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Are Anti-Cruelty Campaigns Really Effective?

Are Anti-Cruelty Campaigns Really Effective?
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“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve.”

~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Economy (Chapter 1-E)

For many activists confronting widespread animal exploitation and related cruelty – from food, to clothing, to experimentation and entertainment – it can sometimes appear as though there are so many issues to focus attention on that the situation becomes overwhelming.

When advocates are unclear about the best way to address these countless concerns, many choose to focus on one issue, such as eliminating battery cages or gestation crates. Others try to spend their advocacy hours doing “a bit of everything”.

As explained in Making a Killing with Animal Welfare Reform, campaigns against specific practices of animal exploitation are lucrative for animal welfare groups, bringing in tens of millions of dollars into their coffers annually for acting as the large, non-profit “regulators” of industry.  Such campaigns are known among animal advocates as single issue campaigns, or “SICs.”

When you combine the financial motivation of large animal welfare groups and the besieged feeling animal advocates often experience from trying to tackle so many different issues, the result is the current dominant culture of the animal advocacy movement, where the efforts of countless individuals are scattered across countless different single-issue campaigns.

It certainly seems that such division amongst animal advocates must work strongly in the favor of the animal industry and the current cultural paradigm of speciesism.  By contrast, a united front of widespread public education focused on why and how to become vegan would address the root of the exploitation problem by challenging not only all of our uses of animals, but our society’s decidedly speciesist attitude in and of itself.

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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195 comments

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9:54AM PDT on Aug 23, 2013

Thank you food for thought....

4:00PM PST on Nov 19, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

2:47AM PST on Dec 28, 2011

animals do have the same basic rights and desires as humans. true, animals do not desire money, education, the right vote. but like us, they desire food, shelter, freedom of movement, companionship and avoidance of pain.

1:53AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Karen, you gave a good example of a vegan who isn't necessarily a kind and caring animal owner. Not saying Bill Clinton ISN'T, and yes, he has dogs, but he's also not vegan. He admits to eating fish 2 - 3/X a week, actually. However, the reason he became "vegan" (actually he's a pescaterian, I believe?) is for health reasons, and because his daughter was getting married and he promised her he would try and to lose weight. Mike Tyson is another example. He can hardly be said to be a kind person, but maybe he's changed. The "old" Mike certainly wasn't, and I can't believe his attitude towards other beings would do a 180 degree turn-around.

Supposedly, Adolph Hitler was a vegetarian, and he most certainly could not be classified as a humanitarian, HOWEVER, he was also known to be a staunch supporter of wildlife and a dog lover. I just don't think the two equate at all, at least the two do NOT go "hand in hand".

1:36AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

(cont'd)
issues we have to deal with in our everyday lives.

Hmm, I wish this comment box would only allow us to write the amount of words that will be posted!

1:32AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

I didn't imply that you don't know what the dictionary definition of a vegan is, but it's quite natural for non-vegans to not know or understand the reasons or motivations that lead some to become vegans. It cannot be compared to the decision or desire to become a parent.
I'm not saying here that all vegans become vegans for the same reason, or that they all hold the same belief system. Bill Clinton, who's apparently a vegan, became one for health reasons. But the "whatever idealistic reason" you mention is precisely the reason why most vegans would treat animals (not only their own but all animals) properly.

And no, I was certainly not making a judgement that people who have pets hold them in slavery because they place boundaries! Unless one lives alone as a hermit, we all have to set and abide by rules and boundaries.

In fundamental things such as the right to life and freedom from forced confinement and inflicted suffering, I believe animals are our equals; but just as all individual humans are not equal in their physical and intellectual abilities, animals are not equal to humans in several aspects. This doesn't mean that humans are better than animals. Each species adapts to its best capacity to its environment, and as far as that (emphasis) goes it seems that animals are better than us. The fact that animals are not our equals in certain things makes it irrelevant and ridiculous to discuss whether they can or have the right to vote or make decisions on issue

9:35PM PST on Dec 19, 2011

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, with all due respect then. Being vegan (and I do know what it includes) does NOT nesessitate proper care. Just because one doesn't eat animal products, wear them or "use" them for whatever idealistic reason they have convinced themselves of having, does not mean they treat their own animals properly.........anymore than becoming a parent means one will treat their offspring as they should be treated. Because one is NOT vegan does not mean that they do not treat their "pets" or livestock properly and even better than vegans do.

