> AR Interviews
US OR THEM: THE 'VEGANS FOR ANIMALS' INTERVIEW
Interviewed by Claudette Vaughan.
Vegans for Animals (VFA) are a newly formed group of animal right activists in Australia. They are provocative and their emphasis is result orientated for non-human animals. They are going where others dare not tread. We speak to Michael Roads about veganism, abolition and Australian animal rights movement.
Q. What did you think of the recent 4 corners expose of the RSPCA?
A. I think this is wonderful for the truth about how little the RSPCA do for anything that isn't cute 'n cuddly was long overdue. Some of it was bias reporting as usual but at least it went in the way of those that can't speak up for themselves for once. I wish the interviewer hassled Hugh Wirth a bit more as he looked like such a bullshit artist to anyone who knows anything about them. His total opposition to battery hens is such a contradiction to their business deals with Pace Farms the disgrace farms. Any one in the know will tell you how bad Pace farms are and the RSPCA get their "liberty eggs" off them? They must have missed a few letters, maybe they meant "unliberated eggs". Now that the truth is known lets hope we see the changes we have all worked so hard to achieve actually happen, not just become yesterdays news.
Q. What do you think of the animal rights movement in this country?
A. We need to address this issue of new welfarism we see coming through before talking about animal rights. Welfarists to one side if the room, rightists to the other side. Anyone left in the middle needs to get off that fence before they get kicked off it! A lot of people are calling themselves animal rights activists who don't even get the fundamental basic concept of animal rights let alone veganism. Animal rights start at home and in the supermarket. It is our daily lives that mean the most. Every time you drink milk, eat cheese you are causing a calf to be stolen from its mum. As a child whose mother was a member of the stolen generations (courtesy of white rednecks with power) I would never want to put that on a human or an animal through child separation, as the way I see it there is no difference.
Q. What about people work in the Movement who are not vegans? Does it work for you?
A. It is my opinion one cannot work in the animal rights movement until one leads an animal rights lifestyle, it just doesn't work. As long as you eat eggs and drink milk than you can't advocate for the animals you are taking from. "If your lips are white with milk it is because someone else's are red with blood" (source unknown). It is called having a vested interest. Free range is an improvement on many current farming practices, but it isn't an animal rights viewpoint. No compromise all the way. Start compromising, lose the big picture. Why bother improving conditions pre-slaughter? Why not get rid of the slaughter completely? When I say this to people within the animal rights movement I get told, "it will never happen in our lifetime" to these compromising hypocrites I say, "yeah well let's make it happen for the next one". If you are not a strict vegan you are not an animal rights activist or abolitionist in my view. Animal rights activism starts at home. Going vegan isn't as if you are losing a kidney, there is no physical reason not to. In fact there are plenty of physical health reasons why you should! Let alone for the sake of the animals you are killing, raping and imprisoning for their products most have acquired a taste for.
Q. What are your thoughts on the ultra-conservative side of the Australian AR/welfare movement who critise direct action as a legitimate tool because they themselves wouldn't do it?
A. The ultra conservative minds in Australia are usually the ones with the most say in what goes on. This is where a major issue lies. E.g., If some people don't see eye-to-eye on issues it ultimately affects the animals, and after all that's why we are here. Some people only focus on one issue, which is good as long you are active and don't just talk about it. Actions speak louder than words so go do some action and stop talking about it. If you don't have the guts to do the action than don't tell those who do what you think they should be doing. Do it yourself. That is what it comes down to with these mindsets. If you won't do what needs to be done, don t criticise those that do for the methods they apply. I am always open for new ways of doing things, as long as those with the idea are willing to as well. Otherwise it is a gesture, a thought with no voice.
Q. What about animal rights activists promoting free range eggs?
A. I would like firstly say, don't promote anything you haven't seen. Don't tell people to buy a certain companies egg just because it says free range. Free range is still murder. The hens when they stop laying still get turned into pet food and baby food the same as the spent battery hens do. Activism starts at home. Everytime you walk out of the supermarket with no animal products you are acting for animals. Everytime you walk out of the supermarket with animal products you are undoing all the good work you may have previously done for animals. Free range meat is still bad news for the animals, bad for the consumer and bad for the environment. By promoting free range you are basically saying it is all right to exploit animals as long as they can move around before you slit their throats. A contradiction that means we will never achieve our goal of freedom for animals. People say we need to get free range, as it is a step-by-step process. It appears that many have stopped moving and if they are the steps are getting so small they aren't worth taking. 2cm for battery hens isn't worth shit to the hens, they don't want to farmed at all. How about we stop caging them and exploiting them as we have no right to?
