When I first read Gary Francione's 'Rain without Thunder', I didn't really know any other vegans or activists. I was taken with its clarity, its directness, and its simplicity. Although I still agree with some of Francione's core thoughts, in particularly not supporting welfare reform, my opinions on single issue campaigns have changed.
I understand that single issue campaigns seemingly place one cause over another, such as fur over leather, dog meat over cow meat, pet animals over farm animals, et cetera. But generally, these campaigns are consciously situated within a bigger animal rights narrative.
Going to the I <3 Vegans festival really solidified how the bigger narrative encompasses those fighting to end a particular practice. I don't see a problem with having a directed focus on stopping a specific type of non-human animal use, particularly when you join voices and participate in a much broader community.
We are individuals within a community. The I <3 Vegans festival helped me to understand this fully.
We can use our voices to help try and end non-human animal use one thing at a time. Whether it be stopping the insane slaughter of the tens of thousands of dolphins in Taiji each year, or sterilising and homing the street dogs of Thailand, or getting chickens out of school hatching programs. The people behind these causes are part of a greater community, whose combined efforts can achieve something.
Of course, the public aren't going to see a united vegan front. But in some ways, a united vegan front may be overwhelming to some people. For many, a particular cause provides an inroad to veganism and animal rights, and I've come to realise that by talking to people about their personal stories of going vegan. We all have our soft spots, whether it be for dogs, whales, pigs, or the environment, for example. These are going to be the causes we initially support, but they can lead to being part of the movement as a whole.
I am not comfortable, however, with welfare based reforms. I'm interested in stopping the use of animals, not prolonging it.
So, I am still an abolitionist, I still think vegan awareness is absolutely integral to disabling animal industries, however I also think there is a place for those people bringing an end to particular uses of non-human animals.
If you would like to learn about some of the campaigns I've mentioned in this post, please check out the following organisation:
- Stevie Schafer, 2012