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.
1 – Be a good vegan
Be informed, know what you’re talking about, be open to questions and inform people with kindness, not aggression or hostility. Be strong, not pushy. Be patient and intelligent in your discourse. You will be more likely to change minds and hearts if you are being your best and representing veganism in a positive light. Look after yourself, be the best that you can be, and don’t neglect your emotional needs. If footage of factory farming upsets you too much then limit the images you look at.
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.
2 – Supermarket stickering
UK activist Nick Mott
describes how we can take action in our local community:
“One of the simplest and eye catching forms of activism is putting stickers on animal products in supermarkets. Write a snappy slogan or message and print your own onto A4 sheets of stickers. Keep a stash in your pocket and simply attach to packets of sausages, chicken sandwiches, pints of dairy milk, tins of beef soup etc.
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.”
3 – Leafleting
Rishi Patel is a UK based activist who describes his 200 vegan leaflet challenge – “200 leaflet vegan challenge done! Around 250 households educated on the horrors, atrocities and unimaginable acts of cruelty committed in the meat, dairy and egg industries. Those who didn’t know that baby male chicks in the free range egg industry are ground up alive, baby male calves are shot dead in the dairy industry at a day old etc., do now. Also managed to do a bit of outreach with people on the street.
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.”
4 – Poster campaigns / resource readiness
Tash Anderson, an Australian activist, says: “I generally get posters made up saying ‘Go Vegan, Live and let live ‘ with some of my favourite websites on veganism attached and picture of a farm animal and stick them on bill boards, rest rooms bars, restaurants, lamp-posts, even friends’ houses when I visit! I also always keep a piece of chalk in my handbag where I can make really awesome graffiti with numerous amounts of quotes which I can then write on the footpaths.
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”.
5 – Boycotting
Know which products to boycott and help spread awareness amongst your friends and family to do the same. Shalyen Aiyana Snarski
is a US based palm oil activist, who works to spread awareness about the horrors of palm oil and how we can boycott palm oil products.
“I recently saw a comedic commercial starring Melissa McCarthy meant to sell fuel-efficient cars by Kia with the motto “It’s hard to be an eco-warrior, but it’s easy to drive like one.” The “It’s hard to be an eco-warrior” statement really stood out to me.
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.
6 – Street Activism
Tacoma Cube of Truth. Image courtesy of Cube of Truth Instagram page.
Paul Bashir of Anonymous for the Voiceless, founded a street event called Cube of Truth, which has been an enormous success and went viral around Australia, North America, UK, several parts of Asia and Europe. They have inspired “Over 144 demonstrations, we have convinced at least 4,373 bystanders to take the NEEDLESS cruelty in their diets and lifestyles seriously. We fully equip the public with everything they need in switching to a vegan lifestyle.”
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.”
7 – Social Media
This is something we can all do from home – spread the message, make a video, create online petitions, send online protests to companies selling fur for example. Use your strengths – if you are good behind the camera – go out filming animal abuse or factory farms; if you have editing skills – volunteer to help activist groups making their videos; if you are great in front of the camera – make some inspiring speeches and get them online; if you can write – write; if you are a photographer – you get the picture!
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!”
8 – Stay in your comfort zone!
Ben Le Roi
gives this invaluable advice:
“My advice to people like many others is often to try and step outside of your comfort zone. Do it with someone that you are most comfortable with. Someone that can be your support. Whether it’s attending a march, a disruption, street outreach, leafleting, whatever.
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.
9 – Watch and share!
Several of the vegan activists I’ve spoken to were converted by watching a film or video – so this is proof that it really works. There are so many hugely influential documentaries around which are packed full of footage, powerful imagery, scientific research and hard truth – and there’s many different films out there for different people. Choose one and watch it with your non-vegan friends and family! They range from the ethical stance, to the environmental to the heavily scientific and diet-based. There is truly something for everyone and several of these have been proven to convert people instantly; such as the famous Gary Yourofsky speech, Forks over Knives, and of course the heartbreaking Earthlings. There’s even at least 5 on Netflix! Click here for a list of the best
10 – Petition / donate
Find petitions for the causes that you care about, sign and share. If you can’t find one for your cause – create one. One hugely important petition to sign right now is about the passing of laws to blackout information about animal abuse and conditions in labs. The Beagle Freedom Project is working hard to fight this – find more information here
and sign the petition here.
Emma is a vegan writer, blogger, teacher, and nomad, who has been living and working around the world since 2009. In her work as a teacher and in her writings she strives to inspire others to consider the place of humans on this planet as earthlings, and our relationship to other species of animals.She is devoted to dogs and runs a dog group in her current part of the world. Emma writes for various platforms such as Flaming Vegan, and is meanwhile working towards her dream of founding an animal sanctuary. She can be contacted at her website http://www.thefreerlancer.com/ and she blogs at fluxedupchick.blogspot.com
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