My LiveVegan Page: Another Facebook Casualty?

2ae I was emailed by a friend a couple of days ago. She has an abolitionist vegan education Facebook page which she started a number of years ago. She was asking for my opinion about her page, which appears to have completely stalled over the last couple of months. Her page has a healthy membership, and up until recently it had a steady increase in page “likes”, and a good organic “reach”.

Social Site Pages Stalling: Putting a bushel over the light.


Up until this email from my friend about her Facebook page stalling, I thought this problem was only affecting my own abolitionist vegan education page “LiveVegan”. I had heard that this issue was affecting other (non-vegan) pages, but I noted other vegan pages on Facebook appeared to be still gaining “likes” each day. I had heard Facebook had changed the algorithms for its ‘news feed’ and so I experimented a little, but it didn’t seem to matter if I posted an image, a link or shared someone else’s work, it didn’t matter if I changed my page settings or if I posted more human social justice content, or less, or none at all. It didn’t matter if I posted more vegan content, nothing brought my page out of its stall.

I wondered if Facebook was, for some reason, blocking my page from ‘recommended pages’ ‘suggested pages’ or from ‘news feeds’. I knew Facebook sometimes ‘adjusts’ settings and so on behind the scenes. Unsurprisingly, I contacted Facebook numerous times but they have not responded to my emails. Also unsurprisingly, there appears to be no direct way to contact anyone from Facebook. Some people have even turned up at their offices in California and the admin have refused to see them. I thought maybe some of my political and human social justice content on LiveVegan over the last 5 months might have been the issue, but the content really is not much different than it has been over the last 5 years. As well as addressing speciesism, my page has always opposed racism, sexism, Islamophobia, nationalism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of bigotry because it is a logical extension of justice to do so. All forms of discrimination are related and are faces of the same ignorance. (Of the many accusations levelled at vegans, one is that we do not care about human rights issues. As an abolitionist vegan, that’s not my experience.) I thought maybe it was a temporary lull, (which has happened in the past) but at this point I don’t think so. Up until 5 months ago LiveVegan was gaining approximately 80 or more members (“likes”) per day and there were lulls where “page likes” only increased by 15-20 per day and there were periods where “likes” increased by 250 people per day. Then suddenly it completely stalled and has been stuck around 58,800/58,840 for the last 4 or 5 months and now most of the time it is literally going backwards by one or two people daily.

Why should this disturb me? Because I’m an abolitionist vegan and being able to reach as many of the non-vegan public as possible with a clear, morally consistent, abolitionist vegan message is very important to me. So I feel somewhat (albeit temporarily) hobbled by these recent events. Abolitionist vegan education is crucial in changing our society’s deeply-held speciesist ideology that nonhuman animals are our resources, our property, and our belief that it is morally justifiable to exploit animals as long as it is done “humanely”. Face-to-face vegan education is important of course, but quite limited in its reach, particularly if it is done through a stall located in the same place month after month. On the other hand the internet reaches far more people including those who don’t want (or are unable to have) face-to-face contact and who want to investigate the issue at their leisure. As we know, the internet can be a powerful tool which can promote social change and which allows communication with tens of thousands of people. On Facebook there’s over 1 billion users. Many people who initially join vegan pages, join out of a mild curiosity and are usually not vegan, so making it as easy as possible for them to access page content is very important and a precious opportunity. Because abolitionist veganism is in its infancy, there are very few abolitionist pages around online at this time so it is very important that abolitionist vegan voices be heard. That’s why for me, the issue of my page stalling and my friend’s abolitionist page stalling is somewhat depressing and disturbing to say the least.

Facebook, the internet, search algorithms, and the profit motive

I have never made any financial gain at all from any vegan education efforts, I never will and don’t want to, not even donations. I believe goals of fund-raising will always conflict with education based on ethical principles. We only have to observe how all large animal charities are far more interested in growing their business, paying their salaries, entertaining celebrities at their functions, and bringing in donations via their non-vegan donors than promoting the issue they supposedly initially formed to address. Of course donations are beneficial in relation to vegan rescue sanctuaries where the donations go toward the care of refugees of domestication, or toward printing vegan education material. In principle, I believe pages on the internet that are not making any financial gain and that are engaged in public education should be able to exist, have equal exposure, and be heard without paying for advertising. But public education is often viewed as anti-capitalist. If you have an informed public, you do not have a public which will consume, consume, consume!.

As Professor Noam Chomsky says

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.

On a personal level, I also cannot afford to take out page advertisements and I do not like being coerced. Despite Facebook’s regular attempts to coerce me in to taking out paid advertisements for my page LiveVegan, I will not be paying for advertising. I oppose the attempt to create a “two-tiered” internet.

Desire for profit-maximisation drives the “positioning” of Facebook. It wants to be a purveyor of commercial advertising. It also claims it wants to be a “reputable news” provider. This is one of the more obvious reasons behind the changing of its algorithms. The hidden motivations I will discuss later. The Facebook algorithms have changed the content in users ‘news feed’. User ‘news feeds’ favour “articles of interest” or what the algorithms favour, over what users have subscribed to (“friends” updates and page updates the user has “liked”). Until these changes took place, Facebook’s ‘news feed’ was reasonably unfiltered and allowed users to view page updates via their ‘news feed’ from pages they were interested in. But that changed when Facebook decided to give preference in user ‘news feeds’ to content that contained images or links. More recently, Facebook seems to give preference to “news” from mainstream media news organisations, side-lining more alternative independent news voices like Breaking the Set or Democracy Now or Truthdig. I’ve noticed that these alternative voices no longer appear in my ‘news feed’, nor does most of the content from pages I’ve “liked” (unless I select “get notifications”).

When my friend found her page had stalled, she did some research online and found that tales of Facebook pages “dying” (so to speak) are not uncommon since Facebook has made these changes to its algorithms over the last year or so. These algorithm changes do not appear to affect all Facebook pages at once, but appear to be selectively “picking them off” so to speak, probably so as not to draw too much attention to this process. They seem to be applied to different pages at random. Page stalling doesn’t seem to be related to any particular issue, but the common denominator is that it is affecting those who do not take out paid Facebook advertisements.


Facebook obviously arbitrarily changes their algorithms. This means that not only do members of *some* pages not see most of their “liked” page’s updates/content in their ‘news feed’, but the pages themselves are not appearing in “recommended pages” or “suggested pages”. This means *some* pages are not receiving any real exposure except for the small percentage of their members — who are lucky enough to see their page ‘news feed’ updates–, and then share this content with their friends. Clicking “get notifications” is a partial remedy to ensure users get all the content they’re interested in, but the system is not designed for this. Instead of content articles appearing when you open Facebook, you have to click on something, and then get a list, which might include over a hundred entries depending on your interests and how often you check in, and then you have to scroll down a list. Users can also create a favourite list. It’s a little awkward and intended to be less user friendly. Most users don’t realise they probably need to take extra steps if they wish to receive all page updates they are interested in, other than “liking” the page.

