Abolitionist Veganism: A Brief Overview

Friends, it’s important that we have a basic understanding of what is meant by “abolitionist veganism” (as understood on this page) since there appears to be many misconceptions and appropriations of the term which causes some confusion today.

Abolitionist veganism is a nonviolent, grassroots political movement.

Abolitionists understand veganism as an ethical position. We reject all forms of animal use and recognise that nonhuman animals belong to the moral community.  Abolitionist vegans reject the property status of nonhuman animals. Abolitionist vegans do not use animals for food, clothing, entertainment or other reasons. Veganism is not a diet. Veganism should not be about  anthropocentric benefit, though the ancillary benefits of being vegan *are many*, including health and climate change.

Abolitionist veganism

Our society generally believes that it is wrong to inflict “unnecessary” suffering and death on animals. We cause suffering and death of animals when we intentionally breed them into existence to exploit them as resources. The fact is that 99.99% of our use of animals is unnecessary because we can easily meet our nutrition requirements from plants (and non-animal sources), and we have alternatives for other animal uses. Our animal use is for trivial reasons of palate pleasure, habit, convenience and entertainment. It is unnecessary and morally unjustifiable.

Abolitionist vegans reject the widely held and popular belief that anything remotely pro-animal is animal rights.  We recognise that ALL animal use is abuse. We believe that it is not HOW animals are being used that is the issue, but THAT they are being used that is the problem. If we truly claim that animal exploitation is morally wrong, then we must reject all use, including the false and misleading notion that there’s such a thing as “humane” animal exploitation. We reject the notion that animals do not have an interest in continuing life, that they only care HOW they are being used and killed. We do not respond to the horror of animal slavery by thinking we need to find “better” ways of doing the wrong thing (animal welfare “reform”). Abolitionist vegans recognise that even if there were such a thing as “humane” exploitation of animals or “humane” slaughter, animal use would still be unjust and unethical. We reject the widely held belief that *regulation* of animal exploitation will lead to the *abolition* of animal exploitation for a number of reasons. (For ore info please visit UVE Archives.)

We do not believe in the notion that promoting “better” ways of exploiting animals is “doing something” for animals. Welfare “reform” has been around for over 200 years and we are seeing more animals being used in more horrific ways than ever before, therefore we believe welfare is wheel-spinning and entrenches animals further in the property paradigm. We understand that if these “reforms” and “improvements” were applied to humans they would be considered torture and that “improvements” for animals will only go as far as industry will allow, and that means only insofar as it does not negatively impact on their profits.

Abolitionist veganism is a separate movement, distinct from the current “humane” use/”happy” animal slavery/”happy” animal products movement. We don’t ask for donations, we just want the public to become vegan. We do not endorse “happy” animal slavery, “happy” animal products, “Meat free Mondays”, “carnism“, the conflation of vegetarianism with veganism, “flexitarianism”, utilitarianism, and various other forms of speciesism and speciesist promotions. We do not partner with animal industry, peddle animal products for industry, or put our stamp of approval on and profit from the sale of animal products, all commonplace in the animal movement today.

We recognise it is pointless to attack suppliers of animal products and the animal use industry because we recognise that it is the non-vegan public who creates demand for animal use and animal products, and they are our target audience for vegan education. Industry is just meeting demand. We understand if there were no demand for animal products and animal use, there would be no supply (no businesses and no industry).

Abolitionists reject fetishising one species over another. We recognise that all species have equal moral value. Therefore we reject single issue campaigns because they reinforce speciesism and say to the public that one form of animal use is worse than another and that some species are more important than others. Abolitionist vegans recognise that ALL species have equal moral value.

Abolitionists reject the widely held view promoted by large animal/”vegan” organisations that veganism is “daunting”, “extreme”, “purist”, “absolutist”, “divisive” “idealistic” “optional” and so on. We reject the commonplace belief that the public are not intelligent enough or are not ready to accept a morally consistent, clear vegan message. Therefore we reject the “baby steps”, “every little bit helps” approach which is widely promoted by large animal organisations, because it is both speciesist and patronises the public.

We recognise that veganism is a marathon, not a sprint. We recognise we cannot donate our way out of this problem and donations will not discharge our moral obligation to other animals. We understand there is no “quick fix”. We do not promote the idea that everyone will become vegan overnight, but understand that veganism (like other social justice movements) will spread exponentially and incrementally and that veganism is not a “one-plate-at-a-time” approach.
We view being vegan and refusing to participate in this violence as the minimum standard of decency.

We do not lobby government because this is a waste of time and resources at this stage. We do not try to  boycott, or “ban” or try “improve” or change laws because abolitionist vegans recognise that *only* when there is a significant number of (ethical) vegans in society will there be a push to abolish the property status of animals, and only then will there be significant and lasting change for nonhuman animals.

Abolitionist veganism is a nonviolence movement. Promoting veganism (the ethical position) is the most important form of social activism we can participate in today. Abolitionist vegans — as a logical extension of advocating justice and nonviolence — reject all forms of discrimination like racism, sexism, heterosexism, speciesism, ableism, and so forth, since all forms of discrimination are faces of the same ignorance, based on an irrelevant criterion, and classifying groups as “other”, making them “acceptable” targets of injustice and violence.

Let us reject the vague, confused and speciesist ideas promoted today which do so much harm to the cause of rights for nonhumans.  Please promote (ethical) veganism ONLY, and educate others to do so. It is the morally consistent and most effective way to abolish animal use.

If you are not vegan, please start here

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