Dallas Rising is a woman always on a mission. A “vegan abolitionist” living in Minneapolis, she is the Director at Animal Rights Coalition. In her own words, being a vegan abolitionist focuses on the abolishment of the injustices towards animals we see in everyday life.
A long-time proponent for vegan living, Dallas explains the evolving animal rights movement:
“The longer I identify with the animal rights movement, the more complex it becomes. The animal liberation movement has gone through various stages. As we start becoming a bigger threat to animal abusing industries, we have to adapt. At one time, there was very little questioning done about the differences between encouraging ‘happy meat or cage-free eggs’ versus encouraging people to stop using animal products altogether. It was commonly believed that short term wins were great – all of it will be a step in the right direction. Now, I think it’s a lot more helpful to focus on speciesism. Rather than focusing on the specifics regarding how certain kinds of animals are treated, my main concern is going to the root of the problem, speciesism.
“Speciesism is like other bigoted “isms”, where there is a de-valuing of a certain group, based on some kind of irrelevant criteria – in this case, it would be what kind of body someone is born into. What is it that has people valuing other species less than the human species? We have to keep looking at ideologies people hold and examining our relationships to other species. It is really an under-examined issue. People don’t think about it. Humans can go through their entire lives without thinking about it because we have human privelege. It’s my job to challenge and question these fundamental points.”
Dallas is busy seeking the answer to those questions, among others, but she also finds spare time to write on the issues closest to her heart. Her latest works include two essays in two different books. In Defiant Daughters, Dallas’s essay is entitled “Happy Rape, Happy Meat” She discusses so-called “humane farming,” questioning its nature. “Cage-free, free-range, grass-fed – I have a personal deep emotional response to people suggesting that these are morally okay. As someone who’s against rape, I wouldn’t be okay with variations of rape. As a rape survivor, I have a great understanding of the connection there.”
In Confronting Animal Exploitation, Dallas is one of several animal activist contributors who all hail from in and around Minneapolis, Minnesota. In this book, Dallas’s essay, “Turning our Heads: The ‘See No Evil Dilemma” is an “exploration of my theories about why individual people who seem to care about dogs and cats often turn away from the realities of systemic violence done to animals.”
However difficult it can become to talk to others about these issues, Dallas always encourages positive regard. “We need to try and remember that we gain a whole lot more ground when we can listen closely to what someone is telling us and not treat every interaction like a debate.” She is also a believer in personal narratives, which she explores in her contribution to Confronting Animal Exploitation. “The idea was to put out some experiences that felt personal so that people can connect. You can have a narrative from one specific point of view and suddenly feel a lot more empathy for someone in a position you may not have given much thought to before.”
Even when talking to others about animal exploitation, however, we still must consider the various influences of the industry.
“Unfortunately, these issues are becoming more complicated,” Dallas says. “Companies are looking to exploit good intentions. Marketing that exploits caring. The bottom line is that these companies care more about getting your money than these animals. There is no merciful way to do this business. What I like to focus on is consent. If I wouldn’t want someone else to make the determination that I’ve had a good life or not, why would we do that to an animal?”
In the end, Dallas reminds us all to not seek perfection, but instead to always be aware: “We live in a world that isn’t vegan. There is so much violence. By virtue of living, we use animal products. The point isn’t to always live perfectly, but to always be aware. Work on determining where you’re making choices, and make the moral choice. The choices you make aren’t just about you. The actions we take always have an impact on others.”