This topic is a very important one and definitely, a lot of new vegans struggle with. It wasn’t until a few months ago (6 months into a vegan lifestyle) I struggled with this a lot.
A FEW WORDS UP FRONT
Living by or transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and living by new learned beliefs and views on life (which is quite a lot to take in at the beginning) is something not everyone who’s been raised with a diet based on meat and animal products is willing to make overnight. If you’re reading this and you’re transitioning or a new vegan – Congrats! You’re doing the right thing! Stay with it! It’s getting easier day by day!
As a new vegan, you’re confronted with quite a lot of things to process and to change for yourself in order to change something for the animals, the environment and your health. And when you figured the first and most important barriers, which open this whole new world which is always described as eye-opening and life-changing, because it just IS – you’ll be directly confronted with new tasks and issues. Your family and friends.
With most vegan transitions and examinations concerning animal liberation, animal rights and how you’d like the world to evolve, there probably comes the moment out of strong beliefs and a feeling for justice that you’d like to share your new learned experience and knowledge with your friends and family, but not everyone is so excited about it as you are. And there the story begins:
Living by vegan beliefs you change. You change more than you could have ever imagined changing. I can speak for myself. I changed in so many ways.
- feeling-wise – I’m way more empathetic
- opinion-wise – I grew a strength inside myself, not only for myself but for the innocent animals
- and overall personality-wise – I truly got to discover who I am and what I want and what I stand for and what I want to speak out for and stand up for
I am beyond happy that Kevin and I wanted to change together. To grow together, through this epiphany and knowledge. I know and hear it all the time how hard it is being the vegan in a relationship or only vegan in a family.
Never ever let anybody tell you, that you’re extreme. Extremely compassionate and pro-life maybe, and I want to know one bad thing about that attitude. What’s so terribly bad about being compassionate, kind and loving to all sentient feeling beings? People will probably throw that at your head, but why?
I was confronted with called ‘missionary’ and ‘extreme’ and ‘too much’. When you put all this into perspective and context with what is happening to animals in slaughterhouses though – THIS is exactly what is extreme.
THE TRUTH IS HARD TO HEAR AND EVEN HARDER TO COPE WITH
See – following up and transitioning to a vegan lifestyle most people don’t talk much about it at first. It’s a decision made by yourself and with yourself and the majority of people don’t want to hear or talk about your changing lifestyle anyways, because they would probably be confronted with the truth and the truth is hard to hear and not easy to take in and adapt to (out of the way humans are raised). Nobody wants to hear about ‘being responsible for animal cruelty and unnecessary killing’ on their behalf. So the majority of people around you won’t ask about it. Which leads up to an ‘extreme change’ when you speak up and out all of a sudden. Your words and views confront them with the reality of this planet and its earthlings and with the flaws of their own beliefs and way of living: Criticism.
But who’s their own judge? Their own consciousness. People know that it is not right to needlessly kill, but first, need to realize that it actually IS needless killing. As a healthy human, we all have moral beliefs. That is what actually makes us humane. We all know it makes no difference killing a human or an animal, because aren’t we all animals at some point – just more evolved? We’re all living beings with a pumping heart. We’re all sentient. We all have a family and the right to live. We all feel pain and: We want to live.
‘You’ve changed so much’ therefore is the most common comment towards your new way of thinking and for aligning your moral beliefs with your actions – and even more often if you start getting active and don’t take lots of BS anymore.
Social pressure is something which can break you if you let it to. You’ll definitely be confronted with who’s a friend to you and who’s not – of course: If YOU still want to be friends with someone or not.
INTENTIONS AND ADAPTIONS
It’s got not only to do with if they’re vegan or not but how do they cope with the ‘new you’ and the true, compassionate and honest you. People are not good with ‘drastic’ changes – figuratively: not having to change drastically or if not completely chosen themselves or others changing (which though is mostly a process concerning veganism) – and feel like an opinion is forced on them. If you would explain it to them, they would probably understand your intentions and that’s what most people are afraid of and won’t listen to you in the first place. Understanding that it is morally wrong to kill an innocent being? No! They already know that it is morally wrong and not in any way justifiable. They’re afraid they couldn’t live on the way they are living their lives up to that moment, because they got directly confronted with the topic and that their morals wouldn’t meet their actions anymore.
