At veganstrategist.org we were able to get our hands on a confidential document, coming from somewhere high up the International Animal Food Producers Union (IAFPU). What we have is an interview with a Mr Ham Burger. Mr Burger appears to be a strategist within the meat industry. In this classified interview, Mr Burger is asked for his favorite strategies to undermine the growing animal rights movement. Let’s read and learn… **
Interviewer: In the USA and Europe, meat consumption is declining, and that is at least in part due to the work of animal rights and vegan activists. It has come to our attention that you have been tasked to develop a strategic plan to structurally undermine this movement, both from within and without. Is that correct?
Ham Burger: Oh yes. We can no longer afford to let things run their course and we are now in attack modus. We’ve had some moderate successes in the US with the ag-gag laws, but we’re not sure if they’ll hold up and there’s a lot of resistance against them. So we are looking into many other options.
Interviewer: Can you talk about some of those options?
Ham Burger: Sure thing. First of all, we made a map of the movement. Our enemies, as it were. We’ve looked at the connections between them, and singled out the main players.
The big organisations like HSUS, Peta, Mercy for Animals, Farm Sanctuary, and in Europe, Animal Equality and Proveg International are the most dangerous and hence are the most important to tackle. We need to hit these groups where it hurts: in their funding, which comes from individual citizens. Our plan of attack for these organisations is twofold. Among the general population, we want to spread the message that these groups are incredibly radical, dreaming of a world that none of us, normal citizens, want (a world without meat and dairy!?). Internally, within the movement itself, we will focus on the opposite. We will say that these groups are not that radical at all. We’ll say that they are actually in bed with us, the meat industry, and that these groups’ goal is not a vegan world, or at least, that they are extremely ineffective. We might also play the moral card, saying that what they do is actually immoral from an animal rights point of view.
Interviewer: Something like this?
Ham Burger: Hey, this is awesome! Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, ineffective and immoral, right. You know, what’s really damaging to us is these groups’ lobbying for animal welfare legislation. Legislation regarding animal welfare makes everything so much more difficult for us, and in the end will make animal products a lot more expensive, which will inevitably cause demand to slow down further. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem too difficult to make the movement believe that this lobbying for welfarist regulations is really problematic.
Interviewer: Some people call them steps in a backward direction…
Ham Burger: Right, see, they already believe this. So, another thing I would try to convince the animal rights movement of, is to communicate as radical and absolutist as possible. I don’t have to tell you that our industry is not afraid of that little fringe part of the movement that wants everything right here, right now and sees things very much in black and white. What’s dangerous is when the movement starts to be reasonable and patient. What’s dangerous is when they start telling the public that they can go step by step. It’s just basic psychology that a much bigger number of people will want to start taking steps when they’re being asked to do something that seems actually feasible. So, anyway, it would be great if the animal rights movement would be as black and white as possible, ideally telling everyone to go vegan, and that everything else, everything short of vegan, is pretty much worthless.
Interviewer: I found this on the web. Is it yours?
Ham Burger: Ah, interesting. Well, no… but it could have been. Who’s this from?
Interviewer: Some guy. So, considering what you just said, I assume you think that the Meatless Monday campaign is really problematic?
Ham Burger: Oh yes, that [expletive crossed out] is just a disaster for our industry. That single [expletive crossed out] campaign creates so many meat reducers, that all together they could really tip the system. All these ah… we call them reducetarians… all these people are together the main cause for the decline in sales and consumption of meat. It’s hard to discredit the campain for a general public, but within the movement we have some ideas.
Interviewer: Maybe like this?
Ham Burger: Yes. We’ve’ll emphasize that Meatless Mondays are not necessarily vegan, and of course this campaign is by definition incremental, so it should be possible to convince part of the movement not to support this and actively speak out against it. Can you send me a copy of this?
Interviewer: Sure thing. What else do you think is important to focus on from the industry side?
Ham Burger: I must say, every time a celebrity has some kind of vegan stint, we’re terrified, to be honest. They get such huge attention for that, it’s incredible. Have you seen what happened when Clinton or Beyonce jump on this vegan thing? Of course you’ve seen it, because it was in the news all over the world. It’s just terrible. Again, I’m not sure how to discredit that with the general population, but within the animal rights movement I think our approach should be to point out their hypocrisy – most of these celebrities are not perfect vegans, or full time vegans, so it’s not difficult to show that. That way, we hope to get part of the movement to attack the celebrities through social media and thus alienate them from the vegetarian movement. Maybe then they will shut up about their eating habits, or, ideally turn back to meat, you know. And then with people like Ricky Gervais, who care about lions and giraffes, but are not yet talking about meat, we have to make sure they stay that way. Maybe if the animal rights movement gives him enough flack he’d get really disgusted with them. That’s the hope, at least.
Interviewer: Something like this meme?
Ham Burger: Yes, spot on!
Interviewer: What is extremely damaging for the industry, it seems to me, are all those undercover investigations, and especially the media attention they are getting. You talked about ag-gag laws, but do you have other plans?
