JUST in the last year, the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act was passed, which legally recognises animals as sensitive, thinking beings.

The move reflects a growing social movement: a shift in our attitudes and perspectives is resulting from greater understanding of animals’ right to exist free from exploitation and abuse. Whether we’re humans, lizards, birds, or bears, we all feel joy, sadness, fear, and love. We all have a burning desire to live.

No doubt, in 2023, we’ll continue to make strides in the fight against speciesism – the archaic assumption that other animals are “things” for us to use as and when we please – because notions of human superiority are misguided. Scientists (and common sense) tell us that just like us, other animals have unique needs, wants, preferences, and personalities. Humans are just one animal among many – we’re all part of the great orchestra of life on Earth, and it’s time we acted as such.

We can start by cutting out meat, eggs, and dairy from our diet, as many of us have already done. Doing so spares animals pain and suffering, and it’s healthier for us, too. It’s also better for the environment: the same greed that drives humans to raise billions of animals in horrific, joyless conditions is decimating our planet. The ecological cost of feeding animals imprisoned on factory farms – not to mention the amount of waste they produce – is staggering.

We are what we eat, and we are what we wear. Thanks in large part to campaigns by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), fur is a nasty relic of an unenlightened past. Most retailers and consumers want nothing to do with it. The next frontier for “style without suffering” is the elimination of exotic skins, which will prevent snakes, lizards, and other animals from being electrocuted, cut open, and decapitated in the name of fashion. We’ve already seen major players in the industry, including Burberry, Victoria Beckham, and Vivienne Westwood, ban exotic skins. Let’s see to it that more brands and influencers follow suit. Vegan leather – made from apples, mushrooms, cacti, green tea, and more – is increasingly in demand, as fashion is about creativity, not cruelty.

As society evolves, so, too, do our laws. We’re hopeful that 2023 will usher in more legislation to protect animals. Polls show that the vast majority of voters want laws to improve animal welfare. Lawmakers should start by honouring long-standing commitments to banning imports into the UK of fur, foie gras, and hunting trophies. This legislation is a crucial step in the right direction. The people have spoken, and the government must now act.

Speciesism will end when humans choose to end it. But this choice requires action. Choose not to eat animal products. Choose not to wear clothing made from animals’ skin. Choose to take part in protests, share content on social media, and write letters to companies and Members of Parliament. Talk to people – your friends, neighbours, and colleagues. Encourage respect, and discourage domination. Make animal rights part of your life in 2023.

Elisa Allen is Vice President of Programmes at Peta