So you become enlightened to the fact that your hamburger helper was once several tortured cows, and you go vegan. Congrats, and welcome to the Cool Kids’ Club.
But then one day, you remember that life is as confusing and painful as Freud promised, and decide that you need to talk to someone about your woes. Oy: Your partner just left you; you’re having naked nightmares; you aren’t happy in your job; you experience intrusive images of dead animals each time you pass a hot dog stand; your family doesn’t get your worldview. Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in finding your very own Dr. Freud with whom to hash this out. Most of us have been there.
Here’s the thing, though. For some (not all) of us vegans, talking to a meat-eating, leather-chair-sitting therapist about your existential sadness regarding animal exploitation, doesn’t quite fly.
(Disclaimer: I realize that there are people who disagree with this, and who have had very positive experiences with foie-gras scarfing shrinks, and I also realize that some might think it’s inappropriate to even consider your shrink’s lifestyle in that way. After all, it’s your hour and a half, and it’s your buck fifty. I’m not judging you or your experience. If you’re happy, I’m happy. But that’s irrelevant here, so don’t get hung up on it. Instead, kindly read on, because I have more to say.)
In the recent New York Times article, “Therapists Report Increase in Green Disputes,” shrink Linda Buzell stated, ”Changing the family diet because of environmental concerns can be particularly loaded.” Buzell goes on to “warn wives and mothers not to move a family toward vegetarianism before everyone is ready.” Buzell concludes with this brilliant, never-before-heard, eye-opening statement: “Food is such an emotional issue,” she said. (Yeah, it’s also a deadly one, Doctor. Sorry if you weren’t “ready” for my bluntness.)
After I read that – especially the “wives and mothers” part – I was about to schedule an emergency appointment with my shrink, when, lo and behold, something a couple paragraphs down caught my eye:
“As the focus on climate increases in the public’s mind, it can’t help but be a part of people’s planning about the future,” said Thomas Joseph Doherty, a clinical psychologist in Portland, Ore., who has a practice that focuses on environmental issues. “It touches every part of how they live: what they eat, whether they want to fly, what kind of vacation they want.”
Yeah yeah yeah, what Dr. Doherty said was smart and all, blah blah blah… but, hold the phone. A therapist whose practice focuses on environmental issues? Really? Obviously this guy aced “Marketing 101.”
Why aren’t more therapists identifying themselves as a “vegan for a vegan”? Is it because of the whole “no disclosure” thing? Alright then, how about just specializing in veganism, or animal rights issues, or issues specific to animal activists? Dr. Doherty specializes in environmental issues! He did it, why can’t you?
Sorry if this sounds somewhat exploitative, but… for the right person, this is kind of a goldmine. Sort of makes me want to go to shrink school and then open my own vegan practice. I’d specialize in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (that can be fairly common amongst vegans), familial issues (like when the rest of the family doesn’t accept your newfound veganism), support groups, and avoiding activist burnout.
And since the likelihood of my going for my PsyD is pretty much non-existent, then I’ll tell you this: as a potential client of the hypothetical vegan shrink, I’d be a happy camper if someone out there decided to do this. And isn’t my happiness all that matters here, anyway?
Even if it’s not cash you’re after, you can actually give back to the community by providing free or reduced-fee counseling services to vegans and AR activists. Not only would you get a gold star, but you’d also get the satisfaction of knowing that the animals have a happy, healthy advocate batting for them.
That’ll be a hundred and fifty bucks, please.