Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake ~ Martin Luther King – activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement
We hope by now that you are aware of the reality of the exploitation of farm animals, the ethics of what we eat, the dramatic environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture and the knowledge that a plant based diet is one of the healthiest diet options.
We also hope that this information has prompted you to at least be curious about a vegan lifestyle. Going vegan might seem a big personal change but in reality you are not changing yourself, just aligning your actions with what are already your fundamental values.
Most of us want to be kind to others including animals. Most also want to do our part to protect the environment for future generations, and of course, most would like to enjoy a long and healthy life. This is because we share values around basic justice, and treating others as we would like to be treated ourselves. In this regard, most of our family and friends already understand what veganism is even though some will be uncomfortable as they realise how inconsistent some of their actions are. However, if you tread carefully, they will respect you for your decision and will likely want to follow your example. When you take the plunge and live vegan, you will likely be respected by good people, and become an inspiration to others, which eventually becomes a meaningful movement for positive change.
Here are some tips on helping you transition socially:
I think ‘vegan’ is a beautiful word. It is more than just a description for our diet. I see it as a visible template for an ethical, healthy, responsible and rational life. Because it describes our character, it says we do not take the life of another living being to satisfy our wants ~ Philip Wollen – OAM, Humanitarian and a campaigner for social justice and animal rights
So you have decided to become vegan, but realise that living in a non vegan world is challenging. Don’t be disheartened; just remember that huge social justice movements have always taken time. You are ahead of time.
Here are some tips on how to remain motivated:
- Remember your ethics. Consider what it took to bring a living animal, a sentient being, to your plate.
- Watch documentaries; don’t hide from the truth. We recommend the following documentaries: Vegucated, Cowspiracy, Peaceable Kingdom, Forks Over Knives, Speciesism, Earthlings, Food Inc., Unity, Blackfish and Lucent.
- Be open minded to try new things. Cook new things. Create new routines around food
- Eat a well-balanced plant based diet. Your good health will motivate you.
- Remind yourself why you went vegan in the first place.
- Find like-minded people. Attend vegan events and stalls.
- Download vegan-voices the app (vegan-voices.com). This is a 30 day app built on communications tips. It is developed by best selling author and psychologist Clare Mann. Each day, you are offered advice and motivation specific to being vegan as well as a list of useful resources.
Kill one animal – criminal;
Kill many animals – Butcher;
One turns a blind eye – negligence;
Society turns a blind eye – Normality;
One points out another’s wrong doings – Extremist
Many point out another’s wrong doing – Change
Change is coming. You are the answer ~ Aishwarrya Prakash
You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson- American essayist, lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century
Although some restaurants might not have a specific vegan menu, many will be educated on dietary needs and allergic reactions to some foods such as dairy and eggs, which opens up choices for vegans. It is therefore worth calling in advance and asking whether they can cater for you. You will be surprised how many will have options for vegans.
There is good news in the pipeline. Plant based cuisine is experiencing an exponential growth. Vegucation, is a project funded with support from the European Commission. The consortium is made of 8 cooking bodies across Europe. Their aim is to educate chefs on creative plant based cuisine by developing a vocational training in vegan gastronomy. The world is changing. Be part of the change. When there is more demand for something, change will follow. For example, in 2015-2016, three Sydney restaurants/ cafes (Gigi’s pizzeria, Gelato Blue café and Soul Burger) reinvented themselves as 100% vegan establishments.
Resources for eating out:
- “Happy Cow” has reviews by vegans from across the world with the different lists of cafes you can visit all across the globe, and is worth a look.
- Vegan Meetups is a Global webpage on vegan meetups.
- CircleOurEarth is a vegan travel guide based on blogs.
- PlanetD lists some practical tips on eating vegan while traveling, as well as some expert blogs per global area.
- Veganhotels lists some hotels in the far east and middle east with vegan fine dining.
- The “Vegan World Trekker” has many tips on traveling vegan, including snacks and where to shop
Those who, by their purchases, require animals to be killed have no right to be shielded from the slaughterhouse or any other aspect of the production of their meat they buy. If it is distasteful for humans to think about, imagine what can it be like for the animals to experience it? ~ Peter Singer – Australian moral philosopher and Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University
Cruelty free fashion alternatives are many.
- The Choose Cruelty Free website is updated very regularly. It lists non animal tested products by category.
- Down alternatives: There are alternatives to down, such as a filler called “ThermoBall” developed by outdoor adventure companies
- Faux leather accessories are many on the market. For example mattandnat.com bring you elegant vegan leather goods. For sustainable and vegan fashion, keep an eye on the development of the new textile made from pineapples Pintax, used to make shoes and accessories.
- Better than UGGs – Pammies
- For write ups on vegan fashion, check onegreenplanet and Buzzfeed
Our task must be to free ourselves, by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty ~ Albert Einstein – Genius, Nobel Prize winner in Physics 1921
The challenge to become vegan, as many transitioning vegans know and have experienced, comes mostly from family, friends as well as social pressures. New social norms and new ideas are viewed as “threatening” for many. Any time there is a change or a new norm is introduced there will be social challenges. Veganism is no different. These stem from fears such as:
- The natural human fear of change.
- The fear that the change may disrupt or dismantle social groups.
- Fear of the impact of the change of food consumption at traditional events revolving around eating.
- Dealing with the widely held belief that animal exploitation is done “humanely”,
- Fear of rejection if we are perceived to have changed.
- Accusations of taking a holier than thou attitude or moral superiority.
- General defensiveness from our social contacts.
Tips on dealing with defensiveness
- Normalise it. Don’t make veganism a big deal, make it your everyday life. Veganism is not an alien word, and is getting more popular around the world. Be happy that you are ahead of time and on the right side of justice.
- Explain to people why you’ve become vegan. Focus on their interest; for example, to those people with an environmental concern, you might want to share environmental facts about animal agriculture such as the monumental use of water to produce dairy. Share the China study or Forks over Knives with those interested in health etc.
- Reassure your family and friends that you are rejecting violence and not them.
- Plant seeds and they will grow.
- Live by example, talk positively about veganism. Share the joys of living a cruelty free life.
- Be aware that you cannot change people, only plant seeds. They will need to make the change themselves in their own time. Some will take a long time to make the connection, others will be make it immediately.
- Share the status and photos of your cruelty free fridge. See your fridge and pantry for what they are, a garden and not a morgue.
- Stay informed, answer questions, as though it was the first time you have been asked.
- Share vegan food. Many people will be positively surprised to see the amazing array of delicious food vegans eat.
- Offer to bring a vegan plate when you visit family or friends. People will genuinely be interested.
- Vegan potlucks are a good way to create your own community of support and nourishment. A handful of people, a planned date and an email reminder is all you need.
- Join vegan communities. You will find a deep ethical bond with vegans that you have just met.
- Remember most of us were not born vegan. Use that as a common connection with “not yet vegans”.
- Remember at the end of the day a bad day is nothing to compare to a life of misery that billions of farm animals are subjected to every day.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.~ Mahatma Gandhi – Peace activist and leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India
In a snap shot survey conducted by EVER with the help of Sydney vegans; 184 vegans were asked to share their transition trend to veganism. This was a diverse group of different ages and ethnicity. 86% were female, 14% males. The data obtained is charted below.
The more people learn about animal treatment and the related issues, the quicker they transition to veganism. The highest statistics in this snap shot shows a trend of immediate switch to veganism, following the knowledge of the reality of treatment of farm animals. Vegans choose this path for many reasons, but one thing is sure, they stay vegan for the animals
For an insight into transitioning vegans, we suggest reading a recent research publication by Dr Richard Twine from the Centre of Human Animal Studies in the UK (Societies 2014, 4, 623-639). In his paper ‘Vegan Killjoys at the Table – Contesting Happiness and Negotiating Relationships with Food Practices’, Dr Twine interviews a diverse sample of vegans from different demographics within the UK, as well as different ages. He focuses on interviewing transitioning vegans and their initial social journey into veganism.