Kim Stallwood, Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate

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Kim Stallwood, Growl
kimstallwoodKim Stallwood is an independent scholar and author on animal rights. For almost 40 years he has demonstrated personal commitment and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal advocacy organisations in the U.K. and U.S.A. This includes Compassion In World Farming, British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and The Animals’ Agenda magazine. He co-founded the Animals and Society Institute in 2005. He is ASI’s European Director. He is also Executive Director of Minding Animals International. His client organisations include CIWF, GREY2K USA Worldwide, and League Against Cruel Sports. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after working in a chicken slaughterhouse. He has been a vegan since 1976. He holds dual citizenship in the U.K. and U.S. His new book, Growl: Life Lessons, Hard Truths, and Bold Strategies from an Animal Advocate is published by Lantern Books.

TRANSCRIBE:

Caryn Hartglass: Hello everybody I’m Caryn Hartglass thanks for joining me today for It’s All About Food it’s November 11, 2014 and I am here with a very special guest who happens to be in New York for a little book tour. I have with me, Kim Stallwood and his book is Growl, we spoke about it a few months ago on this show and now we’re going to talk a little bit more about it. Kim is an independent scholar, an author on animal rights for almost 40 years and he has demonstrated personal commitment and professional experience in leadership positions with some of the world’s foremost animal advocacy organizations in the UK and the USA. That includes Compassion in World Farming, British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Animals’ Agenda Magazine. He co-founded the Animals and Society Institute in 2005 and he has been a vegan since 1976. Wow. Hi Kim, thanks for joining me today.

Kim Stallwood: Hi Caryn, thanks for having me.

Caryn Hartglass: How are you feeling here in New York?

Kim Stallwood: I’m feeling good, it’s great to be back in the City and in the United States. I was very privileged to live and work here for 20 years, but about 7 years ago, returned to live in the UK where I’m from, but I really enjoy being in the US again.

Caryn Hartglass: What events have you had here since you’ve been here in New York?

Kim Stallwood: There’s been a wide variety of events. One of the first events was a public lecture at New York University which was hosted by the Animal Society Initiative. Subsequent to that, I’ve have various meetings with individuals and representatives of organizations. Tomorrow I leave the City to go to Baltimore for a week where I will be based and doing presentations in Baltimore, Washington DC, and Philadelphia.

Caryn Hartglass: We spoke, when was it? About 6 months ago or so, I can’t quite remember, but since that time, has the book changed since it has come out?

Kim Stallwood: The book has not changed, what has changed is the response that I’m getting from readers to the book. That is influencing me and my thinking about the book and about the second book which I’m now working on. For example, yesterday I had a very gracious email from a reader who said that the book really spoke to them, they found themselves wanting to read out sections of it to their friends because it was describing exactly how they were feeling. It was very nice to get those kind of feedbacks from readers.

Caryn Hartglass: Many of us who have been doing this for a long time, especially when we started a long time ago, we didn’t have a community, we didn’t have resources, or if they were out there, it was hard to find them. That’s one good thing about your book for those whoa re getting started or who have been around awhile, we know we’re not alone.

Kim Stallwood: Yes, indeed, we’re not alone. In writing Growl, I very much set out to write the book I wished I could have read when I first got involved with the issue in the 1970s, the issue being animal rights. It’s a look back, but it’s also a look forward and I hope that it’s a book that’s going to empower people to understand how far we have travelled and how much further we have to go.

Caryn Hartglass: Ok, the title. I know you’ve been through a variety of titles before you came to “Growl,” but who’s growling?

Kim Stallwood: I’m growling.

Caryn Hartglass: What are you growling about?

Kim Stallwood: Well as the self-proclaimed grumpy vegan, which is how you can follow me on twitter as @grumpyvegan, I am growling about two things in the book called Growl: one is that it’s a memoir of my involvement with animal rights, how I discovered the animal issue and this was partly due to the fact that I worked as a student in a chicken slaughterhouse and the impact that had on me, or rather the impact, I should say, on a vegetarian I knew at the time whom I argued with about what I had been responsible for and she convinced me that I should go vegetarian and that was the beginning of 1974. One thing led on to another from there, but I also growl about a manifesto for change and as I look back over my life and my activities, I reflect upon four key values in animal rights, which are compassion, truth, nonviolence, and justice.

Caryn Hartglass: Those are four big things.

Kim Stallwood: They are four big things, they’re universals which don’t exclusively only to animal rights. I think they also apply to justice in more broad terms.

Caryn Hartglass:I love those four concepts, unfortunately, I think people may have different understandings of what compassion is. A lot of people think they’re compassionate and yet some people may think they’re either compassionate enough. Truth, we want to think that there is one truth but people have their way with things and interpret things the way they want to.

Kim Stallwood: It’s very complicated and people are entitled to however they choose to define these words. For me, what compassion stands out from pity, or sympathy, or empathy, what makes compassion different for me is that compassion is what I experience when I see animals suffering. Whether I see an animal suffering in real life or whether I see a video or photograph of animals suffering. I can choose to feel what that animal is experiencing, the suffering that they’re enduring and it provokes me to want to act for them not on their behalf, and that is the key difference I think about compassion. It not only makes me choose to know what they’re experiencing but it compels me to want me to do something about it.

