Animal welfarists and abolitionists must speak with one voice
- Published: 12 June 2010
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The time has come for animal welfare campaigners and abolitionists to put aside their differences and speak one message: veganism, writes Cameron Blewett.
Welfarism can be typically defined as a philosophy or practice where the way animals are used is questioned. Most proponents of welfarism want to see a particular practice changed, such as a move away from cage-laid eggs to cage free, or the removal of gestation crates from breeding sows. The focus is always placed on improving the conditions in which these animals are raised and kept in. Yet the most critical question of why we use animals in the first place is never asked.
The animal rights movement and veganism in general have come to an important cross-road, where its future rests on the decisions that are made today. The time has come for those in both camps to put aside their differences and stand up, speak with one voice, and shout one message.
And veganism is that message.
The welfarist position and vegetarian agenda have long passed their expiry date, and neither message is relevant within the animal rights arena. If you talk to the majority of those who promote welfarism, they will tell you that they have the abolition of all animal use as their ultimate goal. Yet the welfarist model has failed the animals miserably.
In the past month or so, we have seen the undercover footage from Mercy For Animals of cruelty on an Ohio Dairy Farm. (For those that haven’t seen it, the undercover footage contains some of the most barbaric treatment of animals I have seen in recent times. Scenes like calves being kicked and punched because they made noise whilst being fed, cows being kicked and stabbed with pitchforks, and individuals gloating about the damage that they had done to a cows face).
And the NZ dairy giant Fonterra has recently unveiled plans to create a huge battery environment for 6000 cows to be milked 3 times a day. Both of these atrocities relate to the dairy industry – an industry where the mistreatment of animals is equal to, if not worse than the meat industry itself.
Yet unfortunately, dairy products seem to be the items that most vegetarians say they have trouble ‘giving up’.
To say that the Ohio incident is a one off case is delusional, the fact that it happened at all should be enough to rid the vegetarians of the world of their cheese and milk addictions.
There are those in the welfarist camp that view abolition as an extreme ideology and something that will never happen. They usually won’t use the term vegan because it is seen as too confronting.
Though answer this for me, how many of us thought that we would ever see the day where milk is produced from cows on a battery dairy farm, being milked three times a day?
If you have seen the Mercy For Animals footage from the dairy farm, was that not a little extreme and confronting?
In all honesty, it amazes me that society has been blind to these types of things and that these incidents are not more prominently reported by the media. Now I am not saying that all dairy farms treat their cows like this, I just wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t an isolated incident. Remember that this is an industry that treats cows as property.
An industry that has no reservations about mechanically raping cows to get them pregnant, tearing new born calves away from their howling mothers when they are days even hours old to be sent to slaughter, mechanically milking cows twice a day so that their bones become brittle and weak (often leaving them crippled) from lack of calcium, and finally, sending them off to slaughter once their milk production drops below a profitable level.
Welfarism has and continues to fail these animals miserably. After 30 years of campaigning and protesting about battery hens, there have only been token improvements. And the majority of hens are still in cages. Now is the time to take a stance and drive home the vegan message before we see the same thing happen to dairy cows.
It is up to all of us as passionate animal rights activists to draw a line in the sand and say that we won’t accept anything less than abolition and the easiest way to do this is to go vegan.
Every time that an animal rights activist promotes vegetarianism and condones someone making a transition from factory farmed to organic/free range meat or eggs, we continue to let the animals down and most importantly we are carrying on the work of an industry that we despise.
Will it not be harder to eat a slice of cheese or drink a glass of milk knowing that you are supporting an industry that is heading towards battery pens for dairy cows?
There are a growing number of ‘mock’ products that are available these days; it is far easier today to go vegan than it was 10 or 15 years ago. There is also a huge amount of information generated on the internet about nutrition and recipes for vegans. It has become increasingly easy for those that want to make a stance to do so.
So what is your excuse for not going vegan today? It is the only option.
Cameron Blewett is an associate editor at The Scavenger.