One of the main components deterring vegans from activism is the common misconception that “activism” means standing outside a supermarket screaming “meat is murder” in people’s faces. The truth is, there’s a huge variety of activism methods for all personality types. Some can be done as part of an organization, take place on the streets, be a small addition to your daily routine and some can happen from the comfort of your own home. You might even already be an activist and not even realize.
Being vegan is awesome, it really is, but if we’re being honest here, it’s not enough. The animals need this movement to grow fast; they need people out there revealing the truth, opening minds and demanding change and that will never happen if we remain silent. Luckily, there are countless ways to be a voice for the animals, offering activism for everyone. We’ve compiled a list of ideas you could consider getting involved in and we’re sure there are many more out there!
“The most effective form of activism is the one that resonates best with you” – Joey Carbstrong
Arguably one of the most important forms of activism comes in the form of bearing witness and can be done through organizations such as The Save Movement or independently. There are multiple aspects of these emotional experiences that are imperative to the animal rights movement. Animals on their way to slaughter are scared, hungry, injured and lonely. Activists all over the world gather to show these animals their last and most likely first act of kindness and compassion before they are forced into a room and mercilessly killed. Attendants document the animals, catching on camera the conditions they are subjected to en route to their untimely deaths. As this process is so often hidden by the industry, I can’t stress enough the importance of that footage reaching the public eye. Without these activists putting aside their own emotions and having the courage to look into the eyes of a vulnerable animal, knowing there is nothing they can do for them, the plight of these animals would never be heard; the violence and misery would never end. Their mere presence at the site of slaughterhouses is sending the message : what goes on behind those closed doors is not ok. Bearing witness can take place anywhere animals are being held captive, such as dairy farms, fur farms or auctions. The more people catching these deplorable conditions on camera, the further the truth can reach. The public deserve an honest picture of what they are buying.
Cube of Truth
All over the world, Anonymous for the Voiceless groups gather regularly to let the public come face to face with their food. Ok, not quite ‘face to face’ but it presents passersby with footage forcing them to confront the hidden victims of the meat, dairy and egg industries. This form of activism is perfect for outspoken activists as well as the shy type. Multiple participants don masks and remain silent for the entire demonstration; They present laptops and tablets playing undercover footage of the animal “food” industry, alongside others holding up signs saying “truth”. In addition to the masked cube of activists, there will be out-reachers. These are the ones opening up dialogue with the public, explaining what the goal of the demo is and providing truthful information about animal agriculture. They can offer advice on how to stop supporting it, as well as providing written literature and cards with useful website links such as Cowspiracy and Challenge22. It’s an awesome set up because it’s hard-hitting and raw but isn’t overly invasive because those who encounter the cubes have a choice whether to stop and watch. From the point of view of the activists, the reason these cubes are so accessible is because you can decide whether you’d like to interact with the public or stay behind a mask, so even the most socially anxious of people can take part without having to interact with anyone.
Protests and/or marches
2017 was home to the largest animal rights march in history. Spanning across the world, thousands of animal advocates joined together in various cities to march in the name of animal rights and if you’ve not seen any footage of it, you can see a video of the largest march, in Israel, here. Obviously, marches and protests inform the public on a mass scale. Signs and chants will inform those around you why you’re there and of course the more people who attend, the more plentiful those signs and the louder those chants. Events may yield media attention, leading to the vegan message appearing on newspapers, news channels and social media, potentially reaching millions of people. These events can range from large scale shock factor demonstrations to smaller, localized protests. Protests are being organized all over the world and cover everything from meat eating to fur; from vivisection to puppy mills and of course, you can always arrange your own protest for a cause you are passionate about.
On a more personal level, just being a part of something with like-minded people can be a pretty surreal experience. Veganism can feel lonely at times, especially if you are the only vegan in your family or peer group. Getting involved in activism and doing your part to change the world, alongside other people out there trying to change the world, can work wonders for reminding you you’re not alone.
Wear vegan apparel
It really can be as simple as wearing a t-shirt with a vegan or animal rights message. One of the more subtle forms of activism, vegan apparel can be a great conversation starter. It works in a way that can entice questions from non vegans, without you having to even say a word. Working out at the gym; waiting in line at the grocery store; having dinner at a restaurant; basically, doing all the things non vegans do can show how accessible being vegan really is. Help to shatter any misinformed stereotypes people may have about vegans and battle the misperceptions on how veganism affects your overall life. Vegans are ordinary people! The bigger the variety of folks seen wearing vegan apparel, the more it amplifies the truth; people from all walks of life are vegan. Whether it’s a t-shirt, hat, tote bag or bracelet, people who read your message might not say anything to you but it can still be another seed planted in their mind and never underestimate the power of planting seeds. This can also be pushed to a larger scale if you share pictures of your activism apparel on your social media. You could even print your own up with a personalized message and go one further by starting your own vegan apparel line. Take husband & wife team, Unapologetic Vegan Wear for example; when their vegan car decals went down a storm in the vegan community, they launched their own clothing line with slogans and graphics ranging from anti hunting shirts to cute “Vegan Spawn” shirts for kids!
