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Abolitionists as Donors

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Kristin regarding recommendations of groups to donate to. This leads me to my "What You Can Do" page of my pamphlet (yes, there is a pamphlet, and it’s almost done! I’m posting the first 1,700 words on Rethos today, sans layout and cool photos by Deb Durant. I’ll add the link in this post as an update once I’ve done it.).

Please, please comment if there’s something you think needs to be added to this Animal Person post today, as it’s the page I’m just beginning to work on.

Obviously, going vegan is the first thing to do. There’s nothing worse than people realizing how unjust it is to use animals for our own gain as they proclaim, "I never thought about it that way–that’s horrible!" and then order a hamburger. So probably the most important thing, and luckily the least expensive, is to go vegan. Period. That includes no zoos, no Sea World, no animal-based circuses, and for heaven’s sake, no purebred animals bought from breeders, no matter how responsible they appear to be. Oh, and no leather or silk or wool, although if you already have it, and you’re trying to reduce consumption, and you don’t mind that people constantly quiz you about it (memorize your response–you’ll need it!), keeping it is fine in my book.

Here’s what happens with donating to groups: there is Friends of Animals on the national side (although they also do work local to them), and, if I’m correct, that’s it. Eric of An Animal Friendly Life recently started the Boston Vegan Association, of which I was the first lifetime member, but I live like 1,500 away from Boston and I donated as a gesture of support. I’m sure there are many other local groups, and you can always start one yourself. Locally, you may also have a no-kill shelter that houses the animals well and has a good track record. 

But the national thing is tough, and here’s why: what are the campaigns? With PETA and HSUS, because they have made so many compromises and moved so far away from abolition, they have many, many campaigns, thereby creating the space for many possible "victories." That makes you feel like your money is going to lots of activity. And it is. But not necessarily the kind of activity that leads to abolition.

I like Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, despite their close ties to PETA, and I don’t see much in the way of welfare in their work. I like their Dissection Alternatives and the way they constantly campaign for veganism (from a health perspective). If anyone knows of a reason we shouldn’t support PCRM, please let me know. They are by no means an across the board abolitionist organization–they’re about responsible medicine and responsible education, with regard to animals and diet.

The remainder of the donor landscape is composed of sanctuaries, such as Peaceful Prairie, and special-interest groups, such as Grey2k USA and Sled Dog Watch Dog, which campaign for the abolition of a use of animals, may or may not be composed of vegans, and may also do some "protection" work (I believe Peaceful Prairie is the only organization that doesn’t at some point campaign for some kind of reduction in suffering).

What’s a donor to do? It depends on what’s most important to you. Do you have an issue that takes up a lot of your passion? If abolitionist vegan education is your thing, PPS has literature, and I’m almost done with mine. In my world, one-on-one education, at a glacial pace I might add, seems to help with transitioning people to veganism (although sometimes it happens overnight). I give to PPS and to Grey2K, and also to PCRM. But that’s me, and any of that could change.

The important questions for donors are: What is my money going to? What are they doing with it? What are their goals and outcomes? How successful are they at reaching their goals? What are their administrative and fundraising expenses? (Is admin, not including fundraising, under 15%?)

The donating part might not be easy as an abolitionist, but at least the lifestyle part is!

UPDATE: My first Rethos article/post: Thinking Critically About Animal Rights is up and ready for comments and ratings! I have no idea why it is sort of randomly bold, and I’ve asked for technical assistance on that. Give it a read, comment if you’d like, and rate it! I’m sure I have my work cut out for me introducing people to abolition, so I need all the help I can get. Thanks!

43 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi, Mary! Both my websites are linked to invalid addresses.

    They should be and, respectively. Thanks for mentioning them!

    Looking forward to the sneak peak at your pamphlet.

    October 14, 2007
  2. Ellie #

    I think PCRM is great in that they're developing alternatives to animal the animal model in research, which is essential to ending experiments on animals. Dr. Bernard focuses on prevention of disease which is very important.

    But I do have two cautions about PCRM:

    According to some people (especially anti-AR bloggers) PCRM's information is not correct. I don't know if they're right or wrong. I only mention it as an fyi.

    The other caution is Bernard gets involved in legal suites, and nothing seems to come of them. Again, I could be wrong, but it seems there's a lot of publicity about the litigation, and I've never heard they won a case.

    I think it's wonderful you're helping people to think critically on rethos. It might be a good idea to distinguish notions about animal use and animal rights from your own clarifications, by labeling them, or putting the notions in italics, or something like that.

    I'm sure you're not supporting cage-free eggs, but as it appears on the thread, I think others might not know that. The bold print doesn't make the distinction because the beginning of your post is not in bold.

    October 14, 2007
  3. Eric,

    Sorry about that. I wrote the post and jumped into the car to take the dogs to the beach before 8am and on the way I was like, SH*T, I forgot to check the links!


