My initiation into veganism was a bit different to most others. I spent my teens and early twenties as an ardent hunt supporter, I worked on farms and saw and did some terrible things for which if I could go back in time I would give myself an enormous slap for. I was active within the British Field Sports Society (the forerunner of the Countryside Alliance) and spent many an hour helping on their various caravans promoting blood sports.
However, I read about veganism and on occasion discussed animal rights with the sabs who would come to sabotage the hunts I supported. Eventually, over the years, they persuaded me to look at myself and I began to change – ceasing to support hunts and the BFSS in 1991 as well as becoming vegetarian.
1994 was a turning point for me, I became vegan on New Year’s Day (the only resolution I have ever kept), with trifle being the last non vegan thing I ate. Later that year with the advent of the Criminal Justice Act, which tried to criminalise hunt sabotage, I finally denounced hunting and started my life as an animal rights activist writing in both the LACS Wildlife Guardian (from venery to veganism) and in HOWL (the newsletter of the Hunt Saboteur’s Association) and to over 80 hunt households explaining my change of heart in no uncertain terms. I also took part in an HAS press conference in the House of Commons concerning the imminent CJA, which as we all know was passed, criminalising many the Tories did not like.
I have been heavily involved in campaigns against vivisection, especially against Hillgrove cat farm and HLS, and like hundreds of others have done the usual animal rights fare of street stalls, demoing circuses, sabbing hunts, ad infinitum. At the centre of all this my philosophy is that we humans are just another species and that just as racism/sexism/homophobia/bigotry against other humans are all evil nonsense, that speciesism – the abuse and murder of other individuals because of their species – is equally wrong.
Animal liberation is founded on the principle that our species is not the pinnacle of evolution, the be all and end all of existence, just as men are not the masters of women, or people with dark skin the “property” of people with light skin. We are a very new species and the only way we really differ from our brothers and sisters is our love of dominance, decay, destruction and cruelty, which, when you think about it makes us vastly inadequate, petty and stupid. Veganism is a way of life that addresses this sorry state of affairs by denying all products made from the bodies of others living or dead. However, I think that we need to constantly appraise how we live, palm oil from the deforestation in Indonesia is “vegan” but orang-utans are being burnt alive, as one example. Veganism is a good benchmark to aspire to but we should always be thinking about how we could cause less damage to our planet and those we share her with.