Using Social Media for Social Change


I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a little about some of the broader issues with Facebook.
From the perspective of social change, this issue of “reach” is the major problem. Facebook has stated that it wants to be a “reputable news provider” so one change they have made (without our consent) is to ‘adjust’ our ‘news feed’ to selectively favour “news” over anything else. To ensure they become a “reputable news” source, Facebook continuously conducts ‘news feed’ surveys asking users what they “want to see” and what they “do not want to see” and so forth. They do this from a limited set of choices, appearing to be “responsive”, while effectively shutting down any opinions that might contradict or challenge mainstream opinion and / or might challenge the mainstream media official narrative. Facebook even takes the opportunity during these user surveys to advertise, by asking users if they think “this post looks like an advertisement”. Three out of eight posts in a ‘news feed’ survey I looked at today were obviously ads. Did they just want us to look at them, or are they trying to tailor them to be more “sneaky”, to “not look like ads”?

Not only is the commercialisation obvious, but the favouring and focus on mainstream opinion silences or swamps other voices. This has a huge effect on those independent voices/pages that are using Facebook to communicate with a wider public, something that has become increasingly difficult as protest marches and public actions are given less and less coverage due to corporate media bias, and protests have become more difficult to organise. Social justice and social change campaigns use social media to communicate. Changes to social media that obstruct that communication obstruct social change. It is particularly odious when the obstruction is between those who have something to say, and those who clearly would like to hear it.

Prior to these ‘news feed’ manipulations, many Facebook users, after indicating their support/approval of a page or a social justice issue by “liking” that page, would then see all new content from their favourite pages each day in their ‘news feed’. Prior to these ‘news feed’ manipulations, my page LiveVegan with a membership of over 55K generally had an organic “reach” for new content of the majority of my page members. Eighty to ninety-five percent of membership numbers (45,000-50,000 people) actually saw a new post, though I can’t tell if those people were members (had “liked”) my page or not. With changes to the ‘news feed’, and to “recommended pages” and “suggested pages”, this no longer happens. At best, now every tenth LiveVegan post might be seen by 1,500 (1.5%), but the “reach” of the majority of my posts reach is only between 50 and 500. That means very few people ever get to see my content, new posters, blogs, or articles.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve also noticed I no longer ever see page updates from most of the pages I’ve subscribed to (“liked”). These pages, like LiveVegan, are mainly social-justice related pages, generally organised by small groups or individuals, rather than NGOs or non-profit companies, and don’t get donations. They have vanished from my ‘feed’, and I no longer see them unless I visit their pages (or click “get notifications”). And note, many of these have memberships of tens, or hundreds of thousands, sometimes over a million. They are/have been major sources of information and ideas for many people. I know in my own page, the number of people who see my new content has dropped from tens of thousands, to hundreds, or even tens of people with no change in my content or volume of my posts. With a membership of 58k+, one would think more than 56 individuals (0.1%) would see a new post. That is what I mean when I say I no longer get seen.

If it weren’t for other pages sharing my content, I think these stats would be much worse ;-) Frequently, the numbers that are “reached” on other pages where my page content is shared, greatly exceed the numbers that see the original content on my page. This can be somewhat disconcerting at times, when membership on pages where my work is shared is 10% of the membership of my own page. And sadly it seems the only way those page owners who share my work can actually view my LiveVegan content is if they have clicked “get notifications”, or actually visit my page on a regular basis.

Over time I have considered the possible reasons why LiveVegan has stalled, when some others, with similar content, have not, but there appears to be no discernible reason. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve done searches on the problem, and while seeing that others are experiencing similar issues, there is no apparent answer. It seems there is nothing a page experiencing this can do to remedy it. People point to Facebook’s algorithm changes, but can’t suggest how to avoid or use the changes to increase reach. Apocryphal stories (which I will talk about later) are told about contracts with the US military for experiments in which ‘news feed’ and reach is manipulated, to find out how Facebook users react. No-one seems to actually know, but the fact is, some pages simply don’t get communicated, even to those who indicate they support them. Unless of course, they pay for advertisements.

Manipulation and Control


The issue of paid advertisements is another problem. There is now abundant evidence that companies have been established to increase “likes” on pages, but they do so by teams of people in call centres creating false identities and “liking” pages simply to increase numbers. These are “empty” likes, and they cause significant concern to businesses, because they increase costs without generating sales. Because it concerns money, there are many references and articles about these ads, and “empty likes”, and dozens of articles can be found by searching online.

To give you an idea of what Facebook is able to do without our consent or knowledge, in early 2012 it was revealed, around 689,000 Facebook user accounts were manipulated by business researchers where user’s ‘news feeds’ were analysed for positive versus negative ‘news feed’ content. The content was then adjusted to make it go from one extreme to another. Some users received mostly positive posts in their feeds, and others received mostly negative posts. Later it was uncovered that one of the researchers conducting this Facebook mind study on unsuspecting users was Jeffrey T. Hancock of Cornell University. He was connected to the Pentagon and the Department of Defense-funded program the “Minerva Research Initiative”. He also conducted a similar study entitled ‘Modeling Discourse and Social Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes’.

Why is the Department of Defense “Minerva Research Initiative” using Facebook in its research?
Nafeez Ahmet in the Guardian wrote a piece in June 2014. Here’s an excerpt:

A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.”

Should we be worried by this and other invasions into our private lives such as the revelations by Edward Snowden of mass surveillance by the NSA? Of course we should. Lyrics to a song “Digital” by UK band “Joy Division” come to mind: “Feel it closing in”. ;-)

But back to the Facebook ‘news feed’ manipulation experiment from 2012. Here’s a small excerpt of their conclusions :

“These results indicate that emotions expressed by others on Facebook influence our own emotions, constituting experimental evidence for massive-scale contagion via social networks.”


Facebook
submitted its experiment to what they claim is an appropriate review board, and their proposal was approved “on the grounds that Facebook filters user news feeds all the time, per the agreement”.

As the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the detail’. In Facebook Data Use Policy, Facebook’s terms of service (to which every person agrees when they register on the social network), users’ data may be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”(RT)  Facebook claims its users have legally consented to Facebook editing our ‘news feeds’ in any way they see fit and that they have the right to manipulate our ‘news feed’ (without our knowledge) to evoke any number of emotional responses.

Closing LiveVegan Page?


Which leads me to my decision which is, that if my LiveVegan page is still floating around the 58,800 / 58,840 “likes” mark as it has been doing the last 4 or 5 months, and if the organic “reach” continues to be very limited and that only a very small percentage (around 1% ) of page content via ‘news feed’ is actually reaching page members, then mostly I am just talking to myself. And if that is the case, my time spent making content for LiveVegan could be best spent doing vegan education elsewhere. If this seems to be the case, then I will probably shut down LiveVegan in the beginning of the new year. Hopefully I will find some other, more effective, ways of reaching the public with vegan education. I read somewhere that “Ello” (a new social media platform) is receiving a lot of attention and that it is reportedly receiving thousands of new members each day, but who knows how it will pan out or if it will be suitable. It seems to be one online option for disenchanted Facebook users. Of course if it gains the popularity that Facebook enjoys, it too will probably be corrupted. The cancer of capitalism.

The purpose of my abolitionist vegan page has always been to provide clear, morally consistent abolitionist vegan education for the non-vegan public. Although I hope LiveVegan has been of some support to vegans, the original purpose of LiveVegan has always been public (abolitionist) vegan education. So if my page content is not even reaching most of its members who subscribe to it, and if LiveVegan is not getting any air time as a “recommended page” or a “suggested page” then my target audience — those who are non-vegan who might be vaguely interested in veganism- will not be reached this way.

Facebook algorithm changes have not effected all vegan pages as yet, but one has to wonder when that might change, and it doesn’t seem to have as much to do with content as with intentional coercion to get users on Facebook to take out paid advertisements. If another social media platform existed which had the reach of Facebook I would be there instead, because over time I have developed a real loathing for Facebook with it’s lack of privacy, its NSA and Department of Defense connections, it’s contempt for social education/change, its intentional censorship via “news feed”, and its overall censorship for advertising dollars.

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to thank those who have been following LiveVegan over the last 5 years. I appreciate the support. I’ve received some lovely appreciative emails over the years, many of them by people who have said they decided to go vegan, and that LiveVegan assisted them in this decision. This is the BEST news I could receive and makes me very happy indeed. Influencing people to become vegan is the reason I spend so much time doing vegan education. Even if the outcome of my page meant that only one person became (abolitionist) vegan for life, then that’s success to me. I hope that people will share the many images I’ve made over the years because that’s the reason I create them each day. :) I hope over the last five years LiveVegan on Facebook has been beneficial in some small way. I’ve worked each day (since 2006 before LiveVegan) on providing content or sharing content. I’ve been – 99% of the time – the sole moderator and content provider for LiveVegan and it’s been my pleasure to do so. I’m disappointed and very concerned that it seems more and more commonplace that corporations control a lot of public information access and are doing their best to put a price on everything and keep the public uninformed while maintaining the status quo.

The irony here is that this blog post may not reach most LiveVegan Facebook members. ;-) However, for those interested, I will let you know when (or if) I make a decision to shut down LiveVegan on Facebook, and if I plan to start something, somewhere else. But whatever my decision, I personally will continue to promote veganism whenever and wherever I most effectively can, online and offline. I hope you will do the same. Until then, please click “get notifications” under the “like” button, share information, and subscribe to my blog “Veganism is Nonviolence”. Also consider contacting Facebook – and although it’s unlikely anything will change – register a complaint about their algorithm changes which are negatively impacting a number of social justice pages.

And remember that it is all about other animals and ending the last great slavery, so if you think other animals morally matter at all, then you must be vegan. If you are not vegan, please go vegan. It will be one of the best decisions you make in your life. Please educate yourself on the issues so you can share a morally consistent vegan message with others. A vegan world is possible and it’s up to all of us to educate others in as many creative, nonviolent and non-speciesist ways as we can to make it happen.

Thanks again.

Peace :)

Trisha Roberts

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Filed under abolitionist, Abolitionist veganism, Facebook, Social change, social justice

The Humane Society of the United States: The Public Relations Branch of Animal Industry

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has been leading up to an event called “Hoofin it” for many years. What is  “Hoofin it” you say? This event sponsored by HSUS occurred last month in Colorado USA where they served “happy” animal products from tortured and slaughtered nonhuman sentient beings with hooves. But don’t worry, the animals lead “happy” lives! Should we be surprised? Of course not! HSUS has many farmers and industry representatives and HSUS has been promoting and profiting from “happy animal exploitation” and “happy” animal products for years.

Not unlike all large animal charities, The Humane Society of the United States regularly asks their non-vegan supporters (the very people who create demand for animal use) for donations instead of asking them to go vegan. HSUS revenue was close hoofin it FAIL HSUSto $126 million for 2012. In 2009, it had over 11 million US members and supporters and reported assets of over US$160 million. Not one cent goes to vegan education, the very solution to the problem of animal exploitation. Why? Because HSUS is a profitable business and if they ask their members to go vegan, what will happen to their six figure salaries? Wayne Pacelle, HSUS CEO earns over 250K annually. HSUS has stated a few times now to the public that it has no interest interfering with or ending animal use. HSUS just wants animal exploitation to be done “nicely” and as payback for its support of animal industry, HSUS get its piece of the pie.

Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO said to the Sacremento Bee in 2011:

I have been a vegan for 26 years, but the Humane Society is broad-minded when it comes to food. About 95 percent of our members are not vegetarian. But I believe eating is a moral act, and we can make choices to minimize the suffering of (food) animals. We can buy cage-free eggs, buy pork that doesn’t come from factory farms, and avoid eating veal and foie gras.

 

[... W]e don’t say you must be vegan and we must stop all hunting. We’re working to curb the worst abuses and we’re very involved in the political realm.

money spinnerThe “worst abuses”? Pray tell what could be worse than being bred into existence to be used as a resource all your short life and then murdered? And what does “broad-minded” mean? Does it mean HSUS makes business decisions that won’t get in the way of their revenue stream? Does it mean not only will HSUS promote “happy animal slavery”, but HSUS will have industry representatives and be the public relations branch of industry? Yes, that’s certainly “broad-minded”. I wonder if there are charities against child slavery that do the same: have slave owners who are representatives of their charity and the charity itself is the public relations branch for the promotion of “humane” child slavery and “humane” murder? Apparently there are a many people who claim to be vegan who support, promote and defend large animal charities that do not have veganism as their moral baseline and which promote this kind of moral confusion.

Mr. Pacelle has been a regular guest on “The Ellen Show” and has been utilising high profile celebrity Ellen Degeneres to protect HSUS reliable main source of income — undercover cruelty exposes. A year ago Pacelle requested Degeneres to ask her audience to speak out against the proposed “Ag gag” laws, laws which would make it illegal to do undercover investigations which expose factory farming “cruelty”.  (As if the normal functioning on factory farms (or any farm for that matter) is non-abusive!.) The Humane Society of the United States regularly use these undercover investigations as a way of requesting donations.

