"What is it that you do for a living, Jasmin?"
What do you mean? I'm the "Swiss army knife of vegans." That's what's on my business card.
I started Jasmin’s Jargon to be a place for me to pontificate about time-management tools, skills, and resources that I’m discovering and trying. It’s all centered around my various activism projects, which keep me on my toes. All the while, I’m doing my very best to create and maintain a healthy work-life balance, manage my anxiety, and enjoy my life, dammit.
Since starting this newsletter, I’ve told you about some of the tools I’m exploring: email optimization programs; focus-music that gets me in the zone; digital communities that foster deep-work sessions; and a virtual reality workout program that I actually look forward to.
But one thing I haven’t yet deep-dived into is telling you about why it is I have to focus on time-management in the first place. So today, I want to take a step back and tell you a bit more about my current professional projects.
Kinder Beauty is a vegan, cruelty-free, clean beauty subscription box company. But more than that, it’s a mission-driven, activist-founded company that aims to mainstream ethical beauty. I have the giant honor of being the VP of Editorial for this company, which means that I spend a lot of my time there working on the blog. And it’s a pretty great blog, if you ask me. I love packaging and editing these stories (which cover a range of topics from vegan beauty tips, to wellness life hacks, to ethical business founder stories) and working with a stellar team of writers. Beyond helming the blog, I’m also helping to put together a forthcoming podcast, but that’s just between us for now. And since nonprofit work is at my heart, one of my favorite parts of my work at Kinder Beauty is managing the charitable giving program. To date, Kinder has donated more than $50k to animal rights, environmental, human rights, and antiracist organizations.
On any given week, my work with Kinder Beauty might include:
Assigning, editing, and publishing several blogs
Writing my Sunday newsletter that goes out to all of our subscribers and points to a specific piece of content that I’m particularly moved by
Working with the co-producer of the forthcoming Kinder Beauty podcast on pre-production
Identifying charity partners to work with
Brainstorming creative names for collections and programs
Mariann Sullivan and I co-founded this media nonprofit in January 2010 because we wanted to create a hub for people who want to change the world for animals. We were tired of those who care about animals feeling they needed to wait for top-down organizational campaigns to get involved with advocacy efforts, and we were inspired by all of the tremendous work being done in the world of animal rights across so many realms—from legal, to education, to grassroots, to media, to the arts. Mariann and I co-host the weekly Our Hen House podcast, where we interview a change-maker who is working to help animals—especially farmed animals, since we dream of a vegan world. In addition to the weekly Our Hen House podcast, Mariann also hosts the Animal Law Podcast, which is an Our Hen House production. We have interviewed thousands of activists to date, and are endlessly inspired by our guests—as well as by our “flock,” which are those who support Our Hen House and in turn receive an additional layer of content (including weekly bonus podcast content, a weekly Flock Friday Zoom meeting where we all get together virtually, and an active Facebook group). Our Hen House is my heartbeat, and I am grateful to have such a talented, devoted team making it possible for me to do this on the side. I hope you tune in, if you haven’t already, which you can do wherever you listen to podcasts.
On any given week, my work with Our Hen House might include:
Recording TOTS (“top of the show”) with Mariann
Interviewing an activist for an upcoming episode
Reviewing sponsorship or outreach materials
Sending thank you videos to our donors through Network for Good
Hosting a Flock Friday discussion on Zoom
My history with VegNews is long. The first article I wrote for this award-winning media brand was back in 2006. I then spent several years writing features for the magazine, and eventually—in 2016—joined forces as the Senior Editor, where I helmed editorial from a sweet office near the beach in Santa Cruz, CA. After moving the editorial team down to LA, I left as Senior Editor but remained on the team in a variety of more freelance positions, and I am currently Editor-At-Large. Beyond that, I am lucky enough to pen a love column in the magazine as well as conduct the celebrity interview (some stand-out interviews I’ve gotten to do have been with Joaquin Phoenix, Cory Booker, Bob Barker, and Tig Notaro). I’m also currently writing a feature (on anti-fat bias and veganism) for the next issue.
On any given week, my work with VegNews might include:
Pitching ideas for the next magazine issue
Interviewing a celebrity or successful entrepreneur for the upcoming issue
Attending a meeting to brush up on my SEO skills
Writing my love column
Working with my research assistant on an upcoming feature article (our current notes for the feature I’m writing are 62 ridiculous pages long)
But perhaps most excitingly, I’m also the author of the first and only (for now) VegNews book, The VegNews Guide to Being a Fabulous Vegan (more on that in 3 … 2 … ).
In December 2020, my second book—The VegNews Guide to Being a Fabulous Vegan—hit store shelves (as much as a book could hit store shelves in Covid-times). It’s a vegan lifestyle manifesto, featuring 30 chapters that detail every possible question you could imagine about going vegan—from protein to parenting to world hunger, and everything in between. Each chapter concludes with a scrumptious recipe (which VegNews provided … lucky for you, I did not), and we also have a ton of super accessible, list-style sidebars, for those who are too busy to read the book front to back. Prior to that, back in 2016, I published my memoir—Always Too Much and Never Enough—followed by an epic, 65-city book tour. The book is a deep-dive into my historic issues with food and body image, and ultimately centers around how going vegan and coming out helped me to find my authentic self and get healthier in terms of my outlook around my body and what I was consuming. It’s extremely personal and sometimes I cannot believe I published a memoir (especially when I was in my thirties which is relatively so young to be telling your story, but there you go). A lot has definitely changed since that book ended, but I still embrace it as a memento for a period of my life that required a significant amount of introspection. I have a lot more thoughts and feelings about the ways I’ve changed since this book came out—physically, geographically, emotionally, and activist…ly—and perhaps I’ll explore some of that here. Finally, though I can’t say much, I have another book in me that I’m hoping to sell sometime soon, and I truly cannot wait to tell you more about that.
