How to Help Animals

With billions of animals being killed every year for food, it’s no secret that animals need our help now more than ever. The person who can make the most difference and change the world, right now, for animals is you. From volunteering your time to sharing vegan content on social media, there are lots of ways to get involved to help the animals. And some of them won’t even cost you a penny. Let me show you how.

1. Live Vegan

Most all of us love animals. What better way to show that love than by leaving them off of our plates, out of our closets, medicine cabinets, and showers. Going vegan is the single most important thing you can do to help animals and will have the largest impact.

Humans use animals in millions of ways, some more obvious than others. Removing animal products from your life isn’t impossible, but it does take some knowledge and practice. The good news is that the more you know, the easier it is. Explore the vegan guides library for must-know information to help you make informed choices on everything from what’s on your plate to what’s in your closet.

2. Start Your Own Vegan Blog

I believe that sharing our vegan voices is one of the most important ways we can advocate for animals. Most people, should you ask them, don’t want to hurt animals. Yet they don’t realize that a non-vegan lifestyle does exactly that. Exposing people to living vegan provides them the opportunity to make informed choices that are more aligned with their own beliefs. And it helps animals.

I know that talking about domain names, hosting plans, themes, and plugins can get confusing. That’s why I’ve put together the guide, How to Start a Vegan Blog, to help walk you through setting up your very own website. Starting a vegan website is a great way to combine your love of animals and vegan activism. Start a blog that matters today.

3. Have an Animal-Friendly Home & Garden

Perhaps the easiest action on this list is having an animal-friendly home and garden, and it’s also the most important. For inside animals, keep them safe by removing household cleaners and other chemicals in your home and replacing them with non-toxic eco-friendly alternatives. Make sure that your favorite houseplant isn’t poisonous to animals and provide them with play toys to help stimulate their minds.

Turn off the lights! Turn lights off at night, which will help reduce the high number of birds killed every year who fly into windows. An estimated 100 million birds will die every year from flying into windows. Cover windows with film in a pattern to prevent birds from hitting the windows.  I recommend  Collide Escape– the only bird collision prevention on the market certified to permanently stop all migratory, startled flight, and territorial aggression bird collisions with glass. And it’s guaranteed.

Keeping animal companions who live in the house safe is important, but it’s also important to remember the animals who live right outside our doors- these animals need our help too. There are many ways to help these animals, such as planting a pollinator-friendly garden, not using pesticides or insecticides on your lawn, or providing water. Check out How to Help Bees to learn how to build an animal-friendly garden.

4. Don’t Buy Animals

Don’t purchase animals from pet stores or breeders. Millions of animals die every year in shelters and on the streets. Adopt one of them instead.

5. Spay and Neuter Companion Animals

Spay and neuter companion animals. This will reduce the number of unwanted and homeless animals.

6. Avoid Circuses, Rodeos, and Fairs

Do not attend (or take children to) circuses, rodeos, and fairs that use animals as entertainment. These places can be filled with abuse, neglect, and horrible conditions for animals. These places can be a busy hub of activity, and parents might worry that skipping them means that their children are missing out. Not true! There are many alternatives that help children connect and learn more about animals, such as visiting an animal sanctuary.

Find family-friendly alternatives to circuses, rodeos, and fairs here.

7. Avoid Zoos and Aquariums

Do not attend (or take children to) zoos, petting zoos, and/or aquariums.

Despite their commonly cited benefits, zoos and aquariums are no home sweet home for the animals. Even at their best, zoos can never replicate or replace animals’ chosen and natural habitats. Animals are either taken from their home or born into captivity, where they are prevented from doing things that are natural to them like running, roaming, flying, climbing, foraging, choosing a mate, raising a family, and being with others of their own species.

A zoo is a business where the babies draw crowds and adult animals are routinely traded, loaned, or sold. The disposal of older (“surplus”) animals is a not-so-well kept secret (and sometimes illegal) industry practice. Animals can end up at auction, on a hunting ranch, in research laboratories, or dying in a more depraved situation.

