Animal Rights/Vegan Activists' Strategies Articles

Foul-Mouthed Veganism

From Roger Yates, On Human Relations with Other Sentient Beings
May 2022

Animal rights is a demand. It does not beg people to “not be cruel” to other animals, nor does it beg for “mercy.” To my dying day, I will contend that whoever came up with the group name of “Mercy for Animals” is an absolute monster. Well, perhaps monster is too strong. There must be another name, equally damning. Ah, yes, of course: welfarist.

[Also read Animal Rights versus “End Cruelty”.]

vegan welfarists

The march to create a vegan movement that resembles the RSPCA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) continues apace – or so it seems to me.

Social movement theory warns us that, once social movements grow, their core values may be placed in danger. Is this happening to the vegan social movement? Has it already happened?

All I hear now are foul-mouthed vegans using the dread c-word. Cruelty this, cruelty that, cruelty the other. I’m heartily sick of the damn word!

This welfarist language is now largely dominant in the vegan movement. On platforms such as TikTok, cruelty is about the only word one sees or hears in relation to what humans do to other animals. I see advocates frequently saying things such as, “veganism is a stance against animal cruelty.” Ask a modern-day vegan why using other animals is wrong and most will reply suggesting that animal use is “cruel.” We seem to have lost the ability, to the extent that we ever had it, to make the case for animal rights, so we rely on moral shocks laced with welfarist language.

Never likely to say, or even think about saying, that all animal use is a rights violation, we’ve ended up saying that all animal use is uniformly cruel. Of course, much of it is cruel but, as animal rights philosopher Tom Regan points out, cruelty levels are not the fundamental wrong.

This welfarist focus has led to vegan “influencers” saying that veganism is about “reducing animal suffering,” “abolishing the worst forms of animal abuse,” and getting into debates with slaughterhouse owners about the percentage of times the stunning of other animals fails. Reducing suffering, tackling worst cases, improving slaughterhouse practices. This is exactly what the RSPCA is concerned with.


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