Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thoughts on Gary Francione’s HSUS Vegan Twitition

I'm going to carve a small chunk out of a Golden Calf of the animal rights world: Gary Francione. I'm already outside of his 'circle', so i'm not afraid to critique or challenge his ideas. Sadly, the reality is that if you want to remain on speaking terms with GF, you must also agree with him (at least to his face.) I know several people who have been ousted from GF's world (such as recently being blocked on Twitter) for uttering something as simple as 'i don't agree with all your ideas'. Whoops! No more GF Tweets for you!

I think it's funny that GF has a locked - aka hidden - Twitter account...despite the fact his followers re-tweet [repost] his every utterance. GF's Twitter account is here: - the message you're likely to get is: "This person has protected their tweets." Again: no Tweets for you too!

I suppose some of this is 2nd-hand knowledge, as i haven't bothered to request acceptance into the GF Twittersphere, but here's the Twitition, and it's apparently started by GF according to the page:

The text, presumably from GF, says: "The promotion of cage-free eggs and supposedly more "humane" forms of animal torture is wrong. We ask that HSUS use a small portion of its considerable resources to promote a clear, explicit, and unambiguous "Go Vegan" campaign."

On the surface this seems like a good idea, right? We want more campaigns for veganism, right?

I think this is a not-so-secret make-work project for GF, who apparently doesn't have enough to critique already. Allow me to explain:

In the Twitition statement, GF points out cage-free eggs and 'humane' animal products, two practices which HSUS supports and advocates for. True that. Hopefully this topic gets more discussion (which is perhaps a valid use for a model like an online petition, although I generally believe them to be useless..please tell me about an online petition that has resulted in some real change...)

HSUS also advocates killing healthy and adoptable cats and dogs in shelters (rather than ensuring they find homes.) They're also advocates (and founders?) of the 'Canadian Seafood Boycott', part of their Seal Hunt campaign. Apparently it's okay to leverage one animal species over another...not to mention that sea life from other country's waters are okay to consume. (And the term 'seafood' is offensive as well, implying that these animals are 'food'.)

These are just a few examples of the quality of 'animal advocacy' that HSUS perpetuates. It's really quite abysmal. And GF wants HSUS to begin a vegan campaign?! Considering how poorly HSUS represents other aspects of animal advocacy, does this make any sense?

Has any thought been given to how HSUS would represent veganism? All we have to do is take a look at their buddies over at PETA to predict how this would unfold.

One example is PETA's section of 'Accidently Vegan' food products. They highlight a significant proportion of junk foods that are 'accidently vegan' - almost all are from multi-national companies that profit from exploiting massive numbers of animals. And further, there's a footnote on the front page that indicates:

"*Items listed may contain trace amounts of animal-derived ingredients."

Gaaaah.. So items aren't necessarily vegan at all, but being offered as vegan fare.

There's no need to critique PETA further at this point (just scroll down to previous entries of my thoughts on PETA), but you can be assured that this type of listing would appear on an HSUS site, and offered as vegan food options. (For a further critique of PETA's list, check this blog:

If HSUS started this campaign, we would undoubtedly see them present veganism as an anti-factory-farming movement - not unlike Vegan[sic] Outreach. (When factory farms are gone, we can eat animal products again?)

It’s safe to say their campaign would see veganism reduced to a diet. And to assist in the 'transition', i would be willing to bet the left hemisphere of my brain that they would encourage lacto-ovo-vegans. No joke.

This is the quality of advocacy that we *know* we can expect from HSUS. This is no surprise. And already there are too many groups that misrepresent veganism, and degrade the meaning.

Why on earth would Gary Francione want to encourage yet ANOTHER group to join the ranks of those already mis-representing veganism?? There are too many doing this as it is! So very few promote veganism in a meaningful, honest way. And HSUS is anything but meaningful and honest when it comes to animal advocacy (check this piece about their requests for money to help animals in Haiti: ). I do NOT want to see them present their version of veganism...and it would be spread far and wide, considering their influence and money. This might actually be one of the WORST things that could befall veganism.

Is it possible for people 'unsign' from a Twitition? (I’m not going to sign it to find out!) At the posting of this, there were 618 people who signed it...

While GF has many good ideas, not all of them can be, or are. PETA and GF are similar in one respect: they both encourage us to question authority. Well, so long as it's not their authority.

If you do, PETA sends you a form letter. GF deletes you from Twitter, or sends his stooges after you. To disagree with GF can be a death sentence, so to speak.

If enough people speak up (yes, risking expulsion from his camp), perhaps GF will realize he makes mistakes, and will even be willing to admit as much. This would be better for activism and the movement. And if you're an activist, it's time to activate. Tell GF this is a bad idea, that HSUS would only misrepresent veganism, and that the petition should be shut down immediately.

