“My definition of freedom is liberation, equality, and justice.”
Who are you and what is your mission?
My name is Kerstin Brueller and I am an outspoken vegan animal activist, content creator, writer and graphic designer, and illustrator based in Vienna, Austria. Together with my partner, I started the animal activism merch label “RULE OF NINES”, which focuses on thought-provoking, educational organic activism wear.
My mission is to educate people about justice, moral, ethical, and humane behavior towards non-human animals and to break down anti-vegan appeals and misconceptions and conditioning on an easily understandable, relatable, and empathetic level through my vocal and visual activism. My activism includes face-to-face conversations, and videos but most of it happens in written and illustrated form online through my Instagram channel and blog.
How did you get started and what were the obstacles you had to overcome?
When I became vegan three years ago, I was suddenly confronted with a world that had been hidden from me for 29 years of my life. It was an absolute shock for me to realize what I had helped to finance for so many years. However, it was also the time when the strong urge grew to do something against this lack of knowledge, the ignorance, the disbelief, the oppression and the belittlement of animals and animal suffering and injustice, because I had become aware of something that others had no idea about.
Knowing, seeing, and recognizing the consequences my actions had on others was enough to challenge my sense of empathy and question my daily actions and habits. For me, it was very clear that I had to change something and that a radical change was not only necessary but also right, responsible and my only choice to be in alignment with my moral values. I didn't think much about obstacles or challenges, I just did it because nothing has ever felt more right to me than going vegan for the animals.
Looking back, I would probably say that the biggest obstacle I had to overcome but was willing to take on and accept, was that not everyone in my circle of friends at the time could handle my growing self-confidence, self-assurance, and vocal opinions, both online and offline. I used to hold back when it came to controversial topics where I could cause a stir and had no answers because I lacked the knowledge or experience. I also couldn't understand (and still can't) why people wouldn't want to know about it and wouldn't make a change themselves which unfortunately is still called "abandonment" instead of "immense enrichment".
What advice would you give to somebody who is just getting started on their own mission/journey?
Do it! Start with something you feel comfortable with, go from there, and then do something you don’t feel so comfortable with. And keep that attitude. It will make you grow. It will make you learn new things, reach out to others on different levels and inspire others to do the same. Be bold, be brave and do your thing.
Start by using the “tools” that are available to you. If you like to illustrate, use it for visualizing animal rights content and telling the animals’ story that way. If you like to sing, write a song. If you like to dance, perform and express the animals’ struggle by using your own body. If you like to talk, have face-to-face conversations or start recording videos. If you like to write, start a blog. If you like to knit, make pullovers or blankets (using organic cotton) for baby goats and sheep to keep them warm and send them to sanctuaries. There are endless possibilities we can contribute to help others with our skills, talents and passion. Sometimes we just need to get even more creative.
Also, it doesn’t matter what others think of you, but what you think of yourself and what is and feels right to YOU.
What are the three most important lessons you've learned in life and on your journey so far?
This is a tough question to be honest because there were so many lessons that I have learned only in the past three years, but if I would have to limit them to the three most important ones, I would say are these:
1. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It matters what You think of Yourself, who you want to be, and if your actions reflect that. Therefore be brave, be bold, stand up for what is right. Be curious, be hungry for knowledge, and realize what values are important to you and live by them.
2. Nothing is always as it seems and how we are conditioned to see, feel, & experience it. We are all fighting our own battles, but we must come together to make the world equal and just for everyone so that we can all live together in harmony and peace in the future. We are all one. One energy.
3. We have so many more problems than I was aware of, but the least we can do is to fight for justice and liberation for all and be kind to each other. The least we can do is to be vegan and not cause harm to non-human animals. It should evolve from there.
What do you do when you feel stuck, insecure, or overwhelmed?
When I feel stuck, insecure, and/or overwhelmed, I force myself to take a break. This sounds so simple and easy to do, but it is hard to take time for self-care to recharge. When you are active in something that is so important to you and you are so passionate about, you quickly feel like what you do is never enough. This leads to doing more and doing it longer than it is healthy. It burns you out, often slowly but surely. It gets to you, no matter what, because we can only take so much. Therefore I can only recommend having a healthy routine and plan in that extra time for shaking things off and invest some extra time in your well-being.
Often we don't realize it at the time that we are burning out or slowly slipping into a severe depression. Please, take care of yourself, listen to yourself, and be mindful of your mental and physical reactions and recognize stressful and destructive signs sooner rather than later.
If you feel like you can’t handle certain situations, feelings of anxiety, sadness, or frustration anymore, please don’t hesitate and get professional help. It is totally ok to do so.
What are three values you live by?
I live by the values I was brought up to but never fully embraced and acted by because society just works differently.
THE GOLDEN RULE “TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO TREAT YOU”
TREAT OTHERS THE WAY THEY WANT TO BE TREATED
THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER WAY
What is your definition of freedom? And what do you do to get there?
My definition of freedom is liberation, equality, and justice. We are only free until we are all free. Free means not having the freedom to do whatever we want because that would include hurting others as it is in the interest of some but contributing to the greater good to create a world and culture where we all live together in peace, harmony, respect, and justice. I know this sounds romanticized and idealistic and who knows if we will ever live in such a world, but we should certainly try to create it.
Who or what inspires you?
My greatest inspiration, or rather my strongest inner force, is not a person; it is justice.
I want discrimination and injustice to stop. The most misunderstood, unseen, discriminated, exploited, and murdered species on this planet are non-human animal species, that’s why I am active for them. When it comes to people, I find people who are constantly pushing their boundaries and getting out of their comfort zone inspiring. Those who take action and don't care in the least about what others think because they know it's the right thing to do.
A closing sentence.
Imagine you’d be in the animals’ position, how would you feel? What would you want people to do? And a huge thank you for this opportunity through this platform to use my voice for and with the animals.
If you want to know more about Kerstin and her mission, here is how you can connect with her: