Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Robin Lane's ARZone Guest Chat of 13/14 November 2010

Transcript of Robin Lane’s ARZone Guest Chat

13 November 2010 at:

3pm US Pacific Time

6pm US Eastern Time

11pm UK Time and

14 November 2010 at:

9am Australian Eastern Standard Time



Carolyn Bailey:


ARZone would like to welcome Robin Lane as our guest today.


Robin has campaigned tirelessly for veganism & animal rights since the early 80's, when in 1980, whilst involved in the anti-nuclear movement, Robin became vegetarian. He became vegan two years later, in the same

year as becoming active in the animal rights movement.


Robin initiated a campaign against a vivisection laboratory, took over the running of Fur Action Group and in 1986, began working in the Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group (ALFSG), and took over as the National

Press Officer.


In 1987, Robin was charged with “conspiracy to incite others to commit criminal damage” and received an 18 months sentence with 9 months suspended. Upon release, Robin co-founded Campaign Against Leather and Fur (CALF) and took part in, or initiated many other notable events, including becoming editor of the animal liberation magazine Arkangel in 1991, co-founding London Animal Rights Coalition in 1993 and being a founding member of London Animal Action in 1994.

Robin was also one of the organisers of the first UK Vegan Festival in 1998, held in London, which would later become the London Vegan Festival.

In 2004 Robin became involved in the Vegan Campaigns (London) group, and renamed the UK Vegan Festival to the London Vegan Festival. Some consider organising the first ever vegan festival in London to be one of Robin’s finest achievements. The London Vegan Festival has been held every year since, growing bigger each time and being an eagerly awaited event in the animal rights calendar. It has been seen as a model of excellence in the vegan world.

Robin also founded the “Way in the Wilderness” group in 2008 and “Christian Alliance for Love and Fellowship” (C.A.L.F.) (2009). Both groups promoting veganism within the Christian community.

Robin has generously agreed to engage ARZone members today on a range of topics. Would you please say hello to Robin and welcome him to ARZone.

Mangus O Shales:
hi robin

Carolyn Bailey:
Welcome, Robin!

Roger Yates:
Hi

Will:
Hi Robin

Melanie Baker:
Thanks for joining us today Robin :-)

Robin Lane:
Welcome everyone!!

Milan Chuchra:
hello robin

Brooke Cameron:
Hi Robin

Tim Gier:
Hello Robin, welcome!

Pearl Lotus:
Hi, Robin :-)

Valentine Vance:
Hello

Matthew McLaughlin:
Hi Robin

Ben Hornby:
Hey, Robin, welcome!

Ryan Garland:
hey welcome :-D

Carolyn Bailey:
Robin has elected to reply to all questions spontaneously today and is happy to take follow-ups to each question. If you’d like to follow-up on any of Robin’s replies, please PM myself, Roger or Tim.

I’d now like to ask Robin’s first question on behalf of Tammy McLeod.


Hi, Robin. It’s a pleasure. How do you think the animal rights movement has changed since you began campaigning in the early 80s?

Robin Lane:

When I started campaigning in 1983 there were a lot more people involved. Hundreds of people would storm into labs, there were home visits, the campaigns were on a larger scale. However, although there are fewer

people involved now, the campaigns are more focused, and I think more effective.


Roger Yates:
Thanks Robin... Next question comes from Tim Gier - Tim...

Tim Gier:
Hi again Robin, you have quite a varied background. For example, you were once the Press Officer for the ALF and now you run the London Vegan Festival. Do you think the direct action of the ALF does good work like the Festival does? Is one more legitimate than the other?

Robin Lane:
I believe that all forms of campaigning are equally effective, be it direct action or festival. It`s like segments in an orange - the ALF have a place within the movement, and their place is to cause economic sabotage. The Vegan Festival's aim is to help raise funds for various organisations.

Tim Gier:
Thanks Robin, the next question is from Roger Yates....Roger?

Roger Yates:
Hi Robin. There is talk of beginning an annual vegan festival in Ireland, probably in Dublin.

