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Vegan Friends Come Together at the DxE Community - Join Us!

Vegan friends come together in the dxe community - join us!

By Ryder Meehan - DxE SF Bay, Tech Team

Even living in San Francisco, California, one of the most progressive and vegan-friendly cities on the planet, I was feeling like a lonely vegan.  I had no vegan friends and none of my other friends wanted to listen to my lectures about it.  I tried going to a few other local vegan community Meetup events but it felt more like a one-time get-together than long-lasting vegan friends or a real vegan community.

Finally, I stumbled into the right community and knew I had found my new vegan friends network.  Direct Action Everywhere said all the right things - they were doing it for the animals but when the protest was over there would be potlucks, parties and jam sessions.  I was welcomed and immediately made my way into the DxE Tech working group where I felt like I could contribute the most.

DxE - San Francisco Bay Area

DxE - San Francisco Bay Area

DxE - Chicago

DxE - Chicago

In the Bay Area Chapter alone there were hundreds of members and they were all welcoming, awesome and shared a passion for a vegan lifestyle and animal activism.  There were events happening multiple times a week offering something for every type of person.  Then every Saturday morning there would be a regular Meetup at the Berkeley Animal Rights Center (ARC) to learn new and interesting things as well as meet even more cool people and get a glorious all vegan lunch out together - it finally feels normal to not eat animals!

so Why is it important to have vegan friends?

After finding veganism and the importance of animal rights, you may feel uncomfortable being around others who are eating animals or you may just want to talk with friends who understand.  There are many reasons if you think about:

  • Shared values in the belief that animals deserve to be happy, safe and free
  • Amazing, harm-free meals with friends
  • Never be made to feel weird for being vegan
  • Build a community with a shared passion for animal rights
  • Learn and share ways to spread the good word of veganism

Why Direct action everywhere?

One of the Organizing Principles that sets DxE apart is to create a community for vegans and animal activists.  One of the most common obstacles to going vegan or staying vegan is that most of society still normalizes eating and mistreating animals.  Unfortunately most other animal rights organizations do not have a true community that meets regularly or socially.  DxE is creating a community where it's normal to NOT mistreat animals.  We help one another out, share our challenges, and come together frequently for merriment and good times!  Think of it like a college fraternity or sorority - only less exclusive and without the hazing.  Oh plus the whole animal rights mission thing ;)

In one year being in DxE, I've been to a karaoke night, potluck, house party, Halloween party, Thanksgiving vegan feast, vegan ice cream social, cookie decorating contest and too many other events to count.  I went from zero vegan friends to having an entire community around me.

And if you're not in the San Francisco-Berkeley Bay Area, not to worry; there are dozens of DxE chapters across the county and the world organizing regularly and building vegan communities (veg-munities?) around the same principles.

So what are you waiting for?!  Come meet your new vegan friends within your own city!  Does your city not have a DxE Chapter yet?  Consider starting one.  And once a year all chapters come together at our global Forum where we meet, learn, share and empower our movement!

 

 

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Animal Rights News Recap 5/19/2017

China has banned the sale of dog meat at the Yulin festival for one week beginning on June 15th.

ARTICLE HERE

In South Alberta, Canada an independent group rescued Rose after investigating Feedlot Alley, where she and many other animals are trapped and exploited. 

VIDEO HERE

DxE Inland Empire disrupted Sprouts after DxE Colorado investigated a Sprouts "cage-free" egg supplier and found horrific conditions.

VIDEO HERE

DxE London brought the animals' perspective to a bbq that was taking place next to a petting zoo.

ARTICLE HERE

Anita Kranjc has had a second set of charges dropped for supposedly obstructing police while taking photos after a truck carrying pigs to slaughter flipped over and nearly 180 pigs died.

ARTICLE HERE

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

 

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Animal Rights Activist Profile: Dayna Patik

Animal Rights Activist Profile: Dayna Patik

Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?

For me, community support was vital. I had been living as a pescatarian for years and in January 2015 I finally decided it was time to completely stop using animals. I reached out to connect with vegans, beyond my online community, to gain the real life support that my family and friends didn’t offer. With those connections, veganism and activism came naturally and immediately. I started doing outreach with a Madison based organization called Alliance for Animals and my journey as an activist began. About a year and a half later, my closest mentor became involved with DxE. I was skeptical but eventually decided to see for myself what the organization is all about. After meeting some DxE activists at Chicago Veganmania 2016, I went with a group to a local restaurant that sold the broken bodies of chickens. My heart raced while I held a sign that read “animals do not want to die” and I observed as activists told the stories of individuals who had been rescued from this system and of those who weren’t as fortunate. The experience was both overwhelming and empowering. On my way home to Milwaukee that night, I knew that my life was about to change again and that direct action was going to become a major part of who I am. Every disruption and community event thereafter has inspired me more and more. Speaking for animals and directly challenging normalized violence is one of the most powerful forms of activism I feel I can be a part of.

Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?

My favorite moment was during the Midwest convergence last October. Entering a Costco with such a large group of activists felt incredible. Many people avoid eye contact with us when we are defending animals but that day I noticed some children looking right into my eyes. Regardless what their parents were or were not teaching them, they appeared to understand the simplicity of our message. One boy in particular, maybe 7 or 8 years old, looked at me with such a soft intensity and in that moment I realized the impact of our presence. Had I witnessed something like our demo as a child, it would have validated my compassion and helped me see that there is another way. I likely would have stopped eating animals much sooner in my life. As activists, we lift the curtain and expose the violence that is inherent in the use of sentient beings. As painful as this reality is, it’s a gift to empower others with the truth and to offer the support of our community.

Q: Are you a part of any working groups or unique activism in your chapter and how do they influence your activism?

Our chapter is fairly new so working groups are still being developed but I travel to Chicago as often as possible to collaborate with and learn from more experienced activists. I’ve learned a great deal about myself through co-organizing within DxE. Working with such a creative, diverse and compassionate community humbles me.

 Q: How do you stay motivated as an activist?

When I realized that I was born into a world that treats gentle, sentient beings with such disdain, it felt like a horrible nightmare and it still does. I’m ashamed that I was ever part of such a violent system of oppression. Every day I wake up with a degree of freedom that I once took for granted and now I ask myself, “What is the best use of this privilege?” Across the planet, non-human animals are treated as objects and there are few to no laws to protect them from horrific abuse and killing. The tremendous suffering they endure in the name of greed is inconceivable. Sadly, their plight is frequently met with denial or an “out of sight out of mind” mentality. Even those who live vegan often become complacent. Being vegan is great but animals need more because our silence ensures continued exploitation.

Some people say that my activism is too extreme or too uncomfortable. It’s true that activism is challenging and often uncomfortable but to me, there’s nothing more uncomfortable than living a life of “comfort” at the expense of another’s basic rights. The soul shattering pain and outrage caused by bearing witness to their anguish must be channeled to help them. Fighting for them is my only viable option and as long as I am living, I won’t stop until they are free.

 Q: What advice would you give to new activists?

Rely on and build community by showing up and reaching out. The amount of compassion, wisdom and resilience you will discover in others, and in yourself, will never cease to amaze and inspire you.

Push yourself. Fight for the animals the way you would want someone to fight for you but don’t forget to take care of yourself and your fellow activists. Every activist knows that this movement, like all social justice movements, is emotionally and psychologically taxing. The animals need us for the long haul and we cannot afford to burn out.

 Q: Why Animal Liberation?

When it comes to liberation, let’s refer to the golden rule or to moral consistency. All animals, regardless of species, have the capacity to suffer and the desire to be free. I happen to adore non-human animals but even if you don’t, at the end of the day, their basic interests are no different than ours. If we don’t want to be objectified, violated, held captive or slaughtered, subjecting others to such misery is unjust.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

 

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Is Animal Advocates' Most Underused Tool... Humor?

Is Animal Advocates' Most Underused Tool... Humor?

Four Reasons Why Satire Is Animal Advocates' Most Underused Secret Weapon

By Zachary Groff

DxE disrupting Trader Joe's grand opening in San Francisco. Pictured: Zach Groff wearing Trader Joe's attire, talking about Trader Joe's history of abusing animals. 

DxE disrupting Trader Joe's grand opening in San Francisco. Pictured: Zach Groff wearing Trader Joe's attire, talking about Trader Joe's history of abusing animals. 

Fighting animal exploitation is a deadly serious affair. Our protests are straightforward and have gravitas. In the past six months, though, we've discovered a tactic animal advocates may not use enough: comedy.

The idea of using comedy in a tragic situation may strike many people as odd. Indeed, it strikes us as odd. Comedy, though, has been used in the most dire of times. Jews in Nazi concentration camps used humor to lampoon their tormentors and escape the horrors of daily life. African Americans developed the art of throwing shade during slavery to similarly diminish their oppressors. Indeed, there's a frame for comedy in dark situations that speaks of one more place where humor exists: "gallows humor."

