This post was a collaboration between myself (Taylor) and my associate RD, Jessica. I was lucky to be able to chat with a few activist pals and share their insights, too! Enjoy.
Helping animals goes far beyond food! Whether changing what you eat isn’t possible or you’re just looking for more ways to be an activist, this list of non-food ways to advocate for animals is sure to inspire you.
One situation where people may not be able to boycott animal-based foods is in eating disorder recovery. We have a few posts about veganism and eating disorder recovery:
- Veganism and Eating Disorders: Facts and Fiction
- 4 Questions to Ask if You Want to Go Vegan in Eating Disorder Recovery
- 9 Ways to Assess Your Motivations for Veganism in Eating Disorder Recovery
The good news is there are plenty of ways to minimize animal exploitation that don’t impact your personal food intake! We wrote down our ideas and we also interviewed some animal activists to provide you with even more insights and inspiration.
Ginny Messina, author of TheVeganRd.com and numerous vegan nutrition books, reminds us that, “For anyone there can be times in life when sticking to a 100% vegan diet isn’t possible or realistic. Too often, people think of this as being a lapsed or failed vegan – or that abandoning a vegan diet for a while means they are no longer vegan. But veganism isn’t a diet. It’s an ethic regarding the use and exploitation of animals. Being vegan means putting that ethic into practice to the extent possible in our own lives. When eating a plant-exclusive diet isn’t a possibility, there are so many other ways to put that ethic into practice.”
Here are some ways that you can introduce veganism to your life away from the table.
Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering is a direct way to support animals! Places to volunteer include animal shelters, animal sanctuaries and animal rights organizations.
And volunteering with animals doesn’t just involve cleaning out their barns or habitats and preparing their food. “Some sanctuaries have contactless volunteer options that you can do from home,” shares Chelsea Lincoln, creator of Fat Vegan Voice. “There are other non-profits that can use volunteers for admin type support as well, such as local wildlife rehabilitation facilities.”
Lincoln also suggests reading to shelter animals. “This is actually a way I created safety and built trust for a rat I rescued years ago. Storytime made such a difference to him and he perked up when I sat down with a book next to him. Advocating for people to adopt rather than buy their companion animals makes a huge impact for the large population of homeless dogs, cats, and so many other animals,” she says.
Do an internet search to see what the needs are in your area!
Support Vegan Companies
Becoming aware of where you spend your money is the first step toward supporting companies that minimize harm to animals. When you buy from cruelty-free and vegan companies, this sends the message that consumers are aware of how their products are made and tested, and can help encourage more companies to switch to animal-friendly practices and materials. This includes beauty and body care products, cleaning products, clothing, shoes and more.
Ask Brands for Animal-Friendly Options
While supporting vegan brands is great, we also need non-vegan companies to decrease harm to animals in order to make a tangible difference for animals. Pick some brands to contact and ask them to decrease and replace their animal-exploitative options and practices. Some ideas include asking companies to eliminate fur, offering natural fibers in place of wool, discontinuing the practice of animal testing, using natural dyes instead of those from insects, etc.
Talk to Others
Don’t underestimate the impact you can make in your own circles! Whether you know it or not, your vegan lifestyle is having a ripple effect on others.
“Discussing cruelty-free products with friends and encouraging people to only shop from cruelty-free companies can make a big difference,” says Lincoln. “When I was younger and didn’t have the ability to eat fully vegan, I focused a lot on educating people about the horrors of animal testing and asking people to make the switch. A close coworker who is unable to eat fully vegan right now does the same thing and she’s an even stronger advocate for this than I am!”
Donate or Fundraise
If you are able to, donating to or fundraising for organizations that work toward ending animal exploitation is a great way to take part in the vegan movement. “Birthday fundraisers on Facebook are a great, super easy vehicle for raising money for your favorite charities,” adds Marla Rose, co-founder of Vegan Street.
Boycott Zoos and Aquariums
Businesses that exploit animals for profit are harmful to the emotional and physical well-being of animals, regardless of any educational or rehabilitation work they do. Boycotting and protesting zoos, aquariums, petting zoos, circuses and rodeos reduces demand and gets others curious about why these industries are harmful. Researching animal-friendly alternatives to educational and rehabilitative aspects of zoos and aquariums can help others see how we can switch to kinder alternatives.
Take It to the Streets
If you like direct action or protesting, connect with a local animal rights group and see how you can get involved.
“I co-founded an organization called Chicago Alliance for Animals and the members have found a passion for using their voices and their activism time advocating against the horse carriage industry, for example (we got that shut down!) or, now, closing down pet stores that sell animals from mills,” says Rose. “Look locally for animal advocacy organizations and see what you can do! I think that is much more effective than sending in dues every year to a large, well-funded organization and it will result in real wins for the animals,” she shares.
Meneka Repka, Canada-based artist and activist, reminds vegans in eating disorder recovery who are concerned about showing up at vegan events when they don’t consume a 100% plant-based diet, “You do not have to feel out of place just because you are prioritizing your physical and mental health. You do not owe anyone an explanation of your food choices, and you do not have to disclose your circumstances unless you want to.”
Write It Out
There are so many ways to advocate for animals through written word!
If you are a skilled writer, consider pitching stories and letters to the editor of newspapers, magazines, websites and other outlets to discuss the impact of animal-exploitative industries. Make sure to do your research and cite your work.
Write to local lawmakers and politicians. “Research the people in your city who are responsible for making laws and rules around how animals are treated. Think about the living conditions of food animals, how they are transported, and how they are killed,” Repka advises. “Animals used for fur, cosmetics testing, and police/military are also exploited, and you can make your voice heard. Consider a letter-writing party or campaign to maximize your impact.”
You could also consider creating a petition. Repka recommends first figuring out how many names you need to make an impact and then start informing others. “A petition can be effective, but make sure it isn’t a wasted effort,” she says.
Harness the Power of Social Media
“Many people in your social circles do not have accurate information on how nonhumans are treated in our society,” says Repka. “Share things that you are comfortable discussing, and that are in line with your values. You don’t have to share graphic images, or anything else that is traumatizing, but if you connect with an image, a cartoon, a video, or a website, you can share it to help plant the seeds of animal liberation.”
Start a Student Group
“If you are a K-12 student or even if you are in college, you can be a leader in advocating for animal and environmental liberation,” says Repka.
“You can make posters, pamphlets, give presentations, and connect with teachers about how to make schools more animal-friendly. You can work with your teachers to apply for grants, which you can then use to start a school garden program, replace dissection animals with digital or other models, facilitate sanctuary visits, or any other program you feel is important,” she offers.
Messina reminds us, “Veganism involves so many choices and even when we can’t make some of those choices, there are so many other ways to express our commitment to a vegan ethic, and to truly make a difference for animals.”
Most importantly, live out your vegan values in a way that feels practicable and realistic for you. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan. You are always in charge of how you show up in this movement and how your activism shifts throughout your lifetime.
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