I have no problem with animals being sold, under certan circumstances, that is. Even a dog or cat obtained from a shelter is essentially being "sold" when a fee is involved. My "pets", I suppose, in your opinion, ARE slaves in that they are NOT allowed to come and go "at will", nor do they dictate to me what they will eat or where they are allowed to sleep (or not). They do not get to vote, they do NOT get to drive my car, nor do they have a "say" in what happens when it comes to choosing what the furniture arrangement is, what color I paint the house, etc. If they were human family, they probably would have a "say" while living in my house.

4:35PM PST on Dec 19, 2011

Cont'd from last post:

I have rabbits too, adopted from a rescue organisation. But having taken them in, giving them as good a life as I can, and even knowing that without me they might be dead doesn’t give me the right to view them as my properties. I don’t consider they owe me anything, not even love and gratitude. Choosing to take in animals only makes them our responsibilities, not our properties. Unfortunately, such belief is not the norm or animals wouldn't be sold, as human slaves once were.

Of course, many “pet owners” treat "their" animals properly. But to me, someone who considers animals as properties is more likely to use, misuse, and/or abuse them than someone who respects animals as individuals (objects are properties; individuals, of whatever species, are not objects). And that kind of belief--and the respect for all life forms that flows from it--is the essence of veganism.

8:22PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

Diane, I agree with you that anti-cruelty campaigns can be effective. Some are even successful, such as the recent banning of bullfights in Catalonia. More importantly, I believe they are necessary.

To answer your question as to whether being a vegan inevitably means treating animals properly, I'd say yes, though I suppose there are exceptions to everything! Being vegan is more than what you eat or don't eat. It's a way of thinking, being, and relating to the universe. If you choose veganism, you do so out of conviction that animals are individuals, sentient beings deserving of respect, life, and freedom just like humans. Rather than seeing humans as occupying the top of a hierarchy, vegans see humans and animals as parts of the circle of life.

As for your view that animals are properties because you feed and provide for them, and that as long as you treat them well it's fine to see them as belonging to you. A lot of people share this belief, and for many it is even almost unconscious and, so, remains unquestioned and unchallenged. I think differently. Before humans began domesticating animals for their various needs, animals lived very well without us. They never needed or depended upon us – we did. Even now, we feel the need for the companionship of animals. And if it’s true that many of them cannot fend for themselves any longer, it doesn’t mean that they were never able to. Domestication changed that; we changed that. I have rabbits too, adopted from

6:43PM PST on Dec 18, 2011

Third trial to post a reply. Hope it doesn't suddenly appear x3!

Diane, I agree with you that anti-cruelty campaigns can be effective. Some are even successful, such as the recent banning of bullfights in Catalonia. More importantly, I believe they are necessary.

To answer your question as to whether being a vegan guarantees treating animals properly, I'd say yes, though I suppose there are exceptions to everything! Being vegan is more than what you eat or don't eat. It's a way of thinking, being, and relating to the universe. If you choose veganism, you do so out of conviction that animals are individuals, sentient beings deserving of respect, life, and freedom just like humans. Rather than seeing humans at the top of a hierarchy, vegans see humans and animals as parts of the circle of life.

As for your views that animals are properties because you feed and provide for them, and that as long as you treat them well it's fine to see them as belonging to you. I think differently. Before humans began domesticating animals for their various needs, animals lived very well without us. They never needed or depended upon us – we did. Even now, we feel the need for the companionship of animals. And if it’s true that many of them cannot fend for themselves any longer, it doesn’t mean that they were never able to. Domestication changed that; we changed that. I have rabbits too, adopted from a rescue organisation. But having taken them in and giving them as good

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