Being vegan can be challenging as it comes with an intense awareness of the suffering in this world. How do we stay hopeful and find joy in life? In this interview, self proclaimed Joyful Vegan Colleen Patrick-Goudreau shares her approach.
Being vegan is pretty incredible. You’re no longer contributing to the suffering and death of billion of sentient beings, you’re environmental impact goes down an insane amount, and depending on your type of diet, your health can dramatically improve as well. basically, you kind of become a superhero. But, as was once said to such a hero, with great power comes great responsibility: the awareness that veganism brings can be devastating. So how are we vegans to stay hopeful against the enormity of suffering in this world? Who better to address this than the woman who calls herself the the joyful vegan, author and speaker Colleen Patrick-Goudreau? [tweet this]
The question of how to stay hopeful, or at the very least sane, as a vegan is one I’ve been asked many-a-time. This is something that I personally struggle with greatly. So when I had the opportunity to speak with Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, the self-appointed “joyful vegan,” I was sure to ask her how she stays joyful.
To hear colleen’s entire answer, be sure to watch the video above. But here are some choice nuggets:
“It takes a desire to want to be in a hopeful state versus not being in a hopeful state, because we choose in any given moment how we want to respond to this world. And some of us have a more innate natural response to things as they are, and some of us have to cultivate that response, and some of us are both, right?
“I do tend to be a little bit on the optimistic side. I just kind of naturally gravitate toward hope which I’m really grateful for. It’s carried me through a lot in my life, but I also cultivate it, I choose hope. And that’s really the message I convey to my audience is that we can choose in any given moment, and I do believe that the way we think determines what we experience. [tweet this]
“And I cry, you know, I expose myself to these things and it feels really bad. My reaction to that is to actually work harder. Some other people’s reaction to that might be depression and we always have to kind of gauge where we’re at and if we’re at a place where we can’t take something that’s going to actually put us in despair rather than hope or action at least. So, we have to be honest with ourselves about those things too. But I don’t think choosing constant exposure because we think if we don’t we’re letting the animals down is the answer.
“That’s why we need to be a community of supporting each other because we do need to remind each other. It quite literally could be from a day-to-day basis. One day I’m working so hard that I’m in tears, that’s not okay, right? That’s not sustainable. I can’t do it every day and I need someone to go, ‘Tap tap, hi, go, leave your computer. Go take a walk. You need to go do that; it’s okay’. And the truth is, when I do that and I really do need the reminder. I need it from other people around me who love me and want to support me. Whether it’s my followers or my husband, or my friends, or what have you. And then I know when I come back, I do feel so much better. And I feel so much more equipped to be so much more effective. Because I’m not that effective when I’m in tears and I’m feeling stressed … I’m just not.”
I hope you enjoyed hearing colleen’s take on this matter. As I said in the beginning, this is something I, myself, struggle with. From a very young age I remember crying in my room because I felt so overwhelmed by the enormity of suffering in the world and my seeming powerlessness against it. I felt like I’d never be able to make the impact that was needed: How could I as one 5-year-old against multi-billion dollar corporations?
My life’s quest has been to find a way to make some impact, but for me, it’s never enough and my work is never done. Not until all the animals are free. What I personally do with all the outrage, horror, furry, disgust and sadness is try to channel all of that energy into my activism.
And I try to remember that no matter what I’m experiencing emotionally, it’s nothing compared to what the animals are going through and I owe it to them to do whatever I can.
Of course, I would not advocate that you drive yourself into the ground and neglect to care for yourself. As i said in my video on whether medication is vegan, and as Colleen also mentioned, if you’re not well, then you can’t be of service to the animals. I truly believe that.
I need to learn to practice what I preach on this. I tend to be more like Gary Yourofsky with being forever unsatisfied. You can watch this bonus video from my interview with Gary where he elaborated on this, which was not publicly aired on my channel. It’s on my Patreon page but is open for everyone to watch.
I suppose if I was completely hopeless then I wouldn’t even bother doing the work that I do. And in the end, I’d take the struggle to stay hopeful while being vegan over the ignorant contribution to the suffering and death of sentient beings while not being vegan anytime. Put another way, I’d rather be aware of the horrors I’m not contributing to then unaware of those I am. [tweet this]
I’d love to hear from you about this difficult topic. If you’re vegan, how do you stay hopeful in the face of all we do to the animals? If you’re not vegan, have you become aware of these realities and if so, does that make you want to become vegan or wish you could go back to not knowing? What struggles have you had with this? Let me know in the comments!
— Emily Moran Barwick