I hope that you have all had an incredible summer. I know that it’s been a bit…
I cannot believe that summer is almost over! Where does the time go?! My summer consisted of working at the gym as fitness director, running my own business, taking a plant based nutrition course, activism, volunteering at a sanctuary, going to a wedding in San Francisco with the hubby, attending my 20 year high school reunion (whoah, I know!), and kissing Layla (our fur baby). It was filled with ups and downs; the lowest of the downs took place a few weeks ago. And that brings me to the subject of this blog: “The Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Being An Animal Rights Activist”.
I know that seems like a rough transition, but hang in there. It’ll make sense by point 3.
1) Being an Animal Rights Activist is one of the hardest jobs in the whole world!
Not only do you not get any financial support for your actions, but the job never stops. I am no where near as active as some other activists, but I co-hosted a Cube of Truth almost every weekend for a year. In addition, I try to cook vegan food for people to sample, offer online challenges and to post something valuable/informative on social media every day! This work may not sound difficult but you never hear the end of it when you are fighting for something that is against the social norm. It is full of Internet trolls, family insults including “you are a f*ing moron”, and strangers posting pictures of tortured animals. The hours also never stop. Being an activist means knowing the truth about what happens to animals and never being able to get away from the images: on social media, going to the grocery store, at family dinners, smelling barbecues in the neighborhood, seeing commercials on the TV’s at the gym, listening to food commercials on the radio, in your dreams (or nightmares). It is a constant battle of trying to be compassionate, yet knowing what a dark place this world can be.
2) Self-Care is crucial and must be done to sustain this movement! (And this is where my breaking point comes in….)
As an activist, you feel like you can never stop. At this very moment, thousands of animals are being slaughtered and I should probably get off my butt to advocate for them instead of writing this blog. I don’t have time for a bath or a vacation because the animals need me (and if one more person tells me abut their vacation when I am trying to save the world!). I am tired but I need to go to a Cube. I want to cry but I can’t stop. I don’t have time to be sick…..and vegans don’t get sick!
These are all thoughts that go through our heads. I have heard fellow activists who feel guilty for sleeping in a warm bed because the animals the animals don’t get the same luxury.
For me, it had been months of no sleep, anxiety, and months of activism when I simply broke: both physically and mentally. I saw a video on Instagram of an activist who was entering a meat market. At this market, the customer went inside, purchased a live animal and the animal was killed right there for them to take home. There was a video of a baby cow, and this is where I lost it. I cried so hard, one of those gut-wrenching cries where you have to hold back the vomit. Since then, I have been broken. I have not been able to think of activism, I cannot see a video on social media and I have had the most intense stomach pain for the last two weeks. Not doing self-care or taking care of my mental well-being finally caught up with me.
As an activist, we have to remember that we have to put our oxygen masks on first. We cannot take care of this planet and save animals if we don’t take care of ourselves. It is not selfish. It should be a requirement. This is a lifelong movement and the animals need us for the long haul.
3) It is okay…better yet, more than okay to be happy!
I think sometimes as activists we think that we have to watch the slaughterhouse videos, we have to study the facts regarding how animals are killed and how we are destroying the planet. And we become so angry at the world, at our family and at our friends. We scream at them that “meat is murder” and we become people that aren’t fun to be around. While I don’t think that we should ever sugar coat our feelings, I do think we may get more people on board if we are happy and compassionate human beings. Someone is more likely to jump on board if they see us as an inspiration instead of someone who is sad all the time (“I don’t want to be vegan if it makes me angry like you!”). In addition, what is that doing to our health if we are angry and sad all the time?! The animals don’t want that. They want people to be strong so that we can thrive in this fight.
Having said all of this, I am not quite sure when I will completely recover from my breakdown. I am spending my free time doing Yoga, meditation, eating healthy foods, taking baths and staying off of social media (that’s a whole other subject). I am not quite sure when I will be able to dive back into activism 100%. I know that when I do, I will try to remember these points so that I can make it through this long haul. Maybe some extra Layla kisses will help ❤
Thank you all for reading. I will be back with something happier soon. And to my fellow activists, please take care of yourselves! ❤