September 21, 2007

Meat boycott and the political movement

According to a study(1) co-financed by the French ministry of agriculture, a significant part of the French public already questions the legitimacy of killing animals in various contexts related to the use of animals for food:
-59% of those polled said they disagreed(2) with this statement: "That one can kill an animal during a hunt sounds normal to you"
-40% disagreed with: "That one can buy a (poultry) bird and kill it oneself sounds normal to you"
-39% disagreed with: "That one can kill an animal while fishing sounds normal to you"

-14% disagreed with: "It is normal that man breeds animals for their meat"
-65% said that "it would upset (them) to attend the slaughter of animals"

Almost all who said that it is not normal that man breeds animals for their meat, do themselves eat meat.

Are they inconsistent? or even hypocritical? This is not the point.

The point is that the legitimacy of meat is questioned beyond those who already refuse meat.

Obviously, those who already question meat should be strongly encouraged to boycott it and other animal products. Buying these products harms and kills animals.

But the movement for the abolition of meat, as a political movement, is not reduced to the circle of those who already strictly boycott animal products. By definition, it includes anyone who think that meat should be abolished.

Human slavery was not outlawed because society one day reached a point where everybody boycotted all slave-produced products. It was outlawed because public support for the abolition reached a point when it was politically stronger than the opposition.

Boycotts are certainly a powerful way of expressing disapproval. In the late 18th century, the 300,000 British people who were refusing to eat sugar produced by slaves were making a strong statement of support for the abolition of slavery. Boycotts also economically (and thus politically) weaken the opposing party. In addition, those at the forefront of any movement are not credible if they do not practiced what they preach. These are strong reasons to encourage people to boycott meat and other animal products.

But meat is (and will always be) questioned beyond the circle of those who already strictly refuse to eat it. It is thus also in the interest of our movement to seek ways to better involve this already sympathetic part of the public in the political struggle.

Antoine Comiti

(1) « Le rapport à la viande chez le mangeur français contemporain », Geneviève Cazes-Valette, November 2004, page 83,
(2) People saying they "mostly disagree" or "strongly disagree" among the 1000 people polled.

No comments: