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Supporting Vegan Activists

***This post is by contributor Lisa Levinson, MFA, Expressive Movement Therapist


“Is this the Support Line?”


“Yes, it is. How can we help you?”


“I’m having a difficult time talking to people about my recent decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle, even my therapist.”


Some calls to the Animal Activist Support Line start like this conversation. After a free counseling session, most calls end with a few resources from our Activist Resource List, including a list of ethical vegan therapists for ongoing therapy.

In Defense of Animals started the Support Line in 2015 to help people who help animals, reduce activist burnout, and provide community care within the animal rights movement. Discover online support groups, monthly webinars, and activist retreats on our events page. We support new vegans and offer resources to heal compassion fatigue as defined in this blog on the vegan’s trauma.


Paradigm Shift to Compassion

Vegans are part of a new paradigm shift toward sustainable, compassionate living and world peace, described by Dr. Will Tuttle in The World Peace Diet. As therapists, it’s vital to have an open mind and refrain from labeling our vegan clients as disordered or defiant. Their newfound ability to identify institutionalized oppression and empathize with animals is different than anthropomorphizing animals or projecting their personal trauma onto animals. They are including nonhuman animals in their circle of compassion and treating them with kindness.


Burnout is Real

Fueled by environmental, health, and moral reasons to adopt a vegan lifestyle, many animal activists feel a sense of urgency. Sometimes their passionate commitment to the cause coupled with a culture of martyrdom can lead to overwork and burnout. Studies show that forty to fifty percent of activists experience such severe burnout that they often leave activism for periods of time.

A new study specific to animal activists released in the journal Social Movement Studies, “Nobody’s paying me to cry: the causes of activist burnout in United States animal rights activists,” conducted by Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, Dr. Paul Gorski and longtime activist Dallas Rising identifies the need for resources to heal burnout and compassion fatigue.


Supportive Resources for Your Vegan Clients

Vegan clients want respect for their ethical choices. They perceive the mass killing of animals for food as normalized violence and can benefit from positive coping skills to soothe their feelings of anger, frustration, and overwhelm that occur when advocating for animals in the face of culture and commerce. Fortunately, these coping skills and tools are readily available.

When Support Line callers feel the angst of being vegan in a not-yet vegan world, we validate their experience and ensure them they are not alone. Millions of animal activists around the world stand with them. We also encourage them to read Vystopia by vegan psychologist Clare Mann, who also provides a host of helpful resources on her website.

When Support Line callers ask how to release haunting graphic images from videos of animal suffering, we listen, empathize, and share experiential techniques such as deep breathing or visualizing. Instead of replaying the abuse scene in a continual loop, we encourage callers to envision a new end to the story where the animal is surrounded by love, support, and is provided safe shelter. We also refer them to our compassion fatigue webpage with articles, webinars, podcasts, video tips, and online trainings to prevent and heal compassion fatigue.

When Support Line callers struggle with negative, hurtful comments and rejection from non-vegan friends and family, we share communication tools to help them respond. We often refer callers to Dr. Melanie Joy’s vegan ally concept, which she describes in this short video and in her book, Beyond Beliefs: A Guide to Improving Relationships and Communication for Vegans, Vegetarians, and Meat Eaters.

You can support your vegan clients by being a vegan ally and helping them to practice sustainable activism. When they feel at odds with their families, communities, and society please share the above resources to show your respect for their values and your care for their wellbeing.


***This post is by contributor Lisa Levinson, MFA, Expressive Movement Therapist

Lisa Levinson directs In Defense of Animals’ Sustainable Activism Campaign, offering emotional and spiritual support for animal activists via a helpline, support groups, online events, and retreats. Lisa founded Vegan Spirituality to explore veganism as a spiritual practice and co-founded the Interfaith Vegan Coalition to help places of worship adopt vegan-friendly policies. She is an expressive movement therapist with 17 years of professional experience working at inpatient and outpatient treatment centers for eating disorders and drug and alcohol addictions. She is also a licensed Buff Bones® instructor with a focus on bone health. Please reach Lisa via the Support Line.





Supporting Vegan Activists

Beth Levine, LCSW-C

Beth Levine, LCSW-C, has a private practice based in Rockville, Maryland. She is Certified as a Therapist and Therapist Supervisor in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy by The Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy. She also has earned a Level I Certification in Internal Family Systems. Beth works with adults in individual and couple settings. She works with people struggling with anxiety, depression and relationship issues. She is honored to be part of her clients’ journey toward better health, happiness, and relationships. She is driven to make the world a better place on an individual, as well as a systemic level. Beth can be reached at and at her website.

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APA Reference
Levine, B. (2019). Supporting Vegan Activists. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Aug 2019
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