The dark side of our movement – responses to criticism

Many people like what I write. I’ve been getting lots of invitations to talk all over Europe and have been travelling quite frequently to spread a message of friendly and pragmatic vegan outreach.

From a few other people, I get criticism. Sometimes this criticism is constructive. Most of the time it is quite unfair and often it is very nasty.
It seems that activists who bring a different, less orthodox message than the vegan-is-the-moral-baseline one, are – at least to some people – fair game to be ridiculed, attacked, shamed and misrepresented. This is disconcerting and doesn’t bode well for our movement.

Just a few examples of the crap I’ve had to deal with lately – without naming any names. One person has published his own compilation of video fragments of my talks, with no sense of fairness, cutting off where he felt it was okay and interjecting the snippets with comments of his own. The same person has published his own secret recording of a podcast debate that the podcast organisers eventually decided not to publish. He has also secretly videotaped me answering his public demand for an apology, during a talk in Dublin, for using the words “crazy vegans”. He published his recording – in which I admitted to a few personal things, unaware of the fact that I was being recorded – on the web.

I recently left one forum, where I was continuously abused by some of the critics. The moderator couldn’t be bothered with interfering and has at times actually encouraged the bullying. I left the group. Since then, as people kept discussing and bashing me, a temporary cease-tobias-discussion was called for, but apparently to not much avail.

At a recent festival where I spoke, the organiser deemed it better to provide personal security for me (a bodyguard), which he now claims I asked for (when I asked if disruptions of talks, like what happened At the 2015 Luxemburg International Animal Right Conference, would be allowed). The organizer doesn’t agree with my views, but to his credit let me speak anyway. Since the talk though, the organizer – now very much influenced by “the abolitionist approach” – has behaved very unprofessionally towards me, saying I encourage people to exploit animals, and has stated he would no sooner invite me again as a speaker than someone from McDonald’s.

These people are supposed to care. They seem to want to phase out ableism, sexism, ageism etc, along with speciesism – which I support. But while doing that, they are behaving more unpleasantly than I imagine most ableists, sexists, racists or speciesists would behave. In any case, I can honestly say that in 17 years of activism, I never got this kind of nastiness from farmers or people in the animal abuse industry.

There is a person behind these blogs. A person who wants a vegan world (at least) as much as the next vegan. A person who at times feels hurt and sad at all these allegations and misrepresentations. I’ve had two serious burn-outs over the years, the last one quite recently. I guess I’m more resilient than most, and I can perfectly imagine that many committed people have given up on being active in the vegan movement after abuse like this. I’m afraid me giving up on activism is what these people are after. That is a very, very sad thought.

Frankly, I’m quite disgusted. I have blocked most of the people waging this vendetta against me, and though they keep popping up here and there, I am usually doing a pretty good job at ignoring them. I wrote this piece, and my response to their criticisms, as a way of explaining myself to people who might be tempted to believe any of their allegations.

If you appreciate what I do, you can help by sharing and promoting this blog, my Facebook page and video presentations. That way you can help me make up for some of the time I need to invest in replying to these ridiculous statements. And you can help bring more much needed pragmatism to our movement, and thus help animals. Thanks for your support! I’ll focus on the positive!

And if you have questions, feel free to ask them!

339 thoughts on “The dark side of our movement – responses to criticism

  1. I’m really sorry you’ve had to put up with all that, Tobias. You are doing great work here, and I and many others find your insights very valuable. I wonder if it even occurs to some of your critics that the dishonesty of their methods pretty much proves how weak even they think their positions are.

    1. thx hillary, i was thinking the same. the attacks are mostly about things that don’t have anything to do with my arguments and are just aimed at discrediting me. i am definitely not beyond having a good discussion about the content itself though, but sadly that’s not really what they are after.

  2. This is very sad to read. I often have to hold myself back from telling other vegans to stop being so idiotic in online vegan communities that I’m a part of, and focus on the important issues and the best possible ways to have an impact. My least favourite right now is a trend of discussing the best way to reply to jokes or comments made by meat-eaters, which inevitably end up as personal attacks, overly-agressive replies, and completely humourless, which can only have the outcome of more non-vegans thinking that they would never want to associate with a group of people like that.

  3. Keep on doing what you’re doing, Tobias. I’m very sorry to hear about all of these struggles, but I think it’d be a huge loss for the vegan movement, if you’d stop. Your talks are really inspiring and helpful for many activists (including me) who seek to be as effective as possible. Thank you for everything you’re doing!

  4. So sorry you have had to put up with this Tobias. I love your posts, they are a breath of fresh air after all the vegan righteous stuff that goes on.

    We vegans and vegetarians (at least most of us) want an end to animal exploitation. Yes we go about it in our own ways, we should be pulling together for our ultimate goal not tearing each other apart. Come on people please stop this infighting and name calling, think about the animals that are suffering while we are doing all this to one another.

  5. Dear Tobias: I am so sorry to hear about all the criticism you have been getting.  I discovered your blog a few months ago and think you are a breath of fresh air to the animal rights movement.  I do hope you can ignore all the negativity aimed at you.  I am really tired and disgusted by all the in fighting that goes on amongst vegans, yes we may go about things differently to try and bring an end to animal exploitation but it is so wrong to criticise each other for our differences.  Lets stop focusing on each other and concentrate on doing whatever we can to help the animals we say we love. Sincerely Wendy Cleaver   From: the vegan strategist To: penkerwick@yahoo.ca Sent: Saturday, October 31, 2015 2:21 PM Subject: [New post] The dark side of our movement – responses to criticism #yiv3524826346 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv3524826346 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv3524826346 a.yiv3524826346primaryactionlink:link, #yiv3524826346 a.yiv3524826346primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv3524826346 a.yiv3524826346primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv3524826346 a.yiv3524826346primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv3524826346 WordPress.com | Tobias leenaert posted: “Many people like what I write. I’ve been getting lots of invitations to talk all over Europe and have been travelling quite frequently to spread a message of friendly and pragmatic vegan outreach.From a few other people, I get criticism. Sometimes thi” | |

  6. I am so sorry that you have had to experience this kind of bullying. Please don’t give up. I very much appreciate your work and have learned a lot from you. You are brave to put yourself out there in the face of this behavior intended to silence you.

  7. Tobias I hope some of those ‘haters’ read your post and are ashamed. Alas there will be many that won’t.
    As a vegetarian that is striving to be a vegan so as to become truly cruelty free and at peace I am horrified of some the comments I read from Vegans. Too act like they are on the higher moral ground and then read the venom that spits from their mouths when someone has a slightly different opinion is very upsetting.
    They are of course doing more harm to animals by acting this way as most meat eaters would question the validity of what they say. Yes meat eaters can also be abusive but that is from more times than not knowing what they are doing is not quite right. Abusive Vegans have no excuse apart from abusive morons.

  8. this is both sad and enraging! i really hope these people are but a minority of the audience in your talks! me and my friends, we love your level headed approach! please keep it up!

  9. Hi Tobias, you’re standing up for what you believe in, that’s living life, keep going.
    I agree that vegans/vegetarians should focus more on what we have in common, and be positive about this, as there are plenty of people ready to attack, especially via the Internet.
    You are passionate about what you do, and take time (and money I’m sure), to explain your thoughts…keep going.
    Gareth

  10. I’ve seen similar behavior by those who consider themselves vegans in the United States as well. This “bullying” often seems to be initiated by established vegan advocates and targeted at newer vegan advocates who have a different approach or message. I find it especially harmful to the movement as a whole and counterproductive to the goal of helping relieve the suffering of nonhuman animals.

  11. I too, am both surprised and saddened by the reaction you’ve gotten. Please know that you have tons of supporters who appreciate your pragmatic approach. As for the naysayers, I wouldn’t give them too much of your time and energy, because sometimes pissing a few people off means you’re doing something right. Just link back to your FAQ page, and let them stew amongst themselves. 🙂

    1. I think havegonevegan’s advice is excellent. I would add (based on discussions I’ve had with actual experts on harassment) to not even send them the link, because even the tiniest response can feed them. once someone has shown themselves to be a bad actor just ignore them, and the rest of us should do the same.

  12. Recently I read a piece on mental health issues with vegan activists, giving the example of a girl that turned vegan activist after an abusive relationship. My experience tells me that a number of vegans, but surely not the majority, use the movement in a very sordid way to come to some form of revenge. The suffering of animals actually represents their suffering, and they themselves reproduce the violence they’re supposed to fight. Violence is a strong mechanism, that grows itself in bashed up people.
    Some vegans really have twisted views on humans , often misanthropic, and on the world, often an one issue one…
    What you are doing is evolving beyond this attitude of moral high ground and developing effectiveness in whatever you deem necessary to achieve as a goal.
    Please keep your own boundaries an resilience in mind when you take on further challenges, so as to come to your own well being. Nothing justifies a burn out, really…

    1. De Natuurfrituur said, “Some vegans really have twisted views on humans , often misanthropic…”

      Please explain why misanthropy is a “twisted view.”

      “My hate is general, I detest all men;
      Some because they are wicked and do evil,
      Others because they tolerate the wicked,
      Refusing them the active vigorous scorn
      which vice should stimulate in virtuous minds.”
      – said Molière’s character Alceste in Le Misanthrope (1666)

      Some of the best people have been misanthropes, people such as the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who rightly (in my opinion) said, “human existence must be a kind of error”.

      “It should be added, however, that misanthropy does not necessarily equate with an inhumane attitude towards humanity. Schopenhauer concluded, in fact, that ethical treatment of others was the best attitude, for we are all fellow sufferers and all part of the same will-to-live;” (Wikipedia)

      Schopenhauer also said:

      “Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to living creatures cannot be a good man.”

      and

      “The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”

      1. if you’re hoping to influence others toward veganism or anything else, misanthropy isn’t a productive place to start from.

  13. Tobias, you are doing a great and very important job for animals. It´s sad to see how much ego is in the animal movement. But well, I still haven´t met (as fas as I´m concerned) a single ego-free human being. We will have to deal with that problem, too. Please, keep on spreading your ideas and inspiring other vegans and non-yet-vegans!

  14. Unfortunately, I have to say, nastiness is an inevitable outcome of moral campaigns/ crusades. Where the primary strategy is getting individuals to do X, and X is the moral thing, and enough people doing X will change the world, then anyone who isn’t an out-and-out Xist is bad and the enemy. I think people who get into moral campaigns/crusades need simple answers to what are frighteningly big and complex problems. The other thing is that moral campaigns/crusades often need hate opportunities – anyone familiar with Francione’s Facebook page will know that there are periodic “hate-ins” there. I believe these hate-ins function to bond followers.

    Moral campaigns/crusades also have the tendency to become ever more narrow – because they can’t achieve success, frustration leads to a quest for greater purity so that the moral practice or policy that is supposed to change the world is reinforced and reinvigorated and, supposedly, made more capable of success. In this vein, I have suspicions that Francione may be toying with a move to some degree of vegan separatism. On his Fb page and in his regular slot on Go Vegan radio he has spoken about whether vegans should continue in personal relationships with non-vegans where those non-v’s have had time to move to veganism and have failed to do so. He makes a moral argument – using analogies such as would you continue in a relationship with an unrepentant racist? I also wonder if the newly-established World Vegan Summit, which some see as having strong Francione influence behind the scenes (e.g. certain speakers being “un-invited”) may be increasingly shifted to “purified” veganism.

    1. Interesting thought.
      re. that analogy, can’t you take that anywhere? Like: would you let people kill people unpunished if divergent didn’t punish them? No? So why do we allow it with animals?

    2. “He [Francione] makes a moral argument – using analogies such as would you continue in a relationship with an unrepentant racist?”

      I have to say that agree with Francione on this point. I have never heard any vegan make this point, but I often thought about it. I guess it took someone like Francione to say it (but no, I am not a fan of Francione, at least not of his strategy).

          1. i’m sorry, we’re on totally different wavelengths on this one. first off, if you isolate people, is there more chance that they will change?
            secondly, i don’t think meat eaters are murderers and are necessarily bad people. And even if you think that is true, it is not exactly efficient or productive to live by this truth.

        1. Meat eaters are not isolated. They have plenty of friends among meat eaters. They don’t need us, vegans.

          No, I am not going to pretend to be someone’s friend in order to convince him/her that killing animals is immoral. That is dishonest.

          You said, “i don’t think meat eaters are murderers and are necessarily bad people.”

          So if you don’t think meat eaters are murderers, then you don’t think that killing animals is murder?

          If someone kills just to satisfy him/her appetite for meat, causing horrific suffering to animals, degrading our planet, and causing starvation, then you think such a person is a good person?

          You wrote, “it is not exactly efficient or productive to live by this truth.”

          Am I supposed to lie to myself?

          I present rational arguments to strangers (not friends). The arguments lead to the conclusion that killing animals is immoral. People are free to either refute my arguments or accept them. Again, what am I doing wrong?

          1. barbara, if you care to watch the two videos on the video page, they provide my answers to this.
            for me it’s not about being right or wrong (whether killing animals is murder or not) but about whether holding that belief (let alone saying it or acting on it) is effective or not. I think it’s not.

            I didn’t mean isolating re. friendships or something, but isolating so that they don’t get in touch with vegans. if all vegans said they didn’t want to have meat eaters as friends… there would be way less vegans, because many omnivores became vegan through a vegan friend, i have no doubt.
            Also, i’m sure none of us is a saint. maybe there’s other people who are better than you morally and who could just as well say they don’t want to be friends with you?

        2. Tobias said, “for me it’s not about being right or wrong (whether killing animals is murder or not) but about whether holding that belief (let alone saying it or acting on it) is effective or not. I think it’s not.”

          That is absurd! I am not going to argue that killing animals is not murder!

          “I didn’t mean isolating re. friendships or something, but isolating so that they don’t get in touch with vegans.”

          They don’t get in touch with vegans. Don’t expect meat eaters to come to you and want to talk about veganism. You have to come to them.

          “ if all vegans said they didn’t want to have meat eaters as friends… there would be way less vegans, because many omnivores became vegan through a vegan friend, i have no doubt.”

          No, exactly the opposite. If you are willing to be friends with someone regardless of whether or not he/she gives up meat, then that person has no motivation to give up meat. It’s the same thing with smokers. There are a lot fewer smokers now precisely because non-smokers don’t want to be around them, don’t want to date them, etc.

          “Also, i’m sure none of us is a saint.”

          That is a religious concept. If someone thinks that I am doing something immoral, then I am open to rational arguments that lead to that conclusion.

          “maybe there’s other people who are better than you morally”

          Not if they murder animals.

          “ and who could just as well say they don’t want to be friends with you?”

          Then they need to explain to me what I am doing that is immoral. I will either accept their argument or refute it. And I don’t care if someone does not want to be friends with me. I am certainly not going to force anyone. Everyone is free to choose friends that suit him/her.

        3. Tobias said, “I don’t think this meat is murder attitude is helpful at all, but apparently it’s your truth…”

          It is not an attitude or my truth but the main principle of the ideology of the animal rights movement. You are either onboard or you are not.

  15. As usual, I’m confused. I’m not sure why you needed to respond to these personal attacks. From what I can see, your positions have been very clear over the years. On the other hand, it is important to respond to criticism and defend your beliefs so that those of use watching the debate can come to our own conclusions.

    If there is a high ground to be taken, now might be a good opportunity. If your critics are demonized and psychoanalyzed, essentially “other-ized”, then nothing has been learned and the food-fight will continue ( just what the exploiters of animals want – “Let’s you and him fight”)

    I’ve had some training on activism and the stages of social change. One extremely important figure in the that progression is the “curmudgeon” followed by more practical players, implementers, leaders and followers. John Brown may have been just such a character – he had a significant impact on public opinion to end slavery. I see the terms “purists” and “fanatics” – as discounting their value in the movement. But is this smart?

    One questions we Americans dumbly ask is. “Why do they hate us?” I think that might be a valuable question to ask in this case. Asking this question in no way gives credibility to that animosity, but it may provide those who want to take the high road, a way of getting to the unity we desperately need.

    Take the word “vegan”. For some, it is a statement of moral belief -‘ animals must not be exploited’. Asking that individual to compromise is asking them to give up their identity. When that word is used differently, it can be for them a theft, a violation of that identity. Same for “abolitionist”. To some the word “abolish” doesn’t have the word “later” implied. When you refer to yourself as an abolitionist, I can see that, for some, it is a distortion of how they want to represent themselves.

    I don’t know what to do about the “divides” and I was disgusted by some of the trolls and flamers on that website critical of you. But someone has to take the high road, be humble enough to get into the heads of others and accept criticism, even harsh criticism and give a little, even though the other side seems thoroughly entrenched.

    1. Hey Paul, i think i have been as gracious and as patient as i could be (even if that may not have been very much at all). If anything, i should have done this earlier.
      Did i use the word fanatics somewhere?
      re. Identity, i think you or your finger on the downside of veganism as an identity. Maybe it shouldn’t be at all…

      1. Keep up the good work you do. I thank you for thinking for the animals first and not your personal ideologies. These people who criticised you – maybe they think they are superior than others. They just do this to feed their own egos.

        I listened to many of your talks and I am always inspired. I constantly have to remind myself not to be the nasty vegan. As a result I get to introduce many vegan foods to my friends and workmates. I see progresses, which wouldn’t happen if I act all superior and self righteous. And any progress, even if small, is still a progress.

        Please consider the impacts you have when you feel burn out. I am sure a lot of people are inspired by you and your work, even if you don’t see them.

    2. Hello,
      Isn’t it a big difference between harsh criticism and bullying (which includes lies, distortion of messages and defamation) ?
      I believe so. There’s then no “being humble”or taking any “high road” to be asked to the victim of such inacceptable behaviour. …

    3. Paul,

      The problem here is that people must comprise in this case, human and animal interests will always conflict and there is nothing we can do about that. Vegans in today’s world are able to live in a vegan bubble where they benefit from the actions of non-vegans (animal testing, killing of pest animals, animal byproducts used in agriculture etc) while arguing that one should never compromise. Purity isn’t even a serious question, the only real question is how we can do our best to limit our impact on animals and what that amounts to isn’t always clear.

      1. “Vegans in today’s world are able to live in a vegan bubble where they benefit from the actions of non-vegans (animal testing, killing of pest animals, animal byproducts used in agriculture etc) while arguing that one should never compromise.”

        Well, it is not our fault that animals are being tested on, others are being killed as pests, and everything is being polluted with animal byproducts. This has nothing to do with compromising.

        “Purity isn’t even a serious question, the only real question is how we can do our best to limit our impact on animals and what that amounts to isn’t always clear.”

        Our ideology should be pure and our arguments irrefutable. But when it comes to strategy in fighting for the rights of non-human animals, we must compromise to win battles, until, that is, we win the war. Also, limiting impact is not the goal of the animal rights movement but justice for animals. As long as we live, we will have impact on other species. There is no way out of it. But we should never use other species as means to our ends.

        1. Barbara,

          While its “not our fault”, my statement still holds. Vegans today live in a bubble where they reap the benefits of the actions of non-vegans while arguing against it. I think many would change their mind and start to compromise if they had to actually live with the consequences, its very easy to be against something abstractly.

          But when you say there is “no way out of it”, I think you’re admitting to compromise. Our interests will always conflict with other animals and if we granted animals “rights”, we’d have to routinely violate them.

        2. I am not a fan, but Gary Friancione had an excellent reply to your accusations. If you lived in a village where all the drinking water was carried into the village by children, and you were against child labor, what would you do? Would you die of thirst or would you drink the water and work towards ending child labor?

          You said, “Our interests will always conflict with other animals and if we granted animals “rights”, we’d have to routinely violate them.”

          I don’t understand. Please explain.

        3. Barbara,

          I’m not sure how that example relates to what I said, that is a case of a cultural tradition that can easily be changed. What I’m talking about are conflicts of interests between us and other animals, such conflicts are the result of us competing for the same space, animals exploiting human resources, etc Unlike conflicts of interests between people, no compromise can be made with animals. So if we grant animals rights, how exactly do we deal with such conflicts? Do we simply allow rodents to raid grain silos even if that means people will starve? How would we justify any human development? The problem with granting animals rights is that you’re giving rights to creatures that aren’t moral agents and as such they won’t reciprocate any rights to us.

          In any case, its really not clear what “animal rights advocates” have in mind…it just seems like empty rhetoric and its the driving force behind pushing for vegan purity. Once you acknowledge that we harm animals in a variety of ways, that our modern lifestyles have a variety of negative impacts on animals……insisting that people are pure in what they put in their mouth and wear doesn’t make much senses.

        4. Mr Toad,

          You said, “What I’m talking about are conflicts of interests between us and other animals, such conflicts are the result of us competing for the same space, animals exploiting human resources, etc.”

          This has nothing to do with animal rights. The animal rights theory says that animals have a right not to be used as a means to an end. That is all.

          “Unlike conflicts of interests between people, no compromise can be made with animals.”

          Again, this has nothing to do with animal rights, but we should try to compete fairly and seek solutions that would be best for us and other species.

          “So if we grant animals rights, how exactly do we deal with such conflicts?”

          Such conflicts have nothing to do with animal rights.

          “Do we simply allow rodents to raid grain silos even if that means people will starve?”

          We have a right to protect our food supply. We should try to find non-lethal solutions. But again, we would not be using rodents as means to our ends, whatever the solution.

          “How would we justify any human development?”

          Easy! Humans, as habitants of this planet, have the same right to compete for resources as all other species. I only hope we would do it fairly. Again, this has nothing to do with animal rights.

          “ The problem with granting animals rights is that you’re giving rights to creatures that aren’t moral agents and as such they won’t reciprocate any rights to us. “

          You can say the same thing about mentally ill humans, young children, and mentally underdeveloped humans. All these individuals, as well as non-human animals, are not moral agents, but they are moral patients.

          “In any case, its really not clear what “animal rights advocates” have in mind”

          It is clear that you have no clue what animal rights philosophy is. I suggest you read Gary Francione’s “Introduction to Animal Rights”. (Even if you don’t like him, his book explains animal rights very clearly).

          “…it just seems like empty rhetoric and its the driving force behind pushing for vegan purity.”

          You could not be more wrong. Again, familiarize yourself with the animal rights philosophy.

          “Once you acknowledge that we harm animals in a variety of ways, that our modern lifestyles have a variety of negative impacts on animals…”

          We harm humans too. For example, by driving your car, you contribute to global warming, and global warming will hurt people. Again, it has nothing to do with anyone’s rights.

          “…insisting that people are pure in what they put in their mouth and wear doesn’t make much senses.”

          The animal rights philosophy insists that you don’t use others merely as means to your ends.

        5. Tobias, I don’t know what movement you are in, but if you don’t believe that non-human animals have a right not to be used as means to our ends, or that killing them is murder, then you are not in the animal rights movement.

        6. Barbara,

          I brought up a variety of general questions about animal rights, where as you’re presenting a very specific view of animal rights and oddly asserting it as the only possible position one can have on animal rights. I find it ironic that you suggest I don’t know about animal rights but then talk about “animal rights theory”…..when there is no such thing. Animal rights is a field of inquiry and the people exploring it have a variety of views, the questions I asked are all relevant to the general question of animal rights and as such “that has nothing to do with animal rights” is a serious answer. The position of Gary Francione is one of many, but his position appears to be different than your proposal here.

          But let’s explore your specific proposal, you suggest that “animals have a right not to be used as a means to an end”. Firstly what is the scope of the term animals here? Are we to understand this as any member of the animal kingdom? A specific group of animals? Etc. Secondly let’s explore some of the consequences of this view. Under this view, an animal doesn’t have a right to life but only the right not to be used as a mean to some end. Bothered by the neighbors dog barking again? No problem….just walk over and kill it. Doing so, under your view, would not violate its rights. You claim that we should find non-lethal solutions to deal with rodents (really no such thing), but why? Killing rodents to protect our interests, under your view, doesn’t violate their rights so why should be try to lessen the impact of our actions? Under your proposal the use of animals for food would violate their rights but…..we could kill as many animals as we wish for getting in our way for any reason.

          There are certainly some humans that can’t reciprocate rights, but the only right these people have is a right to life and if these people tried to violate the rights of others they would be confined. So this is rather distinct from animals who aren’t moral agents, will never be moral agents…..and who routinely work against our interests.

        7. Mr. Toad,

          What other position on animal rights can there possibly be other than that animals should have rights?

          Yes, I do think you don’t know about animal rights since you think animal rights has something to do with competition for resources.

          It is not Gary Francione’s position, but also Tom Regan’s and many other animal rights theorists. It is also the position of the animals rights movement (hence the name “animal rights”).

          You said, “But let’s explore your specific proposal, you suggest that “animals have a right not to be used as a means to an end”. Firstly what is the scope of the term animals here?”

          The term “animals” means all non-human animals, all species of animals other than Homo sapiens.

          “Are we to understand this as any member of the animal kingdom?”

          Yes, except Homo sapiens.

          “Secondly let’s explore some of the consequences of this view. Under this view, an animal doesn’t have a right to life but only the right not to be used as a mean to some end.”

          If you kill an animal, it is assumed that you killed the animal for some purpose, hence you used the animal as a means to your end. It does not include killing animals in self-defense or killing animals by accident (same applies to killing humans, so there is no inconsistency here).

          “Bothered by the neighbors dog barking again? No problem….just walk over and kill it.”

          It would be killing as a means to your end. Your end being not having to listen to a dog barking.

          “Doing so, under your view, would not violate its rights.”

          Yes, it would, just as if you killed your neighbor because he played loud music.

          “You claim that we should find non-lethal solutions to deal with rodents (really no such thing), but why?”

          Of course there are such things: non-lethal trap-and-release traps, all kinds of repellents, making food inaccessible, etc. Why? Because why kill if we don’t have to?

