Making Activism Cool for a New Generation: George Martin

Right then. 

In the last post, I said that this page is now going to be dedicated to spreading ideas and awareness, through researching ideas and interviewing people who are making positive changes on our planet. I'm talking about any kind of change in any area whether it be social, political, environmental - absolutely anything positive to combat the constant barrage of bullshit flowing all around us.

Let's talk about what can be done to improve our currently pretty fucking dire planetary situation. Let's talk about the things which ordinary people like you and I can do, that can truly make a difference. Instead of feeling like we don't matter and our actions don't count, let's spread awareness amongst ourselves, and learn how we can all take even small actions which really matter as a whole. In times like this when we are often feeling more and more powerless, it's important to empower ourselves and each other.

So, anyhoo. I said that my first interview was a good one and I wasn't messing around.

If you're a fellow vegan, you may belong to some of the same vegan groups, and it is more than likely that you know George Martin and his eloquent, funny, well researched and badassingly on-point posts such as this one, or this one and definitely this one, which have landed him 5000 Facebook friends and a ton of social media followers. Not to mention the post which landed him in Facebook jail for throwing too much truth into faces.

George is a living example of how social media activism actually works. He himself went from being a full throttle meat eater to a fully fledged vegan in the space of a couple of months - after seeing a shared video of our vegan idol and mentor Gary Yourofsky.

Here is what he has to say.

FU: First of all can I ask what you believe needs to be changed and why, ie what it is you are personally working for?

GM: Well the thing that needs to be changed is people's perception of the animals we eat, as currently, they are seen as machines, objects. This is why education is key. We've been conditioned to such an extent that we don't even refer to these animals as 'whos', but rather 'its' and 'whats'. I also think pointing out the hypocrisy and double standards of carnism is important—so that is key as well, as people can realise that they are not living in accordance to the values they CLAIM to hold dear to them.

FU: For anyone who might be reading and has never heard the term carnism before, care to give a quick explanation, and do you have any examples of this hypocrisy and double standards that you mention?

GM: Carnism is a term coined by psychologist Dr Melanie Joy, which I would summarise as a belief system that conditions us to think a certain way about certain animals, i.e. the ones we eat or use for clothing. This runs counter to the views we hold about certain animals, e.g. cats, dogs, lions, elephants, etc. and indeed to core human values: justice, kindness, compassion, equality, peace, freedom. Oh, and goodness, where to even begin about the hypocrisy and double standards.

One example I could give is that, if an animal rights activist was to stop a truck-load of pigs headed for slaughter in the UK, they would be condemned by society as preachy, self-righteous, 'forcing their beliefs', 'hippies', etc. But those very same people who condemn them would have no problem if it was the exact same scenario with, say, a truck full of dogs headed to slaughter in China... in which case, they'd probably be hailing the person stopping the truck as a hero, even though they're no different at all to the person doing it to the truck full of pigs in the UK.

FU: I agree, it's hard not to lose your patience with some people when they post about something such as the Yulin dog festival - but they're just about to have Thanksgiving dinner...

GM: Exactly. They are no different to the people sitting down to eat roasted labrador in China.

FU: I think a lot of it comes down to just a lack of knowledge and awareness, which is why I massively respect Yourofksy's hard work. However, we cant all go and lecture in schools and universities (you totally should though George...!) So I want to ask whether you believe in real change? That real change is happening? And why or why not?

GM: Yes, I do. No matter what non-vegans like to think, yes, change is happening, and it's happening fast. Here in the UK, the number of vegans has trebled in the last decade. We're even seeing gigantic industries like the dairy industry getting scared and shoving out propaganda because it's known that there is a gradual switch-over to plant-based milks. That reminds me of one of the other funny things a lot of carnists say to contradict their own arguments, actually. One second they'll be saying that vegans are never going to change anything and that what we're doing is pointless, and then the next minute they'll condemn us for putting dairy farmers out of work. You can't make this shit up.

FU: OK so you believe that positive changes are taking place. What actions do you personally think are allowing these changes to take place? I mean, what are the best types of actions we can take as vegans, or even non vegans, to make an impact for the animals?

GM: Well it's all about education. I think social media has played a gigantic part in the change we're seeing. Before the digital age, vegans were basically just seen as this obscure, hippy cult, a group of people who were making claims without providing any hard evidence. Now that we have YouTube, Facebook, etc. we can present any info we want on the brutality and destructiveness of animal agriculture with ease. Year by year, it's becoming harder and harder for people to feign ignorance to the atrocities committed by this industry. There will, of course, always be people sticking their fingers in their ears going "la la la la la, I'm not listening", but the point is that those people will be exposed for their wilful ignorance, whereas before the burden of proof was on the vegans, who had little to no video evidence they could provide of any of the claims they were making. Now the burden of proof is on the people who support the exploitation of animals to show that what's happening is 'humane' and not destructive to the planet. And boy, have they got a hell of a job on their hands.

