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An Open Letter to HSUS Staff Members

I know some of you well and many more as a result of brief but friendly meetings at conferences and other events.

I know those of you I have met to be sincere in your wish for animal liberation and in your own personal veganism.

I know that so many of you want nothing more than for people to quit eating animals and especially for people to quit breeding, confining, and then killing animals to be eaten.

I know that so many of you join me in having sincere sympathy, empathy, and affection for pigs, cows, and sheep, collectively and as particular individuals.

I can only imagine how you feel, knowing that the organization for which you work has opted to sponsor a festival of animal-eating in Denver. In case you missed the news, HSUS is the primary sponsor of the “Hoofin’ It” event that began today in Denver. On each of four days, a different hoofed animal will be featured on the menus of restaurants in a particular neighborhood: Buffalo today, sheep tomorrow, pigs the next day, and cows the next.

Perhaps, like me, you were mystified when HSUS decided that overwhelming public opposition to caging hens for eggs meant that HSUS ought to promote a particular kind of cage.  Perhaps, like me, you feel queasy every time you hear an HSUS representative brag about having a pig “farmer” on its Board. Perhaps, like me, you have struggled to reconcile such lapses in ethics and empathy with the good work that HSUS does in other areas.

I hope that, like me, you will find that “Hoofin’ It” represents a step too far and will find yourself unwilling and indeed unable to remain silent. I suspect that something has gone very wrong, organizationally, at HSUS and that this organizational derangement has made otherwise compassionate and reasonable people come to believe that sponsoring festivals of killing is a smart strategy that must be pursued, even if they must hold their noses to do it.

We need you to break the institutional consensus that has led to such harmful nonsense. Here’s what you can do:

1. Talk to the members of the HSUS management team responsible for the sponsorship of this event.

truffles

HSUS strongly encourages people to kill and eat pigs like Truffles this Tuesday

Tell them what you know about pigs. Ask them, directly and persistently, why they feel it is appropriate for people to kill and eat pigs. If they say that they do not agree with the killing of pigs, point out that HSUS –as the top sponsor of the “Hoofin’ It” event– will be directly responsible for all pig deaths due to that event. Ask them, directly and persistently, why they feel that people should actively promote the killing and eating of pigs. If they say that people should not actively promote the killing of pigs, ask them why they are doing so. Do not settle for obfuscation or evasion. Do not allow the actual pigs who will be killed to disappear into abstractions. That is exactly the problem we are trying to solve—the disappearance of real, feeling, animals into “meat.”

nigel

HSUS strongly encourages people to kill and eat lambs like Nigel this Monday

Tell them what you know about lambs, rams, and ewes. Ask them, directly and persistently, why they feel it is appropriate for people to kill and eat sheep. If they say that they do not agree with the killing of sheep, point out that HSUS –as the top sponsor of the ”Hoofin’ It” event– will be directly responsible for all sheep deaths due to that event. Ask them, directly and persistently, why they feel that people should actively promote the killing and eating of sheep. If they say that people should not actively promote the killing of sheep, ask them why they are doing so. Do not settle for obfuscation or evasion. Do not allow the actual sheep who will be killed to disappear into abstractions. That is exactly the problem we are trying to solve—the disappearance of real, feeling, animals into “meat.”

milkshake

HSUS strongly encourages people to kill and eat cows like Milkshake this Wednesday

Tell them what you know about calves and cows. Ask them, directly and persistently, why they feel it is appropriate for people to kill and eat cows. If they say that they do not agree with the killing of cows, point out that HSUS –as the top sponsor of the ”Hoofin’ It” event– will be directly responsible for all cow deaths due to that event. Ask them, directly and persistently, why they feel that people should actively promote the killing and eating of cows. If they say that people should not actively promote the killing of cows, ask them why they are doing so. Do not settle for obfuscation or evasion. Do not allow the actual cows who will be killed to disappear into abstractions. That is exactly the problem we are trying to solve—the disappearance of real, feeling, animals into “meat.”

Do not lump the pigs, sheep, and cows together. Ask each question three times, for the pigs, for the sheep, and for the cows. If you know enough about buffalo for a fourth round, by all means go for it.

Do not do this by email. Face to face is best. Second best is by telephone. You must engage in conversation, not type at each other.

2. Talk with members of the HSUS management team who are responsible for the increasing trend of active HSUS support for so-called “humane” animal agriculture.

The most charitable interpretation of this disturbing trend is that the HSUS management team has come to believe that promoting so-called “humane” animal agriculture is a path to the ultimate abolition of animal agriculture. However, such a strategy is unlikely to lead to the desired end—to the contrary, by encouraging farmers to double down on animal agriculture, investing even more capital in new buildings and equipment, HSUS is helping to ensure that those farmers will remain in the business of exploiting and killing animals for profit.

At the same time, active HSUS sponsorship of projects such as the festival of animal-eating in Denver helps to expand the market for so-called “humane” animal products. The purveyors of such products need no such help. We are in the grip of a maddening fad wherein even people who have previously eschewed animal products gladly fork over premium prices for the pleasure of consuming animal products while feeling righteous about doing so.

HSUS management may believe that the struggle against factory farming must include active support for its alternative. That is true, and animal advocates have been remiss in not mounting stronger efforts to promote ethical, ecological, and economically equitable agriculture policies and practices. But the alternative to factory farming is not small-scale meat, dairy, and egg production. The alternative to factory farming is large-scale organic farming of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and grains for human consumption. Similarly, the alternative to small-scale meat, dairy, and egg production is small-scale organic cropping of fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and grains.

HSUS management seems to be concerned not to seem anti-farmer. If that is part of the reason for promoting such obscenities as small-scale pig “farming,” it’s not working! HSUS continues to be considered an enemy by animal exploiters who claim to be speaking on behalf of farmers. Again, the remedy is active support for the real farmers who are feeding the world by growing fruits, nuts, vegetables, legumes, and grains for human consumption. They—and not pig “farmers”—are the ones who feed us. Those who do so sustainably and equitably deserve our vociferous support. HSUS could and should hold them up as the true alternative to factory farming and other forms of animal exploitation.

In each of the areas in which our sanctuary has been located—first on the Delmarva peninsula (where factory farming of chickens began and continues to reign) and now in Vermont (where dairying has and continues to wreck animal lives while ruining rivers)—we have known farmers engaged in animal agriculture who would like to get out of that bloody business but who lack the technical know-how and transitional funds to do so. HSUS could and should use both its lobbying might and its own funds to make it easy for farmers now engaged in animal exploitation to transition to plant-based farming.

