animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

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animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby Johnstuff » Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:57 pm

Hi, this has probably been discussed on here in depth before so please point me to a good thread if you know of one. I did search and found some very long posts and I have read one or two of those.

A local animal rights group just formed the other day and I went along to see what it was like and because obviously as a vegan I agree with the cause of animal rights. I didn't give it much thought before going.

After thinking it through it seems that an animal rights group will generally focus on single issue campaigns rather than mainly on vegan outreach?
I had kind of assumed that promoting veganism and animal rights were kind of the same thing as IMO veganism is the personal practical application of animal rights and the mindset that considers animals as property will inevitably lead to animals being abused sooner or later.

So I kind if think the best way to promote animal rights is to promote veganism rather than any single issue campaign. What do you think?

The group's first campaign to get involved with seems to be a protest aimed at the supermarkets that sell dairy from farms that cull badgers (although the government has done a U turn some farms can pay to have badgers culled). It is possible that they could get supermarkets to not stock that dairy. The thing is though, I don't feel very inspired to get involved with this campaign. It's not that I don't think culling badgers is wrong. It's just that I wonder how is shooting badgers and different to shooting foxes or how the cows are abused for dairy in the first place?
To my mind it would be more logical to put the energy into promoting veganism rather than targeting a supermarket over this one issue.

Maybe that kind of thinking means I'm not really right for an animal rights group? I asked a friend and he said it sounds like I'm more into vegan activism than animal rights activism. I had never really considered the two to be different before.

The other thing is that I do feel more inspired by some single issue campaigns like shark finning and over fishing as the environmental impact of wiping out such a large percentage of life and likely leading to the extinction of species seems extra bad somehow.
Is that view inconsistent? Take over fishing for example. 50% of fished fish goes into fishmeal for animal feed. Maybe advising people to eat less fish to cure the problem of over fishing is illogical as if they continue to eat other meat then the chances are that they are still causing over fishing (for fishmeal for animal feed) as well as still holding the view that animals are property. Would it be far more logical to use the energy I would direct into stopping over fishing into promoting veganism instead?

Can a single issue campaign ever be justified over vegan outreach? An issue like banning circus animals perhaps?
Maybe a single issue campaign could be worthwhile if you consider:
The effort required, the likelihood of success and the reason to specifically target this single issue.

I think most fail on the specific reason part. Even shark finning (a very cruel process where the sharks fins are cut off then the shark is thrown back into the sea to die) is not necessarily any worse than the suffering endured by farm animals on factory farms. It may be different on the point of species becoming extinct but that isn't really a rights issue it's more of an environmental issue.

Maybe some single issues that require little effort could be worthwhile if they actually reduce suffering in an absolute sense. For example writing a letter to get a shop not to sell fur. I do think that it is important to consider the wider implications though. To make a big point of targeting fur while not saying much about leather seems to send out an inconsistent message at least with say advising others to boycott a shop over fur (sending the letter doesn't necessarily send out a mixed message).
I think possibly advising shoppers to boycott a supermarket over the cull of badgers possibly also sends out an inconsistent message (like the normal exploitation of dairy cows is somehow ok but shooting badgers isn't).
Asking a shop to stop stocking something is different to advising a boycott over something.


Sorry that's a bit of a long waffle :-) thanks for reading if you got this far!
I'm just interested as I assumed I'd be totally down with an animal rights group but Having thought it through I'm thinking maybe not unless the stated aim of the group is predominantly vegan outreach.
Maybe there's an argument I haven't considered? Maybe I'm just making excuses because I'm not really a confrontational person and promoting veganism in a positive way would be easier for me than a protest at a shop or business.
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Re: animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby Andrewc » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:39 am

Single issue campaigns traditionally give the impression that one behaviour is morally worse than another, or that some species are worthy of being accorded rights before another, intentionally or not, eg, heavily campaigning against the wearing of fur, but ignoring the use of leather and wool; campaigning against the use of animals for their flesh, yet failing to acknowledge the prolonged suffering involved with keeping animals alive for their milk and eggs; ignoring the decimation of our oceans and the trillions of marine creatures that are killed every year because fish come under a different category of animal rights, right?; the LA city council recently banning the sale of commercially bred dogs, yet animals bred and raised for human ends are once again forgotten, etc.

Sure, single-issue campaigns may be great for encouraging people to take notice of the immediate suffering animals must endure to produce X product for them and can produce short-term results or marginal increases in improved conditions for some species, but shouldn't we be arguing for the complete abolition of using them at all, ie, recognising that only by becoming vegan we can accord sentient beings legitimate rights and freedoms? Taking action with our local governments over the size of battery cages and the definition of "free-range" are only short-term measures that only benefit those that stand to profit from exploiting these animals and make the consumers feel better about their choice to continue using animals to their own ends.

