Do you ever feel alone? The lone vegan working in your human rights organization? The lone feminist in your animal rights organization? The lone animal welfare advocate in your environmental justice organization?
Well, you’re not alone my friend. There are tons of us out there! We just need to find each other.
I’ve spent the last 5 years (at least) searching for people who understand the connection between all forms of violence and oppression – against humans, animals, and the environment. I consider myself incredibly fortunately to have found Stacia, my friend and partner on this project, a few years ago. I knew some animal rights folks who cared about human rights and the environment, but finding her was something I had never experienced before. Here was someone who worked in my movement! Not just human rights, she literally worked in the movement to end gendered violence…in the same city! Believe it or not, up to that point, I had found not one other vegan who worked in my movement…in two different urban cities. With my introduction to Stacia, everything suddenly changed. I could talk to my new friend about how uncomfortable it felt to listen to conference speakers lecture about violence against women while the audience ate nonconsenting bodies on their plates. We could lament about feeling distressed when coworkers complained that there are more animal shelters than shelters for humans, as if it is an either/or choice. We could connect the dots, without fear.
Once I met Stacia, I became braver. Knowing I was not alone helped me let down my guard. I knew there must be others out there. I began asking about and meeting one or two fellow vegans at national women’s rights conferences. I started to read works of feminist vegans like Carol J. Adams and Marti Kheel. I kept meeting one or two people here and there who expressed the same fear of “outing” themselves as vegans and relief at finding someone else who “got it” too.
With this new sense of hope, I’m able to find more and more organizations, authors, bloggers, and activists out there who make the connections. One of the first and most impactful organizations I found was the Institute for Humane Education. I highly encourage you to attend their trainings, talks, institutes, and/or online courses! A few others I have discovered include Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation; Nonviolence, Inc., and Animal Rights and AntiOppression. And there are more. We truly, truly are not alone.
I don’t care if you call yourself a connectionist. I don’t care if the movement is called a connectionist movement. Those are simply words. What I do care about is that we build a movement. We find each other. We can use different terms, we can choose different strategies. Let’s just make sure WE stay connected.