Jenny McQueen is the Administrator of Animal Rights Toronto. Here we talk with about non-human animal rights within the context of her personal narrative.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you become involved in non-human animal rights?
Jenny McQueen: I was gifted a subscription to a Vegetarian UK magazine back in the early 90s, and started reading about animal agriculture and the dairy and egg industries. I had no idea before that – nothing was taught in school, and there was no social media at that time.
Jacobsen: What is the basic ethic behind non-human animal rights?
McQueen: The basic ethic is that animals are sentient, and that it’s absolutely unjust to kill them and torture them for their flesh, secretions, for entertainment, research and to use as clothing. The injustices meted out to animals is often hidden from view. Wildlife is being decimated for animal agriculture and the pollution of the earth’s water and air by animal agriculture is out of control. Horrendous mutilations and confinement have become industry standard, as has the commodification and ownership of animals.
Jacobsen: How did you find Animal Rights Toronto?
McQueen: I helped found Animal Rights Toronto with a small group of activists in 2015/16. We wanted to provide a guide to all the events happening in Toronto and beyond, and a link to useful resources. We created a resource for people who weren’t already connected to activists on social media, hence the website and Facebook page with a calendar of events.
Jacobsen: What is your current role within it?
McQueen: I’m one of the admins of ART. We have a small team of people who look after the Facebook page, the email and the website. We have provided speakers for schools, have attended vegan events with information booths, and write letters in support of animal rights campaigns.
Jacobsen: What have been important successes and failures to learn from, in the history of Animal Rights Toronto?
McQueen: We’re very proud that we’re able to maintain a calendar of events from many different organizations in the Toronto area, and that we provide a link to resources. We also share important campaigns on our Facebook page which now has thousands of followers. A failure? Being disappointed in the numbers of people still unaware of the issues faced by animals. We’re against an industry that receives subsidies, that has millions in advertising dollars and that has managed to keep its practices hidden. We hope to change that.
Jacobsen: Who have been the opposition to advocacy for non-human animal rights?
McQueen: The usual negative remarks are people who don’t consider animals worthy of campaigning for. We remind them that you can care for human rights and animal rights, and that one is not mutually exclusive of the other.
Jacobsen: For those with an interest in becoming involved in activism for non-human animal rights, how can they do it? How they donate money, time, or effort, specifically to Animal Rights Toronto?
McQueen: We don’t ask for donations, but we do encourage people to attend the events listed on our pages. If we were to accept volunteer time, it would be for matters of research or of data entry to our website.
Jacobsen: Any recommended books or speakers?
McQueen: This year, Liberation TO is planning a conference in August, and will have a roster of speakers. If you were looking for a local speaker for a specific event, please contact us. Notable internet vegans? James Aspey comes to mind. TheVeganJunction.com has a list of 15 top animal rights books to read. My current book is “The Pig in Thin Air” by Alex Lockwood.
Jacobsen Any final feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?
McQueen: Animal Rights is something that everyone can become involved with. Every meal is a choice whether to eat animal flesh or not. Vegan options are now everywhere and are healthier for the human body, for the planet and obviously help to spare an animal from a life of misery, from confinement, transport to slaughter and an early, nasty death.
Animal Rights is a social justice movement, one that focuses on animals.
Activists are currently challenging laws that protect the industries of animal agriculture. In Canada, I (Jenny McQueen) am facing criminal charges for documenting the conditions inside a pig breeding factory near London, Ontario. #PigTrial2 has been featured in the media and highlights the difficulties experienced by those working to expose the horrors inside the many white sheds now blighting our countryside.
Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Jenny.
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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