Seba Johnson

Seba Johnson

“It’s really not about us, it’s about what we can do while we’re here.”

Seba Johnson made history before she was old enough to drive a car. Before she became the youngest Alpine ski racer in Olympic history and the first black female to compete in Olympic skiing, however, she had already lived a childhood that was, at the time, relatively exceptional: from the day she was born, Johnson was raised vegan.

Johnson’s childhood was far from perfect; her family was violently attacked for being interracial and her mother was accused of child abuse for raising her children on a vegan diet. And while Johnson feels deep gratitude for having been raised the way she was, it also took its toll. “You understand exactly what’s going on when you’re eating across the room from someone,” she says. Dealing with the grief of knowing what happens to animals from a young age was a heavy burden to bear, especially at a time before vegan diets had become as well-understood and mainstream as they are today.

“It’s really not about us, it’s about what we can do while we’re here”

The fact that she was a vegan was especially scrutinized in Johnson’s life: at just fourteen years old, she participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics, making history for both her age and her ethnicity. A year later, however, it was her conviction as a vegan that propelled her into the spotlight more than her youth. In 1989, Johnson was disqualified from a World Cup downhill race for refusing to wear a suit that was made with leather, even though she had her own vegan suit that was competition-compliant (procured from German designer Willy Bogner after much searching and effort by Johnson). Her disqualification made headlines: “The next day it had more press attention that the winner of the race,” she says. Her mother criticized the race’s decision as racist, which Johnson acknowledges could have been a motivating factor behind the competition’s rigidity.

“I’ve experienced racism within this movement”

It wouldn’t be the last time that Johnson’s ethics impacted her skiing career. After competing in her second Olympic Games at the age of 18 in Albertville, France, she qualified for the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Johnson made the decision to boycott the Games, however, due to Norway’s resuming of commercial whaling in 1993. She never raced professionally again.

Today, Johnson is a speaker and also works as a special ed assistant. Being around children gives her hope, she says. She describes seeing “their light and their energy every Monday morning,” as life-giving, along with the relationship that she has with her dogs and her sister.

Like many activists, Johnson has struggled with mental health issues. She witnessed the brutality of humans at a young age through the violence directed at her family. She also remembers learning about animal testing for the first time in literature her mother received in the mail from an animal protection organization. “There was one in particular where these two young monkeys were holding onto each other tightly – it reminded me of me and my sister, Zuely, when we were scared,” Johnson says. She empathized deeply with the monkeys’ suffering and, although she already agreed with her mother’s choice to raise her and her sister as vegans, this solidified her feelings about animal abuse.

Johnson uses her role now as a teacher’s assistant to talk to children about the truth about what happens to animals. She objects to the way that children are not only kept in the dark, but actively mislead about the treatment of animals. “It’s so important,” she says, to tell them the truth. She uses age-appropriate language, but she doesn’t hide the facts. It gets a mixed reaction from parents – sometimes even children themselves, one of whom angrily declared that cows made milk for her as well as for their babies – but Johnson laughs it off. It’s worth it. “It’s really not about us, it’s about what we can do while we’re here,” she says, and her goal is to reduce harm in whatever way she can.

“The animals can’t afford for you to get comfortable speaking. If you stutter, oh well. If you have stage fright, take yourself out of it, think of who you’re speaking for.”

Johnson speaks with a sense of urgency, and not only because of her deep understanding of the scale of animal suffering. In 2008, she was almost killed in a horrific skiing accident. She broke her pelvis in three places and was bedridden for three months – and had to learn to walk again. “We all have to realize that the next day is not guaranteed,” she says. The ordeal pushed her to take her activism to the next level. “Don’t wait. Do something now,” Johnson says to those looking to get involved. People ask her regularly about what they can do, especially if they don’t have her composure as a speaker. Johnson simply says that it doesn’t matter, that the fight is too big. “The animals can’t afford for you to get comfortable speaking. If you stutter, oh well. If you have stage fright, take yourself out of it, think of who you’re speaking for.”

