Did you know that there are different types of vegans?
I have asked myself many times if having different types of vegans matters.
I did a vlog about five years ago about what it means to be vegan and the nuances involved (you can watch it here: 50 Shades of Vegan.) And as I was rewatching it, I thought to myself, ‘There’s hardly any change at all in how there are still different types of vegans’.
So let’s start with moi! – a good place to start as I went through my journey.
I have no idea when I became vegan. I went vegetarian back in the late 90s, and the only reason I did was because I couldn’t afford to buy meat, and legumes were way cheaper.
Now, my dairy intake was minimal, and it was easy to switch to soy for my coffee, so that wasn’t an issue, but Eggs … I loved them. However, I would only ever buy free-range, but, whew, they were expensive back then – it was such an elite market. Consequently, I wouldn’t buy them very often.
Then, in early 2000, I suddenly realised that I hadn’t eaten eggs for ages, and it was like, “Whoa – looks like I’m vegan”.
But not quite. I was definitely plant-based. You see, my reason was still about the money, but slowly, as Google came into my sphere, I began to learn about animal farming practices, and it horrified me. Especially here in Aotearoa, N.Z., where I believed animal welfare was primo.
Well, that began my life as an activist and true vegan.
In the early years, I was ‘that’ vegan. You know the one – the one who’s constantly bringing up about the animals who suffer, like “you know that piece of meat was an animal”, etc. But I’m an older vegan now, and I also am very aware that people do not understand something until they are ready to understand.
That applies to all things, not just animal welfare and veganism. Some may not understand Newton’s theory of gravity. Oh, you can explain it till you’re blue in the face, and maybe they ‘get’ the gist of it like the principle of something falling, but the penny doesn’t entirely drop, nor does the light bulb go completely on (yes I’m trotting out the Newton puns) then, one day, they see or hear something and, WHAM !! They fully understand the concept and its ramifications.
The same applies to animals. Many people don’t relate to the piece of meat being the animal. They know it’s a piece of chicken or beef, but people are removed from the connection because the food comes out of a packet or box, and it no longer looks like the animal, so the brain switches off.
Some have other belief systems that stop them from making the connection – religious belief springs to mind. I’ve heard that the “bible says”, “God said we can eat meat”, “God provided us with the animals to eat”, etc. These are classics, and I hear it a lot.
Vegans have usually heard all the reasons why we should eat meat, and most vegans will know the replies. But 99% of the time, the people giving the excuses still don’t relate – the animal and the food – the light bulb hasn’t gone off.
Now, plant-based eating is gaining traction as people are discovering not so much the animal welfare side but the health benefits, the tasty food, the money saving, and the environmental benefits. It’s not necessarily ‘vegan, ‘ but it’s an excellent start.
Yes, we need to have the activists out there reminding us about the animals for food, fur, entertainment, testing and all the myriad of things we ‘use’ animals for. But we also can be a gentle activist who leads by example, answers questions, and doesn’t get into discussions with trolls or those fearing that you will take away their bacon. They’re not ready, so leave them alone.
To those who are interested, however, it’s easy to refer them to a documentary. Send them a link, but don’t push them into watching it; they’ll do so when they’re ready. And, when they do, they’re more likely to have the “Aha” moment.
There’s a great TED talk by Moby that is a wonderful example of how the brain works; it’s worth watching.
Getting back to me. I still get out amongst the people occasionally to help spread the animal rights message, but in my everyday life, I don’t bring up the topic. I ignore any baiting I get (and I get my fair share) and only respond to those who show genuine interest.
There are many different types of vegans. Which one are you? Are you one who uses the word so people understand you don’t eat animals, but you buy animal products? Do you have fish or eggs occasionally?
Or, if you’re not a vegan, have you had the light bulb moment yet?
Until next time…