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The Circle of Care: Sustaining Change

Want to make a lasting difference for farmed animals? Consider joining our Circle of Care and becoming a recurring donor.

With your monthly contribution, Compassionate Action for Animals can continue doing the work of raising awareness, building community, and nurturing advocates in the Twin Cities region. These activities have a powerful, cumulative effect, ultimately sparing the lives of farmed animals through creating a community of individuals who make conscious, compassionate choices.

We’re sharing the stories of five such individuals today. Meet Suzy, Abraham, Yunuén, Theresa, and Sanchez. All of them are part of the Circle of Care, and they’re happy to tell you why.


Suzy Sorensen

Suzy Sorensen

Occupation: Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

What I love to do on a day off: Anything outside! Walking, working in the garden, watching birds and squirrels, reading on the porch…

Why I joined the Circle of Care: CAA has a growing positive impact on our community. Through varied activities, CAA achieves its mission of inspiring people to embrace their empathy and live more peaceful, compassionate lives. The world could use more of that. I know that being a monthly donor allows CAA to more effectively predict resources available for education, community building, and outreach efforts, allowing them to spread their message of hope and change.

Abraham Rowe

Abraham Rowe

Occupation: Campaigns at Mercy For Animals

What I love to do on a day off: Sit by a lake with a good book.

Why I joined the Circle of Care: CAA doesn’t only educate people about the tremendous cruelty in our food system; it also gives people a community to come back to, opportunities to continue learning, and resources for building skills. I strongly believe that CAA’s grassroots, welcoming approach is a fundamental part of what we need to build a more compassionate world.

Yunuén Ávila

Yunuén Ávila

Occupation: Human Services Representative at Hennepin County

What I love to do on a day off: Literally anything that involves spending time with my husband, Sanchez Brown, and my fur babies: Pinkie, Mai Sun, and Goose.

Why I joined the Circle of Care: I give to CAA because I honestly care about educating the public about veganism. CAA opened my eyes to veganism when I was a vegetarian and helped me take the next step toward a compassionate lifestyle. Thanks to them, I’m able to spread the same message to others.

Theresa Zingery

Theresa Zingery

Occupation: Community Education Manager

What I love to do on a day off: Long walk around one of the city lakes.

Why I joined the Circle of Care: I give to CAA because I feel strongly about its mission and its unique role in accomplishing very important work for the animals while helping people eat healthier for themselves and the planet. The work of CAA helps with many important issues that are interrelated, so I feel I can accomplish a lot with my donation.

Sanchez Brown

Sanchez Brown

Occupation: Director of Security with G4S Secure Solutions

What I love to do on a day off: Sleep in a bit, take my dog Pinkie to the dog park and then open up one of the probably eighty different vegan cookbooks I have, pick a recipe, add my own spin on it, and use my wife as the taste tester!

Why I joined the Circle of Care: I donate to CAA because of the mission and the passion. It’s the most noble cause to defend the most noble creatures. To stand up and fight for something you believe in is so inspiring and if my donation helps to allow people to do that, I’ll never stop giving.

Sign up to make a recurring donation of any amount and help create a compassionate community in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Join the Circle of Care today!

MayDay & Cinco de Mayo in Pictures

CAA had a presence at both the MayDay Festival and Cinco de Mayo – West Side Saint Paul again this year.

At both events, we did video outreach, using pay-per-view and virtual reality to raise awareness about farmed animal suffering. Through the video outreach, we had great conversations. Some said they didn’t want eat meat anymore after seeing the video.

We also participated in the MayDay parade again this year. Our eye-catching display, created by our University of Minnesota student group, was photographed and cheered on numerous times. The walking cow puppet, brought to life by Marina and Liberty Kirkeide, charmed young and old. Marching alongside the Animal Rights Coalition, we experienced an inspiring sense of solidarity.

Here are the numbers:

137 video views at Cinco de Mayo
214 video views at MayDay
309 Guides to Animal Free Eating shared
25 Spanish copies of “The Power of our Diet Choices” shared
29 Spanish vegetarian starter guides shared
18 African-American Vegan Starter Guides shared
28 copies of Twin Cities Veg Living shared

 

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make this possible. Special thanks to Brooke Reynolds and Angelica Fabiola Vásquez Hernández for taking these photos!

 


Our next big outreach event is the Twin Cities Pride Festival. We hope you’ll join us for that!