Besides, she says, activism takes so many forms. “Whatever your profession is or whatever your talent is, there’s an opportunity to speak up and help animals in any way you can. If you’re an artist, you can share your message through your art; if you’re a teacher you can introduce the idea of veganism and animal rights. Even in the grocery store, you can loudly say to the fellow who works there, ‘Excuse me, do you know where the vegan section is?’” to raise awareness and drive demand.

“We’re all working for the same thing. We must not be oppressive of one another.”

Johnson is a determined woman who, while she gained the spotlight early on, hasn’t had an easy run in her life as an activist. “I’ve experienced racism within this movement,” she says. But she kept fighting. Her life, she believes, is not her own, but rather that she has a duty to protect those who are suffering. She does believe though, that activists must be kinder to each other, and, though she’s only recently come to realize, to ourselves: “I just hope that if we are truly trying to make a difference in the lives of animals that we remember to include human animals, one another. We’re all working for the same thing. We must not be oppressive of one another.”

Sneha Shrestha

Sneha Shrestha

Sneha Shrestha

Founder of Sneha's Care, a shelter for street dogs in Nepal

 

Photos by Jo-Anne McArthur.

Interview and story by Sayara Thurston.

Sneha Shrestha didn’t want a dog.

“I wasn’t an animal lover. I wasn’t even a dog lover.”

Photo: A rescue dog naps in the sun at Sneha’s Care.

She tells me this as we’re surrounded by more than a hundred dogs at Sneha’s Care, the shelter that Shrestha runs outside of Kathmandu in Nepal. More than a dozen of the animals are paralyzed from the waist down and many of them are recovering from horrendous injuries —  missing legs and ears and eyes and parts of their snouts — but all running, barking, playing joyfully in a space where they know they are safe and loved. 

Four years ago, after much pestering from her husband, Shrestha finally agreed to get a puppy. Two puppies, actually, though Shrestha insisted that they be bought from a breeder — she didn’t want street dogs in her home. 

Photo: Rescue dogs getting some afternoon sun at Sneha’s Care.

Despite her reluctance, one of the puppies, Zara, quickly stole Shrestha's heart.

“She was more than a family member for me. 

She was like a child.”

Zara would wait at the gate for Shrestha and her husband to come home from work every day. Shrestha started getting up earlier to walk the dogs and spend time with them. But one day, Zara wasn’t at the gate at the end of the day. Shrestha found her inside, vomiting blood.

She’d been poisoned by a neighbour who didn’t like her barking. And despite desperate efforts to save her, she died four days later. Shrestha was devastated. “In Hindu culture, when a family member dies, we don’t eat anything for 13 days. I did this for my dog.”

Knowing how Zara had suffered — and how unjustly — Shrestha began to see street dogs differently. She started feeding them, carrying dog biscuits with her wherever she went. She started noticing how many of them had injuries and desperately needed vet care. 

Photo: A volunteer and a rescue dog at Sneha’s Care in Nepal.

Photo: Sneha Shrestha and some of the dogs she cares for at her shelter.

She began paying for space at a local kennel to give dogs shelter, care, and regular meals. Within a month, the kennel was full. But Shrestha wasn’t satisfied and she didn’t like that she wasn’t in charge of how the kennel was run. So, with the support of her husband, she sold a house she owned and opened a shelter. 

Video Top: Laundry drying at the shelter, which sits just outside of Kathmandu.
Video Bottom: A rescue dog gets some love at Sneha’s Care.
Main Photo: A rescue dog in his crate at Sneha’s Care.

Today, Sneha’s Care has a new shelter facility, a team of veterinarians and technicians, and welcomes volunteers from around the world who come to spend time helping the dogs recover and find new homes (although some live permanently at the shelter). 

Photo: A rescue dog with a scarred face at Sneha’s Care.

As we talk, Shrestha looks out at the paralyzed dogs — most of them were injured in hit and run cases. People ask her why she doesn’t euthanize them. “My father was paralyzed for 17 years. We never thought about euthanizing him,” she says poignantly. She says the only difference between him and the dogs is that “my father could speak. And he explained to me that he wanted to live. Maybe these dogs also want to live. I don’t have the right to euthanize them.”

