#2 JUNE 2021
FORÇA VEGAN JUSTICE FOR ANIMALS, PEOPLE & THE PLANET
M A G A Z I N E
EGYPT NEW ZEALAND
Plant The Land Vegan Food Project
Is your chocolate cruelty free?
Art of Compassion
Songstress Athletes. Food
Front cover: Anas Arafat - Plant The Land Team Gaza
W E L CO M E T O
A warm welcome to our readers from across the globe as we bring you our second issue of Força Vegan Online Magazine, dedicated to animal rights activists and vegan outreach throughout the world. Issue 2 doesn’t disappoint, delivering frontline reports from Gaza from the extraordinary Plant The Land Team, plus in-depth interviews with activist and healthcare professional Leila Dehghan, who also presents ‘Athletes, Food, Diversity’, and long term activist Alison Plaumer, recently making the global media headlines with Animal Rebellion. Simohamed Bouhakkaoui updates from Morocco, Maya Cohen – Ronen reports from Wellington New Zealand, Cina Ebrahimi describes first hand some of the
recent protests in Seattle, Jenna Kamal brings us news from Dahar in Egypt, Nella Giatrakou features the upcoming Online AR summit in Kent, Roger Yates delves into the world of TikTok and we take time out to visit Tivai and the Vibrant Vegan Society of Ghana.
A very big warm thankyou to everyone who has contributed to this magazine. Please do share with your friends, thankyou. Until next time – Peace. Out www.forcavegan.co.uk
On a creative note, we were thrilled to catch up EDITOR with vegan comedian Ishi TIM BARFORD Khan- Jackson, whilst The Art of Compassion features a brand new online exhibition to get excited about. And check out The DESIGNER Vegan Songstress and PETE METCALFE their new AR song, plus Benny Malone’s impressive new book ‘’How To Argue With Vegans’. And a quick look at some of the arguments surrounding ocean documentary ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Seaspiracy
Our main feature – ‘’Is Your Vegan Chocolate Cruelty Free?’’ – is an insight into the world of cocoa production, fair trade chocolate and child slave free brands, and our final piece looking at the history of the vegan social movement as Roger Yates explores the life of Donald Watson in 1944.
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The views expressed in Força 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.
AxR UPDATE: MCDONALDS
On Saturday 21st of May, 2021 around 100 Animal Rebels shut-down all four McDonald’s distribution centres across the UK.
PLANT THE LAND
Beyond vegan-washing: a brief history of animal --and human-liberation struggles in Israel and Palestine.
LEILA DEHGHAN Dr. Leila Dehghan is a doctor turned plantbased nutritionist. After overcoming health challenges through diet...
The video interview project “Athletes, Food & Diversity” is a response to systemic underrepresentation of people of colour in vegan subculture.
SEATTLE Cina Ebrahimi reports
on activism in Seattle following George Floyd’s death.
VEG’MOROCCO x MILLION DOLLAR VEGAN
Simohamed reports on the recent Veg’Morocco and Million Dollar Vegan collaboration to provide food parcels around Morocco.
Jenna Kamal reports on the rise in veganism locally, from Dahab, Egypt.
Tivai is an animal rights activist & has been very active in championing the vegan agenda in Ghana, with Animal Rights education & holistic health via workshops, monthly events & special projects.
Claudia Plaumer reports on the recent AxR activity, and her recent “fame” in the press.
Nella: As we ease out of a prolonged, and in many cases, strict lockdown it is interesting to look back at this past year, a year of great frustration...
100 CRUELTY FREE? IS YOUR VEGAN CHOCOLATE
Vegan chocolate is everywhere, with a huge explosion of choices in multiple countries across the globe as the popularity of plant based diets shift up a notch or 3. But cocoa production is notorious for using child slave labour, and now that the multinationals are jumping on the plant based bandwagon, is it time for everyone vegan to ask themselves (if they haven’t already).. Is your vegan Chocolate Cruelty Free? This article is broken down into 6 main chapters:
1. THE ETHICAL VEGAN POSITION WITH DR ROGER YATES 2. ‘NO TO NESTLÉ’: THE GLOBAL VEGANS CAMPAIGN AGAINST UNETHICAL COCOA 3. RAINFOREST ALLIANCE: PROTECTING AGAINST FORCED LABOR & OTHER FORMS OF MODERN SLAVERY 4. FOOD EMPOWERMENT PROJECT 5. AN INTERVIEW WITH ADRIAN LING, CEO OF PLAMIL 6. MEET THE DAPAAH BROTHERS: ETHICAL CHOCOLATE FROM GHANA
NOURISHING WITH HEART
On July 1, 2021, the virtual 3D art show Nourishing with Heart will open!
94 ISHI KHAN-
Ishi speaks to us about life and the state of the comedy circuit post-lockdown.
THE CLOCK IS TIKTOKKING
Roger Yates: In early 2021, I swallowed my pride and signed up for TikTok! This app was changing at the time from being primarily a site for children to a platform with more...
NEW ZEALAND Kia ora! Nau mai haere mai! M. C Ronen reports on Animal Rights in New Zealand.
HOW TO ARGUE
We hear from Benny Malone, author of the new book ‘How To Argue With Vegans’.
THE VEGAN SONGSTRESS
Check out the new song by The Vegan Songstress
SEASPIRACY AND IT’S LEGACY
Have you seen #seaspiracy yet?
AND IF YOU KNOW
YOUR HISTORY: PART 2
Dr. Roger Yates continues this series with part 2, all about Donald Watson.
Veganluv.net is a global black vegan dating website founded for a community of vegans, great for chatting, making friends, and even sharing interests. The site is US based but with a global reach, and LGTBQ+ inclusive. ‘’At Veganluv.net, we want to support you with finding love that will last forever. Our members on Veganluv. net are serious about their search for long lasting relationships. With over 1 million vegans world-wide vegan dating is a reality. Vegans make tolerant partners and Vegans are not afraid of commitment. Find your next vegan relationship on Veganluv.net.’’
The Plant Based Athlete - The only research-based guide for connecting a plant-based diet with peak athletic performance, featuring interviews with professional athletes who’ve made the switch from meat to plants. As of 23rd June this new release by Robert Cheeke & Matt Frazier reached the New York Times Best Seller list!
Exciting news to announce that the Ve g a n Organic Fest 2021 is going a h e a d and looking forward to a fun, entertaining and thought provoking back-to-nature veganic event., to be held at Chyan Cultural Centre; an eleven acre site deep in the Cornish countryside with a capacity of about 200 people, camping facilities, on site hostel and nearby alternative accommodation. The event is from midday on Thursday 12th August-Monday 16th August with activities happening from Friday-Sunday.
This summer the world’s (apparently) most Instagram worthy spot in town will open its doors in Amsterdam. The brand new Vegan Junk Food Bar will be completely different from what the VJFB (Vegan Junk Food Bar) crowd is used to. Artful two-dimensional black and white drawings that will dominate the interior and furnishings. The colors of food and drink will pop in full color. And by all accounts the VJFB store will make you feel like you’ve been transported into a clip of the 80’s A-ha hit, Take On Me (but don’t let that put you off). www.veganjunkfoodbar.com
A hospital in Lebanon has become the first in the world to adopt a completely vegan menu. Hayek Hospital, located in a suburb of Beirut, launched its 100 percent plant-based menu on March 1, describing the move to go completely vegan as a “moral responsibility.” Their mission statement reads “Our patients will no longer wake up from surgery to be greeted with ham, cheese, milk, and eggs—the very foods that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place”. And Although Hayek is the first hospital to completely remove all animal products from its menu, a number of other hospitals have begun offering more plant-based options in recent years. New York and California in the USA are two states that have recently passed laws requiring hospitals to offer a plant-based option with every meal.
Outstanding new online event with a truly international flavour this coming July, including Carol J Adams, Shireen Kassam, & Roger Yates amongst the speakers.’’ Come and join the International Istanbul Vegfest from home again! We’ll meet online on July 3-4 to share experiences, organize workshops to help you build your plant-based kitchen and hear stories of animals through special documentary screenings and sessions with the participation of our astounding speakers! @Vegfestist
The second edition of Vegan India Conference will be held virtually in July 2021. An annual initiative by Vegan First VIC, Vegan India Conference is one of the most sought-after vegan events in Asia. VIC encourages you to rethink food, fashion, and technology through a plant-based lens. Evolve 21: Highlighting plant-forward innovations The theme for this year, ‘Evolv21,’ addresses India’s dire need for alternatives at the intersection of food, material technology, innovation, food security, bio-economy, and resource deployment.
On Sunday 27 June, 2021, a ground breaking virtual conference goes live to spotlight the Indonesian fermented protein, tempeh (spelled “tempe” in Indonesia). Tempethon 2021 includes A TEDx talk by Amadeus Winarno, PhD and co-founder of the Tempeh movement, and cooking classes from a variety of world cuisines, hosted by Melania Edwards, CEO of The Tropical Kitchen. Live cooking demonstrations include exotic Indonesian recipes from The Tropical Kitchen, renowned tempeh chef and author JL Fields will demonstrate how to create tempeh burgers using simple ingredients, and more!
ANIMAL REBELLION MCDONALDS ACTION
On Saturday 21st of May, 2021 around 100 Animal Rebels shut-down all four McDonald’s distribution centres across the UK. The blockade lasted from 19-30 hours, and we paralysed the supply chain of the biggest fast food chains in the world and a symbol of the animal and climate exploitation industries. This is only the beginning. McDonald’s hold a very large slice of the take away pie! 80% of Amazon Deforestation is caused by Animal Agriculture (reported by WWF). McDonald’s has been shown to source products from illegally deforested areas, and 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second, most of it due to beef production. 77% of land used for agriculture is used for meat and dairy, yet animal-based food only contributed 18% of global calories! This has to change if humans are to survive beyond the next 10 years. We can’t continue to feed animals, to feed us. Sit ins are now an ongoing part of the action. These have been inspired by the Nashville lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights movement in America. They were a form of non-violent direct action, where participants peacefully opposed segregation by sitting at lunch counters until they were removed, building a pressure campaign where they would keep coming back and disrupting this racist system. This action helped to catalyse the end of state sanctioned segregation in America, demonstrating that direct action like this can trigger real social change. We will be doing this in McDonalds each week, until they publicly respond to us, and commit to change their menu. Burger King has. They are having four days with a plant based menu only this week, following our action in Germany.
Come on McDonalds, get your act together. Where’s the love in it ? 14
OF THE ACTION
GAZA BEYOND VEGAN-WASHING:
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ANIMAL
--AND HUMAN-LIBERATION STRUGGLES IN
ISRAEL AND PALESTINE This spring, Israel once again dominated world headlines— both within the animal rights movement, and beyond it. In animal rights/vegan circles, Israel is once again being celebrated, this time for being the ‘first country in the world to ban fur’. While the struggle to ban fur in Israel goes all the way back to the grassroots Israeli animal rights movement in the mid-90’s, in more recent years, animal rights campaigns within Israel have gained more establishment support, with PETA US Honorary Director Pamela Anderson personally lobbying government officials in Tel Aviv and appealing to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support a ban on fur, and Gila Gamliel, a former army sergeant -turned-Likud party Environmental Protection Minister, signing it into law. In a nationwide opinion poll, 86% of Israelis expressed support for the ban. All across the Western world, animal rights organizations 18
and media hailed the move. In a statement to Plant-Based News, Claire Bass, Executive Director of HSI UK, said: “This is a truly historic day for animal protection, with Israel becoming the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur fashion.” PETA swooned that, “This victory belongs to animals—the rabbits, minks, foxes, and other vulnerable species who suffer and are killed for human vanity.” Meanwhile, reporting within Israel was less impressed, with The Times of Israel flatly calling the ban “largely symbolic”, as the bill makes an exemption for the Hasidic fur-brimmed hats known as shtreimel—the predominant cause of fur-wearing in the balmy Mediterranean climate—and permits the use of fur for any religious, scientific or educational purposes.
Of course, the other reason why Israel was in the international news this past spring was for a rather different reason. On May 10th, Israel unleashed an 11 day intense bombing campaign against the trapped Palestinian civilian population of the Gaza Strip—trapped because for the last 15 years, Israel has controlled the parameters of this tiny piece of land and refused to let anyone in or out without
In total, 260 Gazans were killed by Israeli bombs, including 66 children, and 1,900 were seriously (and in many cases, permanently) injured, while on the Israeli side 13 people died from Hamas rockets, including 2 children.”
Laura Schleifer created the word ‘artivist’ to describe her vocation as an artist-activist. An NYU Tisch graduate (BFA, Drama), she’s toured the Palestinian West Bank, Jordan and Egypt, performing with a theater/circus troupe for Palestinian and Iraqi refugee children, taught in China, Nicaragua, and at Wesleyan University’s Green Street Arts Center, performed off-Broadway, and arts-mentored homeless/targeted NYC youth. Her screenplay, The Feral Child, was a Sundance Lab finalist. Her essays appear in The Leftist Review, Project Intersect, The New Engagement, and an upcoming Black Rose Books Kropotkin anthology. Currently, she’s writing a book, Liberating Veganism, for Vegan Publishers. Laura is also the Institute for Critical Animal Studies Total Liberation Director and co-founder of Plant the Land, a vegan food justice/community projects team in Gaza. FORÇA VEGAN
its permission, leading Gaza to be dubbed the ‘world’s biggest open-air concentration camp’. Starting with the Israeli attempted eviction of long-term Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem that an Israeli court ruled earlier this year should be cleared for Jewish settlers coming from other parts of the world to move into, this most recent intense flare up of the longstanding ‘conflict’ between Israel and the Palestinians whose land Israel controls quickly escalated from the forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, to Israeli military teargas, rubber bullet and stun grenade attacks on Palestinian worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, to Hamas rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel in retaliation for the Jerusalem attacks and evictions, to an all-out Israeli slaughter of Gazans, the 20
likes of which had not been seen since the last major Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza in 2014. In total, 260 Gazans were killed by Israeli bombs, including 66 children, and 1,900 were seriously (and in many cases, permanently) injured, while on the Israeli side 13 people died from Hamas rockets, including 2 children. As the world watched the horrifying images pouring out of Gaza, Haaretz Newspaper, one of the major Israeli news outlets, reported that the Israeli military was in fact intentionally wiping out entire families. One after another civilian building was destroyed, ultimately leaving 122,000 Gazan families homeless as a result of the Israeli bombing, according to UN estimates. On the 11th day of bombing, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire. In stark contrast to the 86% of Israelis who sup-
ported the fur ‘ban’, 72% did not support the ceasefire, and in fact wanted Israel to continue to bomb Gaza. Just a few weeks later, when news of the Israeli fur ‘ban’ was announced, there was little-to-no mention of what had transpired the previous month in the vegan community news coverage of the event. Totallyveganbuzz.com was the rare vegan news source that acknowledged Israel’s recent human rights crimes, dryly noting, “Israel’s move to protect helpless animals from cruelties is heartening after the country was recently embroiled in conflicts with innocent Palestinians, raiding their homes for forced evictions, and attacking worshippers in the holy Al-Aqsa mosque.” To their credit, the website also published a separate story regarding Palestinian scholar
and activist Zarefah Baroud far more critical piece, “Dear PETA, Israel’s animal rights record leaves a lot to be desired”, which excoriates Israel for its hypocrisy where both human and non-human animals are concerned. At the time of this writing, Totallyveganbuzz. com appears to be the only vegan news source to mention the most recent Israeli attacks at all. What makes the omission all the more glaring is the fact that other social justice movements have increasingly embraced the Palestinian liberation struggle and integrated it into their own struggles, actively seeking out and exposing the ways in which the various systems of oppression intertwine and taking the stance that the freedom of one requires the freedom of all. Whether it’s #BlackLivesMatter and the
Movement for Black Lives pointing out the long history of Black-Palestinian solidarity against all forms of colonialism and apartheid and exposing the current trend of US police being trained by Israeli military, South Africans calling for an end to apartheid in Palestine just as they called for it to end in South Africa (and noting that Israel was one of the only countries to continue supporting South African apartheid right up until the very end), Native people of the Americas and Australia calling for indigenous solidarity and resistance worldwide and pointing out the similarities between the US border wall and the Israeli ‘apartheid wall’ built to separate ‘Israel proper’ from the Israeli-occupied and controlled Palestinian territories (“From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have got to go!”), or intersectional
feminists recognizing that one cannot be both feminist and a supporter of Israeli colonialism (aka ‘Zionism’) because in order to stand in solidarity with women one must stand with all the oppressed women of the world, including Palestinian women, in movement after movement there is a growing consensus that all of these issues are stemming from the same roots, and that systemic violence against humans must end in all its forms. In the U.S., even the mainstream news outlets have recognized the fact that support for Palestine is growing, and that it is due in large part to ‘America’s racial reckoning’ (“Time”, May 21st) and to inter-movement human solidarity building. Of course, therein lies the rub— the key word here is humans. While the climate justice movement is working to bridge the
ment has largely continued to alienate itself from those other movements by refusing to make those connections, thus seeing nothing amiss about praising a colonial apartheid regime for ‘banning’ fur while the rest of the world harshly condemns it for slaughtering children.
Working donkey in the West Bank
gap between social justice and environmental movements, ultimately the focus there is on how ecological issues affect humans—not non-humans. Other movements may also include the impact of systemic oppression on non-human animals in their overall analysis, but the animal rights movement remains the only social justice movement that focuses on the direct exploitation of non-human animals and their natural rights based specifically on their individual subjec22
tivity and ‘personhood’. Thus, the animal liberation movement is irreplaceable in the greater schema of movements for justice and liberation, as it alone contains this key piece of the greater puzzle. Yet, rather than take our rightful place in the broader movement for total liberation from the systems of violence—colonialism, imperialism, militarism, Capitalism, etc.--that are destroying ecosystems and harming humans and other species alike, the animal rights move-
The irony in this is that some of the most radical, revolutionary ideas about how these issues connect come from activists within the ‘Holy Land’ itself. While much has been made of the issue of Israeli government and military ‘vegan-washing’--that is, the attempt to ‘wash’ away their human rights crimes through promoting the image of Israel being a ‘vegan nation’ with the ‘world’s first vegan (occupying) army’--in fact, there is a legacy of ideas and actions on both the Palestinian and Israeli anarchist sides that combine the struggle for Palestinian liberation with the struggle for non-human animal liberation, and that look at how Israeli/Zionist colonialism has negatively impacted the indigenous Palestinians, the land, and the non-human animals in that region. It is here that the global animal liberation movement can draw inspiration for ways in which to work in solidarity with Palestinians and their allies towards a liberation for humans and other species that necessarily includes, but also goes beyond, merely boycotting Israeli goods and services and calling out Israeli ‘vegan-washing’ whenever and wherever we see it.
The Palestinian Animal League (PAL) feeding stray cats
ONE FIGHT— THE TOTAL LIBERATIONIST ORIGINS OF THE ISRAELI
ANARCHIST ANIMAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT,
AND HOW VEGAN “HASBARA’ WASHED THAT HISTORY AWAY Mention the Israeli animal rights/vegan movement today, and you’re likely to get one of two reactions: glowing praise for Israel being the ‘world’s first vegan nation’, a ‘vegan paradise’, etc., or else intense skepticism about how the Israeli government, military and corporations are cynically exploiting veganism and animal rights as a way to give themselves a progressive veneer that serves to both distract from their human rights crimes and also distinguish them as being more ‘civilized’ than the ‘barbaric Arabs’ they are ‘surrounded by’, who naturally would never, ever have the moral capacity for veganism themselves. (This despite the fact that Palestinians are one of the lowest animal-consuming demographics in the world, while Israelis remain one of the highest...but since when has #Orientalism cared about facts?) It may surprise many to discover that at one point the animal liberation movement within Israel was profoundly radical, explicitly anti-Capitalist and anti-colonial, and deeply intertwined with solidarity for Palestinian liberation, as well as other social justice movements.
It may surprise many to discover that at one point the animal liberation movement within Israel was profoundly radical, explicitly anti-Capitalist and anti-colonial, and deeply intertwined with solidarity for Palestinian liberation, as well as other social justice movements.”
Watching footage of the early days of the Israeli animal rights movement vs. that of the movement today, it seems there is virtually nothing recognizable between them. In A Palestinian Animal League (PAL) veterinary clinic
a YouTube video entitled ‘Animal Rights in Israhell: Diary of Actions 1995–2006’, punk music plays while anarchist activists wave signs showing animals being tortured on farms and in labs, chain themselves to McDonald’s outlets, and perform agit-prop street theater depicting Ronald McDonald as a blood-drenched killer. Protesters are shown as being in direct conflict with Israeli law enforcement. The mood is distinctly confrontational, anti-consumerist, anti-Capitalist, and anti-establishment. In contrast, the video “The Story Behind the Vegan Revolution in Israel”, from a talk given by Chen Cohen at the 2016 International Animal Rights Conference, is in many ways its complete opposite. Contrary to the anti-consumerist spirit of the original Israeli anarchist animal rights movement, this new and ‘improved’(?) movement gives the impression that it is about nothing but consumerism. Right from the get-go, the speaker diverts from any focus on non-human animal liberation straight to the fact that Tel Aviv has over 400 vegan-friendly restaurants, and you will know that they are ‘vegan-friendly’ because they have a sticker on their window marking them as such. And then he talks about vegan shopping in Israel, vegan venture Capitalism, and vegan celebrity blogger Ori Shavit, with her ‘Vegan Girls Have More Fun’ blog on the VegansOnTop.com website. Then we are shown smiling pictures of Ori hanging out with the Israeli military — yes, that military, the one that murdered 248 Gazans just a few weeks ago, injured 1900 and made 100,000+ homeless, the one that inflicts violence and brutality on the Palestinians whose land they occupy on a daily basis — discussing and 24
Above: Poster for a vegan ‘Birthright tour’
cooking vegan delicacies. We are also told that now there are even vegan bbqs happening on Israeli Independence Day (a holiday that is a slap in the face to Palestinians, as the creation of the State of Israel on Palestinian land 73 years ago involved mass expulsion and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, aka ‘the Nakba’ [‘catastrophe’ in Arabic], and of course continues to be the main source of their misery today.) Finally, to wrap things up, we are shown a final image of the Israeli flag, only with the bottom of the ‘Magen David’ (Star of David) covered with a green ‘V’ to represent veganism.
