Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Transcript of Jose Valle’s ARZone Guest Chat
18 December 2010 at:
2pm US Pacific Time
5pm US Eastern Time
10pm UK Time and:
19 December 2010 at
8am Australian Eastern Standard Time
ARZone would like to welcome Jose Valle as our Live Chat Guest today.
Jose is an animal rights activist and a vegan, who believes we must abolish slavery and promote equality. That's what he tries to do with his life.
Jose is co-founder of Igualdad Animal (Animal Equality), an international non-profit organisation dedicated to achieving equal consideration and respect for animals.
Igualdad Animal was founded in Madrid, Spain in January 2006 and are currently active in Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Venezuela and Colombia. Igualdad Animal works to raise public awareness of the suffering and deaths of non-human animals in our society. IA believes and works to demonstrate that speciesism is the cause of nonhuman exploitation and they call for the abolition of animal use while encouraging the public to adopt a vegan lifestyle.
IA works for animal rights by, among other things::
• Educating the public about speciesism and veganism.
• Investigating places of animal exploitation.
• Carrying out open rescues from places of animal exploitation, finding long-term safe homes and sanctuaries for the rescued animals.
• Engaging in peaceful demonstrations and non-violent direct action.
Jose welcomes the opportunity to answer questions from ARZone members today on a range of topics.
Please welcome Jose to ARZone today
Good day Jose!!!!!!!! WELCOME!
Hi Jose, welcome!
Hi Jose :-)
Hi Jose :-)
Good to have you here.
Hi everybody, thanks for coming, I am honored to be here ;-)
Before we begin, I’d like to request that people refrain from interrupting Jose during the chat session, and utilise the open chat, at the completion of Jose’s pre-registered questions, for any questions or comments you have.
I’d like now to ask the first question on behalf of Tammy McLeod:
Spain, on the whole, from what we see in the media, treats other animals abominably. I imagine it would be a hard business for you to be championing animal rights there, than it would be anywhere else in the world. Would you say this is true?
Hi Tammy! Thanks for your question. First of all, despite some differences, Spain doesn't treat animals any more abominably than the UK or USA. You can go into a pig farm or a chicken farm in the USA and you'll find the same level of suffering and disrespect for nonhumans as in a bullring.
Most of the humans from different societies worldwide are speciesists and think of nonhuman animals as inferior beings. They think nonhumans’ interests are less important and therefore, they can be used as resources to satisfy human interests. This mindset also applies to nonhumans living free in the wild. The differences among countries can also be noticeable within the same country.
In general, vegan education is harder in rural areas than in urban ones. For example, I lived most of my life in the north of Spain where I started to do activism, so I moved to Madrid where the same effort pays greater dividends. I think Spain can be seen as an experimental scenario. We are building a movement from the beginning (where very few animal welfare standards have been implemented and with a practically non-existent welfare movement).
Just a few years ago, vegan activists were seen by the so-called animal movement as ‘radicals’, ‘extremists’ and so on now-a-days it’s almost accepted that you have to be vegan if you want to be taken seriously about animal rights. Now the media in Spain are pretty interested in animal rights and it's relatively easy to get coverage for our investigations and demonstrations.
We are seeing how this new movement evolves and flourishes everyday. More vegans, new vegan businesses (restaurants, bakeries, etc.), we are optimistic!
The next question is from Matthew McLaughlin, who cannot be here, so Carolyn will ask it for him…
Thanks for that, Rog. Matt's question is: What is the most difficult question about animal rights someone has posed to you and what was your response?
Now, if you mean the second most difficult question then it could be… how does a non-speciesist world look like in detail? Or what are the full consequences of regarding other animals interests as valuable as ours? Given that we deeply enmeshed into a speciesist mindset, I think the issue is very complex and so will be the answer. My short response is: a fairer world with far less suffering and deaths.
Thanks Jose. Carolyn Bailey has the next question for Jose- when you are ready Carolyn please go ahead
Your recent demonstration in Madrid for International Animal Rights Day was an amazing example of creative nonviolent vegan education. What reaction did you receive from the general public, and has there been any follow-up work since?
Hi Carolyn, thank you for your comment, I'm glad you liked the protest. In Spain –and I guess the same happens also in other countries– many people don’t take animal rights as a serious issue, though it’s changing slowly. Some even make fun of the idea and I guess the ‘lettuce ladies’ have had something to do with this so we wanted to avoid that image as much as possible and give a serious and solemn message that deserves to be debated.
After finding so many dead animals at the farms, we thought we could help people to empathize and stop consuming animals by showing those forgotten victims whose bodies ended up in the garbage containers.
I remember the first demo we did in 2008 some people from the public even started to cry. This year one of the best things was that the media broadcast and printed verbatim many of our statements on speciesism and veganism we managed to talk to millions about the concept of speciesism (and I'm not exaggerating here)
At that time of day there were a lot of older people in Madrid's main square buying lottery tickets, they weren't so interested, but young people and children were really interested.
Some of the mothers lied to their children saying the animals weren't real though.
As follow-up work, we have been trying to analyze the results, the feedback. We have received tons of emails of people wanting to become activists and other groups like Elige Veganismo in Chile duplicated our protest so maybe in the next years we’ll see this demo in other countries as well!
Thanks Jose - the next Q comes from Jason Ward - Jason...
Hello again Jose IgualdadAnimal is obviously involved in “real world” activism and advocacy, getting out in the public to interact with people and to intervene on behalf of other animals. What do you think of internet activism…
through things such as blogs, websites, Twitter and Facebook? Is it valuable?
We want to communicate a message to other people, so we don’t care about the means used for that as long as it helps the animals. For example, having a website is a very efficient way and cost-effective method to communicate and release videos, materials, etc. Internet is such a powerful tool! I think we all agree on this. At Igualdad Animal / Animal Equality we try to adapt to technological and societies changes and get into the social networks like MySpace, Twitter, etc. We haven't found twitter to be so worthwhile and don't tweet much but Facebook among Spanish and Latin American people has been an amazing tool in our opinion. Right now, our main Facebook page has now +55.000 fans who have instant access to our videos and pro-veganism messages.
Let me talk about a real example. I once got the information that some slaughterers were going into strike and were going to give away living birds the following day so I told some people on Facebook the night before about it. They sent messages to others and all went there, pretending to be non-AR people who wanted the birds to kill them and eat them but they took as many birds as they could and released them later in a free area. Our communication through Facebook resulted in that specific case in the liberation of 25 individuals who were going to be killed and through vegan education, we all help an uncountable number of other beings who won’t be bred to be exploited.
Despite the advantages of internet, I think it’s important to not lose the direct contact with the people face-to-face, since that experiences will also enrich you as an activist.
Thanks, Jose! Roger Yates has the next question. All yours, Rog.
Hi! Can you tell our members the nature of your disagreement with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society?
First of all, the Sea Shepherd is not an animal rights organisation. Paul Watson says this himself. They are conservationist -it's in their name!- and care about species, not individuals. Species as such are just a concept, non-sentient. Species don't feel, don't suffer and don't have interests. It's the individual sentient beings who belong to a species who matter irrespective of how big or small is that species population.
Caring about species conservation ignores the value of the individuals and in many cases it leads to fatal consequences to other individuals given it's biased and preferential. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is a speciesist organization and Igualdad Animal / Animal Equality is an antispeciesist organization so our disagreement is fundamental.
A great annoyance of mine is that they are championed as being animal rights activists in the movement. I guess the main reason for this phenomenon is that people like the kind of activism they do, they like the adventure shown in Whale Wars. That kind of action attracts people and support. Let's take a quote from their website to exemplify their views «Sea Shepherd Conservation Society advocates for a complete moratorium on the consumption of seafood on the grounds that there is simply not enough fish in the oceans to continue to feed the ever expanding populations of humanity.» you can access it at their site: http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/editorial-050831-1.html that is, they don't advocate ceasing to murder aquatic animals on the ground that these individuals are sentient beings, capable of feeling and with their own interests who value their life as we do and whose interests deserve respect and protection but on the ground that there aren't enough fishes to be killed by us, so we can all enjoy the banquet. They reject eating aquatic animals not because of solidarity with the fishes but with those other humans who won't have access to also kill fishes.