At DxE, we've long known - whether we admit it or not - that the subversion of expectations that often happens when we disrupt a major event can be cause for humor. Only recently, though, did we learn to weaponize this humor to undermine animal abusing corporations when we seized control of a Whole Foods grand opening in the Bay Area and welcomed guests with tales of Whole Foods animal welfare standards... and the five steps of torture in Whole Foods' Global Animal Partnership rating scheme.

Why, though, is humor so useful for activists?

1. Humor allows us to show the ridiculousness of animal exploiters' ideas. One of the most classic styles of argument is the reductio ad absurdum, which takes an opponent's argument and shows that it leads to something absurd. There's experimental evidence that this works: if you face someone with an extreme position, you can persuade them by taking their side and showing how extreme it is. Rather than disputing an animal-abusing corporation, take their side and praise how well they torture animals and obscure the truth.

2. Humor catches people off guard and opens their mind. Some of the main theories of why humor exists suggest that we find things funny when our expectations are contradicted, forcing a shift in our perspective. Nonhuman animals display similar behaviors to humans' laughter, such as open mouth play, when they are surprised or caught off guard. If you stage a protest or respond to someone in an argument with satire when they expect seriousness, you get them with their defenses down and can persuade them more easily.

3. Humor leaves our opponents with no defense against our arguments. One of the problems in any conversation about a controversial topic is the backfire effect, the bizarre human tendency to become more convinced we are right when we are confronted with an opposing argument. By purporting to take someone's side and satirizing their view rather than directly countering it, humor can bypass the backfire effect.

4. Humor builds us up and keeps us going for a day when every animal is safe, happy, and free. This goes without saying, but humor is fun. In a social movement, even one as grim and serious as ours, advocates need relief from the strain of knowing an atrocity is going on all around us. If people could use humor in the context of some of the worst crimes against humans in history, we can surely use humor to cope with our pain at the plight of our fellow animals. That is the power and purpose of humor, and animal advocates should seize on it.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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Justice For All Mothers

Justice For All Mothers

By Sarah Hewson

Though I usually spend Mother’s Day thinking about my mom and other moms, this year I am sharing my own story, as a mom.  I often feel like I just became a mom yesterday, but it has now been over a decade since I first met my baby.  I don’t think I’ll ever have exactly the right words to describe this experience.  

I believe my husband and I read thirteen pregnancy books before my son arrived.  We were so excited.  We wanted to do everything right and we just couldn’t think about anything but him, so reading books together about pregnancy and childbirth filled every night for us.  One suggestion I read over and over was how important it is to hold your baby skin-to-skin, right after he comes out.  We desperately wanted this experience of childbirth to be as peaceful and non-traumatic for him as possible.  We wanted him to know that even though he was no longer in the womb, we would continue to provide the safest, most nurturing environment possible and we would always love him unconditionally.  

Childbirth was a long and emotional process.  There were a few complications and it took all my strength not to scream at the top of my lungs at several of the nurses and doctors.  After they said they needed to give him an antibiotic before he was born, I became enraged when it had been ten minutes and they had not returned with the antibiotic.  I could not believe that my baby was not their immediate priority at every second and the fear of him being hurt in any way was tremendous.  Obviously, this wasn’t my rational, patient, logical self, evaluating this situation.  It was an incredible dose of hormones, combined with stress and exhaustion.  

He eventually got the antibiotic and later made his way out into the world.  Though I wanted to hold him right away, they said they needed to take him to the other side of the room for a minute to check him out first.  I was deeply saddened that I couldn’t hold him, but was glad there would be a team of people making sure he was okay.  So I was lying there by myself and a crowd of people were all huddled around my baby, who I had not seen or touched yet.  I kept calling from across the room, “Is he okay?  What’s going on?  When can I hold him?”  I needed him to know his mom was still with him, that he was not abandoned, that I would always be there.  I needed to comfort him after this crazy experience.  I needed him to see and hear and feel and smell me.  But no one was answering my questions for what felt like an eternity.  This may have been the hardest moment of my life.  Ten years later,  I still have tears running down my face when I think about it.  And yet, it was probably just a few minutes before I got to hold him and was assured that everything was fine.  Those mom hormones, especially immediately after birth, are incredibly powerful and typically overpower all other thoughts and emotions.   

