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Animal Rights and Fair Trade

 "Meanwhile, advocates like Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) have formed a progressive restaurant trade association, RAISE, and are encouraging people to sign petitions to raise minimum wages and benefits, as well as use its new National Diners' Guide identifying which restaurants treat employees fairly.

"They’re also encouraging people dining out to ask owners about paying fair wages, just as the public asked about organic and local foodstuffs and gradually changed menu offerings.

“'We try to encourage that kind of economic inquiry,' said Liss-Riordan, a RAISE member. 'A few years ago, it was pretty revolutionary to ask, ‘How fresh is your arugula?’

"Now we want people to ask, ‘Are you paying fair wages?’ It’s just getting started. We are hoping that it’s a powerful idea that will take off.'”

--Steven Rosenfeld

In his 1975 book, Animal Liberation, Australian philosopher Peter Singer writes that the “tyranny of human over nonhuman animals” is “causing an amount of pain and suffering that can only be compared with that which resulted from the centuries of tyranny by white humans over black humans.”

Singer favorably compares animal liberation with women’s liberation, black liberation, gay liberation, and movements on behalf of Native Americans and Hispanics. He optimistically observes:

“...the environmental movement...has led people to think about our relations with other animals in a way that seemed impossible only a decade ago.

“To date, environmentalists have been more concerned with wildlife and endangered species than with animals in general, but it is not too big a jump from the thought that it is wrong to treat whales as giant vessels filled with oil and blubber to the thought that it is wrong to treat (animals) as machines for converting grains to flesh.”

Similarly, it is not too big a jump from the thought that it is wrong to purchase products which exploit workers (child labor, sweatshops, restaurants which fail to treat employees fairly, etc.) i.e., the fair trade movement, to the thought that it is wrong to purchase products which contribute to or involve the suffering and death of animals.

In a letter dated March 26, 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton wrote to Don A. Jones of Marietta, GA:

"Thank you for writing to express your concern for the rights of animals. I have always loved and respected animals and abhorred any cruelty toward them. Please be assured that a Clinton Administration would be extremely sensitive to these issues and concerns."

If Bill Clinton's reasons for recently transitioning to a plant-based diet were solely health-related, he would not have written to Ingrid Newkirk, Executive Director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) describing his pleasant experiences due to the change in lifestyle.

Now that Bill Clinton is free from political pressure from the other side (e.g., going "sport" hunting after the Brady bill was signed into law, to "prove" to the NRA he supported the rights of hunters to own firearms), perhaps he can now support animal rights causes through the Clinton Foundation.

Another Bill (Gates) is funding "Beyond Eggs," a vegan egg alternative through his own philanthropic foundation.

These men should be encouraged by animal activists!

It was through a series of email exchanges that Lauren Ornelas (Viva!), herself politically left-liberal, convinced John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods to go vegan.

Mackey commented in Veg-News (a slick, trendy vegan periodical out of San Francisco) that corporations like Whole Foods can put vegan products on the marketplace to sink or swim in the waters of free enterprise, but the public has to actually want these products if they're to succeed. That's capitalism.

(Mackey, a libertarian, later incurred the wrath of the American Left when he wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal expressing his opposition to health care reform!)

Ingrid Newkirk similarly said in an opinion piece in the now-defunct Animals' Agenda in the late '90s that the veggie burgers, soy "ice creams," etc. we now see in supermarket chains didn't appear there magically... they came about through consumer demand!

Far from being wild-eyed leftists, animal activists are working within the system and the political process to bring about social change.

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