During the past decade, numerous articles in magazines, newspapers and online have documented a disturbing trend. Individuals describing themselves as ‘ex-vegetarian’ or even ‘ex-vegan’, seem to have been enlisted as spokespersons for a new animal food fad, characterized by the promotion of ‘humanely-raised animal products’, or, as described by some, ‘Happy Meat’.
During my time working around chickens, there were a number of experiences that changed my perspective on eggs and opened my heart to the hens that laid them. The first started with making a homemade “farm fresh” omelet out of eggs a friend had collected…
Do these labels really indicate an improvement in ethical standards, or are they simply a way for the animal industry to regain consumer confidence in their products?
What do “humanely-raised”, “free-range”, “grass-fed”, “organic” or “cruelty-free” animal products really mean for the environment?
As we look more closely at the reality of the backyard chicken trend, it becomes increasingly clear that it is the same commodification of animals, packaged in niche marketing to appeal to the modern “conscious consumer”.
(written by Gary L. Francione) We must be clear that veganism is the unequivocal baseline of anything that deserves to be called an “animal rights” movement. If “animal rights” means anything, it means that we cannot morally justifyany animal exploitation; we cannot justify treating animals as human resources, however “humane” that treatment may be.
When we make a sincere and honest effort to place ourselves in the position of another sentient being, it is very easy to see why we should respect their lives, regardless of their species or any other characteristics they possess. Like us, they want to be happy, healthy, free from harm, and to enjoy the most precious thing they have: life itself.
Donald Watson’s legacy extends beyond providing a name for our movement, but creating the term ‘vegan’ is certainly one of the most salient and perhaps widest reaching of his contributions. The vegans of today and tomorrow can look to Watson as a major catalyst for the formation and proliferation of our principles.
Although it’s true that the animal industry is an eager and aggressive middle agent, its role is only that of middle agent. As such, while institutionalized exploiters certainly have a lot to answer for, it is consumers who are primarily responsible for animal cruelty through their purchases of animal products.
The animal welfare model overwhelmingly benefits industry – not only by providing guidelines which help producers to adopt a more effective business model, but also by assuring consumers that it is possible to breed, raise, exploit, and slaughter animals in an ethical way.