interview with Professor Gary L. Francione on the State
of the U.S. Animal Rights Movement
theories are very different from those of
Peter Singer and Tom Regan. Unlike Singer,
who promotes animal welfare and who rejects
the concept of animal rights, Francione maintains
that animal welfare cannot provide any meaningful
protection for animals because animals are
regarded legally as property, and that rights
are necessary if animals are to be more than
the things that they are at the present time.
Unlike Regan, who argues that only certain
cognitively developed animals have rights,
Francione maintains that sentience alone qualifies
a being for what he has identified as the
one fundamental right: the right not to be
the property of another. In sum, Francione
argues that all sentient beings--and not just
the ones that are most "like us"--are
necessarily self-aware and have an interest
in their lives. Therefore, it is not enough
to say an animal should be treated humanely
on the way to our plates. Moreover, Francione
has done more to link the struggle for animal
rights with other social movements than has
any other writer.
Gary L. Francione is Professor
of Law and Nicholas de B. Katzenbach Distinguished
Scholar of Law and Philosophy at the Rutgers
University School of Law. Professor Francione
taught the first course on animal rights and
the law in an American law school in 1989.
His most recent book is Introduction to
Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?
(Temple University Press, 2000). His other
books include: Animals, Property, and
the Law (Temple University Press, 1995),
and Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology
of the Animal Rights Movement (Temple
University Press, 1996) Professor Francione
co-authored (with Anna Charlton) Vivisection
and Dissection in the Classroom: A Guide to
Conscientious Objection, which has been
used successfully by students across the country
and around the world to obtain alternatives
to animal use in the classroom. For ten years,
he and Rutgers Adjunct Professor Anna Charlton
operated the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Clinic,
which provided free legal services to animal
advocates and served as the nation’s
animal law "think tank".
FoA: Do you maintain
that the animal rights position means that
animals should have all of the same rights
as do humans?
Gary Francione: No. I argue that all sentient
beings should have one right: the right
not to be treated as our property--the right
not to be valued exclusively as means to
human ends. In my newest book, Introduction
to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?,
I maintain that if we do not accord animals
this one right, then, despite what we say
about how seriously we take animal interests,
we will necessarily treat animals as nothing
more than chattel property. And that is
precisely what happens now: We all say that
we take animal interests seriously, but
in reality, our society treats animals in
much the same way that it treats any other
form of property. If, however, we did accord
animals this one right not to be treated
as property, we would be committed to abolishing
and not merely regulating animal exploitation
because our uses of animals for food, experiments,
product testing, entertainment, and clothing
all assume that animals are nothing but
property. If we accepted that animals have
the right not to be treated as our property,
we would stop -completely- bringing domestic
animals into existence.
I am not interested in whether a cow should
be able to bring a lawsuit against a farmer;
I am interested in why we have the cow in
the first place.
FoA: What is your view
of the current animal rights movement in the
There is no animal rights movement in the
United States. There is only an animal welfare
movement that seeks to promote the "humane"
exploitation of animals. To bring about
animal rights, it is essential to understand
the basic legal and philosophical arguments
for abolition. Logically, it is not possible
to reform the system that exploits animals;
we must abolish the exploitation. The abolitionist
position is that the institution of animal
property is morally unjustifiable, just
as was the institution of human property
that we called slavery.
Some who promote welfare reform maintain
that it is acceptable for humans to use
animals if they do so "humanely."
Others seek welfare reforms because they
believe reforms will eventually lead to
abolition. I argue against these notions
for two reasons.
First, as a theoretical matter, reform
misses the primary moral point. It is, of
course, always better to cause less suffering
than more, but the real question is whether
humans are justified in imposing any suffering
at all on animals incidental to our use
of animals as property. The 19th century
reformers argued that it was better for
a slave's owner to beat his slave four times
a week rather than five. The abolitionists
argued that all human beings had at least
the right not to be the property of another;
that to be property meant that a human had
no value except that accorded the slave
by the owner. The abolitionist position
was that it was wrong to beat the slaves
at all because the institution of slavery
itself was morally unjustifiable and it
did not matter how "humane" we
made slavery. Pm a string quartet on the
way to the gas chambers -- as the Nazis
did during the Holocaust -- may make things
more "humane" in some sense, but
that misses the point, doesn't it?