What advise would you offer in terms of organising, making a start, size, publicity, and then making it grow into something like the phenomenal success of LVF?


Robin Lane:
It`s important to work within the financial means of the group. Find a suitable location, starting with a hall which will house the amount of people expected to attend. Publicity is the key to a successful event. Do lots of research finding groups, caterers, speakers etc. We find a small working party works better than a large group. Total commitment is very important.

Tim Gier:
Thanks again Robin. Carolyn Bailey has the next question, Carolyn

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks, Tim. Hi, Robin. Could you tell us what is “vegan street theatre”, which I’ve read you have been involved in organising.

Robin Lane:
In 1984 the group I was in were campaigning against a vivisection lab. We boarded a train and conducted mock experiments. I dressed up as a vivisector and someone else dressed up as a baboon. We repeated this

throughout the entire train. Other times we've done something similar outside vivisectors homes, and also dressed up in animal costumes in the street protesting against the fur and dairy trades.


Roger Yates:
Thanks Robin.... The next question comes from Lee Hall - Lee?

Lee Hall:
Robin, could you say something about how the Campaign Against Leather and Fur (CALF) got started?

Robin Lane:
In 1989, myself and Ros were aware that their were no specific campaigns against the leather industry, so we decided to set up a group. We then decided that fur and leather were effectively the same thing -

the skins of murdered animals, so we combined the two and called the group `Campaign Against Leather & Fur` or CALF. At first we weren't well received within the AR movement, as we were considered single issue (which we never were). However, we were contacted by radio for interviews and some mainstream magazines, and the campaign filtered into the movement. Many non-leather companies followed our lead and now the leather issue is considered to be a natural part of the movement.


Tim Gier:
Robin, thank you for that response, Brooke Cameron has the next question, please Brooke?

Brooke Cameron:
Thanks, Tim. Robin, can you tell us about the last London Vegan Festival? Who were the guests? Was there any particular presentation which stood out?

Robin Lane:
I'll have to rack my brain as it seems such a long time ago (last year!). We had some great musicians, and the caterers were fantastic. Raw Food Creations are particularly popular as well as Veggies Catering. We had

talks on a range of subjects as diverse as Plane Stupid, Veganism within Christianity, Freeganism, as well as Lee Hall`s (disrupted) talk, and Mayhew Animal Home. We also had Yoga, meditation classes and massage as well as children`s activities - something for everyone.


Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks again, Robin! Tim Gier would like to ask another question now, please go ahead, Tim.

Tim Gier:
Thanks Carolyn In an interview about your work with the London Vegan Festival posted at Abolitionist-Online.com, you say: "We try to include everybody who is promoting a vegan cruelty-free way of life”...

There are some who would say that in doing so you are sending a confusing message which will lead the public to think that you might support violence and that you might.... ...support measures designed solely to improve the lives of other animals before we slaughter them. How would you respond to such criticism?



Robin Lane:
Well, we don`t support violent direct action, but we don`t consider economic sabotage to be violent: the ALFSG support AR prisoners. We welcome anyone who is committed to promoting veganism (except fascists). Our

aim is to educate and to encourage people to become vegan. However, there are lots of people out there with differing points of view and we try to appeal to everyone.



Roger Yates:
thanks Robin... Next Q comes from Will - Will?

Will:
Quoting Donald Watson, you have argued that ethical veganism is something that could “cure the world ills;” that when someone becomes a vegan consideration of other things automatically fall into place.

You describe a domino effect. You suggest that ethical veganism encompasses all the other issues such as animal circuses, vivisection, environmental concerns, etc. Is there any contradiction, therefore, between

this priority to promote veganism and your work with CALF, which some may suggest is a problematic single-issue campaign?



Robin Lane:
CALF was never single issue as we have always campaigned against all the issues that you've listed. CALF has organised all 12 London Vegan Festivals and they are far from single issue. We believe that ethical veganism must embrace ALL issues, and as John Lennon once said `you have to change your head`. Ethical veganism does that.

