Sam Davis, an English photojournalist and vegan of seven years, has dedicated her time to photographing protests against animal agriculture and demonstrations on the impact these systems have on the planet. These actions center around the consumption of animals and animal byproducts.
Early in her life as a commercial photographer, Davis felt that she was unsatisfied. "Something was telling me that what I was doing with photography wasn't enough... I wanted to be a part of the change that is happening and is going to happen." She began to turn her attention toward vegan activism. Now, Davis can be seen getting on the train at 5am, carrying large backpacks with heavy photography equipment and protection gear. She climbs on top of street infrastructure in order to achieve a photo and runs from one end of a large protest to the other. She thrives on capturing the action.
Davis spent three years with an organization called Animal Rebellion, when she became their full time photography and videography coordinator. This group protests major meat and dairy companies to fight for animal protections, spread awareness regarding the atrocities that take place behind these doors and bring attention to the ongoing climate crisis as it relates to the meat industry. Davis says, "We can't talk about planet health without talking about animal justice." According to The Guardian, "The use of cows, pigs and other animals for food is responsible for 57% of all food production emissions... Beef alone accounts for a quarter of emissions."
Animal Rebellion sheds light on why it is important to consider veganism. Davis says, "You're not saving anybody by not eating meat and still eating dairy." Under animal based consumption, cow milk is the second worst contribution to global emissions - only second to beef, according to The Guardian. Davis feels the problem lies within industries, corporations and governments. "Being vegan you start to see things in a different way... You start to become much more open." She says that "an end to the climate crisis is an end to the meat and dairy industry."
Davis comments on her use of the camera and what she produces for viewers. "As a photojournalist I like to be very specific in what I shoot and what I put out into the world because ultimately, I'm responsible for circulating the messages held in each image." She strives to find messages, to photograph the essence of each demonstration and the ideology of Animal Rebellion.
A group from Animal Rebellion protested at a 100 year old London meat market known as Smith Fields. They transformed the market into a flower shop, lined with flowers and bouquets. They even added vegetables and fruits to the shelves. They played music and danced. Davis comments, "We took the death out of it and put life into it." That night they held a candlelight vigil in front of the market for the lives lost. They slept there, and in the morning they marched through London.
On another occasion, Animal Rebellion activists shut down four McDonald's distribution sites, leaving the UK without burger meat. According to Davis, no burgers were delivered. This successful takeover gained media attention and elevated the perception of Animal Rebellion both in the media and in the public eye.
Two weeks later the same protestors took to the G7 Summit that was taking place in Cornwall. They presented their message of the need to transition to a plant based food system. Eventually, the police raided the site and a mass arrest began. Davis was taken into custody and held for 22 hours. In these intense moments she felt shock. She felt she had made a sacrifice. She was interviewed by the police and her photography equipment was taken. Cornwall police held this equipment for five months before returning it to her.
Davis continues her work today with Animal Rebellion, and other organizations that share the ideology, such as The Human League. She fights for animal rights, climate protections and an end to abuse.