I didn’t get to have that immediate first connection I desperately wanted, but at least I got to breastfeed my son.  What an incredibly magical experience!  I can never truly describe the connection that brings between mother and child- the way he looked up into my eyes, the way his body and mine immediately relaxed after a stressful day, the way I could give him what he needed most in life with no tools, no technology, nothing but my own body.  Breastfeeding has to be one of the coolest things our bodies do.  One part of the process is that the mother’s body absorbs her baby’s saliva and detects any illnesses the baby may be fighting.  The mother then creates antibodies in her milk to feed to the baby to help fight that particular illness.  How incredible is it that milk is tailor-made for one specific baby down to every last detail?  I breastfed my son for longer than our society typically tells us to because it was so soothing for him and me, especially as he had to deal with the dysregulation of his autism.  It also seemed to do just what it needed to regarding illness.  In all the years I breastfed him, he had one very minor cold- no ear infections, no strep, no flu, nothing else.  I will forever be grateful that I continued for so long.  

I am completely heartbroken and haunted by the fact that so many moms aren’t granted the luxuries I have had.  I was upset about not getting to hold my baby for ten minutes.  Some moms never get to hold or see their babies.  Some have them immediately stolen from them.  If I am still upset ten years later about having ten minutes without my baby, what must it be like to have your baby taken away for a lifetime?  With all those hormones after birth, how could you survive such a horror?   I know a few human moms who’ve experienced this, but there are billions more nonhuman moms who endure this pain multiple times in their lives.  Most nonhuman moms have the same hormones and emotions as humans, especially when it comes to caring for their babies.  Our human appearance, rituals, interactions, physical appearance, etc. mean nothing in that moment when our baby arrives.  We are all animals and our need to care for our babies transcends species.  Read about Farm Sanctuary’s The Someone Project.  

We get this same huge dose of hormones when our baby arrives to make sure we love and care for them.  We all feel this immense connection with our babies.  We all feed them and keep them warm and safe.   We constantly look for ways to soothe them and help them navigate a strange world.  We are all constantly fearful of our child being hurt and are beyond devastated if he is taken away.  Although, this devastation might be slightly worse for nonhumans.  Most nonhumans likely have absolutely no idea why their beautiful, perfect baby is being stolen from them.  No one is able to explain to them that their baby is being taken away to be eaten by humans or so that their milk can be given to humans.  Although, if nonhumans spoke English, would we even then be able to explain that to them?  Humans have zero need for flesh and secretions of another species, but we go ahead and separate moms and kill babies anyway?  How could we tell a grieving mother that?  

Imagine you are a cow mother.  Most often your baby is sent to the veal industry, tortured, and killed.  As you’re grieving, you are hooked up to a machine so that your milk can be pumped almost non-stop for humans.  A problem arises, though, because once your baby has been gone for a while, you eventually stop producing enough hormones to make milk for a machine.  (I’ve experienced this first-hand.  Pumping my milk with a breast pump became increasingly difficult the longer I was away from my son, as a machine is just not the same as my child.)  So, as a cow mother, you are given extra hormones to help with this for a while, but eventually, you have to have another baby in order to get your milk supply back.  You are forcibly impregnated, spend months anxiously waiting to meet your baby, and when he arrives, once again, he is stolen, for no understandable reason.  And then back to the milking machines you go- no happy days of grazing in the sunlight or teaching your baby about the world or feeling the incredible connection of feeding them with your own body.  This cycle continues over and over until you are no longer able to give birth or produce milk.  Then, you are killed.  All of this for human adults to drink the breast milk of another species- the milk that belongs to your specific calf, who grows from 90 to 500 pounds in the first year and has a completely different digestive system from humans.  It’s so clear that your milk is not meant for humans, yet they continue to ignore your pain and steal your milk, your baby, your freedom, and your life.  Free from Harm further explains the horror of the dairy industry.

Pigs sing to their babies.  Have you ever had a meal that tasted so good it was worth stealing a baby from their mother as she is singing to him and soothing him?  Moms of many species will cry for days when their baby is taken or will walk miles to search for their baby or will injure themselves trying to save him.  Why would we ever purposely put a mother in this situation?  

As I write this with my son cuddling next to me on the couch, I wonder why I was so lucky to be born the right species.  Why have I been given the freedom to love and care for my son, watch him grow, and learn from him as much as I teach him?  Why are mothers who love their children as much as me not given that choice?  Sometimes I am at such a loss when I imagine these grieving mothers.  But there is one silver lining.  I was given the ability to speak the same language as those who oppress nonhuman animals.  I live among them and interact with them daily.  They are not unreachable monsters on the other side of the world.  They are my family and friends and co-workers and neighbors.  They are people with beautiful gifts and terrible flaws just like me.  They are victims of systems and social conditioning, just like me.  And every day, I am in the position to tell them the stories of survivors like Sophie, Juniper, Scarlett, Annie, or Belle.

