DominiKa Piasecka talks about her life as a vegan activist and shares her stories from the front line of demonstrations across the UK.
For many vegans, eradicating animal products from their diet and lifestyle is simply not enough in the effort to save animals from pain and suffering. Even after fully committing to veganism in 2012, student and campaigner DominiKa Piasecka felt as though she could, and should, be doing more. She told Vegan Life: “I didn’t want to be a person who was content with how things currently are, so I turned to animal rights. We must actively intervene to stop violence, not just say we don’t want to participate in it.”
After initially getting involved with animal rights and campaigning when she was still a vegetarian, DominiKa was encouraged to watch a speech by activist Gary Yourosfky, and was instantly hooked on the idea of veganism.
“Every single sentence he said made sense to me, and veganism became logical. I watched the whole speech and excluded cow’s milk from my diet right away. I could not believe that I was living a lie for so many years – I had no idea about the dairy and egg industries and in the past I never understood why people became vegan.”
DominiKa has actively attended vegan outreach events and school talks, marches, and visual ‘meat is murder’ demos. In addition, she has also been to anti–zoo, anti–fur, bull fighting, dolphin slaughter, greyhound racing, and animal testing protests, and has interrupted Bear Grylls interviews. As far as DominiKa is concerned, there are so many ways in which humans exploit non–human animals, and she would join anything to do with animal rights. She said: “I could not get enough. I wanted to do more and more. Sometimes I would skip school to do activism all day. I met amazing people who not only inspired me and helped me become vegan but also became my friends.”
As an individual who has struggled with nerves and public speaking in the past, participating in demonstrations and classroom talks about veganism has provided DominiKa the opportunity to expand from her usually quiet comfort zone. She said: “I’ve organised hundreds of Manchester Animal Action demos, and I’ve no issues with chanting on the megaphone, but I would only do it for the animals.
“I still don’t quite understand why I am willing to do so much for animals and how I’m prepared to put myself in situations which make me feel really uncomfortable for them. Perhaps I just can’t comprehend how unjust it is for the most innocent beings on the planet to be exploited in such a cruel way.
“The combination of my passion and anger drives me forward in the fight for animal rights. We all have things we like and don’t like to do but there are so many forms of activism that there is something for everyone.”
According to DominiKa, public campaigns and protests are not the only way to raise awareness and get involved with activism. “Things like organising vegan social events, starting a vegan business, wearing vegan patches or clothing, talking to friends or colleagues about veganism, even sharing a vegan post on social media are all forms of activism and by utilising them all you ensure veganism gets the most exposure,” she explains. “You may not see yourself as an activist but the moment you answer someone’s question about why you’re vegan, you are an activist, and that’s incredible. Imagine if all vegans got involved with activism at every given chance – the world would be vegan in no time.”
After bringing Manchester Animal Action group [MAA] back into action during her third year of university, DominiKa is used to appearing at up to three demonstrations a week including protests against the British Heart Foundation (because of their animal testing policy) and vegan outreach events showcasing Animal Equality’s virtual slaughterhouse reality video to the public. “I speak to hundreds of people at each event, as a collective we go through thousands of leaflets every week, we chalk hundreds of vegan messages on the pavement which people take photos of and I know – we all know – that we are changing people’s minds, warming their hearts and opening their eyes.”
It’s not always positive. “Sometimes you get the odd a***hole shouting ‘I love bacon’ or other mindless things,” she explains.“But you can never get everyone on the same page so you just have to go along with it. It’s always rewarding to hear someone say they’ll consider veganism, that they agree with you, or that they’re already vegan and want to get active with your group – and these are the things I remember from demos, not the bad ones.”
When discussing further what she has learnt through her continued activism, DominiKa said: “People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their perceived illusions destroyed. We must get them out of that childlike ignorance, shake them so that they wake up, and help them understand. People may doubt what you say but they will believe what you do and being an activist is a way of proving your dedication to veganism. Even if I am just one person against the whole world, I will not keep my mouth shut and let the abuse go on unchallenged. I always want to know I tried.
“Most people don’t question their everyday habits – they don’t stop and listen to their own heart, they have no time for it, so even though they believe harming animals is wrong, they don’t live in line with their ethics. It is the job of activists to point that out, and help them make the connection. Never miss a chance to plant a vegan seed because you just don’t know when it will grow into a beautiful flower.”