Some things I have wanted to say for a while……

1)      What made you decide to go vegan?

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My first steps into exclusively plant based living was in 2003 when I was 17. I saw it as something I could do to be more extreme than my peers. At the time I was just getting into really extreme metal, oh and I still ate bee’s puke aka honey. I wasn’t vegan.

We didn’t have loads of vegan products at the time either. We had tofu and vegetables. I got bored really quickly because I couldn’t cook and just went back to being a fussy omnivore aka a vegetarian .  (I’d been a vegetarian since I was 14, having seen something similar to the Meet Your Meat video in a food technology class. I wish someone had told me I could do more then, I might have listened.)

It was a few years later when I was 20 that I started to read disturbing things about the way that we use animals in society online. Before I’d just been concerned with whether an animal’s life was taken from them. Soon and after not much reading, I realised that we could not justify the use of any animal for human pleasure. That’s what eating animal products is after all, palate pleasure. I watched some videos and I read some recipes.  I went vegan and have been that way ever since.

2)      How do you live without cheese?

How do you live with it? It’s a great big lump of fat, blood and pus. It’s also not addictive, so stop using that excuse.

There are vegan cheeses available with some that are better than others. You  However and to be honest, I very rarely buy them. When you become vegan the way you cook changes, especially if you are not eating a ton of replica meat products, which are processed to hell and everyone should keep to a minimum.

You also eat different foods. Here’s my pre-vegan diet:

Breakfast: Toast and cereal with cow’s milk and cow’s butter.

Snack: Snickers bar

Lunch: Processed meat with processed potato with spaghetti hoops.

Snack: A clementine

Snack: Ham sandwhich with cheese

Dinner:  Bird’s Eye chicken lattice with new potatoes and spaghetti hoops

Supper: Sardines on toast

 What I eat now:

Breakfast: Porridge with a nut and seed mix and soya milk

Snack: Banana smoothie

Snack: Apple, orange

Lunch: Three bean soup

Snack: Banana

Dinner: Kale with Eygyptian spiced leek, potato and beetroot topped with two soysages

Snack: Peanut butter on a rice cake

….and it’s different every day. I can’t stand eating the same stuff now. I remember my pre-vegan diet because it was the same, always. Everything was centred around something from an animal and now there is no centre piece. If anything the centrepiece is the flavour.

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3)      What does GQ actually mean?

GQ stands for Gender Queer. Wikipedia describes it quite well:

Genderqueer (GQ; alternatively non-binary) is a catch-all category for gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary and cisnormativity.[1] Genderqueer people may identify as one or more of the following:

  • having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual and romantic orientation.[2][3]
  • two or more genders (bigendertrigenderpangender);
  • without a gender (nongendered, genderless, agender; neutrois);
  • moving between genders or with a fluctuating gender identity (genderfluid);[4]
  • third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender;[5]

Some genderqueer people[6][7] also desire physical modification or hormones to suit their preferred expression. Many genderqueer people see gender and sex as separable aspects of a person and sometimes identify as a male woman, a female man, or a male/female/intersexgenderqueer person.[8] Gender identity is defined as one’s internal sense of being a woman, man, both, or neither, while sexual identity refers to an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to others.[7] As such, genderqueer people may have a variety of sexual orientations, as with transgender and cisgender people.[9]

In addition to being an umbrella term, genderqueer has been used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress distinctions of gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity, i.e. those who “queer” gender, expressing it non-normatively.[10] Androgynous is frequently used as a descriptive term for people in this category, though genderqueer people may express a combination of masculinity and femininity, or neither, in their gender expression and not all identify as androgynous. However, the term has been applied by those describing what they see as a gender ambiguity.[11]

Personally I really dislike being called he or she. I’m just Emz.

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4)      How do you fit it all in? (Training etc.)

I think if you want something bad enough, you’ll make time. It’s hectic, but it gets the job done.

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5)      What does Child Free really mean?

To me it means that I am choosing, purposely not to have biological children. People choose this for various reasons, but for me the main one is over population.