While the Pork Board and other entities pretend to speak for U.S. farmers, they do not. U.S. farmers are a diverse group with diverse interests. The interests of dairymen and other ranchers are not the same as crop farmers. Indeed, throughout U.S. and world history, there have been significant disputes between animal herders and crop farmers. With its lobbyists at state and federal levels, HSUS could and should stand with crop farmers, so that their voices are not drowned out by those of animal wranglers.

What we, as a movement, need is for HSUS to divert the funds that are now being used to promote “humane” animal agriculture to the  urgent task of promoting the transition to a plant-based agricultural economy. There is work to be done at every level, from the local to the national, that would be a much better use of HSUS funds and energy than sponsoring festivals of animal killing or promoting particular forms of animal exploitation. In many ways, HSUS is the best-positioned organization to do pieces of that work. I personally find it painful to watch such rich resources being squandered on a strategy that cannot work in the long run and is injuring animals in the interim.

3. Talk with other HSUS staff who share your concerns

If you share my chagrin with the direction that the farmed animal division HSUS has been going, know this: You’re not alone. Yes, it’s true that it seems like everybody in the relevant HSUS departments has signed on to the program of promoting animal agriculture out of one side of the mouth while promoting veganism with the other, all the while smiling and using Dale Carnegie tricks to make people like you. But there are many people—including many more colleagues than you realize—who either suspect or know that something has gone very wrong. Dare to voice your own doubts, because in doing so you will be giving others permission to do so. Use “I statements” such as “I feel uncomfortable with…” and “I worry that…” so that those who are on the bandwagon will be less likely to shut down defensively.

Once you have identified a few people who share your concerns, or at least have doubts, get together off-site to talk about what you might do to have your voices heard by management. I know that this might sound daunting, but I also know that animal advocates never lack for courage. For what it’s worth, lots of us will be wishing you well and so grateful for whatever you can do.

In advance, I thank you.

Corrections & clarifications (August 18):

1. I have learned that the HSUS department responsible for the Hoofin’ It sponsorship is Rural Affairs, which falls under State Affairs. (Farm Animal Protection, which promotes Meatless Mondays and other programs to reduce animal consumption,  is a different department.)

2. I did feel sick when hearing an HSUS staff member brag about having a pig farmer on the Board but it turns out she was mistaken: He is an HSUS employee who has an ownership stake in a pig farm and is portrayed as either a pig farmer or not a pig farmer depending on the context.

3. I did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings with the reference to Dale Carnegie and did not have anyone in particular in mind. I was referring to a style of communication that has become common not only at HSUS but within animal advocacy in general. My concerns about the patent insincerity of that style would have been better saved for another day. I regret the unkindness.

57 comments to An Open Letter to HSUS Staff Members

  • Valerie Traina

    I am appalled at this news! I am, however, unfortunately not that surprised. Didn’t Wayne Pacelle try to get on the board of directors of a major pork producer not long ago?! I live in Denver, and I will circulate this post amongst my advocate friends. HSUS will hear from us.

  • pattrice

    Valerie, That’s great. Though, by this point, HSUS management have gotten very good at tuning out the objections of other animal advocates. Our only hope, I think, is if people within the organization dare to voice their own disagreement.

  • Lucy Rosen Kaplan

    Brilliant work, here. You have provided a script, and impeccable reasoning, that people in a position to influence can use to challenge “superiors” who simply cannot be permitted to compromise the values of their employees so flagrantly and cynically. I particularly treasure mention, here, of HSUS’s decision, in recent years, to promote larger hen caging, when even the non-vegetarian public, in the U.S., is already opposed to caging of any kind for hens. HSUS is way behind even the animal-eating mainstream, in many of its positions, these days, and there increasingly seems to be something dark going on, as there is no logical explanation, under any animal rights or protection analysis, for the bizarre directions that HSUS is pursuing. Go VINE!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now to post this far and wide!

  • Lucy Rosen Kaplan

    Forgive my posting twice, but as I ponder HSUS’s nearly unbelievable betrayal of trust, in sponsoring a killing/meat-eating extravaganza, it occurs to me that HSUS’s policies have now become so overtly supportive of the animal industries, that its tax-exempt status as a charitable nonprofit may now be ripe for challenge. I’m not saying that IRS would readily revoke HSUS’s 501(c) statuses, but at some point, HSUS’s advocacy on behalf of the animal industries just has to be scrutinized in light of the immense profits that this yields for the industries, and in light of the institutional security that HSUS must be gaining for itself, through this link-up with these industries. It goes without saying that we should want HSUS to reconsider its follies, and transform itself into the kind of operation that Pattrice proposes (one that helps animal killers retrain into more sustainable and less violent fields), but I no longer hold out any hope that HSUS’s executives and/or Board can be incentivized, and so perhaps the time has come for us to wish, for the animals’ sake, that HSUS simply no longer existed. As I write, I cannot imagine that someone is not already busy at work examining the tax status questions raised by HSUS’s over-the-top sellout to industry.

  • Roz

    So interesting that HSUS is not called out for classism in supporting “humane meat.” It’s just that this is presently a niche, high-end food item–it of necessity always will be, given the space and labor it requires. (Doubly rtrueif HSUS promotes “sustainable meat.”) So they are promoting an option that does little more than allow wealthy folks to feel morally superior in their food choices. The only viable “humane” strategy vis a vis a world where starvation and food scarcity is a daily concern for hundreds of millions is a shared, plant-based diet. You’ve got to wonder in the end how much this is driven by wealthy donors who don’t want HSUS to make them feel bad. But it’s ok to let poor folks feel bad about their food choices, sure.

  • Roz

    Oops. I meant, “It’s not just that this is presently…”

  • Thank you pattrice. I know there will be other, more articulate feedback than mine, but I just want to thank you deeply for your wonderful, intelligent, challenging posting. Promoting veganism on pages of the same website where eating-animal-festivals are promoted is not just inconsistent; it is the height of betrayal of billions upon billions of individual animals, and also of every activist who has been promoting veganism for the last 2 weeks, 6 months or 30 years. HSUS is undermining decades of vegan activism.

  • pattrice

    Veda, since you’re someone who knows some HSUS folks, I think that you too may be in a position to help effect change — again, not by typing at people you don’t know but by having conversations with people you do know.

    Oh, and everybody: I KNOW that the news of this event may be very upsetting and that many will feel the urge to vent at HSUS. Please be aware that literally years of being yelled at by others has not made a dent. What I’m proposing here is different: I want people within HSUS to voice their own concerns internally. I also think, as I just said to Veda, that it couldn’t hurt for HSUS staffers to hear from people they know IRL.

    So, in moderating the comments on this post, I’m going to approve any comments that might be useful to folks having such conversations but I am not going to approve comments that merely vent at HSUS or speculate about nefarious reasons for its behavior. If folks want to vent directly at HSUS, that’s their own business, though I suggest that they stick to known facts rather than cast aspersions on the sincerity of HSUS decision-makers. If HSUS donors or members wish to express themselves directly to HSUS, that might also be helpful.

