In the run up to the Campaigns Coordinator election on the Green Party Executive (GPEx), I answered these questions asked to me by Greens for Animal Protection (GAP).
Greens for Animal Protection (GAP) is a Green Party initiative which aims to develop policy on animal protection issues and also campaign for animals.
They are now published here for all members to read. Please feel free to ask me a question.
- Are you aware that there is a group within the Green Party that was formed specifically to advocate for non-human animals both within the Green Party, and externally through campaigning? Do you believe the Greens For Animal Protection should be represented on the new Green Party council?
Yes I am fully aware of the Greens for Animal Protection group and I support the work of the group. I take the view that humankind should live harmoniously with wildlife, nature and the environment and that includes the protection of animals.
I think the new Green Party council structure that is being proposed as part of the Holistic Review should aim to be as diverse as possible, and more importantly representative of our different groups in the party. I do believe that Greens for Animal Protection should be represented, alongside many other essential bodies in the party: Young Greens, Greens of Colour, Jewish Greens, LGBTQIA+ Greens to name just a few.
2. Greens for Animal Protection (GAP) have consulted on and written amendments for the Agriculture Bill currently going through Parliament, to support our Green Peers and MP.
Will you make sure in your role that you encourage others in the Green Party to use and recognise the expertise and knowledge of GAP members, and how might you do that?
I think it is great that GAP have been mobilising members to respond to this consultation about the Agriculture Bill. As Campaign’s Officer, I want to ensure our campaigns are evidence-based, relevant and formed in partnership with pressure groups and allied organisations.
Firstly, it’s great that GAP have captured the evidence needed to be able to run a very relevant campaign around the Agriculture Bill, but also that GAP have really strong links with campaigning groups and organisations who we can work alongside to ensure it’s not just the Green Party banging the drum.
I believe in autonomy of groups in the party, and therefore I would love to work with and consult GAP members in the event of any animal-rights/animal-welfare campaign or issue that may present itself during my term, but ensuring that GAP, as experts in this field are taking the lead.
3. There is a campaign currently being run by an animal advocacy organisation that is calling for changes to the statutory requirements for schools to serve meat, fish, eggs and dairy a number of times per week. Would you support this campaign?
I had not already heard of this campaign, but I would like to say that in my professional career I currently work at the World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts on a programme called Girl Powered Nutrition. I work with Girl Guides all over the world to help them to advocate for injustices around adolescent nutrition.
Adolescence is a time when young people’s bodies are changing, and they require nutritious food, vitamins and minerals to ensure life-long good health. Good nutrition is essential for young people. Eating too little, too much or the wrong types of food can affect school performance and healthy development.
The girls participate in a badge through the programme, where they learn that it is essential to eat a ‘Rainbow Plate’, a diverse mix of different food groups in order to stay healthy. In many countries we work, meat and fish along with rice are often the cheapest things for the girls to eat, and they often struggle to find fruit and vegetables.
Of course this is different in the UK, but I do worry about opposition to this campaign on the basis that young people do require a mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, fibres, fats and vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy. If many protein elements were to be taken away, young people run the risk of underdevelopment. The meat, fish, eggs and dairy would have to be substituted by a reasonable supplement or nutritious alternative for this to work.
4. The Green Party has opposed the badger cull since it was trialled by Labour in 1997. There has been little on GPEW campaigning platforms since the announcement of new cull licenses and an extension to the cull was made in June by Natural England.
Do you think the Green Party should be more vocal on this topic and support those campaigning against it?
I think Greens for Animal Protection have been incredibly strong on this issue, encouraging members to write to their MP and local councillors demanding the cull is stopped, and to take direct action in their area and on a national platform.
It’s current Green Party policy that we would replace the cull with a humane vaccinations programme for both badgers and cows, and introduce rigorous TB testing, tighter controls for the movement of cattle and take action on the intensification of farming which worsens the spread of disease in cows.
It’s shocking to me that the Conservatives continue to make the badger cull an election promise. I think The Green Party have a strong position to call out their negligence publicly: using our communication channels and elected officials in both Houses of Parliament.
5. Green Party Core Value 5 states: ‘Our actions should take account of the well-being of other nations, other species and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of others.’
How will you take account of the well-being of other species in your role representing the Green Party and members?
Like I have said previously, I believe that Green Party campaigns must be evidence-based, relevant and formed through interactions and partnerships with pressure groups and civil society. I am a progressive and radical campaigner, a believer in direct action, and an advocate for diversity and inclusion of marginalised groups (and this includes animals).
