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  • Writer's picturePaul White

Vegan in a Dystopian Pandemic

There is nothing like a world-wide pandemic to force us into new perspectives and home in on priorities. Whether you made a commitment to the animals before or during these trying times, it is still possible to create positive change for them.

It is difficult to find someone who denies being an animal-lover, but those of us who identify as animal rights activists know all-too-well what disasters can mean for farmed animals. Their lives become significantly worse. From sweeping fires to rising waters to raging winds, farmed animals are often left behind to fend for themselves. In fact, people trying to save these animals were frequently threatened by the farm owners.

Despite the fight against feeling helpless to stop animal suffering, it is more imperative than ever to focus our energies on as many ways as possible to create positive change for the animals. These ways can include direct activism, educating (self and others), quietly leading by example, or making simple lifestyle choices to avoid harm to animals.

What does this all mean, exactly? It is important to acknowledge that the mental health of many people is severely impacted knowing that animals are suffering through great pain and death. The anguish experienced by these people is exacerbated as they are surrounded by many others who seem to be just fine accepting this cruelty and exploitation as the “normal” way of life.

Dr. Clare Mann is an Australian psychologist who has coined a term to aptly describe how vegans experience a deep level of dystopia because of these realizations. “Vystopia” is defined through symptoms of depression, grief, anxiety, and PTSD triggered by the awareness of rampant animal suffering at the hands of people around the world. She explains that her clients’ feelings are the result of becoming aware of “the nature and extent of society’s systematized animal abuse.” In addition, isolation from friends and family who do not understand is a major element of vystopia, as well. You, too, would pull away from those who frequently criticize, disrespect, and ridicule.

So, yes… when disaster comes, farmed animals suffer in significantly greater ways. This too quickly leads animal rights advocates to be profoundly impacted by the connection between COVID-19 and animal exploitation and cruelty. Too many of us feel helpless to watch havoc being wreaked around the globe, knowing all the suffering will largely go ignored.

Please be sure to seek professional mental health if you are experiencing any degree of vystopia. I am certainly not immune to the effects of vystopia, but as a vegan psychotherapist, I can help and understand you at a level you truly deserve. Additionally, care for yourself by eating whole foods, resting well, exercising, and taking breaks from the world of news talking of all the devastation ravaging the world. Consider even, spending time in nature away from the ugliness, as well.

For more resources on managing vystopia or the stress brought on by the current pandemic, please check out the links below: - The nonprofit organization In Defense of Animals maintains an Animal Activist Support Helpline and provides other resources designed specifically to combat activist distress. - Author and animal advocate Dr. Melanie Joy offers this guide to improving relationships and communications among vegans, vegetarians, and carnists.

The following meditation apps have specific resources on dealing with COVID-19, as well:

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