Peaceful protest tactics, demonstrations, and marches can effectively draw attention to animal cruelty issues that many people do not know about. They may be horrified by it to the point of taking action. You will see on this page how protests can really work.
Street protests and demonstrations are very embarrassing to the perpetrator of the cruelty. They are horrified that something they would rather people did not know the details of is being exposed in such a public way. Protests and demonstrations outside a shop can put customers off from going in. Support can be gathered from other members of the public who previously did not know about the issue.
To make it more effective, you can combine your protest or demonstration with other forms of campaigning, such as email, letter, and phone call campaigns, and petitions. Signatures can be collected on petitions and for boycott pledges from the public during your street protest.
Protests and demonstrations can involve any number of people, from one to a huge number. The bigger the street protest, or the more often it happens, the more the target is likely to feel pressure to change. As long as the message is effectively conveyed, the number of people does not matter.
The media can sometimes report on protests, bringing publicity to the cause, especially if it is an unusually creative protest. People sometimes protest nearly naked, topless, or with body paint on. If you can come up with a creative way of protesting that will be interesting to people, it can gain publicity and support through people sharing photos of it on social media.
However, while trying to draw attention to the cause, it is important not to offend people you would like to gain support from, as this will only anger and alienate them.
Without campaigning and exposing the truth, perpetrators of cruelty do not know that there are so many people who are bothered about the cruelty, they will carry on oblivious and never change.
Image: Animal rights activists protesting against a cruel mobile zoo in Canada. So that cars would stop for him, one protester dressed up as a parking attendant so he was able to give them leaflets about the cruelty. Source
Protests Really Do Work!
The targets of public protests can find being demonstrated against very embarrassing.
For instance, a South Korean Dog Meat Festival was cancelled due to outraged people within the country protesting against it, as well as international campaigns being mounted against it.
The protests, telephone calls, emails and letters of complaint were so frequent that the organisers felt it would be impossible to run the event, which promotes the eating of dogs.
Image: Protests in South Korea against eating dogs played a large part in getting a dog meat festival – which promotes human consumption of dog meat – cancelled there. they cram themselves into cages the way the dogs are before they are barbarically slaughtered in front of one another, and ask, what’s the difference? Source
Image: Protestors who have climbed on to the cat walk at Melbourne Fashion Week to demonstrate against fur. As a result, the fur that was due to be shown in the show, was not shown. Source
The Cube Of Truth is a form of protest where protesters stand in a cube formation, facing outwards, holding screens such as laptops and tablets which show footage of what really happens in the animal agriculture industry.
Image: Cube Of Truth Protest showing the true cruelty of animal agriculture. Source
An example of how this really works, is this post that I came across in a vegan group on Facebook. It is written by somebody who saw a Cube Of Truth in his local town centre and writes of the effect it had on him.
When it comes to holding a street protest or demonstration, the most important thing is getting your message across clearly, rather than how many people take part in the protest.
Social media should be used to spread your message further, using photos/videos of the protest.
Image: A small demonstration at Sheffield University, UK, against animal experimentation. Although there are only two protestors, the message is effectively got across. Source
The Animal Save Movement is a worldwide movement that holds vigils bearing witness at slaughterhouses, and gives what comfort they can to animals arriving. It only takes one person to be there at the slaughterhouse, filming the animals arriving, and sharing it on social media, to have an enormous impact.
In fact, Save Movement groups often begin with just one person doing it, bringing it to the attention of others. That is how the movement has grown so rapidly across the world.
There are straight forward public protests and demo’s where people stay in one place, and then there are marches, which move through the streets and often end at a target destination relevant to the protest.
It is important to let people know why you are protesting, so large placards with big, clear text on them are important. Calling out or chanting your message can also help with this. Giving out leaflets and using a loud haler to amplify your voice helps to spread your message. You should try to attract as much attention to yourselves as you can, but keep in mind that if you irritate people you will alienate them from your cause. You could use costumes, masks, face and body pain (all vegan of course!), and even instruments like a drum or tambourine. You could even incorporate choreography into your protest. Because a march is a moving protest, it should attract the attention of people it is passing.
