Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Transcript of Priscilla Feral’s ARZone Guest Chat
30 October 2010 at:
3pm US Pacific Time
6pm US Eastern Time
11pm UK Time and
31 October 2010 at:
8am Australian Eastern Standard Time
ARZone would like to warmly welcome Priscilla Feral as our chat guest today.
Priscilla has authored two books: DINING WITH FRIENDS: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine (2005), co-authored with Lee Hall, and THE BEST OF VEGAN COOKING (2009). Priscilla cultivates respect for the planet and all who call it home. Her art inspires society to form an empathic connection to all earthlings. She enjoys walks through nature, practicing yoga, and guiding FoA supporters through the wilderness of public debate on issues relevant to animal protection.
J. MuirYay Priscilla!
Jason Ward:Welcome Priscilla!!!
Camille Marino:Hi Pricilla, great to "see" you here
Priscilla Feral:Trick or treat?
In a Gadda da Vegan:w00t :-)
Matthew McLaughlan:Welcome :-)
Pauline McGuigan:hi Priscilla!
Priscilla Feral:Thanks everyone. Trick or treat?
Priscilla Feral:Come on over Camille!
Carolyn Bailey:Before we begin, I’d like to request that people refrain from interrupting Priscilla during the chat session, and utilise the open chat, at the completion of Priscilla’s pre-registered questions, for any questions or
comments you have. I’d now like to ask Brooke Cameron to present the first question to Priscilla, go ahead, Brooke
Priscilla Feral:Hi, Brooke and thanks to you and everyone for the welcome.
In 2004, my co-author Lee Hall and I had an agent for our first vegan cookbook, Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cuisine; and Chronicle Books expressed interest in publishing it. I went to San
Francisco to meet with them and they were keen on the book cover, recipes and discussions about design and photographs. Yet after editors read the Introduction, we were asked to remove two or three sentences
from a paragraph so that a “tone” – really, the politics – was removed. Lee and I refused. More than presenting a beautiful book with wonderful vegan recipes, we needed to talk about dairy products. We kept the following sentences: "Today, we know that behind every great mocha latte is a veal calf. Dairy farmers deem male calves useless -- except, for example, as future pieces. So every time we look at a piece of cheese in the dairy case, we know it means turning away from a calf." That’s an essential reason we did the book. Unfortunately, the marketers wouldn’t have it. So Lee and I created Nectar Bat Press under Friends of Animals.
advocates cannot do equally well - or much better (since they know best their localities)? Priscilla, why not pull the plug on FoA, close it down, and spread the animals’ millions of dollars out to the grassroots?
and pet trade refugees. Grassroots and international networks are both important: it’s integrity that matters, not lack of pay.
most timely and helpful AR book currently available (notably including chapters supportive of grassroots planning not found in academic press AR books). It would be much harder for Lee to do that without a publishing outlet. The book, On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal-Rights Philosophy Down to Earth, is now used in a Duke University course. Clearly, Duke University has overhead and does fundraising. Should it therefore be closed down? Should we only distribute the book and its animal-rights message through grassroots groups, or teachers who volunteer?
staff as well. So I’d say your simplified dichotomy is fallacious.
Hold it to the end.
Priscilla isn't ready to reply to follow-ups, if we could wait until the open session it would be great, thanks.
Priscilla Feral:Having tech difficulty here as it is. Thanks.
complaining about and insulting vegan food (whether or not they even fully understand what it is—or isn’t).
beef broth was used, so we have to have dialogue to inform and produce more enthusiasm all around. Most important, we should admit that dietary and other major changes are not simple and easy for people. To sustain an active interest in vegan food, I believe one has to learn how to cook well, and that means feeding ourselves and others.
“wolf culling” policy. Considering that a large percentage of the tourism in Alaska is based on
hunting, it would seem that, instead of doing what effectively amounted to enlisting the aid of the tourism industry, FoA should have boycotted them too. In other words, for the boycott of Alaska to work, the tourism industry would only be helping save wolves so that the killing of thousands of other nonhumans might continue unabated.
