Bio (Tell us a little about yourself).
My name is Marley. I moved to Portland last August from Las Vegas Nevada. I am a full-time animal rights activist.
Please share any links to your social sites here.
My Instagram handle is @_justmarley
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
My journey from a carnist to a vegan took 2 years. It began when I started having to cook for myself. This is when I first started to see that I was eating a dead animal’s flesh. The cartilage and bloodlines grossed me out, so I decided to only eat “meat” while I was out. Then that grossed me out too so I decided to go pescatarian. I was grossly obsessed with all-you-can-eat sushi. I saw videos on Facebook of worms in fish at sushi places and the grocery store. I tried my best not to think about them but it was burned into my mind so I went vegetarian. I slowly started to consider the animals I was consuming and the impacts my food choices made. I was really big into eating all organic, non-GMO certified. I was the person who bought into the humane lie. One night my friends and I decided to watch Cowspiracy and I decided to vegan overnight! I’ve been vegan for right around 2 years now. At first, I wasn’t doing it for the ethics, but now after all I’ve learned, I’m an ethical vegan through and through!
Tell us about our journey to activism?
When I first went vegan I was a complete apologist. I hardly ever talked about it and I was always apologizing! I felt like I was a burden. After I went vegan I started following other vegans on Instagram. I then started to learn about all of the unconscionable things animals go through at the hands of humans. I saw the footage and it broke my heart. I realized that simply being vegan wasn’t enough. I have extreme social anxiety so I was really nervous about going to activist events. Just the other day I got a Facebook memory notification that was me posting in the Las Vegas Anonymous for the Voiceless page that I wanted to come but that I was nervous. I didn’t end up doing activism until I moved to Portland. Very shortly after I moved James Aspey was attending a vigil with Portland Animal Save. To be honest that was the reason I went. I was able to bear witness at the highway off-ramp to a transport truck full of mother cows considered “spent” by the dairy industry. That was the first time I learned that mother cows get sent to slaughter! Looking into the truck seeing their eyes staring back at me, silently pleading for help was crushing. After the first truck pulled away I couldn’t stop crying. I knew that I needed to devote as much time as possible to fighting for them and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
Why are you an activist?
What animals go through is unjust and must be stopped. Everything I do is for the animals.
What type of activism are you involved in? Please feel free to share the groups you participate in.
What were your thoughts and feelings before your first activism event?
I was really nervous. I was worried I would be standing there alone, awkwardly. I wasn’t sure how it would go. Overall I was scared!
How did you feel once the event was over?
I felt inspired like I had found my purpose.
How do you feel you are most effective as an activist?
I feel I am most effective as an activist when I’m having outreach conversations with people after they watch footage of farms and/or slaughterhouses.
What’s been your most memorable moment as an activist? Toughest moment?
My most memorable moment as an activist was leading the Official Animal Rights March. It was the most challenging thing I’ve done and pushed me completely out of my comfort zone. But it was also the most rewarding. To see 700 people come together and take to the streets for animal rights was extremely inspiring. Since then we’ve seen so many new activists and had people tell me the march inspired them to start doing activism which was the main goal of the march. It’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget.
The toughest moment I’ve had as an activist was definitely earlier this year in June. A group of us were on the way to a DxE disruption when we got news that a transport truck taking chickens to a slaughterhouse had flipped over on the freeway. We made a split decision to cancel the disruption and head to the accident. Upon arriving there was a sea of chickens who had been thrown from the truck onto the streets. There were lots of chickens still inside the cages, mangled and contorted. Some dead, some alive. It was the worst thing I had ever witnessed in person. The group of us wanted to attempt to rescue some of the chickens. The police were already on the scene and forbid us from even getting within 10 feet of the birds. We were pleading with the workers and the police to let us rescue them. Activists had already been in contact with all of the local animal sanctuaries who were happy to take birds in. Pretty early on it became apparent to me we wouldn’t be able to save them. I have never felt that much of a sense of helplessness in my entire life. At one point during the “clean up” of the scene, a single chicken walked up the embankment towards us and Amber Canavan grabbed her and held her in her arms. She was in a standoff with the police for over an hour as she tried to negotiate the bird’s surrender to a sanctuary. Ultimately they ended up ripping the bird out of Amber’s arms and threw her back into a cage on the new transport truck they’d brought to continue the birds’ trip to the slaughterhouse. It was a horrific experience that really put me in a dark place for a while.
What is your favorite type of activism?
I would say I have two favorite kinds of events. I love the Cube of Truth. I think that having compassionate conversations with people can change the world. We make real connections with people and help them see that veganism is in line with their values. We empower them to live a vegan lifestyle without resources card we give them at the end of the conversations. Having the footage is one of our most powerful tools.
I also love doing any kind of nonviolent direct action. Whether it’s a disruption, a protest, or a mass open rescue. All of these events disrupt and de-normalize violence. There is a political scientist by the name of Erica Chenoweth who has studied hundreds of movements and found that when 3.5% of the population are taking nonviolent direct action, a movement is successful. We don’t even need a majority of the population to be vegan, we just need 3.5% of them to be activists.
