‘Together We Can Make a Difference’ – Key Message at 2020 National Animal Rights Day Online Gathering
This is my write up on the 10th National Animal Rights Day global online event that took place a couple of weeks ago. I have been a little quiet on the blog this past month, trying to observe and absorb all that has been going on as of late. It is a time of great change. The world is shifting, people are learning and growing. We are all being asked to look within and to evolve, to upgrade this human experience of ours. We must all face our darker sides and bring light to that which does not serve us or society at large. The old ways of doing things are making way for new, hopefully better ways of doing things.
This period of learning and personal evolution needs to also extend to how we treat the most abused and vulnerable beings on the planet – the animals of the world. There needs to be a global awakening for the animals who are treated as mere commodities in this world, instead of the flesh and blood, sentient beings that they are. Animal rights is a cause whose time has come, and a cause that needs to be taken very seriously and urgently on a global level.
With that said, June 7, 2020 marked the 10th Anniversary of the National Animal Rights Day (NARD), a day to remember and honor the billions upon billions of innocent animals who are born into a world of suffering and slaughter, mercilessly killed every year for food, clothing, animal testing and more. In past years, peaceful marches have been held in many cities throughout the world to commemorate this day for the animals.
However, given the Covid pandemic this year, the organizers of NARD instead hosted the first global online gathering of animal rights advocates and activists around the world. It was a beautifully orchestrated memorial with wonderful speakers, musicians, poets, athletes, animal rights leaders and activists, and more.
There was much to be gleaned from the many great speakers and other contributors. And you can watch the event in its entirety on the NARD Facebook page (link here).
I have tried to pull out some of the kernels of information that really resonated with me. Probably the biggest message that I got out of this event (and fully agree with) is the need for unity, that “collectively we can make a difference”. That we must all work together – vegans with vegans and vegans with non-vegans – to create a better future, a vegan future!
Below are some key excerpts and comments from the NARDX event’s speakers –
“Our basic right to be free needs to extend to the non-human animals of the world. When one is oppressed, no one is free.” ~ Aylam Orian, founder of NARD, opening remarks
Excerpts from animal rights activist, James Aspey opening speech –
“NARD is a day to commemorate and remember the many, many lives who are taken unnecessarily and brutally because of human’s desire to exploit and consume murdered animals. It is a day to remember the 8 billion earthlings who feel pain and suffer and are killed every day.
Animals are just as sentient as us – they have senses, emotions, thoughts and feelings. What we do to animals is an atrocity of epic proportions, built on torture and oppression of innocent beings.
People are changing….the world is changing, but not fast enough. People are shifting away from a ‘death sentence’ diet to a ‘plant based’ diet. We need to help people understand that we don’t need to eat and use animals to survive.
We need to keep planting seeds in others. The animals are counting on us. They deserve justice, peace and respect. It is up to us to share their stories and spread awareness. Connect with people. Make people aware of the lies they’ve been told. Animals are not here for us to consume. We need to break through the conditioning that we’ve been taught.
Much has changed, but much hasn’t. Let’s keep making waves. Think of how much better our world could be. It is ‘Our Planet, Theirs Too’.” ~ James Aspey
Comments Addressing the Pandemic and Animals –
“Killing animals is killing us too. We are being forced to look at our relationship with animals and the environment. So many diseases have one thing in common – they jump from animals to people. This should motivate non-vegans to stop eating animals.” ~ Naomi Hallum, Million Dollar Vegan
“What is it going to take to wake people up? The pandemic we’re in should have woken us up. Earth will win in the end if we don’t change. This virus has to lead us to something good.” ~ Rochelle Goldman
“We will see more of these pandemics. Emerging pathogens will arise from melting permafrosts.” ~ Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Global Founder
“The pangolin (an anteater) has brought civilization to its knees by way of the Covid 19 pandemic.” ~ Damian Mander, International Anti Poaching Foundation (IAPF) Founder
“The pandemic has been affecting slaughterhouses – the workers are getting sick. There is now more media attention on slaughterhouses. The media is now talking about the dark underbelly of the factory farming industry.” ~ Leah Garces, Mercy For Animals President
“Slaughterhouses have been slowing down due to the pandemic, due to a ‘supply chain reduction’. Because of this, animals are being killed en masse (depopulated). For example: animals are being crammed into a barn where the owner raises the temperature to essentially roast the animals alive. This is one of the cheaper methods of killing a lot of animals at one time.” ~ Almira Tanner, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)
Comments Addressing the Black Lives Matter Movement
“Black Lives Matter, and Animals Matter. I don’t believe in slavery of any species. To get rid of racism, we’ve got to get rid of the ‘spirit of racism’” ~ John Salley, Former NBA Basketball Player and Vegan Activist
“African Americans are the fastest growing group of people in the vegan movement.” ~ Gwynna Hunter, Vegan Outreach & Founder of ‘Vegans for Black Lives Matter’
Comments Addressing Animals & Ethics –
“Stand together against all cruelty.” ~ Ingrid Newkirk, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) President
“We can live without violence, fear and trampling on every being that is weaker and vulnerable. Now is the time while we still have time.” ~ Rochelle Goldman
“190 million animals are tested on a yearly basis, globally. This includes cats and dogs. This must end.” ~ Mena Suvari, Actress and Activist
