Becoming a vegan and adopting vegan values is a wonderful thing. Although it may not always feel like it, you should know that your contribution matters to animals as well as to the world at large. This doesn’t mean, though, that your movement has to end there. Here are the first steps to Vegan Activism.
Once you have settled into a vegan lifestyle, you may want to think about making a transition into vegan activism. Now, there is no denying that this can be a rather daunting idea. However, this is only because people have the wrong idea about what this form of social action actually is.
The truth is, at its core, vegan activism is simply about improving the lives of animals everywhere. If you are lucky, you may just end up helping someone become a little healthier too! So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can begin your journey.
Find Your Level of Comfort
The first thing you need to do is to figure out what you are comfortable with. Some people live and breathe activism and that suits them. However, if you have many other responsibilities, it is unlikely that you can devote your life to social justice.
There is no need to feel bad about this, though. Rather than focusing on what you can’t do, make a list of what you can. This doesn’t have to involve anything extreme. In fact, maybe your starting point can be identifying what times of the week or month you are free. Then, try to devote these periods to your activism efforts.
Also, it is important to remember that not every person is the same – vegans included. There are individuals who are confident in being bold and loud in their beliefs. It is perfectly alright if you aren’t. Instead, concentrate on how you can make an impact in your own, quiet way.
If you are feeling a bit lost as a solo vegan, well then it’s time to join forces with like-minded individuals. After all, there is strength in numbers. Want to start off small? Then look for a vegan community within your city or region. You are sure to find at least one.
If you would like to work directly with animals, your local animal shelters could definitely use your help. In many cases, heading to the closest one will often do the trick. Most of these places are overcrowded and underfunded – they can use all the help they get.
Depending on the size of the area that you live in, there should be an animal rights’ group or two around. These societies tend to be more organized and directed in their approach to animal activism. A word of caution, though, when looking for such groups. It is vital that these individuals’ beliefs and objectives mirror your own. You should never get swept up into something that you are not comfortable.
In case you want to think a little bigger, there are more options to choose from. For the most part, your biggest issue will be to narrow down the causes that you want to support. Some of the more popular organizations include:
- The Humane Society
- Best Friend’s Animal Society
- World Wildlife Fund
- David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Support and Improve Veganism at a Local Level
Take a look at the menus of your local restaurants. How many of them serve 100 percent vegan fare? While there may be a few vegetarian options, there is a good chance that there are virtually no vegan dishes available. So, why not start by convincing restaurants to offer one or two dishes, to begin with?
Also, consider the vegan restaurants and cafes in the surrounding areas and check out how well they are doing. If there only seems to be a trickle of customers, you should work on promoting these places. Not to mention, you can become a regular and bring a couple of friends along as well.
Now, in terms of vegan activism, this may not seem to be all that helpful. Well, this is where you would be mistaken. By getting restaurants to offer vegan options and by informing people about vegan places to eat, you are improving the lives of your fellow vegans.
Not to mention, it also gives you a chance to bring veganism to the mainstream. This will make it seem less like a weird or fringe lifestyle choice.
Target the Right Individuals
If you think that trying to convince everyone you meet to become vegan is the way to go, think again. These individuals aren’t really the ones to blame. Sure, they eat meat and wear leather. But, they aren’t directly responsible for inhumane farming and euthanizing conditions. That responsibility lies with the people behind agricultural corporations.
It is also these individuals who can make an effective change. This isn’t just circumstantial, there is evidence to back it up. Advocates that directly spoke with General Mills and Starbucks were able to convince them to change their policies regarding eggs. When companies like this take on more animal-friendly approaches, the general public has no choice but to comply.
There is also the fact that convincing larger corporations to adopt such practices may be easier than trying to convince the average omnivore. See, big companies have their reputations to protect. So, with enough pressure, they will change their policies to make them look better.
The same can’t be said for your run-of-the-mill meat-eaters, however. It can be incredibly difficult to get someone to stop eating or even cut down on meat. So, for a greater impact, corporations are the way to go.
Speak, Don’t Preach
Ah, the preachy vegan, it’s the best-known of all vegan stereotypes. The thing is, there is usually a grain of truth behind every myth. The reason such an image continues to be perpetuated is because there are a number of people who take on a holier-than-thou approach to their lifestyle.
It isn’t just vegans who are guilty of this, nonetheless. Anyone who has made any kind of lifestyle change is going to unconsciously jabber on about it. Of course, with veganism, you have a sense of righteousness on your side. Therefore, it can be quite easy to drift into the preachy lane without being too aware of it.
One way to avoid this is to figure out how to have a non-confrontational conversation about veganism. This is the best way to get people to listen to what you have to say rather than becoming defensive about their own lifestyles.
So, how can you do this? Well, the most effective method is to broach the subject of your veganism in a positive manner. Rather than saying, “I don’t want to kill animals”, try to put a nicer spin on it. You could say, “I love animals and I don’t like the conditions that most farmers make them live in.”
Even when people try to get a rise out of you, focus on keeping your cool and being pleasant about the whole thing. If you feel like you are getting nowhere with the person you are talking to, simply drop the subject. So, while you may not have been able to convert that person, at least they will have a more positive idea about vegans.
Take a Gentle Approach
As mentioned, getting people to convert to veganism is no easy task. Only a few people you meet in your life are actually going to change the way that they eat. This is why you should consider a more reasonable route.
For instance, try to get your friends and family to start with meatless Mondays. If you want to make sure that they stick to it, invite them over every Monday and cook for them! Sure, this requires some time and effort on your part but think of what a change you will be making.
You should also show people how tasty vegan food can be without talking to them about it. Try baking a batch of vegan cupcakes and brownies and passing them out. Once everyone has enjoyed them, casually mention that they were vegan. Again, this will help people alter the way they view your vegan lifestyle.
Once you get started on your vegan activism journey, you are going to realize that it isn’t as easy as you might have imagined. Thus, it is only natural that you may get discouraged. When you feel like giving up, though, just remember this:
Every little bit counts.
That’s right. It doesn’t matter if the only vegan activism progress you have made is to stop a friend from buying shampoo tested on animals. You should be proud of the impact, no matter how insignificant it may seem. The world is a bit better than it was before, thanks to you. So, there’s no need to worry if you haven’t managed to save the world by yourself. At least, you have done your part.
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