Prof. Gary Francione: Animal Rights – The Last 10 Years:
He says every vegan basically saves 3000 animal lives.*
Video from Barna on Vimeo.
Even though Gary Francione promotes veganism, the video here is essentially a criticism of the animal rights movement. The criticisms are from Francione’s perspective as a professor of law. That is, they are mostly criticisms of legal reforms of animal law.
Please note: At 42 minutes in Gary Francione admits there is no empirical proof for his claim that “improving animal welfare makes people feel less uncomfortable about animal exploitation.” He asserts that his thesis is true because it’s “common sense and intuition.”
To me, it’s not common sense. My own experience has shown me that people who get interested in animal welfare and who are allowed to let their compassion and empathy for animals grow become more and more interested in abolition. That is, my experience and intuition tell me that welfarism is part of an incrementalist abolitionism.
There is no argument that animals should not be regarded as the property of humans. Anyone seriously interested in animal rights, animal liberation, or abolition of animal exploitation agrees that the legal property status of animals is ethically problematic.
Likewise, there is no argument that some so-called animal welfare legal measures do not actually reduce animal suffering. But, some probably do reduce suffering.
The debate is about the gray areas: the welfarist measures that seem to really help animals but don’t touch the property status of animals, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, and the promotion of “humane” products.
Below are the questions we must ask. Not only must we ask these questions, we must find the answers. Criticism is not enough; we must thoroughly investigate the issue:
- Do some welfarist measures, if enforced, actually reduce animal suffering?
- Does promoting welfarism make people more or less comfortable exploiting animals?
- Is the promotion of some welfarism actually vegan education in disguise?
- Is welfarism incrementalist abolition or is welfarism an obstacle to abolition? Is welfarism neither?
- Can we do both? That is, can some people do vegan education and some people promote welfarism without stepping on each others toes?
When we have real evidence, such as empirical data, we can make recommendations regarding the most effective ways to reach our goal of abolition of animal exploitation or a vegan utopia.
Wait a second, we do have some evidence that whatever we’ve been doing over the last ten years has been moving society in the right direction:
- “Meat reducers,” “semi-vegetarians,” vegetarians, and vegans are growing segments of consumers. source
- “A quarter of Americans say animals deserve the same rights as humans,” source
- “[Americans] have become less accepting of medical testing on animals, and the use of animal fur for clothing” source
- “Nearly one-quarter of Americans say that they sometimes go meatless at restaurants” source
- “10% of consumers say they largely follow vegetarian-inclined diets and 5% more are “definitely interested” in shifting to vegetarian-based diets in the future.” source
- “2008 per capita [meat] consumption stands to be at the lowest point in seven years” source
- “The [poultry] industry has never cut production to this degree before, but demand for chicken has never contracted to this degree either,” source
- “Fishermen are hurting and quitting the business” source
- “demand for dairy products is stalling” source
- “Consumers today are leery of the foods they find in the supermarket, afraid that the animals did not experience well-being.” source
- “almost all [Americans] agree that animals should be given some protection from harm and exploitation.” source
- “38% of Americans express support for the idea of banning horse and dog racing altogether” source
- “The USDA estimates show declines in red meat consumption.” source
- “Roughly one in eight adults (13%) is a ‘semi-vegetarian’ who currently eats meat with fewer than half of his or her meals.” source
- “Older consumers are more likely to be reducing meat as a component of moving toward a healthier diet.” source
- “Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of ethical issues and skeptical of food safety.” source
Some of these trends are probably not related to actual animal rights activism. And some or all of these trends could simply be a fluke and not clearly related to our efforts. But the fact is, it’s false to claim that what we’ve been doing isn’t working. As someone who has been interested in animal issues for decades, I’ve seen changes occur. It’s slow, but it is progress. Something is working.
* The 3000 number comes from someone else that Francione asks. I’m guessing it’s 3000 animals saved over the vegan’s lifetime. And that’s an average. People who go vegan earlier in life save more animals than people who go vegan later in life. And of course, it should be pointed out that most of the animals won’t actually be “saved.” THat is, they won’t be going to sanctuaries rather than factory farms. Instead, the animals will be spared suffering and death because they won’t be brought into existence artificially through forced impregnation by breeders.