10 More Ways to Help Animals After You Go Vegan

This is a movement, not just a lifestyle

A cow peeking through a fence and looking at the camera with her tongue sticking out to the side
Photo: Colton Jones via Unsplash

Ditching meat, dairy, eggs, leather, and other forms of commercialized animal cruelty is absolutely of the best ways to make your lifestyle more ethical. It reduces carbon emissions, reduces demand for unethical animal abuse, and even may help you live a healthier life. While this is a massive step, it’s not the last step.

At its core, veganism is about abstaining from cruelty, whether on our plates or on our bodies. That’s a slightly different concept than preventing cruelty.

These 10 steps are forms of active veganism — spreading the message to convince others to make the switch to a less-cruel dinner plate. Many of you are likely already enacting many of these actions.

Not everyone step can be done by everyone — due to financial constraints, able-bodiedness, or other roadblocks — and that’s okay! Commit to the steps that are actionable in your life.

1. Volunteer at pet shelters and animal sanctuaries

If veganism is abstaining from the practice of going harm to animals, rescuing animals is actively stopping that harm.

Many animal sanctuaries are in need of support, both financial and otherwise. reach out to a local sanctuary and see how you may help: volunteering, donating, fundraising, spreading awareness, etc. Plus, you can visit and hang out with some super cute animals saved from a lifetime of pain!

Resources:

2. Vote

Public policy affects animals far more than individual choices, much as we might wish otherwise. It’s essential to use your vote to speak for animal and human rights. Look up the environmental and animal welfare legislation of political leaders in your region or country. Have your local politicians received money from meat or dairy manufacturers? Have they promoted bills regarding animal welfare?

In the USA, neither political party has legislation that truly is compassionate to animals. However, one is far, far worse than the other. Trump’s administration, and his Republican base, has launched an all-out attack on the environment. Trump has defunded the EPA, pulled out of the Paris agreement, approved faster slaughter speeds for animal deaths, and foolishly re-opened meat-packing plants during lockdown, leading to thousands of COVID-19 infections.

For more information on the US election’s impact on animals, read this excellent breakdown:

3. Donate to animal rights and environmental organizations

Animal rights advocates and activists are on the front-lines of the animal rights movement. Not all of us are able to join them, but many of us are able to support them.

Resources:

  • Coalition For Rainforest Nations — A partnership program committed to reducing carbon emissions globally.
  • Vegan Richa’s Charity Guide — A guide to some smaller vegan charities that protect animals across the globe.
  • Mercy For Animals — MFA is focused on educating on veganism, collecting evidence of animal abuse, and most importantly, changing US legislation regarding animal exploitation.

4. Wear vegan clothes

No, I don’t mean clothes devoid of animal textiles like leather — that goes without saying. Clothes that promote a vegan lifestyle.

Vegans are often accused of shoving our views down others’ throats. That’s why I tend to prefer clothing that discusses veganism in a light-hearted or humorous way. Clothing is the ultimate conversation-started, so why not use it to have conversations about veganism?

For example, while at the gym, I wear a tank-top that reads “Killing workouts, not animals” — it often starts conversations with other athletically-minded people about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle on my athleticism. Hey — whatever works!

Recommended brands: Vegan Apparel, Vegan Original, Arm the Animals

5. Patronize vegan businesses & restaurants

Especially depending on your region’s COVID-19 policies, your local vegan businesses may be in danger of foreclosure. We need to support them!

I love using Happy Cow — an app that rates and recommends vegan restaurants. I often use it when I travel, but I have been trying to be more mindful of using it to support local vegan restaurants in my own community. Many businesses are struggling with the global lockdowns, we need to show our support!

Order take-out! Leave big tips! Go in person if it is safe to do so!

6. Invest in vegan companies

I truly believe that the majority of human beings won’t truly ditch cruelty on their dinner plates until it is convenient to do so. Vegan companies are the fastest way to making this reality happen.

A common criticism of plant-based meat is their price tag. However, the higher prices are due to limited factory and distribution mechanisms, not the process or product costs. If these companies have enough investment and success, they should be able to lower the price of their products.

Resources:

  • Vegan Investing Club — A start-up focused on connecting vegans and investments.
  • Stash — This is a popular app (one that I use) that allows you to invest in companies and stocks. Here, I invest in Beyond Meat.

7. Supply vegan food in your community

Many people live in food deserts, where they don’t have the luxury of fruit and veggie markets or grocery stores stocked with plenty of healthful vegan options. This lack of access to fresh produce and other healthy options mostly impacts lower-income communities, often communities of color. Going vegan may be significantly harder for individuals in these locations, who may rely on corner stores and fast food instead.

While it’s impossible for one person to fix systemic problems with food distribution, we can take small steps in our communities to create easier access to healthy vegan food.

I love emailing local grocery stores to encourage them to stock more vegan options. I get a response maybe a third of the time, and sometimes they take direct action and stock more vegan food! Use this guide to draft emails to inform catered events about the benefits of including vegan options. And look at these email templates just waiting to be sent to grocery stores, workplaces, schools, prisons, and more.

Also — create a vegan mini pantry in your neighborhood. These mini pantries are a grassroots campaign to help people with less access to food (whether financial or otherwise) have all the healthy options they require. You can put in yummy veggies, fruits, and healthful vegan options for your community!

A photo of a small store with fresh produce piled into wooden crates
Photo: Sylvia Zhou via Unsplash

8. Follow and promote vegan influencers

Representation is one of the greatest tools to convince omnivores to ditch cruelty on their plates. And in today’s age, for better or for worse, social media influencers are the way to start.

Go to your favorite social media platform and look for the hashtag #vegan #VeganFood or #VeganLife. Instagram is easily the best place to start, but Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook are worth checking out too. The more followers, retweets, likes, and support they receive, the more they can promote a vegan lifestyle.

If you’re interested in supporting the vegans of color who are leading the movement, check out this article:

9. Ditch other cruel food choices

Veganism is absolutely one of the most important ways to reduce cruelty on your plate, but it’s not the only one. While the flesh of an animal is inherently tied to violence, many other foods are harvested in ways that damage the environment, animals, local communities, or all of the above. Here are three examples.

  1. Palm oil — the harvesting of this common butter replacement has devasted local communities in South East Asia, including local orangutan habitats.
  2. Avocados — this trendy fruit has been linked to unethical food practices in Mexico, with local workers bearing the brunt of the cruelty.
  3. Quinoa — this grain’s popularity has made it more difficult for South American peoples to find their staple food at a decent price.

Look into the ethics of the foods that you buy to ensure it’s not hurting the environment or damaging to local communities. Try to support brands and companies that don't hurt local communities or the environment.

Be mindful of every food choice you make.

10. Share vegan media

This is an old-school tactic, but an excellent one at that. Promote veganism through media! Movies! TV! Youtube! Books!

Create a local screening of a vegan documentary, like Game Changers, Cowspiracy, or Forks Over Knives (all available on Netflix). Or a movie with an ethically vegan message, like Babe or Okja.

Share this wonderful TEDx Talk by Earthling Ed. Buy and share this book on animal ethics, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy. Listen to this podcast, Main Street Vegan. Keep searching for and promoting excellent vegan content, including this publication, Tenderly, that you’re reading right now!

Veganism is a lifestyle, but it’s also a movement. To best propel this movement forward, we need to both persuade others to be kinder to animals, and to support our community members in their activism. These ten steps are not exhaustive — but they are stepping stones to a more beautiful, more ethical world.

Let’s get there together.

A queer, herbivorous, leftist Viking. I write about society, justice, and popular media. UChicago grad. Based in Iceland.

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