By Sandra Soto, PAL Volunteer, USA
California – March 20-22, 2015
The Palestinian Animal League (PAL) among hundreds of other likeminded organisations and individuals participated in the World Vegan Summit & Expo, held in California during March 20-22, 2015. The summit sought to assemble, strategise, exchange ideas, and take action to create a vegan world. The need for a massive worldwide population shift to veganism was collectively acknowledged by participants as being the only solution to the world’s greatest societal challenges – from animal suffering and massacre to climate change to disease, hunger, poverty, environmental devastation, habitat destruction, resource depletion, energy crises, violence, and war.
Within this grassroots action to create change, PAL’s volunteer and focal person for the US, PhD Student, Sandra Soto, presented on the organisation’s efforts to change mindsets and policies in Palestine. Specifically, Soto presented on the challenges faced by PAL in initiating the organisation and building momentum and confidence among local communities and decision makers; in terms of overcoming societal/ cultural conceptions trivialising concerns over animal protection. The presentation entitled “The Otherwise “Trivial” Matter” described the challenges faced by the PAL’s team in literally needing to start from zero, as the first and only Palestinian organisation mandated with animal welfare (i.e. complete legal vacuum, complete absence of governmental spay neuter programs, large stray dog population, limited small animal vets, etc.). The presentation also served to highlight the distinctive ecological and programmatic limitations of working under occupation and PAL’s standpoint that social change is a form of resistance. Soto went on to discuss PAL’s programming and volunteer base which has flourished despite the once believed insurmountable obstacles. With much yet to achieve before it, PAL hopes its participation in the summit will have shed light on and gathered support for the critical plight of animal protection in the Palestinian territory.