RELATED READING: Zoos & Veganism

Much like other places that use animals as entertainment, zoos and aquariums can be a busy hub of activity, and parents might worry that skipping them means that their children are missing out. Not true! There are many alternatives that help children connect and learn more about animals such as visiting an animal sanctuary. Animal sanctuaries are veganism’s greatest advocates and the perfect alternative to visiting a zoo. They are a physical space that allows people to “connect with animals” in a way that a zoo or aquarium cannot replace. Visitors are able to interact with animals in a peaceful and natural setting, allowing a greater understanding of their lives as individuals. Find an animal sanctuary near you.

8. Don’t Wear Fur, Leather, or other Animal Skins

Animals need their skin and fur more than we do. Non-vegan clothing often tends to be overlooked by many people because its cultivation does not always require the death of an animal, like fur does, for example. However, every single shorn sheep, goat, alpaca, muskoxen, camelid, or rabbit will be slaughtered once their productivity lessens. In the end, they all die. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Vegan fashion – clothing, shoes, and accessories – have never been easier, or more fashionable, to find.

Before you go shopping, learn about the lives of the animals we use as accessories for humans. I’ll show you the inside story that the industries involved don’t want you to know. I’ll even show you where you can find those hard-to-find vegan items like baseball gloves or ballet slippers.

Related Reading: Vegan Fashion Guide

9. Buy Cruelty-Free Products

Use your dollars to send a strong message that animal testing is outdated and unnecessary. Be sure to support only those companies committed against animal testing.

Find the most up-to-date list of cruelty-free companies and a free shopping guide at LeapingBunny.org.

10. Shop via Amazon Smile

Amazon Smile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

11. Use a Charitable Search Engine

Use GoodSearch.com when you browse the internet or shop online. GoodSearch.com is a search engine that donates money to the charity of your choice – in this case an animal sanctuary, rescue group, or wildlife rehabilitation center – every time you search the internet. It’s free to use and there’s no cost to you.

12. Write Letters, Emails, and Sign Petitions

We live in an amazing time, when the opportunity to make a difference is greater than at any time in history. Gathering people behind a cause used to be difficult, requiring lots of time and money. But now technology has made the world more connected than ever. No one is powerless; creating change can be a part of everyday life.

Start a petition or find one to support at Change.org.

13. Organize or Attend a Public Protest

Engage respectfully and peacefully with the public and help to educate the masses about veganism.

14. Organize a Leafleting Event

Leafleting – passing out information about factory farming and veganism – is one of the most common ways that animal advocates promote veganism in the United States. The group Vegan Outreach, which pioneered and popularized vegan leafleting, passed out almost 3 million leaflets in 2012 alone, and other groups have passed out millions more.

Leafleting works. In the In the fall of 2012, Compassionate Communities teamed up with The Humane League to measure the true impact of leafleting on a college campus and the results were pretty amazing. According to the study, every 100 leaflets distributed on a college campus spares the lives of a minimum of 50 animals a year. That works out to one animal for every two leaflets distributed.

Read the full study -> The Powerful Impact of College Leafleting

If you plan to leaflet there are a few important things to become familiar with. In the US, the First Amendment grants you the right to leaflet on most public property, including public sidewalks, state-funded universities and community colleges, and any public streets that go through college campuses. You may also have the right to leaflet at festivals held on public property. If you are ever asked to stop leafleting by police, ask if the property is public or not. If not, simply leave. If you are on public property, you should not encounter any issues.

15. Host Screenings of Animal Documentaries or Movies

A picture can be worth a thousand words; a feature-length documentary? Lots and lots of words. Host an animal documentary movie night at your local library, university, cinema, independent movie theater, yoga or dance studio, food co-op, café, comedy club, place of worship, or even in your own living room–really, any where that has room for people to sit and the audio visual equipment you need. For a larger crowd, you’ll want a projector, screen, dvd player (can be a DVD player on a laptop), and the cords to connect everything. If the space is large or if you have a softspoken host or guest speaker, consider using a microphone to welcome people, introduce the film, and answer questions at the end. If you’re in a theater or other large space, feel free to get another microphone to pass around to audience members for Q&A questions.

