General Election 2017

Conservative cuts affect the most vulnerable in society. In case you needed reminding, here are just a few of the many reasons not to vote Tory on Thursday 8th June:

Theresa May plans to allow MPs a free vote on lifting the fox hunting ban. We know that fox hunting hasn’t stopped since the ban, but legalising this barbaric and violent display of class-based power would be a huge step back for the animal liberation movement – not to mention will put animals and hunt sabs in dangerous situations with zero legal protection.

Theresa May has dropped a promise to place a total ban on ivory trading. Tories previously committed to follow similar bans to the US and China, but pressure by wealthy antiques dealers has led to May not including a trading ban in the Tory manifesto.

Tories has previously committed to follow similar bans to the US and China, but pressure by wealthy antiques dealers has led to May not including a trading ban in the Tory manifesto. On average, one elephant is killed every 15 minutes by poachers or hunters, and species extinction is a huge concern.

Theresa May voted against reducing the age of consent, voted against same sex couple adoption, didn’t show up to vote on the Gender Recognition Bill and didn’t show up to vote for Equality Act regulations. May also recently visited a homophobic Christian church, whose pastor actively campaigned against gay marriage and opposes abortion.

Under a Conservative government, mental health services were slashed by almost £600 million in 2015. In 2017, five areas (Walsall, Sefton, St Helens, Isle of Wight and Scarborough) are facing further cuts amounting to £4.5 million. In some places, mental health services are due to be removed from schools due to education budget cuts.

Conservatives have cut £4.6 billion from social care, leading to the closure of residential care homes. Many older people have lost access to much-needed state-funded care and are unable to meet the costs of living.

Cuts to social care have had a knock-on effect on the NHS. Overworked and underpaid staff (plus a drop in registered nurses following Brexit and staff shortages) means longer waiting times and ward closures. At the current rate, the NHS expects a £22 billion funding gap between now and 2021, leading many to fear NHS privatisation.

Funding cuts to education are putting students at risk: Many schools are cutting staff numbers (including valuable support staff and counsellors). Theresa May also plans to get rid of free school meals for younger students (which will have an effect on low-income families).

 

(side note: now is not the time for abstaining from voting out of protest, or because – like me – you do not have faith in the structure of government and power hierarchy in the UK. The conservative government is harming others. We cannot sit back and allow them to continue.)

~ e

Labels, identities and pressure: a post about relationships, privileges, and communication.

written by Casey | they/them


Writing is hard, communication is difficult and putting all of the jumbled up thoughts into words on paper, through your keyboard, vocally or through hand motions is so complicated. Being the centre of a conversation is crushing, especially when you’re the only [X] person in it.

[X] = marginalised group

People taking up space is tiring. It’s the space that was never given to you in the first place, but it should be yours! Take the space! Take it all up! Revel in it. Talk out loud, write all over the place, or let your hands speak volumes.

Communication

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ahhhhh <- that is my thought on communication, speaking your feelings, not hiding what you’re feeling, not shying away from the truth, knowing how to form the jumbling, rumbling and mixed up thoughts in your mind. Some days I sit in a cocoon duvet thinking mostly of my old and current relationships. These relationships include all of the types: platonic, sexual and romantic (please tell me if there are more categories). Who I’ve grown away from recently, who I’ve grown towards, who I’m confused about the direction in which to take our relationship.

Communication is one of the main things in any type of relationship right? Yet it most definitely is one of the hardest I personally, and maybe you too, have struggled with. Both in the past and present, and let’s be honest: probably the future too. I feel like I’ve been taught to keep my emotions hidden in a romantic and sexual relationship, especially if it’s considered ‘casual’ and so because I’m not wanting to be portrayed as the stereotypical moaning ‘woman’ I internalise all of this. And it’s so exhausting. This whole concept of ‘cool girl’ that is so often shown in films, TV shows and social media. This ‘cool girl’ does not exist. Men* made this concept up in order to have less effort on their behalf in relationships. In order for it to be easier for them to do what they want whilst women and AFAB people (if men are included in your sexuality) have this continuation of struggle to deal with: the concept of being the ‘cool girl’. Laughing at sexist jokes, internalising misogny and not allowing themselves to speak the emotions they feel when a casual partner has fucked up. With friends who spurt [TERFy] language, or family that casually say sexist jokes, it’s all internalised. Not wanting to be the subject of the comments ‘here we go again’, or the eye rolls and the sighs I stayed silent, turned down the volume of my voice or slowly faded it out.