We also have two upcoming training sessions which will introduce you to volunteering with CAA and teach you how to do video outreach.

Interconnected: Female Oppression and the Dairy Industry

I gave birth to my fifth baby in four years this afternoon. My body is weak, but my heart is full of joy! It feels so good to have her by my side. All I want to do is frolic in this field and teach her everything. When she brushes up against me, it is all I ever want to feel. When she calls to me, it is all I can hear. The sun is going down now. I cannot remember a more perfect day.

Is that her breath against my cheek? I slept so well—much better than usual. Oh, she’s still fast asleep! I should lick her; that will wake her up. Today, I’ll teach her things to help her find me if she’s ever in trouble. What’s this? The sun is going down already? This day went even faster than the last. I know my baby will remember all she’s learned.

I’m awake and panicking! I hear gates shutting. My baby is crying, and she’s going farther and farther away. It is still dark, and I can’t see. Baby! I’m over here! Can you hear me? I can hear you! Run to me like I taught you! Keep calling until I break free. What are you doing here, human? Can you help me find my baby? Why are you keeping me here? My baby is in danger. I can’t stop calling to her. My heart has been broken open, and the pain is unbearable!


Around nine million dairy cows live in the United States. Their forced reproduction is the only thing that keeps their milk flowing. But their milk is not given to their own babies. A high percentage of dairy calves are separated from their mothers within 24 hours of birth. These new moms often bellow and cry for days in desperation and mourning. Cows are sensitive, sentient beings. Being separated from their calves isn’t something they forget quickly. And it’s all for profit and to satisfy what the dairy industry has lead us to believe about “the best” sources of calcium.

Would we do such a thing to human women for profit? Well…

Enter feminism. Suffragettes led the way. The Women’s Liberation movement followed. Ecofeminism emerged and aligned with the oppression of non-human females, particularly those being factory farmed. Postmodern feminism focused on humans. And where are we in 2018? Feminism has again embraced the animal rights movement because the reproductive freedom of both women and animals are linked to the patriarchy and other forms of oppression.

Want to engage and learn more? A great way to connect with factory farmed animals and learn about what they endure is at a sanctuary. And Spring Farm Sanctuary in Long Lake, Minnesota even has cows rescued from the dairy industry. I encourage you to pay them a visit, and remember to embrace how the interspecies oppression of females is one more reason to add plant-based meals to your plate.

“Those who seek greater justice in our world need to work toward a deeper understanding of oppression. Activists need to develop the kind of understanding that will lead to a lifestyle—a way of being—that works against all oppressions.” – Lisa Kemmerer, Sister Species

This article was originally published in the 2016 issue of Twin Cities Veg Living.

Emily Kampa is a digital copywriter, animal lover, and vegan foodie. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota with her wife Laura and their American Staffordshire Terrier, Pip.

CAA hosts a vegan Mother’s Day potluck on Sunday, May 13. All are welcome. Join us as we honor all mothers.

Animal Advocates: Let’s Talk about Self-Care

Cultivating compassion. These two words say a lot about our work as animal advocates. Whether we are explaining our plant-based food choices at family gatherings or reaching out to the public to talk about what happens on factory farms, we aim to speak out for the animals in the best way possible. Animals suffer less when we help others grow empathy and choose more plant-based meals. But our own needs must be nourished, too. And that is why self-care is so essential.

Maintaining a conscious awareness of animal cruelty is draining, even without being on the front lines. And creating the time and space to recharge can feel like just one more thing on our to-do lists. We’re committed to nonviolence for the animals. But what does nonviolence look like on a personal level? And how will you know when you’ve achieved a good balance between advocacy and self-care? Can you keep it up? Where do you even start?

CAA believes that every advocate should have a self-care toolkit, a collection of practices and activities that support your mental, physical, and emotional health. Being intentional about which tools you select for your kit, as well as how they are used, is key. It will help sustain yourself and your activism for that long haul.

Check out these tips to help build your kit.

Cultivate a practice

A regular practice can help your mind, body, or spirit. The key is to find something you love. Need ideas? Yoga or meditation can help clear the mind and connect it to the body. Find an exercise you enjoy, which might be one you’d never thought of. Sleeping on a regular schedule and committing to limited screen time before bed can work wonders.

