What is speciesism?
Speciesism describes a system of violence which humans enforce upon members of other species. This system is based on the assumption that human animals are superior to other animals, and therefore should be free to dominate them.
It’s enshrined into our laws, our culture and our behaviours from birth. You can see speciesism operating everywhere you look: it’s why we justify having different animal cruelty laws for dogs and cats than pigs and cows; it’s why we allow testing on other species for research to benefit humans; it’s how we can cram thousands of hens in disgusting sheds; it’s how we can care about a dolphin caught in a net but not the billions of fishes killed every year; it’s why we refer to other animals as “it” even though they are individuals, not objects. Speciesism is the root cause of almost every violence inflicted by human animals upon members of other species.
If you’re looking for a more in depth discussion, check out this post by Sentience Politics or watch this easy-to-digest video by Crash Course Philosophy below.
If you’re looking for clear, evidence-based information on the standard practices of animal-use industries, including agriculture, clothing, entertainment, hunting, science and the pet trade, Aussie Farms is the place to go.
How do I live an anti-speciesist life?
What does a world without speciesism look like? It’s a world where we seek to cater to other animals’ wants and needs – a society where other animals aren’t exploited just because they aren’t human. It’s a powerful thing to contemplate, and you can help.
To win this struggle for justice we need to use anti-speciesism, which means taking action to promote basic respect for other animals. If we want to promote respect to other species, the least we can do is go vegan, which means no longer using other animals as commodities (for food, clothing, cosmetics, and so on) to the best of our ability. Luckily, there are many people out there who have done it before and made resources to help you along the way!
VeganKit is a great place to start with hints/tips on everything from the basics of veganism to clothing and food!
Humans can get all their essential nutrients living on a plant-based diet – just think how many people are doing it around the world right now! It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough off the good stuff so check out a few of these resources to help you get started.
Some helpful links:
There are STACKS of plant-based recipes out there and it’s easier than ever to find a recipe for anything you can think of! Most of the time, it’s as easy as searching “vegan” along with the name of your favourite dish!
There are endless amount of cooking webpages, but we have collated a few of our faves:
- Bosh for countless videos covering all moods and mealtimes.
- Minimalist Baker for some seriously mouth-watering treats.
- Vegan Easy for some simple and delicious basics.
Brownie ice cream sandwich by Minimalist Baker!
Curious about how to find vegan food in Melbourne? Here are some super helpful guides:
- Oh She Glows has a fantastic guide on how to eat out at a non-vegan restaurant. Just click here.
- Vegetarian Victoria compiled a MASSIVE comprehensive guide on all the vegetarian restaurants in Melbourne (there are seriously heaps). You can download it here VegEats2017!
- Happy Cow lists vegan and vego friendly restaurants/cafes/bakeries/healthfood stores across Australia and the world! Very handy if you plan to travel.
Need help when shopping for vegan groceries?
- There is a fantastic Accidentally Vegan list compiled by PETA for all your supermarket grocery needs.
- Veggieful’s list of vegan goodies at Coles
- Veggieful’s list of vegan goodies at Woolworths
- Veggieful’s list of vegan goodies at Aldi
- Confused by what all those E numbers and additives are? Check out the Simplify Vegan Additives page!
- If you’re looking for skin/beauty/hair/personal products that don’t contain animals and aren’t tested on animals check head to Choose Cruelty Free‘s website!
How do I advocate for other animals?
There are SO many animal advocacy groups in Melbourne to get involved with! If you’re looking for a complete list we have collated them in the A-Z of Melbourne Advocacy Organisations for Other Animals.
Alternatively, we have selected 6 that we think showcase a range of the types of organisations in Melbourne and how to get involved with them!
The Animal Justice Party (AJP)
The Animal Justice Party (AJP) are Australia’s only dedicated animal issue political party. Committed to representing animals, the AJP work to get public support for their pro-animal policies and negotiate with other parties to bring about legislation to create a kinder world.
