As many of my regular readers already know, a few years ago I became a vegetarian after viewing some disturbing pictures and videos of animal abuse on the PETA website. Although I knew becoming a vegetarian was the best thing I could do to help animals, I couldn’t help but feeling I should be dedicating more of my time and effort to the animal rights movement. I wanted to connect with other activists locally, but at the time I couldn’t find an animal rights group near me. So, I decided to try to organize some local animal rights activists on my own.
My first stop was the social networking site Meetup.com. Unlike Facebook or MySpace which are good for uniting users online, Meetup specializes in getting together like-minded people in the real world. To meet animal rights activists, you might want to join a local vegetarian or vegan Meetup group, or start an animal rights Meetup group if there isn’t already one nearby. Lots of people check the Meetup website on a regular basis, and Meetup also maintains an ongoing list of people in your area that are interested in a specific topic. By starting a Meetup group, you could gain access to a list of dozens or perhaps even hundreds of local people who are interested in animal rights like you are.
In addition to checking the Meetup website, you might also want to see if there are any regional animal rights conferences scheduled close to you in the upcoming months. The first place I really connected with other local animal rights activists was at a conference produced by PETA. But lots of other groups also have meetings and conferences that you can attend. Keep your eyes open for announcements about events by local vegetarian societies, animal rescue groups, etc. These events can be filled with people who are looking to get more active to support animal rights.
Finally, get in touch with a national animal rights group like PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, or Vegan Outreach to see if they know any other activists in your area. Often these national groups maintain a database of people nationwide who are interested in the cause. Once you have found a few other animal rights activists in your area, you should set up your first meeting and discuss where you might have the most impact in your community. Some groups concentrate on protests, while other groups focus on handing out vegetarian literature. Remember, there is room in the animal rights movement for all sorts of ideas and tactics. Once you have connected with other local activists, you are bound to have all sorts of ideas about how to create an animal rights community in your home town.