Other sources tell a similar story about the New Israeli Vegan Movement. There are articles and videos promoting Tel Aviv as the ‘vegan capital of the world’, vegan tours of Israel, and even a vegan version of the Birthright tour. (For the uninitiated, ‘Birthright’ trips are Israeli government sponsored trips for young diaspora Jews aged 18-32 to come and visit Israel in the hopes that they will decide to move there, serve in the occupying army, get married and propagate the race—all of which is vital to Israel maintaining the demographic majority it needs to retain its function as a ‘Jewish state’. The title, ‘Birthright’, refers to the idea that
any Jewish person from any part of the world is entitled to move to that land because it belongs to all Jewish people by divine right. Meanwhile, diaspora Palestinians cannot come home to that land, not even if they were born there.) And always, there are stories promoting the Israeli military as a ‘vegan army’, complete with vegan food, plant-based hats and boots, etc. for the 5% of soldiers who identify as vegan --so much so that the U.S. magazine The Atlantic Monthly published a feature piece on the subject. (Because apparently murdering humans, including children, is so very compatible with veganism? Surely Donald Watson and
Elise Shrigley, the anti-war protesters who founded the vegan movement with the idea of creating a more peaceful world overall, must be shuddering in the afterlife.) Clearly, something has dramatically changed between the Israeli animal rights/vegan movement of the ‘90’s, and the one today. While it may be difficult to clearly pinpoint the exact moment the change happened, there are some indicators. The new Israeli vegan movement cites its origin as the moment when U.S. vegan activist Gary Yourofsky’s speech, modestly titled ‘The Greatest Speech
You’ll Ever Hear’, was translated into Hebrew and went viral in Israel in 2010. Yourofsky is notorious for promoting a form of veganism that is not only single issue, but indeed downright hostile to human rights, essentially seeing human rights as being in opposition to animal rights because humans are the oppressors of other animals. When Yourofsky went to speak at Ariel settlement, a segregated Jewish-only housing settlement in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank that was not only being targeted for boycott by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against apartheid Israel but that even many IsFORÇA VEGAN
raeli public figures were boycotting because the residents of that settlement had been caught literally torturing Palestinian children, journalists from Israeli Leftist publication 972 Magazine asked him whether he was aware of the boycott, and if so, why he was still going to speak at the settlement in spite of it. Yourofsky replied that he didn’t care about, “Jews or Palestinians, or their stupid, childish battle over a piece of God-forsaken land in the desert. I care about animals, who are the only oppressed, enslaved and tormented beings on this planet. Human suffering is a joke.”
Needless to say, claiming that non-human animals are the only oppressed beings on the planet, and that ‘human suffering is a joke’, was perhaps a rather insensitive thing to say in a place where one group of humans are being so severely oppressed by another group that they are experiencing one of the world’s worst human rights crises, according to virtually every human rights org. and the United Nations itself, but Yourofsky didn’t stop there. Despite his protestations that he had no vested interest in ‘taking sides’, he then went on to make a video entitled,
“Blacks, Palestinians and other Hypocrites’ (because apparently it was more hypocritical for [some] Black people and Palestinians to continue to consume animals while fighting for their own human rights than it was for the Israeli military to be proclaiming themselves vegan while slaughtering Palestinians, including children), followed by an epic Facebook rant in which he proclaimed that Palestinians are ‘the most insane people on the planet’. Oddly enough, no such criticism of Israelis/Zionists was ever forthcoming.
Of course, none of this stood in the way of Yourofsky becoming an overnight sensation in Israel, with up to 1 out of every 7 Israelis having seen his ‘greatest speech’. Indeed, Yourofsky’s brand of virulent anti-humanism played a significant role in inspiring the creation of what is now the biggest, most well known radical animal rights group in Israel: 269life. Named after a calf branded with the number ‘269’ who was rescued by anonymous animal liberationists just days before his scheduled slaughter, 269life is brazenly anti-humanist, with an organizational statement called ‘The Non-Humans First’ declaration, that proudly announces that 269life believes that human forms of oppression are wholly irrelevant to animal rights, that oppressed people must first ‘free their own (non-human) ‘slaves’ before gaining the ‘right’ to advocate for their own liberation, that issues of human social injustice should not be taken into consideration when engaging in animal rights activism, and it does not matter what someone’s stance
on issues of human oppression is as long as they are willing to fight for animal rights for them to be welcomed into animal rights movements. (Translation: apparently vegan Nazis, Klansmen, sex offenders and all other bigots and abusers should be welcomed into animal rights movements with open arms.) While similarly to Yourofsky, the group claims no official position on the Israel-Palestine “conflict”, co-founder Santiago Gomez has revealed that while he in-
itially opposed the Israeli occupation and control of the Palestinian territories, he now supports the Israeli blockade that is literally causing Gazans to starve, as well as depriving them of medicine, clean water, electricity, gasoline, jobs, and every other necessity of life because the blockade limits the number of cows allowed into Palestine and because Israeli military attacks have caused the near collapse of the Gaza fishing industry. And despite the organization’s
Yourofsky replied that he didn’t care about, “Jews or Palestinians, or their stupid, childish battle over a piece of God-forsaken land in the desert. I care about animals, who are the only oppressed, enslaved and tormented beings on this planet. Human suffering is a joke.” FORÇA VEGAN
staunch opposition to considering the relevance of human social injustice in relation to animal oppression, that has not made them hesitate to constantly include references to human social injustice in their activism in the most offensive way possible—comparing a black man being lynched to a pig being strung up, holding fake ‘slave auctions’ referencing the auctions of enslaved Africans in the 19th century, representing the ‘end of human supremacy’ by juxtaposing a black person’s face with a white cow’s face, and other such propaganda that could only be described as blatantly
racist, especially when used in the context of a predominantly white group that outright says they don’t care about human injustice, yet treats human injustice like it’s their property to be used for their own purposes, just like the black people whose trauma they exploit were, and in many ways still are, treated like property by the dominant white society. Compare this to the Left-wing anarchist Israeli animal liberationists, particularly the group Ma’avak Ehad, or ‘One Struggle’. Formed in 2002, their name was inspired by the phrase, “One struggle, one
fight—human freedom, animal rights!”, One Struggle was total liberationist to the core, with an animal liberationist ideology and practice firmly rooted within a holistic, anti-statist/decolonial, ecological, feminist, Socialist, queer liberationist, intersectional, anti-war/anti-imperialist, anti-Capitalist and certainly anti-Zionist framework. In short, they were working towards dismantling all systems of hierarchy, domination and oppression in order to actualize a broad vision of social justice and collective liberation for all—human and non-human alike. From organizing animal rights protests that were anti-Capitalist in nature (including the aforementioned protests against McDonald’s) to participating in Palestinian-led solidarity actions to running a Food Not Bombs vegan food distribution site, One Struggle was making powerful connections between veganism, food and economic justice, anti-militarism, Palestinian liberation and the liberation of non-human animals, calling attention to animal rights within peace and social justice movements, but also encouraging anti-occupation resistance in the vegan/animal rights community. When One Struggle eventually disbanded, its members went on to form another group, Anarchists Against the Wall, that retained its veganarchist ethos but primarily focused on Palestinian solidarity work, the
So, here we come to a question that has plagued the international vegan community in recent years: Is the Israeli government intentionally using the cause of veganism and animal rights to ‘wash’ its image?” 28
Below: Boycott From Within’s Instagram - @boycottfromwithin
‘wall’ in its name a reference to the Israeli ‘apartheid wall’ that separates ‘Israel proper’ from the Palestinian territories it occupies and controls. Today, some of its members have also become active in Boycott from Within, a group of Israeli Free Palestine activists who organize to encourage the world to participate in the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement to pressure Israel to end its ille-
gal (in violation of international law) and immoral military occupation and control of Palestinian land, apartheid conditions, and genocidal sanctions on and bombing of Gaza. Even today, according to one Israeli anarchist who spoke anonymously to the anarchist website Crimethinc, an animal liberationist element is pervasive throughout the Israeli Leftwing anarchist movement, and
quite a few of the shministim (Israeli conscientious objectors who go to prison for refusing to do their mandatory military service in solidarity with the Palestinians) are vegan as well. Yet, outside of that region, hardly anyone is aware of the rich and radical legacy of Israeli veganarchism. The Israeli vegan movement we always hear about is always either the consumerist foodie movement, the anti-humanist movement, or the straight-up-military propaganda movement. So, here we come to a question that has plagued the international vegan community in recent years: Is the Israeli government intentionally using the cause of veganism and animal rights to ‘wash’ its image? All evidence says yes. The key indicator is the active role that Brand Israel has been taking in promoting Israel as a ‘vegan nation’. According to Wikipedia, “Brand Israel is a campaign run by the Israeli government to improve Israel’s image abroad. By showing Israel’s “prettier face”, downplaying religion, and avoiding discussing the state’s conflict with the Palestinian people, it hopes to counter foreigners negative attitudes towards Israel.” Formed in 2006, Brand Israel was created in order to both improve Israel’s image internationally and also attract young diaspora Jews to ‘make aliyah’ (move to Israel, or ‘return’ in Zionist parlance), serve in the Israeli occupying military and/or marry a Jewish Israeli and have children, all of which is necessary for Israel to maintain its identity as a ‘Jewish nation’ and its military and demographic dominance over the Palestinians. It was created with the express purpose of giving Israel a ‘makeover’ after public opinion polls showed that while FORÇA VEGAN
many in the West still supported it militarily, it’s image was that of an old-fashioned, religious theocracy. With the help of NYC ad agencies like Rubicam & Young and Saatchi and Saatchi, Brand Israel set out to discover what would make young people, and specifically young Jews, tick. Initially their efforts were a little less ‘socially conscious’, a little more salacious (their first venture into the public arena was putting together a ‘Women of the IDF’ spread in ‘lad mag’ Maxim, replete with Gal Gadot reclining in a bikini, legs splayed), but while this approach wildly appealed to young men, it wasn’t reaching the young liberal demographic that Israel was targeting. So they began very visibly promoting Israel on the global stage as being a haven for various progressive movements: gay rights (‘pinkwashing’), feminism (‘purplewashing’), ecology (‘greenwashing’), and veganism, which is how the Israeli government ended up sponsoring 4 massively popular vegan vloggers with a combined following of over 1 million youtube subscribers to go on an all-expense paid ‘Vegan Vibes’ food tour of Israel (a particularly cruel irony given that Palestinians in Gaza were literally being held captive and starved by Israel just a few miles away), and how we ended up with vegan birthright tours and government-run Meatless Monday campaigns and even the Israeli military claiming a vegan identity.
THE PALESTINIAN ANIMAL LIBERATION AND VEGAN MOVEMENT: A NASCENT
MOVEMENT FOR OUR TIMES In recent years, an inspiring new development has taken place, one that the Israeli vegan ‘hasbara’ (propaganda) machine never could have predicted: the Palestinians have started their own vegan and animal liberation movement. Needless to say, it should be fully understandable why this did not happen until now. Living under daily foreign military occupation and control for decades on end, Palestinians struggle each day for even the most basic human rights, let alone animal rights. Yet, in recent years there has been a growing sense among some Palestinians that just as their own liberation is so obviously
tied up with the liberation of their land, it is also deeply intertwined with the liberation of the other species they share that land with. Over the last decade, several animal sanctuaries and rescue efforts have sprung up in the Palestinian West Bank. Founded by Maad Abu-Ghazalah in 2011, the animal sanctuary Daily Hugz, so named because it is conscious of the healing effect that connecting with animals can have on traumatized children, provides sanctuary to homeless and abused animals and provides a safe space for children to play. It also combines hands-on rescue and healing efforts with consciousness-raising, focusing on spreading environmental and animal protection awareness and fighting Palestinian society’s negative perceptions of street animals. A key point of Daily Hugz’s work is helping
And so, this Brave New Israeli vegan movement has not only served to ‘wash’ Israeli human rights atrocities away, it has also served to ‘wash’ the radical, total liberationist, anarchist elements of the animal liberation movement away, as well. Above: Daily Hugz Animal Sanctuary in Palestine 30
‘Olive’ - the German Shepherd adopted by Abu-Ghazalah
to alleviate Palestinians’ fear of dogs, which is the result of the Israeli military usage of trained attack dogs to terrorize the Palestinians. Abu-Ghazalah says that when he adopted a German Shepherd at the sanctuary, the children and even the adults were frightened of her because German Shepherds are commonly used by the Israeli military. Abu-Ghazalah took great pains to make Olive seem nonthreatening to them, even putting a flower in her ‘hair’ to make her look approachable. Once the children got to know Olive, they all fell in love with her, which helped to heal their feelings about dogs on the whole. Daily Hugz also provides emotional support for disabled children, who spend a lot of time at the sanctuary connecting with the animals. Additionally, they work with Dr. Bilal, a local
vet who donates his services to this non-profit org. for free. Currently Daily Hugz and Dr. Bilal are teaming up to fund aspiring Palestinian veterinary students to study in the USA so they can eventually bring those skills back to care for the animals in Palestine. For more info.: http://www.dailyhugz.org Another organization, the Animal and Environment Association in Bethlehem Palestine, has opened the only animal shelter in the West Bank. Founded by Diana Babish and opened in 2016, the organization provides a home for thousands of dogs and cats, and works to prevent local municipalities from poisoning and shooting the dogs to control their populations. AEA-Bethlehem is the only shelter work-
ing to provide treatment to injured dogs, cats and other animals, including arranging legal animal adoption documents. They also provide spay and neutering services to the animals under their care, and to those they adopt out. AEA-Bethlehem is also working to change policies allowing dogs to be abused or poisoned without penalty, and for vets to stop allowing that. AEA-Bethlehem receives no government funding, relying totally on urgently-needed donations. They also encourage local people to volunteer at the shelter. To support AEA-Bethlehem, please visit GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme. com/f/5ga53r-bethlehem-animal-shelter Venmo: @bethlehemshelter Other activists in the region work independently to rescue FORÇA VEGAN
consciousness about the animals and their suffering more generally. In addition, PAL rescues street dogs and cats and finds them homes, runs a veterinary clinic, and has started the first Palestinian TNVR program (trap, neuter, vaccinate and release) to prevent local municipal authorities from poisoning the strays. Diana Babish - founder of the Animal and Environment Association in Bethlehem Palestine
individual street animals in their area by providing them with food, medical care, and finding them homes. Suzana Zorko, based in Al-Azariya, combines her animal rescue efforts with human rights work—in her case, children’s education, women’s economic empowerment, and local ecological restoration projects. Working to provide food, water and medical care for stray dogs and cats, Suzana recycles food scraps from local food producers to provide meals for animals. She also provides water, which is especially critical in this desert climate where Israelis control the water supply and there are severe water shortages. Another individual animal rescuer working independently, Heba Al-Junaidi, has built a makeshift shelter for 50 cats in the garden of her home in Hebron. For more info on Al-Junaidi’s efforts:
powerless than they were, with the belief that encouraging the children to care for the animals rather than abuse them would both help the animals and also help the children emotionally through bonding with the animals. Another focus has been helping Palestinians become more conscientious about how they treat the animals who are doing labor, mostly horses and donkeys. While the ultimate goal is the liberation of all animals, these activists recognize that in a place where there is mass poverty and where people are struggling for their own daily survival, the immediate goal is to ensure the animals are treated well, and to raise
They also work to promote veganism. Student activists successfully created Cafe Sudfeh, the first Palestinian vegan cafe, by convincing East Jerusalem-based Al Qud University’s cafeteria to go fully vegan, and to split all proceeds between funding animal rescue and providing scholarships for students. (Sadly, Sudfeh has now closed, with plans to eventually re-open in the West Bank capitol, Ramallah.) They also run school workshops on veganism, and organize vegan tours of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. In 2018, they organized their first international vegan conference there. Conference attendees were also guided around the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank in order to get a better sense of how living under per-
www.xinhuanet.com/eng Another organization operating in the West Bank is the Palestinian Animal League. Founded by Ahmed Safi in 2011, it was created in response to traumatized children in refugee camps taking out their pain and anger over living under Israeli military occupation and apartheid by abusing animals who were even more 32
Sulala Society Animal Rescue workers in Gaza
manent foreign military occupation, ongoing colonization and apartheid conditions is affecting the people, the animals and the ecosystems in that region. For more info.: https://pal. ps/en/ In Gaza, Sulala Animal Rescue has been especially active in providing the animals who were injured and made homeless during the recent Israeli bombing campaign with medical care and a home. Founded by Saeed Al Err, who has been rescuing animals since 2006, he keeps 40 cats at home, has placed 30 more with volunteers and oversees a shelter that’s now home to 200 dogs. It also had a horse and a donkey, but both were killed in the recent Israeli airstrikes. Saeed’s policy is to never refuse to help any animal in need—and especially since the recent bombing, the need is great. One dog is even receiving treatment after jumping from the sixth floor of a building because he was scared by the bombs, suffering a spinal fracture. The shelter runs solely on donations, including donations of free goods and labor from local vet clinics and pet food suppliers. For more info.: https://www.facebook.com/SulalaSociety Additionally, one organization has formed to provide vegan food to Gaza. Founded by Anas Arafat, a Gazan lawyer, and Laura Schleifer, a Jewish-American Free Palestine activist and animal liberationist, Plant the Land Team’s mission is to connect the international vegan community to Gaza to bring vegan food to people there who need it. Because of the Israeli economic blockade, Gazans lack access to food (one Israeli official even ‘joked’ that Israel was ‘putting Right: Anas Arafat - Plant The Land Team
Gaza on a diet’ by intentionally starving them), as well as clean water, electricity, medicine, gasoline, building materials, and all other necessities of life. Unemployment is roughly 80% there. Plant the Land Team provides immediate plant-based food aid and other forms of emergency aid (plant-based insulin, warm winter coats and blankets, home rebuilding, etc.), while also working towards longer-term solutions such as planting food forests on public lands, building village water wells, and providing people with gardening tools, with long-term goals of buying land for a community to share and opening a school to teach children how to garden, as well as teaching them respect for the land and its animals. Reso-
lutely non-hierarchical and inspired by the principles of mutual aid and communalism, the team also recently partnered with US organization Million Dollar Vegan to provide 3,500 plant-based meals to Gazans in the aftermath of the recent Israeli bombing. Plant the Land Team’s name refers to the literal work of planting the land to help Gaza become food autonomous, to land reclamation, and to the metaphorical idea of planting seeds of peace and justice for a better future. For more info.: https://nyartivist.wixsite.com/ plantthelandteamgaza Finally, Vegans for BDS is a collaborative effort between international activists and Pal-
estinians who choose to remain anonymous for security reasons working to promote the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement within the vegan community, and to specifically target vegan brands who are profiting off of the Israeli occupation or who do business with those who are with organized boycotts. Currently, Vegans for BDS are mounting a campaign to pressure plantbased consumer products seller PlantX to end their planned expansion into Tel Aviv, which has been funded to the tune of $11.5 million by Psagot, an investment company that is financially linked to Israel’s military occupation. For more info.: https://vegansforbds.com
Anas Arafat - Plant The Land Team
CONCLUSION: HOW CAN WE BEST SUPPORT
TOTAL LIBERATION— FOR PALESTINIANS,
FOR THE ANIMALS, AND FOR THE LAND THEY LIVE ON?
It is easy for those of us in other parts of the world to feel powerless to affect events taking place on the other side of the world. However, because of the unique relationship between Israel-Palestine and the outside world, particularly the Western countries that fund and arm Israel, we have both the power and the moral responsibility to take action to help Palestine, and to support Palestinians fighting for both
Plant The Land Team
their own liberation and that of non-human animals. As vegans and animal liberationists who support total liberation for everyone, here are some ways we can help: 1. Participate in the BDS movement—Inspired by the South African BDS movement to end apartheid there, Palestinians have organized a global movement to pressure Israel to end it’s occupation, sanctions, apartheid system, and ethnic cleansing policies inflicted on Palestinians through a combined strategy of boycotting Israeli companies, pressuring international public figures to not make public appearances/performances/lectures/etc. In Israel, divesting from Israeli companies, and pressuring
governments in other countries to stop funding/arming/ doing business with Israel. In this way, Palestinians have a way to resist their oppression non-violently, while raising awareness of their suffering all over the world. For more information, visit www.bds.net 2. Get involved with Vegans for BDS-- As vegans, we have a special role in resisting Israeli occupation because Israel has chosen to use our movement to improve its self-image. Vegans for BDS is working hard to challenge that, and to promote awareness within the vegan community of which vegan products to boycott in solidarity with the Palestinians. These products may not contain any animal ‘products’, nor have
Anas Arafat - Plant The Land Team
been tested on animals, but if they support colonialism they aren’t ‘vegan’ and certainly aren’t ‘cruelty free’. Additionally, Vegans for BDS works to convince vegan ‘influencers’ to NOT make public appearances in Israel, as doing so violates the boycott. For more info.: https://vegansforbds.com 3. Call out Israeli vegan-washing whenever and wherever you see it—The Israeli propaganda machine is depending on the silence of total liberationist vegans to continue exploiting our movement to improve Israel’s image and to hide its human rights crimes. Don’t let it. 4. Expose Israeli atrocities to the vegan community—including those involving animal exploitation and abuse. While Israel is promoting itself as a ‘vegan nation’, in actual fact, Israel is consistently in the topten meat consuming nations on earth and has one of the big36
gest dairy export industries in the Middle East. As is typically the case with colonialism, one of the biggest drivers of its resource theft, particularly that of precious water supplies in the desert environment, is animal agriculture. Additionally, Israel exploits animals in their violent attacks on Palestinians, from the Israeli military usage of trained attack dogs, many of whom are imported from Europe, to Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank that involve attacking animals, in addition to burning olive trees, attacking local children and other forms of hate crimes. During the 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza, Israeli military entered the Gaza zoo and summarily executed the animals. We never hear about these things in the vegan movement, only about how Tel Aviv is the ‘shining vegan city on the hill’, and about how Israel is the ‘world’s first vegan nation’ with the ‘world’s first vegan army’. Expose them.
