Since becoming vegan I have found that it can actually be quite stressful.
It’s not actually being vegan in itself that’s stressful, I can say with absolute certainty that since becoming vegan I am, at my core, a happier person. Knowing that I’ve chosen a more compassionate life, knowing that my personal choices mean my life is making a much less negative impact on other beings, as well as the planet itself brings me a great deal of contentment.
The stressful element of being vegan comes from the knowledge of the harm that is caused by non vegans, and the attitude of non vegans to myself and other vegans.
When you become vegan your eyes are really opened to the affects of the meat, dairy, egg, leather, and fur industries, among other things. Once you know, you know. As the youth say, you’re woke.
As a vegan you’ve probably exposed yourself to articles, pictures, documentaries and such things in order to learn more about it, things that are difficult to see, and as well as being heart breaking they can make you feel very angry at the world and things that go on.
Suddenly you find yourself unable to understand or believe that other people make different choices.
If you’re anything like me you may find yourself questioning whether it’s enough that you are making these choices because in a predominantly meat eating society it can feel a little pointless, which is frustrating.
As I mentioned at the top, another issue can be the attitude of people around you. You may well find that family and friends aren’t particularly supportive. They may not understand why you’ve decided to go vegan.
Everyone you know suddenly becomes an expert on nutrition.
Are you even vegan if you haven’t been asked where you get your protein from?
Something you see a lot, especially online, is that there are meat eaters who contribute to every vegan conversation with “Yum bacon”. Their sole aim is to troll vegans.
There are also those who choose to paint vegans as extreme, militant weirdos. We are accused of pushing our opinions down peoples throats, which is weird in a society where meat, dairy, eggs, leather, fur etc are everywhere. Fast food outlets everywhere, supermarkets full of the stuff, tv ads, billboards, magazine ads, but apparently we are pushing our lifestyle on people??
All of this can become quite stressful.
It’s obviously not good for you to feel stressed, but how you feel depends very much on how you look at things. There are some things you just have to learn to let fly.
Obviously it’s important to educate yourself so you know exactly what it is you’re standing for, but personally I choose not to look too much at the worst of it. I feel that I’m already consciously aware of what goes on, and so I don’t pore over graphic images or distressing articles. I seek the facts and leave it at that, I recognise when I’ve seen enough, or something is too distressing for me, and it’s important to be able to do that.
I direct my anger into more positive channels, I read about positive vegan things, watch positive YouTube videos, to educate myself further, I post about veganism, share vegan information, and make a stand against these harmful industries by not giving them my money.
We need to accept that some people just aren’t going to change, and some aren’t ready.
It doesn’t help the vegan image to shout at individuals. Personally I feel that it’s better to positively influence people by talking openly about veganism and showing them that it’s not weird, extreme or inaccessible, I do this by sharing posts showing what I eat, what products I use and so on. I blog out vegan things, whilst trying to be informative rather than preachy.
People often become defensive when they feel you are directly challenging their choices, their morals, their ethics, most people are much more open to what you are trying to say if you can say it without projecting hostility.
I think It’s important to remember that just because someone isn’t vegan they aren’t necessarily a bad person. My family are non vegans and I absolutely don’t hold that against them. I respect their right to make their own decisions.
Meat eating and the use of animal products is so deeply ingrained in society that change will only come about slowly. People believe what society has taught them to believe.
Falling out with every non vegan you know is not the best way to go about things.
At the core of veganism is compassion, and treating individuals badly because of their beliefs is just not very compassionate.
It’s important to remember that you are making a difference by choosing a vegan lifestyle. Veganism is continuously growing and every time you go into a supermarket and make a vegan choice over a non vegan one, you are affecting supply and demand. Next time you’re in the supermarket just look at the range of plant based milks, most supermarkets have a growing range, this is because of vegans affecting supply and demand.
By not eating animals you are saving lives, because as more and more people turn away from eating animals, the demand for them will fall.
You are making an impact on animal agriculture, which is the biggest threat to the planet, by not eating meat.
You may be the only vegan you know but there are a growing number of vegans, and collectively we are making a difference.
If people around you aren’t supportive of your choices you can build your own network of support.
Seek out other vegans online, there are lots of vegans on twitter and Instagram, Facebook has vegan groups, even reddit has a supportive community of vegans. Look out for vegan groups in your area.
There are unfortunately vegans on the internet who aren’t very nice, because that’s true within any group of people, you can just leave them be, choose to surround yourself with positive influences, reach out to the supportive ones.
When dealing with people who are suddenly concerned with your health and nutrition, it’s helpful if you’ve already done some research into nutrition so you are able to address their concerns. You don’t need to do this in a hostile manner, if for example someone asks where you get your protein from, which they undoubtedly will, counter there concerns with “well, actually, did you know….” and take the opportunity to explain why their concerns are unfounded.
If you come across the “Yum bacon” people it’s best to accept that some people are simply looking for something to kick against. You won’t change them. Don’t stress about it.
By deciding to become vegan you are doing are wonderful thing! But don’t let it turn you into an angry, bitter person.
Everyone has their own way of doing things, and I believe that more people need to make that connection between the food on their plates, and the life of the animal, but personally I believe that promoting veganism positively is the best way to encourage change in individuals.