The core principle behind abolitionism is that no one, human or nonhuman, should ever be treated as the property of others. Sentient beings deserve the most basic right of being free from exploitation. We must fight to abolish this institutionalised exploitation, not just simply regulate it with ‘welfare’ standards. All beings deserve this right by default; not because humans decided so, but because it is the right thing to do. Veganism is at the core of our beliefs and this should be the moral baseline for all. Additionally, as abolitionists, we stand against and reject all forms of exploitation, including that of humans: racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, ageism, ableism, classism, and more. And of course, speciesism.
The easy answer is: it simply does not work and nor does it align with veganism. Exploitation in itself is a form of harm. Independent of how an animal has been raised, we do not have the right to take their life. The only individuals to gain from these circumstances are humans as the oppressors. With modern day intensive farms, no animal lives a ‘good’ life before being killed anyway. Whether they are a broiler chicken in a shed of 50,000 individuals or a pig in a dark, damp concrete pen, animals suffer immensely on standard British farms. And like the majority of all farms in the UK, they are regulated by schemes such as Red Tractor Foods, RSPCA Assured or Soil Association.
As our own undercover investigations have shown, suffering on farms is commonplace and no ‘welfare’ or regulatory body protects these vulnerable beings. A high number of farms in the UK are covered by Red Tractor certification; 46,000 in fact. Most of these are intensive farms, where the standards fail to protect animals simply because the standards are written to the benefit of the producer and consumer, not to benefit the animals being exploited. Our Gressingham Duck investigations have highlighted with great effect how Red Tractor fails animals. Others such as RSPCA Assured harm animals too, as seen in our chicken investigation in 2019. Even those who self-proclaim to being a ‘Gold Star’ and ‘free-range’ farm fail animals. None of these ‘welfare’ schemes, buzzwords or propaganda labels will ever protect animals. We cannot trust these regulatory bodies, the government or supermarkets to keep the interests of the animals at heart. After all, if they did that, they would not be exploiting and killing them.
The recent calls by the RSPCA to ‘End Factory Farming’ reflect the increasing trend for NGOs to go down the ‘welfarist’ route. This is the easy way forward. A large chunk of the public will agree when you ask them if they want to end animal abuse, and pushing to end intensive farming is something which most people will agree with on the surface, but they are unlikely to change their lifestyle to align with it.
We must only push for an end to animal farming for good and only advocate for veganism and abolitionism. We all deserve this most basic of respect