5. Support the Palestinian-led animal rescue, sanctuary, and vegan food justice efforts mentioned above—Palestinian animal and vegan activists need our help! They are working under the most unimaginably difficult circumstances, and need all the support they can get. Additionally, spreading awareness about these organizations within the international vegan community will not only help them and the humans and animals they assist directly, it will also help indirectly by breaking the racist/Islamophobic/Orientalist implication that only Israelis care about animals. 6. Connect with Boycott from Within and the true Israeli Leftist/anarchist/veganarchist community, and promote THAT Israeli vegan movement, rather than the single-issue, anti-humanist, government propagandist-influenced one— Israeli Leftists/anarchists who support total liberation are still out there, and they need our
support, especially because they are such a tiny and despised minority within Israel. Additionally, promoting the stories of the shministim, Israeli conscientious objectors who go to prison for refusing to serve in the Israeli occupying army (in Israel, almost every young person of any gender is required to serve in the military), can help to disrupt Israeli ‘vegan washing’ propaganda about the military. Many of these brave young people are also vegan. Promote their stories in the vegan community. For more info.: https://boycottisrael.info 7. Call out Israeli cultural appropriation of traditional vegan Arab foods—Falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, etc. are all traditional Arab foods going back centuries, but to hear Israel speak you’d think they were all invented by Israelis during the brief 73 years of Israel’s existence. Calling these foods ‘Israeli’ is Palestinian cultural erasure, and fits into a larger Zionist project of denying the existence of Palestine on the whole. Whenever you see these foods or other traditional Arab/Palestinian things being referred to as ‘Israeli’, call that out.
8. Educate yourself and others about the Israeli occupation and overall oppression of Palestinians-- Some helpful resources to check out include organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, Adalah, B’Tselem, Middle East Children’s Alliance, International Solidarity Movement, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Birthright Unplugged, and Existence is Resistance, among others. Follow Palestinian and Jewish/ Israeli Left-wing media like Maan News, The Palestinian Chronicle, Haaretz, 972 Magazine, Mondoweiss. The Electronic Intifada. Films to check out include “5 Broken Cameras”, “Tears of Gaza”, “Stone Cold Justice”. 9. Share resources with friends and family. Post about the situation for Palestinians on social media. Bring up Palestine as an issue in other social justice movements you are involved with, and reveal how it connects to those other struggles. Support for Palestinians is growing tremendously, and that is in no small part because of the influence of both social media and intersectionality. You can play a significant role in making that happen.
10. Finally, keep working for collective liberation and reject single-issue veganism/animal rights activism—When our movements become single-issue, they become vulnerable to co-optation and exploitation. That is why feminism and gay rights became exploitable by the Capitalists, colonialists and imperialists—because without an intersectional analysis, those movements could be framed in terms that served to advance overarching systems of oppression rather than dismantle them. If you dislike the cynical usage of identity politics as a way of silencing dissent, that’s actually more reason to take an intersectional, total liberationist approach to your activism. Additionally, taking a total liberationist approach wards off false accusations of unfairly singling Israel out for criticism or of engaging in ‘anti-Semitism’, and lets Jewish people know that your criticism is not of them, but of Israeli colonialism/Zionism. By standing up for the liberation of ALL beings at once, we can forge strong bonds of solidarity and collaboratively strive for collective liberation far more powerfully and effectively.
LEILA DEHGHAN ANIMAL RIGHTS, HUMAN RIGHTS, VEGANISM
WHERE AND WHEN DID YOUR PLANT BASED JOURNEY BEGIN? I had been vegetarian on and off since the human dissection course at medical school. The human muscle fibres resembled the meat in my food and I felt nauseated at the thought of eating meat, it felt like I was eating human flesh. So, I ditched meat except fish. 38
That was the beginning of my journey although it had nothing to do with animals. But like everyone else, I thought I had to eat meat. Once in a while I’d force myself to have some meat, usually kebab. Over the years I started to dislike the taste of meat. I’m one of those vegans who doesn’t like anything that tastes like meat. I’ve never tried any of the available meat-alternatives.
WHAT TIPPED YOU INTO A VEGAN LIFESTYLE? In 2013 I got involved in dog rescue. By then I was fully vegetarian, and I thought by being vegetarian I wasn’t harming the animals. Then one day a fellow rescuer posted a onehour YouTube video by Gary Yourofsky. I watched the video and went vegan then and there.
HOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND VEGANISM? AND HOW DO YOU ‘TRANSLATE’ THE WORD WHEN REQUIRED? I believe veganism is the ultimate form of compassion. Once you truly accept animals as sentient beings, your whole world view changes. Most of us don’t ever consider what it means to be a sentient human being, so in a way when we start seeing animals as sentient beings, we can’t help but extend our compassion to ALL beings, animals and humans. So, it turns into a social justice movement with compassion as its main principle: doing the least harm to animals and humans.
WHAT WOULD HELP CHANGE THAT PERCEPTION? It’s not easy and won’t happen anytime soon because “whiteness” is the norm. The white western hegemony is systemic AND global. As a result, we all, even people of colour living in the west, but also people in Asia or Africa, have learned supremacist ideas. It’s ingrained in us. I use “we”, and “us” because we’re all complicit in perpetuating this supremacy system. Recognising this
is the first step. Only then can we be open enough to notice when white supremacy shows up in our messaging, posts and actions. Other practical steps involve listening to vegans of colour, giving them a platform in the mainstream vegan news outlets and events and checking whether the vegans of colour who have been offered a seat at the table are acting “mainstream” because of internalised racism. Having vegans of colour who are mainstream is not diversity and only adds to the problem. That’s a tough one though because whiteness is the norm and nobody questions anybody who acts “white”.
Sadly, most non-English languages don’t have a good translation for the word “veganism” and using the English word can alienate non-English speakers who perceive the idea of veganism as yet another tool of colonialism.
MAINSTREAM VEGANISM COMES OVER AS VERY ‘WHITE’ SOMETIMES. DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? Oh yes! And not just sometimes. Mainstream veganism IS white. Full. Stop. FORÇA VEGAN
CONFIDENCE CAN WHAT WOULD YOU SOLIDARITY AND BE A KEY FACTOR LIKE TO SEE FROM ALLYSHIP ARE FOR SOME PEOPLE THE MAIN ANIMAL VERY MUCH – DO YOU HAVE GROUPS IN THE UNDER THE SOME THOUGHTS UK? MICROSCOPE ON THAT? SINCE THE BLM If we truly want a vegan world, then diversity is crucial. HavPROTESTS IN Sure, having confidence is ing people from different very important, especially for backgrounds, ethnicities and 2020. people of colour who are rou- religions is the only way to distinely being overlooked and whose skills are being downplayed.
mantle the stereotypes linked with veganism. And recognising that all oppressions are interconnected and we cannot fight one oppression - animal cruelty - and ignore food injustice, social injustice, racism, health inequity - just to name a few. As Audre Lorde says, “There is no hierarchy of oppression.”
THE RECENT RESPONSE IN THE UK TO THE ATROCITIES IN PALESTINE WAS NOTICEABLE – ANIMAL GROUPS WERE VERY QUIET. A white vegan commented on one of my posts and defended the silence of the vegan organisations by saying that BLM was considered “standard” whereas the opinions on the Israeli aggression against Palestinians are divided. He said vegan organisations would lose support by choosing sides and if our goal is to make people aware of veganism, then it’s better not to take sides.
In his naivety he disclosed the real reason. Last year BLM was fashionable and black people were calling out anybody who was being quiet, but being pro-Palestine is not fashionable yet. Last year, a vegan influencer posted “it’s time we all stand against injustice. Everything else is a distraction.” This year the response to the injustice in Palestine was deafening silence.
YOU’VE BEEN VERY VOCAL ABOUT PALESTINE RECENTLY - WHAT CAN ALLIES DO TO HELP MORE? Neutrality only helps the oppressor. Dr Kahn, a famous plant-based doctor, publicly called the killings of Palestinians “ethical” and “justified”. Unfollow him on social media and if you’re brave enough, post the reason. Spread the word about what’s going on in Palestine. Show your support in a public way. Donate to the organisations such as “Plant the Land Team Gaza” that are helping the Palestinians and invite your followers to do the same. If you’re an influencer and have a platform, use it to raise awareness. There are many ways people can help silence is not one of them.
YOU HAVE TALKED PREVIOUSLY ABOUT INTERSECTIONALITY, AND ‘FIXED’ AND ‘FLUID’ IDENTITIES – COULD YOU EXPAND ON THAT A BIT? I often hear people say they’re intersectional vegans, and although I do understand what they’re trying to say, I don’t agree with that terminology. We all are intersectional beings, whether we like it or not. We have a wide range of experiences based on our different social identities - gender identity, ethnicity, skin colour, sexuality, disability, class, culture, occupation…it’s not an exhaustive list - and the intersection of these identities shape our individual experiences. Certain
identities won’t change, eg skin colour, ethnicity, but others may change (eg job, disability). All these social identities play a role in how privileged someone is, whether they’re being discriminated against or not, whether they’re represented in the media or not. Understanding how these social identities overlap is important if we want equity - which is different than equality. Without intersectionality the lived experiences of marginalised groups will be ignored.
HOW DO YOU RESPOND IF YOU HEAR PEOPLE EXPRESS THAT ‘ONLY WHITE PEOPLE CAN BE RACIST’? Let me start by giving a definition of race and racism. Race is a social construct. Race has been created to justify racism. Racism is about domination; it’s the oppression of a marginalised group in the society by the dominant race. In the west, the dominant race is white. We live in a society where the white race has the power.
Last year’s events demonstrated clearly that we don’t have equal power, status and opportunities in the society. Sure, a person of colour can be discriminatory and abusive towards a white person, they can express racial prejudice, but that’s NOT racism. Saying that white people are subjected to racism is an attempt to make light of the racism people of colour are subjected to. It’s an attempt to minimise their lived experience. I know this is a hard pill to swallow for white people, but if we want equity and not equality, we need to have these difficult conversations.
THERE IS OFTEN A MISUNDERSTANDING AMONGST THE VEGAN COMMUNITY THAT VEGANISM IS ‘ONLY’ ABOUT THE ANIMALS, AND THAT SOMEHOW HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES ‘DERAIL’ OR ‘GET IN THE WAY’ OF ANIMALS. HOW WOULD YOU EXPLAIN THAT THIS ISN’T REALLY THE CASE? If we want animal liberation, we also need to fight for ALL oppressed sentient beings. As long as we keep silent when a group of people are being treated as “the other”, be it based on their race, sexual orientation, religion or what have you, we’re endorsing the idea
of “otherizing” and perpetuating the myth that animals can be exploited as the other. So, by excluding all the other forms of oppression from the discussion, we actually harm the very animals we allegedly care about.
Many countries and cultures are routinely subjected to abusive comments by the vegans in the west because of a festival or practice that involves abuse to animals.
First do no harm - that’s always been my principle. I urge the public in the west to stop blaming and criticising a whole culture and country for their so-called “barbaric” traditions and practices. This makes it so hard for the grassroots movements in those countries to spread the vegan message.”
CAN WE DO MORE TO HELP OTHER COUNTRIES INCREASE THE DEVELOPMENT OF VEGANISM? AND IF SO, WHAT WOULD YOU PRIORITISE? I often see a lot of anti-Asian, especially anti-China, sentiments on social media because of the Yulin festival. Then there’s the anti-Islam comments because of the halal slaughter. Many countries and cultures are routinely subjected to abusive comments by the vegans in the west because of a festi-
val or practice that involves abuse to animals. First do no harm - that’s always been my principle. I urge the public in the west to stop blaming and criticising a whole culture and country for their so-called “barbaric” traditions and practices. This makes it so hard for the grassroots movements in those countries to spread the vegan message. Next, we need to realise that each country has different politics, cultures and even relationship to the west, so there’s no one answer. However, if a vegan organisation in the west is genuinely interested in helping to raise awareness in another country, they need o ask someone from that country while making sure not to make it all about themselves. What those countries certainly don’t need is another “white saviour”.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE? I pray for more compassion in the world, compassion towards ourselves, other humans and animals. I hope that we humans start communicating with each other without becoming defensive. The future of the world depends on us working together and we can only do that from a place of peace, kindness and understanding.
FOOD & DIVERSITY
The video interview project “Athletes, Food & Diversity” is a response to systemic underrepresentation of people of colour in vegan subculture. I launched this project to shine a light on the contributions and achievements of vegans of colour, be it in the fitness industry, healthcare sector or social justice movement. While the project idea had been developed long before the pandemic, the events of last year instilled in me a sense of urgency.
Health inequities have recently been the subject of many heated debates, both locally and globally. As devastating as it has been, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted two important issues: the detrimental environmental repercussions and adverse health outcomes associated with the 44
consumption of animal products, and the existing health inequities contributing to higher morbidity and mortality rates among ethnic minorities in high-income countries like the UK and USA. These ecological and socio-political realities attest to the urgent need to act to change our food culture. Adopting a plantbased diet not only reduces our collective environmental footprint but also reduces the risk of future pandemics. A plant-based diet carries individual benefits as well, as it assists weight loss and mitigates the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure – conditions that disproportionately affect ethnic minorities.
There is no denying the negative health impacts of sys-
LEILA DEHGHAN temic racism. Equally obvious is that people of colour have been often overlooked by the mainstream vegan movement, which is dominated by white middle-class people. If we Google ‘vegan food’ or ‘veganism’, we see images of white vegans, veganised Western foods – images that ethnic communities cannot
identify with. This image of veganism as a ‘white thing’ stands in stark contrast to the fact that vegans of colour have been and continue to be active in the animal rights movement and plant-based scenes, but don’t receive the visibility, recognition or attention they deserve. They are excluded from the broader conversation, despite the high need for a healthier diet in their communities; the consumption of animal products is higher among ethnic minorities both in the UK and USA. Similarly, dairy and meat consumption are on the rise in countries like China and Brazil, as are the rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers. That is why I embarked on this project. I sought first to help remedy the lack of attention to vegans of colour and second to find out how we could best invite ethnic minority communities to consider a plant-based diet.
I launched this project to shine a light on the contributions and achievements of vegans of colour, be it in the fitness industry, healthcare sector or social justice movement.”
I interviewed eight vegan athletes and fitness professionals of colour - people who have proved through their lifestyles again and again that you can obtain enough protein on a plant-based diet to be strong and build muscles. Simultaneously, I invited vegan healthcare professionals and activists of colour to contribute to the series by speaking about all things vegan, from the science behind a plant-based diet to its ethics and socio-political aspects. I strongly believe that people will feel informed by these amazing interviews and inspired to launch their own projects, be it in their individual lives or that of their communities and the larger vegan movement. FORÇA VEGAN
& THE PROTEIN MYTH Will Tucker is a Four-Time Natural Bodybuilding Champion, America’s Vegan Trainer and founder of WTF! (Will Tucker Fitness). Among Will’s many achievements is building an outstanding physique and winning competitions on a 100% plant-based diet without any protein supplements.
ESPINOZA & THE PLANT POWERED
The movie “The Game Changers” dispelled the myth that ‘real men eat meat’; in fact, it demonstrated that a plant-based diet might just give athletes a winning edge. As an Ex-Division One basketball player, a state champion boxer and a pro power lifter, Vanessa Espinoza empowers women to be fit and strong on a plant-based diet.
KORIN SUTTON & THE
Like many people, Korin Sutton, an ex-Marine Corps soldier, believed that veganisim was just for hippies until he learned the truth about animal agriculture and chose life and compassion over death and destruction. As a vegan professional bodybuilder and a fitness trainer he inspires other bodybuilder to ditch their whey protein shakes and helps his clients to get fit on a plant-based diet.
Tabay Atkins, a 15 year old yoga instructor, believes that young children and teenagers are open to changing their diets to stop animal cruelty and tackle climate change. As a young vegan chef, he likes to show his peers how easy it is to be vegan and healthy while Dr Yami, a paediatrician, reassures parents and offers the the tools to raise kids on a vegan diet.
& RAISING KIDS ON A
& THE SECRET TO LONGEVITY
Torre Washington, a vegan bodybuilding champion, attributes his professional success to his plantbased diet, rest, recuperation and lots of fresh air - lifestyle features of people in Blue Zones where people have low rates of chronic disease and live longer than anywhere else.
DEVON BENNETT & HOW THE
IDENTITIES SHAPE OUR
How do our different identities interact and shape our experience? And why is understanding intersectionality important when advocating for the animals? In this video Devon Bennett, a Black American fitness trainer, explores how his skin colour may have affected his career in the fitness industry.
JOHN LEWIS AKA BADASS VEGAN
JUSTICE John Lewis, the co-director of the upcoming documentary “They’re Trying to Kill Us” explains why human rights and animal rights are interdependent and interrelated while Dr Naik discussed the environmental racism of animal agriculture.
As an Olympic Weightlifter Ramona seeks to empower people to go vegan for the animals, the planet and their health. It’s a win-win situation all around.
CADOGAN & VEGANISM
WASHINGTON Cina Ebrahimi is from Seattle, Washington, United States and has been involved in activism around multiple issues since 2004. He holds advanced degrees in Applied Mathematics and Physics from the University of Washington. He first started doing Animal Liberation activism since 2014 and has been vegan since 2016.
SEATTLE In May 2020, I had jumped back into on the ground activism after taking a 3-year break. The constant head-tohead street fighting with white supremacist, fascist groups left me exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally. This was all in addition to the constant online bickering that became so common within the confines of “Intersectional Veganism”. A lot of activism in the Seattle, Washington had fizzled out anyway, as had the larger Black Lives Matter movement. So, it seemed like a “good” place to take some time off and I told myself that if something “big” happened where I would need to jump back in again (after much needed recuperation) I would. I never thought it would be something as brutal as George Floyd’s death. But as how these things typically go, I shouldn’t have been surprised that that’s what it would be. How could I have thought that I would base my decision to get involved again on some “feel good” incident? Or maybe it was the severe cabin fever that resulted from the COVID lockdown and my return to activism wasn’t so altruistic all along. I don’t know. The first night of protests was met with police resistance. Who had all turned their body cameras off (they’re required by law to turn them on when a “crime” law may potentially occur) and other people said they didn’t give their names o badge numbers when asked, which are they are also required to do by law. But as would soon
learn in the following weeks, if the police didn’t do anything illegal, then this situation we’re in wouldn’t be happening. My political views have changed a lot in the that time, and they still are in a state of flux. In December of 2019, I attended the Seattle Anarchist bookfair, met some new people, reconnect-
ed with some old friends, and got exposed to a lot of new, radical political ideas. Perhaps some higher power knew what was going to happen in a few months and that was supposed to be the beginning of my transition from left of center progressive/liberal towards Anarchist politics.
Protest on 5th Ave & Pine Street, Seattle, WA
Cina after having been shot by rubber bullets
As one would expect, there has been a lot of situations that an “animal person” would find difficult and stand in the way of collective liberation. The first to come about was the incident of a protestor holding a severed pig’s head at a protest. In response, several single-issue vegans with right-wing persuasions used that as a means to undermine the movement for Black Liberation and racial equality as a whole. So again, we have the same painful double whammy, animal bodies ae the targets of human violence and Black bodies are the target of White people who are desperate for an attempt to under-
mine the movements of people who have been victimized by White Supremacy and state violence, once again creating a chasm between two movements that can and should be a combined force for collective liberation. But I don’t think the story has to end there and if the last year has been any indication, it hasn’t. The protest community in Seattle have kept moving forward with no signs of slowing down. We have literally been held up as an example for movements in other US cities. People are travelling here to see what they can learn
while people from here are going to places like Minneapolis, Portland, and Los Angeles to share their knowledge with protestors in those cities. More and more people are becoming aware of issues they didn’t even know existed and the number of people beginning to include other animals in the their liberatory framework is growing. It’s been a slow, painful process. But it’s worth it. The recent events in the Palestinian territories have only added to the momentum of people understanding that liberation will either be for everyone or it will ultimately be for no one. I’m very eager to see where things lead.
We have literally been held up as an example for movements in other US cities. People are travelling here to see what they can learn while people from here are going to places like Minneapolis, Portland, and Los Angeles to share their knowledge with protestors in those cities.”
MillionDollarVegan SIMOHAMED BOUHAKKAOUI Volunteers from Veg’Morocco, the first vegan association in the country, distributed free vegan meals from March 24 to April 4 to raise awareness of the benefits of a vegan diet for our health and the future of our planet.
In fact, studies have shown that 3 out of 4 pandemics in the last 100 years have been caused by the industries that exploit animals for their meat, milk, and eggs; these outbreaks killed more than 100 million people. MillionDollarVegan invites us, therefore, to join the ‘Take Pandemics off the Menu’ movement by trying to go vegan.” FORÇA VEGAN
Photo credit: Khalil ISMAILI ALAOUI
This work was funded by MillionDollarVegan, a nongovernment organization whose mission is to provide a million plant-based meals by 2022 to individuals around the world who have been negatively affected by COVID-19 and, consequently, «take pandemics off the menu». MillionDollarVegan has to this day delivered more than 410 000 meals, as the organization’s aim is “to empower people to help prevent future pandemics, improve their health, reduce animal suffering, and safeguard our planet for the generations to come. Building a safe and sustainable future for our children, begins with what we choose to put on our plates.” During the volunteers’ two weeks of work, more than 500 meals were distributed in Casablanca in collaboration with the ‘JOT Cafe/Damanjot Yoga
Center’, namely to the Oasis and Baoufi centers of Lalla Hasnaa children’s home, managed by the Al Ihssane association; to the Ain Chok reception center, run by the Bayti association; and to the health care workers of the health center at La Gare, La Vilette end Loubila CFCA. In Rabat, thanks to ‘Baba Ghannouge Restaurant’, meals were given to the homeless, immigrants, and others in precarious situations in collaboration with ISMA-Ivoire Solidarité Maroc; to the Casa Lahnina association, which takes care of children with disabilities; and to the Dar al Atfal Al Ouafae and Dar Atifl Al Moustakbal associations. Lastly, food was distributed at the multifunctional BATHA center for the empowerment of women victims of domestic violence in the city of Fez with the help of ‘Le Tarbouche’ Restaurant.
Veg’Morocco volonteers also took the opportunity to share leaflets made with MillionDollar Vegan to present more infomation about veganism, such as definitions, plant-based meal ideas, and nutritional facts, and, most importantly, to give an idea about the tight link between the expansion of the use of livestock and the emergence of global pandemics, environmental destruction, and antibiotic resistance. In fact, studies have shown that 3 out of 4 pandemics in the last 100 years have been caused by the industries that exploit animals for their meat, milk, and eggs; these outbreaks killed more than 100 million people. MillionDollarVegan invites us, therefore, to join the ‘Take Pandemics off the Menu’ movement by trying to go vegan.