If animals are morally significant at all,
then we must abolish the institution of
animal property. We must stop creating and
owning domestic animals or using wild animals
as means to our ends. My view is that we
should abolish animal slavery and not seek
to reform an inherently immoral institution.
The second reason for my rejection of welfarism
is that, as a practical matter, it does
not work. We have had animal welfare laws
in most western countries for well over
a hundred years now, and they have done
little to reduce animal suffering and they
certainly have not resulted in the gradual
abolition of any practices.
Peter Singer was recently quoted as saying
that the agreement by McDonald's to give
battery hens a few more inches of cage space
was the most significant development for
farm animals since he wrote Animal Liberation.
Twenty-five years of welfarist reform and
the best we can show is a larger battery
cage. Maybe Peter finds that thrilling;
I do not. It is a clear indication of what
I have been saying for a decade now: welfarist
reform is useless.
As to why welfarism fails, this was the
subject of my 1996 book, Rain Without Thunder:
The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement.
In a nutshell, the reason has to do with
the property status of animals. If animals
are property, then they have no value beyond
that which is accorded to them by their
owners. Reform does not work because it
seeks to force owners to value their property
differently and to incur costs in order
to respect animals interests. Our legal
and political systems are based on strong
concepts of property rights. Thus, there
is reluctance to impose the costs of reforms
on owners when such costs will significantly
decrease the value of animal property as
far as the owner is concerned.
FoA: This theory is
logical indeed. But what about putting your
ideas into practice at the grass roots level?
Gary Francione: Before undertaking
any practical effort, there must be a theory
that informs the action. A social movement
must have a theory if it is to have any
action at all. Unfortunately for the present
time, the welfarist position of Peter Singer
is informing the movement. This position
claims that advocates should support any
measure that "reduces suffering."
This theory has had disastrous practical
results. Nearly any proposed change, such
as giving an extra inch of space to a battery
hen, or eating only non-crate veal, can
be portrayed as reducing suffering. Singer's
theory allows large, multi-million-dollar
animal welfare organizations to come up
with moderate campaigns and then to demand
that we all jump on the bandwagon because
this will "reduce suffering."
Under Singer’s theory, it would make
sense for animal exploiters to make things
as horrible as they can for animals in order
to be able to "reduce suffering"
and thereby make small concessions to activists.
That is precisely what the exploiters are
doing, with McDonalds’ so-called "improvements"
being a perfect example of the problem.
And the "movement" is buying into
this because Singer has declared that these
insignificant changes will "reduce
I suggest that we need a new theory to
replace the one that we have. I am not unrealistic.
I recognize that even if we adopt an abolitionist
theory, abolition will not occur immediately.
Change will necessarily be incremental.
But it is my view that the explicit goal
must be abolition and that abolition must
shape incremental change.
On the other hand, I can tell you what
really is not realistic, and that is to
expect that the industries who use animals
to obtain profits will be able to police
themselves. As I have often noted, "humane
slaughter" laws are difficult to enforce,
and the economic realities of the meat-packing
business militate against conscientious
self-enforcement of such standards. Moreover,
such laws arguably increase overall suffering,
because they make the general public feel
better about eating meat or about any other
regulated use of animals. This is the Catch-22
of animal welfare.
There will always be welfarists who promote
longer chains for the slaves and call that
incremental change. In Rain Without Thunder,
I argued that the most important form of
incremental change is educating the public
about the need for abolition. We have not
yet had that, for the U.S. movement has
always been embarrassed about being "radical."
We do not want to alienate the "mainstream."
The problem is that the "mainstream"
is polluted and we ought to stay far away
from the "mainstream."
