Activist Leslie Goldberg.

By Leslie Goldberg

I really didn’t know what to make of the DxE video I was watching: Animal rights activists marching into restaurants and yelling about animals who wanted to live and how “meat” isn’t food, it’s violence. The activist/troublemakers usually held AR signs and stony expressions. The restaurant customers looked amused, embarrassed or annoyed. The staff? Angry, then frazzled.

As an animal rights activist myself, generally of the polite variety, I was intrigued, but also intimidated— especially when I’d see a DxE video of someone going into a restaurant alone and starting to shout. I said to myself, I COULD NEVER DO THAT. My husband said, “YOU’D BETTER NOT DO THAT.”

I live close to a Nations Giant Hamburgers, a KFC, a Jack ’n’ the Box and a Burger King – so many opportunities, I thought. But no, I can’t. I just can’t.

Weeks passed and still I kept wondering about DxE. I’d check out the notices on Facebook for Direction Action Everywhere Meetups, held on Saturday mornings at the DxE House in Oakland.
The DxE House. I had a picture in my mind – White frame house, falling apart, in a rough part of Oakland. My imaginary house was…

Read the rest of this essay here.

A recent DxE meetup.


By Leslie Goldberg

If activists are going to wake up the planet to the horror of animal exploitation, we’ve got to change how we talk. We can no longer afford to play into the hands of these industries that exploit animals.

Remember how George Bush twisted words to mean the opposite of what they actually were? The Clean Air Act only allowed more air pollution, not less. The No Child Left Behind Act didn’t help disadvantaged children, it hurt them. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act branded non-violent activism as “terrorism.”

Drawing on the work of cognitive linguist George Lakoff, one of the key speakers at the National Animal Rights Convention 2015, Alex Hershaft gave his audience a hand-out detailing, well, how to talk.

Animal rights activists must never fall into meat, dairy, egg, fish industry double-speak and/or euphemism, he said. We can not let ourselves and the people around us forget that exploited animals are living, breathing, feeling, thinking individuals who want to live just like us. Animals are not things. (And that includes fishes!)

Some of his suggestions:

— Always refer to a non-human animal as “he” or “she,” never “it.”

— Don’t call companion animals, “pets.” We are not their “owners.” We’re their “guardians.”

— Say “animals raised for food,” instead of “food animals” or “farm animals.” Say “animals in laboratories,” not “lab animals” or “specimens.”

— The words “beef,” “pork,” “veal,” and “chicken,” are used to make us forget reality. Instead of these words, say “flesh” or “tissue.”

— Other industry terms that deny animal personhood are “livestock,” “cattle,” “hogs,” “swine,” “poultry,” “layers,” “broilers,” etc. We don’t want to use those terms.

— Don’t allow the dairy industry to own the words “cheese,” “milk,” and “ice cream.” If these items come from animals, designate them: “cow’s milk,” “animal-derived cheese,” or “cow’s ice cream.”

— Don’t join government agencies which kill millions of animals and deny animal personhood and which use terms like “wildlife,” “harvesting,” “trash animals,” or “by-catch.” Instead say “free animals,” “killing,” or “non-targeted dead animals.”

— Refrain from using works like “animal,” “beast,” “pig,” “rat,” or “snake” to indicate a person who is violent, uncouth, messy, disloyal, etc.

— Figure out alternatives to expressions such as “killing two birds with one stone” and “there is more than one way to skin a cat.”

— And please don’t ever, ever suggest that there is a way to “humanely” raise and kill animals for human consumption.

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –


By Leslie Goldberg

The fight over the “morality of meat-eating” rages. It’s on Facebook, on Twitter, in the newspaper, on TV and radio, in our dining rooms and in our classrooms. Recently on social media, I read the question, “How can my wonderful, kind and generous friends keep eating animals? Are they evil?”

I would suggest that flesh-eaters aren’t bad and certainly not evil, except maybe Donald Trump and/or Jeb Bush. (And no, Hitler was NOT a vegetarian.)

People are just hypnotized by the culture. It’s like there’s a micro-chip lodged deep in our brains that keeps us from realizing the suffering of animals and often, the suffering of other humans.

I’ve only been vegan for six years. For most of my life I ate the flesh and secretions of animals. My consumption tortured and killed animals on a regular basis, yet I loved animals. I only read horse books as a child. I cried when my companion animals died. I adored the movie “Babe.” I saw the “in-your-face” animal rights artwork of Sue Coe. Even though some of these things disturbed me, they didn’t cause me to make any connection between my behavior and the suffering and murder of animals.

It was like being under a spell or sleep-walking. Almost by chance I woke up. I saw some images in a movie and I knew I could never knowingly eat an animal or her bio-fluids again.

As animal rights activists, our job is to break the spell – throw cold water in the face of our flesh-gnawing, secretion-sucking society.

But how? My favorite tools are loud obnoxious public demonstrations and disruptions; blogging; making videos and films; writing books; and writing songs. There’s also tweeting, letters to the editor, complaining in restaurants, and, yes, posting on Facebook.

What about getting to people’s hearts via the stomach, or, if you like, the digestive tract?

These days, I’ve kind of given up on that tactic. Of course, vegan food is great and I really appreciate the love and the effort that goes into vegan cooking, but tasty meals aren’t going to change our society. I would suggest that neither the best vegan cupcake in the world or the best vegan sushi in Manhattan is going to trigger any serious soul searching or moral questioning. (Not the way graphic imagery of animal suffering might.) Sad to say, but I don’t think Ben & Jerry’s new vegan ice cream is going to liberate animals (both human and non-human.)

Activist and author of “Whitewash – The Disturbing Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health” Joseph Keon said to me recently the most typical response he hears when carnists eat delicious vegan food is, “Wow, if I could cook like this, I’d be vegan.” Translation: I don’t have the time or the skill to cook vegan or care enough to make the time and learn new cooking skills.

Just as the civil rights movement, the gay liberation movement, the women’s movement, the abolitionist movement hinged on ordinary people speaking up, the animal rights movement is going to need to get noisy if we are to succeed. Heard at the recent National Animal Rights Conference 2015: “Never miss an opportunity to say what needs to be said.”

– A Vicious Vegan blog post –