There is this image that comes to mind when people think about an activist, and an animal rights activist in particular. Namely they think of activists as being angry and bitter individuals, who often use aggression, violent or shocking imagery, and other controversial methods to call attention to the problems they are trying to solve.
Even vegans themselves perpetuate this stereotype. Vegans often argue among themselves, accusing one another of not being pure enough or ethical enough. Vegan police is a term that frequently comes up in discussions.
Another stereotype that gets perpetuated is that of a activists being poor. Here is what Erik Marcus has to say about veganism and the whether or not you can be making money promoting this lifestyle:
“I don’t probably need to tell you, that there’s really no money in veganism. No matter what it is, most of the vegan businesses, most of the vegan writers are very much on the underground, since there is no real cash in promoting veganism.
I guess there is a few people doing really, really well, but for the most part a lot of us who got into this, got into this because we wanted to save animals, not because we wanted to accumulate money. “
So, not everyone is interested in making money, I get it. But Erik goes on to explain how being poor affects one’s ability to be effective agent of change:
“So, as a result, most of the most committed people in the vegan movement have been poor, financially anyway, for a very long time. And the problem is that being poor really affect your level of ambition.
If you always feel like there is never enough to go around, it’s really hard to think in giganomous terms when it comes to ‘What can I do to save as many animals as possible.’ Not having health insurance, and just limping along day by day, and you’re living in a state of low-grade fear – it’s really hard to think that you can be making an enormous difference. And when we’re facing an enormous problem, like 8 billion of animals having their throats cut every year, that really can produce a great level of unhappiness. I don’t really have any answers for you, other than if as a results of your career and activism you’ve been living on the fringes for a while, maybe it’s time to recalibrate. Maybe it’s time to figure out what you can do to change your thinking from one of scarcity, to one of abundance. Every single one of us really needs to be kicking ass for animals and making as great a change as possible. And it’s very hard to do that if you’re still living hand to mouth. Again, I don’t have any really answer for any of this, but I think that this whole question of scarcity and the scarcity mentality that emerges when you decide to devote much of your life to activism, is one that’s worth grappling with.” [i]
The main problem I have with this statement is that it precisely reinforces the scarcity way of thinking.
Although the author obviously deeply cares about the cause and believes he is trying to encourage vegan activists to abandon the thoughts of scarcity focus on abundance–a very noble idea; however, with this video (and some of his other writings), he is doing exactly the opposite, strengthening the scarcity mentality, and reinforcing the myth that you cannot be doing well if you want to devote your life to spreading veganism.
I feel perpetuating this type of messages hurts the movement. People may feel that veganism is something to do on the side, because they cannot afford to go for it and do it full time. While there could be hundreds and thousands of people making a living spreading the message about veganism, there are still very few people, some authors, top activists, who are successful at this—meaning making a living, while most people—bloggers, authors, activists, remain in the shadow, spread themselves thin between having to have “real jobs” and not being able to devote themselves fully to this cause.
This is unfortunate, because they could potentially do so much more and be so much effective if they have more money, time and other resources available at their disposal.
To change the scarcity mindset, I believe, we need to re-define activism and find ways how we can be doing what we believe in and what we love – while making a decent living while doing that.
Eric doesn’t have any answers for vegans, but these answers exist.
It is absolutely possible that you can make a living while devoting yourself to your passion, which in this case is promoting veganism.
You can absolutely build a business around your passion, promoting the ideas you believe in, while making a decent living.
I feel we need to talk more about why and how vegans could–and in fact should, for their own good and for the good of the animals—have it all.
Let’s banish the scarcity mindset and end with the poor and angry vegan stereotype.
Let’s spend our days working fulfilling our passion–which I assume is spreading the message of vegan lifestyle, or you wouldn’t be reading this–while creating abundance for yourself and others, making money for yourselves to fuel this passion, proving to the world that this is a desirable lifestyle for everyone, not just for hippie style, tofu-loving types.