On the same level as vegan shirts but a little more permanent, tattoos work wonders if you’re that way inclined! (Be sure to use vegan ink & aftercare products though!)
Write a blog
I always adored writing so nothing made more sense than using that love to advocate for animals. What’s great about blogging is, it’s entirely your call when it comes to content. Love vegan food? Blog about it! Love vegan festivals? Blog about it! Love wildlife? Blog about it! It’s a sad truth but where animal abuse and exploitation are concerned, there’s no shortage of topics and the more people who put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and share the stories of these forgotten victims, the more people will learn about these industries. Of course, you needn’t write about specific animals issues, you could also share your own journey in the world of veganism, utilizing the things that mean the most to you. By opening up and documenting your vegan life, you can show just how awesome it is to be vegan. You may well even help someone tackling similar life situations to you, don’t be afraid to talk about the struggles you may have had and sharing how you resolved those bumps in the road.
If writing isn’t your thing, you can support other people’s blogs by ‘liking’, commenting on and sharing their articles, helping get the word out there. Alternatively, you could use a social media page to collate vegan news, articles, recipes and products from all over the globe!
Start a YouTube Channel
YouTube might be one of the most effective tools for informing the public about pressing issues, such as animal rights. Much like blogging, you can make videos about anything you like and there are lots of simple to use editing programs available for the most novice of filmmakers. From recipes to activist events; shopping trips to single topic monologues, every video advocating for veganism is making a difference. You can set up a camera and go one on one with your audience or you can easily make videos on your phone when you’re out and about. You don’t even need to be in the videos if you don’t want to be. For inspiration, I’d recommend checking out some vegan YouTubers! Some of GlassBrick’s favourites are Joey Carbstrong, James Aspey, Earthling Ed and Bite Size Vegan. These guys are just a few of awesome folks out there, giving a voice to the animals. They all have different content matter and different approaches, and some even have tips on how to create your own effective YouTube activism channel!
Share vegan messages on your social pages
Your own personal Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media outlets, are the perfect platform for activism. It can be quite daunting at first, the fear of upsetting your family and friends but ask yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen?” Maybe a friend will ridicule your posts or try to fight with you; maybe a distant relative will take offense. If instances such as these occur, it doesn’t have to resort to an online battle of wills, resulting in you blocking half your friends list. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across with regards to activism is, “respond, don’t react”. Gary Francione made a short and concise video just about this and you can watch it here. More often than not, people write silly online comments purely to get a reaction to reinforce their preconceived stereotype of an “angry vegan”, thus giving them the ammunition they need to make out you’re the problem. It’s easy to get caught up in emotions when someone deliberately tries to provoke you but if you keep your cool and drop some truths bombs, all whilst remaining sickeningly polite, they’ll either just stop responding – or – they’ll keep poking you in a further attempt to get your blood boiling. For the latter, continue to stay polite, stay informative and stay on topic. Don’t give them the satisfaction of that angry result they so wanted. If you exhaust yourself going back and forth, whilst someone gives you the run around with feeling plants, lions and cavemen the message of your post has been lost. Always bear in mind, even if they aren’t willing to listen to you right now, it doesn’t mean nothing you’ve said has resonated with them. It’s also worth considering, if someone was silently watching your correspondence with this troll friend of yours, what would they take away from it? Would they see you delivering facts and information that back up what you’ve claimed, in a clear and mature manner? Or would they see you ranting, raving and name calling someone whose only intention was to aggravate you? Don’t underestimate the ones seeing your posts but not interacting with them.
“The means must be as pure as the ends we seek” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Pick your battles
Sometimes they really do just comment to upset you and it’s imperative for the movement and for yourself that you do not take it personally, don’t let yourself be controlled by emotional responses. You can even use trolls as a practicing tool for how you’d like to respond to questions on veganism in the future. Even if you know full well you’re not going to change this person’s perspective, it can actually be educational to learn what resistant non vegans might say and this is the perfect setting to create your most effective responses. Another lifeline comes from one of the most heartwarming things to emerge from vegan Facebook groups – If someone is struggling on a vegan post, either on their own page or the comments section elsewhere, they’ve linked to the conversation and other vegans have rallied together to help them out. We’re all in this together, after all and it’s lovely to see occasions where complete strangers will take the time to help others.
Last point on this matter; you’re vegan and you should OWN IT. Don’t let anyone make you feel that standing up for something you believe in is anything to be ashamed of, especially if you’re standing up for the vulnerable. If anyone says hurtful things to you, it says a lot more about them than it does you. No one has the power to silence you but you, so don’t ever allow haters to get inside your head and make you question who you are and what you’re about.
Talking is activism
This may seem like a redundant suggestion at first but you may be surprised at how many vegans feel they can’t talk about being vegan. With all the jokes, misconceptions about vegans’ endless preaching and of course the non stop attacks that often ensue, it’s completely understandable why someone may be reluctant to mention it. One of the first articles ever to come out the GlassBrick office was about being an introverted vegan who wanted nothing more than to never hear the word “vegan” uttered at them in public again. A lot has changed in the office since then but we’re well aware there’ll be plenty of vegans who feel that way. To grow confidence in discussing veganism, educating yourself is key. You’ll be amazed how much better you might feel about these discussions if you’re able to give simple and concise answers to questions or jokes and the major thing to remember? It’s ok not to know the answer! Sure, you’ve done you’re research but you’re not a walking encyclopedia of everything vegan and you can be honest about that. How could you be expected to know how veganism directly affects every ailment, illness, environmental issue or civilization to ever don the earth? Tell them they’ve asked you an interesting question regarding a circumstance you’ve not come across before and you’re interested in learning more about it. It actually works out well because you can go and do some research, then initiate another conversation with them at a later date, hitting them up with your new found knowledge. The more it’s talked about, the better, right? Another way to respond if you don’t know the answer, is a way Joey Carbstrong suggested, ask them “do you think that justifies killing millions of animals?” and see where the conversation takes you.
Part of the reason GlassBrick Co even exists is due to being incapable of stringing a cohesive sentence together when put under pressure but it gets easier the more you learn and the more you practice. You can often tell whether someone is genuinely interested in veganism or if they’re merely looking for a way to set you up for that inevitable bacon joke or taking you on a wild goose chase (excuse the expression). Even if they’re not serious, if you’ve provided them with short, factual responses to whatever they’ve questioned, you have come out on top and achieved your goal. If you ever feel overwhelmed or attacked, excusing yourself from the conversation is OK too. It may feel like you’ve failed but it isn’t your job to turn everyone vegan instantly, it’s your job to plant seeds and if a conversation was had, those seeds have been well and truly planted! Don’t stress over conversations that don’t necessarily go the way you would want – learn from them.
Cook vegan food & share it
Of course, veganism is not just a diet but more often than not, conversations about veganism do seem to gravitate heavily towards food. What better way to prove vegans don’t live on twigs and grass than sharing some kickass vegan food! You could bake some cookies for the office, take a lasagna round to your Grandma’s or create a vegan feast and host a dinner party for your cronies. Be sure to take pictures and share them, to show even more people how delicious vegan food can be. On the other side, should someone be cooking for you, be sure to politely explain to them exactly what foods you avoid, in order to save any awkward “Sorry, I won’t eat that” moments when your buddy is excitedly telling you what they’ve created. Someone can go from happily accommodating a vegan to hating vegans, when they feel they made the effort to no avail and this accentuates the illusion that veganism is difficult to uphold. If someone makes a mistake when cooking for you, don’t just eat it anyway. How can we expect people to take veganism seriously if there are “vegans” all over the place eating animal products as soon as they’re faced with an awkward situation. It is ok to politely decline and offer to help out next time.
As well as sharing with friends and family, there are organizations such as Food Not Bombs, regularly bringing volunteers together to distribute free vegan food to those in need. Where appropriate, these events can be another platform for some “talking activism” as mentioned above too. The method by which FNB acquire their food is arranging with local grocery stores to collect any produce deemed not sellable in store, therefore also combatting food waste. Look here to see if there is a branch near you and if there isn’t, consider creating your own!
Adopt companion animals
Not always immediately associated with veganism but a massive part of it. Obviously, breeders and pet stores are based exclusively on exploiting the animals they are forcibly breeding, all in the name of profit. The devastating amount of perfectly healthy animals put to sleep in animal shelters every year is heartbreaking. By advocating for adoption; sharing adoptable pets; revealing the truth about puppy mills (and other animal breeding facilities) and of course, only adopting pets, you’re sending that message that breeding animals to sell them is not acceptable. If someone you know suggests they would like to buy an animal, always encourage adoption and even help them locate the animal they’d like from a shelter. In the US, PetFinder is a phenomenal tool for finding your new best friend. It’s worth noting around 25% of shelter dogs in the US are purebred so if breed is important to them, with 6-8 million dogs entering shelters each year, there are millions of purebred dogs needing homes!