  • Sandy Warf

    I stopped giving money to HSUS many years ago and suggest all of us who are horrified at the organization’s current positions and Hoofin’ It event do the same.

  • Lucy Rosen Kaplan

    I continue to rejoice at the ingenial strategy of appealing to the workers at HSUS, who may be able to influence HSUS’s leadership, but I confess confusion over the decision to block comments, here, that offer criticism of HSUS and/or express wonderment at what HSUS’s motives could be for so ardently advocating on behalf of the meat “producers.”

    Perhaps some of us here know HSUS workers, and can therefore press them to exert influence, but if the intention here is strictly to reach these workers, I’m not sure why the appeal would have been posted here, for what is surely an audience composed of many who have no contacts within HSUS.

    I feel powerfully moved, by the blog post, to try to dig up old contacts at HSUS, and urge any I find to appeal in exactly the way proposed in the blog post, but to be warned not to express criticism of HSUS unless I can do so to insiders at HSUS possibly closes a door on efforts that are, perhaps, not entirely moribund.

    It is true that to date, externally voiced criticism of HSUS has not seemed to slow down its alliances with the animal “farmers,” but that is not to say that continued criticism, across many media, might not still produce some effect. Perhaps this blog is not the most strategic place for posting that criticism, but such criticism is almost impossible NOT to express, when one wishes to write, here, in praise of the plan to encourage HSUS workers to dissent.

    “Venting,” I think, is a needlessly dismissive word for the expression of heartfelt, deep anguish over HSUS’s actions. Even wondering aloud whether the strangeness of HSUS’s alliances with animal industries may reflect something nefarious is not, in my view, beyond the pale of fairness, under the circumstances. If the animals’ best interests do not seem to drive HSUS’s actions, then it is quite natural to wonder whether something less honorable may.

    Civility is often immensely helpful in furthering useful discourse, but neutrality, or withholding of criticism, doesn’t feel appropriate regarding the conduct of an immensely powerful organization that results in large-scale harms to animals.

    Vegans are only human, alas. Accordingly, I propose that we not be required to silence our revulsion as a condition of taking up the very excellent cause (encouraging HSUS workers to dissent) proposed here. I do, though, agree strongly that we should always find the most effective venues for our criticisms.

    Before HSUS blocked all my tweets at its “farm animal” issues Twitter account (and these tweets were substantive and civil), I found Twitter to be quite promising. Before HSUS blocked all my posts at the Facebook page it uses to promote is alliances with “meat producers,” Facebook also seemed promising. If I or others blocked by HSUS on social media occasionally slip, and criticize HSUS at sites not operated by HSUS, I hope we can be forgiven.

  • pattrice

    VINE policy is that, for blog posts signed by individuals (such as this one) the author of the post has the right to decide the comment policy.

    I am asking people not to post comments that would make HSUS staff reading this blog post feel so defensive that they would be less likely to have the kinds of conversations my open letter calls for.

    I am sorry if anyone feels squelched, but my aim in publishing this letter was not to create an open forum for people to express their feelings or speculations about HSUS. There are plenty of other blog posts on plenty of other blogs for that. My aim was to provoke discussion within HSUS, and I do not feel I am being unfair by asking those who comment to do so in ways that further that aim.

    As for blocking comments, I have only so far blocked potentially libelous invective. I could have simply done so without saying so, as is the norm on most blogs that moderate comments. I just wanted to give folks a heads up so that they would not waste their own time typing out diatribes.

  • Fired

    I appreciate this post. But as a former HSUS staffer, I am here to tell you that anyone who questions HSUS policies or the decisions of VPs — or even just irritates the wrong person — gets fired. If you work for HSUS and do not display unquestioning blind obedience, you will be fired. I know because I am one of them.

  • Michelle

    Thank you, pattrice, for such a thoughtful post. I know there are many good people working for HSUS and I can only imagine how awful they must feel about the turn the organization has taken with promoting “happy meat”. Vegans need to stand up and say no more to HSUS’s undermining of the animal liberation movement.

  • Thank you for writing this. And for you consistent efforts to place the animals, not personalities, first in how you choose to approach issues regarding their liberation.

  • Patty Shenker

    I really don’t understand how we went from Prop 2, which won overwhelmingly in Ca. without the ranchers/farmers’ support & which i supported, to “humane meat”. To me, this is like the President of NOW saying that rape will never end so let’s make sure it is done humanely. When an animal organization is promoting eating animals, they have lost my support. We all draw our own lines but this is where i draw mine. I guess when you bring on a pig farmer & a CEO to a huge food market onto your board, you’re bound to get this kind of nonsense. First we had “happy cows” from the animal agriculture side but now we have “humane meat” from the largest animal advocacy group in our country- the Inhumane Society of the United States!

  • Jill Bosch

    HSUS, what meat lobby got to you? I will never donate another penny to your organization, but will help support the animal sanctuaries that respect life. And, what a disrespectful and abhorrent title, “Hoof’n It” and “Happy Meat.” Since when did animal slaughter become something to joke about? Are you suggesting that the women wear their finest furs to the dinner? Talk about selling out in the worst way.

  • Elizabeth Forel

    Thanks for writing this very respectful, intelligent and informative letter telling it like it is. I will share on Facebook. BTW to others – just copy and past the link in your browser to your FB page status. I realize this is directed to HSUS employees, but those who are big donors to HSUS (and hopefully agree with this) should take action also. I know that HSUS is not a vegan organization, but what they should have done – something that would have been respectful to the vegetarians and vegans in their own organization and many of their donors and board members – is to NOT GET INVOLVED WITH THIS EVENT.

  • elizabeth

    Take your comments to this organization. Let them know what you think of this and by the way know that this isn’t the first time that they have done something like this. I never could understand how a person who run this organization could not have a PET! I know he has one now, but for years he never did. Only after those people who also questioned it did he then get a PET.

    You either are fighting for the rights for all creatures or you are not. You can’t have it both ways. This is what you need to tell HSUS.

  • michele6933

    May I ask, what is the goal of the original VINE article ?
    To expose HSUS ?
    To coerce HSUS in explaining its sponsorship ?
    To shame HSUS ?
    To provoke HSUS management & staff into a written duel under the guise of a balanced & civil dialog ?
    To cause HSUS staff & employees to jump ship ?
    To sink the HSUS ship if the Captain & the Crew refuse to embrace the Vegan Dogma ?

  • pattrice

    The VINE blog offers VINE staff, volunteers, and invited guests to express their own views. While posts signed “Bravebird” reflect the views of the organization, posts signed by individuals reflect their own views.

