Published 9/2016

Updated 9/2018

The Forty-Year Roadmap to Animal Liberation

VISION: A constitutional amendment, with broad public support, ending institutionalized exploitation of non-human animals and granting legal personhood. Within one generation. 

SUMMARY: The 40 Year Roadmap is a plan to:

  1. Build a concentrated grassroots coalition of dedicated activists and animal rights supporters in Berkeley and other seed cities;
  2. Train, organize, and form decision-making structures, processes, and attitudes to harness this grassroots community for coordinated political action;
  3. Use nonviolent direct action and other tactics to generate attention and institutional power; deploy that power to culturally and politically normalize veganism and animal rights at the local level; and
  4. Spread the tools used in seed cities to influence new cities and eventually take on national-level issues, concluding with a constitutional amendment.


OUR ASK: We are seeking feedback, endorsement, and active support in executing this roadmap. Strategic partners will be listed as sponsors and join quarterly strategy calls on execution of this plan.

FULL DESCRIPTION: The strategic roadmap is a tool to help animal rights activists visualize (1) what change we aim to accomplish, broken down into at most 3 major milestones in each 5-year period; (2) the major mechanisms through which we will accomplish those milestones; and, for the initial milestones, (3) how we will measure our progress. This roadmap should be modified regularly based on events, learnings, tactics, and so on; it is a fluid map that many animal rights groups may provide feedback into.

Our Values are nonviolence, a focus on the animals’ perspective, constructive dialogue, systems and empowerment, effective research-based methods, truth, integrity, inclusiveness, responsibility, community, compassion, interconnectedness, and, above all, impact.

Our Theory of Change is: 1) a grassroots animal rights movement develops institutional capacity to 2) push animal rights into the public agenda; (3) generate “water cooler” conversations across the country and world; and (4) cultivate an initial vanguard of “seed cities,” which push cultural, social, and eventually political and legal change for animal rights, similar to the women’s rights and LGBTQ movements. This will eventually spread to regions, provinces/states, and countries as a global network deepens.

Breakout boxes: Open Rescue; Constitutional Bill of Animal Rights; Legal Personhood for Animals; Animal Rights; Seed Cities

YEAR 2020: An animal rights hub develops in Berkeley; a global network comes into place.

  1. Milestone: One or more geographic hubs for animal rights, numbering at least 300 committed activists in the same dense cluster, has developed in seed cities. They can influence groundbreaking local legislation, e.g. warning labels on animal products, elect at least one person to the city council, etc.
  1. Method: Local protests generate attention; community building efforts harness and sustain that attention to increase mainstream attention to animal rights and create sense of unity among animal advocates -- causing other supporters to gravitate toward seed cities in a self-reinforcing cycle. Activists influence friends and family into both veganism and specifically animal rights activism.
  2. Metric: Develop systems for measuring participation in both protest and community building efforts (activism virality and pipelines of transformation); hold teams accountable for steady progress.
  1. Milestone: A global network of activists has developed for open rescue, and activists have won at least one major court case or achieved one major legislative victory enshrining the right to rescue animals from institutionalized abuse.
  1. Method: Early open rescues trigger attention, mobilize additional resources, and facilitate infrastructure necessary for network to form. Build legal support structure and strategies to win key court cases.
  2. Metric: Measure # of open rescues that are achieving Major Communications Events, and assess progress of court cases involving open rescue.
  1. Milestone: Across a global network of seed and non-seed cities, local demographics and civic organizations are beginning to elevate animal rights as an ethical norm within their communities. “Open Rescue” as a concept is understood by the mainstream media.
  1. Method: Lectures, relationship-building, and coalition campaigns develop social connections between animal rights and other important identities (Buddhist, LGBT, Jewish, dog and cat lovers)
  2. Metric: Measure # of communities reached out to, # with which we successfully organize a joint event, and # that we manage to influence (e.g. public statements against animal agriculture). Measure Google Trends for searches and n-grams for “animal rights,” “veganism,” and “open rescue”.

