Once you go vegan, it becomes evident that non-vegans are keen to catch you out and test your ethics. Non-vegans suddenly become pedantic fashion police (“But aren’t your shoes leather?”) and express an irrational concern for your health (“So… where do you get your protein?”). Comments such as these are usually well-meant, but still, sometimes it can feel a little isolating being vegan.
Whether you’re surrounded by meat-eating friends, a few vegetarians, or if you’re the only vegan in the family and don’t know any others, sometimes being vegan gets lonely, too. Feeling misunderstood is one thing, but perhaps the worst part is feeling like you’re the only one who knows and cares about the plight of animals. This is why I want to tell you: DON’T GIVE UP HOPE. Don’t give up, period. Being vegan has majorly significant and positive environmental, health and moral effects, and there are always like-minded people around to help you – that’s why vegans are vegans!
Here are a few simple ways to support yourself when going vegan (even when it feels like the entire world is against you).
Dealing with negative comments effectively
It is hard enough dealing with comments from non-vegans, but it can get a little isolating when another fellow vegans whine about the way you are voicing your views. However, no matter what, you will occasionally encounter the tedious questions of “Where do you get your iron?” or “But we are designed to eat meat, aren’t we?” In the moment these questions are asked, you want to calmly explain your view, but sometimes some people do not listen. When this happens, my advice is:
– do not feed internet trolls
– do not back down (keep voicing your opinions)
– remember internet activism is as important as “real life” activism
– express your views however you want and find effective. Whether it is through blogging, protesting, cooking vegan dinners for your family, or promoting veganism when someone asks, remember there is no right way to promote veganism. Just by being vegan you are already angering the animal product consumers and denting the industry’s profits. You’re also simultaneously converting others through educating. It is key to remember that you are doing a revolutionary thing and challenging and changing people’s long-held beliefs.
Stop worrying about other people’s opinions of you
This is a tough one. It is one I am still in the process of conquering fully. The key thing to remember is, once again, you are doing a remarkable act and in a world which is dominated by meat, egg and dairy, it can leave you feeling mad and helpless at times. Be kind to yourself, and remember who you’re fighting for. Gently remind yourself of the real victims (the animals), and you’ll remember veganism is the only way and you are not in the wrong, no matter who says otherwise. We live in a world so heavily entrenched with homophobia, sexism, ableism and racism. You abstain from such vulgarities because it is wrong and an injustice. It is the same with speciesism.
Keep in touch with the vegan community
The vegan community is a great way to meet likeminded people. You can find them through literally thousands of different communities on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogspot, YouTube and other social networking websites. These are a great way to find out about protests, promoting veganism or just making new vegan friends! Also, seek out your local vegan or vegetarian café. More often than not, they host vegan dinner nights or just offer you the opportunity to meet likeminded people.
The key thing to remember is that you must express your vegan way of life in whatever way you find comfortable. Do not stop because people tell you to stop denying their “freedom of choice” to consume animal products. Simply resume while they are happily imposing their way of life on sentient beings. Eventually, as the moral consideration circle widens and our vegan voices harmonise, as Leonardo Da Vinci stated “the time will come when men such as I, will look upon the murder of animals, as they look upon the murder of men”.
– DANIELLE YOUNG