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veganism, activism, and the reality of depression

June 15, 2011

Since I have become vegan a lot of positive things have happened. I am physically healthier and I am finally living a life that aligns with my values. I would NEVER go back to a life in which I chose to embrace ignorance over knowledge, particularly because the cost is the life of another. Now that I am vegan I will never again value the ease of the status quo over the difficult reality of the truth. In fact, now that I am vegan I understand the need for each person to live not only a life of compassion and equality, but to act as an advocate for others by engaging in activism.

Though I prefer the path that I have chosen it has come with significant and sometimes painful side effects. For me, veganism and activism has come with depression. Once I acknowledged that what happens to nonhuman animals is the fault of human animals, and once I accepted responsibility for working toward assuaging the injustice that leaves billions dead every year, I knew for the first time in my otherwise privileged life what it felt like to be impotent, ineffective, and silenced.

I do not know if I am alone. But I am discussing this because I assume I am not, and I don’t think that silence is helpful. As vegans and animal rights activists we live in a world that questions our lifestyles, our motivations, our health, and even our sanity at times. For this reason, many are fearful to talk of any negative aspects of our veganism. However, I want to air our vegan laundry. First, because not talking about these things does not make them go away. And second, in this case, it is not our fault. We are not unbalanced or unhealthy for reacting with sadness to the fact that most people choose murder in order to preserve the status quo. We are not pathological, the rest of the world is, and it is okay to experience pain in the face of this reality.

We know that the decision we make not to partake in abuse and murder is the only logical decision to make. But we also know that most people insist on remaining blinded and denying the injustices they engage in, for fear of the changes they will need to make. To add to all of this, we are few and far between so in many environments we are tokens. We don’t represent ourselves as individuals, but to our families or colleagues or classmates we are the face of veganism or activism. This can lead to the idea that we need to be perfect human beings for the sake of promoting the vegan message. I think that because of this, we neglect discussing the difficult issues we face as a consequence of the necessary and compassionate choices we have made. We seem to embrace Stepford veganism in an attempt not to deter others from embracing a vegan lifestyle.

In an effort to prove to the world that our choices are right, we neglect to attend to or even admit negative side effects that come along for the ride. But acknowledging that there are billions murdered and abused on a daily basis is a painful recognition. It is only logical that this recognition comes with pain. Before I became vegan, I was not bothered much by conspicuous consumption. Now I have what I have dubbed the “Schindler’s syndrome.” Every penny I spend becomes a life to me—a rescued animal I could have helped spay, a Sea Shepherd salary I could have helped fund, footage of an undercover investigation I could have helped distribute.  Before I became an activist I could sleep soundly at the end of the day. Now I get in bed exhausted, tinges of pain over each moment that could have gone better, worried the time that I took for the protests is effecting my job, worried that my job is effecting my dedication to activism, concerned that friends and family won’t understand why I must sometimes choose activism over them, frustrated that no matter how hard I fight, the movement seems only gain a critical mass of potluckers but not protesters. This all accumulates into anger or sadness or frustration on a regular basis, emotions I rarely dealt with previously.

I believe that with time I will learn to manage and deal with these feelings. I hope that one day I can understand the pain I feel in a way that allows me to better work toward change. In the meantime, I have decided not to hide this experience. This is an issue in our community that I am probably not alone in facing. We need to acknowledge that accepting the path of compassion can come with sadness. We need to be aware that our comrades might feel this way. Once our community acknowledges that we are not supposed to be super humans, we can help each other cope and heal and strive to at least become super guardians, super fosters, super advocates, super spokespersons and super activists for the animals.

I am depressed. Some days my heart is heavier than my feet and I have no energy to get up and go. But I am not depressed because I am vegan nor am I depressed because of my activism. I am depressed because most people choose to exploit animals for culinary preference, fashion, and entertainment—no good reason at all when it comes down to it. While this is my burden, it is not my problem. The problem is them, not me.

106 Comments leave one →
  1. Kait permalink
    June 15, 2011 1:19 am

    Wonderful piece. It is very real. I as well am depressed and angry, everything I see and hear revolving around the injustice of animal exploitation and people who choose to a) ignore it, and b) criticize ME (US, VEGAN ARAs) for NOT ignoring it, like we are bad people, like we are insane to care. Hugs to you.

    • June 18, 2011 2:10 am

      i am new to this-but am on fb and have seen the post a lot- i understand it all as am a vegan animal lover of all creatures but have seen something interesting and i liked it so wanted to share with the writer- a documentry called my life about michael haneke german film maker director. hes very philisophical and says if u feel sad by things in life-u r an optimist as want change, believe in change and improve urself and make change. ir u turn away and do nothing u really r the pessimist as dont even try. i thought this was clever so ur sad but not hopeless. this is the doco.

      • June 26, 2013 9:29 pm

        thank you for the link. i will watch it!

  2. June 15, 2011 1:35 am

    You will never walk alone

  3. Monsieur Colette permalink
    June 15, 2011 2:54 am

    Thank you for sharing this important issue. i’ve been depressed, too, and i finally started to feel better. Being questioned for our choice every day, every minute, every occasion, it’s very stressful and painful, when we realize others don’t understand that being vegan is a way to save lives. We also feel the pain of every creature that is exploitated and killed, this doesn’t make matters better.
    You’re not alone. Keep fighting.

  4. June 15, 2011 4:45 am

    I’m beginning to wonder if part of the resistance to veganism doesn’t arise out of the mostly unconscious awareness that human animals transitioning to living as vegans means much more than just changing some purchasing decisions. It seems to me that veganism is implicitly much more revolutionary that many social justice movements that have preceded it…that veganism implicitly and explicitly demands egalitarianism and hierarchy flattening of a degree antithetical and incompatible with the extant “free market, capitalism, consumer, free-trade, yada yada yada stuff” that currently passes for “normal” life in the more powerful nations. Accepting and living as if all inhabitants, all life, is worthy of and deserving of consideration and respect and caring…that’s a big one.

    I can’t do it all, you can’t do it all, only all can do it all….and waiting on all to wake up can be frustrating. Continually prodding, poking, pinching, shouting, whispering and showing can be exhausting. Seeing horrors and suffering and misery and feeling for those being tortured and pained and killed can be stupefying and unbearable.

    I must, and you must, work out ways to survive, to recover and “knit up the raveled sleeve of care” to continue the task of prodding and poking and feeling…An old psychotherapist was once told by a patient that adulthood seemed to consist mostly of shoveling out all the sh*t you accumulated in childhood. Maybe adulthood for our species consists of shoveling out all the sh*t accumulated in our history. You (and I) just happened to come along at a time when figuring out that the shoveling needed to get started was just dawning on some folks. Luck of the draw…if the planet makes it through all this, let’s hope things are better for all livings things and beings down the road…we just didn’t happen to arrive at a time when some very necessary things had been accomplished…so we’re stuck with it. What a pain in the a**!

    Find ways that reconstitute you (I know you know this, but let me ramble). It sucks being perceptive and sensitive and aware and empathic and caring….hell, if it was fun more people would do it. 🙂

    You aren’t the only one feeling like crap about what humans have done and are doing, others hate it too…you aren’t alone in that way but you are alone inside you, only you know how best to care for you, to nurture you, to heal you. Please do that because we all need you, the other animals, the other living things, the planet…remember…you’re one of the living ones that needs consideration and care and respect…too…and if you don’t give it to yourself you sort of aren’t living up to what you want from others. Balance, finding it is hard, but necessary. Take care of you…please.

