On 4th June 2023, the 13th National Animal Rights Day (NARD) was commemorated in 150 cities around 50 countries in the world. With the now classical Memorial Ceremonies paying respects to the non-human animals victims of exploitation, activists stood silently together holding placards — o sometimes some animals’ dead bodies — or expressed sorrow for their unfair deaths in other ways. Cities such as Tokyo, Melbourne, Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Rome, London, Amsterdam, New York City, Los Angeles, and Mexico City saw these types of events on that day. 

Speeches, poems, songs, and other artistic expressions were carried out in multiple languages, following each country’s tradition of honouring the deceased. NARD’s Declaration of Animal Rights was also publicly read in more than 22 local languages. This declaration (which is not a UN official declaration such as the Declaration of Human Rights), states, among its nine paragraphs, that “all animals have the same natural right to exist, as any other living being,” “all animals have the right to be free, to live their lives on their own terms, as intended by nature”, and “Animals are not the property or commodity of humans, and are not theirs to use for their benefit or sustenance.”

These symbolic funeral ceremonies held at the heart of each city are aimed at educating the public about the plight of farm animals, lab animals, animals used for skins, zoos, entertainment, and other types of exploitation which vegans seek to exclude. Each city created their own ceremonies, some being static in a location while others resembling more funeral marches. The images in the posters shown were relevant to the type of exploitation most noticeable in each country.

In London, UK, the ceremony took place at Marble Arch, a 19th-century white marble-faced triumphal arch and London landmark. It involved activists standing in formation holding images of animal exploitation, and then a funeral procession with a symbolic coffin, followed by activists carrying dead non-human animal bodies such as ferrets, gulls, pigeons, rabbits, and pheasants, together with flowers. The bodies were then placed in front of the coffin, and the ceremony continued with some speeches from activists such as Bel Jacobs and Dr Adam Cruise.

A group of people holding posters

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The National Animal Rights Day was created in New York City, US, in 2011, by the nonprofit organization “Our Planet. Theirs Too.” Inspired by the stunts created by the animal protection organisation Animal Equality, which in 2008 in Madrid, Spain, first developed the format of an Animal Rights Day commemorated with a Memorial Ceremony using silent activists standing with the dead bodies of non-human animals (and it continues having this sort of events every year), “Our Planet. Theirs Too” started to replicate them in several US cities. From 2011 to 2016, only American cities took part, but in 2017 it became international with the addition of London, Paris, and Frankfurt in Europe, Dharamshala, New Delhi, and Mumbai in India, Saigon in Vietnam and Perth in Australia

Now, it has expanded to 50 other countries around the world. Vegan celebrities such as Joaquin Phoenix, Moby, Ingrid Newkirk, Captain Paul Watson, Earthling Ed, and others have participated in such events through the years. Since it started, more than 100,000 people have attended or actively participated in NARD’s events around the world, honouring more than 1,000 non-human animals that otherwise would have been discarded without any thought.

The National Animal Rights Day should not be confused with the International Animal Rights Day, a day created by the UK organisation Uncaged, and celebrated every 10th of December.   

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.