Promoting veganism is the singular most effective way of changing the world long-term for animals. There are almost as many ways of promoting veganism as there are vegans. To get a look into different ways of promoting veganism, Team Earthling has kindly asked vegan activists what they do. The aim of this Activist Profile series is not to suggest that there is one right way to promote veganism, but simply to present approaches that some may not have considered.
Jaylene Musgrave has been vegan for seven years and has decided to dedicate herself to vegan and animal activism full-time in Queensland, Australia. She was kind enough to share her approach and thoughts on vegan activism with Team Earthling.
Founder of Vegan Warriors, Jaylene Musgrave, is a passionate activist. She does many things to help animals, part of which involves promoting veganism. From picnics to leafleting to savvy marketing, she works around the clock to try to change the world for our non-human brethren.
Our experiences will always inform the way we approach the world; for Jaylene, living with a father who worked in an abattoir helped make her the fearless advocate she is today. He 'was incredibly violent both emotionally and physically' and she made the connection between animal slaughter and her father's violence at a very early age. The human cost of working in violent industries is often overlooked; it affects not only the workers but also their families. Having an affinity for animals and seeing the direct effects of working in an abattoir, Jaylene refused to eat meat from about the age of ten. Her experience has given her an acute awareness that it's not just the animals who suffer, making her a fearless and passionate advocate.
Being vegan is vital, but Jaylene encourages people to be active in promoting veganism and animal rights. Creating a vegan world involves more than just talking about getting people to go vegan. She finds holding lunches in the park, pot-luck style, effective. The lunches are open to all, and they are vegan. Jaylene invites local musicians to play and people within the community to come speak on animal issues. Sharing vegan food and vegan ideas in an informal setting is a great idea to share the love.
Jaylene also uses traditional forms of out reach such as stalls and leafleting to promote veganism and other animal issues. Local markets and malls with pedestrian traffic are good places to get up a stall. Jaylene recommends having food at stalls. Vegan cupcakes and other goodies that people don't expect to be veganisable help open people's mind to the wonderful foods that are available.
When she is at a stall or leafleting, she finds it best to ignore nay-sayers: 'I used to stand there and debate with them and waste an hour of my time. I've learned now if someone's going to defend what they're doing, they're not there to open their mind and eyes. They're not willing to change, they just want to be right.' She refers to the 'defend, deflect, and attack', attitude as just 'white noise'. She would rather spend time with those who are interested and open to what she has to say.
Although she promotes single issue campaigns, which many regard as problematic, Jaylene encourages people to be active in a way which conforms to what they believe: 'if you don't agree with the way I go about it, maybe hold a vegan cupcake stall and raise money for a vegan organisation or something you consider as being worthwhile donating to.'
Working as a publicist has given Jaylene the skills to get media attention on an issue. Choosing the name 'Vegan Warriors' for her organisation was important to Jaylene for making the word 'vegan' more visible. As she often gets media publicity for protests and other events, the media has no choice but to use the word 'vegan'. Jaylene is working in her own way to help raise awareness for veganism. Some vegans might be disillusioned with the way animal groups advocate for animals, but as she has proven that if you don't have to be part of an organisation to be an activist. You can hold a stall, or start a website, host a pot-luck.
Not everyone can dedicate their attention full-time to animal activism. Nevertheless, Jaylene thinks activism doesn't have to take up lots of time: 'the very least that you could do is just write to your local paper. What's an issue in your local community? Just write a letter about the animal industry. The five minutes it takes for you to write it and it reaches so many people just in your little community.'
There are so many things that an individual can do; you don't have to do everything. In the words of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: 'do something, anything.'
Team Earthling would like to thank Jaylene Musgrave for sharing her thoughts and experiences as an activist with us. You can check out more of what Jaylene does at Vegan Warriors.
© Stevie Schafer, 2012