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prop 2 concerns - cruelty: more or less?

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  • BOB LINDEN
    A very worthwhile read - Bobby Rock from www.VeggieZone.com, concerned about Prop 2, wrote - Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare I believe that everyone in the
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 7, 2008
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      A very worthwhile read -

      Bobby Rock from www.VeggieZone.com, concerned about Prop 2, wrote -

      Animal Rights vs. Animal Welfare

      I believe that everyone in the animal rights community has a similar
      long-term vision for the planet, with their own unique ways of
      contributing to the realization of this vision. However, I feel like
      many of the concepts and propositions of the animal welfare movement
      are beginning to inadvertently undermine the fundamental premise of
      this vision, and this has compelled me to voice my concerns directly
      to the community.

      To be clear, I am not anti animal welfare. I'm just pro animal rights,
      and this is very different work, as welfare issues fall squarely on
      the other end of the animal advocacy spectrum from rights issues.
      Accordingly, I think that every rights advocate should carefully
      consider how much of their valuable energy they want to expend on
      welfare issues, given some of the inherent conflicts there are to the
      rights cause.

      As just one case in point, California's Prop 2 is a flagship example
      of how the slight relief of suffering for layer hens on the long-term
      (six years to be exact), could actually equate to the promotion of
      more animals being killed on the short-term. How so? Because several
      of our beloved animal advocacy groups continue to endorse the "humane"
      housing and slaughter of all farm animals who are exploited under
      their seal of approval. (More on this in a moment.)

      I know this is a difficult and sensitive issue to many, especially in
      light of our shared intention here. And my goal here is not to tell
      you how to spend your time or what to do in the voting booth. But for
      the sake of the animals, I ask that you consider the following...


      ______________________________


      An Open Letter to My Fellow Members
      of the Animal Rights Community


      My Dear Compadres,

      There was once a time when I saw the animal rights vs. animal welfare
      dichotomy as merely an "it's all good" distinction between key issues
      in our movement. But over the past few years, I've watched this gap
      widen as a number of very disturbing things continue to play out on
      the animal advocacy landscape. So in this letter, I will offer a quick
      overview of the dilemma, share some critical perspectives on the
      debate, then show why California's Prop 2 (and other such legislation)
      may carry an unexpected backfire effect to our movement.

      My intention here is not to create any ill-will or bad feelings within
      a group of people who I consider part of my extended family and who
      all basically share the same long-term objective. It is to promote
      serious inner-reflection among all who truly care about animals, as we
      ask the following question: Will our movement continue to quantifiably
      serve animals, or will it castrate itself with the illusion that it's
      serving them? This is truly what's on the line here, my friends.

      The Quick Nutshell

      There are obviously many layers to the rights vs. welfare discussion,
      but here is a basic overview.

      Animal rights subscribes to the ideal that all animals have a right to
      live freely and peacefully, so we should not support the exploitation
      or killing of animals for any reason (with the rare exception of
      euthanizing an animal who is in extreme pain and beyond all medical help).

      Animal welfare deems it acceptable to exploit animals for food,
      clothing, entertainment, testing, etc., but lobbies for the minimal
      amount of cruelty, suffering or ill-treatment in the process.

      Therefore, any animal rights person or organization who chooses to
      actively support an animal welfare position, generally does so under
      the premise that we are a long ways off from any significant amount of
      the population giving up animal products, so if an animal is going to
      be exploited or killed anyway, we should fight for better conditions
      for that animal. (In the event of factory farming, for example, we
      should lobby for more humane living conditions, transportation,
      execution processes, etc.)

      But since animal rights is ultimately about the complete abolishment
      of any activity or platform that exploits or kills animals, some
      rights activists choose not to go out of their way to actively support
      animal welfare issues, when that same amount of time, energy and money
      can be spent on animal rights issues.

      Likewise, some animal welfare folks tend not to promote certain animal
      rights philosophies because they feel that they are often too
      "extreme" for most people to embrace and could possibly alienate them
      from doing anything on behalf of the animals. Accordingly, many view
      animal welfare causes as a good first step toward animal liberation.

      At the same time, many animal rights folks feel that, while animal
      welfare concepts could potentially create more humane conditions for
      animals on the short-term, they ultimately delay animal liberation.
      The main reason for this is because people usually derive a false
      sense of good will from supporting animal products or processes where
      the magnitude of the exploitation and suffering has supposedly been
      reduced.

