Although most people overestimate the difficulty of transitioning to veganism, it is a lie to claim that it’s a breeze. As with any lifestyle change, veganism requires an upheaval and reassessment of one’s daily routine. There’s a learning curve, to be sure, but once you’ve ironed out the wrinkles you can return to the automaticity of your previous life.
Indeed, the worst, most difficult thing about veganism isn’t the ban on consumption of animal products; it’s other people.
Yes, I’m aware of how that sounds. But let me be clear: I’m not just talking about meat eaters, I’m also referring to vegans.
The simple fact is that most people don’t know how to act around vegans. The average person — though this undoubtedly varies by geography — probably knows one or two vegetarians, a pescetarian and no vegans. Upon learning that someone is vegan, many people tend to reflexively justify their omnivorism: “I could never give up cheese,” “Oh! Good for you, I could never do that,” “I went vegan for a week once, and then I got sick.”
The people who make these comments likely do not recognize the uncomfortable situation they just created. Even more discomforting is the “So why did you go vegan?” question while one or more parties to the conversation is consuming meat at that very moment.
I suspect that, because vegans are stereotyped as judgemental and holier-than-thou, we are thought to be constantly pondering the reasons those around us continue to eat animals. When there’s flesh on the table, the gap in moral values reveals the elephant in the room.
That’s not to say that we don’t think about what you are eating or why. Most of us just don’t want to have that conversation at the dinner table.
Most of us.
Other vegans may be more pushy. They might harass meat eaters to justify their behavior, they may go to restaurants to protest, they may engage in whataboutism every time an acquaintance is outraged at something completely irrelevant to veganism. These people aren’t just a problem to omnivores, they are bothersome to their fellow plant-eaters as well, often trying to one-up others about who is closer to moral purity.
They give vegans a bad name because they are the most vocal, the most visible, the most inflammatory and thus the most counterproductive.
Reasoned vegans are fighting a two-pronged battle: on the one hand, the vast majority of the public who consume meat; on the other, the animal rights extremists (think abolitionists, direct action everywhere folks, etc.) who effectively give veganism a bad name.
I hope that the take home message here is not that veganism is difficult. Again, it is easier than you probably think. But the pitfalls just might surprise you.
It’s still the best decision I have ever made.