Sea-Greenwashing… One of Those “Realistic” Sustainability Ploys

Even fancy journal articles and stuff from climate think tanks tell us U.S. Americans love our cars, trucks, animal products, and lawns too much to change. They say policy makers must confine their planning to “realistic” responses.

But we’re grownups. We can accept that affluence based on destruction is meritless and unsatisfying. We can acknowledge that our consumption patterns affect what’s produced and what policy makers do and say. And we can change. We can live our lives based on the principles of caring, respect, and simplicity. We can stop investing in hype-addled surrogates, and become nature conservancies ourselves.

The above is an excerpt from my full article, published today in CounterPunch.

Power to the Peacemakers: This Is Vegan Action

One of the key ideas I derive from veganism is its stance of conscientious objection to all war: human-on-human, and human-on-nonhuman. I think it’s important to develop this principle because it speaks to how vegans show up in the world.  

Militant vegan advocacy strikes me as an oxymoron. I’m not a vegan because we are fighting. I am vegan because we are cultivating. This is not passivity. I think of cultivating as an active, creative, sustainable and strong approach to advocacy.

The thoughts below are asymmetrical and partially stream-of-consciousness. Your comments, including pushback, are welcome, and will inform my thoughts. Thank you for reading, for thinking, and for commenting as and when you’re so moved.  


The Gender Factor Has to Be Checked 

Let me say there is nothing essential about maleness, in my opinion. My approach is feminist, but I do not subscribe to the notion that gender is a firm binary. Gender is fluid; it’s contextual; it’s a performance by which we, to the extent our society allows freedom of expression, define ourselves. I am not assuming anyone has a set personality or advocacy style related to a set gender.  

That said…

If we wanted to perpetuate a movement in which male activists controlled most situations (and I’m talking about my culture’s traditionally conceptualized “manliness”), then we should do a militant movement. We should do everything we can to promote vigilante justice, take on the system, and overcome it by force. 

Non-male human beings and nonhuman beings tend to lose out when force is the way goals are met. We should stop glorifying forceful heroics and start crediting the cultivation, the nourishing, the collaborative work, and the mutual aid. 


The Capitalists Control the Weapons

Here’s an example of an online claim that our movement must be militant:

The capitalist sytem is the enemy. We’ll never get justice for animals without toppling the corporate-run society. Millions of companies exploit animals. They’ll never accept an abolitionist movement. Justice must be done by force. I’m trying to start a revolution here and free farm animals. People need to stop being so [ableist word].

We’re going to topple the government and industries? So, we burst into the boardroom of X-Ploiter & Co. and tell them we stand for animal liberation and we’re calling the shots. 

Even if the board members wanted to cut off their corporation’s connection with animal use, they can’t. What will the activists do? Shoot them all? 

Allow ourselves to be provoked into choosing militancy, and we feed State violence. Police and the military provoke dissidents to violence, because that’s where they have an advantage over dissidents. Then, the police state grows stronger and broader and incapacitates more activism.


The Importance of Knowing Our Goals

Even in some alternate world where militants could overpower the police, what’s the next society supposed to look like? We can destroy the economy and have our veganism in a torn-down culture, where we haven’t laid the new groundwork for fair modes of provision and exchange. What could possibly go wrong?

And to “free” commerically bred animals isn’t the vegan goal. Commerically bred animals can’t achieve freedom from human keepers. Freedom for animals raised in confinement would be abandonment. And it’s the kind of thing that wreaks havoc on biocommunities. 

In short, freedom for domesticated animals is a contradiction in terms. In a vegan scenario, human-dependent animals would stop being bred into dependency.

The vegan ideal promotes and defends untamed, naturally evolving animal communities. 

This point is not pedantry. Using force for a goal that doesn’t make sense makes the use of force more wasteful still.


The Importance of Not Getting Sidelined

As Donald Watson’s cohort did, vegans can work on creative vegan projects and keep putting our diverse talents to work as a positive force.

If we’re sidelined by the State, our cultivation is sidelined as well. When asked in an interview about direct action, Watson spoke to this point:

To use an analogy, I sometimes see, when on my walks, people climbing up vertical cliffs with their ropes and I sometimes think, there is an alternative way of getting to the top and getting the view, by just going a few hundred yards sideways, and walking up a valley. 

…if people want challenges, there is no shortage of sensible, humane, safe, challenges to get engaged in. I would never take up rock-climbing, and dangle on the end of a rope, that might be weak in one spot. The strength of a chain is its weakest link, and so is the strength of a rope, and if that rope breaks, as inevitably, I think it will, sooner or later, I would probably get killed. And then I wouldn’t be able to proceed with whatever peaceful work I’m on earth to do. 

