I’m an introvert. I find people exhausting. I avoid crowds unless they’re gathered for the love of music or animals. I roll my eyes, talk with my hands, and use frequent phrases such as “I can’t even” – because I can’t. (Fill in the blank: “even evocate what I want to say, even communicate in a positive, rational way, even tell you what I mean without picking up a writing instrument.”)
I’ve always been a writer. I wrote silly short stories in grammar school, bad poetry as a teenager, created a zine in high school and wrote record reviews in college. I was going to be a journalist. Four years and one communications degree later, I realized I didn’t want to work for a press with an agenda.
So I did what many people do. I got a job, spent my twenties trying to figure out who I was, and lamented the state of the world – by which I mean a very small place that revolved around me.
As I approached thirty, I wanted to do better. I wound up at a bookstore one afternoon, reading Skinny Bitch, and my life changed.
Fear led me down the vegan path by way of the self-help section – fear for myself. I’m still terrified of dying due to failing health, but a different fear has kept me on the vegan path – fear for what we are doing to billions of sentient beings every year. My world has become larger as I’ve ventured further down this path.
“Living is easy with eyes closed.”
Now that I know how we exploit animals in countless ways, it’s hard to reconcile that for almost three decades, I was blind to it. Ignorance is bliss, and sometimes it’s harder to walk around with newfound knowledge, but I’m so grateful that my eyes were opened.
I’m vegan for the animals. That’s not to say the environmental impact of industrialized food isn’t huge, or that a plant-based diet can’t have health benefits, but those points are secondary. Ethical veganism is about the animals, and I take Donald Watson’s definition of the word to heart.
“You say you want a revolution? Well, you know, we all want to change the world.”
So, how does an introvert like me change the world? Through writing. I’ve written regularly for Your Daily Vegan (yourdailyvegan.com) since late 2012 and I’ve been lucky enough to connect with vegans and non-vegans alike through my work. I write about living vegan, about farm sanctuaries that have impacted me, about news, advertising and media through the ethical vegan lens.
Fifteen years ago, I declared that I didn’t want to join a press with an agenda. Now, I’m very much a part of a press with an agenda: I’m a writer who believes that ending the exploitation of animals is worth fighting for.
Tips for the Vegan Introvert
The vegan movement is growing every day, and there’s a place for all of us. Leafleting not your thing? No worries! The thought of attending a vegan potluck have you anxious? Chill out! It takes all kinds to make up a movement, and there’s a place for you, I promise.
Activism can be emotionally taxing, so if you’re feeling drained, step away from the computer. Do something that doesn’t involve animal rights for a few hours. Visit a farm sanctuary to remind yourself of why you’re a part of the movement in the first place. And sometimes, just be “there” and be silent. It’s been in quiet times that I’ve been told I’ve impacted someone. I’ve had friends ask questions and head down their own vegan paths when I sat down and shut up.
This doesn’t mean you should always shut up. No, you should speak out; if you don’t, who will? But leading by example doesn’t always have to include grand gestures, loud protests, and raising a ruckus. There’s a place for all of that, of course, but there’s something to be said about strength in quiet moments.
Your voice can roar without you ever speaking a word. The pen – or the keyboard – is often mightier. So wield your strength – the animals need you.
Written by Daria Zeoli