And each time I do, I break down a few barriers, plant a few seeds, and share knowledge or experiences that were once left in silence.  I get to collaborate with like-minded humans all across the globe on the most effective and creative ways to use our voices to fight speciesism.  I can turn mundane daily tasks into opportunities to speak for mothers and babies. I learn so much through intense opportunities to consider the perspective of the human or nonhuman in my life at that moment. I will leave this world knowing that some of the mothers who suffered this immense loss didn’t get left forever in silence, because I used my voice.  And now I’ve learned that my most important, beautiful, emotional, connective role, after being a mother to my son, is using my experience as a mother to honor all mothers and create a better world for their babies.  If you are a mom, if you have a mom, if you love a mom, if you know a mom, if you need a mom- use your love and joy and pain and fear to expand your care and advocacy for moms of all kinds.

Start today, on this Mother’s Day, and keep going until we achieve total animal liberation.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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Songs of Liberation: Creating a Soundtrack for the Animal Rights Movement

Songs of Liberation: Creating a Soundtrack for the Animal Rights Movement

By Eva Hamer

Early in my career as a music therapist, I met a dying man who was mourning the loss of his wife. Despite being able to walk, he lay in bed all day, depressed and in pain from his illness. Although slightly skeptical of my reason for visiting, he answered questions about his pain and accepted my offer to provide live music. Upon hearing a familiar ballad, he immediately began to cry, in stark contrast to the blank expression he wore at our greeting. Between songs from his younger years, he told me about his wedding, early marriage, and children. He sometimes laughed, recalling his wife’s playful nature and strong will. By the end of our visit, the furrow in his brow had softened and he was planning to ask his son over for dinner. I asked again about his pain. “What pain?” he asked, smiling.

During this visit, I was most concerned with the man’s  loneliness  and suffering in his final weeks or months. The music allowed us to share space together without demanding more from him than his fatigue would allow. When he needed a break from talking, I would start another song, and if no words came at the end of that one, I would start another, allowing for a nonverbal companionship. Music additionally provided emotional catharsis, freeing him to express the grief he quietly held for the months ever since his wife’s passing.Lastly, our visit provided him a much-needed distraction from pain, taking attention away from his body long enough for it to relax or for pain medication to start working.

Music  has the potential to connect emotionally with people like few other things do. I am interested in the ways that music works on different groups of people, and specifically how we can use it to build a stronger animal rights movement. Past social justice movements have used music for numerous purposes. Examining these can encourage and guide our use of music to create a better world for nonhuman animals.

Mighty Times: The Children’s March, a documentary about a 1963 Civil Rights protest in Birmingham, displays several functions of music in the civil rights movement.

Music was used to:

Support group cohesion- Largely organized in church, religious music supported a sense of group identity for the protesters and the movement at large. Music at church also functioned to:

Communicate values- Songs contained important messages of nonviolence, perseverance, and equality. The documentary uses the examples of ‘Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around,’ ‘We Shall Overcome,’ and ’Walking and talking with my mind set on freedom.’

Support high morale in times of stress. A protestor recalls sitting in a full jail for two weeks, hearing the boys singing from their cell and the girls answering them in song. She laughs as she recalls her time in jail.

Communicate information to those inside the movement. Shelley “The Playboy” Stewart was a radio DJ who used his station to spread the word about the upcoming march, with a combination of coded language and his choice of songs to play.

Support nonviolent resistance Protester Dominiqua Lint recalls getting arrested, “I think when the police arrested us, they thought that we would be afraid, and start to cry. They had strange looks to see that we were happy, and singing, and glad to be arrested.” Singing is a way to outwardly display that the spirit is not broken while accepting consequences for nonviolent direct action.

As direct action- One protester recalled water hoses used against protesters by firefighters and the police, “You can see that the first blast of water dispersed the crowds but when the water subsided there were 10 kids still standing and they were singing one word over and over- freedom” In this case, music itself is civil disobedience.

Music in the civil rights movement was also used to:

Document history- On September 15, 1963, as a direct response to successful protests for equal rights, white supremacist terrorists bombed the 16th street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four little girls and injuring 22 others. The next year, their names and stories were immortalized in a song recorded by Joan Baez, Birmingham Sunday.

