13 July 2017

Animal Rights National Conference

Animal Rights National Conference logo

UPC President Karen Davis and Projects Manager Hope Bohanec are speaking at the Animal Rights National Conference, August 3-6, in Washington, DC. Here are our topics and times. We look forward to seeing you soon!


The Provocative Elitism of “Personhood” for Nonhuman Creatures

Animal Personhood, Friday, August 4 @ 12 Noon
Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns

Karen hugging Karla the hen

We must reject the notion that only the great apes and certain other “higher” animals are fit to be “persons.” While working to change the status of the great apes or sea mammals is an important undertaking, it should not be done at the expense of other animals. Such thinking is not only disconnected from real animals in the real world; it perpetuates the view that beings belonging to species deemed “merely conscious” (whatever that means) are of lesser, or no, moral significance until or unless, through a system of painful, stressful, and demeaning experiments, some of them might “prove” themselves worthy of being called persons or semi-persons or sort-of-persons entitled to whatever privileges such designations may confer.

It is not unreasonable to worry that robots could be granted a status of legal and ethical “personhood” long before, if ever, nonhuman animals are so elevated. The minds and personalities of chickens, chimpanzees, and other nonhuman animals will never be able to compete against the digital wonders that intoxicate so many of the people whose power and ambition are charting the course of the planet. How can nonhuman animals compete with machines that so many enthusiasts tout as even “smarter” than we are?


The Ethical Deviant Challenges Social Sclerosis

Veganism as Ethical Deviance, Friday, August 4 @ 3:45pm
Karen Davis

One of the saddest ironies in life is that there are people in every community who love and empathize with animals; only they don’t know there are others among them who feel the same. Fear of ridicule and rejection, isolation and ostracism, enables people to scare one another into silence and submission. Ethical deviance challenges the tyranny of custom and blind compliance. Ethical deviance prevents socialization from becoming sclerotic and opens a window to let in fresh air, ideas and perceptions. The ethical deviant reassures compassionate people that they are not “crazy” for caring about a chicken. The ethical deviant strengthens the courage of others, validating and objectifying their struggling, subjective feelings.

As ethical deviants for animals and veganism, we must never dismiss people “over 25” as unreachable, unteachable or dispensable in our quest. Children who are surrounded by adults who don’t support their feelings suffer in lonely isolation, and will often turn against themselves and the animals violently for having feelings that no one they looked up to when they were little seemed to share. Our best hope for the future isn’t five-year-olds. It is five-year-olds supported by adults who have nurtured their own primal sympathies to maturity.


My Perspective as a Longstanding Animal Rights Vegan Activist

Personal Reflections, Saturday, August 5 @ 9:30am Plenary
Karen Davis

I explain what led me to join the Animal Rights Movement 35 years ago and how, on a particular day in Washington, DC, I made the pledge to myself that informs my activism to this day. I discuss key concepts that I have developed as an animal rights vegan activist that drive my work for United Poultry Concerns, and that have contributed significantly to our movement’s thinking, including Moving Beyond the Rhetoric of Apology in Animal Rights, Focused Campaigns vs. Single-Issue Campaigns, Pessimism of the Intellect vs. Optimism of the Will, the Role of the Ethical Deviant, Avoiding Burnout, the Problem of Animal Personhood, and the dilemma of welfare campaigns for chickens and other animals trapped in our systems of abuse. I explain the vital role of our chicken sanctuary and how I approach people about being vegan.

This includes why my professional experiences and reflections have led me to prefer the term “animal liberation” over the term “abolition,” and why, in promoting a vegan diet, I like to call it “animal-free.” It is easy for the animals to disappear in abstract discourse about Ideology and Food. As animal rights advocates, we must make the animals visible.



Humane Slaughter? Happy Meat? The Ultimate Betrayal of Trust

Addressing the Humane Hoax, Saturday, August 5 @ 2:30pm
Hope Bohanec, Projects Manager for United Poultry Concerns

Hope speaking at VegFest 2015

Most people are aware that animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs are bad for our health, contribute to environmental degradation, hasten climate change, and cause animals to suffer in animal farming. A growing awareness about the horrible conditions animals endure in food production has inspired a shift in the way farmed animals are being labeled and presented to the consumer. Produc­ers of animal meat, dairy, and eggs are describing products with a range of pacifying labels like “Free Range,” “Organic,” “Local,” “Humane,” and other classifications to entice customers to buy their products. But is this really the answer to the plentiful problems of raising animals for food? Do these labels solve the ethical and environmental problems of meat, dairy, and eggs?

This rising awareness is moving us toward a more compassionate culture, and it is an encouraging sign that we are acknowledging that animals suffer in food production. However, the unfortunate reality is that animals whose flesh or body fluids are labeled “humane” endure many of the same cruel practices as animals in standard production, and a brutal slaughter is still the end result. Between conventional and al­ternative operations, the similarities far outweigh the differences. There are inherent cruelties in any animal agribusiness that cannot be avoided and are universal and essential to making a profit. Farms cannot circumvent these heartless practices, and the consumer is left uninformed, unaware, and assuaged by the reassuring label.


Optimizing Your Organizing Skills

Running Local Events, Saturday, August 5 @ 3:45pm
Hope Bohanec

Organizing events can be daunting, but if you have some good tools and guidelines, it can make an intimidating undertaking run much more smoothly. In this presentation, I will discuss how to focus your event for the desired outcome. I will help you determine what the goal of the event is and make sure that everything supports that goal. We will examine various marketing options for your event both online and with printed materials, exploring tips for what works. I will present managerial tools to help you stay organized and manage volunteers.


More information and registration: