Since Animal Save is a grassroots movement, Aprajita has noticed that people in communities willingly approach them, so part of their mission is already accomplished, in a sense.
“When we start a chapter in a city, we first explain what Animal Save is, its values and why we think this way, why we do it. So, there are things which I can explain in a way that they feel attached to, that this is something which is said by Gandhi, who was born in India, who is a father of the nation. So, this is something that is very acceptable to people. They will happily accept it because the whole Save Movement is we respect and follow what Mahatma Gandhi has said about love and compassion. I start from this so they feel that this is their movement. They know what to do, what not to do. And then we train how to build a movement which is safe for everyone, and everyone is welcome.”
Aprajita goes on to host a two-and-a-half-hour workshop demonstrating how to build a powerful and inclusive movement within that community, where each member’s voice is important, and they feel like a leader. She stresses the importance of inclusivity in terms of age, sexual orientation, etc. “because we are all allies for the animals.” And she talks about oppression because turning away from what happens to animals is “still participating in that oppression.”
Since I’ve been involved in the animal rights movement, I’ve noticed that the majority of activists are women. However, in India, it’s the complete opposite. Women don’t come forward because they feel unsafe, so Aprajita is on a mission to make the Animal Save communities safe for everyone. Understanding how a woman can feel unsafe is understanding oppression, and the movement is about eliminating oppression.
“I believe in a love-based approach and being compassionate with everyone. I make sure that we are all working in a safe space where everyone is welcomed and heard. We are intolerant toward all oppression. Also, I try my best to maintain diversity and inclusion in our teams so that we are effective in our campaigns.”
Activities of India’s Animal Save Movement chapters are a little different. While in countries like Canada and the U.S. activities involve bearing witness at slaughterhouses, for example, Aprajita tells me that 90 percent of slaughterhouses in India are illegal and the way they operate makes it challenging. Slaughterhouses in India are more like open markets.
“Slaughterhouses are open—there are no walls. Everything is just right in front of you and if you see certain things again and again, you will become normalized about it. When I was not vegan and I would pass a chicken shop and somebody was slaughtering a chicken, I would think this was normal.”