From the child who asks her parents where meat comes from, launching her family on a vegan journey, to the attorney arguing cases to improve the lives of billions of factory farmed animals, animal rights activism takes many forms. Each person who lives a vegan lifestyle or marches for animal rights is one more voice speaking up for animals. And, lucky for us, there are infinite opportunities for compassionate action every day.
Whether you made the connection 25 days or 25 years ago, you may find yourself asking, “What next?” You’ve come to the right place. Wherever you are on your activist journey, here are some ideas to reinvigorate your commitment to animal rights activism!
The New Activist
You’re newly vegan, or maybe you’re in transition. You want to do more for animals. First of all, congratulations! This is wonderful! Each day that you don’t consume or buy animal products, you reduce the demand for them. The impact adds up over your lifetime. Try a Vegan Calculator to do your personal math!
You’ve taken that all-important first step. Now what? You don’t need to jump into the deep end of activism right away unless you want to. Getting started can be easy and fun.
1. Be an animal rights fairy!
Try this for a start if personal interactions are not yet in your comfort zone, or if you’re a behind-the-scenes kind of activist. Leave flyers, informational pamphlets, and even vegan recipes on bulletin boards, literature tables in coffee houses, and other places where people will find them. If you’re feeling expressive, try chalkactivism by joining the vegan chalk challenge — create eye-catching messages in chalk on the sidewalk. Remember that words are powerful, so don’t worry about drawing if you’re not an artist!
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2. Learn all you can.
Knowledge will give you the confidence to face the inevitable questions like “Where do you get your protein?” or “Don’t plants feel pain, too?” (spoiler alert: they don’t — no nervous system). Knowing what to say when friends or family don’t understand your choice to live a vegan lifestyle can be a stepping stone to positive conversations with strangers in more public forms of activism. If you love reading, VegFund has a great list of vegan books to keep you busy for a while, but even if you don’t, you can find a wealth of information in YouTube videos, podcasts, and other online sources.
Take your learning a step further and make personal connections at conferences on animal rights or on specialized vegan themes such as clean meat or plant-based health and nutrition. Be sure that your information is reliable. To be successful activists, we need to be trustworthy.
3. Social media activism.
Consider using your personal social media channels or create dedicated accounts for your vegan activism. Share videos, photos, and links about the realities of animal agriculture and the benefits of a plant-based diet. Remember to include a call to action with your posts, such as one of the many veg pledge programs available. For a more strategic social media approach, check out Mercy for Animals’ How to Dominate Social Media and other research. In a recent VOMAD survey, Why People Go Vegan (2019), respondents noted the type of social media posts that most sparked their interest.
4. Wear your activism!
From pins and t-shirts to tattoos (temporary or permanent, but please choose vegan options), you can customize your message to your personal style. Have fun! And now that you’ve built up your knowledge base, you’re ready to engage when people ask about the messages that you wear!
The Community Activist
5. Join a local animal rights group — or start your own.
Vegan meetups are all about networking with other vegans — and for learning and collaborating. If there isn’t a group in your area, start your own! Use Facebook or Meetup groups to organize social events, training activities, and activism.
6. Encourage local non-vegan restaurants to offer vegan options.
Offer suggestions of entrees that match the restaurant’s cuisine or easy substitutions to veganize their dishes. And when restaurants do offer vegan options, be sure to support them with positive Yelp and Google reviews.
7. Support your local vegan business.
Running a restaurant or any business comes with high risk and low success rate, so give vegan establishments extra love. Promote them by word-of-mouth to vegans and non-vegans alike. If you have a relevant skill, you can offer your services for free or at a discount. Help them build their presence on social media and platforms like Yelp and Happy Cow.
Keep literature in your bag or car. You never know when an opportunity to share information with someone will pop up. Organizations such as Mercy for Animals and Vegan Outreach provide them for free or for a small donation.
Banana Slugs for Animals tabling and food tasting, UCSC
Tabling is an effective way to distribute literature and engage the public in conversations related to animal rights. It’s simple to arrange and fun. You can set up a table as part of a college event, a documentary screening, or a community festival — or volunteer to table with an organization like Mercy For Animals.
Who can say “no” to a cupcake? There’s no better way to change perceptions about plant-based food than to invite people to enjoy some tasty vegan bites. Food is a natural conversation starter and an easy opener for talking about the values of vegan living. Food sampling is VegFund’s most popular grant program, and it’s an activity that is nicely paired with other advocacy activities supported by VegFund, such as paid-per-view (PPV) video and virtual reality (VR), film screening, and more (see below).
Virtual reality and cupcakes at University of Newcastle, UK!
