With nearly 60% of the population using social media it is no surprise that Animal Rights activists are using the power of an online presence to try and spread the vegan message.
It cannot be disputed that through delivering passionate speeches, publicising slaughterhouse video footage and even showcasing the huge variety of delicious plant based food available today; these online activists will have influenced many to reconsider their lifestyle choices or even fully convert to veganism.
Many activists dedicate hours a day to promoting a vegan lifestyle and bringing to light the cruel acts of the meat, diary and egg industry, often whilst facing a barrage of online abuse from non-vegans. Certainly not a job for the faint hearted!
Over the years these activists have been adored by their followers, many grateful for the often unrewarding work that they do to help bring the vegan message mainstream, however, recently some influencers have faced criticism from within the vegan community.
Many activists rely on donations in order to be able to continue to dedicate their time to projects such as content creation, attending/organising demonstrations, delivering speeches and in some cases hosting podcasts too.
With Covid-19 having impacted so many financially, many are arguing that now more than ever, donations should not be made to influencers, but instead made directly to animals in need and underfunded rescue sanctuaries.
Some activists state that they also make donations to animals in need and their large platforms are simply a way to reach a larger audience, however, many of their followers feel that there can be a lack of transparency regarding how donation money is used.
Australian activist James Aspey, most famously known for his 365 day vow of silence has recently faced a huge backlash over a request he made to his followers for donations in which he was not clear on what the donations would be used for. It later transpired that these donations were used to invest in a cryptocurrency. Many have accused James of being dishonest to his followers, by not stating beforehand that the donations would affectively be gambled rather than be used to help with the animal rights movement. This has lead to many sharing their disappointment online and calling for Aspey to refund his donations.
NOT ALL ACTIVISTS ARE ALIKE
Some activists such as Aspey have also faced criticism for not "getting their hands dirty" by rescuing animals themselves or directly supporting animal charities. Of course just like not all online activists campaign in the same way, some are more hands on than others too. Having already launched a non-profit vegan restaurant in 2018, in December last year Earthing Ed announced that he was opening an animal sanctuary called Surge, providing a "safe haven and forever home to abused and unwanted animals"
Having been deeply moved by the documentary Earthlings, in fact this documentary is the reason we turned vegan,
We feel strong that video footage and passionate speech can be a powerful way to reach many and be the eye opener needed to expose the extreme cruelty animals face everyday.
Online influencers can certainly help this message reach a much wider audience. 2021 saw the largest sign up to Veganuary ever, with the numbers set to grow year on year.
You do not need to donate to influencers to admire and support their work, but it may well be worth digging deeper to find out how your money will be used before parting with your hard earned cash.
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