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Vegan Society Rejects Crufts, But Seems OK With All Other Exploitation

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The Vegan Society in the UK has come out with a public statement condemning the annual Crufts dog show, asking for viewers to “boycott” Crufts either by changing the TV channel or not buying a ticket. We think it’s odd – although rather unsurprising given their recent history – that the (not so) Vegan Society would consider it wise to make such an arbitrary distinction between dogs and other animals.

Indeed, there are many uses of animals on TV and in entertainment that the Vegan Society neglects to mention. They also take for granted the fact that everyone attending or supporting Crufts will not be vegan – vegans don’t use or accept the use of animals for entertainment or any other purpose.

So this public statement, whereby they claim the dogs are unjustly “paraded around in front of crowds and judges” and that “last year, a German Shepherd with a ‘deformed’ back won Best in Breed, despite the fact that she appeared to experience pain when walking,” is directed entirely at non-vegans. While the use of dogs in Crufts is morally unjustifiable (as is domestication as an institution itself), this statement does nothing but tell the public that dogs, and perhaps other animals we fetishise, have greater moral worth than the animals routinely exploited in the daily lives of non-vegans. Vegans do not support the use of animals as commodities in any way, and to make such an arbitrary distinction to non-vegans instead of promoting veganism, is to perpetuate the very speciesism responsible for their supposed legitimate exploitation in the first place. It tells the public that the exploitation of dogs is bad, but that their own participation in daily animal exploitation through non-veganism is somehow qualitatively different.

This entire Crufts protest smacks of nothing but an attempt at publicity. What better way to garner the attention of potential donors than by tempting them with a pleasant sounding coalition that requires nothing of them other than their support. This is 2017, after all, where it would be foolish to expect an organisation called The Vegan Society to actually promote veganism instead of speciesism. Rather disingenuously, they claim that “it is completely bizarre – and quite ominous – to prize particular animals higher than others based on such arbitrary factors as the exact length of their legs, their numbers of face folds or the precise flatness of their heads,” yet they do not extend that logic to require veganism. They’re well aware that it’s wrong to morally judge animals based on nothing but their appearance or apparent utility, yet they make a conscious decision not to highlight this with respect to all other animals we exploit, and instead promote that speciesism by focusing on dogs.

Interestingly, the statement also offers an insight into the Vegan Society’s position on domestication. They maintain that bringing an end to “certain pedigree breeds” would be a “good thing, if, for these breeds, living equates to suffering.” They also suggest that we shouldn’t be breeding dogs at the moment, not because to treat animals as property would be to deny their inherent value, but because “there were almost 50,000 dogs abandoned in the UK last year.” It is easy to decipher from this that the Vegan Society are reluctant to take a stance against domestication as an institution. One can imagine them accepting domestication if living didn’t “equate to suffering” in their eyes or if there weren’t already so many dogs in need of homes. Were those criteria met, it would seem difficult for them to reject domestication entirely. In other words, they seem perfectly content with the property status of animals and the subsequent denial of inherent value in favour of nothing but external, conditional value.

Respecting animals isn’t just a matter of changing the channel over from Crufts or getting a refund on your ticket. It isn’t just about respecting the animals we fetishise. It’s recognising that if dogs and our other “pets” matter, then so do all other animals we use for our purposes as non-vegans. There is no non-speciesist, non-arbitrary way to distinguish between these animals for the purpose of using them as replaceable resources. They are all sentient beings with the right not to be commodified. If you take animals seriously, this means veganism and nothing less.

Photo from The Telegraph

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