Caryn Hartglass: So we mentioned the gook thing about this book is it’s a great resource for people who are either getting started or have been in the movement for a long time and it shows us we are not alone. The difficult thing for activism, probably all activism is when things do go our way. It happens over and over and over and then we end up in this place that you have labelled, I’ve been here too many times lately, the “misanthropic bunker.” Get me out Kim!

Kim Stallwood: Caryn, you’re on your own. You have to get yourself out of the misanthropic bunker, I can’t help you, I’m sorry. I find myself often in a misanthropic bunker. This is the place I end up going when I really do get fed up with the world, I get fed up with the people, I get fed up with the animal rights movement, I feel that we’re not making any progress, that things are going backwards, animals are suffering now and there’s nothing I can do about it. So I allow myself, I’ve learned to allow myself, spend a little bit of time in the misanthropic bunker because these emotions are natural reactions to living in a world which is built upon animal cruelty and exploitation. We can do a lot in our lives, we can change our lives, we may not be able to change the world although we should try, but in trying to change our lives and the world we will end up, I think, in the misanthropic bunker. So, spend time there, but know that if you try to do anything for animals from the misanthropic bunker, it will be negative. It won’t be helpful to anyone. You’ve got to learn to get yourself out of the misanthropic bunker and then once you’re out, get back to the fight and campaign for animal rights.

Caryn Hartglass: What gets you out? Vegan treats or something?

Kim Stallwood: I don’t know if I want to say in public what gets me out…What does get me out? Let me see if I can answer this question for you. There are a number of things that get me out, I’ve realized that I have to get myself back out because I have to keep going. It’s a bit like learning how to ride the bicycle. You fall off a couple of times and you know that’s what you’ve got to do and you just get back on the saddle and just keep going and going.

Caryn Hartglass: You know we just had elections here in the United States and the results brought me back to the misanthropic bunker, because they were just so disappointing. I really wonder what people are thinking when they vote. Where are you on the importance of regulation to make change and have you been involved in that side of activism?

Kim Stallwood: I have been involved in that side of activism. I think that when we look at campaigning for animal rights we are looking at a number of avenues and a number of strategies. One is to persuade people to change their lifestyles and become vegetarian and vegan and buy cruelty free products and services, and not wear leather and wool and so on and so forth. There’s also the fact that we need to turn to the regulations and to the law because unfortunately, not everyone is going to be vegan and we need laws to protect animals. We have to get involved with the legislative process, we have to get involved with the development of public policy.

Caryn Hartglass: That leads me to the next question which I’ve been skiing a lot of people on this show. Which is polarization: especially in this animal rights community, this vegan community, we seem to be polarizing to one side or another an all or nothing side or making small steps to get to a better place. Regulation is involved with this because a lot of organizations are actually promoting different types of regulation that move slowly, but they believe they’re making positive change: going from a small cage to a little larger or getting the pigs out of gestation crates and a variety of different things. Then the other people feel like no, we cannot say that making things a little better for the animals is ok. They have to get out of the cage. Where are you in this big picture?

Kim Stallwood: My position is that I think that we need to strike a balance between what I call utopian vision and the pragmatic politics. On the one hand we need to convey the final endpoint we would like to go to which is a vegan world and to get to the vegan world is going to be a complicated and a long messy process. Life is very complicated, it’s very messy. There’s no simple route from A to B. We want a vegan world and we should campaign for a vegan world and some people have a preference to only focus on the vegan world and that is great, I wish them every success. For me, the position that I’m in is that whilst I simultaneously campaign for a vegan world, I also accept that the reality of the political situation is that when we talk about regulation and legislation and public policy, we can talk about the vegan idea to some extent but probably we’re going to end up talking about some middle ground of some kind or another. Where you draw the line of the middle ground and what you’re comfortable campaigning on is really up to the individual. In some situations it’s going to be closer to the vegan ideal, in other situations it’s going to be a bit further away from the vegan ideal. There are lines that I won’t cross, things that I’m not comfortable supporting. I think that the issue of getting companies to change the policies of the way in which they raise animals is very important because businesses consume animal products and animals’ lives in doing so. What we need to do is persuade them to change the way in which they raise animals and sometimes I am uncomfortable with some of the activities that lead to that. Other times I recognize that this is a necessary step because when we have a large corporation that adopts a more enlightened policy about the way they raise animals it’s probably going to pave the way for legislation at a later stage. Life is very complicated, life is very messy. Simplistic positions are all well and good. I am a vegan, I’ve always campaigned for veganism, but I do recognize that from time to time, particularly in the political arena, we have to talk about realpolitik as it’s known.

Caryn Hartglass: I like to say sometimes that I am an out-vegan. How do you feel about the word vegan? There are all kinds of conversations about whether we should be using this word, or using vegetarian’s more approachable, some people like plant-based, plant-strong.

