The first international animal rights conference in Poland was held on 29th-31st July. I took some time to reflect on the things I learned and things that have inspired me the most. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend all talks, so I’m eager to watch them online.
Here are my eight thoughts after the conference about the animal rights movement.
1. Leadership matters
At the Conference of Animal Rights in Europe (CARE), I appreciated the emphasis on leading organizations and managing people effectively. I remember the stage of the movement many years ago when people didn’t want to acknowledge official authority or certain leading styles. Animal advocates therefore basically added another problem to solve to their mission. Usually it ended messily. Times have changed. Now, we draw inspiration from experts, business, great leaders and even sectors of economy like IT in which innovation is as important as product or service. But mostly we learn from ourselves. I really enjoyed the talk by Mahi Klosterhalfen about the beginnings of Albert Schweitzer Stiftung and the talk by Gabrielė Vaitkevičiūtė - CEO of Tušti Narvai - about what it means to start an organization. The great talk on the hardships of female leadership by Dobrosława Gogłoza showed why the animal rights movement has to fight to empower female leaders and why it benefits us all.
2. We’re self-critical
I believe stagnation and getting used to “old ways” can be the greatest enemies of progress. That’s why I really admire the ability to be self critical in people. This notion was prevalent at the conference. Questioning old ways or revising them is always an enriching experience and makes us less focused on the method, and more on the goal. One of the people who asks the best questions to animal right activists is Tobias Leenaert, who also gave a great talk at the conference about compassion. Follow his blog - The Vegan Strategist - if you don’t yet!
3. We’re goal-oriented and effectiveness is key to reaching our goals
I embrace the fact that ideas like self-measurement, long-term planning and cost-effectiveness are now a common discussion topic among activists. I strongly recommend the great talk about effective altruism and the work of animal charity evaluators by Marcin Kowrygo and Michał Trzęsimiech, people who are creating the effective altruism community in Poland.
4. We embrace new ways
Be it new technologies (cellular agriculture - yay!), new opportunities (social media) or even new ideas - we’re not afraid of them. This is a good sign in a world that’s rapidly changing and constantly bringing new challenges and obstacles to our lives. We need to use anything that can make this world a better place.
5. We know how crucial time is
Despite some differences in prefered strategies, ideas or focus areas, we all agree that we must act now. We’re aware of the limited resources we have, time being the most valuable of them. We need to make sure we spend it efficiently. This is true not only for the movement as a whole and for metastrategies, but also on a personal level. Time management and task prioritization was a big topic at the conference, perfectly highlighted by, but not limited to, a talk by Gabija Enciūtė.
6. We need to work hard to close the gap between the West and the East
Countries’ markets are heavily interconnected, especially in the European Union. Unfortunately many problems concerning animals in Eastern Europe are less visible to the rest of the world. Many western companies are investing in more and more farms in countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This is happening because it’s cheaper and less controlled by regulations or meets less public opposition. This means massive numbers of more animals that will be exploited and abused.
Suffering knows no borders. That’s why I believe that in order to destroy the wall of indifference, we need to allocate our resources proportionally to needs and have in mind the cost-effectiveness of our advocacy.
I’m really excited and happy that The Humane League works to empower organizations in Eastern Europe and Albert Schweitzer is opening a new branch here.
Additionally, we must work hard to bring positive changes to countries like Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, which are unjustifiedly treated as second-category, while the Russian speaking population is astonishing in their numbers, yet laws or animal awareness is lacking in these regions. I’m proud that at the conference we had people like Ludmila Loginovskaya, Hanna Tereshkova and Dinara Ageyeva representing these countries.
7. Our rivals may be strong, but we have truth with us
I can’t stress how uneven and rigged the fight we’re in is. On planet Earth there’s one thing that can make a lunatic a king - money. In comparison to the factory farming industry we’re small, yet they’re starting to tremble. Why? Because we have something more valuable than money - passion. The great talk by Aaron Ross - “Pressure Campaigns: How to defeat the largest corporations on Earth in the battle for animal rights” showed how compassion wins against the biggest players in USA. After hearing about The Humane League’s successes, I’m just glad that people like Aaron are on our side.
8. We know we can change the world and we will
Talking to and listening to people like Kim Stallwood, Dobrosława Gogoza, Martin Balluch and many other great animal advocates inspired me. These people represent years of experience, great achievements and insightful wisdom. Seeing passion in their eyes when they speak about fighting against animal cruelty is something that keeps me pumped. I’m very grateful that we’re united in our fight for animals and that I was able to meet them. Seeing the progress of the animal rights movement, I know one thing for sure. The future is bright and it’s vegan.
Oh, and if you missed our conference, no worries, you can now enjoy live exeperiance with OpenBooks.com & Open Cages fundrising webinars. They're FREE and our first guest will be Kim Stallwood, so don't wait and sign up here: https://openbooks.com/webinar