Interview: Will Young

Amelia Brookes

Impact’s Amelia Brookes got the opportunity to speak with pop star Will Young about his petition to ban animal testing. They spoke about why he first started getting involved with the cause, the support the petition has had already and how others can get involved.

What first prompted you to speak about the issue?

“I came across a puppy farm in Cambridgeshire. I realised that they used up to 2000 beagle puppies a year for animal testing – they either send them out to laboratories across the UK or they keep them on site to harvest their blood for seven years, they go from a tabletop to a cage, with no anaesthetic, and I was bowled over by the conditions that they are kept in and lack of regulation – I (also) found out that small monkeys are tested on – you never really see any wider imagery around it. I started talking to people about it, so people can realise.

People might then think, what can I do about it? The answer is that they can sign this parliamentary petition and share it with others to show their displeasure with it. There’s no reason why animals should be tested on for a lot of things, including household products. At least they’ve stopped using cosmetics- it’s a good roadmap. I don’t know why the same shouldn’t happen for household products and foodstuffs.”

I understand that you spoke at the Labour Party conference about this as well?

“Yes, that got a really good reaction, actually. I was getting quite frustrated with the Conservative Party because they don’t have a great record with animal welfare, and one of their MPs, Zac Goldsmith, left because of their record on animal welfare recently as well as the environment.”

“It might feel helpless, but when you share this information in a measured way, it does have an impact”

I wanted to ask how we as readers and people who engage with the cause can help further?

“People can sign the petition and share the information far and wide without shaming – telling others that this is what goes on, and then you can get involved with charities like Animal Aid. Businesses like Lush have amazing initiatives – the more information that we share on this will continue to build momentum. It might feel helpless, but when you share this information in a measured way, it does have an impact. And of course, you can get in touch with your local MPs as well.

(Animal rights) are something that have been off the agenda for fifteen years, so hopefully a change of government will bring it back into political life.”

The petition that you created is already having so much support. It’s already being considered for a response from the government. How does it feel knowing that your petition has so much support?

“It’s great. I’m really focused on getting it over the line to 100,000. It doesn’t surprise me that people are giving their support for it because I know that we are a nation of animal lovers, and that we are a caring nation – I know the power of people. It’s very fulfilling, we’ve got a long way to go, we’re definitely getting there.”

How long have you been involved with the cause?

“For the last few years, since I found out about it – I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything.”

“when people share information and come together it’s a lot more powerful”

How has your experience been with this form of activism? Has it been rewarding to meet like-minded people?

“I’ve talked to everyone from Deborah Meaden to Chris Packham, to Animal Aid, to Lush, to scientists that run big businesses with non-animal testing methods, growing at 700% a year, and I think they are very intelligent people who want the best for animals, but also want the best for humanity – they see the benefit of using non-animal testing methods. I wanted to try and get people talking amongst the animal rights world, because everyone is trying to stay afloat and get funding, but when people share information and come together it’s a lot more powerful, so in my small way I’ve been trying to encourage different organisations to all talk and facilitate that.”

Where do you see this movement going in the future? What are your hopes for this movement?

“I had a very good meeting with Parliament yesterday. My dreams are for a different government, and for it to be written into law that there’s a ban on testing on dogs, immediately. It’s exactly what the petition is asking for. And then, also, a diversion of funds towards non-animal testing methods – also a timeline of banning testing on animals for all household products.”

If you want to support Will’s petition, here is the link.

Amelia Brookes

Featured image courtesy of Simon Blackmore. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @willyoungofficial via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.

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