FORÇA VEGAN JUSTICE FOR ANIMALS, PEOPLE & THE PLANET
M A G A Z I N E
FES DUBLIN MEXICO
BLACK Omowale Adewale & Brotha Vegan
Check in with the residents
ROUND-UP Chilis On Wheels Animal Rebellion
W EL COM E T O
Published by VegfestUK © www.vegfest.co.uk Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
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EDITOR TIM BARFORD
DESIGNER PETE METCALFE
Welcome to Issue One (March 2021) of Forca Vegan – the free online vegan magazine that joins up activists and campaigns across the globe into a glorious celebration of all things vegan. Born into a world emerging from Lockdown and the global COVID Crisis, Forca Vegan brings together a feelgood factor, information, education and a myriad of different voices and experiences from a multitude of global vegan activists. Removing barriers and focusing on solutions, Forca Vegan reflects a living, growing, unfolding history of liberation, understanding and evolution at a time like never before, and at a time like we never needed before. If we are to face the problems that lie in front of us and lie ahead, and change them for the better, we’ll all benefit from listening to a broader vegan fanbase and learning from these experiences, and turning these lessons into effective and consistent education & action. Forca Vegan aims to help do that. Our thanks to everyone who has contributed to this iconic first issue. There are some truly outstanding stories and you are invited to share this magazine widely. Its free, online and here to inspire. If you share an article, please ensure to share the magazine link and credit to Forca Vegan and the author of the piece.
The views expressed in Forca Vegan Online Magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor nor VegfestUK Ltd, and neither the Editor, Design team or VegfestUK Ltd accept any liability for any matter in the magazine, nor can be held responsible for any actions taken as a result of the content of this magazine. Advertisements and paid promotional copy are accepted without implying endorsement by the editor or publishers. Paid promotional copy is marked ‘Promotion’ on the appropriate pages.
BLACK Omowale talks to Forca Vegan about his current life in the USA, his community projects, family life and achievements, and the current Western Vegan Movement.
CHILIS ON WHEELS
Chilis on Wheels was started in the USA in November of 2014 by Michelle Carrera.
Eloisa Trinidad, who works with CoW, brings us up to date.
Wenda from Hugletts Wood Farm speaks to Forca Vegan about the history of the sanctuary, day-to-day life on the farm and how COVID-19 has affected their ability to fundraise and care for the residents.
ART OF COMPASSION
Leigh Sanders is the founder of AoC, and speaks to Forca Vegan about the project’s inception, it’s artists and it’s future.
126 ETHICAL VEGAN
‘Ethical Vegan’ was published in December 2020, bringing to print the whole story behind the concept of ethical veganism and its subsequent enshrinement in law. Author Jordi Casamitjana talks to Forca Vegan about this epic journey.
CONTENTS ALL AROUND THE WORLD 08 OMOWALE ADEWALE: UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK 14 DISPATCHES: ATHENS WITH NELLA GIATRAKOU 26 ANIMAL REBELLION: ‘THE WORLD’S MOST CONSEQUENTIAL SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT?’ 28 DISPATCHES: FES WITH SIMOHAMED BOUHAKKAOUI
ANIMAL AID 32 DISPATCHES: NORTHANTS WITH MEL BROUGHTON 34 CHILIS ON WHEELS 38 DISPATCHES: DUBLIN WITH ROGER YATES 48 HUGLETTS WOOD FARM ANIMAL SANCTUARY 50 VEGAN BUSINESS TRIBE 62 PRODUCTS ROUNDUP: SKINFOOD 66 PRODUCTS ROUNDUP: LIFESTYLE 70
PRODUCTS ROUNDUP: FOOD 74 PLAMIL: THE BEGINNING 80 REPRESENT(N)ATION 82 THE ART OF COMPASSION PROJECT 88 MIKE KELSON: VEGAN ACTOR & COMEDIAN 98 AN INTERVIEW WITH VEGAN QUEEN V 104 DISPATCHES: MEXICO WITH SHEILA HANNEY 110 WORLD DAY FOR LABORATORY ANIMALS 114 INTEGRAL AHIMSA, AND THE DHARMA OF DISRUPTION: ANTI-SPECIESISM ACTIVISM IN PAN-DHARMIC COMMUNITIES 120 SMALL STEPS BIG CHANGE: THE FIRST VEG-N SOCIETY ONLINE CONFERENCE 124 ETHICAL VEGAN: AN INTERVIEW WITH JORDI CASAMITJANA 126 ‘AND IF YOU KNOW YOUR HISTORY’: PART 1 130
ALL AROUND There’s a lot of online vegan content right now, with shows, podcasts and events growing rapidly. Here’s a round-up of some of the best and freshest online vegan options to tune in to.
The Animal Rights Show https://www.facebook.com/TheAnimalRightsShow The AR Show is hosted weekly along with side debates and conversations featuring hosts Nella Giatrakou, Wendy McGovern, Tom Gale-Batten and Roger Yates with guest hosts panellists and contributors and a ‘live’ audience that can engage and ask questions. With the work of Tom Regan underpinning this approach to Animal Rights, multiple subjects are discussed in detail by the lively, uplifting and inspiring group albeit with somewhat dry humour at times. Really good shows, warmly recommended, free to access, with subtitles. Really good for discussions on the use of language in advocacy especially.
The Cranky Vegan https://www.facebook.com/thecrankyvegan Jake Conroy AKA The Cranky Vegan lives up to his name with a regular ‘3 Minute Thursdays’ session every Thursday. Although generally around 10 – 15 minutes, and yet to be 3 minutes, but nonetheless lively, informative and with a wry sense of humour coupled with a somewhat incisive and sometimes icy stare at some of the movement’s more ‘problematic’ individuals and organisations. Never one to shy away from issues, and rarely short of an ironic quip or two, Jake is much valued by many, whilst unsurprisingly disliked by a few. His monthly patreon goes direct to animal sanctuaries too – how cool is that? 8
THE WORLD Didim Vegfest Turkey Online May 2021 http://didimvegfest.com “Back in 2017, we organized our first Vegan Festival named ‘Didim Vegfest and we reached thousands of people around Turkey to share our idea and showed our country that we have another choice. After that we’ve increased our activity and hosted Vegfest 2018 and Vegfest 2019. Every year our festival has grown bigger and stronger. Besides that our municipality made a lot of Vegan friendly decisions like banning phaetons, supporting vegan restaurants, banning animal experiments and so on. Last year, we had to cancel our festival due to pandemic. Now we think that the time has come ! In 2021 May, we’re organizing our festival as Didim Vegfest Online. Our Festival will include panels, workshops, concerts, fashion shows, recipes and much more.”
Crip HumAnimal https://criphumanimal.org Valuable resource for many and growing, Crip HumAnimal focuses on interconnections between ableism and speciesism - ‘’a space to specifically address the interconnections between ableism and speciesism, animality and (dis)ability. A place to highlight stories of disabled vegans, a place to address the ableism in the vegan and animal rights movement.’’ The website and Facebook page are curated by Geertrui Cazaux, and includes some enlightening interviews and excellent book reviews, amongst a host of other valuable resources , and welcomes contributions https://www.facebook.com/criphumanimal FORCA VEGAN
ALL AROUND Dale Vince – ZeroCarbonista www.zerocarbonista.com Dale is a multitasker, long term vegan, former new age traveller, founder of Ecotricity (sustainable energy suppliers), and chair of vegan football club Forest Green Rovers (Go on Rovers – about to get promoted to League 1 for the first time, and building a new stadium out of wood). Dale has recently published his first book ‘Manifesto’ in conjunction with John Robb, and his regular podcast ‘ZeroCarbonista’ features guests, chats and discourse straight from the Chairman’s mouth. A real insight into the rapidly expanding and always adventurous, hugely successful but often humble world of Dale. Fair Shout Dale, one of the most inspiring & highly achieving characters in the vegan world right now.
Plant Powered Planet Online Magazine www.vegfest.co.uk/magazines Plant Powered Planet is coming! Our twin magazine, online and free, just like Forca Vegan. The first issue is out May 1st and will focus on health, lifestyle, products, fitness, animal welfare, conservation, global food supply, the environment, agriculture, innovation and solutions to climate change. Plant Powered Planet will have a more mainstream, consumer lifestyle feel to it, whilst still underpinned by a strong ethical vegan position alongside ethical consumer choices and issues surrounding them. A variety of leading vegan individuals achieving on a number of levels will make up the main substance of the editorial content. Plant Powered Planet will also provide us with a platform to get behind small vegan businesses including the Vegan Traders Union and provide support as they emerge from the impact of lockdown and help showcase a number of new vegan products, projects and initiatives to a growing readership. 10
THE WORLD Vegfest Morocco Website www.moroccanvegan.org Launching very shortly, a brand new website www.moroccanvegan.org from the Vegfest Morocco team promises to be a whole new experience for veganism in Morocco. Developed by the constantly inspirational Simohamed Bouhakkaoui, the website follows in the footsteps of the extraordinary achievements of the Vegfest Morocco Online event in July 2020, which saw activists from across the globe joining up for 3 days of online presentations around the vegan theme, celebrating plant based food and featuring speakers from 40 countries, including North Africa and large Arabic speaking audiences, with all talks available in Arabic, French and English, ensuring a truly global mix of vegan communities represented. ‘Moroccan Vegan’ promises to extend that excellent work and continue to promote an animal friendly way of life across the country and beyond.
VGN News https://vgn.news VGN News is an online vegan global news media and podcast service and “is the source for vegan views, politics and pop culture.” We have quizzes, updates, satirical posts and a petty podcast to keep you entertained and informed across all vegan issues.’’. The podcast features some really interesting guests including Benjamin Zephaniah & Dr Milton Mills, and the facebook page is lively, updated regularly and never short of inspiration, education, uplifting stories and occasionally challenging and uncomfortable content, alongside that all important ingredient ‘pettiness’ . Unmissable.
ALL AROUND VegfestUK Online www.vegfest.co.uk VegfestUK have spent much of 2020 producing high quality online events with an emphasis on livestream panels with guests from across the globe partaking. An awesome array of content is available free to access on the Vegfest website including live music, comedy and visual arts galleries alongside presentations on health, fitness and Animal Rights as well as a whole array of other aspects of veganism and the plant based lifestyle. Regular contributions from the Plant Based Health Professionals UK, Vegan Business Tribe, V For Life, The Vegan Approach and the fabulous VegfestUK Chat shows hosted by Karin Ridgers from VeggieVision TV ensures a very lively fun and uplifting series of talks, debates, presentations, panels, films and performance. Free at www.vegfest.co.uk
WDLA https://worlddayforlaboratoryanimals.org/how-you-can-help/ World Day for Laboratory Animals is on April 24th 21, has been held annually since 1979, and commemorates the suffering of animals in laboratories. World Day for Laboratory Animals has been a focal point for educating the public and legislators about animal testing and the alternatives for 40 years. ‘’With your support we are making progress for lab animals: bans on the use of chimpanzees and wild caught monkeys in EU labs; phasing out the capture of wild monkeys to stock the factory farms; phasing out the use of offspring of wild-caught monkeys (prohibited after November 2022); the cosmetics testing ban in the EU; stopping the Colombian hunters trapping owl monkeys for malaria experiments; most airlines refusing to transport monkeys for research; replacement of animals in teaching and restrictions on certain painful experiments across Europe. But thousands of monkeys and dogs are still being subjected to painful safety tests’’
THE WORLD Collective Fashion Justice www.collectivefashionjustice.org Very informative and well informed – Collective Fashion Justice provides whole insights into global fashion. “Our mission is to illuminate the interlinked injustices in fashion supply chains that harm the planet, and human and non-human animals. By uprooting their intertwined harm, we work to create a total ethics fashion system.” Their Facebook page is full of updates around the theme of fashion, solutions based and populated with some excellent social media friendly shares www.facebook.com/collectivefashionjustice and their website is a fantastic resource for these issues, regularly updated and growing.
Vegan Life Magazine: Podcast with Jake Yapp https://link.chtbl.com/veganlife New kid on the block – the podcast that is – from well established UK vegan publication and winner of multiple awards, Vegan Life Magazine. The podcast features vegan comedian and presenter Jake Yapp. The first episode aired early March. ‘How do I get my Yorkshire pudding to rise?’ - this and other questions vegans were never afraid to ask, but never got an answer to. Join Jake Yapp and guests talking vegan turkey (other meat substitutes) and lots of great veg! If you are adopting a plant-based diet, transitioning, just plain curious or want some delicious food ideas, this is the podcast for you.
Omowale Adewale is the founder of Black Vegfest, and editor of the recently published Brotha Vegan. Omowale talks to Forca Vegan about his current life in the USA, his community projects, family life and achievements, and the current Western Vegan Movement.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, AND HOW YOU CAME TO BE VEGAN? In the summer of 1993, I had just begun to return back to school in Riviera Beach, FL. It was my second year in Florida. The doctor told me at age 15 I had hypertension. I didn’t understand the ramifications at the time, but I was a little concerned. Some time during that week I checked in with my older brother Wendell who still lived back home in Brooklyn, New York & I told him. He urged me to go vegetarian and stop consuming animals. I began the journey almost immediately, at a time when 14
I found chicken sandwiches incredibly scrumptious. I am always so proud of my 15 yearold self. In a new state, I had to grapple with being away from my foremost guiding force, my mother, Cleo. She would have helped me diversify my vegetarian options, but instead I ate canned green beans, white rice and cornbread almost daily. My recollection of eating vegan food from the Rastafarian food vendors in Brooklyn was so long ago it didn’t kick in until much later in my life. It took 20 years before going vegan. When I returned to Brooklyn less than a couple years later I began shedding dairy milk, but I still consumed lactose through baked goods. Through my struggle, of requesting rice and soymilks from bodegas, which were convenience stores in urban neighborhoods, often owned by Dominicans and Puerto Ricans I learned that simply asking for plant-products was not as easy as it seemed. Being young and Black did not earn me opportunities I saw advertised. I heard that you could request store-owners to purchase goods, but that’s not a
reality in my neighborhood. It was believed by bodegas, supermarkets, and even healthier shops that if you’re Black you eat whatever is advertised. I could not get support. The lack of guidance and support in my own New York neighborhoods growing up in regards to my vegan journey was greatly apparent. I imagine those who contend that they’ve tried veganism
Omowale teaches young Jacob boxing lessons in Brooklyn (2018)
but failed miserably faced the same level of difficulty. I stumbled through this process onward to a vegan journey and that makes me more compassionate and understanding of everyone’s transition. When I finally, went vegan in the Spring of 2013, I remember the host of Real Meals, Caryn Hartglass had asked me, “why haven’t you gone vegan, yet?” I listened and went vegan recognizing that I was only holding onto a system that wasn’t doing me any good. So, it was good to have that conversation. I realized I could do some good by supporting animals in the easiest but most impactful way possible.
YOU ARE A KICKBOXING CHAMP AMONGST MANY TALENTS – TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THAT. Interestingly, I went vegan in the middle of my amateur boxing and mixed-martial arts career. Martial arts was a large part of my life growing up. But classes were never consistent and so I had to train myself after receiving support here and there. Bruce Lee’s books on techniques were central. Lee was practical in his methods and believed in dedication. This dedication
was strongest in my teens. I followed his style Jeet Kune Do, which translates to the Art of Intercepting Fists. Lee later wished he never made a name for a style. As a student of philosophy he believed a style is not more important than the person who uses it. He also believed that depending upon the situation, a person must adapt. This is why Bruce Lee is considered the grandfather of MMA or mixed-martial arts. He was combining boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jujitsu, and many others before it was popular and he placed it in his writings. He died prior to the book’s release although in the film “Dragon” based on his life illustrated a different take for theatrics. Martial arts offers a lot more to FORCA VEGAN
Omowale at his MMA Fight Weigh-In with children Aziza and Chisore sponsored by Gardein (2014)
ical refugee in asylum in Cuba, I stood up for my Black community and other oppressed Peoples and I championed the life for animals through vegan intersectionality.
YOU ARE KNOWN ACROSS THE GLOBE AS THE FOUNDER OF BLACK VEGFEST HOW DID BLACK VEGFEST COME ABOUT?
the practitioner than the spectator can understand. It must be experienced. I’ve learned a lot more through defeats than my wins. It’s helped me cope with loss and struggle and has allowed me to adapt and enhance my shortcomings. It’s made me more open and accepting to self-criticism and outside criticism and helped me realize how to ignore the noise and not crave acceptance. Martial arts teaches the best defense is not having to defend, but being prepared at all times. I use it in my life and use it to teach my children and 16
others every day. I am always learning and never full of lessons. Through the practice of martial arts, I learn and teach to be content but never stagnant. I went from fighting for the love of martial arts to using it in my arsenal to fight for justice. When I won, I realized I had the microphone, and thus could use my voice exponentially more powerful to do a host of things that were more impactful than the simplicity of hitting and dodging another human-being. I raised my voice for Assata Shakur, a polit-
Black VegFest came out of my previous work in the Black community. Through the Grassroots Artists MovEment (G.A.ME) a small not-for-profit that believed artists could empower their community with their voices through song. We believed Black and Brown artists were being strangled by corporate radio and media conglomerates to use their voice for exploitation of their own community while being robbed of royalties through the abdication of ownership, lack of healthcare benefits and unfair contracts. As a young 20-something year old, I believed we could support artists and the activists who were joining us with healthcare and fair living wages by advocating for them and consolidating a working union. This was in 2001. Artists like Dead Prez & Immortal Technique were instrumental in that organizing process. As one of the leaders of G.A.ME, I built leadership programs, go-green projects and tours and even organized doctors to treat artists who
were most in need. In one of the poorest neighborhoods in the US, we were in our mid-20’s organizing clinics along with Dr. Marcelo Venegas to treat artist-activists for free and lowcost. The following year, Dr. Venegas trusted me with some boxes of tetracycline medicine which handles a host of infections and I was on a plane to Lagos, Nigeria. My comrade Moyosore Akojenu aka Fleet Militant (RIP) organized Dr. Uche of Jay Alarms Hospital in Lagos to treat young people, artists and other low-come Nigerians. The young members of G.A.ME did this without major funding and zero oversight. The doctors believed in us. During this time I was vegetarian, and hoping to influence many I had came in contact with using healthy ideas. People knew of my activism in New York City and understood I was vegetarian. By the time I transitioned it was easy for me to receive some support. In 2014, I began vegan parties which targeted the Black community but did not do so explicitly. That year, I registered blackvegfest.org and blackvegfest.com.. It would blackvegfest.com take four more years, until G.A.ME would release funds and support for Black VegFest based on what I had envisioned. It is important to understand that I am not just a passionate activist or community organizer but I’ve worked in politics in the poorest congressional district in the nation for six years. I actually loved most of that experience, for the lessons in liberal arts, collaborative planning, outreach, addressing constituent concerns, as well as media and governmental responsibility. For Black VegFest to be suc-
Omowale speaking at Hudson Valley Vegfest (2018)
cessful, I needed to learn more about intricate issues of event planning that were specific to organizing a vegan festival. I reached out to the festivals I knew and accepted assistance from festivals that reached out to me. I received guidance and support from VegfestUK, the only non-US vegan festival, since I had spoken there since my first time in 2013. I received expert assistance from Adrienne Lusk at Texas Vegfest. Adrienne had also put boots on the ground and flew me out to Austin, Texas four months prior. She may have saved us that first year. Jessica Schoech of the massive Vegan Street Fair, Naijha Wright-Brown of Vegan Soulfest, NYC Vegetarian Food Fest’s Sarah Gross Feoli, Rebecca Moore of Hudson Valley Vegfest were among the most supportive festivals. I thank them for offering valuable informa-
Many in the vegan movement are used to the same people, same concepts and therefore we end up with much of the same problems.”
tion, endorsement, in-kind support and even funding. This is how Black VegFest turned a first-year event that was almost rained off into a massive gathering on a city block in the summer of 2018. I personally believe in collaborations, listening to criticisms, using my voice, being ambitious but full of integrity. I had to communicate with a number of people who would become partners, including Borough President Eric Adams who’s support was absolutely critical. BP Adams being plant-based was extremely necessary in forming a relationship with the city. New York City would have shut us down, without caution. I had worked for the NYS Assembly, I knew how unforgiving local government was. Eric Adams brought folks together on the local level and made it possible for me to meet with all the
necessary departments. I commend him for being at the forefront of NYC’s push towards a better food system where we all win, it wasn’t just about veganism. We want an egalitarian system in NYC that works. I was NOT the only Organizer in Black VegFest, Nadia Muyeeb and Francis Peña made up two-thirds of the team, I am just the loudest voice. They really allow my work to shine through as two incredibly silent but tactical individuals. Nadia was in communication and overseeing the process with all the performers and speakers. And on the day of, she gave leadership to our volunteer team which meant she was orchestrating our first event. If you could not tell, then that’s how masterful it was for her first time. Nadia, being my partner, also worked while I did Black VegFest al-
most full-time with almost no pay. This meant she supported me and my vision. I wish that kind of support for everyone. Francis provided all our technical support such as electricity, generators and made sure we stayed in compliance. He is also the money person. While I may pay for some items, he handles the bill for 90% of our budget and supports with his own funding should we have any shortfall. We worked like a massive team, because volunteers were super enthusiastic about our promise and we were super grateful. I often provide leadership from the back or from a horizontal group structure. That means I don’t tell people what to do, through my experience and integrity I receive support for my plan while team members pick out the useful and eliminate the unnecessary compo-
Nadia Muyeeb, Omowale and Francis Peña serving vegan food in the Bronx (2020)
nents of the skeletal structure. It is an organic style of organizing based in best practices.