Non-vegans come up with appeals to nature ‘but we’ve got eat/survive and we’re on top of the food chain’, appeal to tradition ‘but it’s always been that way’, and excuses like ‘but it tastes good’ and at the very end: appeal to futility ‘I can’t save them all, and at the end of the day animals are getting killed.’. All these appeals are simply no argument to slit an innocent animals throat open, are they?
But it’s not about the others in the first place, it’s about You and your way of living and a moral view on life. My experience with it all was, that I felt really misunderstood by most friends and some family members. I was confronted with called ‘missionary’ and ‘extreme’ and ‘too much’. When you put all this into perspective and context with what is happening to animals in slaughterhouses though – THIS is exactly what is happening to the animals, and it’s the consumers of meat, dairy and animal products who put them there, simply out of being part of the demand.
NON-VEGAN FAMILY AND STABLE RELATIONSHIP
Not everyone is blessed like we are, that part of their family is also willing to make a change – out of ethical reasons, health reasons and environmental reasons through important and clarifying conversations and being open to learning something new in the first place. Some vegans are in a relationship with a non-vegan person. Many don’t have the choice, because they’re already in a stable relationship while adapting to a vegan lifestyle and this can be hard for the vegan if the partner is not yet interested in veganism at all, but you’ll have to make it work somehow. A suggestion would be like: there will only be vegan food cooked at home. This, in my opinion, has a lot to do with respect for each other. Avoiding dead animal bodies at home – not forcing it onto the vegan and what he/she is standing and probably fighting for.
I personally couldn’t imagine being in a vegan-non-vegan-relationship today, with someone who’s not open to listen, care and to change eventually. Why? Veganism is not only about a diet, but a view on life, a strong feeling of justice and equality concerning the basic right every sentient being has to have: the right to live and not be property or a slave. Living beings should be living in company with each other, not bred into existence and needlessly killed for humans.
Following a vegan lifestyle together definitely strengthens the bond with your partner or even a friend for sure. The daily input, honest conversations you’re able to have and fighting together for what is right, the humor and the strong beliefs – it all brings hearts and minds closer together for sure. The foundation is the same, therefore a certain sympathy may be there, but doesn’t eventually mean that you want to be super close friends with everyone.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH NON-VEGAN FRIENDS
To be honest, I personally find it quite hard to deeply connect with non-vegans the longer I am vegan myself. The longer I was vegan, the more I had opinions and views on certain topics, which don’t match with non-vegan opinions and views. I feel like I have so much to talk about and I also had and still sometimes have the feeling I wasn’t and still aren’t respected enough (respect towards me also includes support towards activism and not criticizing it out of feeling attacked by the truth) and I wasn’t and ‘I am still not’ allowed (if it was for certain people) to talk about it, because ‘people could draw a certain picture of me’ and would get mad at me or even hate me for it.
Truth is – I absolutely do not care at all what people think of me. If friends or people, in general, want to run and hide away and ignore the truth and don’t want to talk to me about what is important to me, call me extreme or quit the friendship – well, so it is then. That’s ‘the price you pay’, or better said an honest opinion you get confronted with, if you stand up and speak up for something which is socially not yet accepted. Nothing ever changed though, by being quiet.
So if you’re a non-vegan reading this:
Open your heart and make a change. It’s not hard, and it doesn’t hurt you but it will make a huge difference for the animals, your health and the environment.
If you’re already vegan reading this:
You’re doing the right thing! Don’t let anyone tell you differently! And keep on rocking: ‘… because plants have feelings tho’. I’m kidding. Of course.
Thank you so much for being interested in what I/we have to say. Feel free to leave your thoughts down below.
Please note: All definitions of words and/or stated facts are based on the correct terminology and are carefully research and the sources taken are linked here or directly in the blog post. This blog post is also stating a personal opinion and views on certain topics.
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