To those who claim that the abolitionist
has no practical campaign to pursue right
now, I have long argued that the contrary
is true. Consider what would happen if the
international animal movement had a sustained
and unified campaign promoting a purely
vegetarian diet. Imagine what could be done
if a significant portion of our resources
were channeled into making people aware
of why they shouldn't eat animal products
at all. At the end of five years, we would
certainly not have achieved world veganism,
but we'd probably have reduced the consumption
of animal products considerably more than
we have done with these "eat red veal"
And what would we have given up if we were
to pursue this route? Peter Singer claims
that two inches of cage space is the best
thing to happen to farmed animals in 25
years; arguably, making as few as 100 new
vegans in five years would "reduce
suffering" much more than that.
When will we begin? I understand, of course,
that many people in leadership positions
aren't vegan. Therefore they find it difficult
to embrace animal rights as a movement in
which a vegetable-based diet is an axiom.
Veganism, however, is the single most important
issue in the movement. Veganism is the abolitionist
principle implemented in one's own life.
Anyone who maintains that she or
he is an "animal rights" advocate
but is not vegan cannot be taken seriously.
FoA: Doesn't that exclude
a lot of well-meaning people?
Francione: Many advocates do claim that
it is "elitist" to maintain that
there are moral baselines, such as veganism.
But that is like saying that it is "elitist"
to say feminists must reject rape. It is
simply inconsistent to maintain that you
accept an animal rights position but continue
to consume animals. Many advocates seem
to think that veganism is optional and that
it is only the "vegan police"
who insist on veganism. That is no different
from saying, in the context of advocacy
for children’s rights, that those
who condemn all pedophilia are "pedophilia
police." If a children’s rights
advocate is not a member of the "pedophilia
police," she isn’t an advocate
for children’s rights.
FoA: Are there further
impediments to getting the movement off the
Gary Francione: The animal
rights position holds that institutional
exploitation ought to be abolished and not
merely regulated. But the various groups
and institutions who involve themselves
in animal advocacy are aware that the abolitionist
perspective might offend some donors. Because
of this, the position of many groups is
defined solely by the donor dollars.
FoA: And if they do
not work to abolish animal ownership, we inevitably
get a doomed welfare platform?
Francione: Exactly right. And animal welfare
-- both as a moral theory and as a legal
principle -- requires in part that we balance
human interests against nonhuman interests
to determine whether a particular animal
use or treatment is "necessary."
If the human interest outweighs the nonhuman
interest, the use or treatment is considered
"necessary" and morally or legally
justifiable. If the animal interest outweighs
the human interest, then the use is considered
"unnecessary" and morally and
As my 1995 book Animals, Property, and
the Law explains, the problem is that because
animals are property, what we really balance
is the interest of property owners against
their property. And that is absurd. It makes
no sense to talk about the interests of
property which has only the value accorded
to it by its owner. That is precisely why
the laws that purported to regulate race-based
slavery in the U.S. completely failed to
protect the interests of slaves. It was
simply not possible to balance the interests
of a slave against those of a slave owner.
The slave was a piece of property, a thing
that was owned. As a matter of logic, we
cannot balance nonhuman' interests against
ours, any more than we can balance our interests
against those of our cars or wristwatches.
FoA: You are a law professor.
What do you say to those who maintain that
your views are specific to someone trained
by the legal profession?
Francione: I have no illusions about the
usefulness of the legal system. Veterinary
malpractice cases, cruelty cases, and cases
brought under the Animal Welfare Act are
pretty much meaningless in terms of reducing
suffering, and have absolutely no effect
on the property status of animals. But they
have created job security for lawyers. Anna
Charlton, who has taught the animal rights
law course with me at Rutgers University
for over a decade, often points out that
the legal system will never respond differently
to animal issues unless and until there
is a significant shift in prevailing social
consensus about animal exploitation. For
the most part, the law reflects social attitudes
and does not form them. This is particularly
true when the behavior in question is deeply
embedded in the cultural fabric, as our
exploitation of animals undoubtedly is.
As long as most people think that it’s
fine to eat animals, use them in experiments,
or use them for entertainment purposes,
the law is not likely to be a particularly
useful tool to help animals. If, for example,
Congress or a state legislature abolished
factory farming, that would drive the cost
of meat up and there would be a social revolt!
There are some lawyers, such as those involved
with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, who
promote the notion that law will be at the
forefront of social change for animals.