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks again, Robin!

Mangus O'Shales would like to ask a question now, thanks Mangus.

Mangus O’Shales:

The London Vegan Festival attracted 2400 visitors most recently. with the size of the population of London,
do you think there's something to the notion that vegan festivals are just “preaching to the choir”? END

Robin Lane:

We think that 2400 individuals is pretty good when the vast majority of people don`t appear to care about anything except themselves. We personally know of several people who have become vegan after attending the

festivals. The festival serves many purposes : to raise awareness, to help support organisation, and to act as a social base for vegans.



Mangus O’Shales:
Thanks Robin, I agree with you

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks so much, Robin. Brooke Cameron would like to ask another question. Thanks, Brooke.

Brooke Cameron:
Thanks. Robin. You report that numbers on demonstrations have fallen in recent years and suggest that smaller numbers of protesters have become more focused on particular targets. I have noticed a certain apathy

among modern-day students (unless the issue is their own fees of course). Are we witnessing the results of the Thatcher/Major/Blair years of "me, me, me" … and the emphasis on individualism and the consumption of endless glittering goods? Are you seeing any signs in Britain or elsewhere of a new generation more engaged in ethical issues?


Robin Lane:
I attended the anti-fur march in London today and there were lots of young people there. Although I do think that numbers have decreased, there is still a lot of AR activity. The campaigns against vivisection and the fur trade are two in particular. Thatcher did raise heckles, and Blair dampened people`s fighting spirit. However, the AR movement is solid and will continue regardless.

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks again, Robin. Lee Hall would like to ask another question next, thanks, Lee.

Lee Hall:
Robin, you have been in the movement about three decades now. Would you have any suggestions for a new advocate, for someone just making the commitment to animal rights? If there is one vital message a seasoned

advocate can offer a new adherent to the cause, what would that be?



Robin Lane:
When I started out I really believed we could change the world, but the world just seemed to get bigger and bigger!!! I would say to a new advocate to focus on changing ONE person at a time. Otherwise, looking at

the bigger picture can be too daunting. I've seen so many activists drop out of the movement. If the new advocate can get one person to become vegan then that is a great achievement. Also, that can have a knock on effect.



Roger Yates:
Thanks Robin. The next question comes from Ben Hornby - Ben

Ben Hornby:

Thank you. Hello Robin. How did the London Vegan Festival get started?



Robin Lane:
At the Vegan Society AGM in 1996, a proposal was made for an annual vegan event. I suggested a large event which by 1998 became the National Vegan Festival. The first one was organised by a small group of mostly Vegan Society trustees. With other festivals appearing around the UK we decided to rename the festival the London Vegan Festival, hoping that more regional festivals would appear. This has come to pass.

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks again, Robin. Tim Gier is up next again, thanks, Tim.

Tim Gier:
A prominent American activist in the animal advocacy movement told me the other day the relatively high percentage of vegans & vegetarians in the UK is evidence that “welfare” reforms & legislation do work to end the

exploitation of nonhumans.... His point was that even if the reforms themselves have the effect of legitimizing or condoning some forms of exploitation, because they raise awareness in the public's mind about the real lives at
stake.... ...some people are moved to go vegan/vegetarian as a result and so it is a net positive for other animals. Do you think that's true? (done)



Robin Lane:
I don`t think so-called `animal welfare` reforms create vegans. I think they just `allow` non-vegetarians to feel less responsible for animal suffering. I think that there are more vegans because of the work of the Vegan Society, Vegan Campaigns, festivals, food fairs etc.

Tim Gier:
Thanks Robin, here's Roger Yates again with the final pre-registered question, go ahead Roger

Roger Yates:
Robin, me old mate - Carolyn's intro stated: "Robin has campaigned tirelessly for veganism & animal rights since the early 80's, when in 1980, whilst involved in the anti-nuclear movement, Robin became vegetarian. He became vegan two years later, in the same year as becoming active in the animal rights movement." Did you ever demand payment for ANY of that?

