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Meet Our Volunteers: Laura Buchenlicht

Laura Buchenlicht, a volunteer at The Piece Of Heaven Project Sanctuary

Ever since I switched from having been a life-long vegetarian to veganism seven years ago, I’ve been racking my brains how to get involved with more activism.

For some it might seem simple – there are so many ways to be a vegan advocate after all! But for someone with Complex Trauma and a Dissociative Identity, things aren’t simple at all.

Complex Trauma means that someone has experienced multiple psychological traumas, mostly rooted in childhood abuse/neglect. If it started in infancy, then a Dissociative Identity is the result, which means that someone’s different emotional states or personality parts remain disconnected and grow more disconnected by further trauma. In the past, this was called a “split” personality, but it’s a misleading, and frankly insulting, term.

This kind of deep trauma affects a person’s life substantially, often keeping them from really living, as they have to fight to survive every day and their true self remains suppressed. Such was my life before I left my abusive family and other abusive relationships. Becoming vegan was a first important step of finally embodying more of my true self.

One of the most disabling consequences of my trauma is my extreme social anxiety and myriad of triggers, which keep me from being able to do any on-street activism or anything else that requires direct contact with strangers. Like veganism, it’s something that carries a stigma, as the vast majority of people don’t know anything about trauma and abuse/neglect; and where there is ignorance, there usually is no understanding, and often prejudice.

One way of doing activism that I found early on, was that of becoming a member of the Art Of Compassion Project – an international online group of vegan artists, who create and sell animal rights themed art at vegan festivals and elsewhere to raise funds for vegan non-profits. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pen, so it was and remains perfect for me.

But it doesn’t feel like enough by far. Every day I’m triggered by the speciesist and carnist world around me, and I’ve known for a while now that dedicating my life to speaking out for animals and promoting veganism is one of my callings.

Since last year I finally have started to feel the beginnings of positive change for me that I’ve been desperate for all of my life and which I’ve worked hard for in therapy. I started my own blog about the connections between veganism, feminism, and psychological trauma, as well as a YouTube channel about trauma education. I also realised that I still want to be a singer and have written a song about going vegan, as well as working on several books about veganism - I’m a Jill of many trades.

In line with these projects I’ve started to interview other activists and creatives, which opened up a whole new world to me – for the first time in my life I felt that I could truly connect to others, even though they were strangers. I finally found my tribe.

Needless to say that I still want to do more. One of my many dreams would be to be able to earn a living from my vegan activist work. Due to my extreme trauma, I never was able to have a job and I’m currently homeless. I registered on a while back, which is were I found out about POHP.

I immediately felt inspired by the combination of an animal sanctuary and a vegan education hub. I do love creative approaches to activism and projects where you can sense people’s passion for helping animals and bringing about social change.

Funnily enough I had asked Sharon for an interview for my blog first, a month or so before they posted about looking for a blog writer. So clearly the collaboration was meant to be.

I’m excited to be given the opportunity to support this little piece of heaven, and grateful for the motivation and sense of purpose it provides me. Thank you, Mark and Sharon, and all the volunteers, for all the work you do!

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