Published 9/2016

Updated 9/2018

The Forty-Year Roadmap to Animal Liberation[a]

VISION: A constitutional amendment, with broad public support[b][c][d][e], ending institutionalized[f] exploitation[g] of non-human animals[h] and granting legal personhood. Within one generation[i].[j][k][l] 

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[m] seed cities;
  2. Train, organize, and form decision-making structures, processes, and[n] attitudes[o] to harness this grassroots community for coordinated political action;
  3. Use nonviolent direct action and other [p]tactics to generate attention and institutional power; deploy that power to culturally and politically normalize veganism and animal rights at the local level; and[q]
  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[w][x] are seeking feedback, endorsement, and active support in executing this roadmap. Strategic partners[y] will be listed as sponsors and join quarterly strategy calls on execution of this plan. [z][aa]

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[ab] are nonviolence, a focus on the animals’ perspective, constructive dialogue, systems[ac] and empowerment[ad], 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[ae]; a global network comes into place. [af]

  1. Milestone: One or more geographic hubs for animal rights, numbering at least 300[ag] 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[ah]: 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.[ai]
  2. Metric[aj]: 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[ak]: A global network of activists has developed for open rescue, [al][am]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[an] 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. [ao]
  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[ap] 2025[aq]: Meat[ar]” is banned in Berkeley[as][at]; open rescues occur across the world[au][av] as animal rights culture spreads, and there is a strong discussion to end state and federal subsidies for animal agriculture. 

  1. Milestone[aw]: One or more seed cities are international centers[ax] 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[ay][az] 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[ba]: 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[bb][bc].
  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[bd]: 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[be][bf] 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[bg]: 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 [bh]are forced to hide[bi] 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. [bj][bk]
  1. Method: TBD.

Breakout Boxes[bl] Details

Open Rescue

Legal Personhood for Animals

Constitutional Bill of Animal Rights

Animal Rights

Seed Cities

[a]Additional comments here:

[b]I really like the boldness of this vision and want to compliment it; it has me inspired. However... I'm confused why this Roadmap doesn't really seem to mention the biotechnological meat replacements that are probably going to be the driving force allowing systemic change? The existence of cheaper, healthier, tastier death-free meat seems like just as good if not better of a Flag than a constitutional amendment. It has the bonus of being culture-and-context-free, without relying on the legal system of one country, or slowly swaying people to do something really difficult.

[c]Interesting point. I think it might play a larger role in 2-3 decades.  It might be worth it to include some of it.

[d]I agree with the inspiration from this document! And the role that clean meat will play.

[e]delete: 'broad public support'. This is a possible enabler, not an aim in itself.

[f]remove: 'institutionalised'

[g]Define exploitation. make robust to ownership, trade, pests, crop pests, pets, industrial use eg shellac, pesticides, swatting insects, personal abuse, personal hunting and fishing etc.

[h]Define 'non-human animals. Eg 'all non-human animals with a central nervous system'. (Include fish, insects, etc)

[i]Future Proof within vision, i.e. 2055

[j]I really like the boldness of this vision and want to compliment it; it has me inspired. However... I'm confused why this Roadmap doesn't really seem to mention the biotechnological meat replacements that are probably going to be the driving force allowing systemic change? The existence of cheaper, healthier, tastier death-free meat seems like just as good if not better of a Flag than a constitutional amendment. It has the bonus of being culture-and-context-free, without relying on the legal system of one country, or slowly swaying people to do something really difficult.

[k]Interesting point. I think it might play a larger role in 2-3 decades.  It might be worth it to include some of it.

[l]I agree with the inspiration from this document! And the role that clean meat will play.

[m]Delete 'Berkeley' to empower other seed cities and to future proof

[n]Processes and attitudes is not necessary and detracts from the meaning of the bullet point

[o]A standard taxonomy. Structures are easiest; processes harder and less engaged with; culture and attitudes hardest to do and often ignored, even though crucial

[p]"Other tactics" leaves allot of room including violent action

[q]This and needs to be deleted

[r]you say that only grassroots activism can accomplish these aims, and that makes sense. but what kinds of resources, if any, will you need to sustain this work? e.g. will you need to do fundraising to rent property in seed cities, provide legal services for network members, provide social services for network members, and so on? if so it might help to hear about what your goals and strategies are for institutional development.

