The Quiet Vegan

You know how vegans are always thought to be excessively talking about themselves being vegans. Looking at other, non-vegan people with disgust, accusative stares or, the slightly milder version, pity in their eyes.

Vegans are those people who just have to tell you how unhealthy or barbarian your daily choices and eating habits are, they somehow never fail to magically create occasions to talk about how veganism is superior and the one right thing, no matter what.

I’ve been vegan for about 5 years now and I’m not one of them.

The way I see it, in every “evolution” of any vegan person there’s that phase where you start digging into information about veganism. There’s the health perspective, the environmental perspective and, of course, the ethical/moral perspective. On each of those perspectives there are loads of information available and in this specific phase the person will really soak up any info he/she can get. One new bit of knowledge leads you to further research and the more you read up and inform yourself, the more grounded your decision of being vegan gets. That phase of self-information is crucial for becoming a long-term, happy vegan and everyone who sees veganism as more than just a fad will experience and live through it.

As vital and eye-opening that phase massive info-haul is, it also comes with consequences. Some typical “symptoms” are:

  • Sadness

(“How can it be that other beings are being treated the way they are?” You can literally feel every crushed animal – this can become so dramatic that you are close to being seriously depressed.)

  • Anger

(“How can it be possible that you did not know about this so far? How come this crucial information has been kept from you over all these years? How can media, lobbies and the government plainly LIE about all these things – up to the point that Children love to go to McD and order a “Happy Meal”? And how can it be that that “Happy Meal” consists of the screaming token of desperation and death?”)

  • Confusion & Regret

(“Why wasn’t I told that before? What else is a lie? How could I not have known or suspected this? Was I just too lazy, ignorant and egoistic to notice? How could I hurt all these beings for all these years?”)

  • Urge to talk about your new knowledge

As you’re informing yourself about all reasons for becoming vegan and you live through these first 3 symptoms, your urge to talk about your learnings, feelings and thoughts grows stronger. This is only natural and in fact healthy, since not talking about it would probably leave you alone in your room, crying and hating the world.

If you’re lucky to have people around you who you can talk about this stuff and you are additionally gifted with just the right amount of social intelligence and sensibility, you are going to do just fine with this “symptom”.

If you’re, on the contrary, lacking one or both of these circumstances it could get, well… messy.

You might stumble into some serious arguments, hurt and be hurt by your “folks” and, as a bonus, leave people thinking all vegans are the intolerant, judgmental assholes I partly described at the beginning of this post.

I believe, in order to have a healthy development as a vegan, that the “talking about it all the time”-symptom is naturally bound to diminish at some point. After some time you are going to find it easier to live vegan, you’re gonna have replaced your old habits with new ones and it’s not gonna be all “new” anymore. You won’t have to think about every item you buy anymore and you’ll know by hard which options on your favorite restaurant’s menu are vegan. You’re just gonna get USED to living this way – and that’s GOOD!

Somewhere around at this point I hope you are gonna have come to peace with the fact that not everyone on this planet is living vegan. Heck, not even everyone you know is. Most likely, even your best friends, family and partner are far from it. And that’s still hard, I know. BUT, over time you’ll be able to somehow live with that, too.

You’re not gonna have to scream “THIS IS MURDER!” in their faces, everytime your friends eat a Salami-Pizza or drink coffee with cow-milk. You’re not gonna start crying everytime your boyfriend bakes some eggs.

This doesn’t mean you stopped caring. I think this change is very important. You’d go crazy if you wouldn’t, somehow, come to terms with your non-vegan environment.

Would I wish that all my colleagues ordered vegan food with me instead of eating gross meaty-takeout every day at work? Yes.

Would I be glad if my family started to integrate vegan food into their weekly-lunch plans? Of course.

Would I be happy if my boyfriend would ditch that omelet? Absolutely.

But would it help if I told them, every damn time? Unfortunately, I think not.

I don’t know if this, my approach is the right approach. I’m just trying to not go crazy, to not be a constant pain in the ass no one wants to have around but to live by being a non-intrusive example. Over time, this is the only approach that has brought me some real results.

Yes, you may ask me about my thoughts on all things vegan, but only if it’s not in the “I-wanna-pick-a-fight”- kinda tone. I will calmly talk about my personal opinions and views, and I will do my best to try not to attack or “judge” you.

I believe that people who know me appreciate this about me, BUT there are certain situations that really push me.

Work-colleague tells me he’s eaten something vegan and it tasted actually good. Other co-worker talks about how environmentally-awesome he’s planning to eat next Friday while biting into his Leberkäs-Semmel (disgusting Austrian meat derivative in a bun). Great, I nod and smile. You want applause? Go get it somewhere else, please.

Person tells me that actually, not buying food seasonally is just as bad as eating meat. Wow, glad you figured that out, but maybe you wanna start dealing with your own stuff and improving there first?

“Friend” tells me that he exclusively eats Bio-meat, and just very little of that in fact, when I saw him eat a “Schnitzelsemmel” from a discounter the week before. Would be a nice step if you actually stuck with that, but pleeeeease, just stop talking to me already.

You see, I am really trying here. To be nice and not intolerant and not judgy – but please, stop pushing me or I’ll become exactly that vegan you don’t want me to be!

P.s.: Oh, and – SURPRISE – I don’t want every conversation to somehow circle back to me being vegan. I am actually interested in other topics, too. I do have a life. Being vegan is not the only thing that defines me, so please don’t reduce me to that. Thanks!