A thought for Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day here in the UK approaching, it’s a time when we traditionally remember our mothers with love and with gratitude. If we are mothers ourselves, it’s a time when we spend time with families, celebrating and reinforcing the special bond between mother and child, no matter how many years have passed since the day we opened our arms and our hearts to those who, no matter their age, will be our children until our dying breath.

We mothers share a unique understanding, we know each other’s darkest fears. We know what keeps a mother awake though the silent hours when our desperate need to protect our children takes advantage of exhaustion to feed the fears that we dare not name.

Motherhood is not a uniquely human experience, as anyone will know who has watched the tender devotion lavished by mothers of every species upon their unique and treasured infants, borne of the labour of their bodies, as they are welcomed into the world with breathless wonder.

When we use the milk, the eggs, the flesh, or other body parts of members of other species to consume, to wear, or for the multitude of hideous purposes that our species has devised, there’s something we shirk from facing. However today, in the true spirit of Mother’s Day, let’s face the truth so we can start to dispel the nightmare.

Milk_industry_22 Commons.jpgWhen we use other individuals for any purpose, each fundamental practice demands the pitiless exploitation of the maternal reproductive process; the taking, the harming and the killing of their children. This is always the case and no matter what we are told to the contrary, there is no ‘humane’ way to do this. In fact, we are doing to other sentient mothers, the one thing that we ourselves could never face; the thing that haunts our nightmares.

There is no need for us to do this, none at all. We can thrive, and our children can thrive, without inflicting harm on others. All we need to do is to step away from the myths that we have been taught all our lives, to look with fresh eyes and common sense.  And then, as so many of us have done already, say, ‘Enough. I refuse to inflict my darkest fears on any other mother’.

Today is a good day to do that. Let Mother’s Day be for all mothers. Be vegan.

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A brief thought on feel-good fuzzy words

Joy cropped

Joy, rescued from a free-range facility by Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Most of us will agree that it’s wrong to harm animals and we all say that we think they should be treated ‘humanely’. However most of us would struggle to define what ‘humanely’ actually means in real terms, because it is a word that means different things to different people. It sits alongside a raft of other feel-good fuzzy words that we are encouraged to see as related; words like ‘free range’, ‘organic’, ‘grass fed’, ‘corn fed’; words that suggest that the package contents had a wonderful life before winding up in a supermarket mortuary aisle.

Marketing is a science. Those who market substances that are derived from the lives and the bodies of animals, take advantage of the vague understanding of consumers and go to great lengths to suggest that the products they sell were produced in a way that does not conflict with our shared values of caring about animals, employing these feel-good labels often alongside endorsements by various organisations that mendaciously claim to represent ‘animal interests’.

Taking advantage of what we don’t know

Knowing that most consumers don’t know – and in many cases would prefer not to know –  the details or the true definitions, the words are often illustrated (not always subtly) to suggest that they represent a good thing; cue suggestive images of jolly cartoon hens on green grass in sunshine, smiling cartoon cows with jaunty cartoon udders, even – disturbingly – cute and smiling pigs cheerfully slicing their own bodies.

To a greater or lesser degree, the general theme is to seek to ensure the dismembered parts and secretions are as sanitised as possible and bear no possible reminder of the true owner.  It would never do to remind the consumer of the helpless, distraught individual whose unique and precious body they comprised not so very long before. It would never do to open a window into the injustice of their lifelong and relentless use as a commercial asset, where every minute aspect of the existence they endure is governed by humans to maximise their own commercial advantage and fulfil the peaks and troughs of consumer demand-led misery.

If we look into the industry definitions of ‘humane’ or ‘free-range’ or any other of the words we like to see, we will find that they are technical terms, used as a result of compliance with a list of fairly loose conditions for a single reason.

Keep on telling us we’re ethical

Despite recent and rather transparently untrue attempts to suggest that only ‘happy’ victims yield eggs, milk and body parts, that reason has nothing to do with respect for our victims, nothing to do with recognition of their individuality, and nothing to do with acknowledgement of their right to live unharmed. Why would it? For the industries that sell body parts and secretions by the kilo, litre or carton, they are not regarded as sentient individuals, they are resources, business assets and nothing more. The reason that the fuzzy words are promoted is that it’s good business.

