Nov. 15 2022 08:00 AM

The discussion at animal rights conferences held over the past year continued to focus on animal agriculture.

Monitoring animal rights extremism is an integral part of the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s work. We keep a close eye on groups that are consistently spreading misinformation about modern animal agriculture, trespassing onto farms and facilities, or conducting some other type of activism as they push for the removal of meat, milk, poultry, and eggs from our tables.

As part of this monitoring, we enlist the help of representatives to attend various animal rights conferences throughout the year to document quotes that highlight the movement’s true intentions, identify upcoming campaigns, and note trending issues and narratives. This year, our representatives have attended several conferences including:

  • Humane Society of the United States’ Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) Conference, held July 16 and 17 in Washington, D.C.
  • Rancher Advocacy Program’s (RAP) Online Summit, held virtually on July 30
  • Animal Place’s Farmed Animal Conference E-Summit (FACES), held virtually September 16 to 18
  • Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Law Symposium, held September 24 in Arlington, Va.

Common themes from the conferences included promoting the use of “undercover” films and media to garner attention, “dietary racism” and the benefits of aligning with social justice movements, climate change and environmental impacts, and pushing change through legislation.

With the growth of social justice movements over the last several years, animal rights groups have sought to align themselves in an attempt to grow their own movement and position animal agriculture (and subsequently consumption of meat, milk, poultry, and eggs) as “racist.”

  • “[Carnism] is structured in the same ways as other oppressive or violent belief systems like patriarchy, classism, racism, and so on.” – 2022 FACES Conference
  • “Colonization has led to the dairy industry being expanded. Europe colonized 84% of the world and brought their food traditions with them which were very, very animal-heavy, and used animals in the process of also enslaving people and taking over land.” – 2022 RAP Summit
  • “I believe that animal agriculture is a house of cards and if you could just take people of color and remove them and make it politically incorrect to eat meat or dairy – and that in the global majority, lactose intolerance is almost universal – we could collapse the system.” – 2022 RAP Summit

Animal rights extremists have frequently targeted youth groups like 4-H and FFA that get young people involved in animal agriculture. Now, extremists are turning to the classroom to proactively reach young minds with their anti-animal agriculture agenda.

  • “All of these [youth] programs are working together with classroom work to foster the social disapproval around the consumption of animal products while normalizing plant-based foods.” – 2022 FACES Conference
  • “When we do our lessons, we target the audience’s emotions by creating a story about the suffering and destruction that factory farming causes and students are now primed for us to help them connect the story of factory farming to the story of who they are.” – 2022 FACES Conference

The use of “undercover” films and media attention to grow the vegan movement is nothing new and certainly something we expect to continue. The tactic was discussed across the board at these recent conferences.

  • “Media attention to animal welfare has negative effects on the demand for meat, so increasing media attention to animal welfare issues triggers consumers to actually purchase less meat, rather than reallocate expenditures to competing products.” – 2022 Animal Law Symposium
  • “I believe that [‘undercover’ investigation] is the best way to connect to others who are seemingly far removed from veganism or animal rights and are under the false impression that what farmed animals are suffering through is pretty much of little concern to them.” – 2022 FACES Conference
  • “If you want to get that issue in front of people, and you want to get attention, you bring a lawsuit, and you fight it as long as you can fight it, and you get reporters, you get people to cover it, and it’s just getting the message out and people seeing what’s really going on.” – 2022 RAP Summit

In addition to trying to change how the public views animal agriculture, animal rights extremists are also looking to force change through the legislative process.

  • “It is really a great idea to learn about your local elected officials, figure out who they are, and establish relationships with them because it is often a little bit easier to pass legislation at the local level sometimes than it can be at the state or federal level.” – 2022 TAFA Conference
  • “It is critically important to engage in elections for the municipal and county level because we know how this works. People just continuously run for higher office and if that is the case, we need to catch those early in order to ensure that we’ve got the right people in office.” – 2022 TAFA Conference

The Alliance shares this information not to alarm you but to inform you on what our adversaries are saying and what we can expect to see from them in the near future. Each of these topics discussed highlight the need for proactive communication from the animal agriculture community – online, with your local community, and with legislators, media, and other target audiences.

Emily Solis

Emily Solis is the manager of communications and content at the Animal Agriculture Alliance. In her role, she works to execute the Alliance’s issues management and communications strategy.