    The bold thing is insane on Rethos. Sorry. I have asked for help. And as for cage-free, and anything else, my intention is to help people with what to think about and what to ask. If they know what cage-free really means, and they're okay with that, so be it. The Rethos series isn't about my beliefs (like Animal Person is), but about what's going on in AR and why it's so screwed up. Maybe after this initial series it'll be more of my beliefs, but I wanted to start with some critical thinking about the current state of AR first.

    October 14, 2007
  4. Ellie #

    No need to apologize, Mary. It's a technical issue. The rethos people probably thought they were helping, but I think they made it confusing.

    And I understand what you're saying– if informed people still want to eat meat, so be it. The only thing advocates can do is point out the reality as opposed to the marketing hype.

    October 14, 2007
  5. PCRM is not an abolitionist group. I'm not saying that we shouldn't support them, but their message is largely that vivisection doesn't work or could be replaced with humane alternatives. Both of those views I agree with of course. They also push veganism from the health viewpoint. Again, I totally agree. But just because they don't promote welfare doesn't really make them abolitionist. That's not to say I don't like their work.

    Actually, it's Dr. Barnard, and the lawsuits are largely about getting media attention paid to an issue, even if the suit is not going to succeed. Though some of them should have, like against the milk advertisements saying milk will make you lose weight.

    Peaceful Prairie puts out some excellent materials.

    I do not support FOA for reasons previously stated.

    October 14, 2007
  6. I actually like the lawsuits PCRM brings. I liked the one in CA regarding putting warnings on menus regarding grilled chicken products at certain restaurants. And the milk one. I never thought they'd win, but I'm happy to pay for the media attention/education of the mainstream.

    Though PCRM certainly isn't abolitionist in what they say, they do campaign for veganism and for alternatives to using animals in medical research and education. That's backdoor abolition, sort of, and if they came out with "it's morally unjustifiable to use animals, etc…), they'd get even less attention and more criticism. It certainly isn't an optimal situation, but it is an option for those willing to compromise.

    Neva, I know you have a perspective many aren't privy to, but it's odd that as a donor (and you probably know this), the rhetoric at PCRM events is abolitionist in spirit (though I've never heard the word used). That's just my take, though.

    October 14, 2007
  7. Ellie #

    Btw, I still can't post on rethos. After completing the form, I got a message they'd email me. Same thing today– but I haven't received anything.

    October 14, 2007
  8. Hi Mary – I did post a message on your Rethos page this morning which I copied over to here (slightly modified):

    Mary – what a powerful, informative and hard-hitting article. Definitely 'food for thought' for all of us. I would like to tell people about the CHIP program, a non-profit organization formed to fight coronary heart disease, much of which stems from our consumption of animal products (CHIP stands for Coronary Health Improvement Project). The optimum CHIP diet is 100% vegan (the organization at least asks people to limit their use of animal products and when I took the course there was one evening devoted to providing information on the cruelty perpetrated by industries who process animals or their by-products for food. The program is run by volunteer chapters throughout North America and other parts of the world as far as I know, and is a good way to be introduced into veganism (or at least to forever change the way you think about food).

    Animals who are consumed for food do get their revenge on us in the end by the diseases (especially heart disease and strokes) which plague our North-American fast food society.

    Here are some links to CHIP information:

    Mary – you are my 'numero uno' AR-writer/thinker in the world – and thanks for always speaking up for sled dogs. Your Animal Person site has been invaluable in helping to get the message out. With a few words, you gave the site instant credibility when it was launched earlier this year and I and the dogs have a lot to thank you for.


    Just a few more words from me, I do not solicit or accept money for sleddogwatchdog, but ask that people donate to charities I have listed on the page ( ) or any of their favourite animal charities. I support the wonderful organization BC Animal Advocates Society ( – the 'Daily Watchdog' page is a very active community and one lady copies a lot of your articles over to the site and emails your articles to a huge mailing list) and recently gave money to another private animal rescue organization in BC, the Turtle Gardens Animal Rescue Society [ ].

    There is also a great private sled dog (and cat) rescue group in Alaska who people should support [ ]. I talked to one of the co-owners a couple of years ago and was impressed by his dedication and knowledge – there is a picture of him on the SDWD 'Help sled dogs' page (web address above) trying to rescue a neglected sled dog. The organization does a lot of great work in the heart of Alaskan sled dog madness.

    I gave money to PETA a couple of years ago but no longer do. I had asked them to put a link to my site on their sled dog page, but received a bureacratic message that they did not provide links to third parties – even though they had a link to the original sled dog advocacy site ( – an excellent source of info) which is run by a retired school teacher in Florida. There is also an expired link on PETA's sled dog page for CompassionateTraveler.something (which says that the web address is for sale!).

    I and others I know have had some bad experiences with organizations like Humane Societies and SPCA's because I have seen politics and personal egos get in the way of helping animals and advocating on behalf of them.

    I think Rethos has the makings of a great site and will, in the next week or so, post some stuff there and on your page also, which I faithfully visit every day to see what your amazing mind has come up with.

    Did I really say "just a few more words"?

    October 14, 2007
  9. P.S. – another good thing about CHIP is that they advocate against the use of Greyhound oil for making french fries.

