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Militia Ink 07-10-2017 08:19 PM

Anxiety over vegan ethics (+ how to revive spark)
 
Hi, so if you're a bit confused from the title, I'll give you a run down.

So I've been vegan for around two years (I stopped eating eating meat three years ago), and as I've grown older (18 now), I've been paying for a lot more things now. For example, my sister would often drive me around and get me stuff, and I repay her. So today, we were buying lunch and my sister told me to get her a chicken roll. As I was buying it, I thought that, since she would've already gotten without me, then what I was doing was fine. But then, I realised afterwards, that as someone who swore not to give money to those industries again, what I did was not something I agreed with. And yet, I can't change what I did.

I've always felt like a terrible vegan. I was always shy to tell people that I was one, and me spreading the message has been limited. As I've gone through the years, the initial passion has been lost, and that scares me. I want the cruelty to stop, but how do I do it? It seems every method I thought of has its drawbacks. Any advice for me?

BlueMts 07-10-2017 11:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Militia Ink (Post 4102626)
Hi, so if you're a bit confused from the title, I'll give you a run down.

So I've been vegan for around two years (I stopped eating eating meat three years ago), and as I've grown older (18 now), I've been paying for a lot more things now. For example, my sister would often drive me around and get me stuff, and I repay her. So today, we were buying lunch and my sister told me to get her a chicken roll. As I was buying it, I thought that, since she would've already gotten without me, then what I was doing was fine. But then, I realised afterwards, that as someone who swore not to give money to those industries again, what I did was not something I agreed with. And yet, I can't change what I did.

I've always felt like a terrible vegan. I was always shy to tell people that I was one, and me spreading the message has been limited. As I've gone through the years, the initial passion has been lost, and that scares me. I want the cruelty to stop, but how do I do it? It seems every method I thought of has its drawbacks. Any advice for me?

You know what? Stop beating yourself up over what happened. Think of it this way, if you were having dinner with friends, some vegan and some omni, would you refuse to pass the non-vegan food across the table to an omni ? Can't you just hear the omnis later saying how rude those vegans are? You are doing your best. You are setting a good example by eating vegan.

Have you talked to your sister about your being vegan. If you have have then maybe you could have a quiet chat with her about how you really don't feel right about buying chicken rolls etc. Don't be holier than thou about it just tell her why.

We all hate the cruelty and want it to stop so we do what we can and we try very hard not to contribute to it and you are making your contribution by being vegan. Every day you are a vegan you are helping to stop the cruelty.

When you do want to tell someone you are a vegan just do it like it is an everyday thing because it is. More people are changing all the time. Just do some reading so you are ready to answer questions.

You are only 18, changes for a better animal cruelty free world seem - to me - to be speeding up, you will see so many wonderful things happen in your life time.

So keep coming around here with us and get your enthusiasm back. Welcome to the forum, hoping to see you here often. :)

Thalassa 07-11-2017 03:42 AM

I once bought a cheeseburger for an old boyfriend and watched him eat it while I drank a soda. I'm certainly not going to judge you for a well intended mistake you made at 18 years old. Hardly! I will congratulate you for being so much more aware than many 18 year olds. You're doing well!

Today I wouldn't buy meat for anyone including my own mother. I would compromise for vegetarian though, I admit, I would still buy a cheese quesadilla for a loved one in a tight spot but refuse a chicken dinner. You could try that, telling family members you'll buy a veggie but not meat option if they won't choose vegan.


However I do understand. I have had conflicts buying meals for homeless people. I told someone a few years ago I'd buy him a turkey dog but not beef or pork a few years ago. Today I would simply offer the same person a bean and rice burrito.

You can still love family members and strangers without compromising your values. It just takes practice.

Evolotus 07-17-2017 10:51 AM

I think all activists go through funks where they are frustrated or disgruntled that they don't seem to be making progress.

Is it burnout? If so take care of yourself, do something fun, read trashy books/watch bad TV/repaint your bathroom. Whatever will get your brain out of itself for a while and help you reset.

Do you feel your activism has been limited because you don't feel authoritative? Check out recent AR/vegan documentaries you might have missed, watch some vegan leaders' speeches on Youtube, get into some blogs and podcasts that might inspire you.

In terms of methods, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got was that we don't decide what kinds of activism to engage in based on what works, but rather based on what *we* individually are willing to do for the cause. I know I can't personally be as effective working on a project or campaign I don't feel good about, or participating in an action that makes me uncomfortable. I am not a good representative or spokesperson when my heart doesn't feel it. For example protesting outside the homes of animal researchers makes me very anxious -- and even though people tell me it works, I don't want to do it. On the other hand I know fostering homeless animals is not going to change the world, but it's something I love doing and am good at.

Point being maybe judge yourself less for being "terrible" at advocacy, and instead focus on things you like doing, that you can do happily, regardless how effective you think they are.

poivron 07-17-2017 12:51 PM

I understand how you feel. I've also been feeling depressed recently that in over four years of veganism, I haven't been able to convince anyone (other than my wonderful spouse) to switch to a plant-based diet. In the beginning, I thought people simply didn't know what goes on at factory farms, and that when they found out, they would want to have nothing to do with such cruelty. Instead, people saw my decision as an implicit criticism of their behavior or their ignorance and reacted by becoming defensive and combative. I was shunned for my decision to reduce animal suffering. I was repeatedly asked to defend every single detail of my diet against charges that it was unhealthy -- and when I provided clear answers, I was accused of being "rigid". Even people I know to be highly empathetic and intelligent have refused to even consider changing their diet. After some time, I stopped arguing. I have not lost my own resolve, but I have lost almost all my faith in humanity.

