Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Vegan Activism and/or/as Humanitarian Work.

[Reply to a question from a viewer.]
I can make a video in response to this question,  but mebbe you should reply to a few further emails.
Please note that if/when I make a video in reply I will render you anonymous (so feel free to mention the particular job-qualifications/education you have here in this email: I will not repeat the details in a video response to it… I'll make them vague enough that the advice could apply to anyone / any number of people).
There is a major, implicit problem in your email:
(1) You say that you have no job (no current career-path or ambition).  That's fine.  That's not a problem "in itself".
(2) You then talk about vegan activism.
(3) Is the point, implicitly, that you want #2 to be a substitute for #1?  Do you want to try to make vegan activism your source of income and primary/only career?

Many, many times, when I did humanitarian work, people asked me for advice in a parallel manner, but without really admitting the implicit premise of the thing.  They would say something like.
(0) Hey, you've lived in Cambodia/Laos, you know all about living and working there.
(1) I have no skills, no job, no career, no money, nothing to offer, nothing I can do to help anyone.
(2) Therefore, I should be able to move to Cambodia/Laos (or some other poverty stricken country) and earn a good living that would provide me with a quality of life MUCH HIGHER than (e.g.) a rice-farmer living in that country (someone who OWNS LAND, and probably owns some farming equipment and machinery, and who has skills to do that job, even if they're 100% learned from their grandparents, and not via formal education).
If you're already a plumber, you can go to a refugee camp and do plumbing (really… water and sanitation = huge problem most of the time).  If you're already a dentist, you can go to Laos/Cambodia and do dentistry.  BUT GUESS WHAT?  You'll be making a financial sacrifice to do so, and you'll live in TERRIBLE conditions, with zero income, or near-zero income, or POSSIBLY the agency that employs you actually wants you to donate money to them, just so that you have the opportunity to work, etc.
And when you think about it, A LOT OF THIS is actually built into the premise of "humanitarian work" in a sort of unstated way.
I knew a couple who had DECADES of experience in Asia, both in private-sector work (as teachers) and a little bit of charitable / humanitarian work …they still COMPLETELY ______ themselves over by moving to Sri Lanka with the implicit assumption that they were going to EARN money by being "editors" (speaking English only, no other language) at a Buddhist foundation in Sri Lanka.  If you just walked around the office there (at that foundation) you'd see: these people are poorer than rice-farmers in a third-world country, and they're NOT being paid to be here, etc.  How could you possibly walk in here and think, "I'm gonna help pay for my retirement by providing 'editing' skills IN ENGLISH (no ability to speak/read Sinhalese or other languages)…".
This kind of unexamined assumption has really dented many people's lives (that I've seen, "face to face") even when the people concerned have some degree of demonstrated intelligence and experience in PRECISELY that same area of work.
So we return to your question about vegan activism.
Even if you were writing to me as a medical doctor and fully qualified heart surgeon, how positive could the advice I give you possibly be?
"Yeah… well… if you quit your practice as a surgeon to be a full-time vegan activist… that's gonna be a disaster…"
Sure, you hear about A SMALL NUMBER of heart-surgeons who become prominent as vegan advocates/activists.  How many of them actually pay their rent from their "income" as vegan activists?  The answer may be zero.
And you're not a heart surgeon, and you're not a dentist, and you're not a plumber.
Veganism is much, much worse than Laos: if you fly to Laos and just "join in", a lot of people will be happy to have your company.  If you have zero skills, and just start learning the Laotian language, I can say that you might have 10 good years just trying to help out in Laos, even if you can't do anything more useful than helping to re-paint a barn.  Why?  People are just generally positive, cheery and co-operative there.
Guess what?  VEGANS ARE NOT.
If I'd spent the last 5 years contributing to Laotian/Isaan "ecology" (really meaning rice farming, etc.) how many friends and colleagues do you think I'd have?  Admittedly, most of those friendships would require me to drink alcohol and eat meat (things I refuse to do), but trust me: Lao-speaking "ecology" is a really warm and open scene (including eco-tourism, etc.) where you (with zero skills) could have a good life, in the next 5 or 10 years.
Vegan activism IS NOT.  Not even if you're a heart surgeon.  Not even if you're an architect.
This is not a "mic drop" end to the conversation: feel free to write back, you may well have more to say, and the conversation may lead to my making a youtube video quite different from the one I now imagine myself making (based on what else you say in reply now, etc.).