Omowale Adewale wins Amateur Boxing Brooklyn Brawl Title at Super Middleweight limit (2012)
WHAT SORT OF IMPACT HAS BLACK VEGFEST HAD IN THE VEGAN COMMUNITY?
The Black vegan community has embraced us and applauded our work. The vegan community, with the exception of the organizers, it has been slower. PETA is not really a fan, and it’s unfortunate that many feel that they are central to veganism in the US. Some white racist vegans are not fans either. Once vegan intersectionality became more embraced and people began to see the impact of more people going vegan more people began to see the positive impact on animals. Had I not been speaking about veganism around the US and in some parts of the world, I believe we would have had less traction. More vegan brands are supportive. Brands like Mercy for Animals, Tofurky, Follow Your Heart while not perfect in an way are among the most supportive and supported us early on. Oatly may project this image of being progressive but they sent me a very nice letter like others not wanting to support Black people going vegan. Being progressive is sending at least $1000, $500, or at least 100 measly items to help us attract more vegans. The most supportive was the Black vegan community, especially, vegan vendors who invested hundreds of
When I won, I realized I had the microphone, and thus could use my voice exponentially more powerful to do a host of things that were more impactful than the simplicity of hitting and dodging another human being.” FORCA VEGAN
Organizers Omowale, Nadia, and Francis receive New York City Proclamation naming August 10th “Black VegFest Day” (2019)
dollars of their money on this controversial first-time vegan festival. Based on the vegan festivals I had spoke at before, we had more Black vendors than any other festival. I knew the impact based on reserved tickets and Black vendors signing up. I was ecstatically pleased with four months to go!
DID YOU GET MUCH SUPPORT FROM WHITE VEGAN ORGANISATIONS? 20
White vegan organizations Voters for Animal Rights, Mercy for Animals and Lantern Publishing and Media were supportive out of the gate.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY
‘UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK’? Being Unapologetically Black means transparent about both my love and support for a totally self-determined Black People. It’s a transparency that cannot be understated in its apex at integrity. It means without
being rich and powerful, I take this firm stance in struggling for Black self-determination knowing that it may motivate wh-te supremacy or white liberals through their entities, can snatch or curtail my funding and resources, disturb my living and distort my message. In the face of all this I am projecting Black liberation in defiance.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK ‘BROTHA VEGAN’.
“Brotha Vegan” is a collection of stories, teachings and poems by Black vegan men. Some of us teach from various angles. Some like the medical doctors Milton Mills and Anteneh Roba do so from an angle of exposing Western Medicine’s flaws with nutritional information and love for animals. The artists you know like M-1 and Stic of Dead Prez are not new to veganism and have inspired many tens of thousands since Be Healthy in 2000. Ietef “DJ Cavem” Vita, PhD addresses climate change and what our community can do and chefs Bryant Terry and Planthero bring a variety of flavors to the conversation. Stewart Mitchell’s activism around animal welfare and Brandon Morton’s love for horticulture, and Eric Adams speaks to his process of going vegan and how he will implement a healthier system in NYC should he become Mayor. I decided to have Kezekial McWhinney-StLouis interviewed, who is a transgendered man, because they’re absolutely brilliant. Read the book and understand why. As a masculine presenting cisgendered-heterosexual who is a fighter, I’m into destroying social norms and constructs.
BROTHAS TODAY ALIGNING WITH FEMINIST PRINCIPLES? We are destroying the patriarchal notion that men are just these physical masculine beings that are here to provide. We are upending this idea that men are not supposed to exhibit sensitivity, emotion and care. This is in large part due to women and feminine beings. Men are craving a balance. According to the Men’s Health Foundation in Great Britain 75% of all suicides are by men. Since 1950, the U.S. Health and Human Services Dept. report-
ed that men are also three times more likely to commit suicide. We are the producers and purveyors of war and conflict, the primary predators and rapists and perpetrators of violence against ourselves, women, and non-binary folks. Men design systems of greed, cultivate unbalanced systems of wealth gaps, and point fingers at themselves and others. We foster distrust, hate, and vilify anyone who intervenes and only alter the system after we feel its ire. This is the patriarchy. It is difficult to break because men laugh and ridicule other men who begin to embrace femininity and the concept that gender is a construct. Not sex, but gender IS a construct. It is in our minds that men must behave like what you think a man is
My mission with Brotha Vegan is to encourage my Brothas to communicate the best of us. I chose to advocate for a strict Unapologetically Black function of Vegan Intersectionality. This way, we don’t leave anyone behind, including animals. This way I can sleep sound at night.
‘BROTHA VEGAN’ WAS INSPIRED BY ‘SISTAH VEGAN’ HOW DO YOU SEE Cover of “Brotha Vegan” (February 2021)
to behave like. This construct is what we use to demean and intimidate any ‘weaker’ binary and/or non-binary person. We are experiencing transformation in the world. Not only are Black and Brown people rising like heat in a pressure cooker, but women like Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris are too. Not only in western culture, but also Dalit women within the caste systems of the Desi community. Universally, women are hearing and learning from other women what feminism and womanism means to them. Feminism tends to scare men, but so does the threat of being fired, losing your home, or your spouse dying from cancer or Covid-19. We must upend what Bell Hooks refers to as the “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” a point my contemporary comrade LoriKim Nadia Muyeeb and Omowale Adewale in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Juneteenth (2020)
Alexander often points out. If men are not prepared to make drastic changes, it will undermine our society and continue to destroy everyone based on an idea that we acquire as much power as possible.
YOU ARE A FAMILY MAN – WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR YOUR KIDS AND GRANDKIDS? Although I love my children and children in general, it is my children’s choice to have children. Do children have enough hope as it stands? I hope so. There is a price I pay daily being immersed in the struggle for liberation. If I am physically present at home, I am not always presently aware. It’s
tough to do this work and have children, especially as I see fit. The great thing is that my children love and appreciate me. They witness me struggle for an egalitarian society and I only hope that hope is contagious. My hope is that my eldest child who has traveled 1000 miles with me back and forth between New York and Atlanta for 15 years has not experienced a blur but a set of lessons, cultures, and love. I hope she sees and values my love and admiration for her. She really is my very first love. To see her grow up and adult like she does and continue to consider her father’s recommendations gives me hope. She’ll be 20 this year and she values and requests me in her life all while learning and being responsible. There’s no greater feeling. I hope my middle child acknowledges my truth to her that she is a prodigy at 14, but I do not wish to pressure her. Her awareness is beyond her years. She, like her older sister love themselves and have not allowed the outside or domestic forces to make them feel small. Her courage to speak up even when it’s her parents with logic and rationale is truly a lesson to me in patience and recognition of my own patriarchy. A national honor student, but that doesn’t begin to underscore how brilliant this young Black girl is. She like me, has an idea of what she wants to be in life and I hope she knows it’s ok to reassess what you want to do for a career. My youngest, and my only boy I hope he knows the love I have for him is boundless and endless. He doesn’t need to do anything, except fathers need to recognize their words are pressure. The boy is fearless. I hope he continues to recognize that there is more to young Black boys
than being strong. I hope he understands he doesn’t have to learn it all at once because dad will remind him. He is my 11-year-old self. My hope is that the world treats them kind and that they revisit veganism as a path toward understanding the world, not a way to define you.
people, same concepts and therefore we end up with much of the same problems.
space does not suggest we make all the educators white. It will only foster a society of ignorance. People going vegan for a variety of reasons will still save farm animals, furry animals, sea animals and zoo animals.
white veganism and white privilege. Our vegan Brothas can visit BlackVegFest.org
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE If white vegan men OF FROM YOUR are my brothas let WHAT WHITE VEGAN them understand FRUSTRATES YOU BROTHAS? white vegans need MOST ABOUT THE Ahhh, the vegan brotherhood. to listen to the most If white vegan men are my CURRENT VEGAN brothas let them understand Unapologetic BIPOC white vegans need to listen communities for the MOVEMENT? to the most Unapologetic BImost transparent POC communities for the most The vegan movement can be transparent conversation conversation about stale and trite with dogma and about race and gender. Black very white. Just because there VegFest introduced the global race and gender. ” are many white people in one 7 Points of Allyship to address
For too many vegans, it’s too much of a complex idea for humans to recognize vegan intersectionality where I can support and protect animals while still defending myself. It’s a dogmatic idea and this is why there is little creativity. Many in the vegan movement are used to the same
Omowale Adewale thanking Organizers, volunteers and speakers at the “Black VegFest Rally” in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (2020)
and fill out the form and make themselves available to do some of this work. It is not about simply saying you want to make change or giving the appearance. You have to embrace the application of addressing systemic racism and sexism over a long period of time. How long? As long as it is necessary, otherwise your commitment is lip-service and you’re just resting on the work of oppressed peoples, who also give their energy to addressing animal welfare. Make a long-term commitment in using your resources: funding, in-kind support and your voice in your community.
THERE HAS BEEN A HUGE SHIFT IN THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM IN THE USA – ARE YOU HOPEFUL? OR SCEPTICAL? Optimism and love for the People keeps the community organizer engaged in community work, not funding, not white allies, not U.S. politics, and definitely not the change of U.S. presidents. The testament to this skepticism is found in the acquittal of former president Trump during his second impeachment trial. There are more symbolic aesthetics taking place in the form of U.S. politics than tangible systemic change. I am hopeful because some entities based in the community are raising their voices. The People raising contradictions are giving me hope for a fair egalitarian system. 24
HOW CAN WE HELP? If you support my work, please be become a patron
Patreon.com/ omowaleadewale as I continue addressing conditions through an Unapologetically Black Vegan Intersectional lens. My partner Nadia and I are lending our farmland and other resources towards affecting organizing sustainability within Black liberation work. This work will create food justice opportunities for people who need quality healthy food sources, education of new organizers and support for veteran organizers to address retention in long-term BIPOC organizing.
You have to embrace the application of addressing systemic racism and sexism over a long period of time. How long? As long as it is necessary, otherwise your commitment is lip-service and you’re just resting on the work of oppressed peoples, who also give their energy to addressing animal welfare”
Omowale Adewale in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (2018)
Support 20 years of Community Organizing by donating to the Grassroots Artists MovEment (G.A.ME). In December of 2001, Omowale Adewale (then Lawrence James) connected with Mutulu Olugbala, Francis Peña and Neneh Jalloh to later found G.A.ME. Over the years, programs, projects, albums, concerts, protests, tours, festivals, retreats and chapters were created and/or supported to address artist rights, affordable healthcare, food justice, youth incarceration and youth leadership in Black and Brown communities from the Bronx to Lagos. We remained small due to low-funding and the promise to remain independent. Now’s the best time to support G.A.ME. G.A.ME sustainability is the Goal.
Omowale and Nadia at VegfestUK Bristol (2018)
GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM IN THE AGE OF COVID-19
Nella Giatrakou When COVID hit, the grassroots in Athens were going through a transitional phase. We had recently moved away from the large international organizations having decided to self-organize in local groups with a consistent anti-oppression stance and a greater flexibility to organize events and adapt our activism to the Greek reality. A number of independent initiatives and two vegan outreach groups were born out of this rearrangement: Liberanimal which aims to spread veganism and bring awareness on other animals’ oppression by focusing on the individual through footage of happy animals along with the standard graphic videos and by centering advocacy around justice and the right to life and freedom as the group’s placards read, and Truth Pill which focuses on antispeciesist advocacy paired with occasional actions that aim to bring awareness on human rights violations and environmental issues. Unfortunately COVID put a stop to our plans for a further development and empowerment of the grassroots but activists refused to become inactive.
athens Despite the harsh COVID restrictions, we‘ve been able to organize a few outreach events, protests and disruptions every time restrictions are relaxed, always exercising social distance and complying with hygiene rules. The two most intense events during the pandemic were the protests outside the Ministry of Food and Agriculture following the government’s announcement of financial help to mink farmers in an effort to stop the rapid decline of the industry and the sit-in at Ermou, Athens’ main shopping street, when public gatherings were forbidden but protests allowed. The only activity that continued uninterrupted was that of Vegan22Greece, an organization founded and run by activists, which aims not only to help people make the transition to the vegan way of life
by providing practical and dietary advice but also to create more advocates by familiarizing participants with the ethical aspects of veganism and the philosophy of AR. Vegan22Greece is affiliated to The Vegan Life Festival which unfortunately was cancelled this year and that we really miss since it provides a great opportunity for the vegan community to come together, celebrate veganism and attend talks and workshops, and also for activist groups to educate the public and fundraise. Despite the recent adversities, grassroots activism in Athens is on the rise and we can’t wait to get back in the streets and fight for our fellow animals.
From Athens with love.
We had recently moved away from the large international organizations having decided to self-organize in local groups with a consistent antioppression stance and a greater flexibility to organize events and adapt our activism to the Greek reality.”
Animal Rebellion: ‘The World’s Most Consequential
SociaL Justice Movement?’
by Philip Murphy, Co-Founder, Animal Rebellion NYC and Continental Liaison, Turtle Island (North America)
We do not display greatness by going to one extreme, but in touching both at once, and filling all the intervening space. –Blaise Pascal, Pensées
The climate justice movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) burst into public consciousness in dramatic fashion on 31 October 2018 with a “Declaration of Rebellion” against the UK government, delivered in Parliament Square in London. Responding to the climate and ecological emergency (CEE) and advancing behind a narrative calling for systems-level change through nonviolent direct action, XR grew into a glob-
al movement that precipitated worldwide mass civil disobedience demonstrations in April and October of 2019. Extinction Rebellion framed their movement in the context of three stated demands, and ten associated values. The first of these demands dictates that governments address the climate and ecological emergency with honesty, while the second and third demands focus on a dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – to net zero, by 2025 – and a utilizing of instruments of direct democracy in order to take appropriate political action. However, it wasn’t long before some early XR Rebels, holding as they did insights into the incontrovertible fact of animal sentience and also being steeped in the knowledge of so-called animal agriculture’s profoundly dele-
terious environmental impacts, began to point to an addressing of the “the animal question” as being conspicuous by its absence. From this knowl-
edge, and an attendant deep questioning was born Animal Rebellion. While retaining the broad framing of the demands and values of Extinction Rebellion, this new movement re-envisioned them in a manner that affirms the categorical imperative to recognize the moral standing of all sentient beings. To actualize this imperative is to refrain from exploiting these beings in any and all ways including in the production of food – which is, in aggregate, the greatest source of ecosystem degradation. Consequently, the First Demand reads: “Animal Rebellion recognizes that one cannot speak about the CEE without openly talking about the
impacts of animal agriculture on the planet, including but not limited to: deforestation, ocean dead-zones, biodiversity loss and air pollution.” (Given that the shared, short version of the First Demand is stated simply as “Tell The Truth,” it can be said that Animal Rebellion’s articulation is a sublime example of meta-narrative – that is, “telling the truth about telling the truth.”) Similarly, the Second Demand contains language that points to the fact that any hope of approaching these extraordinary ambitious emissions reduction targets “cannot be done without a transition to a just
and sustainable plant-based food system.” Extinction Rebellion’s articulation of the Third Demand, “Beyond Politics,” reveals what is in its application a reductionist conception of the term, as being strictly limited to electoral politics – an arena in which the movement fairly contorts itself so as to affirm a non-partisan stance -- with further commentary hewing fast (and for all intents and purposes, exclusively) to an articulation of the dynamics of citizen’s assemblies. By contrast, in its referencing the impacts of corporate lobbying in protecting the animal farming and fishing industries, Animal Rebellion’s articulation of the Third Demand gestures to the corrosive force of an increasing unfettered and ecocidal global capitalism that, unchallenged, will continue to undermine meaningful positive change with regard to the preservation of the ecosystem on which
all life on Earth depends. In the explicit articulation of an antispeciesist social justice stance in its First Value, and moreover in pointing to a plant-based food system as being foundational to addressing the climate and ecological emergency Animal Rebellion reflects a commitment to honoring both the integrity of individuals and to realizing vital systems-level change. Given the sheer numbers of sentient beings killed for food and other purposes that is estimated at more than three trillion lives lost annually and moreover considering the associated environmental degradation, it is not an exaggeration to state that Animal Rebellion is one of, if not the most consequential social justice movements in the world today. For more information on Animal Rebellion, including opportunities for philanthropic support please visit:
Simohamed Bouhakkaoui After the success of the Online edition in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Vegfest Morocco will take place from next September 2021 in FEZ. The association VEG’MOROCCO (non-profit) will organize the third edition of the vegan Festival in Morocco to remind the public of the
three main reasons for becoming Vegan - namely, animals, health and environment through conferences, cooking demonstrations, workshops and exhibitions. VEG’FEST therefore aims to promote veganism to support and connect individuals and organizations that practice, promote or endorse responsible living.
This project will highlight North Africa and the Middle East and bring together the most prominent vegan associations. It aims to clarify veganism and make societies in these regions aware of the importance of responsible living, its impact on the environment and animal welfare. For the participants, Vegfest MOROCCO is also an opportunity to share their experiences and to approach the different angles of veganism according to the cultures of the Arab countries.
ABOUT SIMO Simohamed Bouhakkaoui has been a Vegan-Climate Activist and Speaker for more than five years. He is considered the first creator of vegan web-content in Morocco, as his YouTube channel is not only the first channel interested in explaining and interpreting vegan thought and the problems of climate change, but it is also one of the first Moroccan platforms helping in shedding light on veganism and spreading the vegan culture. 30
Simohamed is also the president of the first national association for vegans in the Moroccan Kingdom, the same association that has organized in 2017, for the first time in North Africa, the first edition of the international VegFest festival, which is held annually in various parts of the world in order to celebrate vegans and veganism as a lifestyle. Additionally, Simohamed is a researcher in the field of climate change, and a lecturer in many Moroccan and Arab universities. He also supervises a range of training courses on climate change for the benefit of national organizations and NGOs. Simohamed has also established the first professional vegan website that is in both English and Arabic. It includes all his interviews, YouTube videos and podcasts.
fes VEGFEST MOROCCO MOROCCAN VEGAN FACEBOOK My mission in life is to raise awareness in order to build the next generations that are more aware of the earth and more compassionate with animals.”
planned events. This presented unique challenges for all of us, for covid-safety we were unable to send out resources, the majority of our staff working from home, having to temporarily close our online shop, and cancel or adapt any in person events or stunts.
Like all vegan campaign groups and charities, Animal Aid have not had an easy time in 2020. That hasn’t stopped them working but it has changed the way they work. 2020 was a strange year for everyone. Campaign organisations such as Animal Aid were no exception to the enormous upheaval we all faced. Covid 19 meant that we had to rapidly adapt our plans for upcoming campaigns, our campaigning strategies and
One such event was our Wildlife Summit hosted by Vegfest, which took place for the first time in 2019 at Vegfest London. While hosting this online seemed a little daunting at first, we soon realised this presented a great opportunity to include guests and speakers who previously wouldn’t have been able to attend in person. Together with Humane Wildlife Solutions, we went ahead with the summit and were joined by interviewees and speakers from around the UK, and even one from South Africa! Such a positive event, the interviews and talks are still available to view on www.vegfest.co.uk. We also took time in 2020 to
work on our educational resources – the change to online learning meant we could now deliver online talks to schools in areas beyond our normal reach. Our Education department delivered over 210 school talks, despite the schools being for some of the year. We released some new and updated reports, including our report on wildlife culling, With Extreme Prejudice, our horse racing consultant co-authored a report on the effectiveness (or lack of) of the whip, and we released a timely update to out report Is Factory Farming Making You Sick? All of these are available on our website animalaid.org.uk. Understandably, getting media attention for campaigns was particularly difficult last year. However, we still managed to get coverage for some of our investigations, one of which was our game bird breeding farm investigation, which found birds in barren and oppressive cages. This was covered by The Independent.
While many things are still uncertain and planning for the future is somewhat tricky, we have lots in the pipeline and are feeling very optimistic. Animal Aid as an organisation has also gone through some changes; at the end of last year we welcomed our new Director, Iain Green. Do keep an eye on our website and social media for some campaign announcements in the coming months, and make sure to check our ‘Take Action’ page
TAKE ACTION to find out how you can help.
Animal Testing – EDM in Parliament Our campaign calling for a ban on the use of animals in warfare experiments is going well, despite our wonderful supporters not being able to distribute resources, as they usually would. There is a motion in Parliament, called an EDM, which also calls for a ban on the use of animals in warfare experiments. The EDM has been signed by 98 MPs. We’ve planned a virtual event for MPs which we hope unveil soon. In addition to this, we’ve requested information from Porton Down, which we will share with our supporters, in the future, along with details of more warfare experiments on animals.
One of Animal Aid’s School Speakers, Sadie
DISPATCHES Hunt Sabs have been all over the news recently in the UK – and big chunks of it very positive. But whilst victories are in sight and morale is high, sabbing is still dangerous and sabs subject to untold violence from Hunters, and often without Police backup, although Sabs have the law on their side. Experienced AR activist and recently hospitalised Sabber Mel Broughton reports.
HUNT SABS ARE NUMBERS UP HAVE GOT THE SINCE COVID? THE HUNTERS ON THE HUNT SABS ARE RUN RIGHT NOW. ALWAYS IN THE RIGHT? WHAT’S NEWS, ON SOCIAL THE LATEST? MEDIA, AND There has been a lot of nega- USUALLY SEEM TO tive publicity for the hunters BE WINNING. recently the most damaging being the webinar expose showing leading members of the hunting world ‘conspiring’ to create a ‘smokescreen’ around trail-hunting. Recent media reports have detailed that one participant has been charged in relation to the webinar discussion. The resulting fall-out of the expose has seen many local authorities banning hunts from land and even private landowners shutting the door on them. We also saw on national T.V. a fox being hunted on private property with the huntsman concerned caught on CCTV throwing the body of the fox to the hounds. None of this will come as any surprise to sabs but to the general public it’s now screamingly obvious that the hunt ban is routinely and knowingly disregarded by hunts everywhere. 34
I think sabs are winning on the ground and on social media. A day barely passes now where the hunters are not on the back foot desperately trying to brush the latest expose under the hedge. I also think more people are coming to sabbing because it’s the one form of fighting animal abuse where your primary activity is ‘direct action’. The hunt saboteurs have always been the group that gave activists their first experience of using direct action to save life and historically it was the gateway for many to become animal liberators. I think the hunt saboteurs are once again seen as the direct action leaders in the animal rights movement and people want to be involved. Of course it’s also
mel broughton obvious to everyone that the refusal of hunts to show any respect for the law and their continued terrorising of wildlife has to be countered by sabs in the field to stop them. I think the public have had enough of seeing hunts getting away with it and sabs have skilfully used social media to not only show illegal hunting happening but also the total arrogance of the huntsman and followers towards anyone who dares to challenge them.
IT’S ALWAYS BEEN DANGEROUS – ARE CASES OF VIOLENCE BY HUNTERS ON THE RISE? There is often the threat of violence when you go sabbing. Most of the time it comes down to pushing and shoving by hunt stewards (paid servants of the hunt) but actual violence from hunt supporters is not uncommon. I think it’s probably fair to say that there has been a rise in violence used against sabs in recent times. This is in no doubt a response
to how successful sabs have been in thwarting attempts by hunts to engage in illegal hunting. Trail-hunting is a lie, always has been. Hunts want to chase a fox and make a kill and their servants in the form of terriermen and stewards are there to facilitate it, (why do you need terriermen at a trail hunt?). Because sabs are so effective at stopping hunters from doing what they want to do they turn on the sabs. The failure of the law to deal with hunters has meant that many hunt followers and staff feel they can attack sabs without consequence. With all the recent media expose of hunt wrong doing the tide may well be begining to turn and hopefully hunt violence towards sabs will be treated much more seriously by the police.
TALKING OF WHICH, YOU WERE ON THE END OF A REVOLTING ATTACK LAST YEAR. ARE YOU OK? I am still recovering from the attack made on me in September 2020 by a hunt member of staff. I am still receiving regular physiotherapy and may require a further operation on my shoulder. I received multiple fractures as a result of being ridden down and now have a plate and screws in my collar bone. I count myself lucky that despite my injuries it could have been worse. Many sabs have been seriously injured at the hands of hunters and hunt followers over the years and sadly two have been killed. Despite this
the hunt saboteurs have never deviated from their stated aim to save the lives of hunted animals and they never will.
DO YOU THINK WE’LL EVER GET SHOT OF HUNTERS IN THE UK? I have no doubt we will see the end of organised fox-hunting in the UK and probably not too far in the future now. Other forms of hunting and shooting continue so the job will not be over.
HOW DO PEOPLE JOIN UP AND GET SABBING? If people want to get involved then they should get in touch with the Hunt Saboteurs Association (www.huntsabs.org. uk) and find out about their local group. Many groups offer training days and you won’t be expected to go running in the field without being buddied up with more experienced sabs. It is also worth talking to people who go sabbing regularly they can help set the scene for you and alleviate any worries you may have. But above all else you will be part of a team who on the day will be out there saving lives.
DONATE FACEBOOK WEBSITE
PEOPLE CAN DONATE TOO, AND BUY MERCH AND STUFF? People get merch at the above or our local group on fb at Northants Hunt Sabotuers. FORCA VEGAN
MAKING VEGANISM ACCESSIB Groceries ready for delivery to families and students.
Chilis on Wheels was started in the USA in November of 2014 by Michelle Carrera. When she couldn’t find a soup kitchen that served a vegan Thanksgiving meal, she decided to prepare her own chili and take it directly to the community. After seeing first hand the need for such a program, she became inspired and committed to bringing vegan food to those in need. Eloisa Trinidad, who works with CoWS, brings us up to date. 38
BLE TO COMMUNITIES IN NEED LOCKDOWN MUST HAVE HAD A BIG IMPACT – HOW HAVE THE TEAMS KEPT GOING? Lockdown changed our operations significantly. In New York we added pandemic relief and mini pantries to our existing hot meal shares which are held weekly in a few locations. The pandemic relief was a result of a very emotional reaction I had to seeing an article that said the City did not have a clear plan on how they were going to feed students. We got to work right away. At this time we are working with about 300 families comprising six individuals per family, that is on top of weekly distribution at the Department of Education sites. For the weekly school distribution we selected the two schools that have the most food insecure and housing insecure students in NYC. During the start of the pandemic, the BLM uprisings were also happening in NYC- we provided food support to protesters fighting for social justice. The weekly shares continued- we added a new share, for a total of three shares: one in Manhattan, one in Queens, and another one in Upper Manhattan.
We also added mini pantries throughout four of NYC’s five boroughs. It is an initiative we are looking to expand. We also recently just launched the first fully plant-based and vegan fridge in all of New York state which has been a huge success. It is located in an area that gives the illusion of wealth, however, there are seven shelters in the area and significant food insecurity that affects students and families who have lost their source of income during the pandemic. Many people have the idea that we are a large team, but we are a pretty small team of about four individuals, two of which are doing the pandemic relief with volunteers that gift us their time whenever they can and the rest who handle meal shares with volunteers. This has been quite the challenge and a lesson in balance and communication fatigue, but also in love and community and what it means to come together in challenging times to provide support while also continuing to fight for Animal Liberation. As things have started to open, our volunteers are now less available and we are operating as best we can with the small amount of volunteers we have. What we are in need of are mostly drivers-in NYC this is very challenging to come by as this is a walking
city where people rely mostly on public transportation. We always include vegan literature in our distribution and at our meal shares. This has been a great opportunity for us to talk about the root cause of zoonotic diseases. We felt comfortable doing this because we have always been in our communities and it was an opportunity to inform our folks even further. Because the city was so desolate for so long, the pigeons and squirrels at the park were also hungry, so we became even more intentional about feeding them as well during the pandemic. They are part of our meal share as well.
HAS THERE BEEN A SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN DEMAND FOR YOUR SERVICES? Absolutely. The economic downturn caused by the pandemic hit New York City extremely hard. A lot of people here depend on the service industry- these are people who may already barely be making ends meet in this expensive city so this was a new group of people we started FORCA VEGAN
There is no scarcity problem when it comes to food. We have a distribution and poverty problem. Even though dismantling oppression and abolishing exploitative systems is challenging, I believe that as a species we are capable of transformation.”
@OverthrowCommunityFridge Photo credit: @Mikiodo
Harlem meal share, Manhattan
to work with--even beyond the service industry, we saw many families who lost their jobs or had their hours significantly cut. The need not only increased in the unsheltered population, but in the sheltered and housed population that was facing a new food insecurity and hunger they may not have experienced before. Many volunteer groups and organizations who were providing meals to the unsheltered stopped their operations due to COVID. Our unsheltered community faced an even greater amount of hunger and food insecurity and so did most New Yorkers who are not white collar workers. Volunteers were also fearful of Covid, and this led to less volunteers being available for this type of work. 42
WHAT’S THE LATEST FROM PUERTO RICO? THE HURRICANES HIT SO HARD, RECOVERY MUST BE SO TOUGH RIGHT NOW. Right after Hurricane Maria hit and it was safe to fly, Michelle and her son Ollie went and distributed 15,000 meals within two months. These meals were distributed at institutions, nursing homes, orphanages, and domestic violence shelters. These places typically relied on the government
for food, but the government had shut down and stopped providing food to the people. Chilis on Wheels stepped in. Chilis on Wheels also provided relief to communities in the mountain region that were cut off from aid due to their location, besides food, CoWs provided water filters, solar lamps, personal care items, and more. The relief was done in all areas throughout Puerto Rico during hurricane Maria. CoWs also joined forces with Santuario de Animales San Francisco de Asís to provide food and aid to dogs and cats affected by the hurricane. Out of Hurricane Maria Casana Vegana de la Comminidad was born. In March 2018, after 5 months of providing relief the center was set up to serve the community permanently.
Michelle saw that aid and relief groups would come in for a few weeks and leave, leaving a hole and not truly building community. She asked herself “what is relief and what is rebuilding?” Casa Vegana is now a community center that hosts a micro sanctuary for rescued chickens, meal shares, and amazing education on veganism, speciesism, health, climate, and community. Casa Vegana provided relief during the earthquakes of 2019 and 2020 and continue their meal shares which take place 3x a week and have continued amazing programming online during the pandemic.
CoWS MUST BE SUCH A GODSEND FOR SO MANY. HOW DOES IT KEEP ITSELF GOING? CoWs keeps going due to our amazing volunteers and mostly through individual donations. Our model is based on mutual aid, many of our vol-
unteers have at some point also received assistance. When we eat at the mealshares, we eat together. We want to get rid of the shame that exists in needing food assistance and blur the line between who needs and who does not. We are a community. As to how people can get involved? Well people can share our work on social media and make a donation. Also, be in community with those less fortunate- share a meal with your unsheltered neighbor.
AND HAWAII? I GUESS MOST PEOPLE THINK OF HAWAII AS A TROPICAL PARADISE... Chilis on Wheels Maui has also been very active during the pandemic, they teamed up with other organizations such as Maui Rapid Response to provide groceries, hot meals, and supplies to the unhoused community and anyone in need. They created a hub for people to come in to choose what they need which has worked tremendously well. CoWs Maui has built an amazing community where folks truly feel like they belong. During the protest for Mauna Kea Mountain in 2019, they provided food relief and supplies to Indigenous land protectors who were fighting for their rights, many who were jailed because of it.
To me, making plant based foods accessible to everyone was and is decolonization practice” Meals ready for the meal share
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH CoWS? CoWs started in NYC and I was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time- in the amazing community that is the NYC Animal Liberation Movement. It spoke to me in such a big way. As an AfroIndigenous woman, plantbased food has always been a huge part of my life because my family grew a lot of their food while I was growing up. My great-great grandparents shared everything they grew and everything they cooked. This was the way of things for us-- to be in community. To
me, making plant-based foods accessible to everyone was and is decolonization practice. It has always felt like love, community, and healing. No one in NYC was doing what Michelle was doing. It had the component of community that I was raised with along with the healing. She is and continues to be an inspiration to me.
ARE YOU CONFIDENT WE CAN ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS LONG TERM THAT YOU SEE DAILY?
Yes. While these systems are highly complex and exploit the human animals and the beyond-human animals in our home- Earth, I do believe food sovereignty and food justice that is rooted in the liberation of all Beings is possible. Of course this would require us to address poverty, speciesism, colonialism, and many other issues that prevent us from true transformation. We must hold corporations, the media, and governments accountable and the resource hoarders who have taken over this planet as well. There is no scarcity problem when it comes to food. We have a distribution and poverty problem. Even though dismantling oppression and abolishing exploitative systems is
Eloísa on her way to deliver groceries to students
We must understand that workers picking strawberries who can’t afford those very same strawberries and whose rights are violated and are experiencing hunger and abuse are being exploited in the same systems where beyond-human animals are exploited, murdered and abused.”
Hot meal share at Tompkins Square Park
many times are both oppressor and oppressed. This isn’t to excuse speciesism, but to highlight that we are in a complex, complicated system led by humans, we too, are those humans. Even if we are vegan, we exist in a system where our very existence still causes damage to the world because of these systems. We may like to believe that we are fighting individuals, but the reality is that we are fighting an economic system that is designed to depend on exploitation and a global belief that beyond-human animals are food, products, and things. How do you get rid of a global idea? Of a global belief?
challenging, I believe that as a species we are capable of transformation. We have evolved and will continue to evolve, along the way we must decide and be intentional about liberation in our every day and in/ for the self, and in our activism.
WHAT WOULD HELP ACHIEVE THAT THE MOST? We must recognize our own power to effect change and when we recognize this pow-
er, we must empower others. For us to truly have a plantbased food system and abolish industries that oppressed beyond-human animals, we must recognize and combat all forms of oppression. We must understand that workers picking strawberries who can’t afford those very same strawberries and whose rights are violated and are experiencing hunger and abuse are being exploited in the same systems where beyond-human animals are exploited, murdered and abused. We must understand that human animals can and
THE VEGAN MOVEMENT SOMETIMES SEEMS SO DIVIDED JUST AT A TIME WHEN WE NEED THE MOST UNITY. WHAT WOULD HELP ACHIEVE THAT? If we truly think about liberation and what it means, we begin to understand that any oppression gets in the way of animal liberation. It would be easy if things were black and white as we many times make them out to be, but the fact is that most human animals are not born vegan or raised with vegan values and that this is a transition most people make
when they become aware either at 6 or 60 years --this should highlight the fact that animal liberation is much a more complex fight than any other liberation movement in history. We must strive to understand the complexity and the nuance that exists when it comes to being strategic about animal liberation. I wish all the screaming in the world was enough. It isn’t. We must be strategic in our approach and community driven. If we do not build sustainable com-
munities that empower activists then our liberation work is incomplete and ineffective.
MICHELLE CARRERA, THE FOUNDER OF CoWS, IS A BIT OF A LEGEND. WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU
LIKE MOST ABOUT MICHELLE? Her capacity to care. Michelle is a soul that soothes with her ability to care and love. Just the way she has cared for me and keeps me in mind throughout me adopting this new role at Chilis on Wheels impresses me, that is on top of caring for every Being on this planet. I am lucky and grateful to call her a mentor and friend.
SUPPORT CHILIS ON WHEELS! Michelle feeding birds at Tompkins Square Park
Paris Vegan Days were organised by Deborah Brown Pivian and her wonderful team, now of the Gentle Gourmet Institute. Deborah spoke about the importance of visibility in terms of outreach. With that, she was unwittingly instrumental in the birth of the Dublin-based all-volunteer Vegan Information Project (VIP) in 2013.
n 2010 and 2011, I was honoured to be invited to speak at the inaugural Paris Vegan Day festivals. One of the talks I gave was called “Hello Donald” which was about the best-known of the co-founders of the vegan social movement, Donald Watson. My argument was that, although the movement came
into being in during “World War II,” vegan activism in the first decade of the new century was still in its pioneer stage. Indeed, in terms of the history of the vegan movement, the final years of the 20th century and the first of the 21st, marked the beginning of vegan activism as we know it today. The
The VIP was born as “mould breakers.” In terms of street activism, the standard outreach model for decades had been a single fold-down table, leaflets, and a couple of banners. We wanted to change all that, indeed, in the name of visibility. VIP co-founder, vegan, and Russian human rights activist, Irena, had successfully negotiated our way into a prestigious location in Dublin called Temple Bar Square. This is a famous spot in the very heart
of the Irish capital, and we set up our first 8-hour 3 x 3m gazebo event there for an initial 16-week residency (we ended up there for the best part of 5 years). In the name of “going bigger,” the VIP eventually brought many elements of street activism together: tables, roll-up banners, leaflets, posters, displays, booklets, vegan-friendly food samples, a local vegan restaurant guide, badges, t-shirts, VR goggles, and video screens. In addition, we developed a unique feature called the “tea station.”