Our differences are clear I think. I could go on and on about Sea Shepherds speciesist claims, but I guess you get the picture.
Let me add that I think it's a very important thing that we differentiate ourselves from the 'green' movement or environmentalist movement, we are completely different
Thanks, again, Jose! Jason would like to ask the next question. Thanks, Jay.
Whether or not IgualdadAnimal would do such things themselves, do you consider acts of property destruction which liberate other animals to be inherently violent?
Not inherently since nonsentient entities can't suffer so they can't be the victims of violence. If we mean that it's violent because it may cause distress onto the property owners even if we agree on that... I would say that I am not per se against using violence in some situations for example in self defense another issue is if it's a good strategy in the current context / situation I would regard not destroying that property (eg: a lock that keeps an animal into a cage) as violent given that it allows real violence -keeping the animal encaged and suffering- to continue. If a farmer realises that I have been in his farm filming or rescuing animals s/he may suffer anxiety or stress because of that but nevertheless, I think it's justified.
Thanks Jose. The next question is one of Carolyn's own... Carolyn …
Jose, could you please tell us your opinion on happy meat/free range products – the products which some organisations promote as a “humane” alternative to intensely farmed animals?
In short: it’s the same injustice under a different label. I’ve been into free-range farms of different kinds and species of animals. I’ve met the animals who are the victims of that consumption and whose killing is endorsed by those groups. I’ve investigated awarded farms and witnessed animals agonising at those free-range places. I’ve also been in slaughterhouses were those same free-range animals are killed.
I think it's very negative that groups or individuals regarded as animal rights people or animal defenders support, advocate or endorse that.
I think they hinder AR advancement. In my experience, promoting antispeciesism and veganism is the most efficient way to get rid of ALL animal products, including the free-range farms.
Asking the next question on behalf of Tim Gier who could not be here will be Roger Yates- go ahead Roger
I'm standing in for "Time" - Jose, do you believe, as some do, that the human population is simply too big to sustain, and that a vegan world will only be possible when there are significantly fewer of us on the planet?
While this may be quite controversial, I personally think that bringing new beings to this world is a mistake and therefore, I had a vasectomy when I was 25.
Of course, stating this kind of thing still is a taboo nowadays and I don’t think we should campaign for this right now -though some famous and well-regarded people like Richard Attenborough advocated reducing human population- but there are valid reasons for us to refrain from reproducing ourselves (if you don't have a baby, she won't risk being tortured later or won't torture others: eg: nonhumans)
This is a deep or controversial topic, so I welcome a debate on it. Sometimes people think that you must hate humans if you don't want babies but this is wrong.
Of course, once a sentient beings exists, he/she deserves equal consideration. If you take a look at the demographic stats since 1900 till today, the tendency is scary. If anybody wants to take care of another, they can adopt an already existing being in need, there are many humans and nonhumans who need a home, I have adopted several in my life and I encourage you to dedicate your love to those who already exist and need it.
Thanks Jose. Brooke Cameron would like to ask the next question, go ahead, Brooke.
Thanks, Carolyn. Hi, Jose, and welcome! Some people have argued that open rescues may be classed as problematic, due to the risk of violence, putting the lives of both those rescued and the rescuers at risk.
Some have also argued that, by wearing promotional shirts during a rescue, it alludes to the rescue being more about promotion of your group than the other animals’ lives. How do you respond to criticism such as this?
Ahhh the t-shirt argument! Sometimes also known as the donate-button argument.
To answer your first point, the risk of violence for the animals is 100% if they are left on the farms. Their lives are at risk if they are not rescued.
The first ones interested in avoiding risks and violent situations are the activists themselves. If, for example, you confront the farmer during a rescue, you are putting the rescue at risk and that implies that the animals you are putting the rescue at risk and that implies that the animals who were going to be saved will stay suffering in those farms facing real violence.