          “Killing rodents to protect our interests, under your view, doesn’t violate their rights so why should be try to lessen the impact of our actions?”

          To minimize suffering. But that is another issue.

          “Under your proposal the use of animals for food would violate their rights but…..we could kill as many animals as we wish for getting in our way for any reason.”

          Accidental killing is not morally the same as deliberate killing. Ask any judge. But of course, accidental killing should be avoided as much as possible.

          “There are certainly some humans that can’t reciprocate rights, but the only right these people have is a right to life and if these people tried to violate the rights of others they would be confined.”

          No, that is not the only right they have. They have: liberty (if not a danger to themselves or others), bodily integrity (we can’t mutilate them for no reason), and self-determination if they are capable. But all these rights apply to non-human animals (except for domesticated ones).

          “So this is rather distinct from animals who aren’t moral agents, will never be moral agents…..and who routinely work against our interests.”

          Again, if there is a conflict of interest, that is a different matter than deliberately violating an animals’ rights. To avoid conflicts of interest as much as possible, I think we should designate some areas to be for animals only, such as national parks, etc.

        8. Barbara,

          There are a variety of philosophers that have written about animal rights, some deny that animals have rights while others think they do…..but they all have different ideas about exactly what this entails. There is simply not one “animal rights theory”, there are a variety of views which would become apparent if you read the literate.

          If you kill an animal because you found it bothersome you have not used the animal as “means to an end”, instead you’re reacting to the specific actions of the animal. Its no different than killing for “self-defense”, you could also say that “killing the animal was a means to keeping me safe from harm”. But that wouldn’t be right either.

          In terms my point about rodents, you’re avoiding the issue. Given what you’ve said you have absolutely no basis to suggest that we should try to limit how many rodents are killed by our actions, we could complete and utter wanton disregard for wild animals.
          Also, just to note, repellents don’t work well on rodents (they are too smart) and trap-and-release typically results in their death. You’re ripping the rodent from its social structure and putting it in an unfamiliar area where it may or may not have food, is vulnerable to predators, etc. You’ve just traded a longer more miserable death for a short and fast one.

          Someone that can’t reciprocate rights isn’t going to have the right to self-determination or liberty, after all, how do you give the right to self-determination to someone that can’t reciprocate the rights of others? They have the right to life (including bodily integrity) in virtue of being human and that is all. Animals, on the other hand, have no rights as they aren’t part of our moral community and never will be.

          Lastly, you changed your story. You said that “all these rights apply to non-human animals”….but if the right to life and bodily integrity apply to animals than all the questions I asked in my earlier post are relevant. Killing an animal due to a conflict of interest is not accidental, its a deliberate act that we wouldn’t allow in the case of human-to-human action unless one person was putting the others life at risk. For example, a developer would be charged with homicide if they razed a building knowingly had people in it. Should they also be charged for razing a building that had rats in it? If you gave animals the right to life….they would be.

          Also since you think all animal species have rights I wonder how you planto subsist. Insecticides, I reckon, would violate an insects right to life.

          So to return to my earlier comments, animal rights are largely incoherent and the incoherence arises from the fact that animals can’t reciprocate rights. They aren’t part of our moral community, animals are amoral.

        9. Mr. Toad,

          The modern animal rights movement started with the publication of Peter Singer’s “Animal Liberation”, so let’s not go back in time before that (unless you don’t count yourself as a member of the modern AR movement). Since then, there have been 2 other major works: Tom Regan’s “The Case for Animal Rights” and Gary Francione’s “Introduction to Animal Rights”. Only Singer denies rights to animals, in fact, he denies rights to everyone because he is a utilitarian. But the AR movement is not based on Singer’s theory. Even Singer is a member of The Great Ape Project, an organization that seeks to win rights for non-human great apes.

          You said, “If you kill an animal because you found it bothersome you have not used the animal as “means to an end”,”

          Yes, you would have, the end being the elimination of the source of your bother.

          “Its no different than killing for “self-defense”, “

          It is different. The animal did not threaten your life or bodily integrity.

          “you could also say that “killing the animal was a means to keeping me safe from harm”.”

          What harm?

          “Given what you’ve said you have absolutely no basis to suggest that we should try to limit how many rodents are killed by our actions, we could complete and utter wanton disregard for wild animals.”

          We have the same basis as making cars safer as to save as many human lives as possible.

          “Also, just to note, repellents don’t work well on rodents (they are too smart) and trap-and-release typically results in their death.”

          I have trapped and released rodents. Those traps work. There are many different kinds. Maybe not all of them work. What does intelligence have to do with anything here? If a repellent has a smell that rodents don’t like, or if it makes a bothersome noise, they will stay away.

          “ You’re ripping the rodent from its social structure and putting it in an unfamiliar area where it may or may not have food, is vulnerable to predators, etc. You’ve just traded a longer more miserable death for a short and fast one.”

          Don’t exaggerate. I trapped and released a couple of flying squirrels. I put them back where they belong, in the woods where they came from. And I did leave them some food.

          “Someone that can’t reciprocate rights isn’t going to have the right to self-determination or liberty, after all, how do you give the right to self-determination to someone that can’t reciprocate the rights of others?”

          The only individuals who cannot be given these rights are handicapped individuals and children. But healthy individuals should be able to survive on their own and make their own life decisions.

          “They have the right to life (including bodily integrity) in virtue of being human and that is all.”

          Why in virtue of being human? What does being human have to do with anything here? And no, not all humans can be given the right to bodily integrity or liberty. Some individuals can be restrained (if they exhibit a tendency to do harm to themselves) and locked up in hospitals.

          “Animals, on the other hand, have no rights as they aren’t part of our moral community and never will be.”

          So what are you even doing on this forum?
          Define “animals”. Would you say the same thing about Homo erectus or Homo habilis?
          As I said before, there are many humans (Homo sapiens), who are not part of our moral community because they are too young, or mentally sick or intellectually underdeveloped. Are you saying that it is OK to treat them as we now treat non-human animals?

          Killing, unless in self-defense or as an act of mercy, should never be deliberate. If there is a conflict of interest, the animals should be relocated, if at all possible. The same goes for humans. If a highway needs to be build where someone’s house stands, you don’t level the house along with people in it. You first move the people and then level the house and build a highway.

          “Insecticides, I reckon, would violate an insects right to life.”

          Ever hear of organic farming? I think we should move away from killing animals in order to produce our plant food.

          “animal rights are largely incoherent and the incoherence arises from the fact that animals can’t reciprocate rights.”

          There are humans, who can’t reciprocate rights, and yet you don’t argue that we strip them of all rights. Your argument is inconsistent.

          “They aren’t part of our moral community, animals are amoral.”

          Young children, mentally ill people, and intellectually handicapped people are also amoral.

      2. Barbara,

        Firstly it should be clear from what I’ve said that I’m not an animal rights advocate, I don’t think animals have rights and therefore there is nothing to advocate. Just keep in mind that denying animal rights isn’t the same as denying protections for animals. The animal rights movement didn’t start with Peter Singer because his view, which is consequentialist in nature, conflicts with the idea of rights. There is a large spectrum of views on animal rights in the philosophic community, vegans tend to only pay attention to people that argue something akin to veganism. Tom Regan and Gary Francione are by no means the only people to argue for animal rights, but even these two have distinct views.

        You’re trying to twist what it means to be a means to an end. As I pointed out, you could also view self-dense as a “means to an end” in this sense. Namely, you’re killing the animal as a means to keep yourself free from harm. This is no different than what you’ve claimed, the fact that one situation results in harm and the other just annoyance isn’t relevant to the way you’re interpreting “means to an end”. Your interpretation is so general that it applies to everything, as such its an entirely meaningless notion.

        And you still not addressing the issue of rodents, saying its the same as humans doesn’t answer the question. What exactly is the basis? The issue is that you’re talking about animal rights in a way that systematically denies wild animals any rights. So unless you’re going to add something else to the picture (which you’re trying to do by mentioning humans), you have no basis to object from the wanton disregard of wild animals.

        The fact that you’ve trapped and a released a rodent doesn’t address what I said, I wasn’t denying the possibility of trapping a rodent and releasing it somewhere else. What I pointed out is that trapping and releasing a rodent results in profound trauma to the rodent and typically results in their slow death from starvation or from a predator. Trap-and-release is a feel good measure, you release the animal and pretend that its going to live happily-ever-after. But my point here was just to describe one of the many conflicts of interest we have with other animals.

        Organic farming is by no means free of insecticides or the exploitation of insects, there are a variety of approved organic insecticides and organic farmers, just like non-organic ones, routinely exploit harvested bees for pollination. Including insects into our scope of moral concern results in incoherence.

        And, no, my argument isn’t inconsistent because I’ve never suggested that humans have natural rights. What I suggested is that human rights is a useful social construct that reduces the amount of violent conflicts between humans, but its only a useful social construct because humans as a whole can reciprocate such rights. The fact that there is a small part of the population that can’t reciprocate rights or can only partially reciprocate doesn’t impact its usefulness from a consequentialists perspective. Plus, we don’t give these people full rights in the first place.

        1. Regarding “animal rights” – Francione explains that the term “rights” is too broad and he made an attempt to define rights for his purposes. He also speaks of a gradation of “moral value” for animals which (implies to me anyway) a hierarchy of rights “granted” to animals.

          I have only read essays and listened to presentations of Francione, but the rights basis, as he presents it, seems thin and by assertion. It seems to me that the concept of rights (other than some form of “natural” rights) is purely a human construct and, as such, the concept of animal rights is totally at the whim of humans and society. If that is so, what is problematic with society assigning lawful rights to animals?

        2. Paul,

          Because rights, in this sense, becomes incoherent when applied to animals. Animals aren’t moral agents and can’t reciprocate rights, therefore there can be no social basis to establish rights. And since our interests inherently conflict with those of animals, we would be routinely violating their rights to achieve our interests.

          There is also the pragmatic matter of actually crafting laws, talking about “animal rights” is one thing but actually crafting laws that are actionable in courts is another.

          1. “Animals aren’t moral agents and can’t reciprocate rights, therefore there can be no social basis to establish rights.”

            Not sure if it was discussed already, but of course there’s the argument from marginal cases, where people who aren’t moral agents, including those who will never be (permanent vegetative state patiens or whatever) also have moral rights.

            1. I wish moral rights weren’t dependent upon human intellect. I’m afraid there will always be some human bias to the eligibility requirements when humans are deciding who gets accepted into the “you have rights” club. It’s a category created by humans in the first place; why should it and homo sapiens be the end all of deciding who gets rights?

              Of course, that is all wishful thinking and not the way the real world works in reality. What a wonderful world it would be if all beings mattered just by the virtue of simply existing.

              1. Here’s my further input now that I’ve had time to look through much of the discussion. I didn’t read everything since a lot was written, but I at least read everything addressed to myself.

                I am 100% in line with the One Step For Animals strategy statement that Christine shared, and just like Tobias said, why is it so imperative for me to close that 5% gap? Isn’t it better for more people to be 95% vegan than less people be 100% vegan?

                I’m participating in this conversation because I really want to speak up to vegans and try to share constructive ideas about being more inclusive with AR. For instance, the largest local AR group where I live doesn’t promote Meatless Mondays, because it sends a message that they condone eating meat the other 6 days a week when they really don’t. I understand staying true to your values, but from a realistic perspective, people change incrementally and not accepting people in transition or sending an “all-vegan or nothing” message turns people off. I can’t imagine there’s anything a vegan could say to persuade me to go 100% vegan. As someone on the other side, I think the absolute #1 thing that could benefit animals most is if the focus shifted away from becoming 100% vegan to simply a “plant-based lifestyle”. The term “vegan” emphasizes what people cannot have, while “plant-based” emphasizes what people can have and encompasses more than just food.

                How do I justify not being 100% vegan? First, I’m all about moderation. I have a class Mondays and Wednesdays on the 4th floor; in the 3 months that class has been in session, I’ve taken the elevator about 5 times. I only take the elevator when I’m just too damn tired. I’m like that with food. If I really, really want some cheese, I buy grass-fed cheese. If I really want eggs, I buy free-range or pasture-raised eggs. In the grand scheme, my buying a few dozen eggs and maybe 2lbs of cheese in a year is a very, very tiny drop in the bucket. I also justify it because I see dairy and eggs as coming from a symbiotic relationship when the animals are well cared for. Cows and chickens are domestic animals that require we care for them, and milk and eggs are something we can get in return. I don’t think meat is murder, but I also don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat it again; my beliefs are still evolving about that one.

                As far as my social context, my oldest friends and I are from very rural communities where fishing, hunting, and farming are deeply ingrained in the culture and economy. The farms are what most people think of when they hear “farm”: hundreds of acres for a herd of dairy cattle and sheep, a large coop and yard for the hens. My friends are still part of that community and still hunt and fish. I will not alienate my friends because they haven’t changed. Alienating them will accomplish nothing but prove that AR people are “crazy” and sever friendships I’ve had for over half my life. Of course I’ve informed them as tactfully as I can about AR, and wish they’d eat less animal products and not go to the zoo, but it’s up to them what they eat and what they do for entertainment.

                1. Jennifer –

                  I was struck by one of the points you made above. There are people who have grown up in very rural settings and have had a change of heart and gone vegan. If you invited one of your close friends to dinner and planned to served home-made ice cream for dessert. but discovered your friend had read about what really happens to grass-fed cows and, as a result, he or she decided to go vegan, would you feel insulted or in some way betrayed? Would you feel disconnected with that once good friend?

                  1. Hi Paul,
                    I think my friends and I are coming to a point where our ideologies are starting to conflict. Since this is something that has become a big part of my life on a personal level (as I said initially, I’m going into medicine to try to promote a healthier, plant-based diet with patients, which just so happens to help animals as well) it’s something I talk about, post of fb about, etc. This past weekend I was with part of my old group of friends. I was talking to one about visiting a sanctuary or shelter instead of going to the circus, and one of my other friends walked in and said “…and there’s your buzz kill” in an annoyed manner. When they talk about going to a steakhouse it’s “Oh, but I know you wouldn’t approve”, or when they went to the zoo it’s “you’re invited but I know you’re probably not interested”. I think they feel judged, and in a way I can’t help but ask myself “you’re good people, so why are you supporting these things?”

                    This really supports the basis of why I want to engage with vegans and try to give a broader sense of perspective… The vast majority of people don’t feel conflicted about eating meat. They don’t see it as murder. What I think bothers many people is the abject suffering in the process of getting the animals to the slaughterhouse, and that is what they’d rather not learn about or think about. They see animals as lesser and part of the food chain and here to be eaten, but they don’t think they should suffer for it. So, I think the reduction of suffering by eating less meat, dairy, and eggs is what should be the main focus of vegan campaigns and what will help the most animals quickest. There’s also the broader issues of animal testing, companion animal welfare, performance animals and zoos, etc.; these are all areas where people can be at least introduced to AR and even if they aren’t ready for the diet portion they can minimize their impact in these areas.

                    I’ve stated I don’t see an ethical or moral problem with eating dairy or eggs if it’s from grass-fed cows and pasture-raised eggs. Once in a while I’m going to eat eggs and cheese from a restaurant and they’re most often probably not humanely raised; I know it’s hypocritical but everyone’s a hypocrite, it’s part of being human. I don’t want to be dogmatic, or a martyr, which is how meat-eaters see vegans. This is as far as I’m going to go for the time being. So why are so many vegans obsessed with my last %5 to become vegan? What I’d like is to have my pretty substantial commitment accepted, and to be seen as an AR ally. I think a much better approach from vegans would be to say, “ok, I can see you know the vegan message, and to be most effective, to save the most animals, I’m going to move on.” To me that’s truly pragmatic.

                    1. for what it’s worth, jennifer, your perspective is appreciated and i think it is obvious that you are an ally. i would even go further than that, but i’d get too much flack 😉

                    2. Tobias,
                      In what way would you go further, what kind of flack do you think you’d receive, and from whom? I really see this as a huge issue that isn’t being discussed. What I’m trying to point out is the simple facts that:

                      1. It’s understood by most that no matter how committed, the vast majority of people change their lifestyles and beliefs slowly over time.

                      2. As a result of 1., if most meat eaters are going to become vegan, they will go through a lengthy transition period as a pescatarian and/or vegetarian.

                      3. Further more, most people shutdown on an intellectual level when they feel judged and will often give up when progress is ignored. “If it’s not good enough, then I’m not really doing any good, so what’s the point?”

                      4. Thus, many vegans disparaging Meatless Mondays and similar campaigns aimed at first reducing meat consumption is counter-productive. It sends a message that “your baby steps aren’t good enough – why aren’t you vegan already?”

                      I’m not trying to be confrontational, just direct. I think a lot of people in my position either lie about being vegetarian and say they’re vegan. Or when someone is confronted by vegans, and this person still eats meat but wants to help fight for better conditions for farm animals, they refuse to come out and say the simple truth that “I’m ok with an animal being killed” since they know it’ll be met with judgement and will cause the conversation to shutdown.

                      Tobias, you seem the most open-minded and accepting, and I profoundly thank you. For any other vegans still on this thread, I am wondering what your thoughts are?

                    3. Hi Jennifer,
                      I still need to read your replies, but I just wanted to thank you while I have a sec now for getting back to us with your thoughts. Thanks! 🙂

                    4. Hey again Jennifer,
                      I just wanted to jump in real quick again after glancing at your comment and I saw where you asked about what flack Tobias would receive. I’m pretty sure he meant that as the flack he would most probably get from the abolitionist community for considering you an ally.
                      I’m not sure if you’ve seen or heard of how some of them have pretty viciously attacked Tobias…as ridiculous as it is to me, some also chastise vegans for “fraternizing with the enemy” (a vegetarian, the horror! 😉 ).
                      I don’t mean to speak for Tobias, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant regarding the flack.

                    5. Hi Tobias,
                      Just want to chime in that I’m happy to have found your blog. You’re definitely spreading what I believe is the right message for the most impact. 🙂
                      Thank you for your compassion toward your fellow humans.

                    6. i agree with everything you say jennifer (although i have different opinions esp about milk of any source, but that is beside the point). I think everything you write here is to the point, and that makes you in my eyes a better ambassador for veganism than many “consistent” vegans.

                      what i meant by ” i would even go further” was that (maybe still depending on how often and how much animal products you consume) i think it might be beneficial for the movement and animals for the rest of us to consider you a vegan. that gets me a lot of flack, mainly by people who are more concerned about not creating confusion (ooooooh, the confusion! people won’t know! they’ll be lost!) than effect.
                      And yes, i think it IS a big issue in the movement. I’ve written about it on this blog many times.

                    7. Hi Tobias,
                      Thanks for clarifying, and I figured it would be from the hardliners that you’d be getting judgement.

                      I don’t feel comfortable calling myself vegan since my dairy and egg intake varies – sometimes I’ll eat vegan for a week or two, but I end up eating some dairy or eggs on most days; most often it’s butter on my toast or non-vegan cookies or chocolate. (Seriously, have you ever had a chocolate chip cookie from Subway? They’re amazing. People scoff, “really? Subway?” with a look of skepticism, but after they have them they realize how right I am!)

                      And I have a very hard time with any absolutes. I’ve met a number of lapsed vegans, and I don’t want to become one. I even still have smoked salmon or shrimp a few times a year, because dammit, I really, really like them. The thought of never again having something, no matter what it is, elicits an immediate and vehement “No!” from my brain.

                      How I describe my habits depends on the audience. At a restaurant I ask if there’s a vegetarian menu or what can be made vegetarian. If someone asks about my habits, I say “I eat vegan often, and support a lot of other causes that help animals, like cruelty-free cosmetics and household goods, don’t buy wool, and visit sanctuaries instead of zoos. Stuff like that.” Sometimes they ask why about the wool and zoos, and sometimes they just leave it at that, which is my clue to leave it at that as well. 🙂

                    8. Hmmm… after re-reading my reply, it was a bit much to rave about Subway cookies and ask if you’ve eaten them, so I must beg your pardon for my glib statement! 😛

                    9. Jennifer – the reason I asked my question in terms of what you would do if the tables were reversed is because I have a feeling this is not about veganism but the hard to hear truth concerning the nature of our friendships. When you discover that, in there minds, its really all about them and their guilt – it could be time to reevaluate and seek out addition friends.

                      I,as most vegans, struggle to maintain our integrity and at the same time, the social relationships that are so important to us. I don’t have the answer, but what works best for me is to always present my choice not to eat animal products in terms of “I” , with no hints of “you” at all. Just stating that I found eating animal products was seriously impacting MY health, or that the violence that animals go through is upsetting to ME – and leaving it at that – keeps the judgmental atmosphere too a low level.

                      If you don’t get invited to the circus or zoo, at least your friends are sensitive enough to have heard your wishes. You know the answer as to why “good people support these things?” – its been inbred into our culture. Its when they don’t support you in your choice that I would question their “goodness”.

                    10. Hey Jennifer,
                      I just had another thought…have you heard of Melanie Joy and her book, “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows”?
                      It focuses on “carnism”, “Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism, as “carn” means “flesh” or “of the flesh” and “ism” refers to a belief system.”
                      http://www.carnism.org/

                    11. what would “maintaining your integrity” consist of in this situation, paul?
                      i would say that ideally, a person like jennifer can still be her happy self around her omnivorous friends no matter what they eat, do or say (as long as she appreciates them as friends). it would be the best way to stay happy and have an impact, i think.

                    12. Tobias – Maintaining ones integrity in this case is being above board with ones beliefs. Its hard to tell from Jennifer’s comments, but, for me, if the her friend’s responses were as dismissive of her beliefs as she portrayed them, I would question their value as friends, and at least have a frank talk with them. Again, its not about veganism but respect for another’s beliefs. If this were a religion or race difference, we would not even be having this discussion.

                      I do think Jennifer owes it to herself to read more of the underlying reasons for going vegan, from all sides. She characterized herself as being hypocritical, and we all are to some extent as she points out. On the other hand, to have integrity on should face that internal hypocrisy at try to minimize it. Saying, ‘I know eating eggs and milk causes animal suffering and death, but I can’t help myself’, is more honest than justifying it in relation to how others eat.

                2. Hi once again Jennifer,

                  Thanks again for taking the time to comment, and I for one, welcome you as an ally. Even if you stayed right where you are as a vegetarian, I think you are far more likely and capable of helping to create more actual & tangible results for the animals than ten angry abolitionist vegans. Just as important, by being respectful of others, you aren’t going to add to the negative impression that’s been left in the wake of many “angry vegans”.

                  Here’s some of things you wrote about that caught my eye:

                  “I think the absolute #1 thing that could benefit animals most is if the focus shifted away from becoming 100% vegan to simply a “plant-based lifestyle”. The term “vegan” emphasizes what people cannot have, while “plant-based” emphasizes what people can have and encompasses more than just food.”

                  Two thumbs up from me! I think that’s really true in much of the general public’s eye…that “vegan” emphasizes what people cannot have. I think using the term “plant-based” instead holds tons of potential as far as getting away from the negative connotations people hold of being a vegan.

                  “My friends are still part of that community and still hunt and fish. I will not alienate my friends because they haven’t changed. Alienating them will accomplish nothing but prove that AR people are “crazy” and sever friendships I’ve had for over half my life. Of course I’ve informed them as tactfully as I can about AR, and wish they’d eat less animal products and not go to the zoo, but it’s up to them what they eat and what they do for entertainment.”

                  I also live in a rural area and know a lot of people who still hunt & fish, so I can really relate to this. I’ve only lived here for about ten years, so I don’t have any life-long friends here, but I also try not to alienate them, while still tactfully expressing my feelings and beliefs. They know I participate in AR demos and I’m fighting factory farming. I’m sure by remaining respectful to them, many are now at least much more interested and/or empathetic to AR issues than they would have been if I had behaved as the “angry vegan” towards them.

                  “I think they feel judged, and in a way I can’t help but ask myself “you’re good people, so why are you supporting these things?”

                  I’m not sure if you saw this
                  http://latestvegannews.com/psychology-researcher-offers-tips-for-positive-effective-vegan-advocacy/
                  but this explains a lot:
                  “…keep in mind that meat-eaters find vegetarianism and veganism psychologically threatening. This means that those who exploit animals will be resistant and are likely to push back. Be ready for this.”

                  and it continues with this good advice (although I get the impression you already know all this):

                  “Stay calm and be firm. Again, think of the animals, not you. It’s okay to also recognize the concerns of carnivores, along with their wants and desires. Chances are you used to have those same desires, and that you presently have loved ones in your life that hold those beliefs. Your role is one of enlightenment and support, not dominance.”

                  http://latestvegannews.com/psychology-researcher-offers-tips-for-positive-effective-vegan-advocacy/

                  “In the grand scheme, my buying a few dozen eggs and maybe 2lbs of cheese in a year is a very, very tiny drop in the bucket.”

                  In reply to that, I’ll quote One Step for Animals again:
                  “Our bottom line is not how many people we can convince to think exactly like we do, but how many fewer animals are suffering and dying. We would rather help three people start eating half as many animals than convince one person to be a strict and strident vegan.”

                  The only thing I’d mention about dairy in case you didn’t know is that the veal industry is supplied by calves from the dairy industry. Even if the cows are treated well & humanely, they still must be impregnated, and the calves, especially the males, are sold to the veal industry. And most dairy cows end up slaughtered for meat once they are considered “spent” after a couple years.

                  And the thing I’d mention about eggs, is that you may want to check to see where people get their chicks from. Chicks are routinely ordered and mailed in the regular mail as if they were simply a parcel. Also, the hatcheries that produce chicks for eggs have no need for the males and they are simply considered a by-product of doing business. Some of the most heart-wrenching undercover footage I’ve seen is at these hatcheries where the males are dropped off the end of conveyor belt into a grinding machine and they are ground up alive. Males are also gathered up into large trash bags or cans or dumpsters and just left to suffocate and die.