For these fun events, we have joined up with a well-known Elvis Presley impersonator and you really haven’t lived until you see The King giving out vegan-friendly cheeses to cars as they stop at the local traffic lights! On two occasions, buses complete with passengers have stopped
for samples, as have taxis with customers inside and, once, even the passing police patrol. Of course, the best part of these events are the vegan seeds that we are planting. Plenty of vegan-related conversations are had with the people who take samples from our tables. Vegan outreach continues in Dublin!
The tea station is essentially a small cafe area – a table, chairs, and hot water for tea-making. The outreach advantage of this is significant. It means that members of the public could sit for as long as they need with a VIP volunteer and talk all things vegan. Over recent years, people have become much more “vegan curious,” so the tea station provides a stress-free facility for activists and the public to interact. Several people have returned to VIP events (and to those run by our partners in outreach, VEGO [Vegan Education on the Go]), to say they have gone vegan subsequent to meeting us on the street. Whole families have “gone vegan” this way. Although COVID-19 has suspended our work, VEGO and VIP are ready to return with a 6 x 3m double gazebo set-up and “Vegan Street” as soon as we can. In the meantime, much of our work has transferred online but we have managed to run three events during the pandemic lock downs which are based on distributing hundreds of samples of Violife plant-based cheeses (each with a Go Vegan World leaflet advertising their excellent downloadable vegan guide).
VEGO and VIP are ready to return with a 6x3m double gazebo set-up and “Vegan Street” as soon as we can. FORCA VEGAN
HUGLETTS WOOD FARM
ANIMAL SANCTUARY Founded over 25 years ago, Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary has consistently provided a safe haven for animals away from the harmful clutches of our meat eating society. Wenda from Hugletts Wood Farm speaks to Forca Vegan about the history of the sanctuary, day-to-day life on the farm and how COVID-19 has affected their ability to fundraise and care for the residents.
TELL US WHEN HUGLETTS WOOD OPENED, AND A LITTLE OF THE HISTORY. Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary came into existence in early Summer 1995, hot on the heels of almost 5 months, protesting against Live Exports from Shoreham in East Sussex. It was something, that had been my focus, from childhood. Initially, I rented 12 acres, near here, for the nine cows, four sheep and two pigs who had been rescued. They outgrew it within a year, so we moved to land that was almost double in size. We were there for 2 years, until an attack, well, two attacks actually, were made on the cows. Someone slashed Sam (Babaji) and little Reg, (a Jersey calf), with a Stanley Knife and then an attempt was made to chop off Carrie’s head with an axe. Carrie had just given birth and the prognosis was not good, but she recovered around the same time I made the decision that leaving the animals vulnerable at nights, was not actually “Sanctuary.” We needed to find a place where we could live 24/7, as well as have more land for the ever-expanding group of residents. So, my home in Brighton was sold and the proceeds bought Hugletts Wood farm in 1999. We have been here ever since; a shack for a home, but until recently, as our numbers have grown, Hugletts Wood Farm has afforded not only a beautiful environment but enough land for the rescued animals and birds to live.
Nipper J, and Derrick, who made the leg braces.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR OWN BACKGROUND. I think I must be the single MOST boring person alive, but if you insist... When I was about 3, I discovered what “meat” was, which started a long battle with my Father over not eating flesh. I won, of course! I eventually floated into veganism, much, much later on in life.
I spent some of my younger life in the Middle East; the bane of local mosques and neighbours. I was apt to steal their sheep, destined for Dhabihah, (religious slaughter) from outside the local mosque and in front of their houses. Much to my family’s horror, I sequestered them in our garden or the yard, depending on where we lived. The sheep were always reclaimed, but I tried. They took to locking me in the house whenever it was Eid to save the wrath of the locals. Childhood was very tedious.
I loathed and detested school and was thrown out of the Convent where my parents had put me, in desperation. Mother Superior named me “Satan’s Spawn”. Guess I just wasn’t accepting of the Sisters idea of “Holiness”. I ended up in a girl’s madrassa studying Koran at one point. At 13, I liberated the school lab rats. The janitor dobbed me in and I was almost expelled. Like I cared! I studied Middle Eastern Archaeology, Egyptology & Hieroglyphs at Uni, was a Financial Director for many years, and had a small publishing company in California before setting up the sanctuary. I work in India each year, with Vigilantes, saving cows from the butchers or caring for dying cows in sanctuaries. I see it as giving back some of the good.
Someone slashed Sam (Babaji) and little Reg, (a Jersey calf), with a Stanley Knife and then an attempt was made to chop off Carrie’s head with an axe.” TELL US MORE ABOUT THE RESIDENTS We offer a home to rescued farm animals. In fact, whoever makes it to our gate is wel-
comed; our thoughts being that everyone has the right to life. Recently a rhea came – he was to have been Christmas lunch for a Roma family, but he pecked the man who tried to kill him rather badly and ran off. Somehow, we manage to care for any number of
Frieda and Rudi, rescued from the dairy industry, as young calves, enjoy the long grass and Summer sun.
Seth, bought by an activist at market, when he was 18th months. He found a home for life at Hugletts Wood, when no-one else would take him.
mentally and physically challenged animals. They are such a joy! No self-pity, they just get on with living, as far as their damaged minds and bodies allow. We do all we can to facilitate this. There’s an amalgam of four herds of cows, a huge flock of sheep, (which comprises lots of family groups), birds, by the dozen; turkeys, geese, ducks, cockerels and hens. Sigri and Colette the pigs; two girls with attitude. 32 delinquent cats; those with anti-social tendencies who fit in nicely! We never cage them. They just “are” and it is they who choose how closely they want to live to us. There’s also a dog called Nanci; a Spanish Mastina, who was run over as a puppy. As a result, she suffered broken bones and brain damage and is a total nutter. We love her, nonetheless. The sanctuary enjoys a plethora of wildlife, to whom 54
we offer protection from the threat of hunters and ensure as far as possible their habitat, which has been theirs alone, for thousands of years, is not encroached upon as we expand our numbers. No cutting down trees; no clearing areas of woodland, just total respect for the invisible boundaries.
WHAT DOES EVERYONE EAT? DINNER TIME MUST BE A RIOT... The residents eat grass from late spring to autumn and hay throughout the winter, with grains, vegetables and fruits served in individual trugs, twice a day. We buy thousands of large bales of hay each year – same with straw,
in order to keep everyone fed and bedded out. 28 tons at a time. I make up over 90 individual trugs of feed twice a day in winter, morning and night, one for each cow or bullock, the contents determined by their age and health. (The calves and lambs are always happy sharing feed – it’s more of a social thing, than a freefor-all) The sheep are so much easier – they share buckets of mixed grains, poured out into a long feeder that they gather around. Feed times in general are structured mayhem! Imagine trying to ensure that the right feed trug reaches the right recipient, in the midst of a barn full of heaving flesh – tons of it! We are well-practiced now and can most times serve everyone without any losses. Even so, after all these years, it feels like the feeding of the five thousand and causes the heart to beat a tad
faster. The birds receive corn and pelleted feed along with vegetables and fruits. They wander at will, so will pick up worms and other invertebrates; a practice, which is natural for them and quite out of our hands. Then there is the washing up after each meal. I won’t even go there!
IT MUST BE AN EMOTIONAL JOURNEY. YOU MUST HAVE A FAVOURITE OR TWO, RIGHT? I tend not to have favourites. Admittedly I am closer to some residents than others but that’s because they need more from me, both emotionally, and in extra support due to past trauma or failing health. The oldies always seem to grab my heart; spent dairy cows, elderly suckler mothers. They have endured such torment; with such shameful treatment. Yet, broken as they may be, they somehow manage to retain a little dignity. At present we have a young bullock who was born with a deformity of his front legs. We called him Nipper Jackson. He had such determination to thrive despite his problems. I have cared for him since his arrival. Upon discovering corrective surgery was not an option, we raised funds to bring a prosthetist from the USA to make special leg braces for him. Nipper hasn’t looked back since. I feel very close to him. Likewise, a little sheep, name of Nobby Wheatland, underwent drastic surgery some years back. I had raised him from a sickly
Girl Neville and her little friend, Herman, the cat
lamb, so I went to the vets with him and when he didn’t come round so easily after anaesthetic, it was I who laid with him, on the surgery floor, calling his name, until he awoke. I see everyone here as individuals and love them for that. Whether we are close to them or not, when a resident dies, despite the fact I do hold a spiritual belief about life and death, it is the single most difficult thing to deal with. We can care for someone for 19 years – we watch them mature and age and we watch them leave. It may be, that as in some cases, they are so damaged they come here to die in peace, so we might only have them to care for and love for hours or days. We give them just as much attention in that moment, as others might take from us in a lifetime. I think that’s what Hugletts Wood is all about. Not the grief that follows.
WHAT ABOUT FUNDRAISING – HOW DO YOU MANAGE? We have always relied on Open Days and Shows we attend to bring in money to run. We also market goods we make at the sanctuary. I supply the Hindu community with items they need for religious practice, grow plants and deal with the Special Person scheme we run, while Matthew makes the most amazing woodland products from coppiced or fallen trees in the ancient woodland. Our belief is that being a sanctuary doesn’t give us the right to hold out our hands for public donations and expect to have our chosen lifestyle paid for, so have always endeavored to bring in as much funding as possible, ourselves. I work to cover our living costs, so they always stay separate to the sanctuary finances. People who like our philosophy do FORCA VEGAN
make regular donations and in the main we manage to get by without constantly hitting on people to cover huge shortfalls. However, these days, just like every other sanctuary, we are finding it harder to meet the increased running costs. People love how we do things here but not everyone realizes that the lifelong care we offer, comes at a price.
WHAT ABOUT COVID - WHAT IMPACT HAS IT HAD ON YOU? To be absolutely candid, oth-
er than curtailing the shows we normally attend each year and putting an end to our very popular Open Days, which has seriously impacted our revenue, COVID-19, to date, has not changed our day to day lives any. Lockdown has set us a challenge to continue funding here in different ways that won’t be so sorely impacted should it continue indefinitely. It’s very hard, don’t get me wrong, as supporters tighten their belts and everyone pleads poverty. We work incredibly hard here with the two of us doing everything. At the end of the day, it is us, the people in charge of this place, who bear full responsibility for the maintenance & welfare of the residents. In my opinion, it
is no good asking for financial support, when one is putting nothing in the kitty oneself. It’s a question of tight budgeting and cutting back to bare essentials before going cap-inhand and pleading for help. COVID-19, in my book, did not present any of us with yet another opportunity to ask for cash, rather it is/was a time to renew our dedication to serving those in our care, whatever happens. The ensuing loss of income has pushed me to start building an on-line shop, with the help of my techno-savvy grand-daughter. It will carry all of our beautiful hand-crafted items, books and photographs and will launch at the end of March 2021, we hope, giving everyone the chance to
Even the tiniest of residents are helped to overcome adversity. Spud Murphy is one.
buy the items they would have done at shows and events.
WE’VE SEEN A HUGE SHIFT TOWARDS VEGANISM AND PLANT BASED DIETS IN THE LAST 50 YEARS – WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? People are more health conscious these days. “Live longer, live healthier, have the perfect body” has now become the Vegan / Plant based slogan, whereas in years past it was “For the Animals”. With the internet, access to information about veganism is available to more people, thus enabling them to make choices in their diets, for whatever reason they choose, be it health or moral. Likewise, information about the environment; cruelty issues in the production of animal products, testing and all and every abuse of animals, is mainstream these days. You don’t have to go hunting for it.
the Health Food Shop to buy a carton of watery,grey soya milk and wishing you could hack black tea instead?? In the last ten years, Veganism, and what it now represents, has become BIG business; you can buy vegan food everywhere; shops, supermarkets and restaurants, now provide an easily accessible means for anyone to find vegan food. The advent of vegan influencers, travelling all over the world, some in style, to preach the word to the uninitiated, has opened many eyes (and wallets) recently. From the founding Vegans, of earlier years, recognizable by their open toed sandals and multi-coloured tank tops, and their alleged left-wing tendencies, to those amazing, honourable folk, who spoke out about Animal Rights, unafraid to spread the
word, to liberate, to end the suffering. All this whilst freaking out your parents as you sit quietly absorbing every word they spoke. They were the ones who appeared in black ballies, who reached out through their actions to open eyes and make people consider a vegan life. All have played their part in this journey, that’s got us where we are today.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE HAPPEN IN THE NEXT 50 YEARS? Obviously a vegan, mate-conscious world
Frank’N’Furter always visits the sheep in winter - he likes Newt best
Let’s face it – neo veganism is trendy, however you look at it. No longer just the way of life for people with a conscience. With the increase in people following a vegan/plant-based diet, or wishing to, it’s become a marketable concept bought into by Corporates who push its expansion as a part of their marketing strategy. Remember having to go to FORCA VEGAN
We should all project the vegan lifestyle as one of great health, simplicity and ease, which it is, when unencumbered by excess.”
non-breeders is top of my list. Seriously, a change in people’s attitude to animals and the environment would be a start; to understand we are a part of Nature, not separate to it. A society willing to take full responsibility for its actions, collectively and individually, well knowing that this planet, our only home, cannot sustain human life in such numbers. People will have come to realize that just because we are vegan, doesn’t mean we don’t have to curtail our excesses. Our progeny, vegan or not, all have a Footprint, just as everyone in this world does. A world, where there is no killing and slaughter houses are looked at in the same way we regard ear and bull baiting of times gone by. I dream. I know but there will be greater changes as people realise their destiny, if they continue to live as they are.
WHAT ANNOYS YOU MOST ABOUT THE CURRENT VEGAN MOVEMENT?
Everyone needs downtime with the animals - Dr Michael Klaper with Adge Page
It does annoy me to see the systemic change from being a movement of co-operatives and collectives to being hijacked by Corporates with an individualist message of consumerism, which is bought into by the Movement. There is an avid consumption of fake meats with a productive Footprint, as great as animal meats. What one eats doesn’t require thought any more. Gone is the need to sit down and think out your actions – it’s all there for you on a consumerist plate. Seems like if its vegan, that’s all that matters.
The need to create Idols within the movement disturbs me greatly and the manner in which, these folk are funded, makes my teeth chatter. I would rather money was poured into the coffers of low profile activist groups, like Hunt Sabs and ALF etc. It would bring about so much change. This really is a tricky question for me to answer honestly, because I can’t separate veganism from Animal Rights. To me, they go hand-in-hand; they are inseparable; so when I see the pages and pages of people glorifying the individual and discussing recipes for hours on end, it grates. Don’t get me wrong, the support and help available to people considering making that change is awesome, but what about the animals? Seems like the only look-in they get is in selfies with whoever can get close enough to them.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OF IN THE MOVEMENT?
AND HOW CAN READERS HELP WITH THE SANCTUARY?
I would love the Vegan Movement to progress to less reliance on processed foods. A transition to eating healthily, rather than overloading on other stuff, like overly sweet cakes and pastries. Everything in moderation!! We should all project the vegan lifestyle as one of great health, simplicity and ease, which it is, when un-encumbered by excess. I would like to see people start to take more responsibility not only to eat vegan but to adopt a vegan approach to avoiding products which are animal tested; to look closely at the pharmaceutical industry and start questioning more.
I do believe it’s important that people acquaint themselves with our philosophy, as we are quite different to other sanctuaries. Hugletts Wood is all about the animals rather than the people involved. If it appeals, then it might just be a sanctuary worth supporting. This is a place where support isn’t just of a financial nature. That simply alienates the folk who may not have funds to share. We are grateful to people who have artistic skills, and who are willing to make items we can sell. Even though we don’t accept Volunteers and don’t offer placements to paid staff, Tradespeople who are electricians/plumbers/builders etc., and able to donate some time in return for travel expenses, are much in need.
Open Days give visitors the chance to be at one with the the residents, if the animals are comfortable with that. Moon Willy enjoys a hug!
If anyone is interested in supporting the sanctuary financially, they might consider setting up a regular Standing Order or even becoming a “Special Person” to one of the animals. All they need do is arrange with us to present themselves to be chosen by one of the residents.
EMAIL FORCA VEGAN
Friends for life. Everyone at Hugletts Wood gets to choose who their friends are. Left to right: Freya, Sigri and Twiglet smiling for the camera
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
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he pandemic has changed how we all do business, and it’s impacted vegan companies just the same as non-vegan. However, what vegan companies have that others don’t is a loyal, passionate community behind them who believe in their mission. We’ve seen countless stories of supporters, customers, friends and fans rallying around vegan brands in need over the last year, which is why business support platform Vegan Business Tribe have teamed up with the UK’s biggest crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder to help a group of their members go through a fundraising programme as a collective group. From mushroom beer to creating resources for schools to be more inclusive for vegan children, each business has set
their own funding goals and are aiming to raise their own money, but coming together as a group has meant all the companies have been able to support each other in building their fundraising campaigns, swap tips, ask questions and get extra group support from both Vegan Business Tribe and the team at Crowdfunder. Crowdfunder have also created a special landing page on their website to promote all the members as a group, meaning if someone comes to support one vegan company, they may well see another who they also think deserves backing at the same time. Many businesses turn to the idea of crowdfunding as a way to raise funds, but the idea of going into a crowdfunding campaign on your own, especially if you’ve never tried to raise money before, can be
daunting. You hear stories of brands raising huge amounts going into hundreds of thousands of pounds, but only about a third of companies successfully reach their funding target. And the truth is that there is far more work to running a successful campaign than just recording a catchy video and putting up a funding page. Any people who come to your crowdfunding page are mostly brought there by your own efforts, and there’s a simple rule of thumb formula you can use: on average, 1 in 20 people who visit your Crowdfunding page will make a donation and the average donation amount is £50. Therefore if you wanted to raise £3,000 that will require you getting 1,200 people to visit your page. This is why promotion and publicity is the lifeblood of any campaign, and many companies look to build up an audience first before launch-
ing a fundraising programme. And there’s certainly an amazing range of vegan businesses looking to raise funds as part of the project, with some looking to raise tens of thousands through to others just needing a couple of thousand to launch a new product or scale up their production. Victoria Carpenter from Happy Carrot Skincare is looking to raise £1,500 to add a new dry mask made from beetroot powder to her range of already award-winning vegan (and made completely from plants!) skincare range. Victoria says: “After a year of no face-to-face events I’d really love to be able to extend the family of skincare superheroes and reach more people who I know I could give happy skin. My product testers are telling me ‘OMG! How nice does my skin feel after using this mask’ but buying the pots, la-
bels, ingredients, product photography and covering legal aspects will cost be around £1,500 - however, I know the new product is amazing and totally believe in its success!” Victoria is not just offering products as rewards for her backers, but also an individual one-to-one workshop on Zoom where she will teach you how to make your own plant-based lip balms, including sending you the bundle of ingredients you will need to make it. Founded by Lisa Fox and David Pannell, who have built a career helping high-street brands and large food manufacturers better understand plant-based customers, this is Vegan Business Tribe’s latest campaign to help vegan businesses during the pandemic. Back in 2020 they scrapped all their membership fees to the site when the pandem-
Crowdfunder was even able to provide us with one of their vegan team members, Nicole, as a dedicated point of contact”
ic hit, building an impressive community of over a thousand vegan businesses. They still continue this free tier of membership but last year also added live networking events, business clinics and launched the world’s first vegan business marketing course, which is all included in their £12.99 a month membership. David Pannell said, “The topic of how to raise funds for a vegan business is one of the biggest questions we get asked by our Vegan Business Tribe members, especially at the moment when people are having to try out new ideas or pivot to new ways of doing business because of the pandemic - but the thing is, the money IS out there. The problem is linking up those people who genuinely want to support vegan enterprises to help them grow with the vegan businesses owners
Victoria Carpenter, founder of Happy Carrot Skincare, is part of the group-Crowdfunding campaign currently running throughout March 2021. Click here to find out more.
who need the funding. And this link up with Crowdfunder is how we’re looking to bring the two together in what has been a really difficult time for many. I was also very impressed with Crowdfunder - when we were looking for a partner we couldn’t find a purely vegan platform, but Crowdfunder’s ethical stance and the amazing community work they do has naturally attracted a number of vegan companies, and even employees, to the platform. Crowdfunder was even able to provide us with one of their vegan team members, Nicole, as a dedicated point of contact for our members while they were building their pages. We also have a number of Vegan Business Tribe members who have been through crowdfunding themselves, or are experts in raising vegan finance, and they have been helping to coach members, or have recorded interviews for
our archive to help members reach their funding goals.” ‘Rewards-based’ crowdfunding is one of the most accessible ways for a small business to raise money because a company doesn’t need to give away any equity or ownership in return, and many backers are now familiar with the process and how it works. Although there are no guarantees that a company will hit its funding goal, many find that the extra exposure that running a crowdfunding campaign brings is just as valuable as hitting the target amount. Lisa and David hope Vegan Business Tribe will be able to run the project again in the future. David continues: “Everyone is learning so much from going through this programme and I’d love to repeat it again in the future - I can see us running an annual crowdfunding programme with our mem-
bers, getting more and more people on board each time to get even bigger publicity. I also hope that we’d be able to attract some ethical vegan backers or companies who would match-fund what the companies raise, or come onto our judging panel to pick a winner to give extra support to”. You can back the companies throughout March to help them reach their goal in return for some amazing rewards and returns. You can see a full list of companies you can support by visiting the Vegan Business Tribe website at www.veganbusinesstribe. c o m /c r o w d f u n d e r or on funder
www.crowdfunder. co.uk/start- up - scale- up.
Support Vegan Businesses
the Crowdwebsite at
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The brand “Orethic” and its Spanish counterpart “Eco-Etico” offer a wide range of children organic textile basics, unisex sanitary wear, zero-waste household essentials, personal care and educational gifts.
LIFESTYLE Luna Tree was established in 2007 by Clare McCormack. Clare had previously worked in retail management and as a buyer for a multiple store Fair Trade gift and homewares business. Initial contacts with the village and the silversmiths were made over several years during her buying trips in South East Asia . The beautiful jewellery and the silversmiths creativity was something that stayed with Clare long after her buying trips had ended!
We wanted to create subtle and stylish vegan clothes that are ageless and that you could pair with the rest of your wardrobe. Elegant and classic pieces, combined with ontrend and edgy items, all with subtle VEGAN Happy logos, just enough to spark the V conversation but not overshadow your outfit. All our items are ethically sourced and 100% vegan. ‘Spreading the vegan message, one subtle logo at a time’ WE DONATE 10% OR MORE OF OUR NET PROFITS TO ANIMAL RESCUE OR VEGAN EVANGELISM
Clare works closely on the designs with the silversmiths on her visits to Thailand. Many designs are pure Clare. Some designs are a mix of Clare’s ideas and the silversmiths creativity. While some are pure Karen Hill Tribe designs. Not quashing their creativity is something which is very close to the central focus of the business, along with the Fair Trade ethics on which Luna Tree is run. Luna Tree has been a proud member of BAFTS|Fair Trade Network UK since 2009. Luna Tree champions a Fair Trade ethos and the 10 principles of Fair Trade at the heart of the business.
Herbipaws was born in summer 2019 and officially launched in January 2020. Herbipaws was established after Caroline had an epiphany; we think carefully about the food we put into our own bodies, but then naturally accept regular store-bought food for our dogs. Upon researching the ingredients of many mainstream foods and treats (and being both disappointed and concerned by these) Caroline set out to produce her own dog food, for her own dogs, and to source treats with no harmful ingredients.
LUXURY FASHION WITH COMPASSION Stunning collection of vegan accessories, bags, wallets and luxury fashion items at excellent prices from the affable, reliable and authentic Lifestyle International team, with an excellent online shop making their items available worldwide.
With a range of treats from large to small, hard to soft, Herbipaws truly offer something for everyone. All treats are made of plant-based ingredients with no harmful chemicals, additives, artificial colourings or flavourings. They are produced using quality processes and with love and care for the value of the products. Aiming to keep prices down to allow for great value for money, to support a network of healthy dogs who are able to thrive.
We at LifeStyle International strongly believe in the Philosophy of “Live and Let Live” and are very passionate to work together for animal cruelty-free products. We are promoting World Class, Luxury Fashion Accessories of Superior Quality without cruelty to innocent animals. Our aim is to motivate people to switch from leather to non-leather accessories, which save the lives of animals and we are very passionate about it.
LIFESTYLE CLOTHED WITH COMPASSION DESIGNED TO STAND OUT Special offer now on: Use FORCA20 for 20% off on our online shop. Click the images to head to the website. Our T-shirts and hoodies tell a story hidden in the seams of sun baked organic fields pesticide free, Colours of the rainbow printed with water based dyes. Stitched by respected workers paid a fair wage. You may not see the difference but a difference is made.
10% OFF WATSON & WOLFE LUXURY VEGAN LEATHER BAG This luxurious and 100% vegan cross-body bag is a fresh arrival from Watson & Wolfe’s new women’s collection. Completely handmade with premium Italian vegan leather, this gorgeous bag features an innovative PET-yarn fabric lining made from recycled plastic bottles. Look great this Spring with the latest innovation in luxury, cruelty-free, PetaApproved fashion. Exclusive to Forca Vegan readers, Watson & Wolfe are now offering 10% off their new range:
REPAIR RECYCLE REDUCE RELOVE THERE IS NO ESCAPING THAT FASHION IS A DIRTY BUSINESS, BUT WITH CONSCIOUS CHOICES WE CAN MINIMISE OUR PERSONAL FOOTPRINT.
Metal AF designs by vegan artists for vegan activists with attitude. Want to wear a band style t-shirt with a strong vegan message? We got you! Anticarnist is a one-vegan-woman micro business hoping to insight passion and create change through art. Screen printed with non-toxic, cruelty free ink in the East of England (UK), Anticarnist apparel is ethically made and lovingly designed from start to finish with the animals and our planet in mind. Gen V make some fabulous clothes for vegans – but not only are the designs great, so is the processing: “Wastewater from dyehouse effluent is a major source of pollution in the clothing industry. Where our fabrics are dyed, the water is recovered, cleaned and recirculated. After settling and skimming the water is filtered using reverse osmosis and distillation. This is basically sucking up water through really fine sand over and over, then boiling it.
10% of profits go to a different animal sanctuary each year. Sweatshop-free • Fair Wear Foundation • Organic cotton • Screen printed • Vegan inks • Low carbon footprint • Biodegradable/ recycled packaging • 10% of profits go to Pigs in the Woods • WORLDWIDE DELIVERY.
Salt is added back in so that the dye adheres and all the cruddy mulchy stuff left over is dried out and used for road markings. About 95% of the water is recirculated and recovered. At the end, the water coming out of the filters and going back round to be reused again is crystal clear, literally clean enough to drink. Once it has been cleaned it is then used at the input for the next batch. It is a closed loop system.”
FOOD All of our chickpea fudge is made predominantly from chickpeas which are a natural source of protein and “good” carbohydrates making our fudges the perfect healthy snacks. All of our products are “Free-from”: - Gluten - GMO ingredients - Additives - Preservatives - Refined sugars Free From Italy have a wonderous selection of artisan vegan options including plenty of pasta and risotto options, sauces and pestos. But it’s the panettones and in particular the croissants that have caught our attention this month: Vegan Croissants Soft vegan croissants, with or without a delicious vegan chocolate cream. Naturally leavened with sourdough yeast and sweetened with agave syrup, and individually wrapped to ensure freshness for longer. And then there’s the chocolate version. Did we mention that already? Goodness.
ONE PLANET PIZZA: THE MAC PIZZA Outrageously plant-based? You bet! One Planet Pizza, the award-winning frozen pizza company, has launched their latest, and most epic, pizza yet: The MAC Pizza. Featuring Plantifull’s Creamy Vegan Mac, Miami Burger’s Smoky Bac’n Rashers, One Planet Pizza’s thin-crust base covered with a homemade tomato sauce, and finished with handfuls of Applewood® Vegan. You just have to grab a slice!
We think the key to a mind blowing brownie is, first and foremost, the more chocolate the better! Our rich and fudgy treats contain more of the dark stuff than most, with the main ingredient in our brownies being Fairtrade 70% Dark Chocolate.
Changing the world one slice at a time, One Planet Pizza have partnered up with global reafforestation charity One Tree Planted, helping you eat delicious plant-based pizza and plant trees as you go. Find out more at
We are a 100% Vegan company, and proudly Palm Oil Free, with our Top Secret recipes developed by us, hand baked in small batches using top quality ethically sourced ingredients and finished with beautiful yet sustainable packaging. We love what we do and hope you will too! Need some help with ordering? Get in touch – we’ll be happy to help:
FOOD It’s all about the tastes and aromas we bring which we are keen to share the healthy delights of sesame seeds with all. We have launched Sesame Kingdom with an overriding commitment to bring superb ingredients and provide the UK markets with the best halva in the world. We are rolling out a range of delicious products by using stone-ground Sesame seeds.
At Better Nature, we make protein without compromise - all-natural meat alternatives that are as delicious as they are nutritious! We do this using tempeh, a plant-based protein originating in Indonesia that has almost 20g of protein per 100g, is high in fibre and great for the gut, and has a delicious, meaty bite. Our current product range, including our tasty Tempeh Rashers, Tempeh Mince, Smoked Tempeh and Original Tempeh, is all organic, sustainably sourced, made of natural ingredients and of course 100% vegan. We have lots more exciting new tempeh-based products up our sleeves though, so watch this space!
At Sesame Kingdom our halva is unique and special because it respects a wide range of palates with its flaky, cotton, crunchy, airy, melt-on-your-tongue creaminess. Using the finest single-origin Ethiopian White Humera sesame seeds—recognised as the best in the world – our halva has been described as nutty, creamy, complex, and extremely satisfying.
Our vision at Plant Alternative is very simple, we want to offer plant- based veganalternatives for every day favourite meat based foods. We developed our unique [SHICKEN] pieces, to allow more and more people to enjoy a plant-based diet without sacrificing taste, texture and most importantly the enjoyment of eating our food. It’s very positive that more consumers are trying or switching to a plant-based vegan diet. BUT what if a product range could make it so much easier for the masses to switch to plant-based vegan diet, even if it’s only a few days a week? Imagine the positive impact this would have on our planet and animal welfare! Chocolate without compromise
This is where the [SHICKEN] range comes in, each and every product that we develop is a replica of their meat alternative.
So Free puts the enjoyment back into free-from and ethical chocolate. Our chocolate is 100% plant based and is produced by Britain’s original vegan company - Plamil Foods.
All of our chocolate is made in the UK. Having our own factory means that we can have control over every aspect of production resulting in the highest quality chocolate. This also means no cross contamination from other products. We passionately believe in producing food that is made to the highest standards possible. We pride ourselves on offering a wide selection products that are suitable for vegans, allergy sufferers or people who cannot eat sugar. Production is SALSA certified, and we are also certified by organisations such as Fairtrade Foundation, Soil Association, UTZ and Kosher.
the highly individual Adrian Ling who is an outspoken and ardent campaigner for the meaning of veganism. The Plamil message has been clear for many years, upholding the original values of Vegan, ethical sourcing and logical labelling.
Adrian Ling, Plamil’s CEO, looks back on the early days of Plamil and the first vegan chocolate.
nyone who meets the Plamil team is always impressed with the drive and energy they have for all things chocolate. Indeed they have a food passion that has transcended the generations, for indeed it is generations since the company was founded by a group of pioneers that could, as it happens see well into the future with astonishing clarity. ‘Foodies’ are not often associated with ‘vegan’ but these vegan pioneers such
as Arthur Ling and Leslie Cross translated the early ideals of wanting dairy and meat free foods into actually producing products. It could be said that both from the products they made in the 1950s, 1960’s and following years set the scene and seeded the marketplace with products, that in the last few years has become a multi billion pound market place. Plamils roots are indistinguishable from the Vegan Society but today Plamil is headed by
From its origins of manufacturing of soya milk, Plamil soon identified that chocolate, even dark chocolate had a milk content. This remains the same today as it did in the past. “The only solution to provide a milk free chocolate was to make it ourselves” say Adrian. In 1983 I was at college studying engineering and my father suggested Plamil were going to start to manufacture chocolate. “Whilst engineering background was useful, who could resist the world of chocolate” he continues. So that’s how, unlike so many chocolate brands, Plamil manufactures chocolate in its own factory. Quite fitting Adrian points out that now part of the dairy free Plamil manufacturing site is in what was once an old dairy. The early years of producing chocolate were highly eventful, making chocolate for a limited market, with just enough return to start to invest in better and newer equipment. Looking back Adrian says that he is glad that it really was a ‘hands on’ production. “There were just three of us then, a great way to start to understand chocolate manufacturing, the realities of equipment and how to put a formulation together”. He remembers
there were many trials until we made a product that was ready to be sold and then we had to find a market to sell it. Gradually the company found sales in the health food trade and started to export, expanding its retail range to include many ‘firsts’ in non dairy chocolate including ‘milky’ and white. Over the years the manufacturing processes and market has substantially changed. Noting trends and demands is in the blood stream of the company, often making products or nudging other parameters that keep the company one step ahead. Whilst the company was the first to be Organic certified in the United Kingdom, it sees that long term sustainability is the key to good business and to protecting the planet. Vegan and sustainability ideology includes people” says Adrian “whilst I now ‘dream in chocolate’ equally I would have nightmares if the company, my life and staff salaries was sustained with the use of child slave labour”. More conventionally on sustainable matters Adrian continues “powering our chocolate factory with 100% renewable energy was neither economic or recognised as a benefit when we started decades ago, but it
was and is the right thing to do”. So how did Plamil, a company that is not a household name, despite being the original vegan company become such a hub of vegan chocolate? Adrian explains it’s about seeing the long term trends. “With the growth of the vegan market we identified that having a retail brand was only part of potential growth”. Despite Adrian’s obvious creativity in engineering and formulations Plamil saw it was obvious that the market would expand to such a point in which a multitude of brands creating a whole range of products would emerge. Plamil invested in considerable extra capacity in 2020, despite Covid to supply this growing mar-
ket, “These brands would be seeking more and more truly vegan chocolate ingredient and that’s exactly what has happened” Adrian smiles. So what does Adrian mean by truly vegan chocolate? He explains “The Vegan Society’s own definition of vegan is that products should be ‘animal free’. Their criteria for use of their own trademark however allows for ‘may contain’, which particularly in the case of chocolate inevitable means it does contain and is therefore not animal free. Being myself involved with the start of that trademark with my father at the vegan Society, I know my father and others would be highly offended to learn that many were ‘selling out’ the vegan term for commercial gain.
epresentnation is a brand new clothes label ticking all the boxes for a 21st century ethical label. We chat with the founder Shashi Kala, about the label, what it means to her and how she went about creating this striking, dynamic and exciting new collection.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, AND HOW YOU CAME TO BE VEGAN I’ve been vegetarian my whole life, but vegan for about 6 years. I was raised as a very strict vegetarian, and where I grew up in Trinidad, cheese
and milk were luxuries, so I fall squarely into the category of ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’. I actually credit my lifestyle change to my son who was on a special diet, so I had everything in my fridge already. It got to 2014, five years after I started my first vegan business, and cheese was the only thing left to ditch, so I did and started 2015 completely differently. One particular night I went to bed after spending the day watching loads of documentaries, and I literally woke up vegan. I couldn’t stomach anything that wasn’t vegan. Once I made the change in my heart and mind, that was it.
WHAT HAD YOU BEEN DOING UP UNTIL THE NEW PROJECT? I left my business, and was actually unemployed for a bit, just finding my bearings. Universal Credit is no joke! I actually started working in the charity sector again, through an intro from Farrah at Life After Hummus. To be honest, without her I would have stayed unemployed longer, so she was a blessing. Ba82
Basically, I have spent the last two years just deep in community work and have been using that time to learn about social enterprises and develop a bit of a freelance portfolio career working with different organisations and causes in immigration, race & equality and the environment. I feel very blessed to be working with the people I’m working with at the moment, people like Patrick Vernon who I am learning so much from.
HOW HAS YOUR NEW PROJECT COME ABOUT? FAB NAME BY THE WAY
Thank you! I’ve had a pin in it for about 4 years. Whilst I was running my first business, I felt very strongly that I should be redistributing profits to support causes I believed in. I donated to sanctuaries, many crowdfunders including What The Health, funded free screenings of that film and also signed on as an Executive Producer of The Invisible Vegan. These are all causes I strongly believe in and I knew I wasn’t the only one. After seeing Christopher Sebastian McJetters speak at Vegfest and seeing like-minded people in the audience and on the panels, I felt inspired to find a way to continue to support these important voices. Represent(n) ation came from the sentiment,
sentiment, that what we all want is to be seen, that we all want to be represented. We want our stories to be ‘normal’, what even is normal anyway? Our stories or narratives have been minoritized and marginalised, and this is my contribution to changing that.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN A CHALLENGE TO LAUNCH DURING LOCKDOWN? I actually had finished one job and didn’t know how I was going to support myself, FORCA VEGAN
I am looking at the over-arching systems of oppression and saying it is all connected, my struggle is your struggle and your struggle is mine.” so I decided to soft-launch the brand. The whole plan was to do a proper launch at Vegfest later that year and then Covid-19 and George Floyd happened. I actually put it on hold for a few months, I started another job (well three actually) and just wanted to adjust to that. At the beginning of this year, I decided that I was done procrastinating, and felt that I needed to just get it out there. Financially it’s hard because I decided to fund this social enterprise myself, but I have a good support network around me and I am committed to making it work.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT THE LABEL? This brand is female and pocowned, so my experience of being a vegan, an immigrant, a woman comes through in these designs. I want people to understand why all of it is relevant. To be honest, I looked around the vegan community and I saw something was missing. There were loads of apparel brands out there, but none were saying what I wanted them to say. They were vegan but they weren’t connecting
the dots…they weren’t making the links between oppression of animals AND humans. Don’t get me wrong I am not centring humans in the fight for animal liberation, I am looking at the over-arching systems of oppression and saying it is all connected, my struggle is your struggle and your struggle is mine. For example, animal agriculture pollutes land, holds animals in slavery until they are killed for consumption, it then exploits migrant workers to farm and kill the animals. Those farms are usually placed in poorer communities, where the environment becomes polluted because of run-off. Sim-
ply translated - oppression of animals, people and planet.
so we can make one-off donations to other charities or causes that fight the oppression of people, animals and planet..
