Advocating for Animals, part 2
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


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

Advocating for Animals, part 2

This is the second in a series of lectures discussing the strategy of incremental improvements in animal treatment (“welfarism”) versus advocating only for abolition if animal abuse (“abolitionism”). Abolitionists often argue that reforms aimed to improve animal welfare (or, more accurately, to reduce animal ill-fare) implicitly endorse animal mistreatment.

It is hard to know what is and what is not implicitly communicated as a “meta-message.” When we speak, our message always has overtones that might or might not be intentional and that depend largely on how our audience receives that message. If I support the Black Lives Matter movement, does that indicate I have less concern for white lives? To the ear of some people the answer is yes, and to others no.

Careful market analysis can help elucidate how our message is being received. Without such analysis, people tend to rely on anecdotes and personal opinions, and I have little confidence in either approach for gauging the effectiveness of a given message.

One problem is that, when seeking legislation to reforms animal abuse industries, advocates are often accused of having a “real agenda” that is much more far-reaching. It is tempting for advocates to say things like, “We’re not trying to shut down animal agribusiness, we’re just trying to improve conditions on farms.” In saying such things, they seem to endorse animal exploitation and abuse, albeit at a level of abuse that is less heinous than current standards. Do such comments set back animal protectionism, as abolitionists often claim? I’ll explore this next essay.

Go on to: Advocating for Animals, part 3
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