Here we talk with James of Toronto Pig Save and The Save Movement about farmed animals, ethics, diets, cruelty, and more.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you get into activism?
James: I got into activism about five years ago. I had been vegan for a few years and as time passed I felt more and more that being vegan wasn’t enough and I had a moral duty to get active to try and stop animal exploitation. I had seen Toronto Pig Save activists bearing witness to pigs en route to Quality Meat Packers, a now-defunct slaughterhouse in downtown Toronto, and decided to join them.
Jacobsen: What is your main form of activism?
James: My main form of activism is bearing witness. I think its the most effective and transformational form of activism for non-vegans and vegan alike. Meeting the victims, coming face to face with animals about to be murdered is incredibly impactful. It brings an urgency and realism to the reality of animal agriculture in such a powerful and visceral way.
Jacobsen: For The Save Movement, it focuses on farmed animals. What is the fundamental ethic here?
James: We focus on farmed animals as they are the most exploited, but we are against all forms of animal exploitation. We also have whale Saves, lab animal Saves, fur animal Saves. Recently we have expanded our Climate Save groups and now have over 100 locations around the world, demonstrating the link between animal agriculture and the climate crisis and deforestation. This year we will also be starting Health Save groups to focus on the health consequences of eating animals and the health benefits of a vegan diet. Fundamentally, animals don’t belong to us and aren’t ours to exploit or use in any way.
Jacobsen: What is the general treatment of farmed animals?
James: Farmed animals are treated abysmally all around the world. They are abused, tortured, raped and murdered. Animals are seen as products and objects to profit from, not sentient beings. So their interests and well being are not prioritized nor even considered.
Jacobsen: Some modern non-health experts and YouTube personalities have been promoting all-meat diets and ketogenic diets. Why does veganism follow from the work of The Save Movement? Why are all-meat and ketogenic diets all-of-the-sudden moderately ascendant among North Americans?
James: Fad diets are part of our culture, especially in North America and the West in general. Veganism at its core is about not exploiting animals and living a cruelty-free life as much as possible, not a diet choice.
Jacobsen: With reference to valid and legitimate sources, what are the health outcomes, in general, for all-meat and ketogenic diets compared to veganism?
James: Vegan diets are far healthier than non-vegan diets which cause a whole host of health issues. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Nutrition Facts have in-depth articles about the health consequences of non-vegan diets and the benefits of vegan diets. pcrm.orgnutritionfacts.org
Jacobsen: When do vegan dietitian, or simply vegan, claims become invalid and jump past the evidence?
James: Not sure what claims you mean and don’t want to hypothesize.
Jacobsen: For those interested in becoming involved in the reduction of unnecessary harm to farmed animals, what are some ways in which they can become involved with the donation of time, money, professional networks, and so on?
James: The most impactful thing an individual can do reduce unnecessary harm to animals is to go vegan and get active.
Jacobsen: Secular individuals tend to focus on the naturalistic. The ability to think and feel become important for them. For pigs, how much can pigs feel and cogitate? How does this compare to other non-human animals?
James: Pigs are intelligent animals that form bonds with other pigs and have higher cognitive ability than dogs and three-year-old humans. Their intelligence, however, isn’t relevant. They are sentient, experience emotions, feel pain, and like all animals want to live and we have no right to exploit and kill them.
Jacobsen: Skeptics may not accept the ideas of organic food or local food versus their contrasts. However, more plants and whole grains in the diet will probably be important to them. According to the most reliable sources (e.g., the Mayo Clinic, Health Canada, the World Health Organization, and so on), what are the benefits of a diet higher in plants and whole grains? What are the potential drawbacks?
James: Organic, free-range or local animals still end up getting murdered, no matter how well they are treated whilst alive. Vegan diets are far healthier than non-vegan diets which cause a whole host of health issues. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Nutrition Facts have in-depth articles about the health consequences of non-vegan diets and the benefits of vegan diets. pcrm.orgnutritionfacts.org
Jacobsen: What is the purpose of the erection of glass walls in slaughterhouses as advocated by Toronto Pig Save?
James: The ‘glass walls’ theory was popularized by Paul McCartney who claimed ‘If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.’ The reality of animal agriculture is kept hidden from the public and thinking being this quote is that if people could actually see the suffering and murder they are supporting, they would choose to stop supporting it. By bearing witness, people are removing the ‘walls’ and seeing the truth.
Jacobsen: What have been the impacts in other locations if this has been a tactic advocated and practiced by other organizations?
James: We have over 600 Animal Save groups around the world now and work closely with other organizations. Bearing witness has been embraced by other groups and we have had joint vigils with groups such as DXE and PETA. Ingrid Newkirk, president and founder of PETA has attended vigils in Toronto.
Jacobsen: What are the potential downsides of this tactic, as some may see this as dramatic?
James: The reality is that animals in their billions are being completely unnecessarily exploited and murdered every single day. We are conditioned from infancy to think this is normal, natural, and necessary so some people may think it is dramatic to stand up for them. However, in truth, it is none of those things and being active is a moral duty for those who have broken the disconnect. Even if people are initially disparaging when they see us, the seeds are planted, and it may encourage them to question their beliefs and make changes.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, James.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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