Abolitionist Veganism in the UK

Guest post from: The Dengie Abolitionist (2020)

To ‘abolish’ something means to bring about a complete end to something.
We urgently need to completely abolish all animal use. And we can.

More and more people are turning to veganism. The rapid rise in veganism can be partly attributed to the rise in social media, where we see trends emerge due to the rapid spread of information and ideas. What was once dismissed as a cranky fad is now becoming mainstream. There are a growing number of vegan fairs up and down the country that aim to introduce people to the delights of vegan food. It does look as though there could be a real revolution in what people eat. But veganism is much more than just a diet or a trend.

Big brands and retailers are taking note and starting to develop vegan products for us to consume, and many people see this development by the corporations as a good thing to be celebrated. More vegan products and innovations are starting to flourish and become available which can only be a good thing.

Whilst manufacturers and retailers will capitalise on any resource, product or trend to generate profit, it’s critically important to bear in mind that the reason for veganism is to reject and therefore abolish all animal use. It is not a “lifestyle option”, or a flexible, “plant based” diet only concerning food and recipes, but a consistent commitment to the respect of the non-human animals, those “sentient beings” who deserve our respect, and the right to no longer be the property of humans. We can actually bring about their liberation – simply and easily, by not eating, wearing or using animals as resources. Why love or respect one species (e.g, a cat or horse or a blackbird) but eat or use another (e.g. a pig, or a chicken or a rat)? We can bring about an end to this speciesism very easily by being consistently vegan and questioning animal use wherever we encounter it. We can reject animal use today and from now on! We can see it all around us once we look – as obvious animal body parts (meats) and excretions (dairy and eggs) in supermarkets, but also in many other forms – within clothing, sports, entertainment, experimentation, and within the vast “pet” industry.

We actually have a moral obligation to go vegan if we believe it is wrong to cause unnecessary harm to animals. Many ideas are circulating as to ‘why’ people should go vegan. Some may adopt it for reasons such as environmental crisis, health, fashion or lifestyle, but we ultimately need to clarify that if we respect animals for being the conscious, sentient beings that they are, we must reject their use as human resources, consistently across all sectors – and not only as food. This is the absolute key factor for ethical veganism. Once that is clear there is no going back. This is a moral issue and it is time for those considering veganism to make the moral connection! We are here to represent and defend the most vulnerable beings on our planet!

There is currently no political party in the UK that will adopt a clear policy of ethical veganism and the abolition of animal use, as this is viewed as too controversial and unlikely to garner votes with the current majority. This is the perception, as we are a society currently grounded in hypocrisy regarding animals. What we are currently seeing is a ‘flexitarian’ approach that is convenient for humans. For this reason, ethical veganism will remain a grassroots movement until a large enough groundswell in society tips the balance, and the concept starts to become mainstream. That starts here! We can begin to make the connection, end the hypocrisy and start adopting a consistent view about all species of animals. They are not ours to use for any reason and never were. We can evolve.

Then and only then, may we start to see political policies and so – called “radical” changes in the law regarding animals – once we have politicians on board who have a true understanding of abolition, and don’t simply want to create welfare reform to continue to use and exploit animals. This could actually be achieved much quicker than we realise – if one vegan simply persuades one other person to go consistently vegan on an ethical basis – once a year – the entire UK population would be vegan within 10 years !

What we currently see in society regarding animal ‘rights’ is based on the past 200 years of British animal rights philosophy. It is called ‘animal welfare’ and it concerns their treatment. This is the view that if we treat animals well and consider their basic welfare needs, we can continue to exploit them and use them however we humans see fit. They remain human property, and human resources within that ‘welfare’ paradigm. We can even exploit them ‘humanely’ if we so wish – and we do. ‘Happy exploitation’ is big business, encouraging consumers to believe that “as long as animals live a good life and are well treated”, it is perfectly acceptable to kill them and use them. In 2020, we now need to shift this paradigm rapidly towards a conversation about the use of animals entirely. What right do we have to use them at all?

Britain has been at the forefront of animal welfare history for several centuries, (the RSPCA was founded here in 1824 and we are known as a so-called nation of “animal lovers”), but animal use and abuse is still as prevalent as ever within the welfare paradigm, and the time has now come for the conversation to shift a gear. Consider the concept of RSPCA certified “Freedom Foods” and the diabolical, moral schizophrenia of that concept!

We can all start a new conversation. There is a movement in the US that we can learn from called ‘The Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights’ – a theory developed by the professor of law, Gary L Francione. It is a complete revision of the history of animal rights and something every vegan (or anyone who is interested in animals or ethics) should read and become familiar with. There are 6 basic principles to The Abolitionist Approach which can be explored here:

The Six Principles of the Abolitionist Approach to Animal Rights

Yes – it is true that animal farming is a major contributor to rising CO2 levels – (this applies to all animal derived products such as meat, dairy, eggs, skins and fibres etc) – and if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, consumption of animal products has to be stopped. And yes, it’s true that adopting a well-balanced vegan diet will bring health benefits, but the fact is that we have a moral obligation to go vegan because we respect non-human animals. If there was a massive and rapid switch to a vegan society, yes it would create changes in farming practices and the way we grow, source, transport and consume our plant food – but this is essential for the end of animal exploitation. It is immoral to breed animals to use on farms as resources – however kindly they are treated. Each individual who goes vegan is bringing about a massive groundswell in society by creating new demand and encouraging others to do so. Never underestimate the power that you have as an individual!

Vegan food production and farming also has to become more local and sustainable. By buying locally grown and organic produce, loose without packaging where possible, we reduce our carbon footprint and begin to support healthy systems. We cannot leave this to the corporations who control our food supply, as they will not contemplate the massive changes needed to slash CO2 emissions which would also slash their profits They will resist this for as long as they can whilst they only consider their profit margins, and so we need to take small scale, individual actions.

Veganism is not a lifestyle choice facilitated by the brands and retailers. The simple act of rejecting all animal products can offer a revolutionary challenge to the political, economic and social system that currently does not sustain us, the animals and our environment. We have a moral obligation to go vegan if we we believe it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering to animals. Animal and human exploitation is inextricably interlinked.

It is time to start a vegan revolution if we are going to survive.

Go Vegan. The World Is Vegan If You Want It!