Get Outside of Your Vegan Bubble

Get Outside of Your Vegan Bubble

For the first time in months, I went to Woolworths, which is the largest supermarket chain in Australia (Americans, think of Walmart). I was on a mission to find organic tofu which was unfortunately wrapped in plastic—but we were willing to make the compromise this time around.

I quickly grabbed the tofu and took the opportunity to browse the isles to see if there were any new vegan products. As I was looking, I couldn’t help but do some people watching.

I saw lots of interesting things as I was essentially judging my local community. There were young adults in gym wear buying lean meat and pre-packaged chopped vegetables. I saw mothers with trolleys filled to the brim with packs of juice boxes, Wonder White bread, dairy milk, caged eggs, the list goes on.

It was quite horrifying to watch folks buy products that are not only harmful to the planet and animals but also to themselves.

I don’t believe I’m going to say this. But I felt like Maša—who has been a conscious consumer, long before she was vegan. She would always gasp at what other people bought, and I wouldn’t think twice of it.

But years later, here I was feeling the exact same way. Maybe it’s because I got used to reading labels as part of our business, or because I had a heightened awareness of the impacts of waste. Whatever it was, the feeling was hard to shake.

The power of confirmed bias.

 

To find out why I was feeling the way I was feeling, I did some soul searching. Then I remembered watching an interview Barack Obama did with David Letterman on Netflix. In the conversation, Obama spoke about the impact technology has on how we all view our reality.

Every news app, search engine, social media platform is trying to give you personalised information, with the goal of keeping you on their platform for longer.

For example, my iPhone comes with a free app called News (Google has something similar). When I first opened the app, it gave me a diverse stream of content across multiple interests, whether it was politics, sports, technology, or pop culture. But over time, as I focused my attention on a specific topic, each time the app would refresh, it would give me more content related to that topic.

The News app also enables you to select your favourite topics and publications, so the feed gives you more of what you want.

On the surface, this algorithm is convenient. I love reading about the NBA, tech, creativity and pop culture. Why wouldn’t I want to get more of that?

The challenge with this perspective, however, is this level of personalisation starts to box me into a bubble with the things I’m interested in. I lose perspective of what’s happening outside of my bubble.

The vegan bubble.

 

One of the strongest confirmed bias’s I have is veganism. I care so much about simple and compassionate living that I want to fill my YouTube feeds, Facebook, Instagram, News with positive content on veganism.

Beyond technology, I’ve surrounded myself with people who share similar values to mine, all contributing to my confirmed bias of what my reality is.

What I realise now is that my confirmed bias is a way to cope with what I feel is broken in the world.

The scale of consumerism even at my local supermarket was insane. Let alone the volume of animal products I saw go through checkout.

It’s in these moments of reality that I could either feel super depressed or even more motivated to get our message out. I tend to float between the two approaches, depending on the day.

Get connected with reality.

 

My vegan bubble feels like it’s a massive bubble because that’s most of what I let myself experience. In my world, it appears that everyone is going vegan. But the reality is, consumerism and animal cruelty have never been at a higher level.

This reality is not necessarily a bad thing though. If anything, being immersed outside of your bubble, has some significant benefits.

For one, grounding yourself, in reality, reconnects you to why you started living differently. I remember being one of the many people in the supermarket, blindly buying products. My priorities were taste, convenience, performance and price. At no time did I think about the supply chain, the reality of the product (death of an animal), waste, or avoiding unnecessary purchases.

Seeing this in action reminds you of how the majority of people still live today, and it should be motivating to continue your cause.

Coming outside of your bubble also gives you the opportunity to communicate better with those who don’t think the same way as you. For example, at my day job, one of my colleagues was bragging about how much they just ate at McDonald’s.

My teammates were all having a laugh together and then quickly remembered that I was vegan, and proceeded to apologise. I assured them that it was okay for them to continue their conversation, and I too used to feel the same way about McDonald’s.