Ham Burger: Ag-gag laws have been partially successful, but we’re also looking to undermine the support for these investigations within the animal rights movement. We are thinking of maybe planting the argument that these investigations are unethical, as the activists have to actually participate in the things they are against, you know. Or at the very least, they have to watch without doing anything. Both facts seem to run against the animal rights philosophy, if you ask me. On top of that, by now, these organisations must have so much material already that we could argue that, given that these investigations are unethical, they are also redundant. Also, we could point out that maybe publishing this undercover footage doesn’t really contribute to the abolition of meat, but rather to improving welfare.
Interviewer: Right. I can see that.
Ham Burger: Now, I kept the most important thing for last. The animal rights movement – or animal liberation movement or whatever… they are constantly arguing amongst themselves about which groups should call themselves what, but we honestly don’t care. Animal rights, liberation, protection… to us it’s all the same, but they seem obsessed with the terminology somehow. Anyway, I digress. This movement is mainly focused on moral arguments. They try to make people see that it’s wrong to kill and eat animals, or that the conditions in which the animals are raised are wrong, etcetera. Now, we don’t believe they can ever win this fight based on morality alone. However, what is very dangerous to us is the rise of all these new alternatives, especially the products the new Silicon Valley startups have come up with…
Interviewer: You mean companies like Just, Beyond Meat, Impossible foods…? What are you doing against them?
Ham Burger: Exactly, all those guys. The moment they manage to develop true alternatives for any of our animal products, which are not more expensive, just as tasty, not derived from animals, and maybe even healthier and – I hate to say it – more sustainable… that will be when the [expletive deleted] really hits the fan. So, in terms of what we’ve been doing… Not that much for now. This is something our task force (myself and my colleagues, Mr Nugget and Ms Chop) are giving a lot of attention presently. We’ve had some failures, like the Unilever suit against Just, and some very small successes, like the smear campaign against Daiya Foods [who got a lot of flack for using non vegan dishes in its advertising – ed. ], and a very critical article on Just in a magazine, where a journalist was able to dig up some dirt about them through ex-employees. But like I said, we’re looking into this and much more needs to be done.
Interviewer: Do you think the movement itself could be enlisted in some resistance against these products or companies?
Ham Burger: Yes, I think there are possibilities. We may try to influence opinions in terms of these products not being natural, for instance. In the case of cell-based meat, many vegetarians are already against it, saying it’s still meat and still encourages the idea that meat is necessary, etcetera. So I think we’ve got some stuff to go on, yes. Also, our research seems to point out that in a very general sense, a big part of the movement wants the revolution to happen for moral reasons, and preferably for moral reasons alone. So they’re not really that enthusiastic about people switching because alternatives are cheaper, healthier or tastier…
Interviewer: Thanks for this interview, Mr Burger. I hope to touch base with you at a later stage, when some of these ideas have been firmed up.
Ham Burger: Thanks. Definitely.
** Just to make sure: this is *satire* 🙂
References: except for the first, all pictures, including the text on undercover investigations, have been published on this Facebook Page.
56 thoughts on “What the meat industry can do against the animal rights movement”
I usually try to find something snarky to say, but I am so in awe, I’m nearly speechless. Bravo!
Thx. Wanna share? 🙂
I hope this gets shared everywhere and goes viral! Amazing work, Tobias! 🙂
Do they say “OH SNAP!” in Belgium?! 🙂
WOW! I’m in awe and almost speechless, too! WOW!
Dear Mr. Francione,
I am writing to you to thank you for your outstanding work supporting the cause of the IAFPU. Whether intentional or not, the end results you’ve achieved are more than we could have ever dared hoped for. You have managed to reach and alienate the public sector from veganism in ways we could have never imagined.
On behalf of myself, my collegues Mr. Nugget, and Ms. Chop, and the entire staff of the IAFPU, we thank you very much!
Mr. Ham Burger
A masterpiece Tobias 🙂 Will definitely share 😉
I´m lovin it,
Damn! You are good, Tobias. I see yesterday two vegan pages share and call to account the Animals Australia strategies. They might as well be blaming women for their husbands beating them to death.
Watch documentary “A meaty issue” online here: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/…/play/53763/A-meaty-issue
For his bestseller “Eating Animals”, the US author Jonathan Safran Foer has investigated and processed the global nexuses of meat consumption. The documentary report “”A meaty issue”” follows the author on a research trip around the world and thereby raises the issue: do we indeed have to “say farewell to meat”?
Additionally the film accompanies a family from Lower Saxony who voluntarily follows a vegetarian lifestyle. Furthermore, it shows what alternatives to meat consumption are being explored.
There is a certain irony here, attacking abolitionist is the sort of in-fighting and distraction that industry would seize on. This seems to be an obvious pissing match between two competing groups, I just wish all vegan groups would go away so real progress can be made. C’mon….60+ years of failure……time to give up.
hi mr toad, thanks for your feedback.
I think with this format i really tried to emphasize some *arguments*, and i didn’t really take a piss at people or groups (unlike some people are doing) – although i must say i have explicitly criticized francione here (see the tag “francione”), but for my reasons, see, http://veganstrategist.org/2015/03/06/final-part-on-francione/
I hear you Mr. Toad! I definitely get tired of all the in-fighting and wish all the time that energy could be devoted to the animals instead.
