Ever since my very first month of becoming a vegetarian, I noticed a distinct shift in the way people perceived me. Once they learned that I don’t eat meat (and even more so now that I’m vegan), they seemed to place me into some imaginary category. It’s a strange category that consists of both hippie and snobby… both of which couldn’t be further from describing me.
I can still remember feeling slightly embarrassed as I politely declined the pork chops being served at a family gathering. Having to explain my new lifestyle without offending members of my family was like dancing on eggshells.
After a solid year of this, I began to get the hang of it. I realized that it’s better to just own it. No apologies, no discomfort…I’m a vegan. Nothing about a cruelty-free lifestyle should make me feel uncomfortable. Anyone who does a tiny bit of research about factory farming will see that the meat and dairy industry has evolved into a modern-day Holocaust. Now that’s something to feel uncomfortable about. To quote vegan author, Ruby Roth, “If it’s too scary to talk about, then it’s certainly too scary to eat.”
I want to address this imaginary ‘hierarchy’ that turns many people off from veganism. Let me be clear about this: Most vegans do not consider themselves superior. Most vegans were once meat-eaters themselves, and only consider themselves to be enlightened.
Enlightenment is available to anyone. In the age of technology, educating one’s self about any topic is easier than ever…and what better topic to research than the origin of your food. But of course, research is only the first step. Knowledge without action is only potential.
My journey into veganism began as nothing more than curiosity. I wanted to know more about the food that was so neatly packaged at the grocery store…was there a darker side to it? How messy was it before reaching that tidy package? I think a part of me already knew the answer…but seeing it was the final straw. I could no longer continue being a part of the problem. I wanted more than anything to force everyone around me to watch the documentaries I had watched and suddenly share my new outlook, but the fact is that I simply could not. Enlightenment is only possible when a person is open to it.
To any vegans and/or vegetarians out there who have shared these frustrations, you’re not alone! Keep being the change you wish to see…keep spreading truth, love and light everywhere you go!