WHAT’S THE PURPOSE OF THE HOW HARD HAS IT LABEL? BEYOND BEEN TO ENSURE EARNING A LIVING A TRULY VEGAN OBVIOUSLY! PRODUCT? I chose to start a clothing brand because of it’s accessibility, because it’s such a simple way to spread awareness and start conversations, and because it is such a great way to collaborate. Our goal is to help people connect the dots and hopefully steer them to make more conscious decisions and have more thoughtful conversations with themselves and others. Our goal is also to platform these causes and help redistribute the resources by supporting marginalised communities financially. Between 50-100% of our profits on selected tees go to specific causes. From the other tees we put 50% of the profit into the charity pot so we can make one-off
To be honest, that was the easy part. I had been doing research for ages, and I knew that any brand that I created would not contribute to any form of oppression. I found a manufacturer that was committed to the same principles I held, using renewable energy, finding ways to use waste, using environmentally-friendly printing techniques, using local labour and paying fair-wages. I think it is so important that we don’t recreate systems of oppression whilst we are trying to help.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AND THE LABEL A YEAR FROM NOW? It is so hard to say right now. The world has changed and is not going back. The only thing
We love collaborating, so if you are interested in being a recipient or partnering with us please get in touch!”
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thing I can say for sure is that veganism is on the rise, more people are recognising systemic oppression on communities across the world, the links are being made globally. So, I hope that this brand will resonate. I hope that I will be able to raise awareness of many more causes that are linked to the oppression of animals, and I hope the people that this resonates with will help spread these messages. You never know what could happen… next year I might be on the Vegfest stage hosting a panel having these very discussions.
community, celebrating the different communities, honestly we need more of this, and guess what, the vegan community can take it.
THANKYOU SHASHI! THIS IS DEFINITELY A FANTASTIC
PROJECT. ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD? We love collaborating, so if you are interested in being a recipient or partnering with us please get in touch!
ON A BIGGER PICTURE, HOW DO YOU SEE THE GROWTH OF VEGANISM GLOBALLY, AND WHAT WOULD HELP THE PROCESS? I honestly feel that making the connections of how all these systems of oppression are connected will help the movement. I think collaborative movements is how we help that process. The Invisible Vegan looks at how race intersects with veganism, and that bought veganism to communities that may not have considered it before. I know that when Cowspiracy and What The Health made links between environmental racism and food justice, the environmentalists took a bit more notice. Celebrating the different stories in the vegan
‘Animals’ by Revers Lab from Italy
of Compassion HI LEIGH! TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, AND HOW YOU CAME TO FOUND THE AOCP I was born and raised in sunny South Africa, lived in London for a bit, and then emigrated here to Catalonia (Spain) when I got married 20 years ago. I became vegan in 2014 with the help of Veganuary after realising how hypocritical it was to fawn over sweet baby calves in a nearby field and then go home and have beef stew for dinner! Once I started Veganuary’s challenge in January 2014, and went down the proverbial ‘rabbit-hole’ with all the videos you simply can’t ‘unsee’, I couldn’t believe how incredibly oblivious I’d been for most of my life. I vowed to give back and help others to see what was happening to millions of animals every day. As much as I loved the idea of hands-on activism, I knew it wasn’t the right option for me (I have a degenerative
neurological disease and need a wheelchair to get around outside). So, after much reflectionI decided to combine my love of art with veganism and put together a book of vegan art to sell and raise funds for Veganuary (not that I had the slightest clue how I’d make that happen at the time!) I spent ages on the Internet looking for vegan artists, reached out to everyone I found, asked them if they’d like their art to be in a book and got a great response from most of them.
TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW THE AOCP CAME TO BE. To help keep things organised, I set up a private Facebook group to chat to the artists, one then led to another, and I discovered they were keen on the idea of using art to raise funding for organisations in need. ‘What the heck, I thought, ‘Let’s put together a calendar and donate the proceeds to charity!’ Our first project was a 2015 vegan art
calendar in aid of Hillside Animal Sanctuary in the UK and we raised £319,29, which was thrilling to me and incredibly motivating. The success of the calendar had made me realise that my original idea had morphed and so The Art of Compassion Project was born. The ironic thing is that we shelved the idea for the book for a couple years as the AoCP grew. As for the book — I co-created and self-published it with Jessa Goodall. ‘The Art of Compassion’ book was released in 2019 and is now available on Amazon—and of course, all proceeds are in aid of Veganuary!
WHAT ARE THE MAIN AIMS OF THE PROJECT? As an international art collective, we have 2 primary aims: to create and host art projects to raise funding and then donate 100% of the proceeds to vegan non-profits. Our second, and equally important, aim is to build a powerful community of artists who share this common goal and passion.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED? We currenly have 218 members spread across 32 countries involved in the AoCP.
YOU DONATE 100% OF THE PROCEEDS RIGHT? WHO HAVE YOU ASSISTED OVER THE YEARS?
WHAT IS THE HOW DO YOU SEE BIGGEST THE GROWTH OF ACHIEVEMENT FOR AWARENESS OF THE PROJECT TO ANIMAL RIGHTS DATE? PROGRESSING ACROSS THE I would have to say our vegan art book ‘The Art of CompasGLOBE? sion’. This unique book was a labour of love, and a HUGE learning experience (as you can well imagine, self-publishing 180 full-colour images has its challenges) but Jessa and I both agree that the result was worth the sleepless nights!
I think this growth will continue to be slow, but lasting. Every time someone chooses a plantbased alternative over what they might have chosen in the past, we’re making progress.
We have raised nearly $20,000 for 37 non-profit organisations since we started out. These organisations range from tiny sanctuaries to larger, well-known non-profit organisations.
HOW HAS COVID HELPED AND HINDERED THE GROWTH OF THE PROJECT? Sadly we can’t exhibit work as we have done in the past at Vegfests. The dynamics and energy are great at these events as people get to chat to the volunteer artists and get a real ‘feel’ for what we do. On the ‘bright side’ of a rather bleak situation, we’ve had to adapt, to move everything online, and this has made the work available to anyone with Internet access. 90
BUY THE BOOK
‘The Rescuers: Mission Bulls’ by Francisco Atencio from Argentina
Small wins add up. Sure, I’d love the world to go vegan tomorrow, (who wouldn’t?)—but we need to be realistic, change takes time, especially if that change is going to stick. What I think is important to remember is that EVERYONE can make a difference in this world. By showing compassion not only to animals but to people whose values don’t align with ours, we’re planting seeds. And seeds take time to sprout…
the next, and yet—they will tell you they love animals. And they mean it. Yes, it’s frustrating, but we need to remember we were more than likely like that once upon a time. I was, at any rate. I didn’t become vegan overnight. It was a process of heart meeting the mind, of something finally ‘clicking’. Patience is key. That’s why I love art as activism. It’s subtle, it’s patient, and it lets people join the dots for themselves.
WHAT DO YOU SEE WHAT’S THE NEXT AS THE BIGGEST PLAN FOR THE OBSTACLES TO AOCP? THIS GROWTH? Dissonance stunts growth. Let’s face it - very few people are prepared to sit down, watch the gory videos, and face reality from one day to
We are thrilled to announce one of our biggest endeavours: The Art of Compassion Exhibition. This is the first exhibition series of its kind—a virtual 3D showcase of never-before-seen vegan art by
dozens of artists around the globe. A year into quarantine, this exhibition series will give vegan and non-vegan viewers alike something to explore and connect on in a virtual environment. It will also provide artists with an inspired and communal space to share their creations and continue advocating for animals through art. A call for interest is currently open until the 22nd March and the first show will open July 2021. The exhibition series will comprise four different shows, each with a unique theme that celebrates a different non-profit vegan organization selected to receive all proceeds from the art auction associated with the show. In addition, a high-quality exhibit catalogue will be published for purchase at the end of each show and will be available both digitally and in print.
For more information on the exhibition (and how to take part) please visit: www.AOCexhibition.com
‘Speciesism’ by Sofia Silva from Portugal
‘Earth Guardians’ by Lynda Bell from New Zealand
‘Global Warning’ by Michelle Waters from USA
‘Free’ by Pascale Salmon from France
‘Message In A Bottle’ by Libby from UK
‘Marketing Myths #1’ by Philip McCulloch-Downs from UK
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VEGAN ACTOR & COMEDIAN Vegan Comedians haven’t had much of a laugh recently – its been tough work during Lockdown. But its not all been doom and gloom. Mike Kelson talks us through the last year and looks to the future when live comedy can return again. Plus a joke or two…
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’VE MET A VEGAN?
Because they look fit, healthy and usually about ten years younger than they actually are (unless they’re small children of course, and that might look a little odd), oh, and they’ll tell you. It’s a funny thing, but I’m guilty there - I do tend to bring it into the conversation with people I’ve just been introduced to without even meaning to. It’s like a badge of honour for me I suppose, and I need to share that positive information. My dog Harry, a gorgeous red staffie cross, has been fully vegan for around a year now, and he can’t wait to get to the park these days to tell the other dogs either. I love it that after years of him sharing my
meals, I can share his too now, although I don’t go as far as eating from the same bowl. Not at the same time at least.
YOU MUST BE FED UP WITH HEARING THAT ONE! WHEN DID YOU GO VEGAN, AND WHY?
I don’t mind all the vegan windups to be fair. It shows that we make people feel guilty enough to wind us up in the first place. I’ve been vegan for about nine years now, but vegetarian since leaving school. I was always a big animal lover and as a child it may sound ridiculous, but it never connected with me that I was eating them too, because I was unfortunately brought up in an environment where meat-eating is perfectly normal, although saying that, my Mum went vegetarian around the same time, which made things easier. I finally went vegan after years of being oblivious to the horror of the dairy industry, thanks to farmers and advertising tell-
ing us how wonderful their cows are treated, and how you always see smiling cows on milk and cheese products. Becoming vegan was a real spiritual awakening for me and I wish it had all happened far sooner than it did.
WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING A VEGAN COMEDIAN GENERALLY? I consider myself a serious actor first and foremost these days, but comedy is still a big part of my life. As a comedian, it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself, so having a social stigma seemed to make things easier. Things have changed a lot in the last ten years, so it’s not so much of a big deal being vegan these days, but it’s good to show people you can be vegan and have a sense of humour, particularly if they connect with vegans being serious, miserable, complaining or protesting all the time. For some reason, people would never believe I was vegetarian, let alone vegan, possibly because I played sport, wasn’t pale or malnourished, again great misconceptions that needed to be trashed.
Appearing as a German ecologist in Headhog, 2019.
My dog Harry, a gorgeous red staffie cross, has been fully vegan for around a year now, and he can’t wait to get to the park these days to tell the other dogs either.”
VEGAN COMEDIANS ARE A BIT OF A THING – SINCE 2014, THERE SEEMS TO BE LOADS OF YOU. HOW SO? WHAT IS IT WITH VEGANS AND COMEDIANS? I was surprised how many there actually were. With my generally sceptical personality, I assumed many may had jumped on the bandwagon just to get more gigs, and were scoffing Mars bars as soon as they left the venue, but that was unfair of me (I hope). There is an element of compassion in comedy though. Most comedians just want to make people laugh, and many get into comedy because they were bullied, suffered as a result of others or want to complain about social injustice in a more subtle way. It’s a great platform to get your point across and leave your audience laughing at the same time.
HOW DID THE VEGFESTUK VEGAN COMEDY FESTIVALS COME ABOUT?
Vegfest has always had a strong connection with entertainment, and comedy was just a progression, with the first proper ‘comedy festival’ being in Brighton in 2015 after 100
Appearing as Tiger the horse in Flight of the cows, 2019.
a number of one-off appearances from vegan comedians previously. It has always drawn the crowds, partly because it’s gone against the traditional expectations of what vegans are like. Brighton has always been my favourite Vegfest venue for comedy, but I remember great feedback from a decent crowd at Bristol a few years back too. It’s fun chatting with the audiences because they are so cosmopolitan, and importantly not all vegan. It’s a chance to show comedy-goers how much fun vegans can actually be.
SARAH PASCOE PLAYED OUR GIG IN 2014 AND LOOK AT HER NOW! ANY UP AND COMING VEGAN COMEDIANS TO LOOK OUT FOR?
Sarah shares the same birthday as me, May 22nd, along
with Morrissey and George Best, so she’s got to be good (ha-ha). I’ve been fortunate enough to perform with and host so many top comedians over the last few years with Vegfest, and it would be unfair to single out any acts, because there are so many different types and styles and they’ve all added a certain something to the line-ups, with many of them currently doing great things on the circuit (well, pre-Covid at least).
CREATIVE, IT MUST BE SUPER TOUGH FOR COMEDIANS GENERALLY AT THE MOMENT.
Yes, it’s been a difficult time for those that rely on engag-
ing with an audience. I know a number of events and festivals, including our own at Vegfest, have gone online, and that’s’ been encouraging for some, but you still can’t beat a live audience. It’s watching people laughing out loud at your gags and stories that makes comedy worthwhile, something special, knowing that you are performing a service for others and not just your own ego.
ROMESH IS ON THE TELLY QUITE ALOT!
It would be good to get him at Vegfest, so Romesh, if you’re reading this, drop us a line. I don’t personally think he’s over-exposed. If there are comedians on TV a lot, it’s because there is a demand. There are so many vegans in the spotlight now, in acting, music and sport, and it’s great to see. These people are heroes to many, and if they take veganism on board because of them, it’s a wonderful thing.
COMEDY REALLY NEEDS A LIVE AUDIENCE, AND UNLIKE MUSICIANS, WHO IN SOME CASES HAVE HAD TIME RECENTLY TO REALLY GET Stand up routine while hosting the Cudham Craic music festival, 2018.
Because of what I do, most of my friends are either actors, comedians or musicians, and I know they’ve all been suffering, and it’s the uncertainty of when venues will open and if they do, what restrictions they’ll have that is really concerning.” 102
Performing at Vegfest, Olympia, 2019.
HOW HARD DO YOU THINK THE INDUSTRY HAS BEEN HIT BY THE PANDEMIC? WILL WE SEE COMEDY CLUBS REOPEN? Very hard, and I hope most people have had the strength and perseverance to keep busy writing new material and keep going, despite all the difficulties. It’s the same with theatres. Because of what I do, most of my friends are either actors, comedians or musicians, and I know they’ve all been suffering, and it’s the uncertainty of when venues will open and if they do, what restrictions they’ll have that is really concerning. Smaller venues would suffer the most with social-distancing measures, as they need to sell at full capacity to make shows work. I’m sure things will return to normal at some point though, and we can imagine it was all just a bad dream.
enough to live in a little village surrounded by greenery) and found I that I fell in love with na ture over again. I kept fit through exercise, and really got into spiritual videos. I meditated and read, often books I’d had and been too busy to start. I’m far more knowledgeable now on so many different subjects since the lockdown started, so again, I’m grateful for the opportunities that presented themselves, albeit in difficult circumstances. A few film projects have been able to go ahead too, despite restrictions, so again, it’s about showing gratitude for what you have been able to do rather than worry about what you couldn’t.
together for the cause. There always seems to be so much in-fighting and it’s a real shame. Let’s encourage those who have made it so far to become vegetarian and help them on their next step, are learning not to wear animal products, have animal friends as ‘pets’ in an environment where they do not suffer but are looked after like members of the family, and remember we are all at different stages on our own personal spiritual journeys, but the destination, to eradicate animal abuse, is the same. And we need vegan politicians. I wouldn’t trust voting for anyone who wasn’t or who didn’t respect veganism.
ON A SERIOUS CAN’T RESIST…. NOTE, WHAT DO YOU KNEW IT WAS YOU SEE AS THE COMING….COME BIGGEST ISSUES ON THEN, WHAT’S GETTING IN THE YOUR FAVE VEGAN WAY OF THE JOKE? GROWTH OF The favourite one I’ve heard is…How many vegans does it VEGANISM RIGHT take to change a lightbulb? Two, one to change it and the NOW? APART other to read for animal ingredients. It’s funny, because HOW HAS FROM VEGANS I still check the ingredients on everything, even prodLOCKDOWN TAKING ucts that I know have been vegan for years, just in case TREATED YOU SIR? THEMSELVES TOO they’ve changed the recipe. My own jokes tend to be based ANY BENEFITS? SERIOUSLY on wordplay, and Beatles songs are particularly useful I was badly affected at the start, OBVIOUSLY…? (Vegan work it out, Give but eventually decided to use
my time wisely. I was used to being busy, so found it totally alien, but spent a fair amount of time outdoors (I’m fortunate
The vegan community needs to come together, to put aside their differences and work
peas a chance, With a little hemp from my friends and While my quinoa gently heats just a few examples).
VEGAN QUEEN V
The Good, The Bad AND The Ugly – vegan musician Jen Armstrong (Vegan Queen V) speaks to us on how it’s been during Lockdown as an artist, and what’s on the horizon.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING MUSIC, HOW DID YOU START AND WHAT INSTRUMENTS DO YOU PLAY? I had a very privileged childhood - I had a family who could afford private music lessons! I picked up the violin when I was 7, much to my mum’s delight. I began playing the piano at 10, jealous of my two older sisters who were receiving lessons and I was not. 104
Both instruments have proven invaluable to my musical journey, especially piano being the instrument I compose songs on and perform with.
HAVE YOU GOT ANY RECORDINGS OUT AND ABOUT? I do have songs online! I’m working on my debut animal rights album and that will be my first big release. I have songs and accompanying videos up on YouTube, a favourite being ‘What Hell is Like,’ a song I was inspired to write after watching the Earthling Ed / Surge documentary ‘Land of Hope and Glory.’ My single ‘Only One Life’ is available to watch, filmed in East London where we used some of the beautiful animal wall / street art you can find there. Also look out for my parodies, ‘No Meat,’ and ‘Vegan Dirtbag.’
WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO BECOME VEGAN? I was one of those vegetarians who thought they were doing their bit to help animals. I was one for many, many years - since the age of 8 in fact. I didn’t once question where the milk I was pouring on my cereal was coming from; or the eggs I’d happily cook up on usually a daily basis, to be ‘healthy.’ I moved to London in 2016 and it was there that I met a few vegan friends who asked why I wasn’t vegan if I loved animals. Around the same time, a new partner (who also wasn’t vegan at the time) showed me ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘Forks over knives’ and it was a fairly swift shift to veganism for me after that (and him a few months later!)
HOW HAS THAT AFFECTED YOUR MUSIC? I finally had something important to write about! I’ve been writing songs since the age of 12, and I’ve been in the professional pop song writing world for the last 10-15 years. Really all anyone cares about is relationships. Love. Or the absence of. Or the longing for. It gets pretty old pretty fast not gonna lie. After discovering how utterly vile the meat, egg and dairy industries are, and starting to understand the level of oppression and abuse billions of animals endure every year, I just started naturally writing songs for them, about them, and from their point of view.
judges to like my song YOU WON THE the and performance so much. really enjoyed meeting the FXECTIVE FACTOR Iother artists too and listening to their songs - so nice VEGAN TALENT to be in vegan a group of passionate and talented people, using CONTEST AT their art to fight for animals and the injustices they suffer. VEGFEST BRIGHTON IN THERE WERE 2018 – CAN YOU PRONOUNCE THAT SOME FAMOUS YET 3 YEARS ON? JUDGES ON THAT (JOKE). HOW DID TALENT CONTEST – INCLUDING THAT FEEL AT THE ROZALLA, WHO TIME? HAS HAD HUGE Haha my brain just won’t let INTERNATIONAL me pronounce that name properly! It was brilliant to be HITS. DO YOU a part of the competition, and although I won’t lie I am not HAVE ANY FUN a fan of popularity contests.. it was still a lovely feeling for ‘CELEB’ STORIES? FORCA VEGAN
Aside from meeting Rozalla at Vegfest? My biggest claim to fame is probably that I’ve supported Billy Ocean! And The Proclaimers! Same festival.. different year. I’ve also hung out with Kenny G. Basically all the people my parents and their friends love. I’ve also hung out with John Newman and Ellie Goulding at a party in Hollywood. I say hung out with. They were there and so was I.
HOW DOES THAT CREATIVE PROCESS COME ABOUT FOR YOUR VEGAN THEMED SONGS? IS IT PAINFUL? One of the songs off the upcoming album was written after a friend and I visited a local dairy farm. We were trying to inconspicuously take photos of the poor little babies in their isolation pens outside, who were bored witless, cold and
alone. A farmer saw us and actually invited us in to the farm to look around, which we were quite surprised by. We witnessed a mother and her new born baby sharing their first few moments together. As vegans we know what happens to dairy cows and their babies. It was a very bittersweet moment. One I’ll never forget. If I think about the reality of what these innocent beings have to go through too deeply or for too long.. I can’t even move. It’s important to find the balance.
many musicians are really suffering both mentally and financially, and that goes for the rest of the arts too. And society in general. I really feel for everyone, in particular our young and old generations. They are probably the most vulnerable and damaged groups in all of this madness.
HOW HAS LOCKDOWN HELPED WITH THE CREATIVE WHAT ABOUT THE PROCESS? DREADED L WORD – LOCKDOWN? Lockdown for me has been incredible time for self reHUGE IMPACT ON an flection, self development, self healing, self love.. up unMUSICIANS til March 2020 life had very much been about paying rent GENERALLY – first, art second. Money making living life second. Moving GOOD, BAD, OR first, away from London and easing my financial commitments has UGLY?
It’s the good, the bad AND the ugly right?! For me it’s certainly been all three. I know many
given me time to understand who I am, why I’m here, what makes me happy, what makes me sad.. I’m grateful for this
time, although I know it comes with much loss and sadness for so many. It’s in challenging times where we either shrink away or we grow strong. I’m definitely a stronger person than I was 12 months ago, and creatively it’s been a time to come to the realisation that I want to dedicate my life to helping animals and ending all oppression in the world.
strangers. Aside from this, I’m incredibly excited to be putting together a body of work in the name of animal rights. I’m also looking forward to collaborating with other creative vegans, it’s together that we’ll change the world!
VEGANISM IS ON THE RISE – IS THIS WHAT ARE YOU UNSTOPPABLE? LOOKING OR DO YOU SEE FORWARD TO MOST IN MUSICAL DANGERS AHEAD? I think the fake GMO meat inTERMS? dustry will be a blessing and a
Lockdown has made me realise how much I took live music for granted. I cannot wait to be playing live again, with a band, for happy people, in a beautiful atmosphere. I can’t wait to be dancing to music alongside my friends and total
curse. I hope people will realise that a whole foods plant based diet is the key to health and happiness, and I hope more people will reconnect with the earth and where we get our healthy nutritious fruit and veggies from. It’s good for the
body, and for the soul. If people are manipulated in to thinking that fake GMO crap is the answer, although the animals will benefit, unfortunately I don’t think human animals will.
WHERE SHOULD WE GO TO HEAR AND SEE MORE OF YOUR WORK? YouTube (veganqueenv) is the best place to find my music until the album is released (summer / autumn 2021 all being well!) I’m also part of the German vegan music collective ‘VVANDEL’ (vvandel_ musik); we released a vegan EP in spring 2020, profits of which are being donated to animal welfare organisations. If you would like to support my work you can do so via
VVANDEL MUSIK: VEGAN EP
YOUTUBE CHANNEL PAYPAL: VEGAN QUEEN V
Since 2014 I’ve been involved with
SEA SHEPHERD Founded in 1977 by Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd is a direct-action ocean conservation organization. Our crews are on the front line defending whales, seals, sharks, dolphins, turtles and all the other crucially important wildlife living in our blue ocean. Currently we have nine ships operating worldwide protecting what we love, researching the health of ocean animals and investigating effects of human behaviour. Overfishing is a huge problem these days, up to three trillion fish are caught annually around the globe, this is not sustainable. I work as a cook on the ships, all
our galleys are fully vegan. As the cook I’m very connected to the links between what we eat and how it’s produced, wild fish that arent pretty enough to land on plates are often ground up into fishmeal and fed to captive livestock on land, this in turn produces toxic runoffs. These spills eventually get back into the ocean and due to their high nutrient levels cause algae blooms, which removes oxygen from the water and kills off ocean creatures. It delights me to introduce non vegans to great plant based foods and see the spark of change forming in their minds, that they can lose
their old habits and consume more sustainable produce. This year has already seen the launch of many plant based alternatives to “seafood” as with burgers two years ago. I really hope the impact is huge and we can collectively reduce the harm we’re inflicting on our ocean. You can donate to Sea Shepherd via this link. Please consider eating more plants, thank you.
WDLA has been held annually since 1979. Forca Vegan talks to long term AR activist Mel Broughton about WDLA and AR activism in general.
WDLA IS ON THE HORIZON – HOW SIGNIFICANT IS THIS DAY FOR YOU, AND FOR THE MOVEMENT? World Day for Laboratory Animals Is hugely significant for me because the issue of animal experimentation was the gateway to my involvement in the animal rights movement. Concern about the use of animals as experimental subjects existed before we had an animal rights movement. And indeed I personally feel it was this issue that spurred concern into activism. World Day for Laboratory Animals became a rallying point for the emerging animal rights movement as activists came together to mount 114
very large scale protests at labs to mark the day. In 1993 23,000 people marched in London on World Day for Lab Animals a massive mobilisation of animal rights activists who had become inspired to join a grass roots movement for animals. There’s no doubting that much of the inspiration for that was the effective use of direct action and the willingness of national organisations at the time to give the grass roots a platform. I also think that there is something fundamentally disturbing about using animals as research tools. The calculated intention to use a ‘weaker’ species to satisfy your own ends (whatever they may be) speaks to the very heart of injustice.
WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO GET INVOLVED? This year World Day for Animals in Laboratories is asking people to adopt their local lab. The aim is to have people outside as many facilities as possi-
ble to highlight where animals suffer in research. Almost all universities now have an animal research facility, contract testing labs likewise exist up and down the UK. Animals in labs suffer unseen and unheard the research centres themselves look anonymous the only giveaway being the signs of high security. If we can encourage people as a first step to highlight where animals are being used and to share that then perhaps we can begin to once again build an effective grass roots movement on behalf of laboratory animals. I think this World Day for Lab Animals has to mark a change. The secrecy and silence surrounding animal research has to be broken. We all have a vested interest in this whether it’s as activists or as those interested in the future of relevant medical research or as both. I would urge people to get involved in World Day for Laboratory Animals because without your active involvement these animals will remain unseen. More information about this year’s plans are available at: email@example.com
HOW CAN PEOPLE REMAIN ACTIVE MOVING FORWARD? I think people will remain active only if they build their own local groups. WDAIL is a one off annual event to mark the suffering of animals in research when we as a movement come together to mark it. However without the initiative of grass roots activists adopting their own campaigns it can only be a commemorative act. We have to energise and encourage far more autonomy in local activism if we are going to be successful in creating campaigns beyond World Day itself. You cannot just rely on other people to keep grass roots activism going. Everyone has a responsibility to get themselves involved and put the work in. If we could reach a point where campaigns were springing up around the country highlighting the plight of lab animals then we could begin again to put the pressure back on. And it’s worth remembering that the scientific case against using animals as test subjects is only getting stronger and as such developing new grass roots campaigns help in a significant way in promoting that.
WDAIL STARTED IN 1979. WHO STANDS OUT AS AN INSPIRATION OVER THE DECADES IN THIS STRUGGLE?
There are individuals who stand out for their contribution to WDAIL since its inception in 1979. It’s also true that many anonymous grass roots activists and actions stand out for the contribution they made. It’s perhaps unfair to single individuals out but rather more important to recall their collective efforts. Anyone who was around the animal rights movement from the 1980’s, 1990’s and early 2,000’s will remember the often audacious raids to free lab animals, the daylight invasions of research centres like the ‘Royal College of Surgeons, Wickham contract testing labs and Unilever. Many of these actions led to headline national T.V. coverage where pictures of masked raiders were also accompanied by pictures of dogs, cats, mice and primates being seen in every home. Many individuals paid the price for their involvement, some gained evidence which subsequently led to the first ever prosecution of an animal research establishment for causing suffering to an animal. There is also the selfless actions of those who went undercover in laboratories as workers to secretly record what w a s
happening to animals behind the security fences. It was once again the actions of these individuals that bought the hidden suffering to the public’s attention. I don’t think it would be right for me to single out any one individual as being the most inspirational. What is fair to say is that some remarkable people demonstrated incredible strength of character and intelligence to penetrate this secretive world and shine a light into its darkest corners.
A LOT OF ACTIVISTS SEEM RELUCTANT TO SUPPORT THIS AREA OF ANIMAL ACTIVISM – OR AT LEAST GET INVOLVED, DISCUSS AND SHOW SOLIDARITY. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS? There has been and continues to be a reluctance for activists to get involved in campaigns against animal research. Let’s be blunt about this it’s probably the most
difficult issue to fight. Many in the contemporary movement have opted to push for veganism as the rallying point. There is of course nothing wrong in promoting veganism it’s an essential element of animal rights thinking and of course more animals are killed in animal agriculture than are in animal research. However I think this is entirely the wrong way to think. In terms of individual suffering laboratory animals often suffer far greater mental/physical trauma. There is also the question of visibility. In a social media age it’s much easier for activists to post or live stream images of animals in cattle trucks going to slaughter to highlight their suffering. Farms are also relatively low security meaning it is still possible to gain
footage of animals inside such places. Laboratories and laboratory animal breeders are by contrast surrounded by high tech security there is little or no opportunity now to gain any evidence of the lives and suffering of lab animals. This has meant these animals have literally slipped into the shadows and the number of activists willing to campaign for them has also dwindled. I think many activists are also daunted by the prospect of having to debate/argue with anyone on the street over an issue which can require some specialised knowledge. It is much simpler to tell someone why they should be vegan than to argue why a genetically modified mouse shouldn’t be used in cancer research.
AND HOW CAN WE ADDRESS THAT? Activists must be prepared to do some research and ground themselves in same basic understanding about the arguments against using animals as models for human disease research. It’s not about gaining a biological sciences degree before you go out but taking time to read some relevant material. The moral argument stands on its own but it’s useful to be able to talk about non-animal research technologies at least on a basic level. I also think that if groups can build up a campaign against their local animal research centre then other interested parties do begin to offer useful infor-
Photo Credit: ADI
Photo Credit: WDLA
effective campaigns are run and most importantly the role of ‘activism’ to the movement. One big difference that social media has made has been to redefine what activism is. And here it’s the ‘old school’ that are best versed in organising yourselves at a grass roots level. I would like to see the older generation of animal rights activists imparting what they learnt through their experiences to younger activists so that once again the grass roots can thrive and organise.
AR ACTIVISM CAN BE A LONELY PLACE SOMETIMES. IT’S ALWAYS EASIER DURING THE GOOD TIMES – BUT AT YOUR LOWEST, WHAT KEEPS YOU FOCUSED? mation. You can also use Freedom of Information (F.O.I’s) to help you learn more. As a movement we have to address the reluctance to take on animal research. It surely can’t be right to leave laboratory animals out simply because it’s deemed too ‘controversial’.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FROM THE OLD SCHOOL AR ACTIVISTS FROM THE 80’S & 90’S?
There are plenty around – but it was a different movement pre internet. I think the most important thing I would like to see from the ‘old school’ activists from the 80’s and 90’s is their engagement with the movement now. Much has changed the biggest probably being the internet and social media. But there has also been a move away from local grass roots animal rights groups to social media ‘talking heads’. I really believe that the activists from previous decades have a huge amount to offer. Their experiences of what worked and what didn’t are invaluable. They can also offer much insight into how
What keeps me focused? If I reach a low point (and I do sometimes) what keeps me going is same thing that always did, injustice. I will never lose that sense of rage at the fundamental wrong of treating one species as a ‘thing’ to be used and abused. All the philosophical and ethical mental constructs we use to further our cause are of course important in making others understand but on a fundamental level you should be offended by the denial of a beings right to life and autonomy to follow that life. And until that offence is remedied or rectified then the focus on trying to stop it will not go away. FORCA VEGAN
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT HELPING WDLA HOW YOU CAN HELP
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TAKE ACTION THIS LAB ANIMAL WEEK (APRIL 20-26): Ask your MP to call on Sign our new petition In the US, ask your the government to ‘Cut Animal Tests To progress the adoption Representatives to Tackle COVID-19’ here support measures of advanced nonand share on your accelerating the move animal research social media, and with methods and phase away from animal friends, family and models towards more out animal tests colleagues. Find out human-relevant through thematic more here. research. review. Contact them here Make a donation to support our work to help animals in laboratories.
Start a Facebook fundraiser or crowdfunding campaign to support non-animal scientific research projects funded through the ADI Foundation’s Lord Dowding Fund. 118
Get involved in, and share, our social media campaigns.
Spread the word: Write to your local newspaper; blog about it; share on social media.
Write to a company Pledge to use that tests on animals. cruelty-free cosmetics Let them know you and household will not use their products – and products while they persuade a friend or continue to carry out family member to do such tests, and that so too. you’ll tell others to do the same.
Academics, scientists, institutions, companies and organisations also invited to sign up to the Declaration for Advanced Science, an initiative launched by ADI, which supports measures to accelerate a “move away from animal models towards more human-relevant research methods”. For details:
worlddayforlaboratoryanimals.org FORCA VEGAN
Integral Ahimsa, and The
Dharma of Disruption: Anti-Speciesism Activism in
Pan-Dharmic Communities Philip Murphy, Founder, Ahimsa Dharma Anti-Speciesist Action (ADASA) entire phrase, which reads: “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma/ Dharma himsa tathaiva cha.”
he concept of dharma is held in common by Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism – and by extension, the practice of yoga. While the meaning of the term varies to some degree in each of these traditions it can be characterized generally as “norms of behavior and ethical rules; one’s righteous duty or any virtuous path.” By extension, then, for a person to “live out their dharma,” is for them to act in accordance with this path. Ahimsa Paramo Dharma, commonly translated as “Harmlessness is the Ultimate Path, or Duty,” is a Sanskrit phrase popularized by Mahatma Gandhi and used as a slogan by social justice movements advocating for change by nonviolent means. However, the often-ignored fact is that these words are but half of the
“A… work of love and beauty will not come to order, can not be compounded by the best rules, but is always a new and incalculable result, like health. Don’t rattle your rules in our ears; we must behave as we can.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson The quote from the great Transcendentalist is relevant, and necessary in this context as it reflects the fact that the circumstance of a profoundly speciesist culture -- which, inexplicably, extend to pan-dharmic
traditions in spite of teachings that are explicitly to the contrary as is exemplified by the quote from one of Buddhism’s foundational texts, referenced on the facing page – dictates a translation of the Sanskrit phrase that reflects the imperative, with regard to anti-speciesist activism, to generate “a work of love” that is a “new and incalculable result.” To wit:
“Integrity is the ultimate dharma. So too is disruption, in the service of dharma.” Ahimsa Dharma Anti-Speciesist Activism (ADASA) was founded as a vehicle for the
All beings fear danger, Life is dear to all. When a person considers this, He does not kill, or cause to kill. -Dhammapada, 129 FORCA VEGAN
disruption of the speciesist exploitation that has been normalized in pan-dharmic communities. (Adāsa is Sanskrit for “free man (person),” and in Sanskrit daś has a meaning of “to arm, to put on armor,” thereby underscoring the activist imperative.) ADASA endeavors to support a consistent (integral) anti-oppression stance by serving as an information portal, aggregating and disseminating content regarding the imperative, in dharmic communities, to include all sentient beings in their moral circle. Moreover, ADASA seeks to serve as a convening body for individuals and groups who are endeavoring to advance this moral imperative within their respective communities and to catalyze initiates which, through skillful action, will bring about a consistent anti-oppression stance within these contemplative communities.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ADASA, PLEASE VISIT:
ADASA.YOGA MAY ALL SENTIENT BEINGS BE WELL, HAPPY, SKILLFUL, AND PEACEFUL. MAHA-KARUNA. (THE GREAT COMPASSION)
“One person can change the world.” This notion is daunting for many, how can one person really help earth’s current state of emergency? I am a plant-based recipe developer whose passion for a better world has led to the cultivation of The Veg-N Society.
Above: ‘Small Steps Big Change’ - Asa and the Veg-N Society’s first online conference event poster, which welcomed Namdhari Sikhs from all over the globe, including the spiritual head of the Namdhari Sikh Community, Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji
The Veg-N society is a spiritually inclined non-profit organisation committed to encouraging plant-based diets and a conscious living, we are driven by the Namdhari Movement’s cultural assets and ideologies. Our launch conference was titled; Small Steps, Big Change, where we provided a basis for action to the shared global challenge of climate change by encouraging a plant-based diet. Whilst a plant-based diet is about abstaining from animal products entirely, not everyone is ready for that plunge and we believe that any steps taken towards this lifestyle is a step in the right direction. Our conference was hailed a spectacular success where we
were able to attract an international audience of over 150 people. A diverse group of attendees came together to learn and understand the necessity of reducing animal derived product consumption and wasted food to mitigate catastrophic climate change. Mr Kuldip Singh Ubhipresident of the Namdhari Sikh community in United Kingdom opened the conference by speaking about the evolution of vegetarian and vegan food with a special focus on agricultural water consumption. Marly Winkler- Chair of the International Vegetarian Union, successfully highlighted the dire need to review our diets from an environmental perspective. She gave an unfiltered insight into the current condition of livestock farming and global deforestation, a powerful presentation which educated many who were unaware of the connection between the dire effects of deforestation and animal derived products. Alex Bourke- owner of The Vegetarian Guides used his profound knowledge and latest publication to inspire everyone! His comprehensive presentation provided an accurate overview of veganism, which left a lasting effect on many.