What I have learned from many years involved in this issue, however, is that it’s not all vegan groups that are inhibiting real progress…it’s really only one vegan group, and that is the abolitionist vegans who are demanding all or nothing*…the ones who don’t care about any negative impacts they may have by saying so… negative impacts that that go on to hurt the animals and negate the positive changes that are happening for the animals.
I would love nothing more than to see an end to all the “pissing matches”, believe me. To me, it’s a big distraction from the real issue & the bottom line, which is helping animals. However, as long as abolitionist vegans continue to behave and speak in ways that ultimately hurt the animals, I feel I’m left with no choice but to try and counter them in as civil a way as possible.
Of course I agree with the abolitionist vegan philosophy, but I have a problem with the ways many of them choose to carry it out, and animals are ultimately harmed in the process. For this reason, they are unfortunately as much a part of my fight as are big ag and factory farmers.
*Of course, not all abolitionist vegans fall into this category of “all or nothing”. An example of the category of vegan I’m speaking of can be found here, where the blog owner states in the comments that “…I have made it clear that I don’t tolerate people coming here and promoting animal welfare.”
Wha…? Huh..? A vegan who is against animal welfare??
As long as animals are being harmed, I feel I have no choice but to try and counteract anybody who does not tolerate the promotion animal welfare, vegan or not.
Wishing the in-fighting would stop while participating in it doesn’t make much sense. Basically, you folks think you are right and the abolitionists are the bad guys and they think the same of you. The issue here is, more or less, a fight about who controls the vegan name. Now if one truly cared about the underlying issues and not some tired dogma/social boycott…..they could simply drop all discussions about veganism, stop associating with it and simply discuss the underlying issues and advocate matters in a way they think would be effective.
Veganism as a whole is the problem, not just abolitionism.
i think i largely agree here, but this is an opinion too, that goes against a lot of what is happening. What i wanna say is, where does criticizing become infighting?
You make a lot of sense, Mr. Toad. I honestly agree with everything you wrote except for the part about the fight over who controls the vegan name, at least for me. I really don’t care what somebody calls themselves, what matters to me are their actions and if they are helping the animals.
Would it be ok to ask for your opinion on a subject? Please know I ask this in all sincerity, and I’m not trying be sarcastic or anything like that. I respect all that you stated above, and I’d like to get your opinion or any suggestions if that’s ok to ask.
How does person like myself who sees the negative impact left by some vegans and how it damages progress being made for the animals… how do I look at this scenario? I’ve seen first hand way too many times how it turns people away who may have otherwise been an ally. These are people who may have tried Meatless Monday, or who have shown concern for factory farmed animals, etc., but who were scared off by vegans behaving negatively towards them.
My concern with this is that it’s hurting the animals and leading to reversals in positive changes being made for them. I feel that for the animals’ sake, I must at least try and counteract the negative impressions left by some vegans which have led to people being turned off.
How do I address this? Or how do you do address it? I feel it’s a very genuine concern and I feel it would be wrong to turn my back on it, just as it would be wrong to turn my back on factory farming. They both are harming the animals.
Do you have any suggestions on how to face this dilemma I face?
p.s. If you saw Tobias’ last post about a vegan island, this blog is kind of like that for me. Please know that how I express myself here on Tobias blog is kind of release for me to discuss and talk among others. I don’t go around spouting off in public like I do here. In public, I try to create positive impressions and to counteract the negative ones.
p.s. Maybe I should clarify what I mean when I say I try and counteract negative experiences people have had with vegans. I say or write something along the lines that I’m sorry that another vegan behaved that way towards you, and please know that not all vegans are like that. Then I try to positively reintroduce trying Meatless Monday, not to give up the farmed animals, etc., or whatever the negative experience revolved around.
While it frustrates me to no end when I see comments by vegans such as the one I mentioned earlier, where the blog owner states that “…I have made it clear that I don’t tolerate people coming here and promoting animal welfare”, I never engage with those vegans. I only try to positively engage the people who have had a negative experience with a vegan.
i think it’s a good question, christine: how should we deal with that kind of vegans? i don’t think ignoring them or believing they represent just another approach that is just as valid are good options. there must be an option in between doing nothing and doing what mr toad describes as infighting
Even when we consider “vegans with good intentions”, there could be several who don’t function in ideal way (what is ideal is also debatable anyway). They might even cause harm to the movement unknowingly. There could be several reasons behind this:
– Half baked knowledge, inexperience, lack of wholistic picture. In the early stages of veganism, people know little but still want to act. Its quite natural and should not be discouraged.
– Overwhelmed and driven by emotions, less focus towards patient, step-by-step winning strategy. It is normal tendency in most humans, to think short term, and sway more by emotions than logic.
– Living in denial about their own (remaining) cruelty footprint (although it is smaller after becoming vegan) – such people might aggressively criticize/bully others to cover their own guilt at subconscious level. Veganism has no definite end, the constant challenge becomes too much for some followers.
– Lack of knowledge regarding local history, culture – this might make some statements, actions highly insensitive and offensive to other people around, even though the intentions are good. What acts as stimulation to the brain, what ignites introspection, and what comes out as offensive and makes someone angry – none of us are masters at that. Its highly subjective too.
– Lack of ability to empathize with humans, especially the ones who are suffering. Over enthusiasm towards animals and being indifferent towards humans around might also prove counter productive at times.
But all this is okay, very much part of the evolution for each vegan. We cannot expect anyone to be perfect. Plus, what is perfect is also debatable – trying to spread veganism only through soft, civil ways also has its own cons, because there is a risk that no one will take it seriously.
Overall, my advice would be not to try too hard to undo “damage” done by some of the fellow vegans. Of all you know, it might not be really damaging after all.
– We see numerous cases where some people simply don’t have any inclination towards veganism, and simply put the blame on “rude” vegans.
– And in case of some others, initially they contribute towards the “fight” using their unreasonable defense mechanism, but the information does sink in later sometime.
So, once again let me stress that trying to undo the perceived damage done by other vegans might not be a great contribution towards vegan movement. Instead, identify your own target audience (preferably mass rather than individuals), come up with your own strategy of how to influence them towards veganism. In your strategy, try and incorporate the best combination of various emotional and intelligent components, observe the results, improvise and keep evolving. Share success stories wherever possible, to inspire others. All the best.
I wouldn’t say it’s about undoing or preventing damage, but trying to see how we can be as effective as possible. I think the people who are already on board one of the biggest factors to create change, so if they communicate well, they can make a difference…
I agree with you Tobias where you write, “I wouldn’t say it’s about undoing or preventing damage, but trying to see how we can be as effective as possible.” An analogy comes to mind of a dam and its effectiveness. If the dam is leaking, in order for it to be as effective as possible, you have to undo or prevent damage.
Maybe because I have spent so much time and effort into helping to build the dam, and in the big picture the dam is taking a very, very, very long to be completed, I’ve become over-reactive to any leaks that show up. ??
I’m just kind of thinking out loud here…thank you again everybody for your input. I really do appreciate it. This blog is the first place I’ve found as a real forum for discussing these issues and thoughts about them. I’ve learned so much in just the couple months I stumbled on the blog. 🙂
Sorry for all my replies, I’m still reading all the comments. Tobias, you wrote, “there must be an option in between doing nothing and doing what mr toad describes as infighting”. Yes! EXACTLY! Sorry, I’m trying to stay away from all caps, but this sums the problem I’ve been graveling with precisely!
Is this interview real? While I see the situation very similar to the way it is described here, I wonder if this was a real document or someone is expressing their analysis of the meat industry and animal rights movement. Why would they openly share their strategies in an interview?
As it says at the bottom, it is satire. Not real 🙂
A witty article, but takes us pretty much nowhere. Why? Because:
– Hardcore abolitionist vegans will criticize this article because these kinds of articles dilute the concept as per them
– Moderate vegans will find this article very witty and feel some sense of victory over abolitionist vegans
I am not saying its easy, but without quantitative & data-driven analysis of which approach works better and why, the article is pretty weak. So, pretty much nothing is going to change with this article, except for the fact that it gives some food for thought and hopefully motivates some people to introspect, re-evaluate the effectiveness of what they have been doing all this while.
What we really need is critical analysis and improvement of strategic plans that are really practical and also could be game changing. Kindly check this article that I wrote sometime back.
If we all contribute our time, effort & money in strategic way, I am sure we can together make a lot of difference in this world.
you’re probably right, krishna, but i do hope it makes at least some people think 🙂 i’ll take a look at your article
Reblogged this on Vegan Van Life and commented:
Tobias over at the Vegan Strategist has a great little piece of satire that humorously sums up some of the major problems with an ‘all or nothing’ Vegan abolitionist ethic.
Whether you are familiar with the issues in the movement or just getting in, or even just want a good laugh, this is worth the read!
What you mentioned seems primarily to be an issue with convincing people they should be vegan, I have trouble understanding how someone would stop considering meatless Mondays or other changes because they’ve had a bad experience with some vegan. I would be curious to know how many people even have active encounters (e.g., where vegan related topics are discussed) with vegans. I reckon not many due to the small number of vegans.
In terms of how I would deal with this, I imagine we are in a different boat. I’m not vegan and think veganism is problematic so I have no interest in promoting it or protecting its imagine, in fact, in the scenario you described I would likely joke about veganism and discuss the underlying issue.
In any case, I’m not so sure vegans are good at promoting animal welfare/protection because everything ultimately comes down to “you should be vegan”. Some, like the abolitionists, are very vocal about it while others are more subtle about it…..but in both cases the underlying goal is to get people to be vegan.
Thank you very much for your thoughtful replies, Krishna & Mr. Toad. I’m going to take more time to read them over again and really let all that you’ve written sink. I just wanted to thank you now for taking the time for your replies. 🙂
Mr toad, in what sense do you think veganism is problematic?
