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Guest Essay: A Response to Mercy for Animals

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Ecorazzi shares this guest essay, original published by Gary Francione on The Abolitionist Approach.

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Mercy for Animals has posted a rather breathtaking essay entitled, This Is Why Vegans Should Stop Being Mean to Vegetarians, in which MFA characterizes as “mean” those who promote veganism as a moral baseline or imperative. Here is a response from Dr. Frances McCormack, who is also one-half of the Grumpy Old Vegans. In order to get the full impact of this essay, you should brace yourself and read the MFA essay first.

This is Why New Welfarists Should Stop Equivocating on Moral Principles Concerning Animals: A Response to Mercy For Animals

Dr. Frances McCormack

We Abolitionists are very thankful for all the engagement we get from followers on our social media. And our followers are an eclectic bunch: vegans, nonvegans and…well, any other distinctions are ludicrous.

While positive feedback and conversation on social media is essential to raising awareness and bringing about change, there’s a trend we’d like to address that we feel is very unfortunate: New Welfarists equivocating or being downright disingenuous when dealing with vegetarians.

First of all, really? I mean, really? We don’t condone being nasty to anyone (and framing vegan advocacy in that way is an utter misrepresentation), but why on earth would we not make the point that there’s no distinction between meat and other animal products to people who already care enough to eliminate one form of animal use from their lives?

Currently 99 percent of Americans still use animals. Yeah, you read that right. That means that vegans are a very small (but thankfully steadily growing) segment of the population. Instead of watering down the moral message, we should be supportive, kind, and helpful by encouraging more people to be vegan.

Yes, of course all animal use is sickening. Yes, of course we should raise awareness about it for people who may not know. And claims that we are attacking those who are most likely already open to that information is just ridiculous. Instead of telling people they’re doing enough by reducing consumption or being vegetarian, how about giving them the information on why and how to be vegan?

And one more thing: We should always remember who we were before we went vegan. Most of us grew up eating meat. For a majority of us, going vegan was a gradual process. But if we’d received a clear moral message, we’d have been vegan sooner, and there’s not one of us who wouldn’t wish that that had happened. Today’s Meatless Monday enthusiast could very well be tomorrow’s vegan activist, so talk to that person about veganism, rather than encouraging them to stick with the baby-step nonsense about which the animal orgs have got them to feel good. People will transition how they will, but as vegans we ought not promote anything less than the principles that we claim to embrace in our own lives.

OK, we’ve said our piece.

However you like to categorise your nonveganism—meat reducer, vegetarian, or anything else—please be vegan. All animal use is morally wrong. And remember, if you want to stand up, stand up. There’s no point doing what MFA asks: to take a stand every time you sit down to eat. All that up-and-down and you might hit yourself in the bellybutton with your fork.

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