    October 14, 2007
  10. "Actually, it's Dr. Barnard, and the lawsuits are largely about getting media attention paid to an issue, even if the suit is not going to succeed."

    So tell us, Neva, do you support such a tactic? Frivolous, attention-seeking lawsuits are taxing our already overburdened legal system far too much. They are a waste of the courts' time and the taxpayers' money, and bringing them should itself be punishable under the law, IMHO. It's ironic that such irresponsible behavior comes from an organization that has the word "responsible" in it's name, huh? BTW, did you all know that this "physician's committee" actually has fewer than five percent of its membership that actually has a medical degree? That seems to say something about their credibility within the medical community. PCRM is grossly misnamed. It is not responsible, and it has few physicians within its ranks.

    October 15, 2007
  11. Ellie #

    Neva, I wasn't here when you raised objection to Friends of Animals (FoA), so could you explain it to me now?

    FoA is an abolitionist group which focuses on love and respect for animals. It's the only animal rights group concerned with all animals, free-living and domestic.

    October 15, 2007
  12. Dustin #

    I am going to have to agree with GrizzlyBear: PeTA ties aside, the fact that PCRM, for the most part, is not comprised of actual physicians is troubling. For instance, I heard a PCRM person speak in Asheville, NC a while back (and the person is an actual, paid spokesperson and "authority" for the group) and this person was not a medical professional—"just" a college professor with a PhD). Now that I live here in Washington, DC (PCRM is headquartered here), they are constantly in the media, and, in my opinion, they constantly embarrass themselves by being hyperbolic and oversimplifying issues that defy easy answers like "if we quit eating meat and dairy, no one would ever get cancer or heart disease or be overweight." None of those things are true, and they are unwilling to engage the public in a real conversation that employs facts, not grossly misstated opinion. I think PCRM is intentionally misleading and dishonest, and I can't think of a single good reason to contribute a dime. But that's just me.


    October 15, 2007
  13. I like the work PCRM is doing since I have not seen any welfare or reform efforts, but I agree with Neva that they are not abolitionist in that they focus on the ineffectiveness of and alternatives to animal research and promote veganism for health reasons. They are physicians and professional dieticians, therefore experts in the field, and therefore it is appropriate for them to focus on these areas (i.e. animal research and health).

    Personally, I don’t contribute to PCRM, partly because they already have the support of dozens of multi-millionaires and don’t need my “2 cents”, and also because groups like Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary are strictly abolitionist and are starved for money compared to all of the welfarist and single-issue groups. I don’t support single-issue campaigns or groups since 1) the root of our problem is animal agriculture and 2) single-issue work tends to contribute to the idea that some species (such as dogs or horses) are more important in some way than pigs or cows.

    BTW, Poo Bear, the rubbish you wrote about PCRM comes straight from the Center for Consumer Freedom, which is a special interest lobbying front group for Big Tobacco, Big Booze, and Big Animal Agribusiness. They fight for higher DUI limits (i.e. they’re pro-drunk driving), pro-smoking legislation, and pro-heart disease, etc. Rick Berman, the leader of that group, is the scum of the earth. The products sold by CCF’s supporters should either be illegal or taxed sufficiently to pay for the billions of dollars in costs to society for lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and cancer, and the deaths and injuries caused by drunk drivers. Why should the general public subsidize the profits of these companies and the health costs incurred by the victims of these products? CCF advocates for a welfare state for Big Tobacco, Big Booze, and Big Animal Agribusiness.

    About PCRM, yes, most of their donors (i.e. “members”) are not physicians; however, all of their researchers and experts, of which they have many, are physicians and professional dieticians. They are highly respected and have made major changes at most of the top medical schools in the nation. About their lawsuits, they are not frivolous. They are important and winnable cases. If they happen to lose, they are a good method of protest and public education anyway.

    October 15, 2007
  14. I think we're all familiar with the CCF (, and I'm not claiming PCRM says they're abolitionist (the post says, "they're about responsible medicine and responsible education, with regard to animals and diet," although the activity and intention of using non-animal technologies as well as the activity and intention of vegan education are certainly not welfarist). I haven't experienced them negatively as Dustin has, but I'm also not in the same town. And I do think some of their lawsuits go a long way to educate the public and raise important legal issues. And by the way, this year I have yet to contribute to them although I have, probably for a decade, annually (full disclosure).

    October 15, 2007
  15. Re: lawsuits. I'm not for frivolous lawsuits, but I do see value in pursuing lawsuits that are ethical but cannot be won in the current climate. This is an important part of American government, and has been influential throughout our history, like Dred Scott. I do think that everyone involved in that case knew it would not succeed, and further it was moot (on the issue of freedom), but forcing the issue into the courts was valuable. Creating the public dialog and making people aware was the main goal and so, so important. Or say Plessy v. Ferguson, also vital but not winnable. I cannot say that every law suit PCRM has pursued was worthy, or even that I mean to place them at the same level as those two important cases. Actually I have not followed them closely, so I don't know them all. I did think the suits surrounding milk advertising were just and raised an important issue, even if the protections given corporations meant the suits could not win.

    On PCRM membership: PCRM operates as many non-profits do with giving "membership" to donors. These members have no voting rights and do not steer the organization–they would be better referred to as supporters, since they are encouraged to take an active role, distributing materials or helping to arrange events. The members that count are board members and staff members and advisory board members. That said, I do think non-M.D.s can speak authoritatively on some issues, providing they have studied it. For example, I've been vegan a really long time and could talk about vegan nutrition, though I might not be totally qualified to answer every obscure question, such as the interactions of vitamins in some rare diseases. Some M.D.s have no background in nutrition at all, much less vegan nutrition so might be less informed than I am. That said, I do think having the degree after the name is helpful with speaking events, it conveys more authority and people respect the degree.

    On FOA, I'm not actually going to say anything further. I'm sorry for that, I just don't want to descend into needless negativity here. I do not support them, but I do agree they have put out a few useful materials. If someone were asking my advice, I'd suggest supporting Peaceful Prairie over FOA, but if you want to support FOA it's not like I'm going to condemn you for it. Then again if someone were asking my advice I'd probably tell them to donate less and do personal outreach more, so I'm not the best maybe to comment on how to donate for abolition.

    October 15, 2007
  16. "BTW, Poo Bear, the rubbish you wrote about PCRM comes straight from the Center for Consumer Freedom, which is a special interest lobbying front group for Big Tobacco, Big Booze, and Big Animal Agribusiness."

    Oh, how wrong you are Dan. The information comes from the National Health Information Center, a government agency. They claim the following: "Founded in 1985, PCRM is a non-profit organization supported by over 5,000 physicians and 100,000 laypersons." Go here:

    Let's do the math. If we add 5,000 physician members with 100,000 non-physician members, we get 105,000 total members. If we then divide 5,000 by 105,000 we get 0.0476, or 4.76%. PCRM themselves admits to this same number. Go here: . Additionally, there are approximately 700,000 physicians in the United States. Again, doing the math, we can calculate that 0.7% of all U.S. physicians are PCRM members. Not exactly awe-inspiring numbers. Do try to investigate the facts before launching into a fallacious diatribe, Dan.

    "Rick Berman, the leader of that group, is the scum of the earth."

    A statement of opinion, not of fact, and a mindless ad hominem fallacy to boot. Why does it seem like every comment you make has to include these kind of fallacious attacks Dan?

    "The products sold by CCF’s supporters should either be illegal or taxed sufficiently to pay for the billions of dollars in costs to society for lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and cancer, and the deaths and injuries caused by drunk drivers."

    So Dan, please tell us, are you a neo-Prohibitionist and a nannyist? This little screed of yours seems to indicate that you favor the petty tyrants of big government further eroding personal liberties. BTW, you do realize that we have tried this failed approach before with regards to alcohol, marijuana, etc. and the results were less than stellar, do you not? As Einstein said, the very definition of insanity is trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different result.

    "About PCRM, yes, most of their donors (i.e. “members”) are not physicians;…."

    Strange, just one paragraph ago, you inferred that this fact was just "rubbish" from CCF, but now you seem to admit it. Which is it Dan?

    October 15, 2007
  17. GB:

    Read Neva’s post about PCRM’s “membership.” As I said in my post, they are donors, not members in the sense of developing educational material, managing, or governance.

    The rubbish you posted that I was referring to included the context of your first post, which sounded very “CCF” (go a read how CCF describes PCRM). Is 5,000 physicians a “few physicians”? And why, exactly, are they “irresponsible”?

    I’m not a prohibitionist, nor do I care what people do with their lives, as long as they don’t tread on innocent people’s right to life and safety on the road and as long as they pay for the damage they do, including their own poor health. I don’t want my insurance premiums paying for people’s health problems that they brought on themselves by heavy drinking, meat, dairy and egg consumption, and smoking. Aside from the fact that we should abolish animal use on animal rights grounds, we should impose a sales tax on all unhealthy products sufficiently to fund excessive health care costs imposed on society by all of the cancer, heart disease, liver damage, and other health problems associated with those products. Heavy drinkers, smokers, and heavy meat, egg and dairy consumers are freeloaders on the rest of society. The companies that sell these products are also freeloaders on society. I believe people should pull their own weight.

    As long as we’re twisting each other’s words around, are you pro-drunk driving accidents? Do you cheer when young teenagers lose their lives because someone is driving drunk out of their mind? What kind of monster are you?

    October 15, 2007
  18. I think PCRM do some good work and Barnard can certainly hold his own at a scientific conference, but they do deliberately misled about the exact nature of the organisation. Even if you look just at staff and closely involved members, few are physicians and their brief is a little more specific than 'responsible medicine' per se.

    October 15, 2007
  19. Neva wrote: "…I'm not actually going to say anything further. I'm sorry for that, I just don't want to descend into needless negativity here."

    Methinks that bell was already rung, so maybe you want to say what's on your mind, so we can address the issue? Not at all saying people shouldn't support Peaceful Prarie but I think we perform different roles, and wouldn't it be legitimate to say one could support Peaceful Prarie ~and~ Friends of Animals? Or is there something about the two that conflict?