In the US we’ve found through experience that a carefully planned boycott can put meaningful pressure on the governor of a state, and a governor has significant influence in setting policy for a state. In other words, state permit schemes for wolf chasers can and ~have been~ rescinded in response to our boycott
efforts. We cannot retain lawyers admitted to every state bar; this is an affordable way to do a high-profile campaign with public participation.
on hunting in Alaska as in every state; but most of Alaska’s is driven by cruise tours. Sight-seeing is a major industry for Alaska and economic pressure from outside -- from people worldwide -- is what it’s going to take to press change on Alaska.
consistently and relentlessly press this message. But one does also have to go out there and defend specific communities under attack and not just put out general statements and pamphlets.
blah blah blah. Work to stop this cycle. Stop clinging to your desks; go out and insert yourself, in the best way you know how, and support those of us who’ve been doing it in the best way we know how, with plenty of experience now to inform our actions.
Thanks again, Priscilla. Kate would like to ask a question, which Tim Gier will ask for her as Kate is transcribing, thanks, Tim!
Thanks Carolyn, Hello Priscilla. In an article that is linked to on the Friends of Animals website: (http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/20101018_Let_coyotes__not_h...)
Friends of Animals is quoted as promoting an initiative which allows coyotes to kill some of the deers in Pennsylvania as part of an effort to manage their population. From the perspective of the deers involved, what difference, if any, does it make to them who they are killed by?
Tim Gier:Thanks again for your answers Priscilla, Carolyn has the next question...go ahead Carolyn!
Carolyn Bailey:Thanks, Tim. Priscilla, you’ve authored two cookbooks, Dining With Friends: The Art of North American Vegan Cooking, and the 2009 book The Best of Vegan Cooking. Many people assume you may have used others’ recipes in these books. Are many of the recipes your own? If so, what would be your advice to other vegans who wish to learn how to cook, and how does one get started?
Priscilla Feral:I emptied out everything I had over generations of cooking with the first book, using my great-grandmother's ginger cookie recipe, for example, so with just over a hundred recipes in Dining With Friends, 85 percent
shows on TV, and one can see techniques through videos, and food demonstrations.
Hi Priscilla! FoA maintains a primate sanctuary, works with spay-neuter of domestic animals and works to save free living animals, among many other undertakings. Yet there seems to be some differences with the abolitionist community. Would you tell us how you see FoA and your own work as being in alignment with abolitionist principles as well as how you see it in opposition or disagreement with those principles?
The most expansive, in-depth treatment to date of our perspective in the context of animal-rights theory is offered in Lee Hall’s new book, so I’d recommend that to everybody here who is serious about exploring
that query. For now, let’s say this: there is no secret or mystery or club to join addressing “abolitionist principles”; this simply refers to working for the end of the use of other animals by humans. This is what all aware vegans do, and what advocates have been doing since “vegan” was first uttered: We subscribe to the radical notion that all slavery carried out by humans on this planet ought to end. We reject the use of animals. We do go deeper than this; our work is very much attuned to feminist principles that interrogate dominion.
Thanks again, Priscilla
Priscilla, Will is up next, go ahead Will!
You say that “vegetarian” is associated with diet while veganism is a wider lifestyle concept. Then you say, “Every year billions of animals suffer pain, distress, and death to sate a hunger that would be better addressed by a vegan diet.” All the while, your section on lifestyle and diet on your Programs page is headed, “Vegetarianism,” and you have headings such as “Vegetarianism: For the Animals.” Can you clear up this apparent confusion and say why you do not simply and straightforwardly advocate veganism?
We acknowledge that these terms are being better defined as the movement unfolds. Thanks to The Vegan Society, Salim Andreas Piro Khan, Lee Hall, David Turchick, and IVU historian John Davis for doing some serious and yet respectful ironing out of the history and the linguistics of this.
