What’s in a name?

‘Elephant in the room’ is a metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed. It is based on the idea that an elephant in the room would be impossible to overlook; and so people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.

The name ‘There’s an Elephant in the Room’ reflects the fact that although our entire society is founded on the exploitation and suffering of other beings, the vast majority of humans are either unaware of their complicity or else choose to either ignore it or in some way seek to rationalise it to themselves. I originally chose the name as my declaration that I refuse to stay silent about the elephant.

It is no exaggeration to say that we have created a hell for other beings. We confine, torture, mutilate, violate, and enslave them. We steal, kill and eat their babies. We consume their flesh and their secretions, wear, furnish our homes and use their body parts in a myriad ways. We abuse them so they will act in unnatural ways for our ‘entertainment’. We test drugs, chemicals and toiletries on their trembling, agonised bodies. 

 It’s all about sentience

The beings whom we exploit are sentient, a quality that we, as humans, share. Sentience is an attribute whereby a being is self aware. They have an interest in remaining alive and in avoiding pain. They have needs and preferences, and are capable of experiencing satisfaction and indeed, are capable of experiencing suffering and misery.

Although almost anyone who has shared time with a nonhuman has instinctively recognised their self awareness, scientific acceptance of their sentience was formally recognised on 7 July 2012 and enshrined in the landmark Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness by a prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists.

 Becoming vegan

From when I left my parents’ house at 17, I was vegetarian, although not strictly so. All my life I felt that I was seeking something I used to laughingly refer to as ‘the meaning of life, the universe and everything’,  a quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

In 2012, in an effort to find out what all the fuss was about, I signed up for Facebook and in 60 – 70 billion unnecessary deaths each year (not counting aquatic beings) I found my meaning of life.

What a Pandora’s Box that turned out to be, unleashing horrors beyond my wildest imaginings.  The blog entitled ‘Crossing the Border‘ is a true account of the opening of my eyes. Like Pandora however, I found Hope at the bottom of the box; Hope in the knowledge that it is never too late to stop being part of the nightmare of nonhuman exploitation, and Hope that through sharing my message I can bring closer that day when the sun rises on a vegan world.  Thus I became vegan in 2012 at the age of 56.

Learning, advocacy and finding a voice

Since then, I have devoted much of my time to vegan advocacy, sharing my thoughts and hopefully some inspiration via my main Facebook page There’s an Elephant in the Room.

At first overwhelmed by the horrors any advocate sees daily, I finally realised that contrary to what some may claim, we are not ‘all on the same side’. I realised at last that in order for the vegan message to have clarity we must focus on the central issues rather then firing off in random directions, inviting others to feel sickened, outraged or infuriated but without offering them any real way to be part of the solution.

In order to effect real change in the way nonhumans are viewed, we must strike at the root of the problem, exposing the speciesism and violence that underpins every part of our society and is the culturally accepted norm. We must encourage other humans to think more critically about the way consumer demand and the choice of the individual are one and the same thing. Through ending consumer demand for the products of suffering, slavery and death, we can create the peaceful world that every human claims to wish for.

I also eventually realised that there are fundamentally two views concerning animals:

One perspective maintains that all use of nonhumans is unethical and can never be morally justified. Those who support this perspective promote a complete end to all human use of individuals of other species. In short, it’s not how we treat our victims that’s the problem, the issue we need to address is the fact that we have victims at all.

The other perspective maintains that use of nonhumans is acceptable if they are treated (and indeed killed) in a way that the proponents of this view deem to be ‘humane’. Those who promote this view that devastating harm, and indeed death, may be inflicted in a ‘nice’ manner, frequently petition and protest for regulation of ‘welfare standards’ and focus on the treatment of nonhumans. The majority of the so called ‘animal organisations’ promote this line of thinking which is not unexpected as welfare campaigns are a pot of gold in terms of their fundraising ability – vital to pay their wage bills. The other reason that they support this line of thinking is because so many of them also partner with, actively promote and even award, not only those who promote ‘happy’ exploitation, but even – unbelievably – the very industries that make money from commodifying nonhumans as if they were things rather than sentient individuals.

Surprisingly it appears that even those who vociferously promote and campaign for welfare standards seem reluctant to face the fact that they are actively promoting harm. All I know is what is in my own heart and I shall continue to promote the complete end of the self-indulgent and completely unnecessary use that my species inflicts on all others. Truth and sincerity are on my side and I hope that my words may inform or inspire you. If you are vegan, I hope that here you may find reassurance you that you are by no means alone. We have a huge task on our hands but together, we’re stronger.

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33 Responses to About

  1. Tim says:

    thanks for your excellent writing and thoughts, we share regularly, and really value your perspectives…..much gratitude for you and your ongoing input

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just discovered your blog and I love it!! I find it so striking and unique that you choose not to use graphic images, but choose to capture their emotions.


  3. Pingback: Blogger Recognition Award | Mercy for all Animals

  4. barblarue says:

    I’ve nominated you for The Blogger Recognition Award…details here: https://mercyforallanimals.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/blogger-recognition-award/


  5. Pingback: On being critical and holier than thou | Our Compass

  6. trudi_bruges says:

    Great Blog. Many interesting articles that resonate my thoughts.
    I wanted to comment on a post from October (On trying to be vegan) but cannot (seems I can only comment on the most recent blogpost). Have you closed comments for older posts?