I think its problematic at nearly every level you’d care about, for example:
Philosophically/legal: Vegan doctrine isn’t based on any particular ethical theory, instead its social boycott based on a dogmatic set of rules. Individualization is not tolerated, you either follow the rules or you’re not vegan. But the rules, regardless of the rational, aren’t even consistent to begin with and this makes it impossible to promote veganism legally. Talking about “animal rights” is cheap, the difficult part is coming up with a consistent legal framework for enforcing them.
The movement: Since you become vegan by following a particular set of rules, there is a large number of different types of vegans. At the basic level you have health, ethical and environmental vegans and within these categories you have further divisions. But with such divert views and people in the movement, there really is no consistent message. Also, for whatever reason, a lot of pseudo-science and sloppy reasoning has become associated with the vegan movement and this will alien a good deal of people. So my point? Even if we ignore the philosophically issues, tveganism doesn’t seem to be a good vehicle to promote animal welfare (or rights) due to a number of problematic associations and inconsistencies. And, in fact, veganism has been around for 60 years and the situation for domestic animals has actually gotten worse.
Boycotts: Veganism is a boycott and boycotts are a very crude way to promote social change. Avoiding meat, dairy, etc may make one feel good…like they are “saving animals”….but the reality is much different. Individual action means almost nothing, going vegan doesn’t “save animals” and it doesn’t even necessarily reduce demand for animal products (supply/demand aren’t static). Though on the flip-side, people going vegan does create more demand for plant-based foods which makes it easier for people to avoid animal products. But people don’t have to go vegan to achieve this, “omnivores” demanding more plant-based options would achieve the same thing and more effectively since they’d be offered at the places non-vegans shop/dine.
i agree with a lot of this.
Regarding boycott, i’d say that a lot of people doing a partial boycott (meat reducers) is more important than a few people doing a 100% boycott (vegans), though the vegans will be the really motivated ones that can take further action…
Just some initial thoughts in reply to Mr. Toad…
“how many people even have active encounters…with vegans. I reckon not many due to the small number of vegans.”
You think that would be the case, but from what I’ve seen, there are some issues that just seem to draw them out of the woodwork with guns blazing and ready for war. Add to this that they tend to be overly vocal and derogatory. It takes much fewer of them to leave a big impression.
The latest issue with Cecil the lion is a perfect example. People in the general public are showing compassion for Cecil and they are attacked over and over again by vegans proclaiming that they have no right to complain or be upset about Cecil if they aren’t vegan.
“I have trouble understanding how someone would stop considering meatless Mondays or other changes because they’ve had a bad experience with some vegan.”
Continuing on with Cecil example, people are showing compassion for animals or being awakened to it, and they can be looked upon as “primed” to then go on to examine their relationship with and care about farmed animals. Maybe it might take awhile to get from a lion to a chicken, but with considerate and compassionate examples, encouragement and help along the way, they then go on to give Meatless Monday a try, or they find the courage to actually watch an undercover video from a factory farm.
Now going back to the scenario where they are first showing initial compassion for Cecil…instead of compassion and encouragement, what they are met with are people behaving in very derogatory ways & telling them they have no right to be upset about Cecil if they aren’t vegan. To the general public, these people look like fringe nut jobs. Not only is the general public turned off by the vegans, they also then think to themselves, “Those people are loony. I hope I never end up like them Whatever they are screaming about, I don’t want any part of it!”
So, this is how even a small number of vegans can have a very big impact. Even if a person isn’t turned off by an initial encounter, one or two more will most likely lead them to at least question vegans and what they are really all about.
And I have to admit that I’m shaking my agreement when I read this, Mr. Toad…”I’m not so sure vegans are good at promoting animal welfare/protection because everything ultimately comes down to “you should be vegan”.
My bottom line has always been helping the animals. Like I said, I don’t care what somebody calls themselves, what matters is if their actions are helping the animals. My #1 focus has always been the fight against factory farming. I’ve attacked it from many angles, including not only going vegan/vegetarian, but also pollution, antibiotic resistance, world hunger, putting smaller & more humane farmers out of business, etc.
My underlining goal has been fighting factory farming, and going vegan is only one of many angles I utilize. When I first became involved, I was not a vegan or even a vegetarian. I only wanted to see more humane treatment of farm animals. I started in the same boat as those people who are showing initial compassion for Cecil, which lead to the creation of compassion in me for farmed animals. I first was a “humane welfarist”, who thought animal products that were more “humanely” raised were ok. This naturally led to less consumption of those products, which in turn led to looking into vegetarian options to eat. This in turn led to veganism. And I don’t proclaim to be a perfect vegan, I’m still on that road. But I don’t look at being a vegan in terms of being a vegan; I look at it in terms of how it is affecting positive changes for the animals.
Can I ask, when you write this, Mr. Toad… ” in the scenario you described I would likely joke about veganism and discuss the underlying issue.” What is the “underlying issue” for you? What do you turn to for inspiration?
I get what you are saying and agree that it may create problematic associations with veganism but don’t see how it would limit interests in meatless Mondays (or similar things) assuming you’re not using it as a vehicle to promote veganism. Which is my point, don’t promote veganism and instead particular issues.