Obviously it's still important to bring to attention the various issues animals face, but it needs to be packaged with the message that (and I will borrow a line from Earth Crisis here) veganism is the essence of compassion and peaceful living.
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Re: animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby JP » Tue Nov 13, 2012 10:27 am

this depends heavily on the group, some groups are more animal welfarist style single issue campaigners, some take a more holistic view.

It is possible to campaign on single issues while having the language and message more about all animal rights/liberation/veganism, seen many groups who do that. Might campaign against one form of animal abuse or an establishment, while having that overall message.

I think some groups are still in the way of thinking in which they dont believe much in a bigger change, and think that animal liberation will be achieved via single small incremental changes. But i am not sure if the past 30-40 years of such method can really support that approach, while the huge growth in veganism should make us think bigger change is possible.
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Re: animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby Konstantin » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:08 pm

In my experience groups and individuals vary enormously in this regard. Often groups try to do something topical, support campaigns and therefore end up doing a series of single issue things with the aim of getting progress in this area. I think there is a nod towards moving society towards vegan in the process, although the philosophy rarely goes very far. A lot of participants would probably argue that they struggle to get people to switch brands, so trying to get them vegan would be a waste of time.

You also get a lot of people who are clear about how far they will go and could be considered 'not committed'. Like veggie and campaign on veggie issues, but not vegan, or campaigning on bloodsports and live exports, but still eating meat. There was a high profile issue campaign that seemed to attract a lot of 'non AR' people a few years ago. My friend spent a while talking to some new people who decided to do a town centre stall on the issue, then saw them eating in McDonalds later. I knew one woman who was passionate about the same issue, but refused to even listen about a campaign on the same issue with a different target.

You have to decide what you're prepared to get involved in and whether its compatible with your objectives. AR is a mixed bag of non conformists.
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Re: animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby Johnstuff » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:37 pm

Thanks for your replies. I guess every issue needs to be judged on it's own merit. If someone asks me to sign a petition to ban circus animals then why not sign it as it hardly takes any effort/time however to spend all day protesting about a single issue could be using time/effort better spent. I have an idea to make some flyers/leaflets based on some topical issues that then recommend veganism as the solution. I was pleasantly surprised that even PETA recommended going vegan on the badger cull page as a solution to the cull. I saw another video the other day exposing cruelty on a turkey farm. The video concluded by saying "Make the compassionate choice. Go vegan". I guess a lot of folks have the same idea, use the issue that most people are horrified about to show veganism as the logical solution.

A big part of what the A R group does will be to run a stall so that should be a good way of promoting veganism. I think that to show people that veganism is easy,healthy and tasty is very important and it's never been a better time to go vegan with so many products available we all know how easy it is. I think most non-vegans don't realise that.
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Re: animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby ratfan » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:34 pm

This issue has become a hot topic mainly thanks to the (incorrect) assertion by Francione that promoting veganism is the only or even the best way to bring about change.

See The Animal Rights Debate with Robert Garner v Francione.

If veganism was more mainstreamed and was indeed growing - for which there is no evidence here in the UK - then maybe promoting veganism would be a good use of our time.

As it is suggesting to folk that they go vegan simply goes over their heads in most cases. Whereas you can get them to take the first step on the journey via single issue campaigns that they may have strong feelings about. Most vegans were veggie’s first – see Nick Cooney’s book, Change of Heart, for the research – which shows us that it is a journey. I joined LACS in my early 20s and from there found out about other issues – I’ve been vegan over 20years now. Most campaigners I know took an incremental approach to veganism. The idea that all of a sudden this has changed is rubbish.

Not to say that one day we won’t be at this point – I hope we are. (I believe veganism is more recognised in the States these days) But for now try and include people in anyway you can - get them to take the first step.

It’ll take forever if we wait for everyone to go vegan – or even for a tipping point. In the meantime a lot of animals are suffering horribly – and you can help them.
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Re: animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby JP » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:52 pm

i hate it when some people claim to have knowledge on how social movements can achieve the results when its down to so many factors no one in their right mind should ever claim authority on the issues.

I can see why people think their effort is better used in X, Y or Z, but to go around telling other people how wrong they are is just sectarian and arrogant. But then again, the main proponents of the animal rightist approach are a lot of that...

Personally i think vegan campaigning is the most important, but we come to a ready set table where people have some knowledge of the animal abuse in teh society due to the campaigns done by single issue and welfarist groups, they make vegan campaigning a bit easier :)
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Re: animal rights groups & single issue capmaigns?

Postby drrtyoldpunk » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:54 am

Johnstuff, what a great post!

I spent much of my twenties being involved in various animal rights and environmental campaigns before eventually realising that in order to effect change, one must first replace the existing infrastructure with an workable alternative. For example, instead of campaigning to shut down coal-fired powerstations, campaign to make wind and solar technology more accessible. Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for direct action where instant results are achieved (hunt sabotage is a good example) but I do think that the enphasis should be on creating rather than destroying and living a vegan lifestyle is a good example of that. I like to think that my diet suggests that I am concerned about animal welfare, environmental responsibility and my own health.
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