Q. What are Vegan For Animals doing about broiler chickens?
A. VFA has been doing a lot of actions for the broiler chickens behind the scene. There was a big story on page 3 in one of the biggest weekend papers, which I am not naming as I won't endorse any mainstream media, (more than 3,00,000 people would have seen it) last September, just before we made our first trip down to Portland. Although it wasn't a VFA action VFA members did almost all the groundwork and we went in the shed and did the raid. VFA members had been regularly holding KFC demos at the main shop in Newcastle. I was running the campaign in Newcastle. The VFA were the only people there week in week out. We were there every month with this huge Colonel Sanders mask. I would wear this mask and people thought I was handing out KFC vouchers. In the end I said I was and they would take it walk in the shop and stand still for a minute while they read it. It was hilarious! We have done plenty of raids on broiler sheds, not so many rescues as we have nowhere to put rescued birds. For the benefit of those who have never been inside a broiler shed I will give you the lowdown. A huge shed with no windows. A concrete floor that always has a layer of shit on it. No ventilation and automated feeding and watering system, which has been known to break down. The birds are grown at a rate now that means their tiny little legs can't support their massive body weight. They can only manage a few steps at a time as the pain is too much, and these are the "healthy" ones. The others are too sick and disabled to move. They lie under the feeder and drinker and wait for the scraps to come their way. They can't access food and water, which is illegal, however tell the authorities this and it is as if you are talking to a brick wall. Actually a brick wall would be better as it least a brick wall doesn't pretend to care whilst profiting from their suffering. I shot some footage last year when we were on a rescue and it got sent to all the agriculture ministers to show them this is what they support. Got no feedback from them. Had a meeting with the Deputy CEO and Chief Inspector of RSPCA along with Mark Pearson, myself and another VFA member. The RSPCA guys instead of asking about the cruelty complaint that was made, were hassling me about bio-security and how did I get in the shed to film it. I was shocked as I thought we were there to discuss a cruelty complaint instead we discussed how illegal what I did was and how many laws I broke in the process. I more or less told them to fuck off if they weren't here to discuss what I was there to discuss and I will continue to break those laws until they do their job. I looked the chief inspector in the eye and said "Why is it up to people like me to do your job. I don't have the law on my side, I don't have more than $20,000,000 bank balance and I don't have the legal power. So why am I doing your job?" He didn't like this. The dickhead didn't even know what soy milk was!
Q. I've heard you talk about intensively-farmed turkeys before and it's true what you say. They are one of the few animals where you can wade through their death camp and they do not run and are not scared of people who want to do them no harm. They huddle around, and are curious to get to know you and why you are there and they are awesome. With Xmas coming up, what's the news about the turkeys?
A. Turkeys were the first raid I had ever been to. I remember all these turkeys coming at me and I looked at Mark Pearson who was leading the raid and asked "What are they doing?" He said they are checking you out. Don't make sudden movements and all will be well. About half an hour later they had all been over and checked us out. I started wading through this mass of animals. I didn't know what to think. I remember sitting down to see it how they see us. Turkeys are amazing. These animals, like mother sows, don't know who we are and don't care. If you are threatening them or their young than they will attack you. It was my first raid/rescue. As I was bending over to attend to a sick and dying turkey I got pecked on the arse. I looked around and this big turkey was looking at me as if to say "leave her alone or I will attack you". I will never forget that. Here you have animals sick and dying everywhere and when you go near them the "healthy" ones will stand by them and not let you hurt them anymore. However this turkey must have realised we were not there to hurt them, in fact the exact opposite, and left me alone to rescue his sick and dying friend. Animals know if we are there to help them. For instance when we raided a particular battery hen farm. We were about twenty of thirty metres from this guys house. The lights are on and obviously some one is home. The birds and dogs that night did not make one sound. Not one. Now you try to tell me that was a coincidence. I think not. They knew we were there to help them and knew they didn't want to attract any undue attention.
Q. What are Vegans for Animals plans for the future?
A. Plans for the future. Keep raiding these places and keep exposing the truth. We won't ever give up. Vegan pride till the grave. VEGAN FOR LIFE. If there is anyone who can house rescued animals please get into contact with us.