Dump Hogwood Horror Farm – National Day of Action

Tesco have so far refused to drop Hogwood as a supplier. So we think their customers should see for themselves exactly what was found at the farm by Viva! Campaigns: extreme overcrowding; routine mutilations; cruel farrowing crates; filthy and waterlogged floors; sick and dying pigs; piles of decaying, maggot-infested piglets; and skulls and bones in nearby woods.

Join us in peaceful demos outside Tesco stores nationwide by ordering your FREE materials today. Our special leaflets (which are also ideal for door-dropping) also educate about the UK’s abject failings to protect farmed animals and offer people FREE help in avoiding all cruelty by trying vegan.

Find out more and order: viva.org.uk/tesco-day-of-action

 

 

 

Minimalism and My Dad’s Big Pants

A long time ago, too long to mention, I went on a road trip from London to The Algarve with three friends. We planned to be away for three weeks and while packing I realised I didn’t own anything like 21 pairs of pants.

I was a young man with no intention whatsoever of washing anything while I was away, so what was I to do?

Having been vegan from a very young age I was (and still am) quite slight. My father on the other hand couldn’t get enough animal inside him and was a good deal more portly. So it wasn’t an ideal plan but with no other option, I “borrowed” a few pairs of his pants.

I figured the best thing to do was to wear them on the journey so I had my cool boxers for when I got there.

We left home around 6pm and drove all night through France, arriving in San Sebastian at around 8am the next morning. We checked into a hotel and then hit the bar.

Five pints later my friend Bill and I decided to go to the beach. It was so hot and the bay at San Sebastian is a sun trap and really warms the water. We couldn’t resist it. We started stripping down until it hit me that I was wearing my dad’s big pants.

The beer out voted common sense and in I went. It was lovely, clear warm water, we stayed in for ages.

Sometime later we decided to get out. We didn’t have any towels with us but figured the sun would dry us off in no time.

I was having to hold my dad’s big pants up at this point because when they got wet, they got even bigger, like really big, especially around the waist! I just needed to get my jeans on and all would be good.

But there was a problem. We got to where we left our clothes on the beach and they were gone. Everything was gone. We didn’t have our valuables on us so that wasn’t an issue, I just kept thinking that the hotel was at least a mile from the beach and I would have to walk there holding my dad’s pants up.

I was 22, wearing nothing but a huge pair of dark blue Y Fronts that I had to hang on to otherwise they would fall down and I had to walk in bare feet, topless, for half an hour like that through the streets of San Sebastian. Not cool.

At that moment I would have given anything for a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and a pair of flip flops.

In recent years I have tried to live a minimalist lifestyle. I have two pairs of jeans and a pair of trousers. A few polo shirts, a few T-shirts, a pair of shorts and two pairs of shoes.

Thinking about it, I do have quite a few pairs of boxer shorts and I could live with less, I’m not getting rid of them though, lesson learned!

Other than to give you all a good laugh at my expense, the moral of this story, which is 100% true by the way, is that having more and more “things” is not what makes us happy. We think it will because we’re all told to get more, buy more stuff, but in reality it really doesn’t.

Happiness is being around people you care for and who care for you. It’s about a beautiful sunset, a kind word or hearing a song you haven’t heard for ages on the radio. It’s hugging someone you love, hearing good news or doing a good deed.

You can’t buy these things; you can’t buy happiness, joy or love. When you look back on your life, these are the things that will mean the most to you.

After frantically searching the beach for our clothes a kind Spanish man approached us and in broken English basically told us that while we had been in the sea the tide had come in and he had moved our clothes to the back of the beach. He took us to them.

I can’t tell you how happy I was and still remember it vividly all these years later.

Be happy with what you have, give as much as you can to others who need help, be kind to each other and please, stop hurting animals.

Effective Vegan Activism

There are those who suggest that all vegans should be activists. I have to say that in an ideal world I agree with this. It does though come with a few conditions, certainly where outreach is concerned.

Ineffective or bad activism is worse than no activism. People who have not taken the time to educate themselves properly, who accuse the very people they are trying to educate of being murderers or planet killers only give the rest of us a bad name. Sorry, this is a little extreme but you hopefully get my point..

Outreach is an art form, I fully admit I am still a work on progress, but I am considered and I practice regularly. Each time I am out there I improve but I was never a bad activist.
Long before I took to the streets I researched, I watched people on You Tube, I read, I listened, I learned.

What we are doing is so important. You may only ever get one chance with that person and if you get it wrong, if you are aggressive, you will push them in the other direction and you will enhance the stereotype that we are all members of an angry cult.