Communicate urgency to those outside the movement. In 1939, long before the protests leading to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Billie Holiday performed her first rendition of the song “Strange Fruit”, describing lynchings in the south. The song was later called, "a declaration of war... the beginning of the civil rights movement." by record producer Ahmet Ertegun.

Implications for the Animal Rights Movement

Ernesto Melchor’s ‘Liberation’ has ignited our music culture, executing many of the functions described above. Performance of the song has built group cohesion by creating a musical experience through which many people can sing together. A recent example shows a group of activists singing the song in celebration of the acquittal of Anita Krajnk, found not guilty of criminal mischief for giving water to thirsty pigs as part of the Save Movement. The value of taking the victimized animal’s perspective is communicated in this song to those both inside and outside of the movement. Most notably, the song has been used as direct action during nonviolent disruptions of stores and other places that commit violence against animals.

Our musical culture has room to grow.  Many of the songs that have so far been written are compiled into a living, cloud based document, The Animal Liberation Songbook. This songbook provides lyrics and chords to songs that support animal rights messaging, as well as links to recordings where available. Activists are encouraged to write and submit original songs or lyric rewrites. This songbook is meant to be a resource for protest, community events, and individual repertoire building. Together, we can build a strong musical culture to create a better world for every animal.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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Animal Rights News Recap 5/12/2017

DxE Colorado spoke out against killing fish for "seafood," exposing the humane lie.

VIDEO HERE

DxE SF Bay Area activists showed clips from Earthlings to the public at the Castro in San Francisco.

Dxe Rio de Janeiro revealed the violence of animal exploitation at a mall in the city center.

PETA did a photo shoot with model Nicole Williams to reveal the horrors of leather. 

 

VIDEO HERE

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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Animal Rights Activist Profile: Araceli Rodriguez

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Animal Rights Activist Profile: Araceli Rodriguez

Animal Rights Activist Profile: Araceli Rodriguez

Q: How have your identities influenced your activism? 

As a person of color, women and queer person, I want people in privileged groups to speak up for me. So, as someone having human privilege, I should use mine to fight for their right to be free from human oppression. 

DxE helped me embrace who I am as a person of color, women and queer person. DxE celebrates and embraces diversity and is the only time in my life that I’ve felt proud of who I am.  Before joining DxE, I had never even heard the term “person of color” or knew I was a part of this group. I was so uneducated about critical race theory, but DxE changed all that for me. Learning more about critical race theory, lead me to the path of decolonizing myself. I had always wanted to know more about my roots and who I really am and DxE encouraged that in me. My path to decolonizing myself has lead to identify myself as a Xicana. I no longer want to be called Latina or Hispanic because those are white supremacists termed used to disconnect me from my indigenous roots. 

Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and to join DxE?

What inspired me to first get involved with DxE is a video of a disruption on Facebook. The first action that I saw was of DxE doing a die-in inside 

Chipotle. I thought the activists were so brave for going in there and speaking up for animals. I loved how they were unapologetic and how the actions DxE did were creative. I thought it gave such a strong, serious message, as if to say “We aren’t taking this anymore!”. It made eating animal’s bodies a controversial topic, which is exactly what we should be doing. We need to make it a taboo, something that is not social acceptable anymore. 

Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?

My most accomplished moment in DxE was developing our other people to become outspoken activists. I love seeing lonely vegans go from being shy to outspoken animal liberation activists. DxE has empowered me in so many ways. I used to never bring up animal rights to anyone for fear of being the “preachy vegan”. But DxE has made me realize that I shouldn’t care what people think, instead, we should be speaking up as if we were the victims. As someone from multiple oppressed groups, I want people to speak up for me and fight for my rights in an unapologetic way and this is exactly what DxE does. 

Q: How do you stay motivated as an activist?

I stay motivated as an activist by reminding myself of what the animals are going through, having a micro sanctuary, being around other activists and mostly importantly doing self-care. Going to the truck stop actions forces you to come face-to-face with the victims you are fighting for and motivates me to keep taking action for them. Once you see them right before they are about to be killed, you can’t help but to take action for them. At the DxE house we are currently fostering to no humans named Helen and Oma. They are both so sweet and smart. Its hard for me to believe that people actually eat their family. Living at the DxE Chicago House with other vegans and anti-speciesist activists helps me stay on track and gives me the support and love I need to continue to keep fighting for animal liberation. I think if I didn’t have the support of all the activists, I currently live with now, I would be very bunt out and possibly not come back to do activism for animals. Having a supportive, safe community is a must-have when

being an animal rights activist. The last thing that has helped me stay motivated is doing self-care. This is incredibly important to do! I learned this lesson the hard way, by giving my all to the cause without giving anything to myself. So, I urge everyone new and old to practice self-care. I have a reminder on my phone to do it. Find a time or day that works for you and devote sometime to yourself. Do what you love or nothing at all, whatever feels right for you on that day/time. 

