Throughout the course of this year I have had the privilege of educating a number of people about veganism in the public domain – both online and in person. While the dynamic of online education is different to engaging with someone face-to-face, both approaches would be utterly useless if they were not grounded in the same abolitionist moral theory.
For too long now, the detrimental antics of the mainstream “animal movement” have warped the public perception of veganism and confused people over what it actually means to be vegan. Thanks to the likes of new welfarist groups such as Direct Action Everywhere, Animal Aid, PETA, and a long list of others, the public do not connect the concept of veganism with a recognition of fundamental rights and peace; they instead see a host of ambiguity in the form of meaningless ‘disruptions,’ single-issue protests that promote all excluded forms of animal exploitation, and a great deal of violence and discrimination directed towards other humans.
Terms such as “animal advocate” and “animal rights” have become taboo in recent years, precisely because the public have linked those phrases to a great deal of human violence, confusion, and ambiguity to the point that any non-vegan who signs an online petition is now considered an “advocate” for “animal rights.” If we are ever going to shift the paradigm and see justice for non-humans, we need to change the conversation. We need to be talking about abolition, and the need to abolish the use of animals as our property – period – in recognition of their fundamental right as sentient beings not to be used as resources. Veganism is a necessary condition for abolition. As Gary Francione says, it applies the principle of abolition to the life of the individual. By eschewing animal products from your life in all of the ways you have control (food, clothing, cosmetics, toiletries, household products etc) and not supporting the use of animals in other ways that assume animals to be our property or resources (zoos, animal “sports,” etc), you are a living recognition of non-human inherent value, and your veganism alone is a giant stamp of disapproval on our societies exploitation of the most vulnerable amongst us.
Let’s make 2017 the year where the paradigm is shifted; the year where corporate welfarism cripples and dies under the weight of an abolitionist movement demanding change. A change of heart in every single person who believes animals to have moral value and who believes that inflicting unnecessary suffering and death is wrong. With peaceful, non-violent education, we will reach these people, and we will change the world.
It starts by educating yourself on the basics. If you haven’t read Eat Like You Care and Animal Rights The Abolitionist Approach by Professors Gary Francione and Anna Charlton, these books are essential. Not only will you learn how to engage with non-vegans more effectively, you will also have a solid foundation of abolitionist theory from which to base your advocacy. Both of those things are crucial if we are to shift the paradigm away from the currently accepted default position of animal welfarism.
There are also two things you can get involved with right now before the year is out (as well as going vegan, of course). The abolitionist approach page is hosting a Thunderclap campaign which you can sign up for via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. At midnight on December 31st, a post will be sent out appearing on the timelines of all those who have signed up promoting veganism and providing essential links to the howdoigovegan.com website and the howdoigovegan Facebook page. The current social reach of this campaign is just under 200 thousand people, and there are still 4 days to go! Sign up with your social media accounts on the Thunderclap page and help us reach and even larger audience with an unequivocal vegan message!
We also invite you to join us in the 2nd abolitionist approach webinar being hosted on Friday the 30th of December between 5-7 p.m. eastern standard time. Gary Francione and Anna Charlton will be discussing the basics of abolitionist advocacy and sharing practical advice to help ensure that 2017 is the year that you become the most effective advocate for abolition that you can be. What better way to celebrate the dawn of a new year, than by learning how to best bring about the dawn of abolition? There are already hundreds of participants registered, so be sure not to miss out! You can sign up for the webinar here.
We hope to see you there. Let’s make 2017 count.