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Q&A With Actor and Activist Ian Somerhalder (Lost, The Vampire Diaries) on Social Change and Animal Rights

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These questions were originally answered on Quora.
Answers by Ian Somerhalder. Ian currently plays Damon Salvatore on the TV drama The Vampire Diaries. His foundation, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, works to educate people on the importance of protecting the environment and animals.

Q: What are some useful ways to fight against animal cruelty?

A: Animal cruelty is one of the most unfortunate and barbaric demonstrations of human beings manipulating ill conceived notions of "power" over other species. There is a lot we can do to fight this.

We need to support companies that we know do NOT test on animals, work with local shelters and rescues who aid many of our abused, neglected and abandoned creatures, refuse to support factory farms, fight for anti-cruelty laws on all levels of government, and even keep a watchful eye on our neighborhoods looking for reportable signs of animal cruelty.

A lot of influence can be made too by setting a good example of what reverence for life should look like.

Q: What should a person do if they are seriously concerned about climate change?

A: Although it may seem daunting, there are a lot of things we can do on a daily basis to address our growing concerns with climate change. Every day is an opportunity to vote with your consumer choices, support companies and organizations whose practices and methodology you believe -- companies that are putting their best foot forward to using sustainable business practices particular in consumer goods.

We have the vote to drive more efficient cars, recycle, and elect candidates that will make the environment a priority. Where we put our dollars, skills, and energy is a direct link to the quantifiable changes we want to make.

Q: What should we be doing to motivate our youth to stand up and make a change?

A: Our youth does't need as much motivation as we tend to believe. That's not the missing element. Our youth are the most undervalued and underutilized resource that we can possibly imagine.They are fully stocked with passion far beyond what we tend to recognize.

What we need to do is listen and support. We need to reinforce their ideas by listening with an open and engaged mind as well as providing resources to help their passion flourish into a skill set.

At the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, we have created a Youth Development Program--U Factor. The entire curriculum is designed to help youth identify their passion, cultivate their talent and amplify their purpose. Armed with our attention and support, our youth are the most capable change makers worldwide.

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