Friday, 18 October, 2019
Seasoned activist Dominika Piasecka who has tried nearly all forms of vegan activism offers her top picks.
Veganism has grown in popularity hugely thanks to the hard work of vegan activists, who have been inspiring people to go vegan one by one through their relentless work. People often think it involves a lot of time and effort, but even if you’re a busy professional there are still plenty of things you can do!
My own story of getting involved in animal rights activism is a strange one – I was an activist before I was a vegan. I am a strong believer in constant improvement so my own style has evolved over the last 8 years of activism.
As vegan campaigners, we owe it to the animals to step back and evaluate the way in which we promote our compassionate lifestyle and focus on the right tactics that inspire our audience to want to be part of the vegan movement.
Many passionate advocates find it tricky to balance their lives with animal rights activism but it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. I hope these ideas help you to find true activist power within yourself.
Social media has an enormous power to help us spread the vegan message, so don’t underestimate it. Every time you share a video or some information you are reaching non-vegans (provided you’ve not deleted them all – that’d be ineffective!).
Use Tweetdeck to set up searches for ‘want to go vegan’, ‘interested in going vegan’ etc. and respond to these tweets whenever you have a spare minute, such as when waiting for the bus or making a cup of tea.
You can also visit all the various online forums where vegan topics are discussed and respond to any misinformation, offer advice or address someone’s concerns. Focusing on the practicalities of becoming vegan is very important; some studies show it’s even more crucial than the reasons why to go vegan, as most people are already familiar with those.
Strategic leaflet placing
Keep a selection of leaflets, ideally ones on veganism in general, in your bag at all times so that you can leave them on public transport, in public toilets and other places where a lot of people are likely to pass by.
Instead of recycling or throwing away vegan magazines, why not pass it on to someone who you know will read it? If no one comes to mind, drop by your local dentist, GP practice or anywhere with a busy waiting room and leave the magazine there. You never know when someone picks it up and the seed gets planted!
Get involved with local communities
Request vegan books in your local library. Ask your local church, GP practice or independent cafés if you can leave some leaflets or put on a poster display.
Supermarket notice boards are a great tool to put an announcement out there with your name and number, and details about how you can help people eat in a more vegan-friendly way.
Consider creating a YouTube channel. Some vegans have started theirs on an unrelated topic and without a mention of veganism, built a huge audience, and only then revealed their lifestyle choice. Clever!
Reaching out to the media
There is sadly a lot of misinformation on veganism and activism in the media these days. The best way to deal with it is to offer the journalist constructive criticism, pointing out inaccuracies and asking for an opportunity to respond.
Please keep in mind that such articles aren’t opportunities to vent your anger at the expense of animals – you won’t achieve anything with this approach and likely put off the journalist from writing a more positive piece one day.
If you spot something serious that needs to be challenged, send the link to media[at]vegansociety[dot]com and we’ll take care of it. Don’t forget to praise positive articles as it’ll encourage more of them – subscribe to DawnWatch.com which will help you keep track of those for free.
Chalking on pavements
Walking the dogs or taking out the kids? Take a few pieces of chalk and get involved during your evening or weekend strolls.
Chalking messages on public pavements is perfectly legal (just make sure it’s not a private area, such as outside a shop or near a shopping centre). It is not vandalism like graffiti because it is easily removable.
You could write down links to vegan websites, curiosity-inducing phrases like ‘who is Earthling Ed?’, positive slogans like ‘veganism means aligning your actions with your ethics’ or ‘cow’s milk is for baby cows’, or strong statements like ‘Google how many animals are killed for ‘food’ every year’.
Got a bit more time? Cube of Truth
The most popular form of street activism, this involves vegans standing in a cube wearing masks and screening vegan documentaries that passersby may or may not choose to watch. Those who do are approached by activists who talk to them in a non-pushy way, by asking questions and listening.
Popular activist Earthling Ed frequently uses this approach, the so-called Socratic method. In his book titled 30 Non-Vegan Excuses & How to Respond to Them, Ed highlights it’s important to be level-headed and empathetic towards non-vegans, because whenever we come across as irrational it makes veganism appear as such too.
The key to success is doing these demos in a neutral location. Find your local Facebook page or visit www.anonymousforthevoiceless.org.
Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to become more active for animals, wherever you are or however busy you are. Simply having meaningful conversations with non-vegans can be the most effective form of activism, so don’t be afraid to strike a conversation on the train or at a bus stop.
Placing an importance on realistic tasks (i.e. not expecting everyone to go vegan right away) rather than what feels right to say means choosing effectiveness over personal purity – we are laying the groundwork for future activists.
Seeming relatable and asking questions to stimulate critical thinking will result in people who talk to us reaching their own conclusions and seeing for themselves that their treatment of farmed animals doesn’t make sense.
Let’s make this easier for them through our activism!
Recommended reading for animal rights activists:
‘How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie ‘Beyond Beliefs’ by Dr Melanie Joy ‘Vegan freak: Being vegan in a non-vegan world’ by Bob and Jenna Torress
By Dominika Piasecka