About The Race That Stops A Nation.

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses protester at the Melbourne Cup
Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses protester at the Melbourne Cup.
Source Facebook

Yesterday saw the running of the 153rd Melbourne Cup.

A day that was attended by approx 104,000 people, and possibly watched by over 6 million Australians.

It was also the day that saw a horse killed, Verema – due to a broken leg, and two others injured, Black Panther and Green Moon.

It was unfortunate in the lead up to the cup, to see so-called vegan, animal rights groups promoting their Say Nup To The Cup event because of the ‘wastage’ of the horse racing industry. Implying that this should be the only reason why animal lovers shouldn’t attend this event. It is also worth noting that it is estimated approx 50,000 chicken sandwiches and 14,000 meat pies will be consumed on the day.

Unfortunately for those animals that aren’t horses, these sorts of campaigns do nothing to draw attention to the speciesist attitudes that western society has towards other animals, and in fact, they actually do reinforce them.

Yes, it is unfortunate that 18,000 former racing horses are killed every year Australia wide, yet over 1 million chickens are killed every week in one processing plant in Brisbane. Which one is a bigger injustice towards other animals?

If you listen to the campaign from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, they seem to believe that if the racing industry diverts just 1% of their revenue towards a ‘retirement plan’ for horses, that the industry will become ‘acceptable’. Unfortunately, this is also a belief that is supported by other vegan/animal rights groups around the country.

How raising awareness of the way that racehorses are treated is going to cause people to stop and think about the use of other animals is beyond me. Especially when you consider that there were possibly tens of thousands consumed during the day that nothing has been said about that.

Isn’t it time that these ‘animal rights’ and ‘vegan’ groups actually started to promote veganism instead of elevating the position of one animal over another with their repeated single issue campaigns? Remember it is only by promoting veganism that people will find out about and go vegan. It won’t happen any other way.

Or maybe these protests aren’t so much about promoting the plight of other animals as they are about promoting the organisations themselves? After all, you do need to take into consideration that this is the same group that was mentioned in the article Are Animal Activists A Law Unto Themselves? after their ‘peaceful protest’ resulted in two arrests.

29 thoughts on “About The Race That Stops A Nation.”

  1. Like your arguments – like where you are coming from.

    Glad to share and support.

      • I hope so. You get sick and tired of the same pics and quotes on FB. In order to move forward as vegans we need unity, we need agreement that no one single animal is more protest-worthy than another. We urgently need a “business plan” to promote and sell VEGANISM.

        As a fifteen year vegan veteran, I despair sometimes. There are so many well-intentioned and compassionate vegans out there, but they need a common goal. Single-issue campaigns are not the answer

    • Wayne,
      If you read though some of the comments on previous articles you will see that not many people are happy that I am saying the things I do.
      So popularity isn’t it.
      The purpose of this is to get more animal activists to question what they do, and why they are doing it.

      Hope that helps you.

    • I believe I am.

      Subscriptions to this site are growing steadily, as are regular viewers.

      If you can think of any ways to improve this site, I will be happy to consider any suggestions.

  2. You said: “Remember it is only by promoting veganism that people will find out about and go vegan. It won’t happen any other way.” You do realise that the Earthlings DVD has been the greatest catalyst for people going vegan in the past decade, and it didn’t mention the word “vegan”? You seem too narrow-minded and unwilling to acknowledge that multiple approaches can work in different people. Some people who are speciesist (i.e. our target for activism) might initially identify with the plight of horses more readily than other animals, and once they gain this empathy can then make the connection with other species.

    You said: “they seem to believe that if the racing industry diverts just 1% of their revenue towards a ‘retirement plan’ for horses, that the industry will become ‘acceptable’.” This is a very poor straw man. You are ignoring all the other welfare issues highlighted on their website. They have done well to demonstrate that the industry is incapable/unwilling to fix all of those issues, so any thinking person should realise that a boycott is the only reasonable response.

    • Hi David,
      Yes, Earthlings may have been a catalyst for people going vegan, the fact still remains that they would need to seek out information about being vegan otherwise they wouldn’t know what to do. This is what vegan education is, educating people about veganism.

      I agree that we should utilise a number of different approaches when talking to people about the plight of other animals. What I don’t agree with is implying that one particular species of animal is more important than another. This is exactly what happens with these types of single issue campaigns.

      By your logic that once people become empathetic to the plight of one species they will easily accept the plight of other animals, can you please explain why there are so many people who are vegetarian for reasons apart from religion?

      As for your claim of a straw man argument, please take a look at this picture.