Photo: A disabled rescue dog gets some exercise outside Sneha’s Care.

Shrestha can’t buy dog wheelchairs in Nepal but she imports them. She laughs,

 “when I put the paralyzed dogs in the wheelchairs, they run faster than the four-legged dogs!” 

After she opened the shelter and realized how much love she had for dogs suffering on the streets of Kathmandu, Shrestha suddenly saw all animals in a new light. She realized that she was calling herself an animal lover, but in practice, she was only showing that love to dogs. So she became vegan. 

Photo: Volunteers help all the dogs get exercise outside Sneha’s Care in Nepal.

Today, Shrestha is one of Nepal’s most vocal and visible animal advocates. “I want to be a voice for the voiceless,” she says. Shrestha recently successfully campaigned for the Nepalese government to adopt the country’s first animal protection law, as well as new standards covering buffaloes in transport, who suffer in horrendous conditions on the journey from the India-Nepal border. 

“It’s not only people who teach you humanity, 

I learned humanity from these animals.”

She was nominated as Youth Icon Of The Year 2018 by Women With Vision’s 100 Most Influential Women Of Nepal. Most of her volunteers and supporters are women. “Women are full of love. They have so many passions, helping people, helping animals. Women can save the world.”

Are things changing? Absolutely, she says. “Nepal is changing, society is changing.”

Photo: Photo: Staff, volunteers, and visitors spend time with the rescue dogs at Sneha’s Care.

Shrestha believes that educating young people about protecting animals is paramount. “I was never taught in school to be kind,” she says, but now she sees local children visiting the shelter and donating their pocket money. 

And it’s not just us who can teach compassion. “The most important thing is to have humanity. It’s not only people who teach you humanity, I learned humanity from these animals. These animals taught me everything.”

“Women are full of love. They have so many passions, helping people, helping animals. Women can save the world.”

Zara’s memory keeps her motivated. “Zara inspired me to build this shelter. I have her photo beside my bed. I see her every day and she motivates me to help animals.” 

 “She is the reason I have this shelter.”

The animal protection movement in Nepal has many challenges in front of it, but Zara’s legacy is that Shrestha will always be there to face them.

Learn more and support Sneha’s Care.

Photos and video by Jo-Anne McArthur. Interview and story by Sayara Thurston. 

Sandra Higgins

Sandra Higgins

“Culture or tradition or taste or habit – they don’t justify our belief that we can use them as we wish because they are not one of us.”

 

Sandra Higgins With Mr. Darcy. Photo by Agatha Kisiel Photography.

Sandra Higgins has an easy laugh and a bubbly nature, but talk to her for a few minutes and you’ll quickly realize that she is dedicated, whip smart, and not a woman to underestimate.

Higgins runs Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary in Ireland, where she manages the day to day operations down to the last detail. Managing a sanctuary is itself no small feat, but Higgins doesn’t stop there –– she’s also running one of the world’s biggest vegan campaigns.

Photo courtesy of Go Vegan World.

Go Vegan Ireland launched in 2015 and Go Vegan World the year after. Both have been more successful than anyone could have predicted. Anyone, that is, except perhaps Higgins herself, whose quiet determination is apparent when she talks about the campaigns.

“They’re designed to confront us with our own values,” she says of the campaign’s ads, an approach she calls “empathic confrontation.” Many of the Go Vegan billboards feature the residents of Eden. They are combined with messages that, while shocking, are simple, direct, and indisputable: “Dairy Takes Babies from their Mothers,” for example, is one of the recurring messages.

The campaign presents people with the consequences of their choices. Go Vegan World isn’t an anti-farming campaign – Higgins is targeting consumers of animal products to encourage individual members of the public to be personally responsible for the impacts their non-vegan choices have on other animals. “It is irrational to blame farmers, slaughterhouse workers, or other employees of the industry,” Higgins explains. “We’re paying them to do a job we ourselves would feel too uncomfortable to do.” One of the activities of Go Vegan World is supporting farmers to transition to plant agriculture as a more ethical, sustainable, and secure way of living that benefits humans as well as other animals.

