Go Vegan or Go Home
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Many animal advocates approve of farms that raise animals in humane ways for consumption. Yet I understand you are opposed to these kinds of farms, and even to campaigns to improve the lives of animals on factory farms, such as Proposition 2 in California, which prohibits the use of some kinds of chicken cages. Why are you opposed to campaigns like these?
I think that people who advocate such practices actually do more harm than good by perpetuating the fantasy that we can somehow tidy up the concentration camps and make the institutionalized exploitation of sentient beings morally acceptable. It is always better to do less harm than more. If you are going to murder someone, it’s better not to torture her as well. A concentration camp with comfortable beds is better than one without. But this approach neglects a fundamental question about the moral legitimacy of the underlying activity of treating animals as human resources. For those who support these supposed reforms, the issue is how we use animals; for me, the issue is that we use animals.
I am opposed to animal welfare campaigns for two reasons. First, if animal use cannot be morally justified, then we ought to be clear about that, and advocate for no use. Although rape and child molestation are ubiquitous, we do not have campaigns for “humane” rape or “humane” child molestation. We condemn it all. We should do the same with respect to animal exploitation.
Second, animal welfare reform does not provide significant protection for animal interests. Animals are chattel property; they are economic commodities. Given this status and the reality of markets, the level of protection provided by animal welfare will generally be limited to what promotes efficient exploitation. . . . There are laws that supposedly protect animal interests in being treated “humanely,” but that term is interpreted in large part to mean that we cannot impose “unnecessary” harm on animals, and that is measured by what treatment is considered necessary within particular industries, and according to customs of use, to exploit animals.