I have a confession.
Despite being a passionate vegan for two years, I’ve not been particularly “active”. I started my own blog, which was a safe way to get the message out there while curled up in my P.J’s, but I’ve never participated in a protest, attended a rally, or been much of an “activist” at all.
Considering how much I care about this; I’m a bit of a wimp!
A few nights ago, I was sat on Facebook, being lazy, munching on sliced banana with cinnamon (my new addiction) and there, right before my eyes were the words “Manchester Animal Action: tomorrow at 11am.”
Facebook can be so creepy sometimes, I hate that it knows me so well. But, privacy issues aside, I clicked on the link, thinking, “I’m going to do this; tomorrow I’m going to go and fight for animal rights!” What came over me I do not know, but it seemed like fate and who am I to turn my back on fate? I hit “attending” before I could change my mind and went to bed in a minor state of panic.
I spent most of the morning having imagined arguments with strangers and worrying about out what a Vegan Activist should wear. Then, I dressed completely normally, grabbed some snacks and went to go get the bus.
The location was full of people and I couldn’t see any “vegan activists” (no, they didn’t have giant tattoos on their foreheads.) After wandering for a while, I had nearly decided to bail on the whole thing and go get a latte, when I saw some people struggling with bags and posters in the distance. I took a deep breath, decided it was fate again and went over to help carry.
I felt immediate satisfaction and was happy that I stayed. We started chatting and setting up the stall, which was when the leaflets with pictures of chickens in blenders and cows hanging upside-down caught my eye. Admittedly, not my usual approach and I was a little scared about how people would react, but, among the torture fliers, we were also armed with chocolate flapjacks, “cream cheese” crackers and other treats to lure even the most die-hard carnivore.
For the first hour I was too nervous to do much. I stayed right back and just tried to make friends with the others at the stall. While chatting about tempeh brands and eco-shoes, I enjoyed watching people pass by and their varying reactions. People would come up to us, some curious, some not, but everyone wanted free food. I honestly think those flapjacks did more for veganism on this day than any of us. All I had to do was keep smiling, know the flapjack recipe and not run away.
Then: a turning point.
A lovely old man came over and looked very curious, so I mustered up all my courage and went over to hand him a leaflet. We started talking and he told me that he’s in very poor health and has started to become curious about “you people” and “this veg thing”. I felt my heart swelling, asked him what was wrong and before I knew it, we’d been talking for twenty minutes. Suddenly all my focus was on this man, who was open and wanted advice that I am in a unique position to be able to give. It was the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. After he’d gone, I felt enormous pride, only strengthened when my fellow activists looked at me and said: “you’ve got the touch.”
After that, the rest of the day was fantastic! Immediately I looked around for a new target and once I was open to it, talking to people was a breeze. I spent the day having conversations with strangers about how easy my lifestyle is and why it’s so important. Really – it was a dream scenario! I had willing people, putting themselves in front of me, asking me to talk about what I am most passionate about in the world. Well, okay, if I must!
That day I was a part of a small, but determined group who successfully demonstrated that vegans aren’t crazy or weird – we just want to inform those who are curious. And can bake a mean flapjack!
After such an incredible experience, my resolution is to not shy away from situations that seem scary. Being a vegan activist doesn’t have to come from a place of anger or rage, it should be the opposite. You can spread love, awareness and delicious things. This will be what attracts people to you and, when I think about it, isn’t that why people go went vegan? The peace. The love. The baked goods!
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