By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Is The Animal Rights Movement Dead?

Is The Animal Rights Movement Dead?

Pick one from columns A, B, and C.


a) The animal rights movement helps animals.
b) The animal rights movement betrays animals.
c) The animal rights movement is winning.
d) The animal rights movement is dead.


a) The animal rights movement exists to
   generate enormous income for activists.

b) Tra la la


a) All parents and children cheer animals in
   Disney movies, then go out and "do lunch"
   at fast food meat and chicken restaurants.

b) Everybody goes to the tofu bar after the

c) Please pass the popcorn.

d) Some people eat dogs in Korea, cats in China,
   and calves and piglets in the United States.



For the past three years, I've attended America's largest
animal rights convention (July 4th weekend) in Maclean,
Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C.

The AR conference is presented by Alex Hershaft of FARM.

I received the FARM Report (Farm Animal Reform Movement) and
found great irony in the page 7 story:

"News of Dying Industry"

Which industry is dying? Meat and milk consumption, or
animal rights protest? It certainly isn't the AR industry.
There's millions of dollars out there, and a simple review
of the tax returns of some of the AR groups reveals that
mega-salaries and bonuses in the high six figures are doled
out to well known activists. (Alex Hershaft is one of the
exceptions to this cash-cow phenomena. He lives a simple
life, and all of his resources go towards keeping the animal
rights movement alive).

Many animal rights activists are wearing big smiles these
days, boasting of major victories.

Is the annual animal rights convention a major waste of
time? More animals seem to be dying.

Let me answer that question. There is only one individual in
the AR movement who is able to gather together all of the
ids, egos, and superegos associated with the so-called
movement. There is anger, jealousy, hatred between varying
groups who vie for the donations and cash flow. One group
bashes another, and it's miraculous that Hershaft can
assemble all of the players on the same playing field. He
does so year after year, and somehow maintains his dignity
by not yielding to enormous pressure from one group after
another seeking to bar, ban, crucify, blacklist another
group or activist.

Animal rights groups fight among themselves claiming victory
for chickens. Humane Society claims that they made the
difference, while PETA claims victory occurred as a result
of their efforts. Farm Sanctuary and United Poultry have
lobbied for humane slaughter, and they too claim credit
while soliciting your donations.

Once chicken were allotted an average living space of 8 x 8
inches, or 64 square inches. Their living space has
increased nearly 13 percent, so that the average bird lives
in an 8.5 x 8.5 inch area. That's a major victory for some
people. Not me. Chickens no longer live in teeny crates.
Today, they live in tiny crates. A big deal to some humans
is in reality rather meaningless to a chicken. They still
die the same way.

What has this phony change accomplished?

The so-called dying industry will process 9.133 billion
broilers in 2002. That represents an increase of 2.6% over
2001. If we were winning, people would be eating less

Our efforts relieve the consciences of chicken eaters, and
they end up eating more chickens because they perceive that
chickens are living more humane lives. Everybody is happy.
Activists feel good. AR organizations get more money in
donations. Purdue and Tyson make more money. The only ones
to suffer are the poor animals. More birds die for the good
things that we do.

So, while many things are wrong, and we are clearly not
winning anything, except for an occasional delusion that we
are making a positive difference, there still exists the
possibility that good things can happen. We must continue to
meet, just for the sake of doing so. It's a morale booster.
It's the social event of the year for some. While some panel
discussions are poorly attended, the after hours bar always
remains packed, and all activists are in agreement when
management closes down the real action at the stroke of

So, to answer the question posed as the point of this
column: Is The Animal Rights Movement Dead?

Let's analyze. Ten billion animals will die this year in
America to feed its citizens. There are 280 million
Americans. That's 36 animals per citizen eaten per year.

Each new vegetarian represents 36 less animals to kill.

Of course, new vegetarians are created each day, but new
compassionate slaughter laws translate into more animals
produced on factory farms.

The movement may not be dead, but we are clearly losing. As
a matter of fact, our actions seem to result in an
acceleration of the numbers of animals being eaten.

I have a plan. I have a goal. I will create 100 million new
vegetarians. I will save at least 5 billion animals per
year. I now see with clarity the mistakes being made, and
know what has to be done. See me in 2007, and tell me how I
have done.

Unlike most animal rights activists, I will not be promoting
compassionate slaughter laws. The same vivid images that
motivated me to stop eating animals must be seen by young
and old alike.

I will not be painting a pretty picture. Be ready for
visions of horror. Bloody deaths are not pleasing to the
conscience or palate.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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