                  I’m not saying that happens with the suppliers you get your dairy & eggs from, but I just mentioned those things in case you wanted to look into them. A big difference can sometimes be made by concerned consumers when they show suppliers they are aware of these things and you’d like to know how they approach them, especially with smaller suppliers.

                  Ok, I think this reply is getting waaaaaaaaay toooooooooo loooooooooong!

                  Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Jennifer. The animals and I consider you to be a very good ally. 🙂

                  1. Christine –

                    Good advice, but I am curious as to why anyone would want to “cut down” on their animal consumption, other than for health-only reasons. I was trying to follow Jennifer’s rationale and thought process but had a hard time. Is it possible as an individual to have “partial compassion” for animals, feeling its ok to cause suffering some to the time?

                    When you quoted, “We would rather help three people start eating half as many animals than convince one person to be a strict and strident vegan.” it may be more fair to leave out the words “strict and strident”. A vegan, by definition, eats no meat, eggs or dairy. The implication is that vegans are strident and ineffective. I don’t believe I am either. Truly compassionate people, once they allow themselves to be informed on the suffering they personally cause, may find it easier and more free from internal conflict not to kill at all.

                    1. that isn’t logically implied at all. jennifer is saying (i think) that IF she had to choose between a three people at 50 % it is better than a strident vegan. I don’t see the problem with that phrase (and actually you could even leave the strident out, because in terms of numbers it would still be better).
                      And what about “partial compassion”? Do you mean that as a vegan, one is fully compassionate for animals? Or for humans, for that matter? Don’t we all make choices in our behaviour regarding human and animals? A lot of people being a stricter vegan than you could tell you you have only partial compassion. A lof of people concerned about all kinds of human rights or environmental issues and putting those concerns into practise could also say the same.
                      I call this the vegan fetish
                      http://veganstrategist.org/2015/09/25/the-fetish-of-being-vegan/

                    2. Tobias-

                      I see what you mean by “fetish” as inward-looking, but I think what you’ve done is generalize the meaning of my question beyond the intent.

                      I don’t see my personal choice to go vegan to conflict with any other external efforts I might make regarding the concern for animals. I accept the fact that people around me are non-vegan, but is my hiding or downplaying my choice somehow more effective?

                      I acknowledge that there are certainly “stricter” vegans that me but that line of strictness becomes more and more fuzzy until, as people in a society where animal products are ingrained in everything we do, its impossible to avoid without living in a bubble. But the line between killing 10 cows versus 1 in terms of what we eat is pretty distinct and encompasses all vegans. I recoil from any piece of flesh. One could easily contend that they only eat one tiny meatball per year and don’t regret the death of the cow that it was taken from. So that’s what I meant by “partial compassion” in this particular situation.

                    3. i know what you mean, and basically i could ask the same question as you are asking, wondering about if people care, how can they care 90% instead of all the way. but my comment was to explain that i think we all do that to some extent. and yes, some lines are harder than others, but still. i’m sure at least in the rest of our consumptionn there are areas where we care and areas where we don’t.

                    4. Paul – I appreciate your advice about my friends, and as I stated I try not to pass judgement and just give information when presented with the opportunity. I’ve known these people since college, I lived with one briefly when apartment hunting, and we generally see each other as family. I’m “Aunt Jen” to all their kids, and Godmother to one of their sons. So, our bonds are both strong and complicated, just like family.

                      But, I must ask you to still answer my question: why are you so concerned about my becoming a 100% vegan, and not more worried about the hundreds of millions in America (if you’re American) and billions across the world that consume meat daily? I’ve stated here clearly multiple times that I know a great deal about veganism and the animal agriculture industry, have thought a great deal about it, and have come to the conclusion that 95% is where I’m going to stay. And that’s regardless of what both my friends and vegans say.

                      I have to ask further – do you use any products tested on animals that aren’t prescription? Do you still buy any non-food animal goods? Do you have friends or relatives that do? If they bought leather once in a while (non-leather shoes are fricking hard to find, especially high heels), or store-brand shampoo (off-brands are almost never cruelty-free), would you repeatedly ask them how they can justify it, knowing that they mostly buy non-animal products?

                    5. Hi Paul,

                      You wrote, “When you quoted, “We would rather help three people start eating half as many animals than convince one person to be a strict and strident vegan.” it may be more fair to leave out the words “strict and strident”…The implication is that vegans are strident and ineffective.”

                      I have to admit that I never really gave serious thought regarding the adjectives of “strict and strident”, but now that I have, I agree with you. I’m thinking of contacting One Step for Animals just to run the idea by them, as I think you make a good point about the implication of that wording. Would it be ok if I shared what you wrote (anonymously if you prefer)? I know One Step’s current focus now is on reducing chicken consumption, but they would ideally like everybody to be vegan…so using those adjectives might be counter productive by leaving a negative impression of vegans.

                      You wrote this in regards to the conversation revolving around Jennifer, “Is it possible as an individual to have “partial compassion” for animals, feeling its ok to cause suffering some to the time?”

                      I started out exactly the same way as Jennifer did in many ways, which was first learning about factory farming. If I remember correctly, I think Jennifer said she converted straight to vegetarianism, but I continued to eat meat, dairy & eggs, but only if they were “humanely raised”.

                      So for me at least, I can say that I was living as an individual with ““partial compassion” for animals, feeling its ok to cause suffering some to the time”. I wasn’t necessarily comfortable with causing any suffering, but in comparison to factory farming in my mind, the “humanely raised” animals were living the high life. I used that to justify the animal products I continued to eat.

                      To back step and make a long story short, I went from omnivore to humanitarian to vegetarian to vegan, learning more and more about factory farming and AR issues along the way. After I stopped eat meat all together, I found I was actually becoming grossed out by meat and the thought of eating it. It wasn’t something I tried to do, it just seemed to come naturally after not eating for awhile.

                      So from my experience, I did start out having “partial compassion” for animals. But as time went on, I think I evolved in the way that a lot of people do when they go from omnivore to vegetarian to vegan. I think a lot of the evolving seems to just happen naturally along the way, such as developing a distaste for meat.

                      So, I may place too much stake in it because it was my own experience, but I think that if somebody is genuinely concerned about animals and that leads to changes in behavior, even if it’s not immediately vegan, eventually becoming vegan is the result that naturally follows.

                    6. Hi Christine – Thanks for considering my thoughts and feel free to share them. The words we use are so important and have connotations and send subliminal messages – some intended, some not.

                      Everyone has a different experience with going vegan. For me, after a heart CT scan I realized the food I was eating was killing me – I stopped instantly. No compassion or care for the plight of animals involved in that snap decision. It was spiritually cleansing though to know I was not participating in the massacre – even though I too believed in contented cows and happy clucking chickens. It took a year for me to become fully aware of the reality behind animal products – I am aware as I can bear to be at this point. So I don’t know how it feels to be driven by compassion to become vegan. I admire those who do more than those like myself who go vegan for personal reasons. On the other hand, It strikes me that we are animals too and, if we mistreat ourselves with unhealthy food, how can we then care about mistreating non-humans? The one thing that compassion has added to the mix is that I know I will never go back to animal products again, even if there is some magic pill that prevents the ill health effects of eating animal products.

                      Jennifer challenged me on my wanting people to go 100% vegan – isn’t 95% good enough. I have to answer that question with, why? Why, if you are aware of the devastation, should you continue to be part of it? It is true, as she pointed out, it is often hard to “give up” things that give us pleasure. I could be rude and say, “get a life!” but I do understand how hard it can be to let go. But, as most vegans know, there is more than enough pleasurable food out there as opposed to the same old, same old we grew up with. Its true, good vegan food is not as readily available but that is not the fault of the food. Its the fault of our culture not providing it and people being shy and complacent concerning their vegan preferences, constantly deferring to social pressure.

                      I believe as Jennifer absorbs more information as to the reality, she will find a way to overcome that last 5%.

                    7. Hi Paul,

                      Since it doesn’t seem like you’ll be replying to my question directly, I’ll just go ahead and reply to you post to Christine.

                      Why are you evading the other parts of my question, namely asking about other animal products and why you don’t see a better use of your time in advocating to omnivores? Can you please address that?

                      Also, I will never be able to give a satisfactory answer as to why I’ve chosen to remain as I am. I has nothing to do with knowledge: as I said, I’m well informed. So, I ask that you not reiterate that I am ignorant to some information that will change me, because I’m not. Please just answer the questions as I asked. I might not understand, but I’d really appreciate it, especially since I’ve done my best to answer you.

                    8. Jennifer, many vegans would expect of us, vegans, to try to convince you to go all the way. I don’t think that’s so important or useful, but a question: can you imagine a way in which people try to push you that you think would actually help?

                    9. Hi Jennifer-
                      I did want to reply to your question directly while responding to Christine’s message as well.

                      We live in a world completely saturated with animal products or the result of animal use so many of which we are not even aware of – medications, paint brushes, building materials, violin bows, etc etc. Everyone has to draw the line on what is knowable and doable. Will I not walk outside in the rain for fear of stepping on a worm? No. I don’t knowingly buy animal products or clothing. What I’m saying is that at some point we have to compromise – its not hypercritical.

                      Going vegan, for me, is not just an act of compassion but a statement to the world around me. Its so easy to absolve oneself from responsibility when the killing appears to be indirect. I’ve had people say,”its already dead, so why not eat it?” What I won’t do is claim to care about killing animals and then proceed to blatantly contradict that claim by my intentional behavior. I do the best I can.

                    10. Hi Paul,

                      Thank you for your response. I understand the expectation that Tobias stated, that it’s natural and ingrained for you to keep pushing for that last 5%. I think we can agree is that society is entirely permeated with animal products. Where I think the difference is, is that to me all animal products are equal – I don’t hold being vegetarian as more important than buying products not tested on animals or non-leather shoes. I also do my best to be responsible about the welfare of humans, such as supporting companies that pay a living wage, buying Fair Trade chocolate and coffee, and buying items manufactured in the US vs. Asia or Latin America.

                      Tobias, you asked: is there something someone could say to change my mind? As I stated previously, it’s simply no. I’m a science and math person, I think in terms of facts and statistics, and then I apply that objective information to my subjective experience. I’ve done vegan for a week or two at a time and it’s not feasible for me long term. I hate cooking; if I were independently wealthy and could afford to buy vegan meals everyday, or have a chef, that would be different. I also dislike a lot of vegan staples like mushrooms and tofu (yes, I’ve tried it lots of ways) and have always been a very picky eater. I’ve met ex-vegans and read about the high recidivism rate, and I know I’d eventually become part of that statistic. So no, I’m not happy that my favorite cookies use butter and eggs from animals living in sad conditions, but this is what I can live with. (As an aside, Barbara’s statement that I couldn’t think for myself actually did get to me a little, since I’m pretty much the definition of stubborn when I’ve made my mind up.)

                    11. Hi Jennifer –

                      I’m a science and math too – so that’s not factor 🙂
                      I am not “pushing” for that last 5%, just trying to understand the rationale behind people’s decisions. The problem in my mind is that as long as it is perfectly acceptable in our culture to exploit animals unnecessarily, they will be exploited. If it were illegal to eat meat, I am sure you wouldn’t be buying it on the black market and would find a way to make easy delicious vegan meals (there’s lots more to it than tofu). That vegan food is expensive is just plain not true.

                      As a suggestion, to give you a more satisfying experience when you are eating vegan food, I would recommend Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s (Joyfulvegan.com) books such as “30-day Vegan Challenge” and definitely here collection of podcasts (“Food for Thought”) on iTunes and SoundCloud. She is nonjudgmental and incredibly wise. Also if you are a science person, Nutritionfacts.org is a treasure trove of health studies on all aspects of food. You will be amazed at the healing and preventative power of plants even if you are not completely vegan.

                      So keep an open mind and keep learning – information is always a good thing.

                  2. Hi Christine,
                    Thanks for the support, and for more links, I’m saving them to a separate document. 🙂

                    I do share my preferences with grocers on occasion. Last time I bought cheese I went to a high-end grocery store and asked their cheese specialist which farms had the most humane conditions. She gave me good info, and said other people have asked the same questions.
                    When I don’t see certain brands of eggs, I’ll ask customer service if their store ever stocks them. I actually see this as a benefit of my still being vegetarian, since if I were vegan, suppliers wouldn’t care what I think because I’m not purchasing their product.

                    I’m glad that you’re able to see what I mean about being a rural population as well. Now imagine having grown up like that – I’ve helped butcher and pluck chickens, hunt and butcher deer and grouse, and would spend 6+ hours some days in the summer fishing. We never hunted or fished just for sport, and we never wasted any part of the animal. It put food on the table and passed the time, and was a way of life. I’d never do any of that again, but I’m not ashamed of it either.

      1. I have not read Francione’s books on animal rights but have read many posts and listened to him speak many times. It seems to me that “rights” is solely a human construct – what would they mean in the absence of humans?

        Francione does speak of a hierarchy of “moral value” which I take to mean the level of rights accorded and bestowed upon other species by humans in order for humans to be morally, ethically and logically consistent. While consistency is an impossible goal, without striving for it, human rights would also be meaningless and arbitrary.

        You refer to the “right of self-determination” – do you mean this to be the sole meaning of “rights”? The “right” not to experience human-inflicted death, suffering or exploitation unnecessarily is a “right” that does not include, self-determination. Why is this even being discussed re:non-humans? The ability to “reciprocate” seems to me to be irrelevant.

  16. I came upon a video of you speaking at an international animal rights conference. I’m pretty sure another vegan website or email had recommended it. I thought your insights and presentation were excellent and it really changed my perspective and approach with my family and friends. I forwarded it to another vegan activist as well and told her it was worth the hour to watch it.

      1. Tobias may want to answer, but I think it’s because his work is focused on helping animal activists to be the most effective activists they can. From the “About” section on this blog, it states, “This blog is mainly written with an audience of vegans/animal rights activists in mind….What I hope to do is to provide arguments why pragmatic and friendly activism and communication work.”

        It’s actually a good thing he doesn’t speak at meat eaters’ conferences, because we definitely don’t want them to be effective! 🙂

        1. But then who is going to talk to meat eaters? In fact, from my experience, vegans are scared of meat eaters. I was talking to meat eteaters on a meat eaters’ fan page on Facebook. There were 30,000 meat eaters there. I wanted other vegans to help me. I could hardly get any vegan to go there and post something.

          1. wow, I admire you Barbara for joining a meat eater’s group on FB! that can’t be easy. and it’s interesting that many of the people who so vociferously attack other vegans wouldn’t join you. so easy and safe to attack your fellow vegans – especially b/c veganism is founded on nonviolence – than engage the real opposition.

        2. I agree with Hillary, Barbara. But I also have to admit that I actually felt relief when I read, “I could hardly get any vegan to go there and post something”, because I’ve seen over and over again where when vegans do post something, the negativity and attacking from many vegans ends up reinforcing the negative stereotype of vegans and turning people off forever from anything to do with vegans.
          See this:
          http://kitchenette.jezebel.com/a-restaurant-owner-has-been-waging-an-online-war-with-v-1739249109

          Even if 75% of the comments from vegans are respectable & truthful & fair, the other 25% of negative and attacking comments overshadow the other 75% in the mind of the person(s) feeling attacked. I’m not saying that’s right, it’s just the way humans work. If somebody is attacking you, your guard goes up and you pay much more attention to it because it’s a threat, vs. people being respectful towards you.

          While we most definitely want to reach meat eaters, and I’d love to see respectful comments by vegans on a meat eater’s Facebook page, it scares me to think of how much damage could be done by negative vegans’ commenting.

          From my experience, if it came down to no comments from vegans at all or comments from all vegans, including the negative ones, I’d choose no comments at all. Once the damage is done by negative vegans, it’s almost completely irreparable and the ripples continue on.

          Better to have just a house to build as your task, rather than a house to build that’s now on a damaged foundation, as well.

          1. also, there’s a difference between outreaching to the general public of meat eaters (which is what I do, for example, when I table at the local farmers market and present at local health festivals) and going to a site where people are actively priding themselves and congregating based on their meat eating. the latter is going to be much tougher. I think it’s important work to go there and present good vegan values, but very hard work; and the reasonable goal would be to soften them up for future conversion, rather than to convert on the spot.

            also, a difference between talking to meat eaters in person versus online. online simply isn’t the best venue for convincing anyone of anything, esp. in crowds.

            1. “online simply isn’t the best venue for convincing anyone of anything, esp. in crowds.”
              Unless you want to convince people that not eating meat has caused you to lose your mind. I’ve seen plenty of people become convinced of that. 🙁

        3. Hillary, no it’s not difficult. I’ve been doing this for so long that I can do it in my sleep. And it’s not like I am there in person against 30,000 meat eaters. All I do is type. And I have all my arguments already prepared, so basically, I don’t even type but copy and paste. But you have to be able to ignore the insults they throw at you. I am so used to it that they just bounce off me. And I never stoop down to their level.

          1. “But you have to be able to ignore the insults they throw at you…And I never stoop down to their level.”
            Thank you for understanding how important those two things are, Barbara. 🙂

        4. Christine,

          From the article you posted:

          “Before we get into this, it’s incumbent upon me to point something out before the entire conversation surrounding this post devolves into a tiresome, eminently-predictable shitshow: the idea that vegans are all inherently terrible, judgmental, not very smart people isn’t based in any kind of objective reality. “All vegans are awful SO LET’S SHIT ON THEM” is frequently a trope meat-eaters* like to bust out for a variety of reasons, virtually all of which are ultimately both self-serving and self-aggrandizing. In reality, though, veganism is like everything else: the majority of its adherents are as relatively normal as anyone else. This post, however, is not about the majority of vegans. This post is about crazy, not particularly smart people and a restaurant owner whose singular joy in life appears to be to fuck with them as hard as possible.”

          You said, “Even if 75% of the comments from vegans are respectable & truthful & fair, the other 25% of negative and attacking comments overshadow the other 75% in the mind of the person(s) feeling attacked.”

          So what are you saying? That we should just all shut up because of a few bad apples? I only asked vegans, whom I knew, and knew that they will behave properly, to post.

          You wrote, “If somebody is attacking you, your guard goes up and you pay much more attention to it because it’s a threat, vs. people being respectful towards you.”

          Not I. Like I said, I let the insults bounce off me. I think about suffering animals, so me being insulted is nothing compared to their suffering. And also, unlike Tobias, I don’t think of these people as my friends, so I really don’t care what they think of me. I only care what they think of my arguments. But since they can’t refute my arguments, they attack me personally. I see it as a victory.

          I read those posts in the article. That is nothing! You should see what meat eaters post.

          “While we most definitely want to reach meat eaters, and I’d love to see respectful comments by vegans on a meat eater’s Facebook page, it scares me to think of how much damage could be done by negative vegans’ commenting.”

          So better just sit quietly and let them enjoy their meat?

          “From my experience, if it came down to no comments from vegans at all or comments from all vegans, including the negative ones, I’d choose no comments at all.”

          Well, that’s you. I will NOT sit quietly while billions of animals are being tortured and murdered just because some vegan might offend some meat eater.

          “Once the damage is done by negative vegans, it’s almost completely irreparable and the ripples continue on.”

          I disagree. It’s like judging all meat eaters by one meat eater’s comment. (Example: “The more animals suffer, the better, because then the meat will taste better.”)

          “Better to have just a house to build as your task, rather than a house to build that’s now on a damaged foundation, as well.”

          But you are saying that we should just be homeless.

          I don’t agree with you at all. Not doing anything because you don’t like how some vegans are doing it is a poor excuse for not doing anything. That’s even worse than what Francione is doing. At least he is doing something for animals while criticizing those vegans, who he thinks are not doing things correctly. But you don’t want to do anything at all.

        5. Hillary wrote, “also, there’s a difference between outreaching to the general public of meat eaters (which is what I do, for example, when I table at the local farmers market and present at local health festivals) and going to a site where people are actively priding themselves and congregating based on their meat eating. the latter is going to be much tougher.”

          I don’t care that it’s tougher. I am not afraid. I look at it as a great opportunity. With one just post I can reach thousands of people.

          “ I think it’s important work to go there and present good vegan values,”

          I present pro-animal rights arguments and scientific facts about meat and health; and meat and environmental degradation.

          “ but very hard work; “

          It’s not hard work, but even if it were, it’s no excuse for not doing it.

          “and the reasonable goal would be to soften them up for future conversion, rather than to convert on the spot.”

          If we can convert them, why not sooner than later, and why not with less work rather than more work?

          “also, a difference between talking to meat eaters in person versus online. online simply isn’t the best venue for convincing anyone of anything, esp. in crowds.”

          I disagree. Not all people are social butterflies. Some people prefer to debate online. You have no support for what you are claiming here.
          And if what you are claiming is true, why are we talking on this online forum?
          You and Christine are like Francione. I am doing something, which I think is very effective, and you criticize me and discourage me.

        6. Hillary and Christine, why don’t you just admit that you would be afraid to come to a forum where there were 30,000 meat eaters and that is why you are criticizing and discouraging me. You are covering up for your fear.

          1. Barbara,

            With all respect, I politely ask that you please don’t jump to conclusions. I’m not covering up for any fear. I’m not afraid to come to a forum where there were 30,000 meat eaters, and none of my comments were meant to criticize or discourage you; I was just stating my own personal thoughts & beliefs. I try to think about what I write before I write it, but I apologize if I somehow gave you the wrong impression.

            At this point it would be like unraveling a bowl of spaghetti to try and explain everything, especially as we “talking” through online comments instead of in person. So, I think I’ll step out of the conversation now, but I hope you’ll believe me when I say that I had no intentions of criticizing and/or discouraging you; I was simply stating my own personal thoughts & beliefs.

        7. Christine, what exactly do you mean by: “Unless you want to convince people that not eating meat has caused you to lose your mind. I’ve seen plenty of people become convinced of that.”

          I don’t see why we, vegans, should not use such great technology as the Internet. What are you suggesting? That we go back to standing on street corners and hand out leaflets? While that also is a legitimate form of activism, it is expensive and time consuming. On Facebook I can reach thousands of people with just one post, while if I wanted to hand out thousands of leaflets, it would take me months and cost thousands of dollars.

          1. Barbara,

            I’m not sure why you keep asking me “what are you suggesting?”. None of my comments contained the wording, “Barbara, here is a suggestion for you…”.

            Please know that my comments weren’t meant as suggestions for you or anybody else; they were merely my thoughts & beliefs. Perhaps this is where the miscommunication lies…somehow my comments are being interpreted and assumed to be suggestions by you. They are not.

            For the record and if it will help avoid any further misunderstandings, please know that that if any of my comments are suggestions, the comment will include the word “suggestion”.

        8. Christine said, “ I’m not afraid to come to a forum where there were 30,000 meat eaters,”

          Somehow I don’t believe you.

          “and none of my comments were meant to criticize or discourage you;”

          Oh really? What about this comment:
          “Unless you want to convince people that not eating meat has caused you to lose your mind. I’ve seen plenty of people become convinced of that.”

          “I was just stating my own personal thoughts & beliefs.”

          And I disagree with them. Bad apples can show up anywhere: protest, tabling, leafletting, etc. I don’t think we should stop everything what we are doing just because a few bad apples might show up.

          “…as we “talking” through online comments instead of in person. So, I think I’ll step out of the conversation now,”

          So you think we should take time off from work, buy plane tickets, and travel thousands of miles just to talk in person because the Internet is somehow not good enough for you.

          “I hope you’ll believe me when I say that I had no intentions of criticizing and/or discouraging you; I was simply stating my own personal thoughts & beliefs.”

          Yes, and your personal belief is that what I am doing is wrong, while you don’t even propose any alternatives (other than talking in person, which is not even doable because I don’t see 30,000 meat eaters coming to hear me speak in person.)

          1. Barbara,

            I’m sorry the conversation has taken this route and if it’s due in any way to how I chose to phrase and word my comments, I apologize.

            I politely ask you again not to jump to conclusions, however, such as “your personal belief is that what I am doing is wrong”. If my personal belief is what you are doing is wrong, then I’d write, “Barbara, my personal belief is what you are doing is wrong.”

            I wrote truthfully that I’m not afraid to come to a meat eater forum, but you have responded with, “Somehow I don’t believe you”. So, from my perspective there isn’t any point in attempting to discuss things with you, as you are going to believe whatever you want, no matter what I write.

            And as far as my comment, ““Unless you want to convince people that not eating meat has caused you to lose your mind. I’ve seen plenty of people become convinced of that.”
            it had a smiley face at the end and was meant as a joke in context to a previous comment.

            .

          2. Barbara,

            I’ve had another thought which I please ask you take a minute to read, as I think it might clear up some of the confusion regarding our conversation.

            I’m now wondering if part of the reason you might think I was addressing or making suggestions to you with my comments is because of the way the email updates showing new comments are formatted if you receive them.

            The way the email updates are formatted, it can appear that a person is responding to another person’s original comment, but they are in actuality responding to a totally different person’s comments in a string of comments after the original comment. It can get very confusing when there are lots of comments after the original comment

            For example, even though an email may say “in response to Hillary Rettig”, the comment may be for “Leone”, such as this example below which I’ve copied and pasted below from an email update I received.

            So, perhaps email updates you received showing new comments by me said they were “in response to Barbara I. Beil”, when my comments were actually in response to a completely different person and their comment.

            This may have been the case with the joke I was trying to make, which was in response to a comment by Hillary. But Barbara may have received an email update stating that the comment was “in response to Barbara I. Biel”, because Barbara was the original commenter.

            Barbara, I’m not sure if you get the email updates and if they created some confusion, but in any further comments I make, I will state to whom or whose comment I’m responding to.

            Here is the email I copied and pasted; you can see that it states “Barbara I. Beil commented” “in reponse to Hillary Rettig”, but Barbara’s comment is actually addressed to “Leone”:

            “Barbara I. Biel commented on The dark side of our movement – responses to criticism.

            in response to Hillary Rettig:

            some in the lgbt movement dislike the institution of marriage and deplore the whole push toward gay marriage. so it’s not as united as it seems. really, i think unification is not such an important goal. the other learning point is that the lgbt managed to not let the minority who were opposed to marriage […]

            Leone,

            I have lived in a communist country and animals were as much exploited there as in capitalist countries. So I don’t get these people.”

        9. Christine,

          You said, “As I’ve stated several times before, I was stating my own personal beliefs & feelings.”

          Well, don’t we all?

          “ I’m not sure why you would then assume I was making suggestions to you solely, and not to both you and Hillary.”

          Because Hillary is not the one posting on a 30,000 meat eaters’ fan page. I am.

          “Your understanding of what I intended is correct; the article illustrates how I have personally seen how vegans who don’t behave in a civilized manner are harmful to our movement by creating a negative impression of vegans in the general public. However, it appears you assumed and took that to mean that I also implied that no vegan should ever talk to meat eaters, or that we should be silent.”

          Well, what else could I have concluded?

          “ I stated that if vegans are going to be negative and confrontational, I think it would be better that they didn’t speak.”

          But where did this even come from? No one here said that vegans should be confrontational or negative (whatever that even means).

          “At this point, I’ve come to the impression that you aren’t really open to my explanations to you, as you’ve already stated you don’t believe me.”

          I am very much open to your explanation, except that so far you are not doing a very good job of it. As I have said to meat eaters over and over again, and I can say the same to any vegan or anyone; I don’t have to believe anyone and no one has to believe me. We are not talking about religion. We don’t have to take anything on faith. We have rational arguments and facts. Arguments can be analyzed and facts verified.

          Would you care to explain your joke?

          1. Barbara,
            In response…
            “Your understanding of what I intended is correct; the article illustrates how I have personally seen how vegans who don’t behave in a civilized manner are harmful to our movement by creating a negative impression of vegans in the general public. However, it appears you assumed and took that to mean that I also implied that no vegan should ever talk to meat eaters, or that we should be silent.”

            Well, what else could I have concluded?”

            My honest answer: nothing. The only thing that should be concluded from comments is what I said in my comments. .

            If I state that I don’t like the color blue, it’s incorrect to assume about how I feel about the color red.
            All you can correctly conclude from this is that I don’t like the color blue.

            To come to conclusions without the benefit of any other qualifiers is akin to making assumptions and jumping to those conclusions.

        1. Barbara –

          I think I owe you a couple of apologies. Sometimes when i answer complex questions on line I don’t give enough detail or perspective and that can come across as negative or judgy.

          1) During the discussion of misanthropy I said that it’s not a productive behavior, and I believe that. That doesn’t mean I don’t get where you’re coming from or sometimes feel that way myself, or that it’s not philosophically defensible. I do think it’s not a good starting point for activism. I do recommend (and others do too) that people with an interest in activism read sales and marketing literature, starting with How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Sales is one of humanity’s most established and studied and refined activities, and all sales literature says that it’s hard to influence people whom you don’t truly like or appreciate or feel a bond with. For the record, lots of activist literature says the same.

          I also think that, if one isn’t careful (not talking about you) misanthropy could bleed into a kind of self-contempt. We could also discuss whether misanthropy is justified, but that’s a much bigger conversation. But I do know where you’re coming from, and understand why.

          2) My comment on your online activism was too terse. If you are able to go onto a forum of 30,000 meat eaters and hold your own I totally respect that. If you are able to actually influence and convert people in that setting I respect that even more, and really urge you to share your techniques in an article or similar. All I meant that that was a VERY hard audience, and for a lot of activists – including myself – hanging out in a place like that would not the best use of time. (Partly because online communication is so tough!)

          So I sincerely apologize I came across negative and judgy. I am sure you’re doing terrific work and will continue to do so. You are obviously thinking a lot about your activism and willing to dialogue.

        2. Hillary,

          1) Misanthropy is not a behavior or any starting point but an emotion. I am not interested in winning friends. I influence people by presenting rational arguments and facts, as well as forcing people to examine their beliefs. People are free to either take it or leave it. (I have read the book you mention. I did not find it useful.) I recommend you read a few of Plato’s dialogues. (You can read them for free on Project Gutenberg). Animal rights is a philosophy, and it should be argued in a manner of philosophers, not salespeople. Salespeople have a bad reputation (being compared to a “used car salesmen” is an insult). They manipulate and trick people to earn commission.

          2) I have no problem arguing with meat eaters, even when there are 30,000 of them (provided they don’t all talk at once!). There is no way to know whether you have convinced someone or not because people’s egos will not allow them to admit they were wrong. However, I have at least once seen proof that I have influenced someone because he said it on another forum, where I accidently saw his comment. When I replied to it and said, “So I guess our discussion did you some good after all”, he got so embarrassed that he deleted his comment. My technique is the Socratic Method (as used by Socrates in Plato’s dialogues). Or I start out with my argument and then start the Socratic Method. (I sort of use this method now in this forum with Mr Toad, if you are looking for an example. Actually, Mr. Toad seems to be using it on me, but it works in either direction.). I am not scared of “hard audience”. I use the same method and the same arguments as with “easy audience” (whoever they are). I think forums such as meat eaters’ fan pages are the best use of our time because we can reach a very large number of meat eaters with minimum effort and practically for free.

          I am very much open to criticism, but it must be constructive criticism. You and Christine did not give me constructive criticism, but just criticism, which is more like a put down.

          1. Barbara,
            In response…
            “I am very much open to criticism, but it must be constructive criticism. You and Christine did not give me constructive criticism, but just criticism, which is more like a put down.”

            No criticism, no matter how constructive its intent is, can be constructive unless the person receiving the criticism is open to the criticism.

            However, I cannot recall any instances where I criticized you, constructively or otherwise; can you please provide example(s)? I know I’ve requested twice that you please not jump to conclusions, but that is the closest I know of that could be classified as criticism.

        3. Christine,

          Constructive criticism explains why something is wrong and how it can be corrected or done better. Neither yours nor Hillary’s criticism was of this nature.

          Again, you said that it is better not to speak up about veganism on public forums because it turns people off from veganism (or something to that effect).

      2. Christine,

        You presented an argument, and supported it by an article, that talking to meat eaters is harmful to our movement because there are vegans, who don’t behave in civilized manner. If my understanding is wrong, correct me.

        I don’t get your “joke”. A joke is supposed to be funny, and it can only be funny if it can be understood.

        I think you were talking to me because it was under my comment about my activism (namely debating with meat eaters on a Facebook page, that has 30,000 fans). And you were continuing this subject. Hillary was also in this thread and responding to the same thing. So if you responded to her, you also responded to me. It was all one conversation. It all started with me saying, what is the point of speaking at AR conferences and that we should be speaking at meat eaters’ conferences.

        1. Barbara,
          In response…
          “Hillary was also in this thread and responding to the same thing. So if you responded to her, you also responded to me.”
          As I’ve stated several times before, I was stating my own personal beliefs & feelings. I realize the email updates state “in response to…”, however, I did not intend to insinuate that any of my comments were suggestion(s) to you, or anybody else.
          However, if as you claim, I was responding to both you and Hillary, I’m not sure why you would then assume I was making suggestions to you solely, and not to both you and Hillary.

          “You presented an argument, and supported it by an article, that talking to meat eaters is harmful to our movement because there are vegans, who don’t behave in civilized manner. If my understanding is wrong, correct me.”
          Your understanding of what I intended is correct; the article illustrates how I have personally seen how vegans who don’t behave in a civilized manner are harmful to our movement by creating a negative impression of vegans in the general public.
          However, it appears you assumed and took that to mean that I also implied that no vegan should ever talk to meat eaters, or that we should be silent. I stated that if vegans are going to be negative and confrontational, I think it would be better that they didn’t speak.

          “I don’t get your “joke”. A joke is supposed to be funny, and it can only be funny if it can be understood.”
          At this point, I’ve come to the impression that you aren’t really open to my explanations to you, as you’ve already stated you don’t believe me. However, I’m sorry you didn’t get my joke or for any offense it caused you.

        2. Christine,

          You said, “As I’ve stated several times before, I was stating my own personal beliefs & feelings.”

          Well, don’t we all?

          “ I’m not sure why you would then assume I was making suggestions to you solely, and not to both you and Hillary.”

          Because Hillary is not the one posting on a 30,000 meat eaters’ fan page. I am.

          “Your understanding of what I intended is correct; the article illustrates how I have personally seen how vegans who don’t behave in a civilized manner are harmful to our movement by creating a negative impression of vegans in the general public. However, it appears you assumed and took that to mean that I also implied that no vegan should ever talk to meat eaters, or that we should be silent.”

          Well, what else could I have concluded?

          “ I stated that if vegans are going to be negative and confrontational, I think it would be better that they didn’t speak.”

          But where did this even come from? No one here said that vegans should be confrontational or negative (whatever that even means).

          “At this point, I’ve come to the impression that you aren’t really open to my explanations to you, as you’ve already stated you don’t believe me.”

          I am very much open to your explanation, except that so far you are not doing a very good job of it. As I have said to meat eaters over and over again, and I can say the same to any vegan or anyone; I don’t have to believe anyone and no one has to believe me. We are not talking about religion. We don’t have to take anything on faith. We have rational arguments and facts. Arguments can be analyzed and facts verified.

          Would you care to explain your joke?

          1. Barbara:
            Hillary and Christine, why don’t you just admit that you would be afraid to come to a forum where there were 30,000 meat eaters and that is why you are criticizing and discouraging me. You are covering up for your fear.

            Christine:
            Barbara, I’m not covering up for any fear. I’m not afraid to come to a forum where there were 30,000 meat eaters, and none of my comments were meant to criticize or discourage you.

            Barbara:
            Christine said, “ I’m not afraid to come to a forum where there were 30,000 meat eaters,”
            Somehow I don’t believe you.

            Christine:
            At this point, I’ve come to the impression that you aren’t really open to my explanations to you, as you’ve already stated you don’t believe me.

            Barbara:
            I am very much open to your explanation, except that so far you are not doing a very good job of it.
            ************************************************
            Barbara,

            If you can suggest someone who knows better than I do myself what it is that I’m thinking and feeling, please let me know. They will not only need the ability to read my mind, they will also need to know how to express my thoughts & feelings in a way that you will find satisfactory.
            Until such a person can be located, I’m going to take leave of the conversation.

          1. Barbara,
            In response to:
            “Christine, What is your point exactly? Who are you that I must believe everything you say without any evidence?”

            My point is that nobody, including you, knows better than I do myself what my own feelings are.
            If I state that I’m not afraid to go to a forum of meat eaters, who are you to judge differently?

  17. It would seem a simple solution to all of this is to disassociation from the vegan movement, once one isn’t associating with veganism and calling themselves vegan there isn’t anything to discuss. The only downside to this would be social involvement, that is, one wouldn’t be invited to vegan events much, there wouldn’t be the same sense of togetherness, etc……but its not clear how any of this promotes change in greater society. Does associating with veganism some how make one more effective? I would argue the opposite, as can be seen here, it can be a huge distraction.

      1. But why would that be a bad thing? If the strategy is to convert people one-by-one into vegans I can see how this would be a negative, but if the strategy is to slowly shift the way society thinks about and uses animals then it would perhaps be a good thing. I don’t consider the first to be a serious strategy, so I’m inclined to believe that the marginalization of veganism would overall be positive. To be frank, I think the only reason some resist the idea is that they are either socially involved or financially involved with the vegan brand.

        1. I disagree strenuously. We need a name for the destination. Also, a primary goal of any marketing / sales campaign – and activism is a form of marketing and sales – is to get people using your language – or adopting your “frame.” Once they do that they’ve started thinking your way, and you can continue the sale in incremental steps. (btw, I taught marketing and sales for many years, and write about it extensively in Part V of my book The Lifelong Activist, the entire text of which is available here http://www.lifelongactivist.com)

          So we need the word vegan and we want people using it as much as possible even if they’re using it imprecisely. We can – and should – work on the clarification, but the main goal is to have the concept normalized, and it is getting normalized. Just like the normalization of gay people led to incredibly rapid (compared to what was anticipated) acceptance of gay marriage, the normalization of veganism will lead to our biggest victories.

          You don’t see mainstream religions making people jump through hoops to join up. Anyone who wants to call themselves a Methodist, etc., is welcome. Ditto for political parties. And ditto for commercial brands.

          The people who make you jump through hoops before allowing you the privilege of using their brands are either the luxury brands (part of whose value is exclusivity) or brainwashers – like the military and cults.

        2. Hillary,

          While I agree with some of your comments about marketing, I don’t think that is the relevant frame of reference here because what we are dealing with in this case are a variety of cultural practices and beliefs. Propaganda is the tool one would use to influence the way people think and believe and its not clear how normalizing veganism would shift the way people thought animal use, meat, etc. This should just improve people’s views of vegans as people which would, at best, have a indirect influence on how people thought about the underlying issues. On the other hand I’d suggest that talking about veganism or any lofty end goal would be counter-productive because cultural shifts occur slowly in a piecemeal fashion. You’d want to focus on particular beliefs or practices and build a campaign to address each one. For example, building a campaign to change the way people think about protein so they no longer associate protein with meat.

          But I don’t think veganism should be a “destination”, but regardless of what you’re working towards you need to first dis-arm the variety of cultural factors that are working against you. Until you do that you’re going to be working against very powerful currents.

    1. I think we should have a unified movement, which we don’t have right now. To have a unified movement we would all have to agree on some main principles, and we don’t have that right now either. For example, some vegans claim that there is nothing wrong with using non-human animals as pets (Gary Yourofsky), and others argue that using animals as pets is a violation of their basic right not to be considered property (Gary Francione). (I’m with Francione on this one, BTW). So if we don’t even agree on what rights we are fighting for for animals, how can we agree on strategy or anything else?

      1. Barbara, I think you hit the nail on the head regarding the lack of agreed principles. I really feel that a lot of the animosity and infighting we see is due differing groups laying claim to the same title of “vegan”.

        It’s been proposed that more descriptive terms than just “vegan” be formulated to better reflect what category a vegan falls into, which I’m all for myself personally. But then the practicalities come up…it may just confuse non-vegans, since a lot of the general public isn’t even really sure what just plain “vegan” really means. Then there’s how would we come up with those categories & terms and who would do it? How would we introduce and incorporate them into society so that everybody knows what each category of vegan believes in?

        A hypothetical analogy would be like taking away the terms “Baptist”, “Catholic”, and “Methodist” and lumping them all into the same category of “Christian”. And in this analogy, a lot of the general public isn’t even quite sure what exactly “Christian” means.

        But going back to what you said, Barbara…I wholeheartedly agree that “if we don’t even agree on what rights we are fighting for for animals, how can we agree on strategy or anything else?”

        1. Maybe we should split into a few movements, like Christians did (well, not quite into that many groups as Christians). For example:

          Vegans: people who avoid consuming products derived from the exploitation of non-human animals

          Animal rights advocates: people who, besides being vegan, also believe that non-human animals should have basic rights such as life, liberty, bodily integrity and self determination

          Animal welfarists: people who think humans have a right to exploit other species of animals as long as they don’t torture them (?)

          But this still would not solve the problem because some people call themselves vegans, and don’t eat meat or any other animal products, but wear leather, for example.

          And there are people, who call themselves animal rights advocates, but see no problem with using non-human animals as “companions” (as they call them).

          I think there should be an official animal rights manifesto, and whoever does not agree with it, cannot call himself/herself an animal rights advocate. Currently we have 3 main manifestos, and they are all different: “Animal Liberation” by Peter Singer, “The Case for Animal Rights” by Tom Regan, and “Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?” by Gary Francione. The one that is closest to what most animal rights advocates believe is Francione’s book. Singer doesn’t advocate for rights but bases his theory on utilitarianism. Regan’s book is very difficult to read and understand, and it only argues for rights of mammals 1 year of age or older. Francione’s book is the best of the 3, but it argues from a lawyer’s point of view. I think it should be short, to the point, easy for everyone to understand, and argue for more than just the right not to be used as property (as Francione’s does). I don’t know of any such work. Do you?

        2. No, I don’t know of any such work, Barbara. All this has got me thinking that maybe a good idea would be to research just how the different Christian denominations actually became popularized. Maybe it would offer some analogy as to how that could be accomplished in our movement?

          While I think it would be a huge help if different categories for vegans were formulated and mainstreamed, when I start to really think about what that would take, I sadly have to accept that my limited time would probably be better spent on more direct work helping the animals.

          I can’t help but wonder, though, if there has ever been any real movement in vegan society to come up with and popularize different categories? Has anybody ever really attempted it? I need to do some googling… 🙂

        3. And then there are those, who call themselves animal rights advocates, but who put the most trivial human interests over the most basic rights of non-human animals. I have become so fed up with these advocates that I’ve stopped working with them and now basically work independently. For example, in my state there was a chance to get referendum (currently there is no right to have a referendum in my state), but some animal rights advocates were against it because they were afraid that gays and lesbians were going to lose their right to form civil unions (since then they got the right to marry). As you may know, the best animal protection laws have been passed through referendums in the United States. But in my state, we have not passed any such laws (except for one) because we have no way to do it and the politicians cave in to animal exploiters’ interests. Or they were against a law that anyone, who has over a certain number of animals would have to register and be inspected periodically by authorities. This would have been a great law to protect animals from animal hoarders. But these so-called “animal rights advocates” were against it because they said the law would violate people’s right to privacy (as if inspectors would come in the middle of the night!). So they put human right to privacy over non-human animals’ right not to be kept in deploring conditions, starved, denied veterinary care, etc. I am telling you, sometimes you just can’t help but get angry at some of these vegans.

        4. Barbara,

          The way you’re defining an animal welfarist isn’t serious, its just snide. An actual animal welfarist will reject the notion of “animal rights” so suggesting that they think humans have the “right” to exploit animals doesn’t make any sense.

        5. Tobias said, “I think most things will follow if we can achieve that we ate not eating them anymore.”

          But animals used in meat, dairy and egg industries are not the only animals who suffer. Animals in the hands of animal hoarders suffer as much, if not more, and suffer for longer. I cannot turn my back on these animals.

        6. Tobias, I was not going with Francione’s definition of “welfarist”. I was going with the classic definition. Besides, he uses the term “new welfarist”. Of course I don’t agree with him on this.

        7. Also, Tobias, I think we need to have a consistent ideology because, if you debate meat eaters, they will point out to you the inconsistencies. And the pet issue is one issue they see as inconsistent with the animal rights philosophy. Many vegans get stuck on this issue. And then meat eaters declare victory because an inconsistent ideology is a bad ideology. And I agree with them. We cannot grant rights to cows, pigs and chickens, but deny them to cats, dogs and hamsters. I always argue in favor of rights for all animals, no matter what species. (Of course, for domesticated animals, it means extinction.)

      2. Christine said, “… maybe a good idea would be to research just how the different Christian denominations actually became popularized.”

        Do you mean “polarized” instead of “popularized”?

        I think they are divided by geography (Ireland-Catholics, England-Protestants, etc.). That would not work for us.

        “…but wonder, though, if there has ever been any real movement in vegan society to come up with and popularize different categories? Has anybody ever really attempted it?”

        Why does it have to be popularized? As long as we have definitions, and they are accepted by current people, who call themselves vegans, all we would have to do is publish the definitions on the Internet.

        But that would not work either because then you would have activists dividing themselves by strategy, which is what is happening already.

      3. i don’t think unification is that important. i think we’re all mostly “rowing” in the same direction, and that’s what really counts. the idea of pets aka companion animals isn’t going away anytime soon, so while I think it’s okay for people to focus on it if that’s what they want, and to work to integrate it with other movement strands, putting a lot of effort into unification is both impractical and not the best use of resources.

  18. Barbara’s suggestion of an animal rights manifesto and anyone who doesn’t agree can’t call themselves an animal rights advocate – who would enforce that and how could it be enforced?

    1. I don’t know. How did they do it in other social movements? I am just throwing ideas out there. I know the feminist movement split in 2 not so long after it began. The LGBT movement seems to be pretty united.

      1. some in the lgbt movement dislike the institution of marriage and deplore the whole push toward gay marriage. so it’s not as united as it seems. really, i think unification is not such an important goal.

        the other learning point is that the lgbt managed to not let the minority who were opposed to marriage – who always themselves had the opportunity not to marry, after all – not derail what the overwhelming majority wanted.

        1. An animal rights movement that functioned without major rifts would have to be able to accomodate anti-capitalists and anarchists (who would be actually after animal liberation since they would regard “rights” as a problematic concept), it would have to accomodate direct action, and also militant direct action (ALFish), it would have to accomodate uncompromising SHAC-like campaigns as well as mainstream campaigning. But the one thing it could never be able to accomodate is Francione and Frabolitionism, because Francione and his most committed followers have no desire for any degree of compromise or accomodation – Frabolitionism is an our way or no way ideology. The list of people and groups attacked by Francione and his followers is considerable – Steve Best, David Szytbel, James McWilliams, DxE, ALF, etc, etc. And then there is the fall-outs between Francione and erstwhile Frabolitionists – for example Sarah Woodcock and TAVS – where they have not kept 100% in line. Anyone working to build a more integrated movement, who becomes publicly prominent, will be attacked as Tobias has been attacked.

          I would add that the first thing a move to build a more integrated movement will have to address is veganism itself. The moral campaign/crusade that is veganism as a strategy will always be divisive.

        2. Leone, I have no problem accommodating anti-capitalists and anarchists, but if they don’t want to fight for legal rights for non-human animals, then I don’t understand what they are fighting for. Even if they liberate all animals, what is there to stop people from enslaving them again?

          I have no problem with any campaign as long as it is actually working toward our goal, even if an intermediate goal.

          The problem with Francione and his followers is that most of the time they are not campaigning for animals but against other activists. So they would definitely have to be a separate branch. If they want to fight for animals without any compromise, that’s fine with me, but so far I have not seen anything significant that they have achieved with this strategy. But again, I would not stop them. I just wish they would lay off other activists.

          I don’t think veganism itself needs to be addressed. To me it’s pretty simple: avoid consuming products derived from the exploitation of non-human animals. More important to me is defining the animal rights ideology. We are clearly not on the same page when it comes to what rights non-human animals should have (if any), and also how to argue for these rights.

        3. Leone,

          I have lived in a communist country and animals were as much exploited there as in capitalist countries. So I don’t get these people.

          As for veganism, I suppose someone could be a meat eater and still fight for animal rights, just like Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner but fought against slavery. But try to explain that to most people. It just would not fly. I think all animal rights advocates should be vegans.

          I will check out “Boycott Veganism”.

  19. Hey Tobias,

    You certainly do a lot more than I do, as I don’t devote a blog/career to veganism (yet). But don’t you think this is quite rich coming from you? You spend quite a lot of time bashing other vegan activists, it’s only logical that when you do that so often – it will come back around to you.

    I don’t hear you worrying about ‘a person behind behind a blog’ when you bash Francione et al. It works both ways, man. Not coming here to fight, just an angle I hope you consider.

    1. anthony, i see it like i’m criticising a person who is continually abusing others. something that should be done, rather than avoided. it is not the same thing, in my humble opnion, but i understand that people who are not familiar with GLF’s nastiness would differ in opinion.

    2. We must discriminate between criticism of people’s ideas, however vigorous and blunt, and addressing their behaviour when that behaviour is bullying and intimidating. For example, I have called Francione a moral crusader – this is derived from his ideas. I have also called him an ideologue – this is derived from the fact that I can see no evidence of willingness to reconsider ideas or to temper them in any way. All this is different from someone sneering that Francione is, in some way, in it for the money. If you visit Francione’s Fb page you will see him or his closest followers doing that sort of thing. A put down of James McWilliams at one point was that he was, allegedly, in a minor academic post and was simply trying to push his book to make some money. If people subjected to that kind of abuse can’t refute it, and if that kind of behaviour isn’t called out, then people perpetrating it can act with impunity. Not “bashing” those who have ulterior motives to be abusive won’t stop them – committed Frabolitionists are motivated by seeking complete dominance for Frabolitionism, which is an our way or no way ideology.

  20. I agree with Hillary – terminology is critical.
    We need Malcolm X and MLK
    This blog is supposedly about strategy – if we refuse to understand the POV of different factions and focus on taking umbrage, i’m not sure that is a great strategy.
    There is a spectrum between wanting an ultimate goal right now versus incrementally. Each end of the spectrum may indeed be making it more difficult for the other approach. I think it is therefore important to have these identities: abolitionist, incrementalist, reductionist, new-welfarist, etc., and to work within the identity you feel closest with but be willing to shift or even straddle as you see fit.

    1. Paul – I don’t have a problem with people taking different approaches, in fact I am sympathetic to pluralism in a movement, which would foster an overall strategy with a diversity of tactics. But you ain’t going to get any shifting or straddling from Francione. And, btw, “new welfarist” isn’t anyone’s identity, it is a pejorative term created by Francione to discredit a load of people. And also, incrementalists and others are often abolitionist – I feel your list where there is abolitionists and then different groups is implying that Frabolitionists are THE abolitionists. It is perfectly possible to understand POV and know there is no meeting point – inability to do that or inwillingness is a liability.

      1. I didn’t interpret “new welfarist” as a pejorative term but rather a strategy that Francione disagrees with. Maybe he is being disingenuous by making the distinction between historical animal welfare advocates and a revised philosophy which focuses on treatment. I have to admit that some of the terminology Francione uses is not self-evident to me, but on the other hand, I can clearly see the inconsistency to both applaud reduced suffering and at the same time claiming to want to abolish animal exploitation altogether. I think the bedfellows are way too strange for my tastes.

