Forms of Protest

Animal rights activists employ many different forms of protesting, some legal, some not. Some involve large numbers, some involve only one person. Different groups and different activists have different tactics.

  1. PETA Protests

While PETA is not the only group to employ controversial tactics to gain publicity for animal rights, they are most enthusiastic and most well known users of this method. PETA employs sexuality, nudity, and creative demonstrations involving humans posing as animals.



(it should be noted that while it is women in these pictures being shown scantily- clad, they do use men for these ads as well, such as their famous Ink, not Mink anti-fur ads)

This method is criticized by some animal advocates and some feminists as being sexist. PETA states this method allows them to put animal rights in the spotlight, and has led to their members being interviewed by the media, which they say would not have happened otherwise. They believe it gives them a chance to highlight the issues. For example, after PETA’s ad was banned from the Super Bowl for being too sexual, it led four million people to visit their website. I believe if a woman or man is comfortable with her body, there is nothing shameful about showing skin for a cause. Some say that this will encourage sexism in the animal rights movement, but I believe the human body whether male or female, can be used to promote justice however the owner of the body wishes.


2. Bearing Witness

The group most famous for this is the Save movement, beginning with Toronto Pig Save, and expanding to include several other countries and cities. Activists document the condition of animals, hold demonstrations or ‘vigils’ and try to give the animals on the slaughter trucks a few moments of kindness, probably the only they have ever and will ever know. This may include giving the hot and thirsty animals water (which is not required by law, even if the trip takes days in all sorts of weather) a few kind words and a kind touch. This approach is meant to show animals as individuals in their last moments.

There is also Toronto Cow Save, and numerous other Save organizations around the world. A similar one is called Sympathy at Slaughter.

3. Blockades

Blockades are a very well known form of protest in any movement, but are technically illegal. They are used often in animal rights.


4. Marches

Marches are a very effective and legal way to advocate for animals, though they do require a lot of people.


5. Disruption

A disruption is where an activist enters a place of violence and denounces cruelty. This could be a restaurant, a store, anywhere where cruelty is normalized. The idea is to make people stop and think.  Direct Action Everywhere is well known for this.

6. Occupations

This is a generally illegal but widely used form of activism, which involves activists storming a facility and either removing animals, sabotaging, or refusing to leave until certain demands are met. In 2013, activists stormed the University of Milan, vowing not to leave until they were allowed to leave with all the animals used in experiments.

They were eventually allowed to leave with 100. In Brazil in 2013, over 100 activists stormed a lab and rescued the animals. The lab shut down as a result.

In 1984, PETA activists occupied NIH offices, vowing not to leave until they ceased funding the experiments of Thomas Gennarelli, who conducted torturous head injury experiments on baboons. They succeeded, and his funding was pulled. Virtual occupations  are now being done, with activists flooding the emails and telephone lines of companies abusing animals.

Activists are creative and I have not listed all the forms of activism.

For further information:

Until Every Animal Is Free by Saryta Rodriguez (available on amazon)




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