Showing posts with label activist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label activist. Show all posts

Monday, 25 August 2014

Talk the walk... why wouldn't you?

Chantal Denny

In a former life I've appeared on TV and radio, been a trainer, a coach and a mentor and I've given talks and presentations to thousands of people. I love it.

So now, I'm using that passion and experience to share with others, my thoughts on contemporary Veganism.
And I say contemporary - because that's my only view and experience of it. I'm living it as it is (and can be) now.
I was non-vegan less than 3 years ago, so I still have an understanding of that way of life.
Perhaps this gives me a different kind of empathy and a fresh perspective?
Come and see me speak and you can decide for yourself.

Appearing at major Vegan festivals and on tour, UK-wide 2014/15. Available for any and all gatherings and events.

Want to start some interesting conversations? Please get in touch to book ;)

Chantal xx

Title:   “It’s Easy to be Vegan!”

This presentation comes from Chantal Denny – Founding Director of an exciting new UK Vegan project, who’s first public campaign 2014/15 “It’s easy to be Vegan!” launched with great success earlier this year.

This campaign was developed in response to her survey on veganism that revealed people’s top (negative) perception of the lifestyle to be ‘it’s difficult and restrictive’. Her talk will prove that living a contemporary Vegan lifestyle is the complete opposite of this and that with a little know-how it’s far easier than people think.

“Living a compassionate lifestyle is fun, hugely rewarding and can be truly liberating in every sense. There are no valid excuses for not living a Vegan lifestyle.” CD

A persuasive and passionate speaker, Chantal offers a positive and thought-provoking approach to all aspects of living this way. She’ll chart the ‘rise and rise’ of veganism over the last few years and showcase a multitude of top tips for getting started or making existing lifestyles even better.

Controversial topics include:

1.       Convenience foods are not the enemy

2.       Why raw food, juicing, and kale might be harmful

3.       Cooking isn't necessary and cost is just an excuse

4.       When wearing leather, wool and silk is OK

5.       How non-vegan lifestyles are cruel and unnecessary

6.       Why you should trust her on the above five topics ;)

This presentation will leave people inspired to live differently.

They will also know that it’s entirely possible for them, even as just one individual, to save lives and help protect our beautiful home planet.

Most importantly, it will give them the confidence and tools to do so, immediately.

Chantal shows that the possibilities are endless and that the future really could (and should) be Vegan.

“It’s so easy to be Vegan these days, that you’ll leave thinking – why wouldn’t you be?” CD

Quote: ‘It’s often said that those who think veganism is easy are focused on the animals, those who think it’s difficult are focused on themselves…’

Note: This presentation can be adapted to any length, from a short pre-dinner version (just 15 minutes) to an (entertaining!) full 60 minutes. Chantal is an experienced and enthusiastic public speaker. She favours an interactive presentation style, engaging audience participation and using multi-media visuals for best effect. Back-up resources for the presentation will be available online to help people after the event.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

How the courage of your convictions can change the world.

What do the words Activist / Activism conjure up in YOUR mind?

Strong beliefs? Terrorism? Balaclavas at dawn?

In an (unscientific) survey I did on twitter I found that most people felt the words now had very negative connotations - with a few exceptions from people who found that passion for causes was a very attractive human quality.

Many celebs turned out for Ingrid's presentation
Despite these words having negative connotations - at a presentation by Ingrid Newkirk (founder of PeTA) that I went to in November 2013, that's exactly what she was calling for from all of us in the room - to become 'our own activists' and to help put an end to ALL animal suffering.

My feelings about certain PeTA campaigning methods aside, Ingrid was a great and inspirational speaker. Clear, calm, reasoned, full of obvious empathy and her clever words really resonated with me. I left knowing that I could, and indeed should, do more to be a Vegan 'activist' in my daily life. BUT, in a positive way.

I think negative perceptions can lead us to shy away from the word (and the activity of doing it) and whilst everyone has their own version of activism (whatever you are comfortable with) we should be in no doubt that there is always more we can do, very easily, to help others see why we live the way we do. We can always educate more on the myriad benefits that Veganism yields for animals, ourselves and the planet. I say this with confidence, because I have come to realise that it's wrong to ever assume that non-Vegans know what we know. They don't. Hell, I didn't three years ago! And I've realised this - it isn't their fault. We've all been living within a complex marketing bubble, brainwashed and culturally conditioned - for DECADES.

Hearing Ingrid's words, for me, was well timed, as they came on the back of an interesting online conversation about how best to approach people who attack or provoke arguments with Vegans for their choices. 

The response from most Vegans was to ignore people like this and to distance oneself from them. Their reasoning being that these people are just looking for a fight and that to get involved in that argument was usually futile and would only cause harm to yourself. So it was a matter of self preservation. People on the offensive are often described as toxic and can indeed make life hard to bear and very hurtful.
It was suggested to me that 'it is not my/our responsibility to tackle these people'.
As you can see from the timing of this post, this has gone round and round in my brain for the last four months now. And I have kept coming back to the same words each and every time.....

'If it's not my responsibility - whose is it?' 

And this has become a defining phrase in my Vegan advocacy work and self-driven activism. I even wrote it down on some hotel paper while I was away!

So, for me, personally, I beg to differ with the general opinion that came out of that online discussion.

I want to get into debates with ALL types of people - even those aggressors - because in attacking me they are actually opening a door to conversation.

But here's the caveat (and my advice to myself and to you, should you care to read it): The key, in my opinion, is how you do it - the way in which you respond - from your posture and look, to the the tone of your voice and the words that you chose. 

Yes, certainly your blood pressure might be rising (compassionates are passionates after all!) but it's important to remain calm, hang back, listen, absorb, let others have their say and then offer a calm and considered response.

That response might even be to question why they are saying what they are to you.
But here's the great thing: You know the answers to any comments/questions. Why? because you are an expert on you and your beliefs / opinions - so you are perfectly able to talk with authority.
It's also become evident to me that there are only so many permutations of basic questions that people want to ask / statements they make and you will have come across all of them at some point in your journey to becoming and living Vegan. People really aren't that original - so have confidence in your ability to reply to them!

[A great example happened the other day during a debate over taking B12 supplements: A non-Vegan used the argument that if humans were meant to be Vegan, we wouldn't need to take extra B12. Lots of comments flowed about the whys and wherefores of nutrition and modern farming depleting B12 levels etc etc when one person simply replied - that you don't need to justify humans being Vegan, just say you are because you want to be and you can be! This courage of conviction can cut through all of the debating in an instant - and I thought it was a point very well made! We shouldn't be scared to do this - after all humans clearly are capable of being omnivores - it's just that Vegans chose not to be - so there!]

Never be afraid to say why you know or believe something. You've made a powerful commitment and a strong life decision to be proud of and it will have been made with very good thought and reason.
Just be calm, polite and confident.

Now I'm starting to get over my 'angry phase' of 'I've gone Vegan so why hasn't the world followed me?!' I'm starting to draw on my experience of many years of working in Customer Services Management.
(For the sake of an easy, stress-free life...) I learnt fairly early on in my career that nothing quite took the wind out of an irate customer's sails, as me being serenity personified, offering immediate empathy, an apology and then very calmly explaining the situation and what I could do to help them. It was easy and it never failed.

My point is that when you respond in this unexpectedly calm and confident way that you gain a little time slot whilst the other person reels from your unexpected reaction. Of course it's unlikely that you need to apologise in a Vegan debate, but you can certainly begin with some empathy (if it applies) such as - 'well yes, I can understand how you feel or what you're saying because I used to eat meat too - but the difference now is that.....)

Also if someone is upsetting you by their words and actions don't be afraid to actually tell them how it's making you feel i.e.'You know it's quite upsetting to me when you speak to me in this way, because these issues are very important to me. If you'd like to understand why, then I'll be happy to tell you, but please don't do this again.'

For some aggressors it may not have even occurred to them that you may be upset, because actually, they see you as a very strong person with a lot of convictions and they are teasing - thinking you can take it. Tell them how you feel, and why. (I know this, because at the end of many conversations I've had with non Vegans they've admitted to me that they deeply admire my ethics, commitments and strength!)

But getting back to the issue as to whether or not it's your responsibility to take these 'challenges' on - well, as much as I'm encouraging you to, I also believe it's your personal choice. I respect that, but can't help thinking it probably just comes down to confidence and the fact that many Vegans, whilst passionate about their cause, are also very gentle souls, for whom any confrontation is to be avoided. You are a truly lovely lot.

I personally feel that it is my responsibility though, because I also see my Veganism as a moral obligation and a planetary imperative, and that brings with it my sense of responsibility to enlighten others.

But I can see this might not be for everyone and indeed living a Vegan life sets the ultimate example of reducing your impact on the world and sentient life. It's activism - every day that you live it, breathe it, practice it.

But, if you want to do more and to share information with others, then Ingrid's additional words might be of interest to you.

She spoke of how marketing professionals have concluded that it takes 7 attempts for a message to get through to a person. So although you may feel like speaking to a person once about a Vegan / animals rights issue isn't going to achieve anything - it can be like a drip effect. You might be the 1st person to mention it or the 4th or the 7th and help that person to change their mind on an issue. It ALL helps.

And there really is no need to dress in black and rush out and buy a balaclava or paint placards (unless you want to of course) because it could be something as simple as saying to a hotel 'I'd like fibre pillows please, not feather because I don't wish to sleep on duck feathers given the horrific nature of the industry.'

And if you don't want to say anything 'cold' like this, than you may seek your opportunities whenever someone else asks you something first. There's no need to be that perceived pushy Vegan always ranting on. But you can be seen as that gentle informative soul who has something interesting to say...

Testing the theory in a taxi one day, a lovely cabbie asked me where I'd come from and was I there for the weekend and what did I do for a living.
So I pushed it and said - I'm an animal rights activist. 
But we then had a ten minute conversation that led to him following me on Twitter (hello John btw!) My point is, you just never know! Maybe I was his 7th person and he thought, hang on a minute there must be something in this - let's listen for a minute....

This is incredible beautiful activism at work. It's so easy, it just takes a little remembering to do and a little courage to get started. But if you see it as a natural extension and progression to how you live your Vegan life anyway then it becomes quite a natural thing to do. And who knows how many people will start to follow our lead?

Go on - give it a try - I dare you!
Be your own Activist (or a 'Vegan Advocate' if you prefer). The world needs YOU.

Much love 
Chantal xx

p.s. I shall be updating my regular 'campaign corner' posts to include simple activism/advocacy tips that we can all try on a daily basis, to help enlighten and educate with compassion and calm.
If YOU have any great ideas or suggestions of things to try or actions that you've seen get results then please let me know and I'll feature them here. 

Activist - one who engages in...

The policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change (Oxford English Dictionary)

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental change, or stasis. The term connotes a peaceful form of conflict. Various forms of activism range from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronising businesses, rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, and hunger strikes. Research is beginning to explore how activist groups in the United States and Canada are using social media to facilitate civic engagement and collective action. (Wikipedia)