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Being a vegan, or a vegan activist, can be tremendously emotionally draining, even for the toughest people.
It is common, as a vegan activist, to feel despair and hopelessness at one time or another. It is understandable to feel overwhelmed by all the cruelty in the world, and about how many people are funding the continuation of it with their every day choices. Helplessness, anger, despair, and frustration are common feelings. This all leads to emotional exhaustion. You cannot help animals effectively when you have an empty tank.
Without sound mental health, you cannot be an effective vegan activist. It is vital that you make your mental health your number one priority. Keep in mind that self care is different for everyone and different things work for different people.
Spend Time With Like Minded People
To be an effective communicator of animal rights issues, you need to keep your mind healthy. Meeting up with people with the same values as you is beneficial for your mental health.
Look online to see if there are local animal rights or vegan groups you could become part of. Keep in touch with the people you meet there and talk to them about how you feel. Ask them how they cope with the negative feelings of living in a world with so much animal cruelty.
Many animal rights activists feel guilty if they are not using every spare minute to help animals. This is admirable, but unhealthy. If you fall apart, that will ultimately not help animals. To have sound mental health, you need to have time where you are having fun with other like minded people.
There are events all over the country that you may be interested in attending.
You can find them here.
Image: Despite the rain, a local group of vegans enjoy a picnic together.
How And Where To Find Support From Other Vegans
As well as meeting up in person with like minded people, make sure you have a good online support system. It is easy to find fellow vegans online: Search on social media for vegan and animal rights groups. You can find worldwide ones, national ones, or ones in your area. Send friend requests to people in the groups.
If you are feeling alone on your vegan journey, a fast way to find fellow vegans to be your online friends and support you is to post in these groups. Explain that you are feeling lonely as a vegan, and in need of support from other vegans.
Most vegans care very passionately about “one of their own” and will willingly become your online friends and support you.
Image: Vegans are very keen to give support to other vegans. Source
Find The Most Effective Way For You To Be An Activist
Many people find that having the purpose of helping animals is also helpful to them. However, some people find it crushingly distressing and they cannot bounce back from it.
If you find the way you are helping animals at the moment is getting you down and breaking your spirit, take a break and step back from it. When you feel ready, you can find the most effective vegan activist approaches here.
Alternatively, you can have a look at many other ways you can help animals. There may be ways you do not find damaging to your mental health. There are many ideas of ways to help on the on this site.
Vystopia, The Condition Often Suffered By Vegans
Vystopia – The anguish of being vegan in a non vegan world, is a book by psychologist Clare Mann. It describes the negative and painful feelings often experienced by vegans and vegan animal rights activists from time to time.
The book is good for vegans, and anyone who cares about a vegan, to read. It helps other people understand a vegans point of view. There are also tips for vegans struggling with the condition the author has termed Vystopia.
You can find the book here.
Clare also has an app available, called Vegan Voices. It gives tips on how to navigate the world as a vegan, and effective animal advocacy.
Image: Vystopia by Clare Mann. Source amazon.co.uk
Another book vegetarians and vegans have found useful is Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarians Survival Handbook by Carol J Adams.
If you have experienced any problems with your veganism being accepted and understood by your family and friends, here is a video Earthling Ed, who brought you Earthlings and Land Of Hope And Glory, posted about his own experience:
Stopping Yourself Becoming Overwhelmed
For some people, taking on the pain and distress they know the animals feel, helps drive them as a vegan activist to help animals. They use their anger to spur them on.
People Can Only Take So Much Traumatising
For others, that pain and distress can become overwhelming and crushes them completely. In instances like this, it can be counter productive, because when people feel so destroyed by it, they become depressed and anxious, leaving them unable to help animals. At this point, seeking professional treatment is sensible.
Taking A Break Is Essential To Help Animals Effectively
If you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by things you see on social media, take a break from it. Many people say they cannot do that, because if they try, guilt cripples them because they are not using their time to help animals. It is easier said than done, but you should try not feel guilty, because if you do not take care of yourself, you will be no use for helping animals. You should feel more guilty about not taking a break to take care of your mental health. You are taking a break because that is the right thing to do for animals if you want to be able to help them effectively.
Feeling So Crushed You Feel Unable To Face Helping Animals
If you feel so crushed you cannot face doing anything, don’t use your energy fighting it. Just do whatever you need to to allow yourself to heal. Try not to feel guilty, you need this time away from being traumatised to heal.
Feeling Overwhelmed By Everything
When you do think about doing things that you feel you need to do, only focus on bite sized chunks, not on everything. If you think about everything, you will be overwhelmed and unable to do anything at all. Think of it as having all round blinkers on, which block out everything else and only lets you see one small task.
Some people find that repeating a mantra to themselves every day, or at times when they need to, can be helpful. Maybe something like the following, or anything else you might find helpful.
“Me feeling pain and distress because of animal abuse DOES NOT help the animals. It crushes me so much I CANNOT help them effectively”
Always Thinking Of The Sad Side
Like me, you may be someone who sees happy instances of animals that have been rescued, but that makes you automatically think of the flip side: of the overwhelming number of animals that are still suffering. This can be detrimental to our mental wellbeing, and therefore to our ability to carry on helping animals.
Because it feels so automatic, we have to wrestle with our thoughts to distract us from thinking about the flip side.
I use the above mantra as soon as I get the negative “flip side” thought (which is as soon as I see the happy rescue story). I also try to distract myself, maybe pinging an elastic band on my wrist or flicking myself in the head.
It is a constant struggle, and doesn’t always work, but stopping myself going deeper into those negative thoughts every time is beneficial both for my own well being, and for animals I am then able to help more effectively as a vegan activist.
It Is Essential To Get Professional Advice If You Need It
None of this is professional advice, so it is always advisable to seek professional treatment if you feel you need it. It is always easier to treat a person who seeks treatment earlier.
Image: There is no difference. We have just been brainwashed all our lives to think there is.
Many Other Ways To Help Stop Animal Suffering
If you feel ready to be a vegan activist, have a look here to find the most effective vegan activist approaches.
On this site there are many other ways you can help animals and help stop cruelty. In fact, there are so many different ways that there is something for every personality type, no matter what their circumstances.
If you would like to learn more about why we so urgently need to help stop animal suffering, please see the AidAnimals website. It will allow you to broaden your knowledge of many different types of world wide animal abuse, giving you the ability to help animals by spreading awareness and answering questions people may have. Please be aware that you may find the information distressing.
One great way to help animals is to share the information you have seen on this website. Doing so means more people could help stop animal cruelty, and that would make you responsible for more animals being saved from suffering. Together we can help people help animals <3
If there is any information missing from this page, any mistakes, or anything you think should be included, please leave a comment.