Sigh. I too used to think like this, Jamison. I had to see past my own rage to accept what I have come to realise is the truth about people, and do what I believe is best for ANIMALS, not just what will make me feel better. After many years of speaking up for animals you tend to learn a lot about people, ignorance, apathy, fear...
I really don't think that a narrow-minded vision of 'animal rights' is ever going to work for everybody (as much as I wish it would
). Let's face it -- everyone is different. Some people (like me) could flick a switch and become an instant life-long vegan -- but as hard as we push that doesn't work for everybody.
Some people approach veganism on a long, long path. This often starts by realising that animals' interests deserve consideration, and it might start by paying a little extra not to purchase battery pig meat. Not so hard. It then might move towards cutting down meat consumption. Not so hard. It then might move towards vegetarianism. Not so hard. And when they come around to the idea that changing diet is rewarding rather than challenging, they might make the leap to cut out eggs and switch to non-dairy milk.
Should we write-off people like this, or encourage them? There is always a danger of alienating people who actually care about animals -- but who have trouble joining the dots -- to the point that they refuse to consider any steps towards being cruelty-free, because it all looks too hard to do all at once.
No amount of wishful thinking is going to change the fact that not everybody is ready to go vegan.
It's like... would you rather: turn three people vegetarian, or one person vegan? Would you rather: someone continues eating factory farmed meat rather than free range, if they aren't ready to go veg? Would you rather: someone continues eating meat 7 days a week rather than cutting down to 4, if they aren't ready to be a vegan? (I mean, isn't saving 40 animals' lives a year, instead of 100, still better than none at all?)
Whether we like it or not, our population is growing and meat eating is on the rise the world-over. Factory farming is one of the most disturbing inventions of 20th century agribusiness, and if we can stop it in its tracks now, whilst sill advocating a cruelty-free life ... shouldn't we?
Francis, you say that we should focus our attention on what's best for the animals -- not what's easiest for us to achieve and will make us feel good. I couldn't agree with you more, which is why I don't think the abolishionist approach will work (alone). I think we need to cover our bases and fight to help those animals suffering right now -- and for years to come -- whilst always advocating the benefits of veganism. But I know from experience that inclusion and encouragement works better than alienation.
It's hard to accept that in doing so, we acknowledge that people are still going to eat meat for a time -- and let's face it, they will anyway -- but the amount of animal suffering they will be responsible for will be greatly diminished. And isn't that our aim? To reduce suffering?
You claim this might make our job 'harder' in the long run. That might be true, but I think it's selfish to suggest we aren't up for the challenge, if it's going to mean that a hell of a lot of animals will be spared the most horrendous abuse in the meantime.
Think about it this way: if you could snap your fingers right now and factory farms would disappear -- would you? Or would that be counter-productive because it would become harder for us to convince people to stop eating animals because they don't have it 'so bad'.....?
Maybe we should fight to abolish the code of practice if that's our approach. The worse the animals have it, the easier our job gets, right???