We do not have to earn Oscars and give a speech on animal rights to save them, as Joaquin Phoenix brilliantly put it, but there are many opportunities in our daily lives where we can help our animal friends.
Go vegetarian or vegan.
The most important thing you can do to help animals is not to eat meat or, better yet, any animal products. It is essential for parents to be honest with their children and to tell them how burgers and salami are made. It is often the case that teenagers resent their parents for not telling them the truth about the origin of their food but have had to find out, unpleasantly, themselves.
One girl told my 7-year-old daughter that she eats meat, but she is not involved in the killing of the animal, so that’s okay. My daughter told her that eating meat alone was really about supporting the meat industry. She was right. As long as we eat meat, we are participants in a process where animals are tortured, abused, and brutally killed. Interestingly, meat industry owners avoid the word ‘killing’ and use the word ‘slaughter’ instead. It’s been proven time and time again that there is no need to kill animals to eat nutritious and tasty food. Vegan food is very diverse and delicious nowadays.
Don’t buy animal products.
Animals are raised not only for meat. People like to make leather bags, shoes, jackets, belts, wallets, and so many other products that are too long to list. There is a range of natural and artificial materials that can be used instead to make comfortable and high-quality footwear, clothing, and accessories, so there is no justification for using animal body parts for these items any longer. We can help animals by avoiding all fur, leather, wool, feather, and silk products.
If you are looking for a way on how to explain this cruelty to kids in an age-appropriate way, I suggest you read the book The Turtle Who Fights For Animal Rights. There you will find how animals protest against people who make money by turning them into objects.
An excerpt from the book:
Then the rhino entered the courtroom and spoke with emotion.
“Your Honor, people take our horns to make various stuff,
like buttons, belt buckles, decorative cups, and hairpins.
They capture us for entertainment, and they can’t seem to get enough.”
The turtle lawyer asked the elephant brothers to enter the courtroom.
“People take our tusks to make billiard balls and piano keys.
We were born in the zoo, but we’d like to change our doom.
These hunters’ bank accounts are their top priorities.”
Don’t buy products tested on animals.
People use detergents, shampoos, and various beauty products that have been tested on animals. If they could just see how much suffering, fear, and pain these fragile little creatures like mice, rabbits, monkeys, or even cats and dogs endure in the labs, they would undoubtedly think of alternatives. Animals lose their fur and suffer immense pain because of the chemicals that are put into various cosmetics tested on them. Therefore, to help animals, we should avoid the products of companies that support vivisection. Any independent health care professional will confirm that an animal, including primates, cannot even be a close imitation of the human body. There are countless cases in which animal-tested drugs have had positive results, but they have left terrible consequences on humans, so we cannot safely rely on them. When you see a picture of a rabbit that was used for testing in Loreal cosmetics, know that the main ingredient of that cream is cruelty. Animals feel pain like we do. As far as cosmetics are concerned, most brands that do not test on animals put a label on the packaging and these are not difficult to find in stores.
Do not support the use of animals for entertainment and sport.
You can help domestic and wild animals by avoiding zoos, aqua parks, circuses, horse and dog races, bullfights, and tourist attractions such as swimming with dolphins. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, place them in a small and lonely space, and keep them away from their home and natural environment. Zoos and circuses put profit before animal welfare. Animals kept in zoos, circuses, aquariums, laboratories, and hunting grounds are often stolen from the wild or bred in captivity. There are numerous documentaries showing animals in their natural environment, and certainly, this is a better education than watching fenced-in depressed animals. In the vegan picture book The Turtle Who Fights for Animal Rights, the main character, the turtle who defends the other animals in a human court, tells the whole truth in one statement:
“I demand you stop using us for shoes and coats, steak and bacon, bags and cups. Stop using us for entertainment and experiments! Because behind bars, all captured animals dream of freedom.”
Ask stores and restaurants to offer proper vegan or vegetarian options.
There are more and more restaurants introducing vegan and vegetarian options to their menu. Unfortunately, we can still get hungry even in four-star hotels because out of 100 buffet dishes, the only option might be a salad.
Instead of complaining to one another about how vegans are discriminated against, it would be a better idea to make vegan food requests at restaurants, cafes, and hotels so that these establishments start providing options for future customers. You’ll find that many places will try to accommodate. Leaving a review on TripAdvisor (whether good or bad) is helpful to other vegans, vegetarians, and those who would even like the option of meat and dairy-free meal.
Additionally, it’s also a great idea to support the local vegan and vegan-friendly businesses so that they attract more customers and therefore promote the growth of veganism. Leaving reviews on apps such as HappyCow and Abillionveg make it easier for vegans and vegetarians, particularly travelers, to find good food options.
React to animal abusing advertisements and news from the media.
The media often say that they want to hear the opinions of their readers, viewers, and listeners. It could be an opportunity for them to listen to your concerns if they promote the exploitation and slaughter of animals in advertisements or news.
In Croatia recently, there was a campaign by a large retail chain to buy homemade products. On one of the giant posters, a girl holds a sweet lamb in her hands. There is a message on the poster that says that people who breed animals for meat are heroes. While most commented negatively on social networks, some activists branded these terrible posters with messages like “Go vegan”. Thus, the meat industry’s large signs became a training ground for vegan activism. Some have declared this vegan activism an act of vandalism, but isn’t the torture and killing of animals incomparably more significant than that?
Educate people about animal rights.
One of the ways we can help animals fight for their rights is to be well educated first because many unpleasant questions and arguments will greet us in various discussions. Children can be educated by reading picture books that talk about animal rights, metaphorically and creatively. Some vegan books have violent terminology that can have adverse effects on children. It should be borne in the mind that children read books that use language appropriate to their emotional development.
Another way to educate is to write texts, books, or at least post about animal rights on social networks. When it comes to adults, it is a good idea to study books that speak about veganism from many sociological, psychological, and philosophical aspects. Many people who eat meat do so out of ignorance, and that is why it is important that we offer them arguments that will inspire them to change, not only in diet but also as a life philosophy.
Join a group that fights for animal rights.
Joining an animal rights group, if one exists in your city, is a great idea because you can volunteer according to your capabilities and skills. You can help as a translator, web designer, developer, prepare flyers and posters, make movies, write articles and memos, distribute leaflets, collect petition signatures, and many other activities that can help animals. Another way to connect with the vegan community is through social networks where you can get plenty of information and get support from people who are closer to your ethics and values.
Talk openly about your veganism.
You do not have to protest, block roads, draw graffiti, or spy on the meat industry to advocate for animal rights. One of the most important forms of activism is through your lifestyle. In everyday life, we often have the opportunity to actively speak about animal rights to family, to people we work with, and to friends if they are interested in learning more about veganism. To be able to communicate with others about veganism, better inform yourself by reading good literature. Among the best books in the area are: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy and How to Create a Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach by Tobias Leenaert.
The way we live also affects and influences other people in what we eat, how we dress, what we say and how we behave. It will be unconvincing if we talk about animal rights while wearing a fur coat.
One of the great ways to help animals is through financial support to animal rights organizations or animal sanctuaries. These places rely on donations to operate, and they do so thanks to generous people and volunteers. At the Ironwood Pig Farm, donating $30 a month covers all the needs of one pig. It would be as if you had adopted the pig yourself.