The Animal Activist’s Handbook
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The Animal Activist’s Handbook


Feedback from A.M.

I do feminist organizing and volunteer work, and I had been vegetarian for many years prior to becoming vegan in late 2009. When I became vegan, it strengthened my commitment to feminist work and also led me to develop a lens for animal oppression. When I was a vegetarian, seeing someone eat meat grossed me out, but it was more of a visceral feeling then an acknowledgement that this person is endorsing and benefiting from the exploitation and murder of animals. When I became vegan, that awareness was suddenly shifted, and it jarred a lot of my family and friends. Becoming a vegan connected the entire system of animal oppression in my mind, and also connected all of my political beliefs together centered around the core ideas of compassion and non-violence.

I went to visit some family this past summer, which was the first time I was visiting them as a vegan. I went out of my way to not inconvenience them but to also eat vegan, and they made a big deal out of it. I had family members tell me I was inflexible with my morals, I was stubborn, and basically insinuate that because I'm young, my opinions are moot and not genuine (like I was just being vegan to be cool and rebel against authority, or something). I had a big falling out with a family member over my veganism, mostly because of judgment she perceived that I felt toward her, but which I had never expressed. I also had some difficulties with friends, who seemed put off by my more intelligible and passionate commitment to animal rights. I had a few friends make fun of me behind my back because they felt like I was "shoving" veganism down their throat.

When I read The Animal Activist's Handbook, I definitely had a mixed reaction. Parts of it seemed like compromising to the status quo in order to get an animal rights message out into the mainstream. But after a little while, I kind of forgot about those things and felt the parts of the book I liked changing my perception of things. The idea of living a meaningful life of purpose was so powerful to me. It made me think about what meaning I wanted my life to have, and what purpose drove me in my beliefs and actions. I remember reading something in the book to the effect of if someone becomes vegan because you gave them the opportunity, you will have doubled your impact on the world in terms of animal lives saved. After reading that, I felt like my advocacy and organizing was more significant then I had once imagined. Yes, I couldn't get through to everyone, but if I touch one person and help them to widen their circle of compassion, then they can do that to one more person, and so on and so on.

The book also really emphasized the importance of "loving your enemies," which in this case meant loving the people who engage in the oppressive systems you aim to eradicate (which for me are the systems of animal and gender oppression). While I have not stopped being an outspoken advocate for women and animals, I think carefully about how to approach the topics to those who are unfamiliar, apathetic, or hesitant. I keep in mind where people are coming from, and though I don't compromise my beliefs for others, I do choose my words and actions so that I will do the most good and least harm toward animals, women, and all oppressed beings. It is an especially important consideration for those who are silenced in our society, i.e., animals and certain women who are oppressed (like many victims of sexual assault and domestic violence). When I see someone talk about all the types of meat they like, or hear someone make a rape joke, I don't jump to verbally attack them for it, as tempting as that may be. I think about the fact that we are all entrenched in a society that promotes the oppression of animals, women, and other beings in order to maintain status quo. I feel compassion toward these people, because there is no joy in the heart of an oppressor, and I do what is best for the animals and for women.

Thank you for your book. It really did make a difference in my life. I have spread the idea of being a good advocate in your actions to other veg and/or feminist friends of mine, and they've really appreciated it as well.