From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1998:

by Matt Ball, Jack Norris, and Anne Green [selected by Henry Spira, founder, Coalition for Non-Violent Food.]

Two groups of people protest. The
largest group are those recently aware and just
getting involved. Most soon burn out. Their
protesting might have filled a temporary need
to make a public statement, or perhaps when
nothing changes after a few protests they
become disenchanted. The others are veteran
activists––extremely dedicated but few.
Unable to turn our backs on obvious
atrocities, our movement focuses on smallscale
and short-term successes: trying to save
high-profile animals, change business practices
of large corporations, and shame/intimidate
women wearing fur.
What has been gained? A miniscule
fraction of the total number of animals suffering
each year have been spared the most indefensible
deaths. This has not occurred because
of any understanding of the philosphy of animal
liberation, but rather because the companies
were concerned about their bottom line.

The amount spent to develop nonanimal
methods is still far less than the annual
overhead of the major animal rights organizations.
While we point to occasional victories,
the number of animals bred and butchered
increases by hundreds of millions each year.
Some argue that focusing on small
issues is necessary because it can help build
the financial base of an organization, inspire
members who are energized by successes, and
attract people who are interested in a particular
issue and who will later adopt the entire philosophy
of animal liberation. Reality is that
building a financial base and inspiring members
with small successes becomes an endless
self-perpetuating cycle. This keeps us focused
only on the small and short-term, preventing
us from making real progress.
It is understandable that compassionate
people, outraged at what goes on, feel the
need to do s o m e t h i n g. Protesting with an
angry air, however, has mainly served to
make a statement about us, the activists,
rather than about people’s actions and choices.
Screaming slogans makes us seem cultish,
indoctrinated, and disconnected.
The chant “1-2-3-4––This is a vegan
war! 5-6-7-8––Smash the police state!” is particularly
counterproductive and alien to most
people’s reality. With the exception of a few
furriers, no one is threatened. Many d o s e e
the hypocrisy of our violent calls for nonviolence.
We are not going to intimidate people
into being vegan, and war metaphors will continue
to isolate us from the majority.
Civil disobedience consumes an
enormous amount of activists’ time and
resources. In return, it is a thorn in the side of
the police and the criminal justice system. But
these people have little, if anything, to do
with the targeted animal exploitation. It is not
The System that causes animal exploitation: it
is the people who buy the products. Showing
The System that we are angry makes no difference
to the consuming public.
Promoting the view that The System
is responsible for animal cruelty takes the
blame off individuals, further delaying widespread
veganism and animal liberation.
The public’s attitude is that anything
we say is “wrong until repeatedly proven correct.”
Every time we are shown to be wrong,
the harder it becomes to regain credibility and
have anyone listen to the message.
The worst part is that the most significant
facts––the animal cruelty inherent in
factory farms and industrial slaughter––are
actually understated in many cases, because
people can or will only listen to so much about
cruelty. But when they disbelieve things we
say, because we have exaggerated some
claims, they naturally think we are exaggerating
when it comes to the cruelty. We need to
stop touting outrageous and poorly documented
arguments, and provide people with relevant
information from current sources.

Conclusion by Matt
Four points must be made, even at
cost of alienating activists who feel that people
who don’t advocate direct action and suffering
for the animals are obstructionist.
1) For the hundreds of millions of
dollars that have been donated and spent,
many more animals die in this country every
year, and the issue of animal liberation is
more polarized than before.
2) Every time we choose to work on
one thing, we take resources away from others.
For example, when we use huge amounts
of our very limited resources on a few thousand
mice in Procter & Gamble labs, we are
taking these funds away from the billions of
animals on factory farms. Knowing this, we
need to expend our resources not on what is
most immediate, but on what is most efficient.
3) Animal exploitation is a matter of
demand and supply. Thus, widespread veganism
is the key to animal liberation. Until then,
everything else is relatively irrelevant.
4) To accomplish this, we have to
take a long-term view of things to be most
effective, even though it is contrary to our
nature. Also, and as difficult as this is to do,
we also must reach out to everyone in understanding,
not anger.
Matt Ball, Jack Norris, and Anne
Green are the cofounders of Vegan Outreach.
Their complete manifesto is available at
>>http://www.veganoutreach.org<<, or c/o
211 Indian Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15238.

In our view, consicentious humane
conduct, including toward fellow humans, is
the key to animal liberation, and will tend to
lead toward at least quasi-veganism.
Conversely, veganism does not necessarily
lead toward conscientious humane conduct,
as illustrated by the hostile fanaticism of the
element often lampooned as “The Vegan
Police.” We believe it is worthwhile to avoid
as much use of animal products as is practicable,
especially to display ethical consistency
for those who may pretend mild hypocrisy is a
greater sin than cruelty. However, since most
uses of animal byproducts are lucrative for the
producers and sellers only because the consumption
of meat and eggs pays more than
96% of the production cost of each animal, we
believe strict vegans tend to do more harm
than good when they criticize sympathizers
who may not be quite as pure.
If all people who care about animals
just quit eating flesh and eggs, the meat, egg,
and fish industries would shrink enough to
price most byproducts off the market.

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