Image: The official animal rights march in London. Source
Some people have got very creative and used a flash mob method. With a traditional flash mob, the people involved blend into a crowd in a busy area, acting completely normal. Music is then played and one of the people involved starts to dance on the spot and attracts attention. Then another person involved, who is a few people away, does the same and joins in the choreography so both are now in sync, then another person a few people away does the same, until there are many dancing in sync. Those involved can stay where they were, and have rather bemused normal people in between them, or all the people dancing can make their way together. Some protesters have used the same principle and altered it to convey their protest message.
It does not have to involve dancing, some people have done a “freeze”, where the people involved suddenly freeze still for a certain length of time, or where everyone involved suddenly collapses. You could alternatively have one person chanting or singing, and then each additional person joins in with the chant or song and reveals their protest message. The message could be in the chant or song words, and also printed on t-shirts that the activists involved have kept covered up until it is their turn.
Video: A singing vegan animal rights flash mob.
Protesting near the entrance of shops can sometimes make people uncomfortable enough to change their minds about going in. This loses the store custom and profits. If customers do go in, try to let them know about why you are protesting against the store.
Image: Anti-fur protest outside Harvey Nicholls by CAFT members. Such protests could put off prospective customers going in. Source
Image: Animal rights activists try to put people off fois gras by exposing the facts to customers. Source
Anonymous For The Voiceless activists are best known for staging protests called The Cube Of Truth. This is where a group of activists stand silently in a cube formation, facing outwards, holding placards and showing footage on laptops. They dress in all black and typically wear Guy Fawkes masks. The cube can be large or small, and there may be people handing out leaflets and talking to interested people in a warm and friendly manner.
Image: Anonymous For The Voiceless activists in Cheltenham in their cube of truth. Source
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) are known for using elements of shocking and eye-catching creative street performance in their protests. These often have bloody and semi-naked themes, and protesters often use their own bodies to depict the suffering of animals.
It is good to have an element like that in your protest or demonstration, to spark peoples curiosity and make them want to look closer.
Image: Stop UBC Animal Research, an organization aimed at ending animal testing at the University of British Columbia, uses eye catching protest tactics outside a hotel where the Canadian Association for Lab Animal Sciences was holding a symposium. Source
Image: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals use eye-catching protest tactics. Source
Image: Covered in “blood”, semi-naked Peta members demonstrate against the Running Of the Bulls in Spain. Source
Image: Peta protest against the cruelty of the meat industry.
Image: Peta demonstration of “skinning a rabbit”, against the use of animal skins at London Fashion week. Source
Image: Peta protesters drawing attention to the horrifically cruel fur industry. Source
Direct Action Everywhere activists are known for protesting inside of shops and businesses, instead of outside. They also have been known to interrupt official Government meetings and sports games with their protests. These approaches, though, may get you in trouble with the law.
Image: Direct Action Everywhere Activists protest inside a supermarket. Source
Whatever style of protesting you choose, you should make sure you publicise your activities well on every platform available, such as social media, youtube, etc. Spreading awareness is an essential element of protesting.
Protesting in a public place can often mean you are protesting on land owned by the local authority. Getting a licence from them before your protest can be a good idea for if anyone such as the police or the security guards/staff of businesses you are upsetting try to stop you protesting. Their first question can often be “Do you have a permit to do this?”
Many people protest peacefully without obtaining a licence or permit, and are not challenged about it.
If you wish to protest on land or premises that are privately owned, getting an agreement from the owner is preferable, as they can say you are trespassing otherwise.
In the U.K., trespassing is only a civil offence and not a criminal offence (correct at time of publishing, October 2018), and so do not result in a criminal record. However, laws change, so it is wise to check.
As well as giving out leaflets and other materials promoting the reasons you are protesting, you can use street protests as an opportunity to show people how tasty vegan food and drink can be by giving away free samples to people interested. They will also be appreciated by the protesters – especially if the food is hot and the weather is cold!
Depending on numbers, this could be done from an information point such as a table, or by the protesters themselves, or both.