Every time we see any of the fuzzy words on a package using or containing milk, eggs or body parts, or indeed on any animal substance, it is a clear admission that suppliers know that their consumers like to be told they’re being conscientious. As a former nonvegan, I know only too well that not only do nonvegan consumers like to be reassured this way, we readily abdicate to the supplier most of the responsibility for ensuring that their products will allow us to continue to feel good about ourselves and pretend we’re causing as little harm as possible.

Our actions, our responsibility

We can’t have it all ways. Either we recognise that our victims matter, that they have feelings, that they can be harmed and hurt. Or we don’t. The fact that so many of us act as I once did myself, looking for the fuzzy words in the misplaced hope that my choices minimised harm, is a clear recognition that for most of us, we know that they matter.

The mere fact that the industry could even consider promoting the suggestion that our victims must be ‘happy’ to give up the substances derived from their bodies is an admission that the consumers are not alone in recognising that our victims matter. However, as always, we should remind ourselves to follow the money and not let the mob or the marketers dictate our actions by falsely seeking to absolve us of responsibility for them.

There is only one way to cause as little harm to others as possible. And that way is to become vegan. In fact it’s the definition of veganism. Find out about it today. Be vegan.

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On being critical and holier than thou

eyelashes-207976_960_720pbI recently saw two criticisms of my blog on Facebook. What, only two? To be honest there’s never any shortage of criticism. The human obsession with using and consuming inappropriate substances and causing death and destruction to vulnerable innocents in order to facilitate the behaviour is very deeply entrenched. Shooting the messenger is almost a reflex for some.

Implied criticism

The first criticism was that vegans should not call themselves vegans because this implied criticism of people who are not vegan. Now that’s a bizarre notion. It could lend itself to all sorts of ridiculous parallels which ends up as being that we should not define ourselves in any way because it implies criticism of those who do not define themselves in that way.

The idea that being vegan is an overt criticism of people who are not vegan is particularly puzzling, given that veganism is defined by living in a manner that minimises the harm we cause to others. Most humans that I have met in sixty years on this planet have no problem at all with the notion that we should not do harm to others; on the contrary most people are quick to condemn anyone who thinks that causing harm is even remotely acceptable.

Almost everyone says they care about animals; says they’re against cruelty; says they believe it’s right to stand up for those who are oppressed and powerless. Being vegan is simply living in a way that reflects the words we all say.  And if we feel criticised by encountering someone who, by calling themselves vegan, reminds us of the conflict between our words and our actions, then I have to suggest that this says more about the uneasy state of our own conscience than it does about the vegan.

Holier than thou

The second critical comment claimed that I had a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, especially towards those who wish to take their time and make gradual or partial dietary adjustments rather than adopting the ethical stance that is veganism, but I’ve seen it used as a general criticism too. Again, this comment is by no means original.

‘Holier than thou’ doesn’t offend me, but tells me more about the accuser than perhaps they want to tell. In the case of my lack of delight about proposed dietary changes, the first thing that it makes me realise is that the writer has no understanding of what veganism actually is. They apparently think it’s a diet and like all diets, these are all about the dieter. A diet is a regime of restrictions undertaken for the benefit of the dieter; to lose weight, to alleviate the effects of allergy or intolerance, for the observance of a cultural or religious tradition etc.

I can’t blame the casual observer for thinking of veganism as a diet or a menu choice. There’s so much misinformation going about and so many ‘advocates’ who adopt the view that their nonvegan contemporaries are in some way incapable of understanding a truthful message about veganism and its desperate urgency when viewed from a victim’s perspective.

Are vegans ‘holier than thou’? As always, I can’t speak for everyone, however the experience of facing up to the violence and bloodshed that our species embraces as the norm is a deeply humbling one. When it happened to me, a very real sense of profound shame weighed me down for many months. I have never forgotten, and never want to forget, the awareness of the horror for which I was personally responsible.

That horror is not an abstract notion for me. When I was learning exactly what I had supported, I forced myself to watch the consequences of my consumer choices.  Because of me, beautiful, gentle, innocent individuals with families and friends, who valued their lives and wanted to be left in peace to live them, had faced nightmares that I had never before been capable of imagining. I no longer need to imagine them. Now I know exactly what they faced for me. I have heard the screams gurgling through blood that spurts out of gaping throats; I have seen despair in the defeated eyes of the doomed; I have seen the saws getting to work before the spark of life has gone.

