1995 Summit for the Animals Resolutions on the Ethics of Language and Diet

The annual Summit for the Animals, April 6-8, 1995, which is the national convention of organizational leaders of the animal protection movement in the U.S., adopted a Resolution presented by In Defense of Animals and Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to "use language that enhances the social and moral status of animals from objects or things to individuals with needs and interests of their own. We will strive to no longer refer to people who adopt or care for animals as 'owners,' but rather 'guardians,' 'caretakers,' 'caregivers,' or other language which does not support the notion of animals as property or things. We will further strive to refer to individuals of other species in non-exploitive terms such as 'he' or 'she' instead of 'it,' and 'who' or 'whom' instead of 'that' or 'which.' Use of the animal's given name or species are other examples of ways to replace 'it' with non-exploitive words. In the same spirit, we agree that the terms 'zoo animals,' 'farm animals' and 'laboratory animals' will be replaced with other terms, such as animals in zoos, animals on farms and animals in laboratories. We agree to incorporate, whenever possible, this change in language within all our publications, forms, literature, writings and verbal communications, and to encourage others to do the same."

The Summit also passed a Resolution presented by United Poultry Concerns, Farm Sanctuary, and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights that the Summit "Adopt an Ethically Consistent Policy of Veganism as a Necessary and Practical Part of the Animal Advocacy Movement." The Summit resolved "to adopt a vegan meal policy for our organizational functions, including fundraisers, and to encourage and help our companion organizations to serve only vegan meals at their functions, thereby showing the strong and creditable leadership which speeds public acceptance of progressive social attitudes and customs."

The Resolution argued that a movement that affirms a philosophy of animal protection, animal rights, antispeciesism, anticruelty, equal justice, and peace cannot consistently advance these ideals and goals while buying, serving, and eating dead animals and other animal products. The presence of animal products on the tables at advocacy conferences, fundraisers, and other "humane" functions mocks our profession and raises the depressing question of how we can logically urge or expect government, industry, and the general public to alter their outlook and habits when we ourselves cling to entrenched habits and excuses that perpetuate the cruelty and disrespect for life which these products embody.

What Can I Do?

  • If you belong to an animal protection organization that is still serving animal products at the table, urge the group to adopt an ethically consistent meal plan. Contact United Poultry Concerns for assistance including our all-vegetarian cookbook, Instead of Chicken, Instead of Turkey: A Poultryless "Poultry" Potpourri. $11.95.

  • Make sure that your group's language reflects the reality of animals' lives and dignity by referring to them properly as "he" and "she," "who" and "whom."