- Purchase/rental options available:
Vegan Sidekick is a webcomic written and drawn by Richard Watts, a UK-based animal rights advocate. The comic is primarily distributed via social media, where it has been widely shared and debated across various online communities since it debuted in April 2013. As of this writing, Vegan Sidekick has more than 137,000 followers on Instagram, which is where Watts’ comics receive their highest level of engagement compared to other social media platforms (namely Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr). In this article, I analyze the comic’s unique contribution to vegan advocacy, arguing that it playfully illustrates the psychological barriers and defense mechanisms that activists regularly encounter when advocating on behalf of non-human animals. I also assess Vegan Sidekick’s efficacy as an advocacy tool, in light of the aforementioned psychological barriers as well as recent calls from the effective altruism movement to move away from advocating for individual dietary change and toward broader institutional change. Ultimately I conclude that while Vegan Sidekick’s efficacy may be mixed, it nevertheless serves a valuable social function within the animal rights community.