Saturday, June 19, 2010

Positive or Picky?

Another reporter is trying to go vegan for two weeks, and is documenting her experience (day 1, 2, 4).

Unfortunately, if you read the comments, you'll see a few vegans attacking her commitment, or even that she calls herself a vegan.

These are great examples of the insular and self-centered attitude some folks have – anyone who doesn't live up to a certain standard is not only not "vegan," but is an enemy to be ridiculed or even attacked.

In other words, they want their exclusive vegan club more than a vegan world.

Other commenters have taken the approach of, "When I went vegan, I felt so great! I had tons more energy and lost a zillion pounds and could run a marathon," etc.

This may seem like a good sales tactic, but it really sets absurd expectations for new people exploring veganism. Most new vegans – especially those going from the standard American diet straight to veganism  struggle with cravings, uncertainty, social pressure, awkward situations, etc. (including the judgment of other, "purer" vegans).

It is easy for new folks to think, "Well, those people all felt great as soon as they went vegan. I guess I'm just not cut out to be vegan."

Some people define themselves by how knowledgeable and committed vegans they are. Their self-worth is determined by how much better they are than others. There are plenty of places on the internet for people like this.

But Vegan Outreach exists to reduce as much suffering as possible. To this end, non-vegans – far from being the enemy – are actually the key to changing the world. Positive, constructive outreach to them – via our example, our encouragement, our honesty, our choice of advocacy message – is the only way forward.

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