Things have definitely changed significantly in the past 12 months.
As animal advocates, we have seen a fast growth of plant-based alternatives, participation in Veganuary was record-breaking, and our activism was mainly done on digital platforms.
It is safe to assume that not much will shift this year, as COVID is now a part of our daily lives and we are still not allowed to go back to our old ways.
As I wait for my vaccine, I thought the best way to spend my time would be to look at what vegans need to know in 2021 when it comes to standing up for animal rights.
Even though our lives have slowed down and we are changing our habits and lifestyle, the suffering and cruelty behind closed doors still exist. Trillions of non-human animals continue being tortured, exploited and murdered for food and clothing.
Still… we have a chance to learn from this.
To get better at speaking up for them, here is what vegans need to know in 2021:
- We must look beyond politics and identity.
The way we shame and censor individuals with whom we have disagreements is a disgusting way of proving how nasty Homo sapiens can be.
Instead of forgiving people who said prejudiced things in the past, or accepting that not everyone is convinced by our arguments, we demand platforms remove those we don’t like.
Not only is this a danger to free speech but how are we supposed to learn, evolve and make progress if we are immediately branded as a bad person?
And if you are so sure that your way of living is correct, why are you threatened by someone else’s opinions? You should see it as a challenge to prove them wrong if you are indeed right.
I am here for everyone who is interested in going vegan, no matter how different our views on politics might be. Believe it or not, there is a difference between someone with a prejudiced mindset and a person who simply doesn’t have the same opinions as you do.
I encourage you to stop making veganism so exclusive that barely anyone fits the definition. I wrote more about this issue here.
- Our approach needs to be less radical.
This might be a bit of an unpopular opinion but I am getting tired of seeing people go straight to bullying anyone who says they are not completely vegan but trying their best to eat fewer animal products.
Listen, I also find some of their excuses pathetic and not convincing, but I know shaming someone does exactly the opposite of what I want to achieve.
This is why kindness and compassion have to become our best tools of communication and activism. I am not saying it will be easy, but it will be effective.
Listen more. Understand where they are coming from. Lead them to where you are by holding their hand and going at their pace, not dragging them against their will.
- The goal should be to make progress, not be perfect.
It took me eleven months to start eating plant-based and remove animal products from my diet.
While I know many vegans who ditched everything overnight, there were even more of us who needed time. That is okay and should be a priority when talking to others.
No, our planet cannot wait, neither can other animals, but this is not about what should be done, it is about what is realistic. And realistically, people usually need to start taking small steps to feel safe and comfortable.
Take what you can get, don’t push it.
- It should be about facts, not opinions.
COVID really uncovered the faces of people who are not here for the facts, but for spreading dangerous and false claims that harm others.
Conspiracy theorists have taken over the comments and made vegans look even more insane than people already think we are. No one is safe from the crazy mob.
It is crucial that we stay honest and not claim things that are not true. If there is one thing that vegans have on our side is science, which has proven over and over again that animal products are bad for the environment, and that it is absolutely possible to be healthy eating plant-based.
Do not let down all the advocates that came before us by spewing lies that you’ve learnt on Facebook. You are much better than that.
What do you think?
Times are different now and we must upgrade our skills, approach and tactics. No more playing around or doing what we personally think is best. No sir.
I want 2022 to be the year we get over a million people to sign up for Veganuary. This is why I am doing this. I want to see results and statistics.
If you are with me and you too want actual numbers proving that we are moving towards a more ethical and moral way of living, then let’s do better together!
Make this pandemic count for something. Use it to improve yourself and your work.