Advocating for Animals, part 1
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Advocating for Animals, part 1

How can we best advocate for animals, given that many people do prioritize animal protectionism over other values, such as taste, convenience, and status? Members of the animal protection movement disagree on this question, and the main fault line is between those who argue that we should seek gradual reforms and those who maintain that advocates should endorse only those programs and policies that abolish some or all forms of animal mistreatment.

For simplicity, I will refer to the two camps as “abolitionists” and “welfarists,” though, like most titles, these terms are not fully accurate. Many “welfarists” seek to end all animal mistreatment, and they believe that welfare reforms are effective means to this goal. Historically, animal protectionists have focused primarily on welfare reforms, but in the past few years the “abolitionist” camp has been gaining ground, particularly among animal rights proponents.

Over the next few weeks, I will consider arguments and counter-arguments made by both sides. Abolitionists frequently claim that campaigns for animal welfare reform has failed, because animal abuse has increased steadily over the past decades. Welfarists might respond that we don’t know whether things would have been better or worse if they had taken a different approach. There are many factors contributing to animal abuse, and the importance of the animal protection movement will likely remain limited as long as animal advocates are a small fraction of the populace.

Next week, I will consider the argument that advocating for welfare reforms implicitly endorses animal mistreatment.

Go on to: Advocating for Animals, part 2
Return to: Reflections on the Lectionary, Table of Contents

Return to Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion