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We are lucky to have a dedicated team of engaged volunteers, and for this we could not be more grateful.
However, it hasn’t been the easiest couple of years, and many of our volunteers have found that sharing their lives with a companion animal has brought a little light to this otherwise challenging time.
Veganism is a central part of most of our volunteers’ identities, and for some caring for animals is an integral element of this. In this issue I wanted to share their insights on the topic of companion animals.
Kaya Gromocki, Volunteering and Engagement Officer
Proofreading Volunteer, Jen, shares the story of her canine friends.
“Our two dogs are the centre of our little family. They both have unique personalities and communicate in their own individual ways.
As much as they need to be looked after and cared for, they also take care of me and my husband, and of each other. Whether we have good or bad days, they sit by our side, bring us a toy or share a bowl of fruit with us. The amount of kindness they show every day is, to me, what veganism is all about.”
Research Volunteer Flo explains what her friendship with her tortoise means to her.
“After adopting Schild from a neighbour, I got to know his personality through watching him explore, seek out human company and exhibit food preferences. Being up close with a reptile for the first time opened my mind to the complexity of non-human animals and the respect they deserve. I feel
weird about having kept hamsters as a child so now, even if a little selfishly, I feel good about being able to provide Schild with the full range of a garden. Going vegan also made me feel closer to him as we now share the same love of fruits and veggies.”
Digital Communications Volunteer Siân shares her home with three non-human animals.
“My two rabbit companions have completely opened my mind to the emotional needs of smaller mammals. With that comes a lot of sadness because of the conditions they’re kept in and the way they’re treated and disposed of for human use. Caring for a rabbit, finding them a life partner, and creating a space where they are safe and happy makes all the chewed furniture worth it!
“We also decided to adopt a retired racing greyhound. It’s wonderful to see an animal who was raised for entertainment and discarded settle into a blissful life.
Since joining our family Marley now eats a vegan diet, but my proudest moment is the complete unlearning of his training to chase and catch a rabbit.”
Web Volunteer Sara tells us how adopting a kitten changed her outlook on life.
“I adopted a kitten, Chico, during the pandemic. I wasn’t expecting to feel so close to him. But spending day and night with him made me appreciate his soul and see his capability of understanding. I started to look at animals around me and see different, beautiful and funny souls in them. This made me realise how they could feel and understand in different ways, just as my beloved Chico does. The decision to be vegan became easy and obvious at that point.”
If you would like to volunteer please check our website or email
to join a team of like-minded volunteers.
VOLUNTEER OF THE SEASON
a fantastic member of our Community Network
Tell us about yourself, Haz
I live in Aylesbury and work in higher education, providing tech solutions to help support teaching and learning online.
I have been participating in diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and am heartened by the enthusiasm of my colleagues. Bi-visibility and Pride have been of great importance to me. I like to get a bit existential in my conversation sometimes, bringing up my philosophies with people and companion animals – aren’t they good listeners?
I’m dad to a 10-year-old, banana servant to two bunnies on the weekend and a once-in-a-while carer to an adorable Labrador Shar Pei.
What do you do in your role of Community Organiser?
As a Community Organiser I help coordinate volunteering at our local outreach stand and the surrounding activities including online publicity. I’ve been joining local and national vegan outreach efforts since I became vegan in 2015. In 2017, I started to organise my own stands with different themes and included food samples with the help of VegFund.
In 2020, we started to work with the local council and the shopping centre. Shortly after, a friend suggested we consider working with The Vegan Society. This turned out to be a great fit for us, and has really helped us feel supported in our work. Plus there are other benefits such as aligning our campaigns and welcoming new volunteers as Community Advocates.
I’m very keen to make things as inclusive and accessible as possible through my role as Community Organiser. One thing I really like is that we require minimal monthly participation.
For example, Advocates can join for as little as one hour at a stand. I’ve welcomed the increase in commitment and support from The Vegan Society towards local community outreach efforts.
What does veganism mean to you?
Veganism for me means doing my best and striving towards more tolerance and kindness in a sometimes harsh world.
I want to be part of any solutions I can, whether that’s supporting a transition to a post-animal agriculture economy or focusing on sustainability and wellbeing for all beings. I also like to follow institutions like Friends of the Earth who run important campaigns like Population Matters.
What do you hope to achieve in your volunteer role?
It has been amazing to see the boom in plant-based products on the shelves. In the future I want to play my part in what looks to me as an inevitable, long-term shift to plantbased economies and industries.
I recently joined a new community and animal sanctuary project near Aylesbury. I’m sure it’s going to be both fun and a lot of work, and I’m very excited about helping to bring people and animals together. As I write this, earlier today we picked up two beautiful sheep who are now safe in their new forever home.
I think there’s a lot of potential in local outreach to build a positive presence with our communities and further normalise veganism. I look forward to future collaborations with the local council, businesses and groups and using my education background to incorporate fun learning activities to help increase engagement.