Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Vegan Facilitator


We all need to know how we are seen by others, and the way others are seen by us. If we are role models (because we’re setting the example, because we’re the ones wanting to initiate debate and change) it’s entirely down to us to take the initiative.

First-up get over the superiority thing - we shouldn’t consider ourselves better. We’re vegan, that’s all. In many ways each of us has our own embarrassing faults, enough to match anyone else’s. When all’s said and done and all honestly added up, none of us can afford to feel ‘above’ anyone else. Even with the best arguments in the world (and of course we do have the best!) we shouldn’t flaunt that advantage, and anyway, it’s not a competition about me being better than you; it’s not about ‘me’ anyway, and we aren’t trying to win any brownie points here. This is not Arguments Central. It isn’t a persuasion game or an excuse for a fight. We’re surely trying to encourage people to crank up their brain cells, touch their hearts and get them to take this subject seriously. We have to be seen by others simply as facilitators of discussion not conversion agents.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

You Do It, So I Shall Too


In the face of greatly differing views, we each seem implacable - vegans judging non-vegans for their weakness, they judging us for our preachyness.

Today perception rules - in all matters of food, omnivores see only what they want to see. They want to support the status quo. They don’t want to go down the path of boycotting products, since that leads to a huge inconvenience.

Trying to be consistent about what and what not to boycott, with all the self discipline that implies, is difficult. Life’s a matter of fitting-in, and if we don’t do things the way others do, we seem uncooperative. When it comes to ‘being vegan’, we’re considered to be outcastes.

Vegans want to alter things in a quite incredible way, so we’re seen to be people who want to deny others their simple pleasures of life.

“What’s so very wrong about a cheesy pizza or a quiche?”

That’s convenient perception for you!

So, vegans need to point out, if we ever get the chance, that there’s such a thing as an ‘imposed collective consciousness’ based on an ill-informed idea of herbivorous living. It’s down to us, as vegans, to better inform people.

Vegans take an important initiative here. We’re pioneering a certain type of change, the sort that heads straight into the very core of perception: how we perceive things that seem anti-pleasure but which we know as anti-violence.

We are up against what is not to be thought about. Were up against the predominant mind-set - you do it, so I shall too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017



Because animal exploitation concerns us so deeply, vegans will talk to anyone about this subject. We’re the ones who usually get conversations going, not the omnivores. So, by stepping into the fray, if we up the ante then we must take responsibility for what happens.

We can say whatever we like, unless we’re uncertain about our own tendency to ‘turn nasty under provocation’. If we feel a ‘violence’ coming on, or any one of its familiar cousin-feelings, then it’s time to leave or change the subject.

Our passion can easily look like bragging, and what we say can seem deliberately confronting. Being with a vegan, under any circumstances, should ideally be a stimulating even happy experience, not something to dread. Mind you, vegans must step up to the plate here.

Being confronted by a zealot, who only wants to tell people what they may or may not eat, is a disturbing experience. But there are practical reasons too why we vegans shouldn’t confront omnivores - it may take time for them to realise what we’re suggesting. And this can go two ways. It boxes them into an impossible position, because they can’t counter cruelty arguments. It’s as if they think we are trying to lead them down a path where they will be caught between a rock and a hard place.

It can go another way. As if we haven’t the confidence or strength of will that will get us over such strongly ingrained, resistant attitudes. These attitudes constitute the biggest part of our lives. So by considering becoming a vegan, computing how ‘going vegan’ could impact on one’s social life. There are several daunting changes to be made, not only with diet.

But coming back to zealotry. Confronting people with passion. Communicating any subject, it has to start somewhere.

Imagine the scene. We meet. We probably exchange a little intimacy just to confirm we’re still friends. Then, if it feels safe, we might slide into more ‘serious talk’. We each try to keep it ‘together’. For the benefit of our friendship.

Okay. That’s the subject. Animal Rights, etc. But underneath the passing over of important information is the feeling of warmth that goes with it. Nothing between us, our differences, our differences of opinion, our differences of values even, this is not our business exactly, only like ‘in-passing’.

Mainly, it’s got to be a connection, even in a state of ‘differences’. Isn’t that intention not to quarrel how things should always be, no matter what we’re talking about? And isn’t that surely why different humans, from different cultures, would rather converse than argue aggressively? Isn’t that why, today, we so often ‘workshopping’ issues, and talking through or despite our differences.

Anyone, even the most ardent carnivore, is speakable-with. No one has to be ‘impossible’ to talk to.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

More on the Matter of 'Shocking Facts'


If Animal Rights hasn’t reached many people yet then perhaps it’s time to re-consider our approach, and that might mean being less reliant on ‘shocking-facts’.

