There is no denying that veganism is the future. Pandemics, climate change, improved health goals, and greater empathy has ensured that more people are joining the plant-based movement than ever before. While this is certainly good news, it also means that it’s time for the vegan community to evolve.
After all, veganism first kicked off somewhere around 1944, although it did take a while for it to catch on. Now, there have been some obvious evolutions since then. However, there are still plenty of ways for the vegan community to truly embrace change and step into the 21st century.
In short, it is time for the vegan community to become inclusive. This means that it has to open its doors and celebrate people who have been on the fringe of the movement for quite a while. So, what does kind of inclusivity look like exactly? And, just as importantly, how can it be achieved?
Let’s take a look…
Embracing Communities of Color
Most people associate veganism with the Western world. The truth, though, is that people of color have been following these principles for much longer. For instance, Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Rastafarianism tend to frown on violence against animals. Many followers of these belief systems are either vegan or vegetarian. Despite this, these individuals aren’t seen as being members of the vegan movement.
There are numerous people in communities of color that do follow a plant-based lifestyle, even though they may not necessarily identify themselves as a vegan. These individuals need to be embraced by the community. At the end of the day, they are a part of ensuring that animals aren’t harmed for food.
So, how can the vegan community be more inclusive? How can you? Well, for one thing, you can support and spread awareness among prominent vegans of color. Thanks to social media, this is easier than ever before. Look for activists, cooks (or food enthusiasts), beauty bloggers, influencers, etc. that fit the bill. Follow them and encourage your fellow vegans to do the same.
There are also many vegan businesses and restaurants run by people of color. Go ahead and visit these and spread the word about them. This way, you will be helping promote the vegan community while also giving non-vegans more opportunities and avenues to experience vegan life.
Now, when being inclusive, it is important to not be disrespectful. In the past, some vegan influencers had good intentions but engaged in social faux pas when it came to activism. Don’t ever compare the struggles experienced by communities of color with those of animals. This can come off as being tone-deaf.
Accepting the Omnivores
Now, this can be a tough one. As a vegan, you are well aware of the horrors that animals undergo at the hands of humans. As such, it can be difficult to embrace people who engage in activities that contribute to this suffering. Nevertheless, it is important to be more inclusive of people who eat meat as well.
Although this may sound crazy, there is a logic behind this. For instance, would you much rather hang out with people who embrace you or shame you? No contest! When you are more inclusive of omnivores, you can have a greater influence and impact on their lifestyles.
They can see how much variety and fun there is in being vegan. These individuals also get a first-hand experience of how your diet and lifestyle is improving your health. And, by understanding your passion for animal rights, they may come to appreciate the importance of supporting animals as well.
So, don’t limit yourself to only making friends with vegans. Go ahead and find some non-vegans to befriend as well. You could end up helping the movement in ways that you could never have imagined.
Sure, this tactic may not work on every omnivore out there. And, hanging out with non-vegans does mean that you are in for your share of jokes and ribbing. At the same time, there is no harm in giving this tactic a try.
Improving Body Inclusivity
If you were to ask a non-vegans to describe a vegan, they may come up with several colorful descriptions. Words like skinny and willowy with glowing skin will come to mind. Now, it is true that there are many vegans out there that fit this description.
Some people do find it easier to lose weight and to maintain lower body weight on a vegan diet. And, eating healthier can also improve your skin tone and overall appearance. At the same time, there are plenty of vegans out there who are curvy and suffer from skin conditions. This doesn’t make them look any less beautiful and certainly doesn’t make them any less vegan either.
However, if people don’t fit the description of a stereotypical vegan, they may feel excluded. Or, potential vegans may feel despair at not being able to live to the idea of vegans that society has built up. This is why such walls need to be broken down.
Once again, social media can help quite a bit here. There are vegans of all shapes, sizes, and walks of life on these platforms. Follow these individuals and spread the word about them. Not only will you be changing the way that people view the vegan community, but you may end up broadening your horizons as well!
As you can see, the vegan community still has some work to do when it comes to being inclusive. The good news is that you know what steps you should take to make this a reality. So, go ahead and start making these changes today. And, encourage your vegan friends and family members to start embracing this new way of life as well.
It is only when the vegan community is truly inclusive that it can advance. After all, the more people you embrace, the more they will want to be part of your movement. Thus, it is a win-win situation for all.
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