Farm Sanctuary’s Youth Action for Animals resources are designed to empower middle and high school students to create change for farm animals. There are many ways to help farm animals and we provide a range of different actions you can take. One of the quickest and most effective things you can do to help animals on factory farms is to reduce or eliminate your consumption of animal products. And by encouraging others to eat more plant-based foods as well, you can make a huge difference in the lives of farm animals.
Why Farm Animals?
Farm animals have unique personalities, experience a complete range of emotions, and feel pain, just like human beings. Cows, chickens, pigs, and other farm animals are very intelligent and not much different than our cats or dogs at home. Learn more about the cognitive, emotional, and social lives of farm animals.
Sadly, 99% of animals raised for food in the U.S. spend their short lives on large industrial farms. These places are less like farms and more like factories. Most animals on factory farms barely have space to move, and some animals aren’t able to turn around for most of their lives. Unfortunately, more than 9 billion farm animals are used for meat, dairy, and eggs every year in the U.S. alone. And in this industry, it’s not only the animals who suffer. Slaughterhouse and factory-farm workers are also often exploited and have no other choice but to do this psychologically and physically dangerous work. Industrialized animal agriculture is a leading contributor to global warming and wreaks havoc on the environment, from deforestation to the pollution of ground water and air quality in rural communities across the U.S. As consumers, we have a choice to no longer support this industry and to lessen its negative consequences for animals, our planet, and public health. Learn more about the lives of animals raised for food.
A great way to reduce your support of animal agriculture is by choosing to eat fewer animal products. Any small step counts! Whether it’s not eating meat for just one day of the week or going vegan, any change in your diet can create change for animals.
Eating plant-based, also referred to as vegan, is a way of eating that doesn’t include any animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. Eating vegan offers multiple health benefits and it is also delicious! Learn more about eating vegan and its benefits at V-lish.com.
Farm Sanctuary’s Youth Leadership Council
For middle and high school students who are interested in farm animal advocacy, Farm Sanctuary’s Youth Leadership Council provides a sense of community and the chance to connect with like-minded student peers from across the country. Through the Youth Leadership Council, we offer tools and resources to support school- and community-based advocacy projects aligned with each student’s personal interest and the opportunity for experienced student activists to play a mentorship role, as well as new student activists to seek guidance as mentees. Established in 2017, the Youth Leadership Council is comprised of over 50 student activists from across the U.S.
Meet a Few of Our Youth Leadership Council Members
My name is Claire and I am currently a junior in high school. I became involved in farm animal advocacy during the summer following my 7th grade year, which is when I became vegan. My choice to begin a plant-based lifestyle was an abrupt one. I decided after one night of intense research about the conditions in factory farms that I no longer wanted to contribute to an industry that treats animals in such a cruel manner. This was also a decision I made independently of my family and most of my friends, who are not vegan, so from that moment on I had been on the search for a community of like-minded people regarding animal rights.
This led me to join my school's Students for the Protection of Animals and the Environment Club in my freshman year, of which I am now the club president. Extending my passion for animal rights to a club about just that has played a crucial role in my being able to participate in the active change of my community's perception of animal rights and environmental protection. Our school's club has participated in Farm Sanctuary walks, visited the Los Angeles Farm Sanctuary, brought awareness at our high school about inhumane animal testing in the beauty industry, invited organizations such as Sea Shepherd to visit our high school, and more. The Farm Sanctuary Youth Leadership Council has also allowed me to connect with like-minded youth, amazingly from all over the country, who are equally passionate about animal rights issues and who also get involved in their communities.
Another one of my animal rights efforts is in regard to my school's fetal pig dissection. I have recently been urging my school to come up with an official alternative assignment for students who are not comfortable participating in the dissection and who are against the unethical sourcing of the pigs. Without other like-minded students, these ideas would not be able to become reality. This is why I believe that getting involved in animal rights advocacy groups in any form, even if it seems insignificant, is so valuable. The Farm Sanctuary Youth Leadership Council allows me to connect with other inspiring students who are making a change in their community and beyond.
I am a vegan and a proud supporter of Farm Sanctuary’s mission to end animal cruelty and exploitation. I was first inspired to transition from being vegetarian (which I had been raised as since birth) to vegan while visiting Farm Sanctuary during a vacation in California. Now, three years later, my family and I have transformed our backyard into a rescue farm of our own, which is currently home to two sheep, five hens, and one rooster. We one day hope to move to a location with more land so that we can take in more animals in need of a safe home.
In the meantime, I help advocate for farm animals by addressing the issue of factory farming with my friends and anyone who is open to learning more about my vegan lifestyle. Although I have found that not everyone is interested in making the same exact choices I have made, I find that through leading by example and approaching discussions in a non-judgmental way, people are more willing to listen and be open to taking steps toward a compassionate diet and mindset.
