Street-based Animal Rights Activism

You have to give credit where credit is due, doing street-based outreach isn’t an easy gig; no two conversations will ever be alike despite the topic being the same. There is a certain element of uncertainty that fills the air when a conversation turns south; the verbal attacks become heated, tensions rise and someone storms off from an outreacher, often spitting angry looks and words towards other AV outreachers as they go, indignant about being told what their money is truly paying for: the en mass slaughter and routine abuse of some of Earth’s most gentle animals in ways that are straight out of a horror movie.

The human race wandered to a very dark place with the advent of factory farming and the reason these industries don’t want you to know what they really do to animals behind the un-monitored walls of slaughterhouses and animal agriculture farms, is because the truth is bloody, violent and evil.

Photo Credit: John Karapaladis

Each time I go to a Cube of Truth I find myself going over and over the outreach conversations I had, brainstorming better responses that would have either helped me make my point, or better yet, provide information that can help people see that there is no room to adopt a reductionist attitude towards animal abuse and consuming animal products.

For many people, speciesism is the first prejudice learned in life – we are taught to love cats, dogs and horses, but that the rape, torture and murder of other animals is okay because we like the way they taste.

As a civilisation we have condemned certain species’ of animals to the most inhumane of existences – taking these thinking, feeling, loving animals and inflicting violence and abuse from the very moment they are born, until the last, horrific final moments before having their throat slit; all so that these industries can turn the remnants of their abused bodies into “products” like sandwiches and shoes.

Is it not the height of arrogance to claim that our desire for a particular taste should justify the atrocities that we commit against these innocent animals?

Photo Credit: John Karapaladis

A lot of people I talk to are genuinely shocked when they witness the reality of these industries for the first time; certainly no one wants to be thought of as someone who condones animal abuse – the sad reality, however, is that most people are still walking around completely set in their brainwashed cognitive dissonance, failing to make an empathetic association between the dismembered body parts and secretions they consume and the animals themselves, innocent beings who did nothing to deserve such a life.

It is possible to shut down these industries, to end the animal holocaust and abolish animal slavery once and for all, but we can only make it happen if we keep on having these tough conversations with people; that’s why I keep going – so that I can help more people make the connection to the “why” of veganism: the victims.

Photo Credit: John Karapaladis

It should be illegal for the meat and dairy indstries to be able to broadcast campaign ads that blatantly lie to consumers, mis-information that creates the belief we need meat and dairy in order to be healthy and strong when, in reality, it is these very products that are making us sick. Sadly, most people would prefer to take a pill for a medial condition rather than opting for food that could actually reduce the effects of, or even alleviate altogether, said condition.

Isn’t it sad that we still live in a world where it is legal for babies to be ripped from their mothers mere moments after birth only to have their throats slit just so we can steal their breast milk and pour it on our cereal?

Photo Credit: John Karapaladis

Unfortunately there is little in this world that we have control over as individuals, but you can make a difference by simply discontinuing your support of these animal abuse industries – choose to live with kindness and go vegan, it will be the best decision you ever make.

I often hear the objection that it’s “too hard” to go vegan, but which of these is truly harder – doing a Google search in the supermarket for a plant-based alternative, or physically enduring the process of being an animal in the industries that profit from abusing them? No contest, right? Nothing could ever possibly be harder than being in the victim’s position and this is why we fight for justice.

We are living tomorrow’s history lesson, so which side of history do you want to be on?

The only thing we need from animals is their forgiveness.

Anonymous for the Voiceless – Cube of Truth

To say that this is a “small feat’ is both an understatement and an unintentional pun; you see two years ago I was riding my bicycle home from the supermarket when I was struck by a car and injured. After the accident I began having troubles with my right knee, discovering that it had a new tendency to give way – an understandable result of having one’s leg pinned between an iron horse and a Ford I suppose – but a rather inconvenient new trait nonetheless.

My poor bike still looks as though it is permanently turning left despite having its handlebars straightened, so it’s no wonder my knee has issues. For a time, the only way I could mobilise outside of my home was with the use of a wheelchair and a left-handed cane. I’m still currently using the cane and I have to wear a knee-brace to prevent any torsion in my knee.

Even if my bike still worked, I wouldn’t be game get back out on the road – to be completely honest, I am still very prone to severe anxiety attacks in the car so I don’t anticipate myself feeling “ready” to ride again any time soon.

Unfortunately, as my body is still healing, heavy painkillers are required in order for me to even attempt to function on a daily basis. The downside to this is that they impede my ability to concentrate and focus; which, understandably, would prove to be rather troublesome whilst trying to have effective outreach conversations. It was for that reason that I chose not to take anything before I ventured into the city.

As I mentioned, I still currently walk with a cane, so my husband dropped my off at and picked me up from a train station near our house, which definitely made the trip a bit easier.

So yes, attending my first Cube of Truth was a massive achievement for me. It’s been just a little over two years since I was hit by that car and last November, on the 19th, despite all of the injuries I am still healing, I caught public transport to the city –  a train and a tram in true Melbournian fashion – and attended my very first Cube of Truth.

Christmas was just around the corner and Bourke Street was bustling with people. I knew that I was meant to be meeting other activists near the arcade but I couldn’t see anyone wearing Anonymous for the Voiceless shirts so I just sat and waited. My body felt awash with a mixture of anxiety, excitement and nervous energy.

For those who aren’t sure what AV is, the following is from the first page of their website:

Anonymous for the Voiceless Website

As the Bourke Street clock chimed twice for 2 o’clock I noticed the two people sitting across the way from me had taken off a layer to reveal shirts that read “Anonymous for the Voiceless”. I went over and introduced myself to the two other activists – they made me feel very welcome and chatted to me be about their experiences in animal rights activism.

It wasn’t long before Paul Bashir – one of AV’s founders – arrived and began setting up the televisions for the day’s Cube of Truth. We had a two-person cube that day and, although I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to hold one of the TV’s for, I definitely wanted to give it a try.

Photo Credit: John Karapalidis

I pushed my body too much that day and after around only a mere 20 minutes I needed to swap out of the cube and sit down. You never truly appreciate the little things you take for granted until they’re gone I guess – like the ability to walk or even stand in one spot for more than ten minutes.

All of the volunteers at AV have been really thoughtful and considerate of my delicate physical condition and, if I’m being completely honest, that very first day I intentionally forced myself to stand there for as long as physically possible, telling myself over and over in my mind that the pain I was feeling right then was nothing compared to what the animals have to endure.

During my time in the cube a young man approached me and attempted to talk to me using a microphone that was attached to a bright green phallus – yes, you read that correctly, a big green d**k. Now, as you may know, when you’re in the cube with a mask on you are not allowed to speak to any bystanders, so I didn’t move a muscle and it was seconds before Paul intervened began to hold the young man accountable for pointing, laughing and belittling the animal abuse on the screen in front of him.

Photo Credit: John Karapalidis

I really valued that interaction as a learning experience on how to deal with people who are behaving in a belligerent fashion towards animal abuse, it always needs to be called out for what it is.

I had one outreach conversation that day and, although it turned out that the person I spoke to was already vegan, it was still great to be able to practice my outreach skills and discuss the cruelty of the “standard practices” depicted on the screen in front of us.

Photo Credit: John Karapalidis

In the end I had to leave early as my physical capacity was rapidly declining and I knew my body needed rest, so off I went. It was a slow hobble with my cane down to the tram stop and then onto the train at Flinders Street to head back to Preston.

Although I was thoroughly exhausted (and in a great deal of pain) I felt proud of myself – twelve months ago the notion of catching public transport alone to the city would have been inconceivable and even if my progress is slow, it is still progress. To me, Animal Rights are worth fighting for even if it means having to experience a bit more pain sometimes.

In an ideal world I would be down at AV’s Cube of Truth each and every Saturday but I’m well aware that’s a rather unrealistic expectation currently, however I’m extremely motivated to put in the physical hard yards to strengthen my body once again.

Yesterday was my third day at AV’s Cube of Truth and it went really well. I am looking forward to sharing more of my experiences.

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you’ll join me for the next chapter in my journey to becoming the best Animal Rights Activist I can be.

The only thing we need from animals is their forgiveness.