The day I realised I was an activist
One thing you ought to know about me is that I am a full-on worrier. I worry about work, money (or lack of it), family, friends, the animals, the planet, and most of all, the feeling of time slipping away from me! When I turned 25 I had a little quarter-life-crisis thinking about all the things I want to accomplish in my life, all the places I wanted to go, the people I want to meet and all the things I wanted to do. A few weeks after my birthday, on the plane to Reykjavik to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday, I wrote out a list of 30 things I wanted to achieve by the time I was 30. I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t I just chill the fuck out and watch the in-flight movie? Anyway it’s what I did and I actually think it’s the best thing I could have done, it’s made me really think about the things I want from my life and given myself a strict deadline to achieve them by – that’s how I work best, it’s not for everyone…
Number 21 on my list was to ‘Go on an animal rights protest’ – and I am so happy to say that I have now done this! I had heard about the Official Animal Rights March in London hosted by Surge Activism (animal rights organisation co-founded by Earthling Ed) – it had started in 2016 and last year had over 5000 vegans marching for animal liberation. This is something I had to be a part of, I thought to myself.
The march started at Millbank and was due to end in Hyde Park. Having never been on a protest/march before (excluding a couple of small-scale ones in Bristol), I was unsure of what to expect. I was lucky enough to go with my friend, and fellow vegan fashionista, Tanekka (aka @thegoldengrenadine – go check her out) and I’m so glad I got to share the day with her. We met up at Millbank after both getting a bit lost in the process - at one point we were both looking at the Winston Churchill statue trying to describe it to each other in as much detail as we could – absolute fail in London orienteering. I was so shocked and equally delighted to see how many people had turned out for the march, I later found out there were at least 10,000 people at the march, swiftly surpassing last year’s total of 5000!!
Another thing that made me so happy to see was the amount of diversity in the crowd, all ages, genders, and races coming together with one common goal – to achieve animal liberation. Everyone was happy, excited and raring to go – there was a lot of waiting around at the start but we then started forming a giant ‘queue’, and began to march! There were banners, posters, and signs with so many clever messages on them. I loved the chants as well; it really does help to get everyone feeling united and passionate about their reasons for marching. Some of the chants included “not your mum, not your milk”, “humane slaughter is a lie, animals do not want to die”, and my favourite “what do we want? Animal liberation. When do we want it? NOW!” As I yelled out the words I looked down at my t-shirt and saw the words ‘ANIMAL LIBERATION’ on it. I had grabbed it from my clothes rail at 6 am that morning before my eyes were fully open and had not even stopped to take in what the statement on the t-shirt actually said. Interesting fact: I got this top at a clothes swap in Bristol - one woman’s trash became my treasure.
The march took us through the streets of London, as tourists and passersby stopped to watch us and take photos, they seemed so interested and also shocked by the amount of us! It felt amazing to be a part of this group on this day, and even better to know that these people (vegans) are my comrades in life too, not just on this one occasion. There’s something significant about when you find out someone else is vegan and you have a quick chat about when they became vegan or what they struggle with, etc. It’s like bumping into an old friend even though you may have only just met! That feeling of solidarity and belonging to something bigger than myself is what I took away from the day, and I really would encourage everyone to go on a march for a positive cause they believe in.
As I walked alongside my fellow vegans, chanting for animal liberation and raising my peace sign in the air (yeah I’m that girl), I realised something else; I am an activist. I am actively campaigning for the liberation of all animals. And, what’s more, I realised that the whole time I’ve been blogging about vegan fashion and animal welfare, that’s been activism too! Earthling Ed did a great speech at the end of the march (as did Evanna Lynch, Aiyana and the founders of Heartcure Clothing, who were actually sponsoring the event too) and it really resonated with me. He spoke about being a vegan is not enough in itself, and that we all need to be activists too. It reminded me of one of my other favourite speeches ever, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; we should all be feminists, an empowering speech about why feminism is for everyone and why it affects us all. I think the same can be said about veganism, it’s the fight for equality of life, how can you think it doesn’t concern you?
I couldn't help but take notice of all the awesome vegan clothing people were wearing - some brands I knew well like Heartcure Clothing, Veganized World and Viva La Vegans. There were clever slogans printed on t-shirts, some vegan-themed illustrations and even some animal outfits. I spotted a few vegan leather bags (mostly Matt & Nat) and a gorgeous embellished denim jacket. Here are a few snaps I took of some of the outfits that stood out for me...
My outfit tips for your next animal rights march:
- Protest-themed t-shirt
- Camo/army inspired colours
- Ripped jeans (shows how ruthless you really are)
- Trainers - please don't be fooled into thinking you can march for four hours in heels girls!
So not only did I get to march for the liberation of animals – I also got to tick off another achievement on my ’30 before 30’ list. So far I have done four things from my list this year, which include; learning CPR, seeing Beyoncé perform live, donating blood and, now, going on an animal rights protest. What would you guys put on your 30 before 30 lists (or whichever milestone is next for you; 35/40/45, etc…)? Let me know :)