Kim Stallwood: Vegan is a word that I don’t have a problem with. I always use the word vegan. A similar situation is one with what do we mean when we say animal welfare and animal rights. Then it gets a bit more complicated. On one level it isn’t complicated when we talk about animal rights we talk about animals, the right to respect, the right to bodily integrity, the right not to be eaten, to be experimented on, and all the rest of it. In Britain for example, where I now live again, the term animal rights has a connotation to it which, frankly, the mainstream media has helped cultivate. When you say animal rights in Britain it means violent direct action toward animals. It doesn’t necessary mean loss of the animal rights. Traditionally in Britain, people say animal welfare more than animal rights. I find myself in times in Britain actually saying animal welfare when I actually mean animal rights and sometimes I say animal rights when I mean animal rights. So far I’m animal rights and I do try to use the language of animal rights whenever I think it’s more appropriate. Every now and again, I think I have to use the phrase animal welfare in order to address the audience or situation that I’m in, but really what I mean is animal rights.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s not exactly the same here in the United States as you know, but many people do attribute animal rights. They see violence as associated with animal rights and unfortunately our government is starting to use the word terrorists a bit more with people who are advocating for animal rights because of a select few people who did some things that might be perceived as a bit too violent. Either destroying a lab or something like that.

Kim Stallwood: My third key value that I talk about in Growl is nonviolence. The reason why I do that is several fold. First off I think that what we do to animals is violent. It is violent behavior to kill and abuse animals, to experiment with them, to subject them to rodeos, to imprison them in zoos or marine mammal displays. These are act of violence. I see them bluntly for that. Think about the fact that that is violent behavior and the fact that we want to create a world in which that violent behavior doesn’t exist, I think we are responsible in turn as individuals to behave nonviolently. We behave nonviolently when we adopt a vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle. So when we talk about the actions that we do for animals, I think they should all be grounded in nonviolence. Nonviolence starts with each of us and as each of us become nonviolent I think then we can build a nonviolent society.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m just taking that in. Before this struck me when you said the right not to be eaten. There’s something that really strikes me, I haven’t heard it quite put that way before. That just gets to me when I say that. The right not to be eaten. Can you imagine people feeling that way? Campaigning for the right not to be eaten? It’s just crazy. That just puts it right down to what it is.

Kim Stallwood: That’s basically what it’s all about. It’s the right for animals not to be eaten, or for anyone. What if we eat animals, why don’t we eat human bodies? We are animals, our bodies are the flesh, the muscle, the sinew that when we eat meat, that’s exactly what we eat. There have been situations in the past and I’m sure there will be other situations in the future where people have eaten other people. We actually eat very few different types of animals. It’s a very small number of animals that people do eat. Most of those animals are intensively farmed and raised by the thousands and millions and billions. Eating meat doesn’t really benefit anyone. I do predict that we will see in years to come, not that far away, the collapse of factory farming because it’s a grossly uneconomic, inefficient form of producing food, it causes a tremendous amount of pollution, it’s the result of a great deal of human disease and as well of course the animal suffering. At some point, all of it is going to collapse because it just consumes far more resources than it actually produces when people momentarily sit and eat a piece of chicken.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m not looking forward to that collapse. Unfortunately, listening to what the United States government and other governments want to do and promote, they’re still focused on factory farming in order to feed the growing population.

Kim Stallwood: The British government has a rather stupid phrase that it’s using which is “sustainable intensification.” I think that the course of fate is beyond our control and there is an inevitability to the fact that factory farming will close down. What’s also happening that is particularly exciting and I think we can take great prospect in is the fact that there is a tremendous amount of resources put into the cultivation of meat grown in a test tube and I don’t want to necessarily eat that food myself, but I think that the vast majority of people who do want to experience and enjoy and take pleasure from eating the flesh of animals, if this flesh of animals is grown in a test tube and doesn’t cause the amount of animal suffering that the other ways do, or cause the environmental degradation that the other ways do, then I’m all for it. I think that at some point soon we’ll see that the production of cultured meats and also artificial cow milk, that these are going to become economically viable and they’re going to also help tip factory farming into the dustbin of history.

Caryn Hartglass: This is one of the things that puts me in the misanthropic bunker because it’s clear to me that if you have enough money behind a product and because some small group think they’re going to profit from it, They’re able to do enough marketing to convince a certain amount of the population to want that product whether it’s good or not it’s all about marketing. So I’m sure there are companies that are going to convince people to want to eat cultured meat and there’s a variety of responses to it right now where people have the ew factor. I personally have the ew factor with eating live animals but there are plenty of things that people eat today they have no idea what it is, where it comes from, what’s done to it, and they don’t mind. It comes in a pretty package and it has nice commercials and they have learned to like it. You can learn to unlike these foods too. There are things I used to eat as a child that I smell them sometimes just passing a restaurant or a store and it’s vile. So there’s lots of things that we can learn and unlearn and what puts me back in the misanthropic bunker is letting other people decide our fate, other people make our opinions and we don’t even realize it’s happening.

Kim Stallwood: I agree with you, I think that I as a consumer in mainstream media, I have a rather jaded view as you. I try to control and limit my exposure to mainstream media, to that which I think is actually essential for me to keep up to date with events and go to other sources for information.

Caryn Hartglass: Like Progressive Radio Network!

Kim Stallwood: Indeed, if I was living in America I would listen to this station.

Caryn Hartglass: You can hear it on the internet.

Kim Stallwood: As soon as I said that I thought Caryn’s going to come back at me and say, “You can hear it on the internet Kim.”

Caryn Hartglass: Let’s get back to the book Growl and this is a project that has taken many years. Have you discovered anything either about yourself or about the movement along the way?