I respect anyone who wants to get involved with activism and encourage everyone I can to do so, but being vegan doesn’t automatically make you an effective activist. Far from it in fact, and especially if you are not able to control your passion, your emotions or yourself.

The first time you ride a bike you’ll probably fall off. If you were let loose in a car without an instructor you’ll probably crash. Everything needs to be learned and especially something this sensitive.

There are some amazing outreach activists out there. Go along to an event (or five) and shadow them if you can. Listen to them; ask them questions when they are not speaking to anyone.
Watch as much as you can on You Tube, practice on your friends and family and only when you’re sure should you take to the streets.

And be honest with yourself, not everyone will be cut out to speak to the public. There are other activism avenues you can go down, ones that might suit you better.

We are all working towards the same goal. Lose your ego, empathise, accept your limitations and do what’s best for the greater good.

Why am I Vegan? Happiness and Living Your Truth

People often ask me ‘what makes me so happy?’ I am generally smiling and content and at peace with myself and this seems to radiate outwards as well, people respond so well to a wide smile and a genuine compliment and tend to feel comfortable enough to ask where my happiness originates from. I genuinely irritate some people as well and have a hair trigger temper too – I’m not Mary Poppins lets be honest – but mostly as long as I am not hungry I can be pretty delightful.

Over the years I have come to realise the beauty of truth. Knowing your truth, telling your truth and living your truth. My truth is I love humans (universally, not intimately) and loving humans doesn’t mean I like or condone a lot of their behaviour, but as a race I love us all, so I want everyone to have the best chances, the best support, the best education and the best planet possible. I love humans so much I do not steal their breast milk, I do not forcibly impregnate them, I do not take their babies and shoot them in the head, or crush them in a grinder. I do not keep humans in a unnatural environment and slaughter them before their natural life span, I do not gas humans or boil them alive, I do not wear clothes made of human skin. I do not eat baby back ribs or young tender children, I ignore the fact humans have protein and taste good fried, I ignore the fact we are overrun with humans in some areas, I do not endorse a cull of suburban areas for pest control.

And because I love animals I do not do any of this to them either.

I was vegetarian for years before making the connection between the dairy industry and eggs actually still killing animals, I wore leather and had designer leather handbags, I wore Chanel perfume and had organic milk and honey in my tea, thinking I was doing my best by not eating animals, but as you can see from the above, Love is not just about not eating humans, love is about freedom and kindness and respect and not being dragged screaming to a slaughterhouse. It is not enough to refrain from eating your child and say this is evidence of love.

My truth is that I am vegan and I live that truth as fully as I can and it makes me glow with happiness, I know there are terrible injustices every day in the world against humans and animals on an unimaginable scale but I know I am not part of the problem, I am part of the solution.

Out went the designer bags and shoes to the charity shops, bit drastic but gave me a chance to research and find amazing vegan replacements. In came almond milk and plant based cheese and learning to cook properly.

By making some small changes in the products we buy and the food we consume we can help save humanity for sure, the planet will be fine if we manage to starve ourselves to death and use all the freshwater for cattle, even if we end up in a nuclear holocaust the planet WILL survive, but humanity will not. We live in the Garden of Eden but we manage to turn it into hell. I found a little bit of heaven inside myself by going vegan- because no one died screaming for my lifestyle, and that’s a great feeling.

 

 

Balancing Act in Vegan Activism

A thought came to me recently seeing so many well known people in the vegan world playing prominent roles in the current movement sweeping the UK. A person who has work or family commitments can feel disheartened if they aren’t able to commit to the movement as much or or as often as they would like to.

However, simple things and contributions as we go about our days can help no matter how small.

I today for instance had some fun stickering in the ‘murder aisle’ of Aldi and M&S and speaking to fellow workers on ‘lactose intolerance’. Girl you simply aren’t a baby cow.
I’m always stickering on the back of seats of trains/buses on the way to work and leaving leaflets where I know they will be found.

Putting a few stickers about or speaking to people as you go about your day can mean as much as any other form of activism. Don’t ever feel for one minute that just because you have an incredibly busy life and you can only contribute in little ways, that you are letting anybody down.

Even if vigils, outreaches or protests are impossible for you to get to, though this are great to gain ideas and meet fellow vegans and support network, never underestimate the value of the small contributions that you can make.

The Enemy of Truth – In My Humble Opinion

We learn sayings as children and often without thinking accept them as being right. We then incorporate them into our own thinking and even use them in our everyday lives.

One that concerns me is “Everyone has the right to their own opinion”. Now, I don’t disagree with this, of course people can have opinions, what bothers me is the credence we give to opinions, simply because we have accepted that people have the right to them.

