Probably the primary difference I have with the Vegan society’s official views is that I am not unilaterally opposed to animal employment (I do consume honey, though I’d like some guidelines on humane practices for honey manufacture in place, such as a third-party certification body). I couldn’t approve of myself working. If rights vary from species to species, there must be a difference in needs and capacities behind it. With the acceptability of human labor necessarily comes that of other animals that can have at least a primitive sense of purpose. I’ll illustrate by example, rather than laboring an explanation (as is my fashion):
Though the numbers are low (but not low enough), great apes continue to be used for entertainment. Once they are no longer needed, someone must take care of them. The best place for an ape (or any animal!) is its natural habitat, but since being out of the wild often makes such impossible to adjust to, the next best thing is to be in a situation that has some sense of purpose in it, even if that means *shock* working.
Chimps and such are smart enough that having food and shelter but nothing to do is a punishment, just like it is for humans. Though the situation shouldn’t happen in the first place, given that it does, I would like to see more chimps being given jobs instead of just being some rich weirdo’s hobby. They’re certainly smart enough to do union jobs (I hope some unionized construction worker doesn’t read this and kick my ass…) Half-joking aside, there is a wide array of tasks that are simple enough for apes, even monkeys to do. They have good manual dexterity. Provided similar regulations as for human workers are in place, I do not see the issue of employing non-human animals when the alternative is to be a neglected pet.
I would not want an industry made of this and, as with human workers, basic regulations are necessary (I’m not a fan of regulations in general, but certain basal requirements must the there and you’d have to be stupidly purist in your libertarianism to be against, e.g., child labor laws). Also, the biggest hole in my argument is compensation. The reason I say human experiments are better than animal experiments is that humans can be paid and given a sense of importance. Chimps? Squat. So the only way I have around it, beyond reiterating the caveat that this is only for situations where the alternatives are worse, is to suggest that the work must somehow be fun for the animal. I, for one, refuse to work unless I get at least some enjoyment out of it. Call me a lazy bastard.