Q: What advice would you give to new activists?

Some advice that I would give to new activists is to conquer your fear by doing what scares you. I know this is easier said than done. But I promise that doing what scares you, will make you feel better —whether it is doing a speak out or going to a community event where you don’t know anyone. I remember the first time I spoke out for animals, inside Steak ’N Shake, I was so anxious and once I started I was so nervous and forgot most of my speak out. But even though my speak out wasn’t perfect, it still felt good speaking my mind to a room full of people. I felt alive and like I was doing the right thing.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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Morning Fresh: A Machine Sprung Forth From Nightmares

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Morning Fresh: A Machine Sprung Forth From Nightmares

Morning Fresh: A Machine Sprung Forth From Nightmares

By Alexis Low

The first time I went, I wasn't sure what to expect; I'd only ever seen images of places where animals were exploited, and how could an image ever hope to expose the reality of such a thing? Just as no photograph can communicate the beauty of the landscape, or the smile of a loved one, no image that we brought out of this farm can convey the immensity of even the single moment it displays. For every image of the dead and dying, there were dozens of others who were suffered in the same conditions, out of the camera’s reach.

It's true that when we found her, Annie was dying, flat on the floor, her beak caked shut with dried shit. But she was surrounded by half a dozen other people who had died the same way. And those who were still alive--as alive as one can be in such a place-- were going to be dead soon. Writing this, I can't help but think of the ones we were too late to save, and the thousands we left behind. We saved Annie, but we couldn't save them. I know that it's better to see it the opposite way: we couldn't save them, but we saved Annie. Still, I'm haunted by the cold, dead, crumpled bodies; the starving hens, keelbones protruding; the cacophony of ten thousand bewildered voices seeming to cry, "this isn't right; this can't be right."

Morning Fresh is a machine sprung forth from nightmares. Separated by miles from most humans as it is, it's still a short drive from my home. The callousness of our species is removed from us by words, not so much by distance. This night--the night we rescued Annie--was cold, much colder than the first night I had gone to the farm. My throat filled with the sorrow of our imminent witnessing. I relished the cold as it bit through the layers of my clothing, as if I was paying penance for what my species does to theirs.

The farm is a machine not only metaphorically, but literally as well. The first room we entered is the final one in the process of this kind of exploitation. Here, the eggs are brought in on a long, thin conveyor, through a washing machine, and placed into packaging; no humanity required in the process, so all humanity removed. It seems the least abhorrent room of the farm, but follow the conveyor, and you come to see how the packaged product at the end links to the beginning of the nightmare.

Each of the sheds--of which there are over a dozen--hold thousands of hens captive. To manipulate their bodies into producing as many eggs as possible, each shed is kept on an artificial lighting cycle. In this shed, the lights were off, and a flashlight into the darkness revealed the outline of a bulky machine, all pipes and gears and two wide conveyors. To either side was a chain link fence, and we caught a glimpse of thousands of glittering eyes and thin bodies with patchy feathers. Shining the light for too long causes them to panic, so we had to move on.

Next was a shed lit with harsh red light. The entire room enclosed three vast cages spanning the shed, each with thousands of hens wandering among each other. On each side, these cages consist of a few tiers of wire shelves--painful for hens to walk upon--with the top tier being the area where food and water are distributed. Hens who are unable to climb the tiers are unable to reach food or water, and so they die. Both of the bottom two tiers are slanted forward, causing eggs that are laid here to roll forward against a rail and underneath a plate which prevents chickens from reclaiming the product of their forced labor.

The barn floors were covered with dust and littered with feathers, piles of shit, and dead bodies. There were human-sized stairs leading to the top tiers, A human-sized walkway led through the middle of the cages. Under here, you can see what the two wide conveyors are for: collecting shit that has fallen through the wires, and the bodies of hens who have died and fallen from the wire shelves.

As I walked, the hens concentrated near me, keeping a few feet away. This environment was bleak, with nowhere to explore, and nothing to find but dust, feathers, and shit. With little else of interest, it's no wonder that they followed me carefully, as they must be starving for enrichment just as much as they are starving for food.