The fact is though; opinions are the lowest form of human knowledge. They require no accountability or understanding. Anyone can say whatever they like and justify their right to spout utter nonsense simply because of their “right” to an opinion.

Opinions are often no more than an extension of our egos, which in turn are more often than not inflated “opinions” of our own importance. This borders on narcissism, which is a major hindrance in the quest for social justice.

I may have made the leap from someone who is opinionated to a narcissist more quickly than is reasonable, but if you think of the characteristics of a narcissist which include, superiority, arrogance, self-absorption, self-admiration, exploitative, entitled and power hungry, you can easily imagine these characteristics in a stubborn, highly opinionated person.

I do want to be clear that there is nothing wrong with having opinions; they contribute to how we learn, can stimulate debate and can define trends of thought when groups are questioned. They are only a judgement though, a statement and are not conclusive. They are not facts until proven to be so.

From the point of view of an environmentalist and an animal rights activist, opinions are the enemy of the truth. When questioned, people with absolutely no experience in the relevant field suddenly become experts in nutrition, human anatomy and planetary science amongst other things.

They will argue as if their lives depend on it that we need to eat animals to survive, that we need it for protein, that cow’s milk is good for us, that our teeth are designed to rip apart the flesh of an animal, that climate change is a myth created by the Chinese and so on and so on.

All are opinions based on  core beliefs learned as children, their fear of change and their stubbornness.

The highest form of knowledge is empathy. It requires us to forget about ego and to live in the world of another. If we empathise with the animals in the factory farming, or any farm situation, we will be unable to live with the horrors that are carried out in our name and will turn away from it.

Put yourself in the place of a mother having her children taken from her and killed. Imagine being forced into a cycle of perpetual pregnancy until your body can no longer take it and then being dragged off, killed and cut into pieces.

Imagine living your whole life in a filthy dark shed with nothing to do other than eat and drink. Imagine that the first day you ever feel the sun on your back being the day you die.

Imagine living your short six week life in a huge shed with 10,000 others, being fed a cocktail of drugs to make you grow unnaturally quickly until you are dragged off and your throat is cut.

If you can imagine these horrors happening to you or those you love then the only option is veganism. If you can’t, you don’t want to, or in your opinion it would be a waste of your time, then you probably need help. You have narcissistic tendencies as did Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussain.

Empathy Can Save the World

Social justice can only be achieved when a society empathises with its neglected social groups. From the 18th century campaigns to tackle child poverty through the anti-slavery movement, woman’s suffrage to gay rights, none of these revolutions would have been possible without the rise of empathy and the regard for human life.

Empathy is the reason we have the principles of freedom and fairness, which are necessary components of social justice.

Social justice cannot start and finish with the human race; it must encompass all living creatures. Not only are we needlessly slaughtering tens of billions of sentient beings each year under the false belief that we need to feed on them, but to facilitate this we are wiping many other species from the face of the planet.

Our oceans are literally being destroyed and fish species are being wiped out at a rate never seen before in human history. The coral reefs are crumbling; dead zones are appearing across our oceans and seas.

We all know in our hearts that this is wrong, unsustainable and is destroying our fragile environment, but we continue along this path because the educators, our leaders are short sighted, guided by the thought of losing their position at the table.

Empathy takes courage, risk, and self-sacrifice, and can often be so very difficult. It is challenging, at times perhaps even excruciating, to dare to put the good of another, be it human, animal or environment above ourselves.

The only chance we have is to work together but in our capitalist world where competition is king and greed is good, we are heading towards oblivion. Only by working together, by empathising with the world around us can we pass on the lessons we have learned to future generations.

Suffering must be a lesson to us all, something we learn from, not a consequence of our actions.

We all have the ability to empathise, to imagine how it feels to walk in someone else’s shoes. Be it the mother holding her dying baby in drought ridden Africa, the child who is told that his father, a soldier, won’t be coming home or the cow, chained upside down by one leg, having it’s throat cut while still conscious because of outdated religious practises.

The power of empathy has changed the world many times through co-operation and understanding of right and wrong. It is without judgement, criticism or confusion, rather the selfless action of doing what we know to be the right thing.

The greatest and most beautiful gift I have ever been given is the miracle of empathy. The foundations of our human world rest upon it; without it we will crumble and fall.

Removing the AG-Gag

Late last Friday afternoon, a federal judge struck down a controversial law that prohibited photography or filming inside agricultural operations in Utah, ruling the law violated the First Amendment.

It violated much more than that.

