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Recap of AVA Summit 2023: In Words and Photos

Written by Vegan Hacktivists Team | August 17, 2023

This year’s Animal and Vegan Advocacy (AVA) Summit took place in sunny Los Angeles during peak summertime. And so many members of our leadership team were able to attend! Last year, in the backdrop of the nation’s capital, we attended several memorable sessions and launched an app to crowdsource ideas for the animal protection movement. 

This year, we had the unique opportunity to co-host the Career Fair with our friends at Animal Advocacy Careers. Our team — including David, Flavia, James, Joaquin, Kate, Malina, and Stephan — tabled at the exhibit hall and promoted Playground, our volunteer board, to conference attendees. We also distributed 3D-printed pins of our logo and pixel animal stickers! To tie in our presence at the Career Fair, our founder and president, David, gave a talk about best practices for managing volunteers in the movement.

Career Fair table
Our booth at the Career Fair was decked out with VH branded giveaways.

Once again, we learned so much from amazing leaders at AVA and want to give a taste of what it’s like to attend a conference of this magnitude. In this edition, we’ve decided to round up some high-level summaries and takeaways from various talks:

  • Among the many traits of being a leader — including having humility and integrity, being trustworthy and consistent — it’s also important to be trauma-informed to work effectively with others. Trauma can stem from family, being an immigrant or refugee, medical experiences, and even one’s history (that is, the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding across generations from groups that have been oppressed). —Indra Lahiri, Organizational Excellence: Inclusive Volunteer & Staff Teams

  • When it comes to developing content, make it as easy to understand as possible. Use everyday words and be specific and visually descriptive. Instead of opting for “sentient animals,” talk about the grief felt by a mother cow whose child is taken away. —Ryuji Chua, Creative & Confident Mass Communication

  • Given that about one-third of vegans are men and meat consumption is often intertwined with masculinity, (1) branding plant-based eating as masculine, (2) emphasizing benefits of meat reduction, and (3) redefining masculinity can overcome social barriers of veganism. —Nuno Alvim & Taylison Santos, Hypermasculinity’s Influence on the Perception of Veganism

  • Contrary to popular belief, populations in the Middle East and North Africa are very open to plant based diets, which explains the existence of countless grassroots groups across these countries raising awareness on veganism and animal rights. The global movement, however, seems to have little interest in the work and achievements of these activists. —Seb Alex, Advocacy in the Middle East

  • A handy tool for activism: Faunalytics has a visualization tool that can help you understand opinions toward pro-animal actions based on the demographics of your target audience. —Andrea Polanco, Using Data Effectively

  • From reducing sun exposure to daily exercising and consuming coffee to increasing intake of spermidine which reduces the risk of age-related diseases (top sources include tempeh, beans, and peas), there are so many scientifically proven ways to slow down the aging process and achieve longevity. Pre-order a copy of the forthcoming book to learn more. —Dr. Michael Greger, How Not To Age

  • If you didn’t think that your activism makes a difference, bear this in mind: The animal agriculture industry will most certainly be replaced by alternative protein, and your activism (in any form) can help speed up this process. Shifting this by even 1 second saves over 2,000 land animals. —Bruce Friedrich & Karthik Sekar, The Future Of Meat

  • During inevitable stages of growth, strong leadership will ensure success – not just for their organization’s mission, but for their team’s wellbeing. Taking time for reflection, creating a clear and inspiring vision, unifying the team to align with that vision, and helping your team cope with stress are just a few ways to navigate the inevitable bumps in the road. —Andrea Gunn, Organizational Excellence: Leading Through (Inevitable) Change

  • On a panel of advocates representing various African countries, Innocent Nabaasa from Uganda Vegan Society shared success with school programs and outreach, namely through educating kids and their parents on nutrition and showing them how delicious plant-based food can really be. —Hakeem Jimo, Innocent Nabaasa Kashobera, Katherine Baxter, Ayubu Nnko, Josphat Ngonyo Kisui & Anna A. Touré, The Plant-Based Movement in Africa

  • Fish welfare has the capacity to impact billions of animals. However, influencing stakeholders can be challenging (especially compared to advocating for farmed land animals) due to (1) its relatively new concept, and (2) perceived economic impact of banning expansion of fish farms, specifically in Scotland where it dominates the local job markets of many villages and towns. —Abigail Penny, Interventions Towards Abolishing Aquatic Farming

  • Prioritizing branding is essential when aiming to attract top-tier volunteers. The caliber of your brand often mirrors the standard of volunteers you draw in, as it reflects the perceived value and impact of your work. Branding is the initial touchpoint for potential volunteers visiting your website. —David van Beveren, Organizational Excellence: Inclusive Volunteer & Staff Teams 

This round-up represents only a handful of talks we attended and does not do justice to how much we’ve gained from attending AVA Summit — not to mention the number of meaningful conversations we had and connections we made! We’ll leave you with a series of photos of our time at AVA and exploring LA to give you a visual glimpse of our trip.

AVA / LA 1
Venice Beach and its famous boardwalk (photo by Kate Rodman)

AVA / LA 2
Malina talks about Playground to conference attendees (photo by Stephan de Vries)

AVA / LA 3
David speaks about the importance of strong branding (photo by Ryuji Chua)

AVA / LA 6
Team outing for dinner, drinks, and donuts

AVA / LA 7
Dr. Greger holding the audience's interest in a breakroom (photo by Stephan de Vries)

AVA / LA 5
View of the Downtown LA skyline from the Griffith Observatory (photo by Joaquin Triñanes)

...And that wraps up our time at the 2nd annual AVA Summit! We're thankful for our ability to convene and have a presence at this year's conference, much thanks to the organizers of AVA, and look forward to the next one, which has just been announced for May 2024 in Washington, DC. We hope to see you there!

About the Author
Vegan Hacktivists Team

We are a mission-driven tech organization focused on building data-driven, disruptive, and innovative projects to help see an end to animal exploitation.