To this day people often still have the idea in their minds that vegans are difficult to deal with. While this might be the case for some individuals, I think the majority of vegans are great people who just care more about the ethics and health aspects behind the food they put into their body. In this article I wanted to name some of the reasons why vegans are often seen as annoying and to name some suggestions on how to live in harmony with each other.
This doesn’t only apply to vegans, but also other groups like feminists, religions and more. Stereotypes are formed because of the loudest members of the groups, the ones that make headlines in the news or the ones you might encounter on the street doing something you don’t agree with.
One of the most common stereotypes is the dirty or strange “hippie” vegan who doesn’t wash because he doesn’t believe in commercial soap and also only eats an extremely small and specific selection of foods like raw seeds and grains. Most vegans are not like this. There are some great vegan brands for hygiene and body care products such as soap, deodorants, toothpaste, shampoo and so on. Modern veganism offers an amount of variety in food that early vegans could only have dreamed of, so it doesn’t have to be only a boring salad – I’m sure that there’s something there for everyone if they just give it a chance!
Some of us probably had a bad experience with vegans because of the person at the dinner with friends who was being preachy and made you feel bad about your food choices. This is generally not a good way to educate someone or convince them of anything and I believe most modern vegans know that.
There are of course also the extremists such as activists that lie down on the floor in the meat section of a grocery store or wear disturbing costumes on the street to make a point. Just like with the “preachy” vegan stereotype, most vegans know that shaming people and forcing opinions on them isn’t a good way to get someone on your side and sometimes these things are just the only apparent way to get attention and to try to educate people on the subject. These people are doing what they’re doing for a good cause, so we shouldn’t be shaming them for it.
Complicated / Spoiled
Lastly and of course understandably vegans can sometimes be a bit complicated when it comes to things like picking restaurants. Because veganism is a choice and not something like an allergy, often times vegans are unfairly accused of being spoiled just because of their food preferences. I think the best way to go about this is to be respectful of the dietary choices of everyone and to ask the person if they can help you find a good option. I for example use an app called “Happy Cow” that shows me vegan restaurants in most cities, but also non-vegan restaurants with vegan options, so I can always find something that everyone likes and be respectful of their own food choices that way. In the end we have to ask ourselves the question why it matters to us if the person doesn’t want to eat meat and dairy and perhaps we need to consider the possibility that the issue lies within ourselves rather than in the person we’re accusing.
This category might be a bit hard to hear and my intention is not to offend anyone’s egos with it. My goal is to help you understand why you feel the way you feel about vegans and to show you that some part of the issue might lie within yourself as I mentioned. Just be honest with yourself here. If you’re completely honest and you don’t see these things being the reason why you don’t like vegans, then that’s ok.
There are many causes of why people develop resentment towards vegans, so I’m just going to name a few that I can think of.
First of all a legitimate concern many people have when thinking about veganism is whether it’s unhealthy for them because they grew up learning that meat and dairy are essential parts of their diet, so they get offended because their knowledge is being questioned. Research concludes that humans can live healthily on a vegan diet if they are conscious about the things they consume, ensuring that they get the nutrients necessary for their bodies. The way meat is made and the way dairy is processed in modern facilities is the opposite of healthy, so avoiding it altogether is not a bad idea.
It could be that being with a vegan makes you feel guilty about your personal choices or it brings up suppressed guilt when you just want to enjoy your food. It makes you think about how it’s is made when you don’t want to or maybe someone is even showing you those things you don’t want to see. I believe there’s a reason why we feel that way about animals raised in factory farms. I believe the guilt we feel comes from a place of an internal knowing that those practices are not natural.
You might be frustrated because going vegan can be hard to achieve and maybe even seem unreachable when looking at “perfect” vegans who seem to have everything figured out. Maybe some part of you feels jealous, maybe your ego feels offended by those people or even threatened because they might be “better” than you in some way. These are thoughts you need to let go of. You have to recognize that it’s your ego speaking and not the real you and then let go of the thoughts. You have no reason to feel jealous, because those people also had to start somewhere and so do you. Even if you never get to that point, at least you can achieve something and learn things on the way! Nobody is better than anyone else, we are all part of the same thing. Our goal should always be to do our best, whatever our best is in each moment and that’s why we do what we do and attempt to get better.
To live in harmony, both sides can make compromises and adjustments to their behaviour in order to live better together. In general mutual respect and understanding is necessary and occasionally compromising your own preferences is important to make everyone feel comfortable.
If you’re vegan you need to know that shaming people just doesn’t work if you want to bring someone to your way of thinking. This applies to veganism, but also to every other situation where your objective is to educate someone. Educate people without shaming them, learn to do it in the right situations and without acting like you’re better than them. Shaming offends egos and nobody is open to learning anything when their ego is offended.
Being understanding towards vegans can go a really long way and it also helps you approach them with a more positive attitude. Understand that the majority of vegans don’t fall into the typical stereotypes, that everyone has their personal reasons and that many vegans only have good intentions and want to help the planet, the animals and their health.
Thank you for reading this article, it always makes me sad to see when people are making fun of vegans for no real reason and I hope this message will be received with an open mind. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!