Newsletter - Animal Writes © sm
From  Issue
3 March 2002
How to Become More Effective Activists - Attracting Others to Our Cause

From [email protected] 

At this month's Animal Rights (AR) Conference at American University in Washington, D.C., several keynote speakers emphasized the need to build bridges to other activist segments in order to expand the significance of the AR movement. Consider what they said:

Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA, stated that PETA has launched outreach programs towards people of color;

Howard Lyman, President of EarthSave and author of "The Mad Cowboy" and Pattrice- , Founder of The Global Coalition Against World Hunger, emphasized the need to form coalitions with other groups seeking social justice.

I'll try to summarize what was said during the conference below:

When we succeed in helping others realize that animal justice is part of social justice, we have come "full circle" in making the connection that all life is part of the "interrelated web of existence" and deserves equal protection and reverence accorded by ethical, moral and judicial bodies. In the (paraphrased) words of Ingrid Newkirk, "when it comes to pain, fear and loneliness, a dog is a rat is a pig is a boy."


Please remember, Animal Rights (AR) doesn't stand in isolation by itself – but fits into broader social issues: poverty, oppression at work, domestic violence, public health, health delivery systems, nutrition and enough `food for all,' anti-violence, etc., etc. Helping one is helping all – it's the web of life. Help others to see the logical connection.

When talking to someone outside the AR movement, try to understand: "What is the primary emergency/concern faced by this person?" Is it hunger, poverty, racism, violence, helplessness, lack of healthcare, abortion, etc. etc? Acknowledge their feelings, concerns; their perspective. Quickly refer to the connection between their condition and using animals in a cruel and unethical way. For example, are they suffering from poor health and lack of healthcare? Quickly state that billions are thrown away each year to "white coat welfare" schemes to poison and injure animals in experiments that do not translate into human health benefits; money that would be better spent providing health care to humans in clinical settings. Are they concerned about racism or oppression at home or at work? Briefly state how the system of oppression begins with speciesism, or the oppression and exploitation of other animals by those who have the power to do so; discuss the animal-human violence connection. Are they hungry? Remind them that the animal-based diet propagated by schools, governments and industry is expensive and harmful to human health and the environment; plant-based nutrition conserves the earth, protects the health of adults and children, is very affordable, and does not torture and exploit other species. If someone is concerned about abortion (pro or con), discuss the exploitation of farmed animals by forced impregnation to produce offspring who are ripped away at birth for sale to auction houses and school dissection programs.


When someone says, "Well why don't you spend your time helping humans?" You can honestly say, "I am doing so by working in the AR movement." And then discuss some of the connections mentioned above. You might also want to say, "Well, I've never met an Animal Rights activist who says you can't both help the animals and help other humans; are you saying you don't see the connection?" (The idea is to put THEM on the defensive, challenge them to think – meet their question by asking THEM a question in return!) You might also want to ask, "Well, what do you do for humans that prevents you from helping animals too?" (Usually the person you're talking to doesn't do ANYTHING to help ANYONE…but that's another subject…)

Howard Lyman reminds us that we all need to cultivate the patience and humility to realize that what we say to another person is just ONE COAT OF PAINT. Psychologists and educators say it takes 7 – 12 times of hearing something before a person begins to "get it." You may be person #4 to say something to this person about Animal Rights (AR). Don't try to put on all 12 coats of paint at one time: you don't want to turn the person off all together. Be gentle, direct and humble; leave the door open enough for the next person to come along to apply another coat of paint by speaking more of the truth about AR. We need to pray for each other (or send positive energy; whatever makes sense to your view of the universe.)

If you would like to learn more about "Building Bridges" and the interrelatedness of all social justice causes, visit the websites at:
and the information at:
and at:

Go on to Making Ice Cream & Butter
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