March 6, 2014

The cries of “Victory!” have been coming through my Facebook newsfeed today.

Mercy For Animals Canada (which many vegans mistakenly believe is an abolitionist vegan organization) posted this statement and image on their Facebook page:

“After a Mercy For Animals Canada investigation exposed the inherent cruelty of confining pigs in gestation crates, Canada is moving to ban the abusive practice.”

Mercy For Animals Facebook Image

In the image above, Mercy For Animals Canada claimed “CANADA BANS CONFINEMENT OF PIGS IN CRUEL GESTATION CRATES.”

And The Humane Society of the United States posted this statement and image on their Facebook page:

“Victory! Big News! Canada has enacted a national ban on the lifelong confinement of pigs in cruel gestation crates!”

The Humane Society of the United States Facebook Image

In  the image above, The Humane Society of the United States claimed “Gestation crates have been banned by our neighbor to the north!”

So why am I, as an abolitionist vegan, not crying victory?  Well, first of all, it isn’t even a ban!  According to Oxford Dictionaries, the definition of the word “ban” is to “Officially or legally prohibit.”  Well, let’s look closer at the articles published by Mercy For Animals Canada and The Humane Society of the United States:

According to Mercy For Animals Canada’s article:

1) “the NFACC guidelines are not law.”  Guidelines?  Guidelines.

2) It only applies to “new or renovated facilities after July 1, 2014”.  Only new or renovated facilities?

3) “By July 1, 2024, even existing facilities should have transitioned away from crates.”  So, in more than 10 years from today, “existing facilities” should have transitioned away from crates.

And according to The Humane Society of the United States’ article:

1) “Canada has joined dozens of other countries in shifting away from confining breeding pigs in gestation crates”.

 It seems we are interchanging the words “guidelines,” “shifting away,” and “ban”.  It seems we are also overly enthusiastic about animal industry’s willingness to do anything that is not in its best economic interests.  So getting rid of gestation crates may actually help animal industry become more efficient and thus more profitable?  Yes.

As an abolitionist vegan organization, The Abolitionist Vegan Society (TAVS) does not endorse or praise animal industry.  Nonabolitionist, which includes welfarist, animal organizations do that.  TAVS endorses and praises veganism and abolitionist veganism.  Pursuing, endorsing, and praising animal industry including animal welfare is counterproductive to animal rights.  It may seem counterintuitive that animal welfare is counterproductive to animal rights, but please educate yourself as to why this is theoretically and practically true.  (Start with the essay I link to at the end of this article.)

The crux of the problem is not how we use animals; it is that we use animals. Abolitionist vegans reject the use of animals as inherently unjust and advocate accordingly with creative nonviolent vegan advocacy. Creative nonviolent vegan advocacy reflects both a theoretical understanding of the injustice of nonveganism and a pragmatic understanding of the economic realities of nonveganism; and it results in actual progress by increasing the number of vegans toward the critical tipping point of the paradigm shift from nonveganism to veganism and thus the goal of ending animal use.

I am happy to cry “Victory!” when animal advocates have made a new vegan or a new abolitionist vegan.  But this?  Victory?  Not so fast, welfarists.

Sarah K. Woodcock, Founder and Executive Director (Volunteer)
The Abolitionist Vegan Society