My spouse and I just returned from a brief vacation with my sister-in-law, who had previously been very supportive of our veganism, to the point of cooking vegan meals for us whenever we visited her. Every time we went out to eat on this trip, though, she made a point of choosing an animal product. She went out of her way to make sure that everything she ordered was non-vegan, even when we were at vegan-friendly restaurants where over half the menu was vegan. Sensing that she was trying to get a reaction, I said nothing; I even encouraged her to eat what she wanted. But your message has reminded me that my spouse and I paid for all the meals except one. So we have inadvertently broken our pledge of not supporting the factory-farm industry with our money. I am annoyed about this. The next time I'm in a situation like this, I will not be manipulated into funding someone else's support of cruelty.

I agree with the others that it's not useful to beat yourself up about what has already happened. The important thing is that you will know how to react the next time this happens. As for what you can do, Vegan Outreach has a program called "Adopt a College". (I'm unable to post links, so please Google it.) Here is how it works: you order leaflets that promote veganism, and you pass them out at a nearby college campus. This is apparently the easiest and most effective way to engage in vegan activism. They have videos showing how to do it. Why not give it a try? It might make you feel less powerless.

Symondezyn 07-17-2017 03:17 PM

First of all, a big kudos to you for committing to a vegan lifestyle at such a young age. It took me a long time to get where you are, so you are already ahead of me by not spending decades of your life as part of the problem :)

Secondly, I think we often feel like if we are not visibly/obviously CONVERTING people to veganism, that we are not doing "our job". That really puts a lot of pressure on you to change the world single handedly... which is really impossible. On the other hand, every time you choose to eat a plant based meal, buy a vegan pair of shoes, support a vegan company... etc etc. you are voting with your dollars, as well as living the example.

What this does is twofold: number one, you are telling industries what you are willing to spend your money on. They want money, so of course, more and more companies are electing to provide vegan options because there are more and more of us demanding it. I saw the same phenomenon in my life with organic products. They used to be unheard of, and grossly expensive. Now they are everywhere. Why? because of consumer demand. Vegan products/restaurants are no different. They are cropping up everywhere because of people JUST LIKE YOU ^_^

The other impact your decisions have is that you are quietly setting an example for those around you. You don't have to preach or argue your beliefs for them to still have an impact. People will notice, and even if you never find out what impact you had on them, believe me - every example of a "normal" vegan they see, makes it that much more of an approachable and potentially doable lifestyle for them. One day, when they make the decision to become vegan, or even adopt some plant based lifestyle choices, you have been a part of that, even if in a subtle way.

Long story short: You DO make a difference. Keep doing what you're doing - you'll figure out all the awkward family conversations in time ^_^ (spoiler alert: they're not as bad in real life as they are in your head ^_^)

Akros 07-17-2017 09:50 PM

1) You are saving thousands of animals by being vegan. :)

2) A while back, I read a bunch of essays on the Vegan Outreach website, and they really helped me a lot. They lay out a road map for successfully spreading veganism, and it's quite pragmatic. It's not the case that every vegan has to go around evangelizing their family, friends, and coworkers.

3) Personally, I am terrible at trying to persuade people to do things and I feel horrible doing it. It's not who I am. The way I want to live my life and be myself is by seeing the best in people, empathizing and harmonizing with them, and expressing my natural personality in that way. I can't live in a manner where I am criticizing and fighting with 99% of the people that I encounter.

As I see it, if the vegetarian/vegan life was something so intolerably fastidious, demanding, and unnatural that every person involved in it had to martyr themselves for the cause, contort their natural self, and bend over backwards trying to slice at other people with arguments to guilt-trip them into converting to the cause--then it would be impossible for veganism to ever reach critical mass and become a mainstream phenomenon. Because, apart from a handful of especially dedicated and passionate individuals whose personalities are well-suited for that kind of existence, who would want to join a cause like that and voluntarily put themselves through that hell? I feel like if veganism is going to spread and integrate itself into everyday life, it needs to be something easy, peaceful, and painless where people don't feel like it's going to make them miserable.

The way that I personally try to represent myself as a vegan is by simply being myself, being happy, and demonstrating that it's not burdensome or a major source of suffering for me to be vegan.

The other thing I do is I throw money at vegan activist groups full of talented, dedicated, compassionate individuals who leaflet--and can do a much more skilled, efficient, effective job at it than I ever would.

4) Your happiness matters.

Militia Ink 07-18-2017 02:43 AM

Thank you guys for all of the lovely replies! It's funny how even after two years I can still learn about the different sides to veganism. I push myself a lot, and while I'm doing much better, it is my initial reaction to my mistakes. I was actually thinking of using my art to do a lot of my activism, but how to convey the message is the tricky part for me. Should I go for dark? Light-hearted? I'll figure it out in due time, right now, I think I should relax a little :)

David3 07-18-2017 12:01 PM

It's likely that you are inspiring people to think about veganism, just by letting them know that you're a vegan. The thing is, people are private about these things - they may choose to research it on their own, rather than talking with you about it.

Or, a person might not be immediately inspired to become vegan, but might be inspired by a few vegan people, over the course of months or years.

I've thought how fun it might be to set up a table at my local farmer's market. I wouldn't discuss veganism - I would just make it a "Free Bean Recipes" table. Beans are interesting, and the whole "fart subtext" amuses people. I could have beautiful photos of colorful beans and bean dishes, a bottle of Beano, and maybe a printed-out fart cartoon for comic relief. And I could hand out illustrated bean recipes. That's it! No vegan talk at all. The more that people learn to enjoy beans, the less meat they may choose to eat. I don't have the right personality for this kind of outreach, though.
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