I've entered in +200 farms of all kinds (minks, pigs, chickens, hens, etc.) in the last three years and a half and I've never had to face any farmer. We take security very seriously and have never had a problem during an open rescue, nor do we know of any group which has. Even in the hypothetical scenario of being spotted, you don't have to rely on violence to solve that situation with the farmer. You can run, you can use a high-power light that will temporarily blind him/her so you gain some seconds to escape. It doesn't cause him/her any harm You can rely on non-violent solutions, there are several and the most likely scenario is that they will call the police instead of confronting you, but, as I said, you'd watch the farm before to make sure there is nobody around as I said before, not rescuing animals leaves them at a 100% certainty of violence so it's justified to take that small risk.
We understand the accusation that by publishing open rescues we are endangering the safety of the animals but we believe the risk is almost negligible and the benefit to other non-humans of publishing the open rescues far outweighs this.
We take great precautions with security so the nonhuman animals will always remain safe. Until now, we've rescued +100 animals and we never had any problem with this only very few dedicated activists know where the animals are brought to; even if we are questioned by the police, we would never put them at risk or say anything.
To answer your other point, at the moment animal rights activists do not have a very positive image in certain parts of the world, particularly the UK. Society sees people, especially animal activists, wearing balaclavas, dark clothing and hiding in shadows as evidence that they are doing something wrong, so wearing the organisation's t-shirts instead of all-black or camouflage gear, sends a message that we are not trying to hide what we are doing. That we are a professional organisation and that we see rescuing animals as an act of justice, something society should support. They can see you and sympathise with your intentions.
In our experience, showing your face doesn’t draw as much attention as if you were wearing a balaklava. As I said before, society has a high regard for animal activists in Spain at the moment and I think this is due to tactics from organizations such as ours and others. We also have the name of the organisation so that we appear professional, respectable and serious I see no problem in wearing t-shirts with the name of the group you work with, in the same sense I don’t see any problem in adding your name to the book / article you’ve written.
I find this complaint a bit silly and a bit awkward having to reply to this since I think it’s just a kind of attack on your intentions. We have the name of the organisation on our t-shirts the whole video, because it gives our message the whole way through. It helps people to get access to more information (like vegan recipes or AR arguments for example), solve doubts, join, etc. To suggest that our rescues are more about promotion of the group or ego is quite insulting.
Is it so hard to believe that there are activists who really do care about the animals they are trying to save?
Well said, thanks, Jose!
Thanks Jose, for your insight. Roger Yates would like to ask another question. Thanks, Rog.
Jose, Igualdad Animal has spoken out about the welfarism and sexism of PeTA’s campaigning. A flavour of your opposition to this organisation is found in this passage “The history of PETA shows their unwavering use of the types of marketing strategies usually employed by companies to sell their products (although these strategies are becoming increasingly rejected by the general public and several groups).
The sexism found in PETA’s campaigns is enough to make anyone conscious of the serious consequences of this prejudice reject this organization, when the consequences are discrimination, eating-habit disorders, psychological problems and violence again. They convert women into objects for consumption and their bodies become advertising slogans to convince the viewer, whether they are part of an ad or behind a banner.
Do you think we’ve reached the stage now when we can say that PeTA has passed its sell-by date and has reached it’s close-down date – given that we are in the age of the internet, and your website is every bit as good as the PeTA ones, do we need corporate “animal rights” dinosaurs like PeTA and FoA any longer? Done and ahimsa
We published that statement in response to an event PETA organized against the so-called 'running of the bulls' in Pamplona. it's still in our website You can read it here: http://www.animalequality.net/media/releases/2007/the-running-of-th... Sadly, many people associates PETA with the animal rights movement -specially in USA- and therefore, what they do also affects us all. We wanted to tell the society that there were people and a movement of people who are different, so different that they openly criticize PETA. I think we now need to forget about them in general and learn from some of their good points.
I use to say that you could believe anything about PETA given their record I am not actually against large organisations per se, as they can reach thousands, millions of people at a time and have budgets that can allow them to do things that small groups can't.
Grassroots groups can do great things, but you also need decent-sized funds for nationwide vegan bus ad campaigns or printing thousands of detailed colour vegan guides, or buying adverts on television, or rescuing actual individuals whose upkeep is costly.
Can I have a quick come back on this one please?
Jose – IgualdadAnimal have taken part on demos – like the “meat tray” ones which feature semi-naked women (and men) – is that different to what PeTA do – and how?
