The notion that we should promote “happy” or “humane” exploitation as “baby steps” ignores that welfare reforms do not result in providing significantly greater protection for animal interests; in fact, most of the time, animal welfare reforms do nothing more than make animal exploitation more economically productive by focusing on practices, such as gestation crates, the electrical stunning of chickens, or veal crates, that are economically inefficient in any event. Welfare reforms make animal exploitation more profitable by eliminating practices that are economically vulnerable. For the most part, those changes would happen anyway and in the absence of animal welfare campaigns precisely because they do rectify inefficiencies in the production process. And welfare reforms make the public more comfortable about animal exploitation. The “happy” meat/animal products movement is clear proof of that. We would never advocate for “humane” or happy” human slavery, rape, genocide, etc. So, if we believe that animals matter morally and that they have an interest not only in not suffering but in continuing to exist, we should not be putting our time and energy into advocating for “humane” or “happy” animal exploitation.

~ Gary L. Francione

Take a step back to recall the story that this book tells, and consider how it might come to a very unhappy ending. Imagine the history our disappointed descendants might write. For centuries, the moral teachings of a civilization held self—interest and self-trust to be the sins of frail and deluded humanity. These traditional teachings denied that societies could discern distinct and viable principles of order and design their own institutions accordingly. The denounced such efforts as doomed hubris. Then, in an unprecedented experiment, some people rejected the old wisdom. They took the heart’s desire and the body’s appetite as compass points and rededicated human ingenuity to serving them. They created new forms of order to house these inverted values. For a time, the experiment succeeded, changing life so dramatically that the utopian visions of one century became the pedestrian common sense of the next.Then, suddenly and drastically, the experiment failed. Self-interest and self-trust proved to be formulas for devastating the world. Democratic polities, the other moral center of the great experiment, could not stop runaway self-destruction and turned out to abet it instead. Faced with overwhelming evidence that they were on an unsustainable course, the freedom-loving peoples of the twenty-first century wrung their hands, congratulated themselves on their hybrid cars and locally grown food, and changed little, because it never made sense for anyone or any country to do so.

~ Jedediah Purdy