Back in the 1980’s when the horrors of modern animal farming first came to light in a big way, everyone was shocked. But soon enough it was ‘business as usual’. Things down on the farm are worse today, but essentially not that much worse in terms of mindless cruelty and indifference. The phrase ‘hens in cages’ is understood to represent the extent to which humans have become cruel, but that hasn’t induced people to think about it or stop buying eggs or products made with egg ingredients.

Yes, we are shocked, yes, we shake our heads in disbelief but we’re not willing to switch brands of biscuits or stop buying cow milk to pour on our breakfast corn flakes. We are not yet willing to change the habits of a lifetime. We say, “Be kinder to animals” but that’s where it stops. It means virtually nothing. So, this is why vegans advice is, “Don’t trust yourself around animals. Humans have a history of abuse”.

As activists, we have to start from a ‘rights’ point of view (not welfare) and promote a no-use-animal policy. That’s a long way from the norm and a long way from those who say “I agree with you. I only eat free range”. Some day every omnivore will have to come to terms with what we know today as ‘vegan principle’. It’s possible that they may find some of what we are saying interesting enough, to hear about it the first time round. But next time they see us walking down the street they’ll probably want to avoid us for fear of a repeat performance - no one wants to be baled up, or be ‘evangelised’. That’s surely why Animal Rights is not like a church and why vegans shouldn’t preach, nor start speaking with the words “I am a vegan …”.

So, if we are to be accused of anything, let it be for igniting dangerous discussion. We need to be seen as open people, rather than as purveyors of shocking-facts. We need to become a conduit for ideas and information. It’s still early days for Animal Rights consciousness.

This is one difficult subject to broach. We might expect people to be open with us but not if we drop bombs on them. As soon as we get personal, over ‘differences of opinion’, then dialogue ends and fights begin. Whereas, if we can have a non-judgemental exchange, we can’t go wrong. Somehow, we need to establish mutual respect, before lunging at people with the spear of truth.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Shocking Facts


How do animal activists come across? We meet some mates in the street, and it’s nice to see them, but how do we seem to them? Maybe we smile, hug, ask each other how we are. I’m calm, they’re calm, feelings are mutual, and that’s how it starts out. But sometimes conversation moves into dangerous territory, when the subject of Animal Rights comes up. We might have a lot to say on the subject and it can be said calmly, approachably and strongly, but not so strongly that they want to change the subject or so calmly that they can ignore the importance of what we’re saying.

It seems the best way to consider talking about this subject is for no sermons, no attacking, no sloganeering, but just calm talk - more can be said by understatement than by diatribe.

Those ‘Animal Rights Shock-Facts’ can sound stale if they’ve been heard before. If we try to persuade people it won’t necessarily be taken as a friendly gesture, more like an attempted conversion. And anyway, it doesn’t usually get people thinking about what they don’t want to think about.

Conscience doesn’t seem to call the shots any more, especially when it interferes with our ‘little comforts’ (like animal food and clothing).

We’ve all known about ‘Hens in Cages’ for a long time, it’s a familiar horror story even amongst kids - but it isn’t ‘thought about’. So, it’s not acted upon. Most people are nowhere near to boycotting animal products. They regularly buy things they can’t possibly approve of if they thought about it.

But if that is so, it isn’t necessarily our job to exploit their guilt or try to convert them. We might be able to get them thinking but we achieve nothing by embarrassing them, attacking their values, or giving up on them.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

In the Shadow of the Abattoir


The omnivore is still blasé when passing the abattoir down the road. They remain un-shocked. Why? Perhaps because, in the weed patch of violence we all live in, it’s difficult to separate problem weeds from the relatively harmless variety – the ‘holocausting’ of animals isn’t yet seen as a problem.

With all the violence going on about us, why don’t we see this particular violence as significant? Well firstly, unlike the barrage of ads on TV for meat, the killing of all these animals isn’t exactly ‘in our face’. And when it is, it’s thrust at us too confrontingly, like when the animal rights message gets through and is associated with activist-types who the general public can’t relate to or identify with.

Omnivores’ sensitivities are blunted by their addiction to ‘yummy’ animal stuff, but also by the fact that the abattoir is not ‘just down the road’ or even near by. Both it and the animal farms are out of town, privately owned and what happens there is behind closed doors. The ‘dark side’ is hidden while the attractive side, in the form of ‘yummy’ food, is flashed in our faces every day on TV. We’re shown lovely-looking people selling lovely-looking products. The omnivores buy it. They feel normal, safe and satisfied. The products even seem efficacious.

Are omnivores too easily swayed by what others do? Are omnivores hard hearted? Maybe. But normality is powerful enough to smother everything. We don’t indulge in individual thoughts on these weighty matters; thinking is not encouraged. We are kept in the juvenile unthinking state by vested interests; we do as others do; there’s no need to feel personally responsible.