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Animal Advocate Profile: Engin Arıkan | Researcher and Monitoring & Evaluation Manager

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

This profile is part of the "Animal Advocate Stories" Series. Engin is working at Animal Advocacy Careers and Cage-free Türkiye.

Headshot of Engin

Can you share a bit about yourself, what you're passionate about, and what drives you in your work for animal advocacy?

I am very interested in philosophy - applied ethics in particular. That led me to read more about animal ethics and discover how pressing and neglected animal suffering is.

Could you describe your journey in animal advocacy and how you're able to make a meaningful impact in your life and career?

I was (and still am) an academic before my involvement in animal advocacy. But after I finished my master thesis on animal ethics and law, I wanted to do something tangible. I tried to contact corporations to switch to cage-free and started a campaign against a very large retail chain. This campaign is “stil” active and couldn’t reach its objectives yet but there was a number of corporations that agreed to commit to cage-free. In 2020 I co founded an NGO “Cage-free Türkiye” that aims to improve animal welfare via corporate campaigns. In late 2022, I also joined Animal Advocacy Careers.

What does your day-to-day life look like in your role?

I generally work all day, multi-tasking most of the time. I aim to distribute certain tasks to certain days: meeting day, writing day, family day, paperwork day, research day, etc.

What initially inspired you to dedicate your time to animal advocacy? What keeps you motivated to continue?

For me, it is the numbers. Numbers like “billions”, even “trillions” keep me motivated. It also blows my mind how small organisations that have 2 to 10 staff achieve so much for these animals.

Are there any specific skills or areas of expertise that you find particularly valuable in your role?

I was a debater while I was studying at the university. This extracurricular activity developed my communication and analytical skills a lot.

Do you have any heartwarming or inspiring stories from your experiences in animal advocacy that you'd like to share?

One of our supporters in Turkey sent us a message saying that she supports us all the way but she apologised since she couldn’t send an email of complaint to the retail that we are campaigning against because she is very old. Our social media manager created a “one click” email just for her and she did it eventually. She was very happy, as we all were.

Based on your own journey, what suggestions or advice would you give to individuals considering a career in animal advocacy or those seeking similar roles?

You can consider starting part time or as a side project. Also, seriously consider founding your own organisation if you think there is an important gap in your country.

How do you practice self-care and maintain resilience while working in a field that can be emotionally demanding?

I try to maintain a routine of physical exercise. I also aim to maintain my relationships with friends and family. Focusing more on my own values and goals rather than the views of others also helps.

Can you share some of the key challenges you've encountered in your animal advocacy work, and how have you overcome them?

My biggest achievements occurred after a long period of trying and often unexpectedly. It was challenging to stay focused even if there was no sign of progress for a long time. Patience and hope are very important virtues for advocates in my opinion.

Have you encountered any misconceptions or challenges when communicating the importance of animal advocacy? How do you address them?

I think a lot of people dismiss advocacy because they don’t want to be judged by others. In my experience, people respond much more positively to advocacy when it is targeting powerful corporations rather than individuals.

Would you like to get in touch with Engin to learn more about their role and journey? Connect on LinkedIn.


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