10th September 2016

Amy McCready | @veganglaswegian




“the environmental, ethical, health-centred and civil liberties issues we focus on day in day out in our work, are inherently linked to the ethics and practices of veganism.”

Exclusively in her own words, Elizabeth Cole, co- founder and head agent of Evil Twin Booking Agency - who represent today's most thought provoking speakers - tells VC how environmental, ethical, health and civil liberties issues are inherently linked to veganism.


I worked in the vast media room of my university’s main library. I spent my days reading the stacks of newspapers and magazines and medical journals from around the world, and one of the stories that stuck with me was Eric Schlosser’s special report for Mother Jones about the injuries suffered by workers in slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants, whose negligent safety policies and desire for profit above all else damaged the bodies of their workers.


These reports opened my eyes to the reality of industrial meat, and the savage ways in which livestock are treated under the factory farming system.


This was when I was inspired to go vegan. For me, veganism is a natural extension of the activism I do.


It is my job to help people to create idea oriented events. Evil Twin represent speakers, performers, and films and operate on the principles of mutual aid, sharing skills and knowledge, wonder driven inquiry, and the achievement of human potential. We have helped organise events for people like Vandana Shiva, Glenn Greenwald and The Yes Men, and collaborated on a couple events with Edward Snowden - these were events and actions that brought attention to privacy and security on the personal level. So, the environmental, ethical, health-centred and civil liberties issues we focus on day in day out in our work, are inherently linked to the ethics and practices of veganism.

Veganism is the best way to treat the planet. It’s the best way to conserve water. It’s an equitable and fair way to allocate resources. The preventative approach of adopting a healthy vegan diet and making small lifestyle changes can beat pharmaceutical and surgical approaches to health. Dr Michael Greger emphasizes this in his awesome book, How Not to Die.

Well-known vegan documentary, Cowspiracy, directed by Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn, is truly a breath of fresh air next to the toxic lagoon of methane, feces, disease, cruelty and environmental devastation that is industrial meat and dairy.


It explores animal agriculture’s role as the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution – Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill.


I watched An Inconvenient Truth and wondered why Al Gore left the cattle industry out of his analysis of the root cause of climate change, so I appreciate the effect Cowspiracy has had on the global environmental conversation.

Elizabeth Cole and Ai Weiwei Image

Elizabeth seen here with the contemporary artist and activist, Ai Weiwei.  

More recently there have been other great actions using humour and snact-finalcreativity to entice people to a plant based diet. Drought-stricken California carnivores were bewildered and amused when a group claiming to represent the California Beef Industry released a series of video advertisements - featuring prominent vegan activists like Moby -advising them to stop showering and to drink their own urine in order to offset the massive amounts of water needed to make their burgers.


Despite being delivered by filth - smeared “beef industry reps”, the ridiculous call to action was still indistinguishable from typical inane corporate astroturf solutions, and so press outlets actually reported it as real.


In fact it was a hoax, engineered by culture jammers and activists The Yes Men, with help from a water conservation group, notorious vegan Moby, and Funny or Die.

The video is funny, but the reality is no joke.

More and more people are becoming aware of the shocking animal cruelty and consumer health dangers in industrial meat production, thanks to the efforts and exposes of activists and award-winning journalists like Will Potter. He focuses on the animal rights and environmental movements, and civil liberties in the post-9/11 era.


The animal rights movements and environmental movements pose such existential threats to certainindustries who make tons of money off of the slaughter and exploitation of animals, and of the control over environmental resources, that Big Ag is trying to criminalize journalists and whistle-blowers.


The reality of how industrial meat is produced is horrifying. So factory farms are doing everything they can to stop consumers from seeing how animals are treated via “ag-gag” laws that make it illegal to photograph the farms. Will Potter has found a way to use drones outfitted with cameras to investigate factory farms from a whole new angle.


The relationship between civil rights and animal rights is becoming clearer.


Yet in recent years, animal rights activism and environmental activism have become victims of extreme abuse of the criminal law to stifle non-violent political protest and simple political speech.


“Animal rights activists who release minks from fur farms are called terrorists. Yet Charleston Church murderer Dylann Roof is not considered a terrorist by the FBI.” - Elizabeth Cole, 2016.


Here in the USA, we have the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a draconian 2006 federal law heavily lobbied for by the agriculture, pharmaceutical and farming industries. This “terrorism” law is violated if someone intentionally damages property used by an animal enterprise with the intent of interfering with its operations. If you do that — and note that only “damage to property” is required, but not damage to humans — then you are guilty of “domestic terrorism” under the law.


To be clear, and to give an idea of how utterly devoid of proper perspective this is, animal rights activists who release minks from fur farms are called terrorists. Yet Charleston Church murderer Dylann Roof is not considered a terrorist by the FBI.


Ag-gag laws that prohibit workers in farms and animal enterprises from taking undercover videos at the facilities in which they work and imposes fines and jovial time for those who do, have been enacted by numerous states.


Factory farms, slaughterhouses and other industrial animal product facilities are so desperate to cover up their incomprehensible cruelty and savage behaviour that they are criminalizing reporting.


Ultimately, this savage and barbaric behaviour enters the human food chain, as cows and pigs who are too sick from their cruel mistreatment even to walk are dragged or pushed with forklifts into slaughterhouses.


AETA calling these actions terrorism is very manipulative because it makes it harder for animal rights activists to get a fair trial. Their ultimate goal is to have a chilling effect on free speech and to scare people away from activism.


Animal rights activism is a threat to corporate profit, but it also challenges the human precept that we are the centre of the universe.


For me, veganism is a natural and sensible option for living a more equitable and respectful life. Some of the most impactful changes we make in the world are through the quiet, non glamorous everyday actions we take, such as making small changes to our diet.


It’s certainly easier than doing nothing and waiting for the world to change on its own.