For those of us who are not satisfied with simply being vegan ourselves, and who want to make a larger impact on the world, figuring out how exactly to go about that can be quite a challenge. Every animal rights organization has different ideas about what we should be doing to promote veganism and animal rights causes, and half of them seem to conflict with each other. Finding a suitable way to promote the vegan lifestyle is something that I have struggled with for years, and I still haven’t quite worked it out.
I’ve always had such great respect for those people who go out and do outreach, things like leafleting and demonstrations. I’ve always wished that I could be one of those people, but I don’t seem to be able to pull it off. Social interaction is always a bit of a challenge for me (which, I guess, is why I turned to writing as a way to make connections) and the thought of being around large groups of people, and trying to promote something that many of them are sure to be very opposed to, is always rather terrifying for me. I have done it, on a few occasions. I have done leafleting with Vegan Outreach a few times and even participated in a demo outside of a McDonald’s once. I just never felt that it was something I was good at it though, and I always ended up feeling worse afterward than I did when I started. I always felt that I should have done a better job of interacting with people, and any negative comments I got always seemed to stick with me much more than they should have. At the end of the day, not only did I feel that I hadn’t had the impact that I had hoped to, but I also always seemed to be left with a sense of hopelessness due to the few people I encountered who were blatantly hostile.
So here’s where the dilemma comes in. Is it better to do outreach knowing that you’re not really good at it, and that it makes you look at the world in a more negative way? Or should you try to find some other way to make a difference knowing that it probably won’t be as effective as more direct approaches? Is it better to have a bunch of nervous, disillusioned activists out there handing out pamphlets? Or should we leave it to the people who are naturally cut out for it? For myself, I have decided that it is something that I may do occasionally but, for the most part, I think it’s better left to the experts. I think that a few individuals who have a natural knack for connecting with people are better than a whole army of people like me, who will hand you a flyer but not be able to convince you that it’s worth reading.
Furthermore, if you don’t feel that you are cut out to do activism dealing with the public, but still want to make a difference, what are your options? This is a question that I, personally, have been struggling with for a very long time. As of yet, I have not come up with a fully satisfactory answer. The best advice I can give, is that we should try to find the things that we are good at and use those things in a way that feels meaningful to us. I think we have to completely incorporate our beliefs about animal rights into who we are and allow them to influence all that we do. Then, ideally, no matter what we do we will still have some sort of impact.
If you enjoyed this post, keep an eye out for more posts in this series. Thank you for reading.
This is the article I tried to post at The Flaming Vegan, along with the image I wanted to use, which was taken by my friend, Rachel.