      To put all of this in "human" terms, let's assume for a moment that
      child labor was legal internationally. The welfare activist would
      lobby for the Indian sweat shop to offer better working conditions for
      the children, and therefore consider a 10-hour day with two 30-minute
      breaks a victory when compared to, let's say, a 16-hour day with one
      15-minute break. The rights activist would say that child labor is
      wrong across the board, and on every level, so we're not going to
      haggle over degrees of wrongness. Instead, we need to abolish this
      practice outright, be it on a legislative level, or through consumer
      boycotts, etc.

      The Fundamental Flaw

      It's important to note here that while both of these perspectives are
      pro-animal, the welfare philosophy is ultimately in direct conflict
      with the rights philosophy because every welfare concept or protocol -
      as applied to animal agriculture - still involves the killing of an
      animal. Every single one. And therein lies the most basic conflict
      between the two.

      If a human rights activist is anti-death penalty, they're not going to
      take much solace in the fact that the death row prisoner was given a
      larger cell prior to his or her execution. And while living conditions
      and general treatment do factor into the human rights umbrella, these
      issues would never take precedence or priority over the basic
      right-to-life theme of the movement...especially if they were to
      propagate even more killing.

      For this reason, it's important that every animal advocate not be
      shepherded into thinking that we all should be out there blindly
      promoting every welfare concept or legislation. We all must do our own
      thinking here, regardless of what our various animal advocacy groups
      or beloved animal rights figures may be shouting from the rooftops. So
      please consider all of the following before deciding whether your
      energy and focus is best spent on welfare causes.

      The Welfare Effect

      Some of our biggest, most well-funded animal advocacy organizations
      have now aligned themselves with animal product entities to create a
      mirage of good will, as they work toward implementing key welfare
      protocols. This has involved the implied endorsement of certain
      products or companies where animals are still killed by the truckloads.

      An obvious case in point: Wolfgang Puck, a man at the center of a huge
      organization that kills millions of animals per year, has become a
      poster child for the animal welfare movement. Now, to be clear, I have
      no real opinion about, or judgment toward, Wolfgang Puck. He is who he
      is, he does what he does, and it certainly isn't my place to be his
      moral compass. But when some of our most influential entities – like
      the HSUS and the Genesis Awards – elect to deify this guy just because
      he handles his exploitation and murder of animal beings in a way they
      deem "more humane," it sends a mixed message to the masses; that
      animals have no inherent right to life and can be imprisoned and
      killed at our discretion...so long as we do so "humanely."

      Whether you walk up behind someone and quietly blow their brains out,
      or torture them for two days and then let them bleed to death, you are
      still going to jail. You might serve less time for just shooting them,
      but you damn sure will not find yourself paraded around the media as a
      goodwill ambassador just because you didn't torture your victim first.

      Can you imagine a couple of human rights advocates from the UNHCR
      having a warm and fuzzy interview on YouTube with some insurgent from
      Congo, just because he imprisons and executes his refugees in a less
      cruel way than the others do? This is the kind of lunacy we're talking
      about here.

      The Illusion of Solidarity

      There's no question that animal welfare issues are more palatable to
      the rest of the world than those "fanatical" animal rights issues. I
      mean, even the most callous carnivore or dedicated hunter will
      generally reject the notion of any animal needlessly suffering. And
      besides, the welfare approach isn't even asking that anyone alter
      their eating choices. They're just saying, "Eat this 'humane' brand of
      eggs instead of that 'cruel' brand."

      In light of this revelation, the welfarists conclude, we now have
      something we all can agree on: Animals should not suffer needlessly!
      Great! So let's all have a group hug, then get this legislation passed
      so that thousands of "cage-free" chickens can be crammed into one
      small room, rather than a series of tiny cages. Hooray!

      I sometimes wonder if, after years of across-the-board dismissal from
      the general public and corporate America, the animal advocacy
      community is happy just to be enjoying any sense of forward movement
      at all from the mainstream, even if it is delusional. "Look, it's
      working! We picked up another 68 signatures today!"

