Just to be clear, I do not intend to make this an abolitionism vs. welfarism debate. I think that dichotomy often needlessly divides the animal-activist community, which is made up of so many wonderful and dedicated people who all have intense passions and many different areas of focus. (Google will take you straight to all the infighting.) As far as I’m concerned, every step forward is in the right direction. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to help pay for each of them.
Last week, I received a Facebook invitation to a fundraiser for Maryland Votes for Animals, a newish political action committee. I was psyched, because it was being held at a just-opened vegan café, Emily’s, and Dan Piraro would be there. Action for animals, yummy food, and guaranteed vegan hilarity—what more could I ask for?
As it turns out, a stronger message. While excitedly telling Red about this party, I realized that I hadn’t really checked out Maryland Votes for Animals. I was pretty sure they weren’t going to promote killing kittens, but I’m not made of money, so I thought it best to see what the goals of this PAC were. (I already had apocalyptic visions of my contribution helping wine and dine high-powered members of our state government.)
I learned something about myself as well as about MVFA: I’m only comfortable financially supporting animal-advocacy groups that take an abolitionist stance. If anyone’s just joining the party, this means that the ultimate goal is animal liberation: They’re not ours to eat, enslave, experiment on, use for entertainment, or anything else. MVFA takes a welfarist position, meaning that they advocate for the humane treatment of animals, but still see nothing wrong with using them for human purposes and desires. (Think “happy meat.”) Under their Farm Animal Issues section, they state the following: “We produce food on an industrial scale, [sic] that means farm animals too. Does that fact that an animal is being raise [sic] for slaughter mean that it can be raised by torture?”
Umm…I don’t want animals to be either tortured or slaughtered? I can has vegan?
I was also discouraged by the number of “link coming soon” messages next to issue topics. If you’re gonna launch an animal-welfare site encouraging people to join and donate, don’t you think you should post your positions on the issues first? Then, I searched “vegan” just to make sure I wasn’t discriminating against a less-than-professional website with grammatical errors. You guessed it: zero hits.
So, that’s how MVFA lost me. Again, I applaud the work of any group that organizes for the benefit of animals. I realize that not all these groups will be my cup o’ java, and that not all of them will promote veganism as a way to lessen animal suffering. But damn, I was hoping that MVFA would.
I wish you luck, MVFA, and I’m sorry I can’t stand with you.
Copyright Dan Piraro. Lousy crop job by me and Photoshop.