Plan regular visits with those you care about

Friends, family, and animal companions are obvious choices! Pencil them into your calendar. Try new things together. And knowing which people in your life understand how important animal advocacy is to you can be a huge help. Make it a habit to reach out to them regularly.

Get creative

Are you already an artist or writer? Make time for your craft. If not, try anything creative that piques your curiosity, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box! Make a music playlist that’s your go-to when you’ve had enough. Cook or bake something you never have before, or if cooking is not your thing, frozen meals and cereal can be your best friends.

Connect with other advocates

Make it a goal to build diverse and meaningful connections with other advocates. Seeing yourself in others builds comaraderie and can reduce stress. Along those lines, have you joined the CAA volunteer Facebook group?

Finding in-person events like one recently hosted by Unny Nambudiripad, one of CAA’s founders, can build connection. His Wellness Day for Animal Advocates at the People’s Movement Center attracted more than thirty people. They meditated, did qigong, got massages, discussed sustainable activism, journaled, and created a gratitude board. Participants left with a list of support resources.

You can also consider attending the 2018 Healing Retreat, designed for animal advocates and hosted at the Metta Mediation Center in Janesville, Minnesota.

Another recommended resource is pattrice jones’ book Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World: A Guide for Activists and their Allies. Check it out!

Seek help if you don’t know where to turn

In Defense of Animals provides free mentors for activists by phone, text, email, and online chat: www.idausa.org/activistsupport.

And if you need it, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at (800) 273-8255.


Moving forward as an animal advocate, embrace compassion not just for the animals, but for yourself. We hope that these tips will help sustain your activism for many years to come, creating a world where all are free, happy, and cared for.

Meet Our New Board Member – Victor Massaglia

CAA welcomes Victor Massaglia to our board of directors. Learn more about Victor, where he came from and how he got involved with speaking out for animals and CAA.

Tell us a little about yourself, Victor.

I grew up in Rochester, Minnesota and was in the United States Air Force for about nine years as a personal administrator helping people through transition. I served in Columbus; Mississippi; Okinawa, Japan; and Honolulu, Hawaii.

I’ve been working in higher education for over 25 years and am currently the Director of the Career and Professional Development Center at the School Public Health at the University of Minnesota.

I very passionate regarding issues of human rights and believe that regardless of race, gender, faith, sexual orientation, faith, we are all equally important and that no one should be ignored. I look for ways people can work, play, and be better together.

When did you journey to being vegan begin and where has it led you?

My motivation to become a vegan started primarily as a result of a long and frustrating recovery period from a major surgery. I believe my choice to adopt a plant-based diet rebooted my life. Now, I want to give back in a positive and systematic way.

While learning about how to live a vegan lifestyle, I became more knowledgeable about where our food comes from, how animals are not honored and are continually being abused, as well as how animal-food production is negatively impacting our environment.

I am grateful to be a part of the vegan community now and believe in the power of compassion to make positive change.

How did you get involved with CAA?

From my first experience with CAA was volunteering for the 2017 Twin Cities Veg Fest. I felt a definite affinity with CAA’s mission to encourage people to cultivate empathy for animals and move toward a plant-based diet. I also felt an immediate kinship with CAA and Twin Cities Veg Fest leadership. Also, and quite frankly, all of CAA’s core values are totally aligned with my own core values.

As a new board member, what’s your vision for the organization?

I am excited about CAA taking the lead in meeting people where they are at, educating with empathy and compassion. We can continue encouraging more and more people to take positive steps toward eating a plant-based diet while creating an environment in which animals are treated with respect and dignity.


Interested in joining CAA’s board of directors? Our board meetings are open to prospective members. If you are interested in attending a board meeting, email board@exploreveg.org to find out when the next board meeting will take place.

The Truth about Animals on Modern Farms

Transforming Animals into Food

Many people think that the meat, milk, and eggs they buy come from animals who have lived happy, healthy lives. As revealed in the video above, this is not the case.

On modern farms, the vast majority of animals live in horrible conditions. If someone were to treat a cat or dog the same way, they would be charged with felony cruelty charges. Yet farmed animals with the same depth of complex emotions, the same capacity to suffer, do not share those legal protections.