Discussion, as always, is welcome.


My name came up in a Google Alert on Francione's blog, the text from the message is:
On Johnny Weir, Single-Issue Campaigns, Treatment, and ...
By Gary L. Francione
Perhaps that explains why FoA's David Shishkoff was opposing the “Go Vegan” approach that I urged HSUS to adopt. FoA tries to distance itself from HSUS and has done so historically. As I mentioned in the earlier essay, I have extended ...
Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach -
Yet, the actual blog entry, as of 9am PST on Feb 1st is:
Perhaps that explains why FoA was opposing the “Go Vegan” approach that I urged HSUS to adopt. FoA may have been trying to avoid becoming “HSUS lite” [...]
Has FoA been vocal on this issue? Any references there Gary, or when you type something we're expected to take it at face value? In case it isn't clear from the lack of my mention of FoA, this blog is my own independent project. When i comment on behalf of Friends of Animals, i'll sign my name with my FoA credentials (which i clearly haven't done here.)
Further, why did GF edit his blog and not post that corrections or updates were made? In other words, it could change from day-to-day, and no one would ever know. He can implicate someone, make accusations, and then simply edit it out once confronted..or make false claims, then simply pretend they never existed. Oddly, he's made the wrong edit here, and should be challenging me directly, not Friends of Animals, who's opinion on the issue i'm unaware of - although i would suspect it parallels my own.


Anonymous said...

HSUS's free veg starter kit:

Tons of free vegan recipes from HSUS:

Dave Shishkoff said...

Hi there, nice advertising for HSUS..and it certainly doesn't say anything about what this posting is about.

Curious what a "veg" is? What's the ethical position of a "veg"? What differentiates a "veg" from a "non-veg"?

I really dislike the term "veg"..if that isn't obvious. ;)

jeannie said...

1/ Francione will never admit he’s wrong on any count. He has peddled the same inflexible package of theories since the 90’s, and he hasn’t budged a progressive inch to keep up with the times. He’s really good at stealing slogans to create a brand for himself though. But only if he wants it. Go Nike.

2/ It’s pointless for Francione to bother with this petition. And you needn’t worry that it will be a successful campaign. HSUS will never promote veganism (though I agree that if they did, it would be disastrous for the genuine animal rights movement). HSUS will never promote veganism because it wouldn’t put $$$ in their/Pacelle’s pockets to do so. And anyway, as you said yourself, petitions are virtually worthless. Relax, sit back, pop one open. That petition will never get off the ground. I sense that even Francione knows this. It’s probably just his way of making a statement. It’s all part of the brand. Go Nike.

3/ “To disagree with GF can be a death sentence, so to speak.” No, it just means you have a mind of your own.

4/ In any case, I do very much appreciate your rant (and your unapologetic honesty/integrity). I was smiling with glee as I read it. :-)

Dave Shishkoff said...

Well said jeannie, thanks for posting!

Unfortunately it seems to me that the way GF 'progresses' an idea is through personal disagreement with an entity (a person or a group.)

Here's what i see: a disagreement occurs, and then GF rationalizes some new 'idea' that then justifies a parting of ways, and that in turn creates a way to criticize said entity...of course, without it seeming like he's reacting to them 'personally'.

It's a rather slimey way to go about things...and really crummy way to 'advance' a movement. It's definitely a pattern, however.

I agree the petition would never result in HSUS doing anything...and knowing that, why promote such a campaign then? It's nothing but vacuous

Hopefully more free-thinkers will stumble on this entry as well..

vegancommuter said...

I think if any respectable animal rights org.(and I wouldn't want to even label HSUS as close to being one) doesn't already have a vegan movement in place then they're already on the wrong track so to speak. For HSUS to start a go vegan campaign it could turn away supporters(funds)but really why should they start something like that? What they do now work$ for them, why change? I'm sure the majority of their donations come from pet owners/guardians who happily chow down on their steak dinners. So GF is trying to achieve the unachievable in his latest effort to spread veganism. The guy is definitely out to make a name for himself. Distinguished? Self proclaimed title.

Just to another one that was locked out of his Tweets for disagreement of some of his theories and beliefs I can say that GF has a real problem with any person/org. that shows any type of descent from his pacifist Ahimsa ideology. Yes, he'll frown on you at first, challenge you, refer you to his blog, become apologetic that he can't "convince" you, then if you continue the debate he'll block you.

Dave Shishkoff said...

FYI, i've added an 'UPDATE' to this posting. Curious and sloppy behaviour from Francione..