The many ways of saying ‘go away’

Taking a step back, it seems that what these accusations of being ‘critical’ or ‘holier than thou’ are really saying is, ‘I want you to just shut up and go away because you’re making me uncomfortable’, but in the interests of fairness and to see if I can learn any lessons, I’ve really thought about them, and all I can say is this.

When I became vegan, I realised that I had betrayed every value that I always believed to define me. In doing so I discovered that I was not the mother or the sister, the friend or indeed the person that I had fondly imagined myself to be. Never was I so aware of being unworthy.  That I should think of myself as ‘holier than thou’, in some way morally superior, is so far from the mark that words fail me, and I would be very surprised to find that I’m the only vegan who feels this way.

In becoming vegan, each of us faces demons that we have spent a lifetime ignoring. Living in a world where the majority of our contemporaries are as we once were, serves as a constant reminder of our own failings and we are each our own most merciless critic. All we can do is ask others to stop making the mistakes we made ourselves, and as advocates we do it every day and in every way we can devise.

The shame of my previous behaviour will never leave me and to be completely blunt, I’m not even slightly interested in trying to score points off anyone who continues on the path that I walked before I was vegan. There can be no comfort in being ‘better’ than anyone else, or in trying to find someone whose behaviour is ‘worse’ than mine was so that I can point a finger of criticism at them. I don’t feel morally superior to anyone; how could I be anything but humble when we have all behaved so abominably? The only differences between us lie in recognising our mistakes and resolving not to repeat them.

Be vegan. Today.

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Taking our time, taking their lives

cow-1805371_960_720Yesterday I heard a sentence that I can’t stop thinking about. The sentence was, ‘I was on my journey to being the best me.’ It was said by someone seeking to make a case for the several years of their transition to becoming vegan, and how they couldn’t have managed without support from a ‘nice vegan person’. I want to make it absolutely clear from the start; I intend no personal criticism and I have no views about either the person whose words began this train of thought, or their mentor. I don’t know them. I would however suggest that neither of them started with a clear understanding of what veganism is. The reason for this essay is not because these individuals, or this view, are in any way unique or unusual, but rather the reverse. It’s a position that I find distressingly common.

I know however that there are many who adopt or promote a gradual transition to becoming vegan. Groups abound where individuals find praise for their incremental ‘journey’ from fellow travellers. I have always agreed that depending on one’s individual circumstances, it may take a period of time to incorporate the vegan ethic into our life, and support and practical advice is a great thing. There are many places to get it online, recipes, products, pointers to help us in our new life – we all value these no matter how long we have been vegan.

But I have always struggled to understand by what right any of us claims to be able to forgive atrocity and injustice on behalf of our victims, and every day we delay that transition is costing them their lives. In my mind, veganism is a black and white issue. We support needless harm or we don’t. Harm or not. It’s as simple and straightforward as can be. And here’s the key thing. It’s not about us. If we think it’s about us, we’re not thinking about veganism. Veganism is all about our victims.

The way I see things

So let me present an alternative perspective.

This morning, in the shower, I found myself thinking that for billions of unique individuals, today is just another day in hell. Short, disjointed scenes flashed through my mind’s eye, images of business as usual in the shrouded world of our vile and unnecessary predation.

I envisaged the massive fleet of trucks and transports, a never-ending procession, a conveyor belt heading into places we refuse to even think of; places where these innocent and gentle, harmless creatures will be confronted with things we cannot face as they die piece by bleeding piece in the clanging stench of steaming entrails and blood; places where they will know a fear that we cannot even imagine, where they will whimper and sob, beg and plead, unheard or ignored by those with the hooks, the hard hands, the knives and saws, the hide-pullers and the panoply of torment apparatus deployed amidst the screaming of the damned.

