How Can I Get Involved?
If you want to help farmed animals, by far the greatest action you can take is to go vegan, and find constructive and creative ways of discussing veganism with non vegans. If you have apprehensions or concerns about going vegan, you may find it helpful to peruse our Get Answers page before you read further here.
So Why Vegan?
More than 10 billion land animals are slaughtered for food every year in the U.S. Globally, that number climbs to more than 65 billion, and neither of these figures includes the trillions of sea animals killed annually. While these numbers can seem overwhelming, the solution is quite simple: the power to change them lies with each of us as individuals. As writer Bruce Friedrich has observed: “Every time I sit down to eat, I cast my lot: for mercy, against misery; for the oppressed, against the oppressor; and for compassion, against cruelty. There is a lot of suffering in the world, but how much suffering can be addressed with literally no time or effort on our part? We can just stop supporting it, by making different choices.”
In fact, 98% of our harm to animals could be eliminated just through our food choices. Going vegan aligns your actions and your choices with your values. Your example shows others that living by the principles of nonviolence and respect for all sentient beings is feasible, practical, joyful and fulfilling. By demonstrating a healthy, vegan lifestyle, you also disprove the myth that eating animals is necessary to thrive. Your presence alone will cause some non-vegans to question their assumptions about eating animals, which is the first important step toward considering veganism.
Knowledge Is Power for Non Vegans and Vegans Alike
If you’re not yet vegan, we recommend you watch a series of videos we’ve compiled to:
- bear witness to the unnecessary suffering and violence that animals endure to become products for human consumption and
- understand the rational and moral arguments that make veganism the only logical and ethical choice for anyone who recognizes the sentience of animals. Please click here to get started!
Making The Vegan Transition
Whether you’ve just woken up to the suffering of animal exploitation, or whether you’re a seasoned activist, it’s normal and appropriate to feel deeply sad, hopeless, even traumatized over the way our society treats animals. As social psychologist Melanie Joy writes:
“Becoming aware of the intense suffering of billions of animals and of our own participation in that suffering can bring up painful emotions: sorrow and grief for the animals; anger at the injustice and deception of the system; despair at the enormity of the problem; fear that trusted authorities and institutions are, in fact, untrustworthy; and guilt for having contributed to the problem. Bearing witness means choosing to suffer. Indeed, empathy is literally ‘feeling with.’ Choosing to suffer is particularly difficult in a culture that is addicted to comfort — a culture that teaches that pain should be avoided whenever possible and that ignorance is bliss. We can reduce our resistance to witnessing by valuing authenticity over personal pleasure and integration over ignorance.”
While it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the needless suffering that animals endure at human hands, it’s important to realize that positive change is happening all around, and that some of the most powerful ways to help farm animals are also the easiest.
1. Getting Started
Some people interested in making the switch to veganism, or in giving it a trial run, find vegan kickstart programs tremendously helpful. Vegan kickstarters provide you with tools and resources to make the transition, typically offering recipes, weekly meal plans, nutrition tips, personal guidance, and an online community where you can ask questions and discuss your experience with other new vegans. One of the most highly reviewed vegan kickstarters is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s 30 Day Vegan Challenge. It is $20 or $40 depending on which level you choose. Two highly popular free vegan kickstart programs are the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart from the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the 30 Day Vegan Easy Challenge from veganeasy.org.
Read Labels Carefully
Many processed and packaged foods that claim to be “veggie” contain animal by-products, and many foods which are usually vegan, such as bread, sometimes contain milk or eggs. (If milk or eggs are included in the ingredients, they should be emphasized in bold for allergy warnings.) Some vegetarian food brands commonly mistaken for vegan, which still use eggs, egg whites, or milk proteins like casein in many of their foods, include some “Veggie” cheeses such as “Go Veggie!” cheese, as well as the popular vegetarian meat brands, Morningstar, Boca, and Quorn. Boca does carry some delicious vegan products such as their vegan burger and chik’n patties, so just be sure to look for the word “vegan” on the front of the package.
Also be on the lookout for foods like canned vegetable soups, which often contain beef or chicken broth; salad dressings; tortillas (some brands use lard); marshmallows, jello, jelly beans, and any other foods or candies containing the ingredient gelatin, which is made from bones and hooves.
Of course, it’s not possible to avoid all animal products in a non-vegan world; just educate yourself and do your best. Don’t beat yourself up for mistakes. Here’s a comprehensive list of animal ingredients, many of which go by unfamiliar names.
