An animal activists' handbook
14. let's CHANGE THE WORLD
What is your life about?
"Search for the hero inside yourself, and then you'll find the key to your life,"
sings vegan Heather Small of M-People, who also appears in the video Truth or Dairy. We can all be heroes.
The American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that we have a hierarchy of needs. Once we've managed to take care of basic survival and shelter, we'll seek to belong to a group and to improve self-esteem. If we get this far then we can go for the pinnacle of `self-actualisation', integrating all parts of ourselves and doing something for humanity. In so doing we achieve our highest potential. Along the way we have `peak experiences', experiencing the ecstacy and serenity of inner fulfilment.
Can animal rights be a path to spiritual peace and transpersonal success? We say so.
In their teens, everyone gets into some kind of "opium of the people" whether it's sport, organised religion, sex, drugs, music, computer games, work or something else. It gets us into a group, and we enjoy the pleasure of mastering the knowledge or skills that go with group membership. All of us are chasing the delicious surge of endorphins in the brain when we belong and succeed, or simply the absence of stress. This is fine as long as you don't surrender control of your entire life to group leaders and give up making your own decisions. Instead of turning you into a zombie, becoming a vegan requires a healthy dose of thinking for yourself. It teaches you to stand up to coercion from people who think they have the right to tell you what to do in your own space, whether relatives, friends, priests, teachers or co-workers.
People today feel helpless in the face of corrupt governments and giant businesses. The fact is that it just ain't so - we are as powerful as we choose to be. We must exercise our personal power to change those around us, and we must take political power or it will go by default to those who will abuse it.
Jacques Cousteau once recommended people to infiltrate the establishment and rise as high as they could, then use their power for good. Imagine what you might do if you woke up tomorrow and found that you were Minister for Agriculture, or Director of the Meat and Livestock Commission, or Chair of the Health Education Council, or Editor of the British Medical Journal. All these jobs and many others will be up for grabs in the future. And one day they will be filled by people who will do the right thing with their power and influence - people like you.
Edware Lear once asked "If it takes a cat ten minutes to kill a rat, how long does it take to kill 1,000 rats. Methinks the rats would kill the cat." It's time for us all across the world to take power and change things for the better. It may take our lifetimes, but we are the last generation before it's too late who still have the chance to wake everyone else up. Will you join us?
Blueprint for world revolution
We have personal power to change ourselves, and by our example and provision of knowledge, those around us. When we are in the majority, as we now are for not wearing fur, not hunting for fun, and not testing cosmetics on animals, profit-motivated big businesses eventually follow, and we can force changes in the law to mop up the last pockets of brutality. The giant cosmetics company Gillette announced at the end of 1996 the end of animal testing - as a direct result of PeTA's global campaign to wake people up, taken up by thousands of activists and millions of sympathisers. (Procter & Gamble next!) Soon hunting foxes, hares and deer with dogs could be banned in Britain, as a direct result of campaigns by animal rights activists. We can change anything we want. It's just a case of picking off the easiest targets first and moving on, building momentum for the harder targets ahead. The bad guys can't resist truth, justice, compassion and love forever.
Speak out for animals without compromise. After all, a vegan world will have huge economic benefits. Instead of speaking for less than a million meat workers, encourage MP's to speak up for six million vegetarians, sixteen million almost vegetarians, 26 million who've cut their meat consumption, 36 million whose children have been exposed to BSE by a government bribed by the meat barons, and 600 million feeling beings doomed each year by our collective insanity and inaction.
Here's a checklist of twelve things we can do to change ourselves, those who ask our help, and eventually the world, person by person and country by country. The first six are the essential stages for getting your "degree" or "black belt instructor" in veganism and animal rights, ready to deal with any situation. The other six steps are ways to use your newfound knowledge and skills to create permanent, life-saving change in others and turn all vegetarians into vegan activists.
If every vegan in the United Kingdom creates one more each year, the whole country will be safe for animals in just eight years. Why not? Nothing is impossible unless you believe it is.
