In the wake of a controversy in Britain over the sale of halal meat, which involves exsanguination rather than stunning, and the comment by British new welfarist organization Viva! that, “Consumers can do their bit by boycotting places that persist in selling meat from unstunned animals,” I wrote two essays.
In the first essay, I pointed out that, in addition to jumping on the Islamophobic bandwagon being driven by reactionary media, Viva! was promoting a supposedly “happier” form of animal slaughter when it should be promoting the notion that the only coherent response to a moral concern about animal exploitation is to stop eating, wearing, or using animal products altogether and to go vegan.
Viva! responded and I wrote a second essay in which I noted that Viva! distinguishes between flesh and other animal foods and promotes vegetarianism as a morally coherent choice and characterizes veganism as difficult and “daunting,” sells vegetarian cookbooks with nonvegan recipies, and advertises vegetarian restaurants/inns that serve dairy products. In short, Viva! promotes animal exploitation.
Well, Viva! has just issued an indictment of the RSPCA, which sponsors the Freedom Food label, claiming that the RSPCA is not properly monitoring things and “happy” eggs are not really “happy.” But Viva! is not telling us anything new. It has been clear from the inception of the Freedom Food scheme that it is nothing more than a marketing device to enrich the RSPCA and producers of “happy” animal flesh/products and that Freedom Food animals are tortured just as much animals whose suffering and death are not blessed by the RSPCA. Nevertheless, welfarist groups from the U.S., U.K., and other countries are falling over themselves in a frantic effort to form new partnerships with institutional exploiters that will involve even more “happy exploitation” labels.
But back to Viva! vs. the RSPCA. We have one organization that supports animal exploitation accusing another organization of supporting animal exploitation. I can hardly wait for Viva! to trot out some of its nonvegan celebrities to tell us all about “compassion” and how RSPCA nonvegans are less “compassionate” than the Viva! nonvegans. Perhaps PETA can sponsor a “compassionate” mud wrestling contest between scantily-clad nonvegans from Viva! and the RSPCA. Anything for the animals.
And every cloud has a silver lining. Sure, “happy” animal products are not really happy (unless, apparently, they are served at a nonvegan restaurant promoted by Viva!). But you can help. Directly to the right of the Viva! indictment of the RSPCA is the solution: “Help us save animals. Donate to Viva!” and there is a space to put in an amount and a “donate” button.
In fact, you can help and you know what? No large groups are needed. No “donate” buttons are needed. In fact, these groups are obstacles to change and not facilitators of it.
If you are not vegan, go vegan. It is very easy, better for health and for the planet. And, most important, it’s the morally right and just thing to do.
Ethical veganism is a powerful way of saying “no” to animal exploitation. If you are vegan, then educate others about veganism. Your own veganism and your efforts to engage in creative, nonviolent vegan education are the most effective ways to help.
Gary L. Francione
©2010 Gary L. Francione