Vegan Advocacy Ideas For The Arts
Creative and non-violent advocacy must be the cornerstone of any social justice movement that seeks to build lasting change. This is particularly true in the case of veganism and the abolishment of animal property status; the reason such injustice towards non-humans exists in the first place is because we demand it. Therefore, the onus is on us to cut out that demand by going vegan and by educating others to do the same – education being the key word here.
Good education is necessarily creative and non-violent in its essence. Part of the reason we all have mixed feelings about our school years is because the entire process was a mix of good education and bad education. Most of us had at least one teacher in our former years who was not engaging in the slightest and who we subsequently learned very little from. Indeed, students of all ages would struggle to fully engage with the content of a lesson or teaching if there was not some aspect of it that spoke to them in a creative or stimulating way. And they most certainly wouldn’t at all if the teaching involved some form of violence.
At the bare bones, this is essentially no more than common sense, and it’s something that the mainstream animal movement has neglected to understand. A movement that is frequently violent towards other humans and that lacks in any meaningful derivitive content from its many publicity stunts.
Creative education, in the context of social justice, simply means creating a mental space, a field of consciousness, from which the person feels stimulated to engage or hear what you have to say. There are countless options for advocates to explore here, but in this post I want to focus specifically on a few ideas for those specifically involved in the arts. Whether you’re a musician, a songwriter, a visual artist, a poet, a writer or something else, these activities are inherently creative in their very nature. Given that most people on the planet are already stimulated by at least one of these art forms, they can be used as powerful tools for directing peoples awareness to issues concerning morality. In other words, they can stimulate self reflection to the extent of challenging core beliefs. That’s how powerful the arts can be, and they’re a thoroughly underused asset at our inifinte disposal.
Below are some ideas to consider. This is by no means a definitive list, and I’m keeping them generalised as much as possible so that you can fill in the blanks with your own particular artistic speciality:
Create art containing a message that stimulates the listener/reader/viewer to consider how they relate to other animals.
This can be done in a number of ways, and its level of effectiveness will vary depending on where you intend to promote your art and also who is on the receiving end. There is a place for both explicit art and more cryptic art, and different people will respond differently to both. Some may be hit hard by a piece of music, a painting, a story or a poem that is very clear in questioning the troubled ways in which humans relate to animals. Others may respond to art that leaves a little more for the recipient to decipher, and can often lead to verbal or written communication where you find yourself being asked what a particular piece was actually about. Where you are being invited to talk about veganism, as opposed to the reverse, the message is very often more powerful in its delivery.
Use the artform to tap into beliefs that people may already have and build a bridge between those beliefs and their actions.
This may sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because it can be quite easy to overlook during the creative process. As abolitionists, we already know how important the connection is between all forms of discrimination. If you are able to combine these elements in your art as a cohesive image or message, it can be incredibly provocative. For example, in one of my currently unreleased songs, the lyrics are written in such a way that the listener may think I’m talking about human injustice. However, as the song progresses, it becomes clear that I’m not talking specifically about humans, and that the listeners themselves are responsible for the exploitation.
Use provovative imagery or storytelling to your advantage.
This is somewhat related to the second point, but telling a story or creating provocative imagery is a surefire way of ensuring the recipients are engaged. Story telling is a universal stimulant. If you are able to weave a compelling story in your song lyrics, your poems, your visual art or whatever else, you open up a whole new portal into human consciousness. Stories have changed peoples lives, and if the story has at it’s core the message of justice for animals through the abolishment of their property status, the story can be used as a vessel for its delivery in a very powerful way.
Present your creation(s) to the public in a non-violent way.
Whether it’s through social media (Facebook, a YouTube channel, a blog), performing live, presenting in your local town or desirably a combination of them all, there are numerous ways to present your message. The beauty with the arts is that, there isn’t really an incorrect way. As for myself, I perform my music regularly at folk clubs and occasional concerts/festivals in the UK. I also have an official website, a YouTube channel and a Facebook page. For musicians and visual artists in particular, there is also the option of busking/street art, something I have yet to do myself but know to be effective. Combine such an activity with providing abolitionist literature, examples of which can be found here (1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), you’ll not only be engaging people in the moment but also giving them the option of taking something away too.
Make yourself available to answer questions and provide further written or verbal education to those who are stimulated by your art.
You may find that you get people asking about the meaning of your art. This has happened to me on various occasions after performing live. Take these opportunities to educate! Talk about your creative process in a personal way, what inspires you to write/create, and then use that as an opening to talk about veganism. The beauty of this is that the person you’re talking to is already engaged with your message in some way – they were touched by what they heard, read or saw. With that initial hurdle already combated by your art, you may just find that the person you’re talking to is very receptive to what you have to say.
And there you have it. There are many more things that could be added to this list, so please feel free to do so in the comments to continue the discussion. The important thing is that we continually think outside the box and find ways to get people thinking about these issues that, to them, appear to come from within. That’s the power of true education.