I grew up in the 1960s watching my elder sister donating to organisations like the WWF and often wondered about how the money she raised was spent. Then, in the 1970s there were a couple of financial scandals involving these large corporate animal welfare or conservation groups. For example, it was revealed that the RSPCA had spent something like 60,000£ on carpeting for their HQ. I have never fully trusted advocacy organisations when they get too big and powerful and therefore I am far more supportive of grassroots campaigning, especially in the internet age when formal organisations staffed by paid careerists are not necessary.

When I saw an article in a music paper about bloodsports in the mid-1970s, along with the details of the Hunt Saboteurs Association, the notion of “just getting together” with a few people and engaging in what academics would now call “DIY politics” appealed to me. One certainly knew about where one ‘s money was being spent clubbing together to buy petrol, hire vans, and purchase Bob Martin ‘s “Antimate” spray used to cover the scent of foxes.

I first joined the HSA in 1977 but did not really get active until 1979 by which time I have moved to Essex. Some of the “sabs” in Essex were planning an action in the Orkney Islands against a “cull” of grey seals. At this time I caught an edition of John Craven ‘s Newsround in which a sealer was interviewed. He said the seals had to be killed because they “were eating our fish”. What on earth was this guy talking about, that fishes were “ours?” So I begun to boycott the eating of fishes, yet still eating meat.

Within 3 months, now an active sab, and also getting involved in campaigns against vivisection and factory farming, I went vegan, seeing the inconsistencies in what I was doing – and also in vegetarianism, which I have never really understood apart from seeing it as a short transition period toward veganism which often seems necessary.