Robert "Bob" Torres was an assistant professor of sociology at St. Lawrence University. He is the co-author, with his wife Jenna Torres, of Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World (2005), and the author of Making A Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights (2007).
- If a man abuses his spouse, do we ask him to stop, or do we throw our hands up in exasperation, saying that if he’s going to do it, he should at least not hit so damn hard? Similarly, if a person is going to eat meat, do we ask her to stop, or do we throw our hands up in exasperation, saying instead if one is going to eat meat, at least eat free-range? … Welfarism is accepting defeat before we’ve even begun the battle. It accepts as a premise, that genuine vegan and abolitionist outreach can’t be and aren’t effective enough … Veganism is living abolition in your daily life. Not only a consumptive practice, veganism is also an overt political act illustrating how the consumption and abuse of animals is unacceptable. Unlike welfarist measures, veganism is not at conflict with the ends of our movement: it is living what we want our world to be.
- "The Odd Logic of Welfarism", Satya magazine (September 2006).
Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights (2007)
- We have created a false dichotomy between behaviors attributable to companion animals and those of other species that blinds us to the inherent worth and needs of all animals.
The problem is that we have constructed a society in which we are rarely forced to think about where what we consume comes from, and this extends to the animals reared for our consumption. While we pamper one set of animals, another set of animals becomes our food. The main difference is that we come to know one set of these animals, while the other set is raised and killed for us, delivered in plastic wrap and Styrofoam, and served up as dinner. If nothing else, this belies the deep moral confusion that we have about animals as a culture.
- p. 2
- Inevitably, people tell me that poor folks are lazy or unintelligent, that they are somehow deserving of their poverty. However, if you begin to look at the sociological literature on poverty, a more complex picture emerges. Poverty and unemployment are part and parcel of our economic order. Without them, capitalism would cease to function effectively, and in order to continue to function, the system itself must produce poverty and an army of underemployed or unemployed people.
- p. 7
- If we're all led to believe that poverty is just a matter of laziness or stupidity or whatever other justifications we can come up with, then we're not likely to be in a real position to do much about it when it comes to attacking the root causes of the problem. Instead of demanding a more equitable system for the distribution of social and economic goods, we blame the victim. This is insidious, because ideology is something we carry around with us in our heads; it forms the basis of our day-to-day understanding of the world.
- p. 7
- Much as we live in an economic and social order that is structured to exploit people, we live in one that is structured to exploit animals. We’re encouraged to understand both are natural and inevitable, but neither are. Both exploitations have long and contentious histories as part of the development of our modern economic order.
- p. 10
- Our economic order is tightly woven around the exploitation of animals, and while it may seem easy to dismiss concern about animals as the soft-headed mental masturbation of people who really don't understand oppression and the depths of actual human misery, I hope to get you to think differently about suffering and pain, to convince you that animals matter, and to argue that anyone serious about ending domination and hierarchy needs to think critically about bringing animals into consideration.
- p. 20
- We can argue about their intelligence (which we would likely define in human-centric terms anyway), their ability to understand human language, or even the extent to which they really understand and know the world around them, but there’s no argument that can convincingly show that animals don’t feel pain, and that they have no interest in avoiding that pain. If anything, animals are more sensitive to the world around them than we are, given their heightened sensory abilities.
- p. 25