        Francione sometimes claims that it not about compassion or suffering, but “use”. I don’t believe him – it seems to me that a great deal of his arguments hinge on tapping into an innate compassion rather than the abstract notion of use.

        1. Paul – when Francione says it is about use take him seriously. Use is consistent with one-step abolitionism, that is abolish use and you abolish everything. Also Francione repeatedly says that it isn’t about compassion, it’s about justice. Justice is an abstract concept that also fits one-step abolitionism, by achieving justice you right the fundamental wrong and create a general solution. Compassion, by contrast, tends to be particular and contextual, wanting to relieve this person’s suffering now – and that plays into welfare reforms. I always give Francione the credit that he has thought out everything he says that relates to theory and strategy.

      2. I try to pick and choose the concepts which, for me, make sense, are simple to grasp, and just feel right at a gut level. Some of what Francione espouses matches that criteria. On the other hand, I don’t find his message to be particularly succinct and transparent as he may claim. He uses the term “moral value” as if it is an intuitive concept – to me it is somewhat circular. He claims animal rights is not about compassion – I don’t believe he really believes that once you get passed the legal scholar shtick. The first thing he does in his lectures is to attempt to extend the compassion we feel towards certain animals to all sentient creatures. He uses compassion as the cement which binds together his tenets. I do think his observations on hypocrisy and counterproductive impacts of inconsistent and mixed messages make sense. People hear the words but also respond to the “optics” of how we approach animal exploitation issues. He may make it appear that his is a one-step approach, but when he describes his interactions with non-vegans they certainly sound more nuanced to me.

        Fortunately I am not, nor will I ever be a high profile figure in the animal rights movement. I haven’t had my ego bruised or my efforts dismissed and disparaged. I see for some the wounds may have forced them to be in a reactive mode – a waste of energy I think.

        1. paul, you may think that the people who react to glf do so in a reactive mode, but let me tell you, most people who get attacked don’t react back, because 1. they know it’s little use and 2. because they don’t want to be divisive. and also 3. because for external listeners who don’t know the whole story, reacting might seem childish etc.
          Personally, i have critized him for his attacks on others, before he started to attack me. i’m not responding to attacks on me, i’m just interested in showing external readers what a deplorable non-asset he is for the movement, especially because of his criticizing and his really unproductive approach.

          1. Tobias –
            For better or for worse, Francione has caught my attention and shed new light on my engagement with veganism. So I see that as productive. Maybe “external listeners” can’t separate the wheat from the chaff and may go down the sycophant road, but that has to be a minority. I also see his as a small voice amid the overwhelming chorus of voices (and funding) promoting the more utilitarian approach he abhors. This infighting among advocates, in some ways, may be more instructional for the external listener since the gloves are off. Is civil debate the only useful form of discourse?

            In the end, have characters really been assassinated? If one is going to be a visible public advocate, doesn’t invective come with the territory?

  21. Barbara – anti-capitalists and anarchists (especially) would be less sympathetic to rights because they take a politically systemic approach. So, from that perspective, animal exploitation arises from an exploitative system. Anti-capitalists would argue that capitalism , which is fundamentally exploitative must be addressed to truly liberate animals. When I said about addressing veganism I was thinking of what is its place in a movement for animal rights/liberation. I am sure many here have read the piece “Boycott Veganism”, which severely questions the role of veganism in movement-building.

    1. Leone,

      I have lived in a communist country and animals were as much exploited there as in capitalist countries. So I don’t get these people.

      As for veganism, I suppose someone could be a meat eater and still fight for animal rights, just like Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner but fought against slavery. But try to explain that to most people. It just would not fly. I think all animal rights advocates should be vegans.

      I will check out “Boycott Veganism”.

      1. Barbara – communist countries offer no example of what anti-capitalist animal liberation would be like since they are based on, or operate, ideological positions that do not include anything approaching animal rights or liberation. Furthermore the example of communist countries does not negate that capitalism is an exploitative system, which, one can argue, can not stop exploiting people, let alone non-human animals. As for the contradiction of promoting animals rights and not being vegan, that, one can argue, is only a problem if the two have been already been presented as inseparable, and if it is assumed necessary to be vegan on the individual level to work for an animal rights/liberation future that entails veganism on the mass level.

        1. Leone,
          Then give me an example.
          Of course veganism and animal rights are inseparable. You cannot kill and eat animals and claim that animals have a right to life. You CAN work for animal rights while violating animal rights, but you won’t be very effective because people will see you as a hypocrite.

        2. Barbara – re. being a non-vegan individual in the present and working for future animal rights that entails veganism at a mass level, people argue that many campaigns do not require consumption changes by individuals for that person to qualify as an activist, e.g. that the individual should not buy anything produced in a sweatshop if they are going to be part of the campaign against sweatshops. The charge of hypocrisy only occurs when the campaign is a campaign to change individual behaviour rather than a campaign directly about legal or political changes. As for capitalists not pointing guns at people’s heads to make them eat meat, I am not clear how that illustrates the effect of a socio-political system that is now global.

        3. Leone,

          Legal and political changes start at individual level, and can only be possible if the majority of individuals agree with that change.

          “As for capitalists not pointing guns at people’s heads to make them eat meat, I am not clear how that illustrates the effect of a socio-political system that is now global.”

          The global social-political system is made up of individuals, each individual being morally responsible for his/her actions.

        4. “Legal and political changes start at individual level, and can only be possible if the majority of individuals agree with that change.” Is that really how it works? Let us take the example of UK. In the UK one can only vote for one of the candidates who stands in your parliamentry constituency – so, if you want to vote for Party X, and there is no Party X candidate, then you can’t vote for Party X. Then, seats in the House of Commons are allotted according to constituencies won, not on share of national vote. Then, you have no control over how your Member of Parliament votes. Your Member of Parliament, however, is likely to be very influenced by what her party favours, and in Parliament there are certain MPs of each party known as “whips”, whose job is to keep other MPs toeing the party like. Political parties are very influenced by who is funding them. Have I painted the picture sufficiently? If you really want individuals being responsible and making decisions, you need to look at anarchism, which would abolish all heirarchy.

          “The global social-political system is made up of individuals, each individual being morally responsible for his/her actions”. I do not think that a poor person in India involved in the horrible leather industry should be held to account morally – are we really asking such a person to be hungry and destitute so as to fulfil their “moral” responsibility? Why don’t we look at the system instead?

  22. Paul: insisting on that point doesn’t make it true 🙂 You had already written above: “To some the word “abolish” doesn’t have the word “later” implied. When you refer to yourself as an abolitionist, I can see that, for some, it is a distortion of how they want to represent themselves.”

    All types of abolitionists want abolition right now. It’s the assessment of reality that leads people to the conclusion that it’s simply not going to happen anytime soon – I know of no “moral baseline abolitionist” who does not also acknowledge this. The main divergence is on how to get there.

    I think it is not worth pursuing the line that there must be some substantial difference in the meaning of “abolition” when used by the different groups because there isn’t 🙂

    1. Francine wants abolitionism to be also about strategy, so some actions and strategies would not be abolitionist in that sense. Yet the original meaning of the word abolitionist concerns an aim, not a method

      1. While many poo-poo his slavery analogy – I do believe it does apply in terms of strategy used. It may be that slavery “reductionist” efforts were attempted in the 1800’s but my impression is that one was usually anti-slavery or pro. It was a moral issue ( I know for some, like Northern labor unions, there may have been some twisted economic rationals – competing with “free” labor – but I believe these are esoteric situations). It seems that the underlying presumption behind a reductionist animal treatment approach is not that it won’t happen “anytime soon”, but probably never and the best we can do is reduce suffering. It may be that Francione cannot tolerate the notion that human nature may be so fatally flawed. If it is, his approach falls apart.

        1. Abolitionists also worked to end lynching. But that was not their end goal. Similarly, we can work to end some forms of cruelty, but that will not be our end goal. Francione believes that ending some forms of cruelty will impede the final goal. I don’t agree with him. But in any case, we have no right to subject the animals of today to horrible suffering if we can stop it for the sake of animal liberation of animals of tomorrow.

        2. Paul – the C19th slavery analogy is a red herring. Whatever the abolitionists strategy, slavery in the US ended as a result of a war, the exigencies of which had made slavery itself more and more of an issue, and that war itself began about economic politics. Anti-slavery abolitionism is, therefore, an academic point. The only reason I can think of why Francione and Frabolitionists go on about it, is that they are desperate for one legitimising historical instance.

        3. Barbara – Yes, of course acute instances of cruelty need to be addressed. It is the long term chronic state of institutionalized exploitation that shouldn’t be given the same tactical treatment that applies to “outside the norm” acts. Single issue campaigns can serve the purpose of demonstrating the extent of animal exploitation. I think its a misinterpretation to say, “Francione believes that ending some forms of cruelty will impede the final goal.” As I understand him, he is against devoting energy to those campaigns that could be spent on the overall strategy. (Maybe he contradicts himself at times, I don’t scrutinize his every word.)

          Leon – I think you are overstating your objection. I can believe that abolitionism wasn’t the driving force that ended slavery, but it was the moral engine, the critical mass, that kept it on the table to be used by the special interests. And, guess, what? Slavery was abolished in the end. If slavery was morally acceptable, do you think the Civil War would have ended it?

        4. Paul – Francione is absolutely clear about his opposition to single issue campaigns. Francione is also very clear in his opposition to any reform or legislation that seeks to remove or reduce a particular form of animal suffering. His reasons for this stance are not just a concern about directing energy away from overall strategy (and you putting it that way implies that reform can not be a part of overall strategy, while many non-Fr abolitionists think it can). Francione, indeed, is clear that reform shores up the status quo, because it accepts, albeit for the moment, the property and use status of animals. Barbara, then, is on firm ground to say that Francione “believes that ending some forms of cruelty will impede the final goal”.

          “Leon (sic)– I think you are overstating your objection. I can believe that abolitionism wasn’t the driving force that ended slavery, but it was the moral engine, the critical mass, that kept it on the table to be used by the special interests. And, guess, what? Slavery was abolished in the end. If slavery was morally acceptable, do you think the Civil War would have ended it?” Your moral engine, Paul, could have worn itself out without achieving anything if history hadn’t stepped in, and that is the important point. In your comment above you relegated the free labour issue to an “esoteric situation” to do with some groups with “twisted economic rationals”. The free labour issue did more to light the fuse than abolitionism, in the sense of its important contribution to the outbreak of war. Where you are quite right is that abolitionism put the case against slavery into the general culture. But it was the exigencies of war that progressed anti-slavery politically. Your final sentence – “if slavery was morally acceptable, do you think the Civil War would have ended it?” – sounds strange to me. Let me ask you, if the war hadn’t progressed anti-slavery politically, do you think the moral issue would still have brought the end of slavery in 1865? My point is simple – moral campaigns do not change history, they have to ride it, moral campaigns do not change societies, social-economic-political changes make use of them.

          1. Leone –

            When you say –

            “Barbara, then, is on firm ground to say that Francione “believes that ending some forms of cruelty will impede the final goal”. That doesn’t ring true. Isn’t it more accurate to say that devoting energy, resources and focus on ending some forms of cruelty will impede the final goal? You can’t be implying that he is using cruelty towards animals as a cold and calculated strategy.

            You said, “Your moral engine, Paul, could have worn itself out without achieving anything if history hadn’t stepped in, and that is the important point…. The free labour issue did more to light the fuse than abolitionism, in the sense of its important contribution to the outbreak of war.” I certainly am not qualified get into a scholarly debate on the causes of the Civil War, but abolitionism was a firmly entrenched concept, a rallying point that, yes could be exploited by other interests who themselves want to “ride” the moral bandwagon. The moral aspect acts as a social ratchet that inexorably guides history toward an end – sometimes riding it and sometimes driving it. That was the basis for my “strange” question: “if slavery was morally acceptable, do you think the Civil War would have ended it?” Maybe the labor interests in the North would have forced an end but for how long? Sounds like a “chemotherapeutic” solution – did the poison really kill all of the cancer cells? That’s why we couch cancer “cure” in terms of 5-year survival rates.

            So when you assert, “My point is simple – moral campaigns do not change history, they have to ride it, moral campaigns do not change societies, social-economic-political changes make use of them.” I am confused, it seems contradictory – moral campaigns don’t change history but they are used to change history? The driving forces in feedback loops can’t be examined in isolation for cause and effect – but if one turns off a force, the whole process collapses.

            As an aside, Francione repeats that the “happy meat” trend in the industry is actually economically driven – there are cost saving and PR advantages to cage-free eggs and free-range chickens. This ‘economic change’ will not lead to abolition of animal use – that would be economic suicide.

        5. Paul – re. Francione and reform, I repeat that he is clearly opposed to all reforms. So in this sense Barbara is right to say he is against ending some forms of cruelty. I repeat one of his main reasons is that reform at this time works within the property and use status of animals. Neither Barbara’s particular statement nor what I have said claim that he is using cruelty as a strategy – how do you jump to that? What can be proposed, however, is that his position is one that ideologically accepts animal suffering in the present in the name of total abolition in the future. In my opinion, only a person who thinks they are 100pc right in their ideas could think this is a moral position.

          I have allowed that anti-slavery abolitionism made an essential contribution by putting anti-slavery into the general culture. But the crucial step was for anti-slavery to progress as a political issue, and that happened as a result of the war. Anti-slavery seen as a moral social rachet that “inexorably” guided this particular history to its end, sounds almost mystical to me, like the will of God working through the affairs of mankind. Consider whether anti-slavery would have achieved abolition in 1865 if it hadn’t progressed as a political issue – there was anyway plenty of people in the North still willing to tolerate slavery so long as the Union was preserved. And consider this – the South got so desperate for men, that there was voices there willing to shift on slavery so as to make slaves into soldiers: do you think morality was guiding history to its end there too? And as for your idea that morality achieved a surer abolition than that that would have arisen simply from interest groups in the North unenlightened by Clio-morality, look what happened after abolition in the South, much of the black population reduced to third-class, segregated, disenfranchised, virtual serfs. I think I’m going to stick with the actual history and the politics, Paul.

        6. Paul,

          “Yes, of course acute instances of cruelty need to be addressed.”

          I agree, but that is not what Francione thinks.

          “ It is the long term chronic state of institutionalized exploitation that shouldn’t be given the same tactical treatment that applies to “outside the norm” acts.”

          The long term chronic state of institutionalized exploitation can only be changed by changing individual minds, and then legislatively when we have the majority on our side. This will take a long time, and in the meantime, we should not allow animals to suffer if we can stop it quickly.

          “Single issue campaigns can serve the purpose of demonstrating the extent of animal exploitation.”

          Maybe, but I think the main point of them is to stop the worst suffering now.

          “ I think its a misinterpretation to say, “Francione believes that ending some forms of cruelty will impede the final goal.” As I understand him, he is against devoting energy to those campaigns that could be spent on the overall strategy.”

          I don’t know about that. It may be both. In fact, he did say something to the effect that “humane meat” (there is no such thing) will make people comfortable about eating meat, so that will impede the final goal of banning meat.

        7. Leone and Paul,

          Leone said, “ Francione is absolutely clear about his opposition to single issue campaigns.”

          Well, he wasn’t so opposed to them in his book “Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement” (1996). In this book he said it is OK to work on single issue campaigns as long as the goal is to end a particular form of exploitation. So he has changed his mind, and I guess he expects everyone else to change his/her mind along with him.

          Paul said, “If slavery was morally acceptable, do you think the Civil War would have ended it?”

          It was morally acceptable in the South, but since the South lost the war, it had to go with the will of the North, the victor.

          Other examples we can look at: women’s right to vote and same sex marriage. Women’s right to vote was granted by the federal legislature despite the fact that the measure failed in many state referendums. And same sex marriage in the United States was decided by the Supreme Court despite how the majority thinks about it (hence you have individual clerks, who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples). Sometimes morality has to be forced on people, either by the federal government or the court. Then the people will change. This is not undemocratic because in democracy the rights of minorities are supposed to be protected regardless of how the majority thinks of such rights. So this is one strategy, we, AR advocates, could use to bypass the will of the majority, but to do that, we would first have to achieve the status of person for non-human animals. And all we need to achieve that is a sympathetic judge. It has already happened for great apes in a couple of countries.

          Leone wrote, “My point is simple – moral campaigns do not change history, they have to ride it, moral campaigns do not change societies, social-economic-political changes make use of them.”

          Moral campaigns raise consciousness, make people reexamine their moral values, and hopefully change people’s minds. Political changes follow. Or political changes happen first and then people’s minds follow, as in women’s right to vote and same sex marriage (in the U.S. In Ireland it was the will of the people. Either way works). It could happen either way.

          Paul said, “Isn’t it more accurate to say that devoting energy, resources and focus on ending some forms of cruelty will impede the final goal?”

          Francione may not see it that way. I really think that he thinks that eliminating the worst forms of cruelty will make people more comfortable with exploiting animals, and we will never achieve our final goal. I don’t agree with him about this on many levels, but that is another discussion.

          Paul said, “As an aside, Francione repeats that the “happy meat” trend in the industry is actually economically driven – there are cost saving and PR advantages to cage-free eggs and free-range chickens. This ‘economic change’ will not lead to abolition of animal use – that would be economic suicide.”

          Francione is totally wrong about that. Does he think that animal agriculture managers are stupid and don’t know how to maximize profits, and they need animal rights activists to tell them how to do it? That is absurd.

          Leone said, “Neither Barbara’s particular statement nor what I have said claim that he is using cruelty as a strategy – how do you jump to that?”

          Actually, he might be using cruelty as a strategy.

          Leone continued, “What can be proposed, however, is that his position is one that ideologically accepts animal suffering in the present in the name of total abolition in the future.’

          I would say he is using the suffering of the animals of today to win total abolition for the animals of tomorrow.

          Leone said, “In my opinion, only a person who thinks they are 100pc right in their ideas could think this is a moral position.”

          It is an immoral position because he is using animals of today for the benefit of animals of tomorrow.

        8. Barbara is quite right to point out that some aspects of Francione’s ideas have shifted since “Rain Without Thunder…”

  23. I’d like to chime in if I can be given respect.
    I was in a couple AR groups on FB until this past summer when I decided to back out for a while since often non-vegan, dissenting opinions are not respected.

    About 5 years ago I started learning about factory farming and becoming disgusted with it. About 4 years ago I became vegetarian. About 2 years ago I started to cut back on my dairy and egg consumption when I realized what it entails, and about 90% of my food is vegan at this point. A year ago I quit purchasing leather, wool, and other animal products, and asked to not receive any as gifts from friends and family. I talk about AR to friends and acquaintances whenever I feel it’s appropriate. I’m going into the medical field so I can be a doctor and encourage people to eat a plant-based diet. I donate to animal causes out of my very limited funds. I do all this and more. My opinions about humans and animals and their relationship has changed drastically in the past 5 years and will continue to. I doubt I’ll ever agree with abolishing pets, or that eggs from pet chickens are bad.

    What upsets me is that I don’t fit in anywhere in AR according to a lot of groups. I haven’t made it to vegan yet, so I’m really no different than someone that cooks 100 pounds of beef for a chili cook-off in most AR activists eyes. THIS is what is infuriating, and one of the reasons I actually don’t want to be vegan – I don’t want to let it put up a wall between my friends and family and I. I think having a variety of opinions is not only inevitable but necessary. In my opinion, those on the extreme vegan end are necessary since they present ideas that I’ve never contemplated. I just wish that they’d recognize that those of us vegetarians in the middle are necessary too since I think we can be more relatable to meat eaters, especially since there are very, very few who have gone from steak to tofu overnight.

    1. I agree entirely Jennifer, and you are very welcome here.
      I don’t think that vegans are *by definition* better activists and non vegans have some advantages.
      Besides, you are not really in the middle but much closer to the vegan end of the spectrum.
      And btw, i do everything “right”, except for the wine, and I’m not even considered vegetarian by some of the veg taliban 🙂 so for some it will never be good enough.
      In any case what comes out of your mouth is more important than what goes in it 🙂

      1. Christine wrote, “I found myself witnessing more and more and over and over again that the general public was being turned off towards veganism…not because they didn’t care about animals, not because becoming vegan is hard, not because of an entirely new lifestyle…but because of the actual vegans themselves. ”

        Another Francione! Blame the activists!

        1. Barbara,
          In response…
          “Another Francione! Blame the activists!”

          What I wrote is the truth as I have seen and experienced it. The repercussions of negative behavior by some vegans causes the chances of a more humane world to decrease, instead of increase.

          I’m not sure why you chose to respond by what appears to be a sarcastic comment dismissing this important matter in our struggle, but if you are offering me a suggestion to blame the Francione activists, I can do that.

        2. Christine,

          “What I wrote is the truth as I have seen and experienced it.”

          That’s hardly a scientific proof.

          “The repercussions of negative behavior by some vegans causes the chances of a more humane world to decrease, instead of increase.”

          I don’t agree. People don’t make up their minds about what is right and what is wrong based on how representatives of each position behave.

          I wasn’t sarcastic.

          The only thing I blame Francione activists for is dividing our movement.

      2. Thank you Tobias, and yes I can’t imagine going without wine! I don’t feel great about eating cheese once in a while, but it’s invaluable to me to be able to go out for pizza with friends.

        1. Jennifer – just a suggestion. You can always order a veggie pizza without cheese ( just had one tonight) you would be amazed at the flavors the cheese covers up.

    2. Hi Jennifer,
      I started out just like you about 25 years ago, so I can really relate to what you’re saying, especially about not fitting in with any AR groups.
      .
      As I became more involved, I became devoted to doing what I could to end factory farming, and I assumed that it and big ag would be the biggest foe I would face. As time passed, however, I realized I was completely unprepared for the “angry vegan phenomena”.

      Of course, not all vegans fall into that category, but I found myself witnessing more and more and over and over again that the general public was being turned off towards veganism…not because they didn’t care about animals, not because becoming vegan is hard, not because of an entirely new lifestyle…but because of the actual vegans themselves.

      Of all the people in the world, I’d figured that it would be vegans who would do what it took to help end factory farming, spread veg living, and create a more humane world for the animals. However, what I witnessed instead was the general public being turned off because of the negative way many vegans were choosing to behave towards them. I saw how their anger, self righteous attitude, and finger pointing was actually hurting things and making things even harder.

      I’m definitely not trying to insinuate at all that vegans aren’t justified in their anger and feelings…but the ways some were choosing to engage and interact with the public was actually making the job of eliminating those very things that make them angry and upset in the first place even harder. Simply put, I saw how the negative behavior of many vegans was not only serving to shoot themselves in the foot, but entire bigger movement’s foot.

      It was enough to drive me crazy. I could understand the general public who didn’t know about factory farming, or even those who did know, but claimed they didn’t care…I could actually understand them better than the “angry vegans”, whose lives were supposedly based on the very premise of not harming animals. Why couldn’t they see how their actions were actually causing harm to the animals?

      While it still drives me crazy and is frustrating to no end, I’ve now come to slowly realize and even accept that the “angry vegans” are going to be part of the fight. Not the vegans themselves, but the repercussions of their behavior some express towards non-vegans. As you’ve experienced yourself, this includes vegetarians and even those who are 99% vegan.

      If I could offer you any advice, it would be:
      1) Don’t worry about labels, or what you call yourself, or what other people call you. The animals don’t care about labels, they care about tangible results to make their lives better.
      2) As difficult and frustrating as it is to accept this, the “angry vegan” is going to be part of the picture, and the repercussions of their negative behavior is going to make a tremendously difficult task even harder. In my opinion, our best hope in this area is to offer education on how to be an effective vegan advocate, such as Tobias’ blog here.

      Thanks for all that you are doing, Jennifer. You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished and for having the courage to not turn away from the truth. You’ve not only done that, you’ve also changed your life, which is no easy task. Keep going! 🙂

      p.s. Can I ask how you first found out about factory farming about 5 years ago?

      1. Jennifer,
        Here are some resources you might find helpful if you don’t know about them already:
        -Matt Ball’s blog, “A Meaningful Life, A Better World”
        These links are for posts that might especially interest you:
        http://www.mattball.org/2015/08/feedback.html
        http://www.mattball.org/2014/11/excerpts-from-letter-to-young-matt.html
        http://www.mattball.org/2015/08/anger-humor-and-advocacy-from-2000.html

        -In Defense of Animals (IDA) Sustainable Activism Campaign:
        http://www.idausa.org/sustainable-activism/
        (if you scroll down to “resources” there are also several other helpful links)

        -IDA’s youtube channel, where you can find everything from recordings of webinars on “Beating Burnout” to short ~1 minute “Sustainable Activism” tips.
        https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp5442uPMyldHZIScSSTZEA

        Books:
        “The Accidental Activist” by Matt Ball

        “The Lifelong Activist” by Hillary Rettig
        http://www.hillaryrettig.com/ (lots of great info at her website)

        “Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World, a Guide for Activists and Their Allies” by pattrice jones
        http://aftershock.pattricejones.info/

        If you are looking for something more lighthearted, I just finished reading this book and found it very enjoyable and inspiring (there are some sad parts, but I found it a very happy book overall):
        “My Gentle Barn” by Ellie Laks
        http://www.gentlebarn.org/

        Last, but most definitely not least, please, please take care of yourself! Please be aware that things like compassion fatigue, burn out, and secondary trauma may come along sometime for you. Anybody who is involved in caring for others, such as animal advocates, nurses, doctors, psychologists, social workers, etc., is vulnerable. These things can sneak up on you without you even realizing it and greatly impact your life.

        I wasn’t aware of secondary trauma or compassion fatigue and the huge toll they can take on a person until it happened to me and after the fact. If had I known about these issues beforehand and educated myself with some simple tools, I could have avoided, or at least minimized, the nagative effects those things have had on my life. Also, if we get to the point where we burn out, we are not only hurting ourselves, the animals suffer, too, because we can no longer work as effectively as we used to.

        Please check out IDA’s Sustainable Activism Campaign if you are feeling angry, frustrated, ready to give up hope, etc. And if I can help in any way, please feel free to email me at clof101@gmail.com
        🙂

        1. Sorry, I forgot to also mention “One Step for Animals”:
          http://www.onestepforanimals.weebly.com/

          “One Step for Animals: Guiding Principles

          We are working to help animals, period. We aren’t trying to promote a particular philosophy, worldview, diet, or lifestyle. Our bottom line is not how many people we can convince to think exactly like we do, but how many fewer animals are suffering and dying. We would rather help three people start eating half as many animals than convince one person to be a strict and strident vegan.

          If there were some magic argument that would persuade everyone to stop eating animals immediately, it would have been discovered by now. Our combined experience – well over 100 years – has shown that very few people are willing to make (and maintain) rapid, major changes to their diet.

          Given the number of animals suffering and the extent of their suffering, One Step for Animals believes we can’t focus only on those few people. It is time for us to realize everyone is a potential ally – and act accordingly.”

        2. Hi Christine,

          Thank you so much for your understanding and for the wealth of information you’ve put at my fingertips.

          I actually don’t remember how I first learned about factory farming. I just remember becoming aware of it and horrified, and getting to a point where I could no longer eat meat.

          When I’ve talked to friends, coworkers, and acquaintances about it I try to stay very positive. One coworker asked me about what I usually have in my salads, since she said she eats a lot of meat and wants to eat healthier. She also made an “I could never be vegetarian!” comment, to which I replied that I feel like every time someone swaps their meat for a plant-based option, it’s a win. I’ve said that to several people, and the relieved look that I get from them for not being judgmental is priceless.

        3. You’re very welcome, Jennifer! 🙂
          I think the example you gave of your co-workers is great, and we need more positive examples like that.

          (BTW, you may have seen some new comments that have been posted, including being addressed to you. Please know that you don’t owe anybody any explanations & some people are going to find imperfections no matter what or how you explain yourself.)

      2. Christine,

        Someone being angry or nice makes no difference on whether what he/she argues is right or wrong.

        Tow examples:

        Jehovah Witnesses: very nice, warm, polite But would they convince me? Not likely.

        So-called “pro-lifers”: very angry, nasty, even kill people But would they convince me? Not likely.

        So it makes absolutely no difference.

        People should think for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

        1. Barbara,
          In response…
          “Someone being angry or nice makes no difference on whether what he/she argues is right or wrong.”

          I agree completely. However, being angry or nice does and can make a difference in regards to whether that argument is rejected or received by the person the argument is being presented to.

        2. Christine said, “…being angry or nice does and can make a difference in regards to whether that argument is rejected or received by the person the argument is being presented to.”

          For someone to reject an argument, that person has to refute the argument.

        3. yes, if you depart from the assumption, like francione seems to, that people act completely rational all the time and that all that matters and will influence people is whethe something is true or not.
          Not so.

        4. Leone,

          “people don’t HAVE to refute arguments to reject arguments, they just reject them.”

          No, that is called ignoring the argument, not rejecting it. If you reject something, you have to give a reason for rejecting it.

        5. People don’t HAVE to give reasons, they can just tell you, in so many words, to take a hike. Whether it’s ignoring or rejecting, the situation is the same.

    3. Jennifer – great stuff! my own sense of the movement now is that the people who would judge you – the self-proclaimed “abolitionists” – are a minority but a pretty loud one. Hill

      1. Yes, they definitely are loud. I’ve decided though to just keep on doing what I’m doing and hopefully have a positive effect on some people’s choices.

    4. We live in a world polluted by products and ingredients derived from animal exploitation, so it is not possible to be 100% vegan. But we should do strive to eliminate all the products and ingredients that is possible to eliminate. If you belive that non-human animals have a right not to be used as means to our ends, and if you are eliminating as many animal products as possible, then you are an animal rights advocate.

    5. Jennifer,

      You said, “ I doubt I’ll ever agree with abolishing pets,”

      Do you have an argument that leads to the conclusion that using non-human animals as pets is moral?

      “or that eggs from pet chickens are bad.”

      Do you know where “pet chickens” (actually hens) come from?

      “What upsets me is that I don’t fit in anywhere in AR according to a lot of groups.”

      Whose fault is that? Maybe you should start your own movement then.

      “…one of the reasons I actually don’t want to be vegan – I don’t want to let it put up a wall between my friends and family and I.”

      So you let your family and your friends dictate your morality to you? You have no mind of your own?

      “I think having a variety of opinions is not only inevitable but necessary.”

      Well, some opinions are immoral.

      “In my opinion, those on the extreme vegan end are necessary since they present ideas that I’ve never contemplated.”

      Obviously you have not contemplated everything since you are not yet vegan, you think animals should be used as pets, and you think hens should be used to provide us with eggs.

      “I just wish that they’d recognize that those of us vegetarians in the middle are necessary too since I think we can be more relatable to meat eaters, especially since there are very, very few who have gone from steak to tofu overnight.”

      So during slavery, you would have said something like: “I just wish that abolitionists recognize that those of us small slave owners in the middle are necessary too since I think we can be more relatable to big slave owners, especially since there are very, very few who have gone from owning 100 slaves to zero overnight.”

          1. barbara, jennifer made explicit she was sensitive to how she would be treated here. to ask her if she can’t think for herself is a tad less polite than i would like to see it. that’s all.

        1. Tobias,

          I am still waiting for your answer. Please provide a quote from me where I was being uncivil.

          How did I treat Jennifer? I asked her a few questions. Is it prohibited here to ask questions?

          You said, “ to ask her if she can’t think for herself is a tad less polite than i would like to see it.”

          Jennifer said, “…one of the reasons I actually don’t want to be vegan – I don’t want to let it put up a wall between my friends and family and I.”

          And I replied, “So you let your family and your friends dictate your morality to you? You have no mind of your own?”

          I stand by what I said. I asked her if she can think for herself because from what she said, it seems like she allows her family and friends to dictate morality to her. I don’t see what is so impolite about what I said. Please explain it to me.

          1. Barbara,
            You write to Paul, “It has not happened yet, and it will not happen ever unless we take an active role in promoting veganism and animal rights.”

            And you write to Jennifer, “So you let your family and your friends dictate your morality to you? You have no mind of your own?”

            And you write in reply to Tobias regarding Jennifer, “I stand by what I said. I asked her if she can think for herself because from what she said, it seems like she allows her family and friends to dictate morality to her.”

            I ask:
            1) How does asking a person if they have no mind of their own fall into your proposal of taking “an active role” in regards to “it will not happen ever unless we take an active role in promoting veganism and animal rights.”?

            How is addressing Jennifer in such a way “taking an active role in promoting veganism and animal rights”?
            What is the point in an active role if it’s not effective?

            Jennifer is a vegetarian who may very well be on her way to becoming vegan with support & guidance. Of course, she has a mind of her own; everybody has a mind of their own.
            And nobody, including Jennifer, becomes even a vegetarian unless they have a mind of their own (unless you were raised from day 1 as a vegetarian).

            2) Regarding “I asked her if she can think for herself because from what she said, it seems like she allows her family and friends to dictate morality to her.”

            If that is true, why should she allow you to dictate morality to her?
            And why would she want to listen to anybody who would ask her such a thing as if she has a mind of her own?

            Here is a golden opportunity for another possible vegan possibly lost. And with that is lost all the possible chain reactions of Jennifer then helping others to become vegan…then all those people going on to helping even more people become vegan.

            All this opportunity may now be diminished or lost.

            Why not be supportive and offer guidance to Jennifer instead?
            Asking somebody if they have a mind of their own certainly isn’t supportive nor helpful
            I’m not suggesting to just promote Meatless Mondays to her and that’s it. Why not help and support her on towards becoming vegan?

            Again, what’s the point in taking “an active role” if it’s not effective “in promoting veganism and animal rights.”?

            In a new comment to me, you tell me that “Your feelings don’t interest me.” What about a possible new vegan recruit’s feelings? What about the animals’ feelings?

            .

        2. Christine,

          You asked, “How does asking a person if they have no mind of their own fall into your proposal of taking “an active role” in regards to “it will not happen ever unless we take an active role in promoting veganism and animal rights.”?”

          Asking questions is forcing people to think for themselves, to examine their values. How else are you going to make them change their minds? By preaching?
          As I said previously, I use the Socratic Method, which involves asking questions and making the person come to his/her own conclusions.

          “How is addressing Jennifer in such a way “taking an active role in promoting veganism and animal rights”?”

          What way?

          “What is the point in an active role if it’s not effective?”

          My method is effective.

          “Jennifer is a vegetarian who may very well be on her way to becoming vegan with support & guidance.”

          With support and guidance? It is you, who is reducing Jennifer to some idiot, who cannot think for herself but requires support and guidance.

          “ Of course, she has a mind of her own; everybody has a mind of their own.”

          Yes, that is the conclusion I was hoping she would come to, and then she can act on that and stop letting her friends and family dictate her values and how she lives.

          “ why should she allow you to dictate morality to her?”

          I wasn’t dictating anything to her. I was only asking her a question in hopes that she would come to her own conclusion by answering it.

          “And why would she want to listen to anybody who would ask her such a thing as if she has a mind of her own?”

          When did I ask her to listen to me? I don’t preach to anybody!

          “Here is a golden opportunity for another possible vegan possibly lost.”

          Yeah, lost, just because I asked her a question! You try giving her a sermon and see how that will go.

          “Why not be supportive and offer guidance to Jennifer instead?”

          Because I don’t think Jennifer is intellectually challenged. I think she has a mind of her own and can come to her own conclusions.

          “Asking somebody if they have a mind of their own certainly isn’t supportive nor helpful”

          Yes, it is. And don’t take it out of context. The question was in regards to her family and friends dictating to her what she should eat.

          “Again, what’s the point in taking “an active role” if it’s not effective “in promoting veganism and animal rights.”?”

          Asking questions and making people think for themselves and come to their own conclusions is a valid and time tested method. Read up on Socratic Method.

          “In a new comment to me, you tell me that “Your feelings don’t interest me.” What about a possible new vegan recruit’s feelings?”

          So asking someone a question and making him/her come to him/her own conclusion will hurt his/her feelings, but giving him/her a sermon and treating him/her as if they can’t think for himself/herself is a nice thing to do? Well, it would offend my feelings!

          “ What about the animals’ feelings?”

          I wasn’t even talking to any non-human animals. Now you are going to claim that I offended them too?

          1. Barbara.
            You state in reply to me, “It is you, who is reducing Jennifer to some idiot, who cannot think for herself but requires support and guidance.”

            As you are the one who questioned Jennifer as to whether she could think for herself, it would appear that you are the one who reduced Jennifer to “some idiot, who cannot think for herself”, not me.

            I don’t know of anybody who became vegan without support and/or guidance. Perhaps you know of someone who managed it on their own?

            You also wrote, treating someone “as if they can’t think for himself/herself is a nice thing to do? Well, it would offend my feelings!”
            If it would offend your feelings, why wouldn’t it offend anybody else’s when you do it?

            You wrote “Asking questions and making people think for themselves and come to their own conclusions is a valid and time tested method. Read up on Socratic Method.”
            In reply I would suggest you might read up on human psychology. Asking questions and making people think is all well & good, however, it isn’t effective if you don’t present the questions in a way that will be taken in and absorbed by the recipient. The Socratic Method is not very useful if there is only one party involved.

            It also appears you are misreading some of my comments and missing some adjectives I include. For example, I stated, “Here is a golden opportunity for another possible vegan possibly lost.”

            You replied, “Yeah, lost, just because I asked her a question! You try giving her a sermon and see how that will go.”

            If you will re-read my sentence, I wrote, “possible vegan possibly lost”. I didn’t state that it was a given, only that it was a possibility.

        3. Christine,

          “As you are the one who questioned Jennifer as to whether she could think for herself, it would appear that you are the one who reduced Jennifer to “some idiot, who cannot think for herself”, not me.”

          It was a rhetorical question. Of course the answer would be yes without a doubt. But what I was driving at is what follows that answer, namely, if she can think for herself, then why is she letting other people tell her what to do. You gave her a lot of information, but it is going to help her with her friends and family threatening her that they are going to exclude her if she goes completely vegan? I was addressing her problem.

          “I don’t know of anybody who became vegan without support and/or guidance.”

          I did. I did it before there was the Internet and before I knew anyone who was vegan or vegetarian.

          “Perhaps you know of someone who managed it on their own?”

          I did. But that is not the point here. She did not ask for information on how to become vegan (as Sam Harris did in the previous discussion, where I did give him that information). She needed help dealing with her friends and family.

          “You also wrote, treating someone “as if they can’t think for himself/herself is a nice thing to do? Well, it would offend my feelings!” If it would offend your feelings, why wouldn’t it offend anybody else’s when you do it?”

          I did NOT do it. I asked her a question, so that the answer would lead her to a certain conclusion. Obviously if I did not think that she can think for herself, I would have given her the answer and the conclusion. But I trust that most people can think for themselves and will come to the right conclusion if I ask the right questions.

          “In reply I would suggest you might read up on human psychology.”

          I am not interested in human psychology.

          “Asking questions and making people think is all well & good,”

          Then we agree.

          “however, it isn’t effective if you don’t present the questions in a way that will be taken in and absorbed by the recipient.”

          It is not to be taken in but to be answered and conclusions drawn.

          “ The Socratic Method is not very useful if there is only one party involved.”

          Well obviously you need at least two people. I wasn’t talking to a wall.

          “It also appears you are misreading some of my comments and missing some adjectives I include. For example, I stated, “Here is a golden opportunity for another possible vegan possibly lost.””

          I did not agree with that, neither that the opportunity was lost or that an ovo-lacto vegetarian is always on the verge of going vegan. I just finished reading Morrissey’s autobiography. He has been an ovo-lacto vegetarian forever, and has not transitioned to veganism, even though he knows there is such a thing, and he even knows vegans (he mentioned at least 2 in his book). It is my experience that it is more difficult to convince an ovo-lacto vegetarian to go vegan than a regular meat eater.

          “If you will re-read my sentence, I wrote, “possible vegan possibly lost”. I didn’t state that it was a given, only that it was a possibility”

          You do like to split hair, don’t you?

            1. Yes, I think it would be awesome and very helpful if we could Jennifer’s input, Tobias.

              Jennifer, I’m not sure if you are still following the comments here, and please don’t feel pressured…but would you be willing to share with us your thoughts & feelings on a topic?

              Again, I’m not sure if you have been keeping up with or reading all the comments. But if so, you may have noticed that your “example” has somehow become the topic of a lot of conversation. Please know that I’ve used your situation as representative of many others, but please know it was just in a hypothetical way, in that your situation is representative of a large group of people. You are not alone! 🙂

              But if you would be willing, I think there are many of us here who would be interested in your own personal take on a subject if you wouldn’t mind sharing?

              Ok, here is the question and how I would frame it. There may be others who would frame or ask the question differently, but here it is the best I know how to present it:

              If a vegan were to try to reach out to you in the hopes of encouraging you on to become vegan, or to see it as an attractive possible option in the future…what do you feel would be the best way(s) to approach and speak to you?

              Ok, that is the question if you are still out there, Jennifer. 🙂
              Please know this is in no way any sort of judgement on you personally, it’s just that you are by chance representative of so many others. And again, if you’d rather not answer or if it would make you uncomfortable, that is fine.

              Whichever way, happy TGIF to you! 🙂

          1. Barbara,
            In reply to:
            Christine: “however, it isn’t effective if you don’t present the questions in a way that will be taken in and absorbed by the recipient.”
            Barbara: “It is not to be taken in but to be answered and conclusions drawn.”

            How is it possible for a question to be answered and conclusions drawn if the recipient rejects, or pushes away, or is turned off by the way is question is asked? How is it possible for that question to then be answered and conclusions drawn (except subconsciously)?

            You also stated, “I am not interested in human psychology.”
            I’m sorry to hear that you aren’t interested in human psychology. A question needs to be taken in by the recipient if you want them to answer themselves and draw their own conclusions. If you present the question in a way that is perceived negatively and does not engage them, the recipient may be turned off and dismiss your question.

            Even if the questions you ask are right and moral and correct, if the questions are pushed aside and not even taken in and thought over by the recipient, you don’t have any chance of getting to the point of any conclusions drawn. The person isn’t even thinking about your question because they dismissed it.

            If you were to take the known psychology of what motivates people & gets people to really listen & hear you, and combined that with the Socratic Method, I’m sure you’d have much better results. Knowing what engages people vs. what turns them off is going to be more effective than simply posing a question to someone however you want to.

            I’m not saying to be silent or not express or hide our views and beliefs…I’m going by the known psychology of what has a better chance of and is most effective in terms of how we address other people, especially those we are trying to influence and have them understand our message.

            You also wrote, “I wanted her to say something like, “Yes, damn it! I have a mind of my own so I should not let other people dictate to me what I should and should not eat”.

            That goes both ways. How you respond and feel if Jennifer were to those same words to you, ““Yes, damn it! I have a mind of my own so I should not let other people dictate to me what I should and should not eat”.?

        4. Christine,

          “ I think it would be awesome and very helpful if we could Jennifer’s input, Tobias.”

          Why? Is Jennifer an expert on this and her point of view applies to everyone?

          You wrote to Jennifer, “Please know this is in no way any sort of judgement on you personally,”

          You are really scared of people judging you, aren’t you, Christine? Why?

          “it’s just that you are by chance representative of so many others.”

          Why do you think Jennifer represents so many others? It would be just her personal opinion and would not represent anyone else’s.

          “How is it possible for a question to be answered and conclusions drawn if the recipient rejects, or pushes away, or is turned off by the way is question is asked?”

          Those are all your assumptions, not backed up by anything. I have much experience debating people, so I know what kind of results I get.

          “I’m sorry to hear that you aren’t interested in human psychology.”

          Why are you sorry? If you are interested in this, then I am not stopping you from learning about this field.

          “ A question needs to be taken in by the recipient if you want them to answer themselves and draw their own conclusions.”

          Some people answer, some don’t.

          “ If you present the question in a way that is perceived negatively and does not engage them, the recipient may be turned off and dismiss your question.”

          That’s my problem then, not yours. I will conduct my debates in a way that I feel is most effective. And you study your human psychology so then you can manipulate people’s emotions. I will stick with honesty.

          “If you were to take the known psychology of what motivates people & gets people to really listen & hear you, and combined that with the Socratic Method, I’m sure you’d have much better results.”

          No, thank you.

          “ Knowing what engages people vs. what turns them off is going to be more effective than simply posing a question to someone however you want to.”

          I know what engages people. I have much experience with this.

          “I’m going by the known psychology of what has a better chance of and is most effective in terms of how we address other people, especially those we are trying to influence and have them understand our message.”

          Well, you are not influencing me at all, so your method is not so effective. In fact, you are totally turning me off. I don’t even feel like talking to you anymore but since this is a public forum, I feel like I should answer you in case others are reading this. You are very arrogant and think you know it all, and like to tell other people what to do and how to think. In my opinion, it is this kind of attitude that is ineffective.

          “How you respond and feel if Jennifer were to those same words to you, ““Yes, damn it! I have a mind of my own so I should not let other people dictate to me what I should and should not eat”.?”

          I did NOT tell Jennifer what to do. I merely asked her a question.

          1. Barbara, before I engage with you any further, can you please explain your reasoning and how you come to your conclusions? From my point of view, it appears you are jumping to conclusions without the facts to back them up.

            For example, you stated:
            “You wrote to Jennifer, “Please know this is in no way any sort of judgement on you personally,”
            You are really scared of people judging you, aren’t you, Christine? Why?”

            How did you come to your conclusion that my statement to Jennifer meant that I’m “really scared of people judging” me?

            Based on my statement to Jennifer, all you could factually conclude is that it appears to you that I’m scared of people judging me.

            There is a huge difference between:
            1) “You are really scared of people judging you, aren’t you, Christine?”
            2) “It appears to me that you are really scared of people judging you, Christine.”

            I don’t know if you can understand that difference, and I’m sorry, but I don’t see any point in continuing the conversation with you if it’s going to continue to include opinions stated as facts. There can be no real productive conversation if I’m going to have to continually address your opinions stated as facts.

  24. Jennifer – If you haven’t already, I would recommend listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast “Food for Thought” and her blogs and books she has written. She addresses your discomfort head on in a very open, compassionate and non-judgemental way. Its important to be true to yourself while at the same time letting others make up their own minds on the paths they wish to follow.

    You certainly don’t sound like a middle-of=the=road vegetarian to me. Vegetarians can be oblivious to the suffering of animals beyond actually eating them. Veganism is based upon a combination of compassion and living as consistently as one is able. I don’t care what “extreme” vegan you talk too, they ALL exploit animals in this society, it is inescapable. Even the “hated” extreme abolitionist vegan writer, Gary Francione is a big believer in what he calls, “companion animals”. Avoid people who are so judgmental – its their ignorance and their problem not yours. On the other hand, it is worth looking into some of the philosophies behind veganism as you are doing and to come to your own conclusions.

    1. Paul said, “Avoid people who are so judgmental – its their ignorance and their problem not yours. ”

      Being judgemental is only a problem for people, who susspect they are doing something immoral and are afraid that someone will point it out to them. I have no problem with people judging me or my actions. If they find my actions immoral, I want a rational argument that will lead to that conclusion.

    2. Paul said, “On the other hand, it is worth looking into some of the philosophies behind veganism as you are doing and to come to your own conclusions.”

      Good advice. I would be very much interested in how Jennifer looked into philosophies of animal rights theorists and came to her own conclusion that using non-human animals as pets is not immoral.

      1. Barbara – It took me two years after going vegan (for health reasons) to fully understand the depth and nature of animal exploitation. I knew milk and eggs were bad for me, but didn’t really make the connection with how it was for the animals involved. That concept that using (exploiting) non-human animals is immoral is, for most of us, abstract. It takes time for it to sink in. Jennifer will get there.

      2. “I wish I could be as optimistic as you are.” As we get older we seem to either become more cynical or more optimistic. I try hard for the latter.

        1. Paul,

          I am older. I have been in the movemnet for almost 30 years. The movemnet started in the 1970’s and we still only have about 1% of the population, who is vegan. So I don’t see how you can be so optimistic as to think that we don’t have to do anything be just sit back and let people figure it out for themselves. It has not happened yet, and it will not happen ever unless we take an active role in promoting veganism and animal rights. But unfortunately, too many vegans are too scared to open their mouths and defend what they believe in.

  25. A refrain I see here often is, “Its all about the animals”. I’ve felt uncomfortable with that slogan subconsciously and I believe, after reading the discussion on this site, that I am beginning to understand why. I am wondering if that sentiment may be an underlying impetus for the so called, “vegan divide.”

      1. Tobias – I am seeing more clearly now that it really is about us and the failings of human nature that is at the heart of the matter. We slaughter ALL animals, including each other. I am starting to see that, for some, veganism is a manifestation of a cry for help for humanity. I don’t believe we can stem the slaughter of non-humans unless we apply the same compassion to ourselves as we hope to apply to them. When, for instance, some scoff at vegans who go “plant-based” for health reasons, I believe that judgement is not only misplaced but backwards. If we don’t have respect for our own health and well-being, why on earth should we be expected to care about the well-being of non-humans?

        While you may question the sincerity of those who take a “moralistic” approach to veganism, I take our ability to mistreat non-humans as a concrete manifestation of the inhumane way we treat each other. In some ways our use and treatment of animals is an identifiable marker or bellwether of our advancement ( or lack thereof) as a culture. It may be that some vegans believe that if we can apply our latent compassion to non-humans, there may be hope for all earthlings. I feel this within me. Others, may feel that striving for that goal is too lofty and unrealistic and pragmatism is the only way – let humanity suffer the consequences of itself.

        1. Paul,

          You said, “…veganism is a manifestation of a cry for help for humanity.”

          No, it is not. It is a fight for the rights of non-human animals.

          “I don’t believe we can stem the slaughter of non-humans unless we apply the same compassion to ourselves as we hope to apply to them.”

          But why should we make animals suffer and die just because humans kill each other?

          “When, for instance, some scoff at vegans who go “plant-based” for health reasons,”

          They are no longer the problem, although they will not fight for total elimination of the problem. I don’t scoff at them. They don’t do any harm, but they don’t do any good. If everyone was like them, then there would be no problem.

          “If we don’t have respect for our own health and well-being, why on earth should we be expected to care about the well-being of non-humans?”

          That is a silly question. I see no problem with someone smoking, but I see a problem if that smoker blows smoke at some else’s face.

          “While you may question the sincerity of those who take a “moralistic” approach to veganism, I take our ability to mistreat non-humans as a concrete manifestation of the inhumane way we treat each other.”

          Whom exactly are you accusing of mistreating other humans? That is a criminal act, so you should report that person.

          “It may be that some vegans believe that if we can apply our latent compassion to non-humans, there may be hope for all earthlings.”

          What other earthlings are there besides us, humans, and non-human animals?

          “…let humanity suffer the consequences of itself.”

          I am going to fight for animals first because they are innocent, most abused, and most helpless.

          1. This is precisely the phenomena I was referring to. You clearly are vegan for very different reasons than I am. I am trying to understand why we so often talk past each other and this is, for me, a very revealing response.

            While veganism is a fight for the rights of animals, your segregation of human vs non-human is something i don’t subscribe to.