    This post is by me, pattrice, and reflects my views. My aim is transparent: I want to provoke dialog within HSUS, an organization that does much good but at which a culture of calculated callousness concerning farmed animals has inadvertently gained ascendency, in the service of a strategy that is unlikely to achieve the aims of the people at HSUS. I am hoping that such conversations will help bring the organization into better alignment with its own values and the values of its staff and also that this will allow the organization to achieve its stated goals more effectively.

    I have, in the past, argued that both HSUS and its more immoderate critics are to blame for the “welfare-abolition” impasse within animal advocacy (see the first two documents listed here). I have, in the past, defended HSUS from its more immoderate critics, for example by pointing out the many good things that the organization has done and continues to do. But the sponsorship of this festival of killing — lambs today! — represented a sort of Rubicon for me, after which I could not be silent. Rather than repeat the shaming condemnations I have heard other animal advocates voice, I thought it might be more useful to try to spark the kinds of internal conversations I think may be the only hope in this case.

    On a side note, I’m not sure what the “Vegan Dogma” might be. You may wish to see what we at VINE have to say about veganism.

  • Bernice Eckersley

    I have just called HSUS and left a message telling them how disappointed I am in their sponsership of the event. I want an explaination.

  • Julia Mackenzie

    Alas I agree with “Fired.” Any attempt I have made to speak with HSUS staffers about their inconsistencies has led nowhere but a blind, defensive stand. Like most staff at the large groups, they all drink the Kool Aid or get fired. I am not saying the effort is not worthwhile but too many people are scared to lose their jobs and speak out.

  • Craig Cline

    Great thanks to Pattrice for her terrific post. For the past several months, I have been asking the HSUS to evolve to espousing veganism ONLY as a matter of policy.

    The HSUS is the self-proclaimed “nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization” (emphasis on PROTECTION). The HSUS has taken a welfarist stance in regard to the protection of the so-called “food animals.”

    In its 9-19-11 “About Us: Overview,” it is stated that “our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs.” I include the unnecessary death of a sentient animal — by brutal slaughter — in my definition of cruelty. Clearly, in order to be true to its primary mission, the HSUS has to evolve from a welfarist stance to an abolitionist/vegan one. That would be “the right thing to do.” The HSUS can always continue to accept “progress” such as that represented by the Three Rs of reduce, replace, and refine, and any reduction in the suffering of farmed animals, as it does now.

    However, to “stand for” something less than veganism is in fact a betrayal of these animals, and a departure from the purity of HSUS’ stated mission. For the HSUS to promote “eating with conscience” and the embracing of the Three Rs is not good enough any longer. It is time for the HSUS to ascend to THE higher and better moral and ethical plane — the plane represented by espousing veganism as a matter of HSUS policy.

    I’ve copied the HSUS’ “Statement on Farm Animals and Eating With Conscience,” dated 7-15-09, and approved by the HSUS’ Board of Directors on 10-22-05, almost 9 years ago. It is noted that “those positions are not immutable, given that circumstances, technology, and societal values can and do change.”

    Change they have — and it is time for the HSUS to change with them. It is time for the HSUS to stand, not only for the “reduction of animal suffering,” but for the eradication of animal suffering — and unnecessary death by slaughter.

    I have gone further to ask that the HSUS mount a major national/international campaign that takes the form of a “social justice movement,” like the civil rights movement of the 1960s. This campaign would focus on educating people in the U.S., and around the world, about the humans’ practice of speciesism — THE root of all evil affecting animals — and why it MUST be eradicated.

    I am hoping that writers like Pattrice, and all of us who are ardent animal advocacy activists, will join forces to aggressively ask the HSUS to change its ways. Though I respect and applaud all the good that the organization has done for animals of all kinds, it can and should do even better. We must be strong voices in asking that the HSUS do so — now.

    I have tried to, as Pattrice suggested, talk to members of the HSUS’ management. I have had some limited phone conversations with Paul Shapiro, Vice-President of Farm Animal Protection, and a lot of “typing at each other,” which I chose to do in order to put my observations and requests in writing, thereby making them “official.”

    However, I have not been able to “get to the top.” I can’t seem to get to HSUS’ President and CEO Wayne Pacelle (himself a vegan). Nor have I been able to get to Michael Markarian, HSUS’ Chief Program and Policy Officer. Presently, I anticipate some interaction with Matt Prescott, a Food Policy Director at HSUS, and Heidi Prescott, HSUS’ Senior Vice-President of Campaigns and Outreach. What comes out of that interaction remains to be seen.

    It is heartening to know that there is a groundswell of interest by other animal advocates in pursuing some of the ideas that I have been pursuing personally with the HSUS. In addition to the writers above, I want to express thanks to Robert Grillo of Free From Harm, who offers superb content on his web site, and who is himself interacting with Paul Shapiro and the HSUS on such matters as these. It was Robert who sent me this “link” to Pattrice and the rest of you who wrote. Thank you Robert!

    I wish us all success in our quest to cause the HSUS to evolve to standing for the vegan lifestyle plane. Let’s ask ALL of our favorite animal advocacy organizations to join us in this quest. Other organizations could have sway on the HSUS, but we must ask them to try to use their own “people power” to achieve that goal.

    PETA and FARM are “vegan only” organizations. It is notable that though they take a stand for veganism, they will also accept “progress” that we call welfarist in nature. They know that they have to, and that doing so may at least help them get a person’s foot on the path toward veganism. I call this path the “Continuum of Compassion,” to give it some meaning to people. I find no fault in that approach; to stand for veganism, but be open to progress towards it, whatever form it takes. The HSUS, as the nation’s leader of animal protection that it professes to be, should join such vegan organizations as these, and thereby issue a clarion call for all other animal advocacy organizations to themselves follow.

    With peace, non-violence, liberty, and justice for ALL,

    Craig Cline
    Salem, Oregon

  • pattrice

    Julia, In your own conversations with HSUS staffers, follow the prescriptions I have suggested for them to use among themselves: (1) ask questions rather than preaching; (2) keep animals themselves at the center of the conversation, not allowing them to be reduced to abstractions in a numbers game (“save this many by sacrificing that many”); and (3) express your own thoughts using “I statements” such as “I worry that…” or “I’m uncomfortable with…”

    Craig, I’m glad to know that the possibility for strategy revision was stated so clearly by HSUS. Given that I am increasingly uncertain of the wisdom of promoting veganism in and of itself (rather than promoting the changes in thinking and feeling that lead people to choose veganism, while at the same time working to undermine the social, economic, and material forces that converge to motivate animal exploitation), I’m not comfortable with telling HSUS to “promote veganism.” I do feel comfortable insisting that they –as so many local humane societies have begun to do– eschew any and all promotion of or participation in the exploitation of animals for food. And I feel very comfortable calling for HSUS, in light of this serious misstep, to rethink its “farm animal protection” strategy in consultation with people who might help it to do so.

