HSUS CEO: Eating Meat is ‘Speciesist’

We’ve got a bombshell to drop.

In 1985, Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle was a student at Yale, where he founded a group called the Student Animal Rights Coalition. We obtained a copy of a letter Pacelle wrote to well-known animal rights philosopher Tom Regan, asking him to speak at Yale.

Here’s what young Pacelle wrote as a self-introduction:

I am a Yale University undergraduate hoping to establish an animal rights group here this academic year, 1985-6. … After realizing that I too had been a speciesist, I changed my lifestyle by halting my consumption of meat products and my use of other animal derivatives. These actions have been extremely self-satisfying on a personal level, yet frustrating because I would like to help protect animals on a larger scale. (Emphasis added.)

Got that? Pacelle believed that eating meat, drinking milk, or even wearing a leather belt was “speciesist.”

Welcome to the inner Wayne’s World. Let’s take a closer look.

As you might have guessed, “speciesism” is the fringe animal-rights movement’s version of racism and sexism. By using animal products, we’re “discriminating” against other species. Or something like that. It’s all tied into the madcap notion that, in the words of PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk, “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” It certainly appears that Pacelle was a full-fledged kool-aid drinker of this extreme philosophy.

But more concerning to us is that Pacelle links his belief in “speciesism” with “protect[ing] animals.”

Does that sound familiar? If we had a nickel every time Pacelle called the Humane Society of the United States an “animal protection” group, we’d have as much money as HSUS stuffs away in its pension plan. (That’s money, of course, that doesn’t make it to pet shelters.)

Words matter. To most Americans “animal protection” means animal welfare. To Pacelle, “animal protection” means eliminating the use of animals, which is an animal rights concept. And Pacelle, a slick politician, knows this. (He now refers to the Student Animal Rights Coalition group he founded at Yale as an “animal protection group.”)

Does Wayne Pacelle still believe today that eating meat is “speciesist”? He’s made mention several times on his book tour about how he’s been vegan for 26 years (which roughly dates back to the time when the letter was written). And if his initial reason for giving up animal products was based on the notion of “speciesism,” it’s quite possible he still holds those oddball premises today. We realize it’s an old quote, but it fits into other fringe animal-rights ideas Pacelle spouted years later, when he was no longer just a college kid.

For too long Pacelle has been able to wage a subtle campaign of semantics to push HSUS’s agenda. It’s about time an intrepid reporter will press him on what he really believes, so that donors know what they’re funding. Getting Wayne to be forthcoming, though, is another matter entirely.

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