We talk to campaigner Dina Aherne and artivist Tyrina Davis about the different ways in which they approach activism
Outreach work and campaigning is a great way to meet other vegans and feel part of the community. In the article we hear the stories of two people who approach activism in very different ways.
Dina Aherne is an animal rights advocate who campaigns for veganism around the country. She currently gives talks on the realities of the egg and dairy industry as well as linking yoga and veganism in her workshops. Her current campaign focuses on the South Asian community whereby she runs mass outreach events to educate these communities on the realities of the dairy industry. We spoke to her about her activism and being ‘imperfectly vegan’.
“I was really drawn to the name ‘Imperfectly Vegan’ for a number of reasons. Veganism isn’t as black and white as many may believe. On the surface, one may think that becoming vegan means only consuming plant-based foods and in fact, I used to think this myself. Following a vegan lifestyle isn’t just about diet though. Diet forms a large part of it, and for me personally, it was the first thing I chose to change. Yet it is so much more.
“As my advocacy expanded, I realised that there was this growing pocket of society that had somehow slipped through the net. It was this pocket that I belonged to too. The lacto vegetarians and in particular, the Hindu community. The lacto-vegetarians had a common belief – that they were doing all that they could to not contribute to the suffering of animals
“Due to the extensive use of dairy as well as the spiritual links that a Hindu has to the cow, I felt I needed to start a campaign to raise awareness about the realities of the dairy industry amongst this community. Since then, I have run two successful campaigns – one in Leicester in April 2017 and a recent event in Wembley, London in June 2017, where a group of us leafletted homes as well as held an outreach stall with leaflets in Gujarati and English, plant-based milks as well as Indian vegan sweet dishes and cakes for people to try.
“The Leicestershire Save Movement is an international movement which is based on holding vigils outside slaughterhouses to bear witness to animals being taken to slaughter. Leicestershire Animal Save was set up in November 2016. So far we have held vigils outside a local slaughterhouse every month. The slaughterhouse that we hold vigils at kills cows. We bear witness to cows raised to become beef, ‘spent’ dairy cows and calves being transported to their deaths.
“The aim of holding a vigil is three-fold: It is to ask the trucks to stop for two minutes so that we can send love and compassion to the animals in the last few moments of their lives and for them to feel the presence of loving energy, something that they would not have felt before and it is to also take photographs and videos of the animals in their transport trucks so that these can be shown to the masses through social media platforms.
“As part of my campaign, it is really important for me to interview people who have actually worked in the meat and dairy industries. I am keen to hear facts from these people themselves and to share those with my followers. It is not always easy to get people to speak openly about what goes on inside these industries, yet I was fortunate to recently meet an ex-dairy farmer, an ex-butcher and an ex-milkman, all of whom had attended one of my various talks. I have since interviewed all three of these people for my Youtube Channel (‘Imperfectly Vegan’).”
Tyrina Davis is a volunteer for Animal Free Research UK who is passionate about activism through art and music. We spoke to her about her work with the charity and how veganism has changed her life for the better.
“I only became vegan just over a year ago but I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life and I didn’t really think that there was anything wrong with eating eggs or drinking milk. I thought, nobody died for this, its fine. Then I learnt about it all and I was so disgusted with myself, that I had been part of it for all those years so I completely cut it out.
“I have psoriasis and I used to need to have water baths about three times a week and since I cut out dairy, my skin completely cleared up within three weeks and I’ve never had a water bath or outbreak since. I put my son, who also has psoriasis, on a vegan diet too and his skin completely cleared up too. Obviously, the more I looked into it, the more passionate I was feeling about it. I started looking into the vegan lifestyle other than diet and found out about animal testing, which I didn’t really know about before.
“I volunteer for Animal Free Research by raising awareness, holding awareness stalls, raising funds and I am hosting a yoga event where we are all going to dress as animals to raise awareness. We like to just get people who don’t really know much about it to open their eyes a bit more and understand it.
“I like to use art to promote veganism and my core values. My piece called Set Them Free is a silhouette watercolour painting and 100 per cent of profits from prints will be donated to Animal Free Research. I’m working on another painting now, which should be finished soon, that shows an open hand holding animals. I love to work with other artists, so if you are interested in collaboration please get in touch.”
Tyrina’s art can be found at tyrina.bigcartel.com