What keeps you going when you see such horror on a regular basis?
I focus on the things I can accomplish and I try not to lose hope. I promote love, ignore hate. I avoid negative people around me and try to build a community made up of compassionate people.
What advice do you have for someone new to activism?
Same thing I do: Focus on the things you can achieve. Don’t allow sadness to capture you. Do your best and do it each day. Consistency is the key to succeed in any cause. Remember that the problems you face every day are nothing compared to the violence imposed on animals every second of every day.
What self-care rituals do you have in place to prevent burnout?
I really don’t have any. I love doing activism and making a difference.
Who inspires you in the animal rights movement?
What is your experience of this community in your part of the world?
We have a very supportive core team. There are of course issues in the bigger group here in Ankara, but we solve them smoothly. Seeing our group growing each day, we feel secure and content about our community. Animal Save Movement’s global team is supporting us in every respect. This encourages the activists to do more for animals.
Almost ten years ago, the word “vegan” was rarely spoken. Now when a farmer promotes his products on TV, he uses the word “vegan” for dried tomatoes. Tomatoes have always existed in Turkey, as well as a wide selection of vegetables, but no one was aware that veganism could be a lifestyle.
However, in most parts of Turkey, animals are seen as a resource, and exploiting and consuming animal bodies is related to wealth, unfortunately. Younger generations are now questioning this aspect and becoming vegan despite the culture they have grown up in.
There are many vegan activist groups holding actions in Turkey. Unfortunately, they are not acting hand-in-hand, mostly criticizing others’ approaches to vegan activism.
Animal rights in Turkey are not supported by law at all. Under Turkey’s law No. 5199, cruelty to animals is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine, with no jail time and no mark on one’s criminal record. The animal rights activists are acting together with cat and dog lovers on this issue, and at the same time trying to teach them about speciesism.
There are thousands of crimes committed against animals (excluding farm animals) in Turkey every year, and there is still a long way to go to educate people and convince lawmakers to provide justice for all animals.
The demand for animal products grows every day, depending on the misinformation created by the meat and dairy industries, which is supported by old school physicians who never pay any attention to new research and studies. Turkey has multiplied its animal importing activities to provide “cheap food” for people. Although the numbers are hidden, we know they are huge.
Despite all these bad conditions, the vegan products market has also grown in recent years. Turkish people, especially those living in big cities, are very open to these new products.
In your lifetime, what do you hope the animal rights movement will accomplish?
I believe the world will turn vegan (even if many people don’t want to) due to the climate emergency. I wish everyone would understand the philosophy of Gandhi and Tolstoy and drop all weapons, including the ones aimed at the animals.