Kids are naturally more likely to empathize with animals. If they’re taught early about how humans use animals, they are far more likely to want to adopt a vegan lifestyle. On top of that, they will probably want to tell other people about how animals are treated and what we can do about it. That’s why we’ve created this list for parents to give their kids to guide them to help animals in and out of school.
1. Field Trips
Ask your teacher to take the class on a field trip to an animal sanctuary. Instead of going to a zoo, tell your teacher that you want to see how animals interact and function in an environment that is less stressful, and boring and allows them to engage in more natural behaviors. It will also give a chance for you and the other kids to interact with the animals up close and maybe hear the stories about how the animals arrived there in the first place (maybe they were rescued from a slaughterhouse, factory farm, etc.).
2. Birthday Parties or Celebrations
Kids in primary school will sometimes have celebrations or birthday parties in their classes. With these types of events, there is almost always food. Make sure to alert your teacher that you are vegan beforehand so he or she can plan to bring something for you as well. Or, ask your parents to cook up some tasty vegan treats that you can share with the rest of the class.
3. Class Pet
Many classrooms have “class pets.” Teachers and schools believe having these animals around can help children learn about how to take care of someone else and foster responsibility. However, keeping an animal in a cage all day around screaming kids is not an enjoyable environment for them. Kids may also be hovering over their cages or poking them, which can be very traumatizing. Plus, the animal may have to stay in the classroom overnight, which can lead to them feeling lonely and scared. Ask your teacher, and ask your friends to ask your teacher to adopt out the “class pet” if there is one.
4. Stickers and Chalk
Most kids love to draw and put stickers on things. So, incorporating animal activism in those activities is a natural progression. Many animal rights organizations will send you free stickers, many of which can be kid-friendly. Put the stickers and chalk in your backpack, look up some animal rights quotes or graphics you’d like to draw, and make a day of it with your friends or family. Plus, as you’re chalking or putting up stickers, people will inevitably stop to ask what you’re doing, which is a perfect way to practice speaking up for animals!
5. Adventures with Your Dog
Source: The Dodo/YouTube
People who have dogs or cats, even if they love them, oftentimes won’t interact with them that much. But having a dog or a cat is a major responsibility, really no different than having a child, and they must have plenty of mental, physical, and social stimulation. One of the best ways to do this is to go a long hike with them, preferably somewhere where they can run off-leash, not having to be tethered to you the whole time. This will help build trust and respect, and allow you to see a “fuller” version of your dog.
6. Cafeteria Food
If your school has a cafeteria make sure the administration or whoever runs food services knows that you are vegan. If you need help in getting more vegan options at school, you can always create a petition and get your schoolmates to support you. You can also include how adopting a plant-based diet is healthier for kids, helps the environment, saves animals, etc. And you can include the types of plant-based meals you and the other kids might enjoy.
If your class is dissecting animals, you may be perfectly within your rights to ask for an alternative, such as a computer simulation or something else. Many states and schools have policies that allow students to be given a more humane and modern alternative to dissection. And if your school doesn’t have such a policy, you can create another petition and write a letter to the administration about why you don’t want to participate in dissection. You can write about how it’s bad for the animals, it teaches children to have less empathy for them, and how it’s more expensive and less educational than other teaching methods.
8. Assigned Movies and Books
Teachers will often assign students books to read and films to watch and have them analyze them. This is a great opportunity for you to ask your teacher to assign something that is animal-friendly or that will make kids consider the lives of animals more. Cowspiracy, Seaspiracy, and 73 Cows are all great options; or you can even choose something more light-hearted like Finding Nemo, Babe, Chicken Run, or Save Ralph. Some great animal rights books include Eating Animals, Empty Cages, and anything by Marc Bekoff.
Schools will oftentimes have fundraisers. These can be a great way for staff and children to work together and help the school. However, sometimes schools will host or participate in fundraisers that exploit animals. This can include giving away animals in auctions, hosting a circus, or organizing a kiss-a-pig event. If you know your school is considering having events like these, write to your principal explaining why this sets a bad example for students and suggest other vegan-friendly events.
10. Social Media
Source: Barn Sanctuary/YouTube
Since basically every kid and person is on social media these days, why not use it to help animals? Share videos of cows running free in a sanctuary for the first time, a pig getting a belly rub, or perhaps less graphic videos of animals on factory farms, in circuses, etc. Caption these posts with words from your heart about why this is meaningful to you and encourage people to consider the animals they use in their daily lives. Then make sure to give recommendations of great vegan products and alternatives to help people make the switch!
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- What Wild Animals Can Teach Kids About Kindness
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