Demonstrating for the whole world to see that it can be a life of abundance—spiritual and material; not a life of limitation, denial, lack, scarcity and anger.
Money is not evil in itself. Just because big corporations are using money in dishonest ways, and are abusing animals in pursuit of money, it doesn’t make money inherently EVIL or DIRTY.
Money is just a RESOURCE, which we vegans should learn to acquire and use to our advantage for the greater good.
Just imagine what impact you can make when you reach the six or seven figure level.
What if more vegans decided to be a six or seven figure online entrepreneur. Not because we want a private jet or luxurious house, or drive around in a fancy car, but because we want to make a BIGGER DIFFERENCE.
THINK OF ALL THE THINGS YOU COULD DO WHEN YOU STOP PLAYING SMALL, have the means and resources to really step up your game, and being happy and grateful for it.
DARE YOURSELF TO PLAY BIG, to make an even bigger impact, because the world needs more successful vegans like you.
Just shifting our perceptions and thinking about money, marketing and selling differently can help change our feelings about it. The attitude “I’ll be okay if I just make some money to pay my bills, to get by” illustrates the attitude toward money where there is that need to apologize, to feel I don’t want to be selfish, exploitative, etc. I don’t want to be like them.
For the veganism, to reach the tipping point, to truly enter the mainstream culture–we desperately need more resources, which means we need to find ways in which vegans can be making money while spreading the vegan message.
This will allow them to do that full time, if they wish, or part time so they can simply earn some extra money to pay for printing brochures, give away to animal shelters, or whatever.
Unfortunately, for the reasons that are brilliantly explained and made clear in numerous blog posts by Prof. Francione, we cannot leave this work to non-profit organizations any more.
Truth is, the non-profit model doesn’t work in case of the animal rights organizations (and I will write about it soon or you can visit prof. Francione’s blog and read about it more there), so we need to search for new models of spreading the world to finally reach the tipping point.
For that to happen, vegans and vegan activists need to expand their knowledge, skill-set, and step out of their comfort zone, to learn online technology, psychology, marketing methods, selling techniques, business building skills, and other disciplines not typically considered when talking about vegan lifestyle.
We know the solutions to many of the problems facing the world today (and veganism is one of them)–what we need is to convince people to urgently implement the changes that are needed. We need to market and sell these solutions to people and that is a challenge, because change is often painful and unwelcome. But it’s also an opportunity that we can embrace and try to make the best of it.
Even though many of us may cringe at the concept of marketing and selling compassion – there is no reason why we cannot learn the techniques and strategies that exist today and apply them to promoting the compassionate lifestyle.
Let’s make the change happen together, sooner, rather than later!
PS. I’m currently putting together several courses and coaching products that are designed to help vegan bloggers, authors, coaches, entrepreneurs, business owners, or just individuals with a passion for spreading the vegan message – to help them take their online presence to the next level. You can check them out here (COMING SOON!).
I welcome any comments, questions and suggestions that you may have that will make this program as helpful and impactful as possible.
Sign up for my newsletter to learn more details (COMING SOON!).
I also offer one-on-one consultations to discuss how I could help you reach your dream of making a bigger difference for the animals, while also living the life of your dreams– schedule one today HERE.
About Joanna. Joanna Slodownik is a Vegan Success Coach on a mission to help vegans (you!) leverage the power of online technology and business building strategies to take your online presence, activism, and profits to the next level.
I strongly believe that by building a LEGACY and MASSIVE PLATFORM online for positive change (and and making money in the process), including creating websites, exploding social media presence, writing and publishing ebooks, creating information products, ecourses, newsletters, webinars, podcasts, and membership sites; as well as using various business building strategies, we can create more LEVERAGE, build more MOMENTUM, and start taking our MESSAGE out to the world in a BIG WAY to make a bigger difference for the animals, while living the ethical lifestyle that we want.