What inspired you to start up Surge and how did you turn your idea into a reality?
We felt like we wanted to do something else for the animals, we wanted to do as much as we could to help with the movement and spread the message. So the inspiration came from wanting to do more and we felt that having an organisation would allow us to do more and foster a sense of community. We started by hosting events on the street, slowly integrating the community, organising different things that people could come along to. Then we started doing the animal rights march in 2016, our first big event. That is how we turned Surge into reality – just by organising bits and pieces and trying to do stuff people could participate in.
What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced throughout your campaigns over the years?
The main challenge is probably always thinking ahead and making sure that we constantly put into practice meaningful things. How can we keep progressing, keep evolving and keep producing content that people engage with and respond well to. There is always a certain amount of worry when we release investigations, projects, videos and alike and we hope people like them and approve of them, i.e. we cherish the backing of the community and hope they like our content to share it with non-vegans.
What do you find are the most rewarding aspects of your roles at Surge?
When people say they have gone vegan because of our work and content, e.g. “I showed to my family member / my partner / my mom / my dad your video and they have gone vegan now”. It is very rewarding to know that our content has helped somebody go vegan and even more when somebody tells us that they have helped somebody they care about to go vegan.
What have you found to be the most effective way of explaining the negative aspects of eating animal products and the positive effects of going vegan?
Online videos that are shareable, accessible and objective are very powerful to show the reality, tap into what people already know about their morals. That is what is most effective to show the negative aspects of eating animal products and the positive effects of going vegan. It is shedding truth on everything but doing so in a way that is digestible, accessible and engaging to people, i.e. videos that break down topics and go into detail of certain things.
From personal experience, a lot of family and friends have no interest in becoming vegan or in understanding why others want to. What do you find is the best way to connect with people who don’t share the same views as you?
Having an honest conversation in a calm, measured dialogue and trying to understand why people don’t share the same views with you. And then once you understand someone’s positions you can better argue against that position. Obviously, there is a lot of resistance with family and friends and it can be very frustrating. So understanding each other’s views a bit more and having conversations where we ask a lot of questions, ultimately trying to have a response. Trying to be prepared and educated is really important as well so that when we engage and connect with people that don’t agree with our views we can have a good discussion that is effective: we know exactly what we want to say, we know our arguments and we can compose ourselves in a manner that can lead to an awareness and understanding of what our position actually involves.
Be patient, be educated, have conversations and do what you can to not have arguments but come at it from a thoughtful place and hopefully with patience and perseverance we can get through to people who showed very little interest at the beginning.
Congratulations on the launch of the Surge Sanctuary! We’re really excited to see how the sanctuary develops over the coming years! We’ve seen your plans to welcome volunteers onto the sanctuary. Please can you tell us more about the roles people will be able to get involved with? Will this include any prospective veganic farming as well as caring for the animals?
We will have a number of rules: Caregiving for the animals, general maintenance of the sanctuary itself making sure that we have good infrastructure and obviously we have a lot of aspirations of what we can do with the land itself like veganic farming and wildflower meadows. We are looking for people from all kinds of areas of work. We also want to have open days for schools, i.e. use the sanctuary as a base for education and learning as well as a place for rescuing animals. There is so much we want to do with the sanctuary and a lot of work in progress and it will take time to fully become the place we want it to be. Number one is taking care of the animals and everything else comes after that and we can’t wait to invite people to come and see the sanctuary by themselves.