Karen Varga, or KT Varga (as she has more recently been known), good friend, colleague, and Co-Chair of Greens for Animal Protection (GAP), died during the early hours of 5 June.
Karen was passionate about animal and human rights and would fearlessly speak out at meetings or Conference whenever the need arose. She was an energetic and happy soul with deep convictions, but above all she was a much-loved friend for so many people both within and outside of the Green Party. She had just begun a new job as a school librarian and was looking forward to starting a postgraduate degree.
Karen had been instrumental in bringing GAP to the forefront of the Green Party and attaining its recognition as a Liberation Group. She supported and attended meetings for LGBTIQA+ Greens, Greens of Colour, Disability Greens and the Equality and Diversity committee, balancing multiple projects as she always had – but never lost sight of her main work: for the animals. She was a strict personal vegan; no animals were tortured or died for the food on her plate, or for her lifestyle.
For some of us, Karen’s loss just isn’t comprehensible. As her friend and fellow Co-Chair of GAP, John spoke to her daily, and Diana’s phone is full of messages from her ("Missed you again!") as they tried to arrange a time to catch up. Her loss will be sorely felt. Fearless, committed, and well-informed, her incisive remarks on the GPEW Conference floor have shaped GPEW policy for years, and her work and knowledge have moved our own animal policies forward in a way that is well ahead of current thinking. She was a tireless campaigner for animals, arranging and participating in panels and debates, attending various animal-related events, and fighting for a fully vegan GPEW Conference in the face of persistent reluctance.
She repeated again and again that the human race must stop treating our fellow animals like throwaways; that the anguish, terror and killing of animals mattered, and matters to us all – we’re all involved, and all have responsibility. She hated the badger cull, which helps prop up the dairy industry; the horrors of factory farming; the animal welfare legislation that’s riddled with exceptions; the thousands of individual dogs and horses disposed of as waste in the greyhound and horse racing industries.
Karen was a trailblazer. Being in the minority, some of us hide our deeper feelings, in deference (or fear) of the surrounding company who might not be so aware. Not Karen. She had no time for the specious arguments that are trotted out time and again and could firmly and effectively dispense with these weak protests by dishing out the facts that animal agriculture contributes to climate change; deforestation; food scarcity; pollution and degradation of land, air, water, and soil; loss of biodiversity and habitats; dangers to human health, including pandemics; and high levels of individual human brutality and trauma. She achieved this with compassion, kindness, and a sincere belief in people’s capacity to change for the better.
Karen’s enormous capacity for love, sense of humour and drive will be missed by us all.
"For the animals."