Becoming an activist is an obvious next step for any vegan, since once you come to terms with the atrocities committed against animals it is only natural that you should want to oppose it in any way that you can. Trying to convince your friends and family to go vegan is usually where people start, but once you decide you want to take that advocacy to the general public it can be a little-more difficult to know how to get started.
I think the first step is to establish what is already going on in your area. Facebook is a good place to start, any active group will usually have a facebook page, so trying to search for animal rights events locally or within short travel distance will usually show you events run by local groups. Message the group admin or request to join, and just see what is happening and how you can support it. Animal rights groups usually have plenty of members but not enough people who are active at events and protests, so they are usually really keen to get new members on board and involved in events. Going to these can be a great way to make new friends, and will also yield more contacts in the animal rights community in your area, it’s just about getting your foot in the door and the rest is very easy.
If you can’t find a suitable group in your area, you can always start your own. This doesn’t need to be done by some official process, just find some like minded individuals and start with something small. The Earthlings Experience is a really popular route and is very effective, there are innovative methods like offering free vegan baked goods for people who will watch a short clip (so long as you warn them if it’s graphic) otherwise you can try more traditional methods like signposting and leafleting. You can request leaflets from the bigger animal rights groups, and they’ll usually send them free if it’s for an event. There are many, many other options, but these all have the advantage of being activities that you perform in very small groups. I would caution against doing these alone however, while it’s rare for people to become the general public to genuinely aggressive towards protesters and activists it still does happen, but it’s much less likely if you’re in a group and you’re advocating in a public space.
Whether you’re planning on starting your own group or joining another, it’s best to try out different methods and different areas of activism. There are a whole range of things you can become involved with, whether it’s Pig Save vigil events outside slaughterhouses, public outreach, marches, protests or hunt sabotage events. If you want to get involved with the larger, national protests, you can do some fundraising in your local area to pay for travelling expenses or placards, and you can usually organise carpooling with local groups as well. There are humanitarian activities you can get involved with too, many AR groups organise things like outreach among the homeless, preparing and giving out plant based food to local shelters or homeless people directly.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be on the streets and in protests to be an effective advocate. If you can’t find a local group, you have some anxiety about public events or you are just introverted and more inclined towards writing than marching, then online activism can be just as effective. Social media is incredibly important for raising awareness and shaping public opinion, and since vegans are so outnumbered every online advocate we can get is a good thing. Starting a blog or a facebook page is a good step, just keep creating original content and connecting with others online and you’ll see your audience and reach grow over time so long as you keep working at it.
If you’re going to become involved with online activism, I’d recommend looking at what other bloggers/websites are doing and finding a “niche” which fits your skills. My background is in philosophy, so my approach has always been advocate veganism using philosophy and reason, but you might choose create more emotive content, persuasive arguments, a science focus, environmentalism, purely questions and answers, humour, satire, art, creative writing, veganism mixed in with film or popular culture, or a mix of everything. The possibilities are endless and there are plenty of things that no one is doing yet, you could quite easily carve out a unique place online and have a real impact. If need some help getting started or you’re a new blogger or have made a website and want me to boost a particular post of yours then I’m happy to do it, so long I agree with the content.
Whatever kind of person you are you can be an activist, no matter your strengths, weaknesses, disposition or interests, you can turn it into a form of advocacy if you are creative with it. Small groups of writers, artists and activists are the people who have shaped our world for the better, and we can do the same by advocating veganism and spreading facts, hope and compassion. There are too few of us and too many animals suffering for us to remain silent, we all have our part to play and we can all have an impact, on animals, and the planet and on each other. If you need any help or resources then feel free to get in touch, I’d be more than happy to support you in any way I can.