I’ve seen many confusing post in the vegan tag, so I think it’s time for us all to come familiar with the two branches of veganism and activism: welfarism and abolitionism.
As you may get just from the word, welfarists focus on the welfare of the non human animal. For a welfarist, the important thing is the way animals are treated, if they have space, medical attention, if they are “humanely” treated.
This position does not challenge the object status of non human animals, and many times perpetuates speciesism. Since animals are ours to use, but we must treat them nicely, we are still a superior species. Animals are still means to our ends, not individuals.
This approach to the way humans interact began with Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832, you may know him if you study law, or know many vegan quotes). Bentham thought that animals could feel pain and pleasure and that thus they deserved to be treated well. But, he thought that animals had no personality or individuality, and that therefore they had no interest to stay alive, they just wanted to avoid pain.
Peter Singer holds this point of view (at least in the 1975 Animal Liberation book). I’d consider PETA to fill this category (if even, they don’t even seem vegan).
As you can get from the word, too, abolitionist seek for the end of the object status of non human animals so that they are finally considered individuals with their own needs and desires. This position questions the objectification of animals. Human and non humans deserve equal consideration, based on the fact that all animals are sentient beings, who live subjective experiences (“This is happening to me”). For an abolitionist vegan, the question is not how nice we treat the animals we use, but why are we using them in the first place?
I’m not really sure who we could consider a forefather of abolitionist veganism, but there are several authors on animal liberation with this approach: Gary Francione, Oscar Horta, Ana María Aboglio, etc. There are many organizations with an abolitionist approach: Animal Equality, EligeVeganismo, EspecismoCero, Acción Antiespecista, etc.
So I hope this makes things clearer know. As an abolitionist vegan, I’d like everyone to question the roots of speciesism, of thinking that otherness is validation for abuse. Remember, non human animals are not ours to use.