That's also a good question
We are opposed to sexism as we are opposed to speciesism or racism. We are not against showing a semi-naked body per se given that nonhuman animals don't wear clothes. If you want to represent them, it makes sense to not wear clothes in some specific demos like the meat-tray one (Javier Moreno, cofounder of Igualdad Animal / Animal Equality invented that demo) the thing is that you can do it in a serious way, without sexist jokes or references to sex. We don't show our genitals and the way the demo is carried out changes completely the look and communication it produces. It doesn't make any sense to do the meat tray action dressed.
In our experience, people take it as a serious thing, they understand that we are making a point and nobody pays attention to the semi-naked activists. Have I solved your doubts?
Asking up next will be Ben Hornby - when you are ready Ben please go ahead
Thanks for being here Jose. What advice would you give to someone interested in starting an organisation like IgualdadAnimal in their city or town? How did you begin and what would you do differently if you had the chance to start over again?
My first advice is to find if there is already a group you agree with -even if you have some minor disagreements, sometimes it's worthy to spend some time to solve that or get over it instead of starting from zero-.
Avoid starting a new organisation if there isn’t a real need for that. At some demos in Spain, you can almost find more groups/names/banners than people and that's a loss of resources If you agree with our project or have doubts about it, you can contact us about starting a new group in your city but even if you want to start your own organization you'll need to be realistic and honest with yourself and think about how much time and energy are you going to dedicate to it.
Starting a group with any serious intention requires a lot of dedication, otherwise it will probably vanish in a short period as we've seen before many times.
Sharon Núñez, Javier Moreno and me started five years ago in Madrid (Spain) because we had a common idea on how we should work for the animals. We talk and debate on animal rights issues, campaigns, possible actions, investigations, the work carried out in different countries, etc. on a daily basis. This self-reflective attitude has allowed us to overcome several of our prejudices on animal rights activism and has translated into creative activism.
We have introduced different kinds of activism that weren't done in Spain before, we took the ideas from different groups & countries adapting them to our general strategy for example, nobody was doing investigations, civil disobedience actions, open rescues, etc. before we started doing them.
Another point about Igualdad Animal / Animal Equality is that we feel very passionate about what we do. It's part of our daily life since the most important thing for us is helping nonhumans, and that it spreads to other people who want to join the project. Now we have groups in Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Poland, England, Venezuela and Colombia. Also, we don’t have internal fights, so we don’t loose time or energy in those kind of things, and believe me, this is very important.
If I had to start again I would have started doing investigations and open rescues sooner and avoid some of the mistakes we committed in some of them. I would also have contacted other amazing people working in the neighbouring countries before, since we’ve learnt a lot from them and I would have reduced my tone when I debated some people. I think one of the biggest problems is the way we relate with other people who don’t agree with us.
Thanks again, Jose. Will would like to ask the last of our formal questions for today now. If any members would like to address Jose in open chat after this question, please let myself, Jason Ward or Roger Yates know by private message.
Go ahead Will
Jose, in your recent rescue of five hens from a farm in september, on which a further 160, 000 hens were being confined; you stated these hens were being confined in battery cages--- similar to the “enriched cages” which will be obligatory from 2012 onwards throughout the european union. How are these battery cages better for hens, and how are their lives enhanced by being enslaved in these cages?
In my opinion, they are victories for the industry, for retailers, and for consumers that want to carry on eating eggs.
The RSPCA has a detailed report entitled “Everyone's a winner” showing how reforms in the egg industry can benefit producers, packers, retailers and consumers. The same with the HSUS report
Even the most conservative and pro-exploitation animal groups regard these cages as being the same as previous ones. In Spain many people look at this kind of campaign specially the work by the VGT done in Austria as examples to follow however, very few people dedicate any time to research those campaigns. I think looking at what other countries have already done is like time-travelling you can read the report. How Switzerland got rid of battery cages written by Heinzpeter Studer and find out that even the egg industry supported the move. I think they confuses the public, miss the point, encourage exploitation and hinder AR comprehension I think the best way to encourage people to stop eating eggs -and animal products altogether- is education on veganism and animal rights.
