Freelee the Banana Girl is a force to be reckoned with in the vegan YouTube world- and I’m certainly not her. But that’s a great thing and here’s why: the more varied the voices within the vegan movement, the more people we can reach.
If you’re vegan and on YouTube frequently–hell even if you’re not vegan and on YouTube once a month, you probably know of Freelee the Banana Girl. Freelee has a massive channel that’s growing more massive by the day. She focuses on the health side of being vegan using her impressive physicality as proof. In many ways, Freelee and I are incredibly different. And that’s a great thing…
See, when I decided I was going to take to the Internet for my activism and try to reach people through videos on YouTube, I had no idea where to start. I just wanted to make some difference, any difference for the animals and, inspired by the effectiveness of Gary Yourofsky’s speech, I decided that the Internet, the means by which the majority of us stay connected today, would be my best bet.
Starting out, I was clueless and intimidated and, well, lost. I’d been vegan and fiercely passionate about animals for as long as I could remember, but I’d always felt powerless to speak for them. And now I was going to embark on the seemingly insane journey of creating videos when I had zero experience, a rather crippling tech phobia, and no interaction with YouTube outside of the odd cat video.
I’d known of Freelee through her site 30BananasADay, which I was a member of back when it was rather small. I saw her YouTube career skyrocket and thought, “maybe that’s how I should do it.” Make videos more frequently. Not spend so much time researching and editing and creating all the visuals that fly around the screen. Maybe show some skin?
Maybe talk about diets and weight loss? I bet that would get me some more clicks! But here’s the thing: I’m not Freelee. And I came to realize that that’s a very good thing. Because there’s already a Freelee out there who can be Freelee far better than anyone else.
Now, this video post’s not really about Freelee, it’s about finding your voice and getting active. See, the more varied our voices the more people we can reach. Freelee can reach people I can’t and I can reach people she can’t and Gary can reach people neither of us can. And guess what? So can you. People connect with different people. And the more of us who are out there speaking out, the more opportunities there are for people to make the connection. [tweet this]
I know it’s scary taking a stand and speaking up. Trust me on that. But you have the power to make a difference–to change people’s lives and literally save the lives of non-human animals. And you don’t have to be Freelee, or Gary, or even me for that matter. You need to find your own voice. [tweet this]
And it may be a bit rough at first. Just go way back and watch some of my early videos. I had no hair, number one, as I’d just finished getting shaved and branded, and I was recording on my computer’s camera and sat way to close to it–so basically, all my early videos are a giant bald head.
But I started—and that’s the key. So this video post has been rather atypical and a bit out of my comfort zone. In the video up top, I’m not in front of my educating screen and not throwing out statistics from peer-reviewed journal articles. But it’s something that I felt the need to say: that your voice is needed. Just as you are. Don’t wait until you feel ready, because you’ll probably never feel that. And don’t wait until you think you’re “good enough” or “smart enough”—use Google. [tweet this]
Seriously, though—the animals can use every single voice that’s willing to speak up. Do you think a veal calf trapped in his cell, unable to move and scheduled for slaughter in a number of hours cares whether you say the perfect words? Or if your hair looks good? Or if you know how to field every question you receive? Or if you feel you’re thin enough or smart enough or confident enough to speak out about veganism? No. He just knows he is suffering and terrified. He needs freedom. And I’m pretty damn sure he’d take it by any means.
So get out there and find your voice, your version of activism. It may look completely different than anything I or anyone has ever done. And that’s awesome.
But whether it’s videos, or lectures, paintings, interpretive dance–whatever–start educating; start speaking up. Take advantage of the little opportunities in your every day life to speak up for the animals. We need you–they need you. And you can make a difference.
— Emily Moran Barwick