Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Alex Hershaft

This should be a moment of opportunity for the animal rights movement. The case against eating animals — for ethical, environmental and health reasons — has never been stronger. Covid-19 may have begun at a live animal market in Wuhan and, so far, the virus has infected more than 41,000 workers at US meat and poultry slaughterhouses, according to the Food and Environmental Reporting Network,

All of that and more could have been fodder for this year’s Animal Rights National Conference, which was going to be held, virtually, in July.

Then it was cancelled — largely because of the behavior of Alex Hershaft, who started the event nearly four decades ago.

That’s a shame for the movement. Conferences are places to learn, to network, to hash out ideas and to rejuvenate. For Hershaft, well, he has no one to blame but himself.

Hershaft, who is 86, is a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and a pioneer of the animal rights movement. He has a powerful personal story to tell. The Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM), which he started in 1976, says it is the US’s first organization dedicated to protecting animals raised, abused and killed for food. When VegNews imagined a vegan Mount Rushmore, Hershaft’s face was carved into rock. This summer, Hershaft created his own Animal Rights Hall of Fame and installed himself as a member. Humble, he is not.

Unhappily, Hershaft failed to adapt to the times or listen to multiple warnings about his behavior. He ran FARM out of his home, repeatedly exposing staff members to pornography (and occasionally to his half-clothed torso). He has been hostile to feminists and supported men credibly accused of sexual harassment. He was slow to showcase women and people of color at the conference, and to respond to allegations of sexual harassment at the event.

You can read the rest of this story on Medium.

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