Monday, 15 September 2014

The Peta Interview

The interview I had with Ingrid Newkirk a while ago finally is published in the new issue of GoVeg.

Left: GoVeg nr 3. Right: GoVeg nr 2

GoVeg is a free bilingual (English and Chinese language) vegan magazine published and distributed in Hong Kong. It is meant to introduce and promote veg topics in a light and entertaining way to ordinary people who are interested in the veg lifestyle.

My purpose of the Peta interview was not a deep digging critical article attempting to win the Pulitzer Price but to make a sympathetic interview and through Peta talk about veganism and animal rights issues.

I am still baffled, confused and seriously disappointed by Ingrid’s naive comment to buy as much veggie burgers as possible in the McDonalds, in order to “support” veganism. I was fishing for an “Eating a veggie burger in McShit? No frikkin’ way I ever will support such a restaurant with my vegan dollars! Want to support veganism? Visit your local vegan restaurant!” type of answer. Not my lucky day it seemed.

On the other hand, Ingrid’s advice how to deal with family and non vegan friends, when making the vegan transition, is an extremely helpful practical advice. She advises to talk individually with friends and family, who often don’t realize their comments are unsupportive to the new vegan, and explicitly to ask for their support and to refrain from jokes or negative comments.

Website of GoVeg Asia, with links to all the previous GoVeg issues digital version. Nr 2 has an interview with Eric Brent, founder of HappyCow.

An editor made some minor changes in the original text of the Peta interview. One change was rather fundamental though.

The original question 

What was the result of this undercover investigation? Shops and retailers stopped selling angora wool?

has been changed into:

did releasing this investigation leads to results, to improvement in the treatment of these rabbits.”

Maybe you shake your head in disbelief now and don’t know what I am talking about, but in essence an animal rights question has been changed into a soft animal welfare question, and I wasn’t too happy with that.

First of all, the word “undercover” has been omitted, so now the reader might as well think that this was an investigation done with the approval of the angora wool factory.

Second, undercover investigations like these explicitly are done to educate customers and shops and to urge them to STOP buying and selling these cruel products, NOT to “improve” the miserable lives of these poor abused animals, as the altered question suggest. Should we fight for “better treatment” and demand that their hair is pulled out in a gentle way?

An editor probably makes these subtle yet meaningful changes to soften up text, to pull some teeth, to make happy articles without words that are viewed negative or zzzzumthing. Or maybe to defuse a confrontational attitude (“undercover investigation, stop buying their products”) against a Chinese business.

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