            Your smoker counter makes my point. Smokers who are in total denial of, or are insensitive to their impact on themselves, their family and those that depend upon them exhibit the same attitude we humans do reading animals.So you can relegate your smoking friend to the loading dock or designated smoking area, but in the end, he or she is more likely to experience a costly and painful premature death and will have left a trail of anguish behind. It has been said that it is compassion for family and friends that impacts smoking recidivism the most.

            Regarding health-motivated vegans you say, “They don’t do any harm, but they don’t do any good. ” I I disagree with that. It may be the plant-based people who will have the biggest impact as the gateway to compassion for animals other than themselves. Certainly was for me and dozens of vegan friends of mine.

            “Whom exactly are you accusing of mistreating other humans? That is a criminal act, so you should report that person.” Did you think I was singling out some individual murderer? I was speaking in the broad sense regarding the atrocities we humans commit against one another.

            “What other earthlings are there besides us, humans, and non-human animals?” Either you are intentionally missing my point or I need to be more clear.

            Again, I see compassion and exploitation of animals as just another manifestation of the dark and numb side of human culture as it is today. I see veganism as an window to shed light on that darkness and, conversely, as we as a society evolve to a more compassionate state, the treatment of non-humans will follow suit.

        2. Paul,

          By suggesting that veganism is “the fight for animal rights”…..you’ve excluded anybody that follows a consequentialist theory of ethics.

          1. I was speaking generically using what I believe to be the popular meaning. But I don’t see how this detail is responsive to my thoughts.

        3. Paul – what you are saying echoes, to my ears, some of the seductive parts of Francione’s general placing of veganism, e.g. non-violence, ending all forms of exploitation, etc. I don’t believe in pacifism, I believe in looking at things politically rather than bemoaning human nature, I believe ending all forms of exploitation (at this point in history) would take a global revolution not a moral crusade. When you speak of “advancement” and this evolution to a more compassionate state, I have to ask who? Who wants these things? Plenty of people like the status quo more or less because they do well out of it and the only advancement they would support is one that maintained or increased their wealth and privilege. Animal liberation needs to be embedded in a human political movement, which will be primarily about the advancement of particular groups, there just ain’t a nice-to-everyone alternative.

        4. Paul,

          “While veganism is a fight for the rights of animals, your segregation of human vs non-human is something i don’t subscribe to.”

          In the fight for animal rights I segregate humans from non-human animals, just like in the fight for gay rights, heterosexuals are separated from everyone else, and just like in the fight for women’s rights, women are separated from men. It is just a strategy.

          “Your smoker counter makes my point. Smokers who are in total denial of, or are insensitive to their impact on themselves, their family and those that depend upon them exhibit the same attitude we humans do reading animals.”

          If smokers disregard the moral obligations they have to their family, namely children, then that is a different matter. I was only looking at it as smokers hurting their own health and nothing else.

          “So you can relegate your smoking friend to the loading dock or designated smoking area, but in the end, he or she is more likely to experience a costly and painful premature death and will have left a trail of anguish behind.”

          So? She did it to herself. And she had every right to do it because she has a right to self-determination. If she thinks that smoking makes her happy despite the fact that she may pay a heavy price for that “happiness”, then who am I to tell her that she is wrong? It’s her life.

          “It has been said that it is compassion for family and friends that impacts smoking recidivism the most.”

          I don’t know. I don’t have any smoking friends. I stay away from these people because they stink, and I see them as stupid.

          Regarding health-motivated vegans

          I say they don’t do any good in the fight for animal rights.

          “I was speaking in the broad sense regarding the atrocities we humans commit against one another.”

          Yes, but I have nothing to do with it.

          ““What other earthlings are there besides us, humans, and non-human animals?” Either you are intentionally missing my point or I need to be more clear.”

          You need to be more clear.

          “Again, I see compassion and exploitation of animals as just another manifestation of the dark and numb side of human culture as it is today.”

          Maybe so, but compassion is an emotion, and you cannot force someone to feel this way or that way. You cannot control people’s emotions. So your efforts will be futile.

          “ I see veganism as an window to shed light on that darkness and, conversely, as we as a society evolve to a more compassionate state, the treatment of non-humans will follow suit.”

          I don’t think human emotions will change. The only hope is in changing politics, views and other aspects of human society. I suggest you read Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature” or see his presentation on this topic on YouTube. I think you will find it very interesting and educational.

        5. Mr. Toad said, “By suggesting that veganism is “the fight for animal rights”…..you’ve excluded anybody that follows a consequentialist theory of ethics.”

          Now I see what our dissagrement is in our discussion above.

        6. Barbara,

          Yes, I would apply it to humans as well. But I think human rights is a useful construct for dealing with matters in modern technological societies. On the other hand, rights aren’t a useful construct for dealing with our interaction with animals.

        7. Mr Toad,

          No, you would not apply consequentialism to humans because then every time there was an accident, you would have to try the person, who caused the accident, for murder. Would you really like to live in such a society?

          “ But I think human rights is a useful construct for dealing with matters in modern technological societies.”

          And it is just as useful for dealing with matters involving non-human animals.

          “On the other hand, rights aren’t a useful construct for dealing with our interaction with animals.”

          Rights very much are useful in protecting non-human animals from human oppression. In fact, if there is something better, tell me what it is.

  26. Leone –
    I am not trying to be argumentative but to understand these claimed distinctions. It seems the process is to first characterize the opponent’s position with partial accuracy and then rail against it. I am not accusing you of that, but I see it on all sides. I don’t even know what a “pacifist” is since one’s refraining from violence depends on the context. If its possible to be unrealistically idealistic its also possible to be too pragmatic and Machiavellian. Each side, if there really are sides, accuses the other of those extremes. If it sounded like I was wringing my hands bemoaning human nature, I am not coming from that. I am, however, bemoaning and impatient with the state of our culture. I is a fact that it has improved vastly over the centuries – I’ve seen it over my lifetime. It still has a long way to go in curbing the inherent and inborn dark side of human nature..

    I do believe that animal liberation does need to be embedded in a human movement – is that in question? If you look at the comatose left when it comes to animal rights, we clearly have not broken through. I really think that this is one major gap where energy should be directed.

  27. Leone –

    Does it have to be only one driving force or another – politics vs morality? I was trying to make the point that they draw strength from each other. The down side of morality is that it alone can’t “act”, but the downside of political movements is that they can be a light saber – pitting one group against another.

    OK, so morality is an imperfect “mystical” ratchet, but the Jim Crow era is a blink of an eye in terms of history of human rights. Do you think the Black Lives Matter movement is a step back from 1865?

    I really don’t understand what you are asking for, to abandon the concept of “moral baseline” and just go on as a power struggle of vegans against proponents of animal exploitation?

    You asked, “Neither Barbara’s particular statement nor what I have said claim that he is using cruelty as a strategy – how do you jump to that?”. I think your proposed interpretation of Francione’s position has to be a mischaracterization when you say Francione “[ACCEPTS] animal suffering in the present”. I feel he, just as most animal rights advocates, accepts the reality on the ground.There is so much suffering that can’t be addressed one at a time – its systemic. For me, it is important to increase public awareness and catalogue the suffering that goes on – people were unaware of how seal fur was obtained. One can stop crime by arming everyone (dubious) or by addressing the root causes directly. At this point I would not agree that all SIC’s are counterproductive but need to be scrutinized in how they are implemented.

    Do you believe his anti-froe gras example to be misguided? Or do believe some SIC’s are acceptable and some are not?

    You said, ” I think I’m going to stick with the actual history and the politics, Paul.” I don’t doubt that you are more versed in history than I am, but your details have not really made the case for me that the animal rights movement should not incorporate a solid “moral baseline”( whether or not it coincides with Francione’s).

    1. Paul – your last point first. Did I offer my comments on anti-slavery abolition as an argument against a moral baseline in the animal rights movement? I have to say that you innocently have a tendency to straw manning (if that is the right term for what I mean).

      Politics is one group pitted against another: compromise and conciliation are part of the art of that politics. Of course morality has a part in politics but the morality is itself political.

      I don’t understand your Black Lives Matter point. But I feel your presentation of Jim Crow as just a blink of an eye in the history of human rights indicates that you tend to view history as basically linear and progressive, and therefore Jim Crow was a anomalous blink in the grand sweep. There is no grand sweep, there is no inexorable onwards and upwards.

      A power struggle between vegans and animal exploiters? Actually I have serious questions about the useful role of veganism in the movement to achieve animal rights/liberation. But yes, ultimately it is a sort of power struggle.

      Re. Francione, see below

      Francione rejects all SICs. I think SICs have their place. I reserve the right to judge SICs case by case.

      1. You say in quotes:
        , “,,, morality is itself political.” I haven’t studied ethics formally but it seems to me that social mores have varying degrees of universality. Not causing animal suffering seems to be a widely accepted belief that can be leveraged, whether one is a reductionist, new-welfarist, or Frabolitionist.

        ” you tend to view history as basically linear and progressive, and therefore Jim Crow was a anomalous blink in the grand sweep. There is no grand sweep, there is no inexorable onwards and upwards.” The jury is still out.

        “Actually I have serious questions about the useful role of veganism in the movement to achieve animal rights/liberation.” So it is not useful as a strategy but will be the natural outcome of a successful movement? Do you subscribe to the “it scares them away” theory?

        “Francione rejects all SICs.” I believe he overstates – maybe for shock value. Again, if the image of a clubbed baby seal was attached to a message connecting this behavior to the larger issue of animal rights, I believe it would be more genuine and powerful. My reaction when I saw it decades ago was instead, “those evil bastards!”

        1. Paul – it seems to you that not causing animal suffering is one of those universal social mores. How then did the the enslavement of animals come about? You have told us that you are not a student of ethics, and not history, perhaps you have something to offer from anthropology? If you think not causing animal suffering is a widely accepted belief that can be leveraged, this opinion must be based on some knowledge that demonstrates that it is widely accepted, and examples that similar widely held beliefs have indeed been leveraged (you would also, ofcourse, need to define what you mean by “leverage”, and give examples of this kind of leverage, take account of other factors that could be been causative, and also give examples demonstrating that your type of leverage achieved the results you ascribe to it).

          As for your grand sweep of history, I am afraid that academic history rejected the onwards and upwards narrative a long time ago. And who is your jury going to be? To give a definitive answer it would need to sit at the very end of all human history, so it must be a divine jury. You must have something better than “the jury is still out” to defend your view.

          ““Francione rejects all SICs.” I believe he overstates – maybe for shock value.” No, Paul, he rejects all SICs.

  28. Paul – to clarify I do not deny an essential role for morality generally and within politics. But narratives which place morality and moral campaigns as the foremost things that bring change are misguided. Furthermore, we must consider how much of morality at any one time is historical and political in origins and nature. Also politics is essentially one group pitted against another, compromise or conciliation is simply part of the art of politics.

    You counter my presentation that your morally “guided” abolition was followed by segregation, etc, by saying Jim Crow was a blink of an eye in terms of the history of human rights. I think you may have a rather linear and progressive view of history, so that Jim Crow is a temporary anomaly in the general sweep. There is no onwards and upwards flow. I don’t really understand your point about Black Lives Matter, but a situation where black men are disportionately shot by the police must illustrate ongoing politics in history not steps on a moral ladder across time.

    My final word on Francione in his particular discussion is that he accepts animal suffering in the present in the sense that he takes no action to ameliorate ANY suffering in the present because he is ideologically set on total abolition in the future. For his position to be a moral one he must believe he is 100pc right. He doesn’t just accept that animals are suffering in the present and that the end of all suffering is in the future, he accepts the position of doing nothing to try to reduce any suffering in the present. That is the point I think you really need to grasp, whatever you think of it.

    1. NB. with regard to the above comment, I thought this comment hadn’t posted, so I then put my arguments in two later comments – one below and one above. That’s why I seem to be repeating myself.

    2. You said, ” it seems to you that not causing animal suffering is one of those universal social mores.” If I used sloppy language causing you to characterize my position, let me be more clear. I believe not causing human suffering is a widely accepted social more. I see veganism as providing the rationale for extending this to sentient beings by appealing to our innate sense of fairness, empathy and consistency. It may fail – I don’t know.

      Again I don’t see a “sweep of history” but rather historical opportunities that present themselves. Socialism was quashed in the US since the 1950’s but there may be a new window opening now that complacency can no longer be relied upon. In addition, huge upheavals such as the agricultural, industrial, and now, communications revolution are game changers. Your sweeping statement regarding the conclusions of academic historians seems premature – are these academic conclusions also unerringly predictive?

      Francione clearly states that he finds SIC’s to be “problematic” and to be avoided unless there is a clear message presented that the specific situation is a symptom of the universal exploitation of all animals. Leaving veganism out of the SIC’s message, for instance, would violate this caveat. He is also clearly very much in favor of dog rescue – is he just being hypocritical?

      1. Paul – your very last point first. Dog rescue isn’t a SIC – when discussing Francione and SICs we must be clear that SICs are campaigns for some sort of reform e.g. banning fur. Dog rescue is simply addressing a need. And before you slip on to saying dog rescue is an example that Francione does support action to stop animal suffering in the present, you must grasp that Francione can afford this exception because it does not infringe his stance on seeking reform within the property and use status of animals, as usually the dogs are no longer owned. I think we must consider whether Francione is engaging in sophistry when he says he would accept a SIC on condition.

        You are, imo, either disingenuous or unwilling to state that you have revised your view when you say you don’t see a sweep of history (by which I take it you refer to what I mean by the grand sweep -or are you shifting the goalposts?), your previous moral engines, inexorable guide, Jim Crow blink demonstrate that you see history as onwards and upwards with some blips.

        When I said that academic historians rejected the onwards and upwards narrative long ago, I meant that they rejected that way of interpreting history and writing about it (the pertinant word being “narrative”). I feel you knew what I meant, but have used a misunderstanding to slog on with your view.

        I’m not going to bother with your other point because I no longer feel I am in an honest discussion or debate. Your tendency to straw man, to slip past things, to engage in sheer repetition to shift the goalposts – I’m not going to say it isn’t all innocent but it is wearisome and suspicious.

  29. Paul – this will be my final comment re. Francione in this particular conversation. Francione doesn’t just accept the reality of animal suffering, he accepts it in the present in the sense that he is set on taking no action in the present to alleviate any of the suffering. Francione is focussed on total abolition in the future, he regards reforms as counter productive because they must act within the property and use status of animals as it exists now and to that extent they tacitly accept that status – such a deliberate act of acceptance undermines the moral value of animal not to be property or be used instrumentally and is therefore inconsistent with believing that animals matter morally and counter productive to really making animals matter morally. I think you need to grasp that Francione accepts animal suffering in the present in the aspect that he would take no action to alleviate it. However, is his position moral? Real animals suffer real pain in the present – surely you have to be 100pc sure of your ideas to leave them to that in favour of a theory of ending all suffering in the future, and even you were 100pc sure doesn’t the question arise of whether the end justifies the means? Francione also has other arguments against reform, such as that welfare reforms never work on the ground, but the position I have outlined is not dependent on these other arguments and would stand alone because it is integral to Francione’s philosophy.

    1. Leone – YES. You’re describing the attitude that in my piece I refer to as “human privilege,” the willingness to let others suffer – lots of others, and egregious suffering – because you’re unwilling to rethink your premises.

      Also, in that piece I almost quoted Alinsky as saying (paraphrased) “generally speaking one’s concerns with means versus ends is inversely proportional to how much you yourself are suffering.” Meaning, quibbling about means versus ends is a luxury afforded to those who aren’t suffering much. I didn’t quote it because he was using it in a slightly different context, but it absolutely pertains.

      1. I think “human privilege” is a very good term. I am sure you are aware of Pattrice Jones’ idea that we should be the allies of animals, not the voice of animals – if they are telling us that they are suffering and want it to stop, we are obligated to find some way to do that NOW however imperfectly. Francione’s stance can be characterised as the big clever human telling the little stupid animal “I’m sorry you will just have to go on suffering because I know what is ultimately best for all animals in every important regard”.

        1. Hillary –

          Francione might be wrong but he claims that the attempts to stop suffering NOW are ineffective and counterproductive. You go a step further and are impugning his motives – I don’t see any other strategies that are any less guilty of your objection to giving “voice” animals or any less examples of human privilege. I like the rhetorical sound of being “allies of animals” but since animals can not speak for themselves, how else can we be of any use to them if we don’t speak for them?

          1. Hi Paul –

            re GF, you’re right – we shouldn’t hypothesize on his motives, and might have crossed the line separating that discussion from the discussion of his impact.

            >since animals can not speak for themselves, how else can we be of any use to them if we don’t speak for them?

            this may be true to a point, but one of the things pattrice and Karen Davis (Eastern Shore Sanctuary) and others are very good at is helping us understand is that animals really can communicate a wide range of wants and needs – through sound, gesture, glance, expression, movement, etc. – and the problem is more than humans won’t listen. it is a very profound point with huge implications. it would be an amazing world if animal speech were respected.

      2. Hillary – Thanks for turning me on to Karen Davis. What an amazing woman. Might try to get down to her sanctuary since I live close by.

    2. For me this discussion centered around the characterization of Francione as not caring about the alleviation of suffering for particular animals. That is clearly false. Since this blog is supposedly focused on strategy and not inferred motives, it would be more enlightening for me to refer to tactics and strategies.

      I believe it is a good strategy to highlight the particular suffering of different species in order to educate and raise the consciousness of the unconscious public. I believe it is a tactical mistake not to refer to these specific issues as part of an overall strategy to eliminate animal use completely. I also believe it is misguided and deceptive to refrain from pointing to veganism as the key behavioral change that is being promoted.

      1. Paul,

        “For me this discussion centered around the characterization of Francione as not caring about the alleviation of suffering for particular animals. That is clearly false.”

        No, it is not false.

        “Since this blog is supposedly focused on strategy and not inferred motives, it would be more enlightening for me to refer to tactics and strategies.”

        His strategy is to use the suffering of animals of today to achieve total abolition for animals of tomorrow.

        “I believe it is a good strategy to highlight the particular suffering of different species in order to educate and raise the consciousness of the unconscious public.”

        Yes, but that is all he wants to do. He does not want to stop it.

        “ I believe it is a tactical mistake not to refer to these specific issues as part of an overall strategy to eliminate animal use completely.”

        So you think like Francione. You want to USE this suffering to achieve the goal of total abolition.

        “ I also believe it is misguided and deceptive to refrain from pointing to veganism as the key behavioral change that is being promoted.”

        We can promote veganism to the public, to individual consumers, and at the same time compromise with businesses to end the most horrific suffering right now. There is no reason why we can’t use both strategies at the same time. One strategy for the demand side, and the other strategy for the supply side.

        1. Barbara – Please give me several clear examples of where Francine, as a baseline belief, states he wants to maintain animal suffering as a strategy. I’m not referring to his objection to single issue campaigns but a clear statement on his part that he doesn’t care about the suffering of certain species. I just don’t see it.

          You can’t be saying that you are against pointing out atrocities unless an organization is formed to address them? A separate non-profit for every species?

          I don’t like the term “compromise with businesses”. Francine is correct in my mind, business will never do what is against their bottom line .( it is, in fact illegal, for a corporation to forego profit to shareholders unless required by regulation . That may not even hold once TPP is passed). When animal advocacy organizations “partner” or “commend” businesses, they are at best dupes and at worst, if you are a cynic, twisted by self-interest. Supply side doesn’t work for economics why should it work for animal advocacy?

        2. Paul,

          “Please give me several clear examples of where Francine, as a baseline belief, states he wants to maintain animal suffering as a strategy.”

          Watch his debate with Bruce Friedrich: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ1qFdR1cHA

          “ I’m not referring to his objection to single issue campaigns but a clear statement on his part that he doesn’t care about the suffering of certain species. I just don’t see it.”

          He says that eliminating the worst forms of suffering will make people comfortable with consuming meat and other products of exploitation of animals.

          “You can’t be saying that you are against pointing out atrocities unless an organization is formed to address them?”

          We should not only be pointing out atrocities but trying to stop them. There are organizations that work to stop the worst cruelties, and Francione is against all of these organizations.

          “I don’t like the term “compromise with businesses”.”

          Call it whatever you want, you know what I mean by this term. We can’t tell a meat producer to stop producing meat, but we can tell it to do away with some forms of cruelty. But we tell the consumers to boycott meat.

          “Francine is correct in my mind, business will never do what is against their bottom line.”

          We will make it against their bottom line to torture animals. We will give them bad publicity. Also, as far as regulations, we should work on these too. In the U.S. many animal protection laws have been passed by referendums. Francione is against those too.

          “When animal advocacy organizations “partner” or “commend” businesses, they are at best dupes and at worst, if you are a cynic, twisted by self-interest.”

          I disagree, but watch the debate. Bruce presented very rational arguments against this view.

          “Supply side doesn’t work for economics why should it work for animal advocacy?”

          I said, we should attack BOTH, supply side and demand side. We compromise with the supply side, but we persuade the demand side to boycott animal products. We attack from two directions.

        3. Barbara –

          I agree with almost everything in your response. I suspect some of the disagreement may evaporate on a case-by-case tactical basis.

          On evidence of complacency – I see it as the predominant obstacle I have had to deal with in personal discussions with non-vegans. I see the flocking to cage-free products, for instance, as evidence that people do feel moral pangs and have found relief in the supermarkets. Maybe it is a transient phenomenon – but without a one-two punch in advocacy, I believe a callous can build up and inhibit progression. For instance, if an egg carton insert said “Now that you’ve shown you care about the suffering of chickens by purchasing this product, consider…..” This is the kind of activism I find the most effective.

          I see regulation as the voice of demand being implemented at the governmental level. A good thing in that regard. Without that demand though, regulation will not pass and will never get out of committee.

        4. Paul,

          “On evidence of complacency – I see it as the predominant obstacle I have had to deal with in personal discussions with non-vegans. I see the flocking to cage-free products, for instance, as evidence that people do feel moral pangs and have found relief in the supermarkets.”

          If that is true (it may not be), then it just means that we have to force these people to reexamine their moral values further.

          “Maybe it is a transient phenomenon – but without a one-two punch in advocacy, I believe a callous can build up and inhibit progression.”

          That is why I say we need to attack both sides: the supply and the demand. We concentrate on promoting veganism and animal rights to the demand side. And this is where individual activists come in. We should let the big orgs attack the supply side.

          “For instance, if an egg carton insert said “Now that you’ve shown you care about the suffering of chickens by purchasing this product, consider…..” This is the kind of activism I find the most effective.”

          Whoever purchases these products has not been yet dealt with (I think). Again, we need to promote veganism to these people.

          “I see regulation as the voice of demand being implemented at the governmental level.”

          Well, unfortunately, presently there is a demand for eggs. We need to reduce it, and finally eliminate it. But in the meantime, we should reduce the suffering of hens.

          “Without that demand though, regulation will not pass and will never get out of committee.”

          Well, if there were no demand, there would be no supply, and we would not have anything to fight for.

  30. Paul, you wrote -<> Clearly you have not read, or don’t want to take on board what I have said about Francione and his acceptance of animal suffering in the present and how this is based in his ideas. And let me make one thing abundantly clear – I am certain that Francione cares passionately about animals and that he cares passionately about ending their suffering, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have ideas that accept animal suffering in the present within his ideology of future total abolition. I am afraid Paul I can not help but see you as a Francione apologist, I don’t think you really want to examine his ideas, you just want keep him as a hero. And let me make another thing clear – I think that Francione has made a major contribution to animal rights theory and we do well to keep revisiting some of his ideas, but really, take the best of Francione and leave the rest.

    And yes, I am gone back on my statement that I wasn’t going to comment on Francione again.

        1. Paul – can you really blame Tobias (if he is aiming at you – I’m not sure) you know that elsewhere he has been frustrated by your seeming unwillingness to take on board points, your repetition, your sliding pass things, your innocent straw manning. Be compassionate in the face of his human error.

          1. no, i wasn’t referring to paul. i just thought “francione apologist” was a nice term in general, as it shows that he does need to be apologized – which i think is true.
            as far as GLF readers go, paul seems to be more open than most and i have good hopes for him 😉

        2. Tobias, can you remove my comment below beginning, “NB in the above comment this quote should have been present…”. It doesn’t make sense any more.

      1. I appreciate your “good hopes”. The repartee is engaging but what I am trying to understand is where the line should be drawn on strategy (I’m trying to stick to your theme, Tobias). It seems counterproductive to make it, Francione vs the rest of the sane and reasonable advocates. Leone admits that Francione has made real contributions to the cause of animal liberation, why not incorporate some of them ( despite the potential gloat-factor on Francione’s part)? I don’t see evidence of that critical, give-and-take construction of a robust strategy. If its there, tell me where to look. I don’t appreciate blanket statements from any side of this debate.

        For instance, I believe Francione’s claim, that the capitalist-as-ally is a dead end, is right on. Is he wrong? Barbara’s belief that we need a two-pronged demand/supply approach, sounds so practical, but is it really? Regulation is always demand-driven anyway in a democracy – what’s left to control supply? I consider capitalist Mackey to be from the dark side – particularly because he claims to be vegan. I could never imagine associating myself or my organization with his corporation. (You look at the oblivious Whole Foods Market shoppers and realize it might as well be Walmart.) Is this a misguided observation on my part?

        So where do we draw the line? Do we partner with anyone or any organization as long as there is some hope that animal suffering will be reduced, maybe, in the short run? When is a moral message appropriate? Is it useful tactically to downplay veganism in the message? Is public complacency with a new and slightly reduced ‘suffering index’ status quo truly a non-issue? And under what circumstances is it justified to compromise principles?

        What’s the game plan here?

        1. Paul,

          “It seems counterproductive to make it, Francione vs the rest of the sane and reasonable advocates.”

          This is what Francione has made it to be. We don’t attack Francione’s strategy or his activism. He attacks everyone else.

