George Martin is a Spokesperson for Anonymous for the Voiceless. Here we talk about Anonymous for the Voiceless.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Although, the organization is an anonymous-oriented one. I will still ask if you’re willing. What was family and personal background? What is the story there?
George Martin: For me, and for most others in the group, it was the same. We were all raised non-vegan, but came to veganism later in life. I grew up supporting all forms of animal exploitation. I am the only vegan in my entire family (including extended) and it’s the same for most of us!
Jacobsen: How is Anonymous for the Voiceless providing activism on-the-ground for total animal liberation? Also, what is implied by the phrase “total animal liberation”.
Martin: The focus of our activism is the ‘Cube of Truth’ demo, whereby we take to the streets and present ourselves as a static art piece which shows graphic footage of the animal exploitation industries (meat, dairy, eggs, leather, vivisection, etc.). We talk to bystanders about veganism and give them information (in the form of a card) which allows them to go away after the conversation and look into some of the stuff we’ve talked to them about themselves (documentaries, YouTube videos, books, studies, etc.).
By “total animal liberation”, we mean that we are in no way a welfarist group, i.e. we do not promote so-called “humane” methods of animal exploitation like “grass-fed” or “free range”. We are an abolitionist group, so we are trying to promote the message that there is no right way to do the wrong thing, i.e. that there is no nice way of enslaving and murdering a sentient being who does not wish to die.
Jacobsen: How can individuals work to assist Anonymous for the Voiceless, either directly or indirectly?
Martin: The amazing thing about AV is that any vegan can set up their own chapter (we use the term “chapter” to refer to a certain city/town’s demo group), wherever they are in the world. All they have to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org stating the chapter they wish to set up and we do all we can to assist them setting one up, including sourcing volunteers and promoting their first event. People can also donate to the organisation via cubeoftruth.com
Jacobsen: What are other individuals or organizations doing similar animal rights work?
Martin: There are many other brilliant outreach groups out there, such as Earthlings Experience, which is the same principle (showing footage to bystanders and conversing with them about the footage). With regards to specific individuals, it is hard to pick one out, as the Cube of Truth is very much a team-based demonstration, so it’s not something solo activists generally do.
Jacobsen: What is the fundamental ethic underlying the work of Anonymous for the Voiceless?
Martin: That animals are not ours to eat, wear, use, experiment on, and do as we please with. We also promote the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet, but our focus is on the ethics of using animals.
Jacobsen: What have been effective tactics and strategies of Anonymous for the Voiceless?
Martin: Many activists within the organisation run “outreach workshops”, which aim to improve the skills of volunteers and get them more confident speaking to bystanders. We also have a highly organised structure, with lots of documents that our volunteers can read to help them prepare for their demonstration and ensure everything is conducted in a professional manner. We pride ourselves on our effectiveness and professionalism, and as such, our demos yield results (we know this because it is a common occurrence that people join our group having previously passed by our demonstrations as a non-vegan themselves).
Jacobsen: What have been honest failures and real successes of Anonymous for the Voiceless? How can others learn from the failures and build on/replicate the successes?
Martin: The organisation was founded by Paul Bashir and Asal Alamdari a few years ago, and through trial and error we have found what works and what doesn’t. One thing we found that didn’t make our outreach as effective at first was the type of footage we showed on some occasions. For example, we’d show footage to bystanders of cows and pigs at sanctuaries, showing them that this is how animals SHOULD be living, but this didn’t work because many bystanders mistook this footage for “high welfare” farm footage and assumed we were a welfarist group. As such, we removed it and focused only on the graphic stuff so the message was clear. We also focused too heavily on the food industry previously, which is a mistake, because we are not there to just promote a diet–we want to make it clear to people that animals are also enslaved and abused for clothing, for cosmetic products, and for entertainment. So our message from this to other animal rights groups is to make sure there is a very clear vegan message if you want to see real results (otherwise people will just change what they eat and not what they wear, or what they brush their teeth with, and so on!).
Jacobsen: Any recommended authors or speakers?
Martin: I cannot speak for everyone in the organisation as we have thousands of volunteers all over the world and there is no one thing we all agree other than that we are vegan… but for me, personally, I highly recommend watching Gary Yourofksy’s ‘Best Speech You Will Ever Hear’ on YouTube. That’s what changed me in the first place (back in 2012 when I came across it by chance while online one day, as a meat eater!) and it’s featured on our outreach cards that we give to bystanders also.
Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
Martin: Yes! I would like to address my fellow atheists reading this: many atheist non-vegans say veganism is like a “religion” in order to discredit it, but nothing could be further than the truth. Vegans are not trying to show you anything that is NOT directly observable–it’s not faith-based in the slightest. In fact, there is a quote that is extremely relevant to the graphic footage we show people to document the reality of what happens to animals every day because of most people’s consumer choices: “Religion is getting people to believe in things they can’t see. Veganism is getting people to see things they don’t want to believe.”In fact, we are very much conditioned into eating animal products from birth–no one naturally sees a dog as friend and a cow as a food source… it’s all a learned prejudice, known as “speciesism”. So the reasons we have for viewing various species of animals as we do are completely arbitrary–these are merely learned prejudices.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, George.
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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