This post has been one that I've been wanting to write for a while now.
It's a topic about something that I love and identify with on such a deep level. But it's also something that I see a lot of issues with.
I don't know if this will bring out the haters and I'll be attacked for these thoughts and honestly, at this point I don't care. I've been thinking about this post for months and I'm sharing now as I feel it's the right time to do so.
Here's the deal. I went vegan over 4 years ago. I'm still vegan, always have been since the day I decided to make the switch back in 2013. I have zero intentions of eating animal products in the future and nothing makes me more excited than seeing someone switch from cow milk to almond milk. But I'm also really not into the vegan scene lately.
It all started at the beginning of this year when I started to dive deeper into meditation, spirituality, and all of the woo woo stuff that people roll their eyes at. Yeah, I have crystals and smudge sticks chillin' on my window sill. I'm that person.
When I started to get more into all of this stuff I started to see things differently. Not just with veganism, but with life as a whole. For the sake of this post though, we're talking veganism.
I'd look in some vegan groups that I'm in on social media, see the way people were talking, and cringe. I observed it over time and I very well know that I used to say the same things that they say. I'm not here to share a rant or judge any of them. I was one of them.
But yikes. It just doesn't sit well with me anymore. The hate and judgement in a community that is supposed to be sharing a message of compassion is astounding. You probably know what I'm talking about.
It really breaks my heart. I actually took off all of my vegan identifiers on my social media. No more "vegan" in Instagram bio. Why? Well, I want to create a space that everyone feels welcome in. If I were to come across those comments that I observe before I went vegan myself, I would be completely turned off from the lifestyle. That's not what any of us wants. I want more people to join in on reducing the amount of animals affected by animal agriculture. But with a community filled with people who are judgmental and attack those who aren't vegan it is just completely contradictory. You will never win the majority of people over through hate and attack. It just won't happen.
At the same time, I believe education is important. Two very different things. Without Earthlings, I wouldn't be vegan. I'm not saying that the people who create the amazing documentaries, alternative products, or write an Instagram post about the environmental impact of hamburgers are doing damage. I don't think that's the case at all. The intention and accessibility behind the sharing means everything.
I think that we all need to focus a little more on cheering on someone when they order tofu instead of chicken occasionally at a restaurant or when they get the dairy free ice cream option at the ice cream shop even when there are marshmallows on top. Small steps in the right direction make big changes over time. Snide comments, even if it's to other vegans about someone else, takes away from any progress that has been made.
And to sum it up; as I said on my Instagram post the other day, "As someone who's been vegan for over 4 years I've seen the plant based options explode and I'm constantly amazed by all of the new products that come out so often these days. Things like this burger [referencing the Impossible Burger coming to Pittsburgh] and all of the other vegan "junk foods"/alternatives are key to getting more people to ditch the real thing, in my opinion. When we give the burger lovers options that are realistic that is how we make changes for the animals and the environment. They might just try it out of curiosity initially, but usually all it takes is for a tiny seed to be planted and the progression starts to take place. It might be slow, or it could be relatively quick but for every "real burger" replaced with a plant based burger that is taking a huge step in the direction that we all want the world to go in."
Compassion, acceptance, non judgement. That's what it's all about. That is how we'll continue to make great change.