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I still don’t think you can be an animal rights advocate while using animals

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The idea that anyone can help animals while still using them is absurd.

A op-ed piece published by The Independent Florida Alligator shares “Five simple ways to be an animal rights advocate and make a difference,” and doesn’t list choosing not to exploit animals as a way to help them. I actually thought they were going for parody with this one at first. 

The first easy way they suggest you can be an advocate is to “follow an organization like People for the Ethical Treatment.” The author notes that it’s a great way to stay updated on the animal rights community without the need to donate, picket, or change in any way. Since when does watching from the sidelines make you a participate in social justice? Not to mention the backwards work these groups do. 

Step two is for those more brave: “Write, post and share. Social media is one of our generation’s biggest advantages for any type of campaigning. You may just be one person, but when each post you put out is going to more than 200 people, it can make a difference.” Likely, following those organizations will remind you that you’re doing nothing, so beg other people to act. Again, why are people expected to speak in favour of animals before they’ve even stopped using them? I don’t like when the people who use animals tell people how animals deserve to be treated.

Speaking of forcing things on others, step three is to “Convince your friends. All that matters is that you convince one person, because that one person will tell others.” Now, were we talking about veganism, I’d like this step. But since we’re talking about convincing our friends to get on board the social media train of petitions and general inaction, this is yet another useless step.

Step four is the epitome of what’s wrong with animal rights being far removed from veganism; “Eat less meat.” The author is quick to follow that request by saying “I am not trying to tell you burger-lovers to become vegans.” As usual, our own desires and “needs” are put before animals, and meatless Monday is praised. “Cleaner” protein sources are recommended, and the fact that all animals matter morally is off the table. Caring about animals doesn’t end when it intrudes on your preferences, and advocating for their rights means nothing when they still wind up as one of your purchasers. It just leads us to “humane” meat and bigger cages.

So does the last step at least take us an inch in the right direction? “Get involved on a local level. Volunteering is also a great way to meet other people with similar interests — and meet cute animals.” Nope. Once again, the emphasis is on us and what we will get out of helping animals, and the victims are ignored. There are ways to help animals on a very direct level (think helping at a shelter), but until we set out to help all animals through, it won’t change the world. 

The five steps I recommend are as follows; go vegan, go vegan, go vegan, go vegan, and help others go vegan. We do not need animal rights organizations or groups to make change, we just need to decide that it starts with us and our actions. It’s not about what we have to gain from coming across as animal-lovers to our online friends. Advocating for animals has to be about the animals, and that requires that we go vegan.

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