But these people make a living from practicing
law and they are not likely to say otherwise,
Nonhumans will continue to be exploited
until there is a revolution of the human
spirit, and that will not happen without
visionaries trying to change the paradigm
that has become accustomed to and tolerant
of patriarchal violence. At this moment,
the job of the animal rights lawyer is not
to be the primary force for change within
the system. As lawyers, we are part of the
system that exists to protect property interests.
William Kunstler, although the most prominent
civil rights lawyer of the 20th century,
nevertheless once said to me that I should
never think that the lawyer is the "star"
of the show. Our job as lawyers is to keep
social activists out of harm's way. In my
view, a useful "animal rights"
lawyer is a criminal lawyer one day, helping
activists who are charged with civil disobedience;
an administrative lawyer the next day, helping
activists obtain permits for demonstrations;
and a constitutional lawyer the next day,
helping students who do not want to vivisect
as part of their course work, or helping
prisoners who want vegan food. But the lawyer
always serves and protects the activist.
It is the activist who helps to change the
paradigm. Without committed clients who
reflect a growing social consensus, lawyers
Inasmuch as I maintain the necessity of
revolution, let me make clear what I mean.
I am absolutely and unequivocally opposed
to any sort of violence directed toward
humans or nonhuman. I am firmly committed
to the principle of non-violence. The revolution
I seek is one from the heart: I try to get
people -- especially other men -- to question
and reject violence. I am interested in
overthrowing patriarchy and the idea that
some beings -- whether white, rich males
or white males or humans generally --have
greater worth than other beings.
FoA: What about the
work being done on the subject of ape personhood
issues: wouldn't this be one example of movement
within the system that moves us along toward
a society that is serious about equality?
Gary Francione: There are at
least two serious problems with the ape
personhood campaign. First, the campaign
reinforces the notion that some animals
are better than others because they are
more "like us." That is, instead
of having humans at the top and all nonhuman
on the bottom, we "allow" a few
animals that are "like us" to
come on over to "our" side. That
leaves the vast majority of the "other"
animals still on the bottom and without
even a hope of moving "up" because
they lack human-like characteristics that
make "special" those animals given
admission into the preferred category. In
other words, the campaign for ape personhood
threatens to substitute one hierarchy for
another, and I am concerned that we eradicate
the notion of hierarchy altogether.
Second, the "ape personhood"
campaign is not only theoretically unsound,
but has terrible practical consequences
for animals. There is now an entire cottage
industry of cognitive ethologists, inspired
by Jane Goodall, who are urging that we
must do more experiments in order to show
how "like us" various apes are.
I recently attended a conference at which
various researchers were talking about the
various experiments that they are presently
doing and that should be done in the future
to determine exactly how much "like
us" apes are. How much more "research"
will be necessary? How "like us"
do these animals have to be before they
get "promoted" in this hierarchy?
I think that the "ape personhood"
campaign has more to do with generating
grants for researchers and certain "apes
rights" lawyers than it has to do with
animal liberation. Instead of insisting
on liberation of animals from human constructs,
a great deal of attention has focused on
the idea, for example, of Koko the gorilla
giving live chats on America Online. There
is unprecedented interest in people who
discuss intergenerational studies of language
or some other form of cognition. Enough
is enough. The
focus ought to be a respect for their home
environments, not circus-like parading of
apes who have been carefully trained to
act the way humans do. Does the fact that
this is done under a scientific gloss make
this any less of a circus? Does the fact
that this is done in a courtroom by a bunch
of lawyers make it any less of a circus?
These antics show a lack of sensitivity
about the past four decades of grotesque
mistreatment endured by apes in human-created
settings. We already know that the other
apes have complex lives and share a notably
similar genetic build. So why do we keep
imposing human communication tests, self-recognition
tests, and numerous human social interactions
FoA: But weren't you
a contributor to The Great Ape Project?
