In Praise (and Defense) of Meatless Mondays

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Spencer Lo

Today, the start of the new weekday, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will serve students in its K-12 cafeteria meatless meals, thereby participating in the growing international campaign known as “Meatless Mondays” (MM). The mandatory vegetarian program began last month, and follows a unanimous city council’s resolution passed last November endorsing the campaign, which asked residents to make a personal pledge to go meat-free for one day a week. As reported on HLN, the new initiative amounts to 650,000 vegetarian meals every Monday—that’s (by my calculation) more than 31 million vegetarian meals per year served in United States’ second largest school district. This is very welcome news. Read More

Abolitionism and Welfare Reform: A Debate

GFBF

Spencer Lo

Professor Gary Francione and Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary recently had a short, substantive exchange on abolitionism and welfare reform, consisting of two opening statements and a response to each. Below is my summary of the exchange. Obviously, nothing can be settled in a short debate, but I hope to highlight and sharpen the areas of disagreements between the two.  read more

Gary L. Francione on Philosophy Bites

Spencer Lo

Professor Gary L. Francione recently appeared in a Philosophy Bites podcast interview and discussed his abolitionist approach to animal rights. Despite the short length of the interview (around 15 minutes), many topics were covered, including:

  • The ideology of animal welfare: Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer
  • Veganism as a moral requirement
  • Moral status of animals: sentience and cognitive characteristics
  • Achieving abolitionism via welfare reforms
  • Alleged differences between factory farming and humane farming (e.g., free range, “happy meat,” “compassionate consumption”).
  • Domestication, pets and non-vegan cats
  • Unintended harms of a vegan diet
  • Eating road kill
  • Veganism and its relation to the modern animal rights movement

(For interested readers, I left some comments about some of the above).

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More Philosophy Bites podcasts pertaining to animal ethics: Peter Singer on using animals, Jeff McMahan  on moral vegetarianism, Tim Crane on animal minds, and Paul Snowdon on persons and animals.

Examining the Legal Protections of Animals Used in Entertainment

David Cassuto

From the email — looks like a very interesting program:

On October 17, 2012, the DePaul University Center for Animal Law in Chicago, Illinois, will host “Examining the Legal Protections of Animals Used in Entertainment.” This daylong symposium will feature panels on the legal protections accorded to animals used for entertainment purposes, such as in movies, television, zoos, circuses, and racing. These areas will be examined through a filter of ethical responsibilities involved in using animals for entertainment, legal liability for the misuse of animals, the history of the field of animal law in entertainment and what happens to animals after they “retire.”

 Our lunchtime speaker Professor Gary Francione will deliver the keynote address, “Animals as Property: The Challenges of Animal Law.” One of the most well-known figures in the modern animal rights movement, he is the author of six books, most recently The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? Other speakers will include Christine Dorchak of GREY2K USA, Karen Rosa of the American Humane Association Film and Television Unit, Sheriff Matt Lutz of the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, and Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation.  Continue reading

Further Thoughts on Happy Meat


Spencer Lo

My last post explored the ethics of consuming “happy meat,” which was prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT article on the matter—with great enthusiasm, he endorsed it as an ethical alternative to the consumption of factory-farmed animals. I attempted to show why this view is deeply mistaken by briefly sketching an argument from philosopher Jeff McMahan’s paper. Here, I want to raise the question of whether, from an animal advocates perspective, there is anything positive to be said about shifting the public consciousness away from consumption of factory-farmed meat to “happy meat”—encouraged by Kristof—notwithstanding the fact that both are problematic. In other words, although influential people like Kristof are ultimately advocating an unethical practice, is that nevertheless a welcome change in some respects? Should the change be encouraged to some extent? Read more

What’s Wrong with Happy Meat?

Spencer Lo

Suppose animals could be raised humanely, live considerably long lives, and then painlessly killed for food. Would eating such happy creatures be wrong? That question is suggested in a recent article by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, who answered it in the negative. According to Kristof, as an alternative to consuming tortured animals raised in factory farms, which is problematic, it is possible to consume happy ones raised on efficient farms with “soul.” Some will even have names: like “Jill,” Sophie,” and “Hosta.” In the article, Kristof introduces us to his high school friend Bob Bansen, a farmer raising Jersey cows on “lovely green pastures” in Oregon. Bob’s 400+ cows are not only grass-fed and antibiotic-free, they are loved “like children” – every one of them named. “I want to work hard for them because they’ve taken good care of me… They’re living things, and you have to treat them right.” With great enthusiasm, Kristof concludes: “The next time you drink an Organic Valley glass of milk, it may have come from one of Bob’s cows. If so, you can bet it was a happy cow. And it has a name.”   read more

Is a Pet-free World Morally Required?

Spencer Lo

Gary Francione argues that it is, even under the most ideal scenario. I find myself disagreeing with Francione on this one—or at least am very resistant to his conclusion. On his view, even if we could “guarantee” that animals under our care will have loving homes and lead great lives, domestication would still be morally problematic: that’s because they are entirely dependent on us, and producing creatures for companionship who are in effect like human children—and who will remain so until they die—is inherently wrong. [And note: in Francione’s hypothetical scenario, pets would no longer be property, and thus not mere things under the law.]

Further down in the article, Francione observes that his “abstract argument” would not likely resonate with people who find it acceptable to kill and eat Continue reading

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