There’s something to be said for being able to proceed with whatever peaceful work we’re on earth to do.


When Militancy Ascends, Principle Is Drowned Out 

When members of any group engage in their worst conduct when they act for their cause, there are others left frustrated, unheard, and concerned that what’s drawing the most negative attention is being mistaken for the ethic.

I’m not talking about people who sabotage blood sports. I’m not talking about people who hold signs up to disrupt a circus or rodeo. Most of these activists are engaged in acts of public education or actually interrupting an act of violence. 

I’m talking about people who want to convince me that society can be scared or forced into ending their own habits of terror and force. 

Transgressions meant to scare or harm others are wrongs, even if the end goal is righteous. Why be intimidating? Why promote the ability to exert force as the way to righteousness? 

We have finite energy and time, and we can use it to create messages that shift mindsets. Because yes, we can get allies to go vegan. There are plenty of opportunities to create. Marches. Art. Talks. Writings and educational activism. Start by getting everyone who is forward-thinking on board. 

This is not a battle to fight. This is a human identity to cultivate. Because veganism works. Over the course of four decades, I’ve witnessed it daily. Veganism inspires people. Veganism transforms lives. Veganism is direct action.


Time Is Short and the Vegan Message Needs Cultivation

It’s not a controversial ask: Be vegan and act with respect because it’s better than oppressive relationships, poor nourishment, and ecological degradation. It’ll be good for everyone. 

Vegans will undermine human supremacy person by person, in a way intimidation by its very makeup can never do. One day we’ll wake up and products made in connection with our dominion over animals and nature will be the rarity, not the norm. Then government will lose excuses to subsidize them.

Extinctions, mass exploitation and killing, and the immediate dangers to individual beings are URGENT. I understand, and I feel this sense of URGENCY every day, every hour I’m alive. I’m not arguing for a slow pace. I’m saying progress will happen faster if we offer a message others can understand. 

I’m saying other people’s decision to relinquish their master role will not come from shame or intimidation. It will involve a change of heart, a shift in our collective psychology. 

In that vital sense, there is no enemy. We’re all in this ethical question together: Is Homo sapiens entitled to dominate and use the rest of the planet’s inhabitants?

Vegans will prevail if humanity survives. Domination of nature will fall away if humanity cultivates an identity that can thrive in harmony with Earth’s web of life.

If you have made it down to this point, thank you so much for spending your valuable time reading these thoughts. I might add another part later to explore the legal elements of the tactics question. But at the moment I need to concentrate on slides to present at the Vegan Climate Summit!

Love and liberation,


On Their Own Terms: Eighteen Nutshell Narratives

This is a narration of the 2016 book On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century, abridged and adapted for audio, and read by author Lee Hall in 2022.

Although quotations are left as they were written, this work is created with a commitment to gender-free language as far as possible.

Here’s One Audio File With the Combined Nutshell Narratives

And below is an index of links for each of the 18 nutshell narratives making up On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century in audio form. 

Feedback (positive, building-on, or critique) welcome. I’ll be listening to the combined, 1-hour-and-52-minute audio file now that it’s posted as one piece. If you find anything that could be clearer, let me know. The beauty of indy-publishing this is that glitches can be fixed!


  • ABOUT THIS BOOK: “About This Book” lays out the book’s context and why it needs to exist. This is the first of a series of nutshell narratives putting each chapter into audible form.
  • FOREWORD by Dr. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson: “Finding out about others without desiring to use or have them, intimidate or subordinate them may be the hardest thing of all for humans to do.”





  • Appendix 1: A Liberation Workshop. If you believe the work of radical change starts with a written plan, here is a possible template.
  • Appendix 2: Making Vegan Guides and Leaflets. Thoughts on creating an intro to veganism for the vegan-curious.
  • Appendix 3: Veganism Defined. Updated language for the classic 1951 pledge of allegiance to our planetmates.

For Happy the Elephant, Personhood Is Yet Another Cage

My latest article for CounterPunch is provocatively titled, yes. Because while it’s right to improve life for a confined elephant, focusing on a being in permanent captivity makes a problematic case for personhood. 

On social media, the elephant personhood case is tagged #FreeHappy. This confuses the humans-in-charge regime with freedom. Moving Happy might be the best we could do under the circumstances, but it wouldn’t create freedom; Happy would remain a refugee. This needs to be said. We need to be serious about freedom if we’re claiming to struggle for it. We must defend other animals’ interests in thriving independently of human supervision before it’s too late.