*patriarchy

[TERF] = Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist

AFAB = Assigned Female At Birth

But this is where communication helps. Communicating my discomfort + sadness to my true activist friends, having long conversations about dealing with oppressive people, the kyriarchy and gaining the solidarity of them, lifts the heaviness ever-so-slightly. Even a small form of solidarity helps to unjumble some tangled thoughts. And this is why I pledge to only be silent when I am listening and to only listen when marginalised people are speaking OR when privileged people’s opinions and views are asked for (of the subject of my identity especially). Other than that I pledge to shut down problematic viewpoints either with an explanation, links or a simple ‘fuck you’ depending on my energy and patience levels.

Marginalised people owe privileged people shit. Know this, remember this and live this. In a world that is run on Eurocentric, white supremacist, patriarchal, speciesist, able-bodied, capitalist, heteronormative and cisnormative ideals: if you don’t fit into one/some/all of those privileged groups then you owe those people nothing. There are people in your marginalised group no-doubtedly who have written advice on how to be a good ally. It’s up to privileged people to educate themselves and their communities. Whilst uniting is amazing, we can only fully unite when all oppressions are focused upon.

In addition to this, I think it is important to mention that people’s experience of education varies and that is another privilege if you have the ability to educate yourself, or know other educators. This is why whilst it’s totally valid to say ‘fuck you’ and to leave it at that, it’s also important to think about if another reaction is possible (one that includes links or other information), if another reaction isn’t possible then cool, whatever you need to say is important and if you don’t reply and block the person that’s also valid. Do what is best for your mental health.

I’m fed up of having to mold myself over and over again whilst white cis men* just sit on the sideline**: well it’s your turn to join in my friends. It’s your turn to turn yourself inside out and question your existence. It’s your turn to unlearn the toxic masculinity you’ve consumed, just like I’m unlearning the toxic femininity, white supremacist, speciesist and able-bodied values. It’s your turn to watch your back, watch your space, question what comes out of your mouth. It’s your turn to listen and be silent.

*white cis men (able bodied, rich, etc) are the most privileged group but you can insert any privileged group here that relates to your own experience.

**and THEN have the audacity to mock safe-spaces, trigger warnings and people’s existence (I was once compared to a toaster or a slug for being non-binary).

Music Monday with Erykah Badu!

This weeks Vegan Woman/Non-binary Musician is Erykah Badu.

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“I’ve been a vegetarian since my senior year of high school, that was 1989, and I’ve eaten like a vegan since 1997, so it’ll be 20 years next year.” Erykah Badu said.

Back in 2013 she even did a Q&A on Veganism at the 4th Annual Texas Veggie Fair.

Check out some of her music here on YouTube and Spotify.

Follow Badu here:

Website

FaceBook

Twitter

Instagram

 

Zine submissions wanted!

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CALL OUT FOR ZINE SUBMISSION!

We are putting together our third zine! The focus of this zine is ‘personal experiences as a vegan womxn/non-binary person.’ If you are a womxn or non-binary person and interested in sharing thoughts or art work, please get involved!

Submissions can include:
-short essays
-short stories
-poems
-artwork
-photography
-still images from films you have made
-song lyrics

All submissions should be one side of A4 paper in landscape format. Please note: final zine will have A5 sized pages. Submissions can be typed or handwritten but must be clear to read.

Please look at our previous zines here: http://bit.ly/2dheXOd for an idea of how pages will be set out.

All submissions must be in line with our safer space agreement which you can find here: http://bit.ly/2h3mIZF

We will consider multiple submissions but may not be able to include more than one piece of work from each individual.

Deadline: Tuesday 28th February

Please send all submissions to: antispecollective@riseup.net

What is Activist Clubbing?

written by: Casey | they/them


Ever since turning 18, I have been going out clubbing – or sometimes to shitty places that have too many people (mostly young men), a sticky floor, and after 5 seconds of being there you’ve already had some drink spilt on you. Yes, Townhouse and Regal, I’m looking at you.  I was going ‘out out’ pretty much every week. This is because I absolutely love clubbing. I love dancing so much and with friends who are activists it’s even better. For my 18th, Elecia, Sammi, and a couple of our friends took me out clubbing for the first time. It was awesome. On one of our many cigarette breaks we met two men who were asking for a smoke, once we got through all of the small talk I thought ‘let’s talk about the environment’ (I hate small talk) and so the conversation goes:

Me: So what do you think about the environment.

*general mumbling, shrugging of the shoulders and agreeing sounds*

Man 1: Yeah I think it’s alright

Man 2: Yeah I mean it’s going a bit downhill though

Me: Do you know what the largest cause of global warming is?

