In the Romandie (also called French-speaking Switzerland, with a population of 2 million) Virginia Markus is the best-known pioneer of the Anti speciesists, a radical animal protection movement.
Especially her actions cause a stir: In March, she and 18 of her co-workers freed 18 kids from a slaughterhouse near Rolle (VD), having previously recorded the conditions in a slaughterhouse with hidden cameras and occupied appropriate facilities. There are several criminal cases against her.
On 3.08.2018 she gave a very good interview in the “Neue Zürchner Zeitung”. I only translated the main points of this interview because it is quite long, but you can read the whole thing from the link.
NZZ: You chose the radical form. When did you eat your last piece of meat?
Markus: When I was 18, my former geography teacher showed me the effects of meat consumption on the environment. That opened my eyes. The decision to live vegetarian was easy, because I was always surrounded by animals. It was harder to give up my beloved cheese six years later. But I had to do it because I realized that if I only consume dairy products, I’m indirectly responsible for the deaths of animals.
NZZ: In what way?
Markus: Many people feel that a cow is constantly giving milk. It is not so. She has to give birth to a calf regularly, which will soon end up on the slaughter if it is male. And if she does not produce enough milk, the cow is also slaughtered. That is irresponsible for me. The decision not to eat any more animal products was a liberation for me: at last I could live in harmony with my values.
By consuming animal products, one is jointly responsible for murdering an animal.
NZZ: Do you – ethically speaking – make no distinction between animals and humans?
Markus: No! as far as their will to live is concerned. An animal that suffers is like a person who suffers. Which of course does not mean that there are no physiological and cognitive differences.
NZZ: In nature, there are also differences and a hierarchy: A cat hunts the mouse – and we humans keep us the livestock.
Markus: A cat acts by instinct, she can not think the consequences of her actions. Fortunately, we can do that. There are no people born with the instinct to kill.
I do not deny that it can give pleasure to eat meat. But that does not justify doing it – it implies sacrifice. By consuming animal products, one is jointly responsible for murdering an animal.
In other areas of life, nobody also questions that one must put own pleasure back, if it is to the detriment of others. Why not with the food?
NZZ: They not only hide cameras, they also block roads to slaughterhouses and even liberate animals. Four criminal cases are currently pending against you. Why should not the law apply to you?
Markus: Only in this way can we sustainably influence public opinion. Civil disobedience is only a remedy for us when all others are exhausted. We force the society, so to speak, not to close its eyes.
Our first big goal is that cows, calves and other fattening animals in Switzerland are as well protected as cats and dogs. Still, animals do not have the same rights as humans. So in our opinion, more radical methods are needed to combat this malady.
I am insulted on all possible channels, someone has already bitten me the tires. To some extent, I can even understand the anger of many people. However, I am not insecure by such reactions, as well as by judicial decisions. For the protection of the animals I would go to jail.
Last question: what has become of the liberated kids?
Markus: I can only reveal so much: 17 of the 18 rescued animals still live. They had to be elaborately maintained, meanwhile they are all well again.
My best regards, Venus