Animal activism is hard work. We see videos and pictures of animals being tortured, confined, and exploited. We hear stories of animals whose lives have been marked by pain. We see undercover investigative footage that time and again shows egregious animal cruelty. And often the people in our lives just don’t get it. Our friends and families eat meat in front of us. We are criticized and interrogated for our compassionate choices. Tropes like ‘the angry vegan’ are used to silence us.
Animal activists need support because too often we are isolated from the animal rights and animal liberation community. We need support because we are facing a goliath of exploitative industries that we can’t beat alone. We need support because when we burn out, animal abusers win.
Reaching out for support isn’t easy; it takes strength and courage. Asking for help is not a selfish act. Sometimes we think that we don’t deserve help because the suffering of animals trumps our own struggles. The reality, though, is that animals need us as their advocates and we can’t do that work if we’re overwhelmed by stress, depression, loneliness, or trauma. You deserve to take care of yourself for your own well-being, but we also have an obligation to animals that we do everything we can to sustain our work. Taking the time now to be gentle and compassionate with yourself will make you more effective and will make your activism more sustainable.
“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective” -Dalai Lama