When my mum was born, there were less than 2.5 billion people on the entire planet. By the time I was born in 1985 (37 years later) there were 4.8 billion people on the entire planet.  In forty years we more than doubled the Earth’s population.  As we come into 2014, we are looking at a human population of 7.1 billion. Many scientists believe that the tipping point for resources, land, water, food etc is 9/10 billion. After that we will begin a downwards spiral of mass starvation, fresh water wars and possible extinction. Up until that point it is believed that if we reduce our population expansion, we may actually have a future. This issue is more important for our long term future on this planet than climate change.

My opinion as to why people aren’t talking about it and don’t want to change is simple:

a) People are inherently selfish and do whatever satisfys them regardless of the consequences for others.

b) Governments and religion actively encourage people to breed so that they have a larger work force, army, following and are therefore more powerful.

c) There isn’t any money to be made from a child free person.

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6)      Do you hate children?

No. I just think, on top of what I have said above, that we should look after the ones we have properly before we even remotely consider bringing more into the world.

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7)      What is your favourite animal organisation?

I don’t support animal organisations. They do not promote veganism as the end goal to ending all animal exploitation and many of them are in business partnerships with animal agribusiness. For example Peta and KFC.

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8)      Where do you get your protein?

Everything has protein in it, even lettuce and potatoes. I eat food so question answered.

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9)      How much time should we devote to reaching out to other progressive groups about veganism and what are effective ways to do that?

I think we firstly need to concentrate on getting a mass turnaround from single issue and welfarist campaigns by animal rights activists. All major change happens at the grass roots of movements. However on the otherhand,  if we had more groups such as Viva, Peta and Animal Aid promoting a purely abol;itionist agenda, I think more people might start to see the light without the constant backlash upon entering discussions with them now.

This is a difficult question to answer because I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer.

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10)   Do you believe in conspiracy theories?

I believe sometimes that there is more to a story than the official version tells the public. I take each individual incident as it comes. I wouldn’t consider myself a conspiracy theorist, no.

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11)   Why aren’t you pro-life?

By pro-life, this question means human life.

I believe that every human being should have free choice to do what they want with their lives and their bodies as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Having loads of children hurts others. Using animals as resources hurts others. (As detailed above) However removing a ball of cells from a woman’s womb does not hurt anyone. Even later abortions where the ball of cells looks like a miniature human, it has been proven time and time again, by medical science, that there is no consciousness and there is no pain, pretty much like a plant. If the ball of cells cannot survive outside of the womb, then an individual woman has every right to remove it from her body. If the ball of cells can survive outside of the womb, without massive 21st century medical intervention, then you probably left it a bit late and I don’t agree with that.

In my opinion you shouldn’t be pregnant in the first place for reasons stated above, however if I found myself pregnant I would get an abortion without a second thought or hesitation. Mykey agrees with me wholly.

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12)   How do you feel about direct action?

Direct action is a single issue campaign and therefore does not coincide with abolitionist vegan methodology. (You can read more about this in my animal rights section.)

Let’s take the action of the Hunt Sabs in the recent, “Sab the Cull” campaign. I am yet to hear how that has actively created a vegan world or even a substantial move towards it. Why? Because it hasn’t! By focusing on a single issue, it has made others feel better about different types of animal use i.e that the type of animal use they are participating in is not as bad because you aren’t protesting against it. (Again this is detailed greatly in my AR section, read it.)

If an animal was in trouble for whatever reason and we were able to help her, then we would. However I wouldn’t spend my valuable time and money running around a field before light, because that is not an efficient way to create more vegans. Me talking to, cooking for, handing out leaflets to and promoting veganism to people does.

I know the mainstream animal rights movement sees the Hunt Sabs and ALF as some sort of gods, but we have to be realistic. This type of activism has been around for 40+ years in the UK and is it working? Have we seen an end to the use of animals in medical experiments or a complete ban on hunting? Have we seen a sizeable change towards veganism? No! Stop wasting your time, effort and money on things that aren’t creating a vegan world and start creating it. You owe the animals that as an absolute bare minimum!

 

 

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Animal Rights – You are failing!

This is going to upset people on both sides of the fence I imagine, but you know what? I don’t care! It needs to be said and it needs to be said now. I’m sick and tired of not getting anywhere because all the time, effort and money of people who genuinely care about animals, most of which are vegan, is being spent on campaigns that do not and are not working.

