There are some people who start eating a vegan diet and that becomes who they are. They talk about it all the time, they imagine it will fix everything wrong in their lives and, worst of all, they judge others who don’t eat the same way. They aim for purity at all costs.
Non-vegans see these people and wonder, “If I begin to eat vegan, do I have to be a fundamentalist too?”
(spoiler: you don’t!)
What is going on here?! Why do some people take such an approach to eating vegan?
It seems that sometimes when a person really believes in something, she might think that she should put all of her energy towards that thing, never wavering from following it, always telling others how great it is and constantly informing others how terrible it is if they don’t share the same belief.
People can get in their heads.
This is very understandable because they are simply following ideas to what seems to be their logical conclusions –
- If I believe killing animals is akin to killing humans, I should yell at anyone I see eating animals – I wouldn’t stand by and watch that happen to a human.
- If I believe eating vegan prevents cancer, I should shout it from the rooftops and knock burgers out of the hands of loved ones.
- If I believe animal agriculture is an enormous contributor to climate change, I should protest Thanksgiving to save the world for our children.
Listen, all of these are clearly very compelling points. From the perspective of many who eat vegan, there is a lot on the line if you do not eat a vegan diet.
So, why isn’t this airtight logic?
Well, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, does it achieve the goal of getting people to eat vegan? If a person believes eating vegan is the only way, is it likely that more people are going to eat vegan if they have someone wagging a finger at them? Is that the way to bring more people into the fold? Does shaming usually encourage deep and lasting life change in people?
It seems clear that the answer to these questions is no. Such an approach puts people on the defensive and they usually stop listening.
Secondly, it seems to lack perspective to be so confident, to the point of being preachy, with a new life choice. For almost all vegans, there was a time when they didn’t eat vegan.
Why do some forget these times? One does not have to look far in the rearview to remember a time of eating a non-vegan diet and to act high and mighty towards people who are currently in that place is an odd, alienating choice.
The stereotypical vegan is usually described as being judgmental and thinking along the lines of the fundamentalist logic and some clearly do live and act by this logic.
But despite the fact that there are some vegans who use this fundamentalist logic, the truth is, most people are not fundamentalists in general and most vegans are not fundamentalists in particular. These people might not get as much attention because they are more low-key than the more “preachy” vegans and so not as much on people’s radar. Also, stereotypes have a way of sticking around whether or not they’re deeply true.
While you consider a vegan diet, know this: you do not have to become a fundamentalist about whatever dietary choices you make.
You can live by example, make great food for loved ones and even engage in kind debates about your beliefs without condemning the choices of others. Also, change doesn’t happen overnight. As you start to eat more and more vegan, or even totally vegan, it’s helpful to remember that you didn’t always eat vegan. Remember those days.
For people who are worried about being thought of as preachy, know that is up to you and how you choose to behave towards others. And, if you’ve been preaching a bit too much, losing the ear of others in the process, you might consider another path to spreading the greatness of a plant-based diet. Because eating vegan is indeed great!
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