Jan 30, 2020
What is it like to stand up for what you believe in? What is the
cost and the reward?
Zoe Rosenberg is a 17 year old animal rights activist. She
founded Happy Hen Animal
Sanctuary at age 11, and so far has saved nearly 1,000 lives.
Zoe is also the social media coordinator for Direct Action
Everywhere. She travels the country speaking on the importance
of taking action for animals.
At 12 years old, Zoe gave a keynote address at National Animal
Rights Day (NARD) in San Francisco. At age 14, she received
national press attention following an action against the Los
Angeles Dodgers, where she protested of the treatment of animals
related to the "Dodger Dogs" sold in the park. She and a few other
activists ran onto the field during a game with banners and were
arrested on live television.
In 2017, Rosenberg gave a TED talk at age 15, recounting her
experience as a young animal activist. In 2017, Rosenberg was
honored as Youth Activist of the Year at the Animal
Rights National Conference (ARNC) in Washington DC.
In 2018, Rosenberg was one of four finalists nationally
13th Annual Young Animal Activist Of The Year award.
In 2019, Rosenberg received national attention for conducting a
high profile protest on live television during the NCAA
Football National Championship Game in Levi Stadium. The
protest was aimed at animal products sold in the stadium and the
inhumane conditions at supplier facilities.
In 2019 Zoe Rosenberg was awarded the Paul
McCartney Veg Advocate Award for her work as a young
activist fighting for animal rights and founding an animal
sanctuary, with special focus on her work to push Rose's Law, an
Animal Bill of Rights.
In her conversation with us today, held at her Happy Hen
sanctuary, Zoe describes the life of an activist, why she does it,
and what keeps her motivated and inspired while facing so much
opposition. She casts a vision for the future where animal cruelty
is put to an end, and how little actions can make a big
Whether you believe in animal rights or not, Zoe’s story reveals
powerful lessons for any movement maker who seeks to make positive
change in the world, including effective strategies used by famous
activists like Martin Luther King Jr., that you can apply to your
- People all over the world don’t see chickens as individuals or
creatures who feel pain, and billions are suffering behind closed
- At the end of the day I don’t care if people like me, hate me,
or don’t even know me, as long as I’m making a difference I’ll be
satisfied and happy.
- My biggest obstacle is society’s general reluctance to look
animal agriculture straight in the face. They don’t want to hear
about it because whatever comes next might make them have to change
something about themselves or something that their parents taught
- I’m not attacking people, I just talking about something that
is happening in our world.
- I believe animals deserve to be safe, happy and free from harm.
Factory farming and slaughterhouses should be illegal. All these
things that are creating massive amounts of cruelty and suffering
towards some of the most innocent beings on this planet – none of
this should be happening.
- My motto is sanctuaries not slaughterhouses because we want a
world of compassion not violence.
- We live in a nation of animal lovers. But are they doing
something about animal cruelty? Probably not.
- I’ve lost friends because of my activism. They can’t stand to
look at me because I disagree with something that they agree with.
So it’s a big sacrifice for any activist, not just animal
- In terms of advocating change at higher levels, we’re starting
with issues that we think the public and legislators at large
probably already agree with – i.e. banning fur. California is the
first state in the country to ban the sale of fur.
- Direct Action Everywhere is an international organization of
animal rights activists taking direct action for animal
- When the animals we rescue realize that we’re not there to kill
them, they start to relax. Then they slowly start to trust and
realize that not all humans are going to hurt them.
- Facebook fundraising is probably the most valuable fundraising
platform that I’ve ever used and I know other organizations feel
the same way. I’ve been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars
just through Facebook alone.
- There are a lot of organizations that solely give grants. We go
to them and say, (1) this is the project, (2) this is the impact
it’s going to have, (3) this is why it’s important and (4) this is
how much money we need.
- We have based our strategy on past social justice movements and
the teaching of famous activists and their philosophies.
- There has never been a movement in history that has mobilized
at least 3.5% of the population and not won.
- Ultimately we want to pass an animal bill of rights in the U.S.
Constitution that gives them the right to their own lives, so that
humans do not have the right to own them or have dominance over
- Along our 40-year roadmap to passing an animal bill of rights
we have other goals such as making it so that all animal products
have to give an honest description, rather than these false labels
like humane and cage-free even though we know that these facilities
are just as bad as any factory farm. We want to give people the
right to know where their food is coming from.
- The Spectrum of Allies: Active Allies <> Passive Allies
<> Neutral <> Passive Opponents <> Active
Opponents. In any movement you want to shift the spectrum over one.
So you have people normalizing the idea and de-normalizing the
- Whether you believe in animal rights or not, I hope everyone
will go out there and stand up for what they believe. We have
enough people being silent about the things that matter.
TEDx Talk: Taking The
Connect With Zoe Rosenberg