Vegans and McStrike

Back from Holiday my work kicked off the following day with two protests, the 2017 Official Animal Rights March which started from Hyde Park and later the McStrike rally at McDonalds HQ in East Finchley.

I’m  not a Vegan, and find some of their righteous indignation rather trying. Should we eat animals? I look to nature and eating animals seems a very natural thing to do, though I think we should do so in ways that avoid unnecessary suffering.  From our earliest days man hunted animals and ate them, and the whole mesh of nature is one of predators and prey. Why should we believe that people shouldn’t farm and eat cows, pigs and sheep but not equally campaign against lions eating antelopes or other prey? Veganism seems to me to be against nature, and many farmers take great care over the animals who would not have been brought into existence without them.

Of course I’m against the cruelties of some intensive agriculture, and accept the environmental arguments that eating less meat would be good for the planet – and happily often eat meals without meat or fish, and pay more for some foods which are ‘free range’ or ethically produced.  And I’ve no problem if some people decide to forgo meat or even all animal products, but I do object to them claiming some ethical superiority over us omnivores for doing so.

And I’m also unreservedly ‘speciesist’. While I have no problem with ‘animal rights’ I do believe that ‘human rights’ are more important, and it does somewhat grieve me to see large numbers at animal rights protests while rather fewer come out in support of human rights. We need to fight for both.

Farm animals are an important part of our country and its landscape, much of which has been formed by and for them. If we were all vegan there would be no cows, no sheep, no pigs, no chickens or goats, other than perhaps a very few kept by a few wealthy as curiosities from a bygone age or in green museums. Fields kept open by grazing would soon be full of thickets and the whole nature of the countryside would change. Some might be ploughed to grow crops, but others are too marginal to be useful

So I marched only partly with the marchers, and only along a part of the route as far as Green Park station, where I joined the underground for the journey to East Finchley.

McDonald’s UK HQ is conveniently right next door to the station, and I particularly liked the Fast Food rights placard which gave a great summary of what the strike was about. I’m not a fan of McD’s, and had a particularly unfortunate experience after visiting one in Germany in the 1980s, largely because I knew that despite my poor German I could get a burger without difficulty there. It probably wasn’t the meal I had there that led to an uncomfortable few days in hospital after I returned home, but I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the food or beer (of course it was beer in Germany) either.

Since then I’ve hardly been in a McD’s, dragged in occasionally by others, when I’ve limited myself to the coffee, which is only averagely poor. Photographers sometimes use these places for the free wifi to file their work, but I’ve always preferred to do this from home or my hotel.  I’ve often wondered how it succeeded when it was so clearly worse than some other chains that went down.  I suppose it’s driven by kids with no taste.

The protest was led by the Bakers union, BWAFU, and its General Secretary Ian Hodson was there, and they had brought a table, inviting McD’s to sit down and talk, as they had refused to do so. The BWAFU is one of the few TUC affiliated traditional unions in the UK that currently seems to be sticking up actively for low paid workers and against zero hours contracts, though in New Zealand it was their Unite that took on McD’s and won, and Joe Carolan from Unite union New Zealand was there to tell us how they did it.

Also present were several people from the United Voices of the World, a grass roots union that has taken on many large companies in London on behalf of their cleaners, with some notable victories. Claudia holds a poster ‘No One Should Be Working Poor’ as she speaks while Victor, whose speech in Spanish she is interpreting hugs a poster ‘Kickin’ Ass for the Working Class’. Again the words in the image tell the story.

McStrike rally at McDonalds HQ
Vegans call for Animal Rights


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