Linda and Cormac. Photo by Agatha Kisiel Photography.

We had the opportunity to visit Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary, and as we walk around the sanctuary, Higgins talked about the campaign and her work caring for Eden’s residents. Following her through the fields and enclosures, it’s clear that she is used to working every minute of the day, but as we pass each pen or coop, she still stops to greet each animal by name and offer some insight into their personality or the story of how they came to be there. We meet Dominic, Angela, Timothy, Aoibheann, and David. George, a pig, clearly holds a special place in Higgins’ heart. “If you saw the delicate way that he eats a raspberry,” she says, not to gush, but rather to emphasize his unique personality and gentle nature. Higgins’ every thought is about how to create – as the name of her campaign indicates – a vegan world for the animals.

Everybody has the common goal of wanting to avoid pain, wanting to stay alive, and wanting peace and some happiness. Every single creature on the face of the earth wants that.

She has a profound respect for animals because of everything we already know about their intelligence and social structures –– but perhaps more importantly, she respects them because of all that we still don’t know about their sentience, behaviours, their motivations, their desires. “I think there’s so much for us to learn about them and from them,” she stresses.

Higgins opened the sanctuary in 2008 and built it up slowly over the course of several years. “I’ve worked hard to get to this day when I could take in bigger animals,” like cows Cormac and Linda, she explains. She believes profoundly in the power of narratives. Talking about the individual chickens and geese and pigs in her care is a totally different angle than talking about the abuses of the industry, she says, and Eden’s literature is filled with stunning portraits and moving stories about the animals in her care.

The vegan guide, part of the Go Vegan World campaign, is a comprehensive, well-designed resource that covers everything from why to go vegan to how to get enough calcium to planning a week’s worth of meals. “I just give people what I wish I’d had when I went vegan,” Higgins says. It’s been a huge success, with requests for copies coming in from all over the world and thousands of downloads every month.

I keep thinking, for every person who writes, maybe there’s a person out there who went vegan and didn’t write.

Photo courtesy of Go Vegan World.

The campaign as a whole features billboards and transit ads in some of the most visible places in the UK –– entire walls of tube stations, the sides of hundreds of London buses, and an international rugby match (the first vegan campaign to do so). The impact has been profound. Higgins says that prior to the campaign, there was very little visibility for animal rights in Ireland and that it’s succeeding in opening people’s eyes. She receives constant letters and emails from people saying that the campaign inspired them to research the issues or to go vegan. “And I keep thinking, for every person who writes, maybe there’s a person out there who went vegan and didn’t write.”

In a cab one day, the driver asked her “Did you put up the chick ad?” Referring to a billboard that exposes the fate of male chicks in the egg industry (death by asphyxiation or maceration on the day they hatch). “I’m horrified,” he said. “I never knew that.”

And it isn’t only non-vegans who are changing because of the campaign. Seeing the messages on such a large scale has revitalized so many activists, Higgins says. Little wonder, given one of its recent victories –– a win that came, almost unbelievably, thanks to the dairy industry, which inadvertently handed the campaign one of the most significant victories for animals in the UK in years. After the campaign launched, seven complaints – filed directly by the dairy industry – were made to the UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), claiming that it portrayed the industry in a misleading light. The ASA reviewed the advertisements, as well as evidence provided by Go Vegan World. It did not go well for the industry. In its ruling, the ASA ruled that: “although the language used to express the claims was emotional and hard-hitting, we understood it was the case that calves were generally separated from their mothers very soon after birth, and we therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to materially mislead readers.” In effect, the ruling sets a precedent for animal rights campaigners around the world to publicly denounce the dairy industry as inhumane. It’s a game-changing victory that received well-earned worldwide attention.

Photo courtesy of Go Vegan World.