    • Jill permalink
      May 18, 2013 9:13 am


    • Rochelle Reiter permalink
      May 21, 2013 5:42 pm

      Well stated and a good piece for everyone to read. Also good thoughts from Veganelder on this life we lead. Keep up the fight my Vegan comrades. The animals need us and we need them. I wish for peace for all of us….

    • Daniela Castillo permalink
      May 22, 2013 10:42 pm

      Thank you so much for writing this! It even helped me a lot!

  5. you'renotalone permalink
    June 15, 2011 10:44 am

    You’re not alone…I have spent hours crying every night but if we can’t come to a place where we can function it’s going to be hard to engage in activism. I could be just cooking tea or walking in the garden and whack, I am hit with a huge wave of grief and images and the truth of the horrors but I just find something steady and hold on until it passes and then I have to keep moving, if I didn’t I would fall in a heap and never get up. We live in the World as it is and in order to function we have to find a peace even if it is manufactured and then we have to keep fighting.

  6. June 15, 2011 11:06 am

    The depression you talk about is all too real and I think it affects a lot of activists. Know that you are never alone. There is always a shoulder to cry on and friends to help you up so that you can continue to stand against and fight animal exploitation. I think that knowing its ok to take time to grieve for the animals is important, because while we want to pretend that everything is great when talking with others about veganism, we need to take time for ourselves to let out those emotions so we don’t explode inside. I agree, the hard part is finding out exactly how best to deal with those emotions so that we can continue to be effective for the animals. Dealing with others around us who are so apathetic can be extremely draining. There are many times when I have no more desire to even be alive anymore, but I let myself cry, then I drag myself out of bed because I remind myself that the animals are living these harsh realities and they need me to keep going and keep fighting for them because they cannot fight for themselves. I also think it is important to take the time to do little things to try to cheer yourself up, the little things that make you happy. It is important for your well being, and your well being is good for the animals too; because the animals are so lucky to have you on their side. Never forget the individual animals you have helped and how much you mean to them, and find hope in the fact that by just being you and in your fights and struggles for animal liberation there will be more individuals that you are going to help, and you are going to mean the world to them too.

  7. Kylie permalink
    June 15, 2011 11:26 am

    You are not alone in feeling this way. Since I became vegan six years ago, I too have felt the crushing burden of other people’s choice to continue to participate in a brutal and oppressive world. It is so frustrating to me because I know it doesn’t have to be that way….we are living proof of that, but still people refuse to acknowledge this. They just keep making excuses. I get sick anytime I have to walk through the meat section in a grocery store, anytime we pass a slaughterhouse or feedlot, any time I see roadkill…it goes on and on. My husband gets very frustrated with me sometimes–he figures that because he knows how I feel and what I believe in, that is enough and I should not keep talking about it with him. I try so hard to keep peace by keeping quiet at family meals, etc. and it is so frustrating! I want to scream at people to stop being so stupid and selfish….but I can’t do that. As a human, I do have a need to fit in somewhat, to be somewhat accepted. I find it interesting that you comment that not enough vegans are out there protesting….I am protesting just by being vegan. I take opportunities to educate people where I can. I am not sure that standing on the steps of Parliament with a placard, championoing a specific cause (ie, the seal “hunt”) is any more effective than promoting veganism where possible. There are so many individual causes–veganism covers them all. I think it’s more important to encourage people to go vegan than to get them to support any single cause.

  8. Janet permalink
    June 15, 2011 11:37 am

    So good to know we are not alone in this. Sometimes I cannot quiet my mind to get a minute of sleep, and all the good that my diet and actions have done for my overall health is compromised by the stress and sleeplessness. It’s as if you saw right into my heart. 🙂

  9. June 15, 2011 2:48 pm

    As always, excellent post. I, too, get depressed. I try not to let other people (meat-eaters) get to me because I know that they are wrong. They can judge me as much as they want. They can call me a hippie, loud, obnoxious, self-righteous, know-it-all and say that my opinions may sound good in theory, but won’t work in practice. They can come at me with as much bogus information and as many flimsy arguments as they want, but I will always have a logical and realistic response for them. It can be tiring when at the end of a long debate with a meat-eater that they concede and admit that I am right and that they do indeed need to make a change, but then the very next day I see them eating a hamburger like they completely forgot about our previous conversation. That amazes me. Benjamin Franklin (a vegetarian) said: “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid”.

    Vegina, just know that you ARE a superhero to ME. You are a superhero to all of the animals in the world. But you don’t need to feel that you are all alone, because the rest of us vegans – your “Justice League” – are fighting right here by your side. If you ever need someone to talk to I’ll listen. You are an inspiration.

  10. June 15, 2011 3:11 pm

    i think the depression that comes from post-vegan rage is more tolerable than the depression (i didn’t even know i had) from pre-vegan guilt.

    • lulu permalink
      May 20, 2013 3:13 pm

      I totally agree… it’s tough now, but at least I KNOW where I stand now, it’s refreshing to remember that.

    • April 7, 2014 1:20 am

      Wow. Found this post again after searching “animal rights activist depression.” The above comment (my own) startled me because I had forgotten reading this three years ago. I think at the time I felt some pressure to seem rational and not sentimental to the public, to the point that I was unable to acknowledge my own sadness, despite regular nightmares of eating animals or witnessing animal abuse, as well as sleepless nights. maybe I was succeeding more at self-care at the time… Not sure. But your experience resonates a lot more deeply with me now, into my forth year of veganism.

  11. June 15, 2011 10:16 pm

    loved this post and yes, i can totally relate, as no doubt many others do as well.
    thank you for being a voice for the animals and also for those of us that advocate for them.
    thanks for writing these thoughts down so others don’t feel so isolated in how they feel.
    your vegan comrade,

  12. Carmen permalink
    June 15, 2011 11:12 pm

    I’ve actually come home almost in tears from feeling depressed and from anxiety. There are days when apathy really gets to me. I love being vegan and everything that it stands for. I would never go back to being non-vegan, but it certainly adds up when all the people around you know there’s a choice and won’t make the compassionate one. I am silenced, ridiculed, shunned, and rejected for doing the right thing…most times for just being discovered as a vegan and not even having to speak about veganism. How can that be possible? I still can’t wrap my head around it. Like you said, it hurts. My soul is in pain, and I don’t know how to make it stop hurting and feeling so badly/guilty about not doing more, or how to make the world any better for non-humans. It’s good to know I am not alone in my feelings. The only thing I am sure of is that we can’t give up and should support each other as much as we can. Somehow, I still have hope/faith that things will change. Thank you for your courage and words.

    • Miranda permalink
      October 4, 2011 12:42 am

      Carmen, I too am vegan. Sometimes I feel guilty for not doing more, but most of the time I am satisfied with promoting veganism where I can, and being part of networks (like Vegetarian Victoria) that promote a compassionate diet and support vegans and vegetarians in my region. Why am I satisfied with this, when I do almost no animal activism? Because I believe in what I term the ‘ripple effect’. By simply being vegan myself, I expose animals rights issues to people. I show them there is a solution – and some people take it on board. I never demanded that my boyfriend be vegan. Yet, from being a meat eater, he is now vegetarian, and eats very little dairy (only cheese, every 2-3 days). I think he will be vegan in a year or two. This is ripple effect in action. I have seen it at work in many situations.

