By Julianne Perry
In collaboration with Adam Kol
What’s it like to be a vegan? If we’re honest… it’s lonely. We live among the others but choke on violent images everywhere we turn. Seeing what others do not can make us feel isolated.
This last year, I decided to do something about it. I decided to speak out for the animals. Showing up to DxE’s biggest action ever, I was surrounded by vegans, the very people who should comprise my community. And yet, at a protest of 150, I didn’t have a single friend – I felt alone, unmotivated to ever return.
Nobody should have that experience. If we want the kind of mass movement that will make animal liberation a reality, then we must overcome this. Our response: DxE Connections & Meetups.
DxE Connections aims to build a stronger movement for animals by fostering individual friendships among activists. The concept is simple: an activist reaches out to you, and then you hang out for about an hour in groups of three or four, developing personal friendships while discussing DxE, animal liberation, and how you can get involved in ways that are specific to your skills and interests.
Some illustrative experiences: Cheryl Ching is a passionate local activist who hadn't been to many DxE actions. After her first Connection, Cheryl attended a Meetup. She shared a poignant story, bringing tears to our eyes, about how when she first told her immigrant parents of her veganism, they said she was betraying their sacrifices in coming to the United States to try and secure for her a "better" life.
Joshua Taylor was excited about DxE but struggled to coordinate his schedule to attend any events. After participating in DxE Connections, Josh was inspired to do a solo speakout, which he followed up with a fascinating presentation at a Meetup about how he became vegan and found DxE.
Fast forward to my story now. After being involved with coordinating DxE Connections the past three months, I found myself back home in Idaho. I was truly alone when the April day of action came, but I had my DxE family in my heart. Driven by the thought of returning to my DxE friends who were speaking out for animals around the world, I walked into the Boise, Idaho Whole Foods, stood under a sign that read "Butcher Shop" and delivered my first solo disruption. I wish I could say it was all driven by my compassion for animals, but what really pushed me out to disrupt that day was the friendships I have made at DxE.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. This program has allowed us to support activists through difficult times in their lives and also uncover interests they want to share with the network, such as photography, programming, and video editing.
We want every activist to know that someone is aware of their efforts on behalf of animals, is looking out for them, and supports them. We want every activist to have someone they can reach out to when they’ve argued with their best friend or a family member, when the fight gets overwhelming. We want every activist to know that when they come to a protest, they will see friendly faces who will stand beside them as they speak out against violence.
A lifelong commitment to animal liberation activism will present you with moments when you will need vegan friends and family. DxE Connections will make this a reality.
To get involved, please reach out to your local chapter. Alternatively, feel free to contact Julianne Perry (Julianne@DirectActionEverywhere.com), Adam Kol (Adam@DirectActionEverywhere.com), or Chris Van Breen (Chris@DirectActionEverywhere.com).