. The BVA holds that educating people about veganism and vegan advocacy is the only way to make progress toward ending animal use.

Humane Myth

To the industry will go animal organization endorsements of an ever more bizarre array of “humane” products and “compassionate” practices. To the animal groups will go a pocketful of “partial victories” as well as a few gratuities like conference sponsorships and high profile publicity opportunities. By making the process so orderly and rational, by whittling it down to a few key players with an unspoken understanding of the arrangement, all parties involved will receive a regular supply of what they need to keep growing at a rapid clip. More money. More customers/members. More political connections. More ability to dictate the terms of public discourse.

To read more, go here.

My Face is on Fire (vegan education blog)

So perhaps, then, it isn't an oversimplification to assess HSUS' goings on with the millions in donations it receives as its -- quite literally -- investing in the continued practice of treating nonhuman animals as things existing for human pleasure.

To read more, go here.

Alex Hershaft (President of Farm Animal Rights Movement)

Yes, we do support a gradual, incremental approach to animal liberation, but one vegan meal at a time – not one inch of cage space at a time. The distant goal must be a vegan world – not a world with animals in huge cages.

Yes, we do care about the suffering of billions of animals here and now, but we care even more about the hundreds of billions of animals yet unborn.

Yes, we do believe that welfare reforms work, but only when they are proposed and implemented by the meat industry, to lure caring consumers to their products – not when they are proposed and abetted by animal rights organizations, which are viewed as ethical beacons by their supporters.

When we ask for improvements in the treatment of animals we exploit, we are implying agreement with their exploitation. 97% of consumers favor improved treatment of animals, yet 98% continue to eat them. Welfare reforms are a win-win solution for consumers and the meat industry. Only the animals lose.

We are a movement based on the highest ethic of respect for life. Our challenge to the consuming public should be not “what is the right way to exploit and kill animals,” but “what gives us the right to exploit and kill animals?”

Unpopular Vegan Essays (blog written by Dan Cudahy who also co-authored Creative, Non-Violent Vegan Advocacy (A Beginner’s Guide)

Let us not measure our progress in insignificant welfare “victories”, which, during the short time they last, only serve to perpetuate the exploitation paradigm and make consumers feel better about their purchases of animal products.

There are significant business (fundraising) reasons why welfare efforts are essential to PETA and HSUS to thrive under the current system of industrial animal abuse. The business reasons can be summed up in the following eternal business cycle as follows: donations-campaigns-“victories”-donations-campaigns-“victories”-donations…; you-get-the-point. Since there are so many different ways in which we exploit and inflict cruelty on animals, the opportunities for the welfare-campaign business cycle will last literally centuries.

To read more, go here.



The following piece was taken from a book written by activists and scholars and edited by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. Nothing in the book specifically references the animal rights movement but these points clearly could be applied to this very movement or any social justice cause.


[T]he NPIC [non-profit industrial complex] promotes a social movement culture that is non-collaborative, narrowly focused, and competitive. To retain the support of benefactors, groups must compete with each other for funding by promoting only their own work, whether or not their organizing* strategies are successful. This culture prevents activists from having collaborative dialogues where we can honestly share our failures as well as our successes. In addition, after being forced to frame everything we do as a “success,” we become stuck in having to repeat the same strategies because we insisted to funders they were successful, even if they were not. Consequently, we become inflexible rather than fluid and ever changing in our strategies, which is what a movement for social transformation really requires. And as we become more concerned with attracting funders than with organizing mass-based movements, we start niche marketing the work of our organizations. Framing our organizations as working on a particular issue or a particular strategy, we lose perspective on the larger goals of our work. Thus, niche marketing encourages us to build a fractured movement rather than mass-based movements for social change.

