jo anne mcarthur

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“Somehow a lot of us have become suspicious of compassion, as if it were a sign of weakness. Somehow we’ve come to the conclusion that those with sympathy for animals are less logical. But compassion is not a weakness of mind. It’s a strength of the heart. And we need both strong hearts and strong minds.”
— John Robbins
Portraits by Jo-Anne McArthur (please don’t remove caption).

“I don’t like being asked by meat-eaters at dinner if I mind if they eat this piece of chicken/pig/cow in front of me. Yes, I mind. It puts me in the position of having to a) lie to you, to appease you and others at the table b) assume this fake politically correct, good-humoured thing to appease you and others at the table, or c) tell you that, "Yes, I do mind. That chicken/pig/cow is a murdered animal who died unnecessarily and I find it sad and offensive”, which makes me the bad guy and ruins everyone’s good time. So, just don’t ask, or better yet, don’t eat animals at that meal.“
—  Jo-Anne McArthur (courtesy of Gary Smith, The Thinking Vegan)
Look Into My Eyes

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Look into my eyes, tell me what you see,
A living, breathing, feeling soul longing to be free?
Or a thing of little worth, at best a meal or two,
Whose purpose in this world is just to give my life for you.

Look into my eyes, if you think you’re able,
Do you think I welcome death, just to grace your table?
Or do you see the fear in there, knowing of my fate,
When I take that final walk through the farmyard gate.

Take a look within yourself, if you really dare,
Will compassion grip your heart, will you start to care?
Or will you simply turn away, too cold and blind to see,
The cruelty your kind inflicts on millions just like me.

- Alan O'Reilly

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“Promises” is a new short film from Jo-Anne McArthur, the photographer behind We Animals. Contains some upsetting images but nothing graphic.

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To understand the injustices happening to animals around the world, animals killed for food, for sport, experimentation, entertainment, we must put ourselves in their position. For just a second, imagine yourself being a non-human animal with the same hope for life, the same hope for happiness as humans, but being abused and tormented simply for being a different species, for being born into a world where humans see themselves above everything that exists on earth. For being born and expecting freedom, but realizing that you are just a commodity on this planet, realizing you are nothing but an object to humans. When we attempt to examine any injustice we must always remember the victims point of view, we must always ask “If that were happening to me, how would I feel? What would I do?”

Animal Equality doing an open rescue. Photographed by Jo-Anne McArthur.

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Axel: In Loving Memory of a Guy Who Was One in a Billion — or 50 Billion

Each year, more than 50 billion chickens are slaughtered for food worldwide — a number that, if you attempt to break it down, seems impossible. Hundreds of millions of chickens in the meat industry perish even before they are sent out to slaughter — and they are still just babies.  

Many of the birds above will have died before they even reached 2 months of age. An industry that bases its profits on fast growth and no individualized care is no place for any living being. 

And like every cow, sheep, pig, dog, cat, or human, each of those billions of birds, when pulled out and met on their own terms, is an individual with their own personality, their own quirks, and their own needs.

Sweet baby Axel arrived sick, frightened, and injured — thankfully, fate brought him to Farm Sanctuary. 

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Twisted Perceptions On Food

Among animal activists, vegans and dog lovers alike there has been constant chat of the 2015 Yulin Dog Meat Festival. I have kept quiet, slipped in between conversations, liked a few posts here and there, I have even gone to comment on a post or two. However, I haven’t been able to bring myself to write something, to share my own views due to the fear of debate, hate, anger. But now, as I sit here and read comments of disgust, of love, I feel compelled to write something. 

Ever since I was little I was taught compassion. I was taught to be kind to the lizards in the grass, the birds in the sky, the pets in the house. I thought that I was kind to all animals. When I went to eat, my perception of compassion changed, I didn’t bat an eye to the animals on my plate. I only saw them as food. I didn’t process them as living, breathing animals that had now been killed. It never once crossed my mind. As I sit here now though, I cannot think of a single reason why it would have crossed my mind. I was raised to believe that there were separate categories of animals. I lived life blinded by speciesism. That was who I was. 

