What is Vegan Abolitionism?

Life Jan 26, 2021

The question about the rights of animals and about whether it is permissible to use them for food is still acute. Even among people who eat meat, there are different opinions: in different cultures, opinions differ about which animals are permissible to breed for food, and which ones to keep as companions. For example, in North Vietnam, you can see fried dogs on the market counters, and the inhabitants of Peru consider guinea pigs to be a delicacy. People who eat animals that are considered domesticated in their culture often find it permissible because there is no personal relationship between them: “I did not know this rabbit and I do not feel anything for him.”

Vegetarians solve an ethical problem for themselves by completely removing meat from the diet. However, even in this case, there are many controversial points and situations where people harm other species – for example, by supporting the production of cosmetics tested on animals, or buying food in plastic packaging, which can lead to the death of mammals, fish, and birds. Vegans refuse to use any animal products, be it meat, leather and fur products, or honey. The list of prohibited products includes, for example, photographic film, which may contain gelatin of animal origin. It is also used to make capsules for medicines, it is used in the printing and textile industries. Even buying leatherette shoes, you can find unethical glue there.

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Logic suggests that in order to be consistent in moral attitudes, one should go further and not just give up meat, but think over absolutely all actions. We are figuring out how far one can go in animal rights protection as a part of civilization, and if this is not like trying to catch up with the ever-receding horizon.

Vegan abolitionism is a radical environmental ideology that assumes that veganism is just an ethical minimum (which, however, members of the movement believe is mandatory for all people). The main and global goal of the abolitionists is to completely free animals from property status. They believe that animals have rights, like humans, and the most important of these rights are not to be exploited and not to be a commodity. That is why the name of the ideology refers to the movement for the emancipation of slaves, and the situation of animals that are kept in cages, trained and killed, is compared to slavery or genocide.

Keeping animals at home as pets in this coordinate system is a way of exploitation. To the objections that the owners can treat the animal well, abolitionists reply that this does not disappear from this oppression – after all, even a “good” owner has the right to give the animal to a shelter or decide to euthanize the pet. At the same time, participants in the movement note that it is possible and necessary to help animals that have already found themselves in a difficult situation due to the actions of people – for example, take home a cat from a shelter or a street dog, neutering them so that possible offspring would not be a victim of human violence. By the way, some people feed their animals living in their homes with vegan food based on plant proteins – on the Internet you can find many instructions for switching cats and dogs to vegan food.

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Abolitionists condemn all sorts of “harm reduction programs” for other species – they see them as a “compromise” solution that not only does not eliminate the problem but also normalizes exploitation. One of their main subjects of criticism is the so-called welferism, which promotes the improvement of how animals are treated and their situation. Many manufacturers of animal products use slogans about the humane treatment of animals – for example, they talk about “free housing” and “painless methods of killing”. Another concept – reductorism – is used to denote a situation when, instead of completely abandoning animal products, they suggest using them less. But vegan abolitionism suggests that you shouldn’t accept support from non-vegans (who are the supporters of reductorism).

Abolitionists criticize specialism, or species chauvinism – discrimination based on species. Spessishism is equated with other forms of discrimination based on biological differences, such as sexism and racism. Antispecialism insists that all sentient beings deserve equal treatment. At the same time, another manifestation of specialism is called the protection of only the cutest animals, say, seals or pandas, while less touching animals are hardly mentioned.

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