      So I focus on being approachable, and open to talking about veganism in a non-confrontational way. Non-confrontational, because when often when people are confronted about their choices directly, if they are forced to admit they are wrong… they shut their hearts and minds, and generally won’t change. The key is to guide and encourage, one minor step at a time, and to remember that at one time, you yourself were not vegan, yet you probably would have said you were a good person, or doing your best, or some such. Change is not easy for people to make when it is external for them – like if their doctor tells them to look after their heart by eating less salt/saturated fat, or to start regular exercise. But if that change comes from within, as it does for many of us who have become vegan, it is much easier to sustain. I feel that badgering people from the outside is not that helpful – so I don’t stress about not being an ‘activist’. I just try to avoid contributing to the problem.

      It’s not the only way to approach the issue, but it works for me, and I have seen it create change.

      Peace and Love

  13. June 16, 2011 4:42 am

    Hi Vegina

    On reading such a post there is so much to say – because so much resonates inside – but so little to say because finding the right words is so hard. So forgive me if I use yours and others’:

    ‘You will never walk alone’ – There’s a heart and a soul in each one of us, and they’re fed by what we do. Violence is not good feed. You know that. Despite the pain inherent in your chosen path you continue to walk it.

    And there’s a karma bus – if we truly look after each other (in the true wider earthling sense) we’re far less likely to be run over by that bus. Not a good bus to be run over by.

    Veganelder, Robert Fulghum penned a book ‘Words I wish I wrote’ … reading your reply to Vegina I share his sentiments. Vegina, ditto.

    Vegina, you detail your exhaustion in bed at night, and I think everyone of us commenting here experiences that. But what do you see when you get up in the morning and peer through those weary slits as you brush your teeth – a non-violent person, someone who’s prepared to both stand up and shout out loud for the voiceless, someone who cares for those who the majority have forgotten about. That’s a good person you’re looking at, and one you should be proud to be.

    Being an activist is ‘walking the road less travelled’ – you’ve posted a travelogue that reminds us that we’re all on that path less travelled. But we need to be. And we’re on it together.

    Sleep well tonight knowing there’s a great person that’s going to be greeting you when you face that mirror in the morning. Enjoy the picture. And thank you for all you do.

  14. June 16, 2011 9:44 pm

    God! I can SO relate to this. Thank you for sharing.

  15. June 17, 2011 10:41 am

    The sadness, depression, and pain we feel is the same thing that pushes us to govern our actions rightly. We empathize and feel pain and so we seek to cure it and will continue to feel pain until the injustice is cured.

    What helps me cope is meditation. I’ve practiced some form of Buddhism for around 10 years now and I have come to see that emotions are just one stream of existence. As Thich Naht Hanh says, great sadness like an old friend and recognize it should be there. That we feel pain is right, and you have insight in knowing that it is something we live with. But we can still be happy.

    I would be wary of western ideas about dealing with depression. Many, but not all, psychologists preach “letting it out” as if it will then be gone. But we know that these emotions will always be there. Rather, we should look at them as seeds. If we water them, they will grow and grow, but deny them water and they will stay as seeds inside of us.

    When I am protesting and someone ignores me or gets angry with me and the pain wells up inside, I say to it, “Good to see you again! You’re exactly where you should be!” My days are still full of laughter and smiles, though the reality of the world is that it is full of pain and sadness. I function much better i I try a two-pronged attack: eliminate the suffering in the world and replace it with smiles and laughter.


    • Kaz permalink
      June 18, 2011 11:08 am

      Powerful words LB, thank you for writing that and sharing it with us.

  16. June 17, 2011 11:46 pm

    You made the decision to be a part of a group that hurts human beings using animals as an excuse. Live with it.

    • June 18, 2011 8:57 am

      The only sad thing about your comment is that you truly think it makes sense. You’re asleep. Wake up.

    • June 21, 2011 5:51 am

      What an ignorant and mean comment. Veganism helps humans in many ways: by inspiring us to be kinder, by using fewer resources (the UN, the Worldwatch Institute, Carnegie-Mellon, and a host of other organizations have urged us to reduce meat and dairy consumption), by decreasing the risk of flu epidemics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and e coli outreaks, and so forth.

      Since becoming vegan, I have begun taken measures to decrease my contribution to the exploitation of humans. For instance, I try to avoid buying products from companies that exploit workers or damage the communities in which they operate. It’s possible I might have done this anyway, but in my case those actions were a result of my vegan awareness and commitment to try and do the least harm possible to others.

      People become ethical vegans because they want to refrain from inflicting harm on others. That attitude, put in to practice, has far-reaching positive repercussions for all of us.

      Most often, mean-spirited ignorant comments directed at vegans are the result of guilt. I suspect that deep down you know you’re participating in needless cruelty and infliction of suffering. Don’t shoot the messenger. Listen to your conscience. I assure you that going vegan will not interfere with all the wonderful things I know you’re doing for your fellow humans, and I bet it wil even help.

  17. Geraint Scott permalink
    June 18, 2011 12:30 am

    You’re spot on here! This is the way I’ve managed to deal with it – thinking of my life as part of a much longer arc rather than an isolated incident. True, we won’t see many major vegan advances in our lives. True, the senseless murder of animals continues to be the status quo for so many people, but in time, whether it’s 50, 100 or even 200 years, people will look back at the history books and videos and be completely perplexed at why people weren’t listening to us. Veganism will be the norm and omnivores will be a strange set of people who have screwed up brains and no compassion. But that won’t happen unless we keep fighting now 🙂

  18. June 18, 2011 8:56 am

    This made me cry. I always cry when I discover a kindred spirit. Thank you for articulating your (and my) thoughts – a discussion of this subject is never-ending on facebook between myself and my vegan friends. To despair at times is an intrinsic part of being awake when all around you are sleeping. We live in the real world, and to watch helplessly as the world goes around its daily business of abuse and slaughter is not a happy place to be. Namaste.

  19. Talin permalink
    June 18, 2011 10:55 am

    Nothing could describe my current situation better… Thank you for sharing

  20. June 18, 2011 2:21 pm

    It’s been almost 3 years since my world came crashing down – The secure rug of “normalcy” pulled from under my feet. I’ve been in an in & out state of extreme sorrow and disappointment paused occasionally with a numb dis-belief that the world and my species is exactly as cruel as I’ve learned it is. Many times the weight of it all is almost impossible to bare.

    But aside from the ever-present love and acceptance of my nonhuman family – My greatest comfort has been in the knowledge that nothing – Nothing, nothing, nothing is ever stronger than the Truth! Our message as advocates is rock solid! There is no disputing that our cause is just and right. And we are now living in a moment whose time is long overdue!

    When I feel particularly burdened or stuck in “defeat mode” – I call upon one of the many friends I’ve made (and I know you have too). They let me vent, rant, cry and recover. Like wise I hope I do the same for them. I think you have a well of support here. We’re all pulling for you and each other!

    Thank you for the sincerity of this post – A subject we will all benefit from. I know there’s not a one of us who hasn’t been paralyzed with sadness due to the apathy of others. Thing is… It’s all changing! You’re here! I’m here! Thousands, millions more of us all the time! Surely we’re all driven by the same understanding – No matter what the cost – This fight is so worth it!

    And you are so right in concluding – The problem IS them – Not us! Press on!

  21. JennaVera permalink
    June 18, 2011 2:57 pm

    I feel the same way. We can do what we can, and that’s it. At least you aren’t participating in this bloodthirsty, deluded culture any more. I suggest listening to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast. Go from earliest to latest. She hits on all issues of veganism and is a very kind person. I found her podcasts very helpful after I took the time to learn and understand what we do to animals.

