Daily Mail

Sacked ve­gan’s ‘dis­crim­i­na­tion’

As an­i­mal rights ac­tivists de­mand ve­gan-friendly al­ter­na­tives to some of our most tra­di­tional say­ings...

- By Christo­pher Hart Animals · Animal Rights · Wildlife · Food · Ecology · People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals · Macbeth · Veganism · League Against Cruel Sports · Ingrid Newkirk

A TRI­BUNAL will be asked to de­cide whether ve­g­an­ism is a be­lief tan­ta­mount to a re­li­gion in a le­gal first.

Jordi Casamit­jana claims he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports af­ter rais­ing al­le­ga­tions that its pen­sion fund was be­ing in­vested in com­pa­nies in­volved in an­i­mal test­ing.

He claims he was un­fairly dis­ci­plined for re­veal­ing this to col­leagues, and that the de­ci­sion to dis­miss him was be­cause he sub­scribes to ‘eth­i­cal ve­g­an­ism’.

Eth­i­cal ve­g­ans try to avoid com­plic­ity in all ex­ploita­tion of an­i­mals – in­clud­ing not us­ing an­i­mal-tested prod­ucts.

Mr Casamit­jana’s lawyers said eth­i­cal ve­g­an­ism sat­is­fies the tests re­quired for it to be a philo­soph­i­cal or re­li­gious be­lief, which would mean it was pro­tected un­der the Equal­ity Act 2010.

A spokesman for the League said Mr Casamit­jana was not sacked be­cause he raised con­cerns about the pen­sion. His case will be heard in March next year.

These days, you need to be par­tic­u­larly pig­headed to dare to take on the New Cen­sors and their po­lit­i­cally cor­rect or­tho­doxy.

In­deed, that very phrase ‘pig-headed’ falls foul of their re­cent dik­tats. Ap­par­ently, id­ioms in­volv­ing any hint of an­i­mal cru­elty or ref­er­ences to dairy and meat are set to go out of fash­ion due to the rise of ve­g­an­ism.

We’re ad­vised of this by Dr sha­reena hamzah in an ar­ti­cle for a web­site called The Con­ver­sa­tion — de­scribed rather grandly as a col­lec­tion of ‘indepth anal­y­sis, re­search, news and ideas’, which ‘of­fers in­formed com­men­tary and de­bate on the is­sues af­fect­ing our world’. (In­ci­den­tally, there is no men­tion the word ‘web­site’ might be of­fen­sive to spi­ders!)

so long-es­tab­lished phrases such as ‘flog­ging a dead horse’ could be whipped out of ex­is­tence. In­stead, when en­gaged in a fruit­less task, the New Cen­sors think peo­ple should say they are ‘feed­ing a fed horse’.

how­ever, that lame phrase doesn’t have quite the same ring, does it? And are we re­ally sup­posed to be­lieve that talk­ing about ‘flog­ging a dead horse’ — a vivid phrase — may ac­tu­ally lead to some­one flog­ging a dead horse?

In ar­gu­ing that our lan­guage is likely to change to avoid of­fend­ing an­i­mal lovers and ve­g­ans, Dr hamzah cites re­cent pro­pos­als by an­i­mal rights char­ity, Peo­ple for the eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals (PeTA — see box right).

I have no doubt that the mo­ti­va­tion is one of gen­uine con­cern for an­i­mal wel­fare. But a cam­paign such as this, that med­dles with cen­turies-old lan­guage to purge it of sup­pos­edly sin­is­ter phrases, is pre­cisely the kind of dotty ap­proach that harms the an­i­mal wel­fare cause.

It con­jures up just the kind of pie- in- the- sky an­i­mal rights zealotry which has done so much dam­age to the rep­u­ta­tion of the move­ment over the years.

Last month, there were hoots (sorry, owls, no of­fence in­tended!) of laugh­ter when PeTA (again!) called for the vil­lage of Wool in Dorset to be re­named Ve­gan Wool. It wrote to the par­ish coun­cil say­ing this ‘would put Wool in the spot­light and pro­mote kind­ness to sheep’.

The 2,000 house­holds of Wool were of­fered ‘ cru­elty-free’ blan­kets if they agreed to the change. SIM­I­LARLY,

in North York­shire, the own­ers of the shoul­der of Mut­ton pub in he­worth Green changed its named to the he­worth Inn for fear of of­fend­ing vege­tar­i­ans and ve­g­ans.

such mad­ness ig­nores the re­al­ity that ‘ve­gan wool’ is of­ten made from polyester fleece, and is there­fore far worse for the en­vi­ron­ment than biodegrad­able sheep’s wool. The sound in­vig­o­rat­ingly blunt when pro­duc­tion of wool, by shear­ing, spo­ken in our eu­phemistic and costs not one sin­gle an­i­mal life. mealy-mouthed times.