  • Thanks pattrice. I did write to the one person I know currently employed by HSUS with whom I have always had great affinity. I await their response…

  • Lucy Rosen Kaplan

    To michele6933, I offer that what pattrice intends, here, is the opposite of the subversiveness that you seem to feel is at play. While urging workers at HSUS peacefully and politely to exert their influence, pattrice has explicitly encouraged the utmost respect for HSUS, and even chastised irate commenters, here, who’ve been unable to curb their expressions of distress.

    By your objection to this most civil and constructive strategy, do you, Michele6933, mean to convey that HSUS has no obligation whatsoever, to its staffers and donors, to account for harms to animals that its actions will cause, not only in the near term (as diners eat their HSUS-promoted meat meals in Denver), but also in the long run (as “happy meat” farmers find themselves unable to re-tool for non-killing occupations after they have invested resources into “happy meat” rearing and killing technologies)?

    That pattrice has absolutely no desire to “shame” HSUS, or impose what you call “vegan dogma” on it, is crystal clear from both the content and tone of her open letter to HSUS workers.

    Since word has gotten out that HSUS has crossed a bright red line in directly funding an event that not only advocates, but even celebrates meat consumption, vegans, vegetarians, and non-veg HSUS supporters alike have been vociferously expressing serious dismay over this development in many media. To suggest that there is anything extremist, dogmatic, or subversive about pattrice’s strategy is to fail entirely to grasp what uniquely defines VINE, in its work to bring about stable change through gentle and genuine enlightenment.

    It is time for HSUS’s defenders to stop spending precious energy on defending the organization’s strangely retrograde (even by mainstream standards) positions, and to redirect that energy into evidence-based strategies that have a real chance of ending the megadeath that is “animal agriculture” today.

  • pattrice

    That’s great, Veda. I’m going to have a conversation with somebody myself today, and will try to have a few more tomorrow.

    Lucy, thanks as always for your kind comments about VINE.

    Everybody, let’s try to remember: It’s Monday — tonight they dine on lambs in Denver, at the urging of HSUS. If you talk with or write to HSUS folks today, try to mention sheep and always keep those poor lambs in mind.

  • Melissa

    How disappointing is this?

  • Jessica Isabel

    What’s up at HSUS? First they supported the rotten egg bill now this.

  • Thank you, Pattrice, for this respectful challenge to the Hoofin It sponsorship. You have articulated, beautifully, the reasons that kind of sponsorship can make it hard for animal advocates to support HSUS, despite the great work the group does in many areas. Thank you, also, for your choice to block comments that just vent and speculate about HSUS’s nefarious motives. That choice makes your piece more valuable because it makes it easier to share with those who should see it.
    I have seen HSUS change policy in the past as a result of feedback — for example, an early TAFA conference featured a speech by a humane meat representative, and, after the feedback, subsequent conferences have not. Upon busting dog fighting rings, policy was initially to euthanize all of the pitties — due to feedback and education, policy is now to temperament test them.
    An essay like this, the attitude displayed in it, opens the door for change.

  • Marcia Mueller

    Thank you for this information. Difficult to believe that the HSUS would go this far trying to be reasonable and suggesting that making life a little less difficult for farmed animals or killing them a little more humanely could be considered. This is one of the largest animal groups in the country. Maybe I made a mistake in supporting them for so long. I’m a vegan and animal rights person and don’t believe in just “animal welfare.” I fear that the HSUS Is doing what other groups, such as the environmental and wildlife groups have done, which is basically to sell out to avoid loosing support from the general public and big corporations. So they give in to get more funding, to be “more reasonable,” “less radical.” I don’t think just a little more room in crate or cage or attempts at a little less pain during slaughter are okay. Particularly in going along or sponsoring an event such as this, the HSUS is loosing credibility and respect of many supports and ex-suppoters.

  • pattrice

    Marcia, I encourage you, as someone who has supported HSUS, to share your thoughts and concerns with its Board of Directors as well as with whoever sent you a thank-you note the last time you made a donation. As a former donor myself, I intend to do so.

  • Lillie Dorchak

    Let’s be practical: staff aren’t going to quit or get anywhere with Wayne Pacelle or the board. Instead, spread this word out to the check writers supporting HSUS. Hurt HSUS where it counts.
    By the way, HSUS dealings with livestock producers isn’t any news, not for a few years. See what they did with Proposition 2 in California a few years back. Protecting farm animals there has been set back immensely.

  • Sadly, the response from my “friend” at HSUs was as follows…

    I take it you don’t agree with the strategy?

    Our farm animal efforts are two-pronged: reduce the number of animals being raised and killed, and reduce the suffering of animals who are being raised and killed. While the meat industry’s leadership reviles The HSUS, there are also farmers and ranchers who agree with us on gestation crates and other aspects of industrialized agriculture. They’re a powerful voice in our campaign to end unacceptable and particularly inhumane practices. We need the public’s support to pass these laws, and it’s a potent statement to have farmers assert that they oppose gestation crates (and other factory farming practices). We’ve always believe that politics is about addition and not subtraction, and some of the most powerful allies are people that some may think are unlikely allies. That’s why we do outreach to small farmers on factory farming issues.

    This event, sponsored in connection with our Colorado Agriculture Council, is part of our growing work with farmers and ranchers to fight inhumane practices such as gestation crates and tail docking. We support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, and act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures under their control, and practice and promote humane and environmentally sustainable agriculture. We also sponsor VegFests along with other vegan and vegetarian events around the country. The HSUS takes a big tent approach to combat factory farming and both our employees and our supporters consist of those who choose to eat meat and those who choose to be vegan or vegetarian. You can read our full statement on farm animals and eating with a conscience here: http://www.humanesociety.org/about/policy_statements/statement_farm_animals_eating.html?credit=web_id66433060

  • Valerie Traina

    Veda, that is the same exact form letter I received from their farmed animal coordinator and from Jacquelyn Pyun, the Colorado State Director. My colleague also received it. It’s shameful that such a powerful organization is taking this stance. It will assure the general public that continuing to eat meat is just fine. After all, why should anyone eat a plant-based diet when the HSUS is blessing the raising and slaughter of animals to satisfy our species’ lust for meat?

