9 min read

International Animal Advocates: My Colleagues, My Friends, My Inspiration

Between the 10th and 14th September, I was lucky enough to attend the International Animal Rights Conference in Esch, Luxembourg, where I presented my most recent work to a group of animal advocates from all over the world. It was the second time that I have attended the annual event, which has run for the last four years. I have, like last time, returned to the UK inspired, reinvigorated and with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that there are so many incredible and dedicated people working so hard for animals (both non-human and human!) internationally. Some of the efforts we heard about over the last few days were truly awe-inspiring.

My presentation! Exploring Different Perceptions and Approaches to Animal Activism by Liz Tyson IARC2014

Time was spent, in part, listening to lectures and presentations on a wide range of Animal Rights-related issues; including campaign summaries, strategy, ideology and philosophy and tactics. The rest of the time was spent sharing knowledge, ideas and information with other advocates and learning from one another. But there simply wasn't enough time (particularly for someone who talks as incessantly as I do) to catch up with everyone to the extent that I had hoped to. So, I hope to continue the conversations and develop the plans that we hatched in the last few days virtually now as we disperse back to our parts of the world; hopefully all feeling as energized as I do!

As with last year, there are some highlights that I think deserve special mention but I would encourage anyone with an interest in animal rights to check out the YouTube channel which features recordings of most of the presentations here. I am sure I missed some great talks and I am equally sure that I will forget to mention something important here. Explore for yourself when you can.

Last year, I was waxing lyrical about talks given by Pattrice Jones on intersectionality. Don't know what intersectionality is? Then catch up here. In short, it is the crossover (intersections) between different forms of oppression or prejudice. I was pleased to continue my learning on this fascinating and important subject from renowned eco-feminist Lisa Kemmerer.

Why Feminists Should Be Vegans and Why Vegans Should Be Feminists by Lisa Kemmerer

Daniel Kirjner later taught us about crossovers between sexism and animal rights in a presentation which both made me cry and laugh so hard that I cried (all in the space of one hour – quite a feat!) whilst opening my eyes to some fascinating (and disturbing) research into how animals and women are viewed in our culture. You must watch his talk, which I hope will be uploaded soon to the YouTube channel (I will post a link here when it is available). Bravo, Daniel!

Kim Stallwood, who has been actively involved in animal advocacy for a number of decades, shared his journey from trainee chef and slaughterhouse worker to vegan animal activist in a warm and engaging presentation which you should definitely take the time to watch.

Friend, colleague and inspirational animal activist, Sharon Nuñez from Animal Equality and Last Chance for Animals (LCA), gave a great presentation on campaigning strategies. Given the enormous success of Animal Equality, which was co-founded by Sharon, I would recommend catching this presentation when it is published online. She is an accomplished activist who clearly knows what she is talking about! I will post a link to her presentation as soon as it is available.

My final mention, though, has to be for a group whose work stands out for me more than any other; the Palestinian Animal League (PAL). I have had the pleasure of working with friends and colleagues from PAL since last year and am, frankly, in awe of what these incredible people have achieved. Their successes include a hugely successful education programme for young people in the West Bank, ongoing work to develop the framework for legal protection of animals in the current absence of any legislation, community engagement, vegan outreach and a number of other activities. The list of successes is something that any small animal rights group should be extremely proud of; that these activities have been carried out against the backdrop of the ongoing armed conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories is, in my view, truly incredible. They have my absolute support and I am looking forward to continuing to work with them in the coming years as the plans and ideas that we have been discussing over the last week come into fruition. I hope that you will support them too.

Country report from Palestinian Animal League (PAL) [starts at around 20 minutes into video clip]

There are more, many more, people whose work is worthy of endorsement but I would encourage you to explore the videos for yourself to find what interests you. If you like what you see, get involved and attend in person next year.

If you were there, feel free to share your own highlights below in the comments section.