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