Hello, everyone –
My intention, as I will explain, has been to avoid dragging advocates into what was a personal falling out between Gary L. Francione and I. This is why I have been, for the past 6 months, extremely quiet about the fact there was one. However, due to numerous recent unfounded attacks on TAVS by Gary L. Francione, I am publishing this consolidated statement because you have a right to know the truth as well as how TAVS is moving forward. Please see below:
Statement 1 of 2 (published to TAVS Advocates in a Facebook group on July 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm following attacks on TAVS by Gary L. Francione on his public Facebook page)
As you may know, I used to volunteer extensively for Professor Francione. For 14 months, I made all of his posters, admin’ed his FB page (helping grow it from under 10k to over 30k), admin’ed his Twitter account, and helped with multiple side projects such as Eat Like You Care. As anyone who was around at that time knows, I was his biggest fan and did everything I could to support him in his work. While I was volunteering for him, I started to see strategic opportunities for the abolitionist vegan movement. We had a solid theory upon which to base our animal advocacy, but we were not structurally organized to facilitate the shift of “nonvegans to vegans” and “vegans to abolitionist vegans.” In short, we needed to get *organized* and build a strong vibrant community of abolitionist vegans around the world. With my in-depth knowledge of The Abolitionist Approach, having worked closely with Professor Francione for 14 months, Professor Francione’s support, and my vision for the abolitionist vegan movement, I founded The Abolitionist Vegan Society (TAVS).
So after months of Professor Francione supporting TAVS, many of you have expressed complete bewilderment at his and his admins’ recent unfounded attacks on TAVS on his public Facebook page. Well, what you do not know is that in January 2014, after more than 8 months of Professor Francione enthusiastically supporting TAVS, he and I had a personal falling out. We stopped working together, abruptly. After the personal falling out, I kept extremely quiet about it for the sake of the animals and the advocates, both to whom I feel a strong sense of responsibility. My focus was on moving forward with integrity and staying focused on the critically important work of TAVS.
As far as the recent unfounded attacks on TAVS (which may continue into the future), I have two things to say:
1) TAVS is based upon The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights. Period.
2) Professor Francione had my email address and phone number. If he was really concerned about TAVS, he could have emailed me or called me.
It is deeply saddening that TAVS has come under attack and that TAVS Advocates have been hurt in the process. This did not have to happen. If there was a substantive concern about TAVS, it could have been brought to my attention. To see TAVS Advocates, their sincere abolitionist vegan efforts, and the fact that they may wear a TAVS t-shirt to initiate conversations about veganism being dismissed and mocked is really disheartening.
So where do we go from here? We need to keep the focus squarely on what is best for the animals—shifting the paradigm from nonveganism to veganism. As a result of these unfounded attacks on TAVS and the subsequent fracturing of the abolitionist vegan movement, I am as committed as ever to the animals, TAVS Advocates, and their amazing work. I ask that we move forward, as TAVS Advocates, with love and integrity, focused on creative nonviolent vegan advocacy.
Email (Portion) Received from Gary L. Francione on July 8, 2014 at 8:53 am CST
“I am requesting that you remove my name and references to my work from materials of the Abolitionist Vegan Society, whether in electronic or non-electronic form. Alternatively, I am requesting that you include a disclaimer to provide appropriate notice that I do not endorse your organization or your interpretation of my work.”
Statement 2 of 2 (published to TAVS Advocates in a Facebook group on July 8, 2014 at 6:44 pm CST, following the email received from Gary L. Francione)
Based on Gary L. Francione’s request, TAVS is removing Gary L. Francione’s name and references to The Abolitionist Approach from TAVS’ materials immediately, including future printings of TAVS leaflets, with the goal of full removal as soon as possible.
1) TAVS always has been and always will be an abolitionist vegan organization.
2) TAVS will remain committed to the principles of The Abolitionist Approach, but per Gary L. Francione’s request, TAVS is removing Gary L. Francione’s name and references to The Abolitionist Approach from TAVS’ material.
3) TAVS and Gary L. Francione were never formally affiliated, but now, we are formally unaffiliated.
4) TAVS is moving forward as an abolitionist vegan organization.
The bottom line is we have no right to make this about us. Therefore, despite what has happened, TAVS does not regard a choice between supporting TAVS or Gary L. Francione as necessary. We remain grateful for Gary L. Francione’s undeniable contributions to the animal rights movement. I have taken the time to address this situation, because it became necessary to do so, but it is imperative we understand we must move forward with creative nonviolent vegan advocacy. If you are interested in being a part of our strong vibrant community of abolitionist vegans around the world, please consider this a warm welcome from The Abolitionist Vegan Society.
Sarah K. Woodcock, Founder and Executive Director
The Abolitionist Vegan Society
July 8, 2014
To register with TAVS, click here.
To learn about TAVS Advocacy, click here.