32 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Hi Marty, Thanks so much for your comment but I had to remove it because that was the only way I could change the meta description that showed up when someone posted a link to this blog post on fb or other such sites. When I first published this blog, I neglected to create a meta description and somehow after you posted this comment the first part of it about IDA's link not working is what showed up as the description. And I felt that the blog piece needed a clearer description. Please comment again if you get a chance! And, BTW, I fixed the IDA link. :) Thanks again!

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  2. Thank you for this critique. I want to emphasize that United Poultry Concerns supports, promotes and practices only a vegan diet, and we actively promote and vigorously work for animal liberation from all forms of human oppression. We were virtually the only organization representing the interests of "farmed animals" that refused the invitation to join Whole Foods' "Compassionate Standards" program when it was being developed. And while FARM, which puts on the national "animal rights" conference, has promoted the goal of a vegan diet, this group publicly announced last month that FARM believes the Egg Products Inspection Act of 2012 will help hens and therefore, FARM no longer opposes it.

    The 2012 National "Animal Rights" conference, this year, is dominated by the very farmed animal "welfare" outlook taken to task in this critique. HSUS, which for the past 7 or 8 years years boycotted the national AR conference for encouraging "violence" (only to humans, not to nonhuman animals) is now back, and many suspect that FARM's recent homage to HSUS and abdication to HSUS's "egg bill" is not so much about a belief that the proposed federal legislation will help the hens as it is about FARM's eagerness to placate HSUS and win HSUS back to the conference.

    I will conclude by noting that my own requests to FARM for speaking assignments, appropriate to my/UPC's contribution to our Movement was condescendingly rejected both last year and this year without explanation, even though United Poultry Concerns has been an annual and faithful sponsor and supporter of the "AR conference" for many years (until 2012). Unlike HSUS and Farm Sanctuary, United Poultry Concerns did not abandon the AR conference for espousing "violence" (or whatever their real reasons might have been), yet we are patronized by FARM as totally expendable. What should be an Animal Rights Conference is really just a FARM conference.

    As Leslie's critique brings out, Animal Rights, truthful language, and the Ethical Treatment of Animals are in retreat at the present time. Farmed animals, especially, are being traded down in the guise of "improved welfare." In reality, the reasons for this downtrade have little or nothing to do with a commitment to helping animals. What we are seeing is an example of animal sacrifice for other purposes. Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns. www.upc-online.org

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    1. Thank you, Karen, for enlightening me about who's who and who's what in this fight. I stand with you.

      Jan McClellan
      Chandler, AZ
      Citizens Against Covance
      and
      Peaceful Pet Store Protests, Arizona

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  3. Excellent article and right to the point! Debunking and exposing the realities of the propaganda being spread and use by politically and manipulative organizations like the HSUS which its primary roll now is to stear other well intended animal rights organizations and activists into the wrong path, the path of continuing animal exploitation and cruelty under the guise of being "humane". There is no such thing a humane killing just like there is no such thing as humane rape, humane child molestation, humane slavery or humane holocausts.

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    1. I agree exactly with what Alfredo has said above. It can't be stated any more truthfully nor clearly. There is NO "humane" way of killing.

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  4. Some of the quotes from spokespersons of the huge orgs just make me gag. In the 1990s I worked at In Defense of Animals where I witnessed the callous waste of donations made by caring people of both means and of little means. From little old ladies on fixed incomes, giving from their Social Security benefits, to children giving their meager allowances. All of these donors intended (and expected) that their donations would be used directly to help animals. Instead, they were spent on such frivolous items as a boom box for the office, at the direction of the office manager.

    In the 90s I also worked at Last Chance for Animals. I was witness to all manner of waste of donor dollars, from office and video equipment being smashed during one of the president's melt-downs, to sending money and gifts to an incarcerated felon who was posing as an imprisoned animal activist in a scam targeting AR orgs. An obvious scammer/impersonator to me, but not to the president who ordered the cash and gifts to be sent. The theft and capitalization of other orgs' blood-sweat-and-tears campaigns, and the hate campaigns against other activists and orgs was appalling.

