Setting the Record Straight
September 3, 2012 by Nathan J. Winograd
Allison’s Gourmet and the Fight to Stop PETA’s Nefarious Agenda
There is a debate raging on the Facebook page of Allison’s Gourmet over recent events in Shelby County, Kentucky. As I posted two days ago, PETA sent an Allison’s giftbasket to officials there thanking them for making the decision to start killing healthy and treatable animals again after four years as a No Kill shelter, with tops in the nation-level save rates.* Although I never asked anyone to go to Allison’s Gourmet Facebook page—the call went out from two other separate and distinct pages dedicated to No Kill—I’ve become at the center of the fight there and I am being blamed for putting a“neutral” business that had no agenda in Shelby County into the line of fire. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nor did I put her in the crosshairs. PETA did that.
In fact, one of my Facebook pages, All American Vegan, has a history of promoting Allison’s products. When I first posted the PETA story, I gave Allison the benefit of the doubt about this issue and my original post about the gift basket merely explained where the gift basket came from and stated that,
If I was Allison of Allison’s Gourmet, I would send Shelby officials another gift basket at my own expense, apologizing for being used as a pawn in PETA’s extermination campaign and thanking them for doing the right thing by not killing the animals.
I did not condemn her or her business.
As Allison is a Facebook follower of All American Vegan, I also knew that she had most likely been exposed to the many posts on that page attempting to educate vegans about PETA’s nefarious, anti-animal agenda, so I was discouraged that she sent the gift basket on behalf of PETA. Nonetheless, I proceeded as though she was perhaps ignorant of PETA’s motives which is why my language in describing her involvement was neutral. Later, when people suggested that we start a campaign against Allison’s Gourmet, I urged restraint, asking people not to jump to conclusions, but rather to adopt a wait and see attitude until Allison responded, if at all—again giving her the benefit of what at that time was genuine doubt about where she stood on the issue.
However, when Allison did respond, she responded in a very tragic way—by claiming we should not criticize other groups and that we should all work together. She did not condemn PETA for trying to encourage others to harm animals, she did not say she was opposed to killing and regrets her inadvertent involvement. Instead, she intimated that those working to bring awareness of atrocities being committed against animals were divisive. Does that sound familiar? It is exactly what Allison asked the former editor of VegNews to post on my Facebook page in asking me to back off of criticizing Allison or having others do so, which again I never did to begin with. It is also precisely what we have been told by groups like HSUS and the ASPCA whenever we have tried to reform abusive shelters. It is exactly the attitude of most so-called animal rights activists for the past 20 years. And, more importantly, it is the reason PETA has been allowed to poison over 27,000 animals, including those they themselves described as “healthy,” “adoptable,” “adorable,” and “perfect” without even trying to find them homes, after lying to people saying they would find them homes and in spite of readily-available lifesaving alternatives. It is wrong. It is inconsistent with a vegan philosophy of respect for life. It is hypocritical. And it ultimately condones violence.
When Allison posted her “let’s all get along” response, I did post a comment on her Facebook page taking her to task for it. (It is also worth reminding people that PETA accuses the No Kill movement in general,and me specifically, of being a hoarder or promoter of hoarders, radical, and lunatic. I’ve been accused of being for “torture” of animals. The ASPCA and its consultants have called me a domestic terrorist and an extremist. And HSUS has implied I am less trustworthy than Michael Vick, the most notorious dog abuser of our generation. When these groups say we should all get along, parroted by those who do not want the discomfort of standing up for the animals against those they consider friends, the rules only run in one direction. They are free to do what they want. Historically, it is only when those who represent the status-quo and power within the animal protection movement are questioned and not when the powerful condemn the grass roots that the “movement unity” card is pulled out. )
Moreover, Allison is not just a business. Allison is an activist and has promoted PETA. She isn’t neutral. She wants the benefits the association with PETA gives her business, but none of the costs. And we do not have to accept that. We did not have to accept that when companies did business in Apartheid South Africa. We do not have to accept it when companies give money to candidates and causes that violate our values. And we do not have to accept it here. In fact, Allison herself promotes campaigns against companies, asking people to contact those companies and express their opposition. Why is it wrong when people do the same thing to a company that promotes PETA, a group which has put to death over 27,000 animals and defends neglectful and abusive shelters? And like the CEOs of those other companies, Allison has the power to end it: by releasing a statement disassociating herself from PETA’s campaign of extermination. Why does she refuse to? If animal lovers brought to her attention that the CEO of a company which runs slaughterhouses across the country sent an Allison’s gift basket thanking their lobbyist for defeating animal protection legislation and people brought it to her attention, what might her reaction have been? Would she have posted a “let’s all get along” response? Or would she have apologized for being used as a pawn to celebrate the continued killing of animals?
