This is the talk and the Q&A. Hope you enjoy them both.
It was my pleasure to take part in a recent day of action and evening of talks, organised by Oppressed and Unheard, and featuring VEGO (Vegan Education on the Go) and VIP (Vegan Information Project).
This is the talk and the Q&A. Hope you enjoy them both.
The Vegan Information Project is back on the streets of Dublin each week for the 2017 session.
In 2016, along with Vegan Education on the Go (VEGO), we chalked up over 350 hours of direct-to-the-public vegan education in Westmoreland Street and Temple Bar Square, Dublin, and recorded 57 short video diaries on the way. For 2017, we are putting out monthly videos rather than weekly ones.
This is the first one.
Messin' with the Mainstream
One of my talks/workshops at Vegfest Scotland 2016 was entitled “Mainstream Vegan Blues: A Whiter (and Shallower) Shade of Pale.” My aim was to explore the following ideas
I built on a short clip from a talk given by pattrice jones in 2012 entitled “Commonalities of Oppression.” This talk is about intersectionality and jones’ frustration that the animal movement were not getting it back then.
This is the clip I showed
From this clip, I picked out three elements – Intersectionality, Numbers, and Alienation. The argument is straightforward: we need to embrace intersectionality to make alliances with other social justice movements because, in Steve Best’s words, the animal movement is too small and too marginalised to make fundamental changes. We need numbers to win this fight but the good news is that we don’t need everyone – just enough people to drive social change.*
The “best” people – meaning those most receptive to an argument based on justice and rights – are not to be found in the mainstream in significant numbers – but the good news on that is that the mainstream is not the majority. When we say the word “mainstream,” it seems to imply “the most.” However, as pattrice jones suggests, the majority are all those peoples found outside of the mainstream. More good news: these peoples are already politicised and fighting for change on a wide variety of issues.
The “mainstream,” conversely, are probably the hardest people for us to reach with our radical vegan animal rights message. Indeed, it is from among the mainstream that the UKIP and Trump supporters arise. There are deeply conservative elements in the mainstream.
This begs a huge question for the animal advocacy movement – why the heck do we target the hardest people to reach? To make matter worse, however, is the fact that, by targeting the mainstream, and by getting behind reducetarian vegetarians like Tobias Leenaert, who says his position is “all about mainstreamness,” we alienate those people in other social justice movements, or who are oppressed by the prevailing system.
Why would we do this?
My next slides contained a content warning – for they featured the sexism, racism, and ableism in the animal movement, especially but not exclusively by the likes of PeTA.
Here are some of those slides.
Two Days Later.
That talk took place on the 4th of December. Imagine my shock and disappointment that, on the 6th of December, PeTA repeated a publicity stunt in Dublin city centre featuring an almost nude, slim, white, female-presenting person laid on a large plate on the pavement. In other words, a classic devoid of imagination PeTA stunt involving the sexual commodification of females.
Not surprising, the mass media and social media coverage has been generally bad to appalling. If PeTA think that this sexist rubbish is an educational tool, they are more deluded than ever. It is counterproductive, counter-revolutionary, and anti-intersectional.
The sooner national group dinosaurs like PeTA are closed the better - certainly all the better for the grassroots. Grassroots groups such as the Vegan Information Project, Vegan Education on the Go, Earthlings Experience Dublin, and the National Animal Rights Association, who are out on the street regularly, will probably have to field the backlash from this juvenile sexist stunt.
As ever, this is yet another nail in the coffin of making meaning connections and alliances with other social justice movements - those who already share many of our values and yet we alienate them at every turn.
* there seems to be different estimate of the numbers needed to forge real change but all the estimates are well below 50%.
I remain as baffled as ever by the giving culture in the vegan animal advocacy movement.*
Imagine finding two people on the street begging for money - one is relatively rich and one is relatively poor. Which one do you give to? I think (I hope) that most will give to the poorer person.
The exact opposite occurs in the animal advocacy movement. The already rich groups get millions in donations, grants, and subscriptions. Meanwhile, the grassroots of the movement, who arguable do the most valuable campaigning of all (direct, community engagement), struggle week-on-week to fund their campaigns (if, that is, they aspire to doing rather more than standing behind a fold-down pasting table with national group literature).
I wish we could work out a way for people to donate to some structure dedicated to the growth and expansion of the grassroots sector of the movement.
Below is the 53rd Vegan Information Day video diary of 2016 (filmed 24th November, during World Vegan Month). Well over 300 hours of direct-to-the public vegan education this year. No PeTA-style racism, sexism, or ableism, no Animal Aid-style single issue campaigning - just full-on no-nonsense vegan education.
