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Satya in Service

Quarterly updates to stay in touch with family, biological and chosen

  • Writer's pictureNico Stubler

June '22 Update

Hey Fam 🖤

I hope this check-in finds you well.

Unfortunately my update is less peppy than usual… The sad truth is the past six months have been the hardest, darkest period of my life. And that’s okay. Despite the pain, they’ve also brought plenty of beauty. And as no one likes a gloomy message, after the following section i’ll focus most of this update on the positives ✨

Long Covid

I wrote my last update—Dec ’21—the second week into my Covid infection. At the time i was frustrated by the prospect of losing 14 days of productivity to the virus… Since then my symptoms have grown worse month by month. While severe brain fog and fatigue have been frustrating, most debilitating have been the constant migraines. The pain is brain-splitting, and has consumed every moment of 2022.

The migraines suffocate my ability to think rationally, and by extension dramatically limit my ability to work through emotions and pain. Physical movement, light, sound, social interactions, even thinking (e.g., the effort required to type this sentence) make them worse. As a result, long covid has cost my jobs, compromised relationships, eviscerated my physical & mental health, replaced four months of plans living abroad, forced another law school deferral, stressed finances, and fomented heartbreak. No aspect of my life has been left untouched.

What Is Long Covid?

For those unfamiliar with Long Covid Syndrome (LC), it essentially entails long-lasting (12+ weeks) symptoms resulting from covid infection. Symptoms, severity, and duration vary greatly. Unfortunately, for 100,000s (like myself), LC is debilitating.

While the medical community is increasingly aware of LC, its cause and treatment remain largely unknown. Significant resources are now being directed to investigate cures. In the meantime, LC patients are largely left to figure things out through individual trial and error.

Since December i’ve seen 30+ health care specialists. By and large, every intervention i’ve tried has either worsened symptoms or failed to help. Yet every failure is still a step in the right direction, and i’m optimistic i’ll put this chapter behind me in the months to come.

If i've left you worried about long covid (sorry 😬), my humble recommendations include:

  • If infected, give body time to heal. My biggest mistake was my impatience at getting better. I refused to slow down even a few days to recover, and the longer i pushed through symptoms the worse they got.

  • Get vaccinated/boosted. Vaccines don’t ensure protection from infection/long covid, but they do decrease risk significantly.

  • Use masks. One-way masking has been shown to reduce risk.

  • Exercise caution if you have history of brain injury. I had three serious concussions in my adolescence, and some doctors think my symptoms are connected to that history.


In my last update i discussed my work at the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law and at Richman Law and Policy. January and February i struggled to keep up with work at both. At the time i believed illness would pass any day, and gritted my teeth to get through work until then. This uncompromising attitude caused my symptoms to deteriorate week by week, and in April i was finally forced to admit defeat and request a medical leave of absence from both.

On a brighter note, these months also bore the fruits of past labor. In February i had a chapter published by Lantern Publishing & Media in Vegan Entanglements: Dismantling Racial and Carceral Capitalism. My chapter, “Abolitionary Advocacy: Expanding Empathy Toward Total Liberation,” uses my first experience in jail to critique the darker edges of the animal advocacy movement. You can order the book here, and in the meantime freely read my chapter on Academia or ResearchGate.

Later that month a bill i drafted for Compassionate Bay was introduced to the California State Legislature. AB 2764 would have banned the construction or expansion of factory farms and slaughterhouses in California. The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging, and passage of AB 2764 would have done just that. Fittingly, this bill was the legislative action my parents, myself, and six others were arrested for at a protest last fall (you can read about that action via this Sentient Media Op-Ed). Unfortunately the bill did not make it out of committee this year… Even so, it was an important and exciting step in the right direction.


I was invited onto three podcasts early in 2022. And given my migraines and brain fog, they went as well as i could hope. If any of the topics interest you, i hope you'll find them worth your time.

Episode 14: nico stubler

The Animal Liberation Hour

Topics include:

• my path to animal rights⁣⁣.

• veganism's relationship to gender norms & politics.

• navigating difficult social situations as an activist⁣⁣.

