A report into the opinions and habits of Vietnam’s 13-21-year-olds has revealed they care more deeply about animals than freedom of speech and the environment.

Protection for animals in the country, which is yet to enact its first animal welfare laws, was considered a key concern by 68 percent of youngsters, putting it firmly in the top four social issues.

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The Power of Online Media to Influence Change

“The results of the survey are hugely promising and reflect the increase in support we’ve seen from young Vietnamese – particularly on social media,” said Animals Asia’s Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale, “As is increasingly the case, traditional media has followed social media trends and they too have been giving much more coverage to animal protection and welfare issues which has been hugely beneficial to increasing awareness and conducting successful campaigns in the country.”

Animals Asia’s campaign to stop the Nem Thuong Pig Slaughter Festival drew huge support while online media gave the issue unprecedented coverage.

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The result was a string of statements from politicians – and even the Prime Minister’s Office – against “old-fashioned, superstitious and negative” festivals.

An online poll at the time mirrored the latest findings by showing that 79 percent of people thought the cruel festival should be banned.

In 2015, a campaign by the Asian Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA) to gain support against the dog meat trade attracted half a million signatures in just a few weeks thanks to a viral video shared by social media.

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“Vietnam’s youth are the country’s first generation to grow up without first-hand experience of war and dire poverty – and also the first to come of age while integrated into a globalized world via the internet,” said Animals Asia’s Vietnam Director Tuan Bendixsen,”As such, they are very well informed and up to date, and as we’ve seen, animal protection is a key issue.”

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To read more from this report on the changing opinions of Vietnam’s youth, click here.