Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

I was close to being killed last Saturday.

This is a picture of my poor bike, confirmed as a write-off since the front end is smashed up pretty bad. A car pulled out right in front of me and I lost control of the machine trying to avoid a collision. Luckily I came off on the right hand side of the bike, which then hit the car as I slid passed the rear of it. Although it is a cliche, my life passed before my eyes.

One image I seemed to have was of when I was waiting outside a store in Scunthorpe with my son, who was about 4 years old at the time. He was eating pieces of an orange if I remember right and a man approached me saying in all seriousness, "don't be rotten, give him some sweets."

A recent Facebook entry by the mighty Elizabeth Collins reminded me of something else from the past. Elizabeth posted this message: "I very much regret my 34 years of not being vegan." This reminded me that, in the early 1980s, I used to apologise to the "meat" as I passed by butcher's shops in Liverpool because I had not been about to do anything to save the nonhuman animals involved.

I think all this is linked to the pain campaigners often feel deep inside and the issue of burnout. In my 30+ years of campaigning, I've seen a lot of people come and go as one might expect. It is true that some of the brightest lights have burnt out the soonest and I still feel that fierce frustration about the fact that we have not achieved animal liberation yesterday - many yesterdays ago in fact. However, that's just not the way things work: in the absence of revolution, social change is slow, generational and incremental.

One advantage of being "at it" for so long is seeing the changes that younger campaigners don't see and certainly do not appear to appreciate. For example, when I decided to live vegan in 1979 in England, there was not a single type of soya milk on the market - no soya ice cream, none of that fake meat and cheese (assuming that's your thing), apart from "textured vegetable protein," a foodstuff with possibly the most off-putting name ever.

Obviously the availability the vegan foods and other goods on the shelves means little in itself - but social ideas have shifted too. A little. Gone are the days when the only vegetarian restaurants were called "Cranks," and people tend not to faint so quickly at words and phrases like "vegan," "animal liberation" and "animal rights" any more. If new and recent  animal advocates could be transported back to the late 1970s and early 1980s just for a day or two, I think that they would see that thingshave changed and changed for the better.

Don't think this is about complacency or sitting back - its about context.

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Comment by Carolyn Bailey on June 25, 2011 at 14:30
It must have been serious, for you to miss half of the ARZone guest chat last weekend! Very lucky you had an excuse!


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