  7. AWeird LilCritter says:

    Your blog is sometimes the last lifeline that helps to keep me sane, or better: functional in a mad world.

    Thanks for saying so clearly what I can’t because I am always choking on tears and anger.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that my words help you in a world where we are surrounded by violence that is sometimes very difficult to shut off. For me, writing is how I vent those same feelings of grief and frustration that I believe we all share. Through writing I have had the added benefit of encountering so many others who feel as I do and I hope we can all take encouragement from the knowledge that although it often feels like it, we are not alone. Thank you for your message.


  8. Martin Nicholas says:

    Your articles are the best I have ever read on veganism. Like many of your readers I deeply regret the years I ignored the absurd and obscene treatment of animals. I’m also ashamed that my route into veganism began with taking up a vegetarian diet for health reasons. Still, it did provide the stimulus and the space for some realistic thinking to take place and – importantly – to allow long buried memories of a visit to an abattoir, more than 40 years ago, to re-emerge in all their horror. It is astounding what one can ignore and avoid. Becoming a vegan some three years ago has opened up so many avenues. For most of my working life I campaigned on social and criminal justice issues and I regret none of that work, but to realise the sheer size of the elephant in the room is chastening. To split off human needs and rights from those of other sentient beings is all too easy.
    Thank you for such passionate writing and for all your personal insights.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I can’t describe how much your comment means to me. I write because I no longer know how to stop my efforts to convey to others the desperate need for our species to start to live true to the values we all think we hold. When a kindred spirit gets in touch as you have, sharing their own experience and telling me that my words have resonated, it renews my determination to continue. Thank you.


  9. Pingback: Thoughts on diluting the vegan message | Our Compass

  10. MaraMore says:

    Are you or will you become involved with the Humane Party? Thank you. http://www.humaneparty.org


  11. Michele Martin says:

    Very well written. I share a similar experience. I was a “pescatarian” for many years. I didn’t eat mammals or birds for many years, but like you it was a diet and not so much an ethical stance.I joined Facebook in Oct. 2010 at the age of 57,and had a moral awakening after seeing a few horrific videos and reading many blogs. I became a committed vegan and celebrated my first Vegan Thanksgiving in 2010. Five years ago , for a few weeks, I watched as many videos as I could stand and over 6 months or so ,I read many, many books in order to educate myself.I can’t bear to see any more videos, but I believe they play a huge part in changing hearts and minds. I also liken it to an “opening of Pandora’s box”, but I can’t understand how anyone could know about the horrors, see them on film, and not come away changed. I had hoped “Earthlings” would have a bigger impact than it has. Yet, I remain hopeful. Little by little, the change must come. I do what I can to help. I inform family, friends, and many people I meet. Your blog is great and I’m glad I found you. From one abolitionist to another, Thanks for being part of the solution!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. John Keen says:

    I am not on Facebook nor Twitter so there are times I feel alone in this world of horror and exploitation of non humans so your blogs keep me strong and focused on the fight for justice.
    Our day will come!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. theveganlily says:

    I love the fact that you’ve focused on animal rights in your blog. I’ve linked your blog in one of my posts ‘Why All Feminists Should Be Vegan’.


  14. Erin says:

    I just discovered you blog. I am so following 🙂 Your words resonate with me to the core.


  15. Spunky Bunny says:

    These articles are truly AMAZING. They are extremely well-written and articulate. The truths written here are not watered down or apologetic. I have been an abolitionist and vegan for 13 years, and these articles give me ammunition for the war of words I fight for animals. Thank you so much for using your writing talents for spreading the message of animal liberation. You are much admired and appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your encouraging comments – I’m so glad you find my words useful. I live in hope that the pieces I write will make even a few nonvegans think, connect with the true horror of what they are doing and go vegan. I do believe in being unapologetic – if I had read the unvarnished truth years ago, my life would have been very different. If nothing else, I’d have spent so many more years knowing the peace of mind that veganism brings. Thanks again for the brilliant support and for taking the time to write!


  16. A previous comment stating opposition to all ‘pet ownership’ and suggesting that rescuing – specifically rescuing dogs and cats – perpetuates and encourages the institution of ‘pet ownership’ has been removed along with my response. This is not an appropriate forum to air grievances against individuals or to duplicate correspondence with them.

    I do believe that we have a responsibility to those individuals who have been brought into the world for our indulgence, regardless of species. I shall continue to take in homeless nonhuman individuals whenever I can, will continue to support the neutering of all companion animals, and will continue to oppose actively breeding and selling nonhumans of any species as ‘pets’.


  17. Anne- Marie Champagne says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write about veganism. I just starting reading a couple of your articles (will be reading them all over the weekend), they are interesting, well writen and are a great resource for those of us who want to explain veganism (often defend) to others. Really happy I found you ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Franci says:

    Thank you for your excellent writting I’m a vegan myself and find this blog a very pleasant articulate read. Keep up the good work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Carol says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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