Ten ways to be a better animal advocate

Ten ways to be a better animal advocate
  1. Take animals seriously, go vegan, stay vegan and encourage others to do the same. As Gary Francione has argued, veganism is the baseline. It is the bare minimum that any vegan owes animals (human and nonhuman). Be unequivocal about it. Explain it to others even though they're annoying, tiresome and probably looking for way to tease, antagonize or otherwise render themselves total douche bags. If you have to, write out a list of common questions and practice your answers so that you can rattle them off nonchalantly.
  2. Get involved with vegan and animal rights outreach with a blog, pamphlets, a podcast, radical cheering, plays, etc. Bob and Jenna Torres are both wonderful examples of what vegans can do as individuals or in small numbers. But the movement always needs more voices. Just speak carefully and thoughtfully, and sincerely about why animals are not ours to use and why that's important to you. It's not difficult to hand out pamphlets that someone has already written, but you can also write your own. You can also write a blog (for free!). Make a youtube video. Start a book club. Create a Facebook group, or use other social networking tools. You can also do low-cost podcasting, and other more creative outreach activities. Not everyone will be converted, but there are plenty of perfectly rational and compassionate people waiting to here the reasonable arguments around why they should go vegan because animals have a right not to be used as property.
  3. Learn how to cook for yourself, cook for others, start a blog or write a cookbook, or teach a course in vegan cooking. One of the most common impediments to veganism is knowing what to cook and how to cook it well. If you don't know yourself, get a couple of cookbooks and try to develop your skills. If you're a seasoned vegan cook, write a cookbook or teach a class to help educate others about vegan cooking. Make it clear to others how easy it is for them to adopt veganism.
  4. Start a food coop, a vegan buying club or start a garden of your own. If you can, become more self-reliant and help your communities become more self-reliant. Locally produced food usually tastes a lot better, too! You don't have to restrict this just to food. Lots of vegan businesses have successfully combined simple Web sites, e-commerce and local coops that can provide them with vegan goods produced through fair labor, including shoes, scarves, wallets, food, candy, etc., to vegans without local alternatives. If you don't have to contribute economically to businesses that exploit nonhuman animals, you help to build strong vegan and abolitionist alternatives to the current market.
  5. Inform yourself about social justice movement history, animal law or animal rights philosophy (read books, take courses, take a degree). There are a number of well written books about the human/nonhuman animal relationship, about effective strategy and tactics for social change, and about the legal challenges nonhuman animals face as property. Animal rights as a social justice movement needs activists who understand the similarities and differences between the struggle to end animal slavery and other liberation struggles from both a legal and social perspective.
  6. Inform yourself and others about animal use and macroeconomics (read a book on macroeconomics, take a course or take a degree). Very few activists understand economics very well, and making lasting change for animals in part means understanding what economic actions can help animals and which can't by helping to undermine animal slavery as an economic structure For example, no animal is 'saved' by going vegan. No animal is freed by shutting down any particular animal business or fur shop. Animals that are presently in the system will just be repurposed. But by reducing aggregate demand for animals on a larger scale, you weaken the system as a whole and lay the ground work for social transformation. By understanding how nonhuman animals function as commodities and commodities producers and how their lives are governed by their usefulness to businesses, you can better fine tune your activism for more effective work.
  7. Inform yourself (and others) about nonhuman (and human) animals themselves (read a book on ethology or biology, take a course, or take a degree). Thinking seriously about what it means to be a nonhuman means understanding the similarities and the differences. You don't need to use your imagination; you can use science! Science is that stuff that tells us that animals are sentient and helps us know how we can care for our companions. There are a lot of challenges to vegans in scientific work, but they're not insurmountable. Observe the animals in your life and think about their experience in order to better treat them as ends in themselves. Read books about cognitive ethology. Focus on understanding nonhuman animal behaviour from a scientific perspective in an effort to cultivate a relationship with nonhumans that understands them as an end in themselves, the way they really are, rather than trying to imagine them as being like you. Make friends with animal scientists and try to get them to understand that nonhuman animals are persons, too. Generally, cultivate an appreciation for science. It helps us solve problems.
  8. Educate your vet, your doctor, your chiropractor or your chakra aligner about veganism and AR. Health, medical and health science professionals still don't really understand veganism anymore than any other profession, let alone animal rights. When you educate someone in a health care profession about veganism and animal rights, you help other vegans get better health services, you also help to educate professionals who can legitimately argue that there are no health or environmental necessities to animal use, provide companions with appropriate medical care and generally help to cut through the pseudo-scientific propaganda about the necessity or morality of animal use for human health or the environment.
  9. Rescue a nonhuman animal, volunteer at a shelter or start your own. There are thousands upon thousands of animals whose lives are in danger in North America alone (often from the animal welfare organizations that are nominally claiming to protect them). No need for a balaclava and bolt cutters. You can help save animals through perfectly legal means with adoption. Or, you can help to restore a nonhuman animal's personhood just by volunteering to spend time with them in a way that treats them as an end in themselves with dog walking, fostering shelter animals and helping them to be adopted into homes by people who understand that the animals they are adopting have a right not to be used as property. You can also start your own shelter, but first, get a thorough and detailed understanding of animal ethology, find a vet who can provide you with services at cost and start a savings account. Shelters are expensive, and when no kill shelters fail to take good care of the animals in their charge, it buoys PeTA's euthanasia campaigns.
  10. Speak up against speciesism and practice saying 'no'. Speciesism can be difficult to understand. The best thing you can do to avoid speciesist thinking and behaviour is to try to cultivate a habit of thinking about animals as ends in themselves and what that means in terms of your day to day life. As ends in themselves, animals are not ours to use, for food, for clothing, for entertainment, obviously, but they're also not ours for our educational purposes, to entertain friend and relatives, for photo opportunities, to help us feel better about ourselves or to advance veganism. Try to make any decision about animals in such a way that you treat them exclusively as ends in themselves, thinking clearly about what's best for them (and don't forget, unfortunately, people are animals, too).
If you can, do all ten, but if you do only one, do the first. Only do what you can and don't get emotionally invested in changing the world in one go. What nonhuman animals need are long-term activists (as Nathan Schneider has suggested) who are committed to laying the difficult groundwork for social change that won't happen overnight, but will never happen without committed activists. Just by respecting the rights of animals not to be used as property, explaining why you consider it wrong to use animals, you provide a clear, consistent explanation about what veganism is and why it's important (indeed, a moral imperative), while also helping to reduce the demand for animal slavery. Remember, if everyone went vegan tomorrow, animal slavery would come to a grinding halt. Although it wouldn't be the end of the struggle against speciesism, abolition of the property status of animals is the first major and most meaninful milestone.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...