All vegans have unique and special skills that they can apply to their activism. Some vegans are dynamic with great verbal skills and make fantastic speakers. Others are better with a pen and are more adept at putting their thoughts on paper. Still others are great protesters, organizers, leaders or role models. The trick is finding where you are most effective and in what arena you do best.
When I first went vegan 15 years ago, I was angry. REALLY angry. I wanted to either shake or slap (or both) many people around me and say “DON’T YOU KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE ANIMALS?” Of course I didn’t do that, but I really wanted to. I did what everyone else before me has probably tried to do. I gave people animal rights films, pointed out the cruelty they were consuming, sent my family factory farming brochures and “evangelized” to anyone that would listen. Well, that got me a whole lot of nowhere.
I ended up joining with other animal activists and participated for a couple of years in protests and demonstrations. You name it, we (my husband and I) protested it. We protested circuses, rodeos, science fairs, fast food chains, restaurants, grocery stores and foreign embassies. Even though I felt compelled to help the animals in this way, I really didn’t enjoy it. I got really tired of the anger people displayed towards me and the confrontations (and trust me, I had enough of that in my day job…law enforcement). I got angry comments like my shoes were leather (which they weren’t) or that I should get I life (I had one) or that I should be out helping kids (and I did help kids…I investigated child abuse in my day job). I felt like I really wasn’t reaching many people, because the people I came in contact with weren’t open to hearing the message, let alone changing their behavior. I felt like I really needed to do something else. I felt extremely guilty, but I slowly stopped going to protests on my days off.
My husband and I then took a sabbatical from our jobs. We sold our house, moved out of state, and went to work at an enormous animal sanctuary. Hands down, it was the most rewarding job I ever had…being able to go to work every day and help and love the animals! However, our sabbatical ended and we returned to where we came from. I felt like I was back to square one…not helping the animals.
It took a few more years for me to find my way, and get on the path that I am currently on…promoting veganism by being a nationally ranked athlete and cookbook author.
This is really where I feel I am most effective in helping animals. Setting an example usually opens up a conversation about how I am successful at doing what I do. That then opens up a conversation about veganism, and a chance for me to tell someone about my vegan journey. I no longer “educate” people with anger or by evangelism. Those tactics fall on deaf ears. However, I am always ready and willing to answer questions, when someone is ready to listen. I’m happy to say that along the way, I’ve helped numerous people choose veganism (and now and then I still go to a protest). So find your path, and in no time you will be promoting veganism YOUR way.