Vegan Activism & Advocacy
A vegan lifestyle saves animals but that is incomparable to what can be achieved through activism. You can save a hundred or a thousand more animals. This does not mean that being vegan is in any way less important. But if you want to save more animals activism is the way to go. Let us look at the numbers.
An average vegan saves 25 animals a year, which means if they live for 100 years they will have saved 2500 animals in their lifetime. Activism saves a lot more animals by influencing those around you to make better choices. For instance, convincing your friend to cut their meat intake by half will save 12 animals a year. Tiny changes will influence outcomes to come. You might find someone has changed their diet because of something you said to them years ago.
The point to animal advocacy is to protect animals from harm with the end goal making a world that is free of animal cruelty and slaughter. Every time you persuade someone to change or adjust their existing behavior, change occurs. Vegan activism asks that people adapt compassionate food choices, therefore, since it is about persuasion, activists need to know what they are talking about.
Vegans are under the illusion that since they cut animal foods from their diet and embraced a plant-based diet they do not need to worry about nutrition. Every activist should be aware of the basics of nutrition, maybe the best book for this would be Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina. With additional sources on VeganHealth.org website, and Messina’s blog.
It is also important to understand the struggle of farm animals and begin to speak for them. Two great well-researched books on this topic are Eating Animals by Foer and Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money.
Climate change is another issue surrounding plant-centered, diet David Kirby’s Animal Factory is a good book exposing issues around this topic.
Assessing Your Strengths
Assess what strengths you have that can be used for animal protection. There are many opportunities for different talents and skills to contribute to help keep animals safe.
Take a paper and pen and write the things you are good at, whether talents, studied in school, inborn qualities, acquired skills etc.
Once you know this you will be well equipped to start your advocacy journey.
Speaking Up for Animals
Sticking to animals is great while speaking about veganism, although a broader perspective of the dialogue will create more impact. This is because most people are not willing to let go of animal products overnight. Here are things to ask for:
- Embracing Meatless Mondays
- Quitting dairy products
- Trying meat, milk, and egg alternatives
- Evading eggs from locked down hens, or eating meat that is only pasture-grown
In order to choose what to suggest it is important to listen. This is very effective and every activist should do it twice more than they do.
Find out what is important to your listeners and find a common ground. If you meet non-vegans who love animals but are not clear on why eating animals is wrong, suggest that they consider a part-time vegan lifestyle. Lend these people the best vegan guides or cookbooks you love to get them started.
When your listeners can’t listen to the idea of switching to a vegan diet, speak to them about the health implications of not doing so. If some of them have no concern about the cruelty of animals, maybe they will care about climate change and how to overcome type-2 diabetes.
If you present veganism as an all-or-nothing choice it will be difficult convincing even a single person to switch since no one will want to take action. Considering offering continuous encouragement for people to take a small step away from animal products rather than the last step. Advocating using the “foot in the door” technique will warrant better results. A step towards cutting down half of the animal products might lead to cutting down all animal products from their diet tomorrow. Going dairy-free for a month might lead to going dairy-free for the rest of their life.
Great activists do not lose touch with reality. Rather than scorning people for the choices they make, encourage them to do better and find alternatives that work for them.
During activism activities, you have no control over who responds to your efforts and who doesn’t. Some vegans are caught in the idea of making their parents go vegan but get disappointed when it doesn’t happen. Older people are less receptive to changing their diets, especially from someone younger than them.
This is usually the case for other family members, friends, and, unfortunately, significant others. It is important to understand that this is not something you can control and you should, therefore, be ready for either outcome. Since activism is about reaching out to more people, using tools like social media can help you achieve more impact. Services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great tools for vegan advocacy.
Find images that involve compassionate eating because people are influenced when they like you. It is also good to be as natural and more of yourself as you can to avoid sounding pushy. Don’t forget to be entertaining and fun as well in order to drive your agenda.
You do not want to be that vegan that posts ten disturbing pictures of animal cruelty on Facebook. Nobody wants to see a page filled with such horror, so you will end up being un-followed or blocked by friends. You want to use your page to inspire people to keep coming back. People love food so mouth-watering images of delicious vegan foods is a great idea.