For his part, Mohammed Bouhakkaoui, president of Veg’Morocco, noted: “Every vegan meal can be impactful. The change starts with simple things. This campaign is very positive since it’s based on peace and charity! It is a gesture that preaches respect and love among all living beings.” Veg’Morocco is also known for organizing the first Vegfest in Africa in 2018, and VegFest online in 2020, when the association was chosen as winner by the VegfestUKawards2020 for the Best Global Initiative. Veg’Morocco, during its few years of activity, has organized many events and activities that, for the first time, have connected Moroccan vegans and those with a keen desire for a sustainable, peaceful future.
Photo credits: Khalil ISMAILI FORÇA VEGAN
It is true that the world has undoubtedly changed after the pandemic. People are more concerned with health-related issues and diets, which led many to Plant-based diets. Living in a small town that is overlooking the sea in Egypt has effectively revealed a lot of the changes concerning both diet and animals.
In Dahab, the town where I live, many people escaped from big cities and others crossed seas to have a breathable life by the sea. A lot of them have developed healthier lifestyles than before by eating more vegetables and sticking to a plant based diet. Apparently, people can relate to pandemics and eating animals. Ethically, marine life has inspired dozens of people to have a second thought of how animals are exploited. Sea animals are incredibly smart, yet their sensibility was always doubted and nobody thought of them feeling empathy for each other. But now people are finally paying attention to the fact that humanity evolved from whales, so more articles are shared on social media that approach sea creatures’ intelligence, which surprisingly revealed how some of them have the skills of solving puzzles and using tools. Consequently , land and sea animals both gained empathy. On one hand, vegans who are new in town have helped a lot in creating a demand for vegan food, so more restaurants now are offering more vegan items. Moreover, business owners started 64
DAHAB Vegans who are new in town have helped a lot in creating a demand for vegan food, so more restaurants now are offering more vegan items.”
hosting more vegan chefs in order to meet the demand. On the other hand, vegans in Dahab are attempting to offer vegan homemade food and it is filling the gap for vegans and encouraging people who used to eat meat before to have a prospect for veganism. Most people now go for a salad as a main lunch dish due to summer’s heat in most places. The Lebanese cuisine is rich in nourishing salad recipes, yet my favorite one is the Monk’s Salad, for this one you need: • • • • • • • • •
1 roasted eggplant Juice of 2 lemons 2 tbsp parsley/coriander, chopped 1 Tbsp walnuts, chopped 1/8 cup onions, chopped 1 medium tomato, chopped 1 clove garlic, grated 1 tbsp olive oil salt
In a bowl, mix tomatoes, onion, garlic and walnuts. In another bowl, mix the olive oil with the lemon juice and salt, then add it to the salad bowl. Finish with the eggplant dices and the coriander. It is said that this salad is named after a monk who lived in one of the monasteries in the mountains of Lebanon. For those monks, they always combined whatever vegetables were available to eat; on the contrary, this one monk, he remained nameless, but his salad is fairly favoured. FORÇA VEGAN
VIBRANT VEGAN SOCIETY OF GHANA
Dr. Doe K.S. Nyamadi, aka Tivai is an Osteopath, Vegan, health advocate, musician & the Director of both Vibrant Vegan Society of Ghana (VVESOG) & The African Vegan. He is also co-founder of Seyenam Foods. Tivai is an animal rights activist & has been very active in championing the vegan agenda in Ghana, with Animal Rights education & holistic health via workshops, monthly events & special projects. He has a deep passion to inspire people to become vegans and his vision is to make veganism an easily-adopted and widely-recognised approach to reducing animal suffering and environmental degradation. Vibrant Vegan Society of Ghana (VVESOG) is a Non-profit Making Organization which was formed in 2016 & duly incorporated in 2017. Our main objective is to raise awareness about veganism to non-vegans & vegans; bring
all vegans under one umbrella & provide education on a vegan diet & lifestyle. The Society has so far organized monthly events for 3 and half years, including free vegan food samplings at the Aburi Botanical Gardens & the Legon Botanical Gardens, which had an attendance close to 1000 people. In March and April 2021, we organized an environmental workshop & a vegan mini-expo, respectively. In July 2021, we’ll hopefully organize a free cooking demonstration coupled with education on veganism & a Veganfest in November. We promote a lifestyle that excludes, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals. We also do acknowledge the enormous benefits of going vegan, i.e health improvement, conservation of our water bodies, rainforest, wildlife, a solution to world hunger, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions & environmental impact, and the like.
Taken during VVESOG MINI-EXPO 2021
HOW’S LIFE IN GHANA TIVAI – HAS COVID HIT HARD? In Ghana, between 3rd January 2020 to 6th May 2021, there have been 92,828 confirmed cases of Covid-19 & 783 deaths reported. The Advent of this novel virus has adversely affected businesses & the livelihoods of citizens.
ANY RECENT POSITIVES? Very significant; The President & various public Health Authorities have advised citizens to boost their immunity by eating lots of vegetables & fruits, thus a recent crave to consume more veggies & less Animal products.
HOW BIG IS THE VEGAN SCENE IN GHANA RIGHT NOW? It’s growing steadily & looks extremely good. I personally receive not less than 10 requests weekly from non-vegans who need assistance / orientation to transition to a vegan lifestyle.
HOW HAS THE YOU HAVE WOULD YOU SAY IT VEGAN SCENE SOME EVENTS IS SET TO GROW BEEN AFFECTED? HAPPENING EVERY OVER THE NEXT MONTH, THAT’S FEW YEARS? Vegan restaurants & vegan chefs who cook to order, have CORRECT? Yes, the awareness is getting to reported a reduction in sales / low patronage.
Vegan activism has taken a nose dive generally, although we are trying our best to reinvigorate the status quo. 68
Yes. Monthly events are one of our mediums or channels adopted to raise vegan awareness.
the country people, & inhabitants in other regions are also in dire need of vegan events. With adequate funds & support, it will grow immensely in a few years to come.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DRIVING FORCE RIGHT NOW FOR VEGANISM? Health!. A lot of people want to ditch meat & other animal products basically due to health reasons.
GHANAIAN CULTURE MUST BE RICH IN PLANT BASED CULTURE – TELL US A BIT ABOUT SOME OF THE BEST NATIONAL PLANT BASED INFLUENCES There has been an increase in plant-based vegan restaurants & chefs over the past few years. Some medics and public health practitioners are consciously promoting plant-based diets as a means of preventing and/ or reversing ailments. A few of our Traditional Ghanaian foods: Taken during VVESOG MINI-EXPO 2021
- Red Red - Black eyed beans + Plantain + cassava granules - Kooko + Koose + Groudnuts - Yam/Plantain + Kontonmire stew or garden egg stew
- Banku / Akple + Okro stew / soup - Kenkey
- Tuo Zaafi
- Agbeli kaklo
- Omo Tuo
- Waakye + shito + stew + avocado + veggies
- Abolo - Kokonte
- Akyeke - Mpotompoto - Yakeyake - Dzowe etc.
IS THERE AN
OF ANIMAL RIGHTS AND ETHICAL VEGANISM AS WELL AS AN INCREASE IN PLANT BASED FOOD OPTIONS?
Taken during VVESOG MINI-EXPO 2021
There is very little understanding of animal rights & Ethical veganism. Almost everyone who decides to eat vegan, does so because of health reasons. Although that’s not enough reason to go vegan, I personally consider it a stepping stone or foundation to a more deeper realisation of the vegan philosophy.
ANY FAMOUS VEGANS FROM GHANA? APART FROM YOURSELF OF COURSE...
Taken during VVESOG MINI-EXPO 2021
The Late Nathan Kwasi Adu Nana Kofi Tuuda (Agogo Nkabomhene and the Asante Nkonim Kuromhene in North America) Dr. Obadele Kambon, PhD Camidoh Okyeame Kwame Dr. Prince Yadiel
Taken during VVESOG MINI-EXPO 2021
Taken during VVESOG MINI-EXPO 2021
Kindly donate generously to support us increase vegan awareness in Ghana. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org +233(0)209046833/+233(0)542162649 Facebook: Vibrant Vegan Society of Ghana Instagram: vvesog Twitter: vvesog Youtube: Vibrant Vegan Society of Ghana FORÇA VEGAN
VVESOG: RECENT INITIATIVES
SAVE NOW! ATEWA FOREST
Atewa forest is currently being suppressed & degraded by human activities such as logging, hunting & poaching, mining; thus having endangered the lives of the animal species.
Sign The Petition FORÇA VEGAN
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AxR ALISON PLAUMER REPORTS YOU’VE BEEN CAMPAIGNING FOR VEGAN A WHILE? A LONG TIME?
I’ve been vegan for almost 30 years after seeing a small black and white leaflet about calves and dairy. It made me weep. I had no idea that dairy was so cruel. It was given to me by a fabulous woman in Animal Rights, who ran a small sanctuary from her home. I did voluntary work for the sanctuary, taking in and helping rehabilitate abused and abandoned dogs. She was my first contact with the whole philosophy of Animal rights. I’d been veggie for 10 years before that, but had no idea how abusive the whole animal agriculture machine is, before then. I’ve been an avid supporter and proponent of Animal Rights since then.
I’ve been campaigning since my mid 20’s, starting with Greenpeace when they had a very small office in Islington. My first campaign was trying to save the Antarctic as the last wild place on earth. At the time, this was simply done using street stalls, leafleting, lobbying politicians, writing letters and some direct action too. In order to become a volunteer at Greenpeace, you had to prove you were trustworthy, for a whole year, before being allowed to go out on the boats. So volunteers like me ran support groups, and did some direct actions too e.g. stickering whale produce in supermarkets. We used to run in, sticker all the whale products in the freezer, then make a mad dash so we didn’t get caught. (I had my landline tapped by the police and all my post opened during that time)
ALISON PLAUMER I’ve done masses of animal rights demos, including 10 years of anti-vivisection demos, with Hillgrove cats in Oxford, Shamrock farm in Brighton, SHAC and others too. Both of these “farms”, Hillgrove and Shamrock, closed down as a result. I’ve also been involved with environmental campaigns too, the most recent was when we set up Brighton XR in October 2018, and I participated in all the rebellions.
I’ve been vegan for almost 30 years, after seeing a small black and white leaflet about calves and dairy. It made me weep. I had no idea dairy was so cruel.”
HOW DID YOU GET WHAT ATTRACTED STARTED WITH YOU TO AXR AXR? ORIGINALLY? I got involved with Animal Rebellion during autumn 2020, initially becoming part of the Facebook admin team. I started the schools plant based council campaign here in Brighton where I live, in January 2021. It’s an ideal campaign to run during a pandemic, because most of it can be done from a home computer, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to help create plant based foods as the new norm from the ground up. I am now part of the National campaign team on this, and help run talks and support the activists involved. We are active in more than 40 UK councils and growing all the time. We work closely with ProVeg https://proveg. com/uk/ This fabulous organisation goes into schools, works with chefs, organises fun events for children, helps those delivering more plant based meals with the importance of messaging, and much more. They can provide menu consultation packages to suit the needs of each council. This includes menu planning, recipe ideas, chef training, impact assessments, parent communications, and PR support. Given that animal “products” within our toxic consumerist culture are considered “natural normal and nutritious” by many cultures and societies, we have much work to do, de -conditioning people that this is not the case.
Animal Rebellion is a sister group of XR, and was launched during 2019. I was attracted to AxR because we share all of XR’s principals and values, but also include anti speciecism, aiming to create a world that protects beings of all species. We use nonviolent civil disobedience to bring about a transition to a just and sustainable plant-based food system, as an attempt to halt mass extinction, alleviate the worst effects of climate breakdown and ensure justice for animals. All this sits completely with my own principals and values, and I love it that the context of XR and Animal Rebellion, bring out the best in people. We have a deeply embedded no-blame, no-shame culture, and welcome everyone, and every part of everyone provided they agree with, and abide by our principles and values. We live in a toxic culture in the west, that relies on a system of judging others and therefore creating hierarchy and competition and we want no part of this. Animal rebellion is a decentralised movement; everyone has a voice and everyone is important.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR RECENT MEDIA SUCCESS. My “Media success” happened by accident. A journalist from Brighton picked up my request to have 2 plant based days at schools in Brighton, from the council website, and several National, and international online papers took it on. It even got into the Jeremy Vine show, but sadly it was only the ridiculous headline made up by the press “Cheese is racist, says XR chief” that panellists discussed.
HOW DID WHAT ABOUT THE THE ‘CHEESE IS RACIST’ HEADLINE CURRENT EMERGE? CAMPAIGNS?
Our Plant based councils campaign is running currently, and is likely to do so for some time. We are going to G7 in June, and have a summer camp with several talks and trainings planned. We 80
will also be going to Cop26 in November in Glasgow, alongside many other direct action groups, who are concerned about our crumbling climate. We have a variety of different autonomous, self organising teams in animal rebellion, who have their own plans for other actions in the pipeline, particularly now we are coming out of lockdown and able to go back on the streets. Our website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram, are regularly updated with actions and campaigns, so please do watch this space.
To strengthen the case to have more plant based meals in schools, and as part of my deputation, after citing all the climate emissions arguments, I said the following:
In addition, it is estimated 65% of the world’s population are lactose intolerant, the majority of whom are people of colour. As such, it could be argued there is an inherent racism to have national food standards that, if followed, would make the majority of people of colour ill.”
This morphed into “Cheese is racist”. FORÇA VEGAN
IS THE CAMPAIGN CARRYING WITH THE HUGE MEDIA COVERAGE? The media has a habit of landing on something simply to gain a quick, easy and often uncomfortable reaction. They did this with our schools campaign, and the oversimplification of my words. Like any group taking a stand against oppression Animal Rebellion was given a moment of time and space in the press and then they leap onto something else. But interestingly enough we then see, as we did a couple of weeks ago, the headline that animals are sentient beings and have feelings and emotions. When many groups speak up about the same issue, the press have to respond. It may not seem immediately connected, but it is.
Animal agriculture is an intersectional issue, the media highlighted this in a very simplistic way, it may not be in the news every day but the campaign continues and any coverage around human rights, animal rights and climate justice are connected to this campaign. For people in or out of the media who want to find out more about the many issues surrounding the use of animals in agriculture and the benefits of a plant based food system, Animal Rebellion has a blog on its website full of articles and information.
WHAT ABOUT BACKLASH? As a result of the daft headlines, I got loads of online abuse. There were thousands of comments in the press, which I didn’t read after the first 3, but also 50 – 60 truly awful comments personally attacking me on my FB page, because of the ‘cheese is racist’ headline. I now have privacy settings I didn’t know existed... I do think though, this is all part of the right wing press agenda to take every opportunity to ridicule any dissent from their Capitalist Exploitative money making business ventures, at the expense of us all, not least those poor animals suffering in animal agriculture, and people of the global south.
WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN? Yes I would.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THE MEDIA COVERAGE – IT CAN BE A DOUBLE EDGED SWORD SOMETIMES, AS WE’VE SEEN. Daft headlines can also get by default information to sections of the population we might not necessarily reach. All the science was included after the headline, and I would imagine there’s all sorts of nice quiet families and households, who
discussed it, and might have thought more deeply about animal agriculture, so there was a positive side.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING WITH AXR THIS SUMMER – BACK TO ‘LIVE’ PROTESTS? We have the G7 8th – 14th June in Devon, August 12th 16th Vegan organic festival in Cornwall, XR Rebellion starting on 23rd August, who we’ll be joining up with. August 28th The Animal Rights march in London, and of course Cop26 in Glasgow Nov 1st which many groups will be attending. We also have several actions planned or ones being planned by activists.
ARE YOU IN TOUCH WITH ANY OF THE GLOBAL AXR GROUPS? We have many groups in a variety of countries and towns across the world. Groups can be active for a while, then activists rest up, do more actions, rest up. We see regeneration as important otherwise people can burn out. Groups tend to be self-organising and so we may not know at any one time, who is active and who is currently not. We have the following countries/places listed in our communications board. Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Toulouse, Georgia, Bayreuth, Berlin, Cologne, Erlangen, Leipzig, Mainz, Munich Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Cork, Dublin...
WHAT ABOUT PLANS FOR THE WINTER OF 21? None as yet, we might simply rest up for a while.
ARE YOU CONFIDENT WE CAN TURN THINGS AROUND WHEN IT COMES TO CLIMATE CHANGE? Most people know politicians around the world are still paying lip service to the climate breaking down, with no or very little real action. However increasingly chaotic world weather events cannot 84
be ignored. The more people who know the truth, the more people act, the more hope we have to alleviate some of the most damaging and fatal effects. This is the reason Animal Rebellion and XR will be protesting at G7. Time to act is so rapidly running out, and experts need to be listened to. Seven representatives from the wealthy Global North is not good enough. We must protect the earth and its inhabitants together across the world, and all of us alive today must fight and speak up for future generations. To answer this question directly, I have radical hope and love.
TIPS FOR UP AND COMING ACTIVISTS? Seek support and help from others. It could be us, it could be another organisation. Animal Rebellion offers a supportive and friendly crew. We have many talks and trainings available to anyone who is interested. A great start would be our ‘Plant Based Future Talk’, which highlights all the issues surrounding animal agriculture and the climate emergency and how to get involved with Animal Rebellion. You don’t need to be an activist to join, there are many roles that are necessary that don’t involve any risk and can be done remotely such as the arts team, the talks and trainings team, the social media team, or the editorial team to name a few. Anything at all can be a great help to an organization. All contributions are welcome.
HOW FRUSTRATED ACTIVISTS EVOLVED
OVER LOCKDOWN As we ease out of a prolonged, and in many cases, strict lockdown it is interesting to look back at this past year, a year of great frustration for AR activists. Having very few opportunities for activism and deprived of our most important supportive network, other activists, we started spending more and more time in front of our computer screens. Craving the interaction with other likeminded people we started gathering in virtual spaces. Granted, not all spaces were safe and not all discussions conducted in a respectful manner, but after a while I learned how to navigate these turbulent waters and locate those spaces where animal rights advocates from different cultures and backgrounds exchanged views and experiences and engaged in constructive and fruitful dialogue. Some of them were great. Never before was I able to choose between so many discussions, talks and presentations on Veganism and Animal Rights related topics. At the beginning of the first lockdown I thought that this would be a lost year for activ-
Nella Giatrakou ism but I was proven wrong. Fifteen months later, I feel that my advocacy has evolved and improved. Talking to other activists and listening to their views allowed me to rethink my own, to re-evaluate tactics and approaches, to get inspired and in many cases build bridges. This period proved to be a great learning opportunity. I learned so much and not only from fellow activists and books; I learned from the authors themselves. Theorists, researchers and academics from a wide variety of disciplines - psychology, sociology, ethology, philosophy, political science, anthrozoology and media theory to name some - participated regularly in virtual events organized
by activist and vegan groups offering their time, expertise and insights to help us explore a multitude of topics. Furthermore, with everything going virtual we gained access to conventions and conferences and academic spaces usually reserved for academics or graduate students. A closer relationship seemed to form between the grassroots and the academia, a relationship that we should maintain and nurture. After all, communication and interaction between those who serve the same cause from different positions can only be beneficial for the movement. As the cliché goes, knowledge is power and the more we know about speciesism, its causes and manifestations, the better our chances to defeat it. Perhaps this is something to keep in mind as we go back to our preferred kinds of activism. We never know enough and we should always grasp the opportunity to learn more. The virtual Animal Advocacy Conference (June 30 – July 2, 2021) organized by the University of Kent represents such an opportunity. Three days full of talks, discussion panels and presentations. As it reads on their website (https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/ animaladvocacy/), “The Animal Advocacy Conference brings together, for the first time, researchers from different fields in the social and behavioral sciences, and animal activists and advocates from around the world…We will create a stimulating environment where academics and activists/advocates exchange relevant knowledge, engage in lively debates, share their ideas, and can start collaborations.” FORÇA VEGAN
ART OF COMPASSION
PROJECT NOURISHING WITH HEART Art Show to Open July 1st
On July 1, 2021, the virtual 3D art show Nourishing with Heart will open! This show is one of four within The Art of Compassion exhibition series curated by Leigh Sanders and Jessa Goodall of The Art of Compassion Project (AoCP). Both are behind the organization’s namesake coffee table art book, and they are thrilled to be collaborating on yet another first-of-its-kind project together. This exhibition series is a virtual 3D showcase of never-before-seen vegan art by dozens of artists around the globe. As outlined below, each show will highlight a unique theme that celebrates a different non-profit vegan organization selected to receive all proceeds from the art auction associated with the given show. In Nourishing with Heart, you’ll find everything from paintings to illustrations to mixed media works from the following artists: Philip McCulloch-Downs, Revers Lab, Alev Art, Jayne Yilmaz, Lila Marquez, Sally Rumball, Karen Fiorito, Lynda Bell, Francisco Atencio, Dana Ellyn, Renata Z Filep, Chantal Kaufmann, Rhonda Van, Gabriele Elsler, and Mikael Samsonov.
At a time when the world is particularly open to the compassionate lifestyle of veganism, this exhibition series will give vegan and non-vegan viewers alike something to explore and connect on virtually. The shows will be hosted on our exhibition website with a chatbox embedded underneath to encourage expressions and conversations ignited by the artwork. To purchase high-quality art prints through the auction and support the selected non-profit vegan organization, be sure to head over to the exhibition website during each show. The Art of Compassion exhibition series is possible due to a generous donation from the Culture & Animals Foundation, an organization founded by Tom and Nancy Regan in 1985 with the “aim to advance animal advocacy through intellectual and artistic expression.” If you’re a vegan artist and would like to participate in a future show, please submit our call for interest form to be considered. For the latest updates on the exhibition series, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We look forward to opening our virtual doors to you soon!
Nourishing with Heart July 1 - August 31, 2021 The Food Empowerment Project educates the public on the impacts of our food choices on animals, people, and the planet. They care about ethical food sourcing (including veganism), farm workers’ rights, access to healthy food, and more. In this show, we will highlight what it means to nourish with heart, both within and beyond our bodies. This show will explore questions like: What does it mean to nourish with heart? What does the interconnection of food justice look like—for animals, people, and the planet? How do we nourish all things with our food choices?
At Home in Nature October 1 - November 30, 2021 The Goode Life is a sanctuary focused on the healing power of nature—for animals and humans alike. As one observes the world humans have painstakingly built, it feels ironic that this supposed progress, advancement, and civilization is in fact a distancing from ourselves, from our nature. In this show, we will highlight what it means to be at home in nature— for animals and humans alike. This show will explore questions like: What does sanctuary in nature look like to you? What does it mean to return home to nature? How might humans and animals coexist in nature?
Life Through a Different Lens January 1 - February 28, 2022 The founder of Lefty’s Place— Tamara Kenneally—is a photographer who explores the human/animal relationship. Taking inspiration from the lens of a camera, this show will highlight life through a different lens—literally and figuratively—one that sheds light on the intricate lives of animals too often blocked from one’s conscience so as to justify consumption of these sentient beings. This show will explore questions like: How does your view of animals differ from that of general society? How do animals view humans through their own lens? How might we encourage others to view animals with a more compassionate perspective?
Dreaming of a New World April 1 - May 31, 2022 The first animals rescued at Greyton Farm Sanctuary were neighboring lambs—or baby sheep—that were struggling and often left to die in the fields. Since children are notoriously taught to count sheep to fall asleep, which one can only hope results in dreaming, this show will highlight the vision our artists hold for a new world. Educating school-aged children is a big part of what Greyton Farm Sanctuary does, so this show will also focus on youth-friendly artwork. This show will explore questions like: What do you see when you dream of a vegan world? What relationship do humans and animals share in this new world? How do we make this dream a reality? FORÇA VEGAN
JACKSON YOU MUST BE LOOKING FORWARD TO GIGS AGAIN!
Absolutely! I am really looking forward to travelling around the UK seeing new places, fun faces - obviously not just faces - I mean that’s all I’ve seen too much of on Zoom. So that should be fun faces and beyond! I am especially grateful to be part of the Brighton Fringe this year. Part of me feels a bit rusty, but mainly excited to get going. It’s lovely to look forward to something. And it’s so nice that the first live gig is in Brighton. sweetvenues.com/whats-on/ i-mmigrant-the-remix at 2:.10pm May 29, 30, 31 at Sweet Venues and 26, 27 June.
Plus I’ll also be doing a WorkIn-Progress at Caxton Arms Brighton on 31 May at 6.45pm and 4.15pm on 21st June. I am also excited about being part of a panel show at Buxton Fringe Festival in Buxton 17 July for ‘It Just So Happened’. and one more - online panel shows for the Ram Festival.
This year the Derby festival will be all online through Facebook and YouTube. I’ll be on Den of Fools on 1st June, Roger’s Blue Suede News on 4th June, & Fun Night on 5th June.
IS IT EASY ENOUGH BEING VEGAN ON THE ROAD? Well of course. Roads are not made of honey and I have no intention of eating a road any time soon. But yes, my needs are fairly simple, thanks to my upbringing in Africa. What I love about being a vegan roadie is how easy it is to pack snacks. Cucumber, apple, carrot and water are my favourite go-to. They have the munch factor, hydration and refreshing index - just right for my quality time with my Sat Nav. And wherever I am I can get these with ease.
WHAT WERE YOUR ORIGINAL MOTIVES FOR GOING VEGAN? My Journey to becoming vegan was organic from being vegetarian. I was lucky that I already loved and preferred veg and fruit as a child. I guess I listened to my body. My body is great at communicating what it likes in terms of taste and what energises me and de-energises me. So It was a smooth and easy process to be more compassionate to myself by gradually letting go of all that I now call, “non-food!” I didn’t know what I was doing was vegan really. I was listening to my body. It was an act of self-love and half of self-respect. I would have been vegan sooner, had it not been for the honey.
LOCKDOWN – MISERABLE, RIGHT? OR CREATIVE AND DYNAMIC? OR BOTH? Lockdown has been an interesting journey. It’s been revealing, reflective, ,restful and recharging. In the beginning I realised how tired I was as a freelance artist striving to survive. In fact, I realised I had not stopped or taken a break from the moment I moved to the UK. My peers had regular holidays, family time, friends reunions etc, But I had to focus on studies, work, learning the ways of British society and culture to keep planing for the future. Lockdown was the first opportunity to stop and take stock of all that had happened so far. A time to reconnect with my inner FORÇA VEGAN
self. It has been a good time to learn and reach out and get to connect online and get to know friends better too. I have had time to stop and miss family. There have certainly been more opportunities to write and the circumstances present many topics to write about. I know many artists have also felt the pressure to make the most of the time and write. That can be tough too. At the start of lockdown, I was full-on regular Joe Wicks workouts etc. but this eased off by the second lockdown. Now I take it one day at a time. At times lockdown’s been frustrating, mainly for my cat, who now gets more chatter from me, but it’s also been a time for a good clearout of so much paperwork. Why do we collect so much? decades worth of paperwork collected because of being too much in a rush, there hasn’t been the time to clear out and work out what’s essential and what isn’t. Everything seems to want to be the most important document on your desk. Me! Me! Me! So one day I did a BGT-style audition for the lot of them to decide which stays and which gets to travel in a bin lorry. I also meditated till I burnt a hole in my yoga mat. I’ve made some lovely friends, received much generosity and kindness in terms of food, sounding boards & professional guidance. I learnt skills like folding pants to look like socks and made this: https://youtu.be/Voc2BZROWYM
WHAT ABOUT THE CLUBS AND PUBS – WILL THE GIGS FLOW BACK, OR ARE THE VENUES STRUGGLING? The venues seem to be keen to get going so that’s exciting. Comedians are keen to make their contribution to society and people are ready for a good laugh so let’s do this!
VEGAN COMEDIANS SURPRISINGLY QUITE A FEW. FEMALE COMEDIANS – NOT ENOUGH. VEGAN FEMALE COMEDIANS – QUITE RARE? Not sure what the stats are here, but hey as more people go plant based, surely that means there are more people in all areas that do that too. As more vegan options are available, less vegans are in the closet and more people are likely to try them. vegan options that is, rather than closets.
WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO SEE MORE FEMALE COMEDIANS? Hmm? Well this is an interesting question. How about on International women’s day, everyone becomes a woman for a day. I’d like to say for a period of 3 months or 3 weeks, but that might be too tough for everyone. This can be fun for everyone to do together? The world is in a transformational state at the moment where society’s inequalities are being revealed and this first step of awareness leads to our growth and move towards equality and inclusivity.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE FROM YOUR MALE AUDIENCES ESPECIALLY? Same as female audiences. I love seeing their teeth. Not that I’m a denture collector. I’m looking forward to seeing their laughs.
DO YOU THINK THINGS WILL IMPROVE IN TERMS OF REPRESENTATION IN THE CREATIVE ARTS, FESTIVALS & COMEDY LINEUPS AS WE GET BACK TO ‘NORMAL’? I have faith in humanity and growth and progress, but the change may be met by resistance by some. They are just scared and fearful of losing how good they had it. But eventually, when we all let go of the old scarcity mindsets, we let go of competitiveness and scrambling, we can embrace a brighter future of collaboration, better understanding, empathy and compassion together which is more loving, kinder, richer, & brighter than we could have ever imagined. This will set us free and help us fly further like geese who are clever like that!
ANY ADVICE FOR UP AND COMING COMEDIANS? Enjoy the journey, be kind to yourself.
The venues seem to be keen to get going so that’s exciting. Comedians are keen to make their contribution to society and people are ready for a good laugh so let’s do this!” FORÇA VEGAN
In early 2021, I swallowed my pride and signed up for TikTok! This app was changing at the time from being primarily a site for children to dance around miming to current chart music to a platform with more serious and a good deal of adult-orientated material. In fact, when I first joined, I saw a few “you’re too young to be on TikTok” comments, directed at myself or others not still waiting for puberty. Actually, that is not quite true because invariably the word “you’re” would be spelt “your.” Perhaps an indication of the increase in adults using TikTok is that the app is slowly introducing 3 minutes as its video limit as opposed to 60 seconds. Now, why would I subject myself to this ordeal? I had a serious movement issue in mind. For many months I have developed a growing concern that, in several social media platforms, “vegan bubbles” had formed, resulting in vegans, by and large, talking to one another. Indeed, I think some of the bigger “vegan influencers” and “content providers” have noticed this phenomenon and have begun to fashion content that will play well within the vegan community, whereas it would likely meet resistance among the general public. 98
Roger yates A quick look at TikTok at the beginning of 2021 seems to confirm this hypothesis. The limited number of vegans on TikTok then would be faced by an avalanche of negative, rude, and generally hostile comments for material that would have received like-after-like on, for example, Facebook. So, with all this as the backdrop, I began what I’ve come to refer to as my “TikTok experiment.” I was immediately informed by a close friend that I was “doing TikTok” all wrong; that there is a “TikTok game” to be played if I was to quickly reach the holy grail 1000 followers. To this date, I haven’t reached this number, so that means that I can’t “go live” on TikTok and speak to my adoring followers, so dedicated am I in not playing the TikTok game.
So, there I am, posting clips from animal rights philosopher Tom Regan; some from the pioneers of the vegan social movement, and some from my own sociological work. Not exactly the average TikTok fare! Have I broken out of the vegan bubble? - yes and no. I certainly get a lot of comments from animal farmers and the general public - far more than on any other SM platforms. However, I’ve noticed that a vegan bubble seems to be forming in TikTok too, with growing concerns about vegans being banned, reported, and “shadowbanned.” Because my content is more serious than most, the comments I’ve attracted from those who oppose veganism are often pretty serious and fairly well thought out too. I have my moments, of course, with plenty of “bacon” comments, as well as comments that do not make much sense. You can see on this page a screenshot showing what I think is one of the positive conversations. Indeed, someone fairly belligerent towards vegans eventually saying that they will check out Tom Regan’s ground-breaking text, The Case for Animal Rights.
Although I have not heard from this person for a while, I am not seriously entertaining the idea that they are currently ploughing through the 425 pages of “The Case!” And good luck to them if they are! It is not Regan’s most easily digested text - I tend to recommend his 2001 Defending Animal Rights for those keen to dip their toes into rights-based animal rights.
As I said, I have not managed to get myself 1000 followers yet. At the time of writing, I’m creeping towards 700. If I do reach the promised land, then I guess my TikTok experiment will enter its second phase.
Sociology, which has a rich and proud history of exposing and challenging oppression and inequality based on gender, race, class, age, and sexual orientation, must now widen its scope to include other animals in its sphere of study, and to include speciesism in its rightful place alongside other forms of oppression.” Clifton Flynn, Understanding Animal Abuse: A Sociological Analysis (2012) FORCA VEGAN
IS YOUR VEGAN
CHOCOLATE CRUELTY FREE?
Vegan chocolate is everywhere, with a huge explosion of choices in multiple countries across the globe as the popularity of plant based diets shift up a notch or 3. But cocoa production is notorious for using child slave labour, and now that the multinationals are jumping on the plant based bandwagon, is it time for everyone vegan to ask themselves (if they haven’t already)..
displaying the Vegan Society trademark which adorns the outer packaging as they cash in on the growth of plant based products with their non dairy version of their most successful ever product.
Is your vegan Chocolate Cruelty Free?
Forca Vegan spoke to a number of different people, businesses and organisations about this issue – and we started with sociologist and vegan historian Dr Roger Yates, to gain the viewpoint of the original vegan social pioneers, including Leslie Cross. Then we talked to John from Global Vegans, the man behind the recently launched petition to demand the Vegan Society remove their trademark from Nestle in solidarity with the claimants in the current court case. And The Rainforest Alliance exist to help set standards and ensure investigations and information are up to date and relevant as possible, and we outline their policies on their assessments in some detail.
It’s a complex issue – and highlighted very recently by the unsurprising yet devastating decision by the US Supreme Court to dismiss the claims of ex child slaves who had tried to bring the likes of Nestle, Mars and Hershey to justice for child slave labour abuses. With the alleged offences having occurred outside the USA, there was ‘no case to answer’. This clear violation of rights brings into focus even more sharply the responsibility of the consumer to make wise and informed choices. Nestle meanwhile are lauding their recently launched ‘vegan’ KitKat and proudly
Of course many vegans everywhere are fawning over this launch, whilst paying scant attention to the real cruelty and abuse and violation of rights behind this new bar.
Next up, a quick interview with the Food Empowerment Project, who produce a list of slave labour free chocolate that is widely available to help consumers make vegan cruelty free choices quickly and easily, before a revealing and candid interview with original vegan chocolate pioneer Adrian Ling, whose father Arthur, who went vegan in 1926, some 20 years before the word was even coined, set up Plamil in the 60’s, introduced the UK’s first soya milk and then developed the first vegan chocolate. Adrian has an immense knowledge first hand of the chocolate world and shares some of his insights with us, before we get to meet the Dapaah brothers, who have really helped find some solutions to the issues by sourcing and producing their own vegan chocolate with cocoa grown on their family farms in Ghana, providing a fascinating insight into the future for vegan cruelty free chocolate. Our thanks to everyone for their contributions to this article, and for trying to make a difference in a very difficult arena.
1. THE ETHICAL VEGAN POSITION WITH DR ROGER YATES 2. ‘NO TO NESTLÉ’: THE GLOBAL VEGANS CAMPAIGN AGAINST UNETHICAL COCOA 3. RAINFOREST ALLIANCE: PROTECTING AGAINST FORCED LABOR & OTHER FORMS OF MODERN SLAVERY 4. FOOD EMPOWERMENT PROJECT 5. AN INTERVIEW WITH ADRIAN LING, CEO OF PLAMIL 6. MEET THE DAPAAH BROTHERS: ETHICAL CHOCOLATE FROM GHANA
CHOCOLATE: THE ETHICAL VEGAN
POSITION Sociologist and vegan historian Dr Roger Yates takes a look at the issue of child slavery and vegan chocolate from an ethical vegan perspective, referencing original vegan social movement pioneers Leslie Cross & Donald Watson.
10 to 40 million individuals involved. If a second category - child labour - is considered, then the numbers may be as high as 200 million children. Sometimes children are subject to slavery and onerous labour situations simply because their parents are in the same situation.
The numbers of children currently subject to child slavery are disputed but hugely concerning. For example, I have seen estimates ranging from
So, in what senses are child labour and child slavery vegan issues? Perhaps the most prominent modern-day issue
Roger yates involving vegan-friendly foodstuffs is chocolate manufacture and fruit and “produce” picking. For example, US law allows children as young as 12 to work the fields, while child labour campaigners say they commonly find children younger than 12 years of age doing field labour, working long hours, subject to heat exposure, and exposed the agricultural chemicals. The manufacture of clothing is another major concern.
In another sense, the vegan movement has always addressed human slavery issues: slavery - and also matters such as human famine - were serious concerns of the early pioneers of the vegan social movement.” In another sense, the vegan movement has always addressed human slavery issues: slavery - and also matters such as human famine - were serious concerns of the early pioneers of the vegan social movement. One of the most prominent of the pioneers of our movement, Leslie Cross, repeatedly wrote about veganism being about the moral evolution of humanity and suggested that, “at rock bottom, veganism is the most recent of the periodic surges which have marked the tide of freedom ever since history began.” Therefore, veganism is central to the “upward growth” of humanity, he stated.
Cross argues that veganism’s “deepest point” is its impregnable belief in freedom. Veganism should not be reduced in vision: “veganism is not a mere side-shoot in human evolution,” he says. The significance of veganism, in Leslie Cross’ eyes, is its scope which, in the long fight for liberty, is its “quite new and distinctive feature.” Cross is saying that veganism’s unique contribution to freedom across the board is that it extends its concerns across species. The problem
in the vision of other reforms concerned with “the tide of freedom” as been their limited vision of its boundary of concern - “the concept of the ‘free man.’” He suggests that few before the advent of the vegan social movement recognised other animals’ right to be free - that even that they “qualified” for such a moral right. Cross argued that recognising animal rights in this sense would have an “impressive effect” on humanity for, he said, “to believe in the right to be free means inevitably that we grant the same right to others.” As ever, we should conclude that the scope of veganism extends far beyond its dietary aspects and its focus on human-nonhuman relations, and recognise that the vegan social movement is a movement of liberation and freedom for all sentient beings, which is precisely what Donald Watson claimed in 1945, one year after the movement was founded.
In 1954, Cross wrote a passionate essay entitled The Surge of Freedom in the Vegan Society’s official journal. In the very first sentence, he outlined the role of vegan philosophy in the freedom of “mankind.” He says that veganism is a symbol, and that symbol stands for “massive” changes. For Cross, vegan represents, “a new mutation comparable to the freeing of the serfs and the freeing of the slaves.” Veganism will result in a new world - and consequently a new type of human being to inhabit it.
NO COCOA THE GLOBAL VEGANS
CAMPAIGN AGAINST UNETHICAL
TO NESTLÉ Recognising that veganism is no longer just about the protection of non-human animals against suffering and exploitation is central to the future of the movement. For veganism to progress with kindness and compassion at the forefront, the vegan community must also acknowledge and evaluate its influence on human suffering and environmental devastation. Ultimately, veganism must become an intersectional movement. This motion is at the heart of Global Vegans’ No to Nestlé campaign. In March 2021, Global Vegans, a UK-based vegan activist group, launched a petition urging The Vegan Society to withdraw its prestigious Vegan Trademark from Nestlé’s new vegan KitKat. The KitKat V, which is due to be released later this year, received widespread publicity when it was first confirmed by the confectionary conglomerate, with an image of its wrapper displaying the instantly recognisable Vegan Trademark shared across plant-based news outlets and social media.
However, just a few days before Nestlé confirmed that it would be releasing a vegan KitKat, it was announced that the chocolate manufacturer was facing legal action in the USA. International Rights Advocates (IRA), a human rights firm operating in Washington, D.C, had filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight former child labourers who claimed they were illegally forced to work on the Ivory Coast plantations where the world’s largest chocolate companies, including Nestlé, Mars and Mondelēz, sourced their cocoa. Dismayed by The Vegan Society’s decision to endorse a product from a corporation with a long and well-documented history of sourcing unethical and illegal cocoa, Global Vegans decided it was time to take action. They began by writing and launching a petition, which called The Vegan Society to support past and current cocoa plantation slaves by withdrawing its Vegan Trademark from the KitKat V. Global Vegans stipulated that by doing so, The Ve-
GLOBAL VEGANS gan Society would set a clear precedent to corporations like Nestlé: until manufacturers operate ethically and legally, they do not have the support of the animal rights movement. After sharing the petition amongst the Global Vegans community, founder John decided to contact The Vegan Society directly by submitting a written question to its upcoming AGM. Asking The Vegan Society why it continues to support Nestlé despite its unethical, illegal and anti-vegan practices, Global Ve-
gans hit home the importance of creating an intersectional movement that considers the rights and wellbeing of both animals and humans. The Vegan Society is yet to directly comment on the petition and its objectives, but it has confirmed that it will be monitoring the progression of the lawsuit against Nestlé. It is expected that a decision
on the Nestlé USA, Inc vs John Doe case will be reached by the end of June, at which point The Vegan Society will need to consider how its relationship with Nestlé will progress. Of course, how The Vegan Society chooses to proceed will greatly influence the future of veganism. It is hoped by the Global Vegans community that veganism will evolve into
an all-encompassing ethical motion, but this relies on the support of the movement’s most powerful organisations. For now, Global Vegans awaits the outcome of the lawsuit and The Vegan Society’s decision, and continues to lend its support to many other animal and human rights injustices.
SIGN THE PETITION
ALLIANCE PROTECTING AGAINST FORCED LABOR
AND OTHER FORMS OF MODERN SLAVERY
The Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working in more than 70 countries at the intersection of business, agriculture and forests. They are building an alliance to create a better future for people and nature by making responsible business the new normal. There is no place in responsible business practice for modern slavery, forced labor, or human trafficking. The Rainforest Alliance is committed to working with stakeholders to protect workers from these grave human rights abuses.