Instead, the growing demand for inexpensive meat, milk, and eggs, has turned animals into commodities. Animals are confined so they can barely move, and some can’t even turn around. When they become sick or injured, they are denied individualized care. Due to selective breeding and growth-promoting drugs, they grow so quickly that their limbs cannot support their added weight. They are also mutilated and castrated without anesthesia.

In the end, all animals raised for meat, milk, and eggs are crammed into trucks and transported to slaughterhouses, where they are killed for our consumption.

Making a Difference

Every time we sit down to eat, we are faced with a powerful choice that has real-life consequences. We can choose a compassionate plant-based diet, or we can choose to support an industry that profits from abusing animals.

Simply put, removing meat, milk, and eggs from our diets can help spare animals from suffering. The less demand for animal products, the fewer animals will be killed for food.

Choosing Compassion

Good news! With a growing variety of plant-based options available, reducing our consumption of animal products has never been easier.

Here are some tips for cutting animal products out of your diet:

  • Becoming vegan doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor. Every time you choose plant-based, you are helping animals.
  • Love the taste and texture of meat? No need to do without! Try the Impossible Burger, the Beyond Burger, Tofurky deli slices, or Field Roast sausage, available at natural food stores and a growing number of supermarkets. If you’re in the Twin Cities, be sure to check out The Herbivorous Butcher‘s meat-free meats and cheese-free cheeses. You might have to try out a few brands to find the ones you like the best.
  • Think you can’t live without cheese? There are an ever-increasing variety of dairy-free cheeses on the market. You might be surprised at how well they mimic the taste and texture of cheese. We recommend Chao, Mikoyo’s, Daiya, and Kite Hill among others.
  • Most restaurants have vegan options. Just ask your server which dishes can be made vegan. For online directories, check out VegGuide.org. or Happy Cow.
  • Want to learn more? Check out our Veg Resources page for recipes, links to other useful sites, and more.

 

Vegan Nutrition Myth Busters

The number of people choosing plant-based eating continues to grow. It’s important to have all the right information when making the transition, but it can be challenging to determine truth from urban myth.

As a Registered Dietitian and a vegan, my role includes searching out the best evidence-based, scientifically sound information available for my clients. Below are some common vegan myths and the facts that can lead to success.

Vegan Myth Busted!
“It’s hard to get enough protein.” It’s easy if one eats a variety of protein foods throughout the day.

No need to “combine foods” at the same meal. Rich protein sources include legumes (beans, lentils…), soy foods (tofu, soymilk…), meat substitutes (veggie burgers, beef-free crumbles…), nuts and seeds, and whole grains (quinoa, brown rice…).

 

“It isn’t healthy.” The American Dietetic Association has said that “vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

Plant-based diets are shown to decrease risk of developing obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and and some kinds of cancer.

 

“It’s expensive.” Vegan staples such as beans, tofu, and whole grains are much less expensive than meat.

Buy produce in season and check the bulk bins for great deals. Choose less expensive whole foods more often and splurge on meat substitutes and other more costly items once in awhile. Stock up when your favorite non-perishables are on sale.

 

“It can’t provide important nutrients.” Eating enough food, choosing a wide variety of food throughout the day, and using fortified foods or taking a B12 supplement can meet your nutritional needs. Picky eaters or those with small appetites may want to consider a multivitamin. (This is true of any meal plan!)

A varied vegan diet can provide iron (collard greens, kale, legumes…) and calcium (collards, kale, broccoli, almonds, fortified dairy substitutes…), as well as Vitamins A, C, and omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, hemp, and soy).

 

“Soy isn’t safe.” In fact, soy is a good source of nutrients and has excellent health benefits. Studies show that as little as 1 serving/day for children and teens decreases breast cancer risk later in life. Soy may also be helpful in reducing heart disease risk, relieving hot flashes, preventing prostate cancer, and promoting bone health in postmenopausal women.

 

“You can’t be strong.” There are many world-class (and world-champion!) vegan athletes. A quick online search brings up a long list of plant-fueled bodybuilders, runners, cyclists, tennis players, national sports league stars, boxers, fighters, and many other kinds of athletes. Anyone who says you need meat to make muscle hasn’t got their facts straight.

 

This article was originally published in the 2016 issue of Twin Cities Veg Living.

Suzy Sorensen is a Twin Cities-based Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator who holds a Certificate of Training in Vegetarian Nutrition.  She has served at the state and national level for the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, and in 2010 she opened her own nutrition practice, Move2Veg Nutrition Counseling. For more information, visit move2veg.com.

