Animals Are Here With Us and Not for Us - Roopika Dhillon

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1. Tell us more about yourself and your life.

I am Roopika and I belong to Nabha in punjab. Currently residing in Chandigarh with my 6 dogs who are everything to me! I have been associated with animal welfare since many years now. I feel what we do to protect or rescue animals is something that isn't anything great, this is just what we owe to our fellow earthlings.

Ever since I was small I wanted to help and be around animals and found it really weird why anyone would want to pet some and on the other hand eat some ! Have been a vegetarian since I was 8 years old but turned vegan a while back ever after realising the horrors of the dairy industry.

2. What led you into social activism?

Mainly witnessing cruelty and total disregard of animal rights made me realise that we humans choose to ignore the fact that each and every life has an equal right on this planet. We treat animals as our properties to use and abuse as and when which is not just unfair but extremely cruel too. Also I realised how people ridicule someone fighting for animal rights or even just caring for them.

Even in my school I remember being scolded time and again for feeding the stray dogs there. Since then I made up my mind that to remain silent is to remain ineffective. One must speak up against all wrong and not giving animals their basic rights is the worst kind of wrong.

3. What is that one cause you care deeply about and why?

I personally care deeply about veganism. Because until you turn vegan you can never call yourself an animal lover. Until then your just a species lover. For eg, you would eat a chicken or a pig but not a dog ! For me , loving all life means making sure no action of mine caused any harm to any living being. And dairy industry is a blot on feminism!

If you are okay with a mother and child being separated for your glass of milk or ice cream, then you cannot be true to any cause you promote. In our society, people have made convenient excuses to hide the truth about the dairy industry. My basic question is why do we need to drink the milk of another species when we do not even need our own mothers milk after a few months.

Also, I want people to realise how every small step we take results in helping animals directly or indirectly. For example if we stop buying leather, the demand for pure leather will come down and so many innocent animals wont have to die for a shoe or a bag! Similarly we should stop buying animal tested products. We can do well with cruelty free beauty and lifestyle.

4. If one wants to contribute and make a difference in social causes, how can one do it?

One can start first by changing ones own lifestyle and then slowly and nicely try and educate others around you reg the same. Also one can start helping in ones  local shelter or even try and join an organisation nearby. Its never too late to make a start and there can never be too many volunteers or too much help in any cause today. So if we all try we can make a big difference.

5. Who is your role model and why?

I can't name one but a lot of vegan activists on Instagram have inspired me to change my lifestyle for good. Joe Carbstrong and James Aspey are some I can name as they go into slaughterhouses and show us the reality behind the scenes footage which we conveniently try and ignore.

6. What are some of challenges and roadblocks you have faced along your journey?

The biggest is of people ridiculing their ideologies. For eg, if I am busy rescuing animals all day long some people feel its just a waste of time.Conditioning is that human lives matter more!! I feel all lives matter equally. We must remember that Animals are here WITH us and not FOR us!

At times I have been confronted for feeding or taking care of animals on the roads but with time i have learnt not to get hassled but to remain calm and do your work. Secondly, when I initially turned vegan my relatives thought I was going to die of malnutrition. But slowly I have learnt not to care and people have learnt not to waste their time trying to change me.

7. Your opinion about social media activism.

I think social media is a great platform to air your views and also to gain knowledge. I would admit that I actually turned vegan because of Instagram. I watched videos and saw stuff which I hadn’t imagined happened to animals. So I would say if used correctly social media activism is the best way to reach maximum people and convey their messages.

These days we see a lot of influencers and activists promoting various causes on social media platforms. This helps educate people about a number of things happening around us which we are sometimes oblivious to. Far too many times its the media that has gotten justice faster than any police or judiciary could by bringing up an issue and making sure its not brushed under the carpet.

Interview By - Sonam

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