Sunday, December 4, 2016

Veganism in Politics-- Britain's new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism

Good news-- in the UK, an "All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism" has been formed. This group will be made up of politicians from various UK political parties, and it will aim to promote legislative change that will have a positive impact for vegetarians, vegans, and the issues that matter to us (which may include "food and medicine labelling, vegetarianism and veganism as protected beliefs, impact of diet on climate change, and institutional catering provisions", according to the group's website,).

Photo from the Vegan Society's website.
The Vegan Society, the Vegetarian Society, and Vegetarian for Life are collaborating to form this group. The groups has four "Officers": Christina Rees (Labour MP), Kerry McCarthy (Labour MP), Henry Smith (Conservative MP) and Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (Green Party Peer).

I don't know whether all the Officers of the group are vegan or not, but I do know that Labour MP Kerry McCarthy is vegan, according to The Vegan Option podcast (see link below).

According to the Vegan Society,
"The APPG on Vegetarianism and Veganism will be a great platform for discussion and learning, with the aim of encouraging legislation change.
This will be a forum for exchanging ideas and concerns relating to vegan and vegetarian issues. Speakers will be present at each of the quarterly meetings, providing an insight to their various expertise. Experts, leaders in their fields and parliamentarians are all welcome to join."
As the Vegan Society mentions, "The APPG on Vegetarianism and Veganism is an important opportunity to get veganism on the political agenda."

I think that it's extremely important for veganism to be acknowledged in political forums. If we want to create a world in which all animals are free from abuse and exploitation, it's important for veganism and animal rights to enter all major areas of society, including (but not limited to) popular culture, industry, media, commerce, law, education, and, indeed, politics.

I'm glad that this group plans to put a focus on veganism, rather than farm animal "welfare" reforms. Although I respect my fellow vegan activists who take a "welfarist" approach to farmed animals, I never spend my time advocating for farmed animal "welfare" reforms. The problem with simply enacting more farmed animal "welfare" reforms (such as putting chickens in bigger cages, etc.) is that "welfare" reforms don't work to eradicate the underlying exploitation of the animals, and they often don't translate into a big change for the animals, anyway. Rather than encouraging people to go vegan and therefore stop the inherent cruelty of exploiting and killing our fellow sentient beings, arguing for farmed animal welfare reforms is ignoring the fact that exploiting and killing animals is fundamentally wrong. Although I would never advocate against farmed animal welfare reforms, I believe we can save more of these animals and transition to a vegan world faster if we focus our energies on veganism and animal rights. I hope, therefore, that this group will keep the focus on vegans/vegetarians and veganism.

If you're interested in learning more about vegan politicians and how veganism has begun to make its way into the political realm, The Vegan Option podcast has a three-part series called "Veganism in Politics". Part 1 includes interviews with some vegan or vegetarian MPs from Britian, the US, and India who were in office at the time the episode was recorded. Part 2 has a Q & A with three vegan British MPs, and Part 3 is the recording of a debate in the British House of Parliament on World Vegan Day. You can also read about two more vegan politicians in a blog post on The Vegan Option's website here.

If you are a member of the British public and would like to attend the first meeting of the APPG on Vegetarianism and Veganism, you can RSVP on the group's website. If I lived in Britain, I would be very keen to go!