‘Caring means going vegan; caring means no more exploitation’
Last year, around 400,000 people took part in Veganuary, a trend which promotes the idea of a plant based diet. But is this an effective way to promote veganism? Gary Francione, legal scholar and co-author of ‘The Abolitionist Approach’ seems to disagree.
The overriding ideal in the 2015 non-fiction book, co-written with Anna Charlton, is that human beings should not be using animals at all. Francione’s main argument is that animal welfare activism will likely increase animal suffering in the future through de-sensitising the moral conscience of consumers. For Francione, the most paramount resolution for animal suffering to be eradicated is to shift how human beings perceive animal rights. Throughout the book, moral reasoning is explored and instructed through six key principles.
Francione’s main argument is that animal welfare activism will likely increase animal suffering in the future through de-sensitising the moral conscience of consumers
‘Cage-free, grass-fed, free-range, humane. Why keep looking for the right way to do the wrong thing?’
Undeniably, the most significant principle made is the clear distinction from animal welfare advocates. He believes that projects and organisations fail to address the implicit morality of non-human use, instead focussing on ways to lessen pain and poor conditions. He feels welfarists instead encourage the idea that less suffering is just as morally virtuous as the complete elimination of suffering. For instance, advocating for free-range farming expresses acceptance towards the exploitation of animals, so long as they are killed responsibly and ‘ethically’. Francione makes the divide between animal welfare activism and the abolition approach to veganism.
‘The Abolitionist Approach’ is dismissed by many animal advocates, and perhaps for good reason too. Throughout, Francione vehemently claims that animal welfare regulations are morally objectionable. Indeed, this is a somewhat reasonable judgement when dissecting particular areas of animal welfare campaigns, for instance, is a free-range campaign wholly humane when the animals are still destined for slaughter? This still plays into the idea that animals are classed as property under standard regulations. Yet, Francoine completely refutes the idea of animal welfare bringing any sort of necessary relief for animals, insisting that welfare groups are unlikely to alleviate any animal suffering, enabling consumers to feel more comfortable with the idea of consuming animals.
His strong viewpoints add to the ever expansive political spectrum within veganism and animal welfare activism
This can lead to being extremely problematic in nature, as Francione and Charlton also fail to provide any empirical evidence within the book that animal welfare advocates will lead to more animal suffering. In fact, welfare organisations have been successful in reducing the amount of animal suffering, so confronting the issue as opposed to attacking it may help the abolitionists’ cause. The Animal Welfare Act (2006), arguably the most significant legislation for the unnecessary suffering of animals, was achieved through the involvement of organisations such as the RSPCA.
Ultimately, a utilitarian stance on animal rights has the most impact on reducing non-human suffering. Perhaps eating less meat and being more aware of the impact of what we are consuming is going to be the most universal solution for animal welfare concerns. At the end of the day, people have the right to chose what they want to eat and wear.
Whether or not you agree with this extreme movement, his strong viewpoints add to the ever expansive political spectrum within veganism and animal welfare activism.
In-article images courtesy of @gary.francione via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.
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