References:

  1.  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets (2016)
  2.  Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Vegetarian Nutrition Practice Group RD Resource for Professionals: Vegetarian/Vegan Myths (2012)
  3.  greatveganathletes.com
  4.  Davis, Brenda, RD, and Melina, Vesanto, MS, RD. Becoming Vegan: Express Edition. Summertown: Book Publishing Company, 2003.

 

 

Plant-Based Eating: Nutrition Basics

Adopting a plant-based lifestyle has never been easier. We now have many resources such as cookbooks, blogs, nutrition books, and food products readily available. As a registered dietitian and someone that has made the transition to a plant-based diet, I think it’s important for individuals to go at their own pace when it comes to making dietary changes.

From a health perspective, vegan and vegetarian diets are safe and can even be beneficial for all age groups. Like any healthful dietary pattern, it is important to choose the right foods. For example, fried potato chips, Oreo cookies, and soda don’t contain animal products. They’re vegan, but they’re definitely not healthy! It’s important to fill your plate with wholesome food in order to get the most benefit from plant-based eating. There have been many research studies of people that follow plant-based diets, and it appears that vegetarian and vegan diets are associated with lower rates of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and a variety of cancers, all of which plague our country today.

When switching to a more plant-based diet, these are some of the questions that are often asked regarding nutrition:

  • Where do I get protein?
  • How do I get calcium?
  • Should I take a B12 supplement?

The simplest approach is to make sure you are eating enough food, taking a B12 supplement, and consuming a variety of foods, including leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If you follow these simple guidelines, then you can rest assured that you’re consuming an adequate amount of nutrients for your body to thrive.

I recommend educating yourself with some plant-based eating basics before you dive into it. This table provides a brief overview of key nutrients to consider when adopting a plant-based diet.

Nutrient Purpose Foods
Protein Tissue maintenance, growth, cellular function Lentils, beans, peanuts, soy, nuts, nut butters, seeds, whole grains (e.g. quinoa, oats, wild rice, buckwheat)
Iron Growth and development, brain development; a critical component of the hemoglobin structure that carries oxygen throughout the body Beans, lentils, tempeh, nuts, whole grains, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables

*Pair with vitamin C rich foods (e.g. citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, green leafy vegetables) to help increase iron absorption

Zinc Immunity and wound healing; growth, development, and cellular metabolism Lentils, beans, cashews, almonds chia seeds, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast.
Calcium Benefits bones, teeth, muscle movement, nerve signaling, and hormone and enzyme production Kale, collards, broccoli, mustard greens, bok choy, figs, oranges, calcium-set tofu, fortified plant-based milks, blackstrap molasses, tempeh, almonds
Omega 3 Blood clotting, cell membrane structures in the brain, reducing inflammation, and preventing heart disease Chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, soy, expeller pressed canola oil
Vitamin B12 Critical for the brain and nervous system; not getting adequate vitamin B12 can result in irreversible damage Fortified plant-based milks, fortified nutritional yeast, Take a 500 mg supplement daily or a 1,000 mg twice a week

*Vegan or not, all people over the age of 50 should take a B12 supplement.

This article was originally published in the 2015 issue of Twin Cities Veg Living.

Kristina DeMuth, R.D., featured on the cover of the 2015 issue of Twin Cities Veg Living

Kristina DeMuth is a Master of Public Health, Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She currently works full-time as the Social Media Director for NutritionFacts.org, a non-commercial, science-based public service. Visit kristinademuth.com to learn more.

References:

  1.  American Academy of Pediatrics (2014). Vegetarian Diets for Children. healthychildren.org
  2.  Amit, M., Canadian Paediatric Society, & Community Paediatrics Committee. (2010). Vegetarian diets in children and adolescents. Paediatrics Child Health; 15(5), 303-314.
  3.  American Dietetic Association and Dietitians & Dietitians of Canada (2003). Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association; 103, 748- 765. vrg.org/nutrition/2003_ADA_position_paper.pdf
  4.  Tantamango-Bartley, Y., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Fan, J., & Fraser, G. (2013). Vegetarian Diets and the Incidence of Cancer in a Low-risk Population. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention; 22, 286- 294.

