Inspirational Animal Rights Activists: Beth Milton – Activism is My Rent for Living on the Planet.

Bio (Tell us a little about yourself).

Hi! I”m Beth. I live in Olympia, WA. I moved here in ’99 from California. I own my own professional pet sitting business which I started in ’01.

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What lead you to veganism? How long ago?

I became a vegan early May 2016 just before my birthday on May 5. What a great birthday gift, right?! 🙂 I considered myself an animal lover my whole life. I was a vegetarian for a number of years after seeing such things as a death truck with chickens headed to slaughter & a factory farm full of cows in Northern California that I unquestionably felt with every fiber of my being was such an evil place. It was unmistakable how much the cows were suffering & how unethical it was that we were doing that to them. The day was dreary & cloudy, adding to the overall effect of making it an apocalyptic, horrifying scene that really stood out in my mind. At that point, I wasn’t fully informed & aware of what happens to animals in the dairy & egg industries. I DID know about not using animals for experimentation, fashion, or entertainment. I’d been an opponent of vivisection including letter writing, sharing on social media, boycotting all companies & charities that fund animal torture. I was shopping cruelty-free for 20 years before going vegan. Before going vegan, I went to a demo in Seattle to free a captive orca. The vegan activists I met there inspired me. One vegan I knew asked me if I’d considered veganism & I said, “I love cheese & can’t imagine giving it up.” She offered to help me transition. The more vegan friends I made on social media, the more I saw posts about AR & became more aware & informed. Then I saw Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy & Vegucated. After watching, I then had enough information & awareness to commit to veganism. It wasn’t really a decision. It was just like, “I’m doing this.” It was really the only option that aligned with my ethics.

Tell us about our journey to activism? Why are you an activist?

The city I live in did not have any activist groups when I became vegan. I saw a video on FB by Paul Bashir, one of the founders, along with Asal Alamdari, of activist group Anonymous For The Voiceless, and it was really impactful. I also later saw a few posts about AV, which had just formed earlier that year (2016). I didn’t know many vegans in real life or online. I felt isolated & alone, surrounded by people participating in speciesism who didn’t understand. Also dealing with the backlash that is directed at vegans was continually distressing. Early on in that first year, I’d joined the FB group VEGANS UNITED which felt like a life raft in a sea of speciesism! Like a refuge & safe haven from the outside world. I started connecting with more vegans & becoming friends. I remember struggling during the holidays & posting in that group & people were so supportive! One of the friends I made in that group was an AV organizer in Texas. From her, I found out AV had a number of chapters in the states. In March 2017, I saw a post for an upcoming Cube of Truth in nearby Tacoma & was immediately interested & determined to go! The more I learned about what animals were going through, the more I felt like I could not sit by & do nothing. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to help the animals! It was AV Tacoma’s first Cube. I joined the FB group & immediately, one of the organizers reached out to me in a message. I showed up, starting out by being in the Cube, silent, wearing the mask & holding a device or Truth sign. I’m a shy introvert with social anxiety so decided I didn’t ever want to do outreach. They said that was ok. I listened to people doing outreach & didn’t think I was well informed enough to do it. At my 2nd Cube, one of our organizers told me that when we have outreach conversations, it’s just like talking to a friend or family member. That was a great perspective for me to see. It firmly grounds our conversations in the fact that we’re there to help & facilitate people to become informed & aware. I also love the perspective that our fight is not against individuals, it is against systems. I appreciated the professionalism & structure of the Cubes. & that it felt strong to be with other activists. I remember after our 1st Cube we all went out to eat at a vegan restaurant. Being able to connect with other vegans who were activists passionate about helping the animals was like a breath of fresh air! I felt like, after 39 years, I’d finally met my people! Fast forward 1.5 years from that time & I’ve been to many Cubes in our area & have done a lot of outreach! In addition to AV, I attended my first animal rights march – The Official Animal Rights March in Portland, an incredible experience! I try to support AR events whenever I can – demos, protests, marches, fundraisers. Last year, I planned a Vegan Thanksgiving demo for the turkeys at a local grocery store that hosts an annual “Turkey Bowl” where they throw their frozen bodies as bowling balls down the aisles & people win prizes. We held signs outside the store, distributed literature about wonderful turkey facts, local farm sanctuaries & vegan holiday recipes & had conversations. We got a lot of support! I’m a big fan of online activism. I love the group DVA, Digital Vegan Activists. I haven’t been active in that group lately but it’s really great! I try to post as much as I can about AR on my FB page as well as support other vegans by sharing, liking, reacting, commenting. Supporting vegan businesses & farm sanctuaries is a great way to help! I also like stickering. It can be fun getting creative to see how many ways we can help!

