Our first vegan outreach

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Over 56 billion animals are killed every year by humans for food. Note that this figure does not include many millions of animals killed for other reasons such as dogs and cats killed at shelters, animals used in laboratories for testing and animals that are used for entertainment purpose like circuses, sports, zoos etc. This shocking figure does not even include the trillions of fishes that are killed annually for food.

After learning that my diet choices were the main reason for so many unnecessary animal killings, I became a vegan. It felt good to know that the food on my plate did not die withering in pain. But at the same time I was uncomfortable to look at people eat non vegan food and continue to retain a disconnection between the food they ate and the animal it came from.

I believe that veganism is the way to help stop animal holocaust, but just believing wasn’t enough.  I share posts on how animals are raised and butchered in meat and dairy industry. But the most effective way of bringing about change is by communicating with people. I saw many videos on vegan outreaches by EarthlingEd, Joey Carbstrong and James Aspey. Also posts by vegan street activists in India like MALL made me feel like I was not doing enough. They helped many people become vegans via street activism.

I was inspired but at the same time sceptical about going on the streets and talking to people by myself. Alas! I was glad to finally meet three more wonderful individuals with similar views, Aditya Harmalkar, Bhawana Pradeep and Gemini Xettigar in Goa.

How we met

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For quite some time I felt like I was the only vegan in Goa. After a few days into veganism I joined a facebook group called Vegans in India. I found out there were quite a few vegans in Goa but hard luck finding anyone into activism.

A FIAPO campaign coordinator Amjor Chandran posted a query on the group asking if anyone would be interested in doing a vegan outreach. We had to distribute leaflets by FIAPO which had a brief explanation on how animals are bred in dairy and meat industries. The next thing I know is that I’m a part of a whatsapp group with three more enthused animal lovers and an experienced activist.

After a lot of discussions we met at Miramar beach on a Saturday. We were nervous and we wondered how to go about. But we had in mind to reach out to as many people as we could. Bhawana handed a few leaflets to each one of us and we headed to spread the vegan message.

Our Experience

I had prepared myself to meet people who would call us crazy eastern hippies influenced by western culture.  But I was overwhelmed to meet so many positive people who responded so well. We also met people who just refused to listen the moment we uttered the word animals. We got a chance to meet a very humble man who is a watchman by profession. He promised us to spread the word with his friends and family. He was so kind that he joined us in distributing leaflets to more people.

Some of the people we spoke to promised that they would try to make an attempt at eating consciously. The best part about leafleting was the chance to get to converse with people.

Here is what my other vegan friends had to say about doing an outreach in Goa.

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-Bhawana Pradeep

“It was our first experience doing an outreach and I was nervous at first. I had no idea how people would respond. At a point, I even thought that I won’t be doing this again. But things changed when we started our work together. Explaining people about veganism, distributing leaflets that detailed what animals go through to produce meat, milk and eggs, made me realise that being an animal lover, this is how I can protect and save an animal from getting killed.

I loved doing this. Never mind, few people didn’t even bother to listen, but there were people who appreciated our work. We distributed around 95 leaflets on our first day. We believe that it is important to give people complete information on what animals go through in today’s farms in order to inspire them to stop supporting such cruelty.

I will continue working on doing more outreaches. I will do whatever I can to protect animals. Until then I eagerly hope for people to help bring animal liberation”

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-Aditya Harmalkar

“So today was my first day as an animal rights activist. Sure, I’ve made a lot of facebook posts in the past spreading the message of veganism. But it takes much more courage to do real world activism than just being a keyboard warrior. I always watched videos of brave activists doing street demonstrations and engaging in conversations with the public. And I always wanted to do the same.

I just couldn’t sit and do nothing when all the creatures that I love are killed by the millions everyday for things we don’t even need. If I was in their place, I would’ve appreciated every effort people made to rescue me. And therefore, I cannot sit quietly when I have so many innocent sentient beings to speak up for. When I first decided to quit eating animals, I never thought that this would be such an important thing for me.

But now I have discovered my purpose in life. And therefore, I am grateful to FIAPO and all their associates for providing me with an opportunity to speak up for the animals and to spread the message of love, peace, and compassion.

As it was my first day, I was a bit anxious. But I was mentally prepared for it. I knew beforehand that getting rejected and even dealing with naysayers would be a part of the package. But I’m happy with the way it turned out. So many people were receptive to our message and there were some who resolved to give up or at least reduce their consumption of animal products. Overall, I’m happy that we could get the message out; I’m positive that in the future our efforts will definitely bear fruit.”

“We have always had companion animals (called pets back then, because we didn’t know better). The main reason I got into activism were animals. I started off with rescuing streeties, volunteering at IAR, and then I watched Maneka Gandhi’s Heads and Tails. This made me go vegetarian. After learning about the dairy industry I decided to go vegan.

I started off with three failed attempts at veganism but was motivated to stop contributing toward animal suffering and I’m a vegan now for almost three years. Reading about the health benefits of living free and the environmental destruction caused by meat also ensured that I stayed on track. And not to forget, my mother’s excellent Cooking skills made it easier to go without. Activism is a very helpful way of getting more people adopt veganism because I’m sure it’s not just us who care about the animals and the environment, right?”

Gemini Xettigar

Why Vegan activism?

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I became a vegan after I bumped into vegan posts and images by some vegans working relentlessly to spread awareness about animal cruelty. And as a vegan it is my moral duty to spread this message to another ‘’me’’ out there who is still calling herself/himself an animal lover while mercilessly devouring the flesh of a dead animal. Many people don’t really know how the animals land up as food on their plates. And it is important that we make a conscious decision on what we feed our body.

Why vegan activism? Is it really shoving our views down people’s throats? Definitely not! It is time we speak up for those who can’t fight for themselves. Animals are vulnerable and innocent and are at the mercy of humans. Vegan activism forms the moral baseline. There is an analogy that explains this.

The analogy goes something like this; there’s a man beating a dog with a stick, a second man comes to the road and sees this guy beating the dog. The first man tells the second man,” Come join me, I have another stick, and we can beat the dog together.”

Now the second man has three options. The first choice he can make is grab the stick and join the guy in beating up the dog. The second choice the man can make and say is “it is morally wrong what you are doing and I will not participate in it with you”, in essence the second option is veganism. Veganism is non-participation in acts that lead to animal cruelty. The animal here is anyway dying. The third option the man can make and say is “I will not participate in what you’re doing and also intervene and make you stop.”

We need to fight for those who can’t defend themselves. Animals are continuously in a battle with humans which they constantly lose. We need to stop the unnecessary killing of animals. This is not just affecting the animals but also our health and the environment. It is time we align our actions with our values. So if you’re a vegan, go out there and participate in your local animal rights movement. And if you’re not, what are you waiting for?

“There comes a point when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor political, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one ‘That it is Right’”- Martin Luther King

 

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