  • I met Wayne Pacelle around 1990 when his Fund for Animals boss, Cleveland Amory, asked us at the New England Vivisection Society in Boston to provide office space from which Wayne capably and successfully led, against daunting odds, the crusade to ban hunting bears with dogs.
    Some programs at HSUS were already effective and others were not when Mr Pacelle took over. He has done superior work for nearly a quarter of a century.
    Now he has stumbled. It is very difficult for those of us who have lost touch with the mission on the ground because we have been blinded in the halls of power to know when we are no longer capable of doing a job for which we were chosen and at which we were once good. The gigantic and obscene misstep by Wayne Pacelle must be his signal to leave the cause of animal liberation. If he does not know that it is a betrayal to consort with the enemy to extend his own power by partnering with the ‘good enemies’, then the rest of us must explain that and its consequences to him, beginning with the HSUS Board of Directors and its senior staff who face the loss of millions of dollars in bequests and donations as this news speeds throughout the animal rights network.
    Wayne: you’ve done excellent work in past years. Content your self with that knowledge and now leave HSUS.
    If HSUS does not act, we can be thankful that the folks at PETA remain focused on the issues, so that at least one strong, committed animal rights organization can remain true to purpose and in its service to our true constituents: the animals.
    The bad mark at HSUS had been the bloated salaries of top staff (compared with the pay scales at other animal protection/right groups)–salaries that came out of donations given to help animals. Now HSUS has another and far more publicized bad mark.
    Thank heavens PETA has not succumbed to power and lost its responsibility toward those who are the primary constituents of every animal advoicacy organizations: the animals–the species and the individual.

  • pattrice

    Veda, Please write back to your friend and say that you understand that this is the official policy of HSUS but that you were writing to her, person to person. Ask her to tell you, in her own words, why she agrees with the decision (if she does).

  • Barb Lomow

    Thank you for issuing this challenge to HSUS staffers, pattrice. A lot of us ‘out here’ would also like to hear what other national groups who are generally viewed as HSUS “partners” have to say on this issue. Since it’s obvious that many of these groups take their cues from HSUS in what they promote and how they promote it (including what watered-down language to use), I think it’s important to know where they stand on the direction in general that the HSUS farmed animal division has taken things. Most animal advocates know which groups these are, but to simplify things, any group who supported the HSUS/UEP egg bill would be a good candidate to speak up.

    If these smaller groups are truly independent organizations, then they shouldn’t feel obligated to keep quiet out of fear of falling out of favor with HSUS. And their supporters deserve to know where these groups stand. Assuming that they are against Hoofin’ It (although one can never be sure), then these group leaders might be in a better position than even HSUS staffers to try to institute changes that will end HSUS’ promotion of animals as objects to exploit.

    While I’m certainly glad that there is such well-deserved outrage over HSUS sponsoring such a despicable event, I’m curious to know why so many “animal people” are surprised by it. All one needs to do is peruse the HSUS Farmer’s Outreach page:
    https://www.facebook.com/HSUSFarmerOutreach

    That page is chock full of promotion after promotion “celebrating” farmed animal consumption, and has been from Day 1. It’s not like HSUS has tried to hide its agenda. It’s been there in plain sight for all to see.

    Remember the “Ohioans for Humane Farms” fundraiser dinner, led by HSUS? As a refresher, see this 10-minute video:
    http://www.humanemyth.org/silencingthelambsresponse.htm

    Karen Dawn mentioned in her comment earlier today that TAFA no longer has “humane meat” representatives speaking, but that’s actually not the case. TAFA 2014 just had both Kevin Fulton (a cattle/sheep/goat/chicken rancher) and the head of CIWF as speakers. http://www.ciwf.org.uk/your-food/

    I personally don’t donate to any of the groups who are “in tight” with HSUS, but hopefully any one who does support these smaller groups will ask them to publicly address their group’s own position on “Hoofin’ It” and HSUS farmed animal policies in general. If they won’t do so, then that should be a big red flag. When all added together, donors hold a great deal of power, and they should expect transparency from the groups who are only in existence due to donations. While “Hoofin’ It” is an obscene event, made more obscene by HSUS’ participation in it, there could be a silver lining coming out of it if it causes HSUS — and other groups, too — to be held accountable to their fellow animal advocates, something that doesn’t happen much inside this movement.

  • Thanks. I did write back and the response was, word for word… “For me veganism is only a means to an end not an end in and of itself. The whole point for me is to reduce suffering and I will support any and all efforts to reduce the greatest suffering for the greatest number. I respect your difference of strategic position. All we can each do is reduce suffering in whichever best way we can figure out how. Keep up your great work!” So pattrice, it seems to me at this moment that what there is to do is STAND FOR and EDUCATE ABOUT and PROMOTE veganism as the ONLY way to really reduce/end suffering. Anything else is at the least counterproductive as a tactic, and beyond TRAGIC for billions more ‘humanely raised’ animals who ‘suffer less.’ They’ve bought the “HSUS kool-aid” and we have NOT…GO VEGAN!

  • pattrice

    Frank, you seem to be assuming that Wayne knew about this event, which was sponsored by the HSUS Rural Affairs division and might have been approved by a staffer who did not consult him in advance. I’m uncomfortable with that presumption, as well as the focus on Wayne himself rather than on the dynamics of the organization as an entity. Nonetheless, I’ll approve this comment, since it includes potentially useful history.

  • pattrice

    Corrections & clarifications (August 18):

    1. I have learned that the HSUS department responsible for the Hoofin’ It sponsorship is Rural Affairs, which falls under State Affairs. (Farm Animal Protection, which promotes Meatless Mondays and other programs to reduce animal consumption, is a different department.)

    2. I did feel sick when hearing an HSUS staff member brag about having a pig farmer on the Board but it turns out she was mistaken: He is an HSUS employee who has an ownership stake in a pig farm and is portrayed as either a pig farmer or not a pig farmer depending on the context.

    3. I did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings with the reference to Dale Carnegie and did not have anyone in particular in mind. I was referring to a style of communication that has become common not only at HSUS but within animal advocacy in general. My concerns about the patent insincerity of that style would have been better saved for another day. I regret the unkindness.

  • Barb Lomow

    Regarding the clarifications and corrections that you posted, pattrice, sounds like lots of hot-potato-tossing, buck-passing going on over at HSUS-headquarters. To suggest that the Farmed Animal Protection Division is not mixed up in all of this seems rather unbelievable. But if that truly is the case, are the members of that Division speaking out loud and clear against “Hoofin’ It” and the Farmer’s Outreach page? I certainly haven’t noticed that to be taking place. Exactly who at HSUS updates the Farmer’s Outreach page?