The First Amendment, by the way, protects freedom of speech.

Animal agriculture has long had the legal system on its side, if not in its pocket.

The simple fact of the matter is that in factory farms and slaughterhouses across the world, innocent creatures who value their lives every bit as much as you or I do, are having them brutally ended, simply for profit.

Never, ever be fooled that it’s for any other reason.

These evil, greedy butchers will go to almost any length to hide what they do from the public. The Ag-Gag law is aimed at punishing animal rights activists who go undercover to document the abuses and horrific conditions that animals on factory farms must endure.

This is a victory for the animals. It may not be a watershed moment from which the entire ag-gag institution falls in a heap, but it will set a precedent, so it’s a real possibility.

And I know it’s been said a million times, but if these people and places have nothing to hide, what do they have to worry about?

Vegan Dating in a Carnist World- Tales from the Front Line

So you go Vegan for love and end up hating everyone- sound familiar? Looking for love and companionship as a Vegan really tests your ethical stand points, your tolerance levels and general misanthropy.

After some failed experiments dating carnists and holding vegetarians in fairly high contempt it has become clear that only a vegan will do. But at my age (37) in case you were wondering you tend to have a tick sheet mental or online in a spreadsheet format  (which I would wholeheartedly advise) by the time we approach 40 you know what you are looking for in a partner or at least you have compiled a list of unsavoury habits that are deal breakers.

I know, I know.. there is the argument that by intermingling and living with carnists that Vegans can show them the light and the way, in reality this means storing meat in your fridge and sitting opposite your loved one as they snack on dismembered corpses- sexy huh?

I always say to men who try and convince me to date them as they ‘only eat clean protein- chicken and fish ‘ : Imagine going out with a girl who ordered ‘only puppies paws and kittens ribs when you ate out’ who left dismembered guinea pigs and rabbits in the fridge to fry up for breakfast?? Not cool.

Seriously eating corpses and drinking stolen breast milk from baby cows and eating something that came out of a hen’s backside?! When you wake up and realise what meat and dairy are, you realise you have bought into the biggest marketing con of all.

When you see advertising for lumps of charred flesh between buns, or when your neighbours have a barbeque you have to wonder how people don’t make the connection between burning flesh and tortured screams of all species.

So the dating compromises I am willing to make are things like: watches football, cannot spell definitely, one failed marriage allowed, drives a sports car occasionally (but not as main mode of transport) these are things I can live with.

I cannot live with and love and bare my soul to someone who pays psychopaths to torture and slaughter his food and by his food and apparel choices is actively helping to kill the planet. Being Vegan is not a diet and it is not a religion, I am asking no one to believe in any allegorical tales.

Being Vegan is the LEAST we can do in this beautiful world of abundance that has been turned into hell on earth for billions of animals each year. It is better for EVERYBODY, humans, animals and the environment to tread lightly on this earth and be kind.

Kindness and being able to cook are the two most important qualities in a man to me, if you are not Vegan you are not kind.

So until I find a kind, funny, intelligent man that makes my heart sing- I will stay happily single. Sometimes Compromise is the most offensive C word.

Food Choices – Our Future Depends on Them

When faced with a clear, obvious choice, the overwhelming majority of the human race will usually choose the correct option. Sadly when it comes to our food choices, we really let ourselves down.

There is no ambiguity when it comes to these choices; they are as simple as this:

Option One: Causes harm to billions of animals, is catastrophic to the environment and is a major threat to human health, costing trillions in pharmaceuticals and public health care each year.

Option Two: Does none of the above.

I may have simplified this slightly, but only very slightly.

By leading a vegan lifestyle you will make one of the most positive contributions to the health of the planet that any individual can make.

Your own health will improve more than you could ever imagine, you will lose those extra pounds you’re carrying around and you will lift the burden of cruelty, pain, suffering and death that weighs heavily around the necks of a growing number of compassionate people.

So with such a clear, logical choice, why are the majority of people still choosing the wrong option?

There are a number of reasons including fear, ignorance, convenience, laziness and conditioning. Living a vegan lifestyle takes time, practice and dedication and is probably not at the top of the list of priorities for many busy people. If done badly, it can even have a negative effect on your health.

This is why we need those in power, those who can really shape the future to see that the world is screaming out for us to make this change.

Vegan options need to on every shelf and should be half the price of traditional products. The horrors of industrialised farming should be known to everyone and not hidden from view. The environmental consequences of our continued reliance on animal products must be front page news, as must the damage they are doing to public health.

If we want to leave anything of this wonderful world behind for future generations then need a complete change in the way we think about food.