December 2007


Today, the egg industry sent out a press release touting research showing how "free range hens experience just as much or more stress than hens raised in modern, conventional cages." The industry professes that this research debunks assertions by animal rights activists that hens exploited for their eggs have horribly stressed lives. In reality, all this research really debunks is the myth that any form of animal exploitation can be "humane."

The egg industry is simply pointing to another form of exploitation and claiming to cause about the same amount of stress. The industry is in no way denying that they are exploiting other feeling beings. This is basically the same fallacy made two weeks ago by representatives for animal-exploitive circuses.

Unfortunately, some industry reformers have been promoting "free range" or "cage-free" exploitation as more "humane" than the conventional methods of exploitation. Since these advocates have created a myth of humane animal exploitation they're helping the egg industry as a whole to rationalization all types of exploitation. The rationalization being: if "free range" exploitation is "humane," and "free range" exploitation is as stressful or more so than conventional exploitation, then conventional exploitation is "humane" as well. Of course, since the very foundation of this logic is false - since all forms of exploitation are undesirable - the conclusion is also false.

We don't need a researcher from the University of Sydney to tell us that hens subjected to "free range" exploitation are at least as bad off as conventionally exploited hens. We can make that analysis ourselves with the "'Cage-Free' Test" offered by Tribe of Heart, the producers of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home and The Witness. The test (on the right hand column of the linked page) shows a series of images of rescued hens and asks us to name who was rescued from "cage-free" exploitation, and who was rescued from conventional exploitation. The test clearly illustrates that hens subject to alternative methods of exploitation experience just as much or more stress than those hens exploited in conventional cages.

Since exploiting other animals for food, clothing, entertainment or any other purpose is deplorable, it would be misguided to claim that one form of exploitation is better than another. As opposed to elevating one form of exploitation over another, the vegan ideal means encouraging the development and use of animal-free, non-exploitive alternatives. The egg industry won't get far claiming that plant-based alternatives to eggs involve "as much or more stress" as that experienced by hens.

Butterflies's Poems to Inspire Transformation

M. Butterflies Katz is a passionate vegan advocate, a professional chef and a co-author of Incredibly Delicious: Recipes for a New Paradigm, published by Gentle World. Katz is also the author of Metamorphosis: Poems to Inspire Transformation, a book of inspirational verse rooted in the life affirming love and compassion of veganism.

Resolutions for a New Year and a Better World

Over the holidays many of us find ourselves at gatherings hosted by friends, family members or social acquaintances that feature the products of others' exploitation. Whether an aspiring or a long-time vegan, I think each of us can take this opportunity to reassess what is happening around us and each make New Year's resolutions that will take the vegan ideal a little further in the coming year.

Practicing Nonviolent Direct Action

Veganism is a principle that calls for the immediate rejection of the use and exploitation of all animals, as far as is humanly practical. Thus, in practice, the principle of veganism leads to nonviolent direct action.

When we practices veganism we are engaged in a real, immediate and concrete form of abolition. Each of us who sincerely embraces a vegan way of life directly respects other animals through our daily actions. We literally become the change we want to see in the world.

A Caution Against Overemphasizing Global Warming

It's become an established fact among the media, scientists and the international community that the exploitation of sheeps and cows for human use plays a significant part in global warming. But without a sustained emphasis on the vegan ideal of non-exploitation can we expect this to lead to a change in people's consciousness? Read more...

'We Are Abolitionists'

Vegan aims are much more than just 'animal welfare', with a bit more feed for the slaves, cleaner cages for the vivisected, or another box of bandages to plaster over the terminal cancer that is animal slavery and exploitation. In short we are abolitionists, though non-violent ones, for how we accomplish something is every bit as important as that it is done (and often more so).

All Captivity is Morally Objectionable

It's true that if you accept the captive exploitation of animals, then, yes, there seems to be no moral objection. But if we take the vegan perspective that other animals shouldn't be exploited, then the moral objection becomes crystal clear. In this respect, I agree that we must explain to the public very clearly the difference between accepting how other animals are exploited and opposing that exploitation as inherently oppressive. And we can start by stating clearly and confidently that captivity is exploitation, and all exploitation of other animals for human use is morally objectionable. (Read more...)

Desserts and Circuses: Vegan Style

Unfortunately, veganism is often seen as the exclusion or absence of something. But living in a vegan world can be as joyous, and delicious, as ever. In most cases it is even more so, since eliminate exploitation from our lives makes room for more peaceful and just alternatives. I recently contributed a couple articles to The NewPeople, "Pittsburgh's Peace and Justice Newspaper," that touch on how flavorful and fun life can be without exploiting other animals.

Vegan Desserts Take Over Pittsburgh

On November 4, AnimalFreedom, a local animal rights and vegan advocacy organization, hosted the Pittsburgh Vegan Dessert Fest ’07 at the Amani International Coffeehouse and Café.

A crowd of more than 100 people patiently lined up to taste over 25 animal-free desserts submitted by participants. Professional vegan bakers My Goodies, Emma Rehm, Vegan Goddess and Whipped Bakery were also on hand with samples of their treats, and Shadyside ice cream shop Oh Yeah fed the crowd vegan ice cream cones.

Funds raised through the Pittsburgh Vegan Dessert Fest will go toward a Pittsburgh vegetarian festival.

The event honored World Vegan Day, which marks the November 1944 coining of the word “vegan” (pronounced vee-guhn) by Donald Watson, an English conscientious objector. The term is derived from the beginning and ending of the term vegetarian, and represents taking vegetarianism to its logical conclusion. At the launch of the vegan movement, Watson wrote, “We need a name that suggests what we do eat, and if possible one that conveys the idea that even with all animal foods taboo, Nature still offers us a bewildering assortment from which to choose.”

The “bewildering assortment” of cookies, cakes, pies, dairy-free ice creams and other treats at the Fest well illustrated the abundance of animal-free choices.

Veganism as a movement advocates abolishing animal exploitation on both personal and societal levels for the benefit of people, other animals and the environment. In place of traditional exploitive practices, veganism encourages the production and use of alternatives that are non-exploitive of animals, including humans.

While vegetarianism has a variety of motives, such as health, veganism was founded as and remains an ethical stance directed at eliminating all exploitation of animals. Veganism extends beyond diet and includes eliminating practices such as wearing leather, wool and silk, testing cosmetics and other products on animals, animal circuses, zoos, hunting and the pet trade.

AnimalFreedom is dedicated to supporting nonhuman animals in their efforts to achieve freedom from human domination. The organization seeks to challenge speciesism and human supremacy in the context of working to end other interconnected systems of oppression based on sex, gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability, religion, nationality and ethnicity. For more information visit

(First published in The NewPeople, December 2007)

Pittsburgh Embraces Animal-Free Circuses

Two thousand years ago when Romans went to a circus they saw gladiator-slaves who were forced to fight one another, elephants, tigers and other captive animals. When they include animals, modern circuses continue this legacy of captivity and exploitation even to this day. Like gladiators of ancient Rome, the use of captive animals for entertainment is an anachronism ready to be replaced by something better.