Kim Stallwood: I discovered things about myself because the book forced me to look back on my life and figure out why I ended up where I ended up working for as long as I have for various animal rights organizations in Britain and in America. One of the most interesting things is that it forced me to look back on my childhood and in the town in England where I was born and raised, think back to when I was about five to a woman who was a dog rescuer. She was known as Camberley Cate. Camberley is the name of the town where I was born and raised. Her real name was Cate Ward and Cate Ward was a very small, feisty elderly lady who dedicated many years of her life to rescuing unwanted dogs. She lived with something like 30 or so dogs. What she would do every Saturday is that she would take a small wooden cart that was painted green that had her name, Camberley Cate Ward on the front and she would put the sick and elderly dogs in the cart and she would tie all the other dogs to the side of the cart and she would then put this cart like a pram or stroller through the town, and force everyone to see what she was doing for animals. I can remember as a very small boy, standing on the side of the road, and watching her come up the high street, the main street, against the one way traffic and force me to see what she was doing. She made me see, she made me question why it is. Why do people do things for other people, in her case she was doing this for dogs, but it made me wonder why do people do such extraordinary things. That was one of the revelations I had about the book was that I realize now that she had more of a significant impact on my life than I had anticipated.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s amazing sometimes what can happen to us when we’re young that impacts us that way. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not good. A lot of people discover that they have kind of traumatic things that happen to them when they were young and it affects them so dramatically later on, but for you it was a good thing.

Kim Stallwood: That was a good thing.

Caryn Hartglass: I like talking about cultures so you know the United States and you know the UK and you’ve been in both and back and forth. Where is the UK relative to animal welfare versus the United States? I don’t know what term to use anymore but is anybody better than the other or are we doing some things good or bad and they’re doing some things good or bad?

Kim Stallwood: I think it’s a mixture of port, I think it depends on the area that you look at and I think some of the advantages of this culture of America which we don’t have in Britain means that you are far more advanced in that area. For example, I’m thinking particularly of animal law. We do have legislation, we have laws, we have courts, but we don’t make legislation through laws in the court in the way in which you do here. So the ability to be able to sue the government, to sue corporations, although I know it is a challenge to do that, but the ability to do that in this country is far more than we have available to us. So the development in animal law and the teaching of animal law in increasing numbers of law schools around America, that is something that’s happening right now that’s a very exciting development. We just don’t have that in Britain as much as you do in this country and I think that’s more to do with the differences between the countries necessarily at the moment. I think another area that’s important is that in Britain when we look at the lives of cats and dogs and other companion animals, generally speaking, those companion animals in Britain are embraced as members of the family and they live with the people in their home. They will be fully members of their family. We don’t have the practice of training outdoor dogs and never bringing a dog indoors for example. That’s really very very rare and really unheard of. If it were to happen in Britain I think most people would say that it was a truly bad thing.

Caryn Hartglass: I didn’t know that. Thank you America. We do all kinds of interesting things here, unfortunately. Are you aware of the lawyer Steve Weiss and the nonhuman rights movements where he has a case right now in New York trying to get Tommy the chimp out of a difficult situation?

Kim Stallwood: I am following it from a distance and I really appreciate the fact that he’s pioneering this work. I believe he will be very successful in his effort. It has already been a success because it has attracted so much attention and it has put the issue of animals to attention so sensibly, so squarely into the public discourse that I think it has already had a tremendous victory.

Caryn Hartglass: I would like to be in the minds of the judges who have to decide these cases because at some point they really have to realize, this guy’s got a point but do I have the balls to do something about it.

Kim Stallwood: I would like to be that judge and make that decision but I’m not and those judges have a very difficult situation in front of them because they’re not going to be as familiar with it as we all are and I’m sure the decision for some of them they’d rather not have to face. But it’s going to be an interesting historical precedent and he is Steve Weiss has looked back on the development of the end of slavery and slave trade in Britain and is drawing from the historical past to try and help set a precedent for the future for animal rights and that’s very exciting.

Caryn Hartglass: You got involved in this, well you’ve been vegan since 1976 which is a long time. Did you have any mentors either at that time or along the way? You’ve been doing a long time and the internet wasn’t around so how did you put it all together?

Kim Stallwood: It’s difficult to imagine that we ever did put anything together without the internet.

Caryn Hartglass: Isn’t it? How did we do anything? I used the yellow pages for a lot of things back then.

Kim Stallwood: We had to do air mail, letters, and every now and then if there was an urgency we had to phone transatlantically. I was thinking the first time I came to America was 1980 so that was 34 years ago. A lot has happened in that time both in terms of animals, animal rights and our ability as campaigners. You ask me about mentors, well over the years there has been a series of people who have been greatly influential to me. There are actually far too many to list here and if I start listing people who are alive I probably will have other people I know who I haven’t mention who will complain to me that I didn’t list them so I’ll think about a couple people who are no longer with us. One of them is Henry Salt who was an English gentleman who went to Eton School which is a very important private school in England, many royalty and other wealthy individuals go there. He also ended up teaching there but he basically dropped out and he had become a vegetarian, he was greatly concerned about the environment. He was what was called an ethical socialist and he started an organization called the Humanitarian League. The Humanitarian League campaigned for a wide range of issues relating to people, animals, and the environment. He packaged them all together as one comprehensive world view and he really was in the forefront of his time of seeing the integration of animal issues with human issues and the environment. His work is amazing to read, he was a great writer, he was a very witty writer, he was very well connected with George Bernard Shaw and others. He has always been someone who I’ve looked up to and enjoyed reading his work and learning about his life.

