Veganism as a Moral Baseline, a Moral Imperative
Professor Gary Francione, American legal scholar and Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law & Philosophy at Rutgers School of Law in Newark and Professor Anna Charlton Adjunct Professor of Law at Rutgers University, present “Veganism as a Moral Baseline” at the World Vegan Summit II, on July 29-31 2016, in Berkeley, California.
Eating animal products is not necessary for optimal human health. Numerous medical doctors and nutrition researchers have confirmed that a vegan plant-based diet is optimal for human health and longevity. There’s much evidence that eating animal products is actually detrimental to human health. And animal agriculture is a total ecological disaster and is destroying the environment.
But veganism is not a matter of compassion or mercy. If animal’s matter morally, if they are not “things” but are “living beings” then being a vegan is something we all must do. If you’re not a vegan then you are actively participating in animal exploitation. Since abolitionists reject all animal exploitation, even supposedly “humane” exploitation, abolitionists have no choice but to be principled and consistent vegans.
As with human slavery, animals are considered chattel property, and therefore, have no value other than external, extrinsic value as property, as slaves did. We believe veganism is a rejection of the status of animals as a commodity and property. It’s a fundamental principle of justice for animals that they are not commodities but beings with moral consideration and rights. It’s unfair to deny animals their moral value and their right to exist, and to express their interests and desires, and their right NOT TO BE property, a designation by humans, like with slaves. Non-humans have that one same right too. Therefore, all forms of non-human animal exploitation must stop and be abolished. Forever.
Veganism is an act of nonviolent defiance, it’s a refusal to participate in the oppression of the innocent and the vulnerable, and is a rejection of the insidious idea that harming another sentient being(s) should be considered a “normal” part of life. No consumption of animals is normal, on any level. We need to shift the paradigm that food comes from sentient beings. Food comes instead from the earth, from the ground, like fruits, vegetables, beans and seeds— and does not force suffering and cruelty onto living beings—we must embrace this, food is from the earth not from animals.
Do you want to live a non-violent life? Then you have to go further than just being a vegan. But you must BE a vegan to start with. Nonviolence always starts with being vegan. A vegan avoids any and all animal exploitation, in every single decision. Whenever you shop, you have a choice, don’t buy violence, don’t participate in the slavery of non-human animals. Being a vegan you do not eat, wear or participate in any form of animal slavery.
Don’t settle for Vegetarianism. Human nature will settle for less if it can. People need to go straight to veganism, there’s no in-between. You can’t eat the flesh of one, and then abstain from the flesh of another. Is it somehow ok to send a newborn baby calf to slaughter the dairy industry does with every single newborn calf – or forces the calf into veal torture?
Creative, non-violent vegan advocacy is about animals. We are representing animals who have no voice and have no way to represent themselves or speak for themselves and their interests. Humans have food needs, convenience needs, money needs — we have to look at the “use” of animals, and once we find use, we somehow try to do it humanely. But it never works. There was no “humane” slavery either. We must stop the “use” of animals completely, and focus on Veganism.
The Abolitionist movement is a grassroots movement. The large animal welfare groups like the Humane Society and PETA reject veganism as a baseline, because they instead promote the animal welfare movement and profit from it. The animal welfare movement pays their salaries and keeps them in business. Peter Singer and Jeremy Bentham were early contributors to the animal welfare movement that is based on reducing animal suffering and cruelty, not extinguishing it. None of these groups promote veganism, and some even reject it — all so they can have a job exploiting animals, basically.
“Happy Exploitation” – We institutionalized it in 2005 with groups like HSUS, Compassion Over Killing, Animal Place, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, and PETA. We contribute and donate money to these groups that just perpetrate animal cruelty to farm animals. Because of these groups, you can “choose your level of torture.” John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, got the Animal Friendly Retail Award from PETA because of their Animal Welfare Rating Scorecard for (in)humane standards. There is no such thing as “Certified Humane” when animals are considered slaves, property, chattel, and are being abused, beaten, slaughtered, having their appendages cut off because of it—and this is humane? No, they are still treated as “things” to profit from. You cannot do the wrong thing the right way, you cannot exploit with compassion. That’s ridiculous. The animal welfare movement is promoting institutional exploiters for fund-raising purposes for their small single-issue campaigns.
YOU have a choice. You are either a VEGAN or you are participating in ANIMAL EXPLOITATION. You are one or the other. There’s no in between. The idea of taking baby steps is for BABIES only. Anything that’s not vegan, is encouraging the continuation of the exploitation of animals. Don’t ever put a stamp of approval on someone saying they gave up eggs or chicken, and made a baby step forward. If you believe it’s wrong to exploit animals, then stop exploiting them. Period.
Never tell anyone under any circumstances that it’s ok to exploit animals. If you care, you stop! You don’t eat them, you don’t use them, you don’t wear them, you don’t profit from them! It’s that simple. It’s a fundamental transition to never, ever hurting, harming, exploiting or killing any animal. There’s no exception.
VEGANISM is the most important thing an individual can do to help animals. It all starts there.
Video Length: 51 Minutes
More About Gary Francione
Visit Animal Rights: An Abolitionist Approach for more about Gary Francione and Abolitionism, which means veganism!