In reality though, it’s unsurprising that the ads stood up to scrutiny: Higgins designed them that way. They’re not graphic and the messages are facts that are easy to understand. “A lot of people say that the ads are manipulative, but they are stating facts, that’s all. But they’re tugging at people’s empathy. They nag at the moral conviction most of us share: that it is wrong to use, harm or kill another feeling being, especially when we do so to meet our most trivial of needs.”

Culture or tradition or taste or habit – they don’t justify our belief that we can use them as we wish because they are not one of us.

And this is truly the core of her approach. “What I do is leave them no excuses,” she says, describing her method of asking people to relate agricultural and other animal exploitation practices back to their own values. “Terrible things are socio-culturally sanctioned… It was also the culture to beat your wife with a stick no bigger than your thumb. It was illegal to be gay.” Higgins acknowledges that the Go Vegan World campaign doesn’t make people go vegan, but says that it’s goal is to plant seeds for changes about how animal use is thought of in the public discourse. She believes that social change is not only possible, but that it’s coming –– because it’s logical. “Culture or tradition or taste or habit – they don’t justify our belief that we can use them as we wish because they are not one of us.” As we’re leaving the fields to go inside, Higgins interrupts herself to point, “There’s a nest in that house, you can see the birds.” And that’s who she is: advocating for justice on the grandest scale of any campaign to date, but still focused on each animal, treating every individual life with equal worth. “Everybody has the common goal of wanting to avoid pain, wanting to stay alive and wanting peace and some happiness,” she says. “Every single creature on the face of the earth wants that.”


Interview by Keri Cronin. Text by Sayara Thurston.

Pei-Feng Su

Pei-Feng Su

“When you untie the knots, you have to do it bit by bit.”

Pei-Feng Su. All photographs by Jo-Anne McArthur (except where indicated).

P ei-Feng Su gets a call from a donor who presents her with an opportunity: the donor wants to fund her organization to rescue a truck full of dogs bound for slaughter. She says no.

“It’s a choice. We live with the choice.”

Su is the Executive Director and co-founder of ACT Asia, an organization dedicated to humane education in Asia. Since it was founded, the organization has taught more than 65,000 students and trained over 1000 teachers. They’re a small group with limited funding, but they punch above their weight, in part because of their laser focus. Donors want to fund rescuing dogs from meat trucks, and it’s gratifying work in the short term, but finding funding for what comes next – sheltering and caring for the animals – would quickly take up all of ACT Asia’s time and resources.

Because her group’s focus is in education, people say to her, “Oh you just chose the easy job. You don’t have the courage to fight.” She used to agree with them.

Humane education is groundbreaking. It should be taught like English, like math.

But if anything, focusing on education is the bravest choice that Su has ever made. Turning away from relieving the suffering of animals right in front of her for the sake of preventing the suffering of a greater number of animals in the future takes a huge amount of courage.

“We’re just firefighting,” she says of many of the campaigns that exist today. She acknowledges the importance of the animal movement’s current campaigns – for stronger legislation, corporate shifts, and moving people to plant-based diets – but, she argues, we need a holistic approach, and educating young people has been woefully neglected by the animal movement.

“Humane education is groundbreaking,” Su says. “It should be taught like English, like math.”

Su wasn’t drawn into the animal movement by any particular feeling of love towards other species, but because she recognized it as a social justice issue like any other. Before working on behalf of animals, she was an advocate for victims of domestic violence and women seeking access to abortion.

In 1992, when Su first started fighting for animals, she would go to meetings in parliament and speak to the media. But, with no PhD, no science degree, and no background in the issues, she quickly felt intimidated, especially as a woman.

In compassionate work, there are always lots of women, but even when I was working in the west, the men earned more.

So, she left the country to learn practical skills, interning with several animal rights organizations in the US.

“I wanted to learn how they survived,” Su says of women in the movement. “And I was empowered.

“In compassionate work, there are always lots of women,” but they don’t always receive respect, she goes on. “Even when I was working in the west, the men earned more.” Su almost took an organization to court because she knew that a man hired after her, and with the same experience, was being paid more.

