I have met Claire from Animal Justice project a number of times at vegan festivals and have always seen how deeply passionate about animals she is and how she is doing all she can to raise awareness and ultimately stop animal testing and vivisection.
For this reason I was thrilled when our community voted for Animal Justice Project to be our fifth official Greener Beauty charity. You can read more about the Greener Beauty charities here
The campaign’s run by Animal Justice Project are having amazing success at raising awareness and saving animals lives. Claire has done so much for the animals, it was such an honour that she agreed to do this interview with us.
Tell us a little bit about The Animal Justice Project and what inspired you to start it?
I founded Animal Justice Project in December 2014 after a long stint of vivisection campaigning being vilified by the media in Britain. We were a collective group of animal rights activists who wanted to tackle animal experiments, particularly in universities, in a unique and positive way. We wanted to try a new approach. Sadly, half of all animal research still takes place on university campuses in the UK which is why our campaigns focus on urging students not to use animals in their studies. These institutions rely on grants from charities carrying out animal experiments and the pharmaceutical industry, but they are also institutions that accommodate students who, with the right information, have the power to reject animal use. Since launching Animal Justice Project we’ve achieved widespread media coverage on some horrendous animal abuse inside university laboratories and have hosted many innovative stunts across the country. Over the past year we’ve also campaigned for the billions of farmed animals and now work equally for their rights. Our flagship campaigns are Campus Without Cruelty and The Foul Truth. We’ve embarked on undercover investigations most recently, and our first took place at two RSPCA farms in Suffolk where so-called ‘high welfare’ chickens were abused
Could you tell us more about your career prior to founding the charity?
I’m a zoologist with a masters in Applied Animal Welfare and Behaviour. I’ve worked in several leading organisations for animals in the field of campaigns and investigations. I’ve also carried out undercover work myself in India, Spain, Thailand, the UK, South America and elsewhere. Animal rights has always been the most important social justice issue to me though we are an intersectional organisation and so advocate justice for all, regardless of species. That includes humans as well and we will not tolerate any form of oppression. As a child I grew up being fascinated with animals, I turned vegetarian at 14 years old and began to learn about the exploitation of animals in labs and on farms. At school I was an ‘animal monitor’ and used to let the rats out of their cages on lunch breaks. I took them home on holidays and I regret to this day not removing the rats from the school altogether. Between 16 and 18 years old I started attending anti-vivisection demonstrations, including the first London march where over 20,000 people marched, and hunt sabbing. It was then that I became vegan.
What does an average day running Animal Justice Project look like?
As director I oversee all areas of the organisation – from social media to campaigns. Also staffing, budgeting, and ensuring all our work is carried out and branded to a professional standard. We have a fantastic albeit small team that is getting better and better by the day. My aim is to get everyone on board onto an equal footing so that I can step back to focus on fundraising and ensuring we are set up to continue well into the future. I also currently manage our investigations but all staff know how to process footage, package it up and roll it out to the public alongside effective campaigns.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learnt along your journey running AJP?
Running an organisation comes with costs – both time and mental energy. I don’t switch off, so it has taken its toll on my personal life and relationships. I only have friends in the animal rights movement now, and I am conscious that I represent the organisation in everything I do. You need to be quite thick skinned – from trawling difficult-to-watch undercover footage, to dealing with criticism or making staffing decisions. This makes you ‘feel’ less in some ways. I’m learning each day and I’ve certainly made mistakes. The positives though far outweighs the costs, when we achieve something for animals, it makes it all worthwhile. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What do you do in your spare time?
Honestly, I don’t get much spare time. I try to do yoga in between work, and I socialise with friends but that may mean sitting around together and watching a film about animal rights. I like to camp and get out into nature when I can.
If you could visit one place on Earth where would you go?
I have a long list! I’d love to travel through Canada and down to America, also visit lots more Asian countries. I used to live in Thailand and South East Asia holds a special place in my heart. I love travelling and it’s something I plan to do more of.
If you were a superhero what powers would you have?
Of course, I’d like to have the ability to stop people abusing animals. I’d also quite like to fly!
Tell me about your proudest achievement
Getting both my degrees is definitely up there. Having the animals’ stories in newspapers also makes me very proud.
What are your goals for Animal Justice Project?
I’d like to see us continue growing as we are and really take down companies involved in animal exploitation. We are moving towards more strategic campaigns for animal rights.
If you could give one message to others about AJP what would it be?
Please support us. We are unique in that we are led by activists and we will never, ever stray from an abolitionist message. We achieve so much for animals on a fraction of the money that other animal rights and welfare groups do. We are also one of the only organisations in Britain campaigning for animals in laboratories.