It is important our campaigns are relevant and spearheaded by people with lived experience. So where animals cannot speak for themselves, I would consult the Greens for Animal Protection on any issue or relevant campaign that tackles an animal-rights or animal-welfare issue.
6. The loss of biodiversity around the planet is something that many scientists are very worried about. Many call it the 6th Great Extinction. Core Value 2 states: ‘Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. We do not believe that other species are expendable.’ The percentage of farmed animals is now estimated to be 60% of all mammals on earth.
Do you feel the Green Party should be more vocal about the harm that farming animals is doing to the planet and non-farmed animals?
We are on the verge of an unprecedented climate crisis with unparalleled mass extinction of human and animal kind, and loss of our natural world. But species extinction and ecosystem degradation are as big a thread as climate change. We depend on the functions of the natural world to pollinate our crops and purify the air we breathe. Biodiversity is our foundation. If we ignore the damage that foundation will collapse.
I think for a start, advocating to eat less meat, go vegetarian or vegan is a great way for us to reduce demand for farming animals in the UK, and in turn reduce methane gas into the atmosphere, but also the carbon footprint of the meat and fish we eat. I think the party has been very vocal on this so far, in every public speaking opportunity, on social media channels and even our very own Co-Leader going vegan hit the headlines.
But more must be done. I worry that too much of this message makes us seem too much like the righteous, virtuous and often white, middle-class stereotype we are often branded. But there are other ways we can combat this message too. By talking about alternatives to meat, fish and dairy, which often the general public are completely unaware of, and talking about other ways to reduce our impact on the environment: stopping flying, airport expansion, unnecessary transport infrastructure for example.
7. Green Party policy AR411 states: ‘A reduction in the consumption of animal products would have benefits for the environment, human health and animal welfare…The Green Party believes it is imperative to act and will actively promote an immediate transition from diets dominated by meat and other animal products to increasingly plant-based diets…’
Do you believe the Green Party should demonstrate a belief in its own policies and principles by making Green Party events and premises a minimum of vegetarian, and preferably all plant-based, including Conference?
Like I said in my previous answer, The Green Party should do all it can to promote the reduction in consumption of meat, fish, dairy products for example. But I believe people should have the autonomy over their own choices, and especially ones that concern their body or their health.
From my experience on the Green Party Conference Committee, I know that often there are greater costs to incur with ensuring a venue is completely plant-based, both for the party and for the end consumer. Many of our members simply would not be able to afford any extra costs on top of the expense of Conference accommodation, travel, entrance ticket etc. Many members also face allergies or eating disorders which mean they only eat a certain type of food.
I think it’s definitely important for Conference Committee to ensure venues offer a large variety of food: plant-based, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, halal, kosher and other food to ensure all our members are catered for, but it should be down to the individual to make their own choice.
8. There have been 2053 deaths of racehorses in the last 10 years, Dusty’s Choice was the most recent casualty, who fell and broke his neck at Uttoxeter on the 6th July. In one year, 2018, 4,970 greyhounds were injured whilst 710 died or were destroyed as part of the sports industry. If you were asked the question would you support the banning of these sports?
Unquestionably, yes. It’s Green Party policy to end the exploitation of animals in horse racing, greyhound racing and all situations where animals are commercially raced. I support this policy and support the banning of these sports. Animals should not be used for personal entertainment or gain in the sports industry.
9. Using animals for scientific and military purposes continues to grow. Funding for and acceptance of non-animal alternatives has been almost non-existent, and in many cases blocked.
Will you support GAP in campaigning against the use of animals in science and the military, except where it is being done to benefit individual animals?
I support the Green Party policy to ban all experimentation and research which harms animals, including harmful procedures used to obtain animal-derived materials. I support Government funds that are currently funding animal tests to be transferred to non-animal technologies.
10. A court ruled recently that veganism is a protected characteristic under equality laws, and that ethical vegans should have protection from discrimination.
Will you commit to protecting the rights of vegans in receiving support from not only wider society, but specifically the Green Party, to ensure they come to no harm either from discrimination or by being exposed to prejudice and lack of respect or care for their beliefs?
I found it very interesting that the tribunal in Norwich ruled that Jordi Casamitjana’s case about ethical veganism being a philosophical belief that is protected by law against discrimination. I support this, because I think many people have experienced discrimination for being ethical vegans, and for standing up for what they believe in. Nobody should be discriminated on for what they believe in or for what they care about, and this is just one example of that.