In my previous blog post about abolitionism, I talked about how single issue campaigns were not working. I also spoke about how abolitionist theory was too complex for the majority of us working class folk and we needed a more simple way of understanding it. So here we are my friends, a week in the world Animal Rights, but not the movement I belong to.

Cheltenham race weekend.

One of the top stories on the Animal Aid website is called, “Deathwatch 2012.” It relates to the number of deaths at various horse racing events in 2012. There were a total of ten horse deaths at the Cheltenham festival last year and there will probably be plenty more this year. Animal Aid’s solution is to ask for stricter sanctions and hold a demonstration outside of the racetrack over the course of the weekend.

1)      At no-point is veganism mentioned. Vegans do not support horse racing because it is the use of an animal for entertainment i.e. human pleasure.

2)      By not calling on the absolute abolition of horse racing and indeed all animal use, they insinuate to the non-vegan that it is ok to use animals as long as you stick within certain guidelines. In Cheltenham’s case this means a few quid to make people feel better about an industry that is as full of bloodshed as a slaughterhouse.

3)      Cheltenham still continues and the number of people who attend each year is growing with an estimated 220,000 due to attend this year.

4)      This article says it all really: It’s ok to do whatever we like as long as it is with the regulations. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/horseracing/cheltenham-festival/9920927/Cheltenham-Festival-2013-officials-say-new-measures-should-ensure-no-repeat-of-last-years-tragedies.html

My verdict? FAILURE! Go vegan, spread the vegan message and end animal slavery once and for all.

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CCTV for all slaughterhouses.

This first started to be talked about in 2011. All the standard “AR” groups jumped on board and welfare organisations such as the RSPCA joined the cause too. (Don’t even get me started on them.) It was made public knowledge by newspapers such as The Guardian and the campaign even has a Facebook page. Morrisons, M&S, Waitrose, Co-op and Sainsbury’s all forced their suppliers to fit CCTV in the stunning and slaughtering areas.

1)      The CCTV does not cover the entire process of raising an animal on a farm, feeding her, breeding her, shipping her in a lorry and then the entire rest of the abattoir before the stunning and murdering takes place. How then can they be sure that the animals are not being abused, outside of the confines of the normal abuse endured by being a slave, in areas which are not covered by the CCTV cameras?

2)      The supermarkets were only insisting on their own brands. The protest groups did nothing to call them out on other brands that they would continue to sell anyway.

3)      This was done to make consumers feel better about eating animals. If they believe that the animal was not abused, then they are more likely to continue eating meat. This article says this clearly: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/03/abattoirs-supermarkets-cctv-cruelty-welfare Check out this quote from Animal Aid (*sigh*) “Animal Aid said its undercover footage revealed “serious systemic problems” in six abattoirs, including substandard treatment of pigs, sheep and cows before slaughter, and improper stunning. Of all the abattoirs where it had filmed, the campaign group gave only one a relatively clean bill of health.”  So they are clearly saying to the whole of the country that they support the slaughter of animals and consumption of their flesh as long as it is done within a set of regulations. At no point do they mention veganism, which would release all of these animals from the bonds of slavery in the first place.

My verdict? People feel better about eating meat because they believe that the animal carcass they are consuming was treated well before his life was ended. FAILURE!

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The horse meat scandal.

Well you know what doesn’t contain horse meat don’t you? Fruit and vegetables! 😉 On a more serious note, this is a perfect opportunity to promote veganism in the mainstream media, yet have I seen any of the big organisations out there on the news, in the cities and in the newspapers? Nope! They believe that the concept of veganism is too hard for people to understand. Given the right discussion, nothing is too hard to understand and if they spent half as much time and money as they did on promoting single issue campaigns, half the country would be vegan by now. True facts!

A production line at the Spanghero meat processing company in 2011

 

The EU ban on testing cosmetic ingredients on animals.

This particular news has filled up my Facebook newsfeed for a couple of days now. Everyone from your average non-vegan Joe to The Body Shop (a non-vegan establishment that is owned by animal testing giant L’Oreal) are shouting from the rooftops about what a great achievement this is. Sadly whilst they were busy signing petitions and holding demonstrations outside the European parliament, a new directive called R.E.A.C.H was being approved in the background. This directive means a possible end to all cruelty free cosmetics because it demands that all chemicals and compounds used within them must be tested on animals if they have not done so already. That means companies like LUSH (also a non-vegan company, but with a good vegan selection) are in deep shit and more animals than ever will be vivisected all in the apparent name of our safety as human beings. If any of these campaigns had promoted veganism with the money they spent here, there would have been a seismic shift towards vegan cosmetics thus giving vegan companies a larger market share and a bigger voice. No fuck that! We’ll just take each hurdle as it comes with our stupid little baby steps and end up in more shit than when we started.

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So, as you can see I’ve been getting progressively angrier as I have been writing this post, but I cannot help it. It’s so crystal clear to me and you all need to wake up. Non-vegans, go vegan. It’s really easy and it’s good for animals, the environment and your body. Vegans, stop supporting single issue campaigns and start supporting veganism as the only way to end animal slavery once and for all.

Happy-Animal-5

 

I’m done now.

Animal Rights Ideology

I was raised in an environment where I was encouraged to be inquisitive. If I didn’t question everything and learn from the responses I received, then my parents would be disappointed in me.

As I grew into a teenager, I questioned the world around me more and more. It will come as little surprise that I became vegetarian at the age of 14 after learning where my food came from and what happened to get it onto my plate. Viva was instrumental in this change in lifestyle and pushed me towards vegetarianism, more than my own mother could have. At 17 I became vegan, but living in a vegetarian household with lots of hassle from my parents and no support from anywhere else, I abandoned veganism. Then over the next few years my political opinions started forming and I became an avid lefty. At 20 I went vegan for good and joined the animal rights movement. My inquisitive and questioning nature always remained.

I took part in demonstrations, marches and information stalls. I had many friends in the movement and I was having a great time socially. One of the highlights of these years for me was hooking up with the Liverpool animal rights group and going to an underground anarchist punk gig with vegan food. I really felt like I was part of something and that I belonged. Nothing could ever tear me away from these people.

Meanwhile my political ideals were developing further. I became more and more left wing, flirting with socialism and anarchy. However I began to question those movements along with my new found passion for feminism. It seemed like the approach to achieving their goals was watered down. They were picking away at a problem one small piece at a time. The issue with this is that by the time they solved one problem, if at all, another would spring up in its place leading to a never ending cycle where they couldn’t reach their end goal. People question these types of social activism all the time, so I was not alone in finding others with similar views.

One day I was walking back from a particularly eventful demonstration outside a well-known animal tester in Huntingdon, when it dawned on me. I’d been in the movement for five years. In that time we were no closer to a vegan world or total animal liberation. Were we no different from the other justice movements? Were we just picking the low hanging fruit for easy victories that would soon be eclipsed by a larger and viler threat? YES!

That was my journey to abolitionism.

Most of the people who write about this subject are highly qualified intellectuals and express views in the language that is more familiar to that group. I am not one of those people and neither are a majority of animal rights activists who are failing to understand the message. This is obvious in the defensive and sometimes vocally violent reactions other activists have had towards me since I started airing abolitionist theory.

I hope to put abolitionism in a simpler and brighter light so we can really start to end the property status of animals once and for all.

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What is veganism to me?

Vegan lifestyles exclude – as far as possible and practical – all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. Vegans – enjoy foods made from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, lentils, grains and mushrooms, including all plant based herbs and spices.”

The Vegan Society 2012.

All forms of discrimination are connected. Racism, sexism, homophobia, speciesism, ageism etc. all incite violence and hatred. By rejecting all forms of discrimination, you become non-violent. Veganism = non-violence.

There are three main benefits to becoming vegan:

1)      You are rejecting violence towards other sentient beings.

2)      Through wholefood, plant based eating your health will improve.

3)      You will have a lower environmental impact.

I’m not going to go into detail about these aspects as that is not my intention with this piece. (I would recommend reading up on these at a later date. They will help you construct detailed and positive arguments for veganism.

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Welfarism: The Basics

Around two hundred years ago, a movement started to increase the welfare of animals used by humans. This initially stemmed from the use of animals in vivisection. (Animal experiments.)

Welfarism focuses on a single issue at a time, for example a reduction or termination of the use of primates in medical research. This is said to be, “baby steps” towards creating a world where animals are not abused by humans.