    Thank you,

    Lee Hall,
    Friends of Animals.

    October 15, 2007
  20. Ok, if the issue has to be forced to state something about FOA, I was largely put off by the handling of the Primarily Primates incident, and other smaller conflicts with other groups and individuals. I have already read your statements on the Primarily Primates situation and also viewed video footage. I think I know what you will say in response. I know what FOA's position was, I simply don't agree. The Primarily Primates situation seems to be somewhat resolved at this point though.

    I am not in agreement with FOA's policy of not showing graphic photographs. Again, I understand the position, it's simply my opinion that making people aware of the horrors of animal agriculture is an important step toward reaching many people. So simply a difference in philosophy I don't think can be resolved.

    Others may choose to support FOA because they might personally be in agreement with these policies.

    I suppose there is also the whole other part of this where I'm largely unaware of much of what FOA does. I know about Primarily Primates, I've seen some brochures. So I guess if there ever was a time for the official FOA representative to list all of FOA's programs and what is being accomplished this is it.

    October 15, 2007
  21. Ellie #

    I agree with Lee Hall here, Neva. Please do explain what you think is wrong with Friends of Animals so that it can be addressed.

    October 15, 2007
  22. Ellie #

    Woops, we must have been writing at the same time, Neva, as I just now see your response about FoA.

    Do you really know what happened with Primarily Primates?
    I don't know which brochures you're refering to.

    PeTA alleged primates were not cared for properly at Primarily Primates, and this was the reason for the death of one primate. In fact, it was found this primate died of heart disease, and an inspection not long before PeTA's allegations found nothing wrong with the sanctuary. PeTA's case was dismissed in court, as it should have been.

    Personally, I think focusing on the horrors of factory farming is not helpful to animal rights, as I think it sends a message that cruelty in factory farms is the only problem. From an animal rights perspective, animals should not be exploited, no matter how "compassionately" they're raised and killed.

    FoA has numerous programs that help animals, from their Spay/Neuter Program, which has allowed thousands of animals to have the surgery; to litigation on behalf of Alaskan wolves; to helping wild primates in Africa. That's just to name a few. There are many more. I have to say I've learned a lot from Friends of Animals, and I'm proud to be a member.

    Peaceful Prairie and Tribe of Heart also seem to be worthwhile organizations, and nothing I've seen from either is at odds with FoA.

    October 15, 2007
  23. Ellie #

    Another program with Friends of Animals:
    Great Ape Standing and Personhood (GRASP)

    October 15, 2007
  24. Ellie #

    Marine Mammal Rescue, formerly the Whale Rescue Team, is now coordinated with Friends of Animals:

    October 15, 2007
  25. Primarily Primates is getting back on its feet and (not that we didn't expect it but) this has involved work day and night to make it so. We are not going to let this refuge be taken apart; we've made a commitment and are following through. That is a reason support is needed.

    As for choosing imagery of nonhuman autonomy, we think more is needed, indeed we do. Non-human lives and experiences are not summed up only by images of abject victimhood at every turn. Also, politically, spending too much time on the terrible suffering can cause an energy-sapping fixation, and miss its root cause.

    About South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and freedom's unfinished business — the obscene inequality and injustices still prevailing in South Africa — Naomi Klein quotes the head of South Africa's Foundation for Human Rights, who says that although the Commission's hearings dealt with "outward manifestations of apartheid such as torture, severe ill treatment and disappearances," it left the economic system served by those abuses "completely untouched"…

    Klein continues:

    [Begin quote] If she had the process to do over again, Sooka said, "I would do it completely differently. I would look at the systems of apartheid—I would look at the question of land, I would certainly look at the role of multinationals, I would look at the role of the mining industry very, very closely because I think that's the real sickness of South Africa. . . . I would look at the systematic effects of the policies of apartheid, and I would devote only one hearing to torture because I think when you focus on torture and you don't look at what it was serving, that's when you start to do a revision of the real history." [End quote.]

    Are these observations helpful to any social justice movement, including the animal-rights movement? Surely, yes.

    But there is no policy ruling out "graphic" imagery in every circumstance; nor would we ever recommend that anyone stop donating to any group that is striving in their way to generate a message and cultivate a society in which respect can take hold. If they avoid falling into the industrial co-opting trap, if they do everything they can to act as though the animals whom they represent could walk in at any time and hold them accountable, then we admire them for it.

    Thanks ever so much for the kind words here from those who value our efforts. This means a lot to us.

    October 15, 2007
  26. Virtually every group is "abolitionist" on rodeo, circuses, and so forth. I think groups like SHARK and Grey2K are great, but PETA or Vegan Outreach is much more likely to move one toward veganism. And when someone is vegan, they're unlikely to support cruel entertainment, "sporting events," and so on.

    GB spouts CCF-style deception and disinformation. Most of the American Heart Association's membership is not heart surgeons, and most members of the National Geographic Society are not professional geographers. The donor base of PCRM is mostly lay people. It doesn't matter and I think most everyone gets this.

