Preventing Burn-out   

Burn-out is a very serious problem in the animal rights community.  Every day we deal with the atrocities committed against animals.  Whether it is trying to find a product that was not tested on animals or just watching a co-worker eating a hamburger, we are dealing with animal abuse on some level.  We know the horrible background behind these seemingly insignificant events, and many times it becomes overwhelming.  So, how can a person continue working on behalf of animals when it demands so much emotional energy?  I have developed a few of my own "tricks of the trade" that I would like to share.

It is vital that we do not let ourselves get overwhelmed.  The animals need us desperately, and by not caring for ourselves we are doing them a great disservice.


  • Take action - any action.  Doing something for the animals gives you a great sense of accomplishment.  Even writing one single letter on an  issue that really touches you will make you feel that you have helped to make a difference - because you have!  See the Activism section of this site for some easy ways to help animals.

  • Don't carry the weight by yourself.  You do not have to single-handedly bring down the meat and dairy industry.  If you write only one letter, congratulate yourself for doing that much - don't criticize yourself for not having written  more.  Trying to do everything at once only exhausts you.

  • Create a "feel good" file.  Cut out inspirational quotes, really funny cartoons, extra-cute animal pictures, whatever.  Put them all in a file or notebook and then look through them when you need a boost.  It is surprising how much a really funny cartoon can change your mood!   Visit the Bizarro website to check out some great animal rights cartoons!

  • Spend time with a like-minded friend.  If you don't have one, make one!  Join an animal rights or vegetarian group, or go to an online a.r. or veg chat room.  You don't have to stop hanging out with your meat-eating friends, but sometimes it really helps to talk to someone who understands exactly what you are going through.  Once, a guy I didn't really know that well called me out of the blue and vented  for 15 minutes about people's insensitivity towards animals - then said good bye.  He just needed to get it off his chest and none of his other friends would have understood.  (By the way, we are good friends now.)

  • You don't have to try to be 100% vegan.  It is simply not possible.  I try to focus on what makes a difference to the animals.  Obviously not eating meat, eggs and dairy products makes a BIG difference to the animals.  Their lives literally depend on it.  (Please read Why Vegan if the egg and dairy connection doesn't make sense to you.)  But how much is the meat & dairy industry really profiting from the Myristal Ether Sulfate in your shampoo?  (Particularly since Myristal Ether Sulfate can be derived from either plant or animal origin.)  I am NOT saying don't read ingredients, or that you should buy things that clearly have animal-derived ingredients, but don't let yourself be consumed by minutiae.  Keep in mind that you are setting an example for non-vegans.  The harder it looks to be vegan, the less people will be open to trying it.

  • Kiss your companion animal.  You have made a huge difference in his or her life.  Enjoy the rewards of their affection.

  • Take a break.  Don't feel guilty about treating yourself to a vacation or a "week off" of  animal rights issues.  You don't have to be 100% focused all the time.  Which leads me to...

  • Give yourself the luxury of not being outraged.  I caught myself getting upset over a few animal-related things in the Harry Potter books.   (How very un-vegan to add eye of newt to a potion!  Must they curse that spider??)  Umm, LET IT GO, Kari.

  • Smile.  Visit the Bizarro website for great animal rights cartoons!

  • Visit a farm animal sanctuary!  Talk about renewing your enthusiasm - this is, in my opinion, the very best way to do it.  You get the chance to see the happy endings to all of your hard work.  Check out my pics from a recent visit to the New York Farm Sanctuary.


Let's face it - we are dealing with seriously depressing issues.  We must be kind to ourselves so we have something left to give to the animals.



If you think you are too small or insignificant to have an effect, you obviously have never gotten into bed with a mosquito.

Ingrid Newkirk               


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