The Animal Agriculture Alliance has released a report detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, held July 25 through July 28 in Alexandria, Va. The event was organized by the Farm Animal Rights Movement and sponsored by Mercy for Animals, The Save Movement, Compassion Over Killing and The Humane League, along with other animal rights extremist groups.
“Animal rights extremists are becoming increasingly aggressive in their efforts to end animal agriculture,” says Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “Releasing reports from major activist conferences enables everyone in animal agriculture to prepare for strategies and tactics targeting their livelihood.”
Similar to last year’s conference, speakers made it clear their vision is animal liberation, not promoting animal welfare. “There is no such thing as humane slaughter and anyone who tells you differently is simply lying,” said Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now. “We need to say that all animal agriculture is cruel and wrong,” said Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns. Demetria Atkinson of Redefine Your Mind argued “Animals are people too.”
A key theme of the conference was the desire to create a vegan world by 2026 to save the environment, but many activists had doubts. “Activism is so sad right now; when I look at our movement, I am incredibly disappointed,” said Lauren Ornelas of The Food Empowerment Project. “We vegans carry a heavy burden. No matter how hard we work, we will likely never see the end of it,” said Melanie Joy of Beyond Carnism. “We are not even close to being on the cusp of global veganism,” said Bruce Friedrich of The Good Food Institute.
Attendees at the conference were encouraged to pressure restaurants and retailers and make it seem like a lot of people are asking for vegan meals by blitzing companies on social media, by mail and in-person. “Make sure you tag [brands] in the photo so that all they see is consumer demand for vegan [products],” said Laura Cascada of Compassion Over Killing. Cascada also urged conference attendees to write post cards so they could have “several hundred post cards to dump on the front step of [one restaurant chain] at some point.” In a workshop at the conference, The Humane League asked attendees to write birthday cards to the CEO of a major restaurant chain saying, “This will be the meanest card you’ll ever write.” While talking about corporate campaigns, Kelly Myer of The Humane League said, “We surround buildings so that employees have to see and feel guilt anytime they leave” and “An incremental approach is used to gradually switch companies over to veganism.”
Speakers also focused on the use of “undercover” videos and the media to damage the reputation of animal agriculture and reach their goals. “Investigations are the single most powerful tool to expose the inherent cruelties in large-scale animal agriculture,” said William Rivas-Rivas of Animal Equality. “Make sure you start with something dramatic...That’s much more likely to go viral,” said Jane Velez-Mitchell of Jane UnChained News Network.
Also speaking at the conference were: Erica Meier and Mike Wolf, Compassion Over Killing; Sean Thomas, Animal Equality; Jennifer Barkley, The Humane League; and Chris Berry and Daniel Waltz, Animal Legal Defense Fund.
The 2019 Animal Rights National Conference Report, which includes personal accounts of speaker presentations and general observations, is available to Alliance members in the Resource Library on the Alliance website. The Alliance also has reports from previous animal rights conferences accessible to members on its website.