Desk top publishing on home computers plus the Internet have for the first time in history ended the rich's monopoly on information. There is nothing whatsoever to prevent us using our new-found power to put things right in one generation.
This book contains the knowledge you need to be part of the greatest social revolution in history, so that when you look back on your life you'll be able to think "We did something really fine. Together."
12 Steps to Change the World
1. Get the facts and go vegetarianSend for info from the Vegetarian Society to get you started and use this information to become vegetarian.
2. Find out about veganism
Send some stamps to The Vegan Society for a full set of leaflets and a catalogue. Invest in a copy of their Animal Free Shopper, containing everything you always wanted to know about veganism but didn't know where to ask. Unless you're moving towards 100% vegan, few people in the animal rights movement will take you seriously. Animal Aid and Viva! also provide excellent info packs with recipes and advice. Read the book Why Vegan by Kath Clements, available from the Vegan Society. The next two steps will take care of any fears you may have about "coming out" as a vegan.
3. Become a masterchef
Get a selection of vegan cookbooks. Visit local wholefood shops and buy a new food every week. Type 'vegan recipes' into a search engine and you'll be amazed at what is out there on the internet. Try the newsgroup alt.food.vegan for food discussion and recipe advice.
People don't generally choose food because it's healthy or kind but because it looks good and tastes nice. Become a master of cuisine so that people are always queuing up to come to dinner. If you come up with any really stunning creations of your own which you would like us to publish, send them to us!
4. Learn about nutrition
Be ready for questions about calcium, protein, iron and vitamins. Know the facts about why vegans are often the healthiest folk on the planet. Invest in superb reference books like Peter Cox's Guide to Vegetarian Living, Vegan Nutrition - Pure and Simple by Dr Michael Klaper and Vegan Nutrition by Dr Gill Langley. If funds are limited, make sure they're in your library and share books with vegetarian friends.
5. Learn about vegan babies
Often you hear people say that veganism is all very well for adults, but children need milk or meat. All complete and utter bollocks of course, but if they got it from their doctor then you'd better be ready with the truth from the real experts. Learn about vegetarian and vegan babies by sending £1.75 to Viva! for their Mother and Baby Guide parts 1 and 2. Learn even more about vegan children from the book Pregnancy, Children and the Vegan Diet by Dr Michael Klaper and Vegan Nutrition by Dr Gill Langley. If your doctor tells you veganism is unhealthy for babies, give him or her these leaflets and books to read, and if that fails then change to a doctor who bothers to keep up to date. If we get all the doctors in the country to go vegan, they might just do the rest for us.
6. Learn about animal rights and ecology
Be ready to explain to pre-vegetarians the truth about animals and what we're doing to the planet. Read up on animal rights literature regularly to refresh your memory. Get extra leaflets to give out at bulk rates from the nationals. Invest in a copy of The New Why You Don't Need Meat by Peter Cox and The Silent Ark by Juliet Gellatley.
7. Become a campaigner!
Get stuck into the ideas in this book. Learn to use a word processor, write letters, give school talks, talk to the media. If you have any difficulty getting along with certain campaigners or with the public, try some of the "people" books we recommend, especially the brilliant How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
8. Help your local group financially
If you're working, then give money to buy leaflets to your local groups which they can take into schools for maximum impact. Invest in the videos Truth or Dairy (Vegan Society), Their Future In Your Hands (Animal Aid), Food Without Fear (Vegetarian Society), Viva's new schools video, and others from the nationals, or give them to your local school library.
9. Read campaigning magazines and websites
Keep up to date by joining a campaigning national organisation or ten, or exchanging magazines with friends. Each of "the nationals" produces thoroughly researched materials written by the leading experts, as well as doing undercover investigations and getting the truth into the media at national level. When you've read their magazines, pass them on.
If you're working and don't have much free time, you can still make things happen big time and create loads of new vegetarians by using your wages to "contract out" your campaigning. How? Consider "tithing" your income to animal rights organisations. This is the old system where people gave 10% of their income to the church. Why not start with 1% and see if you miss it? If you're single with no dependents, will you really miss £5 or £20 a month paid by standing order to an animal rights organisation? £10 can pay for 10 packs of info that creates 10 new aware people. Every month for as long as you care to give. There are plenty of groups that will put your contribution to good use. Regular payments can be covenanted to get tax rebates, and gifts of £250 or more also get the tax back if you fill out a Gift Aid form. And don't forget to add a clause to your will.