Please recommend your favorite activism video/s, book/s or website/s to share?
I think that every activist should read “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows” by Melanie Joy, Ph.D. It explains why carnism, which is a symptom of speciesism, is the dominant ideology and why it’s been that way for so long. You have to understand something before you can change it and this book really helps to do that. I think the 30 Days, 30 Excuses video series by Earthling Ed on Youtube is extremely helpful for those who want to do outreach.
Who are your activism role models? Why?
One of my biggest role models is Jocelyn Cole. She completely embodies nonviolence and is love-based all of the time. When I first started doing activism I was extremely angry. Of course, this anger is justified, but I didn’t do anything constructive with my anger and I let it come out in my interactions with others. Jocelyn showed me through gentle guidance and by leading as an example that you can’t help change someone by being angry at them. No amount of hate every made someone a better person. It’s really hard to find love for people who yell things at you during activism, or for people working in places of violence like slaughterhouses, but now I do. I know they are all victims of a violent system. I really owe this mindset to Jocelyn.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
As I said my transition to eating a completely plant-based diet was a process. I was vegetarian when I went vegan overnight so I didn’t really have much that wasn’t vegan in my house. Eggs and cow’s milk on their own had already started to gross me out, so I think some of the only stuff I had was some processed foods containing those. Likely I had cheese. I either threw it away or let my boyfriend at the time (who was not vegan or vegetarian) finish them. I thankfully didn’t own any clothing made from animals. My bathroom and cleaning products I used til they were empty and the next time I bought anything I made sure it was cruelty-free and vegan certified.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into products? How would you do it for these different age groups? 1. Under 5 yo 2. 5 to 8 3. 9 to 12 4. 13 to 18
I don’t know that showing animals being killed to kids under 5 would be beneficial. I think the most important thing is for the adults in their lives not to lie to them and not to hide the truth. I would say for children 0-8 they should see nongraphic footage like the videos that are cartoons. I also really really think kids should read (or have their parents read) the books by Ruby Roth to them. Without showing anything graphic they really explain why we don’t eat/wear/use animals. I think after that, around 9 we should show kids graphic footage. Maybe watch the movie Earthlings with a parent. Kids see violence to humans on TV and in video games all day long, so it’s not like they can’t handle it. They deserve to see exactly what is going on. This is going to be the age when they start forming opinions and also having to face peer pressure. Let them see why they aren’t using animals so it’s not just something their parents made them do. We all are born not wanting to hurt animals and I think any child when given the choice would remain vegan. We are just indoctrinated and conditioned into exploiting animals.
What does being vegan mean to you?
Veganism is about justice to me, it’s about what is right and what is wrong. It’s not a diet, it’s an ethical stance against the exploitation of animals. I do everything I can to avoid intentionally harming any being on this planet, and yes that includes humans, as humans are animals too. So my veganism extends to buying fair trade foods and clothing, it extends to trying to live plastic-free since there are many animals dying because of plastic usage. Being vegan means everything to me. I believe veganism and anti-speciesism is the foundation for a better world for everyone.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist? What form of activism do you take part in?
Absolutely. Simply being vegan is not enough… It is our moral obligation to change the world for animals. We can stop what’s happening to them, and we must. We are their only allies and they are counting on us.
Are you the activist you want to see in the world? Why?
I try to be! I really try to lead by example and inspire others to become not just vegan, but activists. I want people to realize that if I can be an activist, anyone can. I hope to show people that when you see an animal suffering, you don’t have to just be sad. You can do something.
What is the activism scene like in your city?
The activism scene here in Portland is pretty great. They are a great group of really passionate people. I would, of course, like to see our scene grow larger. When you compare the number of vegans to the number of activists, it is relatively a small scene. But even still we are still making change for the animals.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to get involved in activism?
I strongly recommend doing the Cube of Truth. Join the Anonymous for the Voiceless chapter that’s nearest to you, they list the chapters on their website. It’s such a great intro to activism. You can stand inside the Cube, you wear a mask and don’t have to speak to anyone. Once you’re ready you can then start doing outreach. When you’re there you’ll meet other activists and find out what other activism is happening near you and go from there!
What do you feel is your biggest area of opportunity for growth in your activism?
One of my biggest opportunities for growth is talking on camera. Like when I live to stream myself, I get so nervous that I quite honestly blackout. I hardly know what I’m saying and I’m so freaked out I blank and forget what I wanted to say. I’m pushing myself to get more comfortable on camera by going live whenever I get the chance now.
How do you balance your well being and activism?
After experiencing a major burnout this summer, this is something I’m taking a lot more serious. I’m spreading out major events that are tasking to me. I try to make it a point to do things with my activist friends that aren’t activism, like going hiking or for example a group of us who organized the Official Animal Rights March went putt-putt golfing. I also love going to the sanctuaries to recharge. But overall I believe that animal liberation does take a bit of personal sacrifice and that’s okay with me.
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