As my mental gaze skipped over the massive convoy of trucks, I saw curious pigs huddling silent with dread, I saw sheep cuddling close, stacked in layers on motorway transports, I saw new-born calves shut down and overwhelmed with need for the mothering warmth and the milky smell forever out of reach. I saw boisterous bovines, coats gleaming with adolescent vitality, stopped at traffic lights, peering out between slats in nervous amazement, I saw crates packed with six-week chicks, their infant peeping hushed, shivering in the first and last breeze of their joyless existence, I saw the tired and the sick and the used up and exhausted of every species, old long before their time, all heading inexorably into the slaughtering maw.

As the film of my mind’s eye rolled relentlessly on, I saw the violating and the cutting, the de-beaking and the de-toeing, the dis-budding of infant horns and the branding, the tooth clipping and the tail docking. I saw screaming castrations, arms and metal implements violating mothers restrained and defeated, ear nicking and notching and tagging, the sucking pumps and the swish of milk filling industrial vats, the visceral convulsing of small feathered bodies to lay yet one more egg and it just went on and on and on.

And, heart breaking again, the water streaming down my face had nothing to do with the shower as I stood there, shaking with grief. I pictured their eyes as I do every day, those mirrors of the pure unsullied souls that we torment with our refusal to be vegan. As I looked in each mutely pleading, bewildered and desperate gaze, I knew that if there was anything I could do right now, instantly, to end their abject misery, the bone deep hurt that my species inflicts on them, I would do it and gladly.

And I want to shout to the world that THIS is what veganism is about. THEY are the reason that we need to be vegan, and they cannot wait. And I wondered what I would say, how I could possibly look at those eyes and say, ‘sorry, not today, it’s not convenient’? I wondered how I could possibly tell them that their anguish doesn’t fit with my journey to being the best me, so today they’ll just have to die but never mind, I’ll get round to stopping hurting them at some point. And I knew that I couldn’t say those things. I have to hope that no one could.

Make no mistake, the need for a vegan world is urgent beyond words. When we’re asking others to become vegan, we need to recognise that it’s the only message of hope that there is for our victims.  We need to understand exactly what we’re asking and not dilute the message. We truly are all they have, and they need each of us to be crystal clear on their behalf.  The situation of our victims is so poignant, so desperate, so heart-breaking, and we owe it to them all to tell their story clearly.

We will not save those who are on farms, in sheds, in labs and in zoos today, or those who are on those millions of transports, whose dying screams are happening as I type. But by convincing others to become vegan we can all work to end the voracious consumer demand for torment and death.

We need to do it now. Please be vegan.

Posted in Advocacy, Awakening to veganism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

‘Those vegans’ and nonveganism advocacy

chick-1890774_960_720There’s a perception of veganism, and of many vegans too, as vociferous and/or challenging. We’ve all seen comments that go, ‘thank goodness you’re not one of ‘those vegans’ and no doubt this is intended as a compliment by those who are not vegan themselves.

This ‘compliment’ sits alongside a nonvegan perception of themselves as passive, just quietly minding their own business, not wanting to be challenged about their ‘choices’ in the same way that they consider themselves to be tolerant of the ‘choices’ of others.

I’ve seen posts shared humbly, even apologetically by vegans, aware they will be viewed by those who aren’t vegan, knowing that they are likely to be subjected to some form of retaliation for disturbing the tranquillity.

And it occurs to me that although not being vegan is the default state for the vast majority of us, it is VERY far from being a passive state; an extremely long way from minding one’s own business, and in fact, is as lacking in tolerance for other sentient individuals as it’s possible to be, despite the mantra ‘live and let live’ making a frequent appearance.

Advocating harm

So it seems to me that those who are not vegan are every bit as much ‘advocates’ as any vegan is; the obvious difference being that they advocate harming animals. What’s more, when we are not vegan, we advocate persistently, on a daily basis, with almost every purchase we make; we advocate aggressively, flaunting our violence everywhere we go, for all to see.

We advocate openly and unrepentantly in supermarkets, browsing the bloodied and dismembered remains in the chill of the mortuary aisles, loading our trolleys with dead flesh, openly gathering products made from the milk that mothers made for the infants we took from them and killed; remorselessly picking up eggs from gentle little birds whose entire bleak existence was spent toiling abjectly in a body selectively bred for our use.

We share callous images of our victims’ corpses and secretions on our plates; we delight in images of flayed skin – from owners whose species we do not even know – admiring them, calling them ‘clothes’ and ‘accessories’.

