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Associated with various social justice causes, this term calls for the total elimination, versus the reform, of some form of oppression, enslavement, or abuse. For example, prior to the American Civil War, there were some who called for the abolition of human slavery, and many others who called for its reform, for the establishment of a kinder, gentler, "Christian slavery." In the context of animal advocacy, there is a similar distinction between those who openly call for an end to the human exploitation of animals, and those who seek to set standards and pass laws that will codify a "kinder, gentler" approach to using and killing animals for profit. Just as in the case of human slavery, some of those who do so believe that this is the best that can be achieved in the foreseeable future, and others do so because they believe that humans are entitled to use animals as they see fit, provided the deed is done according to a socially accepted standard.
Donald Watson, who was a co-founder of the Vegan movement in England in the 1940s, believed that "farming" animals was inherently unjust. Upon visiting his uncle's farm, he observed, "The idyllic scene was nothing more than death row, where every creature's days were numbered by the point at which it was no longer of service to human beings." He also said, "We can see quite plainly that our present civilisation is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves..."
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Frequently Asked Questions
Given that we domesticated these animals, doesn’t that give us the right to use them?
What about indigenous people who kill and eat animals, but do so in a way that respects the animal's spirit?
My religious tradition doesn't forbid killing and eating animals, so that makes it okay, doesn’t it?
Non-violent social change
Path of conscience
Privilege of domination