    And if the Farmed Animal Protection Division isn’t involved in anything but reducing animal consumption, then what was Paul Shapiro and Farm Sanctuary’s Bruce Friedrich (say what??) doing sitting in the audience five months ago at a Wayne Pacelle-led meeting of farmers labeled: “The New Meat Monopoly: The Humane Society’s New Alliance with Family Farmers”. It is only quite by accident that the camera turned to pan the audience and “outed” Shapiro and Friedrich as being present at the meeting. They appear at the 16:19 mark of this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBAiSI5gZJ4

    As for Joe Maxwell, the pig farming HSUS Vice President of Outreach and Engagement for The HSUS, Wayne Pacelle himself introduces Maxwell as a farmer at the 11:44 point of the same video. He declares: “We are elevating farmers into leadership roles within our organization, whether it’s Joe Maxwell who’s a Vice President of the organization, or Kevin Fulton, who’s the chairman of our Ag Council in Nebraska, blah, blah, blah….” At the 14:39 mark, Pacelle states: “You know, Joe Maxwell talks a lot about how he is not a pork producer, he’s a pig farmer…”.

    Then there is direct quote from the HSUS web site containing Maxwell’s biography: “As a fourth-generation farm boy, Maxwell learned from his grandfather and father the value of being a good steward of the land and the animals you raise. Today, Maxwell and his twin brother Steve carry on these values on the same family farm. Along with more than 50 other family farmers, they sell pork certified by the Global Animal Partnership to Whole Foods and other markets.”
    http://www.humanesociety.org/about/leadership/executive_staff/joe_maxwell.html

    There is also this video of Joe Maxwell himself proudly declaring that he is a pig farmer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt3lnYzhw6U

    So whoever suggested to you, pattrice, that Maxwell is not a pig farmer is either woefully ignorant or downright deceptive. They owe you a big apology.

    Please do not apologize for bringing up the David Carnegie issue. You are a hero to a lot of us for doing so. It is so tiresome to listen to – as you so perfectly stated it – the repetitive “patent insincerity of style” that we are forced to listen to and read coming out of the mouths and keyboards of more than a few people in key positions within this movement. I’m not sure if those guilty of using this manipulative style realize that *we know* that that’s exactly what they are doing. You said nothing unkind.

    And wow, with all the stuff swirling around at this site and others at the moment, THAT’s what someone complained to you about? Amazing! Way for them to keep the animals as the primary focus ….. Not.

  • Nancy

    Frank writes: “If HSUS does not act, we can be thankful that the folks at PETA remain focused on the issues, so that at least one strong, committed animal rights organization can remain true to purpose and in its service to our true constituents: the animals.”

    If only this were the case. PETA, too, has fallen in with many other self-described animal rights groups that are promoting the “kinder” peddling of animal flesh and secretions. Back in 2005, they joined HSUS and many others to praise Whole Foods in writing for its “pioneering initiatives” in animal welfare that were expected to “improve the lives of millions of animals.” (You can see the letter here: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/support1.jpg)

    Praising a company for killing animals is hardly the mark of an organization that is true to the mission of animal rights. PETA has not, to my knowledge, retracted its position in this regard. PETA is yet another “broken watch” in the animal protection movement. Doing the occasional good while actively reinforcing the property status of animals is essentially doing nothing at all to advance animal rights.

  • Barb Lomow

    *Duh, should be Dale Carnegie. David Carnegie is probably Dale’s less obnoxious brother, or something :-)

  • pattrice

    Barb, nobody complained to me. Someone did point out that the tone of that sentence was unkind, and that’s true. My own frustration with the situation — high profile leaders are literally telling new activists to read Dale Carnegie and follow his prescriptions, leading us to have a cadre of animal advocates who sound like used car salesmen — led to an outburst of snark that was not consistent with the tone I wanted to take in the letter. I DO empathize with HSUS staff who disagree with this atrocity — pigs on the menu tonight! — and I certainly did not mean to insult any of them who have themselves succumbed to peer pressure to speak and smile in particular ways.

    As for the “pig farmer,” I wanted to correct my error: He’s staff, not board. All of your evidence speaks to my second point: HSUS portrays him as a pig farmer is some circumstances, but tends to downplay that when portraying him in other circumstances. As a VP for HSUS, he is not, in fact, making his living farming pigs. So, we return to the kind of insincerity that I am hoping to provoke HSUS to see is not working.

    Let’s remember, for a moment, that one reason some folks at HSUS evidently feel the need to engage in such rhetorical ploys is because HSUS has come under attack from powerful animal exploiting industries, specifically because of the strength of its work in areas like undercover investigations. “Pork” producers, puppy mill operators, the circus industry — all have run television ads accusing HSUS by name of being an extremist animal rights organization that only pretends to care about dogs and cats. I can understand why staff or board charged with maintaining the organization might fear losing its base of member-donors.

    But there are smarter and more effective ways to respond than by duplicitously promoting Meatless Mondays with one hand and promoting Monday lamb dinners on the other. There are many more better ways to protect the HSUS name without stooping to condone or promote animal exploitation. Let’s hope that the controversy over this particular instance of promoting animal abuse leads the board and upper management to be more willing to listen to the very many HSUS staffers who I know join us in believing that.

    Nancy, agreed about PeTA although that is beside the point here. I approved Jack’s comment mostly because it included some words about Wayne’s past good work against vivisection, and I believe that nothing is to be gained by treating the people involved here as as they were inherently insincere rather than currently misguided.

  • First, my thanks to Barb Dunsmore for correcting me as to HSUS no longer having representatives of the “humane meat” field at TAFA. For a while that was so, but apparently not anymore. I don’t consider “Compassion in World Farming,” a fantastic UK group that fights factory farming without focusing on veganism, to be representatives of the humane meat industry, but Kevin Fulton is.
    Second, many people know that I am a big fan of Dale Carnegie — I wrote an essay on the value of his tactics that anybody can look up on the Huffington Post. But I didn’t want people here thinking I was the one hurt or complaining about Pattrice’s comments re Carnegie-style activism. She is welcome to her opinion and I am comfortable enough with my own stance to not feel the need to be oversensitive and defensive about it. Comfortable with my stance, but, as with most of my stances, always open to changing my mind. “If you can’t change your mind, are you sure you still have one?”
    Finally, I have now spoken to vegan friends at HSUS about this — and other sponsorships. Some of those friends are uncomfortable with it, as I am. But an important point was made: nobody has been more effective in fighting the ag-laws than HSUS, and little is more valuable to our movement than the undercover video that the ag-laws are trying to prevent. HSUS’s success at fighting ag-gag has come from their partnership with farmers. It was that relationship, their ability to persuade farmers rather than vegans to testify against ag-gag, that has made the difference. Having now thought all that through, I feel less sure about criticizing HSUS for their coziness with the “humane meat” farmers, because I see the need for some activism that employs distasteful means for an important end. Sponsorship feels to me like it is going too far, I am not comfortable with it, but I don’t think my comfort is what matters most. While I know many people on this page will see the issue differently, I thought I should share my thoughts upon having investigated further, in case they resonate with anybody.
    I thank Pattrice, again, for the respectful tone in which she has asked people to voice their objection. The more mutual respect in our blessed movement, the better.

