By regular contributor, Emma McArthur
At this point in time more than ever before, we need our fellow vegans to stand up and rise against the issues that only we are going to fight for.
For example, the recent abhorrent rise in fur in the fashion industry, the passing by the Trump administration of laws in the US regarding lack of transparacy in animal welfare, plus the passing of a horrific new law allowing hunters to murder hibernating animals in Alaskan wildife reserves. Now is the time for us to speak out urgently and rally our troops to spread awareness.
Western mainstream media has attached such a huge stigma to the word "activism" in order to associate it with extremism and violent fundamentalists. This attaching of labels to language is extremely powerful and pervasive – if you describe yourself as an activist it will often conjure very negative imagery amongst friends and family – but we should not be shamed for taking action. We are simply helping animals, in ways that doesn't always have to be radical, and it is absolutely crucial in these brutal times.
Here are some ideas about how you can get involved, and remember that the opposite of action is non-action, which means allowing cruelty and violence all to go on without a fight.
Paul Bashir, founder of Anonymous for the Voiceless, says that he limits this carefully, "I want my activism to be sustainable. I've seen too many vegans break and fall off the radar, never to do activism again. The images, the footage and the non-vegan excuses / opposition can be easily maddening" – which is great advice. Don't end up suffering from compassion fatigue, do what you can and do it well – know your skills and strengths and work to those.
Putting these stickers on the reverse / undersides of the packages is best. It’s important to be audacious when you do this. There’s no need to look around or behave like you’re doing something wrong: remember you’re doing something RIGHT. Plus, nobody is going to bat an eyelid at you handling food in a supermarket – it’s what consumers do. Even if you get caught, the worst that will happen is the store manager will get a bit annoyed. The only downside is you don’t get to see the impact that reading your stickers has on the purchasers."
Those I spoke to had absolutely no idea about the truth of the animal agriculture industries and the extent to which animals suffer because of human greed and gluttony. They were in absolute shock. Just one person going vegan saves well over 100 animals a year with some sources even putting it at saving one life a day (around 365 animals saved each year from a lifetime of pain and misery). So out of the 250 households educated today even if only a few really do make the change then that is a lot of lives saved and therein lies the power of leafleting, a simple yet highly effective form of activism anyone can engage in."
If I ever meet a new person I always have a list of documentaries already written out and their links. At any given time I strike up a conversation with random people and talk about veganism and why it is the best way to live, not only for the animals, but for the environment and their own health. I always carry a Virtual Reality headset in my car just incase they would like to see more and generally show them ‘1000 Eyes’, which is a short clip but touches home so deeply and shows the animal agriculture for what it is”.
In truth, being an “eco-warrior” is one of the easiest things we can do–it’s just a matter of learning a bit and adjusting our daily lives. And right now the earth is in dire need of all of us to be “eco-warriors.” The oceans are dying, the rainforests are disappearing faster than ever and mass extinctions of countless species are occurring across the globe. The biggest contributing factors of these things are the cruelest industries on the planet, such as the animal agriculture industry (meat, eggs, dairy, fishing, etc.), palm oil, etc. It can seem overwhelming and one might not know where to begin to try to fix things, so usually people give up before they begin. But all it takes to correct all of the problems (the cruelty, the mass deforestation, the genocides, the death of our oceans, the air, the soil, the water, and so on) is to stop paying for it all to happen."
Please read the rest of her interview about palm oil here, and look at this list of palm oil products to boycott here.
The beauty of the Cube of Truth demonstrations is in their simplicity. A group of activists wearing masks stand in a square formation, each holding screens displaying live footage of animal activism. Paul or his counterpart is on hand to discuss the images with bystanders, offer literature, information and advice about converting to veganism. Paul says that if you want to get involved with AV or start a Cube of Truth in your area, "The best way is to check our website or to contact us. Tell us what city you're in. If we have an existing chapter - come along and get involved. If we don't already have something set up there, we'll send you a 17 page campaign guide to help you get something started up there. It's that simple."
Paul Bashir says, "If you don't want to do street activism, get online and use social media; especially YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Do the best you can with these tools, because WE control the media now!"
You will be surprised what you are capable of. I know I was. However I do recognise that many people simply cannot get out into public. I want those people to know that you can still make a difference. Many people have anxiety, family commitments, financial restraints, other mental health issues and other things that they feel limits their activism. Don't ever feel ashamed of who you are and it is okay to recognise your limitations. Self care should always come first. There are many ways that you can help in this fight without being in public. Write letters to various companies and organisations and raise awareness through social media. Reach out to animal rights organisations and ask how you can help. Local and smaller organisations will appreciate the support. Guerrilla Vegan has volunteers doing graphic design, video editing, filming, writing and research. All people that reached out and said, "how can I help?" Without these people organisations would struggle to spread their message.
Also please consider donating to this cause: "We have filed a lawsuit along with PETA and other animal protection groups against the USDA & APHIS! Please help us with this legal battle by donating: www.bfp.org/donate"
About the author...
Support the Barefoot Vegan Animal Sanctuary by purchasing the 2017 Art of Compassion Project calendar