Transitioning and adapting a vegan lifestyle isn’t a really easy thing to do – let’s be honest about it. Since we’re kids, most of us got raised eating meat and dairy products (in our parents’ best interest, but because they didn’t have the knowledge, but also the options, and opportunities we have today) and we also got information fed to us by the media on a daily basis, to keep it a normal human behavior to eat animals and products made out of them, because: we got to eat, right? It’s hard to get such rational thinking and stuck deep habits out of our heads and change our way of living from one day to the other. It needs passion, compassion, a strong feeling for justice and empathy. It needs an eye-opening moment of truth. Nothing but the truth straight to the heart. And if you do it and choose this kind, compassionate lifestyle – you hella bet I give you credits for it! Right now – right here!
COMMON NUTRITIONAL EDUCATION
Even in school and university, they teach us (at least that’s how my nutrition education went and what I know from vegan befriended dietician alumni), how important it is to have a balanced diet – yeahhhh, balanced in meaning: including meat and dairy, which are proven to cause serious heart diseases and (breast) cancer? It’s shocking how old and ethically wrong our system is right from the roots up.
Which shocked me the most was, that the Austrian Cancer Help (Österreichische Krebshilfe) is recommending their e-book ‘Healthy Diet’ (Gesunde Ernährung – see here), which recommends a ‘balanced diet’ based on the food pyramid updated in 2010, which isn’t really any different since the first sketch of it from 1970’s. The book recommends a dairy product intake three times a day (pg. 10) when it is internationally and scientifically proven by BreastCancer.org that estrogen stimulates breast cell growth, including the growth of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer cells. Cow’s milk has high levels of estrogen and progesterone in it because most of the milk is produced by pregnant cows. It just makes sense. Cow’s milk is for calves, not grown humans.
Back to social pressure though. So you get the point I’m making by putting the issue to the table. The common knowledge of nutrition in our society is absolutely uncritical, old, and in profit to animal agriculture. Why? Because that’s where the money is, at the expense of innocent earthlings dead bodies.
Humans simply justify their actions often enough – the killing of innocent lives – by saying ‘but we got to eat’, ‘but it tastes good’, ‘but I need the protein’, ‘because I can’, ‘we are supposed to eat meat (still a dead animal corpse), we have the teeth of a canine’ – Uuuuuuhm, no we don’t. ‘Humans always ate meat’ (appeal to tradition), ‘we are on top of the food chain’, and so on and so on. People like to justify their immoral behavior because if they would be truly honest to themselves and look at their moral standards closely, they’d quickly realize the hypocrisy in your own behavior and words spoken. It takes a lot of courage to self-reflect and to choose veganism for yourself. People KNOW unnecessary killing (apart from a survival situation: meaning life or death when attacked or nothing else to eat on a lonely island) is not in any way ethically right. They sometimes feel like the victim ‘I have to do it in order to get all nutrients/survive/be healthy’. Since when did the oppressor get the victim?
WHAT DO COMMON, SUPERFICIAL KNOWLEDGE, TRADITION, AND HABITS HAVE IN COMMON WITH SOCIAL PRESSURE?
Getting together, having/preparing a meal together plays a huge role in our society. It’s bonding, it’s fun, it’s respectful. And out of those reasons, a lot of pressure can be put on those, who withstand to eat meat, dairy, and any other animal products. A lot of pressure is put on those who think further, who question and criticize the wrongdoings of society and what is called ‘normal’ nowadays, but truly bond and choose to respect not only humans but all living, sentient beings. It’s especially hard for those, who still live at home where one meal is cooked and it ‘has to be eaten’.
Direct or indirect social pressure makes you feel bad if you’re not part of the common ‘norm’ – and as a (new) vegan you’re mostly getting criticized by someone who’s far from understanding the ethical point of views. Especially our Grandparents’ generation who partly grew up during the war, understands neither the importance of the vegan movement nor the true intentions. Stupid jokes on behalf of dead animals’ bodies can be the result of that, but we don’t have to endure that kind of inappropriate behavior. Kindly ask the person – if family or friend – to stop, because it is cruel and you feel uncomfortable about it. Don’t give in by making an exception or attack back. It’s not worth it. Either educate by asking questions and/or make up your own mind on that person for yourself.
I bring my own food to family dinners, if there are no vegan options available. I cook even more, so my relatives can taste for themselves that there’s no need to support the killing of innocents in order to get a taste.
I personally started avoiding meeting up at mixed food restaurants with meat eaters as of lately, because it is my time and my choice who I meet and where I want to go and feel comfortable with. I only do it, when I don’t really have a different choice – like at a wedding or work event.
With non-vegan family, it’s always tough. Bring your own food to family dinners if there’re no vegan options available. Make a bit more so others can try it as well and maybe you’ll convince someone that you don’t have to miss out on anything living without eating animal products. Eating out at restaurants can be a bit of a challenge, but eat something at home before you leave and having just side dishes (more or less delicious and nutritional, depending on where you live) and treat yourself with delicious vegan food afterward!
STRONG SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
As humans, we have a strong social feeling within us. Lots of people don’t like standing out, especially when other people treat them individually, by cooking a special meal only for them. Some feel bad if friends or family do treat them separately and have extra work on their hands. But it can also be the opposite and especially close friends and/or family members may not take you seriously at first or forget you choose to be vegan and therefore don’t have anything prepared or when choosing a restaurant don’t look for a multi-optional restaurant, which also offers vegan meals as well – so you’re left with fries and a salad. Which is, to be honest, not that bad at all, because as a vegan you get used to it anyways and for me personally it’s ok not to always have a proper meal option. I’m happy with what I get. It’s less of a self-important lifestyle than many would assume, isn’t it?
Don’t be shy to suggest an all vegan restaurant. It was Gary Yourofsky who said something like ‘People have 1,092 times (if you count 3 meals a day) the option to choose where to go out to eat – they can for once go where you want to go’. And he’s absolutely right.
PEACE STARTS ON OUR PLATES
… therefore I hope you can make it through social pressure easily. Don’t let anyone tell you, you’re doing a bad thing. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for your kind life choices. You’re doing the right thing. Stay strong! Stay vegan!
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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