If we fast forward in my youthful years to the awkward age of 12, I was in class when our teacher loudly exclaimed that he could never bring himself to eat a quail as they were so beautiful, that in fact, he was vegetarian as he loved all animals. I justified myself in my head, I told myself that I would never eat a quail as they are beautiful, that I would only eat farm animals. There was no logic in my justification of eating meat. 

And then it leaves me here. Vegan. 14. When I look back on my life I can see that I stood on the excuse that I would never eat a quail because they were someone’s pets, but I would eat a farm animal as they are food. When I now come across posts on dog meat festivals I think of my 12 year old self, how I would have angrily commented on the post stating that; ‘It was disgusting, how could anyone ever eat a dog? A kind intelligent animal?’. I see my 12 year old self in the thousands, millions of comments left by people all around the world.

‘This is disgusting.’

‘I can’t believe they are doing this a dog.’

‘I will kill anyone who does this to dogs.’

‘Those poor animals.’

The comments are endless, streaming into social media like fire, spreading through blogs, pages, tweets, posts, everywhere you look. I have a secret to tell you:

I am with these people. I stand with them on their fight to end the dog meat festivals. What differs me though is I stand to end all forms of farming animals. Whether it be dogs, birds, cows, pigs, no animal should have to spend a life in a cage. Then on these posts are the small but strong group of those pointing out the inequality. Pointing out that all animals suffer when they are seen as food. That it doesn’t matter whether you are a dog or a pig or a bird, they all fear. They can all feel pain. 

Then there is anger. Fire. Burning through these comments because DOGS ARE TORTURED. Because DOGS ARE KILLED VIOLENTLY AND WHILE THEY CAN STILL FEEL PAIN. What can I say to this? How can I explain? 

‘The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.’ 

In Australia, it is legal to crush chickens alive, to keep them in tiny cages, to restrain them, keep them from proper light, food, to take mothers away from their calves and is this reader, not the same as what happens to dogs? Is this not what is happening in Asian countries, labelled as dog festivals? 

The only thing that differs in farm animals and dogs is your perception. Why love one and eat another? They both feel pain, are both treated the same in farming processes, both have social order, love their offspring. Why, oh why, do we take preference of one? 

Next time you see a comment on social media about the dog meat festival, think. Don’t reply. Just think. 

Are they really treated differently? 

*All rights of photography to Jo-Anne McArthur

Libertad Animal y Humana (Animal Liberation, Human Liberation)
Photographed by Jo–Anne McArthur.
“Human, animal, and earth liberation movements are different components of one inseparable struggle — against hierarchy, domination, and unsustainable social forms — none of which is possible without the other.” — Steve Best

“The hope for the animals of tomorrow is to be found in a human culture which learns to feel beyond itself. We must learn empathy, we must learn to see into the eyes of an animal and feel that its life has value because it is alive. Nothing else will do.”
— Kenneth White Photographed by Jo-Anne McArthur (Please don’t remove caption.)

“I don’t like being asked by meat-eaters at dinner if I mind if they eat this piece of chicken/pig/cow in front of me. Yes, I mind. It puts me in the position of having to a) lie to you, to appease you and others at the table b) assume this fake politically correct, good-humoured thing to appease you and others at the table, or c) tell you that, "Yes, I do mind. That chicken/pig/cow is a murdered animal who died unnecessarily and I find it sad and offensive”, which makes me the bad guy and ruins everyone’s good time. So, just don’t ask, or better yet, don’t eat animals at that meal.“
—  Jo-Anne McArthur

This is what I always come back to, when I feel like I don’t make a big enough difference.  When you save one animal, by adopting them, freeing them, not eating them–you save the whole world for that animal, and that is truly incredible.

Photo taken by Jo-Anne McArthur during an open rescue carried out by Igualdad Animal (Animal Equality)