The Best in Vegan Education
JUNE 29, 2009
Other than being a vegan, the most important actions you can take to help animals who are used for food are: Give generously to organizations that help those sentient nonhumans directly, such as Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary , Maple Farm Sanctuary , Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary and Eastern Shore Sanctuary. Encourage others to go vegan by educating them about the issues, and particularly about why we should not accept alternatives to eating animals that include eating animals (i.e., if they are "farmed" or slaughtered in a certain way). I have always been a believer that film is the ultimate medium for thought change, and then behavior change for the average person. Of course, the precise nature of the film is crucial to its success as a vehicle for conversion, and I'm sure you've all seen and perhaps even participated in debates about Earthlings and its degree of efficacy. (As you are likely aware, very few people can actually get through the film in one sitting, plus the first third, about "pets," sends the troublesome message that puppy mills are the problem, rather than breeding in general.) What makes Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home the best in vegan education and animal rights education is that, without getting too much into the hideous treatment of anyone, James LaVeck and Jenny Stein (a.k.a. Tribe of Heart ) have managed to leave the viewer no option that includes eating animals. The film addresses the humane myth straight on, with unprecedented transparency in the discussions of animal farming, by simply letting its characters tell their personal stories. And the characters know better than anyone that animals cannot be farmed humanely, as they, for the most part, are all people who once profited from the use of animals. ( Note: I have not seen the final cut but one prior, and the story remains the same, though the percentage of time devoted to each story might be different. ) I've not had great luck veganizing anyone through books. Someone has to be very, very committed to learning and to challenging their thought processes to read a book they know is in direct contrast to the way they think. I'm not saying it cannot or does not happen (e.g., I still hear people say they went vegan after reading Peter Singer). However, everyone wants to see a good film and even if it's challenging to the way they think, it's an under-two-hour commitment and an easier sell. But in order to make sure that there is broad access to the film, it's got to make it to the public. And in order for that to happen, it's got to have funding. You might not be in a position to write a pamphlet or book or blog (or even interested), and even if you are you are there's no guarantee of your reach or success. But you probably can donate $10 to Tribe of Heart, though you might have to forego a couple of soy lattes. Give generously to Tribe of Heart. To my knowledge, there is currently no opportunity like this for vegan education. This film does show some anguish in the eyes of animals, and that's always a very powerful image. But Peacable Kingdom: The Journey Home is the only feature film that shows the anguish in the eyes of people --people who were courageous enough to risk everything by admitting they were wrong and standing up for what is right. I'll never forget the eyes of the dog who had been shot and was thrown, alive, into a garbage truck as it the truck closes on him in Earthlings. But at the same time, I'll never forget the haunted eyes of Harold Brown and Cheri Ezell-Vandersluis as they speak about their lives as animal farmers. Tags: Activism Current Affairs Ethics Film.