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New Book Calls for Animal Liberation Activists to Change the Game

Changing the Game: Why the Battle for Animal Liberation Is So Hard, and How We Can Win It, by Norm Phelps,
to be published as a Flashpoint ebook by Lantern Books, April, 2013.

Press Release

16 January 2013

Trying to win animal liberation by persuading the whole world to turn vegan one carnivore at a time is a task for eternity. If we insist on staying with this approach, Sisyphus will have his obstinate rock planted securely atop the mountain long before we have convinced the humans on our planet to give up their addiction to dead animal parts.

This unflinching assessment—supported by polling data showing that the number of vegetarians and vegans in the United States has not increased in over a decade—sets the stage for the most in-depth and candid strategic analysis of the animal rights movement that has yet appeared.

Changing the Game begins by examining the five reasons why “the struggle for animal liberation is the greatest challenge any social justice movement has ever faced.” Next, it explores the social and political environment in which the movement has had to work since its inception in 1975 and concludes that, “Timing is everything, and the animals’ movement had the great misfortune of coming into being just as the liberal era was passing into history.”

Turning to the all-important issue of strategy, Changing the Game employs a matrix created by sociologist Max Weber and feminist historian Aileen Kraditor to develop a penetrating analysis of the dispute that has been roiling—and threatening to tear apart—the animal rights movement for more than a decade: the debate between “abolitionists” and “new welfarists.”

While honestly acknowledging the challenges faced by the animal rights movement, Changing the Game is unabashedly optimistic. With no ifs, ands, or buts, Phelps declares that, “The battle for animal liberation can be won and will be won.” In a style accessible to the general reader, Changing the Game makes a compelling case that the animal liberation movement must:

1) pursue a two-track strategy that embraces both abolitionist and more moderate tactics;

2) prepare for the coming era of global pre-eminence by China, India, Brazil and other nations of the East and South, as well as a new America in which women and people of color predominate economically, politically and socially;

3) join with other movements for social, economic and environmental justice to create a genuine universal rights movement; and

4) practice nonviolence by refraining from militant direct actions apart from rescues that save lives.

Changing the Game is a must read across the animal protection movement and among members of the academic community whose fields of interest include animal rights and social justice.


Norm Phelps is recognized as an authority on the history of animal advocacy. Author of the The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA (Lantern, 2007), he was chosen to deliver the annual plenary address on the history of the American animal rights movement at the Animal Rights 2012 conference in Alexandria, Virginia.

Source: Learn more at the Lantern Books website
Author: Norm Phelps

Date: 2013-01-17


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