Getting the Issue on the Table

By Priya Sawhney

I have done hundreds of disruptions. I have walked inside places of violence and commanded the attention of unfamiliar patrons. I have asked managers of high-end restaurants for dog meat to protest the hypocrisy of loving some animals and eating others. I have gotten kicked and shoved by angry employees. But perhaps the most difficult people I have ever had to confront about violence against animals have been my friends and family.

During a family get together a few years ago, I asked my sister, “Are you eating chicken?” I knew she was. In that moment, I felt agonizing sadness and anger, but I was terrified to say anything. I stood up in panic, dropping my computer from my lap. I mumbled insensibly, tears rolling down my cheeks, and then stumbled out of the dining room.

Priya (on the right) and her sister embracing and smiling. 

Priya (on the right) and her sister embracing and smiling. 

From then on, I told my family that I would no longer join them during meals where they would be eating animals. That was two winters ago. Today, almost everyone in my family has stopped eating animals. But even more importantly, the very same family members who used to eat animals and also shut down dialogue are now initiating conversations about animal rights. My sister has defended not eating animals to relatives poking fun at me during family gatherings.

The Liberation Pledge encourages animal rights activists to make a commitment to animals and to be proactive when violence against animals is normalized. The pledge has three simple asks:

  1. Publicly refuse to eat animals - live vegan.

  2. Publicly refuse to sit where animals are being eaten.

  3. Encourage others to take the pledge.

The Liberation Pledge icon, a fork bent into a circle, inscribed with the words The Liberation Pledge.

The Liberation Pledge icon, a fork bent into a circle, inscribed with the words The Liberation Pledge.

The idea behind the Liberation Pledge is to shift the social norms that allow violence against animals to become normalized. Additionally, the pledge empowers activists to transform their personal veganism into an active stance against violence. By taking the pledge, we stand in solidarity with animals, and we challenge speciesism in our everyday lives. If you have felt silenced and marginalized as a vegan, this is your chance to turn the tables on mainstream culture by putting the practice of killing and eating animals on the defense.

The pledge focuses on providing support, resources, and advice in navigating difficult situations, empowering activists to find alternatives that include their friends and family.

As animal rights activists, our goal is to get the issue of animal rights on the agendas of lawmakers, politicians, and newsrooms across the world. But we must start first at the very tables where our friends and families dine on the brutalized bodies of animals.

Take the Liberation Pledge here.

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