On gender equality, she says looking back on her 25 years of experience, “It’s better, but it’s not there yet.”

When you untie the knots, you have to do it bit by bit.

Ten years ago, Su conceived the idea for an education-focused organization and, unknowingly, became pregnant at the same time. “I always say I have two kids,” she laughs. Twins, born and raised together.

Su credits her daughter with making her the activist she is today. “I think if I didn’t have my daughter I would have already left the movement. I really think she saved me.”

She works hard to prove that she can be a good mother and a good activist and, with the support of her husband, she’s taken motherhood in stride. “I sent my last email to everyone when I was on the way to the hospital.”

Her daughter has taught her the importance of a normal, balanced life, Su says. “When I became an activist, for the first five years, I had no friends, because I could not bear to go out with them. I think everybody goes through it.”

And now, “I feel like I’m a balanced person,” she says. “My daughter’s life taught me it’s important to have friends. It’s important to have normal friends!” She bursts into laughter at this, but there’s truth in her words.

Raising a child has also reinforced her conviction in what she does. “She’s my best teacher,” Su says of her daughter, Risa. “She really helped me to understand and to see the world as kids do. That’s why I’m so passionate about education,” she says, reflecting on the power of teaching a young child. “They are what you make them.”

Su is playing the long game. “When you untie the knots, you have to do it bit by bit.” When she first started, Su thought ACT Asia might end up teaching humane education in a few schools. Today, they have six years’ worth of curriculum being taught in 130 schools, with more being rolled out all the time.

“We’re not going to break that circle if they grow up seeing abuse. We have more kids in schools now saying, ‘I don’t want to see the circus, mom, because I think that’s wrong.’”

ACT Asia’s work has made them one of the most impactful groups in Asia and a global force in humane education, with several offices now open around the world. Su hasn’t chosen an easy route, but she’s already had a lasting impact for animals.


Learn more and support ACT Asia.
Photos by Jo-Anne McArthur. Interview and text by Sayara Thurston.

The 2017 Unbound Project Grant Recipients

The 2017 Unbound Project Grant Recipients

All photos by Jo-Anne McArthur/Unbound Project except where indicated.

In 2017, the Unbound Project invited some of our featured women to apply for our first-ever round of grants to support projects aimed at helping farmed animals around the world. We awarded grants to women doing remarkable work to make real change for animals. We gave away a total of $100,000, with 10 grants of $10,000 each going towards funding innovative projects in eight countries.

Read the stories of the projects we’re funding and the women leading them below.

Note that any future Unbound Project Grants will also be awarded to applicants who are invited to submit funding proposals. We are not accepting unsolicited applications at this time. 

2017 Unbound Project Grant Recipients

Pam Ahern

Pam Ahern – Australia

Ahern is the founder of Edgar’s Mission, a sanctuary for rescued farm animals and one of Australia’s most important voices in farm animal protection. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of animals and also runs animal protection and vegan advocacy campaigns and events on-site and around the country. Ahern’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards funding a cross-country speaking tour in Australia where she will share the story of starting a sanctuary farm sanctuary and dedicating her life to animal

Check back in 2018 for Ahern’s full Unbound profile.

 

Piia Anttonen – Finland

Piia Anttonen

Piia Anttonen

Anttonen runs Tuulispää Animal Sanctuary in Finland, a sanctuary she founded in 2012 after pledging to always help the animals most in need, the elderly, the sick, the abused, and the neglected. Anttonen’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards stepping up her sanctuary’s vegan advocacy with the creation of an on-site education centre to host plant-based cooking classes, film screenings, speakers, school visits, and community events.

Read Anttonen’s full Unbound profile here.

 

Allison Argo

Allison Argo – USA

Argo became a filmmaker almost by accident as she sought a way to speak for those who could not tell their own stories. “I look for those who are struggling – for survival or freedom or simply for dignity and respect,” she says. Argo’s latest film, documentary The Last Pig tells the story of a pig farmer who, after a change of heart, sent his remaining animals to sanctuaries and moved to plant-based farming. Argo’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will be used to promote the film.

