Once the veil has been lifted and you can clearly see the unjust suffering of the innocent, and the insanity of the world around you, it's very natural to want to do something about it. If that's the case, you are not alone.
Being vegan should be the baseline - it's the least we can do, which is to do no harm. And every person who chooses veganism saves countless lives every year, so that is cause for celebration to be sure. But once we become aware of the unimaginable suffering and the inconceivable long-term affects that animal agriculture is having on the planet, we must also recognize that taking direct action is necessary to promote change.
The good news is that you don't have to chain yourself to a slaughterhouse door to be an activist - there are many ways to make a difference. Here are a few:
Talk about it!
Being proud to be a vegan is essential to spreading the message of compassion, and also for your own sanity. Know that there is truly NO DOWNSIDE to veganism, and use that knowledge to fuel your passion for the movement. Any time you have an opportunity to tell a friend, family member, coworker, or even a stranger, that you are vegan, or to talk about veganism in general, this is your chance to make a difference for the animals. And if the person you're talking to happens to be someone you care about, you may be saving (or at least improving) their life as well.
One way to start a conversation about veganism is to wear vegan logo apparel or accessories. Nowadays the vegan movement is becoming more prevalent so more people are curious as to what it is and how to do it. If the message you project is positive, you may be surprised by the number of people who ask you about it.
Another easy lead-in is at the grocery store. When you are paying for your vegan items, you can ask the cashier if he/she has ever tried whatever it is you are purchasing.
There are many ways to sneak in the V-word. Do it for the animals. 8-)
Facebook, Youtube, Instagram... they are all great platforms for spreading the word. You will have to decide what approach is right for you. Graphic and disturbing images are very powerful and can produce great results... but you will also turn away many people. You will lose friends and followers. Not to say it is a bad approach, it's just more challenging. Showing happy and fun images and videos of animals typically considered as food will help people to see these animals as the individuals they are. It's essential that the public begins to see each and every animal as equals: a pig is a rat is a dog is a cat.
A great way to find these items to share is to join some vegan groups on Facebook. You will find funny memes, cute videos, inspiring photos, etc. You will also find horrific and depressing memes, videos and photos. It's up to you to choose... one type or the other or some mixture of both. It's a balancing act to be sure.
Youtube is another way you can reach the masses. Most of the animal rights / vegan activists have Youtube channels where they share their experiences and personal insights. Video is the future.
There are vegans everywhere and they're always doing stuff. Some of the ways you can connect with other vegans and learn about activism is to attend events like local Veg Fests, vegan chili cook-offs, vegan meet-ups, etc. If you want to be more direct in your activism, join other vegans and animal rights activists in protests that appeal to you, which might include anti-fur demonstrations, animal rights marches, picketing at a butcher shop, etc. Another growing form of activism is attending vigils and bearing witness. Groups of animal lovers (like TheSaveMovement.org) meet at slaughterhouses when the transport trucks are arriving. They show their solidarity against the act of slaughter and give water to and take photos of animals that are arriving to be killed for meat. This is a heart-breaking ordeal, but necessary to draw attention to the lives that are being taken on a daily basis.
Join an Organization
There are many excellent animal activist groups all over the world. Here are a few that have been proven effective:
Direct Action Everywhere / DxE - "We create empowered networks of nonviolent direct action to force animal rights into the public consciousness. We get the plight of animals on the agenda and push the public to take animal rights seriously. The Species Equality Act: We aim to reshape the global political system in one generation."
Anonymous for the Voiceless (Cube of Truth) - “We employ direct action with highly effective pubic outreach using local standard-practice footage of what “food animals” experience every second of every day, virtual reality technology, succinctly informative resources and a value-based sales approach. We fully equip the public with everything they need in switching to a vegan lifestyle. We hold an abolitionist stance on animal exploitation.”
The Save Movement - "The Save Movement is comprised of groups around the world who bear witness of pigs, cows, chickens and other farmed animals en route to slaughter. Our goals are to raise awareness about the plight of farmed animals, to help people become vegan, and to build a mass-based, grassroots animal justice movement."
Mercy For Animals - "Our efforts focus on protecting farmed animals—the most abused and exploited animals on the planet—and utilize a broad range of strategic approaches that seek to expose cruelty, prosecute abusers, and inspire consumers to make compassionate food choices."
Sea Shepherd - "Established in 1977, our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. We use innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations."
ALF: Animal Liberation Front - Think of this organization like the Black Ops of animal activism. There is no official membership - if you take certain actions, then you can be considered part of this movement. Per their website: "Because ALF actions may be against the law, activists work anonymously, either in small groups or individually, and do not have any centralized organization or coordination." Some requirements include: "TO liberate animals from places of abuse, i.e. laboratories, factory farms, fur farms, etc, and place them in good homes where they may live out their natural lives, free from suffering. TO inflict economic damage to those who profit from the misery and exploitation of animals." And so on.
You should be aware that if you decide to become a member of the ALF, you may be considered a terrorist under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which many Americans agree is unconstitutional. However, animal liberation is a highly effective form of activism, and directly saves lives. We would never discourage anyone from becoming active in the ALF movement.
Here's a 2006 documentary that gives insight into the organization (RESPECT!):
Behind the Mask
There are a plethora of organizations dedicated to helping animals and the environment, and almost every one of them rely on volunteers to stay operational. So if you have the time and opportunity, you may want to look into volunteering at one of the many activist organizations, animal sanctuaries and rescues, shelters, or any cause you feel connected to. It will help the organization and also give you the peace of mind that you are directly making a difference.
There are so many truly wonderful organizations to support that it's really hard to pick just one... or even your top ten. But once you've found a person or group that you feel compelled to support, any donation is much appreciated and will help save lives. You can support your favorite activists on Patreon, give one-time or monthly donations to various non-profit groups like those listed above, give to animal rescues and sanctuaries, give support to changing the laws that affect animals by giving to the ALDF, or any place that helps educate the public or directly save the animals.
Do Your Own Thing
You may live in an area where there aren't many activist groups, or you may just have your own ideas of how to reach people, either in your community or via the internet or other media. Use your imagination, experience, education, passion, and intuition to come up with new ways to promote and advance the animal liberation movement. Every word uttered and every action taken is important and makes a difference.