No “Scientific Advances” Can End Animal Suffering

An editorial published last week in The New York Times has infuriated both abolitionist animals rights activists and more mainstream animal welfare advocates. The article purports that we can genetically manipulate pigs and cows raised for food so that they can no longer experience physical pain, as has been done with lab rats and mice. Allegedly, this would allow us to exploit and kill animals for food with clear consciences.

From an animal rights perspective, this would involve a host of completely unethical practices- manipulating entire populations of animals to misinterpret their pain, conducting more tests on “laboratory” animals, harming animals’ brains so that we can “guiltlessly” harm their bodies- all to kill sentient animals, instead of reducing the number of farmed animals slaughtered. Furthermore, going through with this would rely on the faulty premise that physical pain is the only type of suffering experienced by animals.

But we need only look at the cats and dogs we call our companions to know that this isn’t true. When I was a child, our family dog, Ruffy, would cry for days on end while I was at summer camp. Every day for a week he would whine excitedly when any car drove down the street, or when my dad left the house for any errand, and he would cry when I didn’t return. This same dog also had his tail partially severed in the back door of our house, and cried for less than an hour afterward. If, as the article claims, all mammals have essentially the same capacities for suffering, then it follows that cows and pigs are just as likely as Ruffy to experience emotional suffering at a greater level than that at which they experience physical pain.

The attempt to create animals who are void of pain does indicate success by animal advocates in raising awareness of farmed animal suffering. But it is equally telling of our shortcomings- specifically, our failure to demonstrate animals to be feeling beings who have intrinsic worth, and who have unique desires and needs. The animal welfare movement’s insistence on fighting factory farming and framing these issues as ones of animals’ pain, not animals’ own value, has created a backlash by exploiting industries where they continue to “fix” symptoms. Even welfare advocates who oppose this scientific “progress” have failed to get to the root of the problem: our society’s wholesale acceptance of animal murder.

If one is not convinced that animals experience emotional pain, they need only watch the following short (and not graphic) video, appropriately entitled “I am Scared and Don’t Want to Die.” As long as animals still have ears, eyes, and noses, they will be able to sense death, and they will fight to avoid it. We must aid them in this fight.

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Number of Farmed Animals Killed in USA Drops!

Some good news! FARM’s annual report for 2009 shows that farmed animal deaths were down slightly in 2008 compared to 2007, and that the drop was likely to be much larger in 2009.  In past years, farmed animal death has increased linearly with the population increase of 1%. Final numbers for 2008 show that there was a 0.6% drop in animal deaths, despite the population increase.

Projections based on January-August indicate that 2009 will see an additional drop of as much as 6%. As we compiled this data, I spoke with USDA representatives, who implied that economic factors contributed to the decrease- but a change in people’s hearts and minds should not be discounted. We animal advocates must seize the opportunity we have to continue the trend. Get Active with Meatout and/or FARM Underground and help us promote veganism!

Read on for the full text of the FARM report, or click here to see the report with sources and citations.


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Updates about Meatout 2010

Are you getting geared up for Meatout? We hope you are! If you haven’t signed up to do a Meatout event yet (on or around March 21st), please visit our Action Center and Registration Page. Here are the most recent updates for Meatout 2010:

New Handout!

Our new leaflet reflects this year’s theme: Eat for Life – Live Vegan!The handout (pictured left) offers a free Vegan Starter Guide and invites people to receive Meatout Mondays, our colorful weekly e-mail with recipes.

The card details compelling reasons to “kick the meat habit”- for people, for the environment, and for the animals. Click on the image to view the front and back.

Event Directory Posted!

The online Events Directory is now available to the public. Check it out to make sure that your activities are listed correctly. It is updated a few times a week, so any event not listed yet will be made public shortly.

Product Sponsors Confirmed!

Are you doing a feed-in or offering free meatless samples to people who stop by your table? Well, you’re in luck, because Tofurky, Gardein, and Primal Strips are just a few of the vegan food companies who will donating free products to Meatout event coordinators. Check out our Manufacturers page, where full details and a list of all sponsors are available.

Please make use of all the great resources available to Meatout event coordinators. Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions at or at 1-800-MEATOUT

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