Everyday activism in support of our animal kin
If you’re passionate about being an ally to our animal kin and advocating for their freedom to live free from exploitation, then today’s blog is for you. We’ve compiled a list of 10 ways that you can get involved with everyday activism to end harmful practices and support animal freedom:
1. Do your research
Can we truly make a difference as individuals when the exploitation of non-human animals is so widespread? This worry is one of the barriers that might have held you back from activism in the past. How much time will it take? Will it cost you money? What if you do the wrong thing? These are all common fears.
The best way to overcome these barriers is to do as much research as possible into everyday activism and how you can build it into your life. Think about your skills, your networks, and the issues that you care about, as this will help you to feel more confident about using your voice for change.
2. Get involved with animal freedom campaigns
There are campaigns related to every conceivable issue to do with animal freedom throughout the world. Some of these campaigns fall under large international organisations, while others are happening at a grassroots level.
If there’s an issue that matters to you, a quick Google search should give you a place to start. You can then find out more about what sort of everyday activism could help your chosen organisation(s). If the information isn’t on their website or social media pages, drop them a message to ask how you can get involved.
3. Spread the word
It might sound like a simple thing but sometimes just wearing a campaign T-shirt or bag with an issue-highlighting slogan can be a conversation starter.
In general, humans are fairly disconnected from how our animal kin live and may not be aware of the pressing issues. Many people have been conditioned by speciesist language and attitudes to view non-human animals as commodities and may never have considered their moral status.
Sometimes, awareness begins with being confronted with a different perspective for the first time.
4. Get information out into your local community
You could look out for local street fairs, craft fairs, student events and so on where you can book to be an exhibitor. Setting up an information table at these events in collaboration with organisations that you support is another good way to spark curiosity and encourage people to engage with issues around animal rights.
Alternatively, you could check whether your local library has space for a display board to tell people more about an issue you support. Another idea is to donate books and resources about animal rights to your library for other people to access.
5. Liaise with community groups
Do you have local faith groups or other organisations that bring together people in the community? If so, you could try to talk to them about animal rights issues. For example, if they regularly do a meal-sharing event for the local community, would they consider offering vegan food once a month?
6. Write to magazines about campaigns championing non-human animals
If you have a favourite magazine, especially one that covers lifestyle issues, you could write to them about campaigns that you support. For a more personal angle, how about sharing your interest in animal rights, why it matters and how you’re getting involved in everyday activism. This could give other readers some ideas about how to get started on their own journey as activists.
If you notice that a magazine is publishing adverts from brands known to harm non-human animals, write to them to call them out on this decision and let them know you’re cancelling your subscription as the magazine is complicit by association.
7. Use social media consciously and conscientiously
There’s no doubt that social media has been instrumental to the rise in youth-led activism in a wide range of social justice movements because it enables people to share messages, ideas and campaigns throughout the world.
On the flipside, social media can facilitate the abuse and trade of non-human animals. Although some of the content is subtle and probably unintentional in its cruelty (such as people recording dogs looking “guilty” when being told off), it’s harmful nonetheless. Other content intentionally exploits and harms non-human animals for entertainment and financial purposes.
To support your animal kin, make sure that you report any exploitative content you see. Fact check information before sharing it. Use your social networks to share the message of animal freedom and connect with other people who are committed to activism. Call out brands involved in animal exploitation or greenwashing.
8. Lobby your political representatives
You may want to lobby local political representatives to make them aware of campaigns that you support. This can be done individually, usually by letter or email, or via a petition or coordinated mass lobby (often organised by a larger organisation to coincide with a public rally or demonstration).
You could even invite your local elected official to attend a meeting with the local branch of an organisation you support to hear more about the issue and why it must be addressed.
It’s often worth getting involved with an organisation that understands the complexities of civic engagement because they may be coordinating people to work together and help you navigate any potential barriers.
9. Boycott brands that exploit non-human animals
Sadly, many businesses are led by what brings in the biggest profits, not what is ethical. The good news is that money talks and we can support our animal kin by refusing to buy from businesses that use non-human animals in any way, including the businesses that are associated with them.
At the same time, we can choose to buy from and tell our networks about vegan businesses that exclude non-human animals from every link in the supply chain.
Many organisations are dependent on volunteers. There are usually wide-ranging opportunities from administrative to public-facing to specialist roles, depending on your skills and availability.
Animal sanctuaries, for example, need people to help with admin, fundraising, awareness campaigns, species-appropriate enrichment, maintenance and much more.
It’s important to be realistic to how much time you can commit (on-going volunteering with the same organisation is likely to be more impactful than volunteering at a one-off event) as people will be relying on you to do whatever it is you’ve volunteered to do.
Ask the volunteer coordinator how and where you can make the most difference and be guided by their expertise.
Making everyday activism part of every day
These are just a handful of ideas about how you can speak up and act in support of our animal kin.
Activism is often associated with protest and civil disobedience, and it can be these things because both are highly effective for driving change. Hopefully, though, we’ve shown that there are various other ways to incorporate activism into your everyday life, making it part of your daily practice as well as something you do in response to a high-profile crisis.
As time goes on, you may see new opportunities for activism and meet other like-minded people who want to work with you for the good of our animal kin. We must never underestimate the power of small changes – every whisper can become a shout when it’s joined by other voices.
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