Get Informed About Vegan Nutrition
It’s not rocket science, especially if you’re eating a good variety of veggies, fruits, and legumes, but you need to know which nutrients to pay attention to, and which foods provide good sources of those nutrients. Basic nutritional knowledge also comes in handy when you are challenged by those who claim it is necessary to consume animal products in order to thrive. Check out our comprehensive vegan nutrition page, get a copy of the book Vegan For Life, and visit The Vegan RD, veganhealth.org, and nutritionfacts.org, sites devoted exclusively to education on vegan health and nutrition.
Find And Create Vegan Community
Whether through online community or a local vegan meet-up, you will be tremendously helped by finding a support network of like-minded people who share your values, and your commitment to help farm animals. It can be very lonely for vegans in a non-vegan world, whether you’re advocating for animals on Facebook, or shopping at the grocery store and feel like crying every time you walk through the meat department. Do a search for your city at vegan.meetup.com. Consider helping out at a nearby farmed animal sanctuary; they always need volunteers! You can also do internet and Facebook searches for local or online vegan or animal rights groups; start with us! Free from Harm’s facebook page posts vegan and farmed animal advocacy updates several times a day. Some other great vegan Facebook communities include Vegan Friend Me; Vegan Street; Mercy for Animals; Compassion Is Consistent; Toronto Pig Save; There’s An Elephant In the Room; Veganism Is the Future; Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and many, many more. There’s no need to be lonely!
2. Educating Others
Nearly every defense of eating animals stems from a vast mythology we’ve built around what Dr. Melanie Joy refers to as the “Three Ns of Justification: eating meat is normal, natural, and necessary.” “The three Ns have been invoked to justify all exploitative systems, from African slavery to the Nazi Holocaust. When an ideology is in its prime, these myths rarely come under scrutiny. However, when the system finally collapses, the Three Ns are recognized as ludicrous…The Three Ns are so ingrained in our social consciousness that they guide our actions without our even having to think about them. They think for us.”
Below, we’ve outlined some of the most effective ways you can help others recognize that as moral and reasoning individuals with choices, there is nothing normal, natural or necessary about harming other beings for profit and pleasure. To do so is inconsistent with our values.
Appeal To Values People Already Hold
Most people care about animals, and don’t want to cause them unnecessary harm. When asked, in fact, most people will say they believe it is wrong to inflict unnecessary violence and death on animals. In discussions, find common ground with non-vegans, and appeal to shared values we all hold in common by emphasizing the distinction between eating animals from necessity (when there are no other options for survival), and harming and killing animals merely for pleasure — for the taste of their flesh. Humans have no biological need for animal products. When animals kill other animals for food, they do as they must, in order to survive; they have no choice in the matter. Many humans, on the other hand, do have a choice, and to continue eating animals when we have plentiful access to plant-based foods is to harm and kill animals, not from necessity, but for palate pleasure. It can’t be wrong to harm animals for pleasure in some instances, but not in others.
Help Debunk Harmful Myths About Veganism And Eating Animals
You can greatly help farm animals by sharing information that dispels harmful myths related to veganism. For example, to debunk the myth that vegans don’t get enough protein, share photos and stories of amazing vegan athletes; there are so many! Our video post on vegan bodybuilder Frank Medrano received more than 250,000 shares in just three months: see why, here. Other myths you can help put to rest include:
- The Myth of Humane Animal Farming
- The Vegan Protein Myth (a doctor’s take)
- Milk Myths
- The “Humans Need Meat” Myth
- The “It’s Okay Because Other Animals Eat Animals” Myth
- The “Canine Teeth” Myth
- The “Humans Evolved to Eat Animals” Myth
- The “Scary Soy” Myth
- The “God Gave Us Animals to Eat” Myth
- The “Vegan Food Is More Expensive” Myth
Become Familiar With Common Objections to Veganism And How to Respond
Visit our section, “Addressing Common Objections to Veganism,” for helpful tips and more information.
Sharing Is Caring: Get Active On Social Media
Help farm animals by using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, where you can have a tremendous impact on family and friends. In addition to sharing information that helps debunk harmful myths, you can share links and educational posts from other advocacy pages. At Free from Harm we frequently receive messages from people who began their vegan journey after seeing a post, footage or image someone shared from our facebook page. Don’t be discouraged if no one comments on or “likes” your vegan or animal related posts. As long as you’re framing the message in a way that speaks up for animals without alienating the people you want to reach (i.e., BACON LOVERS ARE MURDERERS!!), chances are, far more people are thinking about your posts than you’d ever guess.