  22. June 19, 2011 4:28 am

    It is clear that you are not alone. This is a very common feeling of most ( if not all ) vegans – animal rights activists around the world. What is also clear is that every one of us have different ways to deal with it.
    My way is just to reject all kind of Utopic perfect future world in my mind.
    I’m living right now.
    My actions and relations must be as compassionate and non-violent as possible at all inmediate single moment. Past is gone and future is not yet here.
    I also take care and try to impprove the quality of my relations with all beings around me.
    But in any case, as soon as you enlarge the range of your compassion to include other sentient beings the sadness of knowing their pain can hurt you very hard. But take in mind that the love you can share now is much more bigger and stronger than before.

  23. June 19, 2011 7:04 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll say what others have said in the preceding posts … you are not alone! Your passion and work on behalf of the animals matters. Please know that there are kindred souls that share your sorrow. I believe that it would be absolutely impossible for us not feel depressed and sad given the enormity of the suffering of the animals. We are witnesses to their suffering and terror and deaths and yes, it is overwhelming; yet, our knowing serves to propel us forward in our efforts to help them.

    Sometimes it helps to remember that my sadness is nothing in comparison to the physical and psychological pain that the animals are enduring at our collective hands. It helps to get me back on track when I feel like things are hopeless and I want to just lie in bed or sit in a chair and feel sad. The animals need each of our caring hearts. If we don’t do something, who will? Each of us and our individual efforts matter, no matter how small we sometimes feel our efforts are in comparison to the almost unimaginable numbers of animals that are being killed and tortured daily.

    I ate animals for many years and was personally responsible for the deaths and suffering of thousands of innocent lives. Remembering this is my own burden; but it really helps me to speak gently and with patience to others who are still walking in my former shoes. My instinct is to shout and plead and sometimes get angry, but I don’t. I am you is what I force myself to think when I’m talking to someone who says things like “but I like meat” or “so what?” or “I don’t care; I love fried chicken!” Not so long ago, I too didn’t know and lived a thoughtless, selfish and blissfully ignorant life in regard to the animals. I work hard to remember this as I walk through this world. Patience and compassion for people is a necessary ingredient in order to be an effective advocate for the animals.

    Maybe we feel anger because we are impatient and want everyone else to quickly see and feel and have that “ah ha” moment in regard to the animals. Anger then turns to depression because we can’t make people feel what we feel or see with our eyes. There is a lot of stifling of feelings going on in our hearts and minds. So, we are back to square one. Depression and sadness.

    I’ll echo what others have said. The best thing to do is to surround yourself as much as you can with kindred souls. Share your feelings. Celebrate your successes. Continue to love and be loved. Your work is so important and your voice is needed. Do what needs to be done to take care of yourself so that you can carry on! Thank you again for sharing.

  24. June 20, 2011 1:45 pm

    Thank You SO much for this! Many of my friends cannot understand why I often voluntarily spend my Friday and Saturday nights trying desperately to save precious dogs cruelly slated for euthanization. Why there are days I cannot drag myself from my bed, after finding out one of their beautiful spirits has been extinguished. I often dread turning on my computer for fear of learning about heinous acts towards animals,that leave me feeling disgusted with much of humanity; depressed, hopeless empty and alone in my fight.
    Some days, I wonder if I am too “weak” for the vocation of Animal Advocacy…Friends and family tell me that I cannot live like this. One look into the eyes of a victimized non human animal, one more wave of outrage at their abusers; and I am reminded that I could not live with myself if I didn’t try to save these precious lives.

  25. June 21, 2011 6:03 am

    Thank you for writing this. Stepford veganism – that is an eloquent and insightful observation.

    I suspect that one of the subtle psychological barriers that impedes people from transitioning to veganism is that caring about the billions of animals who suffer and are killed to fill human greed and habit can hurt. It’s superficially easier to remain detached – to not care. To empathize with the victims breaks down those walls of denial. Sadness is a normal, healthy response to this widespread suffering and apathy. Denial is the psychosis.

    We’re all working together toward a society that is not filled with slaughterhouses and nonstop commercials for animal flesh; in which all sentient creatures are respected. Getting there is rough. However, with each person who decides for their first time to pick up a package of seitan or a carton of nondairy milk or order the veggie burger, our carnist society transitions to a non-carnist one.

    Hope springs eternal, and friends are precious. You have my heartfelt support and appreciation.

  26. Jean Blanquart permalink
    June 21, 2011 7:30 am

    I sometimes think that this is exactly what The Matrix is about: people who refuse the system STEP OUT and feel vulnerable doing so; but there is no other way! And remember agent Smith who tells Neo (matrix part 1) he wants to get out of the matrix too, because he can’t stand the smell… Well, NOW I understand as it is the bloodthirstied smell of burned animals…

    Aside this, it’s is clear that carnism in s teh best example of perception management ever, aso it becomes hard and frustrating and painful to oppose, but it’s worth every second of it!

  27. June 23, 2011 9:14 am

    When we cannot do everything, we must do everything we can. And you are! It is OK to feel down sometimes as I do too. But, life is worth celebrating. Find joy in your like-minded friends. Be happy that no creatures have die to sustain you. Know that you are not alone.

    And FWIW, Vegetarian diets are associated with healthy mood states:

  28. steve permalink
    June 24, 2011 4:10 pm

    not sure it should be considered *your* burden, but I’ll have to think about it some more

    I’ve watched others who have been on crusades (political, social, career etc.) and I’ve noticed that those who don’t pace themselves seem to experience more depression

    sometimes when the big picture becomes too overwhelming, maybe look at the “little picture” instead. Yes, there may be 1000 lemming running off the cliff, but if you can reach out and grab just one… well that’s one life that you can hold and treasure that you have saved.

    I admire you. I think you are doing a fantastic effort. I’m glad you talked about this and I’m one (of many, I’m sure) who is ready and willing to listen to you whenever you need to vent.


  29. September 2, 2011 4:04 am

    Right on, you’ve hit the nail on the head x

  30. Robin permalink
    September 2, 2011 8:26 am

    I feel exactly exactly exactly like all of you. 😦

  31. September 9, 2011 1:36 am

    I feel frustrated and so overwhelmingly sad for the animals too, yet people like you give me hope. Thank you for sharing.

  32. Artemis permalink
    September 9, 2011 6:01 am

    Could you please stop using the word “depression” so fucking lightly? I’m a vegan who actually suffers from clinical depression and it’s terrible to see posts about people who are supposedly “depressed” just because omnivores don’t understand their feelings. Aww, poor you.
    You know what? SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LEARN TO USE LANGUAGE CORRECTLY. This is exactly why most people don’t take me seriously when I confide to them that I’m depressed. They tell me “Oh, I feel like that too sometimes.” and don’t realize that I really am mentally ill, “can’t function” depressed.

    • September 11, 2011 11:34 pm

      Artemis, there is no attempt in this post to diminish your experience of depression. For starters, I do believe the extended periods of despair, as Flynnycat accurately calls it, can lead to depression that is “clinical,” or as you would say “real.” I have been diagnosed in a way YOU would find legitimate since I have become vegan, however, I don’t think a doctor was needed to know this. I know what I feel and I don’t need to the APA to define it for it to matter. Finally, in no standard dictionary definition of “depression” I found (I only read from a few dictionaries, but that is a good base), was a clinical component included, so I do think I used language correctly. You use capital letters and explicatives correctly and so you have clearly expressed an extreme rage and anger; I hope that things improve for you.

  33. September 9, 2011 7:16 am

    I think when people use the word depression here, they really mean “despair”. I know that is what I feel–it’s crushing, but it’s not a mental illness. Getting angry about it and swearing at people who are trying to describe feelings isn’t helpful, though, especially when they’re fellow vegans. I see your point, but you could be nicer about it.