In Victoria the AJP is entirely run by volunteers meaning there are stacks of opportunities to get involved! There’s teams for social media, fundraising, communication, campaigns, outreach/stalls, with everyone very welcoming and willing to listen to new ideas and input. There are regional working groups across Melbourne meaning you can connect with people in your area!
Want to get involved? Follow the link www.ajpvic.org.au/getting_involved
Institute for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS)
ICAS unites academics and activists to discuss cutting edge ideas relating to animal liberation and wider social justice issues. The organisation mainly does this through a Critical Animal Studies conference that runs each year. Volunteers working with ICAS would therefore gain valuable experience in events management, which could include tasks like marketing, catering, venue hire and many other aspects.
I’m recommending ICAS not only because of the experience they offer, but because ICAS is doing essential work that advances people’s knowledge of social justice in a meaningful way. The conversations that happen at ICAS are the things we absolutely need to talk about to make animal liberation happen.
Want to get involved? Send us an email and we’ll connect you with the ICAS collective.
The Save Groups
The Save Groups here in Melbourne are part of a growing international movement dedicated to the liberation of different species and bearing witness to the exploitation of farmed animals. In Melbourne alone we have Cow, Chicken, Goat, Pig and Fish Save groups, meaning that there are heaps of opportunities to get involved!
While still in their early stages, the different groups hold rallies, leafleting events and vigils. Their outreach rallies on Bourke Street are one of the most successful and accessible events they regularly hold. The Save Groups offer a truly great way to make a difference and meet inspiring activists at the same time!
What to get involved? Follow the link thesavemovement.org/list-of-save-groups to find out all the different save groups in your local area.
The largest animal protection organisation in Australia, Animals Australia run campaigns to pressure businesses to choose kinder options, interact with the public directly through outreach and undertake investigations into the farming industry with results that encourage everyone to feel compassion towards other species. Young people are the lifeblood of Animals Australia’s community outreach and they are always looking for enthusiastic new volunteers.
They offer lots of opportunities to get involved with different aspects of their operation such as admin, outreach and event planning. If you are looking for a advocacy opportunity which allows you to become part of a close-knit, supportive community, Animals Australia is a good place to start and, if you connect with their approach, there’s a good chance you will stay with them for a long time.
Want to get involved? Head to their website www.animalsaustralia.org and follow the link to take action.
Animal Liberation Victoria & Animal Liberation Youth
The largest animal activist group around Melbourne and one of the longest running, Animal Liberation Victoria (ALV) is committed to championing a nonviolent approach to advocacy which demands the liberation of all animals.
ALV provides a wide range of volunteering opportunities; engaging in direct action, getting your hands dirty at their urban sanctuary, helping out in their office, doing street outreach or running stalls at festivals and markets.
Animal Liberation Youth (ALY) is ALV’s youth chapter which aims to create a supportive and active community of young animal activists. This is a place for the youth to find information, ask questions, discuss issues and form friendships.
Want to get involved? Head to over to ALV’s website at www.alv.org.au/take-action/volunteer and find Animal Liberation Youth on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/animalliberationyouth.
Maneki Neko Cat Rescue
Love cats and want to help other animals in a hands on way? Maneki Neko Cat Rescue might be the perfect place for you to volunteer! An all breeds cat rescue, Maneki Neko promotes values of fairness and kindness, holding frequent events at their headquarters in Preston to encourage the community to feel greater compassion for other animals, and to let them have a bit of fun to!
With such a vibrant events schedule, volunteering with Maneki Neko could give you lots of opportunities to plan and contribute to great fundraising and community engagement initiatives, as well as allowing for directly assisting animals in need through fostering or adopting a cat or kitten. Volunteering with Maneki Neko could be a great step on a journey that involves directly caring for other animals and its accessibility and open nature makes it a fun and exciting place to get involved with.
Want to get involved? Head to their website at www.neko.org.au and follow the links.
At YVA, we fundamentally believe that without understanding oppression facing human groups and opposing those oppressive systems, we cannot build a successful movement for other animals. As a movement, we should be striving for respect, equality and freedom for all individuals and groups, not just those that are human and not just those who have privilege.