      Seriously, I don't mean to make light of everyone's hard work on these
      issues, especially when I consider the heartfelt intention behind it
      all. But that's exactly what makes this whole thing so hard to
      witness. I see tons of dedicated volunteers, advocates and activists
      spending inordinate amounts of time supporting fundraising events,
      lobbying for policy changes or trying to collect signatures for
      ridiculous bills that:

      1) will not bring about anywhere near the reduction of suffering that
      everyone thinks (as we'll discuss in a moment);

      2) will only be enforced to the extent that animal product
      manufacturers choose to adhere to them (remember the Humane Slaughter
      Act?);

      3) will ultimately cause the death of just as many animals, if not
      more, because all of these "animal friendly" new categories like
      cage-free and free-range have become a permission slip for people to
      enjoy their murdered and exploited animal products guilt-free;

      4) will misappropriate precious time and money that could go toward
      things that are more congruent with our original goal, and will have a
      more quantifiable effect in our ultimately achieving it;

      5) will create a backslide effect in a number of vegans or vegetarians
      who will now think it's okay to eat these "humane" animal products
      (yes, this really is starting to happen now);

      6) will give an implied endorsement from organizations that have
      traditionally been animal friendly to companies that will never be
      animal friendly.

      I know that the animal rights, grass roots, in-the-trenches approach
      to educating the public looks far less glamorous on paper than getting
      some half-assed new legislation passed, or having a high-profile
      figure like Wolfgang Puck as a media ally. But at least its real. At
      least you can draw a straight line directly from influencing someone's
      eating choices, if only a meal at a time, to the face of an animal
      who's been saved as a result of that choice.

      With this welfare approach, there is generally no straight line to
      draw to anything tangible. It's just a speculative pipe dream about
      some new law, that…

      will hopefully be enforceable in the distant future,
      will hopefully reduce the suffering of animals significantly, and
      will hopefully be some kind of first step in people understanding a
      bigger picture,
      which will then hopefully lead to them transitioning away from all
      animal products
      (even as St. Wolfgang assures them that his animals are treated well),
      because they will hopefully have some kind of epiphany about veganism.

      That's an awful lot of hope…and an awful lot of killing that is still
      going on while you're hoping.

      The Chump Factor: Why the Joke's On Us

      There is no doubt that as certain animal advocacy groups offer their
      endorsement of certain animal product entities, these entities enjoy a
      financial benefit. But the bigger question is, what kind of financial
      benefit do the "sponsoring" animal advocacy groups receive? Welfare
      issues are infinitely more media and consumer friendly, so we can only
      imagine how much more money is involved where welfare-related
      fundraising and donations are concerned. Fair enough. We all know how
      important funding is for any large-scale endeavor. Still, one has to
      wonder to what extent this increased revenue factors into these
      organizations' intense focus on welfare issues.

      Motives aside, the result is the same. Once our big guns decide to
      play in this sandbox, we are heading toward derailment where total
      liberation for animals is concerned. Why? Because once the
      legislation's passed, the victory party's over and the confetti's
      swept off the floor, the blood will still be dripping down the
      slaughterhouse walls...at least as much as it ever was before.

      And let's not kid ourselves - any support, compliance or even
      financial contribution to the welfare cause did not come about because
      a corporation suddenly grew a conscience. Nor did it come about
      because they give a damn about our tiny, fiscally inconsequential
      movement, which, by the way, does not constitute any quantifiable part
      of their consumer base. These companies comply for two main reasons:

      1. The animal welfare movement is generating untold amounts of
      positive publicity to their corporation, free of charge;

      2. For profitability reasons, they are heading in the direction of
      "more humane" protocols anyway. Yes, friends, it's true, and that's
      one of the big selling points that welfare proponents make to these
      companies. "Listen, fellas, if you house your animals in better
      conditions, you won't have so many die before you have a chance to
      slaughter them! So this is actually a more efficient and profitable
      way to go."

      Ostensibly, the strategy of the welfarist in this case is to appeal to
      the financially motivated side of the corporation as a way of
      achieving a result that is beneficial to the animals. But the joke is
      truly on us if we think that we're outsmarting these folks into being
      more animal friendly.

      Corporations are not in the business of having a conscience. (Scope
      out the excellent documentary The Corporation for a more thorough
      explanation of this reality.) They are in the business of, and legally
      bound to the ideal of, making a profit for their shareholders. And
      until they really feel it in their pocketbook – either through the
      realization that fewer people are buying their products, or that there
      is a substantial profit to be made in offering vegan options – they
      will not be dissuaded from killing animals. In fact, if these
      welfarist methods for improved protocol do create more profit for the
      corporation, their business of killing animals will undoubtedly
      expand, and this is one way even more animals will die.

      Such is the case for animal product peddlers of all sizes, not just
      the big corps. At last glance online, there were 109 farming
      organizations officially in support of the pro-welfare Proposition Two
      here in California. Again, they're not supporting this for their
      conscience. Everyone sees this as a win-win...except for the animals,
      and those animal advocates who are looking beyond the fervor and
      seeing what's really going on here.

