How can I be a ‘good’ vegan? HELP!
Relatively new to veganism I’m still so happy I made the transition from being a vegetarian back in September. I feel better than ever and find joy knowing I have reduced the harm I’m inflicting on my body, on other animals and on the environment, but I am having trouble with other people adjusting to my new lifestyle.
I had envisioned social situations around new people might get a litter more awkward, eating out a little harder but not the defensiveness shown when others learn of my new diet. I find it hard to comprehend that decisions I make about what I put in my mouth could cause others to feel defensive, maybe naively. My family have been perfect and most of my friends have been super supportive, but a few seem to have taken and I don’t know how to deal with that.
I previously thought vegans fell into a few categories, for the most part at least. Some would ‘kill them with kindness’ and never try to force others to change, but lead by example, others are vocal and explain their views in the knowledge that something they share might help someone else change and some, seem to surround themselves only with other vegans and get to avoid awkward dinner conversations all together, and I don’t know where I fit.
This time last year I’d never have considered going vegan, and was probably more close-minded than I’d have admitted on the subject, but the combination of traveling and meeting people much more open-minded than myself has changed that. I felt the urge to research the industries I was supporting and then I didn’t see any other option but to go vegan. Now, I find it sad that then, as a life-long vegetarian, and someone who claimed to be open-minded and compassionate I viewed veganism as ‘a step too far’ and ‘edge of society’ behaviour. I am left stuck, not knowing how to help dispel this view in others, people who barely understood why I was a vegetarian.
I always imagined I would be able to just carry on as I always did as a vegetarian, not bringing up the subject and explaining to those who ask that I chose veganism for moral reasons. But that isn’t working, when people ask why I am now a vegan, they aren’t satisfied with my answer, they want to know more information and the specific reasons, then, when I explain them they feel like I am judging their food choices. I try and keep it as brief, and detail free as possible: ‘I decided to do some research into the dairy and egg industries and didn’t like what I found out so I decided I didn’t want to support them anymore’, and yet I’m always met with people feeling defensive and explaining to me all the reasons they couldn’t go vegan, which I would never try and make them do.
And throughout all this, a tiny part of my does want to tell them about the industries, I want to open their eyes to the cruelty I have seen and I really dislike that about myself. I claim to be judgement free but I want to make the world a better place too, and I want animals to stop suffering for human pleasure. People should at least know what is happening in these industries, and make choices based on facts not advertising myths, yet I am clueless how to do this without isolating myself from my friends and being dismissed as another preachy vegan.
I love my friends, those that ‘get’ me being a vegan and those who don’t. They have all seen me through rough times and have made me a better person. No one is perfect and I can accept their lack of empathy for my diet as one of their flaws just as they accept all of mine. Therefore I need to find a way of keeping them and veganism in my life, I just don’t know how I can reduce feelings of isolation but keep a clean conscious.
What do you think? Any advice? 🙂