Through our advocacy of harm, we reassure ourselves and each other that we’re behaving in socially acceptable ways, conforming to the expectations of our peers and of society. Through our actions as consumers, we pump cash into the industries that deal death and destruction on our behalf, ensuring that incarceration, gore and torment remain lucrative business opportunities for us to return to day after day.

In denial

This all would be heart breaking enough, were it not for the ultimate and deeply tragic irony; almost every single one of us claims to care about animals and is outraged to hear of their being harmed; is utterly appalled by injustice and oppression inflicted on vulnerable individuals who are powerless to defend themselves.

And then it just gets worse.

When we are not vegan, almost every single one of us would be repulsed, horrified and sickened … by the actions that WE OURSELVES are actively participating in and promoting.

Truth needs no disguise

And this is all that ‘those vegans’ are seeking to do. They’re not trying to offend, not trying to change the thoughts of those who advocate nonveganism. No, they’re simply trying to make each advocate of nonveganism aware that what they’re doing goes against their OWN deeply held code of conduct.

On the day each of us finally opens our eyes to the consequences of our actions, all we need to decide is whether to really become the person we always thought we were. The only way we can do that is by being vegan. Once we do that, I wonder how many of us will consider it a compliment to be told we’re not one of ‘those vegans’?

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‘If my life depended on it’ – my careless words

goats-1993649_960_720Today in a conversation, I found myself commenting that I would be unable to do something (it was drawing actually) ‘if my life depended on it’.

Some time later, it occurred to me just what a careless, throw-away term that was for me to have used. It was meaningless. I suddenly realised that I had no concept of doing something, or indeed not doing something, as ‘if my life depended on it’.  In my life as a member of the dominant species on the planet, and a relatively privileged member at that, there are very few actions that I would consider taking or not taking that would automatically result in my life being forfeit. I have no experience of living under the weight of a death sentence imposed on me by another sentient individual.

I found myself reflecting on how this phrase about life depending on actions, applies to the victims of the brutal and violent species to which I belong.

I found myself thinking of the countless billions who have been caused to exist by human contrivance and manipulation of their reproductive processes, who have been, who are being and who will be hurt and harmed by the routine violence that all our use of their lives entails. For every single unique and special individual of these countless billions, their moment of conception is the beginning of their death sentence.

I found myself considering as I do every single day, those billions of gentle and innocent individuals whose pitiful existence of relentless use will end as their dying screams and whimpers gurgle with their bright lifeblood through their gashed throats this year, and next year, and the year after that until the world wakes up.

I found myself sickened by my words, by the careless way so many of us talk of life and death, saying phrases like ‘as if my life depended on it’ and laughing, secure in the knowledge that for us there is no danger, using these hugely significant words so casually, so thoughtlessly and so carelessly until they have no meaning.

And finally I had to remind myself that this is why I advocate veganism. This is why I call for the end of the culture of violence in which we are all complicit when we are not vegan. I do not promote a reduction of harm, or harm in a different environment, or harm on fewer days of the week because all of these things are still harm and they all twist the truth to serve our own convenience. They all make it about us, so we may bask in the self-congratulatory glow of feigned concern while continuing to ignore or justify to ourselves the harm that we demand as consumers.

Because for our victims, our advocacy is the one thing that really does have lives depending on it.  We cannot save all those who are in the harm system, but by being clear, consistent and unequivocal in our call for our species wake up to the consequences of their needless actions, we can urge others to reject their participation in the violence and horror that constitute all use of our helpless and vulnerable victims. We can stop contributing to the nightmare by becoming vegan and urging others to join us. By being vegan, we can reduce the demand for harm in the days and years to come.

Lives ARE depending on that. Let’s make the words mean something real. Be vegan.

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Thoughts about living in a nonvegan world

cow-1832984_960_720There’s an Elephant in the Room was recently contacted with an enquiry from someone who is not vegan, about whether a vegan would continue to participate in activities that used nonvegan equipment.  Sharing my response.

Question: ‘I do have a question as to your opinion though about the extent that veganism goes…. could a vegan play football or cricket or support a team that does when the ball and some equipment is made from leather?’

