Monday, January 16, 2012

Is Vegan a Dirty Word?

Sometimes I feel lonely in a world of meat-eaters, but I'm meeting some great online vegan friends and have a little support from some of my existing friends.

I recently went to my new favorite vegetarian restaurant in Miami.  Want to know what it is?  Stay tuned.  This restaurant is actually vegan, but it's not advertised as such.  It's a curious question why a restaurant would not say that it's vegan when it is.  I think part of the problem is the lack of support from outside of the vegan world.  The other problem is the bad apples within the vegan world.  Sometimes "vegetarian" just seems so much more palatable because it doesn't come with as much drama.

When I first became vegetarian, I felt so alone.  No one supported my choice except my friend Akash.  He was already much more familiar with the idea of vegetarianism, since it's embedded in India's religion and culture.  I felt so relieved to have one supportive friend because I was a teenager at the time, and teenagers are not as tough as they pretend to be.  Now I'm turning 31 soon, and I've been vegan for almost two months.  Although I feel amazing and love being vegan, I am right back where I was when I became vegetarian.  People are not supportive of my choice to go vegan, but this time I'm angry about the lack of support.

Vegan Problems: Lack of Support from Friends and Family:


I haven't told most of my family that I've gone vegan because most of the ones I've told have been not-so-supportive.  Crackula thinks I went vegan just to sabotage dinners with HairShare.  Another friend said that she doesn't think she can support me being vegan and encouraged me to eat animal products.  My mother is supportive, but she keeps "forgetting" that I don't eat animal products.  I haven't told my father, but he won't be supportive because he has never been supportive of me being vegetarian.  Ricky has probably been the most supportive.  He told me that he would like to become vegetarian, so I think he understands.  I have not told other friends, family, or acquaintances, but I plan to tell many of them when I invite them to go to a vegan waffle party at Sweat Records later this month.  Many vegans have similar experiences of a general lack of support for their veganism.  One person wrote on Twitter that it was easier for him to tell his parents that he is gay than it was to tell them he's vegan.  It's so sad, especially given that most people go vegan for health and/or ethical reasons.  Aren't those reasons that everyone should support?

Vegan Problems: Lack of Support from the Vegan Community:


I can deal with a lack of support from my friends and family, but I am shocked by other people's experiences that I'm reading about on the Internet.  I read poor Happy Herbivore's nightmare about the vegan police coming to get her.  I'm horribly ashamed that people acted that way.  And then there's Tasha's story of becoming an ex-vegan.  Many people supported her, but many people lost their minds and their manners.  When a few bad apples take a holier-than-thou approach, it hurts the vegan cause as a whole.  Vegans suddenly get labeled as crazy people that no one wants to be around, just like religious zealots.

My approach to veganism is to do the best I can.  I'm not psychotic about it.  I try to avoid all animal products, but I believe you have to be reasonable.  No matter how hard anyone tries, all vegans at some point will accidentally eat an animal product because none of us are perfect, even though some people think that they are better than everyone else.  Foods will be mislabeled.  Restaurants will be mistaken.  People will forget to check an ingredient.

I think that people can benefit by eating more plant-based foods and less animal products, but I think that everyone needs to approach others with compassion.  Vegans who who are nasty to others are not vegans.  These people seem to have forgotten the reason for adopting a vegan diet.  Veganism is all about compassion: compassion for animals, compassion for the planet, compassion for other people, and self-compassion.  If you become so blinded by your dogma that you have lost sight of compassion, then I will personally revoke your vegan card.  Vegan is only a dirty word if you make it such.

Posted as part of: Best Posts of the WeekMuch Love Monday.

7 comments:

  1. I agree - it can be pretty lonely out there in meatsville. But life is full of surprises. I used to be the only vegetarian/vegan in our little three lawyer firm. I had been raving about the movie Forks over Knives. Over the past month, both of the other lawyers borrowed the DVD from the library and both of them became vegan. I was totally blown away.

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    1. Wow David that's incredible! They BOTH became vegan!? Hooray to you :)

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    2. When people exhibit kindness others seem to follow suit. Kindness through peer pressure. ^_^

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  2. Great post! I've been a vegetarian for the past 11 years, and there are still people who aren't very supportive. My meat-eating boyfriend says he is determined to "convert" me. He's kidding, I hope!

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    1. One of my friends who was born into a vegetarian Hindu family was converted by her American meat-eating boyfriend. It made me sad.

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  3. I think you have the right attitude, just do the best you can. I admire you being a vegetarian in a meat-eating world.

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  4. You have a great attitude and one that I need to remember as I do sometimes become a little zealous (usually with my mum as she seems to have taken my veganism as some kind of personal affront and every time i visit dredges up some ridiculous 'fact' she read about why I should eat eggs) I guess because I'm a new convert at a relatively late stage in life, I feel guilty I didn't do it years ago and a little incredulous that everyone I know (like me until the last year) isn't aware of the horrors of dairy farming! It's so good to find other folk online as here in Ireland vegetarians aren'tthat well cateredfornever mind vegans!

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