Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
To help the bacon and eggs go down easier, many people like to believe that animals do not feel pain, live good lives and are killed humanely. Don’t kid yourself. Goats cry like babies on seeing other goats slaughtered and cows fight for their lives, just as you would if an electric prong was about to go up your arse. Cows, dogs, cats, sheep, pigs all grieve, play, suffer depression, experience joy and happiness, develop friendships and enemies.
Dogs and cats bred for animal testing are no different from your pets – beagles are specifically used because their friendly and gentle nature means they are less likely to bite the hand that hurts them. They may not have many ‘Oh my god, isn’t the universe a big place?’ moments of enlightenment, but plenty of people don’t either. Just like humans, animals anticipate, feel and remember pain, physical and mental. To paraphrase animal behavioural specialist Roger Mugford, animals are ‘very well aware of their own tomorrow’.
Behind the label
In the UK, the ‘Organic’, ‘Free Range’, ‘Red Tractor’ and ‘Lion Quality Mark’ labels are all designed to make the consumer feel better about what they eat, but it’s not so clear-cut. Free range can mean anything from a penthouse suite to inadequate shelter, drainage and grazing. And let’s face it there is no such thing as a free-range abattoir.
The Lion Quality Mark is concerned with food safety but not animal welfare; some 75 per cent of hens producing eggs for this label are battery hens.
The Red Tractor symbol doesn’t exclude intensive farming and battery eggs, and an investigation by Compassion in World Farming said this label was ‘more concerned with creating the image of welfare rather than the reality’.
It’s hard to get straightforward information on cosmetic testing. Companies say ‘We don’t test our product on animals’, but that doesn’t include ingredients. Similarly, ‘We don’t test our ingredients on animals’ doesn’t mean the parent company hasn’t done so. To be sure, only buy products that meet the Humane Cosmetic Standard (HCS), such as the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) rabbit and stars logo.
The Humane Household Products Standard (HHPS) is the only internationally recognised scheme identifying household products not tested on animals. This is the only scheme that requires independent audit of the supply chain and that BUAV recommends.
Shoes to die for
It’s not only the fur trade where animals die for fashion. Angora rabbits object strongly to being shorn, often dying in the process. Sheep suffer pain and stress and leather is not a by-product of the meat industry but an industry all of its own. Cruelty-free shoes and trainers have come a long way from sweaty, naff plastic – see www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk and New Balance vegan and sweatshop-free trainers at www.veganline.com/trainers.htm
Meat is murder for the environment too
Over a lifetime the average meat eater consumes some 2,400 animals. One of the most significant things you can do for the planet, your health and animals is to follow a plant-based diet.
Farm animals are responsible for some 13 billion tonnes of waste each year, polluting soils and rivers, as well as huge amounts of methane and carbon dioxide. It takes 100,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of beef and only 900 litres for a similar amount of wheat.
Dairy cows have the cruellest life of all farm animals – a shock to veggies who believe they are doing the right thing by excluding meat but keeping dairy. Milk is pumped full of antibiotics and, more often than you want to believe, it contains puss from cows suffering mastitis. Switch to Vegetarian Society-approved goat and sheep milk, yoghurt and butter produced by Woodlands Park Farm.
Sheepless in Settle
You don’t think it’s unnatural for sheep to stand motionless in a blizzard? They would much prefer to be in nests and burrows. Sheepdrove Organic Farm must have the happiest sheep on the planet, free to nest, wander through chicory fields, with herb strips for self medication, balanced diet and foraging. Their chickens and pigs are kept in similar luxury – www.sheepdrove.com
Most leading brands of household goods, such as Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Proctor and Gamble, use animal experimentation on dogs, rabbits, pigs, guineas pigs and mice just so our clothes can smell like a ‘spring meadow’ and furniture of lavender.
Try Faithinnature ‘Clear Spring’ brand of cruelty- and phosphate-free, biodegradable products – www.faithinnature.co.uk. The Co-op own-label household products also all meet the HHP standard –
Vitamins and minerals
There is no getting away from animal experimentation in medicines and it’s a similar story for most vitamin and health supplements. Viridian is one of few with strong anti-testing practices – www.viridian-nutrition.com
The police spend little of their time making arrests, and most crimes are not solved, writes Alex Vitale – their real purpose is social control
Many important things happened on conference floor, reports Alex Nunns – but you wouldn’t know it from reading the newspapers
Radhika Desai says Capital by Karl Marx is still an essential read on the 150th anniversary of its publication
The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Universal credit isn’t about saving money – it’s about disciplining unemployed people
The scheme has cost a fortune and done nothing but cause suffering. So why does it exist at all? Tom Walker digs into universal credit’s origins in Tory ideology
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum
The rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people are not guaranteed – we must continue to fight for them
Kennedy Walker looks at the growth in hate attacks at a time when the Tory government is being propped up by homophobes
Naomi Klein: the Corbyn movement is part of a global phenomenon
What radical writer Naomi Klein said in her guest speech to Labour Party conference
Waiting for the future to begin: refugees’ everyday lives in Greece
Solidarity volunteer Karolina Partyga on what she has learned from refugees in Thessaloniki
Don’t let Uber take you for a ride
Uber is no friend of passengers or workers, writes Lewis Norton – the firm has put riders at risk and exploited its drivers
Acid Corbynism’s next steps: building a socialist dance culture
Matt Phull and Will Stronge share more thoughts about the postcapitalist potential of the Acid Corbynist project
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going