2016 Voiceless People’s Choice Awards: Animal Advocacy Training Workshop Series

I am happy to say that my application to Voiceless: the animal protection institute grants scheme has been shortlisted for the 2016 Voiceless People’s Choice Awards. The application outlined a project to develop a series of ‘Animal Advocacy Training’ workshops to help people become confident and comfortable animal advocates.


Lots of people would like to advocate for animals but don’t know where to start or don’t feel confident or comfortable being an advocate. This is a problem because each one of these people could be helping create a better world for animals. To build a stronger movement working for animals it’s important that there are opportunities for these people to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to become active animal advocates.

Working with others I want to create and deliver a series of six workshops that will:

  1. Facilitate people to become active animal advocates and improve their advocacy through the sharing of skills & knowledge and by providing them with tools & experiences that make them comfortable with and confident about conducting their own advocacy.
  2. Build connections within the animal advocacy movement and create a strong network of people who continue to share advocacy skills, knowledge and experiences.
  3. Increase the number of individuals who are actively working for the freedom of animals.

The workshop series will use an active and self-directed learning approach to ensure attendees are engage and work on tasks that are directly related to their passions and animal advocacy goals. The workshops will focus around the development of a self-directed ‘animal advocacy project’. Attendees will work on their project during the course of the workshop series and will be encouraged to practice what they are learning between workshops. By the end of the workshop series attendees will have developed an animal advocacy project that they will have the tools, confidence and network to implement. Workshop themes will include:

  1. Identifying my place in animal advocacy.
  2. Approaches to advocacy.
  3. Animal advocacy and the Law.
  4. Strategy and Planning.
  5. Connecting movements: Animal, environmental and social advocacy.
  6. Wellbeing and self-care as an advocate.

Open & Free

The face-to-face workshop series will initially run in Melbourne and be used to create and refine a set of learning resources and activities to help people become animal advocates. All materials will then be turned into a freely available online course to help people anywhere in the world become active animal advocates.


During the workshop I will conduct educational research to identify which learning opportunities are most useful. This research will help to evaluate the effectiveness of the workshop series and inform improvements to future advocate training.

Please Vote

Please consider voting for my project in the 2016 Voiceless People’s Choice Awards. Although I am sure that all five projects are excellent so vote for whichever one you think will have the greatest benefit for the animals! Please remember you only have one vote so make it count. Voting is open from 12pm 19th Sept to 12pm 30th September 2016.

Until all are free!


A great outcome for a plant-based patient with Parkinsonism

A VeganSci Post 


First off, ‘Parkinsonism’ is a set of symptoms of which Parkinson’s disease is one cause but not the only cause (you learn something new every day!). So when recounting this interesting little story to your friends please make sure you’ve got the distinction right. Remember, accuracy is important if you don’t want to come across as an over-reaching uninformed dingus that can get refuted really easily. Now that that is out of the way…

A very interesting case study reported that a 64 year old man had an incredibly positive improvement in Parkinsonism after adopting a plant-based diet. He was diagnosed with Parkinsonism at age 55, having developed bradykinesia (slowness of movement), bilateral rigidity, start hesitation, and sudden transient freezing. Over time he experienced constipation, anxiety, orthostatic hypotension, and gait freezing, all of which were difficult to treat with drugs because of a complex medical history.

The man started a protein restricted diet which produced slight improvements on symptoms. Two months later he to switch a plant-based diet and quickly saw significant improvements in his gait and motor symptoms. The man now enjoys running and ice skating which were basically impossible before (and at the age of 64 certainly puts me to shame).

The authors point to a few possible reasons for the improvements made while on a plant-based diet including, its protein sparing nature, fibre richness, and possible improved bioavailability of the levodopa drug treatment due to better bowel mobility, among other things. They also suggest that a plant-based diet may be beneficial for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or related conditions.

Now, before you get all uppity about the sample size of one I want to strongly acknowledge that we can’t draw any conclusions about Parkinsonism and plant-based diets from this case study. However, case studies can provide hints at interesting areas for research. Plus, I thought this was a pretty cool story and a great outcome.

There also seems to be a few other case studies out there that point to similar results, see:

  1. Diets, food and Idiopathic Parkinson´s disease
  2. Pilot dietary study with normoproteic protein-redistributed plant-food diet and motor performance in patients with Parkinson’s disease

It’s important to note that these case studies suggest some positive benefit of a plant-based diet for treating symptoms that some patients of Parkinsonism experience. They DO NOT suggest that a plant-based diet helps prevent Parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease. So please don’t make that leap when you’re trying to convince your friend how awesome veganism is. There is also a lot of research left to do in this space before we draw any conclusions.

Finally, DON’T take this as medical advice! Don’t convince your friends or family members to go vegan to treat their Parkinsonism/Parkinson’s disease. Convince them to go vegan for the animals, and to seek advice from a health professional regarding their Parkinsonism.


NB: You may notice that the case study uses the term ‘vegan diet’ while I use ‘plant-based diet’. I believe the latter is more accurate because veganism involves more than just a dietary change, it is a lived ethic.


Title: Dramatic response of parkinsonism to a vegan diet: Case report
Authors: Roger Kurlan, Rajesh Kumari and Ivana Ganihong
Journal: Journal of Parkinson’s disease & Alzheimer’s disease


If you can’t access the paper try emailing the corresponding author directly and asking nicely for a copy. Most people will be more than happy to share their research with you. Alternatively, get in touch with me and I can help you out.