The 2018 Vancouver Veg Expo took place on Sunday May 27th, and my boyfriend James and I attended. It’s a huge event with over 20,000 attendees, where vegan and vegetarian product vendors, animal welfare groups, vegan activists, and chefs all gather together to share the latest and greatest of anything plant-based. Last year was the first year we attended and we had a blast! We discovered so many great products: Gusta cheese and sausages, Pulse Kitchen Cheeses, No Cheez Crackers, Cauli Crumble, the list goes on and on. If you want to check out what we picked up last year, please check it out here! I will be sharing a post about what we got this year soon! We definitely picked up a lot of new products to try but the main draw for us was to hear Kip Andersen speak. Andersen is a film maker, known for the influential films Cowspiracy and What The Health? The films address many of the most hotly debated aspects of animal agriculture, its effects on the environment and on public health, and how up until recently, it was largely hidden from the public, and not widely discussed.
At the Expo, Kip didn’t really touch on the issues he presents in the films. He rightfully assumed that the attendees of the Veg Expo were probably already vegetarian, vegan or veg curious, and likely had seen the films, since they were attending his lecture. He would be preaching to the choir, so to speak. Instead, Kip’s address was much more spiritual and mindset-oriented than I was expecting. I’d like to relay some of the main points that stuck with me and summarize some of his messages.
Kip started off his lecture by showing some articles and statistics that show the rise in popularity of veganism, and the exponential growth and demand for vegan products. After sharing “the good news,” Kip went on to discuss more personal tips he’s gleaned over the last 10 years since becoming vegan, becoming a film maker and an activist. Kip is also a yoga teacher; he studied Kundalini yoga in India for a period of time during the six years of making Cowspiracy. His spiritual beliefs and practices definitely inform much of his outlook on life and the wisdom he imparted. Here are the main points that he shared with us that stuck with me.
Be specific about your thoughts. Kip briefly mentioned the Law of Attraction and is clearly influenced by this theory. He didn’t go into great detail about the law itself or the teachings of Abraham Hicks, but he did say “thoughts become things.” Whether thoughts are negative or positive, they are energy, and the universe responds to that energy, regardless of it’s charge. Therefore you need to be conscious and specific about your thoughts. This made me think of the quote “what you resist persists.” So whether or not you think about something positively or negatively, it’s the frequency and the intensity of your thoughts that brings it into your life. Therefore, be specific about what you are spending your time thinking about, and understand it’s not just what you are thinking about, but also how you are thinking about something that matters.
Don’t Try – Do! Kip said that he heard a lot of people saying they tried to be vegan but that it was too hard. Or they tried to do something but it didn’t work out. He relayed this to his own experience becoming a film maker. He decided he wanted to be a film maker and he started out by asking people, often strangers, if he could film their weddings. This is how he taught himself how to make movies. He didn’t try to make films, he just started filming and learned by doing.
Be Persistent – This point goes along with Don’t Try – Do. Persistence is key as there will inevitably be set backs and failures on your way to doing whatever it is you want to do. It took Kip six years to make Cowspiracy and up until it was actually released, his friends made fun of him for it and didn’t believe he would actually finish it. So despite the challenges, despite other people’s (even friends’) opinions, staying clear and persistent will lead you to accomplishing your goals.
Hope vs Belief. He didn’t spend a lot of time talking about this, but I did think this was an interesting point. He said that hoping that something will happen is putting 10% of the effort on you and 90% of the effort on the universe. Hoping that something will happen lets you off the hook of actually making it happen, whereas believing it will happen implies that it is going to happen, and therefore pushes you to take action. He spoke about the 50/50 rule; you have to do your 50% of the work in order to meet the Universe/Spirit/Source (whatever resonates with you) halfway to get the ball rolling before things start coming to you. Hope is passive, belief is active.
Change vs. Transformation. This point was maybe the most interesting to me. It is this idea that I thought about the most after we left the Expo. Kip pointed out that we aren’t going to change everyone’s minds and that we don’t have to, it’s about transforming perspective. I’ll use the dairy industry as an example. There are so many non-dairy alternatives now that the dairy industry is actually under real threat; their profits have been plummeting over the last few years. In ten, twenty, or fifty years from now, cow milk might become obsolete! Or at least the dairy industry, in its current form might become so unnecessary that the industry totally changes. This didn’t happen by changing the dairy industry itself; dairy farmers didn’t stop farming cows and start growing almonds or coconuts (although maybe some have made the switch). Instead new industry was born and new producers emerged. The takeaway here is that it is not about pushing against the old to become something else, it’s about creating something new.
Love/Hate vs. Indifference. Kip pointed out that the opposite of love isn’t hate – the opposite of love is indifference. Love and hate both have very strong frequencies and are very activated states. If you are having a discussion with someone and they are getting angry, you don’t shy away from the conversation. Anger is a response that something is hitting a nerve, and maybe striking a chord with someone. It’s worth having those conversations and being open to disagreements. You don’t have to change anyone’s minds, you shouldn’t expect to, but if you’ve struck a nerve with someone, it might cause them to think about their own beliefs and could potentially create transformation which wouldn’t have otherwise occurred. This is an important point to keep in mind when dealing with friends or family who may not share the same beliefs as you. Be open to discussion. Don’t take their anger personally. It is a state of activation, and if you can hold space and love for them, it couldn’t be transformational.
Actifunism: making activism fun! I’m not sure if “actifunism” is a term he coined or if it’s just a thing I’ve never heard of but the idea is to think about activism in a more lighthearted way. Kip suggested getting a few friends together and going into a restaurant one at time and asking if they have any vegan or plant-based options. When there is a high demand, restaurants will respond. This was just one example he gave of a type of activism that can be fun and involve friends and community. He also touched on the power of social media and sharing online. His films gained such popularity largely because of all the online attention, whether that be positive or negative, and from people sharing through social media. Although social media can feel a bit like shouting into the abyss at times, sharing with your community, whether that’s online or in person does have an effect.
And on that note, I will end it here. This was my little act of “actifunism” by sharing some of what I learned from Kip Anderson at the 2018 Vancouver Veg Expo. Stay tuned for my Vancouver Veg Expo haul! If you want to check out what we picked up last year, please check it out here!