In an old interview from 1987 http://www.nytimes.com/1987/10/11/nyregion/connecticut-q-a-priscill... you eloquently state the case for animal rights in no uncertain terms. However, in the same interview, you acknowledge that at that time you were not yet vegan.
As you know, there is some ongoing controversy about animal advocacy organizations who are not vegan and do not promote veganism. Given that you are vegan now, you have perhaps a unique perspective on this. Can you help us understand what it was like to have been non-vegan while being a supporter of animal rights and the head of an animal advocacy group? Also, can you share the story of your own path to veganism?
In 1987, I hadn't heard a comprehensive argument that compelled me to become vegan, and, erroneously, I thought dairy and eggs were by-products of the meat industry but not central drivers of exploitation.
Whatever PeTA was saying in the 1980s I wasn't digesting, and Friends of Animals survived at least one of their take-over attempts at that time. Had I known more about The Vegan Society at that time (obviously now I know they came well before PeTA and had a consistent message tying their principles to animal rights) it would have been a great boon.
enthusiasm to change how I fed myself and others. And I’d say the key to making this the standard in the movement is to continue doing our best to connect our animal advocacy with vegan principles at every opportunity, and to make appealing guides and books, so that others will see the seamless nature of this
Priscilla, as you know, Dustin has another question, which Roger will ask in his stead. Roger?
I have traveled to Primarily Primates, the sanctuary Friends of Animals now runs in San Antonio, TX, with you three times; it’s a place you are obviously dedicated to and passionate about [do people actually know you travel there every single month?]. Why is the sanctuary so near and dear to your heart?
In 1988 I found a chimpanzee and four monkeys in a collapsed roadside zoo in New Orleans. I sent the primates to Primarily Primates. After seeing their astonishing transformation two months later, I became devoted to the rehabilitation work there and the refuge overall. I visited many times and today know many of the 400 individuals. They're allwonderful. I see them thriving after being discarded and rescued from the most deplorable situations Each month I get excited about seeing Jordan, my favorite lemur, the 25 newly rescued Java macaques, spider monkeys, chimpanzees, birds and everyone.
Carolyn Bailey:Thanks, again, Priscilla! Tim Gier would like to ask another one now, all yours, Tim!
Tim Gier:As a layperson looking at FoA’s financial statements, it’s easy for me to question the numbers I see.
years ending April 2009 and 2010. Also, printing, advertising and postage combined average about another 20%.... Can you help us understand the costs involved in running an operation such as yours?
You cannot subtract out the spay-neuter component when you examine this. Most years, it costs us more than it brings, you see, and general donation funds cover the losses. We help subsidize the cost of the veterinary certificates for people who can’t afford the rates (they might be elderly or unemployed, or rescuers).
went into spay-neuter; 39% went for public information and animal protection 6% for administration and 2% for fundraising. That’s 92% for animal work and 8% for administration and fundraising).
a primate refuge, education and local water sharing issues in the Gambia and Senegal, for example. We need to
print and distribute vegan cookbooks. Transparency demands that we tell people how projects are faring, with visuals. Every letter we write (and we create no positions on staff for this – it’s our valued project people who know what we’re working on that do the public correspondence) is an opportunity for advocacy. We will not waste our supporters’ valuable time on puffery or useless gimmicks. We will not make up busy work and fundraise off it, or fundraise off the work of others. We support community efforts that need us and in turn we’re
helped out by wealthier groups that have dedicated funds for some of the work we carry out.
stranded on the beach, they have no idea how to help. We need more people like Peter Wallerstein, an outspoken vegan, who is also constantly explaining why angling, the fish industry, and animal agribusiness hurt all animals living in or near the sea. This marine rescue work is a 7-day-a-week job. Administration
isn’t romantic, but it supports advocates and projects in a way that assures their stability and dependability in the communities they reach, year in, year out.
