Face it, we live in a non-vegan world that isn’t going to turn vegan tomorrow. But, why let that bring you down? If you’re vegan, you know that one of the toughest parts of being vegan is not the food or the products or the lifestyle, but the reactions of people that cannot fathom why a sane person would choose to be vegan. This in turn gets us vegans all riled up, because most of us are normal, intelligent, sociable people that suddenly have to deal with a hostile world that thinks we’re freaks. Not only does this not help vegan’s live happy lives, but it tends to scare off people that should have gone vegan a long time ago. Fear not! You can have your vegan cake and eat it too, if you follow these simple tips.
1. Don’t forget why you decided to go vegan: Seems obvious, but once you’ve been vegan for a while, it’s easy to get caught up with the intricacies of the lifestyle and the debates about animal welfare, animal liberation or animal rights. There’s definitely a time and place for all that debating, but in general, learn when to drop it! Remember that you’re vegan because you woke up to the fact that you didn’t want to live a life that is based on exploitation and murder of innocent beings. Remember that you chose this lifestyle not only because it felt like the morally right thing to do, but it also just seemed like common sense. You took a leap of faith and rejected an entire system of exploitation that is currently socially acceptable and widely encouraged. You are not contributing to the exploitation and murder of billions of living beings every year. That’s special — that’s reason enough to smile every day!
2. Don’t look at non-vegans as the enemy: Once you go vegan and realize the tremendous positive impact that this lifestyle can have on your physical, mental and potentially spiritual well-being, it’s easy to be baffled about why others can’t “see the light”. What makes it worse is that the world is full of people that claim to be animal lovers and would never intentionally harm or kill another living being, yet somehow live in complete denial when it comes to the food they eat and the lifestyle choices they make. Yes, it can get infuriating to think about it and it’s tempting to badger people and throw terms like “GO VEGAN” at them, without providing adequate context. However, remember that it’s not their fault. Many of us consumed meat, dairy and indirectly participated in cruelty for years before we went vegan. Do not confront and debate people that don’t show an interest in your lifestyle, but do speak loudly and proudly about how you live a very normal, fulfilling and happy life as a vegan. We are ambassadors of awesomeness. Don’t forget that!
3. Don’t try to be perfect: You’re a vegan and that’s cool, but it doesn’t mean you’re perfect. We’re not implying that it’s OK to have some cheese or eggs from your neighbor’s farm every now and then. NO! That’s not vegan and if you are clear about tip #1, you won’t ever want to do it. What we mean is don’t beat yourself over the fact that the world we live in is heavily reliant on material derived from animals — don’t live in a constant state of vegan paranoia. You have to do what’s practical or you will have to go live in the woods and reject modern society completely. Relax! We know that the car you drive may have tires that are not entirely vegan or use brake fluid that contains animal products. Your bicycle may not be animal product-free and neither may be the concrete you walk on. Veganism is not about striving for perfection, it is about making conscious choices, where practical. The best part is that when it comes to food, clothing and products we use on our body, it’s become relatively easy these days to make vegan choices, but please don’t freak out and get depressed when somebody announces that your tap water is not vegan. Even the air you breathe may technically not be vegan, but that’s not the point!
4. Learn to cook delicious vegan food: The #1 reason why people don’t go vegan or don’t stay vegan is because they find giving up food that includes animal products difficult. What they don’t realize is that it isn’t the food they miss — they are just conditioned to like certain tastes and flavors that they believe cannot be replicated in a plant based diet. If you’ve been to a good vegan restaurant, you know that vegan food can not only be as delicious and comforting, decadent or succulent (or whatever foodie terminology is in favor this year), but it can also be WAY healthier and tastier than non-vegan food. Now here’s the kicker — you don’t have to be a master chef to cook this food yourself. Just arm yourself with a good vegan cookbook and you can whip up any of your favorites, whenever you want. Another great benefit of developing some vegan culinary skills is that you can show off your delicious vegan food to your non-vegan friends and make them realize that the food you eat is not only healthier than what they may be consuming as meat eaters or vegetarians, but also more flavorful and satisfying in many cases. For instance, there’s nothing like watching a non-vegan eating a good vegan cupcake that blows away their taste buds and their preconceived notions of vegan food!
5. Interact with like-minded vegans: When you’re a minority you are inevitably going to be at the receiving end of some ridiculous stereotypes. This can get disheartening; especially when it comes from people that are close to you or in many cases, related to you! That’s why its very important to engage with other like-minded vegans. We currently may be few and far between, but we do exist! You may not live in a neighborhood, town or city that has many (or any) vegans, but that should not stop you from meeting other vegans. We’re in the 21st century and a whole world of happy vegans is just a click away. They are all just like you – they love to rant about everything and share war stories, recipes and tips on all things vegan. No matter what the non-vegan world throws at you, it’s always reassuring to know that you have people in your life that share your philosophical beliefs and will have your back and relate to anything you may have to deal with.
In summary, remember that veganism is easy if you have your heart in the right place and you learn to tackle what people throw at you with class. Don’t make the non-vegan world wonder why you choose a lifestyle that differs so greatly from theirs; make them wonder whether your lifestyle has something to do with why you’re always so happy.
Put on your happy face, Vegan World!