Love and liberation,


Photo source.

This Fancy Fence Is One More Peril for Deer

Every time I see one of these spear-style fences, I remember Mary Ann Baron first telling me how treacherous they can be.

Deer on the run can, and sometimes do, get stuck on fences when trying to clear them or pass through them. Often, several deer run together into the danger, and the harm befalls them all.

Some time ago, I joined Mary Ann and our friend Bridget of Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer to try to prevent a local deer shoot. Of course, we opposed it because the ethical thing to do is to simply let deer be. One of the many other reasons shooting deer is a bad idea, we explained, is that the deer would be running in fear, across roads and into unfamiliar territory.

Startled deer can run into unexpected perils. Photo of running White-tailed deer by Jeff Houdret.

And when they do run from unusual dangers, deer can run into unexpected perils. A Radnor Township police official mentioned that being called to the scene of a deer impaled on a fence is an unforgettable horror. Why would Radnor Township allow these fences, then? And how many of us really need a fence — let alone one with spikes, or posts that deer can be caught between? 

We Can Take Action.

Some animal advocates have worked on physical remedies. One of my Patreon subscribers remembers doing this at a cemetery in Williamsville, near Buffalo, New York. The protective action was to top individual fence spikes so the deer wouldn’t be impaled. The advocates raised money for the new metalwork. Check out the story and picture here.

Small actions can prevent tragic accidents and spare lives. We can ask our town governments, churchyards and botanical gardens, clubs and multi-unit properties to rule out dangerous fences.

An online search for local fencing companies typically brings up these types of fences for sale. We can address the companies on social media, engage them in discussion, and ask if they’d consider discontinuing fences that pose dangers to deer. 

Thanks to Maureen Schiener and Mary Ann Baron for contributing to my awareness. I hope this article helps other readers explain the issue for property managers. No one wants to wake up and find an impaled deer on a fence; so please, ask people to prevent it in the first place.

Thanks for Going Out of Your Way to Care.

If you have any reports on engagement in your community, kindly share! Readers beyond the eastern U.S. region: Do you know of other animals in your area who are similarly at risk? Please post a note in the comment section below.


Banner photo: Melisa Valentin, via Pexels.

Statement of Support for the Vegan Justice League

“We may not pay to kill animals, but our taxes still do. It’s time to end animal agribusiness subsidies. We need to lobby.”

— Vegan Justice League

The Vegan Justice League intends to effect change in the U.S. Farm Bill, which encourages farmers to produce meat and dairy. Taxpayer-funded subsidies, the League observes, let animal agribusinesses produce a surplus well above market demand.

Of course, a vegan would say all animal products are “surplus”; and, as a vegan, that’s what I say. That’s what the League thinks, too.

Why focus a campaign simply on the subsidies in animal agribusiness? Because the subsidies essentially force us to undo our work. Vegans are funding the damned farms. Or the farms that would be damned if only vegans had a level playing field. 

Plant- and nut-derived dairy replacements and flesh-food analogues, together with the vegan culinary scene, are the financial success story of the decade. U.S. residents want artisan cashew-based cheese. We’re replacing barbequed flesh with vegetable kebabs. Thanks to the vegan movement, the population now knows:

Dairy’s not necessary.

Meat’s no treat.

Still, animals are bred, managed, and killed in droves every second. The industry evades normal supply-and-demand dynamics by way of bailouts and subsidies under the guise of insurance extended to animal husbandry corporations.

The Vegan Justice League intends to deploy billboards and professional lobbyists, and to call politicians out for accepting funds from animal agribusiness—focusing on ag-heavy North Carolina, Texas, and Washington state.

Authentic Sustainability

Behind the much-vaunted term “sustainability” is a growing awareness that we’re depleting the Earth’s water and forestland. This is not just about us and what we’ll have left to use. Other animals in natural bio-communities must have viable habitats to survive and thrive. That vital space is lost to deforestation for feed and grazing, and it’s eroded exponentially on a heated Earth.

Animal agribusiness can make no authentic sustainability claims. It’s nothing more and nothing less than a worldwide traffic in introduced species—yet it gets a pass because we presumably need to consume animals. That presumption no longer stands. 

As for the argument that farmers need to make a living, that is an argument for redirecting their business to growing food—not feed. Staying stuck in an unsustainable model is not the way businesses and their people will thrive.

Shifting from animal flesh to a plant-powered humanity stops massive ecological harm, and offers a way to stop deforesting, and to make space for re-wilding proposals.

