As animal advocacy nonprofits are in the direct business of helping animals, supporting these organizations (financially and/or as a volunteer) is always an effective way of benefiting the animals. So we’ll start our list with No. 1) Direct Support and go from there with 11 more ideas for how you can make a difference for the animals in 2011.
2 ~ Stay informed. Read the latest, as well as the classic animal rights and vegan health-related books so you can pass along that knowledge to others. Watch videos & films and share them with others. You might even start a book discussion group. See this article about how one Connecticut town is reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals (while the selection for younger readers is Our Farm, by the Animals of Farm Sanctuary). Or host a screening of a powerful film such as The Cove or Peaceable Kingdom at your local library or other community building.
3 ~ Spend time WITH the animals & SHARE your experiences with others. Nothing is quite as powerful as your personal story. Visit animal sanctuaries, roll up your sleeves and volunteer, sponsor an animal, and take lots of photos or video to share online.
Let other people see these beautiful animals and hear about your experiences with them.
You could even make your next vacation one that involves helping the animals too. (See Your Time Travels for vacations involving volunteer projects benefiting the animals.) Aside from monetary support, animal sanctuaries often have wish lists. See if one near you needs something you can donate.
4 ~ Commit to sharing a minimum number of animal rights/vegan advocacy books/DVDs this year. It’s a great way to spread the message. Instead of loaning out your books ~ buy copies to give away. You can also donate copies of important books to your local library, coffee shop, hospital, or community center. Check with the publisher ~ they may have special bulk offers for people who are purchasing books for donation.
5 ~ Prepare a vegan meal for a community group or business. Take a delicious vegan lunch and educational materials to your hair salon, parent’s group at school, doctor’s office, fire station, etc.
6 ~ Utilize your personal talents & gifts for the animals! Do an inventory of your skills and gifts and see how you can help the animals in a unique and creative way. Are you an artist? Do you make videos or write music? (See Etsy’s Vegan Etsy Team and Etsy For Animals. Or visit sites such as Our Hen House’s ‘Art of the Animal’ section for news about creative endeavors for the animals.) Maybe you are an up and coming vegan chef? Or maybe you enjoy speaking, coaching, or teaching? Dedicate time in 2011 to using your gifts for the animals! They need YOU! Reach out to others who do what you do and create a supportive network.
7 ~ Have a list of ready-to-share vegan resources (vegan cookbook titles, vegan blog sites, product suggestions, etc.). Concrete resources are critical for someone transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet. FARM’s Meatout Mondays is an effective resource as it includes recipes with easy-to-find ingredients, as well as product information, health articles, and inspirational stories. Sites like www.LiveVegan.org, www.TryVeg.com, Healthy Happy Life, and This Just In from VegNews are just a few sites loaded with resources. Offer to help a friend by having a vegan cooking get-together and sharing your recipes and tips.
It’s also important to have resources available for your local restaurants, stores, and cafeterias so that when you ask them to serve vegan options, you can provide them with very specific information. Several sites (i.e. Compassion Over Killing, Mercy For Animals, FARM Underground) have guides available online and manufacturers will often send you flyers to give to your local stores.
8 ~ Join the conversation. Get involved with your favorite organizations, vegan businesses, and vegan/animal rights bloggers on Facebook, Twitter, their blogs, and other social networking sites. Share their information with your network. Drive more people to these great organizations, businesses, & bloggers with your comments and postings. See the FARM Links page for a sampling of animal rights and vegan blogs, organizations, businesses, and more. And don’t forget to join FARM on Facebook and Twitter!
9 ~ Add your voice to the pro-animal blog community. Start your own blog and help spread the word about compassion for all beings and the many benefits of living vegan. If you REALLY get into it, you might consider attending the Vida Vegan Conference, the first ever vegan blogger conference, to be held in Portland in August 2011.
10 ~ Raise awareness in your community with a letter. Write letters to the editor of your local paper regarding animal rights issues, health issues related to consuming animal products, and environmental concerns associated with animal agriculture. Many animal rights organizations have letter-writing programs (such as FARM’s Letters Program) that you can be a part of. You can also speak out for the animals by adding comments to relevant online editorials.
11 ~ Think before you speak! Be thoughtful about what you say, write, and do. As an animal advocate you are part of an important and well-scrutinized cause. Strive for effective advocacy and ask yourself if your words and actions are more likely to help or hurt the animals.
12 ~ Celebrate success! Celebrating is an important part of any effective venture. Take time to celebrate and acknowledge individuals and organizations working hard on behalf of the animals. Highlight what’s working well and we’re sure to see more of it! Let the world see that important changes are happening NOW for the animals. And don’t forget to acknowledge yourself for the energy and passion you put into making life better for the animals.
2011 offers us a great opportunity to honor and serve the animals with our time, gifts, talents, energy, and love. How will you help to make 2011 a beautiful & victorious year for the animals?
~ Cindi Saadi for the FARM blog