Carolina Galvani

Carolina Galvani

“…I realized I’m here for a reason, and I’m seeing these horrible things, but something will come out of it. I’m pretty sure that this will create positive change.” ~ Carolina Galvani

During her twelve years as an investigative journalist, Carolina Galvani has found herself in some disturbing situations. One challenging assignment took her into a dozen abattoirs across Belgium, where she covertly filmed cows, sheep, and goats being slaughtered while fully conscious—and often right in front of each other.

“I remember one cow really looking at me while she was waiting to be killed, and it hurt me so much before I was forced to watch her dying very slowly,” Galvani, 42, told the Unbound Project. “But this experience also brought an insight to light. I realized I’m here for a reason, and I’m seeing these horrible things, but something will come out of it. I’m pretty sure that this will create positive change.”

The footage and other evidence Galvani gathered did make a substantial impact. When the media published her reports, Belgium politicians sparked a national debate about whether animals should be slaughtered without stunning, which, as it was believed at the time, could reduce suffering and pain if done correctly. Then in 2017, the Flanders and Wallonia regions of Belgium outlawed the slaughter without stunning—a ban that continues to be upheld today.

For Galvani, being a journalist was a lifelong dream. After first studying economics in college to help her better understand the world, in 2005, Galvani received her master’s in international journalism from City University in London. Shortly after she graduated, Galvani learned about an investigative journalism agency in London seeking a Portuguese interpreter to help with an assignment. Galvani volunteered. The project, it turned out, was to go undercover in factory farms and slaughterhouses in Portugal.

“I was already vegetarian for health reasons, but it was really a shock for me because I didn’t know much about factory farming and industrial slaughter,” she said.

The experience changed her life and clarified the kind of work she wanted to do. Galvani realized that she didn’t want to work for a mainstream media outlet, but to continue using her journalism skills to help foster change in animal welfare, human rights and environmental issues.

In addition to exposing the livestock industry, Galvani has helped to investigate the controversial sale of seal fur in Greece, deforestation in Australia for the Chinese timber market, hunting endangered pink dolphins in South America, and the commercial sale of whale meat in Greenland.

“I would feel a lot of anger when I see these horrible things, but anger usually gives you a lot of energy, and you can do a lot of things when you feel anger if you know how to manage it,” she said.

The investigations Galvani helped conduct have been published by leading media outlets such as the New York Times, the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4 and Le Monde. Yet Galvani says that she doesn’t measure her success by the amount of media attention her work receives —she measures it by the policy change it can galvanize. Besides the changes enforced in Belgian slaughterhouses, Galvani says that her reporting helped prevent the raising of a whaling quota in Greenland and contributed to a ban on the sale of piracatinga, an omnivorous species of catfish in Brazil, which is often caught with illegally procured meat from endangered pink dolphins.

Then in 2017, Galvani took her love for animals a step further by founding Sinergia Animal, an NGO dedicated to reducing animal suffering in countries in the Global South, such as Argentina, Colombia, Thailand, and Indonesia. One of the organization’s main programs is convincing large corporations to phase out caged egg farming and other cruel agricultural practices. She said that about sixty businesses have already made cage-free commitments in these regions, including McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, and Unilever. Sinergia also conducts investigations, works to defund the livestock sector, and runs vegan challenges.

The success of Sinergia’s campaigns led the NGO Animal Charity Evaluators to nominate Singeria as a standout charity for four years in a row. The NGO also estimated that Sinergia was positively impacting 1.7 million animals each year through its work.

“You can potentially affect millions of animals, so I always felt very rewarded to do this type of work,” she said. “Because for me, like I said before, what matters is to create effective change.”

Galvani works tirelessly for animals, but she also understands the importance of taking care of her mental and physical health. She enjoys hiking, meditating, spending time with her four rescue dogs, and visiting her three rescued pigs who live on her family’s farm.

“I have seen so much destruction,” she said, “so I try to have beautiful things in my life. I think beauty is very important.”

Written by Elizabeth Claire Alberts
Photographs by Francesco Pistilli

Sunaura Taylor

Sunaura Taylor

“…There is a lot of shame around needing help, being a burden on other people, on your family, on the economy, even. But we all go in and out of being dependent and live on a spectrum of dependency. We are all interdependent.”

Sunaura Taylor

Sunaura Taylor is an artist, writer, academic, and an activist for both disability rights and animal rights. Her artwork has been displayed internationally and she is currently an assistant professor at UC Berkeley where she teaches classes in animal studies and environmental justice.

Taylor utilises her lived experience as a disabled person to present new ways of thinking about disability and animals. Through each strand of her multifaceted work, she examines and challenges what it is to be human, what it is to be animal, and how the exploitation and oppression of both are entwined.

Taylor grew up in Athens, Georgia with three siblings, all unschooled, a radical form of child-led home-schooling based around the idea that children are inherently curious and naturally want to learn. The freedom bestowed by this “unique and pretty wonderful childhood” allowed Taylor’s sister to make a discovery that changed all their lives: that meat is animals.