    I am still active in AR and vegan since 1988, and do not contribute to any of the large orgs. Thanks for this blogspot.

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  5. Excellent information and unfortunately too true, as well as all the commenters so far; this dirty "secret" has to be outed fully and this counterproductive waste ended. How dare those orgs. take advantage of good people and animals this way, selfishly ensuring their own lucrative continuation indefinitely. The answer to everything is to send them money...the only reason we're still in hell with the animals is because we haven't sent HSUS or the others enough money? This absolutely stinks. Donate your time, research, thoughts, writing, witnessing, or otherwise getting the truth out there to change minds, good people. And be the change you want to see. Spend your money on food, shelter, etc., for your animals and other loved ones. Vegan, all the way, for love.

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    1. Best and most honest piece written--it has been a long time coming sadly, although many of us called out each and every one of these orgs as they fell. Most I have not recognized for so very long although we were colleagues and yes, friends, in the trenches together for decades.
      Check out www.humanemyth.org.
      I thought I could no longer be shocked, but Hershaft, your underhandedness in abandoning the animals shocked me. But why should it? How many decades ago did I help you raise Bobby a veal calf whom you thought would always fit in your bathtub and then relegated to the freezing ice and snow outside? How many meetings did you have at the FARM house when you let your live-in dog run loose in heavy traffic? Did you learn anything when you took a calf in hotter than hot temperatures into DC in a U-Haul and achieved nothing but a citation for animal cruelty from DC Humane? Yeah, guess I'm not so shocked.
      Mercy for Animals, how dare you post here or anywhere when you are part of the problem.
      My heartfelt thanks to Karen Davis who showed me turkeys and other "poultry" flying free to nest in the trees.
      ~Carol E. McCormick

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  7. There has been some confusion about the comment written by mercyanimals....this is not Mercy For Animals.

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  8. I am sad to say how incomplete I was in mentioning that it is not just FARM that is not kind to "companion" or "farmed" animals. I have witnessed this also by HSUS, ASPCA, PETA and FARM SANCTUARY, all of whom were pulling in tons of cash for protecting animals at the time.
    Thanks, Leslie, for clearing that up about Mercy for Animals, sorry for my mistake there.
    I am being asked by many on facebook if Bob Linden pulled his own comments or if Leslie pulled them. Thanks in advance for a clear answer to this.

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  9. Leslie, thank you for writing this article. I worked on California's Prop. 2 campaign for a short period of time, gathering signatures. I stopped because what I was hearing from the public was that it was okay to eat animal products if the animals are "humanely raised", and because I began to realize that the proposition would result in very little progress for animals. After I quit the campaign, I was still on the local email list for Prop. 2 activists and was disgusted how HSUS was shaking down the activists for donation dollars, especially while Pacelle and the other execs make big money. HSUS uses the "humane meat" myth so that they won't offend the majority of their donors who are addicted to eating animal products and don't want to examine their behaviors.

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  10. Thanks for this, Leslie. Excellent critique. It's what more of us need to be saying about the state of the movement. For anyone interested in Alex Hershaft's unconvincing justification for supporting HR 3798, here it is. http://www.farmusa.org/HR3798.htm

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  11. I have been urged by some "part-time" animal advocates who support the big groups not to come forth with revelations about the out-of-control egomaniacs who are perceived to be the leaders of the movement. It would hurt the entire movement, divide it, I was told. Are they kidding me? Do they really think we are unified? They say we should put our differences aside and just be one ginormous force, like the Teamsters Union. These are all part-time activists, of course, people who don't get involved enough to see the inner workings and the egos up close.

