Irish Farmers Association demands that we break the law by disclosing personal data

The IFA, and Mary Wilson, as interviewer, pushed us to break the law in this interview by repeatedly demanding to know details of our donations and the identities of those who donate to us. We are covered by data protection law, which requires that we keep personal data safe and secure. It is for the individuals who donate to us to make that public if they wish. Some do, for example individuals post on our social media frequently confirming that they have donated. It is highly irresponsible of the IFA to try to cajole us into breaking the law by disclosing private information.

As we attempted to state in the interview, although we were prevented from doing so by both Joe Healy of the IFA and Mary Wilson, Go Vegan World does not and never has promoted consumerism in any form. Perhaps this is why large corporations and businesses who benefit from the impact of our work, educating the public about animal rights and assisting people to go vegan, do not donate to us. We rarely focus on animal replacements at all. Our comments on new products are rare and we do not even keep our website Product List updated, largely due to lack of time. Of all the activist groups in the Animal Rights Movement, we probably promote consumer goods least of anyone.

Moreover, the accusation that we are funded by large business interests is a bit of a moot point considering that many of them are actually the same companies that fund animal agriculture. For example, the large dairy companies also manufacture plant milk; the fast food industry sells animal products alongside plant-based equivalents.

In fact, this point serves to support our arguments that farmers are on the lowest rung of the ladder when it comes to making a profit. If the IFA is interested in the future of its members it should assist them in making the necessary adjustments to meet the increasing demand for plant-based food and prepare for the inevitable fall of animal agriculture.

That the IFA attacks us in this manner rather than addressing the messages in our ads demonstrates that they cannot defend the injustice of animal use and that they are afraid of our campaign. Go Vegan World considers that questions which seek to intrude on the legitimate privacy rights of its donors are intended to deflect attention from the animal rights message we communicate through our advertising and educational work. The IFA strategy is to kill the messenger rather than debate the message.

Since Go Vegan World opened in Ireland more than four years ago, there has been a sea change in public understanding of veganism and an awakening that other animals have rights. There has been a concomitant increase in the demand for plant-based replacements for animal products. However important a role Go Vegan World has had in creating a public demand for replacements for animal products, it has not received donations from the businesses who profit as more people go vegan. But even if it did receive corporate or business donations, the integrity of its campaign and its message that it is wrong to exploit and kill other animals would remain.

Mary Wilson interviewed founder and director of Go Vegan World, Sandra Higgins, with Joe Healy, Dairy Farmer and IFA President on RTE’s Drivetime, 9th January 2020. The interview follows a Press Release by the IFA in which they seek information on the identity of Go Vegan World donors, information which is not their right to know and which Go Vegan World is obliged to keep private.

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