In praise of undercover investigations by animal rights advocates, including the latest by Animal Equality in a pig farm in England this weekend.

One of the strongest characteristics of the animal rights movement is our relentless commitment to expose animal cruelty hidden by the animal industrial complex which profits mightily by its exploitation of animals.

If there’s money to be made, there’s cruelty to be had. As novelist and essayist Brigid Brophy wrote in her article, ‘Unlived Life – a manifesto against factory farming,’

Whenever people say ‘we mustn’t be sentimental,’ you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add, ‘we must be realistic,’ they mean they are going to make money out of it.

The more the animal rights movement demonstrates itself as a credible actor witnessing and documenting what happens to animals in circuses, zoos, factory farms, research laboratories and wherever else they are used, the more the animal industrial complex is put on the defensive and held to account.

Further, the more the public, who I believe respond favourably to these exposes and see them as evidence of indefensible actions, brings pressure to bear on the animal industrial complex to change their ways. Consequently, the animal rights movement will earn increasingly support from those who we seek to influence, including persuading them to go vegan.

Over at the Grumpy Vegan I recognise 30 years ago today the British tabloid, the Daily Mirror, and its front page report on a direct action raid on an animal research laboratory. Taking the long-term view, these actions by the Animal Liberation Front and others are being replaced with undercover exposes and what are known as ‘open rescues’ by increasing numbers of organisations throughout the world.

This must be surely a most welcome trend where our witnessing and documenting are recognised for the value they provide to society in what is done in our name. Further, these actions put the animal industrial complex on the defensive. They provide evidence to demonstrate the need for society to become aware of our animal use. Consequently, the need for the implementation and enforcement of effective regulations and legislation making visible our treatment of animals and eventually replacing it with non-animal methods.

Further, if the animal rights movement can frame the case we make for animals as part of a progressive agenda of social change and not as a competition in human interests, the greater the chances in us succeeding in our mission.

One comment on “In Praise of Undercover Investigations

  • Hi Kim, I agree that investigations need to be conducted, as well as open rescues. However, a problem surfaces when insufficient information on the ethics is given. The investigations done by Animal Equality have been used in the media to urge for welfarist measures. Most Animal Equality activists consider themselves abolitionists, yet in many of their recent campaigns there is a lack of clear information on the WHY of the matter, instead of the HOW (not just in what is portrayed in the media, as well on Animal Equality’s website the abolitionist ethics are simply not brought forward enough, even though they mention veganism). This simply reinforces the idea that we can exploit other animals, as long as we adhere to certain rules and laws.

    If we choose to focus on the situational aspects of exploitation, we need to make clear that the main reason for this is speciesism, and how we can deal with this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *