Animal Rebellion: The World's Most Consequential Social Justice Movement?
Animal Rights/Vegan Activist Strategies Article from

FROM Philip Murphy
June 2021

While retaining the broad framing of the demands and values of Extinction Rebellion, this new movement re-envisioned them in a manner that affirms the categorical imperative to recognize the moral standing of all sentient beings.

Philip Murphy is the Co-Founder of Animal Rebellion NYC and Continental Liaison, Turtle Island (North America)

Animal rebellion

We do not display greatness by going to one extreme, but in touching both at once, and filling all the intervening space.
–Blaise Pascal, Pensées

The climate justice movement Extinction Rebellion (XR) burst into public consciousness in dramatic fashion on 31 October 2018 with a “Declaration of Rebellion” against the UK government, delivered in Parliament Square in London. Responding to the climate and ecological emergency (CEE) and advancing behind a narrative calling for systems-level change through nonviolent direct action, XR grew into a global movement that precipitated worldwide mass civil disobedience demonstrations in April and October of 2019. Extinction Rebellion framed their movement in the context of three stated demands, and ten associated values. The first of these demands dictates that governments address the climate and ecological emergency with honesty, while the second and third demands focus on a dramatic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions – to net zero, by 2025 – and a utilizing of instruments of direct democracy in order to take appropriate political action.

However, it wasn’t long before some early XR Rebels, holding as they did insights into the incontrovertible fact of animal sentience and also being steeped in the knowledge of so-called animal agriculture’s profoundly deleterious environmental impacts, began to point to an addressing of the “the animal question” as being conspicuous by its absence. From this knowl- edge, and an attendant deep questioning was born Animal Rebellion.

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While retaining the broad framing of the demands and values of Extinction Rebellion, this new movement re-envisioned them in a manner that affirms the categorical imperative to recognize the moral standing of all sentient beings. To actualize this imperative is to refrain from exploiting these beings in any and all ways including in the production of food – which is, in aggregate, the greatest source of ecosystem degradation. Consequently, the First Demand reads: “Animal Rebellion recognizes that one cannot speak about the CEE without openly talking about the impacts of animal agriculture on the planet, including but not limited to: deforestation, ocean dead-zones, biodiversity loss and air pollution.” (Given that the shared, short version of the First Demand is stated simply as “Tell The Truth,” it can be said that Animal Rebellion’s articulation is a sublime example of meta-narrative – that is, “telling the truth about telling the truth.”) Similarly, the Second Demand contains language that points to the fact that any hope of approaching these extraordinary ambitious emissions reduction targets “cannot be done without a transition to a just and sustainable plant-based food system.”

Extinction Rebellion’s articulation of the Third Demand, “Beyond Politics,” reveals what is in its application a reductionist conception of the term, as being strictly limited to electoral politics – an arena in which the movement fairly contorts itself so as to affirm a non-partisan stance -- with further commentary hewing fast (and for all intents and purposes, exclusively) to an articulation of the dynamics of citizen’s assemblies. By contrast, in its referencing the impacts of corporate lobbying in protecting the animal farming and fishing industries, Animal Rebellion’s articulation of the Third Demand gestures to the corrosive force of an increasing unfettered and ecocidal global capitalism that, unchallenged, will continue to undermine meaningful positive change with regard to the preservation of the ecosystem on which all life on Earth depends. In the explicit articulation of an antispeciesist social justice stance in its First Value, and moreover in pointing to a plant-based food system as being foundational to addressing the climate and ecological emergency Animal Rebellion reflects a commitment to honoring both the integrity of individuals and to realizing vital systems-level change. Given the sheer numbers of sentient beings killed for food and other purposes that is estimated at more than three trillion lives lost annually and moreover considering the associated environmental degradation, it is not an exaggeration to state that Animal Rebellion is one of, if not the most consequential social justice movements in the world today.

For more information on Animal Rebellion, including opportunities for philanthropic support, please visit

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