We only have to witness this letter to Whole Foods from 2005 signed by many large animal and “vegan” charities to see where the “movement” is today. All these large charities support “happy animal slavery” and “happy” animal products. As you can see, just because an organisation has “vegan” in its name, doesn’t make it so.

animal groups praising Whole Foods1
Friends, ANYONE who claims to be vegan and who supports HSUS (or any large animal or “vegan” charity) needs to question why they continue to support organisations which are so obviously speciesist, anti-vegan/anti-animal rights. If we claim to be vegan, why do we support  The “Vegan” Society, “Vegan” Outreach, Animals Australia, CIWF, Farm Sanctuary, PeTA, FARM, In Defense of Animals, Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals etc? All of them promote speciesist single issue campaigns, animal welfare/”humane” animal use, and “happy” animal products. Why do we support speciesist gimmicks like “Meat Free Mondays”, “flexitarianism“, Carnism and so forth? Why do we support organisations which either ignore or water-down veganism or conflate it with vegetarianism? Why are we so feeble and so ambiguous about an important justice issue such as veganism? We need to understand what animal *rights*/ veganism is. I say this regularly and I will say it again. We need to recognise our own speciesism. One way we can do this is to question the status quo and ask ourselves if we would promote these same measures in relation to humans? Another way is to read non-speciesist animal ethics books and material.

sell out Pacelle HSUS approved goat farm

Pacelle endorsing a goat farm which raises and murders goats for their flesh.

 Let’s consider this for a minute.

If we would not support a civil rights organisation which promoted and profited from the promotion of human slavery or “humane” human slavery, then why do we think it’s morally acceptable to endorse, promote and support large animal charities which do the same to nonhuman animals?

The answer is simple. Speciesism.

The “humane use” movement is a joke. A tragic joke. That’s why it is so important that we have an alternative to this terrible confusion. And we do. We have a nonviolent, grassroots, abolitionist vegan movement which has veganism as its moral baseline.

The truth is, ONLY when there is a significant number of vegans in society will there be meaningful change for nonhuman animals. ONLY when we start being morally consistent and stop tip-toeing around the solution to ending animal exploitation — veganism — will we be taken seriously. The speciesist claim (by those who say they are vegan) that it’s morally acceptable to use animals as long as it is “humane” needs to be confronted and constructively critiqued every time it is raised if we are to shift the conversation away from treatment to use.

I came across a recent blog post, by what appears to be a HSUS supporter, criticising HSUS on their “Hoofin It” event. It reads:

“I hope that, like me, you will find that “Hoofin’ It” represents a step too far and will find yourself unwilling and indeed unable to remain silent.”.

I am surprised that it takes an event such as this for someone to say it is a “step too far”. What does it take? Does HSUS need to open their own special HSUS-designed slaughterhouse? HSUS has a long history of appalling speciesism. I am astounded those who claim to be vegan support anything HSUS does.

Please watch the following videos and witness for yourself The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in action as they clearly demonstrate their partnership with industry and enthusiastically support animal industry in selling the myth of “happy animal exploitation” / “happy” animal products to the public.

Video information: “At the 98th Annual Nebraska Farmers Union Convention December 9-10, 2011 Missouri Hog Producer & HSUS Rep Joe Maxwell explains the NeFU – HSUS agreement. NeFU President John Hansen also weighs in.”

To find out some of the extreme lengths to which HSUS sells out animals, read Bob Linden’s “Go Vegan Radio” blog post.

Here is an excerpt of an interview with Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, by Cattlenetwork.com:

Ques: Thousands of people read Cattlenetwork.com. What would you like to say to them?

Ans: There are some folks in animal agriculture who caricature HSUS, charging that we are trying to end animal agriculture. But why would we work jointly with the United Egg Producers if we were against all animal agriculture? Why would HSUS have a pig farmer serve as its VP of Outreach and Engagement who leads our Rural Affairs program? Why would we work with the Nebraska Farmers Union on marketing of humanely produced animal products? Why would I serve on the board of the Global Animal Partnership, which conducts an animal welfare rating program and certifies products from farmers who raise animals in humane and sustainable ways?

 

My request to your readers: Look at the facts, not the rhetoric from groups that don’t like HSUS’s reform-oriented campaigns. Farmers and other leaders in agriculture can help solve animal welfare problems, and we look forward to working with anyone who wants to be constructive and help in solving problems for animal welfare.”

Phew Wayne! I feel reassured!

And just in case anyone has any doubt where The Humane Society of the United States stands. Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Wayne Pacelle July 31, 2014 Yale Environment 360:

Ques: So you’re not trying to end animal agriculture.

Pacelle: Absolutely not. We are an organization that embraces humane and sustainable farmers. The vast percentage of our members eat meat, drink milk and consume eggs. But most of them want to see that done more humanely. 

The Humane Society of the United States making the public comfortable about exploiting animals. There’s only one thing more disturbing to me than those who claim to be vegan supporting and defending speciesist organisations and supporting and promoting the idea that it’s morally acceptable to use animals as long as it is “humane”. That is large animal charities claiming to “protect animals”, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars, paying themselves six figure salaries, claiming they “care” and “respect” animals while they profit from and are responsible for making the public feel comfortable about animal exploitation.

“Higher welfare” is a scam to sell animal products as we see in these tremendously appalling displays by The Humane Society of the United States. We need to understand that “humane” animal use does not exist and even if it did it would still be unjust. One only has to watch some videos from those on the front lines like Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary to  discover the truth behind “free range” eggs, “organic” dairy products and so forth. Look at what we have been lead to believe is “humane“?   Promoting welfare is worse than useless. We will never abolish animal exploitation by promoting regulation of animal exploitation and we cannot donate our way out of this mess.

The truth is ONLY when there are a significant number of vegans in society will there be any meaningful and lasting change for animals. Vegan education is a marathon, not a sprint. We have to do the hard yards and educate others, but first we MUST address our own speciesism.

Please go vegan Educate yourself and educate others.

 

For more info: “The Fallacy of the Claim That “Research” Shows That “Humane Meat” Brings People Closer to Veganism” | Sherry F. Colb | Dorf on Law | June 29, 2014

 

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Grassroots Abolitionist Vegan Movement : Strong People Do Not Need A Leader

The title includes part of a memorable phrase from the movie Viva Zapata, a portrayal of the life of the famous Mexican revolutionary, where Emiliano Zapata, played by Marlon Brando, was told he should become the new nation’s leader, because a strong leader was needed. Zapata replied, “A strong leader makes a weak people. Strong people do not need a strong leader.” I think this is quite pertinent to anyone or any group attempting grassroots change.