If Allison is now being taken to task by animal lovers for not disassociating herself from an organization she has promoted, an organization that kills animals, that fights shelter reform efforts, that defends abusive and neglectful shelters, and that used her and her company in a ploy to promote the killing of animals without any statement of clarification other than to tell us that criticizing groups is “divisive” and we should all get along, then the condemnation she is receiving is totally warranted. If she was one of the animals PETA was encouraging Shelby County officials to kill, I am sure that the warped allegiance to PETA or to a “let’s all get along” philosophy which is clouding her judgment and her heart would instantly vanish, and it would be clear that we don’t all want the same thing. It would be clear that the myth that we should never criticize an organization because it claims to be an animal protection group even as it behaves as the anti-thesis of one, does not serve the animals, but our own narrow self-interest—the desire to spare ourselves the discomfort of recognizing, and more importantly, having to act as ethics compel on the unpleasant and disturbing truth.
Moreover, contrary to Allison’s assertion that this sort of debate is harmful to the cause of animal protection, it is, in fact, evidence of incredible progress. Unlike many of the people who have been working in this movement for decades who have refused to use the power afforded by their positions to champion No Kill and to expose PETA for what it really is, there is a new generation of animal activists who have not been schooled in the “look the other way and pretend Ingrid isn’t injecting those animals with poison” Kool Aid that the animal protection movement has been swallowing for decades or the “we should not criticize” crowd which is willing to hand PETA a blank check to kill as payment for some other perceived good, such as the promotion of a vegan diet. We are not, as Allison and others like her suggest, a fractured movement. We are finally cleaning house.
As I told the former editor of VegNews in my response to her: when she was the editor of Veg News, how many articles did she write calling PETA to task for killing? Not one. In fact, VegNews then and VegNews now continue to praise them. Why? It benefits the bottom line. Association with PETA helps bring in business, so they act like those they claim to abhor: companies who make money off of the suffering of animals. But in so doing, they keep people ignorant. And ignorance is what PETA relies on to continue seeking out and systematically putting to death 2,000 animals a year. Case in point: When I first posted the story about the gift basket, many PETA supporters said they did not believe it, they claimed it must have been sarcastic if it were true, they claimed I was lying, and they claimed that someone else must have sent the basket and written PETA’s name on the card because PETA would never do that, even though neither PETA nor Allison’s denied it and it is completely consistent with PETA’s nationwide effort to undermine the No Kill movement. Ignorance allows the killing to continue unchecked, while the donations to put those animals to death continue to flow into PETA coffers.
As I write in Friendly Fire, my upcoming book (co-written with my wife),
Today, we are a movement in transition, struggling to reach our fullest potential by overcoming internal forces that for years have prevented progress and substantive action behind what until now has been mere empty rhetoric. The battle now raging within the animal protection movement is a battle not of degree, but of kind—evidence of hopelessly incompatible contradictions within the movement itself: one championing death, and the other, life. This tension is vital to help the movement reclaim the spirit, determination and goals of its early founders. And it will end only when the need to distinguish between “No Kill” and “the animal protection movement” no longer exists, because both sides will have finally become what they should have been all along: one and the same.
This movement no longer belongs to people who are willing to look the other way while animals are killed by our movement, or worse, have the audacity to defend them and to call us “divisive” for trying to keep them from doing so. The fight with PETA is on. And we intend to stop this evil.
* Shelby County remains No Kill. Learn more by clicking here.
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