Guest Essay by Alan O’Reilly
A couple of years ago, just before Christmas, I answered the door to find a representative of a local dog rescue organization selling fundraising raffle tickets. I asked about the prize list which included, not surprisingly given the time of the year, a turkey and several other annual products. I explained that all animals are morally equivalent and that it was strange to be saving some animals (dogs in this case) while offering others as prizes. The representative became somewhat irritated and, rather than engaging in discussion, disappeared rapidly in a puff of colourful epithets! Like the vast majority of those who run and volunteer for similar organizations, this person was not a vegan. So the moral confusion and speciesism obvious in this form of activity is hardly surprising since society as a whole fetishizes “pets” while exploiting many other animals.
Unfortunately, saving some animals by exploiting others is not limited to local organizations; for example there is the support given to the “Hoofin’ It” event, where animal products are served, by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Last weekend, this item appeared in my Facebook newsfeed: “Are you going to BBC Countryfile Live next week? If so, look out for the RSPCA Assured food stall in the food market and try one of our pulled pork baps – made using RSPCA Assured high welfare pork, of course!” says the RSPCA, shamelessly advertising their “happy exploitation” brand.
It beggars belief that anyone can deny that activities of this nature condone speciesism and make people feel more comfortable about using animals. Furthermore, self-promotion and fundraising in such a manner is merely another form of using animals as a resource. Organizations such as the RSPCA are widely regarded by the general public as the guardians of animal interests; indeed, they portray themselves as such. When speciesist forms of fundraising are used by “animal people,” the negative impact on vegan education and on efforts to end animal exploitation cannot be overestimated.
If we are ever to see an end to the injustice of animal exploitation, this has to stop. We must be perfectly clear that the lives of all animals are morally equivalent. In addition, we must reject the baby steps, journeys, reducetarianism, flexitarianism and other nonsense touted by some “animal people.” The only meaningful way forward is veganism and unequivocal vegan education.