Response: ‘Thanks for getting in touch. Yours is a good question that I’ve not been asked before and I intend to share my response in a blog because I’m sure others may have wondered the same. I can’t and won’t give you a one-line answer but I doubt if you’d have asked me of all people if that was what you wanted.

Sometimes, there is a perception of veganism as a restrictive list of do’s and don’ts and often those who wish to trivialise or ridicule the idea, present it as such in the media.

In fact, veganism has only one central guiding principle, and that is the refusal to deliberately harm other individuals. That’s it. All of it. The rest is a matter of being knowledgeable about the harm that our choices cause when we are not vegan, and about taking the decision not to be part of it.

Our vegan life thus becomes, not some process where we have to check the rule book to see if something is on the ‘permitted’ list, but rather a process where we live true to the values that we have always had, only this time with the background knowledge that allows us to be informed about whether our choices have harmed another individual or not. Armed with that knowledge we choose to take the path that has caused the least possible harm.

I can only recount my own experience for this next bit. There is no escaping the fact that we live in a world where every species is regarded as a potential resource for our convenience, irrespective of the triviality of our requirement or the devastating result of that indulgence. I too was once oblivious to this but once our eyes open to this fact, it is staggering, shocking, sickening to realise ‘just how deep the rabbit hole goes’ – to quote Morpheus. And the knowledge doesn’t just stop – every day we discover further ways in which our careless species wreaks havoc.

When I first became vegan, I looked around – not just my fridge – but my home and my life and I was crushed to realise the extent of the use of nonhuman animal-derived substances and practices that surrounded me, and about which I had been blissfully ignorant. And this is where we are all faced with a dilemma. Adopting a plant diet is actually the easy bit, but what do we do with the relics from the days before we were vegan?

Much has been written on this but once again, there is no rule book; there is only our self and our conscience. I’ve written before on the concept of ‘waste’ as we apply it to nonhuman animal-derived substances in the time when we may be struggling to reach the conviction that other beings do not belong to us. Eventually we must face it that they never did and what we took in the past was not ours to take.

What do we do about the activities that we once were happy to participate in but required us to overlook the most fundamental rights of helpless members of other species? Indeed, what do we do about the friends, family and loved ones around us who are cheerfully continuing to leave a bloodbath in their wake, just as we once did ourselves?

I don’t know how it is for everyone else, but I know that for me my view is constantly shifting as my knowledge of the atrocities of our species increases. For me, the key to everything is education and awareness. For ourselves and for others; that, and a determination to cling to the hope that at heart everyone holds the same belief in fairness and justice and does not want to hurt anyone.

So, to return to your question. As vegans, we all continue to live in the same world with the same people and it is utterly impossible to shut ourselves off from the fact that our entire culture is underpinned by the deaths of countless billions of sentient individuals each year and the torment and agony of countess others whose every moment is determined by our use of them as commodities.

We each find our own way to come to terms. I consider that sharing information about the horrors we support as nonvegans is the key to helping others to see for themselves that being vegan makes sense from every angle.

Specifically, footballs, as far as I know, are no longer made of leather, but recently a famous cricketer hit the headlines by challenging the use of leather to make cricket balls. And thus by drawing attention to the hidden horrors that we have all disregarded at one time, the information spreads. Those whose conscience is troubled may look past the media hype and inform themselves. They may even become vegan!’

Be vegan. It’s the right thing to do.

Links for further reading / listening:
http://gentleworld.org/whats-wrong-with-leather/ and http://www.howtogovegan.org/leather/

http://gentleworld.org/burying-the-past/

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Response to a ‘welfare’ survey about hens used for eggs

Joy at Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary

Joy, rescued from an ‘Enriched’ Cage

Missy, rescued from a 'Free Range' facility

Missy, rescued from a ‘Free Range’ facility

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s an Elephant in the Room was recently contacted by a veterinary student with a request to complete a survey on the ‘welfare’ of hens in the egg industry. I did not complete it and have declined to promote it. Sharing my response.

‘Thank you for contacting me. I have viewed your survey and felt that my reason for not completing or promoting it warranted an explanation.

As a vegan activist, I got full marks in all categories. This emphasises that I am all too well aware of the facts surrounding the conditions in which humanity’s victims are exploited but these are not the reason why I am vegan and neither are they the reason why I promote veganism.

‘Welfare’ is a word that is much-overused by the exploitation industries and by those who promote and support them. It’s a word that carries within it the suggestion of concern for wellbeing and pastoral care. The reality of the matter is that the exploitation of sentient individuals as commercial resources, and any sort of ‘concern’ for their wellbeing are mutually exclusive conditions as I’m sure you are already aware or will soon discover. ‘Improving welfare’ is a ploy used – and celebrated loudly – by the industries that trade in the lives and bodies of sentient individuals and their media marketers, to soothe consumer consciences and thereby increase demand and revenue.

The industry will continue to go through this charade of concern for as long as human consumers consider that they have a right and a need to inflict catastrophic harm on helpless and innocent members of nonhuman species for reasons that can never be morally justified.

There is, in fact, no need for nonhuman animal consumption or use at all. Egg consumption, in common with the consumption of all substances derived from the lives and bodies of nonhuman animals, is a contributory factor to the epidemic of disease that is currently gripping the western world, the vast majority of which is related to inappropriate diet. If you are interested in knowing more on this, then the following site provides links to all the latest medical research and evidence on this topic http://nutritionfacts.org.

However, to return to my explanation, there are some practices that are deeply wrong from a moral standpoint and all use of nonhumans falls into that category. They are sentient individuals whose every right is disregarded in order that we may use them as if they were objects and commodities.

An analogy to the questions your survey poses would be if I were to be consulted about the abuse and harming of humans and asked to reveal the extent of my knowledge of the environment in which it was taking place and whether that affected my view of the practice. It wouldn’t. Wrong is wrong, no matter what the environment.

I hope this provides some insight into the reason that I shall neither complete nor promote the survey. I could not ask anyone to comment on the conditions in which the unnecessary victims of nonveganism are used as resources because to do so implies that there are ‘better’ and ‘worse’ ways to commit what amounts to a fundamental atrocity.

I have written extensively on all of these topics within my blog site and this is the link to a piece about eggs. http://wp.me/p4TmPw-n6. You will note that this in turn links to a number of sources and I should like to draw your attention to this report http://www.upc-online.org/battery_hens/enriched_cages_and_embodied_prisons.pdf that examines in depth the effect that the promotion of ‘welfare’ issues has on consumers.

In conclusion, may I say that whilst there are relatively few of them, there are some veterinary professionals who are vegan and it is an area that is crying out for more people of conscience. I am confident that my friends at Veterinary Vegan Network would be delighted to discuss this issue with you.’

It’s not how or where we treat our victims that is the issue.

The issue is that we have victims.

Stop having victims. Be vegan.

 

Images courtesy of Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary and Go Vegan World

Posted in Abolition vs Welfare, What is the problem with using eggs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A thought about what ‘better’ means

animal-1845413_960_720All of us are sentient individuals, the majority of whom have never been confined, never been tortured, never been mutilated deliberately and without anaesthesia, never been forcibly impregnated, never had our babies taken from us, never been hooked up to milk pumping machines or egg conveyors, never been starved and loaded onto trucks that take us to a place that smells of blood and fear, where we will hear the screams of our friends alongside the sounds of saws and machinery and know that our own death is coming.

With absolutely no personal experience of the horrors that we inflict on our sentient and desperate victims, who are we to decide how our ‘treatment’ of them while all this is happening, can be improved and better regulated? Yet this is exactly what we are presuming to do when we petition and protest for what we think are ‘better’ conditions in which to use our victims.

The only way we could ever even come close to making such an evaluation would be if we accepted that our victims are sufficiently like us for our own human preferences to apply to them.  And if we accept that our victims are sufficiently like us for our own human preferences to apply to them, then our next thought must surely be to ask by what right we use these vulnerable, thinking, feeling individuals who are just like us, as if they were objects that exist solely for our indulgence.  When we accept that our victims are sufficiently like us for our own human preferences to apply to them, we realise that we must re-cast ourselves, not in the role of ‘conscientious animal lovers’ which many of us favour, but rather in the role of extremely violent predators whose every victim is an unnecessary one who desperately wanted to live.