11. Paid-per-view (PPV) and virtual reality (VR).
Many people aren’t aware that the standard practices of industrialized agriculture inflict extreme cruelty on animals raised for food. Short (3–5 min) PPV and VR videos are graphic, but they are powerful messages that should be common knowledge. PPV/VR events offer viewers a vegan treat or dollar to “open their eyes.” Learn more about VegFund PPV grants.
12. Film screening.
Documentaries and films are powerful tools for social change. Great documentaries and films engage the viewer emotionally while revealing truths that are obscured from the public eye. Film-screening events are both educational and entertaining and can be paired with guest speakers, follow-up discussion, or food sampling. Find out more about the growing body of films with a vegan message available for screening and about getting support from VegFund.
Dominion screening by ActivistasQRock, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
13. Go big! Organize!
Organize a learning event, vegfest, online campaign, or conjure up your own innovative advocacy idea. Browse VegFund’s Grant Programs, Activist Stories, and Events Calendar to see what others are doing with support from VegFund.
14. Cube of Truth.
Anonymous for the Voiceless is a growing organization in the vegan movement that makes use of the Cube of Truth, a form of peaceful street activism. These events involve a “Cube team” of individuals in anonymous white masks and clad in black who hold signs and video footage demonstrating what animals used for food endure every day. An “Outreach team” interacts with the public, answering questions and asking about their reactions to what they’re witnessing. Cubes of Truth have room for activists who enjoy public engagement as well as those who prefer an anonymous approach.
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15. The Save Movement.
The Save Movement is a worldwide network of groups who bear witness to farm animals en route to slaughter. These groups offer the animals water and kindness. Video footage is shared online for others to see that these animals have emotions and don’t want to die.
Marches can energize you by putting you right in the middle of like-minded people. The Official Animal Rights March lists marches in your area that you can join, and volunteers are often needed. The site also offers resources if you would like to organize a march of your own.
17. Grow the community.
You know that as one vegan you are saving animals, so imagine how many more you save by helping vegans become activists. Multiply your impact by sharing resources with your fellow vegans, inviting them to events, and encouraging them in their efforts. Even small actions can create a ripple effect in the animal rights movement.
The Creative Activist
18. Art, graphic design, photography, and videography
Vegan events and other campaigns rely on images to spread the vegan message on all media channels, so skilled artists and multimedia talent are in high demand.
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19. The written word.
Write for a blog or create your own. Write letters to the editor. Write to your legislators. Skillful writing can engage broad or targeted audiences with key information and perspectives. Aim to get opinion pieces published in local or national media. If you’re a professional, volunteer your skills to polish the written content of vegan organizations or businesses.
20. Music and songwriting.
Music can deliver a compassionate message like no other art can. With so many street fests, vegan and otherwise, music can reach many hearts. Contact an organizer and offer to provide the musical entertainment!
SXSW 2019, Austin, Texas
The Activist Who Means Business
Dedicating your professional skills to animal rights organizations has enormous value.
21. Legislative work.
Changing our laws has a direct impact on the lives of billions of animals abused in factory farms. If your expertise is in law or politics, we need your voice.
This is the age of marketing. Never have there been so many channels to reach so many people near and far. But this boom in marketing technology comes with complexity. If you’re a skilled marketer, lend your talents to vegan organizations, businesses, or events.
Mentorship is a rewarding experience in whatever form it takes. If you are an experienced vegan, volunteer to help others on their journey. Organizations such as Vegan Outreach and Challenge 22+ offer mentorship programs to support individuals who are transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. If you are skilled in business, consider mentoring startup vegan businesses or organizations in areas such as defining goals and strategy, developing business plans, or managing finances. Consider sharing your knowledge by organizing a course or webinar — or even a conference — with support from a Learning Events grant from VegFund.
Pool your resources for this larger-than-life project. You can organize with a group and ask vegan businesses for sponsorship. Vegan billboards get noticed! Think outside the box. VegFund’s Innovative Outreach grants can help support your creative ideas for animal rights activism.
Be Fair Be Vegan campaign
The Busy Activist
If your career keeps you too busy to join other activists in the trenches, keep in mind that your greatest asset may be your earning power. Donations large and small free individuals and organizations from financial concerns so that they can carry out the direct work of activism. Support the efforts of organizations that influence private companies, the public, and the law to be more compassionate. For one, you can support an activist today through VegFund!
VegFund exists to support animal rights activists like you. If you are thinking about stepping up your activism, consider one or more of our eight grant categories. You can apply for additional grants as your activism grows!
*Feature photo “Toronto Veggie Pride Parade” courtesy of Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals