Becoming vegan can be very enlightening. Since I became vegan back in 2011 I have become awakened to so many reasons it is one the most important lifestyle decision I've ever made.
Like many vegans I have interviewed, I regret not having gone vegan sooner. But that isn't my only regret. As my vegan journey matures through each year learning more about health, ethics, and the environment the more I feel the need to be an advocate. And having been a very active advocate now for 2 years my newest regret is not having been an advocate sooner.
In 2017 I started studying nutrition. I realized a plant based diet is the healthiest way of eating. And, it just so happens to be the healthiest thing we can do for all animals and the planet. And, of course, it's totally vegan.
As I learned more I became increasingly concerned. With this growing concern a need to spread this information developed. Now this is my life mission.
Right away it became obvious that people are not very receptive to this information. Diet is a very touchy subject. Sometimes they are defensive to the point of downright belligerent and irrational. Especially on the internet where it is most convenient to advocate.
The more we learn about the ethics, environment, and health impacts animal agriculture has the more we may feel inclined to speak out. It is important that we act on this. Action is needed by as many as possible.
It may be best to act using what you're best at. I use my videography skills and website skills. Some use their public speaking skills. Some use their cooking skills, organizational skills, entrepreneurial skills, science, etc... Take what you're best as this may be the most powerful way for you to expedite the movement. If nothing else find a local sanctuary to volunteer at or a non profit like a Humane League near you or PETA, a media group like Jane Unchained, contact DxE, Anonymous for the Voiceless, start a potluck, get active in a local group through facebook or meetup, or add listings to VeganLinked to build up your local vegan community! 😉
I maintained assertiveness throughout my interactions. Sometimes it was very hard to maintain patience though. Having been trained in assertive communication I found it easier for me than others to keep my cool in the face of vile and ridiculous comments by proclaimed omnivores.
It's important to maintain our cool. As my friend Trish Phoenix said it best recently
As vegans, we tend to be a little more sensitive to other's suffering, so why do we think we can change minds and hearts by belittling others and making them feel bad?? The second you tell me I'm wrong, I stop listening. The second you raise your voice, I raise mine. Then no one is getting anywhere and animals are still suffering.
If you want people to show compassion to animals you have to show the same compassion to those people first.
Raising your voice and calling people names just makes you look crazy and makes all vegans look like nut jobs, it doesn't make you a "hero".
It's easy to be short with people that are refusing to interact maturely, when they don't appear to have an open mind, when they're condescending, etc... And the more pressing we realize the issue is the more sensitive we may become. It is far more effective to be patient and role model non-violent communication; after all it is a non-violent culture we are trying to foster.
Channel Your Energy
One thing I like to do is use dialog to learn more. Often times people may say the same ole thing; fish don't have feelings, plants have feelings, where will we get protein, god put these animals here for us to eat, etc... As absurd and redundant as these things may seem take advantage of these opportunities to learn as much as we can. It's easy for us to say it's crazy to say plants have feelings and fish don't. Use this time to learn more about what it means to be sentient. Then respond intelligently, politely, calmly and compassionately.
If you don't have time to learn more and respond effectively it may be best to not respond at all until you can. It's most important to represent appropriately. If you need help reach out, groups like DxE actually help train people toward effective activism. Learn as much as you can about animal rights/ethics, the environment, and/or nutrition to better educate people. Bring your friends and family to events. For every vegan attending a new documentary screening, vegfest, etc... there should be ten non-vegans!