We have rescued 5 hens from one of those free-range farms. Most of the hens from those farms never go outside because there are many others blocking the exit holes. Their beaks were also mutilated a day after being born because they were bought from the same hatcheries that breed hens for intensive farms. Male chicks are still killed in those hatcheries. These changes are classed as victories by animal 'welfare' groups, who wish to justify their own existence.
It's something concrete to put in their newsletter or on their website that allows their members to keep consuming animal products with a good conscience
Often, the low-hanging fruit or the easy 'victories' are not victories at all. In my opinion, education on speciesism and veganism is fundamental and the real victory for the animals.
Thanks again, Jose. Douglass would like to ask you the first of the open session questions now, thanks, Douglass.
Alright, go ahead Douglass!
Thank you. Mr. Valle, I recognize the points you are making, with "show your skin" actions, if you will. In that I understand what you mean about getting attention and making a point. If I may say, from what I gather, at least partly to symbolize the plight of animals, you're showing skin, and this gets attention, that might not otherwise be as effective as you feel it could be.
But can you see that this is the same exact rationale used by PETA and other large, sexist campaigns? I'm wondering why you have to get semi, or half naked, to represent an idea? Why can't you be clothed to represent the plight of animals?
Even though I'd look good doing it, I don't take off my shirt, when I go out to leaflet Vegan Advocacy at Whole Foods... (:-D That's an exaggeration, but that's in the spirit of my point
Thanks Douglass. It doesn't have any sense to take off your shirt for leafleting at Whole Foods, but it makes sense if you are trying to represent the murdered / skinned bodies of nonhuman animals. We present our demonstrations in a serious way, there is nothing sexual about them. We don't use 'sexy' female bodies, we use both sexes and we don't make any point on sex, we don't use sex attraction, sexist language, jokes, etc. I think despite the visual similarities, the approach is very different from that of PETA. people in some countries are used to seeing sexist PETA demos and so, automatically think that demos involving the human body are sexist, not so in Spain. I think it's simplistic to relate the naked human body with sexism.
Thank you, sir.
The next question comes from Judit Balañá Pocurull - Judit...
Judit Balañá Pocurull
Thank you Roger
Judit Balañá Pocurull
When did you begin to develop altruistic feeling toward nonhuman animals? Thank you
My colleagues Sharon and Javier became vegan overnight but for me it was the consequence of a series of steps over time. I remember seeing some of my family members murdering a pig. I heard her screams, saw the blood and felt some of her pain but I thought it was a 'neccessary-evil' since my family was doing it. That episode somehow made a click on me. Several years later I started to developed a sense of justice about animals, that was when I was 15-16. Then 6 years later my mother paid to kill a calf for us to eat and when I was helping her to dismember the animal I realised the consequences of my consumption in a crystal way -in a crystal clear way- so I stopped eating animals and soon after I became vegan. When I learnt about the plight of nonhumans, I understood that I had to do something about it, that being vegan wasn't enough, and I have been active since then.
Judit Balañá Pocurull
Thank you so much Jose
Hi Jose - Brooke Cameron wants to ask a follow-up to her earlier question. Brooke...
Jose, have you ever heard of a case where the rescued "property" of an open rescue has been recaptured? If so, what were the circumstances?
No, never. I've recently talked with Michal Kolesar from the Czech Republic who has carried out dozens of open rescues, rescuing hundreds of animals from farms, and he never had that problem either. Of course, the rescued animals are not in our backyards ;-)
That seems to make some of the old criticisms invalid then. Thanks, Jose!
I'd like to sincerely thank Jose for his time and insight today. Thanks, Jose, it's been an absolute pleasure!
Thanks Jose, great chat today!
Thanks for today, and everything you do, Jose!
thanks a lot, I don't have any questions because they were great answers =D
good man jose
Thank you, Jose!
Many, many thanks!
Thank you Jose. My very best regards. And thank you Animal Rights Zone. Roger makes me chuckle.
thank you very much, it has been a pleasure. If you have any questions, feel free to add me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/antiespecista) and send me a message or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I'd be happy to answer them
Thanks so much Jose and all the team at Igualdad Animal. Your words of wisdom are so helpful and inspiring.
Thanks again, Jose. It's been our pleasure!
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