As Animal Charity Evaluators explain in their article, building a more inclusive movement only makes us more effective as we invite a wider audience to join us with varying ideas, knowledge and skills and thus making us more impactful. For further reading on diversity and inclusion in the animal rights community click here.
How do I care for myself while advocating for other animals?
Looking after your mental health is important no matter what you choose to spend your time doing. However, when advocating for yourself or others it can have an even higher significance because advocacy work can sometimes take up more of your time, your energy and be more taxing on your emotions than other things in your life.
Looking after yourself can mean different things for different people, depending on what works for you. This article by the Vegan Society discusses simple ways to remain happy and effective, while offering a more in-depth explanation of factors that can affect your mental health along with tips on how to tackle them.
These pointers can help you look after your emotional wellbeing and sustain your advocacy into the future.
You can also check out this video by Harvard-educated psychologist Melanie Joy as she more deeply explores the importance of sustainable activism.
If you feel like you might need help, you may find it helpful to start by speaking to your parents, your doctor, your teacher or a trusted adult. You can also find useful resources at Beyond Blue Youth, Headspace and ORYGEN Youth Health. If you’re experiencing eating-related and/or body image issues, you can find help at the Butterfly Foundation.
How do I find my community?
Building relationships and networks of people that share your passion and interest can be important in maintaining a positive outlook. Surrounding yourself with others who advocate for other animals allows you to share knowledge and resources, as well as provide mutual support and motivation. Here’s some information to help you get started!
There are HEAPS of vegan and animal advocacy events happening all the time in Melbourne! Each week you’ll usually find protests, BBQs, markets, social catch-ups, trivia nights, info nights, workshops, cooking classes, fundraisers and all sorts of other events. You won’t have enough time to go to them all – trust us! Vegan Australia always have an up-to-date list of events on their website.
Looking to meet people, make new friends or find support? Here are just a handful of groups to get you started.
A list of resources on the relationship between different religions and veganism. Use these to research your own faith, learn about a new one or just to gain an understanding of how people from all different backgrounds are recognising that the way we relate to other animals can be changed for the better.
Do you know of a resource we haven’t listed here? Let us know by messaging us through our contact page.
Religion and Veganism
- Blog post: Thoughts from vegans of various faiths on the the relationship between religion and veganism.
- Video: Exploring the practices surrounding humane, halal and kosher killed animals.
- Resource list: Outlines connections between the world’s major religions and veganism/vegetarianism.
Christianity and Veganism
- Read this article if you’re looking for a comprehensive article exploring the relationship between Christianity and veganism.
- Or this article, where the author uses passages from the bible to discuss their pursuit of a vegan lifestyle.
- You can follow the Christian Vegetarian Association on Facebook, or on their website.
Islam and Veganism
- The author of this article explains how being Muslim and vegan she is best able to follow the tenets of her religion by understanding the qualities that link Islam and veganism together.
- Curious about the challenges and benefits of becoming vegan while practising Islam? Check out this interview.
- This extremely comprehensive article explores the evolving nature of religious practice and the reasons why veganism aligns with religious beliefs and practices. It covers a broad variety of issues, from environmental to animal welfare and implores its readers to remain aware of the world around them.
- Check out veganmuslims.com for heaps of info and resources.
- The Vegan Muslim Initiative Facebook page provides excellent resources, tips and discussion. They also run a Facebook group, the Vegan Muslim Community, where you can ask further questions and meet like-minded people.
Hinduism and Veganism
- Young Indian Vegetarians discusses the relationship between Hinduism and veganism. The author discusses the modern dairy industry and the importance placed on milk in the Hindu religion.
Judaism and Veganism
- This resource page from Anonymous for Animal Rights contains a list of resources related to Judaism and Animal Rights, including discussions surrounding veganism and Judaism, statements from religious leaders and pages to inform and educate. A great stepping stone to do further research.
- This article from Jewish News talks about an open letter in which over 70 rabbis encouraged Jews to adopt a plant based diet as a way of expression Jewish values.
- jewishveg.org is a non-profit organisation which aims to encourage and support Jewish people to embrace plant based diets. A great place to ask questions and find information and recipes!