  • Lucy Rosen Kaplan

    I continue to be excited and motivated by the effort to activate HSUS staffers to raise their voices against HSUS’s lead sponsorship of the Denver Hoofin’ It celebration. But as comment feedbacks continue to focus heavily on the meta-activism issue of whether it is ever fair or strategic to attribute dishonorable motives to decision-makers whose decisions harm the cause of animal liberation, I wonder if it might be useful to distinguish groundless suspicion, on the one hand, from what may be inevitable, and not necessarily unconstructive, indignation, on the other.

    For example, Barb Lomow’s incredibly impressive, fact-based documentation of personnel dynamics at HSUS should, I think, be embraced and valued as contributing information that is indispensable to our understanding of how something like an HSUS-sponsored meat extravaganza could come to pass. If documentation like this evinces some indignation on the part of the documenter, this does not mean that the material presented is conclusory or the product of a condemnation of motives.

    I fear that some of the commenters, here, who express indignation about both the outcome of HSUS’s dynamics, and the dynamics themselves, may justifiably feel a bit crushed when every expression of their indignation is met with warnings against been too judgmental. Factual objectivity is always a must, when picking apart the elements of a conflict, but emotional pacifism is, I think, not a requirement of effective animal-liberation activism, and I worry that requiring commenters to suppress natural indignation does an injustice to the high-level stakes involved for the animals.

    At some point, relentless chastisement about the automatic indignation with which caring humans react to animal exploitation may chill activists to the point at which they become fearful of speaking up and proposing solutions. Forgive me, moreover, if the regular shift of focus away from the human-caused abuse, and back to activists’ manners, even feels, to me, too much like navel-gazing, at a time when energy might be better spent building consensus on tactics and strategies that, based on evidence, appear to show some promise of working. If humanity were far more advanced, spiritually and ethically, than it is today, my view would probably be different; but right now, I think we’re still well advised to craft our activism in ways that are comprehensible to both activists and our audience.

  • There are many reasonable, calm, descriptions about what HSUS and others are doing. Some years ago, I had a rude awakening about the reality at HSUS and other organizations. It took me time to learn what had been evolving for several years. Given my decades of environmental and “animal” work, I should have paid attention. Please understand that this is not about “Hoofin It”. It is about a fundamental divide within the movement regarding strategies and beliefs, led by HSUS’ Wayne Pacelli and what those strategies will or will not accomplish. “Hoofin It” is just the latest symptom and sadly is not close to the most shocking evidence of what former standard-bearers at HSUS and others now choose to believe. See Nancy’s link to identify those who support the slaughter of innocents.

    Over time, HSUS has consolidated much of the movement into its control and way of seeing the world. I believe the acquisition of Black Beauty Ranch may have been the first notable sign. With its reserves of money, it sponsors a wide array of organizations, publications and people and thus its influence. If you want to feel accepted and feel the power of this “in-crowd”, then that’s the place to be.

    HSUS like other aged institutions were founded in an era of welfarisn, a link in the history to where we are today. They and their donors were dog and cat-oriented(child welfare before that), and worked in a culture and history that still remains today as evidenced by the word “humane” in their name. HSUS and similar organizations are not abolitionist nor vegan in practice. Vegans donating to them are acting nonvegan. Those organizations are, however, becoming adept at creating new, more profitable market niches for animal agriculturalists and their offal.

    It takes a little time to explore the HSUS collaborations including with Whole Foods and its “Meatopia” celebrations that make Hoofin-in look like a birthday party. Take the time to see video of Wayne Pacelle speak to animal agriculturalists, to see him sit next to carnist Chef Wolfgang Puck at an event featuring slaughtered individuals from other species. There are many, many vegan advocates who have long suffered because of the trend of domination of the movement coming from one sector led by HSUS. There is reasoned, love-centered opposition that prays others will take the time to see the nuances and the peer-reviewed evidence of the tragedies HSUS and others are creating. We will overcome these setbacks.

    Veganism is not only about reducing suffering. It seeks to reduce and end as much as we can the violence we do to others, including other people, including ecosystems. Think about what happens when animal agriculture outbids the impoverished half of humanity for cereal grains and legumes, what the green house gasses dominated by animal agriculture of all kinds is doing to ecosystems, the poor, the wild, to Earth.

    The responses to the HSUS injustices is growing. I doubt many will post ideas like this here as they already know alternatives to HSUS must grow and be funded. If this list allows, I will post two links that will take you further into what I’ve posted. The first is humanemyth.org. It will take a few hours to understand what’s going on in these matters, but this is THE authoritative place to go. The integrity of its writers is unimpeachable. And if I may point you to my blog post about what “humane” is in reference to historic meaning compared to its use today, go thisishopethebook.com. I had sat down to post the third installment titled “The Unlimited Vegan” when I came across this discussion. I’ll read comments but will not debate points found in the websites I included. Best wishes to everyone here who, like me, is trying to do the best for the most.

  • thank you for writing this perfect letter!

  • pattrice

    Please read the chapter on innocence in my latest book, The Oxen at the Intersection, to see why I believe that in general –not just this instance– it is dangerous to attribute goodness or badness to people rather than to behavior.

    Ditto organizations. Imagine, for example, if you were a vegan staffer at the antivivsection department of HSUS, part of a team that has not only exposed egregious abuses via undercover investigations but also recently helped to secure the release of chimpanzees to sanctuaries. On a day like today you might feel simultaneously sickened by “Hoofin’ It” and disheartened by critics of HSUS who refuse to acknowledge you and your own good work.

    I understand that some people will mistake my empathy for such staffers with some sort of weakness or wishy-washy moderation. It’s the opposite. This is me being steadfast in the insistence that problems are situations — complex conjuctions of social, psychological, and material circumstances best solved by careful analysis and strategic intervention. That holds true whether the problem to be solved is factory farming on the Delmarva peninsula or HSUS sponsorship of the “Hoofin’ It” festival in Denver.

    I spoke out in this instance, because the pictures of the animals on the menu at “Hoofin’ It” reminded me of folks here at the sanctuary and because I knew that my decision to do so might roil the waters at HSUS a bit. I also try to seize every opportunity to encourage well-funded organizations to pursue plant-based projects that will strengthen rural economies, and this letter did give me the chance to pitch that idea once again.

    And that’s all. I don’t particularly think that it is useful to vegan/AR activists to devote a lot of time typing to each other about HSUS, so I hope folks won’t spend too much more time commenting on this blog post. I’ll leave the comments open through the days of the event and then will close the conversation.