Have you ever spoken to someone who is cutting back on their meat consumption because their doctor told them to? Or passed someone in the grocery store who has some boxes of various veggie burgers in their cart for health reasons? It seems like even the most aggressive meat eater will limit the teasing and judgment since it's for their health. They sleep easier at night knowing that Jim and Carol would be eating bacon wrapped cheeseburgers if it weren't for that idiot doctor. It's when you choose to not eat animals that things get weird. It's even worse when you make that choice because you believe animals aren't here to be eaten. For some reason that just brings out the anger in some (a lot) of people. I've seen the same behavior when it comes to healthy habits. If someone is forced by their doctor to live a healthy life, well okay. But if someone chooses to live a healthy life to prevent having to ever be forced to live a healthy life, well bring on the side eyes and rolls. It can be so frustrating! And although I am a proud vegan, and always will be, sometimes it gets so frustrating almost always being the minority. I can think of several situations where someone is being a dick towards veganism, and all of a sudden the whole room is staring. So now you're stuck defending your choices/veganism to more than one person. It's overwhelming, and intimidating. It can be enough to make you just want to be silent about your convictions. It's definitely silenced me in the past. I've worked in restaurants where I would be fired for saying I don't eat meat. I'm supposed to go along with the myth of meat and potatoes equals a delicious, satisfying meal.
I want to encourage all of us who love animals and believe that they have as much of a right to life as we do to not let the masses silence us. What I've come to learn is choosing your battles is crucial to keeping your sanity. It doesn't make the vegan argument weak if you say agree to disagree to someone. If someone were trying to convince me to eat meat, at some point they would have to walk away, because it's just mot going to happen. So, I am a proud vegan, and I proudly say I'm a vegan here in Wal-Mart land, and I accept the looks and snide comments. I'm learning that balance of being proud and loud about who I am, while also realizing that I haven't yet received my wand that turns everyone into a peace loving vegan. I'm told it's in the mail, so fingers crossed it's coming soon!
I know that things are changing. More and more people are at least flirting with the idea of eating less meat, more and more restaurants are offering vegan options, CHAO!, and fur, and even leather are slowly becoming very outdated, we are making changes for the better. We don't have to fight every battle, and we don't have to waste our energy answering every inane comment people throw our way. But we don't have to hide our veganism either. We are vegans, not criminals. We should all share our stories of dealing with people who challenge/bully us. What I'm learning more and more each day is there is strength in numbers, and also it feels so good to share, and have other people relate. It reminds us that we aren't alone!
Slow and steady wins the race!