      Animal Welfare and the Backfire Effect

      Not long ago, someone would read a book or see some video footage
      about modern animal agriculture and say, "My God! I don't believe
      what's going on in the world of factory farming. I no longer want to
      eat animals. Instead, I'll start looking for vegan alternatives."

      But today, when they're exposed to the same horrific info, many people
      say "My God! I don't believe what's going on in the world of factory
      farming. I'm no longer going to eat animals…that were treated like
      that. Instead, I'll start buying animal products with those 'humane'
      labels on them."

      This backlash is being propagated by the welfare movement, every time
      they create a media-visible alliance with, or trumpet an implied
      endorsement of, any entity or product that involves the killing or
      exploitation of animals.

      Think about it: When PETA lifts a boycott on an entity like KFC in
      Canada just because they've complied to some welfarist stipulation
      ("Controlled Atmosphere Killing," to be exact), what's the take-home
      message? You basically have PETA saying, "Okay everybody, the Colonel
      has benevolently agreed to kill his chickens by gassing them instead
      of slitting their throats, so now it's okay to eat there again."
      In-san-i-ty, people!

      Likewise, look at the recent Oprah episode that focused on the
      treatment of farm animals and California's impending Proposition Two.
      Back in '96, when she did a show with Howard Lyman that focused on the
      atrocious practices of the beef industry, the take-home message was
      clear; don't eat meat! I believe Oprah's quote at the time was
      something to the effect of, "(This issue) has just stopped me cold
      from eating another burger." This time, however, the show had an
      exclusively welfare slant. And even after doing a reasonable job
      depicting typical conditions for layer hens, pigs and veal calves, the
      take-home message was: buy cage-free or free-range.

      Some rights advocates may feel that anyone who would choose "humane"
      animal products over being vegan, was never going to be (or remain)
      vegan anyway. I disagree. The main aspect of factory farming that
      initially catches people's attention - and exposes our ruthless
      commoditization of animals - is the shocking amount of suffering
      inherent to the process. If it is suggested that suffering will be
      eliminated or seriously reduced once this new legislation kicks in,
      many people will justify their use of these more "conscientious"
      products, as an alternative to exploring vegan options.

      I've seen this response first-hand as I've guided countless people
      around Animal Acres, a local farm animal sanctuary. "This is terrible,
      how these poor animals have been treated!" they say. "I guess I'd
      better start buying free-range or cage-free from now on."

      Now, am I suggesting that we continue to let animals suffer under such
      atrocious conditions so humans will be shocked into going vegan? Of
      course not. I'm only suggesting that, to the extent that we embrace
      any welfare cause, let's carefully consider the ultimate take-home
      message, because it could be misleading to the point of undermining
      our rights causes.

      Example: The recent Prop 2 commercials here on LA television always
      end with a shot of several old-school farm chickens, hanging out in
      some grassy field. This is seriously misleading, as it implies that
      this is what life will be like for chickens if the proposition passes.
      The truth is, they could eventually have a little more room. That's
      it. But the consumer will be under the impression that they're getting
      their eggs from birds who live under conditions so wonderful that even
      the Humane Society approves of them...and look, here's the seal to
      prove it!

      So again, let's bring in the human rights perspective: If you were on
      death row right now, and you knew that every subsequent generation of
      your family was doomed to the same fate, would you want me out here
      lobbying to get you a slightly bigger cell, or trying to save your
      life? It's one or the other. What's it going to be? And don't say
      both, because if I got you a bigger cell, then the "system" would be
      that much more inclined to kill you since there's less guilt about how
      you've been treated. A preposterous premise? I agree. But that's
      basically what we're looking at with much of this animal welfare business.

      The root problem is, culturally, morally and spiritually, we do not
      see the inherent interconnectedness that exists between "us and them."
      As a result, we view animals as inconsequential commodities who are
      here to serve us under whatever terms we decide, be it for food,
      clothing, companionship, entertainment, testing, or whatever. This is
      the root problem. One of the symptoms of this problem is the
      unbearable amount of cruelty and suffering involved with us carrying
      out this human-over-animals paradigm. Animal welfare attempts to
      lessen one of the symptoms. We can all understand this noble
      intention. But in the process of addressing a symptom, the problem is
      magnified on two primary levels:

      1. It creates the illusion that little to no cruelty is involved with
      these humane processes, thereby making it ethically acceptable for
      people to consume these products;

      2. It diverts focus away from the underlying premise of the entire
      movement; that animals have the same fundamental right to life that
      humans do.