“That initial instinct that there was something strange or uncomfortable about eating animals really led to all of us, in various ways, investigating the eating of animals as a political issue,” she says.

Today, all four siblings are vegan.

While Taylor had recognised and rejected the oppression of animals at the age of six when she became vegetarian, it was another 17 years before she connected attitudes toward disabled people with attitudes toward animals. Once she had begun to recognise how the oppressions of ableism and speciesism are “entangled,” she set out to investigate them more fully through her art and in her extraordinary book, Beasts of Burden.

Beasts of Burden examines how and why we value or devalue beings based upon the capacities they do or do not possess, or the assumptions we make about whether they possess certain capacities. Those who are seen as lacking language, or rationality, or the ability to walk on two legs, or the ability to be physically independent, for example, are devalued and their marginalisation or exploitation is excused, sometimes even justified.

Taylor explains that ableism (a term that names the discrimination and prejudice disabled people face, and the privileging of able-bodied norms), does not only impact disabled people; it also shapes our perceptions of and interactions with nonhuman animals. This, she says, not only shows through the exploitation of those deemed to be lacking certain abilities, but also through concepts such as dependency, which is fraught with negative connotations, and is often associated with both disabled people and domesticated animals.

Disability gives Taylor a different perspective from the mainstream experience and offers a unique way of living creatively outside the patterns shaped by a predominantly able-bodied society.

“We live in a country that is proud of the independent, self-made person,” she says, “the person who pulls themselves up by the bootstraps, and there is a lot of shame around needing help, being a burden on other people, on your family, on the economy, even. But we all go in and out of being dependent and live on a spectrum of dependency. We are all interdependent.”

Perhaps this is the main message of Taylor’s book: that both human and nonhuman animals are vulnerable and dependent, and we need to learn to value care and interdependency.

Dependency is just one of the issues that Taylor has debated with Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, and an influential voice for animal rights. Singer’s well-documented views on disability are not just offensive, but damaging, having driven a wedge between the animal liberation movement and disability activism. By guiding these social justice movements to embrace their commonalities and unite for liberation, Taylor’s work is helping to heal that rift.

“There is a lot more recognition that there are other ways of thinking about animal liberations,” she says, “ways that are entangled, in fact inseparable from human liberation, so that makes me really happy. And even if people don’t exactly know how to articulate that, or even if they don’t know exactly how they’re connected, there is a sense that they know that they are.”

Taylor’s influence on the animal rights and disability rights movements is profound, and yet it reaches much further. Through both her artwork and her teaching, she is challenging entrenched views right across society and offering a new perspective, an alternative future.

“I just taught a class called Thinking with Animals,” she says. “A lot of the students were science majors who did not take the class for any particular commitment to animal liberation, or even interest in animals, it just fit with their schedule. By the end they were so reflective on anthropocentrism and were critically thinking about how we think about other animals. I was blown away by the openness of the students and lack of defensiveness, and that was really beautiful and gave me a lot of hope for building thriving interspecies futures.”

Sunaura Taylor is currently writing her follow-up book Disabled Ecologies: Living with Impaired Landscapes. Her artwork can be seen at

Written by Kate Fowler
Photographs by Jo-Anne McArthur

Helena Hesayne

Helena Hesayne

“Animals are always the first casualties of war and economical crisis.” ~ Helena Hesayne

During the 2006 war in Lebanon, also known as the Israel-Hezbollah War, Helena Hesayne tells of how she had to remove the roof of her jeep. This was to ensure that Israeli forces in the air could see that she was transporting food – dog and cat food – and not weapons. With most of the people removed from the Hezbollah area at that time, there was no garbage for the many stray companion animals to scavenge for food. So Hesayne, Vice President of Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA), and two other BETA members bravely headed out to feed the animals. But she doesn’t feel it was bravery that guided her. It was just what needed to be done for the animals she loves so dearly.

“I grew up during the war,” Hesayne explains, meaning the Lebanese civil war from 1975-1990. “I was in the Lebanese Red Cross when I was 17 until I was 19, so we just got used to it,” she laughs. Hesayne speaks casually of war not because she feels it is a casual thing, but rather, as she often says, “it’s very hard to explain; you have to live it.”

For example, she describes, “When we were young and we had an exam, we used to pray in class ‘oh I hope today they’re going to bomb, that way we won’t have the exam,’ she laughs again. “We lived day by day.” And it appears that this strategy of finding humour in daily life in Lebanon is what continues to help Hesayne stay focused on the animals as the country now faces a major economic crisis.

“Animals are always the first casualties of war and economical crisis,” she says.

Hesayne has always loved animals.

“I always rescued when I was a kid. If I found a stray, I was always helping.”

Then the civil war started, and Hesayne temporarily moved to France to be with an aunt. Her aunt had dogs of her own and Hesayne experienced for the first time caring for them as her own pets, walking them, and having them in the house. “In Lebanon in the seventies, having a dog in the house wasn’t very common,” she says, “maybe just the little fluffy ones. Big dogs had to stay in the garden.”

