one struggle conference

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Mon, 2012-02-20 09:45

One Struggle – a conference on social justice, animal rights and radical environmentalism - took place in Muizenberg last Saturday (18 Feb) thanks to the South African Vegan Society.

The conference focused on the rights of animals, the environment and human beings.The conference focused on the rights of animals, the environment and human beings.

Hearing about the One Struggle conference, I was immediately excited; the South African Vegan Society represent a genuine passion for true authentic societal change, and I knew this would be reflected in any event they organised.

When we arrived in the afternoon, Jodi Allemeier was busy giving her talk on veganism and food security in Cape Town: explaining how being vegan is better not only for animals, but for people and the earth too. The young lady really sounded like she knew her stuff, and displayed all the facts to back up her statements.

‘We may be making attempts to save water in our home due to turning off taps and showering instead of bathing, but when 85% of our water waste is on our plate it is important that we re-evaluate our diet. And this is not mere theory – the U.N. have been urging people to eat local and plant-based for years,' she explained, adding: 'But it is not just our diet that must change, but the production system of our diet.’

Opening up discussion to the audience, there were

comments about how ludicrous it is that South African produced food is being exported while some locals starve, all in the name of our political economy. There was also mention of the fact that some of our best agricultural technologies are being used not to produce food, but grape crops to make wine for exporting.

How can we create a better world for all living things?How can we create a better world for all living things?

After touching on some of the worker exploitation issues of the meat and dairy industry, Jodi explained how growing our own food is beginning to make more and more sense. She ended her talk with the suggestion that food security could be achieved through the abundance of community gardens, after which somebody from the audience hinted that perhaps we need to shift to more indigenous plant species.

Next up Les Mitchell from the Institute for Critical Animal Studies gave a fascinating talk on the language we use when refering to animals. He pointed out that there exists a perpetuating ideology that we are superior to all other sentient beings, and how this is clear in our – often unconscious - verbal discourse. Good examples of this is how calling someone a ‘pig’ is considered an insult, and that the word ‘brutal’ (from the word ‘brute’, to mean animal) is another way of saying ‘cruel’.

Les suggests that it is due to our deliberate use of language around the subject that society has remained numb for so long towards the sordid truth of enslavement and murder that is animal production. He questions the evolutionary hierarchy we have created and if it is fair to continue using this as an excuse to justify the acts of violence inflicted daily onto millions of animals around the world.

If we were to work together, we could more likely create changeIf we were to work together, we could more likely create change

During his talk, Muna Lahkani of Earthlife Africa suggested that the real reason change is still out of reach is because most people are afraid of challenging the current paradigm. Armed with hard-hitting statistics, he went on to highlight current issues including the mal-distribution of wealth, children dying every day from curable diseases and that the world’s pollution is placed next to its poorest peoples.

‘It is only when we begin to think differently that we can change the world more easily than we think,’ Muna said. ‘There really is an abundance on this planet for all, but we need to start educating ourselves and stop thinking that capitalism is the only system that can work.’

I think what I can take away from this conference is the idea that all activist organisations and individuals are ultimately working towards the same outcome: one of a better world, of more equality and justice. Although the word ‘struggle’ has negative quotations, perhaps if we were to work together in unity – One Struggle - it would be easier to create more positive societal change?