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Literary festival ‘roller coaster’

News Icon 07/05/2014

Swindon: Last night’s Arts Centre audience were treated to a ‘roller coaster ride’ by fellow Bloomsbury author, Laurens de Groot and myself as two animal welfare activists spoke about two completely different approaches to campaigning, but both with one message: “Don’t eat a product that’s inflicted cruelty.” That was how the Festival Chronicle described our performances from the podium at Swindon’s Festival of Literature:

“Farmageddon, Philip’s book, tells us how cheap meat has hidden costs: “You pay for it at the supermarket checkout, then you pay for it in taxes through [farming] subsidies, and again through environmental and health clean up costs.”

“Philip works from the top: changing government policies the world over, turning them away from outdated 1960s intensive farming food policies and EU subsidies.”

Laurens was one of those cops “in it for justice, but he didn’t feel he achieved that working within the system. Frustrated by a lack of results, he wanted to make a real difference. So he turned from gamekeeper to anti-poacher”.

Laurens and I first met at Bloomsbury’s debutant evening last year, a kind of ‘freshers’ evening for new authors, when Farmageddon and Hunting the Hunters were still in the editors’ lap. It was a privilege to meet a fellow passionate animal advocate, and one with such an intriguing story; former Dutch police detective who quit for life on the seas doing battle with Japanese whalers in the Antarctic ocean sanctuary. His compelling and action-packed book tells his story, from cop to great whale defender, and now a leading advocate of using drone technology in the war against wildlife poaching in Africa.

Having recently come back from South Africa, I can appreciate more than ever the scale of the challenge there and how great is the need for people there like Laurens.

Animal cruelty comes in all shapes and sizes. What Swindon showed anew was how different approaches are much needed if we are to succeed in saving animals and thereby the people that depend on our fragile planet.

Many thanks to Compassion’s Joyce D’Silva, for chairing the discussion last night and to our kind host, festival director, Matt Holland.

Next stop on the Farmageddon speaking tour is the Bristol Festival of Ideas on Friday 16th May at 6.15pm; hope to see you there!

For your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.


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