A more ethical 2014 for animals
Co-editor Katy Brown gives a personal view on what needs to change in 2014.
I would like to see an immediate end to any form of animal exploitation in 2014 and believe that this is something possible to achieve, if not probable.
While such a shift might not occur by the end of the year there are many concessions for animal rights and animal welfare which could be achieved in the very near future.
1) Ending animal testing
I would like to see concrete benefits for animals as a result of the 2013 European ban on the use of animals for testing chemicals for cosmetics purposes.
I would like to see manufacturers of all products, not just cosmetics, using the non-animal methods available to safety test products.
I would like to see companies putting animal welfare before profit by refusing to use new ingredients if doing so creates pressure to test those ingredients on animals. I would hope that consumers will continue to boycott companies which persist in using animal testing.
2) No come-back for fur
I'm hoping that the current trend in the come-back being made by real fur on our high streets will be reversed.
The farming of animals for their fur was banned in England and Wales in 2000, and in Scotland in 2002 on the grounds of public morality.
I would like to see retailers and designers uphold the spirit of the law by refusing to use or sell real fur, and consumers refusing to buy from any company which uses real fur and would like to see a ban on the import of real fur into the UK.
Given cosmetics testing on animals has been banned in Europe combined with a sales ban on the import of animal tested cosmetics, I see no reason why a European ban on the farming of animals for their fur combined with an import ban cannot be achieved.
Both are vanity products so surely the moral arguments are the same?
3) Enforce the hunting ban
I would also like to see the the hunting Act 2004, brought in to ban the hunting of foxes, deer and hares, properly enforced.
The act is breached by the hunting fraternity up and down the country on a weekly basis.
I would like to see the resources currently used by the police to harass hunt saboteurs who try to stop this illegal hunting used instead to enforce the hunting ban and prosecute those who flaunt it.
4) Circuses and greyhound racing
I would also welcome an immediate ban on both the use of any animals in circuses and on the use of greyhounds for racing purposes, activities with serious associated animal welfare concerns.
5) Stop scapegoating badgers
I would like to see a U-turn by the government on its policy of trying to solve the inherent problems in the dairy industry by culling badgers, both for the sake of the badgers – which are being used as an unfortunate scapegoat – and so that some more mature discussion about current farming methods can be had.
6) Changes to agriculture and diet
I would like to see a mainstream shift in the discourse around agriculture.
Our current farming practices are unsustainable and focussed on short-terms profits rather than long term viability.
Current levels of meat consumption are way above what is healthy for the planet and the human body and necessitate extreme levels of animal exploitation as farmers try to squeeze more and more out of the animals they profit from.
I would like to see government subsidies for sustainable plant based agriculture and money from the health budget spent on encouraging people to eat plants rather than animals.
Any investment in encouraging a move towards a plant-based diet would reap rewards in terms of savings for the national health service money as combined with other measures it can help reduce the risk of a whole host of diseases.
It has been pleasing to see a number of articles recently indicating that veganism is no longer seen as marginal or fringe but is instead becoming normalised.
Whilst veganism alone will not solve the world's problems, if adopted en mass a plant based diet would go some way to address many pressing issues in one go – land and water use, equitable access to food, health, climate change, animals rights and animal welfare – so it's unsurprising that as more and more people are introduced to the vegan diet and the arguments for adopting it, that it is starting to catch on.
Ultimately it is the meat, egg and dairy industry that causes the greatest animal suffering in terms of numbers, and also the industry that most people are directly linked to. If we want to achieve a world free of animal exploitation then it is this relationship that so many people have with animals that really needs to be challenged.
This isn't going to happen overnight and it's a process that has, is and will happen in a thousand different ways. In a society built on the oppression and exploitation of other people, animals and the environment it's a message that currently means swimming against the tide.
But perhaps the rising popularity of veganism is a sign that the tide is turning.
7) Continued Successes
When you constantly fight for change you often fail to appreciate the changes that have been achieved.
Over the past 15 years alone thankfully a number of major moral victories have been won for animals.
Let's hope this year that these achievements start to translate into direct positive impacts for the other animals we share this planet with.
Katy Brown, co-editor
See what some of our other staff are hoping for in 2014
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