          “Leone admits that Francione has made real contributions to the cause of animal liberation, why not incorporate some of them”

          Francione has made a real contribution to the ideology of animal rights. Yes, I agree, I wish more activists would learn the arguments he presented in his book, “Introduction to Animal Rights”. Too many activists can’t even present a coherent argument for the case of animal rights.

          “For instance, I believe Francione’s claim, that the capitalist-as-ally is a dead end, is right on. Is he wrong?”

          No one says that meat, egg, dairy producers and other animal exploiters are our allies. We compromise with them to alleviate some of the worst suffering. Or sometimes we force them by law to change their practices.

          “Barbara’s belief that we need a two-pronged demand/supply approach, sounds so practical, but is it really? Regulation is always demand-driven anyway in a democracy”

          Yes, regulation can be demand driven, as we have seen in the many cases of voter initiatives. We should use voter initiatives to alleviate some of the worst suffering right now. I see nothing wrong with this strategy.

          “ – what’s left to control supply?”

          We can use the demand side to control the supply side.

          “ Do we partner with anyone or any organization as long as there is some hope that animal suffering will be reduced, maybe, in the short run?”

          Why do we have to partner? We make demand, use public exposure, legislature and other methods to damage their reputation if they don’t give in to our demands.

          “When is a moral message appropriate?”

          When talking with consumers.

          “ Is it useful tactically to downplay veganism in the message?”

          No. We must promote veganism to consumers.

          “ Is public complacency with a new and slightly reduced ‘suffering index’ status quo truly a non-issue?”

          There is no evidence for this. Again, watch the debate I posted above.

          “And under what circumstances is it justified to compromise principles?”

          When we are negotiating with the supply side.

          “What’s the game plan here?”

          As I said, we negotiate and compromise with the supply side, but we promote veganism to the demand side.

          1. Barbara,
            You write to Paul, “As I said, we negotiate and compromise with the supply side, but we promote veganism to the demand side.”

            Can you tell us what “promote veganism to the demand side” consists of to you?
            How does asking people if they have a mind of their own promote veganism?

        2. Christine,

          “Can you tell us what “promote veganism to the demand side” consists of to you?”

          Protesting, leafleting, tabling, discussing veganism with non-vegans either face to face, online, phone, email, etc.

          “How does asking people if they have a mind of their own promote veganism?”

          I answered this question above:
          “It was a rhetorical question. Of course the answer would be yes without a doubt. But what I was driving at is what follows that answer, namely, if she can think for herself, then why is she letting other people tell her what to do. You gave her a lot of information, but it is going to help her with her friends and family threatening her that they are going to exclude her if she goes completely vegan? I was addressing her problem.”

        3. Tobias,

          “Jennifer may be able to move more people than many 100% vegans”

          How exactly? By talking down to people? By being arrogant and know-it-all? By putting people down? By manipulating people emotionally? By not allowing other people to think for themselves? By giving people a bunch of links (as if she were the only one who knew how to use Google). How exactly?

        4. It has been asserted that Francione rejects the capitalist as ally. In fact Francione’s position is more complicated than that. When speaking about welfare reform, Francione will assert that the only welfare measures that pass are those that benefit industry. Then, part of the Frabolitionist strategy is that making more vegans creates market shifts that the rational capitalist will respond to by producing more vegan products and winding down animal agriculture. This is the supposed outcome of grasping consumer power. Furthermore, Francione is critical and dismissive of an anti-capitalist approach to achieving animal rights/ liberation – he has written that capitalism in itself is not a fundamental problem in this regard. So, Francione’s position covers three points (at least) – capitalists are devious and welfarists ignore this; capitalists are rational and at the command of consumers and we can exploit this; capitalism isn’t a problem. Infact Francione, in terms of animal rights/liberation has no systematic analysis of capitalism. Indeed, it can be argued that his theory and strategy sit nicely within capitalism. As an aside, there is an argument out there that Francione actually does the work of animal industries – Google supremacymyth and fifth column vegans.

    1. Leone –
      I certainly do not consider Francione a “hero”. I am finding my own path in animal advocacy and want to draw on as much as I can. Much of what he says resonates, and is enlightening – some does not. I am trying to understand the advocacy movement as well and was drawn to Tobias’ site to learn more. Right now I see blatant as well as veiled ad hominem arguments – Francione is the Devil – so far I am not convinced. If I challenge these assertions, does that make me an apologist by definition or do I just go with the flow? I am struck by the animosity and feel the need to understand it if I am going to be effective and to make some attempt at damage control.

      1. I still feel you are an apologist. I have kept in mind that you have expressed some degree of difference with Francione on a few points, but I don’t think an apologist has to maintain that the hero is faultless, just that despite his feet of clay, the hero is good. I would assert that I have not insinuated that Francione is the devil (did you note that I said he has made a major ccontribution to theory), I have been vigorous in pointing out some problems with his ideas. I would feel more inclined to your self-defence if you had engaged with my exposition of Francione’s position with animal suffering in the present – but on that topic you tended to put your energy into thin responses and comments that people were just being nasty to him. I have to tell you that I did toy with the thought that you were a rather subtle Frabolitionist troll, but I dismissed that as being insufficiently substantiated. I can simply repeat that you appear an apologist to me.

        1. “I can simply repeat that you appear an apologist to me.” I have not been involved with animal rights long enough to be an “…ist” for anyone. I am listening and responding and, as many other newish vegans have noted, am surprised and dismayed by the discord. ( It takes more than one to tango.)

          If Francione believes that certain strategies minimally or do not alleviate “suffering in the present” and delay alleviating in the future, then the disagreement is one of strategy not intent as you portray it. I have a lot of sympathy for his mixed-message concerns but, other than my own observations and anecdotal evidence, I have not made final conclusions. i had hoped to defer in part to the more experienced advocates on this site, but most of the objections seem to center around his style and motives. (Yes, I’ve read Tobias’ essays on Francione)

          So dismiss me if you need to – I continue to listen to what you and others have to say on this site.

        2. Leone-

          It would not surprise me that Francione has an incomplete understanding of the role of capitalism on animal rights issues. I just don’t know. It may also be that he feels capitalism is here to stay and he is resigned to working within the confines of that reality. The response to what the impacts of capitalism are depends on the particular alternative to capitalism envisioned, doesn’t it? The word, “socialism” really has lost its meaning today and is used mainly as a pejorative (at least in the US). So far, the alternatives have done nothing for animals.

          I believe capitalism is the root of many evils, with a huge negative impact on animals. From a strategic viewpoint, taking on capitalism and animal rights may just be too overwhelming – substantiating every crackpot slur against those crazy vegan types.

          What is your take on the role of capitalism and how should that be included or not in the vegan message?.

      2. Paul – I have not dwelt on Francione’s “intent”, I have tried to show how his acceptance of animal suffering in the present arises from his ideas, specifically the property and use status of animals and the moral and strategy imperative not to work within this. You have misrepresented me , and you say you listen, so say, what is your problem? And please move on from people are being nasty to Francione (“style and motives”).

    2. What does “acceptance of animal suffering” mean? Accepts as a reality or actively welcomes it as a cold and calculating strategy? After hearing your accusations I truly listened to Francione’s words and tone of voice and don’t sense the latter. You just write me off as either dense or disingenuous – why can’t I just see what is so clearly obvious?

      So maybe its not worth wasting time convincing me personally of anything. But I am just the kind of person I would want to be able to persuade. You accuse me of being repetitious,unwilling to take on board points, sliding pass[sic] things, and creating innocent straw men. Could it be that the arguments I’ve heard contain a lot of disjointed gotcha’s?

      I guess I’m busted as a surreptitious Francione sycophant troll. I’m not in anyone’s choir.

  31. NB, in the above comment, this quote should have been present after, “Paul, you wrote – “, “For me this discussion centered around the characterization of Francione as not caring about the alleviation of suffering for particular animals. That is clearly false. Since this blog is supposedly focused on strategy and not inferred motives, it would be more enlightening for me to refer to tactics and strategies.”

  32. Paul, you know perfectly well what I mean about Francione accepting animal suffering in the present, I have made myself quite clear, for some reason you don’t want to take that on board and debate it. Instead you present words, tone of voice, sensing.. what kind of critical analysis is that? Francione said apple not orange and he said it in a really nice voice … In Britain we have this term – wind-up merchant. I think you are one. As well as everything else. My engagement with you is now at an end.

  33. Christine is concerned about Barbara’s brusque response to Jennifer’s tentativeness regarding going vegan in the face of social pressures. If I have that right, I think this is a very common and useful interaction to examine from a “vegan strategist” perspective. (Even if I am misinterpreting the discussion, I think it still is useful to discuss)

    Many vegans tend to rebels by nature. I personally welcome any opportunity I get to proclaim my veganism to anyone, whether on a t-shirt or my vanity license plate. I am not as sensitive to other personality types as I should be and lose patience thinking something like, “you agree you are concerned about animals and yet you are too timid to commit publicly to that?!”

    Are there ways to encourage those with a less rebellious nature to also participate, be active and unashamed of their beliefs regarding the plight of animals? Its often advised not to discuss politics or religion – its a statement and observation about our society that can’t be swept under the rug.

    My solution in some situations has been to appeal to the acceptable self-centered reasons for going vegan. I might say in one sentence something like, “I became vegan initially for health reasons but in the process I became more aware of and dismayed by what happens to animals that we use for food and other things….” and hope to lead into a more extensive discussion. If not, it as least does two things: (1) It declares my beliefs in a non-accusitory way and (2) It makes a connection by not disparaging as amoral a non-vegan who just doesn’t “get it” immediately on a moral basis. At the same time I am actually declaring that I have discovered there is, indeed, a moral basis.

    I would really be interested in hearing the experiences others have had with communicating with and guiding non-vegans toward veganism.

    1. That’s a great idea, Paul. I’d be very interested in that, too. I think your own solution you described is great.
      I’m glad to see you weren’t gone for long… 🙂
      I don’t always manage to read everybody’s comments, but I know that many of yours have especially stood out for me with as words of wisdom and have gotten me thinking.

      1. p.s. Here are two resources regarding communicating with and guiding non-vegans toward veganism and studies done examining different messages, leaflets, wording, pictures, etc., if you’d be interested in that.
        I think it would still be very interesting to get the take of “the man on the ground”, if you will, and what “ordinary vegans” have found works or doesn’t work for them.

        https://faunalytics.org/
        “Faunalytics is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to helping animals by providing useful information to advocates to help them increase their impact.

        Faunalytics conducts opinion polls, audience surveys, focus groups and other types of research. Our results can help you understand how people think, so you can choose the best ways to influence them. That makes you more powerful in creating change for animals.”

        https://humaneleaguelabs.wordpress.com/
        “We’re a research project of The Humane League, and we carry out direct testing to improve vegan advocacy efforts. Our goal is to figure out which images, messages, and approaches inspire the most diet change and spare the greatest number of farm animals.

        Up until now, the vegan advocacy movement has relied mainly on assumptions and anecdotes to guide their work. We think that by rigorously applying the scientific method to vegan advocacy work, we can significantly improve the effectiveness of leaflets, videos, websites, media stories, etc. Even marginal improvements – like making these materials 20 to 30% more effective – can spare the lives of millions of additional farm animals.”

    2. p.s. Sorry Paul, I forgot to mention that yes, that is correct where you wrote, “Christine is concerned about Barbara’s brusque response to Jennifer’s tentativeness regarding going vegan in the face of social pressures.”
      I firmly believe that we shouldn’t be silent or hide the truth or our beliefs, but I also believe that there are certain ways to go about expressing those things that are better than other ways, if you want to be as effective as possible in so far as positively promoting veganism.

        1. Barbara,
          Can you tell me how you’ve come to your conclusion that I think preaching is better? I actually strongly believe that preaching is one of the very worst things an advocate could do, or be interpreted as doing.

          Can you tell me how you’ve come to your conclusion that I was “preaching” in the first place?
          If you used the Socratic Method, it seems you might be missing some steps if you came to that conclusion.

          Jennifer replied to me with, “Thank you so much for your understanding and for the wealth of information you’ve put at my fingertips.”

          How did that information and statement come into play regarding the conclusion you came to that I was preaching?
          Or did you not take into consideration the viewpoint of the recipient I was “preaching” to?

        2. Nobody “thinks for themselves”, instead they think on top of a variety of assumptions and cultural beliefs. You can use the Socratic method to identify some of those assumptions, find common ground, etc but this isn’t necessarily going to lead people to some intended goal.

          You’re not going to change the world with Socratic questioning, nor philosophy in general, you must make use of effective propaganda (or “strategy”). Philosophy is a critical tool to deal with the conceptual analysis of the underlying ideas, to give matters a solid foundation, etc…..but this is merely a foundation to build on.

    3. Paul,

      As I said, it was a rhetorical question. Jennifer does not seem to be very rebellious and seems to let people tell her what to do. I wanted her to say something like, “Yes, damn it! I have a mind of my own so I should not let other people dictate to me what I should and should not eat”.

      1. Barbara –
        I suffer from your “problem” too 🙂 so I can identify with your exasperation. I am trying to learn how to be conscious of other people’s styles from a strategic standpoint. I have to admit, it is difficult and I’m still in the observation stage. Some people are more “rule followers” than others, and it serves them well – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t independent thinkers – it does mean that breaking with the social norm is intimidating. They are not the “low hanging fruit” when it comes to going vegan. I just need to find a way to leverage that world view so that the “new rule” is more attractive than the old. I’m not talking about sugar coating or diluting the vegan message – but rather speaking in terms of their language.

        As far as Jennifer’s tentativeness – maybe the scenario can be reversed. If a family member or friend was a recovering alcoholic or orthodox Jew, would she feel angry at them for their diet preference or would she go out of her way to make them feel comfortable in her presence – and feel a bit of compassion for that person? Doesn’t Jennifer deserve to have friends like herself? So when one sees that golden rule being broken in a social situation – which rule do you chose?

        If anyone has any suggestions – please let me know.

        1. i just don’t understand the focus on jennifer’s remaining 5%-unvegannness. why do we so desperately need her to cross the remaining 5%? what will happen then? What is behind this, from our side? How she behaves etc is much more impôrtant than those remaining 5%, and there is a good chance that her flexible behaviour might be more attractive to a lot of people (i have often thought being a 95% vegan might be more attractive to others, though maybe unfortunately i can’t do it)

        2. Paul wrote, “I’m not talking about sugar coating or diluting the vegan message – but rather speaking in terms of their language.”
          That is exactly the idea I’ve been trying to express; thanks for finding the words to put it so concisely! 🙂
          I’m trying to suggest using known human psychology in order to better understand how to speak to another person and speak their “language”.

          Of course, we all speak the same language (English here at least), but there are also many varied nuances to each person’s own “personal language”. Some people can take a strong approach & questioning, while many others can’t.

          That is just one example; no person is the same….so it’s to your advantage if you want to reach a person, to have some idea of how to best go about doing that so that you actually engage the person vs. turning them off and away from your message and/or question.

        3. But doesn’t non-vegan wine make up 5% of your diet, Tobias?? lol 😉

          I agree with you about Jennifer completely. Her situation here has somehow been turned into an example in the larger picture in a lot of the conversation.
          I think the progress she has made deserves applause. And you’re also correct that just “letting somebody be” as a vegetarian may hold more tangible change for the animals vs. overloading a person with a vegan message.

        4. Paul,

          I don’t have a problem. It is Christine and Tobias that have a problem with me, a personal problem. They attack me for everything.

          I go after every fruit. As I said, I have even been debating on a Facebook fan page of 30,000 meat eating fanatics.

          The best way to learn how to be effective is by doing it, by practicing, by your own experience. I have such experience, and lots of it, so I am not going to let Christine and Tobias tell me how to do it (I am not even convinced that they know how to do it effectively).

          “I’m not talking about sugar coating or diluting the vegan message “

          That is what Tobias is doing. He won’t even argue that killing animals is murder.

          “– but rather speaking in terms of their language.”

          Oh no! I will not stoop down to that level. I always use civilized language.

          “As far as Jennifer’s tentativeness – maybe the scenario can be reversed. If a family member or friend was a recovering alcoholic or orthodox Jew, would she feel angry at them for their diet preference or would she go out of her way to make them feel comfortable in her presence – and feel a bit of compassion for that person?”

          But it is her family that is attacking her for being vegan (or close to it).

          “Doesn’t Jennifer deserve to have friends like herself?”

          Right now, she doesn’t even know where she fits in—she is not a vegan, and she is not a meat eater.

          “So when one sees that golden rule being broken in a social situation – which rule do you chose?”

          I don’t know what you are asking really? I don’t get into social situations when I promote veganism. I debate people (or hand out leaflets, etc.).

        5. Christine and Tobias,

          ““letting somebody be” as a vegetarian may hold more tangible change for the animals vs. overloading a person with a vegan message.”

          So you are not promoting veganism! You are fakes.

        6. Christine,

          Paul wrote, “I’m not talking about sugar coating or diluting the vegan message – but rather speaking in terms of their language.”

          You replied, “That is exactly the idea I’ve been trying to express;”

          But then you said, “just “letting somebody be” as a vegetarian may hold more tangible change for the animals vs. overloading a person with a vegan message.”

          You will just say anything to manipulate people, won’t you?

          “I’m trying to suggest using known human psychology in order to better understand how to speak to another person and speak their “language”.”

          All you need to know is the language. But what you want to do is manipulate people.

          “That is just one example; no person is the same….so it’s to your advantage if you want to reach a person, to have some idea of how to best go about doing that so that you actually engage the person vs. turning them off and away from your message and/or question.”

          I talk with people I don’t know personally. I talk to many people at once (there are over 7 billion people on this planet, if we try to reach them one by one, we will never be able to do it.). And you turned me off with your message of arrogance and “no one knows better than me”.

  34. Barbara,
    You also wrote, “You do like to split hair, don’t you?”

    If that is how you categorize figuring out the best and most effective ways to address people so that there are tangible results, then yes, I do like to split hairs. I’m sure the animals appreciate me trying my best to be the most effective advocate I can be for them and making their lives better. If that takes splitting hairs, then so be it.

      1. Barbara,
        I’m now wondering if you also tell those on the Facebook group of 30,000 meat eaters to shove it up their nose?

        You claim that Tobias and I are attacking you. I believe that all we have done is point out inconsistencies in your comments and your conclusions.

        For example, this:
        Christine: “If you were to take the known psychology of what motivates people & gets people to really listen & hear you, and combined that with the Socratic Method, I’m sure you’d have much better results.”

        Barbara: “No, thank you.”

        Christine: “Knowing what engages people vs. what turns them off is going to be more effective than simply posing a question to someone however you want to.”

        Barbara: “I know what engages people. I have much experience with this.”

        Based on that statement, it would appear to me that if you have much experience with and know what engages people, then you do actually take psychology into consideration.

        Or did you not take psychology into consideration in regards to figuring out, “I know what engages people”?

        I will take leave of our conversation now. I must go shove something up my nose. 🙂

        1. Christine,

          “ I’m now wondering if you also tell those on the Facebook group of 30,000 meat eaters to shove it up their nose?”

          No, because they don’t behave like you.

          “You claim that Tobias and I are attacking you. I believe that all we have done is point out inconsistencies in your comments and your conclusions.”

          No, you attack me.

          “For example, this:
          Christine: “If you were to take the known psychology of what motivates people & gets people to really listen & hear you, and combined that with the Socratic Method, I’m sure you’d have much better results.”
          Barbara: “No, thank you.””

          And I repeat: Don’t tell me what to do!

          “Christine: “Knowing what engages people vs. what turns them off is going to be more effective than simply posing a question to someone however you want to.”
          Barbara: “I know what engages people. I have much experience with this.””

          I stand by what I said, and you are the one who made me angry.

          “Based on that statement, it would appear to me that if you have much experience with and know what engages people, then you do actually take psychology into consideration.”

          No, I don’t. I present rational arguments and facts. I don’t involve any emotions in my debates with meat eaters.

          “Or did you not take psychology into consideration in regards to figuring out, “I know what engages people”?”

          I know what engages people because they talk to me, they don’t ignore me.

          “I will take leave of our conversation now. I must go shove something up my nose”

          Good! I am tired of you telling me what to do like you know better. Your arrogance is insulting.

        2. This is a “strategy” site,. This discussion seems to be a good example of the conflicts in approaches among vegans. I find myself on both sides – but there is a matter of context that is involved here. Since this is a “veganstratigist” forum, anyone entering it should expect to run into huge differences in opinions – I don’t believe Tobias meant is as ‘strategies on how to go vegan’. Jennifer may have inadvertently stepped into something – I don’t know for sure.

          There are direct and no-holds-barred, Barbaras ,and more nuanced, Christines. If this were a site on guiding people to go vegan, I do feel it does pay to listen to the potential vegan – what are they asking? I heard Jennifer asking how to resolve an inner conflict between her concern for animals and her concern for her relations with friends and family. I think Barbara’s response was that she shouldn’t be concerned which doesn’t really have much impact. If someone is sad, telling them that they shouldn’t be sad is dismissive and ineffective. On the other hand, it is good advice to suggest that one should rethink placing other people’s prejudices over one’s core beliefs. I would love to see some of the dialogue between the rabid meat-eaters and Barbara – probably could learn a lot – not for the faint of heart.

          I do think that 98% vegan and eating eggs and dairy is ultimately not “good enough” for the animals. But to get to 100% it takes varying amounts of “thinking for ourselves” to reach that 100%. If Jennifer wasn’t seriously thinking about it, I don’t think she would have asked the question.

  35. I’m signed up for Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s “Daily Dose of Compassion” and thought today’s quote was quite relevant to some of the conversation going on here.

    “It’s not that we CAN make a difference. It’s that we DO make a difference. Everything we do has an impact on something or someone else. We don’t get to decide whether we CAN make a difference. We get to decide only if the difference we make is negative or positive. There are no neutral actions.”

    ~Colleen Patrick Goudreau

    The animals have no voice; we are their only voice.
    Do we want to make a negative or positive difference for them?
    Are we willing to take the time & energy to educate ourselves on how to make the best positive difference we possibly can for the animals?
    Will we continue to fall back on ways that may have worked for us in the past, but are no longer effective or even detrimental? Or ways that are comfortable simply because they are familiar?
    Or will we do what it takes to become as effective as we possibly can be?

    Nobody is perfect, of course, definitely including me. But because I’m speaking for and representing those who can’t, I’m going to try to do the best I can personally do, and that includes education on and learing how to be the best possible advocate I can be.

    1. Christine wrote, “I’m going to try to do the best I can personally do, and that includes education on and learing how to be the best possible advocate I can be.”

      Yeah, “I’m the best! Everyone, look at me! You must do as I do.”

      Shove it up your nose, Christine!

      I expect to be banned for this comment because there seems to be some kind of a clique here, so good bye! I have had enough of your negativity. Ever since I came here, I have been put down by you and Tobias. I don’t know what kind of a group this is, but I am now very suspicious. Tobias doesn’t even believe that killing animals is murder, and he only talks at AR conferences. He dismissed my pro-AR argument because I did not suck up to the person, to whom I was presenting it! He also says that we must love meat eaters (I wonder if he would tell LGBT activists to love homophobes.) Mr Toad also dismisses the concept of animal rights. And all this put down because of a simple rhetorical question! All this is very suspicious, to say the least.

      1. Barbara,
        I not sure when I put you down and remember having only been civil towards you. I have not read the whole dialogue between Christine and you but knowing her, I trust she has been civil too.
        I am sure that you have the best intentions for the animals, and I’m equally sure it is pretty hard to make you see things from other people’s views. You pride yourself on using rational arguments, but you don’t seem to be very much open to them. How can you expect meat eaters to listen to you and act rationally when you are acting this irrationally yourself, at polite email conversation? You feel attacked (while i think you are not) and you go in attack modus saying nasty things. Then you end with voicing suspicions about our intentions. In the mean time, you have alienated Jennifer, with whom this started. You can blame Jennifer, Christine and me for what is happening, but I would invite you to critically check your own behaviour too.
        If you want to stay, i have to ask you to take a break and come back with politer conversation. otherwise, and if you suspect us of all kinds of things, i think it’s better you stay away.
        best wishes
        Tobias

        1. Hey Tobias,
          I just wanted to let you know that I did try my best to be civil towards Barbara in my conversation and confrontation with her. I’m sorry for being a part of your blog turning into the venue for a verbal boxing ring, though. I was hoping Socratic questioning might work both ways with Barbara, but I guess that backfired.

          If anybody has any advice or feedback for me as far as my conversation with Barbara, please let me know. Was I too confrontational? Did I word something in a weird or wrong way? How could I have handled things better? Any thoughts from anybody who had been following our conversation, please let me know if you don’t mind sharing. 🙂
          Thanks!

        2. The thing about “Socratic question” is that its a method to clarify the underlying ideas and come to a common understanding of matters, its NOT a method to try to convince someone of some proposition you think is true. So there was never any “Socratic questioning” here……just a debate!

        3. Thanks, Tobias. 🙂
          And Mr. Toad, you wrote “its NOT a method to try to convince someone of some proposition you think is true.”
          NOW you tell me! lol 😉

          No, seriously…I do appreciate and I’m open to any and all feedback. Even if I “technically” didn’t do anything wrong and was able to remain civil, in the end it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s about getting results for the animals.

          So, anything I can do to better myself as far as how I communicate is of interest to me and I try to keep an open mind knowing there is always, always, room for improvement.

  36. Hi, I’ve been busy (I’m in college, I work, and I just moved), so thus the lack of response. I’m surprised but glad to have sparked such an exchange! Give me a bit to ruminate upon what’s been discussed in my absence and then I’ll give a length reply or two. 🙂

    Also, Barbara: after seeing how you interact with others here, I do not wish to interact with you. You have made your opinions and beliefs exceedingly clear and I will not challenge them, and in turn please do not disparage me or my beliefs.

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