The anti-industry industry—and make no mistake: it’s a career track for most partisans—is propped up on a three-legged stool: Three interconnected lines of attack with which the people who hate on producers hope to take down the industry.
The first and most self-righteous leg is animal welfare. The true believers devoted to this often wide-ranging mission prefer the phrase “animal rights,” since that conjures up an ingrained legal standing for our fellow members of the animal kingdom.
But let’s keep it real: The moral basis of the operatives at groups flogging animal abuse issues, such as PETA and HSUS, is that raising livestock is inherently cruel, abusive and inhumane. The animal welfare movement isn’t about making production better, it’s about making it disappear.
As a corollary, their favorite tactic is the use of imagery: video clips, photos, staged demonstrations—anything that depicts stalls, cages crates, pens or any sort of confinement that shows a sad-eyed calf or a cute little piglet staring out through iron bars of some sort—coupled with whatever footage or photos they can obtain that show the very worst and most wretched of conditions in feedyards, packing plants or dairy farms.
The goal of the animal welfarists is to shame people into believing that there’s a better way to produce food, either some non-specific “natural” means of animal husbandry or the implied contention that we really don’t need to eat meat or drink milk, so why even have livestock and all the suffering that goes along with raising them as food animals?
Not really reformers
The second leg of the stool is vegetarianism and its extreme cousin, veganism. The people who focus on this line of attack take the notion of animal welfare even further. They argue that not only don’t we need animal foods, they contend that we’re actually better off without them.
The vegan purists love to occupy the moral high ground on this issue of diet, and unlike the pseudo-reformers pushing for an end to “factory farming,” they make no pretense about reform: Theirs is a religious crusade, no offense to contemporary believers on either side of the disastrous attempts of religious zealots in Europe to re-conquer the Holy Land a thousand years ago.
Vegan activists will make full use of whatever weapons are available—medical studies suggesting that meat causes cancer or heart diseases; environmental studies implying that livestock production is causing global warming; underground videos showing the “horrors” of modern livestock production.