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On Abolitionist Animal Sanctuaries

As you know, I support Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, which is the only abolitionist, vegan (which is redundant, unlike vegan, abolitionist, which is not redundant) farmed animal sanctuary in the country. I was steered to Animal Place as another possible focus for my philanthropy, as I’ve been retooling my giving plan. Allow me to clarify why that wouldn’t be a good choice for me.

In an interview in Satya magazine, Michele Alley-Grubb, co-founder of Peaceful Prairie (PPS) is passionate about:

promoting  veganism (as the only effective means to advocate for the cessation of  cruelty and murder of farmed animals), and resisting temptation to appease  donors if  promoting veganism is compromised and/or the exploitation of some farmed animals is offered as an acceptable and even desirable alternative to the  exploitation  of other farmed animals.

And when visitors to PPS proudly claim they "only by cage-free eggs" or whatever else that they say was "humanely produced," she promptly shows them Libby, a hen rescued from a cage-free facility, and Jewel, a hen rescued from a battery facility, and asks them to tell which is which (/who is who). But their mutilated bodies are so similar the visitors can’t say who came from which type of animal operation.

Meanwhile, in the Satya interview with Kim Sturla of Animal Place, we get a profoundly different message. She says:

[Ned Buyukmihci, the co-founder of Animal Place] fights for the rights of animals, which, we hope, results in a level of humane standards that are higher than Certified Humane. That doesn’t mean I would ever encourage anyone to go into Whole Foods to buy humanely raised meat. But I would encourage them to shop at Whole Foods because they surpass most other companies.

Do you see the difference? PPS doesn’t use its energy and resources to work with animal exploiters and help them with the public relations nightmare that is their business by proposing small changes that will make people feel better about consuming animals while increasing their profits. Animal Place does agree that abolition is the goal, and does think "humanely raised" is bunkum, yet fights for incremental changes in the treatment and regulation of farmed animals.

This is a perfect example of new welfare vs. abolition. Decide where you stand and support organizations that share your mission. For a thorough response to someone wondering if it’s okay to promote "humanely produced" animal products, check out Gary Francione’s blog.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Deb #

    I have been a supporter of PPS ever since I realized there was a sanctuary in my (then) backyard. I've spent time at other sanctaries since then. I don't believe that PPS, as much as I love PPS, is the only abolitionist vegan sanctuary. You don't have to agree with me, and I have no problem with that. However I'm really uncomfortable with your statement that PPS is the "only" abolitionist vegan sanctuary without knowing whether you've analyzed all of them. Even if you had analysed all that you knew of, I'd still be extremely skeptical about the "only" part of the statement. It is too absolutist for my taste. And again, you don't have to agree with me on that, but I would be interested to know where the "only" part of your statement comes from. I've been assuming that it is comes from a specific source, but I hate assumptions (I'm too often proven wrong when I assume) and so I figured I'd better ask.

    June 1, 2007
  2. Actually, I took my verbiage from the PPS website and from Michele Alley-Grubb, its co-founder. She is an expert on farmed animal sanctuaries, and I am not. There are things I do or research myself and things I ask (or pay) experts to do (like clean my house and iron my clothes–two things I suck at. On the other hand, I mow my own lawn with my battery-powered mower.) Michele has gone to the websites, read the missions, looked at the literature, if there is any. And according to her, there is no upfront evidence of a staunch abolitionist position.

    There is a bit of doublespeak going on with some organizations saying they're abolitionist, yet their campaigns are for welfare reforms. PPS is unabashedly abolitionist and the people are all vegans.

    I'd be ecstatic to learn that there are other sanctuaries that don't have a default welfare position. Please let me know if you find one.

    Finally, there's the issue of no organization being all things to all people. For me, the objective is to find organizations that are closest to what I believe in WITHOUT compromising the cause. FOR ME, and certainly not for everyone, welfare reforms compromise the cause. Sometimes, like with Grey2k USA, there's a lot of compromise. They are dedicated to banning greyhound racing, but there's no mention of veganism (nor should there be–I'm just making it known), AND they have at times campaigned for legislation that regulates the industry (and I don't want it regulated, I want it GONE). But they're the only ones doing the type of work they do, so I don't have the luxury of picking and choosing (although I do with organizations that directly help the dogs, some of which are pro-racing, so I don't support them). Meanwhile, my donations are NOT tax-deductible because they lobby.

    So it's a constant negotiation, with teachers, organizations, the community. You're constantly having to articulate your position and move among your options. Just be wary of any person or organization that doesn't make their stance known at the forefront of a conversation or campaign.

    June 1, 2007

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