ACTIVISM ANTICS WITH TIM SHIEFF
Tim Shieff has grown a successful channel on YouTube and in 2015 started his own clothing company: Ethics and Antics. Their ethos is simple but effective: you can have fun with activism, and since forming, their brand has become instantly recognisable in the vegan community.
Shieff explains, “I had a youtube channel Tim Livewire Shieff and about two years ago I started to vlog more and at the end of it I said 'Subscribe for more Ethics and Antics'. That became sort of a mantra and motto, you can be ethical – respecting the planet and animals, but it’s not about being too serious and straight with it, you can still have fun.
The first t-shirt Ethics and Antics made was the NAGEV which the eagled eyed reader can see is the word vegan backwards. This was a considered move by Tim, he wanted to ensure that their products had a subtler message behind them, “I had saw a lot of vegan clothing companies and it just said ‘Vegan’ on a shirt or it was quite aggressive slogan-activism and I didn’t want to wear that. I didn’t want to be anti-anyone or be like you shouldn’t do this or you shouldn’t do that, I wanted to make it more fun and light-hearted.”
This subtle approach in promoting veganism is borne out of Tim’s belief that veganism is a transition for many people, it’s a decision most people will not make overnight.“There was a point where I was ignorant to vegans and the hardest thing is trying to remember how that felt when you didn’t understand veganism and what approach would’ve worked for you. Shouting in my face wouldn’t have worked.”
Having met two vegans in America who were not aggressively pushing the “message”, Tim began thinking that veganism wasn’t so extreme after all. A few years later he became vegan,
“They never pushed it on me, they never shouted at me and I think that’s what is lost in the vegan community today sometimes. We’ve got to be gracious vegans, there’s a lot of classlessness going on, it’s rude and there’s no humanity in it.”
Despite his subtle approach, Tim believes that veganism is about taking an ethical stand in these times of - as he calls it – balance. “What I love about vegans is that they’re not wishy washy, there’s too many wishy washy people in the world. They’ll be like, ‘aw it’s about balance, not being extreme for anything’ that upsets me.” A stand that reflects Tim's work in 2014 with PETA, when he first became aware of the Glasgow vegan scene. “I was in the PETA headquarters two years ago and they’d just announced Glasgow as the vegan capital of the UK and I thought, ‘That’s great, I need to go visit Glasgow again’” Since visiting the city he has been fairly impressed by the number of vegan places here. “Just to see how many pubs are vegan here is unreal, there’s nowhere like it in the UK.”
He picked up on the growing vegan culture here in Glasgow and was encouraged that these places were accessible to everyone. “Even walking into those places, there wasn’t that many vegans there I don’t think, it was just people that were going out. That’s how we get the message to the masses, it’s great – setting an example.”
So where does this entrepreneurial vegan see veganism going? “Veganism is going to grow, for every one person that might be leaving veganism, there might be twenty, thirty or fifty people who might be turning vegan.”
And it’s a choice that Tim sees as irreversible: “You can’t unlearn this stuff, you can’t plead ignorance, you can’t see animals suffer and then contribute to it on a regular basis.”
“Even if people stop being vegan, they’ll probably be vegan twice as much as they were before going vegan. You can’t hide this stuff. In five to ten years I think 50% of the UK might be vegetarian and that’s the first step.”
His positivity for the direction of veganism is infectious, for Tim veganism is a choice that can have a direct and positive impact on yourself and others: “It’s about overcoming a challenge, meat and cheese tasted good to me so making a choice that was for the greater good rather than for my own selfish desires empowered me and strengthened me. I’ve stepped into a truer version of who I am and that’s what veganism is about – living the truer self of who you actually are.”
With Tim’s growing following on social media his voice is one that is heard over most, however with this comes a greater responsibility to ensure veganism is taken seriously. In these times where YouTube and other social media platforms are a growing resource of information for the younger generation, it’s important that the content being shared on these platforms can help set an example rather than just being a place of self-promotion and preaching. With his subtle and measured approach, it’s clear that Tim is making that transition to activist veganism more accessible and ethical. As he says himself, “It’s about exploring and having adventures.”
Check out Ethics and Antics at: www.ethicsandantics.com
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