“When I see what we’re doing to our planet and the suffering of animals, I just want to make a difference and connect with others who share this passion. One of the interests I have is how we treat animals affects how we treat humans. There is research about how violence to animals is linked to oppression of humans. A lot of great thinkers throughout time have said to move to a more compassionate society begins with how we treat animals. Caring for animals who are vulnerable not only helps the animals, but it also helps all of us; it’s like a transformation for greater well-being for all of us on this planet.”
In her book, Mann defines vystopia as follows:
Vystopia: The Existential crisis experienced by vegans, arising out of an awareness of the trance-like collusion with a dystopian world and the awareness of the greed, ubiquitous animal exploitation, and speciesism in a modern dystopia.
Mann, also a psychologist, writes about the importance of vegans being in community with like-minded others so we don’t feel alone.
Vegans who don’t make connections with people who truly understand them and avoid addressing their own pain risk becoming anxious, depressed, or suffering from more chronic forms of mental illness.
This is also why animal activists and vegans must find ways of being holistically healthy and learn how to communicate with and live among those who do not share our views.
For almost every vegan who came to see me, their symptoms were related to their eyes being opened to the systemised cruelty towards animals in our society. Their distress was compounded when they started to tell their friends and family, whom they were sure would be equally upset by it. Instead, many people responded with ridicule, criticism, and anger, saying that everyone has a right to choose what to eat. These feelings of frustration and powerlessness then often turned to complicated grief as they were unable to reconcile competing beliefs that the people they loved were capable of turning their eyes away from the suffering their consumer choices were financing.
Helping her clients deal with this vystopia is also Angela’s mission. She counsels those who work to make the world a better place—including animal activists who may be experiencing burnout.
For people who are moving toward a plant-based lifestyle, Angela advises them to get informed. “Make a commitment to get more information by either reading something, watching a documentary or visiting a website to strengthen your why. Then step two would be making plans; as a starting point, you have to have a plan of what to eat, otherwise it could be tempting to fall back into old patterns. The 30-day vegan challenge
helped me to get started, to make it less overwhelming.”
As you transition, Angela notes the importance of self-care
, connecting with other vegans
, and seeing the positive side of the movement, such as animal sanctuaries. “All these things nurture us on our path while we’re waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.”
As research for a book, Angela is currently surveying folks who have been vegan for at least six months to discover how being vegan impacts all areas of their lives. Responses are confidential, but folks can choose to provide their contact information if they are open to being contacted for a personal interview. The survey closes in mid-July 2021. Please follow this link if you’re interested in taking part
“There is a link between what we eat and our emotional well-being; there are studies that show eating more plants makes us feel better emotionally and have less depression and other mental health struggles. Part of what I’m hoping to look at with my research is this idea that living aligned with our values brings peace and meaning and connection with like-minded people.”
While Angela continues to ask herself how she can be an effective advocate for animals, she has found a way to use her expertise and impact the vegan movement. “I’m hoping to inspire people. There are a lot of people in my life who seem to view veganism as deprivation or restriction or it’s a negative change. I want to wake people up! There are so many vegans I know who say it’s the best thing they ever did. Their life is better because they made this choice. They found a career path that is more aligned for them because of this choice. They found people who care about what they care about. They’re more alive because they’ve made this choice. That’s what I want to capture.”