      This backlash has been running down the spine of the movement for
      several years now. Even the producers of the excellent documentary,
      Peaceable Kingdom, have gone back to the drawing board for a revised
      edition, just to bring the fundamental right-to-life issue a little
      more front-and-center. This is why we rights people have to stay
      focused on the original premise of the rights movement: "animals have
      a right to live in peace," not "animals have a right to be imprisoned
      and executed humanely."

      In much of my own work, I've brought a lot of the factory farming
      issues into focus as a way of illuminating just how much ill-regard
      we, as a society, have for animals. But I've had to be careful not to
      let the last note ring out on this point, otherwise someone might rush
      off to the nearest Whole Foods Market to buy some "free-range"
      chicken. Instead, it always gets back to the animals inherent right to
      freedom, well-being, living in peace, and not having their throats slit.

      Perhaps the most disturbing trend sneaking into the horizon is present
      vegans and veggies who regress back to eating "humane" animal products
      because the perceived amount of suffering has been reduced. This is
      yet another reason why I believe welfare causes will ultimately do
      more harm than good for the animals.

      Why California's Prop Two is a Waste of Our Valuable Time and Resources

      California's Proposition Two is a perfect example of the futility and
      potential harm of the welfare movement. Yes, I know this might sound
      harsh to many because, after all, what kind of animal advocate would
      NOT support the notion of less suffering? But let's take a closer look
      at exactly what this proposition involves, and what the tangible
      result of such a bill passing will mean.

      Remember, this isn't about discrediting a proposition because of how
      few animals it will ultimately help or how minimally it will help
      them. (Hell, I'm sure we would all fight for the reduction of
      suffering for one lone hen.) This is about prioritizing one's time and
      energy toward those causes and activities that will have the most
      upside and the least downside to the well-being of animals.

      With this in mind, check out the actual language of the bill (emphasis
      mine):

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      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.

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      First of all, this bill is designed exclusively for egg-laying hens,
      pregnant pigs and calves raised for veal. And since California has
      little to no veal or pork industry to speak of, this bill is mainly
      addressing the egg industry. So let's understand that Prop 2 is
      extremely limited in terms of the range of farm animals that it's even
      meant to help. (This is relevant as we weigh the upside against the
      downside in a moment.)

      Secondly, there are many ways to interpret these directives and we're
      literally only talking about inches here, so there is no real
      concession being made for a significant reduction in suffering...even
      for layer hens.

      Now, let's look at the exceptions, that is, the allowances for an
      entity to essentially ignore these lenient directives:

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      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, stale 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 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.

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      Would it be better that an animal be granted a few more inches of room
      to turn around for at least 51% of the time of their confinement
      before slaughter? Sure. But first, consider this little tidbit. And
      again, this is an actual cut-and-paste from the bill:

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATES

      The provisions of sections 25990, 2599 1, 25992, 25993, and 25994
      shall become
      operative on January 1, 2015.

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      That's over six years from now, folks!

      Still, you might be thinking, at least it's something. A few inches
      can mean a lot to an animal so severely confined...even if it won't go
      into affect for another six years, and even if it's primarily only
      affecting layer hens. And besides, if a law like this passes, it will
      bring more public awareness to the cause in the meantime.

      A logical assumption...until we weigh that against what's really going
      to be happening these next six years.

      Herein lies the true problem:

      Armed with this impending law in the can, huge entities like HSUS,
      PETA, and others, will all be jumping on the "friendly label"
      bandwagon and creating high-profile alliances with animal product
      manufacturers, all too happy to have the endorsement of, and receive
      free publicity from, these animal advocacy groups.

      The HSUS is already a co-sponsor of the "Certified Humane Raised and
      Handled" label and, mark my words, they'll be out pimping this thing
      to companies high and low. And they will be successful in getting
      companies to comply, for all the reasons we've covered. In the
      meantime, any exposure to the cause that might have resulted from such
      a campaign will have a built-in remedy for the consumer, and it's not
      "try these vegan alternatives." Instead, it will be "Look for this
      special label and continue to enjoy your murdered animals."