If only I had arms big enough to scoop them all up. If only I had wings to carry them all to safety. If only I had something for them, somewhere to take them. If only I could break them free. If only I could upend the whole system that created this hell. I wish so badly that I could have saved them all.

Spotting a crowd of dead bodies, I crouched to get a better look. Among the hens who we are mourning, one moved slightly. I wondered if I was just imagining things, and blinked against what seemed to be a trick of the mind; but no, there was movement. It can't be real--she's laying face down, not normal for a hen, and her face is buried in shit and dust--but I moved closer anyway. And yes, she really was moving. Shocked, I picked her up,  examining her, my heart breaking. She's so thin, so sick. Her tiny, labored breaths rattled in her throat, and I feared that she wouldn’t make it. Her beak was caked shut, her eyes were closed. She wasn’t moving in my arms except to breathe.

I held her carefully, afraid that any amount of force would break her tiny, frail body. I tried to wipe away the filth on her face. I kissed her beak, her comb, her face, and I begged her to hold on. I promised that we would get her to help. I told her that there are others like her, that were sick, but were now safe at my home, and that she'll get to meet them; that she'll get to feel the warm sun and the dirt--real dirt--and grass, and eat her fill every day, and sleep in safety every night. I told her she would live.

Thank you, Annie, for holding on.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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Animal Testing: The Irony of Veterinary Training

Animal Testing: The Irony of Veterinary Training

By Barbara Sharon Glick

From as early an age as I can remember, I loved animals, and decided to be a vet by the age of 5. In my senior year of high school, in pursuit of this goal, I took a course covering animal testing entitled "Scientific Research." We were given rats on whom we did all sorts of gruesome experiments, killing them with chloroform before we cut them open in the guise of animal testing. I imagine some of them were not dead when we did that, and how much they suffered as we exploited them. At the time, though, I thought I was working toward my goal of helping animals and continued on this ironic path.

Animal Testing

Animal Testing

I majored in Animal Science at Cornell, a common major for those wanting to go to vet school. From 1975-76 I worked on the Cornell Dairy Farm, a huge complex and testing place for the latest practices in intensive animal farming. I thought nothing of the fact that the calves I bottle fed in hutches were stolen from their grieving mothers or that the ice cream I served up at the campus dairy bar was made from stolen milk. I didn't recognize the cruelty of the dairy industry even while I was immersed in it. Despite the fact that I was so clueless, I did realize how odd the name of one of my text books was: "The Science of Animals That Serve Mankind." Today, I know that all animals exist for their own purposes, not to serve humans. It just took me a while to realize this even though I have been a social justice activist my whole life. 

In October 1969 I organized a bus to the March on Washington against the war in Vietnam. I have been involved with many social justice issues over the years. Before I became the animal rights activist I am now, I was heavily involved with environmental activism, and eventually I realized that I can do that via the animal rights movement and also fight for the animals. Although for many years I went to circus, zoo, and fur protests, it wasn't until a few years ago that I understood that in order to love animals we should not eat them, wear their wool, eat their eggs, drink their milk, or exploit them in any way. 

In 1977 my first "real" job was with the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA), an agency of the USDA which no longer exists. FmHA financed farm purchase and operations as well as homes in rural areas. I moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where chicken farming was booming. My county was the home of Purdue headquarters. I remember meeting Frank Purdue in the opening of the "latest and greatest" style chicken houses (aka jails). My job was to approve loans for the purchase of farms, for construction of chicken houses, and for operating loans. I had absolutely no idea how immoral that whole industry was!

Last year, I attended the DxE Forum, which featured a session on open rescue. As a result of that and of the increasing role this work is having in our network, I rescued two chickens from Kaporos in Brooklyn, NY in October 2016. And to think that at one point in my life I had a job that financed the chicken farming industry! I like to think that rescuing those two chickens was just the start of making up for my former involvement in the chicken industry.

Now that I know how immoral it is to use another, I feel compelled to actively work against this violence. I plan to help save more lives this year and on. I am beyond grateful to be involved with Direct Action Everywhere, a truly supportive group of dedicated activists, I have learned and been inspired by so many, and I appreciate that we continue to study social sciences and emphasize developing the skills we need to become the most effective activists we can be. I will proudly fight side by side with these amazing activists for animal liberation.

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on social media. 
  2. Join a local DxE community (or, better yet, come visit us in Berkeley).
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in building a true social movement for animals.

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