Living Vegan is on the rise, but the world is still very non-vegan. There have been lots of people deciding to try going vegetarian or even vegan! However, there is also no denying that vegans are still in the minority. If you were to look at it across the board, the percentage is still minimal.
For instance, in the US, just 1.5 percent of the population identifies as a vegan. The UK isn’t any better. It is only nations like Israel and Sweden (5 percent and 4 percent respectively) that are significantly vegan.
Now, these statistics aren’t being displayed to bring you down. Rather, they are to emphasize what you already know: there are far more non-vegans than vegans. Thus, it is not unusual for you to feel a little lost or put out when navigating an omnivore’s world. If you are looking for some guidance, here is what you should keep in mind.
Be Proud of Your Stance – Don’t Let Peer Pressure Get You Down
It is becoming more acceptable to identify as vegan these days. Still, it isn’t uncommon to have other people describe your lifestyle as weird or try to change the way you eat or dress. In fact, this can be one of the toughest parts of being a vegan.
Despite this, though, it is important that you stand firm. Remember, your stance against cruelty to animals is a strong and relevant one. There is absolutely nothing to feel ashamed of. You are in the right, even if most people refuse to acknowledge it.
So, don’t ever feel like you need to conform to someone else’s standards. For instance, if you want to make an effort to only give your friends and family vegan gifts, then go ahead and do this. The people that really care about you will accept you as you are.
Remind Yourself of Pervasive Non-vegan Practices
It is actually a good idea to remind yourself that you are in fact living in a non-vegan world. This is because, at the end of the day, few people or companies are keeping your lifestyle in mind. Thus, they aren’t too careful about what they put into drinks, food, clothes, and more.
So, you need to make it a point to read the labels of everything you find at stores or on things that people give you. If this information isn’t readily available, don’t hesitate to do further research. As a consumer, you have every right to know exactly what is going into what you eat, wear, or use.
On a similar note, you should also keep in mind that just because something is labelled as vegan, that doesn’t mean it’s actually ethical. From animal cruelty practices to sustainability, there is a lot more you need to check on. Sure, this does mean more work for you, but at least you can have a clear conscience.
Find Your Community
Considering the statistics, being the only vegan in a group of omnivores is unavoidable. At the same time, it can be quite frustrating to constantly be surrounded by people who don’t share your viewpoints or interests. This is why you should always try to find your own community.
The good news is that this is now easier than ever before. Simply typing in the “vegan community” and your city into a search engine should provide you with some results. You should also be able to find like-minded people on social media.
In the unlikely instance that your above efforts fail, there are still ways you can meet people like you. Sure, they may not always be vegan or vegetarian but they will have similar goals as you do. You can meet these individuals at local animal shelters or charities.
So, even if you can’t have conversations about being vegan, at the very least, you will be able to help and save animals. At the end of the day, this is what it is all about, right? Go ahead and give this a shot, you may just end up finding the right community for you.
If you would like to share your thoughts on veganism, however, you don’t have to keep them all bottled up. There are so many online forums and platforms that you can join. Even though you may not be able to meet these people in real life, you will be able to find people online.
You may also want to consider starting a blog based on a vegan lifestyle. This will give other vegans an opportunity to find you! It is also an excellent way to get your ideas out into the world without seeming like you are preaching to people.
Pick Your Battles
Being vegan means that you are on the right side of the argument. But, try as you might, you just can’t get others to see that. In fact, more often than not, others will try to override your ideologies and beliefs. This is why most vegans have had their fair share of arguments with non-vegans.
However, if you were to sit back and think about those situations, you will realize that you probably didn’t make much of a difference. Sure, you may have gotten your point across but was anyone actually listening? If the only thing that resulted in the interaction was two angry parties, then no good came of it.
Thus, one of the main lessons to learn as a vegan is how to pick your battles. You can either fight with everyone who is insensitive about meat and animal cruelty or you can listen for a real chance. Look for individuals with an open mind who aren’t afraid to hear someone else’s point of view.
Speaking to the right people can be a lot more effective than shouting your message from the rooftops. Of course, be mindful about how you approach people as well. After all, you weren’t born vegan and you probably ate meat and wore leather for some part of your life. Therefore, you don’t really have the right to judge people who have yet to see the light.
Take Jokes In Your Stride
Ah, the jokes. There will be so many jokes. Some of them will be funny, others lame, and then there will be those that are downright hurtful. If the joke that you are being told falls into the first two categories then you should get used to brushing it off. These aren’t going away anytime soon.
You should also consider the fact that people aren’t necessarily being demeaning about your lifestyle choices. It may just be something they focus on when teasing you. This is something that you probably do with your own friends and family. Doesn’t everyone have that one “thing” that they get teased about constantly?
So, what about when the jokes are more barbed than necessary? In this instance, there is no need to take them lying down. Instead, calmly explain to the jester why that joke was in poor taste. Even if you don’t feel like making a big deal about it, you can still mention that a particular statement was unnecessary or hurtful.
Encourage Subtle Changes
Just because you are the minority doesn’t mean that you can try to make your own changes as well. Still, you should probably not start off by trying to convert people to veganism right away. Rather, encourage – and praise – people in your social groups who make small changes to their lifestyle.
For instance, rather than try to get someone to become a vegan, encourage them to try a vegetarian or vegan restaurant with you. Or, help them to adopt certain vegan dietary tactics to improve their health. In fact, this is something you can do if someone is trying to lose weight.
If a friend or family member mentions that they would like to opt for a largely vegetarian diet to shed a few pounds or to help their heart, take this opportunity. Rather than suggest that they go completely vegan, help them find and prepare plant-based meals. You can even cook for them to get them onboard. You will often find that it is the smaller gestures that really add up.
Consider Yourself a Spokesperson
Perhaps the main thing to focus on when living vegan in and interacting with a non-vegan world is that you are essentially a spokesperson for veganism. After all, most people won’t meet someone else with a lifestyle like yours. So, whenever possible try to leave a good impression.
Sure, you being nice may not have any impact on the way another other person eats, dresses, or lives. However, you can be certain that they will see veganism in a more positive light. Thus, they will be more willing to listen to arguments in favor of a vegan lifestyle and not just shut it down. At the very least, you may be able to change the stereotypes that people hold about vegans.
This is what you need to know about living vegan in a non-vegan world. Now, hopefully, more and more people will become vegan as time passes. Until then, though, it will serve you well to keep the following points in mind.
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