There are no words that I can use to express the light, wisdom and guidance Sri Satguruji bestowed on us, reiterating the fundamental principles of Sikhism which encouraged protection of life around us by a conscious living.” which encouraged protection of life around us by a conscious living. To have had their presence to motivate and light the path for our journey was truly extraordinary. Sri Satguruji blessed us with a striking discourse on the inception of compassion from a Sikh’s holy scripture and spiritual perspective. Sri Satguruji said “My body is an abode of my creator, my lord. Who lives in this body and I do not want to make it a graveyard. I do not want to kill animals and make this heavenly abode of my lord a graveyard.”. Sri Satguruji, we seek
continued blessings. The optimistic response and positive feedback serve as tools of motivation and determination for us to continue implementing a positive change in the world. To stay up to date with Veg-N, sign up for our newsletter on
We were in the most fortunate position to welcome the spiritual head of the Namdhari Sikh Community, Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji (Sri Satguruji). There are no words that I can use to express the light, wisdom and guidance Sri Satguruji bestowed on us, reiterating the fundamental principles of Sikhism
AN INTERVIEW WITH JORDI CASAMITJANA I would like to work again on animal protection or in advancing the veganism cause, but because of the pandemic, there haven’t been many opportunities for me to do so yet.
FOR SOMEONE NEW TO YOUR BOOK – DESCRIBE IN 100 WORDS WHAT IT’S ABOUT.
‘Ethical Vegan’ was published in December 2020, bringing to print the whole story behind the concept of ethical veganism and its subsequent enshrinement in law. Author Jordi Casamitjana talks to Forca Vegan about this epic journey.
HOW’S LIFE TREATING YOU CURRENTLY JORDI? I can’t complain. I was lucky to be able to use the first COVID-19 lockdown to write my book “Ethical Vegan” (which I wrote in four months) and since its publication in December, I have been busy promoting it and writing several blogs for vegan websites on subjects I discuss in my book.
My book explores the concept of ethical veganism with three true stories converging into my present: the history of veganism from ancient times to today, my entire life protecting animals in different countries, and my two-year-long litigation at the Employment Tribunal leading to the historical 2020 landmark ruling which declared ethical veganism a protected philosophical belief. Full of science, experiences, history, philosophy, animals, and practicalities of the vegan lifestyle, my book simultaneously looks at veganism as an ethical belief that affects all aspects of one’s life, and as a socio-political movement that can solve our current global crises.
WHAT’S THE RESPONSE BEEN LIKE TO THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK?
Jordi Casamitjana with actor Peter Egan
So far it has been very good. Because I write about some of the grey areas and controversial issues surrounding veganism (such as lab meat, vaccines, service animals, intersectionality, wild animal suffering, etc.) I expected there would be some negative reactions by people who may disagree with me on these issues, but it has not happened yet. On the contrary, so far those who read it are posting very good comments. I am especially grateful to prominent vegans such as Peter Egan, Jay Brave, Juliet Gallatley, Kim Stallwood, Alex Lockwood, and Kerry McCarthy MP for their glowing reviews.
HOW VALUABLE DO YOU SEE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ETHICAL VEGANISM IN BOTH LAW AND CULTURE? It’s extremely valuable because, without it, our efforts in solving the current global animal, environmental and health crises may be in vain. Law and culture are built on ethical foundations, and if such foundations are weak, we will not be able to control our behaviour. Ethical veganism provides strong, coherent, and effective ethical foundations, because the principle of ahimsa (Sanskrit word meaning “do no harm”) which lies at the core of the vegan philosophy,
applies to any human action. Solely relying on individuals changing their habits alone at their pace will take too much time, so we need to do more.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST BLOCKS TO THE SPREADING OF THE UNDERSTANDING OF ETHICAL VEGANISM?
There are several, but one obstacle that worries me is ideological pragmatism, which relativises everything and leads to moralless attitudes that push consumers towards temporary reductionism rather than lasting change. This
Law and culture are built on ethical foundations, and if such foundations are weak, we will not be able to control our behavior. Ethical veganism provides strong, coherent and affective ethical foundations” FORCA VEGAN
should not be confused with logistical pragmatism (which is an implicit part of the definition of veganism, which aims to act with whatever resources are available to everyone and whatever options are practical according to personal circumstances), but ideological pragmatism always aims to less than what can be achieved, and always compromises regardless of if there is a need to, and I think this is strategically unsound. Without a reducetarian choice, there would be more vegans, and more animals would be helped.
HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ETHICAL VEGANISM AND PLANT-BASED CULTURE? Ethical veganism (which is the term we now use for the concept of veganism as defined by the Vegan Society), is a philosophy and lifestyle that seeks to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, while the plant-based culture is a commercial and cultural trend based on a diet that avoids animal products. As such, the former involves ethical imperatives as strong as those creat-
ed by religions or other non-religious philosophies, which affect most aspects of someone’s life and behaviour (food, clothes, cosmetics, household products, hobbies, etc.), and these are abided aiming to help all sentient beings (including humans) and the environment. Conversely, the latter only involves the avoidance of particular foods and drinks, often only for health reasons rather than moral reasons.
HOW SIGNIFICANT DO YOU SEE THE FORMATION OF THE VEGAN SOCIETY IN 1944, AND WHY?
It’s very significant because they not only gave us a clear term and useful definition of a concept that had already been circulating all over the world for millennia, but they also gave us a lasting secular inclusive civil organisation which has opened the concept to people from all cultures, nations and religions, making it truly universal. It was the natural evolution from the Vegetarian Society which had already done the first steps towards secularisation but fell short by only avoiding some animal products, and only dealing with dietary behaviour.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO HAS JUST VENTURED ONTO A PLANT-BASED DIET, PERHAPS THROUGH VEGANUARY? They should look at this as just the beginning of an exciting journey, and the longer they travel in it the easier it will become. By beginning to reject animal products in their diet, and realising that it is easier than they thought it would be, they will learn something very valuable about themselves. They have now an opportunity to become better persons if they keep going on rejecting all the forms of exploitation to any sentient being, and they will never be alone in doing so as there is a community out there that can help them.
VEGANISM HAS PRETTY MUCH COME A LONG WAY PLANT-BASED IN A DECADE – DIET, WHICH WHERE WILL WE IS EASIER FOR BE IN ANOTHER PEOPLE TO ATTAIN DECADE? THAN ETHICAL VEGANISM?
It’s difficult to know, especially because the current pandemic has shaken the entire world and will continue to do so for quite some time. I expect the number of vegans and vegan-friendly products will continue to grow (although not exponentially as many hope), but I also expect that the carnist industries would step up their PR efforts to stop this growth, so we’ll see all sort of new ‘battlefields’ between the two sides. I also hope that the vegan movement will enter a new ‘policy’ phase seeking new laws and regulations, including more countries also accepting ethical veganism as a protected philosophy.
DO WE HAVE THE TIME TO MAKE THE CASE FOR ETHICAL VEGANISM AND ANIMAL RIGHTS, GIVEN THE CLIMATE CHANGE EMERGENCY? SHOULD WE NOT BE FOCUSING ON PROMOTING A
Without the right motivation, the right action will not be sustainable. Just promoting a plant-based diet will not solve the climate crisis. You cannot stop such a global problem with the temporary change of only one behaviour, which is often motivated by transient fashion and self-interest. We need to look at the ethics affecting all our actions, not only our lunch habits, and which affect everyone else, not only us. As the preservation of the animals’ home (our planet) is integral to ethical veganism too, cultivating this philosophy is the most urgent part of the solution as it leads to the responsible human behaviour in a much more effective and lasting way. One million committed ethical vegans ‘for life’ can contribute more to the climate solution than several billion people keeping a plant-based diet for just a few months. Jordi’s book ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’, published by September Publishing, is available from all good bookshops in the UK now and in the US from April 2021.
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‘...And If You Know Your History’ An Introduction
‘’And if You Know Your History…’’ is a series of blogs tracing the growth of the vegan social movement in the UK during the first 70 years or so of the last century. Written by sociologist Dr Roger Yates, the series follows the fortunes of the early vegan pioneers including Arthur Ling, founder of Plamil, one of the world’s first vegan companies, who adopted a plant based diet aged 6 in 1926, through to Dorothy and Donald Watson, the co-founders of the Vegan Society in November 1944, the roles of people such as Eva Batt, Kathleen Jannaway, Leslie Cross and Elsie Shrigley as the society grew and prospered in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, into the 70’s and the beginnings of animal rights philosophy and vegan activism with a look at Tom Regan, and Ronnie Lee, co-founder of the ALF. Of course, veganism has its roots in different cultures across the globe stretching back millennia, with multiple references to predominately plant based diets and in some cases 100% plant based diets frequenting the annals of history and shaping many of the menus that we see in today’s multitude of plant based options. It’s a fascinating history in itself, and well documented and easily accessible. And the shaping of animal rights philosophy and a vegan position which seeks to exclude the use of all animals wherever practicable and possible is evident in such 130
luminaries as the esteemed Syrian poet Al Ma’arri, whose wonderful words from 1,000 years ago are shared here. Victorian times in the UK saw a propensity for anti-vivisection actions, and the Scottish animal welfare charity One Kind has it roots going back over 100 years to when it was founded as an anti-vivisection organisation. Around
150 years ago, the National Anti-Vivisection Society, the world’s first such organization, was founded by Frances Power Cobbe, who went on to found a second group, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. The UK passed the world’s first animal protection law, the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876, which governed the use of animals in vivisection. And by that time there was a thriving Vegetarian Society in the UK, with a USA society formed in 1850, and by the end of the century vegetarian societies were emerging in different continents includ-
ing India and Russia, and the establishment of the International Vegetarian Movement in 1908 started to link up these groups into the beginnings of a cohesive global movement for some animals at least. And of course, us modern day vegans should be celebrating this wealth of global plant based culture and the beginnings of the animal liberation movement intertwined with different individuals at different points of history in different cultures and influences. But we should also recognise and celebrate the beginnings of the UK vegan social movement for animals, in part for two significant reasons – in 1944, with the formation of The Vegan Society, we saw the first movement which included all animals, not just those used in ‘single issue’ environments. And in 1944, we saw like-minded individuals come together for the first time and form a social movement that centred all animals. Such is the significance of the events of 1944 – and as such becomes the focus for our ‘And If You Know Your History’ series – a time when our understanding of veganism as distinct from plant based diets or lifestyles – namely a social justice movement that centres animals, includes all animals, and humans – takes shape and evolves into the understanding we have today. It would be inaccurate to suggest that veganism was ‘invented’ in 1944, and to suggest as such would also erase
the huge contributions that individuals, organisations, religions and indeed whole cultures have played in the development of plant based diets and vegan philosophy. It would be more accurate to say that the vegan social movement began in 1944, enhancing the relevance of the formation of the Vegan Society, and the development of the animal movement that we now recognise. Both aspects should be celebrated widely. The significance of the formation of the Vegan Society in 1944 can be also in part be understood by the parallels with the formation and development of other significant social justice movements. The ideas and values of the Women’s Suffragette movement can be seen back in the early 1800’s, and the movement gathered pace with the formation of the Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1867, before the formation of the National Union for Women’s Suffrage in 1897. The formation of the Women’s Social & Political Union in 1903, at the Pankhurst’s family home, is often seen as the start of the ‘militant’ era of action with the motto ‘Deeds not Words’’, with a significant change in the law following 15 years later. Likewise, the abolition of the transatlantic slavery movement that took shape in 1787 when Thomas Clarkson gathered petitions, funding and formed a council to draw together notable and influential individuals who shared his vision to form a movement and make a concerted team effort to abolish this abhorrent trade – which saw the law change and the trade outlawed in the UK in 1807. The significance of the beginnings
and the growth of social movements is enshrined in history, and to be celebrated as such. And importantly, history is there to be learnt from. Every movement has a history and members of a social movement gain from knowing their history – and in doing so ensure the movement gains. The growth of the vegan social movement in the UK is fortunate to include some incredible individuals, with deep reaching ethics, principles and standards. Donald Watson and Kathleen Jannaway were both conscientious objectors during the 2nd World War and the early vegan movement included a number of pacifists and individuals committed to ending not only the use of animals but also the wars between humanity – and ultimately the war humanity wages on the environment. We have much to learn from this chequered, imperfect and genuinely pioneering group of individuals that make up the beginnings of the vegan social movement. Enjoy the series.
Further Reading: ‘The Bloodless Revolution: Radical Vegetarianism and the Discovery of India by Tristram Stuart
Sins of the Flesh: A History of Ethical Vegetarian Thought by Rod Preece
Vegetarianism: A History by Colin Spencer
The Vegetarian Crusade: The Rise of an American Reform Movement (1817-1921) by Adam Shprintzen
The Victorian Vegan The Vegetarian Society
Of Victorians and Vegetarians: The Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth Century Britain by James Gregory
The Difficult & Argumentative Birth of
the Vegan Social Movement Part 1 of the ‘...And If You Know Your History’ series
Dr. Roger Yates of the Dublin-based Vegan Information Project looks at how veganism as a social movement emerged and developed with the focus on accounts of the individual pioneers of the vegan movement.
n an interview in 2004, co-founder of The Vegan Society, Donald Watson, said that the birth of the society had been “difficult,” and it had “never been rich.” Not only a difficult birth, but the vegan movement struggled somewhat with its relationship with a fairly sympathetic vegetarian movement and, in 1944, finally broke free from “the lactos,” as Watson would sometimes call vegetarians. Watson saw lacto-vegetarianism as weird and made possible only by humanity’s “capacity to exploit the reproductive
functions of other species.” Although critical of vegetarianism, Donald Watson sought to maintain a respectful stance towards vegetarians, seeing “no need for animosity” between vegans and vegetarians. In this first of a series of blog entries for VegfestUK, I trace the beginnings of a radical vegan social movement that has focused on our relations with other animals but which maintained a scope much wider than that, for example, by including serious concerns for human animals too. Another of the initial co-founders, Elsie Shrigley, would declare that the vegan movement could be described as “idealistic” in nature, whereas historians have noted a strong “anti-establishment” feeling among the vegan pioneers. Watson says that it was the “milk issue” that caused the formation of the Vegan Society.
In August 1944, six months after Watson had delivered a talk about dairy products to a meeting of the Vegetarian Society, Shrigley and Watson proposed the formation a “non-dairy section” within the organisation. In the first issue of The Vegan in November 1944, Watson reports that “the lactos’” committee was sympathetic to the plan but ultimately rejected a non-dairy section because they wanted to concentrate on the abolition of flesh as human food. The Vegetarian Society committee, probably fearing some dissent from rank and file members, told Shrigley and Watson that they would be “freer” operating independently. Two years later, in the Spring 1946 edition of The Vegan, Watson claimed that, “for ninety years vegetarian literature contained nothing to question either morally or physiologically the use of animal foods
Donald Watson: co-founder of the Vegan Society
Elsie Shrigley: co-founder of the Vegan Society
other than flesh.” Leah Leneman, in a 1999 paper entitled, “No Animal Food: The Road to Veganism in Britain, 19091944,” says that Watson is plain wrong about this. For example, in the Summer 1988 issue of The Vegan, under the title, “Out of the Past: A founding father takes us on a walk down Memory Lane,” Watson says that the first vegan cookbook was Fay K. Henderson’s Vegan Recipes, published in 1947, whereas Leneman states that Rupert Wheldon’s 1910 publication, No Animal Food, “must be counted as the first British vegan cookery book.” Split into three sections, with the first two being essays on, “why eating animal food was not a good idea,” and covering heath, ethical, esthetic, and economic arguments, the book contained one hundred vegan recipes. The book’s publisher, C.W. Daniel, understood how oppressions are entangled, publishing texts on radical feminism as well as plant-based cooking. From 1909-1912, and then again after “World War I,” the Vegetarian Society’s journal, The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review (TVMHR), featured “vigorous correspondence” on non-flesh an-
Dorothy & Donald Watson on their wedding day
imal products, revealing, according to Leneman, that the Vegetarian Society had some members avoiding such products in these early years. This led to the editor of TVMHR asserting in 1912 that there were two types of vegetarians, those eating dairy and eggs and those who were not. He went as far as declaring that the minority of non-dairy and nonegg vegetarians had a strong case, while the arguments for eating dairy and eggs, at least those offered in the society’s journal, were “not satisfactory.” The debate that took place between 1909 and 1912 features
the type of claims-making we still see in the 21st century. For example, in his 1910 cookery book, Rupert Wheldon states that: “It is quite impossible to consume dairy produce without slaughter as it is to eat flesh without slaughter.” A year earlier, in TVMHR of 1909, one correspondent claimed that, “Vegetarians, so-called, are responsible for their share of the numbers of cows, calves, and fowls killed.” Another writer in 1910 noted that once cows became too old or too diseased to be milked, they become “the butcher’s property.” Some vegetarians fought back, mak-
Fay K. Henderson
suffering and abominable interference with the law of love.” In 1944, Dugald Semple made a very modern-day sounding claim: that, if cruelty is the criteria, then dairy products are likely to cause more of it than flesh products, while Donald Watson, writing in TVMHR in the same year, said that, “the cow feels the loss of her calf in much the same way as a human mother would feel the loss of her child,” adding: “Sometimes she will cry for days.”
ing what we would probably regard nowadays as largely welfarist claims. For example, in 1911, someone holding a diploma from a Scottish dairy school, said that cows can be used for milk with “no need for cruelty,” that few cows fret over their removed calf, “provided they are not allowed to see or lick it, or if it is placed so far away that they cannot hear it.” Another TVMHR correspondent in 1912 was on the opinion that he didn’t think mother and calf “suffer much” from separation provided, again, that they do not see each other. TVMHR itself, in 1942, offered some thoughts on “consistency” that present-day vegans will surely recognise, saying that, “few vegetarians, however strict they may be, would claim the impossible, namely, absolute consistency,” and suggesting that, if the public were encouraged to proceed “step by step,” that would be the better, more successful, ask. Some of the correspondence to the pages of TVMHR in 1909
focused on the plight of “poultry,” with one writer stating that, “you cannot have eggs without also having on your hands a number of male birds, which you must kill.” However, it appears that it was the dairy issue that remained a central concern, although John Davis, former manager and historian of the International Vegetarian Union, suggests that the discussions about “non-dairy” in those days was a “catch-all” phrase meaning non-dairy, noneggs, and (mostly) non-honey. By the 1930s and into the 1940s, the arguments that were to prompt the foundation of the vegan social movement were in full swing. In 1935, for example, a Muriel Davies noted that, “cattle must suffer abuse, captivity and ultimate slaughter” in order for humans to consume calf food. In 1943, Leslie Cross, who would play a huge role in the early years of the British Vegan Society, and described by Leneman as “a purist,” asserted that: “Milk and its derivatives are products of pain,
And so, the stage is set for the suggestion of a non-dairy section of the Vegetarian Society, its rejection, and the foundation (sometime in 1944 – the Vegan Society are not certain when) of the organised vegan social movement. I say “organised” but by today’s standards and widespread access to the
internet and instant global communications, it was barely that. Watson, in his 1988 article, notes that, “We were few in number and widely dispersed… We had no funds, no private transport – apart from bicycles, no precedents to work on, no office, little experience in public speaking, and none in publishing.” Significantly, and this would shape the radicalism of the vegan pioneers, they were witnessing the end of the second “World War” the experience of which Watson would call “sickening,” and were still constrained by rationing, which would go on several years after the end of the war. “Despite all this we went ahead and formed the society. It was indeed a difficult birth,” Watson writes. We’ll pick up the story of Donald Watson in particular - what he did (and didn’t do) - next time.
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