• the Liberation Pledge as an extension of veganism.⁣⁣

• self care for activists⁣⁣.

• advice for new vegans⁣⁣.

• what a vegan world will look like⁣⁣.

Ahimsa in Yoga, Vegan Advocacy & Social Justice

Yoga is Vegan Podcast

Topics include:

• my path to veganism (with info i hadn't shared previously)⁣.

yoga's relationship to veganism and animal advocacy. ⁣

• the story behind my new chapter.

• the background and future AB 2764⁣.

• my forthcoming book.

Vegan vs Butcher Debate

Zoo Box Podcast

In this debate, there was just as much to learn from our agreements as disagreements.⁣ E.g.,

• we agreed that factory farms are unjustifiable.

• we agreed there is no moral distinction between farming/eating golden retrievers as pigs.

• we disagreed whether animals have a right to live.

• we disagreed whether eating animals is justifiable.

• we disagreed whether masculinity entails violence.

• etc. 😘


January, February and March i did my utmost to carry out the plans i made before getting Covid. In January i visited friends in Portland, Eugene, and Bend, Oregon. In March i explored Chile on a family trip. Both trips were magical in the deepest sense of the word. Pushing through each did, however, deeply compromise my health.

After Chile i returned to my favorite place: Medellín, Colombia. I had planned to spend four months there working remotely, finishing my book, and living life. Unfortunately my health had deteriorated to such an extent following the Chile trip that i struggled to care for myself. And in what marked my first (of many) admissions of defeat to long covid, i begrudgingly packed my bags and moved in with my parents in Colorado.


From 2014–2018 i lived an intense, ascetic life. At the time i believed pleasure qua pleasure was immoral, and i eliminated all aspects of life that fell into this category (e.g., i was celibate, drug free, spice free, bed free, etc.). While the motivation for these abstinences was in part ethical (i believed morality required dedicating every aspect of myself to the service of others), it was also spiritual. Sense pleasures connect the gross body to the impermanent physical world; thus, abstaining from sense pleasures is meant to help free oneself from base attachment and empower spiritual liberation.

I developed an intimate understanding of myself these years (what yogis call svādhyāya). However, most “hardships” this period were self-imposed, and could have been dropped at any time. My struggle through long covid the past six months put that caveat into focus. There’s been no escape from the pain, no timetable for getting better, nor even an understanding of what needs to be fixed to recover. For the first time in my life i’ve felt utterly powerless, profoundly vulnerable.

This vulnerability has shaken me to the core. To better cope, i’ve returned to the spiritual practices that consumed my early twenties. I’ve long kept these beliefs/practices close to my chest… As i gingerly explore and embrace newfound vulnerability, i decided to share these beliefs publicly for the first time. Filming these videos required every synapse i had available… The catharsis rendered in creating them—and the positive feedback i’ve received since sharing—made them worth every effort. If interested, i hope you find value in them, too.

part I: the meaning of life

For years, folk have asked me to share about my spiritual journey, practices, and beliefs—to share the path that made who i am today.⁣ For years, i’ve avoided posting on the topic...⁣

As i move through illness, it finally felt like the right time to open up and share.

part II: equality as Truth

Many hold equality as an ideal worth striving for. In this video, i share the experiences that helped me to understand equality as Truth, and already present.⁣

The only way out, is in ✨⁣

Cutting my 10-year-old Dreadlocks

My dreads meant a great deal to me. Truth be told, i thought i’d never cut them… doing so wasn’t easy, but it’s for the best ❤️‍🩹⁣

I’ve never shared about the history of my dreads, nor their meaning.. as i lay them to rest, it felt like the right time to do so ✨⁣

Looking Forward

For now, i’m holed up in my parent’s basement in full-time recovery mode. I’m doing everything i can to get better, and plan on beginning my dual degree in Law and Public Policy at NYU fall of 2023. With some luck i’ll be back to me well-before then, and if so will return to the plans i had for this year—finishing my book in particular.

As always, i sincerely invite updates from your end (of any length).

Don’t be a stranger 🖤


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