The general term “modern slavery” covers a set of concepts including forced labor, debt bondage, forced marriage, human trafficking, slavery, and other slavery-like practices. Our approach to tackling these issues focuses on the numerous forms of involuntary work and coercion— such as degrading working conditions, intimidation, and threats—that underlie these forms of exploitation. We use the term “forced labor” when describing this work, consistent with the definitions and framework of the International Labor Organization (ILO). In recent years, international frameworks, such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, have affirmed that companies have an obligation to respect the rights of all workers in their operations and supply chains. This includes protecting them from forced labor. In the past decade, these voluntary norms
have been supplemented by laws in numerous countries mandating companies to take action on these issues. These include Modern Slavery Acts in the United Kingdom and Australia, the Transparency in Supply Chains Act in the state of California, the United States’ Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, and France’s Duty of Vigilance law, among others—and the list is growing. These laws focus on two key types of action: due diligence and transparency. The Rainforest Alliance Certification Program: A Due Diligence Approach The Rainforest Alliance Certification Program is a key pillar of our work to drive sustainability transformation in the agricultural sector. We work in more than 70 countries, supporting producers to implement our rigorous environmental and social standards across the supply chains of some of world’s most popular commodities—including co-
coa, coffee, tea, and bananas. Our standards, in combination with an assurance framework that includes independent third-party auditing, provide a strong foundation for due diligence on forced labor. Certification Standards on Forced Labor Since the 2018 merger of the Rainforest Alliance and UTZ— which brought together two of the world’s leading sustainability certification organizations—we have maintained certification programs under both the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Standard and the UTZ Codes of Conduct. These standards include criteria on forced labor, which will remain in effect for certain certificate holders until June 30, 2021: • Rainforest Alliance, Criterion 4.1: “All forms of forced, compulsory, or slave labor are prohibited, including use of trafficked and bonded labor,
labor by prisoners or soldiers, or the use of extortion, debt, threats, monetary fines, or penalties.” • UTZ, Criterion I.C.72 and G.C.76: “No forced, bonded, trafficked, or other involuntary labor is used at any stage of production and processing. Workers are not required to lodge deposits or identity papers, nor are salaries, benefits, or properties retained to force workers to remain on the work site. Workers are free to leave employment after giving reasonable notice. Spouses and children of workers are not required to work, unless separately and voluntarily contracted.” Our 2020 Certification Program—published June 30, 2020, and mandatory for audits beginning July 1, 2021— replaces both pre-merger programs. The new standard adopts an “assess-and-address” approach to tackling human rights issues such as forced labor, which will not be tolerated on certified farms or in companies. Rather than imposing a simple prohibition, which often drives the prob108
lem underground, the “assess-and-address” approach goes much further by requiring that specific measures are in place to identify and mitigate labor risks, to monitor them on an ongoing basis, and provide meaningful remediation. The risk assessment process is two-fold: first, the Rainforest Alliance has developed risk maps, based on independent data sources, which rank forced labor and child labor risk in each of our key certification countries and sectors. Second, certified farms/agricultural processors must complete a risk self-assessment, using our Farm Risk Assessment Tool. If higher risks are identified at either stage, they are required to take stronger measures to mitigate those risks. Monitoring requirements also vary with the nature and level of risk, as described in the Assess and Address Guidance Document and Monitoring Guidance Tool. Remediation actions must be guided by our Remediation Protocol and can range from small corrections—like repaying a couple of weeks’ wages for a worker
whose pay was miscalculated—to longer-term steps, such as investing in better housing conditions for migrant workers. The new standard requires farms to register key employment data for all their workers, such as whether they are permanent or temporary, and requires that most workers have written contracts. The new standard also requires certificate holders to do rigorous oversight of labor providers (labor brokers/recruiters)— who are often a key factor in forced labor risk—and to ensure that all recruitment-related fees and costs are paid by farms, not by workers. Auditing and Assurance The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal is an internationally recognized symbol of high standards. We are a member of the ISEAL Alliance, a membership organization for sustainability. Compliance is assessed by authorized third-party Certification Bodies (CBs) whose auditors perform audits at the farm and supply chain level, and issue certificates if compliance is verified. Certified farms/agri-
cultural processors are audited regularly to verify that they are complying with the standard’s comprehensive requirements. Certification Bodies have the discretion to not issue, suspend, and/or withdraw certificates in severe cases of forced labor, as described in our Auditing Rules, including violations of applicable criminal law. To ensure high performance, the Rainforest Alliance has a thorough approval process for CBs, allowing only those whose staff have the required competencies to perform certification against our standards. The independence and integrity of audits is controlled by the Rainforest Alliance through a rigorous and transparent CB monitoring and oversight process. A sanction system is in place, allowing the Rainforest Alliance to take measures in case of insufficient CB performance. Several of the recently enacted laws on forced labor and mod-
ern slavery require companies to publish statements describing the steps they have taken to address these issues in their operations and supply chains. Buying Rainforest Alliance Certified products is an important step, as companies using our seal source ingredients from certified farms or farm groups (cooperatives) that are required to comply with our standards. Certification Bodies provide a deeper level of transparency to their clients by reporting all audit data to the farm/group holding or seeking a certificate. The Rainforest Alliance does not make full audit reports publicly available, but we publish some certification data on our Certificate Search and Public Summaries page and Certification Bodies publish public summaries of audit reports.
ments. But certification alone cannot solve the deep-rooted, socio-economic issues that are endemic to agriculture and can lead to labor exploitation. As an international non-profit organization working in more than 70 countries around the globe, we employ various strategies and partnerships to reduce the risk of human rights abuses while driving positive social and environmental change. These include Tailored Programs, working directly with companies to help them shape and meet sustainability commitments on forced labor and other issues; landscape-level interventions that support both environmental and social outcomes; and advocacy with governments, NGOs and other stakeholders.
We invite you to learn more and partner with us by visiting our website:
Thousands of companies use Rainforest Alliance certification to help implement their responsible sourcing commit-
Please tell us a little about the FEP and especially the ‘fair trade’ chocolate list Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) is a vegan food justice organization. We promote veganism for the animals and create tools to help people go vegan, such as when we work with a community to create our recipe websites seen here: veganmexicanfood.com (English and 110
Spanish), veganfilipinofood. com (English and Tagalog), and veganlaofood.com (English and coming in Lao soon). We also work to support the rights of farm workers by promoting boycotts they call for, working on legislative policy changes, and coordinating an annual school supply drive for their children. And we work in local communities (when asked) to help address the lack of access to
healthy foods in Black and Brown communities. Finally, we work to help people not buy chocolate sourced from areas where the worst forms of child labor and slavery are the most prevalent. We do this by maintaining and regularly updating a very comprehensive chocolate list. As we are a vegan organization, companies have to make at least one vegan chocolate to make our list.
Our chocolate list is updated every month and is populated when our supporters send us names of vegan chocolate companies or products they don’t see on our list yet want to know if we would recommend them or not.”
How does the F.E.P. build up the list? Our list is updated every month and is populated when our supporters send us names of vegan chocolate companies or products they don’t see on our list yet want to know if we would recommend them or not.
Why do some Companies lose their status? Great question. Companies can lose their status for a variety of reasons: 1. As part of our ongoing research, we keep up to date on various investigations that are done by universities around the world (including one from Sheffield that caused us to re-evaluate our list in 2018), investigative journalists, as well as government agencies.
These help us to evaluate how extensive the problems are in certain countries, with certifications, and with companies.
and it’s important to note that Western Africa accounts for about 70% of where the world’s cacao comes from.
2. A company could be bought out by another company, and when we write to confirm their sourcing, we find out that they have changed suppliers, or many times, they might have been bought by a larger company that does not disclose country of origin.
Are you seeing a shift in responsibility from vegan chocolate producers?
3. We will contact companies periodically to see if they have the same supplier and find out they have switched to a supplier we do not recommend.
How extensive is the scale of the problem? Both Brazil and Western Africa are areas where the worst forms of child labor and slavery are currently taking place, 112
We do hear from some vegan companies -- before they even start producing -- that want the list of wholesale chocolate companies that we recommend, and of course, we have some vegan companies that do ask for our wholesale list as well when they find they do not make our list. It does seem that those companies -- vegan or those with a large vegan line -- do care about the list and even promote being on it. I guess those companies seem to understand the importance of re-
sponsible sourcing and know that many people truly care about these issues. It is gratifying to see so many vegan companies excited to make our list. We are constantly contacted by vegans who love their products and want to be able to eat them again or try new products!
Apart from using the list – what else can people do to help? Again, we want people to remember that it is not just about what they buy, it is about speaking out and letting the companies know this issue is important to them. Also, sharing the information with others is crucial. This needs to stop, as it is inexcusable that slavery continues to exist in the 21st century.
What about the ‘multinationals’ – the bigger players? When you look at some of the larger companies, in my opinion, they are the cause of the problem, as they have refused to pay the farmers a living income and instead have paid them so little in order to make a big profit. Many of these companies are now coming out with vegan bars, so we can definitely let them know just because the candy bars are vegan, they aren’t cruelty-free if they come from slavery or child labor.
How important is it for vegans to consider human rights in their purchases? For those who are vegan for ethical reasons and do not
want their decisions to harm others, I think it is only consistent to consider human rights when buying products. I think it also shows others that vegans do extend their circle of compassion to both human and non-human animals.
cessed on our website:
Again, this does not mean I believe vegans or activists should do anything differently in terms of what they do for non-human animals, but it’s imperative that we know the importance of our food choices and speak out on these issues. In other words, we should do our best to eat with our ethics. These issues are all connected, and we can move forward to a more just and compassionate world when we recognize this.
For Android, go to the Play Store and search Chocolate List.
Where can people access the list, and find out more information? F.E.P.’s chocolate list can be ac-
https://foodispower.org/chocolate-list It also includes where you can download our free app for an iPhone or Android.
Or use this link: https://play.google.com/store/ apps/details?id=org.foodispower.chocolatelist&hl=en_ US& gl=US For the iPhone, go to the App Store and search for Food Empowerment Project or use this link: https://apps.apple.com/ us/app/chocolate-list/ id610310122 FORÇA VEGAN
ADRIAN LING Forca Vegan speaks with Adrian Ling, CEO of original vegan chocolate manufacturer Plamil, and the brains behind their latest successful vegan fairly traded chocolate range So Free. Adrian has decades of experience in both cocoa sourcing and chocolate manufacturing.
How big an issue is child labour in West Africa? There are a number of issues about child labour, so let’s be clear, is it forced child labour, labour that forces children out of education or genuine ‘helping family’ that is the issue? Helping the family with labour can be beneficial to the family whilst on the other end of the scale forced child labour, even kidnapping for labour is abhorrent. These are easy distinctions that are made from the armchairs of the UK, but the distinctions are more difficult to assess in the ground in West Africa, and indeed how the distinction between them is controlled, monitored and enforced. Control, inspection, even certification bodies controlling the cocoa will not get it right all the time.
Is the problem confined to farmer’s families and their children? Or does it go deeper? Often it is not recognised what the problems are, and without 114
engaging with the farmers it is difficult to assess, and without knowing each facet of the industry in detail it’s hard to know. It is quite impossible to ‘know all the facts’. As a farmer indicated in a 2019 World cocoa conference, the ‘problem is getting worse, not better’. Family, community and the region are very interlinked.
What about the standards employed by groups like Fair Trade? What needs to be understood is that there is no single ‘magic pill’ that can tackle such issues, as it will be a range of social changes that need to be made prior to a solution being made. Organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation, have some concepts right and have done a great deal in highlighting the issues. There is always more to do, and every organisation plays its part, but individuals and consumers should recognise that the very organisations set up to make a difference also become problematic in solving those issues.
For instance, if we are considering cocoa, it is forgotten that organisations such as Fairtrade Foundation insist that all ingredients in a product that can be Fairtrade must be Fairtrade. Whilst other ingredients may well have equal priorities, it cannot be ignored that this ‘western criteria’ on certification, can often lead to a final product being ‘too expensive’ as it has to contain all Fairtrade ingredients to claim Fairtrade. For the marketplace, this can make a chocolate product uncompetitive or not taste as good, which then leads to a producer not using the fairtrade cocoa as it cannot make that heritage claim.
How does This ‘western criteria’ help the cocoa farmers? Other certifications may not have this ‘all ingredient’ criteria, concentrate on cocoa, allowing other non-certified ingredients. Like so many ‘trademarks’ consumers are not aware of the trademark’s actual legal status/meaning, and are lead to almost ‘believing what they want to believe’ with any trademark, without recognising the complexities of them.
There is always more to do, and every organisation plays its part, but individuals and consumers should recognise that the very organisations set up to make a difference also become problematic in solving those issues.”
Many organisations themselves receive more in trademark revenue terms than the farmer gets in premium. It has been calculated and presented at conference that if the premium on the retail price of a Fairtrade product actually when to the farm, it could be 20 times the annual premium, so it’s all the middle organisations and certification bodies that get the largest part of economic benefit. With Fairtrade there is no ‘one standard for all manufacturers’, with UK companies forced to comply with one set of rules whilst other imports are not required to follow the same rules making the imports cheaper or more attractive.
How come so many brands like Nestlé get away with these practices? Consumers can get easily swept away with simple ‘anti’ brand messages. It should not be forgotten that very few chocolate brands actually make chocolate. Most companies purchase in chocolate made by specialist manufacturers, and flavour it etc. There are many brands who promote and come high in ethical ratings in which they source their chocolate from multinational companies that subsidise their ethical cocoa products with less ethical cocoa. Thus, a brand may be ethical, but its cocoa source is from that which is subsidised
by the actual chocolate manufacturer in which consumers would not wish to be associated with. So, whilst it is ‘easy’ to target companies such as Nestle, consumers should be aware that some of the most ethical brands source their chocolate from very similar companies.
Should the Vegan Society get involved in this aspect with their trademark? Is it a ‘vegan’ issue? The Vegan Society has I believe for a long time been confused about the term ‘vegan’. Whilst my views on the trademark are known, I believe the issue stems from a confusion
about ‘being vegan’ – what beliefs a vegan may have, and ‘what is vegan’- the object or food. ‘Being vegan’ is journey, to which many will have a range of understandings and values. ‘What is vegan’ – the object or food, is either animal free or not.
What seems to be holding countries like Ivory Coast & Ghana back from developing their own production?
I find it hard to consider that the vegan trademark could incorporate any ‘being vegan’ values or criteria, when it allows foods within its Trademark to not be animal free.
Politics & prices affect all aspects of West African production.
This is one of the fundamental reasons why I have for decades been stating the problematic nature of their trademark criteria. If you cannot get the ‘what is vegan’ in terms of object or food correct, can the Society be expected to have or show leadership in any issue with regard to what ‘being vegan’ could be as a social ethos many of us would like to see?
Until western governments engage in, together with African governments a more constructive approach to economics of the region, major economic factors will always dominate, to the detriment of the lives of individual farmers. However, until the consumer accepts that food is ‘too cheap’ and ‘food values’ are changed these issue will always exist. How is it that people will pay more for 100ml of water than 100g of chocolate?
How do you rate guides like Ethical Consumer and Food Empowerment Project when it comes to guidance on brands and standards? Whilst ethical publications try their best, and have done some great work, and continue to do so, I have witnessed badly misleading headline information, often due to asking the wrong questions, or jumping to conclusions based on no information at all. There is a ‘well known’ chocolate brand that scores highly in the UK- due to certification, but badly in the USA, as they recognise the actual manufacturer of the chocolate to be
heavily involved in non-ethical cocoa production. Over many years I have come to the conclusion that it is the general direction that must be supported- quite often a headline is needed to keep the public interested in the subject, but often the detail, the brand or organisation that is rated cannot always show the real detail or work/ lack of work in any particular subject.
Where do the solutions lie to this abhorrent practice? Individuals must recognise they must first change their values of life, recognise they ‘vote’ every day, with the products they purchase and periodically vote politicians into power. I find it amazing that many
who have been so involved with organisations such as BLM, and those that claim to support such ideas, continue every day to purchase products, or fail to highlight to the same degree, such a direct link to child slave labour. For instance, if those that supported BLM, actually practised the same ethos every day with the purchases they made, what a difference this would make to child slave labour.
Tell us about your own efforts, achievements and standards with Plamil and So Free. For decades I have at Plamil sourced our organic cocoa from the Dominican Republic, or via the Rainforest Alliance cocoa standard. We have made our own chocolate since
the 1980’s, taking great care in the sources of cocoa we purchase from. We have always purchased certified cocoaonce these came to the market. I have for decades been advocating that the chocolate industry should be ‘cleaning up its act’, and that the real questions and solutions should be asked. One day it is hoped that political or food trends will start to recognise that issues are not isolated, are not ‘of the moment’ but an intertwined labyrinth in which the individual should not cherry pick issues that mean more to them but embrace a better more sustainable approach to life every day for the benefit of all living creatures and the planet.
DAPAAH GHANAIAN CHOCOLATE Tell us a little about your own background? Our parents came to the UK from Ghana in the early 1990s and my siblings and we were born, raised in and lived in South London since. I describe myself as a career portfolioist in that I have multiple hats that I wear. The majority of my work sits in the intersection of entrepreneurship, education, and social inclusion; through programme development and digital content production. I’m also a writer and award-winning podcaster, alongside of course being a co-founder of Dapaah Chocolates.
How did your ‘Dapaah’ brand of vegan chocolate come about? It’s a fun story and the way it plays out in my head sometimes is a little different to how my brother, Raphael may re-collect, but essentially, it was really the brainchild of Raphael. In 2016, he had spent some time in Ghana visiting family and was taken on a tour of our family’s farmland by 120
our uncle. Obviously we knew that cocoa was Ghana’s main export but didn’t know the full extent to which generations of our family on both sides had been involved in the industry, dating back as far as the 1950s. During that trip, realising the great opportunity that processing organic cocoa into chocolate could bring for the local community in the form of higher wages and jobs, Raphael was struck with the idea of creating our own premium artisan chocolate and disrupt-
ing the chocolate industry’s status quo. Coincidentally, when he pitched the idea to me I was in Ghana working with a social enterprise and so with my entrepreneurial spirits already high I immediately saw the vision and jumped on board, and later on when we were all back in London our sister, Afia, joined. Thus, our brand is really continuing a legacy that was initiated over seven decades ago.
realising the great opportunity that processing organic cocoa into chocolate could bring for the local community in the form of higher wages and jobs, Raphael was struck with the idea of creating our own premium artisan chocolate and disrupting the chocolate industry’s status quo.”
Fabulous name by the way. Is there a story behind the name? Haha, that story is more straightforward as Dapaah is actually our surname. As a family business, our heritage and culture plays a big part in our story and mission at large so it made sense to honour that by using our surname. We’re just fortunate that it sounds great too.
How have you found launching a new vegan chocolate brand in the UK? Any new endeavour, business or otherwise, invites some challenges but it has actually been a really fun process for us. It immediately can sound daunting going up against huge competitors in the chocolate world, but I’ve never really
seen it like that. Our approach has always been to celebrate our heritage, focus on quality, and grow organically, which is exactly what we have done and what seems to have resonated with our customers. I knew that the market was missing a really good dairyfree chocolate so being able to really throw ourselves into that niche and build strong relationships with our customers has been vital. Their feedback really helped develop our product in the early days because we taught ourselves how to do everything from scratch. We’ve been able to master our craft and experiment more with daring special edition bars like our Chin Chin chocolate collections or pairing our chocolate with smoked almonds, or plantain chips, which has been super popular. Our story is also so unique that people fall in love with it as much as the chocolate itself, which has led to us being honoured at the Young British Food & Drink Awards 2019 and receiving really positive press with VICE, British Vogue, the BBC etc.
What are your plans for the next 12 months or so? Our plans are to slowly scale up our capacity to keep up with our growing demand. We’re in a fortunate position that we have a solid core customer base which sometimes means our supply is a little outstripped so we’re re-investing in some new equipment to meet this. We’re also getting extra creative in our branding which we’re really excited to reveal in due course. We really see our chocolates as works of art and customers will have that 122
reflected more and more in every element from the taste, design and packaging of the bars, and even the collaborations that we do in the art world.
We hear about problems with cocoa production in West Africa, child labour and unfair wages – how bad are the problems? There is no doubt that the problems are stark. Of the $130bn global chocolate industry, cocoa farmers see only a small fraction of the value chain, up to 7% at most, with manufacturers and retailers taking the lion’s share.
abroad. A big milestone for us is to be able to set up producing facilities in Ghana to keep more of the value chain local.
What’s holding back progress? There are a number of hindrances including infrastructure issues, distance from global markets and power demands due to the climate, but ultimately these are barriers that can be overcome with strong policies that support the businesses that are positioned to drive the industry.
How can people help a bit more? Think about your consumption choices. Avoid buying mass produced chocolate from the companies that perpetuate the problem and support those that are trying to change the status quo.
And finally – they do look delicious where can we buy your chocolates? You can buy our chocolates directly from our online store www.dapaahchocolates.com
When the growers are earning such low wages for their work, you can sometimes find children being brought into the fold to support their family, which is an unfortunate reality. However, in nations like Ghana, where we hail from and source our cocoa from, child labour is very much on the decline due to the monitoring and regulatory measures in place and the enforceable action taken by the Government, as well as cocoa buyers who demand greater transparency and accountability.
Where do the solutions lie? The solution doesn’t necessarily lie with just better wages, or higher cocoa prices, though that can definitely help. Ultimately, it means that Ghana needs to be processing and producing its own chocolate domestically and exporting FORÇA VEGAN
NEW ZEALAND M. C Ronen is a vegan animal rights activist from Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of vegan fiction suspense books The Shed, Liberation and soon to be published It Was in Our Hands (‘The Liberation Trilogy’).
M. C Ronen Kia ora! Nau mai haere mai! Greetings from Wellington, the beautiful capital of Aotearoa New Zealand. Yes, that peaceful island country in the South pacific, with the accent recently named sexiest in the world (but all too often confused with the Aussie one); a country small enough and far enough at the bottom of the map to sometimes fall off it completely (you’d be surprised how many world maps omit us); a country small but mighty, who delivered the world such giants as the mighty All Blacks, Peter Jackson, Lorde, Pavlova (don’t start! It’s ours!) and not one but two main characters of The Boys! Clean and green, beautiful and untouched… so we are perceived.
Mostly, it is true, the green part for sure, but clean? For a country whose primary industry is dairy, you won’t be wrong in suspecting this could be debatable.”
Mostly, it is true, the green part for sure, but clean? For a country whose primary industry is dairy, you won’t be wrong in suspecting this could be debatable. Intensive irrigation, freshwater pollution, loss of wildlife and biodiversity – all are direct results of intensive dairying. Not surprisingly, in New Zealand emissions from agriculture make forty-nine percent of total emissions. Not the place we’d want to be for fighting climate change. Small as we are, we were the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. We’re also one of the first few to cement by law the fact that animals are sentient beings. Pretty progressive, eh? Due to this recognition of sentience, you’d find plenty of adoration for New Zealand on social media. It is a little disheartening, 126
therefore, to have to gently explain to people that animal cruelty still happens here, sentience and all. Like anywhere else, animals here are exploited throughout their short lives, then led to their brutal deaths in the name of ‘food’; tracked and shot in the name of ‘sports’ or even ‘conservation’; urged to run ‘till collapse in the name of ‘entertainment’; tortured in the name of ‘science’; or just plainly abused for the sake of abuse. Human supremacy and widespread speciesism are as deep and all-encompassing here as they are everywhere else. It is a beacon of hope that veganism and animal rights activism are flourishing here. Let’s talk about Wellington, Te
Whanganui-a-Tara, smartly marketed as ‘Best Little Capital in the World’ (I concur). For this small town (the metro area population of Wellington in 2020 was 415,000) we already have five 100% vegan restaurants and countless other eateries offering a substantial vegan menu. We have a centrally located vegan store, and general supermarkets that are falling over each other as to which one caters better to plant-based needs. We have a monthly vegan market, which includes vegan food trucks and live entertainment. We have a local vegan group on Facebook that currently has 6.7 thousand members, and we even have our own vegan fiction author (well, that’s me, but we’ll have more on that some other time).
WELLINGTON But it’s not just about the food. Being vegan, most of us would agree, is the bear minimum that we could do for the animals. A key step forward in our actions is speaking up on their behalf, raising awareness, demanding change. Indeed, the grassroots activism scene in Wellington, as is the case all around New Zealand, is slowly growing. I’m here to tell you a little bit about the activism scene down here, a vegan postcard if you will. But before I get to the smaller groups, I should probably focus on three key organisations leading the way here in Aotearoa, New Zealand. I wouldn’t consider these grassroots, but more of the membership-based type organisations: SAFE, NZALA and NZAVS.