  34. September 9, 2011 3:06 pm

    I know how you feel. Since I am vegan and thus more aware of what’s actualy happening in the world of animal abuse and farming, I hate the world I’m living in. What peope do for money..! It’s disgusting. Poor, poor animals. I’ve seen such terrible things and sometimes can’t sleep because of it. I’m even having a hard time when in summer everybody wants to barbecue.. Party around meat. Why do people not get what they are eating. And how it effects the climate. And how many more people would have something to eat if we all became at least vegetarians. Sometimes I wish I was the selfish person who doesn’t even think about these issues. It’s so much easier.

  35. September 9, 2011 4:31 pm

    Hi Artemis… It might be that along with your clinical depression – You might have some anger issues as well. (?)

    No one here intended to specifically usurp the medical definition of depression as an attempt to lessen your burden… Or to get you personally upset. In general I think all of us here, were using the word to describe a deep, over whelming sadness at the harms inflicted on those we love… If we have used the “wrong” word – Won’t you please forgive this error… Extend a little tolerance – Our goals will stand a much better chance at success if we support each other. And that’s what we’re all after in the first place… ~peace~

  36. nicola permalink
    September 9, 2011 7:29 pm

    Thank you foe sharing. I feel exactly the same way, and have for years, and sometimes feel Im the only one.

  37. nicola permalink
    September 9, 2011 7:30 pm

    Thank you for this. i have felty this way for a long time, and sometimes feel i am the only one.

  38. Robyn permalink
    September 13, 2011 7:36 am

    Me too.

    Some days I am so enveloped in sadness knowing all the horrors that take place daily that cannot be ended no matter how hard I try. I cry if i end up behind a truck with animals destined for slaughter, or think about all the primates & beagles being shocked & tortured for results useless to the human species.

    It’s a rough, appalling and often downright disgusting world we live in. I lean towards thinking the best advice for us it to toughen up and know that we have made the difference we can by changing our way of life. But had we not been the sensitive souled people we are, we’d probably still be eating denial & cruelty at every meal.

  39. September 26, 2011 4:33 pm

    Wow, you are all a bunch of crazies that’s for sure.

    • January 9, 2012 1:20 am

      So we’re crazy for eating plants and you’re NOT crazy for eating corpses? I just don’t see the logic there.

    • November 25, 2012 10:24 pm

      Don’t worry; “Chevon Bayless” is gonna go vegan soon — he/she is incredibly defensive. Every person I know who acted like that went veg a year later.

  40. September 26, 2011 5:41 pm

    Hi Chevon… Why is it crazy to want to live ethically and find frustrations in the challenges CREATED by a world that chooses otherwise? Crazy to be kind? Crazy to care? Crazy to try to use good judgments that cause as little negative impact as possible? So be it. I’ll take crazy awareness over “sane” ignorance any day. 😉

    • September 27, 2011 8:25 am

      Although I definitely do not promote cruelty of any kind, I think it’s strange that you all have pinpointed the source of your depression but choose not to change it. I believe that Heavenly Father created the world and everything in it for us. Although cruelty to animals is wrong, eating meat is not.

      • January 9, 2012 1:14 am

        Animal cruelty is bad but meat is okay? Riiiiiiight… Here are some problems with your “logic”:

        1. cruelty to animals is wrong
        2. animals must be killed in order for people to eat their meat
        3. killing is definitely NOT kind (would you consider someone kind or cruel if they killed you and ate your meat? – btw, this is called EMPATHY, please be sure to look that word up)
        4. therefore eating meat is cruel

        You might want to rethink your “logic” before commenting, or risk making yourself look even more like a self-centered ignorant fool.

      • June 10, 2012 11:59 pm

        Hahhahahahhaa, the heavenly father…say no more!

      • Lolo Pearl permalink
        May 18, 2013 12:26 am

        oh dear religion has a lot to answer for… I believe in a merciful compassionate God thing who created stuff including science and evolution and it is up to us to get it right…not just do things as per tradition and old book etc… but this religious stuff is so……. contradictory and the cause of so much pain and lack of action where action by people with kind hearts is needed…. God loves you so much he created hell in case you don’t love him enough? pah…. why should though shalt not kill apply only to humans? why is it ok for animals to be bred to suffer and die and live a fraction of their god given lifespan? vegans feel in thier hearts souls and minds what is right and the most beautiful life affirming thing to do wether they belive in God or not….they do not need to consult middle men priests with gristle between their teeth and a bowel full of undigested flesh

  41. October 3, 2011 8:49 pm

    Hi Chevon… I’m responding because I’m really confused by your comment. I understand that you think yourself to be a kind person… And that you don’t approve of cruelty. But I have to ask if killing without necessity is NOT “cruel” then what is???

    There is absolutely no need to eat meat in order to be healthy and satisfied… So can you see how you are contradicting yourself?

    “Everything was created for “us”… I include non-humans in that “us”… They have a right to live the life they were given – And there can be no harmony in the taking/stealing of that innocent life — Lastly, no one will betray their faith if they choose to be kind. 😉

  42. October 13, 2011 9:39 pm

    You are not alone! I don’t know if this is any solace, but this topic has been discussed by activists at animal rights conferences, and it’s quite common to feel angry or upset.

    If the sadness ever becomes overwhelming, I encourage you to see a therapist. Not because there’s something wrong with you, but because therapy can help in cases of situational depression.

  43. Raisin Bran permalink
    November 15, 2011 2:32 pm

    Wow Chevon, sad religion you follow that man created. 😦

  44. Mikey permalink
    January 30, 2012 1:35 am

    Thank you to everyone for your sharing and support. I’ve been vegan for a mere week after finally coming face-to-face with my ignorance. All of the horrible things I’ve learned just stormed upon me at once, and I was in a state of inexpressable shock and disbelief. It felt like I was going insane – I wanted to cry, but I just felt numb. Now it has finally relaxed into self-loathing in the last couple of days. I feel like I will never sleep peacefully anymore (it is 3:30 AM as i type). If I could take the place of just one of those animals, then I would feel redeemed; I feel ashamed that I even have a bed to go to at all while these creatures have nothing.

    I want to be able to do something more to help, but it seems all I can do is pray to the wall. I have moderate-to-severe social anxiety, and most public activism efforts want highly sociable, peppy people. The best idea I’ve come up with so far is to discreetly stick stickers onto grocery store shopping carts…and I think it’s a pretty good one actually.

    I’m lucky to have my family cooperating with me, though I feel that they are holding their tongues because they think this is some sort of passing phase. They kind of shrug off the issue, which upsets me; but like me, they may one day choose to open their heart and not let a taste of meat come between them and all the animals in need.

    It took me a long time to collect my thoughts to write this little post, but it has calmed me down some. This issue has given me so much negativity that I just wish I would never wake up. Humans are responsible for so many disgusting things, and to see them do these things to innocent creatures is soul-crushing. It feels like all of the happiness in life is just a lie, materialized out of their suffering. It reminds me of a book I recently read – Myst: Book Of D’Ni, where a seemingly-utopian paradise exists only because billions of infants are taken after birth to become slaves, and trained not to be seen nor heard (and the citizens are trained not to see or hear them). I know our world is certainly no utopia, but I just didn’t think that it was this much of a dystopia. I typically draw contrasts in my mind between the world I knew when I was three and the world I know now. It’s hard not to be depressed. But thank you to everyone for being here.