You could give children small colouring or story books that gently educate the them, posters, or other items children might like.
Leaflets, posters, and other protest materials can often be obtained from animal rights charities and organisations. They will also often offer guidance of the best way to protest. You should check the law in your own area to see how far you are legally allowed to go.
Image: Animal rights organsations often provide leaflets, poster, and other protest materials. Source
Image: Anti-circus protester handing out leaflets. One approach is to mingle in the crowd so that people who are attending the circus think you are a member of circus staff and so are willing to take a leaflet from you.
Protest Tactics: Things That Detract From Demonstrations
People who protest against issues of animal cruelty usually feel extremely strongly about them and it is sometimes difficult to keep such strong emotions under control.
However, instead of winning supporters, certain behavior can sadly turn people against the cause. Violent conduct, vandalism, or similar illegal behaviour is likely to lose support for the cause and gain sympathy for the opposing side.
Image: A peaceful animal rights protest march headed for the legaslative assembly in San Jose, turned violent after someone unexpectedly burned an effigy of an legislator opposing an animal rights bill. This has left the animal rights movement that the bad publicity will affect the goal they have worked so hard for. Source
It is also a fine balance to achieve to draw as much attention as possible to your cause, without offending the people you wish to gain support from. For instance, a nude or topless protest may get your protest noticed, but it may also offend.
Image: A PETA campaign that compared the holocaust to the incarceration and slaughter of farm animals was deemed so offensive hat it was banned in Germany on the basis it trivialised the holocaust. Source
Not everybody is as compassionate, empathetic and emotionally intelligent as most animal righst activists are. You should be aware that you may well receive some negative remarks.
This is because some people lack understanding, lack the ability to understand and feel compassion, and are ignorant about animal cruelty issues.
Image: Banners such as this held by protesters outside shops can shame customers into not going in the shop. Source
A common assumption is that animal activists are hypocrites that will protest and campaign against one form of animal cruelty, such as the fur trade, but fund another by wearing leather shoes and eating burgers while they protest!
Another misconception is that animal rights protesters are scruffy hippies who have nothing better to do.
A lot of people, however, have their eyes opened by the information they learn from protests, and compassionate people have nothing but praise for the protesters highlighting the issue of animal cruelty.
The Save Movement is a worldwide movement that holds vigils bearing witness at slaughterhouses, and gives what comfort they can to animals arriving.
Their website lists all the Save groups across the world, so you can check to see if there is one near you. If there is not, anyone can start one. Save Movement groups often begin with just one person doing it, bringing it to the attention of others. It only takes one person to be there at the slaughterhouse, filming the animals arriving, and sharing it on social media, to have an enormous impact.
You may know of like minded people that may be interested in taking part. Or if you have joined any vegan or animal rights groups on social media or elsewhere online, you may find people there are keen to take part.
Although the people bearing witness cannot save the animals from their cruel fate, they can offer water and comfort to dehydrated and frightened animals. Crucially, they can raise awareness of the plight of these animals and their suffering by sharing their activities on social media. They make sure people see the faces of the frightened animals about to experience horrific deaths because consumers pay for it to happen. It forces people to think about them.
It is a growing movement and has expanded rapidly in recent times.
Image: The Save Movement brings into peoples consciousness the animals being forced to endure horrific deaths every day at slaughter houses. Source
Learn Of Many Other Ways to Help Stop Animal Abuse
On this site there are many varied ways you can help stop animal cruelty, and there are ways that will suit everyone, no matter what their personality.
If you would like to learn more about why we so urgently need to help stop animal suffering, please have a look at the Types Of Animal Cruelty section of this site. It will allow you to broaden your knowledge of many different types of animal abuse that happens in the world.
Sadly, what you will find is only the tip of the iceberg, but do not worry, because in the Help Stop Animal Cruelty section of this site, you can find a large and varied choice of ways that you can help stop the suffering. Have a look and see what ways would most suit you.
Help animals further by sharing the ways to stop animal cruelty you learn with other people. Doing this could mean more people help stop the cruelty, and therefore you are responsible for more animals being saved from suffering.