Students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University are standing up for the rights of animals, from eight-legged tarantulas to cud-chewing cows.
The Animal Rights Collective club was started in 2010 after founder Kari Michaels saw a need for a way to connect like-minded students. Her goal: bring attention to the mistreatment of all animals, big or small.
“I think a big thing is knowing there are people out there that think the same way, especially with animal rights,” said Michaels.
Michaels had always cared for animals but it wasn’t until she found out that she was allergic to dairy and eggs that she decided to take that next step in animal activism and become a vegan. This lifestyle change led her to lean a lot about how farm animals are treated.
“It was a very strong wake-up call to advocate for the better treatment of animals,” she said.
Her transition to a complete vegan has not been an easy one and the support of a group is what has helped keep her from cheating with her favourite foods, nachos being her latest indiscretion.
“I thought there must be people here who feel the same way but just don’t have a community, so part of it is community building, which I think is really important, not only to help with resources but it also helps with support,” said Michaels.
The Animal Rights Collective isn’t just for vegans. It’s for anyone who cares about the ethical treatment of animals.
“As long as you don’t think it’s okay to kick a puppy, you’re in,” Michaels said.
While Michaels’ focus is on the treatment of farm animals, the club brings attention to all animal rights issues, such as puppy and cat mills, as well as product testing on animals.
For Michaels, advocating for animal rights isn’t more important than any of the other serious issues facing the world.
“There are so many other issues in the world that are important, there are human rights, womens rights, but a lot of people don’t understand that when you care about animal rights it’s part of that scope, you’re just extending that scope of compassion to include non-human beings,” she said.
Michaels said it isn’t the goal of the club to force other students to change, but to promote thought and discussion. She also hopes to bring more vegan-friendly options to the Kwantlen campuses.
For more information on the Animal Rights Collective, contact the club by email