An animal activist raises awareness about animal abuse and exploitation. This work is based on the belief that animals have similar rights to humans, such as the right to be free from suffering. Activists fight against practices like animal testing, factory farming, circus performances, and more. Animal rights activism has grown significantly over the decades. Here‘s how to become an activist:
Know your strengths
Activism includes a variety of activities, so you’ll want to know what you’ll be good at before diving in. Think about the skill set you have. Are you a good communicator in writing and/or speaking? Are you artistic? Organized? Write down a list of your skills and then consider how they could put to use in animal activism.
Choose a cause
There are many issues involving animals, including deforestation, trafficking and poaching, exploitation, scientific testing, and so on. You may have a cause you’re already passionate about, so commit to doing thorough research and fact-finding. Understanding an issue inside and out will make you an effective activist. If you don’t already have a cause, start researching and then choose 1-2 areas of focus. There are countless challenges facing animals, but if you try to take on everything, you’ll get stretched thin and won’t be as effective.
Choose legitimate sources and organizations
There are a lot of information sources and organizations out there focusing on animal activism. You should take a close look at everything. Identify if information is accurate and if an organization uses tactics you don’t agree with. This is something you should always do no matter what kind of activism you’re interested in. Having accurate information helps you argue your case while vetting organizations helps you support ones that reflect your values.
Think critically about your food choices
Animal activists often change their diets to reflect their values. This can mean cutting out meat and other animal-based products. Many believe that going vegan is one of the most significant actions they can take in their activism. On the surface, that makes sense, but it’s important to realize there’s a dark side to plant-based eating. Because veganism has become so popular, it’s also become profitable. Big corporations eager for cash may make claims that aren’t true or embrace practices that exploit human labor. It’s also important to know that just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s environmentally-friendly. If you choose to become vegetarian or vegan, think about where your food comes from. If possible, buy local whenever you can, so you’re supporting the people in your community and not just lining the pockets of huge corporations.
Get connected with other animal lovers
Activism becomes especially powerful when done within a community. Find a local group in your area or online to connect with like-minded people. Groups are more effective at strategy, fundraising, protesting, and more. Being in community with people who share your values also helps mitigate burnout, which is common for activists.
Volunteer at good organizations
For many people, their activism begins with volunteering. You can observe how organizations are structured and how they go about their work. Look for organizations like humane societies, wildlife rehab centers, and advocacy groups. Volunteering helps you turn your knowledge about animal rights causes into action.
Letter-writing is a classic and powerful advocacy tool you can do right at home. Research animal rights issues and then compile a list of companies and officials you can write to. A lot of contact info can be found online. If you’re not sure how to write a letter, various animal rights groups have resources to guide you. You can write letters by yourself or get a group together. Handwritten letters are especially effective because they’re more personal and show you’ve put effort into your cause.
Raise money for causes and organizations
Organizations that support animal rights need funds. Pretty much all orgs- including local shelters – depend on donations as opposed to federal funds. To support these groups, you can hold fundraising events like bake sales, auctions, fun runs, and more. If you’re fundraising for your own organization, always be transparent about where funds will go. If you don’t already have someone on your team who is a fundraising expert, consider bringing in a fundraising consultant to boost your success.
Protest businesses and practices that harm animals
There are many corporations and business practices that exploit and harm animals. Peaceful protest is a powerful way to push back. The story of Bailing Out Benji is a great example. Over seven years, the organization held protests outside a pet store that bought from puppy mills. Bailing Out Benji attracted national attention and established multiple chapters. Protests are an opportunity to raise awareness of an issue, educate people, and demand change.