The main ideology is that it is ok to use animals as long as you are nice about it. For example, it is ok to raise and then slaughter a cow if she has had a nice life.

Many vegans and animal rights activists subscribe to this way of thinking because it has been the main way of campaigning since humans started to become concerned about other animals. Big charity organisations also use single issue campaigns and ask for donations in the process.

The Problems with Welfarism

Welfarism poses a number of ethical problems.

  • It assumes that it is ok to do anything you like to a sentient being as long as it done nicely. For example, it is ok to keep a pig in a big outdoor pen with high quality food, and then slaughter her for food. (As if slaughter is ever nice or pleasant.) This enforces the property status of animals and thus inhibits a transition to a vegan world and total animal liberation.
  • Welfarism has been around for about 200 years. That that time we haven’t come any closer to a non-violent world. In fact, animal use in all areas has increased, rather than decreased as the welfarist paradigm suggests that it should.
  • Single issue campaigns enforce speciesism for two reasons:

1)      They place the importance of one animal over another. A protest at a fur far places the importance of minks over the importance of the dairy cow, by association and subconsciously in the human mind. If you ask a lot of animal rights activists, they are often focused on fur and vivisection because they see them as worse forms of suffering, when in fact all suffering is wrong.

2)      They enforce the property paradigm. Cheale meats are a pig slaughterhouse that recently underwent an investigation that found that the workers were abusing the pigs before slaughter. Animal rights activists turn up and start protesting, shouting from the rooftops about how barbaric and disgusting the whole thing is. A non-vegan sees or reads about this protest and thinks, “how horrible!? I don’t take part in this sort of thing so therefore I am not as bad as them.” They then carry on as normal. Once again you are left with the thought that it is ok to use animals as long as you treat them nicely. This is speciesism.

  • Big charities such as PETA make money from welfarism and single issue campaigns. They call for more humane methods of slaughter (oxymoron) such as controlled atmosphere killing (CAK) saying that it will greatly increase the welfare of chickens for example. They get their un-knowing volunteers onto the streets to educate people about this campaign and then ask for donations. In the meantime, they are in discussions with the likes of KFC telling them how much more of a profit they will make because people will feel better about eating their product and their efficiency will be up. Once KFC agrees to this, PETA hail, “victory” and people feel like they have made a difference for animals. In reality all they done is make animal agribusiness more profitable and moved further away from animal liberation,, whilst filling the charity coffers.

Abolitionism: The Basics

The theory of abolition has been around since the time of endorsed human slavery. The people who campaigned for an end to slavery were called abolitionists. They did not want people to be slaves with certain freedoms; they wanted people to be free, full stop! It wasn’t until about 20 years ago that this was applied to animal rights. Many books and essays were written, but word failed to spread quickly in a welfare orientated animal rights movement until the prolific spread of the internet. Now you can see and hear many debates and discussions about abolitionism and many more vegan outreach events taking place across the country.

Abolitionists believe that animals are not our property and we should not enforce this paradigm with our activism. Veganism is the moral baseline for all activism because it is the absolute minimum required to bring about animal liberation. It is also believed that promoting vegetarianism as a step towards veganism stalls the transition, because people begin to believe veganism is hard and that vegetarianism is enough to end animal exploitation.

Rescuing animals and supporting sanctuaries is also an essential belief. They cannot help that they are in the situation they are in and need all the help we can offer.

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The Problems with Abolitionism

The main problem with the abolitionist movement is that it alienates the people it wants to target as I outlined in my introduction. I believe Gary Francione and other abolitionists put forward a very good argument, however sometimes it can be difficult to read and understand.

The second problem is that it basically says that traditional activism supports non-human slavery rather than helping to end it. Whilst I believe this is the truth and have said so many times, it does cause heated debate. I am a strong minded and capable person in all debating situations, whether it is on the internet or in person. Not everyone is, however and this is how welfarism makes its easy wins and keeps people enshrined in its ideology.

Welfarism

Summary

On the whole I feel that abolitionism is the only way we can overcome the property status of animals and gain a vegan world. You cannot make the two approaches work together because they are polar opposites. Both are fighting for what they perceive as social justice, but that perception is starkly different.

For more abolitionist FAQs please visit: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/faqs