SAFE (Saving Animals from Exploitation) Saving Animals from Exploitation, better known as SAFE, is possibly the organisation most recognised with New Zealand. Founded in 1932, when a handful of volunteers incorporated as a branch of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. Today SAFE has twenty staff members, spread in three main offices (Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland) and many more, probably hundreds, of supporters and volunteers. It is hard to think of a campaign for the animals which SAFE were not the initiator of or a part of. From the call to ban colony cages for chicken, to banning greyhound racing, to banning rodeos, to ending live exports and many other prominent
campaigns. Their presence is known, they engage with politicians and the media, and their voice is loud. In recent years SAFE has been supporting the New Zealand Animal Law Association in their legal battles against the government, with some notable successes. They are undoubtedly leading the camp. SAFE also do educational work, with the highly acclaimed and unique Animals & Us textbook series, and engaging youth group for children aged 8 to 14. A couple of years back they started an ‘Eat Kind’ programme, to help people choose a plant-based diet, which includes their own ‘Plant Based Challenge’ support. The one key criticism grassroots groups have towards SAFE is that they were slow to move away from purely welfare-reform campaigns and delve further into animal rights and veganism advocacy. However, times are changing and SAFE is indeed becoming bolder with their vegan, rights-based approach.
The New Zealand Animal Law Association (NZALA) The New Zealand Animal Law Association (NZALA) is a coalition of lawyers, law students and law graduates working to improve the welfare and lives of animals through the New Zealand legal system. NZALA currently have over 500 members signed up throughout the country, spanning various practice areas, including lawyers working for large commercial law firms, criminal and civil litigators, in-house counsel, lawyers working for government and the judiciary, and include a Queens Counsel. Though not a vegan organisation per-se (the all-volunteer executive members are vegan,) the New Zealand Animal Law Association has been making many a headline in recent months, with their bold 128
legal actions against the government and their legal successes. In November 2020, following a judicial review proceedings filed by NZALA, with support from SAFE, the High Court has ruled the New Zealand Minister of Agriculture and the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) have acted illegally when they failed to phase out the farming practice of farrowing crates for mother pigs. Farrowing crates were inconsistent with the Animal Welfare Act 1999. This was a landmark court case against the government, and a huge success. Also in November 2020, following a private prosecution by NZALA, The Whangarei District Court has found a Northland farmer guilty of ill-treating rodeo animals after he used a live electric prodder on two distressed steers. The Court also found that he
used his prodder unnecessarily on 22 other rodeo animals, including calves. The private prosecution was triggered by the government’s lack of action against the farmer. In February 2021, NZALA issues a report revealing a substantial gap between the overarching standards of animal welfare, as prescribed by the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the codes of welfare and the regulations that sit under the Act (which were written by the Ministry for Primary Industries). The report, recommending a comprehensive review of the codes of welfare and regulations, was launched in Parliament with support from MPs from the Labour, the Green and the National parties. In their successful attempts to rattle the boat, NZALA have become a force for the animals to be reckoned with.
The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS)
The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) is New Zealand’s primary non-profit organisation defending animals used in science. Founded in 1978 in Wellington by an activist named Bette Overell, the Society was based on the precept that vivisection is scientif-
ically and medically misleading, dangerous and fraudulent. NZAVS adopted the principles established by medical historian Hans Ruesch and his scientific colleagues around the world. Ruesch’s CIVIS Bulletins and his first book exposing the facts about vivisection were Bette’s inspiration for forming NZAVS.
The Society is highly active, with multiple campaigns fighting to end animal experimentation and seeking to rewrite the future for thousands of animals. Some of NZAVS recent successes include: • Successfully convinced RANZCOG (the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) to end their plans to use live sheep in invasive training methods at their conference. • Launching a children’s book, The Six-Foot Rats, which was distributed to all primary schools in New Zealand. • In 2018, after talks with NZAVS, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), announced their support for the rehoming of ex-lab animals in New Zealand. A year later, a government report sparked controversy by mentioning the possibility of testing party pills on animals. NZAVS made sure this didn’t happen. • Most recently, NZAVS launched a campaign urging the Government to ban the Forced Swim Test in New Zealand and conduct a full review on the validity of all animal tests for psychological research. As formidable as the above three respectable organisations are, when we talk about grassroots activism, we really refer to the voluntary coming together of individuals in small groups, giving up their own time, physical and emotional resources, for the purpose of taking action for the animals. FORÇA VEGAN
Speak Up for Animals (SUfA)
When I became vegan, some nine years ago, and decided to join an activist grassroots group, I joined a small team of like-minded people who organised under the name Speak Up for Animals (SUfA). There were just the few of us back then, and most of our actions included either collaborations with other groups (e.g. protesting with SAFE outside the local zoo after four baboons were euthanised there) or doing street outreach. Our outreach was either under what we named as ‘Cupcake for a Conversation’, which saw us stopping sweet-toothed passers-by and making a conversation with them about speciesism, for the price of a free, scrumptious vegan cup-
cake, or alternatively under the ‘Earthlings Experience’ banner. Earthlings Experience was an international concept, whereby we stood with our laptops open out to the public, screening the Earthlings movie. We offered flyers and conversations to those who dared stop. We used our own laptops as we had no funding to buy nice screens. We printed our own flyers. We made do with what we had. There were times back then, when the entire team braving the elements with laptops and goodwill involved just three people. On such days, it was easy to assume the vegan revolution would never happen. One of our biggest initiatives as SUfA, back in 2017, was bringing James Aspey over from Australia, to inspire activism
within the vegan community in Wellington. Awkward as it might seem to us today, with the current hubbub of activism in the city, Aspey’s visit really did work. It ignited interest that only grew since. One of the key changes in recent years, is the number of grassroots groups that exist and collaborate in wellington, and indeed in New Zealand, today. It’s good news when Wellington Vegan Actions and Anonymous for the Voiceless must compare calendars, so that not both groups run a ‘Make the Connection’ and a ‘Cube of Truth’ respectively, at the same time. Within SUfA, we decided to put our resources towards the creation of the local Wellingtonian chapter of the Animal Save Movement.
Wellington Animal Save
The Wellington Animal Save is the local chapter of The Animal Save Movement. The Save Movement began in Toronto, Canada in December 2010. In 2016 it expanded internationally and has now grown to over 900 chapters around the world, in over seventy countries, and this includes the major cities in New Zealand. We are a non-violent, peaceful grassroots animal rights group. We bear witness at the gates of our local slaughterhouse with permission from the slaughterhouse managers who know about and allow our presence. We’re not sure as to what their motivation is, but we are grateful we do not need to risk our lives for the trucks to stop. Bearing witness is about being present with the victims before they go into the slaughterhouse and sharing their final moments on the death trucks. We document the victims’ fear and anxiety, their natural curiosity, stress, and pleading eyes, and we show it to the public via social media. Our message to the public is to rethink their choices when it comes to eating animals. Connecting with this living being, documenting their moments and sharing with the public allows us to give a voice to the voiceless. These living beings that we painfully say goodbye to, are individuals and need to be seen for who they truly are. Animals are sentient; they are warm, breathing beings that feel pain and love, just as much as our cats or dogs or even us. We are here to tell the truth about animal agriculture. We demand individuals, governments, corporations and other institu-
tions to transition to a kinder, sustainable, plant-based food system. Bearing witness is difficult and can take its emotional toll on activists. We try and support each other and be there for each other as much as we can, before, during and after each vigil. We also try and support other chapters. The Wellington chapter activists, as well as members of other chapters from Taranaki and Palmerston North, sometimes travel to support the few members of a tiny chapter in the small town of Whanganui (about three hours’ drive north of Wellington). There, the founder of the Save Movement in New Zealand, Sandra Kyle, often stands alone at the slaughterhouse gates. Nicknamed ‘The Singing Vegan’ Sandra is well known locally for gently singing to the animals while they are waiting nervously in their pens to be slaughtered. Sandra is frequently a target
of bullying and abuse directed at her by the groundsman and slaughter-trucks drivers. Reading Sandra’s weekly reports on Facebook, documenting in detail each abusive interaction she tolerated with clenched teeth, one cannot avoid sensing a heavy misogynistic and ageist flavour behind the abuse, in addition to the obvious speciesist one. It’s no surprise, really, as all oppressions are connected and often when you find one ‘ism’ on display, you are more than likely to find many more. What I like most about grassroots activism in New Zealand, is that groups often collaborate with each other and join in each other’s actions. Most of us activists have quite a variety of t-shirts in our wardrobe, belonging to various groups and organisations, and we wear them as we need. It is especially exciting to see young people join in and even form new groups. FORÇA VEGAN
DISPATCHES End Live Exports Now
Wellington Vegan Actions One such exciting, new-ish group is the Wellington Vegan Actions. It is a vegan, Animal rights-based actions and events group for the Wellington region, with over seven-hundred supporters through their Facebook community. Their flag routine activity is outreaching under the ‘Make the Connection’ banner (MTC). The essence of this action is showing on large TV screens what farmed animals in Aotearoa New Zealand go through every single day, in farms and in slaughterhouses. The activists who are not donning TV screens, stand around and embark on conversations with keen passers-by. The aim is to encourage the public to open their eyes and start questioning their choices. They leave, committed to change, with some printed resources showing them where they can keep their research going. This activity is rather similar to the Cube of Truth activity, which is still run all over New Zealand by local chapters of the international organisation Anonymous for the Voiceless (AV). The difference is that MTC is fully locally based and is not bound by the AV guidelines or answers to overseas organisers. It is therefore more flexible and more in tune with the local community and indigenous Māori culture. A major undertaking by Wellington Vegan Actions volunteers was the organisation and
production of the Wellington Animal Rights March 2020. While the rest of the world was crumpled by Covid19, being virus-free allowed us here in Aotearoa New Zealand to have the march in one central location, drawing hundreds of people to it. In November we marched the streets of our capital, demanding animal liberation now. The march drew quite a lot of media attention as it took place (with Wellington City Council’s approval!) on the same day and in the same route, as the Christmas Santa Parade. It meant hundreds of unsuspecting parents and children, out in droves to celebrate, were suddenly confronted by a peaceful parade of a different kind – one which requested them to be kind and show compassion to the animals. The media, sniffing controversy, loved it. With bold headlines, we were described as a vegan mob, out to ruin children’s Christmas, omitting the fact that many children were actually participating in the march, or that some families of spectators cheered for us, and that the only violence in display was the cooked corpses people were eating in our faces, and the man who decided to punch one of the march announcers at the front (he missed). At the end of the day, it was a major success with plenty of free press. Would we be having another march this year? You bet!
The most recent New Zealand wide action still undergoing is the Ban Live Exports protest. You may have heard the incredible announcement by the New Zealand government, deciding to end live exports from our shores. However, the phasing out period granted was ‘within two years’ meaning thousands of terrified cows and sheep are still forced onto packed death-ships, taken overseas to countries where we have no control over their destiny of minimal welfare. Under the slogan ‘Two Years is Too Long’, activists all around New Zealand, representing a wide range of organisations and grassroots groups, are fighting to challenge the two years phase-out and demand live exports end immediately. What does the future hold? If you wonder where are the more ballsey actions of storming slaughterhouses and rescuing animals, where are the Meat the Victims and the Animal Liberation Fronts? Those did exist here in previous decades, and I think the ground is ready for more of that in months to come. So please keep following us in New Zealand, I’m sure there will be much more to tell before we finally achieve total animal liberation.
Kia kaha e hoa mā!
HOW TO ARGUE
WITH VEGANS A new book by Benny Malone Benny Malone is a vegan animal rights author from Ellesmere Port U.K. He plays the drums and enjoys walks in the country and learning about science and nature. His first book is ‘How to Argue With Vegans’ an analysis of anti-vegan arguments.
BEFORE WE START – GISH GALLOPING. EXPLAIN PLEASE? Gish Galloping is named after anti-evolutionist Duane Gish who was notorious for using this technique in discussions and so has become immortalised. It involves using a scattergun approach to asking a series of questions in the hope that your opponent won’t be able to address them all due to being overwhelmed by the number and range of questions. It would be like me asking you 20 questions and demanding an immediate answer to all of them. If you can’t answer them then I claim victory even though the questions may or may not have valid and reasonable answers. It’s similar to the ‘on the spot fallacy’. It’s a dirty tactic that people should be aware of. My book 134
is partly about making people aware of a lot of these tactics and how to deal with them. Most of the concepts from the section on discussions can apply to any sort of discussion on lots of topics, like evolution in this case. It just happens that the topic is veganism this time so it should be a good exercise for critical thinkers and philosophy students to apply these lessons to a topic like animal rights that perhaps they haven’t considered before.
THE BOOK HAS A SLIGHTLY DECEPTIVE TITLE… It’s pure clickbait! Or maybe it’s a double meaning – argue alongside vegans! Or maybe it actually is about how to improve your arguments with vegans – the best way to do this is to actually BE vegan so…
HOW DID THE BOOK COME ABOUT? Due to my presence on social media a lot of people have asked for a guide to the common arguments against veganism from me. I always specialised in pointing out logical fallacies and debunking anti-vegan arguments. Some people had copied my lists of fallacies but they aren’t organised in any way that is categorised or tells a story. So I wanted to get my version out there that actually categorises the arguments rather than randomly listing them. I’d written some essays in the past that attempted to categorise all the anti-vegan arguments into a sort of phylogenetic tree. This naturally leads to the idea of a flow chart of logic based answers to the Frequently Asked
Due to my presence on social media a lot of people have asked for a guide to the common arguments against veganism from me. I always specialised in pointing out logical fallacies and debunking anti-vegan arguments.”
Questions of veganism. I’d had the idea for a massive flow chart of the FAQs about 8 years ago and then through conversations on Facebook Lorelei Plotczyk and Sarah Woodcock both said they’d had similar ideas for how that may be possible. There could be a book almost like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ one where each question brings you to an answer and if any further objections are raised it would continue branching out like that until you finally have a satisfying answer. I think a computer program that can do that for the FAQs is still the dream! You might think that I wrote the book during lockdowns for Covid-19 but I haven’t actually had any extra time and have been working full time throughout the pandemic. I suppose it did give me some impetus to actually put the arguments in book form and my friend Michael Sizer made a suggestion about writing a book that really kicked off the process.
IT’S AVAILABLE AND A FAMOUS ALL OVER THE VEGAN HAS COME WORLD RIGHT? UP WITH THE OR PRETTY MUCH COVER! SO. ANY PLANS TO Yes! Richard Watts AKA Vegan Sidekick designed and illusTRANSLATE trated the cover. I knew I wanted something bold and strikMAYBE? ing and a bit of an in-joke for It’s available on Amazon at the moment. If anyone is boycotting Amazon then they can contact me through my social media pages and I’ll see what I can do for them in exchange for a donation to a sanctuary. I’m hoping it will get translated in the future. I’m currently working with a friend on getting it recorded as an audiobook. I was never going to narrate it as I hate my voice! Stay tuned for news about the audiobook version!
vegans with the lion. I’ve been a fan of Vegan Sidekick from the start. Let me tell you about this guy! People don’t even realise he is like a modern day Hogarth and in a long line of English satirical cartoonists stretching back centuries. I didn’t even know what ‘Vegan Sidekick’ was when I saw the page on Facebook and I’d only been vegan a couple of years at the time I think. So I felt I needed a ‘sidekick’ and help with countering all the various anti-vegan arguments you get bombarded with. There didn’t seem to be many pages like
that. It’s honestly informed a lot of my approach, the satire, the logical arguments and the way a lot of the arguments get inverted or turned around. Of course it provides some comic relief and venting for vegans too. I am friends with Richard and we’ve talked about the arguments over the years so he was the first person I came to for the cover with a basic idea I has after trying to put a lion image on the cover myself to see how that would look.
AND YOU HAVE SOME FABULOUS PICTURES OF YOU AND THE COVER TOO! That was an accident! I was doing a selfie with the book after I had just got the first print version in my hands. I held it up in front then noticed I could do the half-human/half-lion face.
Then after I posted it on Facebook other people who bought the book did it too and I said I’ll make a collage of all the pictures once I have enough.
YOU’RE NOT A LION THO? No, I’m a human with moral agency! I’ve just seen someone on Facebook saying ‘butterflies eat fish tho’ so I may have to change it.
TELL US MORE ABOUT THE BOOK AND WHAT THE REAL AIMS ARE HERE The book is structured to take the reader through the most common anti-vegan arguments and provide answers to these. It has a definite ‘journey’
to it, from not wanting to engage on the subject at all and dismissing it through ridicule all the way through progressive stages to actually trying to engage with veganism on its own terms. Unfortunately for opponents of veganism by the time you have progressed so far through those stages you should have adopted so many vegan premises and arguments as your own and be adhering to following them (if you are serious about it) that you will be almost at the stage of following a 100% plant based diet and avoiding most animal use. To seriously argue against veganism in this framework you need to be 99% of the way there in practical terms. I discuss all the nonsense about percentages too so this is just for illustrative purposes. Veganism itself IS a position you either adopt or don’t. You either support the commodification of animals in principle or you don’t. In practical terms it can have varying outcomes of course!
It’s available on Amazon at the moment. If anyone is boycotting Amazon then they can contact me through my social media pages and I’ll see what I can do for them in exchange for a donation to a sanctuary.”
ANYONE FAMOUS IN THE BOOK? OR IS THAT A SECRET? Every single argument is one I’ve encountered in person or online in discussions. I’ve spared the names of any individuals apart from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, David Attenborough, Noam Chomsky and Brian Cox! I challenged Peter Hitchens to a debate but he just retweeted it and said ‘thank you, no.’
OK, SCORSESE IS ON THE PHONE AND WANTS TO MAKE A MOVIE BASED ON THE BOOK. WHO PLAYS BENNY? Daniel Day Lewis comes out of retirement to win his fourth Oscar. Apparently Scorsese has ‘yet to confirm’ that the film will be vegan – if there is to be a film at all, indeed – did you know that? It was on VGN News or something…. If the catering isn’t vegan Mr Scorcese will be getting a visit from some Goodfellas I know.
COULD THE BOOK BE DESCRIBED AS ‘STRATEGIC’ OR ‘PRAGMATIC’, OR BOTH, OR NEITHER? *Titters* Sure, it’s both. You can strategically use the arguments in the book in a pragmatic way when the time and place are right for doing so. It’s a false dilemma set up by opponents of making a case for veganism that you can’t be friendly, pragmatic, strategic etc AND make a case for animal rights and veganism. They don’t have ownership over those words and if they are saying that veganism is inherently ‘problematic’ in some way they are wrong.
was getting burnt out with so many ‘there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism’ arguments which seemed so disingenuous to me. I was also admin of a few groups and found that a thankless task. So I handed over to some other trusted admins. Then when I tested the waters on coming back to Facebook I was really encouraged to see that the ‘no ethical consumption…’ argument was being addressed on pages like ‘Veganarchist Memes: Breaking Leftist Speciesism’ whereas previously around the time I left it seemed like speciesism was way down on the list of issues that should be addressed and always got a pass. I probably only stuck around Facebook because I saw that it wasn’t going to have free reign anymore and people were addressing it.
YOU WERE VERY VOCAL ON FACEBOOK A FEW ANY INTERESTING YEARS AGO – FEEDBACK YET AND THEN TOOK SINCE THE BOOK A BREAK FOR A CAME OUT? WHILE. WHAT WAS Some great reviews on AmTHAT LIKE? My father passed away and I was feeling stressed at the time. I didn’t feel like social media was good for my mental health so I took an extended break. I
azon. I’m actually most looking forward to the one star reviews from angry farmers, especially the ones using arguments that are thoroughly refuted in the book.
ON A SERIOUS NOTE – DO YOU THINK WE’LL SEE A VEGAN WORLD? AND WILL ALL CAGES BE EMPTY? I believe so but I don’t know the timescale. I’m pretty sure the alternative to change will mean a completely different world to the one we live in now, if the climate crisis is not addressed on all fronts.
WHAT’S REALLY HOLDING US BACK RIGHT NOW FROM REALLY GATHERING PACE VEGAN WISE? APART FROM THE GISH GALLOPERS OBVIOUSLY. There are lots of elements. I think in practical terms the vegan alternatives are really gathering pace and veganism isn’t seen as a ‘scare word’ even by companies that were previously opposed to it. There are dangers and risks in this even, with greenwashing and capitalism. I’m dubious of calls for unity sometimes as they are often just fronts for stifling opposing
views which may be valid. But I think the thing vegans should be focussed and united on is the fact that 1) we are making a case for being vegan (not other positions) 2) we should be united in understanding veganism as a position against the commodity status of animals and their subsequent exploitation and slaughter that results from this. 3) We should be familiar with the arguments and the facts and not overreach or make outlandish or unscientific claims. The scientific consensus is on our side for ecological efficiency, animal sentience, the healthfulness of 100% plant-based diets. Take your B-12 tablets! In practical terms it’s about increasing vegan numbers but also about political change and stopping subsidies to these industries and getting them put into fruit and veg rather than meat and dairy. I think the public should be outraged at these industries instead of shooting the messenger. I believe an attitude change to veganism could happen quite quickly once the public debate is easily won. Getting people to engage is the hard part at the moment. Changing attitudes to animal use and animals themselves is vital. The push back against veganism is massive. But the determination, knowledge and sheer capability of some of the activists out there is truly inspiring. We have the best arguments!
HOW CAN PEOPLE GET HOLD OF THE BOOK? Just on Amazon at the moment, check your storefront. Hoping for an audiobook version soon. If anyone wants to read it but is in any difficulty they should contact me.
ANY PLANS FOR A SEQUEL? I’ve got a few books in mind. One will be a shorter version of the arguments around veganism perhaps with more Socratic questions and I’ll tailor this for the use of activists. Another might be a volume of Collected Essays once I have written a few more. These are on various topics surrounding animal use and would stretch back to ‘Occam’s Razor and Veganism’. Thirdly I would like to do a more general philosophy one on ‘Philosophical Objects’ – these are things like ‘Occam’s Razor’ and ‘Neurath’s Boat’ that appear throughout the history of philosophy.