“Horses used for buggies and carriages live hellish lives, and once the horses are used up or too old, they are often sold to slaughterhouses for meat.” ~ Edita Birnkrant, Director of New York Friends of Animals
Comments Addressing Animals & Laws –
“We need to defund animal agriculture and change the laws for animals…they are not property.” ~ Almira Tanner, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)
“We need ‘Personhood Status’ for animals” ~ Jane Velez Mitchell, Jane Unchained Founder
Comments Addressing the Climate Crisis and Species Extinction –
“People are in denial of climate change because it’s in people’s best interest to deny it. People like to stay ignorant – it’s easier. But if we don’t take immediate action, many species will go extinct.” ~ Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Global Founder
“All of us are heading for extinction. If we don’t protect nature, we’re in trouble. It’s not just the elephants and rhinos that are headed for extinction…it’s all of us!” ~ Damian Mander, International Anti Poaching Foundation (IAPF) Founder
“We need to shut down all commercial fishing vessels to protect our oceans from collapse.” ~ Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Global Founder
“We have an urgent planetary crisis – we need to keep fighting the good fight.” ~ Natasha & Luca, That Vegan Couple
Comments Addressing Veganism and Its Rise in Popularity –
“We are all vegans and we just don’t know it yet.” ~ Christopher Eubanks, Animal Save Movement
“Veganism is the solution. We need a plant based policy everywhere.” ~ Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Global Founder
“Veganism has gone mainstream. Vegan products can now be found on the shelves of grocery stores, right next to the animal products. Vegan products are being placed in better locations, and no longer shoved into a corner.” ~ Leah Garces, Mercy For Animals President
“The Beyond Meat IPO was the most successful IPO in years.” ~ Jane Velez Mitchell, Jane Unchained Founder
Comments Addressing Veganism and Health –
“We wouldn’t want to put dirty fuel into our cars, so why are we putting ‘dirty fuel’ into our bodies?” ~ Leilani Munter, Race Car Driver and Vegan Activist
“Eating flesh is similar to drug addiction for people. We need to help people break addiction to flesh, sugar, traditions” ~ John Salley, Former NBA Basketball Player and Vegan Activist
Comment Addressing Youth and Veganism –
“Youth movement = Veganism. The youth are driving the vegan movement. Students and university campuses can have a big influence on people and society. They can reach many segments of the population.” ~ Almira Tanner, Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)
Comment Addressing Fashion and Veganism –
“Fashion is one of the largest polluting industries. Besides sustainability, we need to speak out about cruelty to animals in the fashion industry. A vegan alternative will always be better and more sustainable.” ~ Jonathan Ohayon, Founder of FAKE Movement
Comments Addressing Love and Spirituality –
“Animals can teach us so much – animals express love on a daily basis, even on factory farms.” ~ Milo Runkle, Mercy For Animals Founder
“Regardless of our physical form, we are all part of the same consciousness” ~ Milo Runkle, Mercy For Animals Founder
“Cultivate self compassion and show reverence for all life. Think good thoughts and do good deeds.” ~ John Pierre, Celebrity Fitness Instructor and Nutritionist
“Love is not passive – it’s a muscle that must be used. It’s consciousness-raising time.” ~ Milo Runkle, Mercy For Animals Founder
Comments Addressing Unity and Coming Together as a Vegan Community –
“We must support each other in the fight for animal rights. We need different voices, ages, experiences, people from all walks of life – this expands how effective we can be. By helping others, we help ourselves.” ~ Christopher Eubanks, Animal Save Movement
“We need to upgrade our message and start focusing on helping each other be the best we can be. We need to pat each other on the backs. Support each other. Support veganism. We can take over the world, and the world will be a better place.” ~ John Salley, Former NBA Basketball Player and Vegan Activist
“We need to work together….it’s a collective challenge.” ~ Milo Runkle, Mercy For Animals Founder
“United we can do better. We will win this together!” ~ Naomi Hallum, Million Dollar Vegan
What Can We Do To Make Change?
“Keep having conversations, keep planting those seeds, never give up!” ~ Damian Mander, International Anti Poaching Foundation (IAPF)
“Unite with non-vegans to make change. Empower people to make better and more compassionate choices.” ~ Naomi Hallum, Million Dollar Vegan
“Spread veganism through giving out pamphlets, social media, donations, etc.” ~ John Pierre, Celebrity Fitness Instructor and Nutritionist
“We need to help farmers transition away from animal farming toward plant based farming.” ~ Leah Garces, Mercy For Animals President
“Be a vessel of life and love.” ~ John Pierre, Celebrity Fitness Instructor and Nutritionist
In addition to all this wisdom from this great group of speakers, there were all kinds of wonderful songs and other performances such as vegan cooking demos, poetry, a blessing for the animals, a FAKE vegan fashion show, and awards given out for “Animal Rights Activists of the Year”.
Some of the music performed –
The beautiful opening song of the NARDX ceremony – “Unite” – written and performed by Radha Windham, and a lovely performance by Micah Thomas & choir from Nigeria, Africa. There were many other wonderful musical performances by artist/activist, Rain Phoenix, Inanna (Annalisa Dunker), Kiirstin Marilyn and Kirk Miller, Jim Marcotte and more.
Much of the event was hosted by Gabrielle Reyes @OneGreatVegan who did an amazing job.
As every year prior, the ‘Declaration of Animal Rights’, a 500 foot long ‘scroll’ written in 20 languages, was read aloud. This year, it was read by young animal rights activists Vegan Evan and Vegg Ian. To read this declaration in its entirety, you can check out declarationofar.org.
Thank you to Aylam Orian and to all of the organizers of this amazing NARDX event. It had to be quite a feat to organize all of this online and to host up to 1,000 people on Zoom. I look forward to next year’s NARD event when we can all hopefully join together in person once again.
“Collectively we can make a difference!” ~ Jane Elizabeth