Why am I an activist?

Because vegan activism is the moral baseline. I see speciesism as the most urgent problem of our time. With over 3,000 individuals being slaughtered on this planet EVERY SECOND and with our planet being catastrophically destroyed by animal agriculture, thereby causing even more suffering for all Earthlings, and with what it is doing to humans who are starving & other humans who are getting sick and even dying of preventable diseases caused by consumption of flesh & secretions, I feel compelled to do all I can to make it stop. As Alice Walker so eloquently said, “Activism is my rent for living on the planet.”

What type of activism are you involved in? Please feel free to share the groups you participate in.

Anonymous For The Voiceless & Digital Vegan Activists.

What were your thoughts and feelings before your first activism event?

I was terrified & anxious. I thought angry people were going to be confronting us & yelling at us. That didn’t happen at all.

How did you feel once the event was over?

Successful! Empowered! Grateful to be in the presence of other activists! I felt that what we had just done was very important.

How do you feel you are most effective as an activist?

I think street activism has the potential to reach the most people, typically, of the types of activism I do. For example, the Seattle Cube with Earthling Ed involved 102 activists getting 204 bystanders to consider veganism & take it seriously. That is a very conservative tally. It doesn’t take into account all the other people who saw us & learned about the animals’ plight & that we can create a better world. It also doesn’t count all the people who go vegan as a result of a bystander who came & then went vegan influencing them or the ripple effect that has! Cubes are so powerful to get to see the hearts & minds of bystanders change before our eyes and to be connected in that way with other activists – it fills me with hope & optimism. So I feel that I can be effective doing that type of activism. That being said, being around people, especially groups of people is challenging for me. It is intensely stressful & exhausting. Sometimes I wish I was an extrovert who gains energy from events like that. Haha! I have anxiety & PTSD so interacting with people at all is a challenge. People in AV are some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met – truly stellar individuals. I feel as safe as possible around them. Online activism is much easier for me as I can do it independently & in the comfort & safety of my home. The internet is incredible & so is social media! Each one of us has the potential to reach so many others & all across the world too! It’s mind-blowing. It is so exciting & heartwarming to be contacted by various friends & family who tell me that because of my posts, they went vegan or are now considering veganism or have made changes & are heading in the direction of veganism.

What’s been your most memorable moment as an activist? Toughest moment?

Probably when my parents came to a Cube to support me & left agreeing to do the 22-day vegan challenge! I was in the Cube when they arrived. They watched the footage & my mom was crying. Our wonderful organizer for Olympia, Jacqui Waters, came over to talk with them. They ended up talking with everyone there & headed off to eat a vegan lunch at a nearby restaurant. I’m so proud of them. They’ve been vegan for 1 year. The toughest moment as an activist is probably a moment where I feel hopeless & full of despair. I think everyone can relate to having moments like that. Then I look around at all of the incredible vegans who ARE changing the world & know that it all matters immensely. I often think of this quote by Howard Zinn, “If people could see that Change comes as a result of millions of tiny acts that seem totally insignificant, well then they wouldn’t hesitate to take those tiny acts.”

What is your favorite type of activist event?

Cubes of Truth

Please recommend your favorite activism video/s, book/s or website/s to share? Who are your activism role models? Why?

My friends! Ordinary everyday activists! All activists around the world who devote their lives to helping animals! Also, Earthling Ed because he is straightforward & unapologetic but also kind & understanding. He is respectful while always remaining centered in demanding nothing short of basic rights, respect, and total liberation for the animals.

When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?

I didn’t have much nonvegan “food” in my home so I gave what little of it I had a way to other nonvegans. I hadn’t purchased leather or fur for years but did have some items that were made with animal exploitation such as a formerly favorite sweater that had angora in it. I donated it to a thrift shop. I have a wool coat in my car to give to a charity. I haven’t worn it since going vegan. It’s been in my basement. I don’t feel comfortable throwing those items in the trash to add to landfills – it feels like even more of a waste for those animals who gave their lives to end up in a landfill. I think it can go to someone who is not yet a vegan. If they buy it from a thrift shop at least they’re not buying it new & therefore funding those industries. I totally get the perspective too that we ought to throw nonvegan items in the trash so. as not to normalize it. I get why people think that.

