I am trying out veganism again. On the internet and in what is quaintly referred to as “real life,” vegans and non-vegans can be horrible at talking to one another. I want to help. Let’s start with advice for vegans!
OK, so you feel very strongly about animal suffering, and/or environmental sustainability, and/or the health benefits you ascribe to a vegan diet. Great! Just remember that you’re unlikely to persuade others to take up your habits, you don’t need to try, and and you’ll never succeed by scolding them.
If you walk by someone on a street corner and he yells at you, “Repent, you sinner,” do you think, “Hey, I better learn more”? No. If you lecture someone out of the blue about factory farming, you will teach her that vegans are judgmental jerks and no one in her right mind would ever join them. Nice work! If you’re posting aggressive anti-meat cartoons and graphics on Facebook or tumblr, you’re having the same effect.
You can’t really judge, anyway. Almost all consumer purchases are fraught with ethical dilemmas, namely in the areas of worker rights. We can try to make more moral choices, but we’re all part of some very bad systems.
It’s fine to make delicious vegan food for people, pin vegan recipes on Pinterest, and respectfully answer questions about why you’re a vegan. If you encounter an attack on veganism, sure, go ahead and counter politely with your personal reasons for being vegan. That’s enough proselytizing.
Whatever you do, don’t talk about how vegans are slimmer and healthier. First of all, plenty of vegans are chubby, and with good reason: have you tried some of those vegan cupcakes? Unf. Making fun of people’s bodies is always terrible, and lots of people have health problems you may not even know about, ones that quinoa and agave juice are not going to fix.
Finally, don’t get all aggravated if you go to a company picnic or a family gathering and nobody’s fixed vegan food. You can’t expect everyone to remember and accommodate your weirdo diet. If you’re still hungry afterwards, you can always go home and have a big bowl of popcorn or Coconut Bliss.
And now, advice for non-vegans!
If a vegan is being rude, absolutely call them on it, but don’t assume in advance that all vegans are judgmental. Plenty of us are nice and don’t think we’re better than you are. Don’t presuppose we care more about animals than people: it’s not an either/or. I think a few people categorize all vegans as irritating or hypocritical as a way to ignore or discredit some of the issues we care about, but it’s not fair.
Trying to talk us out of our veganism is usually pointless. Chances are we’ve heard the counter-arguments already, and we’ve read up on how to get our calcium and complete proteins. Even we haven’t, we’re not asking for your permission. Oh, and avoid posting allegedly hilarious cartoons and graphics about how being a vegan is stupid. Unless you run, say, a cattle ranch or a fried chicken joint, what do you even care?
Honestly, there are so many idiotic arguments for and against veganism out there. “Hitler was a vegetarian!” In point of fact, he was not, but how would that be relevant? “You wouldn’t eat your puppy, so why would you eat a pig?” Because it’s our culture, nitwit. People can have smart debates about the wisdom or foolishness of a vegan lifestyle without resorting to these embarrassing tactics, and not debating is always an option, too!
I hope this helps a little. Peace on earth, y’all!