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    1. This is sickening. I have heard this for years over and over Phil. They even think the www.humanemyth.org is an animal industry newsletter!!!!!!
      I have been involved for decades and have seen it all first hand.
      This is about saving the "movement" and most importantly the "animals." This is what it means to take the more difficult but more ethical road.
      Believe me, I know how difficult it can be emotionally, intellectually and financially to stand up to the grandiose groups and their "justifications" when you used to know the perpetrators personally.
      Carol E. McCormick

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  12. Originally posted June 16th: Leslie - with your research and this critique, you have done more to benefit animals than H$U$ ever has or ever will. You have not only ratified the content which I have regularly presented on my radio program GO VEGAN RADIO WITH BOB LINDEN and on my BOB LINDEN facebook pages, you have broadened the spectrum of the discussion and highlighted the need to reject the butchers who have infiltrated and hijacked what once seemed to be an animal rights movement. Now, those who claim to be animal "protectors" are, in actuality, animal killers. So pervasive is this diabolical takeover that now I am shocked to see FARM falling prey to the betrayal of animals, joining the previous shock wave of Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, In Defense of Animals, Compassion Over Killing, the ASPCA. On stage at a recent Animal Rights conference, BRUCE FRIEDRICH (formerly PETA, now Farm Sanctuary) hurled the ultimate insult at ALEX HERSHAFT and abolitionists, calling him (and them) "speciesist". On my program last week, I lamented a $151,000 donation from the ASPCA to a Kansas chicken and turkey "farmer" for construction of a barn so that he can increase "production" to kill an additional 600,000 birds annually, with that donation administered by a group called Farm Forward. I was shocked by your revelation Leslie that BRUCE FRIEDRICH is on the board of Farm Forward along with poultry industry representatives. It was after your research was completed that FARM reversed its position to support the bill.This is a sad stain on what has been a heroic legacy, and I urge FARM and HERSHAFT to think and re-think. (Had I known of FARM's policy reversal, I would have re-thought my attendance at its event last week in LA.) Please return to the side of the animals and reject the animal killers. The "animal protection" movement is now the "animal AG protection" movement. Who from H$U$, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, In Defense of Animals, Compassion Over Killing, the ASPCA, or FARM can explain the positions that you endorse? Who can explain what "humane slaughter" is, and can you provide pictures or videos of it? "Enriched" cages are universally recognized as cruel. H$U$, partner with United Egg Producers, opposed them before it reversed its position. When did Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, In Defense of Animals, Compassion Over Killing, the ASPCA, and FARM reverse their positions on the cruelty of "enriched cages" and why is this cruelty acceptable and endorsed now? Why are these organizations comfortable partnering with H$U$ which is not only a partner with UEP, but also the Nebraska Farmers Union (to market animal products), serial animal killer WOLFGANG PUCK, and even has a director of rural outreach and development, JOE MAXWELL, who is a pig "farmer" responsible for the murder of 50,000 pigs annually. You are being judged by the company you keep - Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, In Defense of Animals, ASPCA, Compassion Over Killing, and FARM. I ask all of you to look in the mirror and ask - "who are you?" I don't recognize you anymore.
    - Bob Linden www.GoVeganRadio.com

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    1. Great post, Bob. But why are you leaving out PETA, who EXECUTES something like 96% of the companion animals they take in, with all their millions of dollars? They'd rather pay for campaigns to get people to feel better about eating at KFC, and give KFC free advertisting. Don't forget about one of--if not THE--biggest animal-killing "animal rights" groups, PEOPLE EXECUTING THOUSANDS OF ANIMALS.

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    2. Dear "THEREWILDWEST"--I couldn't agree with you more.

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  13. Thanks for all of the support, information, and thoughtful comments.

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  14. Thanks so much, Leslie, for your well-researched expose which is heartbreaking in the disturbing facts it reveals. We must stand up for true animal rights and against giving in to the abusers. It is shameful that some of the supposed leaders of the AR Movement have obviously "drunk the Kool-Aid" and, accordingly, are bowing to the cruel animal ag industries. Please wake up, those of you who are dangerously watering down the AR Movement and certainly weakening our stance for the voiceless innocents who depend upon us!