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 think anyone who is participating in it, regardless of age, deserves to know the truth. I don’t know much about kids or stages of development and how to best reach each age group. I also think that one of the most powerful tools we have is showing people the violent footage. If every person in the world watched films like Earthlings & Dominion with an open heart & an open mind, almost every person in the world would go vegan. I believe most would.

What does being vegan mean to you? For example, does it extend to not killing bugs and bees? Does it include not patronizing vegan companies owned by non-vegan parent companies? Does it affect the way you treat other humans?

I catch & release spiders & insects – even mosquitoes I’m kind of an expert at it now. I put the jar with the paper carefully down outside & as I back away, I release the paper, get inside, slam the door so the mosquito can’t come back in. I have noticed carpenter ants around my yard. It will definitely create a moral dilemma for me if I find out there is a colony of them. They can destroy an entire building & turn it to sawdust. My home is really the only thing I own of value & if I lost my home, I’d be pretty destitute & could end up homeless. So obviously I don’t want them destroying my home but I also don’t want to kill them. I just hope for the best & that I won’t have that dilemma. I do buy vegan food from vegan companies whose parent companies are not vegan. However, it is not ideal. I prefer buying only from vegan companies whose parent companies are also vegan. I do not buy vegan food from companies whose parent companies practice vivisection. The reason is that the money is going to fund vivisection. Those sociopathic parent companies are not going to make the connection between their vegan subsidiary making a big profit & the fact that they need to stop torturing animals in experiments. There is no impetus for them to change. However, I think that for nonvegan parent companies that are “food” companies that have vegan subsidiaries, it is much clearer for them to see that the profits of their vegan subsidiary are skyrocketing while sales for their meat & secretions are plummeting. These large unethical corporations don’t change because they become benevolent. They change because they are greedy – they don’t want to lose money/ they want to gain money. So appealing to their conscience will not work but they do respond to the demands of the marketplace. They respond to profit gains & losses. Anything that activists do support totally vegan companies & to incentivize the demand for vegan products & de-incentivize the demand for products made with animal exploitation is great! I know my stance on all of this may not be agreed with but it’s the best thing I’ve come up with for me so far.

For more on the sociopathic nature of corporations, watch the documentary film The Corporation. I’m looking forward to the day when all animal exploitation industries collapse, animals are completely liberated, & we have a vegan world. As for how does my veganism affect the way I treat other humans – I try to be kinder & more understanding while never wavering from animal liberation. I try to be ethically consistent by being across the board anti-oppression so looking at ways in which my perceptions & behaviors can still be speciesist, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, xenophobic, classist etc. & then actively working on changing.

Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist? What form of activism do you take part in?

Yes! It’s so important! If vegans do not start becoming activists then we can never achieve animal liberation or save this planet. I mainly do street activism and online activism.

Are you the activist you want to see in the world? Why?

No. I always feel like I could be doing more. The activist I want to see in the world is doing as much as they can and making it as effective as they can. I’m falling short of that at this time.

What is the activism scene like in your city?

It has really grown so much in the last couple of years and will only continue to do so! My friend runs a vegan club at our local college & they just had 80 people sign up this fall! It’s very exciting to see. We desperately need more people to become activists. I’m not sure how to make that happen. We try but it seems like so few vegans are activists. I hope that changes.

What personal recommendations can you make for people to get involved in activism?

As you can tell from what I’ve written so far, I just love Anonymous For The Voiceless! And in just 2.5 years, Asal Alamdari and Paul Bashir went from nothing – went from starting the organization to now over 750 chapters in cities worldwide. I’m so thankful to them.

What do you feel is your biggest area of opportunity for growth in your activism?

Pushing myself to get out there & interact with people. It’s scary to me.

How do you balance your well being and activism?

Not always very well. Ha! I was doing yoga for a year & that was tremendously helpful but for various reasons, I needed to stop a few months ago. For me, a regular yoga practice has been incredible for overall well being, health, not just physically but emotionally, energetically, spiritually. Veganism is definitely aligned with & a part of my spiritual practices so that actually facilitates my well being. Then, sometimes, I have to take a step back from activism because I’m tired, overwhelmed, have too much on my plate. So finding balance is easier when I’m honest with myself and I check in with myself about how I’m doing on all levels. Sometimes I need a day to stay home and relax, read a book & drink tea! I need to not feel guilty & remember that rest & relaxation is important and it helps me to be a more effective activist.

Are you an Animal Rights Activist who wants to share their journey to activism story or activist wisdom? If so, WE WANT YOUR STORY. Click here to share.

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