by Billy Prusinowski
There comes a time in your life when things must change. Personally, after four years of college activism, then moving to Portland, Oregon for a year specifically to further that activism, I needed a change. It was a combination of wanting to live a more mainstream lifestyle and starting to become frightened of the consequences social justice advocates had been facing. It’s sad, but quite literally, I was a victim of the “Green Scare”
Green Scare: The federal government’s ongoing prosecution of environmental and animal rights activists, akin to the “Red Scare” of the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Not wanting to stand down in the face of adversity; (having gay friends that were still discriminated against, teaching students whose families were being torn apart by immigration laws, and of course, still believing firmly that animals are not ours to eat or wear or experiment on) I was miserable thinking I needed to hang up my activist hat and sit idle.
Two things saved my life.
One was the gym. If I wasn’t able to tear apart the metal cages enslaving circus animals at Ringling Brothers, then at least I could crush barbells and kettlebells in the gym a few hours a week.
Second was Team PlantBuilt. This group changed my perception of acvitism, and allowed me to combine my two passions. This decade has made fitness and muscular physiques all the rave on social media. Those with knowledge of the “fitness game” (and a six pack of abs to boot) get a lot of respect. The right kind of respect? Personally, I don’t think true respect should be based on body image, but if I can take off my shirt and get more people to listen to me by doing so, I’ll use every weapon in my arsenal!
Since joining PlantBuilt after their inaugural season in 2013, I have had the chance to spread my message of social justice, compassion for animals, and equality in education to the masses. Every #flexfriday pic I take can have an essay about veganism, police brutality, and union labor posted in the comments for all the people ‘mirin to read and think about. The fact that a ripped physique picking up 405 lbs of iron gets a lot of views on Facebook and Instagram is fantastic. I’m also more inspired to get more shredded and lift more weight….simply because more people will check me out and hear me speak.
Once people put it together that vegans have the types of bodies (faces, physiques, everything from head to toe) that our society glamorizes, they will follow suit. It is happening all over, it is happening as we speak, and it’s fucking exciting. We can continue to be activists by living a positive and friendly and outgoing lifestyle, where can speak articulately about animal rights and make it appealing for the masses. Continue to do this, and we will have a more vegan world day by day by day. Stay Strong.