YEAR 2025: Meat” is banned in Berkeley; open rescues occur across the world as animal rights culture spreads, and there is a strong discussion to end state and federal subsidies for animal agriculture.

  1. Milestone: One or more seed cities are international centers for animal rights activism, with a strong push (successful or otherwise) to ban the sale of all or certain animal products within city limits and/or other successful legislative efforts, e.g. banning fur or slaughter.
  1. Method: Execute mass actions with thousands of people streaming into the streets while simultaneously placing as many supporters as possible in city council of a seed city. Use carrots and sticks to pressure local organizations, businesses, and residents to support animal rights efforts, and stigmatize the opposition. Create as many coalitions -- health, environmental -- targeting the problems with “meat.”
  1. Milestone: Open rescue happens so regularly that it becomes a nationally “known” concept that ordinary people have heard of and a significant issue in national politics. (Presidential candidates are asked, “Where do you stand on open rescue?”) Legal backlash triggers national dialogue on what to do with all the open rescue activists.
  1. Method: Execute major open rescues with hundreds of participants. Inspire notable figures, such as politicians or celebrities, to participate. Leverage media attention around any prosecutions to garner sympathy and inspire more rescues.
  1. Milestone: Major civil rights organizations (ACLU, NOW, Greenpeace, HRC, Amnesty etc.) begin including animal rights in their platforms and target ending animal agriculture subsidies.
  1. Method: Use early successes in seed cities to influence state and eventually national-level leadership of major organizations. Build strategic coalitions within the organizations to push animal rights perspective and ending subsidies for exploitative industries.

YEAR 2030: Some former Heads of State (Clintons, Obamas, Trudeaus, Merkels, Camerons, Modis, the Pope, etc) publicly support open rescue, research-based action to reduce animal consumption, more protections for many species (household, farmed, and wild), and ending the AETA and other laws protecting animal industry.

  1. Milestone: Animal rights has become normative within seed cities, and eating animals has been culturally stigmatized. The first major efforts are proposed to ban meat on a statewide basis  and to push for a constitutional amendment granting legal personhood and equality to all animals.
  1. Method: Identify more geographic regions that can be “seeded” with seasoned political operatives trained in first seed cities; replicate both the protests and community building efforts, using success in first seed cities as a model.
  1. Milestone: National political figures are supporting open rescue and more protections for animals.
  1. Method: Create powerful voting bloc in cities and states that will not vote for any candidate or party that does not support open rescue and greater protections for animals..
  1. Milestone: Most major progressive organizations and communities are expected to support animal rights to some degree.
  1. Method: Major national initiatives, similar to the It Gets Better campaign for gay rights, elevate the victimization of animals throughout society. Encourage major media to tell stories of animals and adopt animal rights posture, in both news and entertainment platforms. Continue to develop network of animal rights supporters within major civil rights organizations, pushing them into leadership positions.
  1. Milestone: US Congress repeals AETA and members distance themselves from animal industry.
  1. Method: Generate dialogue and pressure in 200-300 congressional districts. Force politicians to take a position, and punish those who refuse to support open rescue.

YEAR 2035: More city and regional-level animal protection laws and animal product bans are instituted and enforced globally.

  1. Milestone: At least one state or province-wide referendum banning the production and sale of animal flesh is on the ballot in a region with a seed city.
  1. Method: Mobilize activists seeded throughout the state for this initiative. Organize major protests, including civil disobedience, numbering at least a few hundred thousand people converging on state capital or other key political gatherings.
  1. Milestone: Support for open rescue has become a common position among progressive politicians. Legal backlash against open rescue is now seen as inappropriate and immoral.
  1. Method: Generate national crisis due to sheer volume of open rescue efforts and proposed statewide ban in California. Force politicians to take a position, and punish those who refuse to support open rescue.
  1. Milestone: Animal rights has become a standard position in major progressive organizations globally.
  1. Method: Aggressively push network of animal rights supporters within progressive organizations to strongly back issues about animal rights. Look to rapidly-changing poll numbers to show that animal rights is quickly garnering mainstream support among progressives -- and beyond.