In A Gadda Da Vegan:
What a shitty question

Roger Yates:
:-D

Robin Lane:
Well, It`s a fair question (albeit a little shitty:-( ) I have not claimed any money for any campaigning work I've done.

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks, again, Robin! This concludes the formal session of Robin’s chat today. I’d like to sincerely thank Robin for some great, helpful responses to some great questions. I’d like to open the chat up to anyone who wishes to address Robin further, and will start with CD39. Please go ahead, CD39.

Cd39:
As an abolitionist myself, I do see hypocrisy in that we teach ethical veganism and see no difference between racism, speciesism, sexism yet in our words often we say welfarist and with the tongue and malice that

reflects all 3, do you think that sometimes we are too judgemental of their actions?


2nd question I do believe animal rights campaigns should focus on factory farming as in abolish totally, and the anti vivisection/fur should be secondary and after we have made more significant progress against

the evil dairy/egg/meat industries do you agree?



Robin Lane:
I have seen racism within the AR movement and also sexism. I believe that ethical veganism must oppose all forms of exploitation. I think we should campaign against all forms of exploitation equally. The animals cant

differentiate.



Cd39:
just a comment, I too first went vegetarian about 1979 after an anti nuke then anti whaling campaign

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks, Robin. I have one question from Mel Baker, who had to leave. Hi Robin. Firstly thank you so much for taking time out to chat with us all today. My question is: As someone with fairly recent exposure to the world of veganism and AR I find the information and knowledge extremely overwhelming. There are so many issues of inherent cruelty, both legal and illegal and so few of us that care. How do you balance the need for knowledge and education and self preservation so you still have some “Robin” left and don’t burn out? Done (and thank you)

Robin Lane:
I have managed to stay focused in the face of adversity by constantly focusing on different issues. There are so many potential vegans out there.

Tim Gier:

Thanks Robin, Kate-GO VEGAN has the next question, but she's diligently transcribing the chat, so Roger will ask on her behalf, Go ahead Roger...



Roger Yates:
Thanks Tim, love.... Robin. Where did you stand on the controversy of using fire when you were ALF spokesperson?... I know activists claim that they clear buildings and vehicles before they set them ablaze… Since it is impossible to avoid killing insects and other small animals, what were/are your feeling about the use of arson?


Robin Lane:
That`s a good question...despite being ALF Press Officer I didn’t personally agree with arson. The so-called incendiary devices were not intended, as far as I knew, to cause fires, but to cause smoke to set off sprinkler systems.

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks, Robin! If there are any more questions for Robin, please let me know, otherwise this next question of Kate's will be the final question. Roger will ask on Kate's behalf again, thanks Rog.

Roger Yates:
Thanks Carolyn

Can you say more about “Road Peace,” the lobby for lower road speeds? This sounds like a wonderful idea.



Robin Lane:

RoadPeace (of which I'm a member) is a great organisation who lobby for lower road speeds and who support bereaved families. They supported me when Ros, CALF co-founder, was killed in a road accident.


Richard McMahan:

You could bring more people out to a demonstration in the 80's, but the numbers involved today, by way of the internet, appear impressive as well. Has there been a change in the numbers of activists, or possibly a

change in delivery?



Robin Lane:
Numbers are relative...the World Day marches used to attract 7,000 people and now they may attract 1,000. But 1,000 committed AR activists is an impressive amount.

Richard McMahan:
The numbers...membership sounds tragic. This is not my thinking.

Carolyn Bailey:
Are there any further questions for Robin?

Robin Lane:
I'm happy to take more questions...

Paul Gravett:
Er, I have one...

Carolyn Bailey:
All yours, Paul

Milan Chuchra:
Me too

Paul Gravett:
A newbie to list. Roger has been banging on about it for ages but I decided to join cos I have known Robin for a very long time!

The question is this: the AR movement in the UK has been pretty submissive in recent years due to state repression and the general state of apathy.

