1-7 October will see thousands of Australians embracing simple acts of kindness to make the world a better place for animals.
Now in its eleventh year, Be Kind to Animals Week invites people to reflect on their daily lifestyle choices, and pledge to make simple changes to create a better world for animals.
The annual awareness week is run by Edgar’s Mission, a not-for-profit sanctuary for rescued farmed animals based in the Macedon Ranges, around 60km north of Melbourne.
To support participants in their pledge, the charity is sending out free Kindness Kits along with daily emails filled with plant-based recipe inspiration and other kindness tips. Pledgers also go in a draw to win a hamper full of ethical goodies.
The 2021 campaign also features a new range of resources for kids, just in time for the school holidays, including a downloadable colouring competition, virtual story time videos, fun animal facts, and more.
Cool to be kind
This year, a number of Australian household names have come on board as official ambassadors to throw their support behind the week-long pledge, including DJ, producer, and wellness enthusiast, Dara Hayes (aka DJ Tigerlily), pictured above.
“Research has proven that animals feel pain and emotions, share languages, family bonds, and rituals,” Dara says. “They are just as deserving of our kindness. Switching to a plant-based lifestyle was the best decision I have ever made. It is empowering to be a voice for the voiceless and to live a life that is causing no cruelty or harm to other beings. It costs nothing to be kind.”
Joining Dara are Jess and Stef Dadon of the Twoobs vegan footwear brand, actress Jet Tranter, actor Martin Dingle Wall, and a number of other representatives spanning the worlds of sport, media, the arts, and beyond.
The youngest ambassador is 10-year-old Nella Trainor, who got involved with Edgar’s Mission through fellow-ambassador and family friend Anna Weatherlake.
Nella, pictured below with rescue dogs Lenny and Frankie, made her own transition from vegetarian to vegan last year after educating herself through online research. “Photos I saw on accounts like PETA revealed the shocking truths of the dairy and egg industry, which upset me. And so a week later, I decided to go vegan.”
Deeply aware of the ways that humans impact the planet and other living beings, Nella is also optimistic about our ability to become a gentler presence on the Earth. “We have all the tools to make the changes needed. I feel so lucky and excited to be involved and hope to inspire the younger generation for a more kinder future”, she says.
The team at Edgar’s Mission is excited about this year’s Be Kind to Animals Week, having witnessed the power of kindness to transform lives every day since they were first founded in 2003.
Starting with one pig – the charity’s beloved namesake, Edgar – the sanctuary now provides lifelong love and care to between 400 to 500 rescued farmed animals at any given time. Every resident has a story of a life transformed from bleak to bright by kindness.
This includes orphans like Kiki Dee, one of the tiniest lambs the sanctuary has ever rescued.
“Kiki Dee’s eye had been pecked by a bird, but a kind heart brought her to the sanctuary last winter,” says Edgar’s Mission Founder and Director, Pam Ahern.
“Today, after lots of love and care, she is a happy and very affectionate sheep. It just goes to show the power of kindness, and it also speaks to the range of emotions all animals feel, regardless of whether they have fur, feathers, fleeces, or fins on the outside.”
A kindness revolution
Pam has been heartened to see Be Kind to Animals Week grow every year since it started in 2010. “It is a great opportunity to stop and think about how being kinder can improve our own lives, animals’ lives and the world”, she says.
In addition to reflecting on the simple choices we make every day, including what we eat and the products we use, the initiative aims to show the many ways people can make a positive impact on animals’ lives.
“You can support your favourite animal welfare charity by volunteering or donating, organise a beach or park clean up, leave water out for local wildlife, and so much more.”
As well as helping animals, Pam notes the power of kindness to enhance our own physical and emotional wellbeing. “It boosts our serotonin and oxytocin levels, which are known to spark positive emotions, and even has physiological benefits, from pain reduction to improved heart health.”
Not only that, but studies have shown that kindness is contagious, so that people who witness acts of kindness are inspired to follow suit – which is why Pam is hoping this year’s campaign will be the biggest yet.
The Edgar’s Mission team and ambassadors are aiming to exceed 5,000 pledges this year. Get involved by visiting bekindtoanimalsweek.org.au, where you can take the pledge, opt in for a Kindness Kit by post, access fun online resources and sign up for a free virtual sanctuary tour or library talk with Pam. You can also choose one of the colourful Be Kind to Animals Week social media images or backgrounds and share #BeKindToAnimalsWeek to encourage your friends and family to get involved too.