I could sense relief amongst everyone, and if anything, it made my journey towards veganism even more relatable than what they previously thought. They walked away from our interaction thinking, “he used to be like me, and now he’s vegan…interesting”.

Some final words.

 

Be mindful of your confirmed bias. We all want to live in a world based on our own interests. To an extent, creating your reality is necessary if you’re going to be a vegan. We’re talking about shifting your paradigm in ways you haven’t experienced in the past, and with that, you need all of the knowledge, assistance and assurance you can get.

However, once you’ve adjusted to your vegan lifestyle, it’s crucial that you stay grounded in what’s happening in the world. Veganism isn’t watching young girls preparing smoothie bowls on YouTube. Veganism is being aware of the thousands of animals being slaughtered by the time you finish reading this sentence. And sometimes you need to get out in the real world to understand just how shocking the situation is, so you move through your life with more urgency to make a change.

10 comments… add one
  • Lorraine Meeks 21/10/2018

    Hi Michael,
    I enjoy your thoughtful newsletters and came to your site through my vegan trails and trials!
    As the only person in my family and social groups that is vegan I occasionally revisit youtube animal activists and documentaries to refresh my conviction. I’ve just read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer which gave me even more information. When I’m asked why I’m vegan, which is rare, and talk about animal cruelty, the environment and health reasons as I put my soy milk in my tea, I get comments that it’s not like that in Australia then when I say it is, everything shuts down! I don’t think people are very interested or at least don’t want to move from their normal which I probably was before becoming aware and being advised by my podiatrist of all people, to watch Earthlings. That was my turning point though I had been vegetarian before that.
    It’s handy to throw in environmental figures like how much pollution factory farming causes and how many hospitals we keep building given our advances in medicine, in a gentle way of course!
    My husband buys and cooks his own meat out of consideration for me but gets angry if I suggest a health advantage for him so I don’t go there, at 70 he can make his own decisions. My having osteoporosis probably due to dairy consumption as a child does not make my case more compelling, however I love my vegan way of life and think my small contribution helps along the way. I particularly enjoy challenging chefs to make me an animal product free meal and praise them for their efforts in the hope vegan items will be added to the menu. I’m not a believer in being against something preferring to be for the opposite i.e. not against war but for peace, not against cruelty but for kindness that type of thing so I give out loving vibrations as much as I can. To each his own.
    Having said all that best wishes to you and your wife and keep changing the energy!
    Lorraine Meeks

    • Hi Lorraine,

      Thank you for sharing your vegan experiences with us. I can feel your passion through your words, and I respect how many different angles you have explored to help the vegan movement.

      Keep asking questions that others are not willing to ask.

      With simplicity,
      Michael

  • Roseann 22/10/2018

    We all tend to get a bit blinkered so it’s nice to remember to step back and look at the wider world once in awhile.

  • Vanessa 22/10/2018

    So related when you said “It’s in these moments of reality that I could either feel super depressed or even more motivated to get our message out. I tend to float between the two approaches, depending on the day”.

    Thanks for sharing this Michael!

    • Thanks, Vanessa! I’m glad this resonated with you. It feels like a rollercoaster at times.

  • Michelle 22/10/2018

    Could not agree more. I daily look at Social Media and am an Admin of a Vegan Facebook group and because of this I share a lot of content to this group. Getting educated daily re what is occurring keeps the fire in my belly alight – otherwise it is so easy to become complacent and lose the fight. We have a lot to do to get the animals liberated

  • Jackie 25/10/2018

    I feel sad when I have to hold back my true beliefs for fear of rejection. But then I feel sad for the people who have blinders on and are afraid of the truth. I am then proud of myself for standing tall in my convictions. The vegan bubble is being stretched a little, but, like you, I live in my own reality. The trend of stopping global warming and going green is bittersweet coming from those who would be the first consumers to shop for that finest cut of filet. I wish I would have been enlightened years ago. Thanks for your food for thought.

    • Hi Jackie, thanks for sharing your experiences. You should be proud to stand behind your values. Being grounded in reality will only strengthen your message. All the best.

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