animals, vegan, consent, graphic images, veganism, images, book, animal agriculture, animal experimentation, distressing, treatment, treated, people, good intentions, expedient, talk, showing, emi, relate, bee eater
Emilia Leese 00:09
Hello, I’m Emi Leese and welcome to the latest episode of Think like a vegan, a companion podcast to our book, also entitled think like a vegan. In each episode, I’ll explore one topic related to veganism. One that might not be the focus of an everyday conversation, some we touched on in our book, and here we’ll have the chance to take a closer look. I hope these short talks will inspire you and expand the conversation around veganism. We don’t believe you need another source of heart rending pictures or descriptions of gore relating to animal farming attempting to guilt you into something that’s from the introduction to our book. When Eva and I wrote think like a vegan, we wanted to let people know we wouldn’t be using graphic images. It’s something I want to know when I’m going to engage with any vegan media. So we thought we’d owe that to readers. We didn’t delve into the reasons why though. In this episode, I’ll share with you my thoughts on using graphic imagery of animals. To some extent, exploring why or why not use graphic images of animals is a niche topic within a niche. You could say it’s extra, extra vegan, some people expect to see them and that expectation comes with a lot of trepidation. Some believe it’s necessary to show such images because they believe that otherwise, people won’t know what’s happening to animals. Essentially, they believe the images shock people into moral action. And some believe they’re bearing witness by sharing the images. My take is a bit different. I look at it from the angle of consent. We don’t have the consent of the animal to show them in their moments of deepest humiliation, distress, degradation and pity. Animal consent is possible in some interactions, but certainly not in the moments I’m talking about here. We wouldn’t show such images of people without their consent or their families. So why do attach animals? Yes, I know there’s exception in human context when we showed distressing images of people. But that’s just it. Those are exceptions. We have rows and rows of animal products. Everywhere we look, we’re surrounded and drowning in them. We’ve had animal agriculture for 10,000 years. The existence of animal agriculture and products isn’t a new occurrence that is exceptional. Yep. We choose to use graphic images and no consent. When it comes to animals, we use distressing images as a rule, we believe we’re entitled to do so because we have good intentions because it’s for their benefit. To show the world what happens to animals on farms, during hunts or in fishing. Showing graphic images is an expedient way of making a point. But what’s the intent? Or the point exactly? Is the intent to persuade people we shouldn’t be using animals in the first place? Or is the intent to show how they’re treated? When you’ve seen these images, has there been a clear message that the only conclusion is to stop using animals and adopt veganism? Sometimes that explicit message is there. And to an extent that that’s good. But sometimes the message is either Isn’t it awful how we treat them, or the message just isn’t explicit. The viewer is meant to arrive at that conclusion on their own, and is meant to be shocked into moral action. And I don’t believe that’s happening. After all, using graphic images has been around a long time, and animal use hasn’t abated. Quite the contrary. And if you are interested in what the facts and trends in global animal use look like. I discussed that in the money and politics chapter of our book. And anecdotally, I know people who’ve seen graphic images, videos and documentaries, and still don’t go vegan, and there are even some who take these graphic videos and photos who aren’t vegan themselves. And if the focus is on treatment, then we’ve got to examine that. While awful treatment of animals is indisputable. better treatment wouldn’t ultimately avoid animal slaughter. Using animals is the root of the problem. A symptom of that problem is how animals are treated, being concerned about how animals are treated before they become our food, clothing, furniture, or whatever else is a relevant inquiry. No doubt, the animals may be treated differently, but they’ll continue to die if we don’t tackle whether we should be using them in the first place. So focusing on how poorly animals are treated may push people to change the type of animal products they buy to something they believe is so called humane rather than stop buying animal products altogether. But back to consent, without it, and by showing graphic images. We further objectify animals, which is the thing we’re trying to persuade others to move away from in the first place. We make them the object of our pity or charity. We take away the focus from the injustice of what’s happening to them and focus more on our sense of outrage and guilt. So what can we do instead of we’re not keen on graphic images, and does my concern about consent applied to animals when they’re not distressed? We’ll talk about that after this dreamy soundscape recorded by Derrick Solomon just before dawn in the summer along the Luangwa River in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, you will be transported by the chattering of the Carmine bee eater birds and the roaring of the local lion pride. And we’re back with a few more thoughts about using animal images. I don’t have the same concern with consent when it comes to animals being free in their environment, whether that’s a wild environment or in a domestic setting. It may seem a dichotomy. And it’s certainly imperfect because we can’t obtain consent from an animal to take their image, irrespective of the circumstances. But showing an animal living their life with us or on their own terms in the wild, that has power. The animal has their autonomy and freedom. They’re their own being, they’re not our object. And please just set aside issues with domestication, which I am not getting into today. It may seem less expedient in terms of shocking into moral action to show a happy or free animal. But that’s not the animals problem. That’s our problem to solve. We have the facts and figures on animal agriculture, we can tell stories, we can build connections with others and relate to people’s sense of fairness, curiosity, and even kinship with one animal or another. We need to think creatively to change people’s minds and balance our good intentions with consideration for what’s fair for the animals too. Next time, animal experimentation in medicine, is there an alternative? Dr. Aisha Akhtar, the co founder of the Centre for Contemporary science will tell us about the Center’s work on showing how replacing animal experimentation with more effective methods of research and testing based on human biology yields better treatments, therapies and cures for people
Emilia Leese 09:12
that’s it from me, Emi leese. Thank you for listening. I’ll post a transcript and due course along with links and references to the materials we’ve discussed today, on our website, think like a vegan.com and the audio will also be available on Think like a vegan YouTube channel. Remember, you can get in touch by email at Think like a vegan email@example.com or find think like a vegan on most social media, or find me at Emmys good eating.com and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, subscribe to this podcast, share it with others and leave us a review. And for our book, Think like a vegan it’s on bookshop.org or anywhere you buy books and on your favourite audio book platform to order Ask your local library to carry it. Production credit goes to Jim Moore of bloody vegans productions. Music provided by Jenny Moore’s mystic business. The opening tune is flashbacks and we close with tear things up.