I recently happened across this video on YouTube of former ALF activist Keith Mann taking a moment to give insight into what led up to his activism. While the ALF has come under scrutiny for less-than-legal tactics, Mann paints a vivid picture of the individual’s and society’s perspective towards animal cruelty.
He starts by recounting innocent days of his boyhood, watching trucks filled with sheep rolling by, assuming they were being taken to greener pastures. In what he describes as a “wake-up call”, Mann discovers a slaughter house. This heartbreaking childhood experience leads him to find his calling as an animal rights activist, hoping to share his wake-up call with the rest of humanity.
Mann goes on to say that he believes money is the reason behind society’s sophisticated systems of animal cruelty. “People want to make more money. That’s all they’ve got to make more money as quickly as possible, so they cram more animals in as tightly as possible.” To illustrate this cruelty even further, he tells a tale of his first job. While cycling to a dairy farm to receive training, he notes all the cows were under great distress. A farmer explains to him that this was because their 2-day old calves had just been stripped from them, so that the dairy could harvest their milk. It was at this moment that Keith Mann made the decision to become vegan.
As for the root of his activism, Mann reminisces about a neighborhood rabbit, who he had seen to be poorly treated. He left a note asking the owners to treat the animal fairly, and, after seeing no results, he decided to take action. Sneaking out of his bedroom window and across town, Mann stole the rabbit and took it home. He kept the rabbit for 6 years after that, and in seeing its personality flourish, Mann realized the importance he played in that rabbit’s life. Perhaps my favorite quote throughout the interview was in regards to the legal aspect of his actions. “I knew that it was illegal, but that didn’t impact me at all. That didn’t make me consider at all, except that I knew I needed to avoid being arrested.”
Though I believe the entire interview was a romanticized story of Keith Mann’s legacy, almost as if he were using it to pick up the woman conducting the interview, the points he made about what we view as normal as opposed to what we view as right were enlightening to me. You can view the entire interview here:
If you’d like to know more about Keith Mann, there’s no better place than to go to the source. His Twitter is regularly updated and this interview from the BBC is a more in-depth look at his beliefs and life.