Tag Archives: Avril A Brown

Making the connection

A guest post by Avril A Brown

 

Statistics from the oxymoronically-named Humane Slaughter Association (https://www.hsa.org.uk/) indicate that every year in the UK approximately 2.6 million cattle, 10 million pigs, 14.5 million sheep and lambs, 80 million fish and 950 million birds are slaughtered for human consumption.

That’s an awful lot of blood on human hands.

I was prompted to research these statistics on animal slaughter after a recent visit to the Tribe Animal Sanctuary Scotland (https://tribesanctuary.co.uk/).  After following them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/updatesTASS/), I knew that I wanted to visit the sanctuary.

Nestling in Scotland’s Clyde valley, the 11-acre site is home to around 100 ‘food’ animals rescued from slaughter, neglect or abuse. The sanctuary was set up 2.5 years ago by tattoo artist Morag and her husband John as the culmination of a long-held dream.

Morag told me that she has been vegan for 25 years. Her activism has matured in that time. Less the ‘angry vegan’, she prefers now to help people make the connection between the meat on their plate and the animals that she cares for.

Making the connection is the TASS mantra. Morag and John firmly believe that the pigs, sheep, goats, Highland cows, chicken, turkeys and donkeys have just as much intelligence and personality – and therefore intrinsic value – as all the cats, dogs, rabbits etc that we currently celebrate as pets. However, most people never get to meet one of these creatures, let alone see those sides to them.  That’s why TASS encourages visitors to come and meet the animals in the hope that by being able to look into the eyes of a sheep or a chicken, then people will be able to make that connection that will allow them to forego meat in future.

TASS is a peaceful place, relaxed and full of love.  None of the animals are required to ‘perform’ or to earn their living; they are simply allowed to ‘be’.  The joy and the satisfaction that they bring is obvious as Morag’s face lights up when she talks about them. I asked her if she had a favourite species or animal among her crew, “They are all so different, so special in their own ways that I love them all and couldn’t possibly choose just one. Every animal at TASS has a name and they all have their own story.”

My visit to TASS certainly left me with a lot to think about.

Being neither vegan nor even vegetarian, I have no particular axe – metaphorical or otherwise – to grind over how or even what other people eat. What I have been increasingly conscious of, however, is the impact of animal husbandry on our increasingly fragile ecosystems.

Whatever your own stance may be on meat consumption, I doubt that anyone can argue that much needs to be changed in the world of the intensive agriculture industry that so damages and wastes as much as it produces. At the very least, food animals must no longer be considered as ‘product’ so that they can enjoy better lives.

The rewilding project at Knepp in West Sussex (https://knepp.co.uk/home) shows how ecosystems can recover if left to nature. However, in the short term it is unlikely that such projects will feed populations, particularly in areas where poor soil quality (eg the Scottish Highlands and islands) has led to a dependence on animal husbandry that would be hard to justify let alone unpick.

In the meantime, the very least we can do as individuals is to significantly reduce our consumption of animal products, to support compassion and welfare in farming and to purchase ethically wherever possible.

 


Goodnight Sweet Cammo

A Guest Blog by Avril A Brown

 

On the outskirts of Edinburgh there’s a place called Cammo.

Since its last reclusive owner died, Cammo has been the proverbial hidden treasure, known only to a few. Tucked away at the end of a residential street, it was originally an estate with a manor house and parklands designed in the 1700s by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. The house was eventually damaged by fire and neglect and now only the external ground floor walls still stand. The Council owns Cammo now and call it a “Wilderness Park”. It was gifted to the Council in 1980 as a local nature reserve.

 

I only found Cammo by chance when I got interested in orienteering (there’s a permanent course within the estate). I loved going there because once you crossed the gate you were swallowed up the silence and the green. It felt like a liminal space, reclaimed by Nature and where a brooding yet friendly genius loci slumbered quietly.

 

 

 

Not any more!

 

Unfortunately a group of well-meaning local people set themselves up as the Friends of Cammo. Despite all the good that the group has done – eg improving the diversity of the flora on the estate by planting appropriate wildflowers, introducing honeybee hives, litter picking and so on – I still feel that they should possibly be more correctly known as the Users of Cammo. This is because their ultimate aim seems to be bringing more and more people to the place and using it for ‘education’ and ‘events’. To this event, they have prodded the Council into opening up and publicising the estate more widely and more worryingly, improving it. I confess that I wept to see the previously natural, gloriously twisty, muddy and challenging tracks through the estate being replaced by ugly straight ‘blaes’ type ones. The air resonates with the screams of children attending the Forest Kindergarten and the previously restored ornamental canal is once again full of debris and discarded rubbish.