Finding the Humanity in Non-Vegans

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8 Comments

  1. Thank you for this article.
    I myself became a vegan a few months ago. It was not an overnight decision and I used to eat animal protein with every meal. I am a huge animal lover, own a dog and volunteer at an animal shelter, however, I have always disassociated the meat on my plate from the animal it once was. I am a person that is very aware of her health and I thought I needed animal protein in order to be healthy. That is why I closed my eyes, trying not to see what we were doing to these animals so we could eat their protein. I thought that was how life was supposed to be and I there was not anything I could do about it. I sure knew about the vegan lifestyle but I always thought that came with a lot of health problems due to nutrient deficiencies etc. Once I started my research and actually found out that a raw vegan lifestyle is indeed healthier and that the amounts of animal protein I was consuming were actually hurting me, I started to open my eyes. I was finally open to the idea of living a vegan life. That is when it all started. I watched documentaries, read about the horrible conditions animals are living in, the effect all this meat production has on the environment etc. I remember the exact moment I said to myself, that is it, never again will my appetite be the reason an animal had to suffer and I became vegan overnight. I cut all animal protein from my diet and gave leftovers away to family and friends who still consume meat.
    I could not be happier with this decision of mine and I feel like my eyes are finally open. I am enjoying this journey of living a healthier and more mindful life!
    Now that I feel like I can finally see the truth and I am no longer looking away, I am angry at myself for not having realized this sooner. 18 years have I harmed animals without thinking about it twice. Did you also feel this guilt?
    Also, I am having a very hard time overlooking the fact that all the people I love and consider to be good people are still eating animal protein. It frustrates me that I cannot make them see what I see and that they are the reason animals have to die every day. Then I again I love them and want to accept them for who they are. This is a real conflict for me. Do you have any suggestions on how I can solve this? Have you experienced something similar?

    1. In the past, I have had personal issues with friends/family who consume meat. I can only really resolve this by “clearing the air” directly.

      My personal approach when discussing why I am a vegan is to emphasize the health aspect. (Though if they press, I’ll be open and admit that I ultimately don’t consume animal products for ethical reasons.)

      I believe the reason health arguments work more often in convincing others is that it frames veganism as a positive choice: You get the benefits of improved health and a longer life.

      The ethical argument, while it is what convinced me, generally is not as well accepted. It positions veganism as a critique of personal choices. It is, in the minds of many, a message of negativity.

      As a result of these discussions, most people I hang out with become more conscious of their choices gradually. This usually manifests as candid questions (“Does it make you uncomfortable when I eat meat?”) and even different choices on their own behalf (choosing vegetarian options when eating out together).

      These are small steps in the right direction. If they’re unwilling to listen to you or, worse, ridicule you, reconsider the worth of that relationship. As long as a person is willing to simply listen to you earnestly, they are a friend worth keeping.

  2. This is so true. Vegetarian for 5 years (a short time but my entire adult life) and now turning to veganism. I’m already being hassled by classmates, and there are people who think they are giving valid arguments but what they are saying is totally untrue. What do you do when you are attacked or interrogated? I stay off social media because I’m too sensitive. I don’t tell people what to eat unless they ask me. Why do people try to tell me that what I’m doing is meaningless or somehow offensive? What do you do?

    1. Thanks for reading! I know what you mean: Many people view the mere concept of veganism or vegetarianism as an affront. In their minds, your personal life choice becomes a personal attack on them. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I also simply disconnect from social media for a few days.

      After taking some time, I’d deal with this mindset the same way I would any close-minded person: be truthful with how you feel, stay positive, and don’t take anything they say personally. After all, they aren’t viewing you as an individual; they are viewing you as a representative of something bigger.

      When they say your choice is “meaningless,” it’s because they don’t understand what factory farming is doing to the planet. When they say it’s offensive, it’s because they feel guilt that they can’t reconcile (there’s a reason slaughterhouses don’t have glass walls). It’s only through time and empathy that their perspective can be expanded.

      While the day-to-day conflict can be tiring, know that you deserve time to decompress.

  3. I completely agree with this post, thank you so much for sharing it! It is so sad to hear and read such cruel opinions both from non-vegans and vegans alike.. is like no-one is never “vegan enough” or a “true vegan” when people are just trying their best at something as personal as their diet and lifetime choices! As Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says: veganism is not the goal, kindness is. Veganism is not a badge you wear… I agree with her. In my case, I never push my opinion on veganism on others, unless I am directly asked about a certain subject (like protein and calcium or even animal testing…). I’d rather have people interested in this because they see my health or positive vibe and not make everyone feel ashamed by how they are living. This has made me much tolerable around all my family and friends who are actually showing an increased interest in my foods or products I use. Kindness is always the answer.. not everyone has had the same path as me and I should respect that no matter if sometimes it is hard (which it is…). I live in a place where everything is around food and food means meat… roasted piglet, pork chops, pork belly, cow stew… literally, all traditional foods are non-vegan.. if I didn’t show a certain amount of respect, well, I couldn’t just be with any of my family or friends…

    1. Thanks! I also think Patrick-Goudreau has it spot-on. And you bring up a great point: if we adopt a positive mindset, others are much more likely to have genuine interest in our choices. It’s much easier to dismiss the beliefs of some fringe people you meet online than those of friends and family you know and love in the “real world.”

  4. I agree with you completely. I have had more success spreading the word in my lifetime by answering inquiries honestly and sharing information compassionately than I ever had by brow-beating anyone. I would not have responded well to that approach when I started 25 years ago, so why would I assume it works for anyone else? That being said, yes it is frustrating that one can hardly pop their head out into the world of social media without being inundated with mean remarks and inane bacon jokes. (I will never understand why stating the thing you are addicted to is a valid argument for or against most anything.) When you hold up a mirror, not everyone is going to like what they see in it. Some bad reactions are to be expected, sad as they may make me. Great read! Thank you for writing it.

    1. And thank you for reading! Things can definitey get annoying on social media – and not just from the anti-vegan trolls. I’ve seen vegans shame vegetarians as well. ????

      25 years strong, awesome to hear that!