Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Save Seals by Eating Non-Canadian Seafood?

The annual Canadian Seal Hunt is well underway in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and off Newfoundland. Hundreds of thousands of seals are being shot or clubbed to death. It's barbaric, pure and simple. With the hunt comes the Humane Society of the United States' curious annual call to boycott Canadian seafood until Canada ends seal hunting. The Humane Society doesn't care if you continue to eat seafood from other countries. And you can even resume eating Canadian seafood once their seal killing ends.

The Humane Society's message is clear. Some animals, seals in this case, deserve greater moral consideration than others. And by appealing to supporters with pictures of cute, baby seals they can rake in millions in donations. Sure, humans find seals cuter than say... fish, shrimp and lobsters, but which animals we perceive as cute should have no bearing on our ethical consideration of their interests. It is, of course, terrible that the seals are being killed. But it is also terrible that some use this tragedy to rake in donations, while encouraging the public to consume the less-favored animals in order to benefit the more-favored ones.

Too many animal protection organizations are promoting these sort of campaigns that actually encourage animal exploitation. Since 2003 for example, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has called for a boycott of Kentucky Fried Chicken until KFC purchases chickens from producers that utilize controlled atmospheric killing (CAK). A method that amounts to gassing birds to death and one that PETA promotes as more "humane" and more profitable for chicken producers. When Kentucky Fried Chicken in Canada agreed to gassing chickens, PETA called off their boycott (in Canada). They then claimed a "historic victory" for chickens in their fundraising materials. The message they sent is clear: It is ethically acceptable to eat chickens that have been gassed to death.

Is it clear to anyone else that these mainstream groups are exploiting animals as a business model and none of it has anything to do with shifting the paradigm from animals as exploitable things to animals as sentient beings worthy of our ethical consideration?

Getting back to the seal hunt - the campaign against it has been going on for decades. It has not ended yet. Many mainstream groups, however, have made millions from the campaign over those decades.

Don't be misled. You can't make moral distinctions about different forms of exploitation and killing. There is no difference between seal fur or the skin of another animal. The Humane Society of the United States purports to be an animal protection organization. If they were truly interested in protecting animals, they should use their considerable resources and wealth to do something they have never done in all their 58 years in existence - make an unequivocal single message. That message should be:

Go vegan. Stop eating, wearing, consuming and otherwise using animals.

If you believe in promoting a peaceful, healthier, more sustainable and just world without the use of animals, support organizations who take a firm abolitionist stand against animal exploitation. Here are just a few:

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

Boston Vegan Association

Open The Cages Alliance

Peace Advocacy Network

Alice Springs Vegan Society

Animal Freedom

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