But we now appear to be entering a different political situation with a government that has declared war on the poor. Earlier this week there was a massive march by students - maybe as many as 50,000 - and a

section broke away and attacked the Conservative Party HQ and ransacked the building. There seems to be a lot of anger against the Tories. Do you think any of this will spill over into the AR movement? What can we learn from it?


Ironic that it happened on a student march, cos you often hear activists of a certain age say 'oh students aren't like they used to be!' (not me, I might add)


Robin Lane:

This Government certainly has declared war on the less well-off and I think they should expect more as witnessed by at their HQ. They blamed the riot on anarchists to try to deflect the justified action. I

witnessed very strong feelings today on the anti-fur march. Protesters are becoming sick of being manipulated by the government and police. I can see more action coming!



Roger Yates:
Tim has another question, Robin... Tim...

Tim Gier:
Robin do you think direct actions turn the public against animal rights activists?

Robin Lane:
Richard...there are more vegans but that doesn`t make them activists and it`s activists who get things changed.

Robin Lane:
Tim...I don`t think it does. People will support direct action if they feel it justified. People will become vegan when they are sickened by animal abuse regardless.

Tim Gier:

Thanks Robin



Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks, again, Robin!

Robin Lane:
Activists are people who are active, not just people who don`t eat or wear certain items.

Carolyn Bailey:
Are there any more questions for Robin?

Kerry Wyler:
I have one May I go ahead, Carolyn?

Roger Yates:
Go Kerry

Kerry Wyler:
Thanks Roger. Robin, You have been involved in the AR movement in Britain for many years. What do you think of the fact that anti-vivisection campaigns such as the ones against Covance, Hillgrove, Shamrock and HLS have made no difference to the state of vivisection in the UK? In fact, the use of animals in experiments

has actually gone up. Would you comment on that? Do you think that it says something about the fact that single-issue campaigns don't work?



Robin Lane:
I don`t think about campaigning as being single-issue. Lots of so-called `single issues` make a movement. The government are very powerful, and they are backed by the police and the courts. There are more vegans in the

UK now, and it`s become more mainstream.



Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks, Robin.

Kate Go Vegan:
Thank you Robin!

Richard McMahan:
I did demo's for years, the movement is only recently recovering from such televised visions. One need not stand on the street any more to be active.

Robin Lane:
Being a vegan is being active, as is any form of protest. We must all be and stay active in whatever form we feel comfortable with.

Richard McMahon:
Thanks Robin.

Carolyn Bailey:
At this time I'd like to sincerely thank Robin for giving so generously of his time today, and sharing his insight and experience with ARZone members. We really do appreciate your contribution, Robin. Thanks!

Tim Gier:
Thanks very much for your time Robin!

In A Gadda Da Vegan:
thanks robin!

Pearl Lotus:
Many thanks!

Robin Lane:
Thank you Carolyn, for inviting me on to AR Zone.

Sky:
thank YOU Robin

Barbara DeGrande:
Thank you!

Carolyn Bailey:
Our pleasure, Robin!

Mangus O’Shales:
thanks Robin

Matthew McLaughlin:
Thanks!

Brooke Cameron:
Thanks, Robin!

Roger Yates:
Great, Rob, thanks.

Ben Hornby:
Thank you!

Richard McMahan:
Thanks be to Carolyn all from ARZ.

Robin Lane:
I've really enjoyed being part of ARZ.

Roger Yates:
:-D

Richard McMahan:
:-)

Robin Lane:
Well, it`s 1am and Iim off to bed...:-D

Carolyn Bailey:
Thanks again, Robin. The transcript will be available in about 5 hours

Please, all, feel free to stay and discuss any issues which have been raised today.

Animal Rights Zone (ARZone) is a voluntary, grassroots, abolitionist animal rights social network created in December 2009 with the aim of encouraging rational dialogue in the animal protection movement through

forum and blog posts.


ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after a chat by starting a forum discussion or by making a point under a transcript.

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