Thanks for that, Priscilla, Barbara DeGrande would like to address you again, please go ahead, Barbara.
With increasing numbers of animals nearing extinction, increasing deforestation and loss of habitat for animals, what do you foresee as paramount in order to move animals towards non-exploitation?
Examples of critical advocacy are: vegan education (as it respects the land, water, air that free-living animals need to survive); pushing back at the governments to stop them from usurping public land for mineral companies, Examples of critical advocacy are: vegan education (as it respects the land, water, air that free-living animals need to survive); pushing back at the governments to stop them from usurping public land for
mineral companies, ranchers, hunters, gift shops and road extensions; transforming the rhetoric surrounding laws such as the Airborne Hunting Act, the Endangered Species Act, and CITES so that animal rights becomes a genuine part of the equation. Educate and litigate so as to stop the demand for the pet
trade, which wreaks havoc on free animals and transforms them into commodities and playthings.
Sorry for repeats with typing. Tech-challenging exercise.
It's all very good, Priscilla. I'd like to ask another question now, please.
Could you please tell us why you chose this line of work back in November 1974, and why the effort has endured? Some refer to your work with disdain, calling it careerism. How do you respond to this?
I was a member of Friends of Animals in 1974; a feminist career counseling group suggested that I follow my heart in selecting a career to move beyond being someone's corporate secretary I was dating an animal
protection lawyer who did pro bono work for Friends of Animals and was writing FoA's first pamphlet on animal agribusiness. This person got me a job interview with the founder, and I was hired I commuted five hours a day to work in FoA's New York City office as their Public Information Director. I'm hard-wired for
this work -- to either look for trouble or make it. So I was destined for social justice work, and had considered work for child welfare, but an abiding love and respect for animals has been enduring. When someone referred to my 36 years at Friends of Animals as careerism, they fail to see that I'm proud of intelligent, hard work, those I've met and loved, and work aimed at changing the world for the better.
One more time, Lee, and you will be booted.
Barbara DeGrande has another question now, please go ahead, Barbara
These are hard economic times for sanctuaries. How does that impact your ability to offer refuge to primates and other animals at PPI and what would you like people, particularly those concerned about animals, to know
about these real economic issues?
Thanks, Barbara, for acknowledging that grim reality – and thank you for your personal visit to Primarily Primates. You took the time to see how we care for the animals who depend on our work.
to dismantle it and either kill or send animals away to zoos and other sites. In May 2007, FoA took over management and I agreed to serve as their volunteer president. As the economy soured, the sanctuary needed many hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade the infrastructure, increase staffing and make
other changes. Beyond people adopting and leaving their cats and dogs, the residents were released from the entertainment industry, pet trade, or vivisection industry. They needed support.
Thanks again Priscilla, Kate has another question, which Carolyn will ask, in two parts. Carolyn please go ahead!
Friends of Animals does extensive work in Spay & Neuter programs, having facilitated over 2.5 million procedures over the years. That works out to 130 procedures daily every day since 1957. That seems incredible!
Thank you, Kate. This is why more than half our budget is devoted to it. We stand for the no-kill movement and the spay-neuter department has spared millions of animals from coming into an owned but unwanted status.
You are right to acknowledge the seriousness of it; the people doing this work are unsung but it’s constant and it’s daily, and it’s work that’s aligned with an animal-rights perspective. Kate has a follow-up to that?
Yes, thanks! I am puzzled as to why FoA does not support the use of contraceptives for free-living nonhuman animals as a non-lethal way to limit the size of their populations. Is there really any difference between
Spay & Neuter on the one hand and the use of contraceptives on the other as far as the individual nonhuman animals are concerned? Thanks, Priscilla!