    PCRM has a large core group of physicians who conduct peer-reviewed studies, write articles in respected medical journals, and oversee medical process inventions, among other things. Their winning lawsuit against the USDA has helped reform the still-corrupt food pyramid process. Their diabetes program is groundbreaking and affordable. Their program to abolish dog labs in most medical schools has had numerous benefits to students (by their own admission) and animals. What's frivolous is the amount of tax money spent on subsidizing the dairy industry.

    October 15, 2007
  27. Ellie #

    Imo, Gary, groups that collaborate with animal industries do not promote veganism. PeTA and Vegan Outreach are signatories of the Animal "Compassion" Foundation, a marketing tool designed by John Mackey of Whole Foods, which serves to promote the sale of animal bodies and products in his stores.

    October 16, 2007
  28. Dustin Rhodes #


    Please remember: Whatever "story" you might hear about FoA, there are always two sides. Am I prejudiced because I am an employee? Of course. But I've never met a more committed-to-doing-the-right-thing group of people, ever. I really mean that. PPI is not in good hands—they are great, compassionate and very giving ones. FoA is a small organization compared to PeTA; we don't expend energy on the whole media machine. We don't have the resources to publically debate every (false) accusation that comes our way. I am very proud to work for an organization with as much integrity as FoA, and I am really sorry if we aren't as good as we could be at managing our public persona. But we are interested in vegan and animal advocacy; that's where the time and energy go.

    With regard to non-graphic materials: I have been to three vegan and/or vegetarian events recently and the common theme among all of them is how often we are thanked for creating this very literature. There are enough organizations and individuals who produce graphic, violent, disturbing imagery. Personally, I find this type of literature both unsettling and offensive. Apparently, many other people do as well. I've gotten three letters in the past two weeks (two of them from San Francisco) asking for FoA's Vegan Starter Guides because of this fact. So, while you might not agree, rest assured there are many activists out there who appreciate it. In my mind, any policy that seeks the broader view of non-violence is a good one.

    No, I probably won't accomplish changing your mind about FoA. But I do encourage you to ask questions. The work FoA does is both tough and thankless; I can't imagine working for a more heart-in-exactly-the-right-place organization.

    Dustin Rhodes
    Friends of Animals
    Washington, DC

    October 16, 2007
  29. PETA and “Vegan” Outreach see no reason to advocate veganism as a moral baseline. For them, going vegan is a very nice thing to do, but only if you’re so inclined or feeling heroic or something like that. If you like “happy” meat, dig in; PETA and VO will understand.

    October 16, 2007
  30. Many people over the years have cited PETA and Vegan Outreach (and COK) materials as helping them go vegan. That continues today. I'm not saying these groups are perfect.

    I have the utmost respect for SHARK, Sled Dog Action Committee et al, and I support them, too.

    October 16, 2007
  31. Dan #

    I don’t deny that, Gary, but how many people, once they find how equivocal PETA and VO are on the issue, and once they discover “happy” meat, which PETA and VO support, go back to eating “certified humane” or “animal compassionate” meat and animal products?

    Quite honestly, if I didn’t see veganism as a moral imperative, I might be eating “happy” meat tonight. Vegan food would probably still be 80 or 90% of my diet, but if someone ordered a cheese and meat pizza with “happy” meat tonight, I’d probably say, why not? I completely understand, under the “veganism as a tool” view, why people say “why vegan?” Why not go back to happy meat? I don’t feel like using the “tool” tonight, so I’ll leave it in the drawer.

    How about if we treated humans the same way? “Well, we see abstention from murdering people as a tool to reduce suffering, but if someone is really working on your nerves, then hey, it’s only a tool, right? Go ahead and kill them if it feels right tonight.”

    Killing animals is either okay, or it’s not okay. If it’s okay, then we should kill and eat them if we want. If it’s not okay, then we should go vegan. It really is that simple.

    PETA and VO, IMO, are bigger long-term obstacles to vegan progress than industry is. They are not merely less than perfect.

    October 16, 2007
  32. kim #

    In regards to PETA, vegan advocacy may not be their main form of activism, but you can't deny their actions create vegans, even if it is an indirect result of their welfare campaigns.

    After seeking out info on vegetarianism online, and being led to their highly visible site, I attended their Helping Animals 101 program several years ago — and that's what turned me vegan. With the principal players in the organization, including Bruce and Ingrid, involved with teaching that weekend, to say what they did was anything other than pure vegan indoctrination would be just flat out ludicrous.

    Would I have sought out their site if they hadn't become so well known through their welfare and abolition (fur, etc) campaigns? As an outsider, the idea that they cared enough about animals to be concerned with their treatment was initially appealing. And I can't argue with the personal results I had with their multi-tiered approach.

    So what's my point? Just because a group isn't involved in welfare reform doesn't automatically mean they are effective at vegan advocacy.

    A survey I would like to see done is one that determines how people became vegan, including break downs into the reasons why they are (morals, health, etc.) and their level of commitment to it. I think that would be a good starting point to determine effectiveness of methodology.

