This is the first article in a new TFK series about kids changing the world. We’ll tell you all about it in a special issue in October—stay tuned!
Nirvaan Agarwal found out early that a kid’s voice can be powerful. He was part of a protest against the mistreatment of animals at a circus. He was 3. “I passed out almost half a stack of leaflets,” Nirvaan told TIME for Kids. “People kept taking them from me because I was a little kid.”
Nirvaan, now 12, has spoken up on a range of issues affecting animals. He has protested horse racing and using animals for their fur. He shows his commitment at home, too. Nirvaan is a vegan. He doesn’t eat food that comes from animals.
Animals are harmed for our sake. Most people don’t think about this, Nirvaan says. So he speaks out. “I go to a minimum of two protests every weekend,” he says. “It’s important to be a voice for animals.”
In 2022, Nirvaan spoke before officials in his hometown of Edison, New Jersey. He voiced people’s concerns about the Johnson Park zoo, in Piscataway. Flooding there was a danger to the animals’ health. A few months later, the zoo was closed. The animals were sent to safe places.
Nirvaan was recognized for his work by PETA. That’s an animal-rights organization. He was named one of its Kids All-Stars for Animals. Now he has a new perspective on his mission. “It makes me feel like I have the power to do something,” he says. “I feel like I can change the world.”
But Nirvaan says there’s more to learn. This summer, he went to a vegan activism camp. He sharpened his public-speaking skills and learned about fundraising. And he picked up a key strategy for holding a protest: Focus on one issue. Goals are reached one step at a time. He says, “You can slowly break down the pillars of a structure. When you break down all of those pillars, the whole structure falls.”
Even with all he has done, Nirvaan has big plans. He’ll continue to take part in protests every week. And someday, he hopes to be a chef and create vegan recipes.
Meanwhile, Nirvaan encourages kids to take action. “It’s never too early to help animals, or any cause,” he says. “I started when I was 3. But that doesn’t mean a kid can’t start when he’s 8 or 9—or any age.”
Spoiler alert! Next month, we’ll feature kids who are spreading kindness. Could you be one of them? Click here for ideas on how you can create space for kindness in your community.