(Extra note : Researching temperaments, health aspects and energy levels of specific breeds is very important when deciding who would be the best fit for your family.)
The liberation pledge
The liberation pledge is a widespread movement in which vegans refuse to eat at a table where any animal products are being served. By removing yourself from the situation, you’ve drilled the point across that you are in no way willing to accept eating animals is ok. It is a simple and effective form of activism, designed to send a message to everyone in your life that you are not prepared to share a table with dead animals and you won’t be participating in any way, shape or form. It shows respect for the victims and puts into action your opposition to a brutal and unjust system. The fork is widely considered the most dangerous weapon used against animals and the Liberation Pledge is taking it back and using that fork as a symbol of peace. Many wear a fork bracelet as a sign of their dedication, also opening up the possibility of further people enquiring about your culinary jewellery.
Let businesses know you dig their vegan options
Probably a little odd to place this in the same list as the liberation pledge but we’re trying to cover all angles of activism, so do forgive the contradiction. If a non vegan cafe or restaurant enticed you to eat there by having a vegan option on their menu, let them know that’s the reason you ate there! The Humane League, as well as others, offer cards saying as such so you don’t even have to tell them verbally if you don’t want to. When you leave, just pop a card on the table. It’s that easy. It’s a non intrusive reinforcement that they made the right decision to cater for vegans and hopefully they will continue to offer those options and with any luck, add more. Just imagine if every vegan did this, what would it communicate to restaurants about the demand for vegan food? We’ve got to let them know that we’re out here and we’re hungry! It’s even better if you go as a large group as they can see how many customers they may have missed out on had they been unable to offer an option for you.
HappyCow is a life saver when it comes to tracking down these kind of places, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar location. Not only can it tell you where all the exclusively vegan places are, it can also tell you where to find vegan options in non vegan spots, so you aren’t forced to read your way through countless menus when you’re in a pinch. You can read reviews on the places too which is always useful.
You may have read about Lily the piglet in the news this year and her phenomenal story is just one example of an open rescue performed by Direct Action Everywhere. Open rescue is a worldwide, non-violent campaign directly saving animals in need, as well as documenting the violence going on behind the doors of animal based industries. Despite being a somewhat controversial method of activism, there is no denying these direct actions have brought the truth crashing into the spotlight, with headlines spanning across all forms of media and the ALF appearing in the groundbreaking Netflix title, Okja. With years of cover ups, lies, indoctrination and billion dollar marketing ploys all working to keep the truth hidden from potential consumers, it is those risking everything to fight against it who are making the public wake up. Thousands of animals have been saved from a lifetime of confinement and cruelty, building up to an untimely, undignified and unnecessary death. These ones are the lucky ones but with the help of these brave animal liberators, these industries will be exposed as the exploitative and abusive industries they really are. The more activists willing to take part, the more animals can be saved. If you’re not able to contribute by performing open rescues, share the findings of those who do and help them get the word out there.
We could write for days about each and every kind of activism and every single one is imperative for raising awareness. Here’s a few more self explanatory actions you can sink your teeth into!
Start a vegan business
Even if it isn’t a specifically vegan product or service, you can veganize your business! Advertise why being a cruelty free company is important to you; put vegan art on the walls; work with other vegan businesses… Possibilities are endless. You could also donate a percentage of your profits to animal sanctuaries or vegan organizations.
Grab some chalk and scribble those messages of compassion!
You can order leaflets online from websites such as Peta, grab some friends and hand them out.
Offer to help at a local farm sanctuary or shelter and share your experiences with others. Also encourage non vegans to visit the animals too.
Attend vegan events
Keeping the numbers up, showing a demand for vegan products & gatherings and documenting your experience. It also gives you a chance to get to know vegan companies and show them your support. You could even organize your own event!
Donate to Sanctuaries or organizations
Any amount makes a difference and if you shop on Amazon, you can use Amazon Smile to generate extra funds for animal based charities, without having to make your own cash donation.
Petitions do have an impact and are a quick and easy way to get many voices heard. Always ensure they are legit and don’t be afraid to share them around.
Mentor for Challenge 22
An amazing tool for pre-vegans to try vegan for 22 days. They sign up and get access to recipes, tips, videos, support, encouragement and more!
Just go for it!
Whatever activism works for you, just go for it. Anything you can do makes a difference and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re doing your best and feel it’s effective, keep at it and support others advocating in their own way. There are no “wrong” ways, only different ways, and as vegans we should be building each other up and having each other’s backs. As the vegan movement becomes a larger and louder force to be reckoned with, be a part of it and help this planet evolve into a more compassionate one!
We’d love to hear about your activism experiences and do let us know if you think we missed something!