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Fighting vegan stereotypes...how?!

Discussion in 'The Vegan Forum' started by anglichanka, May 12, 2017.

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  1. anglichanka

    anglichanka Not-So-Newbie

    "Vegans are skinny, malnourished Westerners with enough money and time to follow such a restrictive diet", "vegans are crazy extremists", "vegans are all social warriors" are just a few of the stereotypes I've heard.

    I am nearly twenty-five, and only now going vegan, because of the pressure I felt from my family to fit in. Now, I'm married, live away from my family, and am committed to following a newer, more responsible way of life.

    But, friendly forum people, how do you reconcile your own need to follow this new way of life with the desire not to be shunned by your family and friends? I'm totally committed to this change, but dealing with friends and family who knew me before is tough, and explaining to them my change without being branded "a social justice warrior" and laughed out, is next to impossible.
     
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  2. shyvas

    shyvas Deity Forum Moderator

    I'm not vegan but I would say let them 'fight' and you just do your thing. The only hassle that I received when I became a vegetarian was form certain family members in the UK.
    None of my family in the US made any snide remarks and willingly accepted the fact. Only one person said (in a friendly manner) that it wouldn't last and it was a phase but I proved him wrong.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
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  3. anglichanka

    anglichanka Not-So-Newbie

    Thanks, shyvas! I don't think we've quite "got there" yet in the UK - veganism or vegetarianism, or any diet out of choice rather than medical need, seems to be an issue (at least, in my experience).
     
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  4. Andy_T

    Andy_T Addicted Poster Forum Moderator

    Location:
    Hannover, Germany
    Hello Anglichanka and welcome to the light side!!!

    It can be tough, I agree, but it seems to me that one of the most important capabilities of any aspiring vegan would be the ability to "grow a thick skin" and simply ignore stupid opinions from people who have not yet reached your level of enlightenment (which is about 99 % of the general public).

    I sincerely hope that your spouse supports you in your efforts!!! Here it is much more difficult to accept missing understanding than from other people you only need to see on a temporary basis...
     
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  5. anglichanka

    anglichanka Not-So-Newbie

    Hi Andy_T,

    Thank you! :) You're absolutely right, and thanks for understanding! It's tough to explain a change as big as the one I'm making, but I'm slowly starting to see that it's possible, and people round me will just get used to it!
     
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  6. blues

    blues World Class Member

    Thankfully I have had very few snide remarks (I am vegetarian) some comments might come through a lack of knowledge on their part , so try to politely explain why you are what you are, if they cant handle it , its their problem not yours .

    In very rear cases and it just doesn't apply to snide vegetarian comments .....I just don't reply .

    You could (if you could afford it ) offer to take your family out to a vegan restaurant to celebrate a birthday or a anniversary ;)
     
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  7. Poppy

    Poppy Ankle Biter

    It gets easier with time, I promise. When you first make a major lifestyle change, whether it's go vegan, embrace a new religion, or somehow present yourself as different from what you used to be, many people in your life will act as though it's going to be a major problem for them. I don't know why it is, but it is.

    Here's a few things I have found will help: 1) always contribute food - whether it be for a holiday meal or potluck or whatever, bring delicious food and bring enough to share. 2) don't be the one to bring up animal cruelty, especially at the dinner table 3) be prepared for some family members to make fun or try to goad you. That's when you have to have your arsenal of comebacks ready:" Don't you wish you could have some of this tasty hamburger???" "Oh no thank you! You do realize hamburger is full of sh*t, right?" 4) don't talk about your new way of life unless someone else asks about it first 5) Realize that the less you make your diet an issue (by being self-sufficient, resolved and keeping your sense of humor) the faster everyone will get used to it.
     
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  8. Tom

    Tom Addicted Poster

    If it comes up, I just mention that I'm not okay with the way animals who are eaten or who produce milk and egg are treated. If someone wants more details, I continue the discussion.

