For the past 5 years or so, I have never left home without this badge. It is my way of establishing my values upfront; It commits them to my values as much as it does to me, and is a great conversation starter!
There are two sets of people the badge attracts: one set is the ‘in-awe-of-me for being a vegan’ and the other is the ‘here’s-another-crazy-man’ kind. When people ‘ask’ me if it is not difficult being a vegan, I can only think of this second lot–it’s handling people like these that makes it difficult! So, why do people think it is difficult being a vegan? I club them into the following four buckets:
People think you become a vegan as a treatment measure or alternate diet to the lactose intolerant. It is often equated to dietary models like Keto, Atkins or LFHC (Low Fat High Carbs) as a method to solving a bodily problem. It is here that being a vegan is a lot more than food crops up–very few people connect with leather, honey, silk and pearls, products tested on animals, jolly rides and circuses! But once oriented, they are quick to make the connections and the conversation goes deeper.
Most people assume being vegan is a lot of hard work. They talk to me like they have to do the planting, towing, farming, plucking, transporting, cleaning and chopping and all! This is actually an assumption for convenience, to discourage themselves and stick to their comfort zone of the food they eat right now. They are too lazy to research, probe, discuss and weigh their choices–the kind who tell me they eat a salad every day, chicken only twice a week, don’t like milk or curd but love cheese-all sit here.
Conditioning comes from two sources–forced conditioning and borrowed conditioning. People who come under Forced Conditioning are the kind who are handed over concepts generation after generation eg grandma’s recipes, Krishna drank milk, Ayurveda says ghee is good–all sit here. Ethical reasoning comes next, for to these people their food and health come ahead of animals. These people have to be handled using the health dimension and everything must relate to their body and wellbeing.
People who come under Borrowed Conditioning are the kind who evoke a lot of humour. I once had a comment on one of my Facebook posts–Vegan is dangerous, Steve Jobs went vegan and he died. Years and dollars of marketing by dairy, meat and egg industry have ingrained in people’s head the need to consume them for calcium and protein.
Fear Of The Unknown
This is a tricky part as a lot of their feelings and understandings are based on all the three notions–misconceptions, lethargy and conditioning. The fears here are based on ‘what-if’ scenarios. What if my kidneys fail? What if my bones go weak? People stick to the known path, it keeps them secure and puts the responsibility of health and goodness elsewhere. These people also fear knowing anything of cruelty in the animal kingdom–for seeing a video or knowing more will morally force them to exit the comfort zone and defy conditioning. These people are blind and deaf by choice, will bury their heads hoping it too will pass!
It’s a myth to think being vegan is difficult. Being a non-vegan and falling sick often is difficult. Cutting down thousands of acres of forests to make way for animals in livestock and their food, and living in a world struggling with clean water and fresh air is difficult. Open up your mind, explore a new world of good health and ethical living –it’s what the planet needs desperately! How difficult is that to be?