Interview with the Head of the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust, Phil Wollen
(from IVU Online News)
About a year ago, a reader recommended that we interview Phil Wollen of the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust - www.kindnesstrust.com
- because of the great work the Trust does for human and nonhuman animals in Australia and elsewhere. Read more about Phil at www.deccanchronicle.com/...-855
Here’s an email interview with Phil.
What made you become vegan and when?
I was a merchant banker whose favourite meal was filet mignon and lobster. Many years ago I was mandated to act for a large corporate client and visited one of their main subsidiaries. It turned out to be a slaughterhouse. I had never seen a slaughterhouse before. My blood ran cold. This didn’t just turn me into a vegetarian. It turned me into an activist. Anybody who eats the murdered carcass of an innocent animal cannot claim to be compassionate - not with a straight face anyway.
The slaughterhouse turned my life around. I ultimately became vegan eight years ago when I saw what happens to millions of chickens - their beaks burned off, millions of tiny male chicks being hurled to their death into grinders, premature calves being deliberately induced and being killed by crushing to death. It is a crime of unimaginable proportions. It is so tiresome to still hear the hideous lies and self delusion from those who profit from this ghastly trade. There are no valid reasons to eat animals. Just excuses.
I am a vegan because I love life in all its forms. The life of a human necrovore is not a life. It is a life sentence. Short, nasty, and brutish.
What’s been the best part of being a vegan?
Being able to look in the mirror without feeling profoundly ashamed.
Have you found any difficulties being vegan?
Being vegan is the easiest thing in the world! I think you asked precisely the wrong question. You should have asked “have you found any difficulties being a necrovore?” And then I could have written several books on this particular subject without pausing for breath. I would find being a necrovore utterly impossible!!
What makes you happy?
Using the word ‘ahimsa’ in a speech or saying the ‘V’ word without getting a blank stare. When someone actually “gets it” is a great feeling.
What is happening with vegetarianism in Australia these days?
If you plotted the vegetarian metrics on a graph you would be delighted with the growth in awareness. If you plotted the growth in animals killed on the same graph you would be disheartened. More people are aware of the benefits of vegetarianism – but more animals are killed every day to satisfy the cravings of flesh eaters. On sheer mathematics, we are going backwards at a rate of knots.
Which rationale for vegetarianism – health, environment, kindness towards our fellow animals, world hunger – seems most effective in Australia?
It is difficult to be precise – but my guess is health and environmentalism. People deliberately close their eyes to the cruelty because it is the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is rampant – but to admit it is to confess to our cruel character. And we will tell any lie, concoct any frame of self delusion, if it preserves the myth of “humanity”.
What are your plans for promoting vegetarianism in Australia?
We currently support some 400+ animal projects in some 40+ countries, with shelters, clinics, ABC programs, schools, orphanages, biogas plants, ambulances etc. Our projects have a strong focus on non-human animals. To put it bluntly, we provide advice, encouragement, promotion and money to organizations that work for animal rights. The best way to do this is for humans to stop exploiting non-human animals for our own preposterous purposes.
One of our most “unusual” projects is Kindness House. It is our 40,000 square foot building in Melbourne and is home to around 300 young activists – Greenpeace, The Wilderness Society, Lawyers for Animals, Vegetarian Network Victoria, Sea Shepherd, Wildlife Victoria, Edgar’s Mission etc. We provide this massive “incubator” for NGOs to prosper and grow. The building has all the modern conveniences and technology that one would expect to find in a major corporate head office. The two most important clauses in the lease are “One, if you consume any animals in my building, we kick you out. And, two, if you have a dog, and don’t bring him to the office, we kick you out”.
Do you have a favourite movie/book/blog that inspired you that you’d like to share?
The simplest book of all - by John Waddell ‘But You Kill Ants/; Gary Francione’s ‘Rain Without Thunder’; Will Tuttle's book ‘The World Peace Diet’, The Abolitionist website www.abolitionistapproach.com
; and I recommend the films ‘Earthlings’, ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ and ‘A Delicate Balance’.
What is one lesson you have learned that might benefit other veg activists?
The main message is “Stop pussy-footing around”. Many activists are tentative, diffident, and timid. And I really don't understand why. After all, they have ethics, facts, science, film footage, and even the law on their side. But they still play every shot defensively. We need the guts to say it out loud and mean it. Meat and dairy is the new asbestos and tobacco. Activists could learn a lot from the tactics of the meat, dairy, fur, footwear, and hunting industries. These pernicious industries have infiltrated every aspect of life – the media, government, schools, the church and sport. By and large, the animal rights / welfare movement is an utter disgrace. They spend a lot of time bickering amongst themselves, justifying their failures or trying not to provoke the meat industry and their lobbyists. Frankly, many of them don’t deserve to be called activists. They are pacifists with faster broadband.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We now know beyond any shadow of doubt that the livestock industry releases more greenhouse gases than cars, trains, buses, ships, planes all put together - by a country mile.
We now know that meat and milk are four letter words for good reason. They kill. These noxious products are grossly inefficient sources of food for a hungry planet. They are profligate wasters of precious drinking water. They are indescribably cruel. And they are horrendous polluters of our rivers and oceans.
Clearly, it is no longer (just) an animal rights issue. It is a social justice issue. Make no mistake about it. Every morsel of meat we eat is slapping the tear stained face of a hungry child.
Unfortunately, flaccid governments are influenced by lobbyists who don’t care if our planet ends up in a ditch, as long as they get to drive. So we continue this ludicrous charade of governments pretending to be concerned about jobs - and caving in to the industry with subsidies for low paid jobs for unskilled work.
But the writing is on the wall. Intelligent people are fast learning that this planet is being trashed by an industry that is well past its use by date. The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones. The meat industry will end because we run out of excuses.