Reflections on the 2019 Animal Rights National Conference

Each year, the Animal Rights National Conference is held to connect animal activists so that we can share experiences and victories from the past year, ideas, and more with each other. We are a growing movement, and there is always room for us to work better together to change the lives of animals and the world for the better.

Read on to hear about some of the reflections and experiences our group had at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference.


Julie with Justin at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

This was my second year attending the conference. I find the experience of being around hundreds of like-minded advocates incredibly energizing and inspiring. One of the most memorable pieces of the conference for me was a session by Mercy for Animals called Measuring and Evaluating our Impact. This session gave me ideas for how we at CAA can quantify and communicate the real change we are making for farmed animals. After the conference ended, we visited Poplar Spring Sanctuary to enjoy some much-needed time with the animals. It was the cherry on top of an amazing vegan sundae!

Julie Knopp

Yunuén with a resident at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

On July 25th-28th, I was privileged to attend the 10th Annual Animal Rights Conference. I mean it when I say this: it was a life-changing experience. 

I’ve been vegan for over seven years now. This whole time, I felt that I was doing “enough” in my vegan lifestyle—simply by not: consuming, wearing, buying, or using products tested on animals when in fact, veganism is more than just that. There’s politics and realities behind veganism that I feel have always been right in front of me, but I never stopped to listen or acknowledge them. I’ve always been the passive activist that occasionally shares the realities in the cruelties behind animal consumption or exploitation. My friends and family know that I don’t consume any animal products, but I haven’t gotten in depth as to the the big question, “But why not?” The workshops and plenaries helped me learn how to answer those questions and how to live by it. The love and passion that other vegans shared during the conference rubbed off on me and helped me strive to be on “their level.” I used to say that we should advocate for the voiceless, but I learned that just because we can’t speak or understand an animal’s language, doesn’t mean that they’re mute. It simply means that we just need to stop, breathe, and listen. The hands-on workshops, along with the #ImNotLovinIt Campaign silent protest I participated in was exhilarating. My original reasoning behind adopting, adapting, and transforming my life into veganism wasn’t just due to the yummy vegan foods. Knowing me, I love to fight for what’s right and and thankful for CAA sponsoring my attendance at the Animal Rights National Conference. They added fuel to the fire that ignites within me for my Animal Friends and Mother Earth. 

If you’re considering attending next year’s Animal Rights National Conference (ARNC), PLEASE communicate your interest to Laura Matanah, CAA Director. You will NOT regret it.

Yunuén Ávila

Lydia with Remi at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

This was my first time attending the National Animal Rights Conference. It was extremely rewarding to learn about the different facets and methods of activism in the animals rights movement. I also really enjoyed getting to meet people from different walks of life, who all shared a common passion. It is an experience that I am grateful to have had, and I hope to continue attending Animal Rights conferences in the years to come! 

Lydia Green

Josh with Remi at Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Poolesville, Maryland

As a first-time attendee to the conference and as someone new to the movement, I enjoyed the welcoming atmosphere and sense of community that was present. I was surprised by how accessible leaders of organizations were, many making themselves available to chat between sessions. It created a sense of immediacy to their causes, such as Shirley McGreal’s International Primate Protection League, where I was able to talk with her directly about the work she’s doing with primates. I feel that after the conference I am more prepared to speak to the causes I am fighting for and left with a clearer idea of how to find my path forward as an individual activist and volunteer promoting animal rights. 

Josh Truong

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