Men: Transport

Me: It’s actually animal agriculture

and so it goes on. But the main speech is this – and this is what has become the base of Activist Clubbing:

“Do you have netflix?” followed by a “you should totally watch Cowspiracy.”

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When we celebrated Elecia’s birthday some friends went to this awesome Thai restaurant and later on I joined them clubbing after I finished work. We went to a 90’s night and there was the (unfortunately) usual incident of a grubby man making it known he was interested in one of our mates but she showed him and we all blocked him out (woo solidarity!!). The 90’s night was awesomee, we danced in our circle of womxn and non-binary people and when we went outside we carried on singing Madonna at the top of our lungs. We then met some people and asked “do you have netflix?”, one person didn’t so I had a pen and Emily had a piece of paper and we wrote down ‘Cowspiracy’ for him.

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On all occasions now I always try to bring up global warming so I can talk about Cowspiracy and the environmental effects of animal agriculture. Also, from my experience drunk people are much more receptive to new ideas!

 

So give it a go if you’re comfortable doing something like this, waiting in the line for the loos or if you’re outside having a smoke!

 


post note: this was originally written a few months back with the idea to be posted at that time. But life happens and so it’s only just been posted! Hope you enjoyed 🙂 

The Real Chocolate Wars

The Real Chocolate Wars

by Sea | they/them


It is Christmas time again and for me this means CHOCOLATE -and lots of it (but let’s be honest, I never need a holiday to indulge in chocolates). This time of year, I usually visit my in-laws in Dorset and the miniature foil wrapped, Ferroro Rocher, chocolates have come to be an expected “stocking stuffer”. When I first immigrated to the UK from the USA, I was still shaky on my transition to veganism, so I indulged in every opportunity. Oh yes, it was always a salivating and delicious experience. It wasn’t until I started making major lifestyle changes, that I began discovering huge international social injustices and realising my own personal contributions and impacts on the world.

I have always lived in a chocolate consuming country. Go into any shop, supermarket, or convenience store and an abundant variety chocolates in assorted coloured wrappers will beckon you at every checkout line you queue in. It is no wonder that the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and 15 European countries make up the top 20 highest chocolate consuming nations per capita in the world.[1] Chocolates are not just a desirable snack or treat; they have become an unavoidable cultural experience.

This is not a story about how chocolate fits into your health goals, and on the surface, it is not even about chocolate in the vegan community. When I made this lifestyle adjustment to “vegan status” in 2011, I started to question how my purchasing choices contributed to all forms of oppressive activity, not just against animals, but also against people of colour, people who look more like myself. I began to question, “How could I, a melanated person in the west, contribute to acts of slavery on continents such as Africa, South America, and Asia?”

I have always lived under the standard manifesto, “One person cannot save the world, so why even bother?” Logically, I know that one person cannot change everything, but I’ve since added to this defeatist sentiment. “One person cannot save the world; however I cannot stand in the way of progress and equality. I will not embrace ignorance by actively contributing to a harmful and exploitative cycle.” For example, if I were a white person (I’m not really) and this was the United States in the 1640s, with the common knowledge that we have now, could I really choose to buy clothing that supports slavery cotton plantations? Wouldn’t any decent person actively find alternatives that suited their needs, yet avoided systemic and racialized oppression?

We live in slightly different times now. “Western” countries have outlawed obvious slavery -right? However the rest of the world has not caught up. Instead, this kind of slavery continues to occur in many other places of the world, where most Americans and Europeans can actively support it from an ignorant and comfortable distance -with their own money. The chocolate industry is just one example. “On average, cocoa farmers earn less than $2 per day, an income below the poverty line. [2] As a result, they often resort to the use of child labour to keep their prices competitive[3][4]. This would be unacceptable standards in the United States or any European country, however American and European consumers are enabled to buy these products that benefit corrupt companies and perpetuate these crimes. Not only this, these purchases are promoted at nearly every point where purchases are made.

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There is so much information available online about the exploitation of children and black and brown people due to the chocolate producing industry. Do not stop exploring this topic. Do further research to continue your knowledge on these crimes. The Food Empowerment Project is a great place to begin: http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/

Knowledge really is power. I had no idea, until recently, that my addiction to known brands of chocolatey goodness was financially supporting companies that profited from the exploitation of millions of melanated children in cocoa plantations, who are innocent victims of trafficking and modern-day slavery. Now that I am aware, I cannot claim ignorance. It would be irresponsible and shameful to continue making the same choices that support racist and child labour violations in the chocolate industry. This is what I think about before I give my business to companies like Ferrero, Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé and many others.

As “westerners”, we all have a responsibility; our money (and in many cases, our abundance of money) has power in this world. All of us SHOULD AVOID purchases that contribute to oppression and systemic racism. If you are unsure, here is a list of companies recommended and investigated by the Food Empowerment Project -support these companies and their cause instead: http://www.foodispower.org/chocolate-list/

Companies who put in the effort to make sure their workers are treated fairly and with the dignity may have products that are slightly more expensive, however wouldn’t you rather your extra pennies go towards something you believe to be ethically sound?

I wish you all much luck on your journey to becoming mindful, chocoholic consumers this Christmas and throughout the years to come!


Footnotes:

[1] Nieburg, Oliver. July 30, 2013. “Interactive Map: Top 20 chocolate consuming nations of 2012.” http://www.confectionerynews.com/Markets/Interactive-Map-Top-20-chocolate-consuming-nations-of-2012 (23/12/16)

[2] Kramer, Anna. March 6, 2013. “Women and the big business of chocolate.” Oxfam America. http://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/stories/women-and-the-big-business-of-chocolate  (3/04/14)

[3] Hinshaw, Drew. October 6, 2010. “Governments Look to End Child Labor in West African Cocoa Farming.” Voice of America.” http://www.voanews.com/content/governments-look-to-end-child-labor-in-west-african-cocoa-farming-104482419/127538.html. (3/02/14)

[4] Food Empowerment Project. “Child Labor and Slavery in the Chocolate Industry.”  http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/ (23/12/16)

Music Monday with The Tuts!

by Casey ~ they/them


The Tuts are a “3-tone girl band, punk-pop trio from Hayes. Live they seriously pack a punch and are noted for their impassioned songs about sexism, feminism and everyday life-isms. The Selecter’s Pauline Black describes The Tuts sound as: ‘infectious guitar led pop wrapped around fiery drums, sharp tongues & splendid harmonies’.” Quoted from their Bandcamp and Facebook description. 

 

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“The Tuts are a band that possess that irrepressible spirit unique to independent DIY bands.”

 

They are an amazing vegan feminist band and you should totally support them! They have recently gave a LIVE interview and acoustic performance on BBC Asian Network Radio.

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From their Instagram

The Tuts are bringing the much needed diversity to the white-washed Punk Scene. Find all of their links below:

The Tuts Bandcamp       The Tuts Facebook         The Tuts Website        The Tuts Youtube

They’re also on snapchat, instagram and spotify!

Songpick: Tut Tut Tut 

 

Rein In Cruelty

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Anti-Speciesist Collective has teamed up with local grassroots activist group StandUp to campaign against the use of live reindeers at Scotsdales Garden Centre in Cambridge.

Reindeers naturally roam in the polar region within complex social groups. When they are imported (usually from Scandinavia), they are split from their families and forced to live in conditions that are not adequate for their welfare. Living in cramped conditions and surrounded by loud noises is incredibly stressful, especially for young reindeer. Scotsdales are using reindeers as entertainment props throughout the Christmas period – this sends a dangerous message to the young children that it is acceptable to use animals for human pleasure.

We are calling on Scotsdales to stop using live reindeers in their store. You can support this campaign by:

signing and sharing the petition:

https://www.change.org/p/caroline-owen-stop-using-live-rein…

and checking out the event page for the social media campaign:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1267026500021479/?notif_t=plan_user_joined&notif_id=1480440851689182

Support and solidarity x
~ elecia

In Response to George Monbiot’s article in the Guardian published on Tuesday the 9th August, titled “I’ve converted to veganism to reduce my impact on the living world.”

Written by Emily – she/her

In his recent article, George Monbiot suggested that “Nothing hits the planet as hard as rearing animals. Caring for it means cutting out meat, dairy and eggs.” He made some pertinent points, such as the fact that “we [humans] use grains and pulses more efficiently when we eat them ourselves rather than feed them to cows and chickens.” And whilst I understand that this article may appeal to some of the readership of the guardian who are concerned with protecting the environment, I found, as an anti-speciesist, there to be many flaws in his article and argument.