11. Get skilled
If you're an ambitious campaigner, get tooled up for action! Contact the nationals and offer your services as a volunteer. You can go further and take a course in journalism. Remember that the pen is mightier than the sword, but with a computer you can really kick Ronald McDonald's butt. Furthermore the Internet gives us all access to millions of people with money and information technology skills who can become campaigners, if we help them along.
12. Take and use power for truth
Get as much power as you can or influence with the the powerful (teachers, doctors, caterers, film makers, writers, politicians and the children and students who will one day be all of these) and use it to create a better world. Teach them that being a hero is about saving life.
Something to consider...
What goes around comes around; you get back what you give out.
It is widely believed that if you commit acts of cruelty or dishonesty, the universal law of recompense will see to it that you are shown the error of your ways, because the ultimate evolutonary pinnacle which we are all slowly moving towards is of universal love and harmony. This principle is known as Karma. Karma can be instant, for example you insult someone and they they insult you back, or a shooter accidentally blasts themself in the leg after sending several bullets into defenceless airborne birds.
Karma can also be long-term and the effects of some actions can show up months, years or lifetimes later. Many people believe that those who cause suffering and neglect to others will one day pay the price for doing so.
Some spiritual thinkers feel that active campaigning is pointless because rather than getting stressed about injustice, we should just relax and focus on ourselves, knowing that Karma will teach the 'baddies' eventually. However, we feel that this attitude is misguided, because if a person is aware that suffering is happening and they are in a position to do something about it, yet they choose not to, they themself are actively choosing not to help. Not helping is neglect, and neglect is in itself an act of cruelty!
Have you ever ignored a friend in need and then felt utterly alone months or years later when you felt overwhelmed by problems? This is an example of Karma.
Whenever we say, or do, or think anything, it has global effects. Are you motivated as an activist by love or by anger?
Anger can be useful in short bursts, to motivate people to take action. However, long-term anger and resentment is usually caused by deep insecurity and it will eat away at you and can make you ill and tired. It will not make you a better campaigner.
We recommend that all campaigners learn to detach and focus. This does not mean caring less, quite the opposite.
What it means is that you can step outside of your emotional response to the suffering in the world, focus your energies and talents and then go forth and fight cruelty in a totally calm, relaxed and controlled manner. You can feel calm inside even whilst you are in the middle of a big emotional upheaval, if you learn to detach. Why not give it a try?
One technique is to recognise the moments when you are becoming very upset, frustrated or angry. Think to yourself I am responding in a stressed way, but I am not taken over by this stress. My role at the moment is to experience this stress and use it to motivate me.
Then imagine that you are a character in a film and the events you are living through are the plot of the film. Imagine that the people whose actions are upsetting you so much are also just characters in the film, acting out their roles. Dont take their actions personally. Think about what their characters are likely to do next and write your next piece of script to act out. This can be especially useful if you get arrested.
Then, once you have conquered your stress, carry on with your life and your campaigning.
Zen and the art of campaigning
- by Jonathon Livingston Vegan
Everything that ever was, started with a dream. Take a walk, sit or lie quietly, reflect and dream.
When you've formulated your dream, it's time to act. Success depends on action. Doing nothing is itself an action, and the most harmful one of all. It's called neglect.
Once you have taken your first steps, the path will reveal itself to you, and others will keep you company on it.
The only difference between success and failure is that success kept on going till she got there. Whatever obstacles you encounter, there are others already on the path waiting to help you in every way we can. Just ask.
You have the power to co-create a vegan world. Help others to join us on the path of truth, respect and love for all life.
We'll see you at the celebration when the last slaughterhouse closes.
Campaign Against Cruelty An Animal Activists Handbook
available for £4.99 (plus p&p) from Vegetarian Guides, or order it from all good book shops.