Note: FARM President and Founder Alex Hershaft delivered this presentation on the Paths to Liberation panel during the Animal Rights National Conference 2011. Farm Sanctuary’s Bruce Friedrich provided the opposing viewpoint in support of welfare reforms.

Welfare or Abolition

This summer, we launched a highly effective vegan outreach program called Pay-Per-View. We pay people $1 to watch a four-minute clip of graphic undercover factory farming and slaughterhouse footage. In the past few weeks, we have generated more than 4,000 individual views, mostly at street fairs and rock concerts. The reactions are dramatic: viewers cry and vow never to touch meat again.

But now, this magnificent grass roots effort is facing a serious threat. Is it a devilish scheme cooked up by the meat industry’s marketing types? Well, yes. But, perversely, it’s also a scheme hatched, nurtured, or at least, abetted by the very same organizations that produced these highly effective undercover videos.

Yes, I am referring to the recent welfare agreement forged with the egg industry, that most egregious torturer of animals. It contains vague promises of industry’s support for legislation that would increase cage size in 18 years. However, its biggest impact is to lull caring consumers – the very people we’ve courting, into thinking that the atrocities they’ve witnessed at our PPV booth may be going away. That it’s safe to eat meat again. Consumers are hearing that message, however unintended, because they’re desperately searching for a way to justify and continue their flesh-eating habits.

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On Thursday night, FARM staff and volunteers pushed the new Pay Per View mobile cart up to the lines of dedicated fans waiting outside a theater in Daly City, CA for the midnight premier of the last installment of the Harry Potter series. Over 100 people were stunned to learn that animals are treated even worse than house elves, but were then relieved to learn that helping animals doesn’t require any magic — just a change in diet!

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Tabling with Pay Per View at festivals has been great, but the chance for impromptu Pay Per View is sometimes hindered by the set-up procedure. With so many great outdoor opportunities for Pay Per View during the summer, we decided that some wheels were in order!

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July 4th is not typically a good time for farmed animals, as people celebrate this holiday with a variety of dead animals on their grills. FARM took advantage of the massive crowds of people swarming to the National Mall for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the night-time fireworks display (which strikes fear and terror on native wildlife and companion animals) by setting up a Pay Per View table on the famous Pennsylvania Avenue near the National Mall.

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How did FARM Founder and President Dr. Alex Hershaft celebrate his birthday this past Friday, July 1st? By distributing free vegan ice cream sandwiches  to more than 200 folk dancers at the historic Glen Echo Park in Montgomery County MD! Alex is a regular dancer at these events, and for his birthday, he fulfilled his own wish by getting nearly every attendee to give a a tasty vegan treat a try.

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FARM has teamed up with Action For Animals to bring Pay Per View to Warped Tour audiences across the United States this summer, and we’re happy to report that the first week of tour has been a huge success!

With help from FARM staff and volunteers, Action For Animals’ awesome three-person Warped Tour team set up Pay Per View at their booth in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Pomona, and Mountain View last week. We were able to reach between 150 to 300 people at each tour stop — a pattern that, if continued, will bring the final tally at tour’s end to nearly 10,000 people!

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If you register by July 4, you will still get the discounted rate of $140 — after that, you can still register throughout July or even show up at the door to pay, but it’ll cost you $20 more!

Whether you’re still sorting out transportation or trying to convince a friend to come along with you, now is the time to get the ball rolling. And remember, there are all sorts of other ways to save money on the conference, from room shares to box lunches!

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