It is sad and makes me despair when I see the burgeoning abolitionist movement regularly torn apart, divided and sullied from within. It makes me sad when I see advocates (or anyone) sniping at each other, even if one feels it’s justified in relation to a good cause. In the last few years I have witnessed an unfortunate pattern within the abolitionist vegan movement which is so very damaging and a lot of it stems from ego. There’s really no place in a nonviolent grassroots abolitionist vegan movement (in public or in private) for inflated egos, elitism, narcissism, drama, flame wars, competition, wilful ignorance, sniping, character assassinations, distortion or watering down of the message, mocking those who do not know better or mocking those who do, envy, sabotage, slander, lies, gossip or rejoicing in the humiliation of others. There really isn’t. And if someone repeatedly needs everyone to know who they are, if they want to be “the one”, “the leader”, the person everyone looks up to, (even if they claim they are not seeking this attention yet their behaviour says otherwise) then there’s a problem. It makes us all the poorer if we engage in this negative behaviour (or are seen to be engaging in it) and it does nothing to further the rights of nonhuman animals. It IS possible (and desirable) to provide constructive criticism of groups and individuals without demeaning and humiliating others. And it should not be viewed as being unrealistic or Pollyannaish to expect civil behaviour. Some people’s idea of “civil” or “justified” behaviour needs review. I sometimes wonder if people behave in their own personal lives as they do online. If so, then that’s rather disturbing. I doubt that they do. Unfortunately being online allows some to engage and delight in cowardly behaviour like bullying which they could not get away with in their own life. That says a lot about them.

may the sun rise on a vegan planet2My advice (for what it is worth) to advocates or anyone who is in the grips of this ongoing negative behaviour, whether they be the perpetrators or the victims/survivors of it, is to let go. Let go. Life is short, and sometimes shorter than we realise. Move away from those who spend their time engaging in this negative behaviour and / or who seek it out, because nothing good can come of it. It doesn’t make us better, it doesn’t make us superior, running down and slandering others no matter how justified we feel we may be. It does nothing to assist in keeping the message clear and authentic by engaging in clever, subtle, overt or covert character assassinations. It is counter-productive –to say the least– where the need to prevail, to “win”, by some may drive targeted individuals to the point where they opt-out in disgust, or worse, “spit the dummy” (an Australian saying) where individuals –even against their own better judgement– adopt a welfarist position rather than be associated with anything abolitionist. That’s very sad and unfortunate indeed when people respond this way.

Let me be clear. I am not saying we should tip-toe around issues and be mealy-mouthed to avoid making others uncomfortable. Clarity and moral consistency are essential if we are to shift the understanding of the non-vegan public and of advocates (welfarists) who are promoting welfare and single issue campaigns out of their own speciesism. And if we are doing education well, we are bound to upset some corporate career welfarists and we are bound to (and it is desirable to) cause cognitive dissonance in non-vegans. But if some of us are just targeting advocates and others simply because it amuses us or because we are not getting enough attention, or because they are not referring to us enough or because we need to regularly establish we are the “vanguard of the abolitionist movement” or because some individuals might be stealing our limelight, then we have a problem. I think that behaviour belongs back at high school.

We are all human and we all make mistakes, but each moment we spend in negative personal attacks is time not spent engaging in vegan education. At any given moment we can change our trajectory. Let’s get back to the real reason (hopefully) we became vegan and became involved in vegan education and that is to end this terrible violence and injustice by promoting the abolition of  the property status of animals, and ending all forms of animal exploitation.

Veganism is about nonviolence and that does not mean passivity. Veganism is about ending the property status of animals and is the rejection of the idea that it’s morally acceptable to use animals as long as it is “humane”. We should not be apologetic about our position and our aims and we should be respectful, clear and morally consistent. Engaging in vegan education is all about the rights of other animals. 14907_10154417662960635_143463806595342400_nIt’s not about “winning” by dragging others through the mud. We all lose our patience at times and may say things in anger or frustration which are unhelpful or harmful and which we may regret, but if we are sincere in our claim that we want a nonviolent movement and a nonviolent world, then we should try to do our best to behave in a manner that is in keeping with this principle of nonviolence. I have failed numerous times in my own efforts but I continue to try. And equally as important, let’s educate ourselves thoroughly by reading non-speciesist animal ethics vegan material/books and obtain a good understanding of this material so we can educate others. Let’s address our own speciesism thoroughly so we don’t reinforce speciesism in others.

A study in 2011 revealed that it only takes 10% of a group committed to an idea, and it is inevitable that it will eventually become the prevailing opinion of the entire group. The key to that success — the report concludes — is “to remain committed”. So a vegan world is definitely achievable and is achievable in the not-to-distant future. But whether it happens in our lifetime or not, we should never waiver in our commitment to a clear vision.

We have an ever-growing nonviolent, grassroots, abolitionist vegan movement, and we don’t need bloated large animal charities. Let’s avoid destroying our precious movement from within. Let’s stop behaving as if we are agent provocateurs ;-) and keep it healthy and growing. Do not despair! Despite teething problems, despite egos, an authentic, nonviolent, grassroots, abolitionist vegan movement will survive and will prevail because it has truth on its side. It will prevail and prosper in spite of the prevalence of any destructive individual/s (and despite the “happy animal exploitation” movement) because the idea is greater than any one individual. And please note, anyone who thinks this is a directed at them should examine why, and what in their behaviour may warrant them to think that. ;-)

Peace :)

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Frostie and those who mourn him: Some thoughts

Frostie died today. He was a refugee of domestication and a resident at an Australian sanctuary (Here’s the article here). Many of the public who have been expressing their sadness at the death of this sweet disabled goat are not vegan. What they do not stop to think is that Frostie (and many others like him) is a victim of all of us — our non-vegan society.

Frostie the goat dies today: Image credit "Edgar's Mission"

Frostie: Image credit “Edgar’s Mission”

Sadly the sanctuary where Frostie was resident — Edgar’s Mission — does not clearly promote veganism the very thing that would prevent the constant flow of refugees into their sanctuary. I’ve noticed their blog  promotes “humane” use of animals which is a confusing message for any of their supporters and for the public.

The fact is, unless we are vegan, we are responsible for Frostie’s disability and his early death. We are creating the causes for many more Frosties in the future. He is just one of many billions of nonhuman animals who have suffered and died or who have been tortured and murdered this year because we use sentient beings as resources. We use them because we can.

Most of our use of animals is for food, and we can easily meet our nutrition needs from plants (and other non-animal sources). The only reason that we are torturing and murdering 56 billion land animals and 1 to 3 trillion aquatic animals each year mostly for food is because they “taste good”. That’s a pitiful and trivial reason. If we think that animals morally matter at all, we need to understand and acknowledge that all of them — the ones we eat, wear and use every day —  are just like Frostie and until we cease our moral compartmentalisation and until we become vegan, we condemn trillions in the future as we continue to participate in this great violence.

If you’re not vegan, it’s much easier than you think.
Please start here  LiveVegan

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Filed under Abolitionist veganism, animal rights, animals exploitation, Edgars Mission, veganism, Vegans

▶ What Animals Need

My latest vid:  ▶ What Animals Need

No graphic images.

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Filed under Abolitionist veganism, commodification, dairy, ethical, exploitation, LiveVegan, property status, speciesism, Vegans

How I Found My Way To Veganism

From early childhood, I’ve always had an interest in other animals. When I was a child in the ’60s, small frill-necked lizards dotted our old wooden fence. I loved to watch them and on occasion I would pick them up to look closer. Occasionally there would be a very large Bearded Dragon in our yard. My interest in our nonhuman residents was more than a superficial fascination with their appearance. I would find solace in their company. I’ve always felt different to others and I wonder if perhaps it was because I was adopted. I think in some odd way, I identified with my nonhuman friends and their obvious difference. Even at that early age, as I observed them, I remember wondering what they might be experiencing, what they might be feeling, what they thought of me, and so on.

lizard_on_postAs with most Australian families, my parents bought us “pets”. I don’t recall ever asking for a “pet”. We looked after guinea pigs, fish, and it was often the case that an abandoned neighbourhood cat would find a loving home at our house. When I was 7 or 8, I bonded with a little black fish in our aquarium. He would swim to the surface and I would scratch his head. I remember also bonding with an Angelfish and when he eventually died, I wrote a poem about my grief. I placed the poem with his little body in a match box, and buried it.

When I was 8 my grandmother took me fishing for the first time. I really had little interest in catching fish, and more interest in spending time with my Grandma. Unfortunately one fish found my line. Grandma took the fish down to the edge of the ocean to wash the sand away. As she did, the fish slipped through her hands and swam away. I was not disappointed. I look back and feel sad that children are encouraged to engage in activities that result in violence. My point in relaying this story is that like most children, I seemed to be swept along with society’s speciesist activities. Each generation is a victim of the earlier generation’s speciesism.

During my young adult life in the late ’70s/early ’80s, I mixed in circles who were engaged in social justice causes, alternative theatre and music. There were a number of vegetarians within those groups. At the time I thought that it made sense that we should not eat animals, because it was obvious that “meat” was flesh from a sentient being and because killing is wrong ii. But I never really had a conversation with anyone about this issue. Vegetarianism seemed more like a “personal choice”. Even in these circles, the issue of nonhuman animals being used as resources was not included among their social justice issues. Now when I look back at this period, it shows how very deeply ingrained speciesism is, that even intelligent, socially conscious people had not thought through this issue and did not include other animals in the moral community. Even those who had made a personal choice not to eat “meat”, did not extend this concern to animal advocacy.

I vividly remember one exchange in the early ’80s which, for some reason, has stayed with me till now. I asked my artist friend Holly (a vegetarian) why she didn’t eat fish. She was rushing through the house at the time on her way out the door and she quickly replied “because it’s an animal that lives in the sea”. It was unfortunate that Holly was rushing out the door, because I would have liked to have talked to her further about it. Generally speaking, most people I knew at that time, except for Holly, went through periods where they were vegetarian, and then returned to eating flesh and other animal products.

Likewise, I had been vegetarian on and off from the time I left home at 17, but during this time I was still consuming and wearing animal products. There was even one stage where I was pescatarian. I do not count being vegetarian as anything significant in my journey to veganism. To be clear, vegetarianism and veganism are quite different. Vegetarianism still involves eating animal products, wearing animal products and using animals for entertainment or other reasons. Veganism on the other hand is an ethical position which rejects using animals for food (dairy, flesh, eggs, honey etc.), clothing (wool, leather, silk, fur etc.), entertainment (horse-riding, animal circuses, petting zoos, zoos etc) or other reasons.  I often refer to this period of my pre-vegan life as living in a speciesist haze. Basically I was living unconsciously as regards other animals. I find that disturbing since I have always considered myself reasonably aware of justice issues and I aspired to live a nonviolent life, but this was not true before I became an ethical vegan. Throughout my life, I couldn’t bear seeing any animal being abused. I would intervene if I could. I was always rescuing some injured or abandoned animal, but it never really occurred to me that I was participating every day in violence by consuming and wearing animal products. It is true that most of us think about important moral matters in a completely confused and incoherent way.

In 1994, approximately ten years before becoming an ethical vegan, I became Buddhist. I found confusion regarding animals in Tibetan Buddhist circles. Buddhist centres warn not to kill insects, and some Buddhists release captive animals (after purchasing them), so Buddhism appeared to take nonhumans into their regard. Like many people, I assumed Buddhists would be vegetarian, but found students would eat vegetarian food at Buddhist centres, and then eat flesh and other animal products away from the centre. Tibetan Buddhist teachers would instruct students to pray over flesh before eating it, and instruct them to not eat flesh when they were taking 24 hour precept vows or on particular auspicious Buddhist days. Many teachers would, themselves, eat flesh at other times and generally eat and wear animal products. I questioned senior students about eating flesh, and got rationalizations that didn’t entirely satisfy me.

I don’t remember the exact incident which finally woke me from my speciesist haze, but if I recall correctly, it was in early 2005 when I happened across some information about the dairy industry. It was the same year Donald Watson who coined the term vegan in 1944, and who pioneered the vegan movement, died at the age of 95. At that time, I also remember a conversation clearly with a friend about how chickens are raised and murdered. I felt sick. I remember feeling horrified that this was seen as acceptable. After further investigation, I could no longer participate in this violence by using animal products and became an ethical vegan overnight. The moment I became fully aware of the reality of animal use, there was no turning back. Up until that point, I’d bought “free range” eggs, and had not realised the great harm in dairy and other animal products. I had not fully considered that we have no right to use other animals as resources. I had been mentally disconnected from the flesh and other animal products I was consuming in my daily life. I shudder to recall my former state of ignorance and I greatly regret all those years I used animal products.

After I became vegan I realised that becoming vegan personally was not enough. We wanted to stop animal use altogether, so we naively started trying to lobby government. Our brief experience in late 2005 to mid 2006 was very frustrating and disheartening, since government obviously was not interested in accepting that animal use simply needed to be abolished and mostly resisted “reform”.  We soon realised they were clearly only interested in “reform” which benefited industry economically. It was also clear they were interested in co-opting us and were also protecting animal use industry stakeholders. We saw clear evidence of this when we met up with one government representative who was actively pursuing “Controlled Atmosphere Killing” (“CAK”), a “humane” slaughter “reform” which PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been promoting to industry for a number of years. PETA claims CAK reduces carcass damage, slaughterhouse worker injuries, and has other economic benefits for industry.

A watershed for us was when we were asked to make comment on the “draft policy” for treatment of pigs. All animal groups were advocating for slightly bigger cages, slightly “better conditions”, than the draft policy suggested. We could not, in good conscience, recommend welfare “reform”, so we commenced our submission by stating we opposed animal use. To proposals that minimum space for pigs be increased to about 1 square meter, we responded that the natural requirement for a herd of pigs was several square miles of forest understory. In disgust, at this point, we decided to stop lobbying government for “welfare” improvement (or any other reason). We could not support it because we wanted to end use and had always felt uncomfortable with advocacy which included and was limited to regulation.

Before I continue, since there is so much misinformation and disinformation about veganism, I wish to re-emphasise that I do not see any significance or benefit whatsoever in vegetarianism. None at all. Nor do I conflate vegetarianism and veganism since they are entirely different for reasons I have explained earlier. If I mention that someone is vegetarian, it’s just a statement of fact, and is not an endorsement, as if being vegetarian is beneficial, or a step towards, or similar to being vegan. For me there are those who are non-vegan and those who are vegan. There is no in between. If I could put flashing lights above this statement I would ;-)

In mid 2006, my partner (who had become vegan at the same time as myself) and I decided to start a vegan not-for-profit organization called LOBSA (Liberation of Brother and Sister Animals) which we originally formed to bring veganism to the Buddhist community. I found many texts where Shakyamuni Buddha said we should do our best to avoid harming nonhuman animals (including insects and invertebrates) and that we should avoid eating and wearing animal products which were the result of intentional killing and harm. To my knowledge, in the Tibetan Gelug-pa tradition there is only one Geshe who teaches these Sutras on occasion, but he is not vegan and does not ask students to become vegan.

Since speciesism is so pervasive I knew there would probably be resistance to vegan education, but there was much more resistance than I expected when we joined an international Mahayana Buddhist organisation. I was particularly disappointed since the Lama who is spiritual director of the organization is vegetarian, and frequently talks about not harming animals, including insects and worms. Unfortunately, to my knowledge he would never actually state that his students should become vegetarian. Resistance increased from those who thought what we were advocating reflected badly upon some teachers, including H.H. the Dalai Lama who consumes flesh and other animal products. Sadly after a year, we decided there was not much point in continuing with their organisation and we left.

In early 2007, we asked Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (a Kagyu nun and subject of “Cave in the Snow” by Vicki Mackenzie) to be the patron of LOBSA. Jetsunma said she would be “delighted”. We also asked H.H. the Gyalwang Drukpa to be a patron. He happily accepted. Both were already vegetarian . Both Jetsunma and the Gyalwang Drukpa had made statements instructing their students to become vegetarian. Unfortunately, beyond these measures, they have not adopted veganism. We later decided to de-register our organisation but we have continued to maintain the LOBSA.org website. We had registered LOBSA as part of our association with the Buddhist organisations, but had never intended to use it to get money, or pay ourselves anything, even as a non-profit organisation. I do not have any intention to do so in the future.

For almost 3 years I was on the mailing lists of many large animal organisations. I constantly networked online with these organisations – domestic and international. During this time, I was uncomfortable that all their single issue campaigns never seemed to mention becoming vegan, and increasingly would suggest “humane” animal products or to boycott the industry until they “improved” conditions for animals. I couldn’t recognise that my discomfort was valid, because every large animal organisation appeared to be using this approach. In retrospect, I can now see that despite claims they were for animal rights, they only seemed to promote “humane” use and they rarely, if ever mentioned veganism. In the rare occasion they mentioned veganism, it was soft-peddled, human-centric, conflated with vegetarianism and presented as a diet or as “hard”, “extreme” or optional. They seemed to avoid using the term vegan in association with their single issue campaigns, but instead always asked for donations. What I did see at the time — which I found most disturbing and noticeable — was how all large animal organisations seemed to be intentionally moving closer and closer to industry, and this appeared to be escalating.  I was only able to articulate this discomfort later. A pivotal moment for me was when awards were being given to animal use industries. About this time, there was also a proliferation of support for “happy” meat. I felt frustrated and at a loss, and felt like the promotion of “humane” use was selling out animals. I was looking for a way to articulate my position and why I was not comfortable with this, and that’s why it was such a relief to come across Professor Francione’s work.

I can’t talk about my awakening and journey to becoming an abolitionist vegan without talking about the importance of Professor Gary L. Francione’s work for me, and how greatly his work has influenced my life. There were two stages to my becoming an ethical vegan.  The first was the time prior to finding Professor Francione’s work, when my veganism included an intuitive but unformulated abolitionist viewpoint, but I was also lost in mainstream advocacy confusion. I was never comfortable with the welfare “reform” which all large animal groups and many animal advocates seemed to be promoting, but I didn’t know how to go forward. Abolishing animal exploitation seemed to take a back seat, and as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t feel at all comfortable promoting “better conditions” which were really just a slightly different and slightly less torturous form of animal exploitation. I had come across “abolitionism” earlier, but it was misrepresented. As a result, I responded negatively.

The second phase began when I had the good fortune to be properly introduced to the abolitionist approach to animal rights by Prof. Francione himself in August 2009 on his private Facebook page. It immediately resonated with me. Until hearing some of his arguments, I had not felt the confidence to fully articulate my thoughts about speciesism and “reform”. His explanations made a great deal of sense and I decided this was definitely the way to proceed. Prior to Francione’s work, no one had clearly argued that sentience alone is the only criterion needed to be a member of the moral community and that no other cognitive characteristic is necessary; that membership in the moral community means that you cannot be used exclusively as a resource (the pre-legal right not to be treated as property); that promoting welfare reform is not only morally problematic but practically problematic in that the chattel property status of animals results in a structural inequality that necessarily limits the level of protection accorded to animal interests; and that veganism must be the unequivocal moral baseline of anything that claims to be a rights movement.

Something that particularly attracted me to the Abolitionist Approach is that it is holistic and includes supporting civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTI rights etc and because this is a logical extension of justice. All forms of discrimination are related and represent violence. I truly believe, as Professor Francione says, that veganism is the single most important form of social activism that anybody can engage in and that any serious social, political, and economic change must include veganism.

Veganism is a nonviolent, grass-roots political movement. It is the heart of nonviolence. It is not a “personal choice”, it’s a moral imperative. Promoting nonviolence and social justice for nonhumans (and humans) is very important in the world today. We are all interconnected.  And as long as we eat, wear and use other animals for our pleasure, we engage in daily violence, and we will never know peace.

Some of the issues I have come to understand through Professor Francione’s work is the way welfare “reform” or regulation of animal exploitation further enmeshes animals in the property paradigm, and does not move them closer to nonhuman personhood; “Animal welfare ‘reform’ only makes our exploitation of animals more economically efficient; it does nothing to recognize their inherent value (as moral persons).” “We have had welfare reform for 200 years now. We are using more animals in more horrific ways than at any time in human history. Welfare reform does not work. It cannot work. Animals are chattel property. Given that status, and the reality of markets, including and especially the fact of international markets and ‘free trade’ agreements, animal welfare will rarely if ever provide more protection to animals than what is economically justifiable.” “Veganism is the only coherent response to our recognition that animals are members of the moral community.” His work reinforced my belief that not only do animals have an interest in not suffering, they have an interest in continuing to live and that a “humane” death is still unjust.

