Throughout the years, more and more evidence has shown just how horrific intensive animal farming is — not just for the animals, but for humans as well. Statistically, slaughterhouses and factory farms are disproportionately located in low-income and minority communities, and those living in these areas suffer major health complications as a result.
Of course, not all of the issues that humans face are directly related to animal rights, but there is an undeniable connection between human rights and animal rights. Undoubtedly, the two — along with environmental rights — are inextricably linked. Many human rights advocates, both past and present, have recognized this connection and have also worked tirelessly to promote animal rights. Several years ago, U.S. Senator Cory Booker made headlines when he switched to a vegan diet, and even more recently, Colin Kaepernick ditched meat and dairy to help put an end to animal suffering. Here are five other, truly inspirational civil rights advocates who helped lead the charge in furthering the rights of both humans and animals.
5 Inspiring Human Rights Advocates You Didn’t Know Were Meat-Free
1. Coretta Scott King
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” —Coretta Scott King
Famed human rights activist and wife of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King was one of the most prominent figures in the Civil Rights Movement. Following the assassination of her husband in 1968, King made it her mission to continue his legacy and fought tirelessly for social change, not only in the United States, but in other parts of the world as well. From opposing the apartheid in South Africa to campaigning for peace in the Middle East, King was strongly committed to peacemaking on a global level. Advocating on behalf of women’s rights — as well as LGBT rights, environmental issues, economic justice, and religious freedoms — she unknowingly spearheaded the concept of intersectionality long before the term was even coined. After her son Dexter Scott King introduced her to veganism in the mid-90s, Coretta Scott King went on to live a vegan lifestyle for the last decade of her life!
2. Angela Davis
“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” —Angela Davis
A true revolutionary, Angela Davis is a pioneer for civil rights and is also a highly distinguished scholar, author, and professor. Just like her predecessors, Davis championed basic human rights such as racial equality, women’s rights, economic justice, and access to basic health care. Davis recognized the correlation between human rights and animal rights and became vegan early on in order to show compassion to all beings — animals included!
3. Rosa Parks
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” —Rosa Parks
You may be familiar with Rosa Parks and her legendary stand against segregation after she refused to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama (which sparked the Montgomery bus boycott), but did you know this fearless civil rights activist was also vegetarian?! An eco-warrior *and* compassionate to animals, Rosa Parks was vegetarian for over forty years and was also known for being an avid recycler!
4. Dick Gregory
“Because I’m a civil rights activist, I am also an animal rights activist. Animals and humans suffer and die alike.” —Dick Gregory
The inspiration behind Coretta Scott King’s son going vegan, humorist and civil rights activist Dick Gregory advocated a meat-free diet for over five decades before he passed away in the summer of last year. A self-described raw fruitarian, Gregory, along with his wife Lillian Smith, raised their ten children on a diet that consisted of only raw fruits and vegetables.
5. César Chávez
“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read.” —César Chávez
Labor organizer and famed union leader César Chávez dedicated his life to improving the working conditions of farmworkers. Co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association (along with Dolores Huerta who is also vegetarian!), Chávez used non-violent measures, including hunger strikes, boycotts, and marches, to assist farmworkers — one of the most marginalized groups in the world — in their fight for adequate pay, safe work environments, and better treatment altogether. Chávez became vegetarian after one of his hunger strikes and frequently spoke publicly about animal rights. Chávez credited his dog, Boycott, for allowing him to see how truly special animals really are.
What inspired you to go meat-free?
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