    • Flynnycat permalink
      January 30, 2012 11:36 am

      Mikey, you express yourself very well. I felt the same way when I chose to open my eyes and see the world for what it is. I felt sick to my stomach. I felt rage and hatred, for myself and others. I wanted to kill someone, many people, myself. I was blitzed by emotions because it’s an emotional reality. Sometimes I feel incredible despair, like no matter what I do, nothing will ever change. “Soul-crushing” is an apt description. I, too, am not a peppy activist, and I feel ashamed that I am not out there waving a placard. But I honestly don’t feel for me personally that this is the thing to do. For those who do, do it, by all means. But I would rather express myself through writing or art, and most of all by being vegan. But I think it’s tremendously important to show non-vegans that there is JOY in our lives, not negativity and despair. As difficult as that is at times, especially at family meals where everyone you love is cramming animal corpses into their mouths and marvelling at how tender and juicy it is, we have to maintain a joyous attitude. We have to create wonderful delicious food and show others that we are not deprived. Show them there is another way, and once they start talking about how great the food is that you have made, start talking about the cruelty that goes into theirs. It is so very hard at times, and so very lonely, but it’s what we must do. We are right, and we must show others. There are so many ways to do this that don’t necessarily involve organized activism. Everyone has a different way to contribute–and we are all in this together. We share your feelings–we understand.

      • Mikey permalink
        January 31, 2012 12:07 am

        Hi, and thank you for your response. That is a very good idea to share vegan cooking with my family. I cooked dinner roughly half of the time anyway, but after going vegan, I simply removed myself from the equation and now we are making our own individual meals. I will try to do at least one or two meals a week. I think subtlety is a good tool for me to use to gain awareness outside of home.

  45. June 10, 2012 11:22 pm

    Vegina, great stuff. I’m depressed all the time, and have trouble getting myself motivated. I’m reblogging this =)

  46. November 25, 2012 10:21 pm

    vegina, your post really, really spoke to me. Thank you so much for writing this.

    One of the greatest problems I think I face (personally) is the lack of vegan friends to support me. It is very draining to constantly be around flesh-eaters every day and sometimes you feel like nothing you do is making any difference, and at times I’ve even become suicidal as a result, though quickly realized that there’s no point in giving up because it would only make things worse for them. Their suffering has consumed me however, and I am unable to get through my work day to day without feeling like I should be spending every single moment of my time on activism, yet I have no idea whether it’s actually working and sometimes I wonder if I’m just making things worse (ie, if I’m dealing with someone very defensive and rude).

    The problem is that the consumption on nonhumans is very deeply institutionalized, and people make all kinds of ignorant justifications for continuing to behave as they do.

    Regardless, your post really spoke to me, and if you’re interested in being friends please shoot me an email. I could use more vegans in my life, or just more people who “get it” 🙂

  47. Lolo Pearl permalink
    May 18, 2013 12:10 am

    you are a beautiful and wise inspiration…yes it hurts xox

  48. Lolo Pearl permalink
    May 18, 2013 12:16 am

    and remember for perhaps for the first time in many of our lives… we know something for sure…we know what is right and important…nothing can make us doubt the mission and that is a great thing despite all the torment… you are a world leader 🙂

  49. May 18, 2013 10:13 am

    OK – I do not feel this way now but I entered organizing decades ago in the feminist movement and I did get depressed for a while there. Then I got used to knowing I was the outsider and could never again be with the power structure and fit in. We all want that. The massiveness of evil and oppression is overwhelming when you are fighting for justice — the cruelty is frightening. Systems you thought were benevolent turn out to be tools of oppression and not your friend.

    This is why I write and you may think I am foolish — you must have blood tests – every 6 months if possible. You must check your IRON levels and of course the Bs and D3 and other levels. You must learn how to read the results and your doctor has to teach you — this will be a fight. They do not like to take the time and half of the docs, especially the new doctors do not know how to analyze the results.

    You can get very sick from an Iron deficiency – depression and being unable to get out of bed are the FIRST signs. Then confusion, unable to think clearly, difficulty walking dizzinessness. Most doctors call this depression even when looking at the blood tests. You have to find a smart doctor. I lucked out after years of BS and she is just out of residency so you never can tell.

    We may be vegans but it takes years to understand the body and to eat right. After all we were raised in lies and carelessness. In the meantime, there are vegan supplements. “pur Absorb” is a vegan Iron supplement. Double the dosage for the first week. Wonder Labs has a B12 sublingual at 2000 MCG – 300 tabs and there is a new D3 vegan supp from (I forget but you google it – liquid – it is from seaweed). Do not blow this off. You may spend a lot of years feeling bad and thinking it is emotional when what you need is a blood test.

  50. May 19, 2013 4:52 am

    As an activists I understand what you are experiencing. Also, my life’e journey has been on that, in reflection, does not make me feel particularly good about my past as an animal farmer, hunter, butcherer, etc.

    All I can do is share my methods of dealing with depression and being in a funk about the state of the world. First I realized that as activists we are in a state of constant grief. This grief is real and must be dealt with like any grieving process. Second I practice meditation and a very serious mindfulness of being grateful. When I do not remain in a state of gratefulness then I get blue. Like you said, their is so much good in the world and if we don’t focus on the good, be grateful for those people, animals, and things that bless our lives we loose ourselves.

    The peace is always present and inside us. We just need to be still and listen.

    Harold Brown

  51. Susan Walters permalink
    May 19, 2013 5:26 am

    I really don’t have anything to add except that your post was incredibly sensitive and brilliant and I completely concur. The comments and conversation it inspired are equally beautiful. It’s wonderful to know that so many people are of such a similar mind and, especially in times of darkness, to not feel that we are alone. All the best to you and all who follow your brilliant blog! Peace, Susan 🙂 xo

  52. May 19, 2013 6:06 am

    This is so recognizable …

  53. May 19, 2013 6:40 am

    This sounds very familiar to my beginnings, where I was hanging between euphoria and a sense of despair and impotence. Being vegan is a constant struggle and a fine balancing between speaking out and keeping our compassion to fellow men even when the temptation is to start hating humanity altogether.
    I made a conscious choice I won’t let the evils of the world destroy my inner peace- all the while remaining an active advocate for the animals.
    In my opinion an important part of our activism is to take care of ourselves and keep strong and positive. When reality gets overwhelming, it is important to take little breaks and to choose a practice (meditation, yoga) that helps us keep sane. Only when we are strong and healthy (even mentally) we can effectively help others. Ancient wisdom says that if we let anger and depression take over, we’re just exhausting ourselves and becoming an additional problem in the world. May all of us find this balance in our struggle

  54. May 19, 2013 6:46 am

    I often feel completely alone in being vegan so I am always grateful to read stories like this and know I really am not. Funny how similar our experiences are. Thank you for sharing!

  55. May 19, 2013 7:13 am

    Thank you Vegina. As you can see, you are not alone. Reading your post and the many comments made me feel much less alone. We need to continue to support each other…it’s the only way to keep going. Peace and Love, Leslie

  56. Dana yang permalink
    May 19, 2013 8:35 am

    How are you doing?
    I get depressed too as I often sign petitions at night before bed on line trying and wishing for animal abuses to stop. But, hope and friends doing the same thing gets me going.
    Lately, it’s been s koreas dog trade as in food.
    Book day. It’s truly depressing, but if we ignore this issue and close our hearts, ignorance will make it worse. Keep your hearts high and know you have many friends feeling similar.