 

3 Pathways to Compassionate Conversation

Going vegan or vegetarian and feeling stressed out about how to talk with friends and family about it? How do you share your plant-based journey in a way that feels good?

We’ve got some ideas for you. These general principles for compassionate communication were shared last fall when we were getting ready for the holidays. We were anticipating some of the awkward conversations that can happen around the family dinner table with our omnivorous peeps.

Now, during Twin Cities VegWeek, we’re sharing them again, hoping they inspire everyone who’s taking the Twin Cities VegPledge to consider how they can gracefully communicate with friends and family while they’re exploring a new way of eating.

Bottom line: If you don’t eat animals, that’s gonna set you apart from a lot of other people. And sometimes that’s a bummer.

Will you be asked why you don’t eat animals? Or where you get my protein? Or what you would eat if you were stranded on a desert island and your only choice would be to kill an animal or die? Probably.

Here are some savvy responses to those annoying questions, but be warned…memorizing the answers to those FAQs may not be what’s gonna lead to the most compassionate conversation.

Here’s a list of three general approaches that feel empowering to me. You can think of them as potential pathways to compassionate conversation. All situations are different, so you can adapt these to the circumstances in a way that feels right.

1. Choose your own adventure.

You could use this interaction as an opportunity to speak out for animals, or you could put that intention aside, especially if you think it could keep you from connecting with your loved ones and nurturing your relationships.

And if you are making those personal connections and the subject of what you eat (or don’t eat) comes up, then you’re arriving at the conversation from a more openhearted place, and that’s going to improve the chances for mutual understanding.

But even if the subject of your veganism doesn’t come up in conversation, rest assured that just by being you, eating your vegan food, you are going to have an impact. They are going to notice and think about their food choices.

Ultimately, you don’t have to feel compelled by anything but your own intention. How do you want to spend your time?

2. Engage in openhearted conversation.

If something on the subject of eating animals does come up, practice effective communication. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Listen at least as much as you are speaking.
  2. Ask questions. Be genuinely curious about who they are and what they think.
  3. Respect the person in front of you, even if you don’t agree with them. You have some core values in common. Bring the conversation back to that common ground to keep the connection.
  4. Let go of expectations. Rather than having an agenda for the conversation, just think of it as an opportunity for sharing and learning about one another.

And remember that you don’t have to know it all. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Really, just say what’s true for you and speak from your own experience.

Also, you can always choose to bow out of the conversation or to postpone it for a later date. Remember that the dinner table is not always the best place to talk about what’s happening on factory farms, as people will likely be more defensive when they are eating animals. Suggest that you can talk about it more later.

If they show genuine interest in why you’re vegan, that’s surely a conversation worth having. But if they show no interest or worse yet just want to push your buttons, then you’re probably better off saving your energy for someone else, which brings me to the last point.

3. Use your energy strategically.

There’s probably a reason that I’ve been vegan fifteen years and none my family has yet gone vegan. And it’s not that I’m a bad animal advocate. I certainly have influenced at least a few friends and some strangers, but not family.

I’m no psychologist, but I’m guessing this has something to do with the complicated relationships with our loved ones. At this point, I’m aware of this dynamic, and so I put my energy where I think it will most likely yield results.

Consider logging onto exploreveg.org and signing up for a volunteer shift at an upcoming outreach event. Channel the energy there. CAA and many organizations like it offer numerous opportunities to take action for animals. What’s more, the audiences they reach tend to be genuinely interested, and they’re not your family. To them, you’re just a friendly and passionate advocate for the animals. And they get to leave the conversation feeling informed, inspired, and empowered.


If it feels helpful to you to memorize some responses to the frequently asked questions, then go for it. Ultimately however, effective communication requires more nuance than that. It means being present, listening, being unconditionally compassionate. There’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all response for every situation.

In my experience, I find a slightly laid-back attitude with loved ones to be most effective. It’s the lead-by-example approach. (I also call it the sneaky vegan approach.)

Activism is work, and sometimes we do need to refresh ourselves so that we can return to that work with renewed energy. You get to put your passion for helping animals to use in whatever way you think will be most effective, and you can even choose to take a break from speaking out if you feel like you need one.

I look for ways that my activism can be sustainable and effective, and for me these approaches help me to feel that’s possible. I hope they feel helpful to you too.

 

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Dine-Out: Innate Foods

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Laugh for the Animals!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Leaflet at Grand Old Day