Dear readers: I was shocked to learn recently that vegans and vegetarians may hate the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) more than most farmers and ranchers do. Obviously we dislike those groups for entirely different reasons. But I wanted to learn more because I always assumed that a vegan was a card carrying member of both organizations. I couldn't have been more wrong.
It may seem odd for me to give my blog over to an animal activist to talk about her goals for the animal rights movement. I believe it is important for us to learn more about their way of thinking just as we would like them to understand where we're coming from. And I wanted to learn more about the issues they have with these groups.
I know many of you won't agree with my guest author Khaetlyn, but I ask any comments you leave to be respectful. I would like to get more insight from vegetarians and vegans. There are things we can learn from each other. Please keep reading--Jody
I despise People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. Those loud and obnoxious animal people with their silly antics, who are only trying to get publicity and donations for their organizations, make me feel ill to the point of nausea. No, I am not a rancher or a farmer. I am not a vivisectionist. I am not a zoo keeper. I am a vegan, and I support animal rights.
I would not cage Jade the cat and force her to have babies her whole life, and when she is too worn out from the constant cycle of breeding, slaughter her and eat her flesh. I would not force Diesel the dog into submission to perform unnatural tricks for the sake of people's amusement, nor would I kill him to wear his fur and skin. If I would not inflict unnecessary suffering, such as the aforementioned acts, upon the cat or dog with whom I share my home, why would I do these same things to other animals? This "moral schizophrenia" as animal rights philosopher and author Gary L. Francione (photo above right) calls it, is unjustifiable as there is no morally significant difference between a cat, dog, cow, or chicken. Indeed, if we were to do to cats and dogs the things we do to animals raised on farms or in labs, it would be a felony offense.
But what if we made it better? What if we improved their conditions? Would it not it be better if Diesel had a bigger cage? Would Jade not feel better if her throat was slit more quickly and efficiently? No. Humane slaughter is still slaughter. Kind confinement is still confinement. Their exploitation should be abolished, not merely regulated, according to Francione.
So what about their "rights?" When the term "animal rights" is used it really only means one right, or the right not to be the property of someone else. Francione states that as long as animals are considered property, the interests of the property owner will always outweigh the interests of the piece of property, so we cannot really take animal interests into consideration until their property status is abolished. Animals are sentient creatures; animals feel pain, pleasure, and a wide range of emotions. They have an interest in continuing life free from pain and the tyranny of human dominance and corporate greed. They are someones, with individual personalities and family bonds, but as long as they are still pieces of property, they are nothing more than production units and are reduced to mere commodities.
How do I convince people that animals have rights? How do I convince them that going vegan is the first thing someone must do to be consistent with the principles of animal rights theory, as stated by Francione? Well, I do not throw paint on them, for one, and contrary to popular belief, abolitionist vegans and animal rights activists do not want to pass legislation concerning the legal status of animals or how they are treated. I do not bomb the buildings of farmers or lab technicians, nor do I threaten to harm the employees who work there. I agree with Gary L. Francione when he states that non-violent and creative vegan education is the best and most effective way of showing people the importance of abolitionist animal rights theory and understanding how to practice it in every day life.
I do not see non-vegans as my "enemies" but rather as potential dinner guests with whom I will share my mashed potatoes, vegetable stew, and lemon-vanilla cupcakes. They need not worry about getting their windows smashed with a crowbar or their coat ruined by red paint at my house; leaflets, patience, compassion, and a well-stocked kitchen are my weapons of choice.
About the author:
Khaetlyn Grindell is a 16 year old abolitionist vegan and animal rights activist living in South Carolina. She is a staff member of the Eagles View Newspaper and Quill & Scroll literary magazine at Greenwood High School. When she isn't writing and spending time on human and animal rights or political affairs, she enjoys drawing, painting and reading non-fiction publications.
To read more of Francione’s thoughts go to his website.