I enjoyed reading this and think past me would have found this quite helpful to read before attending a conference for the first time, so thank you!
Thank you so much for reaching out for support and advice on this. It sounds like such an emotionally hard situation, and I really hope things feel better soon for you.
If you’re currently feeling suicidal or feeling very down, I’d encourage contacting a suicide hotline and consider talking to a therapist if that’s an option available to you. Here’s an international list of helplines: https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/ .
It’s worth bearing in mind that the EA approach is about doing the most good you can with the resources you’ve got. As much as it sucks, you can’t do things with resources you don’t have. Freedom to choose what you eat is a resource that people have or don’t have, in much the same way as they may have/not have money or time.
Additionally, while EAs often encourage having high altruistic standards, there are limits to this; it definitely shouldn’t mean taking your own life. As much as it sucks, sometimes the state of the world is that the reasonable or rational choice in a given situation means consuming animal products or things tested on animals - for example, vegans work very hard to avoid the consumption of animal products, but sometimes have to take medicine that isn’t vegan, and the vegan society endorses that:
“The definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid animal use in a non-vegan world. Sometimes, you may have no alternative to medication manufactured using animal products. Even if other medications are available, they may be less effective, have more side effects or be unsuitable for your healthcare needs. While it can be upsetting to compromise our vegan beliefs, we encourage vegans to look after their health and that of others, enabling them to be effective advocates for veganism.”
I can’t even begin to imagine how frustrated and upset you may be feeling. It sounds like such a difficult situation. I really do agree with the other commenters, though, about how much impact you might be able to have later on, once you have a bit more freedom.
I’m not sure if this is helpful as an example - there may be many contextual things that feel too different, but just in case it’s helpful: I wasn't allowed to be vegan or vegetarian growing up but became vegan at university and have been mostly following a vegan diet since. I’ve convinced a lot of my friends to try vegan food and several of them have massively reduced their meat consumption as a result. Many others eat vegan when I’m around, even if they don’t normally. I’m not sure, but this may even be a thing you can do subtly now - if it sounds possible in your context, you could try sometimes offering to cook something for your family or friends that happens to be vegan (eg. lentil dhal) and not emphasising the fact that it’s vegan.
As other commentators have said, there are so many potential ways you might be able to help animals in future, especially with a STEM background, and I feel excited about a world where there are people so passionate about animals fighting for animal welfare. The best advice I can give based on my own experience is to focus on things you can control, and think about the future - figure out what you might want to work on, and figure out where you might want to try and build knowledge or skills to work on improving animal welfare once you can.
So excited about these, and glad to see them shared. Thanks for all of your hard work Mila + team!
Thank you for the thoughts. My team was pretty uncertain about whether to post this, and I could have done some things better. It seems helpful to clarify some of my intentions behind the original post:
Thanks for your suggestion here — we currently have a 'least valuable experience' question in our post-event feedback form, but your suggestion is an interesting idea. We’re now discussing it internally. (For context, I work on the events team at CEA and have been the community health contact person at previous EAG/EAGx events.)
I think figuring out whether something is a serious enough issue to talk to the community health team about can feel hard for several reasons like those you’ve mentioned. In general, the more serious something is the more likely it is you should tell the community contact. Additionally, the more upset you are about the incident (even if it might not be perceived as serious by others) the more likely it is you should tell the community contact, especially if being upset is making it hard for you to participate in the event.
As you and other commenters have implied, we generally like to hear about incidents even if they seem minor, in order to keep an eye on patterns of behaviour. Sending a short text/whatsapp to the community contact number might be a low-cost way to let us know about things that feel minor. There are a variety of possible actions we may take depending on the severity of the incident(s) and other context. We’ve sometimes just made a note of the incident, and don’t act unless other complaints about the same person come up. We’ve had conversations like you’ve suggested, gently letting people know they’ve made an attendee uncomfortable. On the other end of the spectrum we’ve permanently banned people from our events for more serious incidents or repeated patterns of unacceptable behaviour. And there are various intermediary actions we’ve taken too.
Hi, I believe the Rotterdam team are processing the videos and getting permission from speakers at the moment. They should be up soon!
Thanks for your detailed comment! I work on the events team so I can add some info. Yep, we broadly agree here. We're keen to open and review applications earlier than we have been doing, for many of the reasons you mention. It's something we've been actively working on for a while, but unfortunately we have been dealing with a variety of bottlenecks on this front. We have designed a new application system for EAG 2023, which will open very soon. It's an application for all of the EAGs in 2023, rather than on a conference by conference basis. So, once people are accepted, they can then register (and plan/book travel for) any of the announced EAGs in 2023.
EAGx admissions are done by their respective organising teams, as they are community hosted. CEA just supports them, so we can't directly control their admissions turnaround, but we are making systems improvements that the EAGx teams can benefit from too. This will hopefully help somewhat!
This really resonated with me - thanks for writing!