On the issue of attacking something from any angle you can, I think that is problematic. Its a common tactic in propaganda but can break down when you start citing issues that are exaggerated or inaccurate. Vegans use this tactic a lot…..but the memes they cite are from the vegan-echo-chamber and often exaggerated or just simply inaccurate. So, yes this can be a good strategy, but one has to be careful as well.
And what I mean by “underlying issue” would be like discussing issues related to factory farming and keeping focus on that issue rather than using factory farms as a way to promote veganism.
I was just sitting down to eat lunch and watch a Mercy for Animals video where they are delivering petition signatures to Tyson Foods. I went to glance at the comments for the video and here is an example of what I’m talking about, Mr. Toad.
It goes on for a lot of comments by many, so I have just copied a first few here. It starts with a comment by SellboundWolf” six days ago. While I agree with what the vegans responding to him are saying, I do not agree with how they are doing it.
SpellboundWolf 6 days ago
It’s no wonder to me anymore now why Tyson’s chicken tastes yucky. I only eat free-range eggs & chicken meat.
Daniel Huertas 5 days ago
+SpellboundWolf more and more excuses… the free range BS and meat you eat is from animals that are killed while listening to a lullaby? or is just the amount of salty and spices that makes that animal corpse ‘edible”? lol
SpellboundWolf 5 days ago
+Daniel Huertas Dude, what is your problem?
Vegan Bug 5 days ago (edited)
+SpellboundWolf He actually doesn’t have a problem. The problem is the lies surrounding so-called “free-range”, “humane”, etc. animal products and how animals are treated. Your comment is simply irritating because it shows that people believe these lies. When you intimately know what animals go through and have images of animals being tortured, raped, and murdered branded to your brain, sometimes it’s hard to talk (or type) “gently” to people who support these atrocities.
SpellboundWolf 5 days ago
+Vegan Bug Wow. I don’t care.
Vegan Bug 5 days ago
+SpellboundWolf That’s a shame. Your original comment made it sound like you were just ignorant, but with good intentions. Your latest comment tells me otherwise.
No, SpellboundWolf is not even a vegetarian, but he is at least interested enough in things to somehow find his way to this video and also leave a comment. Maybe he would never eventually become even vegetarian, but maybe he might have with encouragement and compassion. Instead he is met by vegans insinuating he is ignorant, irritating, and his comment is BS. It’s no wonder he replies to them “Dude, what is your problem?” and “I don’t care”.
Even if I were to try and temper things and chime in with some compassionate and non-accusatory comments, they would most likely be drowned out at “loudness” of the comments already made. Plus, SpellboundWolf already has his guard up for more attacks, and probably won’t be very open to anything calmer I would say.
I think most people would agree that the vegans who responding are very being derogatory and negative. Again, while I agree with what they are saying, I don’t agree with the way they are saying it, because in my eyes they are doing very real damage.
Are these interactions going to increase SpellboundWolf’s compassion towards animals and those people who represent them? Probably not, most likely the exact opposite will happen.
Maybe that won’t happen with just this one encounter, but throw in one or two or three more along these lines, and SpellboundWolf is eventually going to start writing vegans off and anything they say.
There is a saying that you can’t jump a chasm with one big step. If we want to jump the chasm so people will act and behave in ways that are more humane for animals, then we have to build bridges across that chasm. Being derogatory and negative doesn’t do that, and it very often has the exact opposite effect of turning people away from even considering wanting to cross that chasm.
It sounds crazy, but I feel like I almost have a duty to help protect the animals from (of all people) vegans. 🙁
Yeah…I normally find that pity and a bit of subtle patronisation works better than outrage.
It is important that we discuss tactics and techniques. I would do so if I were having a garage sale, much less work of this importance. While we are unlikely to move people who are fully invested and feel attacked by such discussion, in the audience of such discussion there may be some people not so sure that this or that are a good idea, and those people might be moved from impotent or harmful advocacy (which may well increase the chances of them burning out) to productive advocacy. I have to comment on a parallel process. The idea that sharp criticism of meat eaters will move them to spare animals, yet when faced with even polite discussion aimed at evaluating such techniques those espousing and promoting them shriek and lash out at the speakers who dared question their work. Do they expect meat eaters to have more composure and maturity when their behavior is under evaluation? Fortunately, in my experience, meat eaters are more capable of not putting themselves at center stage and noticing that animal harm is in the equation. Typically a position that is believed and does not have a good amount of evidence behind it is defended with much more passion and anger (fear underneath) than that which shows up when discussing facts and evidence.
entirely agreed, joe
Francione’s attacks on animal advocacy groups are becoming increasingly unhinged. Here is one of his most recent attacks on Farm Sanctuary:
‘Gene Baur is quoted as saying, “And at the end of the day, there’s the fundamental question of whether or not we should be killing and eating animals.” That’s not the question we should be asking “at the end of the day,” That’s the question we should be asking right now, instead of promoting the idea, as Gene does, that supposedly “humane” exploitation is a morally good thing that ought to be promoted and that satisfies our moral obligations to animals….