[s]But a large backlash movement is likely to emerge of consumers. As well as all those involved in supply chain of animals, machinery, Big Pharma, warehouses, stores, transport, land owners, etc

[t]Totally agree with this

[u]The strategy for filling cities with activists makes sense to me and I think it shows a lot of promise. It's much easier to reach critical mass in a concentrated area rather than a country. However, I'm hesitant about focusing solely on Berkeley due to the region's demographics. Given that the population is well over 100,000, over 1000 activists must either be created from the city's current population or relocate to Berkelely. And given that critical mass hovers (from what I've read) around 15% of the population, we'd need over 15,000 people. I wonder if it's feasible to gather that number in under a decade. My second issue is this: The cost of living in Berkeley is considerably higher than other cities in the US. This may turn out to be a substantial barrier for convincing activists to move there. I wonder, for example how many people would be willing to move there, but don't see it as feasible due to their occupation/income. So, my question is this (and I would love to discuss it in depth with anyone who sees this: Would focusing on a second city in addition to Berkeley be worthwhile? Ideally, this city would have a smaller population (say 40-50,000) and a much lower cost of living. Other factors should be considered too, such as how else this location can be made accessible for those who don't see Berkeley as an option. While this second city may, in part detract from the numbers moving into Berkeley, it could have the potential to be more accessible and reach critical mass more quickly.

[v]replace 'the best' with 'a good initial seed city (as of 2016)' in order to future proof and not discourage, dis-empower, disenfranchise other candidate cities that will emerge.

[w]it might help to clarify who "we" are. will DxE be doing this work? will the animal rights movement be doing this work more generally? either way, what can individuals and organizations outside of DxE do to help (other than provide feedback on the full document)?

[x]Agree and second

[y]Give a sense of what shape a strategic partner might be, eg NVDA group, existing org such as Peta or Quakers, etc

[z]We should start doing this.

[aa]Currently there's no contact or sign up for the public to get more involved or hear updates on this plan. That may be intentional, but if not it would be good to have a google form for people to fill out or an email contact if people want to help or be on the planning calls.

[ab]Add breakout boxes for each of these

[ac]Define what these two mean in practice. Specifically whether constructive dialogue relates internally to org or to 2nd and 3rd parties

[ad]empowerment of who?

[ae]Replace 'Berkely' with 'at least one US seed city'

[af]Metric for Mass Open Rescues, and for more techy comms objectives (email lists, FB, etc) Or is that too tenuous?

Metric for legal victories for OR?

[ag]maybe include a number of activists moving to Berkeley for AR

[ah]Develop a 'how' for each 'what'/method of the milestone. i.e. give a broad brush indication of how each seed city will develop. Consider this throughout teh document, or certainly year 2020 and perhaps 2025.

[ai]Seems a bit optimistic. Any measurements showing that this is occurring?

[aj]Measure achievement of milestones, i.e. the outcomes, not the 'hows' or inpuuts. Otherwise you risk driving inefficiency and of doing something well, but it not being the right thing to do. Eg measure quantity of local legislation enacted; the number of cities achieving legislative change; the number of emerging seed cities; the different types of groundbreaking legislation lobbied for; and a subjective review on whether the Milestones are the most appropraite and effective ones

[ak]Add Milestone 4 that direct action protests are normalised and considered legitimate by press and proportion of public in at least one seed city

[al]consistency: sentence starts global but ends national

[am]Totally agree with Mark here

[an]indicate key elements of infrastructure to assist readers, eg sancturies

[ao]Major communication events ?  What does that mean ?also assessing court cases seems extremely subjective.

[ap]Adapt to ensure there are milestones for other US and global seed cities

[aq]Seems a bit early. How about banning of meat is debated by at least one legislative body of one seed city.

[ar]leather, wool, silk, eg shellac, secretions, etc, etc. Or do you specifically intend "meat" which is a legit objective.

[as]when you say that veganism will be a moral and legal baseline in the blog post (and that "meat" will be banned here), i might clarify that reaching that goal will require not only promoting animal rights but also promoting accessible, affordable vegan food for all people (so that you can nip any concerns about elitism or single-issue activism in the bud).

[at]I second this. Furthermore, given that cultured meat companies are hoping to have their products out by 2025, it should be specified whether meat will refer to (a) animal flesh that comes from animals or (b) both (a) and animal flesh made from yeast, etc.

