Note: FARM President and Founder Alex Hershaft delivered this presentation on the Paths to Liberation panel during the Animal Rights National Conference 2011. Farm Sanctuary’s Bruce Friedrich provided the opposing viewpoint in support of welfare reforms.
Welfare or Abolition
This summer, we launched a highly effective vegan outreach program called Pay-Per-View. We pay people $1 to watch a four-minute clip of graphic undercover factory farming and slaughterhouse footage. In the past few weeks, we have generated more than 4,000 individual views, mostly at street fairs and rock concerts. The reactions are dramatic: viewers cry and vow never to touch meat again.
But now, this magnificent grass roots effort is facing a serious threat. Is it a devilish scheme cooked up by the meat industry’s marketing types? Well, yes. But, perversely, it’s also a scheme hatched, nurtured, or at least, abetted by the very same organizations that produced these highly effective undercover videos.
Yes, I am referring to the recent welfare agreement forged with the egg industry, that most egregious torturer of animals. It contains vague promises of industry’s support for legislation that would increase cage size in 18 years. However, its biggest impact is to lull caring consumers – the very people we’ve courting, into thinking that the atrocities they’ve witnessed at our PPV booth may be going away. That it’s safe to eat meat again. Consumers are hearing that message, however unintended, because they’re desperately searching for a way to justify and continue their flesh-eating habits.