A recent study carried out at Oxford University reports on one of the most thorough examinations ever undertaken on the impact of agribusiness on the environment. It involved nearly 40,000 farms, and 119 countries. And it showed that by becoming vegan, we could shrink our individual carbon footprints by as much as 73%, and reduce land use by 75%, saving an area equivalent to the size of the U.S., the E.U. and China combined.

Understood in this context, veganism is not extreme. It is a rational commitment to stop greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss now.

Moreover, while leaders of struggling people hope for food aid for millions, animal agribusiness is a massive funnel of feed crops to billions of cows, chickens, and aquatic animals who are bred to be eaten. Consumption of flesh, fish, dairy and eggs takes a massive toll on the environment, the climate, and a finite Earth on which everyone in the world depends.

It is also a frivolous use of our talents to exert systematic dominance over other conscious beings.

Veganism appropriately responds to urgent human safety, social justice, and environmental ethics questions. Veganism understands that our most powerful stance is:

  • The permanent boycott of flesh and dairy products.
  • Conscientious objection to industries that displace, capture, breed, buy, sell, control and exploit beings who, as we do, have an experience of life.

We hold the ethical, environmental, and health-conscious high ground. Yet we are undermined every day by the misdirection of our own dollars.

We do have the power to change our relationship with the rest of our bio-community. Active objection to the investment of our tax money in animal agribusiness is one element of our power.

Banner credit: Architect of the Capitol. Images within text: Allie Smith and Alexander Mils, via Unsplash.

#TimesUp and Nonprofit Boards: LaVeck and Stein Call Out `Domination Games’

Key points to which the movement must now respond.

Read the full essay at

  • Incorporated animal-advocacy groups have hurt individuals, betrayed the public trust, and aggressively suppressed criticism.
  • The higher ranks of the institutional movement hierarchy include people who display an addiction to domination.
  • Sexual harassment is one of the manifestations.
  • As a community, animal advocates need to support victims and  encourage witnesses to speak out.
  • While interns and staffers are treated like meat, the animals, purportedly defended, are systematically betrayed. One Humane Society of the United States VP claimed to raise tens of thousands of pigs “like children” before slaughter.

Board members and others in positions of oversight must dramatically up their game, or, in some cases, step down.

Putting healthier people at the top of the institutional pyramid isn’t the answer, say LaVeck and Stein. It is time to decentralize power and widely share resources and leadership opportunities.

Read the full essay at

#TimesUp in the Animal Charity World

The Humane Society of the United States has just accepted CEO Wayne Pacelle’s resignation.

This followed reporters’ investigations into claims that CEO Wayne Pacelle and (now former) VP of farm animal protection Paul Shapiro have sexually humiliated HSUS staffers.

In the words of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, wider concerns involve a “frat-like ‘bro’ culture” that manipulates and stifles advocacy careers.

Some say the #MeToo problem in advocacy can be fixed with more female leadership. Can it?  Read on.


VegFest in Buffalo, NY: A Slideshow About Caricatures and Memes

Animal advocacy produces many images in which selectively bred animals appear as cute, contented, and wanting to delight you or be friends with you. And generally we don’t regard it as needing further thought. It’s the imagery of endearment. Post adorable piglets, and maybe it’ll make people who keeping doing those bacon posts on Facebook see bacon in another way?

Popular advocacy images: What do they display or conceal about humanity’s relationship with all others?

On Sunday 6 August at the Western New York VegFest in Buffalo, I’ll present Cuteness, Memes, and Animal-Liberation Imagery: A Slideshow and Discussion.
We’ll look at how endearing imagery can work against animals and their defenders in a way the movement
has yet to explore.
This presentation asks: Does popular animal-advocacy imagery reinforce animals’ vulnerability? Is so, why should this matter to us?
Is there something we can learn here from the effects of race-based caricatures? What do we know about the power of imagery from the abolitionist struggle? To say all oppressions come from a common impulse, as I wrote in On Their Own Terms, isn’t to say that various groups are the same, or that the kind of inequality they’ve faced is the same. And facile analogies don’t help. Claire Heuchan has observed how “Black experience is regularly placed on a par with animals as a provocation.”
This is why it’s so important that the slideshow’s concept does not set out to compare caricatures reflecting white supremacy with caricatures that justify domestication. Distinct struggles against systems of domination should be known on their terms, even as they teach about the common source — the human urge to dominate and control — and ask ourselves how we’re challenging or continuing it.

Thanks to my patrons who make it possible for me to give up days of shift work to contribute this effort to the WNY VegFest. If you’d like to help this outreach continue, consider supporting it with a regular contribution (which can be as modest as $1 per month) on Patreon.