I’m an Activist, I’m a Vegan Activist. I’m an Activist in Lockdown*
*To the tune of Sting’s Englishman in New York
What day is it?
Days don't seem to matter much anymore. They used to. Most Saturday's I'd be out on the streets with fellow activists, talking to people about animal justice and the benefits of veganism. Some early mornings we'd be outside a slaughterhouse, bearing witness to the poor souls in their last moments. We'd be celebrating delicious vegan food at a local plant-based cafe. But now?
Now I'm stuck on my laptop sharing articles, videos and opinions about animal suffering, and sometimes animal farming's link to zoonotic pandemics - hoping they'll stick. In reality they're liked and commented on by like minded vegans; adding echoes to my chamber. I'm left scratching my newly grown chipmunk beard. When I put a picture of me when I was a young drama student: likes and comments galore. When I share a thoughtful article about how we can prevent further pandemics through the way we look and behave with nature and animals: nowt, zilch, nada. There's been glimmers of hope with a friend reaching out asking about backyard eggs. But in all honesty I feel useless.
The world has been turned on its head. There has been an influx of community care, yet talking about other issues (even if linked) are labeled inappropriate and selfish - people are dying. Animals continue to die, like they have been before and will continue to after this pandemic subsides. News, rumours and conspiracy theories have festered to fever pitch, with more time to dig further into YouTube rabbit holes, drowning out the legitimate causes that need our attention.
There's some good news.
Many are aware that the treatment of animals in wet markets have led to this health crisis - the irony being in consuming non-human animals contributes significantly to leading fatal diseases, causing strain on our health services. There's hope that wet markets will be banned, inching one step closer to a vegan world. It's not ideal but it's something. The air is cleaner and water clearer, returning to natural levels and diversity - the hope is it stays.
At the beginning of lockdown I was neck deep in 'activist panic', splurging all over social media, banging my head against the wall of the sheer stupidity of the majority of humanity. Now I'm grounded. I've asked myself:
What can I do right now?
Reading some top notch social movement and animal rights books and articles, and attending educational watch parties online, I've refocused on strategy. I was also served some humble pie by The Cranky Vegan:
If we're desperate, if we insist on spurting the vegan message without thought of method and approach, we'll burn out. We'll give up, because the world we want won't magically become a reality. But if we zoom out, look at the big picture, see where we can win and edge that bit closer to the world we sorely need. It truly is a marathon and not a sprint. To run a marathon well, we plan, we employ strategy. That's how we'll win.
A group of us at Vegan Night School have been planning the next steps, on how we can help the animal rights movement become more effective, through campaigns and training. We've revamped our book club and taken it online, we've bounced around ideas, started building solid foundations. We can't wait to get into the full swing of things, and really start making a difference for the animals!