There is a debate that has been going on for some time now in the animal rights movement and that is the controversy concerning "welfare" vs. abolition. I put the word "welfare" in quotations because I feel it really doesn't accurately describe what it is meant to imply in this application. I think animal husbandry is a more correct term, but to keep things simple I will use the terms "welfare" and "animal husbandry" interchangeably in this discussion.
There are a group of people and organizations who believe that "bettering and improving" conditions for animals by causing "less suffering" for animals are steps in the right direction for animal rights. There exists another group of people and organizations that believe we should not support these efforts because we're ultimately leading the public on to think that there's a way to exploit animals "humanely" that makes it okay.
I personally fall into the latter group after seriously assessing and analyzing both perspectives for some time since becoming vegan. I feel that arguing for the "better treatment" of animals makes no more sense than arguing for the "better treatment" of slaves or other peoples being exploited. I know that argument is already going to ruffle some feathers, but that's how I honestly feel.
I also think that when "animal advocacy" groups support these efforts, it makes the general public feel morally justified about continuing to exploit animals because they see that these groups approve of it. This is why I feel my limited time and energy as an animal activist is effectively used when I spend it educating the public about "humane" animal products and the ultimate moral dilemma they lead to. I believe supporting the "better treatment" of animals is in direct opposition to the Mahatma Gandhi quote, "You must be the change you want to see in the world."
My experience in talking to the public about this issue has been that it's an easy argument for them to grasp- that unnecessary killing is unnecessary killing no matter what kind of label you slap on it. In response to my efforts, I received one particular email that I have been given permission to post in an effort to spark a healthy debate in this arena.
Love that you are an animal activist but want to suggest that your energy and creativity may best be spent elsewhere if you want to help the animals.
Briefly, the only major food retailer who has put millions of dollars to develop the best animal welfare standards worldwide is Whole Foods. As PETA'S representative to Whole Foods for over five years, I would be thrilled if other major food retailers with whom I negotiate on behalf of PETA, were half as concerned about animal welfare as Whole Foods.
Wishing you a successful and compassionate New Year
Some will automatically label this discussion we will have here as "in-fighting," making comments like "we should all work together." In my opinion, if someone has a valid and legitimate concern, their voice deserves to be heard. I think there's a difference between useless bickering and honest criticism. I think the term "in-fighting" is often used by those who choose not to hear to other side of the story.
I challenge you to post your genuine thoughts and concerns regarding this issue, but I encourage us all to be mature and rational. That doesn't mean valid criticisms should not be made, but I think we should support those claims with some factual backing. It lessens your point when you make a singular remark, such as "f*ck PETA", without providing any additional information as to why you feel that way.
All of that being said, I will not moderate the comments as I believe in free speech and that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. One thing I can't stand is when comments on debates such as this are moderated and voices are not heard. I hope this will offer an interesting insight for everyone regarding this situation. Let's begin this necessary debate!
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