On any given week, my author work might include:
Chatting with my amazing agent about the current status of my book proposal (which is finally in the hands of editors)
Fine-tuning or re-working my proposal or a chapter in it
Being interviewed for Fabulous Vegan (I’m still on the interview rounds since it was only recently published)
Last year (oy vey, remember last year?!), I had the honor of putting together The Encompass Essays, a digital collection of essays about racial equity and animal advocacy. The digital collection, which ran on Sentient Media’s website, is being turned into a bonafide anthology and will be published this fall by Lantern Books & Media. It’s called Antiracism in Animal Advocacy: Igniting Cultural Change, and Our Hen House will be publishing the audiobook counterpart later this year, too. It’s been a lot of work putting it together, but the Encompass team has been a true joy to work with. Stay tuned!
On any given week, my work on the forthcoming anthology might include:
Reading the final manuscript and providing last-minute notes
Gathering headshots and bios and submitting them to the publisher
Collaborating with both the OHH team and the Encompass team on the plans for the forthcoming audiobook (I cannot wait!)
Working with writers on editing their essays
Board & Advisory Board Work
I sit on the board for the Newark LGBTQ Center, which is a fairly new position for me. I hope you can make it to our upcoming “Can You Imagine?” virtual gala. I’m also on the Advisory Board for Encompass (which works to create an equitable animal protection movement) and for Sentient Media (a nonprofit journalism organization that seeks to create transparency around the role of animals in our daily lives—from food to companionship to laboratory test subjects). One thing I have been excited to tell you is that I’m currently a mentor with Sentient Media’s Writer’s Collective. Here’s the official ad for that so that you can get involved, if that calls to you:
Do you want to turn from an #advocate to a #journalist?
Learn how to bring your message to the world with the @Sentient_Media Writers' Collective: an online community for aspiring writers with events, training courses, and mentorship.
Apply here: https://sentientmedia.org/writers-collective/
I actually just recorded a video on “The Art of Editing and Being Edited” as part of that mentorship, and there will also be three one-on-one mentorship hours with me available for people who sign up. So I hope you do! I think Sentient Media is truly remarkable in its work. I recently interviewed SM’s Executive Director Ana Bradley for Our Hen House, and I highly recommend listening.
On any given week, my board and advisory board work might include:
Attending a strategic planning session for the Newark LGBTQ Center
Sending out sponsorship letter requests for the forthcoming gala
Recording a mentorship video for the Writer’s Collective organized by Sentient Media
Connecting the organizations with writers, editors, and possible collaborators for future projects
Other miscellaneous projects
Aside from all of the above, you might also find me:
Helping a fellow activist writer who wants to spread the word about her new book and needs some tips
Consulting with other social justice organizations regarding fundraising, board development, or building a digital community
Teaching an Animal Rights 101 workshop
Planning a book talk
Writing this newsletter
Writing all of this out was a bit more complex than I realized it would be, but I nonetheless recommend you do it for yourself, too, if you feel you need an audit of your professional projects. One of the reasons I sat down to do this (with the visibility of then publishing it) is because I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of what we value and what we don’t. I was just talking to my best friend Erica about this, and I’m going to delve deeper into it in future newsletters.
But the basic gist is that we can sort of naturally “crowd out” the things we don’t want to value by only focusing (or I guess mostly focusing) on the things we do want to value. I find a lot of relief in that idea—that I don’t have to always make tough choices about what I want and need to let go of; instead, I can just make sure to go back to my priorities (both work and personal), constantly audit where I’m putting my energy, and when I get distracted, focus back in on what actually matters.
For me, that all starts with a realistic, transparent audit of where I’m spending my energy.
In case you haven’t noticed, figuring out the things that matter (and recognizing the things that don’t) is one of my favorite pastimes.
One Thing I’m Jazzed About
I just finished listening to the audiobook of How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb.
There are so many things I learned from it, like how to transform the outcome of a work meeting using very simple techniques; how to change my mindset using a set of easy questions and introducing new ways of thinking; and, most importantly, how to learn to say “no” to overcrowding my schedule and my life. I could not possibly recommend this book enough for anyone who is interested in optimizing your time-management, being a better manager or employee, or developing tools to not take yourself so seriously (I’m still working on that one).
A Random Thing I Want to Share
I don’t know how I’d get through my days without the help of my app, The Language of Letting Go. Though, as an atheist, I frequently replace the word “God” when that shows up in there (as it does today) with whatever is calling to me that day—such as “higher power” or “universe” or “nature” or “Bette Midler”—I love the small moments of introspection these readings provide. I’ll leave you with today’s …