Caryn Hartglass: I haven’t read anything about him, I’ve got to add that to my list.

Kim Stallwood: One of the most important books that he wrote is simply called Animals’ Rights. The subtitle is Considered in Relation to Social Progress. Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation, in Animal Liberation, the introduction, he does cite Henry Salt as a great influence as well.

Caryn Hartglass: I am not going to mention any names, but I find I’ve been thinking recently about some people that we consider that we consider leaders in this vegan movement, or vegetarian movement, aren’t even vegan or vegetarian. And yet, we give them credit for moving us in this direction, and then we take it to an even more further place.

Kim Stallwood: Who do you have in mind?

Caryn Hartglass: Oh, I’ll tell you later.

[Both laugh]

Caryn Hartglass: But it’s kind of interesting.

Kim Stallwood: No, it is interesting.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, what happens is when people discover that these people that they really look up to don’t commit to the same ideals that they do, they get angry. Which is unfortunate because we’re all on a journey, we’re all on a path, we’re all figuring out this messy world together, like you talk about.

Kim Stallwood: None of us are perfect, and I think…

Caryn Hartglass: Oh! [Laughs]

Kim Stallwood: Well. Perhaps I’m more perfect than you, Caryn. But none of us are perfect. And I think the striving for perfection is a real problem, and what we need to do is think of veganism as a journey and not a destination. When we think of it as a journey, not a destination that we never get to, then I think that our minds are better able to equip ourselves with all the challenges and difficulties and contradictions that we have to resolve.

Caryn Hartglass: I used to ask people where they are on the food continuum, and I thought linearly, where you have meat-eaters on one side and vegans on the other. But now I’m starting to think it’s three-dimensional, it’s not two-dimensional. There are so many different issues that are involved with food that it goes out in many directions.

Kim Stallwood: Well, being vegan is more than just the food that we eat. It’s also all about not wearing leather, not consuming honey, not wearing wool. And I would also argue — and this is essentially what the mission of what Growl is all about — it’s also to do with the way in which we think, the way in which we speak, and the things that we do. And that’s why I crafted the idea of these four key values of truth, compassion, nonviolence, and justice. Because I think that truth, compassion, nonviolence, and justice are actually the key values of veganism.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m sure you’ve influenced many, many people along the way in your work. Have there been people who’ve come to you decades later that finally get it?

Kim Stallwood: There have been a few over the years who have come back to me and said, “Do you remember XYZ,” and usually I end up having to say “No, I’m sorry, I don’t,” because I’m very bad at remembering people and situations. And I know that you and I were in a situation once, which I had completely forgotten about. And it was a protest that we took part in, and you had to remind me about it, and I thought, “Oh yes, that was right.” But yes, there have been people over the years who come back to me. And it’s always very gratifying when that happens.

Caryn Hartglass: Some of the things that I don’t remember that people help me remember — some of them aren’t so good. [Laughs] So over the years, in my own activism, I’ve changed my strategy. I think I take a softer, more compassionate approach than I did when I was younger and in everybody’s face. And people will remind me of that: “Do you remember, we had lunch, and you said ‘Blah blah blah…’ No… I don’t want to remember that. [Laughs]

Kim Stallwood: Well, I relate to that very much. Oscar Wilde said something about that “youth is wasted on the young.” And when we’re young, we have more freedom, perhaps, to be able to think, say, and do the things that we do and not be so aware of the consequences of what we think, say, and do. But fortunately, age does bring some sort of deeper understanding of the world, and we do change and adapt. And even though I think that I have changed in many respects, I really haven’t changed. I’m really in the same place as far as being outraged about animal cruelty and exploitation. That hasn’t changed. And I will always be in that place.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so, let’s take the Kim Stallwood from 2014 and put him in 1976. What would you do differently, if you knew what you knew now?

Kim Stallwood: If I knew what I knew now, what would I do differently from what I’ve done in 1976. Gosh, that is such a…I hate you, Caryn, for asking me that question. That’s such a difficult question to answer on a radio station. Let me say something about — I think I perhaps would be more willing to accept…I think I would be less compulsive about trying to be vegan. Which doesn’t mean to say that I’m not vegan. But I know that there are situations where I cannot control everything that I deal with, and in those situations you have to make value judgments. And so I think what I didn’t know in 1976 was understanding veganism as a journey, not a destination. I thought, when I was young, when I was 21 and I became vegan, that I had arrived. And not only had I arrived at where I wanted to be, the animal rights movement began its history when I became a vegan. And it took me a long while to learn that there was actually a lot of other people who preceded me who did a lot of great work, who preceded me, and I had to learn that all those people existed. So I was quite — as is not unusual when you are young — quite arrogant and conceited. And hopefully I’m less arrogant, less conceited now. So I would say that what I would want to know then that I know now is to think of veganism as a journey, not a destination.

Caryn Hartglass: There have been a lot of people that came before you. Like Pythagoras, to begin with. Probably even somebody before him.

Kim Stallwood: I’m sure there were. And we stand on their shoulders. Are there are going to be people who stand on our shoulders thereafter. And what is important is that we use our lives as much as we’re able to advance the cause of justice for animals.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, you finished this book Growl, and you’re out and about talking about it. I want to say you must feel some relief finishing it, but now you’ve got another one?

