Marianne Thieme, leader of the Party for the Animals in the Dutch Parliament,1 Netherlands, and a member of the Dutch House of Representatives, stood firm against a tide of ridicule when she and other animal advocates formed their political party that focuses on the interests of animals, nature, and the environment in 2002. In the 2006 election, however, the fast-growing party received 179,988 votes (1.8 percent), which gave them two seats in the Dutch Parliament. This made them the world’s first party to gain parliamentary seats with an agenda focused primarily on animal issues. Then with 335,214 votes (3.2 percent) won at the 2017 election, the Party of the Animals secured five seats. Since 2002, 18 similar parties have been established around the world.
Opponents today are no longer laughing.
Drawn by Compassion
A lifelong animal advocate, Thieme became a vegetarian at the age of 23 after watching a documentary on methods farmers use to increase milk and meat production from cows. At the time she was studying law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Following graduation Thieme first worked for a land remediation and waste management company, then later as a policy official for a Dutch anti-fur animal welfare foundation and an animal welfare foundation that opposed industrial agriculture. Thieme has also since produced two documentary films on the environmental impact of meat eating.
Raised a Roman Catholic, Thieme learned about Adventists while studying vegetarianism and reading books by Ellen White. In an interview with Adventist Review in 2014 she said she was “struck by White’s message of compassion toward animals and her passionate plea for vegetarianism.”2
“Together with my beliefs and my animal advocacy, the Adventist Church appealed to me, and I became an Adventist in 2006,” she said.3
Thieme says Adventists should be proactive on environmental and animal welfare issues, and should “let people know what stewardship really means.”
1 www.partyfortheanimals.nl 2 See, for example, Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif., Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), p. 314. 3 www.adventistreview.org/church-news/pioneering-dutch-politician-finds-success-in-practicing-what-she-preaches.