Find a vegan documentary or film by visiting Vegan Flicks, you’ll find the stories and facts to help you advocate for animals every day. And if you would rather stream a documentary online, check out the Vegan Netflix Guide for the films that are streaming right now.

16. Object to Animal Dissections

Object to animal dissection in your science class/degree. There are alternatives, which you can bring to class: www.interniche.org.

17. Request Vegan Lunches

Ask your school, university, or other institution cafeteria to offer more vegan options. You can use this sample letter written by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

18. Prepare Your Phone

Keep important phone numbers to local animal shelters, rescue groups, and wildlife rehabilitators stored in your phone in case you come across an injured animal who needs your help. See a dangerous situation for an animal? Speak up and call the authorities.

19. Carry a Compassion Kit

Carry a Compassion Kit in your car in case you need to transport an animal to a shelter or animal hospital in a hurry. A good starter kit contains: a cardboard pet carrier (collapse-able), thick gloves, trash bags, pet waste bags, cat and dog collars, leash, water bowl, water, and a first aid kit. You might consider carrying a tasty treat or canned pet food to lure animals away from dangerous situations or into carriers. All items can easily be found at a local pet supply store.

20. Become a Member of an Animal Sanctuary or Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Animal sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centers need supporters to continue caring for the lives of animals. Consider becoming a member of your favorite organization- most will have programs set up for people to become members. Some even have special members only benefits such as exclusive newsletters and other publications from the organization.

21. Organize a Fundraiser or Bake Sale

There are plenty of animal sanctuaries, rescue groups, wildlife rehabilitators, and other animal organizations who could benefit from a fundraiser or bake sale. Don’t have a favorite? Simply pick one from the Sanctuary Database.

Related Reading: How to Host a Vegan Bakesale

22. Use Employer Matching Donation Programs

Have your gift be matched! Some employers will match charitable contributions or, if your workplace raises money together, suggest your favorite animal organization to receive the contributions.

23. Make a Gift in Memory of a Lost Loved One

Losing a loved one is never easy; neither is finding the perfect way to honor their memory. Making a special gift in their memory is a beautiful tribute and provides life to another.

24. Donate Wishlist Items

Wishlists are lists made by sanctuaries and rescue groups of all the items that they need to continue helping animals. These items can range from household goods to office supplies to professional services. To get started, view the sanctuary wishlist that has the most commonly requested items that most organizations need. Then, contact your favorite sanctuary, rescue group, or wildlife rehabilitator to see where you can take your donation (or if it needs mailed).

25. Donate Your Vehicle

Did you know that your used vehicle could be useful to an animal sanctuary or rescue group? It can! And if the organization is a 501(c) nonprofit organization, you get a tax benefit for doing so!

26. Shop at the YDV Shop

You’ll look cool in the latest vegan gear and a portion of proceeds are donated to organizations who care for the lives of animals. Visit the YDV Shop by clicking here.

27. Stand Strong in Your Ethics

Creating a stronger, more influential vegan community begins with you. Live compassionately and inspire through example. Create new traditions with family and friends that don’t involve setting aside your ethics. Remember, if you set aside your ethics, other people will, too. Respect yourself and your convictions and everyone else will as well.

28. Share, Share, Share

Share animal-friendly blogs, information, graphics, and events on social media sites.  Sharing content is an easy way to help bring attention and visibility to the plight of animals.

Truth in Advertising

I am committed to providing accurate information to the vegan community. The information and data presented on Your Daily Vegan has been meticulously researched, and is based on information available at the time of publication. Guides are periodically reviewed for accuracy and updated as necessary. Update dates can be found at the end of every guide. Please contact me if you find out-of-date or incorrect information.

Photo Credit

Chances are you’ve seen the award-winning photography of Jo-Anne McArthur.  Her documentary project, We Animals, is a project that documents animals in the human environment using photography. The objective, “to photograph our interactions with animals in such a way that the viewer finds new significance in these ordinary, often unnoticed situations of use, abuse, and sharing of spaces.”

The photos on this page were obtained from We Animals. To view more of this project or to support its mission, visit weanimals.org.

This guide is authored by KD Angle-Traegner. Last update January 2017.