YEAR 2040: A state or province with seed cities passes a statute for animal liberation with a robust enforcement agency.

  1. Milestone: At least one state has banned the sale/production of animal flesh, including animal experimentation, and/or passed a constitutional amendment granting legal personhood to all animals and has created a strong enforcement agency to monitor and implement this.
  1. Method: Use what we learned in last effort to push for a final breakthrough.
  1. Milestone: Public support for open rescue and open rescue activists has become the default position among progressive politicians and media. Major national legislation protects activists exposing animal abuse and rescuing animals.
  1. Method: Major push at national conventions and other organizing bodies to ensure aggressive animal rights message.
  1. Milestone: Progressive organizations that fail to endorse animal rights are stigmatized, and individuals who make anti-animal statements are publicly reprimanded by their organizations.
  1. Method: Aggressive media operation to counter and shame any organizations making anti-animal statements. Characterize anti-animal thinking as “old ways” and “oppressive.”

YEAR 2045: One or more national governments fund a network of sanctuaries as reparations.

  1. Milestone: Multiple states have banned the sale/production of animal flesh and/or passed a constitutional amendment granting legal personhood to all animals.
  1. Method: Seed other states with operation used in first states.
  1. Milestone: Support for open rescue is beginning to cross party lines. Federal legislation is enacted funding sanctuaries to place animals rescued from abuse.
  1. Method: Identify key “defectors” within the conservative movement and turn them towards animal rights.
  1. Milestone: Resistance to animal rights messaging even among conservative organizations is weakening. Prominent conservatives begin to endorse animal rights.
  1. Method: Celebrate that animal rights is, in fact, a mainstream American value, not something that should be politically controversial.

YEAR 2050: Species equality goes before the Supreme or Constitutional Courts of one or more countries.

  1. Milestone: Animal rights is reaching the point of national consensus. Major push to achieve constitutional amendment or victory in Supreme Court.
  1. Method: Lawsuits at the state and lower court level to recognize animals as persons with specific rights.
  1. Milestone: A majority of Americans support open rescue. Sanctuaries for abused animals are as prominent as foster programs and orphanages for human children today.
  1. Method: Emphasize that work for nonhuman animal causes is as important as human causes.
  1. Milestone: All major progressive organizations support national efforts to codify animal rights and anti-speciesism.
  1. Method: Animal rights conferences invite representatives from all major organizations to generate wide support.

YEAR 2055: A Constitutional Bill of Animal Rights passes in one or more states or countries.

  1. Milestone: National legislation or constitutional amendments codify animal rights and species equality. A “Marshall Plan for Animals” grants 2-3% of GDP to transitioning all remaining animals in captivity to lifetime sanctuary and to rehabilitating all wild animals harmed by human activity. Serious efforts made to address wild animal suffering.
  1. Method: TBD.
  1. Milestone: Independent arms of the Departments of Justice or Interior Ministries, the Animal Rights Division, are created to protect animals from all suffering and harm. Open rescue has become fully normalized and institutionalized.
  1. Method: TBD.
  1. Milestone: Remaining conservative organizations that expressly oppose animal rights are relegated to the margins of society. Animal eaters are forced to hide in remote refuges and, when identified, are prosecuted by the Animal Rights Division of the Department of Justice.
  1. Method: TBD.
  1. Milestone: Progressive countries enact serious sanctions and restrictions against countries that violate animal rights and further stigmatize the violator countries. 
  1. Method: TBD.

Breakout Boxes Details

Open Rescue

Legal Personhood for Animals

Constitutional Bill of Animal Rights

Animal Rights

Seed Cities