It’s not easy being a confident vegan. Often, you’re a wolf pack of one. At parties and family gatherings you’re often singled out as “the vegan” and forced to sit in the corner staring at the wall.
Okay, that last part doesn’t really happen. But sometimes it feels just as bad. It can feel lonely to be the only one that gives a damn about what they eat. Sometimes it feels like you’re swimming upstream and everyone else is coasting along on the strength of the current.
But it’s upstream you must swim. Fight against that current. Embrace the feeling of being your very own wolf pack. The best way to do that is to become a confident vegan.
Don’t worry about being different…
You may have noticed a little thing called an obesity epidemic happening lately, with 69% of adult Americans considered overweight. Apparently, following the standard American diet like everyone else is not such a great idea.
So many other habits and lifestyle choices that are widely practiced are worth avoiding. Excessive TV watching, lack of daily exercise and eating out for nearly every meal are all examples of what most people choose to do that you would do well to avoid.
Giving proper thought not just to what you eat, but how you spend your time and money will lead to less and less “fitting in” and even more feeling different. But whoever said being different was a bad thing?
Embrace the feeling of not fitting in. In fact, fitting in might just be a red flag of sorts. Oh, I’m doing what everyone else is doing? Uh oh. Something needs to change.
Not fitting in and being comfortable with that takes some practice. Don’t expect to be good with it right away. Eventually, though, you should start feeling comfortable and confident that the choices you’re making are based on your values, not on the fact that everyone else is doing it.
Don’t be so sensitive…
I realize this is asking a lot from us sensitive vegans. After all, much of the reason we became or stay vegan is based on our sensitivity to animal suffering and perhaps even environmental destruction. But I’m amazed how many stories I hear of vegans being upset by random, insensitive comments made by those mean and hateful meat eaters. Bullies, they are!
Of course, I’m not defending those comments, but as a vegan of a dozen years or so, I’ve realized the last thing I want to do is let any of this nonsense upset me. I’m not in control of what people think of my lifestyle choices, so I don’t let it bother me. Ultimately, their issues with veganism are more about them and their experiences than anything to do with me.
So you shouldn’t let it bother you when you’re annoying brother-in-law waves a greasy turkey leg in front of you and asks if it offends you. Nor should you go ballistic when once again this year you get asked to explain why you’re vegan over the turkey carcass at Thanksgiving dinner. Also, don’t you dare get all annoyed when you have to explain for the millionth time that you get plenty of protein from eating plants.
I know I’m asking a lot. Not being sensitive takes a tremendous amount of discipline. I assure you it took time for me to arrive at my zen-like acceptance of dumb comments. Like about ten years. So give it some time. But then let it go. It does get easier.
Harden the f*** up…
Yep, I said it. Related to being too sensitive, you just have to harden the f*** up. Because I don’t see the insensitive comments going away anytime soon. So now’s the time for you to learn the subtle art of not giving a fuck. Learning that will come in handy, not just for becoming a vegan badass, but for life in general.
Stop worrying about being liked and accepted by everyone. Sometimes, people aren’t going to like you. They might not even accept you. But this Tim guy seems to have it all figured out.
Let me give you an example. I attended the Portland Vegfest this last weekend. I listened to the always wonderful and often hilarious Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (buy her amazing new book, or any of her books) speak. She fielded questions like a professional short stop from the audience during the last half of her talk.
The questions were not coming from confident vegans. Most sounded a bit whiny and were focused on one central theme: no one appreciates or respects their decision to go vegan. Questions like this are somewhat typical of vegans, and notably more prevalent around the awkward food-centered holiday season.
Of course we all want people to like and accept us. It’s a natural human instinct. However, expecting everyone to like and accept you (and your lifestyle choices) is, well, crazy.
I found myself wondering if these people were a little more confident in their manner that they would then get more support from friends and family.
Regardless, being a confident vegan takes some time and practice. There are still frustrations, even for long time vegans.
However, being a confident vegan sure beats the alternative.