This discussion was based on the concept that there are good things in all realms of activism. How do we connect them and find community, and also stop infighting amongst various factions of justice movements? Veganism is more mainstream now than it has ever been, but how do we connect to each other?
Activism is the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bing about political or social change.
The top two reasons why people go vegan are for animal rights and health, and yet those two factions are often at loggerheads. Health claims about a vegan diet can be debated, but ethics cannot. Does one need to be 'healthy' in order to be an effective vegan activist? Slim doesn't necessary equal healthy. As we all know, there are rampant healthism and sizeism issues in the vegan community, and it can be stigmatizing to say someone is not the right 'face' of veganism. In this light, it can be argued that veganism only for health can be an ableist movement, prioritizing those with slim, athletic, mobile bodies.
When Christy first got into vegan fitness, working on her outer appearance got her thinking a lot more about the inner, personal issues of veganism. She now espouses that you should be your healthiest self, whatever that means for you.
This includes mental and emotional health. As an attendee commented, "when I went vegan, two parts of my brain weren't fighting with each other anymore." The knowledge that eating animal products is harmful to ourselves, the planet, and to the animals, makes it difficult to be happy when you continue to eat them. Once that psychic energy is no longer taken up by that contradiction, one is able to address other conflicts in their life.
Everyone loves to eat and we want food to taste good. The idea that the vegan diet is one of deprivation is a myth, as we all know. In fact, we often learn more about food and nutrition by going vegan rather than staying in our comfort zone. The foodie movement alternately looks down on vegan food or insists it must be super healthy. Vegan junk food should be celebrated! It makes veganism accessible to more, and emphasizes that it's not always brown rice and kale (although that's good, too!).
Vegans are often default ambassadors for veganism, whether we like it or not. When others see how inspired you are by food, they will get inspired too. The recent surge of vegan athletes competing in events has shown that plant-fueled athletes can hold their own- even if they don't place, the fact that they showed up and put in a strong effort makes a huge impression. It's a type of activism, just as much as baketivism.
Ultimately, we all come at veganism from different angles, but in the long run, we accomplish all of our goals at once by being vegans- health, environment, animals. Acting divisively always pushes people away. It's important to remember that even if we don't personally identify with or understand someone's personal angle on veganism doesn't mean they aren't having a huge impact in their community.