What is AAP? What is it all about? What’s with all the animals?
The idea with placing elephants and plaques around the place was to open the debate about what is a person, with a view to getting humans to entertain the idea that elephants are also people, not humans, but people nonetheless. People, or persons, have legal protection in ways that animals don’t; animals are merely ‘things’ under the law.
The idea was that if humans could accept that elephants are non-human persons with legal rights, then they will be less likely longer see ivory as just a fine, luxury product, but part of somebody who was killed for their teeth.
The extension of this idea was that if we could accept that elephants are people, then what of other animals? We accept that dolphins, whales and apes are also very intelligent: can they not be people too? What of the billions of cows, pigs, chickens and sheep killed every year, do they not feel pain the same way we do? Do we need to inflict such horror and suffering upon these animals?
Realising that I was struggling to get his message across, realising also the accelerating urgency of the situation in the world, with increasing numbers of species facing extinction, I decided on another tack.
This is AAP. Animals Are People.
The Earth is facing unprecedented environmental challenges: deforestation, desertification, ocean dead zones, marine ecosystem collapse, insect population collapse, extinction of larger species, and of course climate change.
If we are to address these multi faceted concerns we need to look to the causes, or the drivers, of these issues. There are many reasons why we are where we are, and there are a number of things we can do in the ever-diminishing window of opportunity to do them.
It is often said that the primary driver of climate change is our use of fossil fuels, and while this is right, in that our civilisation, powered by fossil fuels, has got us into this situation; but while we pump CO2 into the atmosphere from our fossil fuel consumption, it is not responsible for all the methane emissions from cattle. It is not responsible for the clearing of rainforests for cattle ranching and soya plantations, the bulk of which go to feed pigs, chickens, farmed fish and cattle around the world. Our use of fossil fuels is not encroaching upon our last wild habitats and driving the extinction of rhinos, orang-utans and a host of other species. It is not responsible for the devastation of our marine ecosystems.
All of these things are the result of animal agriculture and fishing. Half the good arable land on the planet is being used to grow crops to feed to livestock (who never go hungry, while nearly a billion people suffer hunger and malnutrition)*.
It is often said that there are simply too many people on the planet, but it is not so simple. There are 7.5 billion humans but between 50 and 70 billion livestock (estimates vary), so there are vastly more animals than humans to feed, and while many of these eat grass, a huge proportion are fed entirely on crops which could otherwise feed the far less numerous humans.
If we humans were to stop considering animals as food this would release huge tracts of land to be re-forested, returned to wetlands and mangroves, and allow the oceans to recover. All of these things would suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, mitigating climate change, while at the same time ending the current extinction event in its tracks. It’s a win-win.
If we don’t do this and just rely on industry, transport, agriculture and consumer culture to decarbonise, we will not pull out of the ecological nosedive. These things will take too long to implement and would still do nothing to address the deforestation, desertification and marine ecosystem collapse, which as they decline, release ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Given that all of our industry and most agriculture is geared towards further exploitation of the ecosystem it will not change quickly, there are few financial incentives to do so. If we wait we are effectively doomed. The solution therefore is simple: the majority of humans have to drastically cut consumption of food derived from animals. Effectively going vegan.
The problem is that most people are culturally programmed to have animal products as a fundamental part of their diet, and food is a central part of any given cultural identity.
So on the one hand we are in a situation where the only way to save the ecosystem, and therefore ourselves, is to change our diet; and on the other we have an entrenched cultural desire to eat what we are used to eating – and nobody wants to be told what they can or can’t eat. How do we get people to want to change?
Something not lost on the advertising industry is that words and phrases are very effective at programming human desires.
Because the logo of the ethical sportswear brand AAP means ‘Animals Are People’, every time someone sees the logo they will get that phrase echo in their mind, drip-feeding like a mantra, effectively programming them to see animals as people. The point of this is that ‘people’ are friends, family and associates upon whom we’d wish no harm, and ‘people’ has very different neurolinguistic value to ‘thing’, or ‘food’, or even ‘chicken’. People don’t eat people. The phrase does not need to be believed for it to work. Eventually this someone is likely to one day look at the chicken leg in their hand, and rather than seeing some ‘thing’ they see the leg of ‘someone’, and perhaps think more about where their food comes from, which in itself is the first step towards a plant based diet.
Sportswear logos are among the most visible and recognisable type of logo so it was natural to choose sportswear as a vehicle for the brand. A tennis player at Wimbledon wearing an AAP shirt, for example, would be transmitting the phrase ‘animals are people’ to potentially millions of viewers.
We are already seeing a growing movement towards a plant based diet and it is being spoken about more and more as a solution to climate change and extinction, but it is still very small. It needs to grow rapidly.
The aim at AAP Sports is to begin with T shirts printed on organic cotton, but move into more obvious sportswear as the company grows. It will only sell products that are ethically produced, environmentally benign to manufacture and biodegradable.
We hope to enlist well-known vegans from sport, music and film, of which there now many, to help promote the brand to wider audience.
AAP Sports is a not for profit company and any dividends accrued would be spent on environmental rehabilitation efforts such coral reef rebuilding, re-forestation and restoring wetlands and mangroves. The aim is for the operations of the company to be a net benefit to the planetary ecosystem rather than a drain on the environment, as most commercial activities currently are.