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Does the Make it Possible campaign help or hinder animal advocacy?

MakeitpossibleTVCstill200Six weeks ago, Animals Australia, the country’s largest animal advocacy organisation, launched its ‘Make it Possible’ campaign, which takes aim at the industrial farming system. The campaign centres on a singing pig that grows wings and takes flight, leaving the deprived world of the factory farm behind. The television ad directs viewers to a website, Make it Possible, where people can take ‘pledges’ to ‘make a world without factory farming possible.’ These include ‘reject factory farmed’, ‘eat less meat' and ‘go meat free’.

The campaign has split the vegan community, with those opposed claiming that it doesn’t go far enough in its failure to offer veganism as a pledge. Others argue that advocating directly for veganism could turn people away and that a softer approach that simply reveals the hidden world of the modern-day factory farm is the first step in encouraging the public to turn away from animal products.

Ruby Hamad, associate editor at The Scavenger, asked two vegan animal rights activists to give their perspectives on the campaign.

8 December 2012

For: Anna Hall

Like all vegans I desperately want not ‘enriched’ cages but empty ones. I plan to work on this for the rest of my life, and in the most efficient way possible. But there is no proven ‘best’ method of achieving a vegan world. Therefore, we have scope to contribute in the way best suited to our talents and resources.

Even as I encourage research into determining the most effective campaign methods, I anticipate results will show different messages and different styles reach different people at different times. To this end I hope Animals Australia’s ‘Make it Possible’ campaign will touch hundreds of thousand of hearts and cause a chink in that dominant culture paradigm of denial (or Carnism as Melanie Joy called it) that is so sadly prevalent.

Then of course those moved by the plight of factory farmed animals will need to take the next step of courageous compassion: Compassion for the unspeakable suffering we have inflicted on billions of non-human animals condemned to an existence as livestock, and courage to make personal change and become part of an often ridiculed minority known as vegans.

I realise courageous compassion is a rare quality and very few will take that path simply through exposure to ‘Make it Possible’. However, most vegans come to plant-based diets in stages from carrion consumers, through vegetarianism. That is my own experience. I transitioned from flexetarian through vegetarianism to fully-fledged vegan after becoming guardian to a rescued rabbit. She taught me how individual, sentient and life-loving animals are. With this knowledge, I knew that I could no longer, for the sake of taste, justify inflicting suffering and death on another being.

MakeitpossibleTVCstill300-1I hope in some small way the flying pig can do something similar and show that creatures condemned to factory farms love each other and have their own wants and desires too. I hope by humanising them in this campaign, they become individuals rather than things. That more people realise it is not ‘what’ but ‘who’ you are eating.

This campaign is a timely reminder amid all the outrage at the treatment of animals overseas in the live export trade, that by no means are the problems ‘over there’, as it were. The cruelty is right on our doorstep and we all have the option, power and duty to make change here every time we eat or shop.

I support and admire all those involved in the non-violent campaign for veganism and wish them success in every venture they embark on. It is a good thing that we are a large, diverse and strong enough movement to have a debate as to which way this should occur. It is essential we verify the most effective methods of bringing about change in society to allow non-humans to live the life most meaningful to them.

I live in hope that the flying pig will be an effective way to enlighten many who will then have the courage to walk the path of compassion that veganism creates.

Anna Hall is Treasurer of the newly formed Animal Justice Party (AJP). The AJP will be standing candidates at the next federal election on a platform seeking legislative and policy changes regarding the status of animals. She is also an active member of Animal Liberation NSW and Companion Rabbit Advocates. Her thoughts do not necessarily reflect the opinions of these organisations.

Against: Elizabeth Collins

We are informed that the Animals Australia ‘Make it Possible’ animal welfare campaign is vital in shifting attitudes towards nonhuman animals. The vegans who run these campaigns claim to ‘raise consciousness’ and ‘awaken compassion’ in people.

This argument is based upon the elitist premise that the vast majority of people will turn away (run away, even) from any consideration that other animals are not things but are in fact sentient beings – persons – just like us. However, most people recognise this already, as they live with ‘pets’ they grow to love even as they continue to exploit all other animals, taking advantage of their status as property.

Therefore the message seems to be that while people are capable to some extent of recognising their personhood, most people are just too stupid or indifferent to even consider the alternative to animal use and must inevitably keep on using billions of non-human animals per year.

Campaigns such as this convince this allegedly unfeeling public to at least buy ‘happy meat’ from animals who are allegedly treated ‘better’. We’re told this is the best these people can do. We may understand veganism but the general public will find it ‘too hard’ or ‘too extreme’ so there’s no point even giving them the opportunity to think about it.

Like most, I spent the majority of my life taking for granted the belief that other animals were simply things to use, as clothing, entertainment, food, you name it. Then at the age of 34, I was given information about veganism; information that raised my consciousness to the idea that all exploitation was wrong, no matter who the victim is.

I then decided to go vegan, ultimately discovering how easy it was to do. I find it insulting that any vegan would assume that those people to whom they are advocating are simply unable to comprehend veganism at all, to the extent that they’re not even given the opportunity to consider it!

MakeitpossibleTVCstill300-2Instead they’re sold fantasies of ‘compassionate’ animal use and the illusion of pigs flying away... to where? To the slaughterhouse is where and that’s not ‘compassionate’ nor is it just. There is no such thing as ‘happy meat’ despite what Animals Australia implies. ‘Factory farm’ or not, it’s all the same horrific torture and slaughter.

These supposed welfare reforms do nothing. The supposed ‘better’ treatment being promised is an illusion sold by these animal welfare organisation in conjunction with the animal industries in order to make people feel better about exploiting animals.

As vegans it’s our obligation to speak frankly about the realities of animal use and give everyone the chance to make a truly informed decision about whether or not they want to continue to participate in exploitation or not.  Of course, what people do with this information is ultimately up to them but it is fundamentally dishonest and a terrible insult to their character to deprive them of the information on the assumption that they cannot handle it.

I reject this campaign as elitist, dishonest and a betrayal of non-human animals, and so should anybody.

Elizabeth Collins runs NZ Vegan, an animal advocacy movement based on Gary L. Francione’s Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights. She records a podcast that can be heard at, and is joint moderator of Oz Vegan and NZ Vegan, a Facebook group she runs along with Australian abolitionist vegan advocates.

For more information on the Animals Australia campaign and to watch the video and TV ad, visit the Make it Possible website.

Images: Via Animals Australia Make it Possible website


0 #2 Roy Taylor 2013-05-29 18:26
Well said Anna. There are many reports of people changing their lifestyles from seeing this campaign.
During my own vegan leafleting advocacy, I have found that people seem to be more receptive to taking vegan information booklets when Animals Australia's campaigns are in the public eye.
We should be happy that AA's work makes vegan advocacy that much easier.
But I guess my (vegan) cup is half full, not half empty.
0 #1 Emily 2012-12-09 16:04
Spot on Elizabeth. Being a "voice" for animals is an honour. To use that privilege to promote anything less than the total abolition of slavery, and rather, use it to promote the oxymoron of "humane slavery" is abhorrent. If we'd fought for women's welfare over women's rights, where would we be? Allowed to vote, perhaps but only in the elections men chose, based on what they deemed "acceptable" for us. By making people feel good about animal slavery and exploitation, AA has done the movement a huge disservice, and, considering imperial evidence proves that animal welfare has never moved the abolition movement forward, but rather contributed to a huge rise in animal manufacture, the group should be ashamed to claim any kind of role in animal advocacy.

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