Esther’s Blog: Action, action, action!

1 December 2021

This month we’re celebrating 15 years of the Party for the Animals in the Dutch parliament. On 22 November 2006, for the first time in the world, a Party for the Animals was elected into a national parliament. We became world news. Since then, we have achieved multiple successes, together with over 20 sister parties around the entire world. All in all, we are with over 180 representatives in local, regional, and national governments! And that number keeps on growing. We are building a unique, international, political movement. One that does not put the interests of Western humans and their money in the pivotal position, but the interests of those most vulnerable: animals, nature, and the environment. We have a fundamentally different outlook on life: ecocentric instead of egocentric. Which is also most crucially in the best interest of humans themselves: for our health and the future of our children.

To celebrate our anniversary, I treated all political parties in our House of Representatives to a delicious and organic vegan cake. The near future is plant-based!

Vegan cake that Esther handed out amongst politicians in the Dutch House of Representatives.

Speaking about veganism: I won a vegan award this month for the best book. A huge honour! We are in the middle of a semi-lockdown again and it is important to keep shedding light on the origins of what got us into this mess: humans not leaving animals alone. That is what enabled a virus, COVID-19, to make the jump from animals to humans. And we are all experiencing the consequences of that. I wrote a book on this exact issue and the ticking time bomb that our own livestock industry is: “A Plague on Both Our Houses: How animal exploitation is driving pandemics and what to do next”. It is great to see that so many people appreciate the book.

In each blog I have been able to share some new successes with you. Luckily, that is the case yet again. This year, there will be a nationwide ban on fireworks, which is exactly what the Party for the Animals has been pleading for. This year, the ban has merely been installed as part of the COVID-measures and as such, it is temporary. But if it is up to us, the ban will last forever. Luckily 62% of the Dutch population agrees with us. A ban on fireworks not only reduces the pressure on the healthcare system, but is also better for our health, the environment, and the animals. Besides this success, we have also ensured that the Netherlands will help the Caribbean island of Bonaire to better protect their coral reefs.

Recently, one of the biggest online stores in the Netherlands and Belgium announced that they will quit selling products made from kangaroos. An important step. The Party for the Animals, together with our Australian sister party Animal Justice Party, has been drawing attention to the horrible kangaroo hunt for years. Baby kangaroos, known as joeys, are beaten to death against cars, decapitated, or left to suffer after their mothers are shot dead. The EU is the biggest importer of kangaroo meat and leather. Earlier this month, we issued an urgent appeal to stop importing kangaroo products.

MEP Anja Hazekamp from the Party for the Animals pleads for a ban on the mako shark hunt, together with colleague Caroline Roose.

We are making important strides internationally as well. The European Union has agreed to international protective measures for the mako shark, partly thanks to the efforts of the Party for the Animals. The hunt for this threatened shark species is banned for the next two years. Naturally, we will fight for this to become a permanent ban.

Our young sister party in Denmark, Veganerpartiet, looks back on a successful first election. They only lacked 40 votes to obtain their very first seat. In some municipalities, they beat out the Christian democrats and the liberals, who are already represented on the national level. Highly promising for the upcoming elections and as such for animals, nature, and the environment!

Our sister party in France, Parti Animaliste, is also pressuring the government to protect animals better. Thanks to the efforts of Parti Animaliste and animal rights organisations, President Emmanuel Macron’s government adopted a new animal welfare law this month, which bans the fur industry, the use of wild animals for entertainment in circuses, and marine mammal parks. Our French sister party will keep on fighting to ban other forms of animal suffering as well, such as the hunt and industrial livestock farming.

Accelerating climate action together

Party for the Animals at the huge Climate March in Amsterdam.

It is the biggest challenge of our generation: keeping the Earth liveable for future generations. Keeping global warming below 1.5 °C is literally the difference between a liveable and unliveable planet. Together with our sister parties, organisations, and civilians from around the world, we are increasing the pressure for real action. This month, for example, we hit the streets on a massive scale to demand that our governments actually protect our planet and all its inhabitants. In the Netherlands, the highest judicial advisor of the government advised the cabinet to improve and tighten the current Climate Law. We immediately officially submitted our own Climate Law, the Climate Law 1.5. If our law gets passed by parliament, the Netherlands will have to be carbon neutral by 2030, and fully commit to keeping global warming under that crucial limit of 1.5 °C!

One of the most important drivers of climate change and the destruction of nature is the livestock industry. As such, serving meat at a climate summit is akin to presenting cigarettes at a conference on lung cancer: absurd. We have to commit to a transition to a more plant-based, regional and organic food system. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will get. In Glasgow we highlighted this, and we have appealed to the organisation of the Climate Summit to serve plant-based food by default in the future.

The fact that animal products are disastrous to our health, nature, and climate is understood more and more widely. Recently the city council of Helsinki in Finland chose to no longer serve meat and dairy. Instead, Helsinki opts for fair trade, climate friendly and plant-based products.

This is the deciding decade in which political leaders have to prove they are willing to go for it. We still have a chance to turn the tide and to leave our children and grandchildren a healthier, more liveable, and better Earth. We have to grasp that chance and hold on tight. Action, action, action!

Esther Ouwehand
Party leader Dutch Party for the Animals