As though imposing contraceptives on free-living animals is the same as neutering a dachshund? Absolutely not. As Lee Hall asks in On Their Own Terms, are we really going to allow the “movement” to involve insisting that space be afforded to accommodate so-called rights for “full freedom of movement” for purpose-bred animals, and birth control to ~reduce~ the space taken by animals who should be living, interacting, and procreating on their terms?
Roger Yates:The final registered question comes from Dustin Rhodes, asked by Tim...Tim.
Tim Gier:With as much time as you have to devote to the pressing issues, what’s an issue/passion you’ve always wanted to take up but have never been able to find the time for?
Priscilla Feral:Suppose I'd like to open a gorgeous vegan restaurant alongside Five Mile
Thanks, Priscilla! I’d like to thank Priscilla Feral for being very generous with her time today and responding to some great questions in the formal session today. I’d like to open the chat up and invite all members who wish to engage Priscilla to do so now, by sending me, Tim or Roger a PM with your intent to address Priscilla. Will would like to ask a follow-up from his previous question first, please go ahead,
You're most welcome.
My mistake, sorry Priscilla, Roger is going to ask a follow-up from a previous question first, my bad! Please go ahead, Roger.
Thanks... this is in relation to the second question asked. I do not appreciate the “simplified dichotomy” insult, although I expected it. Local groups would have stable support ~if~ the national dinosaurs did not suck
the money and often the talent ~away~ from them. There was a recent press article in Britain
about shutting down PeTA.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/28/peta-women-meat Let’s shut them all down! I have known too many penniless groups and sab groups struggling while the fat cats (can we say that?) get fatter (can we say that). University presses are irrelevant: not the animals’ money.
We're not dinosaurs and grass roots groups should generate their own funds. That's why they're called grass roots.
Thanks, Priscilla. J. Muir would like to ask a question now, please go ahead J.
On a happier note ... I've always wanted to ask: is your last name a happy accident, or by choice?
Hi, J. I chose it in 1974 after arriving at Friends of Animals. Needed to identify myself and not depend on matrimony for these things.
it suits you.
I wasn't aware that FoA was a dinosaur .... thought it was a relatively modest.
Thanks again, Proscilla. Will would like to ask another follow-up from his previous question, go ahead, Will
Ta, I don’t understand your reference to being insulted. That wasn’t the question I wanted answering – it was why not just clearly advocate veganism and stop the waffle. This mixing up of the terms is deliberately confusing, isn’t it?
I'm not confused.
What a shitty answer!
Mark Jordan has a question for you next, Priscilla, please go ahead, Mark.
One thing I am very intrigued by is all the work FoA does in countries outside the U.S.. I think it is honorable and courageous for a North American group to send so much funding to work on animal rights in countries that don’t have much, if any, budget for it. Could you briefly highlight a project (or two) and explain how this interacts with the membership of FoA- (a large % being Americans, I assume).
Bill Cherry:A vegan is a vegetarian but a vegetarian is not a vegan sheesh
Camille Marino:Does my critique count? I thought it was an excellent answer and I’m not confused either.
Priscilla Feral:Thnx, Camille and Mark. Replying now.
We have chimpanzee projects in West Africa -- both Senegal and The Gambia. In The Gambia we financially support a rehabilitation project for 87 chimpanzees on 1,500 acres among 3 islands. They live in tropical jungles. It runs $70K a year. In Senegal we dig wells so that villagers and chimpanzees don't compete for water. This has allowed chimpanzees to survive and the people near them respect the apes.
Thanks, Priscilla, Kate Go Vegan has a question, which I'll ask for her. Kate would like to know if you would advocate the spaying and neutering of minks (either of an indigenous species or otherwise) before they
are released into a natural environment, thanks
If they're wild animals being released into free habitat -- not confined, no reproductive control is needed by humans. Really we should control ourselves, our own invasiveness and reproduction.
Thanks, Priscilla, Imber would like to ask a question next, please go ahead, Imber
Imber:Hi Priscilla! There are many groups that claim to be working on animal 'rights'. Could you please explain the difference between some of these groups and Friends of Animals?
