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Should witnessing distressing scenes make us better vegans?

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With a busy life, and I mean the normal 9-5 kind of busy – not the yoga junkie/ businesswoman/ yummy-mummy superhero between meditating while tweeting everything I do busy- so despite not being that kind of busy, I still find myself tired and entirely useless at the end of the day.

And during my weekend I always seem unable to cram everything in on top of catching up on sleep, studying, doing things I like doing (cooking and eating) and maintaining the flat at a habitable level.

So other than the eating I mentioned, when else does veganism come in?

The rhetorical question put by activists at last year’s Official Vegan March ‘would you stand by and watch a while a dog was being kicked to death?’ has haunted me ever since what I thought was me finally  ‘doing something‘.

He was right of course. I wouldn’t stand by and watch a dog being kicked.

But trying to convince 99 per cent of the population not to eat farmed animals or endorse the killing and abuse of them seems SO much harder.

Since I heard the kind of messages I didn’t really want to hear on that day (after feeling so good and positive about what I was doing for once) – I felt a burden of guilt.

‘I’m ignorant/ a wus/ selfish’, were just some of the abrasive thoughts you could find whirling around my head on a daily basis.

So I made myself watch horrific video footage whenever I came across it on social media (a LOT).

Because I thought it was the least I could do. To live the trauma vicariously and to remind myself not to be ignorant and of the horrid realities behind a life of work, TV and good food.

But getting on with my day to day life – driving past truck loads of fearful sheep as I often do on my journey to work, even once sitting in a pub garden watching a truck being loaded full of sheep (should I go and pat them on the head? Apologise? Curse at the driver?) just left me feeling in an permanent state of hopelessness.

It became a cycle of ignorance, justification and guilt with each one more urgent than the other.

And the ability to communicate choices rationally and calmly to people was even more of a battle against stress, frustration and anger.cm

And then I came across vegan psychologist Clare Mann.

Clare helps vegans – especially those who carry round the weight of hopelessness and guilt every day – share their compassionate message rationally and effectively.

In her mini course she delves into neuroscience, particularly how negative images are associated with the stress, misery and frustration we first experienced, and how the message of veganism becomes bogged down with hopelessness we feel unable to combat.

She says this means when we are challenged, we are inevitably in our fight or flight mode.

She advises to ditch the negative images and focus on the positive vegan message which at the moment is more prevalent than ever.

She explains when we are calm and focused on all the positive things in our vegan life, our blood is in our ‘frontal cortex’ – where focused and logical thinking means we can listen to others points of view without bursting a vessel – give a constructive argument and respond better to those questioning our choices.

Clare’s advice has also lead me to focus on what I have personally done, rather than what I haven’t, to encourage change.

For example the domino effect becoming vegan can have on others’ choices, prompting people to question things whether they like it or not, and opening the minds of those grounded by tradition.

I have realised when I go on Twitter and come across footage of rescued animals bounding across green fields, of positive statistics, the realistion I am not alone in an omnivorous world, I am instantly uplifted.

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And it is this happy feeling makes me feel more confident in responding to questions, criticism and (more often than not) teasing, and motivates me to do more and be more present among those who like me, want change.

Whether it’s a spot of baking, explaining why your nut milk isn’t ‘funny’, or the finer points of tofu prep, each of these little introductions, no matter how small, should be treated as a triumph.

Because each one carries the possibility to create change, maybe not instantly or completely. But a change undoubtedly getting stronger with every voice speaking up for its cause.

And yours and mine are no exception.

To find out more inspiring nuggets of wisdom from Clare visit www.veganpsychologist.com.

 

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