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
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice.
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
The snap general election represents a unique opportunity to defeat this terrible government. We believe that visual artists have a crucial role to play!
Drax is the UK's biggest source of CO2 emissions – and we're paying for it, writes Almuth Ernsting
For the past 3 years, Barby Asante and members of London-based artists' collective, sorryyoufeeluncomfortable, have been responding directly to the vision of James Baldwin. Ahead of the nationwide release of a new film about the American activist and author, they reflect on the enduring relevance of Baldwin in Britain today.
Housing campaigners' gains in Bristol are spurring on a national movement to build a renters' union, writes Stuart Melvin
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
Rahila Gupta talks to Kimmie Taylor about life on the frontline in Rojava
It may seem as though these apps are working for us, but we are also working for the apps, writes Kurt Iveson
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally
Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill
Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility
Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports
From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform