When I was set up with my husband and my friend told me he was vegan, I thought “Oh great, he’s probably going to be some pretentious, preachy, know it all whose going to give me the stink eye when I order meat.” I had a really slanted view of what it meant to be vegan because the only vegans I had ever encountered where exactly that. Of course when I met my husband I quickly realized he was nothing like that. He never judged me for eating meat and his being vegan never really came up except when we went out to eat, and even then he never made it into a big deal. Eventually I became vegan too (for ethical reasons) and have been vegan for over 12 years now.
On yesterday’s Oprah the vegan debate was in full swing, and although I didn’t watch the show (so I won’t comment on it) I have been watching all the tweets about it and it seems that Oprah may have inspired a lot of people to consider going vegan. So, here are some Do’s and Don’ts for all those newbie vegans.
- Make delicious tasting food to show meat eaters how good vegan food can be.
- Answer questions about your vegan lifestyle, but only when asked about it.
- Be willing to make compromises in social situations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had cheese-less pizza, spaghetti or even french fries for dinner.
- Make your own choices when it comes to food. Some people are very outspoken about certain vegan diets ie. raw, gluten free, processed vs. non processed etc. You have to choose what works for you and your lifestyle. I personally eat a lot of fake meat products because I enjoy the convenience and taste of them, and I don’t apologize for that.
- Ask your favorite restaurants to include vegan choices. Make sure to be polite and understanding rather than demanding.
- Don’t become vegan because it’s the cool or trendy thing to do. Do it because you’ll save animals, or for your health or the environment, but you’ll never stick with it if you’re doing it just because it’s the “in” thing to do.
- Don’t be a preachy vegan. Answer people’s questions about veganism but don’t preach or push veganism on anyone. Preaching to people won’t convince them to not eat meat, it just pisses them off and makes you look like an asshole.
- Don’t judge meat eaters. Being vegan is a personal choice as is eating meat.
- Don’t ask for your food to be cooked on a different grill. The goal of most vegans is to reduce animal suffering and cooking your veggie burger on a different grill isn’t going to do that. It just makes restaurants less likely to put vegan items on the menu or worse, the waiter decides to put something nasty in your food.
- Don’t make a stink at the dinner table if your family is eating meat. Having a temper tantrum will only make your family less likely to support your choices and won’t do anything to convince them to give your diet a try.
Understand that there is no such thing as a purist when it comes to veganism. Everything from synthetic fibers to plastic to cars has the potential of containing some animal product or by-product. The point is to do the best you can because even the most dedicated vegans can’t truly claim to be 100% vegan.