I am a high school student and year-round competitive swimmer and live in southern Maine.
I am Rose Miller, a passionate politico and animal activist. When I was 12, I volunteered for the first time at Farm Sanctuary. I immediately fell in love — not just with Albert the sweet donkey or the fresh smell of hay on the farm, but with Farm Sanctuary’s message. The third day of working on the farm I decided I had to be vegan.
Since then, I have been active in advocating for marginalized creatures. I not only have educated my peers about the horrors of factory farming, but also have taken action on the legislative level and supported prominent vegan legislators, such as Cory Booker. There are always challenges that come with advocating for animals. Most often, it lies with other people debating with you, often with no knowledge of the subject matter. This is okay — it gives you an opportunity to change their mind! Be armed with facts and you will be able to make a good argument. At the end of the day, it is worth it to see legislation passed protecting animals, and see more minds changed about protecting these beautiful creatures.
My name is Sienna Walenciak. I’m 12 years old and live in Easton, PA, with my mom, dad, two brothers, two Labradoodles, one King Charles, and a hamster named Franklin! I also have several adopted animals through Farm Sanctuary.
When I was younger, I was a self-proclaimed animal lover. My heart was with all animals ... or so I thought. At the age of 9, I visited Farm Sanctuary for the first time and my world turned upside down. Until my Farm Sanctuary visit, I had never made the connection to the animals on my plate, the animals that made my clothes and shoes, and the animals that provided me with things like milk, cheese, and eggs. I didn’t see these “providers of products” in the same way I saw my own dogs. But, I did that day.
I vowed never to eat animals again right there on the farm, and I’ve only become stronger over time in my conviction. There’s a deeper level of honesty that comes with the term “animal lover” now because I apply it to all animals. At age 11, just one month before my 12th birthday, I decided to transition to veganism with one of my closest friends, and I’ve remained vegan even since.
This year, my friend and I began an animal rights club as part of Farm Sanctuary’s Youth Leadership Council program. Our goal is to get students and even teachers to eliminate animals from their diets through teaching, not shaming. We plan to launch a Meatless Monday campaign in the upcoming school year, and will work to have more vegan options added in our school cafeteria. Our club has been very successful and I’m excited to roll with it in the upcoming school year.
I have loved working with the Farm Sanctuary Youth Leadership Council and meeting young activists from around the country who are as passionate about animal rights as I am. They all have wonderful ideas that I use to better our club, and I always look forward to our meetings so we can discuss the progress we’ve made with our advocacy plans.
My journey with animal activism has taught me so much, and I can’t imagine a life where I’m not as passionate about animals as I am today. I feel thankful to be involved with Farm Sanctuary and to be able to spread what I learn with other students at my school.
Hello, everyone! I am a 17-year-old animal advocate from Florida. Since the age of 7, I have lived a plant-based lifestyle, and I have been fully vegan for over five years. Volunteer work to help animals has always been a big part of my life. One of my earlier projects, that started around the age of 6, is making and donating cat toys to humane society shelters. Also, as a young child, I started learning about the worldwide decline of frogs, and realized that amphibian conservation was an area in which I could help. From presentations to events, I educated thousands of people about the importance of these rapidly disappearing species. The work I did at a young age became the foundation of Conserve It Forward, Inc., the non-profit organization I founded.
Some of my animal advocacy in recent years includes passing out leaflets with Vegan Outreach on college campuses about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. Through Conserve It Forward, I designed Eat Aware Today (EAT), a bookmark guide to eco-friendly foods that folds into a pocket-sized guide. My work has also included working with companies and organizations, such as Animalearn and Froguts, that help spread the word about humane education, including alternatives for practices such as dissection in schools. Most recently, I have become a member of Farm Sanctuary’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC), in which I help other youth in their plant-based and animal advocacy journey.
The YLC has motivated me to do more consistent advocacy work, as well as search for more service opportunities specifically related to helping farm animals. Through YLC, I have been able to share my plant-based journey and help other students in theirs. In addition to continuing working with the YLC, I also hope to intern at a Farm Sanctuary location in the coming years, which is something I have wanted to do since I heard about the opportunity a few years ago!
As part of my future career as a peace studies educator, through which I will make and teach semester-courses on peace topics, I plan to create and teach a course specifically on animal welfare, with a section dedicated to farm animals. And of course, I will continue with as much of my current advocacy work as possible!
Learn more about Avalon Jade’s nonprofit, Conserve It Forward, here.
