Many people unfamiliar with the vegan and/or animal rights movements may not know of the myriad of issues that are the movements’ focuses, of which there are many. I’m going to do my best to focus on the ones that are most prevalent and that just may convince you to go vegan, or to at least reconsider your diet and lifestyle choices. 

Animal Experimentation

Yes, in the 21st century, we are still experimenting on animals — primates, rodents, dogs, and more. You’d think that all of those smart people would have figured out something else by now; plus, there’s no real proof that testing products on animals is beneficial to humans, and many animals will be tortured and even die in the process. Be sure to look for the Leaping Bunny or a similar cruelty-free logo when buying toiletries, cosmetics, and the like. 

Animals in Entertainment

It’s best when live animals are not utilized in any form of entertainment, and circuses are notoriously bad; make sure to patronize only circuses that do not use any animals. And, for those movies, TV shows, etc. that elect to use real animals — as opposed to CGI animals — they need to be certified humane by American Humane, which ensures that animals on sets are treated well. Animals used in entertainment should never be forced to do anything they don’t want to do, and if a show or movie has it in their budget to not use live animals and can convincingly create one digitally, then they should do that. 

Animals on Factory Farms

Let’s face it: if everyone knew how bad things truly were on factory farms, they wouldn’t support them, and there’d be many more vegans and vegetarians than there already are. Much of the meat that you consume comes from factory farms, where animals are treated the absolute worst before being killed. Those aiming to live more sustainably will opt for supposedly humanely-raised meat, which is of course an oxymoron: there’s nothing humane about meat. There are plenty of graphic videos and images of life on factory farms, so I don’t need to post them here. As a vegan, I already know how bad things are for those animals, and seeing such things will just make me even more upset. 

Animals Used for Fashion

Vegans like myself aim to eliminate all animal products from their wardrobe, which mainly consists of fur, leather, silk, wool, and the like. Sheep, cows, and exotic animals have their skins and fur torn from them, and are often killed in the process. Is your leather belt or purse really worth all of that? I used to collect designer handbags, including [an admittedly] beautiful Louis Vuitton tote that I bought for a reasonable price second-hand. But, like with animal-based food products, knowing how poorly animals were treated thwarted my desire for fancy leather goods. Those who seek upscale faux-leather have plenty of options, including Stella McCartney — daughter of famous vegan Sir Paul — and, for more affordable options, there’s Matt & Nat

Animals in the Pet Trade

There’s why many people, like myself, advocate for “adopt don’t shop,” especially when it comes to dogs and cats, who often end up in shelters as a result of abuse, neglect, and the like. (My dog, Zuzu, was found wandering the streets in Tennessee as a stray, and little is known about her background). People who absolutely must buy from breeders should do their research and find a reputable breeder, as so-called “puppy mills” don’t care about the animals’ welfare. And, dogs and cats aren’t the only ones who suffer in the pet trade: just look at the parrot trade, which is absolutely awful. That’s why places like Foster Parrots, where I’ve volunteered since 2013, exist, because parrots shouldn’t be pets.