Read Argo’s full Unbound profile here.

 

Karyn Boswell – Canada

Karyn Boswell

Boswell founded and runs Penny Lane Farm Sanctuary in Canada. Almost an accidental activist, she started the sanctuary after moving to a rural area and being shocked by the treatment of horses sold (generally for horsemeat) at auctions. Today Penny Lane is an important voice for horses and other farmed animals in Canada. Boswell’s 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards the construction of a visitor barn and educational space at the sanctuary’s new location, allowing visitors and school children to learn about the sanctuary’s animal residents and the industries that abuse countless animals just like them each year.

Read Boswell’s full Unbound profile here.

Juliana Casteñeda-Turner. Photo by Julie O’Neill.

Juliana Casteñeda-Turner – Colombia

Casteñeda-Turner is the founding director of Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary, which she officially opened in 2008. The sanctuary is now home to more than 80 rescued animals—most of them farm animals—and also runs education and vegan outreach programs. Casteñeda-Turner’s 2017 Unbound Project grant will go towards expanding the sanctuary’s educational outreach and providing free vegan resources to schools in Colombia.

Read Casteñeda-Turner’s full Unbound profile here.

 

Josie Du Toit – South Africa

Josie Du Toit

Du Toit is Co-Director of the Vervet Monkey Foundation in South Africa. Born and raised in England, Du Toit’s early love for animals led her to volunteer and work full time at the African sanctuary she’s now called home for more than ten years. Under Du Toit’s leadership, the vervet sanctuary has also developed a vegan outreach program, and the 2017 Unbound Project Grant will be used to build an on-site kitchen to host vegan cooking classes for volunteers, community members, and chefs from local schools.

Read Du Toit’s full Unbound profile here.

 

Dobrosława Gogłoza

Dobrosława Gogłoza – Poland

Gogłoza is the co-founder of Otwarte Klatki (branded as Open Cages internationally), the Polish organization driving change for animals in Eastern Europe. Gogłoza’s group focuses its energy on campaigns and projects that will have the maximum impact for animals. Her 2017 Unbound Project Grant will go towards a high-impact plant-based advocacy campaign in Estonia.

Read Gogłoza’s full Unbound profile here.

Camille Labchuk – Canada

Camille Labchuk

Labchuk is Executive Director of Animal Justice, Canada’s only legal advocacy organization for animals. A lifelong activist, Labchuk made the decision to become a lawyer in order to fight for greater legal and political protections for animals. Since its foundation, Animal Justice has quickly become one of the leading national voices for animals in Canada. Labchuk and Animal Justice will use the 2017 Unbound Project Grant to increase their federal political outreach and bring media attention to the need for federal protections for farm animals.

Read Labchuk’s full Unbound profile here.

 

Smaragda Louw with members of the Ban Animal Trading team

Smaragda Louw – South Africa

Louw co-founded Ban Animal Trading (BAT) in 2013 and the group has quickly made a name for itself in animal protection in South Africa. Louw’s group has a broad focus and a relentless drive to keep conducting new investigations, launching new campaigns, and generally keep animal issues in the public eye. Louw and BAT will use their 2017 Unbound Project Grant to fund investigative work on farms through 2018.

Read Louw’s full Unbound profile here.

 

Hazel Zhang – China

Hazel Zhang. Photo by Kelly Guerin.

When Zhang watched a documentary about the brutal treatment of farm animals, she knew she had to take action. She started VegPlanet, a website that shares news and resources about living a vegan lifestyle –– one of the first of its kind in China. Today, Zhang’s site has hundreds of thousands of followers and a growing team of full-time staff.  She and her team will use the 2017 Unbound Project Grant to host a series of simultaneous vegan events, promoting them online and in the media to increase public awareness of the benefits of plant-based diets.

Watch Hazel’s Unbound video profile here.

 


Text by Sayara Thurston. All featured photos by Jo-Anne McArthur/Unbound Project except where indicated.