One of one conversation with friends and family is another way to be an activist. Any form of animal advocacy is important in areas that are neglected.
It is possible for once person to spread animal compassion from their family to the whole town or community by increasing the number of vegans which creates demand for vegan foods, driving businesses like restaurants to introduce vegan foods in their menus.
In advocacy, it is good to focus on identifying a simple idea you might work for the environment you come from. For example, praising a vegan restaurant for its options at your local coffee shop is bound to work since many restaurants obsess over Yelp reviews.
Meetup.com is the platform to use to find local activism opportunities. There are dozens of vegan groups that organize events. For instance, vegan meetups in restaurants pay off by giving vegans a sense of commitment towards the cause and by promoting vegan restaurants while showing the importance of vegan foods to non-vegan restaurants.
Humane Society of the United States is a great source for campaign-oriented activism on a state or city level. To familiarize yourself with their activities, join the Farm Animal Protection Campaign. Visit this page for contacts of your state director to express your desire for volunteering.
Leafletting in your local college is great if you have just a little time to volunteer. It is an effortless activity of handing over leaflets to students in between classes.
You will notice students sit down to read the pamphlet, although some will do it out of sight or dump it at the first opportunity they get. Whatever the case, even if six students read and make a substantial dietary change that means you have saved thousands of animals from slaughter cumulatively in these people’s lifetime.
Just like reading a beginner’s chess book will improve your skills tremendously, reading an activism book is a must for any vegan advocate that wants to make a difference.
To start things off read Uncaged which is a combination of essays by top activists. This eBook will give you a foundation about different approaches to effective activism. Follow this by reading either Striking at the Roots or The Animal Activist’s Handbook. These books offer more details on the seriousness of animal advocacy. For an advanced touch, Nick Cooney’s Change of Heart is the way to go. It is a good book for activists who already have the basics but want to explore how they can become more effective.
Once this is done you need to learn about NVC (Non-Violent Communication) to up your game. A classic that remains undefeated for this is Marshall Rosenberg’s newly-revised book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. This book will teach you the right things to say to avoid a defensive response and how to stay away from making issues personal. This book will not only improve activism but your relationships, friendships and career.
The more progress you make in saving animals the more the criticism you are likely to receive from vegans who think everything can be accomplished in a day. An essay by Norm Phelps’ “One Track Activism” is worth reading to help you know how to deal with criticism from other vegans.
Being an activist is an emotional roller-coaster that might cause you pain and frustration if you do not self-care. Read Self-Care for Activists, available on Kindle, iBooks, Nook, and Google Play. Also look for Hillary Rettig’s The Lifelong Activist which gives advice on how to avoid emotional pitfalls while being an animal advocate.
Just like any other skill, to get better at animal advocacy you need practice. Animal advocacy in two summarized principles is:
- Continuously work to discover common ground and convince people. Endeavor to achieve friendly winsin private, and only choose public campaigns as the last option.
- Always think big in terms of results. Choose campaigns that are likely to save and protect a greater number of animals.
With over 50 billion farm animals being slaughtered each year there is a need for more activists to expand their reach and think outside the box. Even with these disturbing numbers, a small victory can contribute to saving a large number of animals. If you can adjust your efforts just a little, the number of animals you could end up protecting is huge.
Now that you know of the possible impact you could have read the article animal millionaires which states that just like people accumulate a million dollars to become millionaires, you too can consider yourself an animal millionaire if your efforts lead to protecting a million animals from slaughter. This sounds ambitious but should not be a point of intimidation, there are activists who have managed to save a million farm animals from slaughter. If an average American consumes 2000 animals during their lifetime, it means by influencing 500 people you can become an animal millionaire too. See, it is not as difficult as it sounded.
Factory farming is a huge industry built on a very shaky foundation that is going to collapse sooner or later. This is bound to happen in our lifetime, so take up activism and be a key in making this a reality.