Firstly, the whole article is extremely human and environment-centric at the expense of any concern for animals and their well-being. He says, for example, that “we believe we can solve the ethical problems caused by eating animals by switching from indoor production to free-range meat and eggs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Free-range farming is kinder to livestock but crueler to the rest of the living world.” In some ways, the fact that Monbiot is discouraging free-range is positive, as I cannot count the number of times I have heard “oh, but I eat free-range meat so it’s ok” or “my meat is free range so it’s humane”. Clearly there is nothing humane about killing an animal in order to eat them[1]. However, the fact that Monbiot’s main concern here is “the rest of the living world” and not the “livestock” (a word that is in itself a way of othering animals in order to abscond humans of guilt) speaks volumes. He goes on to support this theme by saying that “…extensive farming, almost by definition, does greater harm to the planet: more land is needed to rear the same amount of food. Keeping cattle or sheep on ranches….. is even more of a planet-busting indulgence than beef feed-lots and hog cities, cruel and hideous as these are.” The points he makes about the fact that extensive farming is bad for the planet are valid, but the fact that this takes precedence over the well-being of the animals he is referring to, is , to me, completely missing the point. The cruel nature of intensive farming is merely mentioned as a sidenote at the end.

He writes about what caused him to switch to a plant-based diet, telling a story about the destruction of a habitat surrounding a local river which he used to frequent as a child. He traced this back to a local dairy farm, and highlighted the fact that the Environment Agency (a government regulator) did nothing to regulate the farm, despite being well-informed. I believe that government agencies need to be held accountable for their actions or non-actions, and the fact that George draws attention to this is certainly positive.

However, this is pretty much where the article starts to take a turn for the worse. He then goes on to explain that he is not “religious” about what he eats. Firstly, this draws negative connotations with religion, implying that the “all or nothing” mentality and extreme beliefs/behaviour is commonplace in religion, and by default anyone who is religious must therefore have this mindset. He then goes on to say that he “might revert to vegetarianism” if he’s at a friend’s house, or will “take a drop of milk in his tea if … away from home.” He notes that once a fortnight he has an egg for breakfast and says that

“perhaps once a month [I eat] a fish I catch, or a herring or some anchovies (if you eat fish, take them from the bottom of the food chain). Perhaps three of four times a year… I will eat farmed meat: partly out of greed, partly because I don’t want to be even more of a spectre… This slight adaptation…also reduces the chances of a relapse.”

Firstly, to advise people that eating fish from the bottom of the food chain is preferable seems ridiculous to me. He has completely missed the point of veganism. Fishing causes harm, stress and death to the fish. It makes no difference where they come in the food chain. It’s like saying “if you’re going to kill someone, make sure that you only do it once a month and make sure that it’s someone no one will miss so that it has the least impact”. If we said that, there would be outrage. Secondly, the idea of ‘relapse’ and the need to avoid it suggests that not consuming animal products is a) very difficult and b) something that needs to be carefully regulated in order to be maintained. I can’t speak for everyone, but as a white person with some financial privileges, being an omnivore for the first 27 years of my life, and then becoming vegan, I did not find it difficult to stop consuming animal products. Once I had learned and understood, truly, what carnism (see Melanie Joy for definition of carnism) and veganism were, it was an easy transition. Painting meat-eating or dairy consumption as something that must be indulged in occasionally in order to stay on the wagon is a very dangerous message to be sending out to those who know little about or are interested in veganism. It makes it out to be some sort of chore, or unpalatable dietary choice that one must assume in order for the “greater good”.

Monboit ends the article by noting that we can all “withdraw our consent from … corruption” – but the corruption he is talking about is seemingly only connected to that of Environmental groups.

George means well, and the fact that he has (self-reportedly) switched to a 97% plant-based diet has, no doubt, made some positive contributions in terms of less monetary support for the meat and dairy industry.

But for me, articles like this skew the real purpose of veganism. It is not a dietary choice. It is not solely linked to what you put in your mouth. Being vegan, in my opinion, means absconding from the use of any animal products or any activity which may cause harm to animals. This includes what food I eat, what products I put on my skin, what clothes I wear (e.g. I do not wear leather, wool, etc.), what sports I support (e.g. I do not support horse-riding) and I try as far as possible not to be directly involved with or contribute to animal suffering. This article makes me equally sad and angry as I feel it gives a false account of what veganism really is. I would like to see more articles that, by all means sing the praises of the environmental pros of veganism, but do not do this by objectifying animals and further entrenching the view that animals are commodities that we can ‘use’ for our pleasure.

 

[1] As I’m writing this I’m actually wondering about using the word humane – it’s so linked to the word human that it’s as if we decide what is appropriate and inappropriate by using how humans would treat other humans as a bar by which to measure behavior and conditions.

 

Music Monday with Cane Sugar

written by amy, she/her

Welcome to another Music Monday!

Cane Sugar is a queer vegan girl and Buddhist, with socialist-libertarian political leanings. Her main musical influences are Ruby Throat and Clams Casino (hearing “I’m God” was a particularly sound-defining moment).

Connect with Cane Sugar here:

Bandcamp        Twitter       Instagram

Any future suggestions for Music Monday? Let us know!