Priscilla Feral:We're a serious-minded animal advocacy organization with vegan principles and an independent spirit. That sets us apart. What are the differences you see, Imber?
Imber:I mean on what you consider a rights campaign?
Priscilla Feral:Animal rights are found within Nature, not on the farm. Animals such as coyotes, deer, sea lions, and others can be guaranteed the habitat and resources they depend on, and we can
May I ask a quick question before I log off to prepare for an action tomorrow?
I wish you would!
Go ahead, Camille
Priscilla, do you ever feel like people would be far more effective if they actually went out and did something themselves instead of worrying about whether others are more rights or welfare or, omg, abolitionist enough?
You bet. That sums it up nicely.
thank you so much. i learned a lot. have a great night folks.
Priscilla, Matthew McLaughlin would like to ask a question, all yours, Matthew
Thanks Carolyn! Hi Priscilla, could you describe the work that you and the late Dr. Gordon Haber did to defend wolves?
Gordon Haber died a year ago in a plane crash while he was monitoring wolves inside Denali National Park. Since 1993 he created field research through monitoring that allowed us to craft the best
arguments against killing wolves. We won legal challenges with his observations, data collection, video tapes of wolves caught in snares. He was a brilliant wolf scientist and wolves captured his imagination. Also, he showed me wolves, moose and other animals up close. I'm forever grateful.
Priscilla, Anita Parsons also has a question for you. Anita, please go ahead.
Hi Priscilla, I am Anita from Rudozem Street Dog Rescue. www.streetdogrescue.com. Diane & Tony Rowles, an English family rescues street dogs & cats in Bulgaria. Animal Welfare is non-existent and is not a crime in Bulgaria and many dogs are shot, kicked and abused on a regular basis. We have been campaigning to raise money for a shelter in Rudozem to start a spay/neuter programme as the vet in the area does not spay bitches and many die in the winter months. We have had extreme difficulty in getting funding or even any notice from any well known international groups. I was wondering if you or your group would help RSDR, or if you are unable to, would have any suggestions on the best places to advocate for funding & media attention, as we have not had much luck from international programmes or funding from the Bulgarian government.
Priscilla Feral:Anita -- Have you spoken to Kim Bartlett at ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper? Her expertise is aid to
Thank you Priscilla xx
Shari Lynn Bence:Hi Priscilla, first apologies for speaking out of turn, the box is more sensitive than I imagine. One of the things you commented on was the relation of feminism to domination, and I have some general ideas about how
this relates to animal welfare, but I'd love to hear your thoughts after your years of experience in advocacy work and thinking about these things. Also, seems that much of the bickering one encounters is related to this issue, but perhaps I am mistaken.
It's a big discussion, and your instincts are spot-on. Lots of male domination in our field -- every field.
Thank you, Priscilla. Appreciate your insights.
Serious-minded, strong females get pushed around everywhere. I've always been inclined to want to give animals a voice.
Thanks, Priscilla, I have a question for you.
Priscilla Feral:Yes! Marine Animal Rescue is the only agency in LA County that provides offshore rescues of marine
rescue operations and oversee the center.
Sounds great, thanks!
Are there any further questions for our guest?
I learned a lot this evening. Thanks everyone.
I'd like to thank you, Priscilla, for your time and generosity today.
Thanks back to you, Shari, Carolyn and everyone.
Thank you very much Priscilla and everyone it was an interesting discussion xxx
Thank you Priscilla!
Thank You for your time and patience.
Good to "see" you!
ARZone sinserely appreciates your willingness to give us your time today. Thanks!
Thank you, Priscilla!
Many Thanks Indeed.
Carolyn: cheers for the hosting!
Indeed. Love to y'all and Happy Halloween.
Thanks also to all ARZone members for contributing, and please feel free to stay around and discuss, debate, dissect.
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