All Ages: Social, Sanguine, and Sane
Maja Skilling lays out the importance of balancing sobering facts with a positive mental attitude and shares a handful of the vegan influencers who help keep her uplifted and inspired.
Over the years that I have been vegan and aware of the issues present in our agricultural industry, I have found it can be easy to get down about the state of things. This was something I experienced when I was younger and first became exposed to the horrific ways in which we treat our animals. The main place I saw this footage was on social media, where as a teenager I received most of my information. Being interested and passionate about animal rights and therefore connected with many pages profiling animal rights issues, I found that my feed quickly became a place dominated with negative imagery and depressing stories of all that was wrong with the way the world treats its animals.
The Awful Truths
I know that there are many activists who believe exposing the cruelty of the agricultural industry in its rawest form is the best way to reach people and this, I think, was the reason for what I was seeing. Many activists use social media as a tool to shed light on the farming industry and practices hidden behind closed doors. Over time, as I began to follow and interact with more or these pages and people, my feed became a constant stream of pain and sadness. I would scroll mindlessly, without taking much of it in, becoming more and more hopeless about what I was seeing. It wasn’t good for my mental health, and it was also unproductive. I would see snippets of videos here and there but since the nature of social media is to cater for short attention spans, I didn’t feel like I was learning anything useful that would help me advocate for my cause.
Over many years of being involved in the animal rights movement I have concluded that while exposing hard truths is one way to influence people, it’s not always the best way. There are certainly people who will change their mindset based on anger and feelings of injustice, but not everyone will react well to these things. A lot of people will simply tune it out. The average person has enough on their mind without the added stress of knowing where their food comes from. In a world filled with pressures, especially for teenagers and young adults growing up today, it can seem so much easier to keep yourself in the dark about things you’d rather not know about or see.
I discovered that people tended to listen to what I had to say when I was solution-focused. Instead of directing attention to all the problems present in the farming industry, I painted a picture of the world that we could create if the suffering and cruelty of the agricultural industry wasn’t there. I found that people were generally much more open to what I was trying to say and no longer felt they had to block it out. The most effective way I found to do this was through social media. I discovered the world of vegan influencers and it was a turning point for me. In a world where we are educated, informed and entertained by social media, I realised that I could use it to the advantage of myself and the animals.
When I engaged with pages that profiled stories of animals at shelters and sanctuaries, and influencers who posted daily inspiration for creating new vegan meals, I felt uplifted and inspired again. It was only then that I realised how drained I had become from the constant barrage of negativity I had been absorbing over the years. I had more energy to do what was most important: sharing my message and advocating for animals.
I think it’s extremely important for people to know the truth about farming, and I don’t shy away from showing people videos of factory farms and the cruelty of the dairy industry where I feel it’s beneficial and they are open to it. However, one thing that I’ve learnt is that you need to balance educating people with inspiring, and if you don’t also offer people a positive solution, showing people what you see as the shocking truth can often be worthless if people simply tune it out.
Below are four of my favourite Instagram profiles that role model the vegan lifestyle and share the message of veganism and compassion in a positive and uplifting way.
Based in Sydney, Australia, Tess Begg advocates for a healthy vegan lifestyle through her ‘What I Eat in a Day’ videos, promotion of vegan brands, and daily creative food inspiration. I found her such a blessing when I was looking to expand my repertoire of vegan meals to include recipes that were new and inventive. She makes short, easy to follow videos detailing her cooking processes, and provides huge help to anyone who wants to be vegan but is unsure of what food they should be buying.
Thriving on Plants
Similar to Tess Begg, Cherie Tu is an influencer devoted solely to showcasing the vibrancy of a vegan lifestyle. Her page is dedicated to food ideas that come with follow-long videos to help people replicate her meals. I could spend hours scrolling through her page! From sticky sesame garlic tofu, peanut udon, miso glazed eggplant to matcha tiramisu, there is something for everyone and her page serves as a reminder of how diverse the vegan diet can be.
The Gentle Barn
The Gentle Barn, founded by animal activist Ellie Laks, is a farm animal sanctuary that now exists in three US states. I love to scroll through their Instagram posts and read the stories of animals who have been given a second chance at life through the work of the sanctuary. It is the perfect tonic when you are feeling down or hopeless about the state of things for animals. It serves as a reminder that there is still love and compassion out there and that is sometimes a reminder that is much needed!
Live Kindly Co
Live Kindly is home to all sustainability and animal activism news and current affairs. I love it because it details positive change rather than focusing on the problems as many news channels do. It also serves as a place to share new vegan and sustainable products on the market, new vegan startups such as the first vegan convenience store and gas station, and product reviews.
The articles we present in our magazine and blog have been written by many authors and are are not necessarily the views and policies of the Vegan Society.
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