FARM’s mission is to end the use of animals for food. This is generally recognized as an abolitionist position.
It should be noted that there are at least three approaches to abolishing the use of animals for food:
- Some believe that only an immediate transition to veganism is acceptable
- Others believe that welfare reforms inevitably lead to veganism
- Still others believe in an incremental approach to reduction in animal use, as long as it leads clearly and directly to the goal of veganism. This is FARM’s “pragmatic abolitionist” approach
This approach assumes that reducing consumption of animal products one meal at a time can lead to no meals with animal products. But, for example, switching consumption of eggs from caged hens to cage-free, or even free-range, hens will perpetuate consumption of eggs and the associated use of animals for food.
In support of our mission, we work on several levels. On the grassroots level, which accounts for the majority of our efforts, we engage likely target audiences, according to their interests, and nudge them along the vegan path. Behind the scenes, we develop resources that make the vegan lifestyle more feasible. We also support the animal rights movement and grassroots groups around the world (see Programs).
On the institutional and legislative levels, we are open to initiatives that reduce the use of animal products in food processing and serving. We typically shy away from legislative initiatives, as they are costly, less likely to reduce the number of animals used for food, and vulnerable to unintended consequences.
On the public level, we promote acceptance of veganism by publishing supportive letters to the editor and by placing billboards and bus display cards in major metropolitan areas. Occasionally, we seek to capture media attention through dramatic displays at animal industry or pertinent government sites.
The majority of FARM's efforts are geared toward making incremental, but lasting changes in one individual at a time. We are unique in providing support and conducting surveys after making the initial contact, to make sure that the individual stays on the path to veganism.
We focus on the 13-25-year-old demographic for several reasons: a) younger people are more willing to make ethical dietary changes, b) they have a longer lifespan ahead of them, sparing more animals, and c) they are more likely to share their new-found lifestyle with friends and relatives. We always tailor our message to our audience’s interests. For instance, at rock concerts we present the animal cruelty message, while at Earth Day festivals we go with an environmental message.
We engage individuals by distributing leaflets and free vegan food samples, by offering incentives to view animal cruelty videos, and by classroom lectures. Our most prominent and ambitious undertaking is the “Pay-Per-View” program, which offers people $1 to view a 4-minute video documenting factory farming and slaughterhouse atrocities. Recently, the program has launched a tour using a truck fitted with eight screens that can accommodate up to 32 viewers at one time.
Other outreach programs include World
Farm Animals Day, Great
American Meatout, Gentle
Thanksgiving, and Vegan
We support new and aspiring vegans with several resources:
- The LiveVegan.org website that addresses both the “why” and the “how” of veganism
- A vegan starter guide (in the works) in a series of colorful weekly emails, and a print version
- Meatout Mondays - a weekly e-newsletter with a recipe, a book or product review, health news, and an inspirational storys
- Follow-up surveys to encourage our prospects to keep reducing their consumption of animal products, and to assess the effectiveness of our approach
In addition to conducting our own grassroots campaigns to reach individuals, FARM empowers others to follow suit. Our annual Animal Rights National Conference provides training and networking opportunities to hundreds of activists. Our Sabina Fund offers small grants to grassroots groups promoting veganism and respect for animals across the world.
Institutional and Legislative Initiatives
Well-planned institutional initiatives can provide a substantial drop in animals used for food with relatively little effort.
For instance, persuading just one mid-sized food processor to replace eggs in its products with a suitable alternative can spare as many hens as a thousand new vegans. Additionally, institutional change facilitates individual change. A wider selection of egg-free food products in restaurants and grocery stores is very helpful in turning people to a vegan diet.
Legislative initiatives require a great deal of resources. They also require caution, because of unintended consequences. For instance, advocacy of legislation requiring cage-free egg production by an animal rights organization may mislead its members and other caring consumers into thinking that it’s OK to eat cage-free eggs. A law restricting the use of antibiotics in factory farms may increase the cost of production, but it may also raise the number of animals bred to replace the ones dying from resultant diseases. We generally shy away from such initiatives, but are open to favoring one, if it reduces the number of animals raised for food and minimizes or avoids overriding adverse consequences.
Public initiatives are designed to promote public acceptance of veganism, rather than targeting specific individuals or institutions. Each year, our Letters from FARM program places letters to the editor favoring veganism in several hundred newspapers. The topics are generally pegged to national holidays and concerns or current developments. Recent letters addressed New Year’s resolutions, Lent, dietary guidelines, school lunches, Meatout, Earth Day, Thanksgiving, obesity, meat recalls, heart disease, health care, violence, and world hunger.
Several times a year, we place billboards and bus display cards in major metropolitan areas. Recent examples include a) picture of a cat and a piglet, asking “Which do you eat? Which do you pet? Why?”; b) picture of a happy young woman with a vegetable platter, announcing “It’s spring – time for a healthy diet”; and c) picture of a boy with a turkey, suggesting “Let’s save lives this holiday season.”
Occasionally, we have sought to capture media attention by staging dramatic displays at opportune industry or government site. Examples include overnight vigils at Smithfield (VA) and Salisbury (MD) slaughterhouses and street theater in front of the USDA headquarters in DC.