After my family and I were able to reverse my dad’s type-2 diabetes without medication, just through healthy lifestyle choices, I became incredibly interested in and fascinated by health and well-being. So for the past seven going on eight years I’ve been doing work as a health activist and CEO of my non-profit HAPPY (healthy, active, positive, purposeful, youth) to spread awareness and provide education on the importance of personal wellness, nutrition, and cooking within my generation, and within the last four years I’ve fully adopted and integrated the vegan message and plant-based health aspect into my activism as well.
I am so incredibly honored to be working alongside Farm Sanctuary and to have the opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience with animal activism and find ways to effectively connect both food and compassionate/cruelty-free living for those outside of the vegan community.
Tips & Tools for Youth Advocacy
Start a School Club
Starting a school club is a great way to get other classmates involved and aware of farm animal issues. Here are a few steps you can take to start your very own school club!
- Ask friends to help you get the club started.
- Identify a teacher to act as your advisor/sponsor.
- Find out your school’s procedure for starting a school club and seek formal approval.
- Find a place to hold meetings.
- Get the word out about your club.
- Hold your first meeting and plan your club’s goals and activities.
- Take action!
- Keep recruiting new members.
Ideas for activities that your school club can host are endless! Here are a few suggestions of what you and other club members can do:
- Host a vegan bake sale or other event as a fundraiser for an organization or sanctuary working to help farm animals.
- Host a movie screening that educates other students on the issues your club is focusing on.
- Use your club as a platform to get other students involved in introducing more plant-based options in your school cafeteria. Find more info on adding plant-based options to your cafeteria menu.
- With the help of your faculty advisor, you can use your club as a way to invite local activists to come speak to your class. You can invite speakers who cover topics ranging from plant-based eating to vegetable gardening to animal protection. If your school is in the NYC/Philadelphia metropolitan areas or the San Francisco Bay Area, you can book a Farm Sanctuary speaker to come to one of your classes.
- You and your club members can hand out pamphlets at your school or in your community. Order pamphlets from Farm Sanctuary!
Your School Cafeteria
Increasing plant-based options in your school cafeteria is a great way to encourage classmates to try vegan/vegetarian meals. It also makes a huge difference for animals when your whole school gets to choose a more compassionate meal option for lunch instead of one containing animal products.
At Home and in Your Community
Friends and Family
It’s important not to overwhelm others when talking about farm animal issues. Meeting people where they are is really important and effective.
Some people might be receptive to your message while others might feel uncomfortable when talking about diet change and issues of our food system. Being kind and understanding goes a long way when talking to loved ones, and leading by example can be a great way to inspire change. Here are a few ways you can introduce plant-based eating to your friends and family.
Dinner for Loved Ones
If you are a cook consider inviting friends to your house and make a delicious vegan meal for them and your family.
Visit the V-Lish.com recipe section for delicious plant-based dinner ideas!
Take a Friday or Saturday night to host a movie screening at your house with family or friends. A variety of films related to farm animals and our food system are available, ranging from the environmental impact of animal agriculture to the health benefits of plant-based eating. When hosting your movie night don’t forget to provide snacks, like popcorn or chips and salsa. If you want to really win your audience over, make vegan cookies or brownies.
For a list of movie ideas, check out our resources section.
Visit the V-lish.com dessert section for movie-night recipes!
Social Media and Online Activism
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
Use your following to help farm animals! Follow @FarmSanctuary and be sure to share our content with your friends. Make sure to follow other farm animal protection organizations as well in order to share the work they’re doing to help animals.
Your Own YouTube Channel for Animals!
Are you a natural on camera? Do you have delicious meat-free recipes or an inspiring story about farm animals to share? Do you want the world to hear your message on how to help farm animals? Creating your own YouTube channel will give you a platform to spread a message for change!
Write to Your Public Officials
By signing petitions and writing letters to ban some of the most egregious cruelties on farms and encouraging others to do the same, we can lessen suffering for farm animals and raise awareness as well. Make your voice heard and start signing and sharing online petitions that Farm Sanctuary supports.
Joining a Community Garden
Getting involved with your local community garden is a great way to have access to fresh and delicious veggies! If there is a community garden in your area, you can start by visiting or going on their website to find ways to get involved. Some community gardens even offer paying jobs.
If there are no community gardens in your neighborhood, you might be able to join a local movement dedicated to starting urban gardens in your area!
- The End of Meat
- Slice of Life
- The Game Changers
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- The Ghosts in Our Machine
- Food, Inc.
- Unlocking the Cage
- Forks Over Knives
- Eating Animals
- Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food by Gene Baur
- Living the Farm Sanctuary Life: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Mindfully, Living Longer, and Feeling Better Every Day by Gene Baur and Gene Stone
- Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live, and How We Can Make Their Lives Better by Tracey Stewart
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- Ninety-Five: Meeting America’s Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs by No Voice Unheard
- The China Study by Thomas Campbell and T. Colin Campbell
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
- The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
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