5 Words to Help You Speak Up for Animals

November 19, 2013

'Tis the season of holiday parties, when a significant portion of vegan brainpower is devoted to striking a balance between not "ruining everyone's fun" and the desire to expound on factory farm methods of turkey insemination at the dinner table.

Knowing you'll likely be surrounded by non-veg friends and fam in the next few weeks, I want to share 5 words that always help me speak up for animals and veganism in any situation, without feeling awkward or pushy:

"Take it or leave it."

Tack this puppy on to your opinion and you disarm others from being totally reactionary. A "suggestive" tone can push you forward if you're feeling iffy about speaking up—and in my experience, you get ears and continued conversation instead of a figurative palm-to-your-face.

For example, something like this:

(Silently) Actually, Uncle Bob, tryptophan is destroyed in cooking, so what's really making you tired is the obscene amount of undigestible carcass lodged right there...RIGHT. THERE. I can see it. It's right there."


"Well here’s what I’ve been learning about the amino acids in animal protein...So take it or leave it, Uncle Bob, but I think it's the animal flesh itself that's a burden on our systems."

You set yourself up to sound casual and friendly while speaking up for animals and veganism—without shutting down the room (always an option, too).

Try it and report back!

P.S. Do you have a speak-up-strategy? Share it in the comments area below!


October 22, 2013

I took a meat-eating acquaintance to a cold-pressed juice bar recently, where he complained to me about a vegan woman in his group of friends.

"She just talks about veganism too much—it's laughable. We've made our decision, stop shoving it down our throats!" he said.

Ignited by my disdain for over-used idioms, I countered, "First of all!" before my defense of this fellow unknown tribeswoman had properly cohered.

Long pause.

I felt bored disappointment picturing this oafy bunch laughing at their friend. I wished (again) for the invention of Understanding Through Osmosis. Yes. Via a brain-to-brain firewire cable through which all that we've seen and studied of veganism can be instantaneously uploaded.

I came to. "At the root of this woman's passion is love," I suggested, "An urgency to protect animals and you all, as her friends, from unnecessary suffering."

"Of course, of course," my acquaintance said, sucking down his watercress-parsley-apple-ginger-lemon juice like a sport! Clearly the green juice had alkalized him into empathy!

Or. He was done with my story.

I said nothing more, but thought of a line from David Wolfe's Sunfood Diet Success System: "If one exploits the animals and the Earth, the subtler truths of life will remain hidden—that is the fact, simple as that."  As I went back to my firewire fantasy, I thought—if the unaware could, for an instant, be engulfed deeply and completely by the innards of a soul motivated by veganism, by a torrent of footage—blinking eyes and beating hearts, the begging and bleating of animals, rivers of farm waste choking out ocean life, suffocated arteries, cancer wards leaking radiation into water supplies, barren and bleached reefs, on and on—they'd most certainly be in awe of the subtleties of life—a friend's love, for example—that they'd missed before.

I know the awe of realized ignorance because I myself was once an oaf who laughed at my vegan roomates. The torrent was Earthlings. I was never the same. Besides the shame of what I had been a part of, I was embarrased by not having seen it sooner. But it took a number of influencers, not one passionate vegan, to finally flip my switch.

I'm glad no one gave up on me.

Veganism, at it's best, is a vehicle of psychopoiesis, or "soul-making"—an obscure psychological/philosophical term I've recently come across and fallen in love with. For me, going vegan kindled a physical, political, and spiritual change that unveiled subtleties invisble to me prior—even as a progressive, educated, health-oriented person—and forced me to evaluate, ongoingly, my deepest morals and values versus my behavior. It wasn't instant.

Here's what I'm getting at...I know the crusading laughingstock of this story has known the psychopoiesis of veganism. I automatically love her. She feels an urgency to share what she knows—and should. It can actually saves lives. I consistently try to get as many people interested in veganism as possible, everyone knows I talk about it a lot. But I would tell my fellow vegan friend this—for the sake of her own frustration: with a small percentage of people, whose disinterest never lets up, I settle for being more an ambassador than an evangelist. It's not a cop-out. It's strategic.

Whether you're outspoken, just helpful, or you quietly bring a dish labeled "vegan" to the potluck, you're an influence on the community around you. Giving them time to adjust is not giving up...after all, there's a reason more people than ever are drinking green juice.

N.B. By the time I bid my meat-eating acquaintance adieu, he had asked me for some vegan recipes.


Do you relate to the psychopoiesis of veganism? How has your transformation influenced your community? Leave me a comment below!


Why Being the Lone Vegan Makes You a Power Player

August 15, 2013

Being vegan got you feeling alone? Ostracized? Left out at social meals?

Are you fatigued by the "People for Eating Tasty Animals" joke?

Do you feel like you’re the only one who cares about animals?

Hold up! I will not have you feeling this way! Let’s bring all those feelings to an asphalt-burning halt, case closed, right this minute!

Let me lay a virtual hand on your shoulder and tell you exactly why the work you’re doing—even if you’re doing it alone—makes you a power player in the vegan movement.

In 1962, Everett Rogers published a book called Diffusion of Innovations. In it was a bell curve graph that illustrated how new ideas spread. “Innovators” were on the left, a miniscule 2.5% of the population. Then came the “Early Adopters” at 13.5%. The “Early Majority” and "Late Majority" followed at 34% each, making up the ascent, crown, and descent of the bell. Finally on the right side, were the “Laggards” at 16%.

Innovators are infatuated with new ideas and core-driven to bring about advances. Small in numbers, they are brave and daring, the adventuous few who challenge others to see, think, and behave in a new ways.

Early Adopters immediately see the value and potential of innovative ideas and advances. Empowered and intuitive, they participate—their commitment undeterred by obstacles of inconvenience or expense that new ideas and technologies arise with.

The Early and Late Majorities are respectively less and less comfortable with new ideas, influenced by practicality and habit over innovation. Change requires ease, inexpense, and wide social proof. These groups need others to go before them in order to change their ways.

Laggards refuse to adopt new ideas and technologies until there is no longer a choice.

See where I’m going?

Today, veganism is just being introduced to the mainstream. In fact, at this moment, we are amazingly aligned with Rogers' numbers, vegans making up about 2%+ of the U.S. population!

Depending on how long you’ve been vegan, you are either an innovator or an early adopter—and that means the vegan movement doesn’t become mainstream without you.

You have more influence than you know. Whether they know it or not, you are normalizing veganism in your community—its definition, existence, its feasibility, and its “face.” Your purchases influence the market and make vegan products more affordable and available.

You are a POWER PLAYER IN THE GAME, ya hear?

It may be a quiet and sometimes lonesome battle you’re waging, but you are inherently cutting away, subverting, and undermining the meat and dairy industry every step of the way. Don’t you go changing.

What others do or say doesn’t matter. It only matters what kind of person you want to be.

Without exception, the rights we’ve attained throughout history have come from the bottom up, not the top down. So if you’re toeing the line alone, just keep showing up. Wear that vegan T-shirt, keep bringing your favorite dish to the party, carry that green juice in a glass jar when you drop your kid off at school—and smile and wave it around the community like it’s the best thing that has ever happened to you—and them!—because your choices are a flag and you are a leader.

Which kind are you? Leave me a comment below.

P.S. If you’ve not yet gone vegan, get with program, Laggard! Choose veganism before it chooses you!