Share Mouthwatering Photos of Delicious Vegan Food
Show friends and family how fantastic vegan food can be by sharing mouthwatering images of vegan food prepared by you or others. There are tons of vegan recipe blogs on Facebook that are updated daily with beautiful photos and delicious recipes. In addition to sharing images of healthy whole foods meals and veggies, it’s also helpful to share images of vegan versions of comfort foods, and the foods non-vegans often say they could never live without: cheese, bacon, eggs, deep dish pizza, mac and cheese. While it would be great if everyone ate more raw veggies, it’s good to show people that whatever foods they love to eat, they can still do so as a vegan.
For great food photos and recipes, “like” some of the many terrific vegan recipe pages on facebook, including Post Punk Kitchen, The Lunchbox Bunch, Oh She Glows, Vegan Richa, The Gentle Chef, Olives for Dinner, This Rawsome Vegan Life, Fragrant Vanilla Cake, Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes, and so many more.
Share Personalizing Images and Information to Help Farm Animals
Many people have a hard time thinking of farmed animals as individuals. After all, the only place most people encounter farmed animals is on their plates, in the form of dismembered, anonymous body parts. You can help people see that farmed animals are unique individuals — just like our beloved cats and dogs — by sharing posts that show their distinct personalities, intelligence, and emotional lives; images or footage of farmed animals displaying joy, playing, sleeping, spending time with their families and friends; and images of baby farmed animals! Visit our Virtual Sanctuary for tons of stories and videos that show farmed animals for who they really are. Another good way to find powerful personalizing photos and stories is to “like” farmed animal sanctuaries on Facebook: there are tons, and they update their pages almost daily with new animal pictures. Check out Farm Sanctuary, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, The Gentle Barn, Edgar’s Mission, Animal Place, Esther the Wonder Pig, Willowite Sanctuary, Snooters Farm Animal Sanctuary, C-A-L-F, Tamara Kenneally Photography…
It can also be helpful, when sharing such images, to include links to sites that provide education on the plight of farmed animals, such as freefromharm.org or www.vegankit.com, and it can also be effective to share images with a good quote. We often use “If we can live healthy lives without harming and killing animals, why wouldn’t we?” Or, “If we are fortunate enough to be able to live without causing violence and harm to others, shouldn’t we do so…and do so with gratitude?” — Jo Tyler. Browse our quotes gallery for more inspiring quotes.
Get Involved In Leafleting
Give out powerful educational literature that you can obtain for free or for a small donation; according to surveys, outreach leaflets have persuaded tens of thousands of people to stop eating animals. Even if you think you are too shy, you’ll be amazed at how much easier (and fun) leafleting becomes once you realize the true difference you can make just by educating and connecting with others one on one. Read more about this powerful form of activism.
You can order educational leaflets on the plight of animals raised for food from many farmed animal advocacy organizations. This powerful pamphlet from the Boston Vegan Association presents a clear and persuasive case for the abolition of animal use. These popular Why Love One But Eat the Other? leaflets from Mercy For Animals are great for giving out at the dog park, in the grocery store, in airports and train stations, and for leaving in public spaces such as the magazine racks at grocery stores, in doctor’s offices, restaurants, and public bathrooms…
You can also use this powerful “Compassionate Choices” booklet from Vegan Outreach. You can obtain VO booklets for free if you join their Adopt A College program. Leafleting college campuses is a great thing to do with friends once or twice a month, as you can reach literally thousands of open-minded young people in just an hour or two. Learn more at www.adoptacollege.org
3. Expanding Your Vegan Advocacy
- Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions and give feedback to your grocers, food manufacturers, healthcare practitioners, your friends and family, politicians, and online and print media sources.
- Support and donate to organizations educating the public about animal issues and veganism (but not those that promote happy or so-called humane animal products).
- Contact your local, state and federal representatives and make your views heard. Find your elected officials online.
- Make thoughtful purchases that reflect your values. Talk to and email the management of stores you frequent; let them know what you’d like to see in their stores.
- Participate in non violent forms of public outreach, including demonstrations, vegan festivals, and leafleting events. Do you love to bake or cook? Set up a free vegan food sampling table at local events or college campuses, offering things like vegan cheese, cupcakes, pizza, bacon, and other common comfort foods. There are even grants you can apply for to cover your costs for vegan food samplers: visit vegfund.org for more information.
- Host informal screenings, or organize public screenings, of documentaries related to veganism and animal rights, such as Earthlings, Peaceable Kingdom, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and The Ghosts in Our Machine. Whether your event brings together friends and family in your living room, or the general public via an open screening at a college campus, sharing films like these is a powerful way to change hearts and minds about animals used for food.