Kim Stallwood: Yes, I’m working on the second book, which begins where Growl ends, which is talking about the animal rights movement in Britain and in America and doing an evaluation of it. And if truth will be told I have to say that when I was writing Growl I made the mistake, which a lot of authors do when they try to write their first book, is that you try to cram as much in as possible. And I suddenly realized that I was actually writing several books at once, because I was writing things in the first person and in the third person. So once I realized that I had to surgically take it apart and then rebuild it and identify the several different books I’m writing. So the second book is focusing on the animal rights movement and doing a critical evaluation of it.

Caryn Hartglass: And where are you in that journey? How far have you gotten?

Kim Stallwood: I am working on the manuscript now, and if I can get the manuscript done by the end of next year, I will be quite happy.

[Caryn laughs]

Kim Stallwood: These things take an enormous amount of time. Unfortunately I have to do other projects as well. If this was just exclusively all I had to do, it would be done much sooner.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so, I don’t want you to blow the ending of this book. But is there a happy ending? Are we doing good?

Kim Stallwood: We are doing good, but I think we can do better.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh gosh, we can do better, can’t we? Okay, so you mentioned earlier that you’ve had some really good responses to the book, and you mentioned one. Can you let us know what other people have been thinking and saying?

Kim Stallwood: They have been commenting on the fact that they read the book and it speaks to them and says what they’ve been thinking but they’ve never been able to sort out their thoughts in a rational way. So it’s helped to articulate for them what their garbled thoughts have been thinking. And I relate to that very much, because I know — and I do talk about this in Growl that when I read some of the books written about the animal rights from a philosophical point of view, and some of them are quite difficult to read, but when I have read them, or heard philosophers speak about animal rights, they say something in such a way and I think, “Gosh, that’s what I think.” And they’re helping me articulate what I’ve been thinking, but it’s all jumbled up thoughts in my head, and they’ve been known to unravel. So that’s some of the things that I’ve been hearing from readers, that’s what they’ve been saying.

Caryn Hartglass: It is messy, isn’t it? Outside and inside our heads.

Kim Stallwood: We are a real mess. The human animal is a bundle of contradictions and hypocrisies, and we struggle with that everyday.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, so, there are a lot of different organizations out there doing different work, and you’ve founded a few, and been involved with a few. Are there any you can say on public radio that you like? Or that you like specific things about what they’re doing?

Kim Stallwood: Oh, Caryn, that’s a very naughty question to ask me. I’m not going to…

Caryn Hartglass: [Laughs] I’m asking all the naughty questions.

Kim Stallwood: You’re asking all the naughty questions. I think that there are organizations, look at the — well, let me answer this question this way. There are organizations which are really in the forefront of the activities. Let me talk about the activities that I like. I like activities which shine the spotlight on animal cruelty, which expose animal cruelty, and document their exploitation. So these are undercover investigations; I think they’re very, very important. I like protests which throw back to society a vision of their exploitation of animals. So one form of protest I like is a formation of individuals standing in lines; each person is holding a dead animal in that formation, and that’s a very powerful image. I like open rescues, which is when people go into where animals are abused, they go in fully identifying who they are, they cause virtually no damage in going into these facilities, which is a chicken battery cage, for example, and they help the animals as much as they can, they document it, and they report back to society on what they’ve seen. So I like the idea of witnessing for animals, and those kinds of examples of the protesting by holding up individual dead animals in a respectful way, and documenting their abuse, and open rescues. They’re the kind of activities which I think are really important. There’s also, obviously, the importance of public education, and being an example as a vegan, and telling people about what goes on, encouraging them. There’s also the important action of actually enjoying vegan food.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m saving that for last, yeah.

Kim Stallwood: I like my food, and I like my food to be vegan, and I enjoy my food. And I think sharing vegan meals with people who aren’t vegan is one of the best ways to educate people.

Caryn Hartglass: Now we have some laws in the United States in certain states, and unfortunately they make it more and more difficult to do rescues and to go into a facility because we’d be branded a terrorist at this point. Even though some facilities are violating the few laws that we have, it’s really hard to expose that. Do you have the same thing in the U.K.?

Kim Stallwood: Fortunately, we don’t have the same thing in the U.K. I know that they’re trying to get these so-called “ag-gag” laws.

Caryn Hartglass: Yup.

Kim Stallwood: There’s talk of them in Europe, and there’s certainly talk about them in Australia. My take on the ag-gag laws is, I think they’re going to be a temporary phenomenon. I don’t think they’re going to survive in the course of time. Because they’re going to be challenged in the court as a part of the freedom of speech, and I think they’re also going to — the public is going to see them, and they’re going to reflect badly on animal farming, because it’s self-evident that they’re trying to hide what they’re doing. They’re trying to take steps to further hide what they do to animals. And I think the public are going to see ag-gag laws for what they are, which is censoring the public’s understanding of what farmers do.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s what they’re doing, censoring, yup. Not a good thing at all. Well, you have a somewhat positive outlook about the future. I like that, from a grumpy vegan.

Kim Stallwood: Well, I have a positive outlook today, Caryn, because I’m with you.

Caryn Hartglass: [Laughs] That’s sweet. And you’ve got a lot of people all around you that are excited about what you’re doing. That’s got to feel good.

Kim Stallwood: Yes, it does feel good.

Caryn Hartglass: All these parties.