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SONGSTRESS A killer virus on the loose – Planet Earth in crisis – all animals deserving of respect for the beings who they are. Conceived and composed during the Covid-19 zoonotic (“Denoting a disease transmitted from other animals to humans”) pandemic, the Vegan Songstress’ song, All of The Animals, is an anthem for our times. Its bright delivery and style does nothing obscure the song’s impact: there’s even a political language twist at the end, reminding human animals that they themselves are animals.
Pictured: A resident of Back Into Daylight animal sanctuary
Much of the footage for the All of The Animals music video was filmed at the vegan-run Back Into Daylight animal sanctuary in Ireland, for which The Vegan Songstress acts as Patron. “The idea of light and darkness is important in the lyrics,” Jennifer states. “Some of the experiences of the animals are very dark. They need the light, both in the sense of their liberation as individuals, and in the sense of their use being made visible to the public.”
an effort to burst out of the vegan bubble on social media. The All of The Animals project has the same aim. With backing by a professional (and vegan) PR firm, the idea is to get a strong vegan message out into the public realm, backed up by interviews and media appearances, and released on major platforms by a music distribution company. Vegan Life Magazine, which is sold monthly in news outlets and supermarkets around the world, has covered the release of the song, describing All of The Animals as “catchy and uplifting.” The on-line version of the article can be read here - https://www.veganlifemag. com/the-vegan-songstressreleases-new-track-all-of-theanimals/ The song has also been featured on VeggieVision internet TV station - https:// www.veggievision.tv/the-vegan-songstress-releases-newtrack-all-of-the-animals/
I have written elsewhere that my “Tik-Tok experiment” is
“Although it is a long-shot, I’ve made the song available to
The Vegan Songstress is Dublin-born singer-songwriter Jennifer Faust and All of The Animals is thought to be the first overtly vegan song to come out of Ireland, written and recorded by a vegan activist. “The ‘twist’ at the end of the song is very political in terms of language and how we humans see ourselves in the world,” says Jennifer.
some of the global charts, like the streaming charts, with a hope of making an impact,” said Jennifer. The song had its first ever public airing on Karin Ridgers’ radio show, House of Fun, which is podcasted globally by Phoenix Radio - https://www.phoenixfm.com/2021/05/22/ house-of-fun-with-jenniferfaust-the-vegan-songstressand-dj-and-producer-danieledavoli-of-black-box/ Here’s the shorter version - https:// animalrightsireland.blogspot. com/2021/05/audio-vegansongstress-world-premier-of. html Jennifer Faust was born into a musical and artistic Irish family and could always be found singing songs as a youngster. “I love to sing and paint,” she says. “I have always had a mild stammer since childhood, so singing is a great way for me to get my thoughts over, and I wanted to sing about what I have learnt about other animals since I went vegan in 2017.”
Pictured: residents of Back Into Daylight ani-
The Vegan Songstress has more vegan-related songs in the pipeline, and a back catalogue of tracks being re-mastered for re-release through the music distributor. These include an amazing haunting 18-minute epic entitled “Loving You.” With Covid lockdowns easing in Ireland, Jennifer is hoping to get back into the music studios soon. The Vegan Songstress’ website - https://www.vegansongstress.com/ YouTube versions of the song – Main music video https:// youtu.be/Y8Ov5Xe0vJ8 Ditto Music https://youtu. be/1E-jz7QmGEU Amazon https://www. amazon.co.uk/All-Animals-Vegan-Songstress/dp/ B095KRC7HX/
Pictured: residents of Back Into Daylight aniFORÇA VEGAN
LEGACY Have you watched
By our Força Vegan
#seaspiracy yet? There’s been a lot of internet noise going on since its timely release. I’ve been doing some investigations in response to the negative comments about the groundbreaking documentary.
“Fishing is Sustainable” Basically “sustainable fishing” is justified from some very bad science used after the second world war. (Beverton and Holt, 1957) Estimating fish stock sizes is a fatally flawed system because virgin biomass numbers (numbers of the fish present before fishing started) are impossible to quantify. The idea that if you “accidentally ‘’ overfish the populations will bounce back has now been proven wrong, other species may invade, (the UK’s north sea cod were replaced by lobsters) also if the original virgin biomass estimates were wrong the species can become extinct. 146
No industrial fishing method is OK, plus bycatch, plus bottom trawling, plus human slavery. Plus nearly half the fish caught globally are illegally caught, with zero regulations. There’s literally no way to trace where fish were caught unless you’re doing it yourself, (and this also changes biospheres, fish are very curious and calm in no-take zones, where they are hunted they swim away. Some fish mate for life, we can only imagine how losing their partners affects them.
“It’s too Dramatic” A documentary by nature has to be compelling viewing, but the drama of the situation we’re in should be enough to make people pay attention and be shocked into changing behaviours.
If people can’t process this information, whichever way it’s delivered, they’re missing the point. Our oceans are dying because of human greed.
“But there’s Protected Areas” Globally less than 8% of our oceans are nominally protected and less than 3% are fully protected zero fishing zones. Sea Shepherd is one of the few organizations that work on the front line. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are often declared by governments but without direct protection, they can often be just another PR greenwash.
“There’s plenty of fish in the sea” To say there’s plenty of fish off the coast of West Africa and
sea creatures, one to satisfy hunters who don’t need the food and the other to supply pretty dolphins to a lifetime of misery in touristic dolphin shows.
everything is fine is ridiculous, the big international trawlers are stealing from the oceans with little or no government protection. If they continue at this rate, fish stocks will disappear. In what I call the over-developed world, anyone rich enough to have a smartphone, contract and time to use it can make food choices. They are privileged enough to take food from starving countries, fish that’s often ground up and fed to farmed fish or land animals. Extending food chains unsustainably. It’s got to stop. I’m bored of hearing excuses now, whilst over developed countries waste around half of their food from field to plate.
“It’s all fake” It’s too easy for critics to say parts of the documentary are staged without saying which bits. I know people who’ve spent time in the Faroe islands and know people who’ve been to Taiji. They’re both bloodbaths, disgusting waste of beautiful
By their very nature, it’s impossible to film the life-threatening accounts shown in cartoon form in the documentary. I’ve met people who have worked on large fishing fleets in Australia and Thailand, they told me firstly of fisher injured at sea, without adequate onboard first aid and at the refusal of the captain to take them back to port because of fuel costs, the injury became infected and they died. Secondly, they explained how easy it is for boats to hide illegal catches, there’s usually a hidden compartment built into most fishing boats, containing the haul of mainly shark fins and lobsters, if an inspector appears on the radar they have over two hours to dispose of the stash. I’m sure the situation is far worse than shown in Seaspiracy. There are only around 20 marine biologist inspectors for the whole Australian oceans.
“Attacking NGOs is bad” There’s a lot of oceanic NGOs who take large donations and bang on about plastic straws and cotton buds, refuse to discuss fishing and put the blame on individuals. That’s criminal. Currently, there are 7,800,000,000 (7. 8 billion) people on planet earth. 90% of the ocean’s large fish have been wiped out by industrial fishing.
1,000,000,000,000 to3,000,000,000,000 (1 to 3 trillion) wild fish are killed each year. (Not including IUU fishing or bycatch, which could be 3040% more, no one knows). The numbers of farmed fish slaughtered each year are around 100,000,000,000 (100 billion). Bycatch kills around a million large sea creatures each year, bycatch is the non-target species caught in nets, they usually die and are thrown back in the water. Every species including whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles, rays and sea lions are all killed as bycatch. Shark populations have been decimated since the seventies. The fishing industry is heavily subsidized to the tune of 35 billion dollars globally, imagine if that money was used to encourage organic vegetable production?
“But / what about? / you don’t know what you’re talking about” Anyone attempting to defend the indefensible needs to consider the consequences of not acting quickly. There’s plenty of marine biologists and scientists defending the fishing industry because their well-paid jobs depend on it, which does not make them experts or make their claims valid, a fancy education does not automatically mean you know more than passionate environmentalists who take zero money from the industry. I wonder why humans consider fish to be stupid? I’ve spent
many peaceful hours underwater, free diving and scuba diving, the creatures I’ve observed live in harmony with their environment, I feel the humans could learn a thing or two from the underwater world. Please consider what you consume and how it affects our collective environment. It’s heartwarming to see the majority of online responses are in favour of stopping or reducing consumption of fish, the film has made a huge impact and that’s exactly what our oceans need. The makers of Seaspiracy are pushing for 30% of our oceans to be protected by 2030. https://www.crowdfunder. co.uk/30by30 Hope spots are being designated by Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue campaign. https://mission-blue.org/hopespots Each one of us can choose to not consume fish and gently encourage friends and family to follow suit, please share pictures of the majestic underwater world and patiently explain the threats, invite them around for dinner and a movie, you know which film to show, we’re literally all in this boat together.
...AND IF YOU KNOW
PART 2 THE BEST KNOWN
OF THE CO-FOUNDERS OF THE GREATEST CAUSE ON EARTH,
DONALD WATSON In the second of a series of essays, vegan since 1979 and former animal rights prisoner, Dr. Roger Yates, looks at how veganism as a social movement emerged and developed with the focus on accounts of the individual pioneers of the vegan movement.
I could never understand what the pigs did – all the other animals “gave” something, but I couldn’t for the life of me see what the pigs “gave,” and they seemed there were usually two – such friendly creatures, always glad to see me, and grateful for almost anything that was thrown to them in the sty. ” FORÇA VEGAN
A lot has been written about the best known vegan social movement pioneer, Donald Watson – and some of it is true. What is not true is that Watson single-handedly “invented” veganism, or that he wrote a comprehensive definition of veganism in 1944. Both of these false claims are seen regularly in social media platforms related to veganism. Watson himself was keen to spread the blame for the foundation of the vegan social movement among others!, saying, “I hesitate to single out anyone, but I would say Leslie Cross and Arthur Ling must be put in the records as being the two outstanding, faithful contributors to our cause.” For a variety of reasons, 21st century members of the ani152
mal advocacy movement are attempting to reduce, slim down, and make quite shallow the philosophy of veganism that evolved in the first decades after the formation in 1944 of veganism as a social movement. For example, while some tend to regard veganism as merely a diet, some animal activists suggest that the concerns of the vegan movement are restricted to the liberation of other animals and has nothing to do with human liberation. As this series of blog entries about the pioneers of the vegan movement will show, these claims are not accurate. These “reducetarian” opinions about veganism fly in the face of the people who founded our movement. For example, Donald Watson, the person most commonly as-
sociated with the formation of the Vegan Society, was asked if he had any message for new vegans. He replied, “Yes. I would like them to take the broad view of what veganism stands for. Something beyond finding a new alternative to, shall we say, scrambled eggs on toast, or a new recipe for a Christmas cake.” Adding, “I would like them to realise that they’re on to something really big.” Donald Watson was born on the 2nd of September, 1910, at Mexborough, in South Yorkshire, the son of a school headmaster. As a child, the young Donald Watson holidayed on a farm run by his grandmother and her son. Innocently, Donald thought these holidays were “heavenly.” He was de-
lighted that he found himself surrounded by lots of interesting other animals – horses, cats, dogs, cows, chickens, a cockerel, sheep, and pigs. It eventually struck Watson that all these other animals had some function; they all had things to “give” to humans. I realised that they all “gave” something. The farm horse pulled the plough, the lighter built horse pulled the trap and the wagonette… The cows “gave” milk, the hens “gave” eggs, the cockerel was a useful “alarm clock.” But what of the pigs? I could never understand what the pigs did – all the other animals “gave” something, but I couldn’t for the life of me see what the pigs “gave,” and they seemed there were usually two – such friendly creatures, always glad to see me, and grateful for almost anything that was thrown to them in the sty. Well, the day came when I came downstairs for breakfast, and Granny wasn’t alone in the kitchen – there were two women there I’d never seen before, and they were very busy boiling an enormous amount of water, one pan after another, on the fire. What was all this about? Soon after, I saw two men cross the path in front of the kitchen window, carrying what seemed to be like a tres-
tle, with handles on each end, and they took it through to the little yard where the pigsty was. It wasn’t long before the business of killing one of the pigs began. No attempt was made to keep me away from the scene, I just went there, full of interest, to see what all this was about. And I still have vivid recollections of the whole process from start to finish, including all the screams of course, which were only feet away from where this pig’s companion still lived. And then, when the pig had finally expired, the women came out, one after another, with buckets of this scalding water, and the body of the pig was scraped – all the hairs were taken away. Donald Watson was shocked to discover that animal farms are killing machines: “A Death Row where every creature’s days were numbered.” He concluded that, were he to report on “Man’s progress,” he would write: “could do better.” All this, Watson says, paved his way to veganism, and the formation of the first vegan social movement organisation, The Vegan Society. He saw no other social movement offering as much as the vegan
movement, and saw it as the salvation of “Man.” As a sociologist, I tend to remind readers that all people are a product of their times. Thus, in this series, readers will notice that direct quotes by both men and women may contain sexist language. For example, calling humanity “Man” was standard practice until relatively recently. Something other than being confronted with the realities of animal farming was to have a profound effect on the young Donald Watson. His politics and his view of humanity were forever shaped by events in “World War Two,” which, as I mentioned last time, “sickened” him. In 1994, looking back on the first 50 years of the vegan movement, Watson noted that people were “shattered” by the tragedy of war. So much so that, in 1944, as the conflict drew to a close, most had little time “to fuss over the fate of a few animals.” Tellingly in terms of the scope of the vegan movement that was to evolve, Watson says that the vegan pioneers would never agree with the popular notion that, “the war on animals was a ‘just war’ – to use a term much FORÇA VEGAN
as part of the moral evolution of humanity, they believed.
debated at the time.” To the contrary, it was the position of the vegans that humanity’s tyranny towards humans and other animals was connected although, Watson points out, making this claim in the immediate post-war years was “usually unproductive.” He says that the vegan pioneers, “were not religious in any orthodox sense,” but they did take the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” seriously and applied it to both human and other-than-human animals: “If our vision of a better world was a dream, it was a dream to escape the nightmare of a world overflowing with evil.” The people of this world overflowing with evil, he states, saw nothing wrong with the killing of other animals: “We on the other hand felt that we were facing the issue of morality at its most basic.” Donald Watson lost several friends during the conflict, including colleagues in the vegetarian movement. He was saddened by the idea of killing people who were strangers to him, such as the 50,000 killed in one raid on Dresden, their bodies subsequently piling up and burnt because there was no way of burying so many. Watson saw no choice but to become a conscientious objec154
tor (CO). It was a terrible dilemma for anyone with high principles to see thousands, millions of people, killed, because the whole idea was so mad that Man should still, at this late stage in his evolution, be trying to solve his problems by this evil method. But that was the dilemma, so, after much thought, for right or wrong, I became a CO. By now, Watson was a night school teacher (on reduced pay for being a CO) and also a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service. He had escaped the real possibility of death around 1940 because he believed that at least some of the infamous wartime raids by the Luftwaffe that destroyed large parts of the city of Coventry were meant for Leicester in the Midlands of England, where he lived at the time. Watson mentions the notion of humanity’s evolution in the quote above. This theme was to become very important in the early years of the vegan social movement as the pioneers appeared to see the values embedded within veganism as challenging the barbarism that created war and exploitation: veganism should be seen
Watson stated that he liked to think that the vegan movement is the “greatest movement that ever was.” The reason he gave for this may shock animal advocates who assert that veganism is only “for the animals.” In 2002, when he was 92 years and 104 days old, he said that veganism is the greatest of movements because, “it’s the only one, now, that can save Mankind.” In what may seem a somewhat arrogant claim, Watson declared that all other movements are “lesser” compared to veganism because they had a limited vision of the future. He said that such lesser movements were as people re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic, whereas they could be helping the vegans who were busy shining their searchlight “on the iceberg which is going to be the end of the whole show.” Watson pointed out that, “nature rebels against any species that becomes too numerous, usually by food shortage, or by disease, both of which are now rampaging ahead in the human community.” He argued that vegans alone have the possible solutions to this crisis. It is not an exaggeration to say that the early vegan vision of the future was spectacular – even utopian perhaps. But we must once again remember that people are a product of their times – and what times had these people lived through. Two sickening, shattering, wars involving populations from all over the planet. They saw the rise of the far right in the shape of the Third Reich, experienced carpet bombing, and widespread destruction – the laying waste of entire cities throughout Europe. They came to learn of
the death camps, the ghettos, and the barbarism of war as a general matter. The trauma of warfare on individuals is now well known – some relatives of veterans of war report how their fathers, mothers, aunts, and uncles could never bear to talk about what they witnessed. Often the details of the horror went with them to their own deaths. The vegan pioneers, however, saw a trauma that had damaged human society. They feared that recent history had revealed some form of de-evolution of humanity. That we have become more savage, and more likely to see violence as a means to resolve problems and disputes. The early vegan movement pioneers believed that veganism’s vision that exploitation of humans and nonhumans was connected could result in a vegan future that could correct and eliminate the violence that they saw all around them. Watson said: “We don’t know the spiritual advancements that long term veganism – I mean not over years or even decades, but over generations, would have on human life. It would be certainly a different civilisation, and the first one in the whole of our history that would truly
Watson stated that he liked to think that the vegan movement is the “greatest movement that ever was.” The reason he gave for this may shock animal advocates who assert that veganism is only “for the animals.” In 2002, when he was 92 years and 104 days old, he said that veganism is the greatest of movements because, “it’s the only one, now, that can save Mankind.” deserve the title of being a civilisation. Full stop.” Finally, there are relatively recent suggestions in the vegan community that “veganism is not enough,” and that veganism itself is a passive posture. Prominent social media activists suggest that vegans will simply stand by and watch humans attack other animals, while an infamous manifesto entitled “Boycott Veganism,” concludes that, “if we want to
stand up for animals, then we should stop calling ourselves vegan; stop asking others to go vegan; and even stop using the word vegan.” Such simplistic notions appear to go out of their way to misrepresent the meaning of veganism, and certainly ignore the views of the pioneers of the vegan social movement, which are dismissed and distorted in sentences such as this: “When we examine how
the ‘go vegan’ message frames the animal rights debate, we see how we are playing into our opponents’ hands. The concept of veganism necessarily focuses on the human who chooses a particular lifestyle. That lifestyle may be informed by ethical principles, no doubt. But the framing has been set — the debate is about human choices and interests, rather than animal rights and brutality.” The vegan pioneers not only set out to analyse the savagery that they had lived through, but they also wanted to do something about the “problem of humanity” as they saw it. Sociologists and social movement theorists see social movements as “claims-makers” in civil society. Social movements typically make claims about the problems they say they have identified. An Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements suggests that Claims-making refers to the process of performing or articulating claims that bear on someone else’s interests. In its simplest form an instance of claims-making includes two
actors – a subject (claimant) and an object (addressee) – and a verbal or physical action (demanding, protesting, criticizing, blaming etc.). In the context of social movement studies and contentious politics, claims-making has most often referred to the conscious articulation of political demands in the public sphere, thus leaving aside more private or hidden forms of political claims-making such as voting and lobbyism. Donald Watson famously suggested in 1944 that people need to be “ripened up” to new ideas. He fully understood that change doesn’t just happen – social actors have to make it happen. He noted that important social reformers such as Wilberforce, Chadwick, Shaftesbury, and Kingsley understood that no issue will be “ripe” for reform until it is “ripened by human determination.” Thus, in the very first edition of The Vegan, Watson told his readers that, “There is an obvious danger of leaving the fulfilment of our ideals to posterity, for posterity may not have our ideals. Evolution can be retrogressive as
well as progressive, indeed there seems always to be a strong gravitation the wrong way unless existing standards are guarded and new visions honoured. For this reason, we have formed our Group” (all emphases added). In his 2014 chapter entitled, “The Greatest Cause on Earth: The historical formation of veganism as an ethical practice,” sociologist Matthew Cole identifies the aims of the vegan movement as radically transformative and emancipatory: …the vegan ethos [aim/object] combines compassionate non-exploitation of other animals with an emancipated vegan self and a more compassionate human society. Vegan ethics, from the beginning, was directed towards these interconnected goals of transforming human beings and transforming human society, with both flowing from the foundational reconfiguration of human-nonhuman animal relations. Cole also argued that, “The breath-taking scope of the transformative vision of the vegan pioneers…may inspire a re-centring of vegan ethics in the practice of and advocacy of all those who oppose exploitation in its myriad and pernicious forms.” Writing in the second decade of the 21st century, Matthew Cole is clearly acknowledging that much of the breath-taking vision of our movement’s founders has been lost. Also note that Cole talks about exploitation not restricted to other animals only, just as the pioneers of the social movement did, and contrary to what some animal advocates are currently suggesting as the full scope of vegan philosophy.
Donald Watson himself said that the movement opposed the exploitation of all sentient life in 1945, and Cole has pointed out that, from 1948 to 1951, the front cover strapline of the Vegan Society’s magazine, The Vegan, stated: “Advocating living with exploitation.” Far from being just a diet; or only about other animals, the driving philosophy of the vegan social movement represents a revolution that is arguably needed more now than it was in the 1940s and 1950s when these radical ideas emerged. I believe that the vision of the vegan pioneers should be honoured. It is shocking to me that their radicalism, their revolutionary vision for a less violent future, is being cast aside in the 21st century. Let’s get veganism back on track, now.
Sources The Vegan News. (No 1. 1944). The Vegan. (Spring 1946). The Vegan. (Summer 1988). The Vegan. (Autumn 1994). “Ripened by Human Determination: Seventy Years of The Vegan Society.” Samantha Calvert. The Vegan Society. 2014. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements, Edited by David A. Snow, Donatella della Porta, Bert Klandermans, and Doug McAdam. 2013, Blackwell. Earthing Ed. “A Message for All Vegans.” https://youtu.be/2igULtwaVA4 “Boycott veganism: Animal rights only begins with your diet.” Author(s) uncredited – believed to be Wayne Hsiung. http://www.images. pythagoreancrank.com/boycott_veganism.pdf
The breath-taking scope of the transformative vision of the vegan pioneers…may inspire a re-centring of vegan ethics in the practice of and advocacy of all those who oppose exploitation in its myriad and pernicious forms.” FORCA VEGAN
ETHICAL VEGAN ‘THIS BOOK WILL BECOME ONE OF THE STAND-OUT PIECES OF LITERATURE IN THE ANIMAL LIBERATION MOVEMENT.’ JAY BRAVE
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