Gary Francione: Yes. In 1993, I wrote an
essay entitled "Personhood, Property,
and Legal Competence" which was included
in The Great Ape Project and I was one of
the original signatories of the Declaration
on the Rights of Great Apes. I was the first
legal theorist to propose a theory of legal
personhood for the great apes. But I was
very careful in my 1993 essay to make the
point that although the great apes were
very similar to humans, that similarity
was sufficient for their being legal persons
but was not necessary. That is, I argued
that the only characteristic that is required
for personhood is sentience. If a nonhuman
can feel pain, then we have a moral obligation
not to treat that nonhuman exclusively as
a means to our ends. If that being has other
interests, then we ought to respect those
interests as well, but a theory of rights
should not be connected to this additional
set of interests beyond sentience. To put
the matter another way: just because a cow
does not have the same cognitive characteristics
as does a chimpanzee does mean that it is
OK to eat cow any more than the fact that
the cow may have different characteristics
from a fish mean that it is OK to eat the
fish. This is a central point in my newest
book, Introduction to Animal Rights: sentience
is the only characteristic that is necessary
to have the right not to be treated as a
thing or as property. Jane Goodall is currently
urging that African people eat goats instead
of chimpanzees. Why? Because chimpanzees
are more "like us" than are goats?
This makes no sense to me and Goodall's
position is the antithesis of the animal
FoA: For other animals,
what are the implications of this shift in
focus (from sentience to knowledge)?
Gary Francione: We find animal advocates
singing the praises of mathematically gifted
parrots, perceptive rescue dogs, and other
animals with impressive talents -- particularly
those whose intelligence can somehow be
put to our use.
FoA: So we need to do
away with seeing-eye dogs?
Francione: If we are serious about animal
rights, we have a responsibility to stop
bringing them into existence for our purposes.
We would stop bringing all domestic animals
into existence for human purposes.
FoA: We have discussed,
in previous issues, your views on the law
known as the CHIMP Act. Tragically, your warnings
were not heeded. And, as you had predicted,
a law that further entrenches the property
status of nonhuman apes has passed. What does
This terrible law was supported by PeTA,
the National Antivivisection Society, the
American Antivivisection Society, and prominent
board members of the New England Antivivisection
Society. Such support was a clear signal
to the scientists that they may proceed
with their business of psychological and
biomedical research, and that they may do
so unhindered -- even supported -- by groups
who have spoken out in the past against
such things. We now see that the vivisectors
can get PeTA, the "antivivisection"
groups, and Jane Goodall on their side.
What does this portend for the future? It
is fairly clear that the use of animals
in experiments may proceed without any serious
critique from the animal movement; indeed,
the animal movement is actually decreasing
its opposition to vivisection.
FoA: We had better wake
up the movement quickly then. You mentioned
Peter Singer and PeTA as not promoting the
idea of abolishing property status. But both
seem central to the public idea of what animal
rights people do. Can they be considered responsible
for the advocacy movement's ineffective position?
Gary Francione: Ironically, Singer
and PeTA together have eviscerated the animal
rights movement in the United States. PeTA
president Ingrid Newkirk has informed us
that Peter Singer is an intellectual who
looks at all nuances of an issue. Newkirk
was defending an essay called "Heavy
Petting," in which Singer had something
nice to say about the idea of having sex
with calves -- sex with baby cows. I quote:
"They have penises and vaginas, as
we do, and the fact that the vagina of a
calf can be sexually satisfying to a man
shows how similar these organs are."
Now, I can appreciate a good nuance now
and then, but I draw the line at baby cows.
And then we've got PeTA bringing Playboy
models to Capitol Hill, to attract the attention
of legislators. PeTA trivializes activism
just as Peter Singer trivializes the theory
of animal rights. Combined, these people
have managed to turn a serious idea into
a peep show.
I think some of these leaders need to take
some time off to learn how to respect human
personhood before they continue their campaigns.
Instead of thinking about intellectual nuances,
PeTA ought to pay attention to the rather
obvious fact that to link animal rights
with Playboy's philosophy sends a profoundly
disturbing message. If animal rights can
make room for pornography, what kind of
social movement is that? Some critics have
said that the animal rights movement is
corroded by the attitudes of people who
do not like other human beings. It's time
to consider this criticism seriously. Fundamentally
there is no difference between the idea
of treating other human beings respectfully
and treating other animals respectfully.