Given that this line of thought is so horrific that we are taught from our earliest childhood to suppress it, it is no surprise to find that the majority of us find it difficult to face the reality of what we do to our victims in order to use them as nonvegan resources. Nevertheless, we need to face the consequences of our actions if we are to be the people we already like to think we are.

The problem is not how or where we use our victims. The problem is that we HAVE victims. It’s just plain wrong in every sense. Be vegan.

Posted in Abolition vs Welfare, Single Issue Campaigns | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

In hope and sadness, another New Year

cow-972569_960_720As the New Year bells continue to sound the death knell for so many billions of sweet and gentle individuals whom we would have loved if only we had known them, let’s spare a few moments to look at where we’ve been and at the road that lies ahead.

We all make resolutions as the new year approaches – some with more commitment than others. We may decide to eat less, exercise more, stop smoking or stop drinking, be less wasteful; mostly, New Year resolutions concern things we know we should have been doing already, and we resolve to try a bit harder and not give in to the tendency we all have to take the easy way out, to cheat, to resist change, to indulge ourselves.

So here’s a thing.  Almost every one of us claims to care about animals, and when we are not vegan, we know very well – or at least we strongly suspect –  that our actions cause them harm. This feeling of discomfort, which we prefer should remain as vague as possible, is why the industries that sell the lives and bodies of our victims, and their powerful allies who claim to promote animal ‘welfare’, have been able to create their lucrative webs of deceit. This deception, reinforced by almost ceaseless media coverage,  promotes the ludicrous idea that there are ‘acceptable’, ‘compassionate’ ways to take the lives of those who desperately want to live, and this façade of industrial concern is sufficient to assuage the feelings of discomfort that – let’s be honest – none of us is too eager to examine in detail.

These myths about ‘humane exploitation’ are targeted squarely at the caring consumer, and are highly profitable only because so few of us actually want to cause harm. In fact the reverse is true; we will actively seek ways to mitigate what we have been taught to view as a ‘necessary evil’. However, once we realise that using the lives and bodies of others for any reason is completely unnecessary, we must surely ask ourselves what our ‘necessary evil’ has become?

It might be thought that a vegan New Year resolution is different from most, in that at first glance it doesn’t seem to be about us at all, but rather is targeted at benefiting our nonhuman kin. Well, as I mentioned earlier, resolutions are mostly about things we know we should have been doing all along  and the decision to be vegan is simply making our words and thoughts real by living in line with them. In other words, the decision to be vegan is doing what we know we should have been doing all along. Indeed even many of us who are not vegan sincerely believe that we already do live our lives that way and are quick to declare that we would not wish to cause harm to the helpless.

However when we say we care for individuals of other species, when we say we respect their lives, when we say we don’t believe in causing unnecessary harm to the vulnerable but are not vegan, these are simply nice-sounding but ultimately empty and meaningless words.

So as 2016 draws to a close, let’s be mindful of the many billions of powerless, gentle individuals who have sobbed, whimpered and begged in vain for their unique and precious lives in farms and slaughterhouses across the world and those others who are doing so at this very moment of writing. Let’s not forget that every nonvegan consumer choice is an active decision to harm someone who is powerless to prevent our use of their body and our theft of their life.

In 2017, I would ask anyone who is not vegan to check out the wealth of links and information they will find elsewhere on this blog, then follow it up with research of your own. Resolve to make this the last year that your own consumer choices support and participate in the orgy of violence that is an inherent part of using helpless and innocent individuals as resources and commodities.

And in the coming year, if we are already vegan, let’s all resolve to take heart from the knowledge that we are not alone even although it can sometimes feel that way. In a pitiless and violent world it is comforting to realise that there are many others who share our commitment to justice and nonviolence, and it is encouraging to know that our numbers are growing each day.

As we move into this new year with its symbolic opportunities for renewal, a fresh start, let’s resolve anew to speak out about veganism with honesty and sincerity at every opportunity. Let’s use whatever talents and skills we can muster to spread the vegan message. Let’s commit ourselves to keep advocating veganism and absolutely nothing less.
Humanity’s  billions of victims are looking to us to speak on their behalf.  They are utterly dependent on our clear and unequivocal message. If we don’t fight for them – who will?
Have a very vegan 2017.

Posted in Advocacy, Festivals, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments