We’ve all heard of dystopia—in fact, for many of us, 2020 felt like we were living in one. But vystopia? What is it, and how will understanding this unique concept improve our lives?

Vystopia: ‘The Anguish of Being Vegan in a Nonvegan World’

The term “vystopia” was coined by an Australian psychologist, Clare Mann, who wanted to define the existential crisis that many compassionate people experience when they know that the systems around us value cruelty over kindness.

Most vegans have experienced moments when our friends, family, or colleagues have refused to understand our decision to go vegan. They may have mocked our choices, rejected our attempts to explain, or even become hostile toward us—simply because they didn’t want to confront the cruelty behind their own decisions or were too stubborn to change.

It hurts to realize that human animals who are otherwise kind and loving—who may even have beloved animal companions in their own family—don’t care about the animal suffering that’s funded by their consumer choices. Vystopia describes the frustration that we feel when we see marketing companies and other businesses—and often legislators—encouraging purchases of animal-derived products, even though we know that the enterprises that produce them harm animals, the environment, and human health.

So How Do We Live With Vystopia?

Let’s start by being kind to our community—and ourselves.

It can be difficult when the people closest to us don’t understand our ethical choices. However, we must remember that overcoming any dominant cultural message can take time. While our friends or family may not be ready to go vegan yet, we can seek out a vegan community that shares our values, both online and in person. The PETA Prime community brings together like-minded individuals who support one another—and you may be able to find local vegan social groups in your area, too.

Participating in these communities and others can bolster and encourage us—providing enough strength and support to face the people in our lives who have yet to respect our choices. Refill your cup! Running on “emotional empty” doesn’t help you or animals.

Remember, Help Is Available

There’s plenty of vegan-specific support out there—don’t hesitate to use it!

For example, therapists who share your ethics and values are likely available in your area—you can find them by searching for “vegan therapy” with an online search engine. PETA is proud to have several PETA Business Friends who specialize in health services for compassionate individuals. Dawn D’Amico, at Advanced Therapeutic Counseling, offers consultations for children and adults and specializes in trauma, family issues, and relationships.

While you’re focusing on health providers with shared values, you may want to check out other PETA Business Friends, such as Plant Based TeleHealth for medical care and Sirius Joy for life coaching.

Let’s also remind ourselves that vystopia will someday be a thing of the past. PETA’s global campaigns are helping consumers understand the cruelty that animals endure, and more people are going vegan every day. It’s easier than ever to find vegan friends, restaurants, entertainment, and products—and remember that you are contributing to that demand, too!

Treat Yourself to Some Loving Kindness

It can be easy to focus on the negativity and cruelty around us—but it’s important to take the time to recognize how much we’re helping animals with our everyday choices. Every vegan meal that we eat reduces the suffering of sentient beings—as do our vegan clothing, cosmetics, and entertainment choices.

If the countless animals saved by our compassionate decisions could thank us, they certainly would! So why not thank and appreciate yourself? Tell yourself these encouraging statements right now: I am helping animals. I am helping to end cruelty. I am bringing about a kinder world. My actions matter.

PETA Prime has created printable mirror affirmations to help you show yourself kindness every day—while recognizing just how much you are accomplishing for animals. Print them out; tape them to your bathroom mirror, your computer monitor, or anywhere you frequently look; and start each day with a reminder that your compassion is changing the world.

Click Here to Print Your Affirmations!