Upon returning to Lebanon in 1994, after moving between France and the US and gaining her bachelor’s degree in architecture, Hesayne then rescued a German shepherd named Brooks. Brooks’s owner had died in a motorcycle accident around the same time Hesayne’s father died. She felt a special kinship with the dog in this way. He became a constant companion, accompanying her to work and everywhere she went. She then added three huskies to the bunch, bringing all to the office each day, far before dog-friendly workplaces were a thing. “And I would only hire people who loved dogs,” she laughs.

In 2006 Brooks died and Hesayne was devastated, she says, “I was so depressed.” Soon after though, something amazing happened. She attended a fair where BETA had set up a booth. At the time the group was just starting out. Upon meeting the volunteers, they encouraged Hesayne to join them. So she did, first volunteering at the shelter on her lunch breaks, then adding every weekend. When the 2006 war started later that year, she then became more involved, helping those starving strays. As she recalls, when people fled the country, many would leave their pets behind causing many to be strays.

“In the majority of cases, animals – pets – are just a commodity, not part of the family,” she explains.

By 2008, Hesayne was named vice president of BETA, a volunteer position she continues to hold alongside her job as an architect. Today the group is made up of 15 board members and 20 volunteers, many of whom are from other countries. BETA also shelters over 1,200 animals including dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, monkeys, and some wildlife. The group works with rescue organizations in Canada and the UK (also the US when permitted) to adopt out companion animals abroad (the other animals are placed in sanctuaries or remain at the shelter for life).

Today the mentality around having dogs in the home in Lebanon has changed says Hesayne; however, she adds, the problem now is the types of dogs most people want and where they are getting them from. The majority of mixed-breed stray dogs that BETA rescues are adopted by foreign families, while puppy mills, some actually owned by veterinarians, supply “designer” dogs to locals. “They also import a lot of dogs from Ukraine and other Eastern European countries, that are supposedly pure breeds and that come with health issues.”

Once, Hesayne recalls, someone contacted the shelter seeking a purebred dog, “he said, ‘It’s like I don’t want to drive a Fiat, I want to drive a Ferrari.’” This all lends to that mentality of animals being commodities, which she says continues today. And with current economical concerns in the country, dog-dumping by those who can no longer afford their dogs feeds into mounting problem with strays.

Thankfully though, Hesayne says there has been a shift in the region regarding spaying and neutering.

“When we first started, we were the only ones at the vet to do spaying and neutering and people would tell us ‘wow, it’s against God, how can you do that, poor animal.’”

Today she says it’s common to spay and neuter pets.

There is also a change in mentality around rescuing strays, she says.

“When we used to rescue a dog on the highway, no one would slow down, they would even get upset. Now not only do they slow down, many times you have people stopping and helping us.”

As Lebanon continues to cope with economic struggles, the global pandemic, and often extreme weather, Heysane says it’s the animals that keep her there. “The shelter will never be empty,” she says. Some dogs have been there all their life, for ten years or more. But, she says, the dream of finding each one of them a great home remains her guiding light.

“I just love them,” she says.

Written by Jessica Scott-Reid
Photographs by Seb Alex

Creating A Safer Movement

Creating A Safer Movement

“When one of us gets tired, our allies prop us up and take over.

We pass the torch and then pass it again.”

Although the animal protection movement is populated largely by women, as with most industries, women are underrepresented in positions of power. After the initial #MeToo fallout, stories began to surface of (predominantly) female activists suffering harassment at the hands of employers, colleagues, and donors, including in some of the most well-known and most respected advocacy organizations. Because the women targeted were activists, abusers and enablers had long maintained a culture of staying silent “for the sake of the animals,” rather than denouncing successful male activists. The #ARMeToo conversation focused on the need to create a safer space for all activists, highlighting that for every successful male activist who was kept in the movement and in the spotlight, an unknown number of women would leave the movement burnt out and demoralized.

Jaya Bhumitra, former International Director of Corporate Outreach for Animal Equality, shared with us her insights on how #ARMeToo and #TimesUpAR have impacted the community, and how the movement has evolved over the last few years.

“While the years leading up to the height of #ARMeToo and #TimesUpAR in the spring of 2018 – and the subsequent reckoning – were emotionally wrought and exhausting for many of us working to create a safer and healthier space for women and non-binary folks to participate in activism, the solidarity that emerged among us has been the most beautiful silver lining.

As soon as we started sharing our stories of survival with each other, our strength grew. While self-preservation is absolutely necessary when coping with issues of harassment and sexual harassment, speaking in whispers and secrets also protects the perpetrators.

It’s not possible for every survivor to come forward – they need to consider their safety and emotional energy – and that’s why I have been so heartened to see so many women and non-binary folks speaking out about these important issues on behalf of each other. When one of us gets tired, our allies prop us up and take over. We pass the torch and then pass it again.

‘Trauma-bonding’ is not the happiest way to make connections, but the friendships we’ve gained from it have contributed to creating a whole new infrastructure for the movement built on trust and support. With this more secure foundation in place, we are less personally encumbered and more able to refocus on helping the animals we came here to liberate.”