    October 16, 2007
  33. I suspect the vast majority of ex-vegans succumb to influences other than PETA. The ex-veg*ans I've known, or known of, have relapsed for a myriad of reasons. I also suspect that many more people learn about veganism and are helped on the road to veganism through PETA / VO / COK than are pushed back.

    If PETA can get a huge number of people to be 80% vegan, that's huge progress, too.

    If 200 million people were torturing and killing humans, and despite my best efforts, almost all of them continued to kill without giving it the slightest thought, but I could get them to end the torture in the meantime,I would.

    Having said that, any analogies between farmed animals and humans is going to be far from perfect, possibly in significant ways. A better analogy would be what if humans were raised for food, mostly out of sight? But even that dosn't take into account the difficulty of advocating for vicitms who are a different species than their oppressors, cannot speak human languages, etc. The problem with analogies is that you can always construct one to support your view.

    If any group cavalierly says "go ahead and kill animals if it feels right," I would strongly object to that.

    October 16, 2007
  34. Dan said:

    >>Killing animals is either okay, or it’s not okay. If it’s okay, then we should kill and eat them if we want. If it’s not okay, then we should go vegan. It really is that simple.<<<

    I agree that the principles of veganism are simple and straightforward. The problem is, you explain them to people and they keep being non-vegan. Or they don't even listen your first word. Then you're left with the vexing problem of what do you do in the meantime? And I don't think there's one right answer.

    I'm just curious if you support any incremental measures, including urging people to gradually reduce their meat, dairy, and egg consumption. "Abolitionist" tactics, at least by my reading, include getting people to be vegan one day a week, then two, and so forth. I've tried this tactic myself. But if killing animals is wrong (a premise with which I agree, of course), isn't this type of incrementalism, or any tactic other than demanding that people give up animal products immediately, supporting continued killing?

    We unfortunately have to resort to incrementalism because people are wedded to animal products in their diets. They are addicted to them, they fear change, and so forth. What if other types of incremental strategies, e.g., eliminating cruelties from one's diet, one at a time, produced end results as quickly or more quickly than strictly reducing the number of animal products one at a time? Or what if a combination worked best?

    We probably do agree that one should make it clear, no matter what tactics they're using, that veganism is the goal (or at least a goal) as opposed to merely refining or reducing animal product consumption.

    Also, because it's often difficult to express nuances and intonations in an online comment, I just want to make it clear that I'm asking these questions, and posing these posers, not in an attempt to one-up anyone or say "Oh yeah, Mr./Ms. Smartie Pants?" I'm just trying to think things through and consider all angles, and am always prepared to be set straight, gently corrected, and so forth. All part of the learning process. I appreciate all these points of view; they really make me think. I realize we're all working fervently, with all our hearts, to help the animals.

    October 16, 2007
  35. "As long as we’re twisting each other’s words around…"

    How I am I twisting your words, Dan? You made the claim that the products sold by CCF supporters should be illegal or "taxed sufficiently" ( just what is "sufficiently" in your mind? ). Such a statement is consistent with a neo-Prohibitionist or nannyism type position. That is why I asked you to clarify if that is indeed your position. You now back peddle and dishonestly accuse me of "twisting" your words. How feeble and transparent of you Dan.

    "….are you pro-drunk driving accidents?"

    Certainly not. What would make you think so? Common sense would seem to dictate that the best way to combat drunk driving is to make the punishment for violators harsh enough ( such as mandatory jail time for first time offenders ) so that there is sufficient deterrence, not by prohibition of alcohol or by taxing it into oblivion and thus driving it into a black market and all the ills associated with it.

    "What kind of monster are you?"

    Ah, more of your trademark ad hominem-ism. If only you were as good at reinforcing your arguments as you are at making personal attacks, Dan.

    October 17, 2007
  36. Ellie #

    The 'veganism' PeTA promotes is essentially faddish and self-involved, and thus often temporary. I know there are exceptions–some advocates stay vegan– but when a group promotes bigger cages, so-called free-range farming, and gassing chickens, etc., it does not speak for animals, for the vegan ethic, or even for vegetarianism. It speaks for modifying animal husbandry.

    October 17, 2007
  37. Ellie #

    Kim, I'm happy to participate in the survey, but I really don't think any survey is reliable. There are too many variables that survey's can't account for.

    October 17, 2007
  38. Ellie #

    Gary, I think people become ex-vegans because either they don't understand the vegan ethic, or they don't take it seriously. That's why it's so important for activism to focus on respect for animals as personal beings, who should not be commodified into products. When so-called "animal rights" groups make it acceptable to eat animals, this ethic is lost.

    The only way they can gain support for these reforms is by promoting them as "humane" and "compassionate". Hence, happy meat. Were they honest enough to promote these reforms as unsubstantial and unenforceable in mass production– they wouldn't have much support.

    PeTA had absolutely nothing to do with me becoming a vegetarian or a vegan. I won't suppport incrementalism that betrays non-human animals.

