Photograph by Paris Waterworth
Animal rights activists from around New Zealand have chipped in to fund a new billboard, which was erected on Wellington's Cuba Street on Thursday morning (14/02/2019).
The 6m x 3m billboard features an image of a factory farmed pig (supplied by Farmwatch NZ) and the words "If you think it's wrong to hurt animals, you already believe in being vegan”. Designed by volunteers Atom Emet and Lauren Wickens-Smith, the billboard encourages viewers to consider whether veganism aligns with their own beliefs, and challenges them to sign up for a free 22 day vegan experience at https://www.challenge22.com/.
Emet, who has been vegan for over 20 years, stated, “Most people already know that it's wrong to exploit animals, and we know that we don't need to. So ideologically at least [most people] are already on-board with veganism”.
Co-designer and project manager Wickens-Smith said, "It’s funny, people talk about the 'vegan agenda' as if it's somehow different from their own. But most people, if they find sick or injured animals, will try to save them. Even someone who eats chicken every day, will usually feel sad when they hit a bird with their car. We just don't think about the animals who are suffering and dying for our food. Or maybe we don't realise that by paying for it to happen, we are responsible".
“So it's not that we're trying to change people's beliefs. We are simply asking people to align their actions with the values of kindness and compassion that they already hold. It’s just about making that connection, and having the strength of conviction to follow through with it".
“Like with any lifestyle change, becoming vegan can take some getting used to. But everyone I know has found it much easier than they thought it would be”.
Wellington-based activist Paris Waterworth, who is a mentor for Challenge 22 and supports participants via a Facebook group, said that Challenge 22 “makes the transition to veganism as easy as possible”.
“I've been blown away by how supportive and caring everyone in the community is, and I wish I had known about it when I first decided to go vegan!”
“I hope that people who see the billboard are interested and take advantage of this resource”.
The billboard will be up on Cuba Street for five weeks, and will then be reused in other locations around Wellington and New Zealand. The activist group also plans to produce a range of new designs, focussing on the ethical, environmental and health impacts of animal agriculture.
Simon Lyons, who kick-started the billboard venture, said that he has always been a fan of “many hands, light work” and that he took the same approach with this project.
“I could see a bunch of passionate vegans, some of whom were already busy doing activism, and saw it as a good way to bring everyone together to fund local vegan projects”.
Anyone wanting to support this, or future campaigns, can make weekly, fortnightly, or one-off donations to 12-3142-0408873-01 using the reference “billboards”.