Kim Stallwood: Well, I don’t know about “all these parties,” Caryn. I don’t know what parties you’re going to, but…

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. People like to follow celebrities, and we have a few that have gone vegan, vegan-ish, like former president Bill Clinton, and some others. Do you have them in the U.K., too? Political leaders, specifically, who have stood out to promote vegetables?

Kim Stallwood: I’m very pleased to say that we actually have three vegan MPs.

Caryn Hartglass: Wow.

Kim Stallwood: An MP is a Member of Parliament, roughly the equivalent of — the House of Commons is where the MPs are, and that’s roughly the equivalent of the House of Representatives. And there are three vegan MPs. One of those three vegan MPs is someone who, in the 1980s, I stood alongside on various animal rights protests, and it’s really thrilling for me to see him become an elected Member of Parliament. There’s also another colleague from the animal rights days in the 1980s who is now in the House of Lords, and she is what’s known as a Lady. And she is a vegetarian. So there are people who do stand out, and one of the most prominent celebrities that we have who is speaking out for animals is Brian May, the guitarist with the rock band Queen. And I’m very lucky to have — he wrote the forward to my book Growl. And he’s a super-smart guy, he’s got a PhD in astrophysics, but he’s a very down-to-earth man, and he cares really deeply about animals. His passion is genuine, and runs deep.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay. I just had a thought that went “poof!” Don’t you love when that happens? [Laughs] I don’t.

Kim Stallwood: Is it a vegan blank?

Caryn Hartglass: [Laughs] I need more DHA! We were just talking about this on the last show with Brenda Davis, who’s this wonderful Registered Dietician in Canada. Are you familiar with Brenda? She’s just awesome. I called her a “super-hero,” and every time one of us forgets something, I’m always recommending, “We need more DHA, at least a little more flaxseed or chia seeds.” Are you into chia seeds?

Kim Stallwood: No, I’m not.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m not either. They seem to be quite trendy lately, but I haven’t been able to really want any of that.

Kim Stallwood: No, it’s a trend that’s passed me by.

Caryn Hartglass: [Laughs] I don’t mind flaxseeds as much. But it’s really important to get those omega-3 fatty acids in our bodies if we want to be productive for a long time in our activism, right?

Kim Stallwood: I believe so.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, we want to be radiant and healthy, as much as we possibly can. So when I was asking you about organizations that you like, what they’re doing, there are a number of big organizations, and they’re successful in their fundraising and they get a lot of support. But there’s so many more small organizations popping up, little kind of mom-and-pop things on the internet, people with websites and blogs. I can’t keep track of them. It’s difficult for many of us to make a living doing something like this, and it’s very time-consuming. It can be a nice hobby for some, but it is literally a business for many of us. And it’s challenging, but kind of exciting that there are so many of us out there doing what we can.

Kim Stallwood: I think this is one of the benefits of the internet age, which is that it’s enabling people as individuals, and as groups of individuals, it’s empowering them to do things and to have a big impact. It’s really causing a massive expansion of activities, and I really welcome that. And crowd funding is also making it possible for people to help other people. So all our fundraising activities is also changing as well. So part of my life is that I work as a consultant for various animal welfare and rights organizations in Britain and America, and I can see through the work that they do that they’re having to adapt and change to these things. So I think that it’s a good time, it’s a good time to be active for animals. We’ve got a lot of potential resources available to us. And having said that thought, I think that there’s also a worry that we need to think about as far as the internet is concerned, and that is that we need to train ourselves to be mindful, to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff, if you like. Because there’s a lot out there on the internet, and we need to be able to discern those voices which are genuine, which are truthful and honest and accurate, from those which aren’t.

Caryn Hartglass: One of the things that drives me nutty is sometimes, some website or someone will be promoting a link to some activity, and it’s a link that takes you somewhere. And then I always wonder, “Where did it start? Where did this information come from?” I’m always looking for the primary source. And some people will post something on their site, and it really should be just a link that goes to the original site because the person who created it should be getting the credit. And there’s a lot of that kind of pirating going around. But primary sources on the internet and in books is so important because a lot of the same crap sound bites just keep getting repeated, and some of them are just wrong.

Kim Stallwood: I think you’re absolutely right. I think that if we want to be accurate and truthful in what we say, we do need to go to the source of the information as much as possible. So in that regard, I think that speaks to the need of books, and books being published and books being written. Because books have a longevity about them. Some books obviously don’t have a longevity, but mostly books do have a longevity. They are recognized vehicles of information, and they stand the test of time. And some websites can be more trusted than others. I think it’s fairly easy to see websites which just aggregate information and recycle it. I’ve seen many of those, and once I realize a website is basically doing that, and not an original source of information, I generally don’t bother with them.

Caryn Hartglass: I agree with you, Kim. I believe in creating original information.

Kim Stallwood: Well, I’m pleased to hear you do agree with me, Caryn.

Caryn Hartglass: And I have a nonprofit, Responsible Eating and Living, and we archive our shows from Progressive Radio Network up there, but everything that’s up there is original. Or commentary on something that’s occurred, but it’s new information, not grabbed from somewhere else. Alright, we have a few minutes left; let’s talk about food. So before we get to the most delicious part about food, just, what do you think about these companies like Beyond Meat and Beyond Eggs? We talked a little bit about cultured meat, which — ew, I think it’s ew. But Beyond Meat and Beyond Eggs, what about them? They’re made from, they’re meat and egg made from plants.

