I have tried to write this article in the least biased way I possibly can. I have been vegetarian for nearly 2 years, so understanding both perspectives is quite easy for me. I have deliberately not included statistics or factual information about the exploitation of animals, for more information on those issues, check out YouTubers such as That Vegan Couple, a vegan vlog that can supply you with a lot of information about the vegan lifestyle.
Being vegetarian or vegan in this day and age has many stigmas attached. A lot of videos and memes depict those who follow meat and cruelty free diets as preachy, attention seeking annoyances, but what is the real reason behind their loud and passionate voices?
A vegetarian or vegan chooses not to eat, wear or use any products that include or contribute to the exploitation and cruelty of animals, and while that is an absolutely incredible lifestyle choice to adopt, and as a vegetarian myself, I fully support it, I can also understand just how difficult it is to continuously listen to criticism from vegans and vegetarians when an individual does not follow or agree with that choice.
Like many advocacy groups, perspectives and alternative ideologies, the ones that attract the most media attention are the radical ones. But not every radical view point on any ideology is how everyone with a similar view point thinks or behaves. You cannot base an entire view point on one specific person, however loud their voice may be.
From both perspectives, veggies or meat eaters, in many cases it can be hard for friendships to be maintained when such contrasting choices exist, and some vegans and vegetarians find it very difficult to sit with and watch others eat animal products. Many advocate for a completely vegan world, and aim to help others transition their diet and lifestyle to a vegan one. This can also come across as preachy, judgmental and pretentious to meat eaters, who simply do not want to listen to someone continually talking about their own cruelty free way of life. To understand the perspective of a passionate vegan, who not only adopts a plant-based diet, but also leads a lifestyle that does not contribute to the exploitation of animals in any way, research must be done, because, and we must not forget, they are doing it for compassionate, genuine reasons.
I consider the transition to veggie or vegan a process not an event, so if you are trying to adopt that dietary lifestyle, please remember that it is OK to occasionally cave when you are in the initial processes. What is important is your continuation of the cause, and not doing it for any other reason than to personally feel that you are contributing to a cruelty free world. Pretending to be vegan on social media for status and perceived popularity, but munching on KFC or drinking milk produced by animals behind the scenes is not the way to go. And likewise, remaining a meat eater simply because it is the easiest option due to your lifestyle and those around you, even if you personally feel and understand the cruelty behind it and want to do something about it, is not the way to lead your life either.
I am an advocate of complete animal equality, with no animal (including humans) being considered better or more cherished than another. Speciesism is a form of discrimination that many people do not recognise. I am also passionate about preserving the natural environment, and doing everything I can to maintain the beauty and health of our planet, but I also recognise the restrictions of myself as an individual, and my abilities to work alone and voice my ideas and opinions to the world. I am one of many billion people, and while my vegetarianism is something I am proud of, I do not make it a goal to convince every single person I meet to follow and convert to my dietary choices. I have even been criticised by vegans who believe I am not doing enough, and that’s understandable.
It is important to remember that in a world where we can choose what to eat from a serious array of options, most of us do not personally need to ever kill an animal to eat animal products every single day. This creates an element of natural ignorance that keeps us from really understanding and sympathising with the animals that are killed to be consumed by humans. But we have to also understand that eating meat as part of a regular diet has long existed and is so embedded into many cultures and societies. It is something that simply won’t change overnight, even if you want it to so desperately. The most important thing is how you personally feel about your own life. If you are proud and happy with your lifestyle choice and never personally convert a person to a cruelty free diet, that is still a perfectly acceptable way to lead your life as a vegan or vegetarian. There are many activist groups and charities that exist primarily to support and provide information to people who wish to or have converted to a vegan lifestyle. You do not need to put the weight of the world on your shoulders, if you are taking personal action, you are contributing to a better world.
Understanding and compromising with others is such a crucial thing to do in such a diverse world, but it works both ways. As a meat eater, you should understand and be considerate to those who feel uncomfortable and upset in the presence of meat, it can be quite traumatic for people who have led a cruelty free diet for the majority of their lives. And if a heated discussion does arise, and you don’t want to talk about it with them, politely say so, do not offend or cause unneeded arguments. You are both entitled to your own opinions.
If you are in the situation where a vegan or vegetarian is very close with you, a friend, family member or partner, it can lead to difficulties for day-to-day activities. Understanding each other’s point of view will help reduce the frustrations, from both ends of the spectrum, you have to compromise. Meat eaters, do some research. Veggies and vegans, not everyone will want to adopt the lifestyle you advocate. Hopefully someday in the future, with the growing vegan community, there will be a majority of people in the world who follow a cruelty-free diet and lifestyle, but in the meantime, work your hardest to help others understand, but don’t compromise your personal relationships if someone does not agree with your view. We live in a democracy, educate others if they ask, be proud of your choice and most importantly, enjoy it completely.
Feel free to take a look at some of my recipes, all of which are vegetarian, and some even vegan. Also, please let me know how you feel about the topic I’ve tried to address here, this article is not concise, just a few of my personal opinions on how to address the debates and issues associated with a vegan lifestyle. I’d love to know what you think so leave a comment!
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