Vegan Psychology

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Living as a Stranger in a Strange Land

When you become a vegan, you run a high chance of developing a mental illness. This might seem extreme and enough to make non-vegans avoid talking about the subject, so let me clarify what I mean. Firstly, someone who adopts a plant-based diet and calls themselves a vegan is unlikely to suffer in the same way, apart from friends and family calling them as fussy eaters. It’s the person who becomes vegan after discovering that approximately 150 billion animals each year are killed across the globe to maintain our lifestyles. These ethical vegans have seen videos of animal factory farming, slaughter, animal testing and more and deeply empathise with the suffering of these innocent creatures. Their distress is then compounded when they see what other people are capable of doing to animals and the cover-up that the vast majority of the world are blissfully unaware of. As a result, they think, feel and act in ways that result in clinical anxiety, depression, self-harm, paranoia, eating disorders, dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Why do these ethical vegans suffer so much, when they only want to live a more compassionate life? Instead they end up feeling miserable and angry at the world. A couple of analogies might give us a glimpse of the vegan’s world.

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Is Veganism the Latest Conspiracy Theory?

When I embarked on the Australian Tour of the new smartphone App Vegan Voices, I anticipated collaborating with vegan around Australia to collectively create a vegan world. I was encouraged by the positive energy and connections arising out of the tour and I’ll share with you later how Vegan Voices enhances this potential.  However, unanticipated learnings arose from the tour which offer both a challenge and an opportunity. Continue Reading

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Would I Follow Me?

Lessons from psychology that assist vegan advocacy

Clare Mann – Barefoot Vegan 2017

With a background in organisational psychology, I have seen people in organisations working in silos on different projects and only engaging with other groups when absolutely necessary.  Members of each different group identify primarily with their own group and often resist collaborating and learning from others.  My role has been to break down those barriers, increase communication between and within groups and create mutual understanding in order to achieve better collective outcomes.

One of the biggest limitations I have observed is to do with unquestioned assumptions.  Without high levels of self-awareness, we often fail to question our assumptions about other people and how things should be done.  These preconceived ideas result in prejudice and stereotypes that truly inhibit us connecting with others and collaborating for mutual benefit.  An important intervention is to develop to means to continually question our assumptions and our part in creating the outcomes of every interpersonal interaction we have.  This, together with learning to communicate effectively and skilfully navigate differences, has the potential to create relationships, groups and organisations that achieve superior collective outcomes whilst becoming satisfying communities in which we can work.

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