When you first open your eyes to the wonderful world of veganism like a newborn baby fresh out of a womb, it’s normal to be loud.
You may tell it to your friends and family, and show off your vegan food creations on Instagram.
If you’re the more introverted type, you may just write a 500-word essay about your feelings in your journal.
Or you may also just cry like a newborn baby fresh out of a womb because it can be really emotional watching Earthlings or Dominion.
Whichever way you express your voyage into veganism, someone will know.
Even if you’re the quiet lowkey vegan, people will soon know the moment you order a dish without eggs and milk in a cafe.
But not all vegans are willing to keep silent when the voiceless are suffering.
Many would eventually get involved in some form of vegan advocacy be it online or offline.
And soon, people would attach the vegan label on you even if you didn’t put it on your IG bio.
What Happens When People Know You’re Vegan
One of the things you can’t control in life is what people think about you.
Sometimes they keep it to themselves and sometimes they make it known. Either they tell you straight up to your face or they become a keyboard warrior on Facebook.
Sometimes it’s not all bad.
But other times… well, they may just have a biased opinion.
Here are some of the things that people may think about you as a vegan.
1. People have a preconceived idea of you
Once you say you’re vegan, you can see the change in the way they look at you.
It’s either they suddenly look down upon you, or they would say “That’s amazing! I can never be vegan”.
Whatever their idea of you may be, it would somewhat disrupt the good vibes or camaraderie you thought you had. From this point on, you may need to be aware of every word that comes out of your mouth.
But then again, this is also a good way to know who your real friends are.
2. People expect you to know everything
You didn’t just get into veganism because you felt like it, no.
You had a reason and you did your research. But if you were born vegan, well—your parents are woke!
However you got into veganism, you’re bound to know some things about nutrition and the animal industry.
But the thing is, there’s A LOT of information.
I didn’t go vegan because I devoured every piece of info available.
I went vegan because I learned the basic facts, saw the horrible mistreatment of animals, and made a rational decision.
And some people went vegan because they feel it’s the right thing to do for them.
They may not know every single thing that happens in a factory farm or how much methane is emitted per cow fart.
I don’t either.
But people may ask you these questions because they assume you know way more than they do. They may genuinely want to know the answer or they’re just catching you off guard to try to mess with your head.
If it’s the former, politely tell them to Google the question.
If it’s the latter, just ignore them.
3. You’re expected to be perfect and can’t mess up
This is probably the most annoying bit. Despite the general casual mockery that vegans receive, I think people also tend to put vegans on a very high pedestal.
I think this is thanks to the general perception about vegans e.g. vegans save X animals a month; vegans are healthier in general; vegans have a low carbon footprint.
These sound like a leaf out of the book of utopia.
In most cases, it’s true.
Vegans do ethically lead a better life than most.
But they’re still human and not entirely immune to temptations, infections, mishaps and mental health problems.
4. You’re expected to be an activist
Personally, I’d love it if every vegan is a vegan activist.
If you eat a vegan diet, in a way, you already are. You’re an advocate through your actions, which is awesome!
The problem arises when there’s the pressure to do more than just practising a vegan lifestyle in your day-to-day.
Maybe you think that you should go out on the streets and talk to people. Some of you may be comfortable with that but others may not be so.
But that doesn’t make you less of an activist.
I’ve definitely felt the pressure to “do more for the community”.
How can you put this pressure off?
Remind yourself that you are doing a lot already just by choosing plant-based foods in the supermarket amidst a throng of animal-based foods.
You’re choosing to not be a part of the industry that kills animals and destroys the environment.
And that’s an active choice.
5. You’re expected to be a good cook
As a vegan, you would either cook your own food or let others do the cooking for you.
But oftentimes, you would do the cooking because it’s easier and more affordable.
I didn’t know how to cook much before I went vegan. Being vegan forced me to learn how to cook.
Personally, I’m okay with cooking but I’m not very confident when cooking for others.
Sadly, most people would think that vegans are great at cooking thanks to social media.
They see lots of vegan accounts posting delicious-looking foods and they assume that you would be able to produce such masterpieces too.
And if you’re a mediocre cook like myself, you may feel ashamed for not “trying harder”. You may feel less of a vegan for not developing quirky vegan food to make people drool on their phones and satisfy the Instagram algorithm.
To Hell With Expectations!
We often put way too much pressure on ourselves thanks to society’s expectations.
With the pressure of being a perfect vegan, it’s no wonder that you may get anxious and depressed.
Regardless, you shouldn’t be what other people expect of you.
You should be what you want to be.
If you don’t want to go out to the streets to advocate for veganism—then don’t!
If you accidentally ate meat—don’t beat yourself up!
And if your situation prevents you from acquiring nutritious plant foods that you may need some animal products to literally survive—keep helping animals in other ways!
Until the system is pro-vegan, we are bound to make mistakes and stumble along the way.
You are only doing your best to not exploit animals as far as is possible and practical.
If your intention is clear and honest, you’re no less of a vegan if you trip up.
And if you don’t want to be identified as a vegan but eat a vegan diet, just say that you eat a vegan diet.
There’s a difference between “I am a vegan” and “I eat a vegan diet”.
Be firm on which camp you’re in and own it.
What’s A Not Good Enough Excuse?
Let me get one thing clear.
If you’re someone who can afford to buy junk foods, cigarettes and alcohol regularly, you can definitely afford plant-based foods.
Liking the taste of meat is simply not a good enough justification for me especially when you consider the health and environmental impacts of eating meat.
You simply can’t argue against animal welfare and rights when it comes to eating them merely for pleasure.
The Vegan Journey Is Amazing
I didn’t write this article to discourage you from exploring the vegan lifestyle.
I’m sharing this point of view so that you’re aware of the possible criticisms or setbacks that may be brought up by society.
But the good news is that you don’t have to listen to people.
You don’t have to take their unsolicited comments into account.
People can think whatever they want.
But at the end of the day, only YOU have the power to decide who you want to be and act accordingly.