The Problem With Identifying Yourself As A Vegan
People who know me know that I’m a loud, proud (but not pushy) vegan.
It’s fun telling the whole world what you eat and why you love animals so bloody much…
…until you realise the pressure that’s inadvertently put on you.
No matter how much I love the animals and the environment, I find myself questioning my frankness.
Was it naïve of me to be so open about my choice?
Would my life be less complicated if I didn’t post my food on social media?
Here are the problems I’ve experienced myself.
1. You’re expected to be an activist
Personally, I’d love it if every vegan is a vegan advocate.
If you eat a vegan diet, in a way, you already are. You’re an advocate through your actions, which is great!
The problem arises when there’s the pressure to do more than just show what you eat in a day. That you should go out on the streets and talk to people. Some of you may be comfortable with that but others may not be so. But that doesn’t make you less of an activist.
I’ve definitely felt the pressure to “do more for the community”. Hell, I’ve done a lot just by choosing plant-based foods in the supermarket amidst a throng of animal-based foods. But I know that a part of me wants to go out on the streets and do something more. It’s just that my life circumstance may not allow me such liberty.
2. People may have a preconceived idea of you
Once you say you’re vegan, you can see the change in the way they look at you. It’s either they suddenly look down upon you or feel in awe followed by the phrase “I can’t do it”.
Whatever their idea of you may be, it would somewhat disrupt the good conversation or camaraderie you thought you had. From this point on, you need to be aware of every word that comes out of your mouth.
3. You’re expected to be perfect and can’t mess up
This is probably the most annoying bit. Despite the general casual mockery that vegans receive, I think people also tend to put vegans on a very high pedestal, ironically. I think this is thanks to the general perception about vegans e.g. vegans save X animals a month; vegans are healthier in general; vegans have a low carbon footprint.
These sound like a leaf out of the book of utopia.
In most cases, it’s true. Vegans do theoretically lead a better life than most. But they’re still human so they’re not entirely immune to temptations, infections, mishaps and mental health problems.
To Hell With Expectations!
As a human being in general, we often put way too much pressure on ourselves thanks to society’s expectations.
Add with the pressure of being a perfect vegan, no wonder we’re so depressed.
(unless it’s just me)
Regardless, you shouldn’t be what other people expect of you.
You only be what you want to be.
If you’re a vegan but you don’t want to go about advocating for veganism – then don’t!
If you’re a vegan but you accidentally ate meat – don’t beat yourself up too much!
If you’re a vegan but found out you need some animal products to literally survive – keep helping animals in other ways!
Until the system is pro-vegan, we are bound to make mistakes and stumble along the way.
If your intention is clear and honest, which is for the sake of the animals first and foremost, you’re no less of a vegan if you trip up.
And if you don’t want to be identified as a vegan but eat a vegan diet, just say that you eat a vegan diet.
There’s a difference between “I am a vegan” and “I eat a vegan diet”.
Be firm on which camp you’re in and own it.
What’s A Not Good Enough Excuse?
Let me get one thing clear.
If you’re someone who can afford to buy junk foods, cigarettes and alcohol regularly, you can definitely afford plant-based foods.
Liking the taste of meat is simply not a good enough justification for me especially when you consider the health and environmental impacts of eating meat.
And you simply can’t argue against animal welfare and rights when it comes to eating them. Try me.
Am I Still A Proud Vegan?
Yes, I am very much so.
But I’m more mindful of when I use the word.
I’m in the midst of experimenting how I advocate for it be it online or offline. I’d only take out the V word when necessary.
I’m playing with psychology.
The more you push a value upon others, the more resistant they will be.
An effective way to challenge one’s values is to contradict them through logical conclusions.
And that’s about it that you can control.
The rest depends on whether they would have the self-awareness to recognise their flawed values.