[au]How is this different from the 2020 objective of a global network?

[av]This is a bit where it's hard to write an international doc as different countries are legislatively constructed differently. Eg, UK cities would not be able legislate on this, although they could pass motions in its support. Indeed I doubt any of the individual countries comprising the UK could pass separate legislation. In other nations bottom up is viable.

[aw]Further Milestone: Development of a range of effective and efficient tactics used by DxE and the wider movement. Could add to 2020 and 2030 as well.

[ax]It's not clear to me how this differs from 2020 Milestone. I'm sure it is, but maybe frame to be clear for readers.

[ay]This would be huge. How can we develop strategies to make this as accessible as possible so that more people participate? For example, I think it would be wise to plan on a support system that activists can both expect and rely on to consistently be there for them and support them and their families financially and otherwise if they get arrested or lose their jobs, especially considering that they may end up serving significant amounts of time in jail. This support system would absolutely have to be able to support activists without letting a single one down to eliminate barriers to participating in open rescue.

[az]Austin you make a lot of  sense thank you for sharing

[ba]Add a 2020 or 2025 Milestone of existing AR individuals and groups, as well as vegans and vegetarians, appreciate abolitionist objective and begin to divert energies towards abolition

[bb]given that DxE means direct action everywhere, and given that your plan is to start at berkeley and then expand globally, your selection of a constitutional amendment in the US as *the* goal in the blog post (less so in this document) struck me as a bit odd. should people outside of the US be aiming for a constitutional amendment in the US? or should they be aiming for comparable political reform in their own countries? either way, it might be good to clarify that somehow.

[bc]I live in the US, but I agree that there should be clarification for the global strategy. Admittedly, the situation varies drastically in each country around the world, but we definitely don't want to make non-US DxE people feel excluded or unimportant. I think this model, if made just slightly more general, could be used as a template for other countries to work on simultaneously.

[bd]Is this differemnt to 2025 Milestone #3? if so, emphasise difference, i.e. most orgs, or global. ensure method supports the milestone and can deliver against it.

[be]I'm not sure this is globally applicable, reword to be generic, eg highest constitutional body and tested in highest courts.

[bf]tho see my comments about national vs global here and attached file first.

[bg]add an earlier milestone of ending subsidies to animal agriculture. use this initially to fund plant based agriculture. and at this point switch the funds to compensate certain parties involve in animal agriculture ( as traders were in the UK when the UK human slave trade was abolished (yes I know, they didn't compensate the slaves))

[bh]Suddenly becomes very specific to animal eating, rather than full range of exploitation hinted at in Vision Statement.

[bi]Is animal eating illegal, or just institutional exploitation as per vision, and animal eaters are merely ostracised? I.e. could someone hunt? In which case reword Vision Statement to match.

[bj]would be careful this didn't recreate colonial hierarchies (e.g. how feminism and LGBT rights are often used to justify Western imperialism--"pinkwashing"); also need a plan to address concerns of indigenous humans in certain arid/arctic regions if a plant-based food system isn't feasible in their biome. (2055 is far away of course, but this potentially affects how activists frame stuff in the nearer future.)

[bk]i second this comment. more generally, when you talk about creating sanctions against people who violate animal rights, i might clarify that these sanctions will need to target the relevant actors (rather than primarily targeting oppressed workers in the US or farmers in developing countries) and will also need to coincide with advocacy against mass incarceration. (basically, i think that anything that you can do to express sensitivity to interactions between human and nonhuman animal rights issues from day 1 is a good idea.)

[bl]I'd add breakout boxes of: Definition of Non-Human Animal; Intersectionality (or similar); non violent direct action

[bm]make your position on household animals explicitly clear

[bn]I'd drop the international list at least. These cities don't match your criteria for seed cities, nor match Berkeley as an exemplar, and it reads  a bit like an American's geography of the world (easy European swipe;>). I'd drop the whole list inc US to empower city chapters to self define their ambitions and recognise in some countries in may be different legislative bodies that play a role, eg Laender, principalities, counties, regions, autonomous regions, cantons, national assemblies, etc, etc. Perhaps lengthen the criteria as described elsewhere wrt Berkely's features. Maybe for an international doc the whole notion of seed 'city' needs to be reframed to eg seed Chapters. I can imagine for example in Switzerland this would be best played out at Canton level, or even directly at national level given their referendum system.