Animal Think Tank is a new collective made up of grassroots pro-animal campaigners in the UK, which aims to provide the support needed to build a powerful anti-speciesist movement
"Our mission is to support the building of a broad-based anti-speciesist movement that has the power and resilience to ensure all individual animals have their rights to life, liberty and security of person protected in law and respected by society," says Animal Think Tank's statement of purpose.
What is speciesism?
The term was first used by psychologist, philosopher and animal rights advocate Richard D. Ryder in an anti-vivisection pamphlet distributed in Oxford in 1970.
"The word refers to the widely held belief that the human species is inherently superior to other species and so has rights or privileges that are denied to other sentient animals," explains Ryder.
"Speciesism can also be used to describe the oppressive behavior, cruelty, prejudice and discrimination that are associated with such a belief. In a more restricted sense, speciesism can refer to such beliefs and behaviors if they are based upon the species-difference alone, as if such a difference is, in itself, a justification."
Professor of bioethics at Princeton University, Peter Singer, examined speciesism in his book Animal Liberation.
"Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of their own race when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race.
"Sexists violate the principle of equality by favoring the interests of their own sex.
"Similarly, speciesists allow the interests of their own species to override the greater interests of members of other species. The pattern is identical in each case."
Violation of basic animal rights
More recently, Professor Gary L. Francione said: "When it comes to the violation of basic human rights, we are absolutist. No-one talks about making slavery, child molestation, rape, etc, more 'humane.'
"When it comes to the violation of the basic rights of animals, we talk about anything but absolutism and, instead, focus on making the violation of those basic rights more 'humane.'
"We treat the fundamental interests of humans and non-humans differently.
"That is what speciesism is."
Building a powerful anti-speciesist movement
At Vegfest Brighton – which takes place on March 23 and 24 – volunteers from Animal Think Tank will host a series of talks and workshops aimed at sharing the knowledge and skills animal advocates need to work together for the benefit of non-human animals.
The group's insights are based on research into successful social movements including the Indian independence movement, the U.S. civil rights movement, the Color Revolutions of Eastern Europe and more.
"These social justice movements had dramatic impact because they took a movement building approach," Animal think Tank's Mark Westcombe said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
"They worked to mobilize and empower hundreds of thousands of people to participate in popular movements which shifted public opinion and/or pressured governments to grant rights and liberties to oppressed groups.
"By learning their methods the animal justice movement can build the power to end animal farming and other forms of animal exploitation."
A diverse range of speakers
The Animal Think Tank's Movement Building stream runs over both days of Vegfest Brighton 2019, and features a diverse range of speakers who will discuss topics including:
How can we build a powerful mass movement for animal justice?
How to Organize Local Groups to Win Campaigns
Let's Get Strategic! Why Nonviolent Resistance Works
More effective activists
"We're thrilled to welcome the emerging Animal Think Tank to Brighton this March, and with so much attention and discussion currently surrounding vegan activism - not only from within the vegan circles, but from mainstream media too - its a timely arrival to see this development," said VegfestUK Founder Tim Barford.
"The vegan movement and especially vegan activists have at times lacked guidance, support, a decent framework and the encouragement to analyze, self-reflect, learn and improve, and the advent of the Animal Think Tank can help change that and assist in honing the vegan activists movement into a sharper and more effective campaign for the animals, the planet and the people."
The doors to the Brighton Centre open for Vegfest Brighton 2019 on March 23, with around 230 stalls, a dozen featured areas and 80 special guests.
In addition to the Animal Think Tank talks and workshops, show-goers can look forward to cookery demos, an art exhibition, live music, panel discussions and more.
Advance day tickets are on sale now for £8 (standard)/£5 (concessions), while full weekend tickets are priced at £13.20 (standard)/£8 (concessions). Those paying at the gate can expect to pay £10 (standard) or £5 (concessions) for a day ticket. Under 16s can get in free if accompanied by an adult.