FU: So you believe that social media plays a big part in changing the world? I like the fact that you say that we can make changes at home with our computers and devices. I also want to ask about direct activism you have taken part in and any examples of actions such as protests taking place which you have seen to be effective.

GM: Yes, social media absolutely works. Non-vegans love to say it does nothing, but it really, really does. Why do they think so many people are posting these things and annoying them? Do they think these posts just magicked out of thin air? These posts are proliferating because people see them and share them. Hell, even non-vegans share animal rights posts sometimes, e.g. about chick hatcheries, etc. and cause people to make changes, so how can people say it doesn't work? I'm willing to bet most of the people reading this now looked into veganism in the first place because of something they saw online. Regarding protests and such, yes, I went on the official UK animal rights march last month. It was an incredible turnout: around 2,000 people. I definitely think it was effective, because we passed thousands of people that day in the busy streets of London who would've seen our signs, taken our leaflets, heard our voices, etc. and said: "Wow, maybe this is something I should google when I get home".

FU: Aside from protests and social media activism, can you describe any other methods for change / protest / activism you find to be effective? I personally like the idea of the stealth labelling in supermarkets that another vegan told me about, and I plan to buy a printer and make some labels myself. What about you? Any favourites?

Yeah, dropping leaflets on stuff in supermarkets or stickering stuff is good! Talking to people directly by doing stuff like street interviews is also very effective. I'm planning on setting up a YouTube channel soon, and one of the vids for it is going to be me talking to people on the street getting them to think about the ethics behind using animals, and making them realise that veganism is about living in accordance to the values they already hold. Me and a friend hit the streets the other day to do it and we got some promising reactions, so stay posted for the vid! I'm also doing some street activism in December representing Anonymous for the Voiceless. I'm currently organising the UK team for it, and I'm sure it's gonna be really effective. It'll involve having a team of people standing with tablets/laptops showing slaughter footage, and then another team of people talking to the public who watch the footage.

FU: Amazing! I've seen similar stuff on Youtube and people generally just are not aware, like you say. Like for example having no idea that cow have to be pregnant to make milk! (Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated on "rape racks" then their babies constantly dragged away upon being born so that they can't drink their mother's milk) It seems silly when you think about it, but this ignorance is socialised into us from such an early age. The worst is when they say they genuinely dont give a fuck. I wonder what percentage of people are like that do you think, the "bacon tho" types who just don't care about the suffering of non-human animals.

GM: Well when they say they don't give a fuck, that's the only honest argument against veganism. The rest are just excuses. In all honesty though, most people do care about at least one of the things that animal ag affects: animals, humans, the environment. As such, if someone says they don't care about animals, you can always inform them of how they're destroying the planet and destroying their children's future, as well as how they're causing other issues for humans, such as ravaging the world of its resources to fatten up livestock, etc. And yes, the thing about 'cows always have milk in them' is a testament to their objectification as machines here to serve humans. People forget that cows are mammals, just like you and me: not machines.

FU: How do you see the future and are there any particular messages which you would like to put across that are close to your heart?

GM: Well the future is always going to be bleak on the whole, for as long as humans inhabit this planet. We are a truly useless and oppressive species, taking everything and offering absolutely nothing positive to the world. Fortunately though, while we are here, things do change for the better. It'll never be perfect, but rights issues will improve.

All the freedoms we enjoy today are as a direct result of a tiny minority of people who stood up and said: "Enough!" The message I would put across is to fellow vegans, I guess, and that is to never give up. We are making a difference, no matter what people tell you. And speak for the animals as you would want to be spoken for if you were in their position.

FU: Thank you for being so awesome George! 💚💚💚

So, if someone as cool as this can go from uninformed meateater to badass vegan activist purely on the value of seeing the original famous Yourofsky lecture  ("I just filled my trolley with plant goodness and haven't looked back!") then there could be countless other potential activists out there waiting to hear the truth and make change. So vegans, keep sharing - it works! This article and this article are part of the growing proof that it really does.

And if you're not vegan yet - please just take a moment to look at some footage of factory farming, or watch Earthlings, Cowspiracy or Forks over Knives. And listen to your heart.

Thanks again George x