Our campaigns must think in holistic terms.
I would encourage animals advocates to
understand a fundamental principle: radical
change -- change at the very roots -- cannot
be imposed by large corporations or by the
charities who court them. And be careful
too of "experts." When we identify
a particular person or group, rather than
an idea, as the central focus of the movement,
we give a great deal of authority to that
person who can then do a great deal of damage
to the movement. An example of this phenomenon
is Singer himself. Advocates have allowed
-- even encouraged and facilitated -- his
putting himself forward as the definitive
spokesperson for "animal rights."
Anyone who has read Animal Liberation with
care knows that Peter Singer does not endorse
rights for animals or humans. He has consistently
maintained that it is morally acceptable
to eat animals and use them in other ways
(as long as we take seriously their interest
in not suffering). He also regards it as
acceptable to kill disabled human infants
and to use humans as unconsenting subjects
in biomedical research in some circumstances.
Recently, Singer condoned some acts of sex
between humans and nonhumans. The movement
has set Singer up as some type of deity.
To disagree with Singer's views is interpreted
by many as an act of disloyalty to the cause
of animal rights. The result is that the
movement is now saddled with a representative
who praises McDonald's, who espouses the
view that humans with lives somehow considered
as having lesser value can be sacrificed
for the rest of us, and who announces that
"mutually satisfying" sexual relationships
may develop between humans and nonhuman
FoA: You have spoken
about "moral schizophrenia" in the
human attitude toward other animals. What
do you mean by this?
Many of us live with dogs, cats, or other
animals and regard them as family members.
Yet we stick dinner forks into other animals
who are no different from the ones we consider
family members. This is odd behavior when
you think about it. And on the broader social
level, nearly everyone would agree that
it is immoral to impose unnecessary suffering
on animals -- which, by any definition of
the term, means that it can't be right to
impose suffering on them for human amusement,
pleasure, or convenience. After all, a rule
that says it is wrong to impose suffering
on animals unless we find it pleasurable
and amusing would sound silly. And yet,
99.9 percent of our use of other animals
cannot be justified by any reason other
than human amusement and convenience. It
is 2002. No one maintains that we need to
eat meat to lead an optimally healthy lifestyle.
Indeed, an increasing number of health care
professionals warn that eating meat and
dairy is detrimental to human health. And
animal agriculture is an ecological disaster.
It takes between six and 12 pounds of plant
protein to produce one pound of animal protein
and it takes about 100 times more water
to produce a pound of flesh than a pound
of wheat. Our best justification for eating
meat is that it tastes good. Our best justification
for rodeos, circuses, zoos, hunting, and
so forth is entertainment. In short, western
culture claims to take animal interests
seriously, and we all claim to eschew unnecessary
suffering; yet we impose suffering and death
on animals in situations that cannot be
described as involving necessity of any
sort. That is what I call "moral schizophrenia."
FoA: Have you changed
your views on theory or activism over the
Gary Francione: I have
changed my viewpoint, yes. I started by
supporting the welfarist approach. That
is, when I first got into this, I believed
that we should pursue improvements in the
animals' living conditions. I thought that
the emphasis on their conditions would lead
to the abolition of the use industries.
Over the years it has become entirely clear
to me that animal welfare leads us only
to more animal welfare. If we were protesting
the establishment of a concentration camp,
would it be appropriate to ask for improvements
to the camp? No, because at some level one
is undoubtedly conveying the message that
the camp is okay. The only appropriate thing
to do in this circumstance is to get rid
of the camp, because the idea of the camp
is the fundamental problem. The issue is
not how it goes about its business, but
its very existence.
FoA: Many welfarists
claim that your views are "divisive."
How do you respond?
To disagree is not to be "divisive."
I disagree with the welfarists. I regard
welfarism as ineffective and counterproductive.