Finally, Professor Francione maintains “if you accept that animals are members of the moral community but you are not vegan, it is either because: 1. you don’t take morality seriously enough to act on your own moral views; or 2. you have some speciesist view that animals are “inferior” members of the moral community. There are no other choices.”

In conclusion, I always considered myself as someone who acted for social justice and nonviolence, yet I had been participating in violence and animal slavery for most of my life.  My greatest regrets are the years I spent eating and wearing products of violence, and how long I thought it was normal that we use other animals as resources. I was, on the whole, living unconsciously. I’m a fairly private person. I try to live a very simple life. I’m fortunate to live in a relatively harmonious country, in a beautiful rural area. But it is difficult to truly enjoy this while seeing nonhuman slaves in the fields, and being aware there are 56 billion other animals (not including aquatic animals) being tortured and murdered for our pleasure each year. Now I try to spend as much time as I can in vegan education. I strive to incorporate Ahimsa into every aspect of my life, into my thoughts, words and actions. I don’t know how successful I am, but I try. I find that veganism has had a wonderful and profound effect on all aspects of my life. I’ve become so much more aware of not harming, of protecting other animals (including insects etc), and I have a much better understanding about my own place in the world. I’m so glad that I did not leave the world before becoming vegan, and I hope that I am able to spread veganism to as many people as possible before I do. Veganism will solve many of the world’s problems. In short, I dream of, and work towards, a vegan planet.

Finally, I would like to share this quote:

“All slaves want to be free—to be free is very sweet. I have been a slave myself—I know what slaves feel—I can tell by myself what other slaves feel and by what they have told me. The man that says slaves be quite happy in slavery—that they don’t want to be free—that man is either ignorant or a lying person. I never heard a slave say so.” ~ Mary Prince (1831) Bermudan author who was once a slave)

If you’re not vegan, please go vegan. It’s much easier than you think. Please start here

red-divider

i I put “meat” in quotes to indicate that this word is one that, in English, is used to create cognitive distance between reality and our comfort. In general, saying we eat flesh has far more emotional accuracy. Likewise, we disguise our actions by a double system of labeling: e.g. a cow becomes “beef”, a pig, “pork”, a sheep “mutton”.

ii I focus on flesh consumption in describing my early life, not because I think eating animals is more significant than other forms of animal use, but because that is what people around me focused on. Likewise, in later references to Buddhism, teachers focus on eating “meat”, and did not even consider other animal products or many forms of animal use were the result of violence. As a vegan, I see any use of animals as equally morally unjustifiable, and do not personally make distinctions between eating animals or animal products and other forms of animal use. All use is morally unjustifiable.

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“State Of The Art” Murder

I was reading today that slaughterhouses in New South Wales (Australia) have been employing a “new” and “improved” method of murdering animals. It’s considered a “humane” alternative to the current torture which occurs routinely in every slaughterhouse worldwide. If you have been paying attention to my blog and my abolitionist page LiveVegan, you would probably understand by now there is NO such thing as a “humane” slaughterhouse and even if there were, it would still be unjust.

Here we are again, with yet another myth about “humane” murder using “controlled atmosphere killing(CAK) slaughterhouses. It is claimed to be the “biggest” and “best” and “state of the art equipment”. Why CAK? Because it’s cheaper, it reduces worker injuries, ensures that animal’s flesh is “undamaged”, cuts down on bacteria and is a public relations exercise in which industry can tell Australians that these pigs were killed “humanely”.

animal welfare reform is a backwards step1PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been promoting controlled atmosphere killing” in Australia for a number of years now. What happens inside a ‘state of the art’ Australian execution gas chamber? Recent evidence reveals crate after crate of pigs thrashing and screaming and gasping for air. Is it any surprise filling a chamber with CO2 would make anyone panic and feel terrified? The company which uses this method would be aware that using CO2 would produce a sense of asphyxiation and they would be aware that using an inert gas instead would not produce this same feeling of suffocation, but CO2 is cheaper and industry is about economic efficiency, not any concern for nonhumans. Nonhumans animals are viewed as mere economic commodities. In any event, whatever the method, all methods of killing are morally wrong and death is the ultimate “harm”.

Remember that this “improved” slaughter method has not been employed because it’s “humane”, it’s been employed because it’s economically efficient. In short, animal welfare is all about economic efficiency, not about nonhumans. That’s the first thing we need to understand about welfare. The second thing to understand is that welfare is designed to make people feel comfortable about consuming animals. The third thing is, as is evidenced here, that it does little or nothing for animals and is just a slightly different form of torture. But even if we stroked their heads, cuddled them, talked to them calmly and played Mozart while we murdered them, it would still be unjust and morally wrong.  Despite what utilitarians like Peter Singer claim, nonhuman animals have an interest in their lives continuing.

played music1Abolitionist veganism recognises that it’s not HOW animals are being used that is the issue, it’s THAT they are being used at all that is the problem. We recognise that nonhuman animals deserve one very basic right — the right not to be used as property. If we believe animals matter morally, then we need to stop eating, wearing and using them.

What is beyond sad is we have an entire animal movement dedicated to promoting “humane” use of animals, instead of promoting the solution to ending animal use – veganism. What those who promote welfare “reform” do not seem to understand is that they would get their reforms anyway if they promoted veganism to the public, because industry would respond with these reforms. Industry would do this to prevent people from rejecting animal use, and to make people “feel better” about using animals. In fact if everyone promoted veganism clearly, industry would probably go above and beyond these pathetic “reforms”. Instead, all large animal organisations like PETA, HSUS, Animals Australia, Mercy for Animals etc., partner with industry, help them peddle their products, assist them with their PR campaigns and regularly promote the idea that it’s morally acceptable to use animals as long as it’s “humane”. They are the  self appointed “watchdog” for industry.

Minimum standard of decencySpeaking of the lengths we go to find “better” ways of doing the wrong thing. Yesterday I saw this article;  “Scientists race to develop farm animals to survive climate change” in which it says “The idea is to create animals that are more efficient“. I mean seriously? Scientific evidence (ignored by mainstream media and played down by the IPCC) about climate change would strongly suggest our species only has a few decades left before near-term extinction, and we are engaged in this kind of irrationality? Species fail.

Let’s stop the nonsense and stop looking for “better” ways of doing the wrong thing. Please go vegan and educate others to do so. It’s the minimum standard of decency. If we claim to be against violence and injustice, it is the only rational response.

If you’re not vegan, please start here

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