      So again, let's review. That's six years, waiting for a law to kick in
      that:

      1. will NOT represent any serious reduction of suffering;

      2. is NOT designed to spare the life of a single animal;

      3. will NOT prevent any California-based food entity from importing
      animal products from other states where these laws do not exist, anyway;

      4. will basically only affect layer hens;

      5. will falsely give consumers the impression that little to no
      suffering is involved with their new "humane" food choices;

      6. will continue to distract our movement and waste untold amounts of
      time, energy and money that could otherwise go toward more productive
      activities;

      7. will ultimately serve as a promotional platform - and increase
      revenues - for all animal product companies who proudly display the
      "humane" label, as more animals are executed.

      Simply put, this is NOT a great bill, even if you happen to be
      pro-welfare.

      "It's All About the Benjamins"

      Just to underscore one aspect from point #6 above...I know that many
      animal advocates get frustrated at how the rights movement seems to
      just trudge along at times, without many quantifiable spikes of growth
      to celebrate. And I can understand how these same folks might sense
      that real progress is being made on the welfare front. But a big
      reason why you see so much movement in the welfare realm is because of
      the tremendous amount of financial resources being poured into it. And
      let's face it, so much about the success of any social movement is
      centered around funding.

      So the real question is, can you imagine how much more efficacious the
      rights movement would be if we had access to even a fraction of these
      resources? It would be incredible. So always remember that it's not a
      case of the welfare cause being a more effective or viable concept;
      it's just a much more palatable and well-funded concept.

      So Where Do We Go From Here?

      If you feel compelled to pursue and promote welfare issues, that's
      obviously your choice. Me? I will continue to hold the space for total
      liberation and not waste precious time in support of any activity or
      philosophy that represents anything less than the complete abolishment
      of animal exploitation...even if it is under the jive-ass umbrella of
      "cage-free," "free-range" or "humane slaughter." Advocating complete
      liberation is our only hope. And until we get this, we are all, at
      best, like a bunch of benevolent slave owners, still perpetuating a
      culture of subjugation and violence.

      Do you really think that if our 19th century abolitionists would've
      been lobbying only for better working/living conditions for slaves,
      that Lincoln would've been signing on the dotted line when he did? I
      don't think so. Humankind's "inherent right to...," as applied to our
      African brothers and sisters, would've been delayed by untold years,
      because their basic conditions would've been so much more "humane,"
      and the fundamental injustice of slavery would've been diluted.

      Will we see even a predominantly vegan world in our lifetime? Probably
      not. But that's no reason to settle for a cause that ultimately goes
      against the grain of the entire animal rights movement.

      We're Getting Closer...

      The truth is, we're making headway every year. As just one example,
      you can now walk into most any grocery store in the country and find a
      variety of vegan alternatives. Such has not always been the case,
      believe me! I know this first-hand, because I've logged in a ton of
      on-the-road miles through the years and I've watched this expansion
      extend even to the smallest towns around the country.

      And lately, we've even had some serious mainstream exposure to the
      cause. In addition to the recently published works of Dr. Colin
      Campbell, Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn - all of whom
      are promoting plant-based eating - we have the media juggernaut that
      is, Skinny Bitch. This is, of course, Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin's
      vegan-based book series which has been riding atop the New York Times
      bestsellers list for untold months now. And not long ago, we even had
      Oprah and Ellen both covering plant-based eating during the same week
      on daytime TV! This is big. We're getting there, a little at a time.
      Let's not muddy the waters and negate these efforts by emphasizing
      welfare issues. I know we can't always expect complete conversions out
      of the mainstream, but there are many strategic things we can do to
      get folks on the path...one step at a time. But we must stay on point,
      even to do this.

      * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

      Friends, this has not been an easy letter to write, largely because
      it's such an emotionally charged issue amongst my fellow animal
      advocates, each of whom is proceeding with the best of intentions for
      the animals. But I'm not writing any of this just to make my points
      and attempt to win some rhetorical argument. I'm truly concerned that
      we are losing our way right now and that so many animals will be
      paying the ultimate price as a result.

      So please, consider all I've said here – for the animals.

      Bobby Rock



      More Food For Thought On the Subject


      Here are a just a few links dealing with welfare/rights issues:

      http://www.abolitionistapproach.com - Gary Francione is one of the
      most outspoken and articulate on this issue. His site is a must-see.

      http://www.humanemyth.org - A fantastic resource from the Tribe of
      Heart folks for understanding more about the welfare approach. Tons of
      info.

      http://peacefulprairie.blogspot.com - An excellent blog from Peaceful
      Prairie Animal Sanctuary's Joanna Lucas.

      http://www.animalperson.net("Libra letter") - An open letter on animal
      welfare from long-time rights activist Libra Max.
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