I think that the empirical evidence is absolutely
clear that welfarism does not work. Despite
all of the welfarist campaigns of the last
century, we are using more animals now in
more horrific ways than ever before in human
history. But there is a deeper point here:
There is no tradition of debate within the
American animal movement. If one of the
large groups announces some campaign, we
are all expected to jump on board or be
declared "traitors." Peter Singer
and Ingrid Newkirk recently complained that
I attacked their views but that we were
all "on the same side." If there
is one thing that of which I am certain,
I am not "on the same side" as
Peter and Ingrid. Our views are very different.
Our goals are very different. We need more
disagreement within the movement, not less.
And we should not be afraid of being labeled
as "divisive." That is a label
used by those who have nothing of substance
to say in response to legitimate criticisms
FoA: Some people would
say that your theory of animal rights is an
all-or-nothing approach, and that it is unfair
not to provide welfare improvements for the
animals who are alive and suffering now. Given
that it will take a long time before animal
rights are acknowledged and established, is
there any way we can help animals who are
Become a vegan and spend at least one hour
of every day educating your family, friends,
neighbors, and anyone else who will listen
to you about the moral and environmental
arguments in favor of veganism. I can guarantee
you that at the end of a year, you will
have done more to bring about abolitionist
change--and to set the stage for more abolitionist
change--than you will have done spending
time on getting battery cages made larger
or working for more "humane" slaughterhouses.
If you want to participate in legislative
campaigns, pursue campaigns that are abolitionist
and not reformist. In Rain Without Thunder,
I discussed criteria for identifying abolitionist
campaigns. But I cannot emphasize enough
that the most important step is to go vegan
and to support vegan education programs.
Welfarist campaigns may make us feel better,
but they do nothing to alleviate animal
FoA: What do you think
about Burger King's new veggie burger?
Gary Francione: In the first place, the
"veggie burger" is not "veggie"
at all. The burger is cooked on the same
grill as are the meat products, and the
bun contains dairy products. But even if
the "veggie burger" were vegan,
it is my view that animal advocates have
no business promoting outfits such as Burger
King and McDonald's. I'm not recommending
that we sit on the sidelines and rattle
on about rights theory all the time. As
I have stated, I'm intensely supportive
of vegan campaigns. I would, however, urge
activists to carefully consider where and
how to implement these campaigns. There
are better ways to promote a vegan diet
than advertising huge fast-food corporations,
which are exploitative of animals and the
environment on so many levels. We should
be promoting vegan restaurants and shops;
we should not be encouraging people to eat
at Burger King. The fact that Burger King
has a "veggie burger" (that isn't
even vegan) is no different from the fact
that Burger King has salads. Should we all
rush to Burger King because they have salads?
Of course not. I have noticed in recent
press that both Burger King and McDonalds
are becoming to be viewed as allied with
the "animal rights" movement.
As far as I am concerned, corporations like
that are not allied with any movement in
which I have any interest.
FoA: Great advice. Would
you have any more for us?
Francione: I was recently asked by some
animal advocates to write down a set of
principles that might be used as shorthand
for what I regard as the moral baselines
of a real animal rights movement. I'm happy
to share them with your readers.
The animal rights position maintains
that all sentient beings, humans or nonhuman,
have one right: the basic right not to
be treated as the property of others.
Our recognition of the one basic right
means that we must abolish, and not merely
regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation
-- because it assumes that animals are
the property of humans.
Just as we reject racism, sexism, ageism,
and homophobia, we reject speciesism.
The species of a sentient being is no
more reason to deny the protection of
this basic right than race, sex, age,
or sexual orientation is a reason to deny
membership in the human moral community
to other humans.
We recognize that we will not abolish
overnight the property status of nonhumans,
but we will support only those campaigns
and positions that explicitly promote
the abolitionist agenda. We will not support
positions that call for supposedly "improved"
regulation of animal exploitation. We
reject any campaign that promotes sexism,
racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination
We recognize that the most important
step that any of us can take toward abolition
is to adopt the vegan lifestyle and to
educate others about veganism. Veganism
is the principle of abolition applied
to one’s personal life and the consumption
of any meat, fowl, fish, or diary product,
or the wearing or use of animal products,
is inconsistent with the abolitionist
We recognize the principle of nonviolence
as the guiding principle of the animal
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