‘Gene is also quoted as saying, “We are a vegan organization. We encourage
people to eat plants, instead of animals, but we also understand that sometimes change happens incrementally.” Farm Sanctuary is an organization says to people that veganism is the best way of reducing suffering but that enriched-cage, cage-free, or free-range eggs, crate-free pork, and all of the other “marketing tools” that Baur claims to decry, are all just fine and allow us to discharge our moral obligations to animals.’
‘… I object to petting zoos like Farm Sanctuary that are, in reality, wealthy corporations that partner with other wealthy corporations to perpetuate supposedly “better” animal exploitation and that put a big happy smiley face on the hideous violence and injustice of animal exploitation.’
This sort of approach is Francione’s piece de resistance: ignore all the positive work that an individual or organisation does, provide selective quotes from said individual/organisation, give those quotes the least charitable interpretation possible, and write off an entire organisation’s/individual’s efforts in the most disparaging way.
I mean, just how sectarian does one have to be to describe a farm sanctuary – whether or not you agree with the wider politics of the owners – as a ‘petting zoo’. Farm sanctuaries are prefigurative to the sort of vegan world we’d all like to see: one in which animals are not abused, killed, or treated as property. Why be so mean spirited as to diminish that?
Good example of GLF’s nastiness
I’m not part of this at all and frankly not that familiar with “Farm Sanctuary” , yet I tend to think of farm sanctuaries (in general) as petting zoos and find them a bit strange. I have trouble understanding the point of rescuing an animal from slaughter when another one will be birthed to take its place. Also, how exactly is confining animals for show not treating them as property?
i think the educational function (especially in giving animals names, a personal history, making them an individual, rather than a product or number) is more important than the small number of actual animals saved (strategically i mean; of course every animal counts).
the confining & property argument i don’t share. they are not treated as property and most of these animals have ample space so they could hardly be called confined.
I agree with Tobias here. I would also add that the number of animals saved by farm factories is statistically negligible in the context of factory farming so are unlikely to have any effect on industry breeding practices. But being saved means everything for the individual animals.
To add further, its not that I think that animal sanctuaries are beyond any criticism. Indeed Kymlica and Dolandson have recently written an interesting, measured, critical paper about them and how they could be improved:
Notice however that they do not dismiss sanctuaries out of hand as ‘petting zoos’ or denigrate those running them to ‘welfarist sell-outs’. This is what is so poisonous about Francione: he’s not interested in constructive dialogue to help foster a diverse vegan movement – he just wants to denounce anybody who acts, or even thinks, independently from him.
I’m not so sure about the educational aspect, after all, people voluntarily go to these things and are likely to already be sympathetic to matters before they go. Also, I don’t think its clear that they would get the intended message if that wasn’t the case….what you’d need to do is conduct research but that seems to be largely lacking in the vegan universe. To me, there seems to be a lot better ways to spend the funds.
If you put fences around an animal and restrict its movement you’ve confined the animal, you could argue that the confinement doesn’t effect the well-being of the animal if “ample space” is given but I think you’d have trouble making that argument for grazing animals.
i didn’t mean just the people going there, those would indeed be mostly convinced already. but you can do stuff in the media with this, as farm sanctuary indeed has.
i think in most sanctuaries in the US even the cows get ample space. anyway, it’s not as if the animals are bred for sanctuaries, there are just helped there, so saying they are confined is silly i think, because there is no real alternative anyway (plus, i’m just guessing but i would think many animals might prefer luxury confiments, like in many sanctuaries, above a live in the wild, supposing they could handle that)
As someone that isn’t involved in the vegan movement and all the he-said-she-said but is interested in animal welfare, I don’t think Francione is much different than other vocal vegans. Honestly, it just sounds like a lot of in-fighting. I can read you folks and I can read him and agree with some points and disagree with others, and don’t come away with the impression that Francione is poisonous while others are not.
Have any of you had a one-to-one debate with Francione?
i haven’t had a debate with him personally, and don’t think i’d want to.
But if you don’t think he’s poisonous, i think you haven’t seen enough of him 🙂
Its not that I don’t think he is poisonous, its that I don’t think he is anymore poisonous than other vocal vegan advocates. I don’t pay much attention to the he-said-she-said, I know Gary primary from his writing and while I often disagree I think he is reasonable enough to read and I think both groups here make some reasoned points.
But you’ve confirmed my suspension here, there is no rational dialogue here and its just (internet) in-fighting between competing groups. Who is right or wrong doesn’t even matter, nobody really cares, all people see is the fighting and its a distraction. This is exactly the sort of thing that makes Mr Ham Burger very happy.
I really disagree with that, but if u see it like this it may mean the reasonable people may have a perception problem…
It’s taken me a couple days to finally get back to this ongoing conversation. A lot of food for thought and I thank everybody for their thoughts and input.
I’d just like to reply again to Mr. Toad and chime in that I’ve personally found this blog to be a rare source of rational dialogue when it comes to the issues discussed here. Maybe we have differing views of in-fighting, but I don’t personally think that’s what goes on here. To me, in-fighting would consist of moderate vegans and/or abolitionist vegans and/or vegetarians and/or animal welfarists and/or fighting among each other as far as who’s philosophy is the “correct” one.