Kim Stallwood: It’s something I don’t want to eat, because…I don’t want to eat those products because I actually don’t enjoy eating the products which replicate meat. There’s something about the visceral experience of eating meat that I find, frankly, repulsive. So even tempeh is something that I really choose not to eat because I don’t like the experience of it. However, having said that, I really welcome these developments. Because if those, or when those, industries become cost-effective and economic, and they can replace the production of animals to produce those foods, and if that’s what the vast majority of people want to eat, and it doesn’t involve animal cruelty and exploitation, and it’s a much more efficient way of producing food, then I will be very happy.

Caryn Hartglass: And I want you to be happy.

Kim Stallwood: Well, I’d like to be happy too, Caryn.

Caryn Hartglass: I do love tempeh, and I don’t love it because I feel like I’m having meat. I think it’s a really unique food. But maybe you don’t like it because it’s fermented. I think some people really have some kind of reaction to that.

Kim Stallwood: It could be the fermentation, but there is something…I’m quite sensitive about this in that anything, when I eat on it and chew on it, if it gives me the feeling or reminds me of the sensation of eating meat, I really don’t like it. So I often just avoid all those sorts of products. I like tofu and I like what you can do with tofu, and I like my food. But those sorts of things I really don’t like.

Caryn Hartglass: All right, let’s talk about Kim’s food, because I know you like to cook, and you’re probably pretty good at it.

Kim Stallwood: Well, I’d like to think I’m good at it. My partner, Gary, he’s also a very good cook, so between us we look after ourselves pretty well. My favorite cuisines are going to be Italian, and Mediterranean. I also like Indian and Greek as well. So they’re mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, pasta, grains and cereals. I do like some macrobiotic foods as well: brown rice, sautéed vegetables and brown rice. And sometimes…I really like simple foods, like fresh fruits. Unfortunately I do have a bit of a sweet tooth, so I do like my desserts. And I often do the baking in our home, and Gary does the main courses. And I’ve had some very good meals whilst I’ve been here in New York.

Caryn Hartglass: That was my next question: where have you been? Have people been cooking for you, or have you been to some of our fine restaurants?

Kim Stallwood: I’ve been to some really excellent restaurants. An outstanding restaurant is the new Candle Cafe.

Caryn Hartglass: West.

Kim Stallwood: West.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s just a few blocks from here.

Kim Stallwood: It is just a few blocks from here. And I was just so amazed by the experience, the service, the atmosphere of the restaurant. And the food was fabulous.

Caryn Hartglass: What did you have? You didn’t have their tempeh.

Kim Stallwood: No, I didn’t have their tempeh. And of course I can’t remember what I did eat, either.

Caryn Hartglass: You need DHA.

Kim Stallwood: I do, I do. I can tell you that it was Saturday evening, but I cannot tell you what I ate. But I know that it was fabulous. It was really, really good.

Caryn Hartglass: They also, I don’t know if they still do, but they had a great happy hour, and they were serving really inexpensive organic beer.

Kim Stallwood: Now you tell me!

Caryn Hartglass: Yep. If you sit at the bar. For prices you can’t get in Manhattan. So that was exciting when I discovered it — like I said, I don’t know if they’re still doing it.

Kim Stallwood: I’m really excited for Candle Cafe, to see them grow from their original first restaurant to the Candle on 79 and now to this one. I think in many ways they’re emblematic of the growth of vegan cuisine in this city. And New York, I think, is one of the world-class centers of vegan food.

Caryn Hartglass: Anywhere else that was memorable?

Kim Stallwood: There are places. But I want to single them out because they were really exceptionally good.

Caryn Hartglass: But you haven’t had a problem eating.

Kim Stallwood: No, I haven’t. I wished I had. No, I really haven’t had a problem eating.

Caryn Hartglass: So what about where you live? Are there some restaurants that you’re very fond of?

Kim Stallwood: I live in a very small seaside village on the south coast of England which doesn’t have a lot of options, to be quite honest. But that’s okay, because we look after ourselves very well with the food that we cook. And we’re also very lucky to have made friends with neighbors who have taken onboard our veganism. They haven’t become vegans themselves, but when they do entertain us, they really work hard to cook us a really delicious vegan meal. So we go around to our friends’ homes a lot and they do justice to us in the food that they provide for us.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s lovely.

Kim Stallwood: That is good. But one thing we do have in our town, which is Hastings, in East Sussex, is that we do have a vegan dining club. And the vegan dining club meets informally every month or so, and we move around each others’ homes, and host or do a potluck. And we celebrate our taste in vegan cooking, test out recipes on each other, and bring potluck dishes, we have a vegan cream tea which is out of this world.

Caryn Hartglass: Ooh! I want it.

Kim Stallwood: Well, I can’t bring it to you now, Caryn, I’m sorry. But we also have done themed nights, like 1970s vegan cooking night.

Caryn Hartglass: That sounds like fun. We have just a few seconds left. I can’t believe we’ve managed to talk away this hour, but we have. So, Growl can be found on Amazon? Where can get it?

Kim Stallwood: It’s available wherever good books are sold: online, on Amazon, and through the publisher, Lantern Books.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, thank you, Kim Stallwood, for joining me again on It’s All About Food! And remember everybody, have a delicious week.

Transcribed by Andres Parga 1/29/2015 and Meichin 3/29/2015

 

 

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