No wages - no careerists - no waste - no duplication.
* See HERE and HERE for previous thoughts on this subject.
It was my great pleasure to return to Gerry Kelly's "Late Lunch" show on LMFM Radio in Drogheda, Ireland (9th November 2016, during World Vegan month).
I hope you enjoy this wide-ranging interview, which started with Donald Trump (what else!). For full details, please see this Vegan Information Project blog entry.
250 Hours and Counting...
At the very beginning of October, Vegan Education on the Go (VEGO) and the Vegan Information Project (VIP) completed more than 250 hours of vegan education direct to the public in 2016.
This is an awesome achievement by two volunteer groups. Currently, VEGO and VIP have two 5-hour events, every Thursday and Saturday in Dublin.
These are the 44th and 45th "Vegan Information Day" video diaries...
I've written before about how mystified I am about the giving culture, or funding structure, of the animal advocacy movement. Apart from the tradition of people paying for millions of euros/dollars/pounds worth of duplication, the real problem is that the grassroots of the movement - the backbone of the movement - is starved of funding even though they can do the most vital work that's needed to be done.
For example, the group I co-founded and volunteer for, the Vegan Information Project, in association with VEGO (Vegan Education on the Go), are currently involved in what's likely to be the most prolonged and intense street vegan education in the world.
This is no-nonsense vegan - vegan-only - street education, every week, at least 10 hours of it, and usually more. For example, at the moment we have the full gazebo stall (literature, videos, "tea station," vegan-friendly plant-based food samples, posters, badges) every Thursday in Temple Bar Square, the very heart of the Irish capital, Dublin. This event officially starts at 1pm and ends at 6pm.
VEGO/VIP also have tables in Westmoreland Street, Dublin - a busy city thoroughfare - every Saturday, featuring many of the features of the full gazebo stall - and developing all the time. This event officially starts at 1pm (but usually starts earlier) and ends at 6pm (but usually ends a little later).
In addition - throughout August - we have been invited to the Culture & Arts Festival taking place in Dublin. This means something like 15-18 hours of vegan education on the streets of Dublin.
You can watch short video diaries of our work HERE.
Both groups are run entirely by volunteers - no wages, no fancy offices, no huge expense budgets, no flying around the world telling vegans not to be vegan. Because of the broken funding structure of the movement, we struggle financially all the time - yet, this is the sort of work that is needed the most: community activism - direct to the public - no mass media distortion and manipulation: DIY cultural activism.
This is the sort of work that the animal movement should be encouraging everywhere and all the time - instead, however, we have millions tied up in national groups who duplicate each other's work.
If you support national groups, please ask yourself why. What can they do that your local groups - with your support - cannot? This is the age of the internet. Anyone can now make videos, design leaflets and posters, have t-shirts printed, organise events and demonstrations.
Well-funded ground-breaking grassroots activism is way overdue. Please support your local groups.
You can help the Vegan Information Project maintain its work H E R E.
Good Luck Neville!
Neville, the Vegan Information Project's van, is having his vehicle test tomorrow.
Wish him well - and you can help financially too: H E R E
The VIP (Vegan Information Project) are as busy as ever just now. Along with VEGO (Vegan Education on the Go), we are running two 5-hour "Vegan Information Days" in Dublin every week. In addition, for August, we have been invited to take part in the Culture & Arts Festival in Dublin.
You can check out our activities HERE in the short vegan video diaries we make. What we guarantee is no-nonsense full-on vegan education direct to the public.
Please support the grassroots: the backbone of the animal rights movement.
PLEASE SUPPORT THE GRASSROOTS.
Have You Heard The News? The Vegan Information Project, in association with Vegan Education on the Go (VEGO) have negotiated a return to Temple Bar Square in the heart of Dublin - 5 hours, every Thursday.
Along with the VEGO/VIP tables on Saturdays [ see video diaries here ], the Thursday events feature the FULL GAZEBO STALL - full-on vegan education and weather proof!
So, it's time to prepare Neville the VIP van for his latest vehicle test in August 2016. If you are able to help at this time, please do. The VIP and VEGO are entirely volunteer groups. NONE of your donations go on wages, on buildings, on international conference travel, on duplication - everything is used for vegan education.
YOUCARING FUNDRAISER LINK
PLEASE SUPPORT THE GRASSROOTS.
I've collected together the four short talks I did at VegFest Bristol 2016.
The most challenging one was the one on animal rights philosophy - or what I called rights-based animal rights. A 25 minute slot is barely enough time to scratch the surface, but I hope that it planted a few seeds and encouraged people to check out the works cited.
Dr. Roger Yates is a rights advocate and sociologist