Fran Curry of Tipp Today discussed veganism and animal rights this week with Go Vegan World founder and director, Sandra Higgins. The interview is a useful synopsis of the many FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that we face as vegan educators or that you might ask if you are thinking about going vegan.
Some of the topics covered include the definition of and rationale for veganism and how Sandra personally came to be vegan through her work with the first residents at Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary and witnessing the exploitation inherent in the production of dairy.
The interview also briefly addresses issues of equality, plant nutrition, and the economics of farming.
Interestingly, this show asked about our opinion on abortion. For anyone interested in exploring this issue further, some of the most comprehensive writings, that we are aware of, are referenced here.[i][ii]
The issue of women’s rights and motherhood leads naturally to a discussion of the separation of mothers and their babies in the animal agriculture industry, particularly in the dairy industry. As Sandra succinctly illustrates, there is no way to defend this indefensible practice. It is a practice which is widespread in almost all industries that use other animals from the artificial hatching of chicks by the egg and flesh industry, to the separation and isolation of infants in animal research, to the separation of mammals from their mothers by the meat industry. Anyone who lives in rural Ireland is familiar with the agonizing, plaintive cries of calves and lambs and their grieving mothers.
Interestingly, the interview with Higgins was arranged in response to a previous show in which dairy farmer Michael Flynn took a cheap shot by attempting to represent the evidence-based facts of veganism and animal rights as ‘fake news’. Worryingly, his opinion was backed in print by a statement made by Professor Gerry Boyle, director of Teagasc, at an Irish Farmers Association meeting on its policy on Veganism. Prof Boyle is reputed to have said that said that a lot of claims being made about the benefits of veganism are “not scientifically well founded”. This shows a gross failure to understand the rational of veganism which is not the benefits it confers to humans, but what we owe other animals.
However, it underlies the need for activists and spokespersons to continually back claims with reference to reliable sources so that anyone in doubt can research for themselves.
Schopenhauer wrote that there are three stages to truth:
- Acceptance of fact that is self-evident
Recent media coverage of veganism and animal rights in Ireland demonstrates that we are moving to stage 2. The animal rights movement is growing despite attempts by industries that profit from animal exploitation to ridicule, resist and place doubt in the minds of the public. One of the ways in which they ridicule and resist is to misrepresent the issues particularly by portraying veganism as anti-farming instead of anti- animal use, as well as conflating veganism with a plant diet; animal rights with animal welfare; and veganism and vegetarianism. We, as vegans and animal rights activists, do not have the right to assist them in these misrepresentations and we must take every opportunity to correct them. It is our task to build a foundation on which the practicalities that will follow stage 3 are enacted as rapidly, completely and successfully as possible so that we can create a new world in which someone’s right not to be owned, used or killed does not depend on which species they belong to.
[ii] Sherry F. Colb and Michael C. Dorf (2016) Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights (Columbia University Press)