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Everywhere on our planet and for the entire extent of human history, humans have been making animals suffer unjustly. We do not have to think of human beings as evil to recognize the basic facts, like the reality that human beings have triggered an ongoing sixth major extinction of world species. Even we ourselves may not survive the terrible impact that we have had on our planet and its native species.

But the future is not yet written, and there is still time to protect our planet and the beautiful animals that call it home. There are things that we can each do every day to protect animals. Here are a few changes that you can make.

Go vegetarian or vegan

If you really want to help animals, then you probably shouldn’t eat them. Even if you do not think that eating meat is inherently immoral, there are lots of reasons to be troubled by the modern meat industry. The animals we eat are often not treated properly before they are butchered, and the environmental impact of the meat industry has a devastating effect on our planet even beyond the immediate damage that it does to living animals.

Eating less meat — or none at all — is a great way to make a moral stand. It also happens to be a great way to stay thin and healthy, ward of disease, and live longer.

If you want to take things a step further, consider a vegan diet. That will cut out things like dairy products, which are all too often created under very disturbing conditions that cut short the lives of cows.

Wear your ethics on your sleeve

Animals are used for more than just food products, of course. Our animal farms produce other sorts of goods, including clothing items. Hunting wild animals is another method used to produce some of the things that we wear.

If you believe in protecting our planet’s animals, consider holding your wardrobe to the same standards you’d hold your meals to. Get yourself some vegan clothes. Modern methods can provide us with great alternatives to animal products like leather, so you won’t have to advertise your shopping habits if you don’t want to — you’ll blend right in with the rest of the stylish set, only you’ll be able to sleep a lot better at night.

Protect habitats

Protecting animals isn’t just about taking a stand against animal cruelty. Humans hurt animals less directly, too, and sometimes without meaning to. Take your own lawn, for instance — since you have nice mowed grass out there instead of native plants, you’re hurting local animal populations. From insects on up, a simple lawn can be a part of devastating trends in the local environment.

Make your property sustainable and friendly to local animals. Carry that ethic with you when you leave home by staying on trails when you hike, keeping noise pollution down in parks, picking up litter, and doing everything else that you can in order to protect the local critters.

Volunteer, demonstrate, and vote

It would be great if individual action were enough to save our planet and its animal species. But the reality is that massive corporations, government laws and regulations, and widespread consumer habits are responsible for the horrors that animals deal with every day.

For those with the ability and the desire to lobby for animals on a larger scale, it’s important to get out there and make your voice heard. Demonstrations and protests call attention to animal cruelty. Donating to lobbying organizations can help strengthen the animals rights movement in your country and around the globe. Volunteering is a great way to make an impact, whether you choose to volunteer for a lobbying group or want to work directly with animals. Important groups for animal lovers include animal rights lobbying organizations like PETA and animal care organizations like The Humane Society.

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