By Amanda Citarella, CAS Research Assistant
The current state of the world can be overwhelming for anyone with strong ethical and empathetic convictions. When faced with the onslaught of news about cruelty towards animals, I find myself morphing into the stereotypical “angry vegan”. It’s not a pretty sight and, moreover, it it certainly does nothing to further my goals and will eventually hurt my own mental well-being. My emotions fuel my passion to make change but too much pessimism is crippling. In making an effort to bring more creativity, vitality and optimism into my life, I’ve found my commitment to veganism and activism to be stronger than ever.
Here are some tips to help you join me on the path to becoming a powerful, joyful, stress-free animal activist!
Spending all night at a family get-together or a friend’s party trying to explain your choice to be vegan can leave you feeling drained and marginalized. Making new vegan friends and building a cruelty-free community will do wonders towards lifting negative feelings and is key to staying active with your message. Exchanging ideas and engaging in conversation will stimulate your mind. Vegan solidarity is a powerful force . Websites like Meetup.com help vegans congregate through potlucks, field trips, protests and parties.
While there are so many useful ways to reach out to the general public, one tactic seems to get used the most – protesting. Though a useful measure, protesting can perpetuate the “angry vegan” stereotype. Plus, the emotional and physical toll of public action may cause stress and tension in your body. Instead of relying on protesting as your only way of getting your message out there, be creative and utilize positive channels to reach out. One such action is a Feed In which takes the classic concept of a sit-in and expands it into the culinary realm. At a public Feed In, free vegan samples are given to passersby along with educational material like a postcard or flyer. Sharing tasty vegan food is an effective ways to start a meaningful dialogue on more hard to swallow (no pun intended) topics such as factory farming. If you are interested in setting up a Feed In or learning about other tips for spreading compassionate food choices, check out the website of Veg Fund.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the hardships and abuse in the world. Lying awake at night worrying and then feeling scattered during the day by these thoughts does not help advance a more compassionate world in the long run. It may be more useful to focus your energy on the one concern that you feel most passionate about. Devoting your time and energy to a specific issue and seeing real change come about is something to be proud of. Take a look at Care2 and find a cause that speaks to you.
The media is full of stories that sensationalize issues and events for the sake of ratings. It’s almost impossible to be an informed, responsible citizen without also dealing with doom and gloom any time you turn on the TV or the radio. If you spend too much time ingesting bad news, you can start to feel defeated before you even start to do anything positive. Take the time to turn off your media feed and disconnect. Watch a funny movie with your best friend, go on a road trip to see your favorite band or volunteer at an animal sanctuary (now there’s a good idea!); make ample space in your life for downtime and fun. And when you are super busy, you may not have time to do much else, so just breathing deeply and smiling can make you feel less besieged. Click here to download easy guided meditations.
Click here for more info on going vegan and staying vegan!