A university student dedicated to animal rights has vowed to be completely silent for the whole of February in a bid to “go voiceless for the voiceless victims of our planet - the animals”.
Cardiff University undergraduate, Guy Harper, has set himself the challenge of being mute for 28 days to raise money for Viva! - a charity attempting to end the suffering of animals by encouraging people to become vegan.
“We do not take animals’ suffering seriously because they don’t have a voice,” 20-year-old Harper said.
“I became vegan only about four months ago, but it was a bit of a light bulb moment.
“We don’t need to kill and eat animal products to be healthy - almost the opposite,” he continued.
“If we don’t need them for our health, why do we put them through such pain and an untimely death?”
Harper also hopes to raise awareness around the “damaging nature” of the dairy and meat industries, which he believes are set to leave “worrying” problems for the next generation.
“It’s important people take the time to discover the truths about where food comes from, what it relies on and the impact it has on the environment and your body,” he added.
“When people discover the truth about how animals are treated, most will be horrified.”
But the student admits that the campaign has already thrown up some significant challenges - including a situation where Harper found himself lost on a mountain.
“I’m hoping to climb three of Wales’ highest peaks this month, and while walking down from Pen y Fan mountain I got very badly lost,” he said.
“I had to run over to some hikers as I couldn’t shout for their attention and try to explain what was wrong without a voice.
“I had some business cards on me that explained why I’m not talking, but they initially thought I was just asking them to donate. I had to keep pointing at a crumpled up map and miming ‘where am I?’.
“I think they thought I was a bit crazy but once they understood, they were then struck by quite how far off course I was!”
Harper says his university work has not been affected by his muteness and that his friends have been helping him to overcome problems day to day.
While Harper had originally hoped to raise £1,000 for Viva! with his month long campaign, people have already donated more than £750.
The politics and international relations student said his inspiration for the challenge came from Australian activist James Aspey, who was completely silent for a whole year to raise awareness for animals and “promote peace over violence”.
“James has sent me a message of encouragement on Instagram which is so cool,” Harper said.
Juliet Gellatley, founder and director of Viva!, called Guy’s campaign “extraordinary”.
“It’s an unselfish way to support our relentless fight for farmed animals,” she said. “It will help to focus attention on the atrocities of factory farming and speak up for those who can’t.
“With the help of inspirational supporters like Guy, Viva! will continue to change hearts and minds and accelerate the flourishing vegan revolution that’s taking place.”
To learn more about Harper’s campaign or to donate, visit his Just Giving page.