If we campaign for "compassionate" treatment today, how can we say that this "compassionate" treatment is unacceptable tomorrow?? Animal welfare reform campaigns, which talk about "compassionate" practices most certainly send a message to the public: products produced "compassionately" are morally okay to consume. If you look on the net, people are embracing being "conscientious omnivores" because animal welfare has supposedly improved.
We have had welfare reform for 200 years now. We are using more animals in more horrific ways than at any time in human history. Welfare reform does not work. It cannot work. Animals are chattel property. Given that status, and the reality of markets, including and especially the fact of international markets and "free trade" agreements, animal welfare will rarely if ever provide more protection to animals than what is economically justifiable.
That is, animal interests are only protected when humans benefit economically. And a historical review of animal welfare reform, which Prof Gary L Francione did in his 1995 book, "Animals, Property, and the Law," and which he updated in a length essay contained in his 2008 book, "Animals as Persons," bears this out. We get rid of or modify practice such as the veal crate, or we require stunning before slaughter, because these practices reduce carcass damage and worker injuries. These reforms increase productivity.
Yes, industry puts up a "show fight" against these reforms but as Roger Yates and other sociologists have pointed out, that is a typical part of the "dance." Industry imposes an opportunity cost to provide a disincentive to future demands for change that may actually be economically disadvantageous to industry.
Industry eventually gives in. Animal groups declare victory and praise institutional exploiters who claim that they really care about animals. The public is reassured that animal welfare is improving. Only the animals lose.
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Interestingly, if animal advocates consistently campaigned for abolition--and thereby sent a clear message to the public--the reaction of industry would be to engage in welfare reform anyway. That is, it is not necessary to campaign for welfare reform. If we campaign for abolition, we will get reform anyway. But we will at least be positioned to be speaking clearly and delivering a clear message about veganism. So we would be further ahead.
Creative, nonviolent vegan education CAN work. It does work. If PETA, HSUS, RSPCA, etc. put their money (HSUS alone as $225 million in
reserves) into vegan education, we could effect significant change overnight (or almost).
We should not never promote the consumption of animals as the RSPCA promotes through its Freedom Food label or as PETA does by praising institutional users with whom it makes "deals" on welfare reform. We should no more support welfare reform than we should campaign for padded water boards to be used in torturing "terrorists" or for more "humane" methods of child molestation or rape. Rape and child molestation and torture go on every second or every day all over the world. They are realities, just as animal exploitation is a reality. But should we campaign for "humane" forms of torture, child molestation, or rape? Most of us would say: "of course not." So why is it okay to think it perfectly appropriate in the context of nonhumans?
For more on the abolitionist approach http://www.abolitionistapproach.com