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  15. Leslie, I am so grateful and overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of your research here. Thank you. I am going to repost here, with some modifications/additions, a comment I made on Vegina.net, because there are so many similarities in the thrusts of the posts, and because I don't have the time/energy to type a whole new one out:

    Just a few thoughts…

    To me it seems like the moral slippage (great phrase by Vegina, btw) has been happening for a long, long time. Read (Last Chance for Animals founder) Chris DeRose’s book In Your Face, or Flaming Arrows by animal hero Rod Coronado or-–I shudder to recommend this lunatic mass-killers' work, but it is a tremendous and militant read-–Free the Animals by the president of PETA, aka People Exterminating Thousands of Animals; the broad 80s animal rights movement was so much more militant and uncompromising and in-your-face than the “movement” now. What happened? Why did we (well, more like “they,” meaning welfarist groups) call off the boycott? Why did PETA start giving FREE ADVERTISING to Murder King and KFC; why did HSUS give MASSIVE PROMOTION to Wolfgang Fuck and Michael Vick; why did, as you mention, Compassion Over Killing give free advertising to Subway (Eat Flesh)? What a WONDERFUL deal for the animal brutalizers!!–they make tiny concessions that don’t go into effect for many years (if ever), are rarely if ever enforced, and make nano-differences in the lives of real, living animals–or more likely no difference at all. Chicken vaginal secretions get to be called “Free Range,” and all it means is there’s a doggie door at the back of a 20,000-hen shed that none of them even know or care to use, beyond which is a concrete slab the size of a studio apartment in the Tenderloin. Among the zombified masses there are a few here and there who realize that thing atop their neck isn’t just a hat rack, and they think, “Hey, PETA says KFC is nice to animals, now I don’t have to even think twice about eating there!!” YAY, VICTORY! Meanwhile 10,000,000,000 chickens are slaughtered ever year in this idiotic country, and is that number going down?

    WE–meaning the grassroots, we individuals, we who refuse to join in the corporate bureaucratic clusterfuckery of mainstream money-grubbing Big AR–we need to evolve greater militancy, more open support for liberations and sabotage, more uncompromising advocacy of radical veganism and liberation ideology. The “movement” seems to be taking no steps forward for every two steps back! Given population growth, the ever-increasing dead zones and plastic patches in the oceans, global deforestation and climate catastrophe, we need to move in MORE radical directions, not saddle up to the oppressors and beg for a few measly table scraps on the deck of the Titanic.

    It’s just getting worse, that’s my point. It’s been happening for a long time, but now even the casual activist can look at what groups like HSUS and PETA and MFA are doing and stop and say, “What the FUCK?!” It’s more blatant, more absurd, more excruciating to watch and not be able to stop, and worst of all, it is spreading like a Coronado-lit fire–except, unlike the latter, it is a wretched development.

    I call for a rejection of this nauseating animal-killer-promotion. I call for a return to 1980s militancy and beyond–a new militancy for a new world, a planet crumbling and collapsing under the weight of civilization's ecological excesses. Just like with Earth liberation, animal liberation will not come from the big groups. It will come from us. Those who see the moral slippage and say, “Uh-uh. No way. No more. ANIMAL AND EARTH ABUSERS ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS OR ALLIES. They are our enemies, and should be looked upon and treated as such.”

    Love and Liberation always,

    Jan @ www.TheRewildWest.com

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    1. Wow, I am vegan and so turned off by this. Wow.

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  16. Also, I just wanted to let you know that I recently published a narrative nonfiction piece (that reads like a story/thriller!) on my experiences doing undercover stockyard investigations, in 3 parts. Here's part 1, the other 2 are posted subsequently =)

    http://therewildwest.wordpress.com/2012/06/13/undercover-stockyard-investigations-part-13/

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  17. You know what? Blah blah blah. You bitch about the animal's conditions to people, and that get's there attention, so what do you think the next logical step for them is? To change the conditions.
    Don't sow the fucking seeds and cry about what you reap.

