Why aren’t more people vegan?

I actually think most people are already vegan at heart and it’s just a few pesky habits that need changing. What I mean is that people believe it’s wrong to hurt animals unnecessarily and know that it’s unnecessary to eat, wear and use animals for entertainment. But changing those “pesky” habits is hard, especially when you’re facing these top 3 reasons people don’t consider going vegan as a viable option.

  1. BAD PR
    We have a reputation. We’re seen as extreme. Going vegan is not accepted as something “normal” people do. In the eyes of many, vegans rant, judge, push, and break into law-abiding establishments to free animals. We protest and spray paint fur coats. Vegans may mean well but our methods are obnoxious.

    My first priority in addressing the PR problem is to take exquisite care of myself. Going and being vegan, or making any decision that goes against the norm, can be stressful. I deal with my stress by exercising, meditating and talking with other vegans. This helps me feel happier, more centered and secure in my choices which, in turn, helps me to be an excellent representative of veganism.

    Next, I learn and practice techniques to engage in non-judgmental, connected, loving conversations. Talking about important topics where there is passionate disagreement is challenging AND critically important. To lead a full life where you get to express your true self and still feel loving connections with others requires that you master a few basic skills. These skills are useful in many areas of life, not just veganism.
    Is there a more confusing area of study? Are tomatoes good or bad for you? Am I allowed to eat fruit or is the latest doctor on PBS going to tell me to lay off? It’s frustrating and it’s compounded by the fact that the meat and dairy industry have a product to sell and they, like every other seller of products, must downplay the bad and talk up (and sometimes make up) the good. Milk, in fact, does NOT do a body good but this was a wildly successful campaign that sold many people on the association between milk and a strong, beautiful (celebrity-level) body. None of it’s true, but the truth would not sell the product.

    To assuage my anxiety and minimize my confusion, I became certified in plant-based nutrition via an on-line program at Cornell. I am also an avid reader of books on the topic and do what I can to stay updated on the latest research. The most important thing to know is how to distinguish unfounded claims from those based on solid research. This helps me address questions and dispel myths when they come up.
    Breaking bread is an essential and basic way that people bond with one another. Our survival has always depended upon us sticking together so that fear of being rejected if you go vegan is real. On the surface, it seems almost silly. Why would anyone care? But people do care. People judge and feel judged. Going vegan, at least temporarily, can create a rift or division between you and your community. They’ll see you as different, no longer one of them and there are few things scarier than that. If they love you, they may try like hell to keep you from such a dramatic change and this might really mess with your need for loving support. It’s complicated. I handle this, again, by doing what I need to do to take care of myself and learn ways to engage my community members in an authentic way that can put us all at ease. It takes time and patience. I find talking with other vegans who understand and have had similar experiences to be monumentally helpful.

If you’re not vegan, let me know if one of the reasons I described resonates with you or if you have other reasons I haven’t mentioned. If you are vegan, what do you think? What’s your experience? I’d love to hear from you!

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