I agree where you wrote that at this blog “Who is right or wrong doesn’t even matter…”, but not in the context you put it in. Right or wrong doesn’t matter here, because the focus is not about what’s right or wrong, but what’s effective.
I’ve found on this blog that something only falls into the category of “right” when it’s effective or more effective at helping to create a more humane world for animals, and something only falls into the category of “wrong” when it’s not or less effective at this.
I wholeheartedly agree that all the in-fighting is a distraction, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve latched onto this blog. The discussions that go here on may appear to be and sometimes lean towards in-fighting, but I’ve found that the main focus here has always simply been about finding out what is most effective for the animals.
I can’t imagine that anybody wouldn’t be here if they didn’t care. That is exactly why we are here, because it’s a resource for figuring out how to be as effective as we can at turning that caring into tangible results.
These are just my personal thoughts and impressions of this blog, Mr. Toad, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on anything, Tobias.
I get the impression that you might have written off this blog based on your last comment, Mr. Toad…but maybe I’m wrong. I’ve found that you have made a lot of good points in your comments that made me think and I’m hoping you won’t write off the blog just yet if you’re considering it.
p.s. I also wanted to pass on the website of a group called “One Step for Animals” if you haven’t heard of them…they might fall along the lines I get the impression you may appreciate.
“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.”
I personally think their logic and the math of helping “three people start eating half as many animals than convince one person to be a strict and strident vegan” is so simple, but pure genius. Again, it comes down to effectiveness for the animals, and here the math doesn’t lie at what’s more effective.
What I’m referring to as “in-fighting” is the back-and-forth between the so called “pragmatists” and the “abolitionists”. There is a lot of vitriol from both parties and the dialogue is rarely constructive and, at least to me, it seems like a conflict over control over the vegan brand and perhaps some financial interests as well.
In terms of what is effective, everyone seems to have their own idea of this (including myself) but what is largely lacking is a rational approach. Personal theorizing is, at best, a starting point for further inquiry…..but that is where it seems to end. What methods are the most effective, assuming you’ve established a goal, is an empirical question and can be explored scientifically. More recently there are some groups, like faunalytics, but they seem to be working from conclusions to evidence rather than the other way around.
I don’t think I’ve heard of “One Step for Animals”, and while I’m not exactly sure what they represent the underlying idea here seems to be a boycott with veganism as the end goal. This is where I differ, I don’t think veganism is an end goal and shouldn’t be part of the dialogue whatsoever. In fact, I don’t think we can even have a meaningful conversation about the ultimate goal because so much has to change and its not clear how it will all work out. In this sense, I disagree with both the abolitionists and the “pragmatists” because both of these groups are, ultimately, promoting the same ideology which I find to be fundamentalist in nature.
As for the Gentle Barn, they may have some programs that are good but that is actually one of the sanctuaries I’ve been to and gave me a negative impression of them. To me it was not much different than a petting zoo, except some of the animals were in pain and suffering. One of the cows could hardly get up and down. Out of curiosity, I think I’ll visit Farm Sanctuary’s sanctuary in this area when it cools down in the fall to see if its any better.
“Personal theorizing is, at best, a starting point for further inquiry…..but that is where it seems to end. What methods are the most effective, assuming you’ve established a goal, is an empirical question and can be explored scientifically”
In theory you could indeed come to scientific evidence. But 1. ideology is so strong here that it will probably bias us and blind us for anything but the strongest and most irrefutable evidence (there is evidence and knowlegde already for quite a lot of things, but it is not recognized as such) and 2. this is not mathematics, but social sciences and psychology. it is way more difficult to prove things definititely here than in more exact fields. So if you’re saying that scientific studies should put an end to the discussions… that’s not for tomorrow i fear.
Regarding the previous comments about farm sanctuaries, here is one that is a bit different in that it has a focus on helping people:
“At The Gentle Barn, we work with children from the inner-city, group homes, mental health care facilities, foster homes, and schools to teach them that even though we are all different on the outside, on the inside we are all the same and are deserving of the same rights, respects and freedom.
In these times of gangs, drugs, crime, violence and war, it is essential that we make efforts to ensure a more peaceful future for our children. We feel it is imperative that we teach our children kindness, compassion and empathy for all living beings. When a child meets another, looking different than themselves, with perhaps a different religion, race, sex, or language, if that child knows that we are all the same on the inside, then perhaps that child will accept the other and we will be closer to having peace on earth.”
I became a Vegan 15 years ago and never felt healthier and happier. I see what they do to these poor animals in the farm factories and how inhumanely they raise them, beat them and leave them in tiny cages where they can’t even move without food and water. All the meat industry cares about is making money..they don’t give a damn about us or the animals. Why then all cancer patients are taken off meat and dairy immediately? I don’t belong to any Animal Rights group however as a human being you must have some compassion towards animals. In old days they used to raise them in fields, giving them food and water and if they decide to slaughter the animal they would pray over them and would kill them the fastest way possible so they would not suffer. It’s totally the opposite now. Almost like a satanic ritual which is disgusting in God’s eyes.