There are more and more vegans popping up every day, and still, there is tension between many vegans and their meat-eating counterparts.
I’ve been vegan for almost one year now, and I’ve had my fair share of backlash. I’ll start by saying that my transition to a vegan lifestyle has been nothing but beneficial for me. Finally, I’m able to live a life that aligns with my values and beliefs, and best of all, it has made me a much healthier person. This is why I wonder why so many people (friends, family, even strangers) seem to have a problem with my lifestyle.
Don’t worry—this post isn't an attempt at converting you. I’ll keep the ‘preachy’ vibes to a minimum, and you can eat your steak in peace. This is simply a friendly how-to on treating your vegan neighbours in a respectful, non-confrontational manner. This way, you’ll avoid insulting your friends. You’ll keep the peace and everyone can move on, living their lives the way they see fit.
Here are the top things I wish non-vegans knew:
1. Yes, I’m getting enough protein. Please ignore the myth that meat is the best (or only) way to get protein. There are countless, good sources of protein out there. A lot of those sources actually contain more protein per gram than meat. Have faith that your vegan friend knows where to get some protein.
Furthermore... my diet is my concern, not yours. I don’t ask you if you’re getting enough Vitamin C, and I surely don’t interrogate you about your diet once I find out you eat meat. I’m not saying that some vegans don’t criticize meat-eaters for their choices... however, most of us keep quiet, unless we’re feeling scrutinized. As long as I’m healthy, and I’m getting all the nutrients I need, why say anything at all?
2. Don’t rain on my parade (please). I feel proud to be vegan, and you shouldn’t try to squash that pride. If a smoker quit smoking cigarettes, you wouldn’t make them feel bad for not smoking anymore. If someone’s making a decision to be more healthy or to improve their lives, what’s the problem? If you can’t be supportive, you should probably stay out of it.
3. Don’t try to spark a debate. Trust me... this is something that happens way too often. It ruins friendships and everybody loses. Please — just don’t do it. The majority of vegans have done at least some basic research on the matter. We keep an arsenal of information on veganism and the meat/dairy industry. Don’t force us to use that arsenal.
4. If I eat something that isn’t vegan, don’t criticize me. Like someone trying to save money and stay on a strict budget, I do slip up from time to time... but I live by vegan principles about 99% of the time. Again, it’s my life. We can’t all be perfect 100% of the time.
5. Don’t engage negatively in social media posts. Unless I’m directly insulting you, don’t post rude comments on my social media. Veganism is a big part of my life. If I see a post that strongly resonates with me, I might share that post (just as you might share a motivational picture or a video featuring cute kittens). Perhaps I want to inspire or inform people — what’s so awful about that? My intents are never malicious; however, certain people still feel the need to drop a negativity bomb... and who does that benefit?
Vegans aren't out to get you, but we're allowed to discuss our views and opinions just like you're allowed to voice yours. Food is a big part of our lives as human beings — the subject inevitably rises in conversation from time to time. In these conversations, you'll likely detect a vegan or two. It might do you best to keep an open mind. No matter what, please, treat them as you would any other person. We all deserve a little kindness and respect.
Natalie is a self-proclaimed hippie who loves Earth, animals, and sometimes, people. She hopes to inspire others to live in a more kind-hearted, environmentally-conscious way, while making their lives less materialistic and more meaningful.