A vegan student studying animal management has won a fight with her college over the right to skip a farming module that would have included a trip to an abattoir, forcing tutors to find her a more suitable assessment.
Fiji Willets, 18, didn’t expect the topic of farming to come up when she signed up for the BTEC National Extended Diploma in Animal Management in South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.
She joined after reading it was excellent for people who like animals but was horrified to learn that the animal management course could see her work on a farm and perhaps visit an abattoir.
The teenager complained to tutors, who told her the unit was compulsory, so she enlisted the aid of vegan rights advocates to upturn their decision.
After many complaints, and despite assurances from the college that the module would be ethically planned, she’s finally been told she can do a more suitable unit instead, while other students stay with the original course.
The 2021 prospectus for the BTEC course says it’s ‘Great for people who love animals, want a career within the animal care industry, are passionate about conversations and the countryside, like hands-on work and varied responsibilities and like being outside in all weathers.’
Fiji, from Downend, Bristol, said that she’s a vegan because she loves animals, so to visit a farm where she would be supporting a farmer would be wrong and that she would have been denied a college education.
And she said that she couldn’t just break her way of living solely to pass a course and that she hopes she can now be an example to other vegans so they don’t have to go through the distress she went through.
But after joining, she realised she had to take and pass, a module on farm industry, the branch of agriculture which centres on breeding animals for produce.
Students were expected to visit working farms and an abattoir visit was also discussed, according to the Vegan Society, which supported Fiji’s case.
The society claims that Fiji began suffering from anxiety and raised concerns with her tutor, but was told she had to complete the module or fail.
It’s alleged that she tendered a formal grievance to the college, which maintained a backup module was not available.
A similar complaint was issued to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), who supported the college. However, the case was escalated to the awarding body for non-compliance with equality law, and college tutors subsequently changed their minds.
Being vegan is up to the individual, but actually, we can’t eat anything without ending its existence, and plants are just as viable as animals and humans, so all we can do is eat mindfully and not to excess, although some people might say that plant life is nothing like an animals life or human life, simply because plants don’t have a brain or nervous system – hence they can’t feel pain and animals can.
Plants might not be alive in the human sense, nor do they have a nervous system or feelings, well not that we know of, and some people have difficulty eating dead animals but have no problem having a fun day out fruit picking, can you spot the difference?
What it boils down to is some people can eat vegetables, someone else might eat meat, and both are fine as long as we don’t eat people, and you should see how many animals are sacrificed to harvest vegan crops – rodents, birds, insects et cetera, and all because they’re not large ruminant animals, but that doesn’t mean they don’t count.