How to Speak Up Without Being an "Angry Vegan"
I always wanted someone to write me up a post like this, and I haven’t seen one yet. So, now that I’ve figured it out I’m going to share it with you!
Just kidding! Here’s what I realized: if you’re vegan for the animals or for the planet, you’re going to be angry!
Instead of trying not to be angry, you gotta learn to embrace that fire and use it effectively! (And also learn where and how to let it out if it gets to be too much- because attacking others on social media is NOT helpful for any of us.)
Your anger is valid af.
Seriously! Animals are raped, tortured, and murdered in the meat & dairy industry. Hell yeah you’re pissed! Cows are raped and have their babies stolen at birth. Babies are kept in tiny pens and killed at 6 months old for some arrogant asshole’s tastebuds. (Yeah, that’s a little bold, but you know what, this is an angry vegan safe zone. I support your anger, because that anger is what’s going to get shit done on these issues!)
You are allowed to be angry. And angry is not necessarily mean, cruel, rude, disrespectful, impolite, ugly, or un-classy. Seriously.
What’s mean, cruel, rude, disrespectful, ugly, and sooo not classy is drinking the milk that came from bleeding, pus-filled udders after the cruelest abuse and torture you can imagine!
Pointing fingers doesn’t help the situation, but I want you to understand that you are not a bad person for being angry, and you are no less valid or important just because what you have to say is full of fire and anger! We grew up in a society that numbed us to the horror of what we were a part of. "GOT MILK?” was shoved down our throats from before we could even read- we were taught that cows are happy, and have you seen a certain blue and red pizza brand’s box? It’s literally an add for cheese. It’s disgusting! But it’s normalized and celebrated.
So how can you manage this anger and use it effectively, rather than trying to crush it down and make sure nobody sees it?
First, spend some time with it.
Find someone you can trust in a safe, private space and just let it all out. This can be a journal, a counselor, a partner, a vegan friend, a vegan support forum online, whatever. Just put all of your feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal and mistrust and disgust and whatever else is in there OUT, put it in words so you can see it clearly and start healing the wounds.
Take a moment to think about if you’re angry with yourself. A lot of people are horrified to learn what they’ve been supporting their whole lives. Hating yourself for what you didn’t know isn’t going to take back the past, so take a moment to let out all of your anger and anything you’re feeling toward yourself too.
Do something physical to help release some of the anger. For me, it looked like swimming. A LOT. Running is great, just going for walks, playing with your pet (or volunteering at an animal shelter! Seeing people do GOOD by animals might really help spark a little bit of comfort and healing too), or whatever works for you. Don’t just be a hermit with your anger, shake it all out with physical activity. Get the blood flowing so your ideas about yourself and others can flow too.
Second, look through what you’ve said once your head is clear.
Pay attention to common themes, and start identifying ways you can heal or make amends within your own heart. If you’re angry with yourself, think of ways you could give back to the world regularly. Let this act of service be fuel for your new lifestyle, and open your heart to forgiving the past.
If you’ve lost faith in humanity and you’re furious at the ways people have gone numb and checked out in the world, think about how you feel called to respond to this. Maybe it would help you to be part of a community that is more awake and aware. In my area, I found this in the downtown scene where more liberal thinking is prevalent. I also found it in yoga studios and the LBGTQ+ community. People who aren’t afraid of themselves or their truth tend to be better humans, in my opinion. Just the best version of themselves, you know, and that’s what I want to be surrounded by. That’s what gives me hope for the world and pulls me back when I find myself in a society-and-humanity-is-freakin-evil-and-we-all-really-suck kinda spiral (and by the way, those do get less frequent as you get more involved and expand your loving community!).
Third, start taking action.
Do what you can by the animals. Find fun ways to be vegan so it doesn’t just feel like punishment or having to concentrate on the evil in order to not choose it and give into cravings (personally I still struggle a lot with dairy cravings sometimes, especially when I’m not cooking much at home, and taking intentional action is what helps me!). Seek out your community, seriously!
Even if you don’t find a vegan community, find yourself a tribe of people who aren’t afraid to be honest and speak and think about what’s true. Learn to use your voice in these spaces first- it really helps because you already know they are just people doing their best. For me, I’m able to communicate most clearly even through anger when I remember and truly believe that everyone has a loving core, everyone has intentions, everyone wants to be good and kind and loving. It’s just hard getting there sometimes, and we all have our own struggles and our own journeys. If I’m speaking with their loving core in mind, rather than my fury, it makes all the difference. I can use my fire and speak out, I can sustain using my voice and my platform to make a difference, AND I can actually connect with others. It’s a really powerful difference.
Ultimately, if you’re afraid of being an angry vegan, I just want to encourage you to let yourself be where you are. You’re allowed to be angry. I support your anger. I love you for it. You’re angry because you care, and that’s beautiful. Instead of worrying about others judging your anger, focus on being okay with yourself. Learn to love and be yourself even through the anger. That’s where your power is.