    October 17, 2007
  39. Dan #


    Abolitionist advocacy is little more than a public extension of personal veganism. Going from advocating “happy” meat (regardless of whether it’s coupled with vegan advocacy or not) to advocating solely veganism is like going from consuming “happy” meat to going vegan.

    We should not talk out of both sides of our mouth, advocating both veganism and “happy” meat. Either we think it’s okay to kill animals or we do not.

    To answer your question about incrementalism, vegan incrementalism, i.e. 1) personally going vegan over time according to a plan and 2) society going vegan one person at a time, is perfectly consistent with the long-term goal of abolishing animal use over decades and generations. Welfare incrementalism is a barrier to long-term abolition goals since it perpetuates the idea that it is okay to kill animals and treat them as property. As long as animals don’t have a basic right to life AND not to be used as property, there can be no foundation or any other rights. Basic rights (i.e. life and not-property) must necessarily precede any and all other rights. This is true of both moral and especially legal rights.


    In addition to giving a slaughterhouse designer a “Proggy” award, PETA has promoted Whole Food’s meat department in the now well-known, notorious letter to Mackey. PETA repeatedly tries to work with industry and PETA has become so involved with industry reform that they are now virtually partners with industry and act as free consultants to them, promoting “happy” meat.

    Not only that, but PETA is sexist, which inherently contradicts the non-exploitive values of a consistent movement to abolish harmful exploitation. PETA genuinely offends other groups who are fighting their own battles of exploitation. Look at how many young, disadvantaged women are violently exploited by the pornography and sex industry. PETA contributes to the idea that women are commodities of exploitation with campaigns such as the recent one showing Alicia Silverstone.

    PETA’s campaigns are also very off-putting to the general public and have turned off many people to even considering animal “rights” (even though PETA does not support animal rights or philosophers and scholars who do support animal rights). I don’t deny that PETA gets many people to go vegan, especially teenagers, but because they have such a weak foundation morally, the veganism they create is tenuous unless those vegans find a better reason to stay vegan from other vegan sources with a strong and consistent moral foundation.

    I’ve had enough of explaining this and I’m unlikely to respond much more. For more information on the perspective I’m attempting (apparently quite feebly) to convey, google Gary Francione’s blog (abolitionist approach) or click on my name and read some of my blog, especially the essay “Proven Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”. Francione’s blog is the better choice. He’s a better writer than I and his blog’s been around a lot longer than mine.

    GB: Your response isn’t even worth addressing. 🙂 Thanks for saving me time.

    October 17, 2007
  40. Ellie #

    "PeTA genuinely offends other groups…"

    Yes, PeTA used Holocaust victims and African American slaves as instrumental props for publicity. PeTA even capitalized on the murder of a woman because the killer was connected with pig farming. Despicable! Any time I talk about being an animal rights activist, I quickly ad I'm not a member of PeTA.

    October 17, 2007
  41. kim #


    I am completely familiar with your points about PETA and have read Rain Without Thunder in addition to many of Francione's articles, blog posts and message board conversations. I just happen to disagree with the conclusion that welfare activities or groups partnering in any way with exploiters = hinderence to abolition.


    While it is true that PETA may influence some people temporarily or superficially, I wonder if that has less to do with any imperfections or inconsistency of the message, than it does with the sheer magnitude of the audience they are attempting to reach. Unfortunately, a mass message has to have some kind of mass appeal. So the opportunity for comprehensive discussion is limited, regardless of approach.

    But given the opportunity to meet each visitor to their websites personally, I feel pretty confident that what a PETA rep would say would pretty much mirror anything you might say in your personal activism. They would never tell someone "it is acceptable to eat animals."

    Attempting to improve the conditions for imprisoned animals absolutely certain to be subjected to cruelty doesn't automatically imply that one condones their imprisonment. Besides, PETA's impression with the public is as far as you can get from a welfare organization that condones eating meat. So it's really a moot point.

    October 18, 2007
  42. Ellie #


    I think the quality of the message is way more important than the quantity of viewers, especially for a mass audience. PeTA's instrumental use of human victims, and of sexism, belies the very foundation of animal rights. We want people to understand non-human animals are persons in their own right, who are worthy of respect– and thus are not objects to be used by us bi-pedal primates.

    That ethic is lost when PeTA fails to respect humans, and uses their victimization as a tool for publicity. Rather than gain empathy for other animals, the message offends people and puts them on the defensive.

    I doubt I would agree with a PeTA rep. He/she may not say it's ok to eat animals, but campaigning to modify animal husbandry gives tacit acceptance to animal agriculture.

    PeTA is not an animal rights organization, and if they want to focus on better methods of killing animals, I wish they'd be honest enough to admit that.

    As signatory to John Mackey's Animal "Compassion" Foundation, PeTA joined other "welfare" groups, including HSUS, the largest animal in the US. In signing, PeTA gave consent to objectify non-human animals as food, which again belies the foundation of animal rights.

    October 18, 2007
  43. Ellie #

    Sorry, the above should read: PeTA joined other "welfare" groups, including HSUS, the largest in the US.

    October 18, 2007

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