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  18. are there any decent abolitionist coalitions out there?

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    1. No, just do your thing. Do not be ruled by these people or any others. Just do what is right in your heart. The whole abolitionist thing is wack-0!

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    2. Maybe a definition is necessary, abolition means the act of abolishing and abolish means ending. So abolition (ending all use of animals) is (or should be) the goal of all true animal rights activists.
      I do agree that doing your own thing is always effective - like leafletting and tabling.
      However, it is important to support and helpful to know about abolitionist organizations, many of which are mentioned at the end of this blog piece. You will also want to check out the following organizations.
      http://www.peacefulprairie.org/
      http://www.tribeofheart.org/
      http://www.peaceablejourney.org/

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  19. Absolutely brilliant analysis and arguments Leslie. Thank you for having the clarity of thought and courage of heart to put forth this crucial position which is the right position on behalf of the animals.

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  20. Well, here is my personal experience: I became vegan and it was not because of an abolitionist. There is an abolitionist type group here in CO, and when my husband saw their postings, he said that if these were the kind of people that we met when we went vegan, he would be pretty lonely. They were so rude and obnoxious and "know-it-all-ish" neither of us could stand it! Now, moving on to the people I have helped to become vegan: Never put out the abolitionist speech at all. Just planted a few seeds. In fact, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is not a vegan org, but damn if they don't turn people vegan! So the point is, you can spend half your life researching, debating theories, blah, blah. But that is half of your life spent doing that, and if you think that everyone that reads this suddenly becomes enlightened, well then you also have a ginormous ego. Stop knocking people that have true compassion in their hearts! Just go out and do your thing and have a great day! And don't forget that you are also an animals. And all animals deserve to have happiness and comfort too. Soooo, be happy, be a joyful vegan, and that is the energy that people will feel.

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    1. BA Baracus--Mr. T?

      How nice that you enjoy your human privilege! You get to go around being happy, comfortable, and joyful! Unfortunately, millions upon MILLIONS of animals are living in hell RIGHT NOW, THIS SECOND. They live in hell in "research" laboratories, stockyards, zoos, circuses, animal shelters, fur farms, etc. They are slaves. Do you support slavery? I would think your answer would be NO. So why work with slaveholders?

      I have been vegan 12 years. Vegetarian 4 years before that--made the decision at 14. Did I know any abolitionists? No....but that is beside the point. Change always starts with the planting of seeds. Abolitionists plant seeds as well-by educating people on the TRUTH--NO MATTER HOW UGLY AND HARD TO HEAR--will everyone who hears the truth go vegan? OF COURSE NOT! But people are even LESS LIKELY to go vegan if all they hear is a bunch of crap about how meat and eggs and dairy products are humane--why even go vegetarian if you can eat "humane meat"? Can you please explain that to me?

      BTW, Sea Shepherd IS a vegan organization. They promote veganism and their ships are vegan. Sea Shepherd is also an abolitionist organization--completely and totally against the killing/exploitation of the seas. You won't hear any watered down garbage about "humane tune" from Paul Watson. Oh no! And if you don't get that you may want to read his books and listen to him speak--he's incredible. You do know about Sea Shepherd's extensive history of DIRECT ACTION, don't you? Because earlier in the comments you seemed put off by RewildWest's comments re: militancy and direct action--which is completely supported by Sea Shepherd.

      You insulted "spending time doing research and debating theories"--you talked about how YOU are the one who plants seeds (I'm guessing only you know the right way to plant seeds?) and essentially implied that this blog was a waste because not everyone who reads this will suddenly become "enlightened"...when did the writer say she expected everyone to become "enlightened"? Does this blog not fall under the term you mentioned: PLANTING SEEDS?? I think this is pretty much the epitome of seed planting!

      I hope it has planted a seed in you--and that one day you will realize that animal suffering will NEVER end as long as people who claim to be animal lovers and activists are complicit in their exploitation and misery.

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