There is a lot of activity on one of the most central squares in Amsterdam.
Groups of tourists enjoy the sun rays, take photos and form a ring to admire shows of street artists. Particularly striking, however, is the crowd of people dressed in black with masks, which has gathered in the middle of the square. The mood is charged – full of drive.
They all have a common goal today: to set a sign for animal rights for 24 hours. A total of 866 activists from more than 10 countries came together for this.
We were there on site to see for ourselves.
Anonymous for the Voiceless (AV) – this is the name of the animal rights organization that speaks out worldwide against the exploitation of animals and for a vegan lifestyle. Paul Bashir and Asal Alamdari, both animal rights activists from Australia, had founded AV in 2016. What started small has now grown into a worldwide movement. Worldwide, there are already 961 local groups and a steadily growing community of people who confront the public with the exploitation of animals as it happens, for example, in the meat industry.
And that – just like today – in the form of the “Cube of Truth”: This has now formed. The activists stand in a kind of cube formation in the middle of the square. They wear masks, signs – on which in big letters “truth” is written -, as well as laptops on which video material from the animal husbandry, as well as slaughterhouses is to be seen. Besides the Cube, the so-called “Outreacher” are also an important part. This refers to those activists who talk to passers-by interested in the action to inform them and answer questions. It is particularly important to be understanding and respectful and to focus clearly on the animals whose suffering is to be ended, Paul Bashir emphasized during the opening speech. In fact, Anonymous for the Voiceless, which measures its success in positive conversations, counts 447,419 people who have taken veganism seriously as a concept since the first Cube. The conversations after which passersby are open to the vegan lifestyle, or even show interest in trying it out, are particularly important.
In the meantime, the first conversations have already started around the Cube, and some passers-by remain curious and at a distance. Others immediately step close, remain mesmerized in front of the laptops, or quickly turn away and hurry away. “As strange and extreme as veganism may sound to some at first, to me it means first and foremost showing respect for other, non-human creatures,” says Jana. The 33-year-old is also committed to AV at home, and this is her first time at the 24-hour Cube.
If you listen to the participants of the Cube, the response is predominantly positive. “I think it’s because people who watch the videos are already much more open to the idea of veganism,” says Tyler, 34, of Boston. Fiona from Bremen also likes the concept: “I think it’s nice that it’s such a peaceful form of activism, where everyone can decide for themselves whether they want to get involved. The bottom line is that we are reflecting the animals who don’t have a voice. And this form of protest expresses that very well.”
When asked why she is here today, the 24-year-old replies, “Going vegan was the first step for me. But also standing up for the cause is additionally important to make a difference.”
The hours pass, people come and go, the Cube still stands. Every now and then, a flock of startled pigeons flies low over the masked heads of the activists to settle on the other side of the square. Raise your hand if you get tired and want to be replaced. After each shift, the shifts are swapped, after all, the action should still run effectively for the remaining hours. Talks are still in full swing around the Cube.
People exchange ideas, ask questions, inform and question. A couple from California stopped. “The Cube exposes in a very powerful way the suffering inflicted on animals, makes you stop and think,” they agree.
The 31-year-old Appie from Amsterdam has also become aware of the action. After a while in front of the videos and several conversations with activists, he says, “My goal is definitely to be vegan, after all, I love animals!”
The fact that a vegan diet is also very healthy and reduces the risk of heart disease gives him additional motivation. In the meantime it has become dark. The video footage and the masks now look even more impressive.
“The videos and images reveal a hidden world for a reason,” Joska says. The 60-year-old has come to Amsterdam from Rotterdam to support the 24-hour Cube. Showing this to the public, i.e. consumers, is important to make a difference, he said. Creating understanding for this and encouraging a change in thinking is particularly important to the organization.
“Most people subconsciously already agree with the idea of veganism, but they don’t understand it yet. We’re here for them to make that connection and eventually choose to go vegan,” says Paul Bashir.
To this end, after each positive conversation, passers-by have the opportunity to take away a small card from the organization on which further sources of information on topics such as the environment, health and animal rights have been compiled. The total number of cards distributed will be announced at the end of the campaign.
After a long night for some activists, the sun shines from the sky at noon the next day. The Cube has dissolved, the masks are taken off – faces tired but happy – laptops collected and the positive conversations added up. Before getting ready for the subsequent demonstration followed by a picnic in the park, everyone gathers one last time in Dam Square. Paul Bashir and Asal Alamdari thank all activists. “With every Cube that takes place, we take one step closer to our goal of ending animal suffering. And today, we took another big step toward that goal.”
Finally, the number everyone has been waiting for is announced:
If you also want to participate – the next action is already ready.
The next international Cube will take place in July: 168 hours of “Cube of Truth” in New York.
All info, local groups and international cubes can be found at
Article: Luisa J. | Photos: Niklas Kehrle