Just yesterday, AgriTalk (aka the "talk radio program for rural America and agriculture") aired an interview with Wayne Pacelle, a self-described vegan and the President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). For those of you who may have been rooting for HSUS, keeping your fingers crossed and hoping that maybe the animal slaughter industry's labelling of Pacelle or HSUS as having a so-called "vegan agenda" held the slightest bit of promise in terms of ending the use of animals in agriculture, please listen to this abridged version of the podcast.
The fact that Pacelle and HSUS have been standing firmly in the new welfarist camp was (yet again) made more than clear. In the interview, host Mike Adams of AgriTalk asked Pacelle where HSUS stood with regards to animal rights or animal welfare and Pacelle responded.
Adams: We have had a lot questions about where you come down on animal rights and welfare. The livestock industry and people I know believe in the humane treatment of animals. There is a difference between animal welfare and animal rights. How do you define the two? Are they same or different?Pacelle goes on to assert that it's his
Pacelle: We at the Humane Society of the
don’t talk about animal rights, but human responsibility. That places us more with the comments that you represent from the agriculture community. In almost al of our campaigns and activities, whether it’s Prop 2 in United States Californiaor prior ballot measures in Floridaor , or in our Hallmark/Westland investigation, where we exposed the terrible mistreatment at a cull cow slaughter plant of the spent dairy cows, or in some other campaigns, those fit squarely in the realm of animal welfare. They relate not whether animals should be used for food, but how they are treated during production, transport and slaughter. [...] We’ll have some disagreements depending on what your orientation is, but I don’t think anyone can reasonably claim that our work is moving in the direction of eliminating animal agriculture as some of the folks in the industry keep repeating. Arizona
core belief that Americans are going to continue to eat meat, milk and egg products. That is the way it is. These are long-standing cultural practices. Our diet has been at work for a long time with people and it will not change certainly not overnight and it’s not going to change over a decade or 50 years.In the remainder of the interview, when asked about his veganism, Pacelle makes it clear that it's his personal choice and that it has no impact upon and nor does it reflect HSUS or its policies. He goes even further to emphasize how, in fact, very few of HSUS' volunteer board of directors are even vegetarian, as if not eating animals somehow leaves you incompetent to help determine their best interest. When asked if he's stated that he wishes to put an end to all sport hunting, he denies it firmly and then dodges a question about whether he opposes hunting in general, stating that HSUS merely focuses on its "worst abuses" such as "canned hunts, bear baiting, contest shoots, shooting of endangered species [and] pure trophy hunting". When asked if he supports the closure of zoos, he says no. He even calls farming a "noble profession". You can read a transcript of the full interview here.
I think it's important for vegans to be aware of these facts--of this reality. It concerns me when members of the vegan community come out in support of organisations like HSUS, defending them for making supposed small inroads for animal rights. The truth is that organisations like HSUS do absolutely nothing to benefit animal rights. They collect donations from the guilty and wage minor public relations campaigns. What they accomplish isn't merely insufficient; it actually sets animal rights considerations further back. These campaigns invariably end up making those same people who donate feel better about maintaining the status quo concerning society's treatment of non-human animals as property. Is that what the vegan community really wants? Is this man who the vegan community really wants to champion?