Do you ever struggle with compassion fatigue as a vegan? I know I do.
‘Compassion fatigue’ occurs if a person ‘cares too much’ at the expense of their own health and well-being. This can happen to new as well as seasoned vegans as they continue to talk to others about veganism, look further into the atrocities of animal agribusiness, including its devastating affect on the planet, and perhaps also become directly active in animal advocacy. Basically, you get worn out mentally and emotionally by witnessing, or by simply being aware of, the suffering of others.
I’m in the process of writing a help sheet on vegan self-care about this, and I’ll send it out soon to OVP Newsletter subscribers. In the meantime, below are a few thoughts on compassion fatigue and a bit of my story.
I’ve always been a sensitive soul with a deep connection to animals. It’s who I am and I’m thankful for it as it has lead me to many beautiful encounters and relationships. Once as a child walking home I found an injured bird. I carefully scooped him up, named him ‘Scooter’, and took him home to recover, which he unfortunately, did not. Another time, walking the dog, I heard a kitten mewing in the sewer. Luckily he was nestled in a drain full of autumn leaves, not water. I christened him ‘Rodney O’Reilly’ and he came to live with us. He loved peas, and also destroyed the one gingerbread house I ever made!
I feel things deeply and have to be careful not to overload myself with negative, sad or depressing stories, images, or news. This means, for instance, that I remove myself from vegan Facebook pages where there are graphic animal abuse posts. These posts are very distressing to me and not at all useful or motivating! I’m already aware of what happens and a very visual person, so those images take a long time to leave my memory, and sometimes never do. We can and should pick and choose what we spend our time viewing and reading - this is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being as vegans, and as people, for that matter.
One thing I often do to ‘lighten up’ is read funny memes and quotes...and I tried Laughter Yoga once, which was strangely uplifting.
For beginner vegan communication skills, click here to request my Shrinking to Shining E-Workbook , which includes Top Tips #1: Handling Negative Comments from Non-Vegans.
Until next time...
Onward, contemplative cabbages,
Have you ever thought of quitting being vegan because it all feels too hard?
I certainly have. I was an off-and-on again vegetarian for many years and then when I first became a vegan it didn’t stick. I kept returning to a vegetarian or pescetarian diet because I came up against lots of challenges that I wasn’t sure how to face. One of the biggest challenges for me was how to communicate with others about my diet. I would constantly hear…
“Don’t you miss cheese?" "Do you just eat veggies?"
“Where do you get your protein?" "Why are you a vegan?"
“No way, I need milk in my coffee!” " We're meant to eat meat. We always have."
Phewww, I was so tired of other people’s uninformed questions and comments. I’d get stressed and triggered all the time in social situations.
After my failed attempts at sticking to a vegan diet I finally did more research and some inner investigating/deeper work on my motives and communication skills, and soon after became a fully committed vegan. There’s no turning back now! I easily stick to my diet and lifestyle choice. I confidently honour my values now without being triggered by others’ opinions.
I see so many new vegans get stuck with the same problem so I’ve put together a starter workbook for beginner vegans around communication. It’s my small contribution towards helping them transition a little more smoothly to the vegan life. You can request a copy here: Shrinking to Shining E-Workbook.
So, onward courageous carrots!