Recently I’ve been going on a personal journey, searching for answers about all aspects of my life, and life in general and allowing myself to change my mind. Now I’ve written that down I can see how annoying it sounds! What an absolute bore 😀
Stop reading now before it’s too late!
I’ve been Vegan for a long time, but notice many new Vegans posting their stories on social media and how they are afraid to “come out” to family and friends about being Vegan. So I have been pondering how I perceived peoples’ responses to my decision to become Vegan, and seeking my friends how they actually felt.
How I felt switching to Vegan
I had been vegetarian for 10 years before I learned about Veganism and the cruelty of the egg and dairy industry. I was brought to this realisation after numerous conversations with a monk who lived in the broom cupboard in a house-share I was living in at the time. There is no punchline, this is a 100% true story!
Pawu wasn’t Vegan himself, he ate fish. But he pointed me in the direction of Veganism and off I went! I very quickly made the decision to become Vegan and it was my new year’s resolution in 2004. I had a bottle of wine, ate a cheese pizza I had in the fridge and kissed animal products goodbye for good.
At that stage, I didn’t know any other Vegans so was navigating on my own; but I was so determined I didn’t want to be involved in animal exploitation I honestly didn’t find it difficult at all. But I felt like I was getting push back from those around me. My work colleagues said being vegetarian was fine but Vegan was far too extreme. A housemate took me aside and told me not to let Pawo unduly influence me and I felt like my entire family collectively rolled their eyes thinking I was just being difficult.
People have made comments over the years, especially in the early days of my being Vegan, that led me to believe they thought it was a phase or some weird religious cult.
So I have always harboured a sense of insecurity about my Veganism, I knew it fitted in with my belief structure and I was confident I was doing the right thing. But I felt a nuisance too, I am not an easy Vegan to be around if you want to tuck into a steak. I can’t keep quiet or stop the tears from falling, I am passionate about animals and believe it my moral duty to always speak out for them.
So basically I have felt judged and looked down upon as someone who is just a bit of a trouble maker who likes being difficult, all the while crying into my soy latte over the fate of animals at the hands of humans. (Full disclosure, it’s never a latte, it’s always wine – Vegan wine of course!).
What people really thought
So quite recently I put myself out there and put the question to my friends and family on my personal social media: How did they feel when I went Vegan? I wanted to know how or if my decision affected them. Were they worried I had joined a cult?! And what they thought of me for doing it (to make Christmases really awkward?) But I didn’t get the answers I expected.
My Aunt told me how proud she was of me for being true to what I believed in. A colleague from many moons ago told me she thought I was a warrior chick and was proud of me. How brilliant is that?!
A friend from school said she believed I’d made the right decision for me, and another said I was an inspiration. The latter is Vegan now too and a nutritionist, she definitely has higher Vegan “points” than me now!
My Mum said that when I first went vegetarian she was very worried my health would suffer, we didn’t know any other vegetarians and the internet wasn’t a thing yet! But when I went Vegan she felt I knew enough to take care of myself so was neither surprised nor concerned and is proud that I have the courage of my convictions. Very cool!
A housemate I was living with at the time I went Vegan said she was proud of me for taking a path that was consistent with my morals, but confessed neither she nor our other housemates thought I would stick to it! It wasn’t meant in a nasty way, it was just a lot more difficult back in those days and they didn’t think I’d be able to. Most people had never even heard of Veganism back then. I’m pleased to have been able to prove them wrong!
How I feel about being Vegan
So it has been a really empowering discovery, learning that I am not viewed as the massive pain in the arse I thought I was! Well, certainly not by those who took the time to respond to me. Maybe there are some who look at Vegan ways with annoyance but didn’t have the courage to say it. That in itself is encouraging, that if they exist, they are embarrassed to say out loud their reasons for disagreeing with me becoming Vegan.
Don’t be ashamed
So to all those new Vegans who are afraid to come out to friends and family about their new way of life, be confident. Most people will support you in your decision. Certainly, anyone who cares about you will be proud of you for following your moral code. I know it can be a bit scary, people often balk at what is different, but they will soon get used to it.
I saw a post from a young lad who was worried about how badly he was going to get teased, he was very into sports, was going to the gym and worked as a builder. But the support and encouragement he got from the Vegan community was inspiring. Nowadays, with Vegans like Patrick Baboumian who has broken many Strongman records, no one can accuse Vegans of being skinny, pasty hippies anymore!
So dive into your Vegan journey, it’s so much easier than you may think and one day you will be saying those famous words, “my only regret about going Vegan is that I didn’t do it sooner”.
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