Animal rights activist Robert Cohen wrote an essay in late July proclaiming that “The Animal Rights Movement Is Dead.” Cohen notes what this site has pointed out for years — while animal rights groups in the United States have had some successes where they have embraced animal welfare themes, they have made almost no impact on changing people’s minds about human-animal relationships.
Cohen notes that, as this site has repeatedly pointed out, the rise of the animal rights movement has been accompanied by a rise in per capita meat consumption. Cohen writes,
Actual food consumption values confirm the
ineffective messages being marketed by
animal rights activists.
In 1991, the average American ate 62.9 pounds of
beef. That number remained the same during 2001.
This year, the average American will eat 65 pounds
In 1991, the average American ate 62.0 pounds of
chicken. By 2001, throughout a decade of protest
and countless Disney rescue movies to the contrary, the
average American ate 23% more chicken. In 2001, the
per capita consumption of chicken soared to 76.5 pounds.
From 2001 to 2002, chicken consumption increased an
additional five percent to 80.3 pounds per individual.
1991 beef & chicken consumption = 124.9 pounds
2001 beef & chicken consumption = 139.4 pounds
2002 beef & chicken consumption = 144.0 pounds
(These statistics were obtained from David Harvey
of the United States Department of Agriculture.)
During the past eleven years of animal rights activism,
there has been a total increase for beef and chicken
consumption equal to 15.3%.
The rise in chicken consumption must be especially disheartening to activists, since it represents an increase of hundreds of millions of animals slaughtered annually.
Cohen is wrong, however, in blaming animal rights groups for this increase,
From 2001-2002, per capita beef and chicken consumption
increased by an incredible combined 3.3%, demonstrating
that the current misdirection of animal rights advocates
is promoting increased meat consumption. The deception
continues, and more animals become victims to the egos
of animal rights leaders and organizations who spend
millions of donated dollars to lobby members of Congress
to pass ineffective laws.
But, of course, groups have shifted to these sort of actions precisely because efforts at advocating total abolition of animals for food or medical experimentation have simply gone nowhere. The problem isn’t the activists or groups who are messengers, but rather the message itself.
This is why the United States has seen such an increase in animal rights extremism of late. The animal rights message is simply a non-starter, and individuals and animal rights groups seem to be recognizing that and either choosing to pursue animal welfare-oriented initiatives or else choosing to endorse and/or carry out acts of violence.
Either way the message is clear — animal rights is an idea that has absolutely no chance of success within the current political and social climate of the United States, and it is doubtful that it will in the lifetime of anyone reading this.
The animal rights movement is dead. Robert Cohen, July 25, 2004.