Author: Miriam Porter.
Dedicated youth around the world are speaking up for animals and the environment. Youth Climate Save (YCS), a branch of the Climate Save Movement, provides the youth a platform on issues surrounding the climate such as animal agriculture. This division of the Save Movement is led by young activists that organize vegan climate outreach activities and participate in Fridays for Future events. Read on to learn how YCS began, their mission, accomplishments and plans for the future.
1. How did YCS start?
A caring and compassionate mom and daughter team are behind YCS. It all started when 14-year-old Genesis Butler from California put a call to action on her social media page shortly after Covid-19 changed our world forever. Butler didn’t want to let the quarantine prevent her from activism and speaking up for the rights of animals.
“Youth Climate Save is something I am very proud of because it is the first youth led climate movement that focuses on climate change and its connection to animal agriculture. I have been an animal rights activist since I was six years old, but once I learned about the devastating effects animal agriculture has on the climate and environment when I was 10, then I became a climate activist. I felt it was really important for people to learn about this.”
According to her mother, Genelle Butler, “within a few days, youth from around the world messaged her to join forces and help put an end to animal agriculture for the sake of the animals and the planet. It is amazing to see how passionate the youth are when it comes to raising awareness on issues that matter the most to them. I know they will make a positive impact on this planet.”
Genesis is not new to the world of animal rights. At the age of three she knew she didn’t want to eat animals when she discovered the truth about them being killed for food and she became vegetarian. Then at age six after learning what cows are forced to endure in the cruel dairy industry her whole family went vegan.
Genesis has attended animal rights protests and vigils, given a TEDx Talk, was the subject of a documentary and has built a significant online following within the vegan community. She is a wonderful spokesperson for the movement and will continue to inspire a new wave of young activists to make a difference for animals and the climate.
2. What is their mission?
The mission of YCS is for youth to work with schools, governments and hospitals in communities around the world spreading the multiple benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Their aim is to give the youth a platform to have their voices heard about all issues affecting the climate. Since animal agriculture is the leading cause of the environmental disaster our world is currently facing, it’s a huge issue they are addressing and raising awareness on. YCS believes in spreading the importance of adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle to help the oceans, deforestation, species extinction, animal suffering and to improve health.
“When I became a climate activist I realized most climate activists and organizations didn't talk about animal agriculture. They just focused on fossil fuels. I knew that we couldn’t fight climate change without addressing animal agriculture so I put all my time into this issue because the lives of all sentient beings are on the line.”
“Compassion should be our guiding principle, extended not only to other humans, but also to the other life forms we share this planet with.”
“There is an intersection between Climate Justice and Animal Rights. It is impossible to protect the planet without protecting animal rights. For me, Climate Justice is the end goal and that includes animal rights.”
3. What happens in YCS groups?
YCS is packed with energetic and passionate youth that are committed to making a difference when it comes to climate related issues. Youth organizers attend weekly meetings to chat about upcoming actions they want to focus on. Covid-19 has put a halt to several in person activities, but YCS still gives youth an opportunity to speak up for the planet and animals via digital means.
Genelle Butler explains, “One of Youth Climate Save's upcoming projects is the launch of the Youth Climate Save Vegan Youth Support Group and Family Support Group. The Youth Support Group will be held bi-monthly and the Family Support Group will be held monthly. The Youth Support Group will provide youth, who want to go vegan or who are vegan, with a safe place where they can learn how to talk to their family members about wanting to go vegan, how to gain their family’s support, as well as vegan nutrition. The Family Support Group will help friends and family support youth who are vegan or who want to go vegan. Topics include nutrition, the importance of going vegan for the animals and the planet, and helping family members make their own transition.”
4. What projects are they working on?
YCS is currently working on several educational campaigns and raising awareness based on facts about animal agriculture and how it affects the world we live in.
Genelle Butler explains the types of petitions the youth have started to organize, “Youth Climate Save has collaborated with other environmental organizations to promote their petitions such as Friday for Future's petition to ask Latin American countries to ratify the Escazu Agreement, which is an agreement that guarantees the right of all Latin Americans to have free access to environmental information and be able to participate meaningfully in decisions that affect their lives. This agreement was recently ratified after an overwhelming demand from people all over the world.”
Planting trees is an important initiative YCS groups participate in. In addition to giving off oxygen, trees are extremely beneficial to our earth. Multiple species of wildlife such as birds and mammals rely on trees for their homes and trees provide them with protection and food. YCS participated in a successful fundraiser with One Tree Planted and were able to raise enough funds to plant 135 trees in areas of the United States that were recently affected by wildfires.
Other projects and goals the youth are working towards are writing petitions, organizing direct actions such as putting up informative stickers, chalking events and free vegan food giveaways. When it comes to the issue of Covid-19, YCS has created social media posts discussing the link between deadly pandemics such as coronaviruses and eating animals. They enthusiastically distribute vegan and climate save literature and do cleans-ups along roads, beaches and city blocks while wearing vegan t-shirts to get their positive message across. They also make videos to help spread awareness such as this powerful and moving tribute to Regan Russell. YCS Dubai made a video for World Environment Day and it can be found here.
"Animals love unconditionally, they deserve some love too. Picking a vegan option can save our planet, animals and us, then why not?"
"We need to acknowledge the role of food systems in climate change - that our production and consumption of food must be transformed to save the planet."
5. How can youth get involved?
There are currently 73 Youth Climate Save chapters in 22 countries and they continue to grow. If you would like to join a chapter of YCS or start your own you can reach out to YCS via Instagram, Facebook and email.
“I feel that starting Youth Climate Save has really given myself and other animal rights activists a platform to get this information out to people because they see we are passionate about this and we keep talking about the issues with animal agriculture so they have no choice but to listen to us. I'm so grateful to be part of the Save Movement and fight for the planet and animals.”