Nonhuman Animal Rights, Alternative Food Systems, And The Non-Profit Industrial Complex
In response to consumer concern about the treatment of animals in the food industry, an increasing range of ‘humanely produced’ animal products have become available, often with ‘humane certified’ labels approved by animal advocacy groups. This paper looks at the issue from an abolitionist viewpoint and proposes that it commodifies ‘humaneness’ and does not benefit animals as the narrative implies. The author argues that not only do welfare problems persist even within humane certified operations, but also that ‘higher welfare’ labels make people feel more comfortable about consuming animal products, and thus may incentivize their consumption and help entrench morally problematic systems.
The involvement of the professionalized animal welfare movement in advocating these reforms and collaborating with industry on values-based labeling is criticized for legitimizing the continued exploitation of animals, while failing to address the underlying oppressive structures that allow animals to be viewed as commodities in the first place. The author suggests that the professionalization of animal advocacy groups often entails a compromise of movement goals and leads to them working to reform the structure rather than dismantle it. As a result, the fundamental moral issue of exploiting and killing other animals remains largely unexamined. As an alternative to this, abolitionism calls for a rejection of the property-status of animals, a rejection of speciesism and equal consideration for animals, with veganism as a necessary baseline. The abolitionist framework opposes the promotion of more ‘humane’ systems of animal production, arguing that it is inconsistent to strive for an end to animal suffering while continuing to consume them, and advocates change through a radical grassroots vegan movement.[Abstract excerpted from original source.]
“In response to concerns over the treatment of animals in the food industry, the humane product movement and welfare-focused Nonhuman Animal advocacy have arisen to create an alternate system of food production, one that has gained significant attention in the past 30 years. The industry-led humane product movement seeks to capitalize on public concern with Nonhuman animal welfare in improving the “humaneness” of their products. The Nonhuman Animal advocacy movement seeks to address concerns with welfare by advocating industry reform. Ultimately, these shared goals mean that the two parties often cooperate for mutual benefit. As neither position challenges the property status of other animals, this paper argues that neither position is properly equipped to extend moral consideration to Nonhuman Animals. This paper also suggests that the shortcomings of advocacy groups reflect a desire to cooperate with state and industry out of self interest, which necessitates that they compromise goals and marginalize radical alternatives to Nonhuman Animal exploitation… For activists and consumers concerned with human moral obligation to nonhumans, the professionalization of Nonhuman Animal rights advocacy might be avoided in favor of radical, grassroots activism that avoids the debilitating non-profit industrial complex and prioritizes vegan abolitionism.”