It also dis­re­gards the fact that But this is not so for the likes of the he­worth Inn likely still serves the del­i­cate flow­ers of PeTA.

‘There’s more than one way to skin guests ba­con at break­fast. a cat’ is one phrase that gives them

In­ci­den­tally, ‘bring­ing home the sleep­less nights. As an al­ter­na­tive, ba­con’ is another phrase that they sug­gest: ‘There’s more than could dis­ap­pear. PeTA’s black­list one way to peel a po­tato.’ of much-loved id­ioms in­cludes Nor do they like the phrase ‘Let those be­long­ing to an era when the cat out of the bag’ — as if it most peo­ple lived off the land, sur­rounded might en­cour­age a dark de­sire to by horses, cows, sheep, stuff hap­less mog­gies into bags. pigs and chick­ens. The leaden lit­eral-mind­ed­ness of

This is pre­cisely why most of us these fa­nat­ics would be hi­lar­i­ous if en­joy these peas­anty old max­ims it was not so dan­ger­ous. Per­haps and their earthy wis­dom — they they think care­less talk about ‘but­ter­flies in the stom­ach’ may en­cour­age heart­less peo­ple to roam the coun­try­side, swal­low­ing net­fuls of brim­stones, cab­bage whites and pearl-bor­dered frit­il­lar­ies?

And yet that re­ally is what PeTA seems to sug­gest on its holier-than-thou web­site. It speaks of ‘per­pet­u­at­ing vi­o­lence to­wards an­i­mals’ and ‘nor­mal­is­ing abuse’.

Another id­iom that of­fends the ac­tivists’ twitchy bunny noses: ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one bas­ket.’ In­stead, we’re urged to use the phrase: ‘Don’t put all your berries in one bowl.’ ( I think they’ve missed the point on this one. You don’t put all your eggs in one bas­ket be­cause if you drop it, they all smash — but if you drop a bowl of berries you can pick them up again.)

so here it starts to get truly baf­fling, for those of us liv­ing in The Real World. Is it cruel to put eggs in a bas­ket? What if you just put a few eggs in a bas­ket, rather than all of them — is that OK?

Ah, but that’s not the point to the wise ones at PeTA. We should all just stop eat­ing eggs. eggs mean chick­ens, and keep­ing chick­ens is cruel. so, eggs are out. We shouldn’t even men­tion them in po­lite con­ver­sa­tion, the way Vic­to­ri­ans didn’t men­tion un­der­wear. The same goes for any an­i­mal prod­uct you can think of. Per­haps PeTA should pro­duce a ve­gan-friendly Bi­ble, con­tain­ing such phrases as: ‘A land flow­ing with soya milk and ve­gan honey,’ or a bowd­lerised shake­speare, in­clud­ing Lady Mac­beth’s line about ‘the al­mond milk of hu­man kind­ness’. But the most bonkers of PeTA’s sug­ges­tions is that in­stead of ‘killing two birds with one stone’ we should ‘feed two birds with one scone’. It’s a lovely im­age, but surely feed­ing gar­den birds scones would be cruel in it­self, since it would fill them up with­out pro­vid­ing the nu­tri­ents they re­ally need. This mad­ness only makes sense if you adopt PeTA’s extreme world view whole­sale. Its sup­port­ers be­lieve all an­i­mals are our equals. In­deed, its founder In­grid Newkirk once said: ‘There is no ra­tio­nal ba­sis for say­ing that a hu­man be­ing has spe­cial rights. . . A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.’

If the sur­rey-born ac­tivist, an au­thor of books such as 250 Things You Can Do To Make Your Cat Adore You, gen­uinely be­lieves she would hes­i­tate be­tween choos­ing to save the life of a rat or a hu­man, then this world-view is not merely dotty but morally re­pel­lent.

And let’s not for­get that, risk­ing far greater of­fence, PeTA once com­pared the holo­caust to the fate of in­ten­sively farmed chick­ens.

‘I would rather see a blank space where I am,’ Ms Newkirk has said. ‘At least I wouldn’t be harm­ing any­thing.’ One senses that Ms Newkirk would rather see a blank space where all hu­mans are…

For all the rich com­edy here, there re­mains a dark­ness at the heart of an­i­mal rights ac­tivism: that of true mis­an­thropy, how­ever they might deny it.

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