  57. hannah permalink
    May 19, 2013 9:05 am

    Hey, you are not alone. I feel the way you describe too. I thought it was just me, so thanks for sharing!
    I do not allow myself to watch graphic videos or look at graphic AR photos anymore. I will NEVER watch earthlings. I think that has helped a bit. Sometimes its easy to get bogged down with those things.
    H x

  58. Some Random Vegan permalink
    May 19, 2013 10:42 am

    Activism is a difficult road, and one you are not obligated to pursue, if it becomes too much to bear. Some people become obsessed, and then disheartened, because it is an endless task.

    Everybody, please keep in mind:

    If you refuse to consume animal products, YOU ARE DOING YOUR PART.

  59. May 19, 2013 12:55 pm

    You`re not alone.a lot changes when you go vegan,you lose old friends and the vegan message seems to drive most people away.

  60. May 19, 2013 1:10 pm

    I’ve been an unwavering vegan and an activist for 3 decades. Yes, it gets depressing, no doubt about it. I could never NOT be a vegan, and living in a speciesist world is tough. Maybe not for all vegans, but for me. I am very sensitive to the animal’s plight. Always have been since I was 12 years of age and learned that “meat” was a dead animal’s corpse, and I immediately stopped eating meat. I became vegan at age 21, that was 34 years ago.

    All we can do is keep trying to make humanity see the vegan ethic is the right thing to do. Become good compelling advocates.

    Sending love to you and all others who make the choice not to be a part of using animals as if they were objects, things, resources for making a profit – instead of the feeling conscious beings that they truly are.

    I think being vegan makes us feel better about ourselves in the long run. We walk the earth knowing that we are a part of the solution for what ails our planet. That overrides the depression.

  61. Joanne permalink
    May 19, 2013 1:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing your feelings, they were a comfort to read, as were all the previous comments from other wonderful caring people. It’s easy to feel isolated as a vegan, and the odd one out, and on the defensive because you’re looked upon as an alien. And dealing with the pain of being aware of animal abuse, and the frustration of knowing that, realistically, things are unlikely to change much in our lifetime, if ever. My husband tells me to stop looking at awful posts about animal abuse, as he sees how upset and depressed they make me(he says I don’t need to look because I am vegan and already aware) , but I can’t stop looking and sharing, as I think it’s my duty as a person who can see the truth and who cares about the truth, to spread the truth. And as depressing and heartbteaking and angry making as it is to be aware of the suffering and pain that we vegans are so aware of, and as frustrating as it is waiting for and trying to make others wake up, ultimately I am grateful for my awareness, and comforted that there are other lovely people out there who understand and care and are trying to change things too.

    • Lolo Pearl permalink
      May 19, 2013 6:28 pm

      thanks for great post.. I feel the sense of “duty” that you explain so well 🙂

  62. Florian Harzmann permalink
    May 20, 2013 8:08 am

    Thank you ! I feel with and like you !

  63. Zoe permalink
    May 20, 2013 10:44 pm

    Beautiful post. I personally relate to this at a huge level. I think it would be very beneficial for the vegan community to reach out and create local events so people can get together and talk about the emotions and depression that comes with facing the darker side of humanity on a daily basis. I’m the only one who is vegan, I don’t know anyone else so it’s really hard when I’m constantly attacked and scrutinized for trying to live compassionately. Almost like a vegan support group. I find one thing that takes the burden off is simply saying to yourself at the end of the day “I did the best I could. I accept everything I said and did. I forgive myself for past mistakes and will do better next time.” Meditation helps a great deal too with managing depression and anxiety. It’s a lot of pressure to be the only spokesperson in your community for the billions of animals, just push through it and accept everything that’s going on, even though it’s horrible.

    • June 8, 2013 12:44 pm

      Great advice! I have been considering trying to create some kind of vegan I think there maybe other people here in my community but are probably too afraid to reach out. So far me (and my boyfriend) are the only vegans in my community too (that I know of) –and I live in a very backwards place where some people have never even heard the term vegan. The loneliness, isolation, and sense of rejection I feel constantly is hard to live with and my heart always aches, to the point I am considering moving away from here when possible. I do hope in the meantime to help open some minds along the way..plant some seeds that may later grow by being loving, kind and accepting of all around me even when they can’t do the same for me, but it is not easy. We have to support each other, because sometimes online, we are the only support that each other has. We are not alone, even when it feels that way.

  64. Daniela Castillo permalink
    May 22, 2013 10:38 pm

    I relate to you so much you have no idea. You are not alone! we are not alone! thanks for writing this piece. I love you! 🙂

  65. June 8, 2013 12:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I love being vegan and am proud of my lifestyle, but I fell into a deep depression from the incredibly overwhelming pain and empathy I feel at the horrors innocent beings suffer daily due to people’s ignorance and at the constant ridicule, judgment and ignorance I faced at every corner with nearly every person I knew. We are a rareity in this society. Being vegan makes us targets, and makes activism that much harder to do, bringing awareness to those who want to continue to turn a blind eye to the horrible realities. I found it hard to even want to live in this world..still do. Being vegan is easy in as much as I love animals, I love eating healthy and peacefully, for me that wasn’t hard at all—giving up eating animals or their secretions, but as far as activism, living in this society as a vegan it is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it weighs heavily on my heart always. I cannot turn a blind eye to it, and it is everywhere. Being vegan has endless challenges, as people just do not want want to open their eyes, minds or hearts to the truth and try to make US look like the bad guys at every possible turn. That is the part I don’t get, why if eating animals is okay, why must they villianize vegans??? We are not the bad guys–we are making the choice to stop condoning senseless violence. It always seems to be an “us” vs. “them” mentality with those promoting and justifying violence being seen as the good guys and vegans being made out to be the crazy ones (especially in TV ugh I hate that so much!!!) How do we make them see??? I tried gently through posts on Facebook for examples and was still attacked constantly to the point I had to remove many “friends” from Facebook and even deactivate my account for a while. I often feel like I’m alone on an island….the only person that cares enough to try and make a difference and carrying the weight of the unjust and cruel world on my shoulders. Thank you for sharing and reminding me I am not alone.

  66. Ashley Anna permalink
    August 12, 2013 4:26 am

    Thank you for this – plus all the comments. It’s comforting that I’m not alone. It’s a heavy burden to bear and feels isolating. I’m a Christian too and I believe strongly that Gods ideal is veganism and His creatures are treasured – as backed up in the Bible. It’s hard to be in this place too because I feel alone expressing this with other vegans and alone in expressing veganism with other Christians. It is particularly hard with other Christians because I know that if they studied the issue for one afternoon – reading scripture and understanding factory farming that they would see that this abuse and suffering was not Gods intention.

    Thank you for your post.

  67. Veronique permalink
    September 2, 2013 5:24 pm

    So true, It breaks my heart everyday to see the cruelty of humans, and most times I don’t understand how supposedly intelligent beings can look into an animal’s innocent eyes and deliver such cruelty, I shed a tear everyday for the millions of animals suffering everyday, its a comfort to know i’m not the only one feeling that way. Though more and more people are becoming aware of it and we can only pray that they become a voice for the voiceless and stop this craziness.

  68. Sue H permalink
    September 14, 2013 7:21 am

    A brilliant article and something I totally agree with. I realised a while ago that the ambivalent feelings I have towards even the people I love the most are not to do with me but with them. These amazing people who have no excuse for not knowing about animal exploitation as I’ve told them, and who are brilliant parents, charity workers and so on, but who still would rather not know about animal exploitation as they don’t want to have to stop doing it. The confusion wasn’t in my head but in their behaviours.

    One thing I do take issue with is the idea that you shouldn’t spend money on yourself as it’s taking money from the causes you want to support. You’re important too and your emotional health is important as the better you feel the more you’ll feel able to do. So do please give yourself the things you need and some of the things you want. If they help your emotional health then they subsequently help others. You’re no use to anyone if your depression gets so bad you can’t do any activism (I’ve had this happen to me).

    I’d highly recommend this book:

    although perhaps not getting it from Amazon until they start paying proper UK taxes. It’s about how activism affects people and how you can help yourself deal with it.

    I love being vegan and I love being an activist, they’re the two things that define me the most strongly but, like you, I struggle to cope with the problems I’m fighting against. It can feel so overwhelming and every story breaks your heart anew.

    Do take care of yourself too. You’re an animal and so you need to be cared for as we all do. It’ll help you to stay strong.

  69. November 26, 2013 6:36 pm

    Thank you for this. Thank you for your honesty. And thank you for these two statements in particular:

    “Once our community acknowledges that we are not supposed to be super humans, we can help each other cope and heal and strive to at least become super guardians, super fosters, super advocates, super spokespersons and super activists for the animals.”


    “While this is my burden, it is not my problem. The problem is them, not me”.

    I have written elsewhere about the need for hope, something I need to have in order to carry on, even in the face of the immense suffering in the world. I try to stay positive but, as I have told you, I am, indeed prone to depression, or despair, or whatever you want to call it, related to what you have written here. I am so very aware of my own very flawed human nature.

    When it gets right down to it, though, I am angry. Angry at people who choose to ignore their own culpability in perpetuating animal suffering. Angry at an economic system that treats humans and animals alike as things rather than beings. Angry at people who could and should become vegan but find oh so many excuses not to. Angry that those of us who value compassion, mercy, justice and liberation are branded as weirdos. And angry at myself for not doing more. But what to do with that anger? Often, all of it gets directed inward and thus depression.

    We must, for the animals and for ourselves, take action. We must, to the best of our individual talents and abilities do what we can — and not beat ourselves up if we fall short of doing the utmost, just plan on doing more next time.

    Are you listening? I say to myself.

    Thank you, once again, my friend for opening up this conversation!

  70. January 19, 2014 3:16 pm

    I found this by searching for “vegan depression” and I believe it goes very well with this post by Our Hen House, talking about the desire for vegan therapists: Big surprise, I have my own “This is why I’m vegan and it pisses me off” manifesto on my own website:

    Reading through the 90+ comments here, my brain is now churning– clearly we are not alone in the inevitable depression that comes with being vegan. We may be separated geographically, but it’s freaking 2014, we can connect in other ways. We can have an Internet-based support group, schedule online hangouts (via Jitsi, IRC, chatroom, whatever) to vent, share coping skills, etc. There is NO reason for us to have internet access and feel isolated at the same time. I’m going to create a Twitter account, @veganconnect, and if anyone here is interested in connecting, please do so, and let’s figure this sh*t out. We need to deal with this depression if we are to be our healthiest selves (physically and mentally) in order to best help the animals– which is our ultimate goal.

    peace & love

  71. January 19, 2014 3:17 pm

    I found this by searching for “vegan depression” and I believe it goes very well with this post by Our Hen House, talking about the desire for vegan therapists: Big surprise, I have my own “This is why I’m vegan and it pisses me off” manifesto on my own website:

    Reading through the 90+ comments here, my brain is now churning– clearly we are not alone in the inevitable depression that comes with being vegan. We may be separated geographically, but it’s freaking 2014, we can connect in other ways. We can have an Internet-based support group, schedule online hangouts (via Jitsi, IRC, chatroom, whatever) to vent, share coping skills, etc. There is NO reason for us to have internet access and feel isolated at the same time. I’m going to create a Twitter account, @veganconnect, and if anyone here is interested in connecting, please do so, and let’s figure this sh*t out. We need to deal with this depression if we are to be our healthiest selves (physically and mentally) in order to best help the animals– which is our ultimate goal.

    peace & love,

  72. VeganTiger permalink
    January 21, 2014 12:59 pm

    “The difference between optimists and pessimists is not how they see the world. It’s what they decide to do about it.” –me

    Although I definitely understand where you’re coming from, as vegans, we don’t have time to be depressed… We got work to do! 🙂

    I think what might help is to try and stop thinking “us vs. them”. I don’t think it’s fair to say “most people choose murder in order to preserve the status quo”. The key here is to remember you used to eat meat. Never forget that. Because people who eat meat are just the same as us… But at a different stage in their lives. OK… I’m sure there are a few people out there who actually enjoy torturing and killing animals… But for the other 99.99%, there’s hope. Most people don’t *choose* to eat meat. Actually, that’s one of the point I make when people ask me to “respect their personal choice”. Before I tell them everything that’s wrong with that statement, I usually start by saying that it’s *not* a choice. Me not eating meat *was* a choice. But the decades I spent eating meat before that? That was me *not* making a choice…

    To be frank, regarding the depression part, I don’t think “the problem is them”. You clearly have a huge amount of compassion to give out… So… Save some for humans too. 😉

    Factory farming is without a doubt the greatest horror humans have ever created. But people in general don’t consciously participate. I’m not trying to justify their behavior… I’m just saying that if you focus on trying to understand people (doesn’t mean you have to agree), you might be able to find little cracks you couldn’t see before. And through those cracks, you might catch a glimpse of the diffuse light behind… Little by little, the light will get brighter, and it will keep you warm 🙂

    I get frustrated sometimes of course… Especially when I talk to friends who I know are good people, but suddenly they are incapable of rational/original thoughts and often get just plain… dumb in their argumentation. I get frustrated. No depressed. Because I’m not giving up… If I don’t make my friend understand this time, it’ll be the next time. Or the time after that. The *only* way to fail is to give up. Don’t give up and you can’t get depressed. And you can’t give up because animals need you! 😀

    And if all else fails… If you’re ever in NYC, I’ll buy coffee/tea and cheer you up! 🙂

  73. March 13, 2014 4:43 am

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to come back once again since I book-marked
    it. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.

  74. March 20, 2015 8:38 am

    It’s very hard to be dedicated to animal rights. A vicious circle see so much misery and pain these animals endure. It gets to you and then you hurt but then you remember what they go through is a lot worse…and a round and around it goes!
    The difference with me is I have a history of depression as it is which makes it unbearable at times. I am set on this course and will not stop but boy do I wonder if I can survive it sometimes!

  75. sarika permalink
    March 26, 2015 4:45 pm

    Wow you said exactly how I feel you are not alone God Bless you for everything you do for animals never give up they need us!

  76. Marianne permalink
    December 15, 2015 12:47 am

    Thank you for writing this. I had recently become a dedicated vegan because I came across Earthlings. I cannot express how overwhelmingly depressed I feel about the state of the world and, like you, cannot wrap my head around the BILLIONS of animals that are tortured, abused and murdered on a daily basis for human consumption. Some days I can barely get out of bed. I can’t talk to my family or boyfriend (non-vegan and non-supportive of my lifestyle). They think I have literally gone mad and in a way, my personality has changed. I can no longer sleep under the blanket of ignorance and in fact, barely sleep well at all anymore. No one is addressing this in the vegan forums. I dont know how to go on living in such a cruel world….I cling to the belief that “Evil flourishes when good men do nothing” and that perhaps I am one of the “good guys” and that my conversion will alleviate the suffering of at least some animals. Otherwise, I find this “knowledge” to be an extreme burden. I will not go back to eating meat or dairy because i just cant contribute knowingly to such cruelty but I fear I may lose this battle in the long run because of the immense depression. Please do not use my name. I am fiercely private. Thank you.


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