      This was featured on the Animal Liberation Queensland page, and mentions the site horseracingkills.com

      • I think CPR is about specialising in one area of animal rights, rather than being a “jack of all trades”. It has nothing to do with elevating one species above others. Because of their specialised focus, CPR has obtained video footage and exposed the industry in ways that the big welfare groups have been unable to. Would you prefer that CPR didn’t exist and this great work had not been done? The tone of your argument certainly seems this way, and is generally not constructive. Without CPR, there would be no chance of a “retirement plan” occurring, and there would be no chance of these lives being saved. I don’t think there is any real evidence that a retirement plan would harm the chances of eventual abolition.

        The decision of which abuses to focus on is not a mathematical one, as this is not how the public thinks. Verema’s death was very public, and was current news, so it made sense for the activists to storm the Melbourne Cup while the green screen was fresh on people’s minds, and challenge their general acceptance/apathy towards the event. Personally I find it absurd that people care more about this than the thousands of chickens who died for the event, but the approach used was best for getting people’s attention as it was topical. Most people are not logical, and the prevalence of “ethical vegetarianism” supports this. Perhaps those vegetarians are on their way to becoming vegan.

        I was very disappointed when I saw that picture you posted. I’m not sure whether CPR produced/authorised that banner, but I would again point you to their website which indicates many other issues they focus on besides wastage.

        • David,
          It seems doubtful if the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses is an animal rights group by any stretch of the term.

          There is nothing on the website http://horseracingkills.com that would indicate that their eventual goal is to see the end of horses being used in races. In fact, their About us page seems to indicate that they want to see racing continue.

          Yes, the website does focus on other issues within the horse racing industry, though I have not been able to see anything that says that we shouldn’t be using these animals for entertainment in the first place. If there is, can you please point it out to me?

          All I have been able to get from the site is that they believe that it is ok to use horses for racing, just so long as it is done in an acceptable way, and that once the horses have finished racing that they be re-homed, and not sent to slaughter.

          Whilst it is a tragedy that 13,000 former race horses are killed every year, though isn’t a bigger tragedy that there is a slaughterhouse in Brisbane that can kill over 1 Million chickens a week?

        • I suppose my main question, given what has been posted already and what they have already achieved, is would you prefer this group never existed?

        • What have they achieved?

          If they haven’t achieved anything, could the time have been better spent promoting vegan education, which benefits ALL animals?

        • They have taken undercover footage proving that racehorses are horrendously killed, they have embarrassed the industry with their protests, and even managed to get the industry to listen to their proposal for 1% to stop the slaughter, which means that the racing industry respects their influence to a certain extent. Perhaps if they openly stated an unconditional opposition to racing, they would not be listened to. Given that lives are at stake, it would seem foolish to discount this.

          Promoting veganism instead would certainly be worthwhile, but you can’t just tell people to go vegan. You have to tell them and show them why. CPR is part of the big picture that shows the public the real consequences of using animals.

        • David,
          I don’t if you can really say that taking footage is an achievement.

          Are you able to show me where the industry has actually said that they will consider the ‘retirement proposal’? I do not seem to be able to find any mention of it anywhere. I certainly hope for the animals, that the industry isn’t just ‘humouring’ this organisation.

          If CPR was part of the ‘bigger picture’, you would think that the least they would be able to do is show people how to go vegan if they were after more information.

        • Your first paragraph indicating that taking footage is not an achievement basically invalidates years of effective activism in the past. You do realise that Earthlings was comprised entirely of footage obtained by activists, and this footage has helped thousands to go vegan? But you’re saying taking footage isn’t an achievement. Are you so negative that you are incapable of acknowledging anything positive that an activist achieves?

          As for your second paragraph, I share your concern, but this was on CPR’s Facebook page: “If you haven’t yet read the full version of our proposal which is currently under consideration by the Australian Racing Board and discussed on The Project tonight, you can download it here: http://bit.ly/OnePercentProposal“. They are making some impact on the public and on the industry, but it is obviously unclear at this point what the extent of the impact is.

          I sort of agree with your third paragraph, but you seem to ignore the fact that they have chosen to specialise. Specialising has advantages, which you are ignoring: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_specialization My advice to you would be to visit CPR’s Facebook page and politely suggest ways that they could tweak what they are doing to be more effective for animals. That would be more constructive than what you have said so far.

        • David,
          Earthlings is a documentary. CPR is supposedly an organisation that wants to protect racehorses. They are two completely different things.

          How long will this proposal be ‘under consideration’ for before it is adopted or rejected?

          If you follow that link that you provided, they talk about wastage, and the numbers of horses being killed AFTER they have finished their racing ‘career’. Yet, there is nothing about implementing measures to stop horses dying DURING races, which is what happened during the running of the Melbourne Cup. This is where these types of campaigns get confusing.

          It appears to me, from what I have read on their website, and facebook, etc. that they are saying to the industry that it is ok for them to use horses for racing, just so long as these animals are not killed for food when they finished with. How is this protecting those racehorses that are killed whilst they are racing? In a nut shell it isn’t.

          Whilst I do not agree with some of the language used, this piece about “low hanging fruit” is well worth reading. http://arzone.ning.com/forum/topics/picking-the-low-hanging-fruit-what-is-wrong-with-single-issue-cam.

          It has been my experience that a majority of these groups are not interested in listening to ideas that do not come from those within their “inner circle”. They are seem to be even less inclined to listen to suggestions that whilst they will actually help the animals, would result in very little publicity for the organisation itself.

          How can you say what I am doing is not constructive? It has lead to this discussion between the two of us, which other people are able to read, and form their own views on. It has also highlighted where the activities of CPR are lacking, and hopefully leads others to ask similar questions, rather than just following along blindly.

          That has to be an achievement doesn’t it?

  3. Although I do agree that animals produced for food represent a much larger concern than animals used for sport or entertainment, often animal rights groups (your use of quotation marks aren’t really necessary unless you’re implying that they’re being facetious) focus on a single issue because it is easier to get legislation passed on a single issue rather than on general animal rights. For instance, getting bull fights banned or getting circuses to stop using animals in their acts. These are tangible, demonstrable changes.

    There are already tons of people trying to expose factory farming abuses, but these single-focus events or groups feel like tackling one issue at a time is an effective way to advance animal well-being bit by bit. Not saying one focus is better than another, it just takes all kinds, in my opinion.

    • You are right, I was being facetious by using quotation marks when referring to these groups.

      It is far easier to get one person to change what they do and who they eat than it is to get government to enact or change legislation.

      When you say there are tons of people trying to expose factory farming abuses, are you talking about intensive factory farms or factory farming in general? Does this also mean that when the abuses stop that the practice will be acceptable?

      Isn’t it time that we focused on NOT using other animals in the first place, rather than HOW they are used?

  4. “Earthlings is a documentary. CPR is supposedly an organisation that wants to protect racehorses. They are two completely different things.”

    In trying to discredit the undercover footage taken by CPR, you have committed the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman I have seen you do this before. In this case you have redefined the argument as to which undercover footage is helpful/valid to suit your purpose using the arbitrary qualifier “documentary” (which plays the role of the word “true” in the fallacy). In this case, you are using Earthlings as the true Scotsman.

    I agree with much of what you say about the limitations of single issue campaigns, and I wish CPR would overtly promote veganism in the way that Sea Shepherd (another single issue…what do you think of them?) does. But you have to be balanced and acknowledge positive impact where it exists. How could you discredit the impact of the footage shown in this link? http://www.horseracingkills.com/undercover-knackery-investigation/

    • David,
      I am not attempting to discredit the footage taken by CPR, what I am doing is questioning the motives, agenda, and effectiveness of the organisation itself.

      I could understand the “No true Scotsman” argument if we were comparing CPR to Animals Australia, or one of the Australian Animal ‘Liberation’ franchises, though I cannot understand how it could apply when comparing a documentary to an animal ‘protection’ organisation.

      Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a conservation organisation, and whilst they do mention veganism, I believe it is within the context of being the plant based diet version of veganism that is growing in popularity these days, not within the context of animal rights.

      I don’t think I have ever said that undercover footage doesn’t have an impact, and I would be ignorant to claim that it doesn’t. Unless I am mistaken here, you were the one who previously said that the releasing of this sort of footage is an achievement. A statement which I disagreed with.

      Though as you have brought it up, has the ‘impact’ that that footage had on race goers or non-vegans been measured?
      If it has, what are the results? If it hasn’t, why not?

  5. There are not 18,000 ex-racehorses killed each year in Australia. This is CPR’s claim and doesn’t stack up with the actual figures.
    There are approximately 15,000 foals born every year in Australia (10 year average). About 1,500 are exported to other racing nations (half of those to NZ). For the last 20 years, 70% of foals born get to the races. The unraced ones either die (paddock accidents/illness prior to racing age), go to non-racing homes or go to stud.
    Of those that race, only 20% race as 2YOS but they have longer careers than horses that don’t race at 2. The majority of the rest have their first start at 3 or 4, with a few having their first start at an older age.
    There are 30,000 horses that race every year in Australia and they range in age from 2 to 14. Approximately 11,000 horses retire every year, with 3,500 going to stud. The remaining 7,500 need new careers after racing.
    The Hayek study in 2004 found that only 6% of these went directly to a knackery – that’s 450 horses (a long way from CPR’s claimed 18,000). The rest go to non-racing homes. Sadly, some of these end up at a knackery after going through several non-racing homes. But they should not be counted as coming from the racing industry. The vast majority of owners and trainers do the right thing.


What are your thoughts?