    If this person has a pet, I might explain to them that I've interacted a lot with a few different species of animals (cat, dog, rabbit, gerbil, hamster). I might then note that these animals really didn't seem that different from each other to me in their capacity to enjoy life or suffer- but the standards of treatment for these animals are VERY different. Most people wouldn't be okay with killing and eating a cat or dog, or feeding them to a snake- but it's perfectly legal in my area to feed rodents to other animals, or for someone to butcher and eat rabbits they raise. I've never understood this- and I can't imagine that cows, pigs, chickens, etc are THAT different from the animals I've loved either, although I haven't interacted with those 3 species to any extent.
     
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  9. silva

    silva Addicted Poster

    Location:
    Ohio, U.S.A
    It took some time for me to normalize. In the beginning, I feel it's best to lay low, do your research, find foods you love and are easy, and stay out of confrontation. Just say you're trying new things. Once you "become" vegan, you should realize the best arguments for being vegan are those that are against being vegan. It's easy to eat healthy and balanced, it's just getting accustomed to using different foods. When you stop looking at animals as living machinery and realize using them for food is just another way of abuse and slavery. We are not carnivores. We do better on plants.
    I make a point to talk about what I eat, and I think because I eat a lot like the people around me, meaning not raw, sometimes bring a frozen veggie patty and bun, they get interested. It's just leaving out meat, adding more beans, tofu, seitan, tempeh, nuts and ways of prep. People start hearing about using chickpeas where they used to fuss with dead birds, they're willing to try it. No yuck, no contamination.
    Oh, I am far from skinny or malnourished! Honestly I have met vegans who are, and geniunely suspect cover up for eating disorder.
     
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  10. anglichanka

    anglichanka Not-So-Newbie

    Ah, this is such helpful advice, thank you all! I can't figure out on my phone how to reply to individual responses, but I'll try that later on my laptop.

    I do like the advice to lay low (thanks, silva!), and to bring along my own food. Most of all, though, thank you guys for getting that, sometimes, it can feel lonely, and you can feel bad because the people who knew you before make a huge deal about it.

    I promise I'll reply individually once I can get to a laptop - I really appreciate the support and advice, thank you!
     
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  11. anglichanka

    anglichanka Not-So-Newbie

    Hi Blues,
    Thank you for the tips, and I'm glad to hear you've not had too many snide comments
     
  12. anglichanka

    anglichanka Not-So-Newbie

    Hi Poppy,
    I think that's the hardest thing- people who knew me before having a problem with me being vegan. I was never a big meat or fish eater, tried to go vegetarian as a teenager but my family wouldn't hear of it. Now that I've decided to go vegan, I have no idea how they'll react. It's not like I want their support, I just don't want the aggro.

    Totally appreciative of the advice to not talk about it unless asked, and definitely to keep my sense of humour - hard sometimes, when there's nothing to eat because "ew, tofu" is a way of life for my family!
     
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  13. MadamSarcastra

    MadamSarcastra 1½ years vegan, 4 years meat-free!

    Location:
    Mid-Michigan
    Wasn't sure where to put this, but I just saw it on Twitter and I like it a lot....

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Brian

    Brian Veteran Member

    Location:
    Gothenburg
    I'm lucky in that I live in Sweden and when you tell people you have become vegan, rather than look with shock and horror and ask you the inevitable "Where do you get your protein from?" people actually light up and say things like "Wow, that's really good!" Swedes are very big on environmental concerns but also on ethics and veganism is quite a big thing here.

    I remember back in the eighties in England, I was attempting to be vegetarian and when people found out they threw a barrage of nutrition questions at me then proceeded to challenge the ethics, then almost implied that I was trying to inflict my views on them! Still, it eventually passed and people just accepted it.
     
  15. Brian

    Brian Veteran Member

    Location:
    Gothenburg
    Be careful though - since being a vegan I have eaten lots thanks to experimenting with different foods, but my waist has reduced to the size it was when I was a teenager and settled there. I look skinny even though I am healthy. :)
     
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