Vegans aren't from Venus
This article has been written by Kaleb Rogers. He's been vegan for a few years, and like many others, he's shied away from being open about it. I love the lighthearted way in which, he's captured the dilemmas he's faced, along with when he felt safe enough to openly, talk about his lifestyle.
Two years ago, I was sitting on a tall white chair at Head of the Meadow Beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A fellow lifeguard and I were exchanging recipes as we scanned the oceanfront for emergencies. “Are you some sort of secret vegan?” she inquired, after I mentioned blending cashews to make a cream of broccoli soup. An ‘in the closet’ vegan at the time, as my coworker had guessed, I nonchalantly sidestepped the question.
Fast-forward to a year later. I graduated from college and was confused about what I wanted to do. So I decided to work in Thailand for a year. During my first week, another American also found out about my abstinence from animal products. Being more comfortable with my lifestyle choice, I openly admitted that I was Vegan.
Later on, I heard this same girl say: ”He is smart... and will surprise you in many ways. Behind a bro-y exterior…there's a really interesting guy with some great stuff to say. “ Before, we departed for our respective towns, she snapped this picture, which captured me in all my glorious ‘bro-y-ness’:
So why do I bring up these two instances of ‘being discovered’ as a vegan? Well, as the title states, Vegans aren’t from Venus. More simply, vegans don’t embody this stereotypical hippie, tree-hugging, attention-seeking persona that is used as an all-inclusive blanket to describe us. We are all individuals with individual characteristics. What is it that unites us? A common realisation that the exploitation of animals as a commodity is cruel, outdated, and nonsensical. And what is it that ostracizes us from society? The generally accepted norm that the aforementioned conclusion is somehow delusional and wrong.
Let’s go back to Thailand for a moment. The Thais have a concept comparable to veganism, pronounced jay; however, the Thai notion of veganism is unique from its western counterpart in that it’s not motivated by health, animal welfare, or environmentalism. Rather, it is motivated by spirituality. The more pressing difference to Thai culture is that eating jay is held in high regard and is a commendable attribute. Responses to my proclaiming that I was vegan were less likely to be the usual, condescending “Why?” and much more likely to be “Oh, very good!” The receptiveness of Thai culture made me much more comfortable telling people about my ethical stance rather than feeling as though I must prepare for verbal backlash and defensive arguments.
So what is the take home point from this cocktail of skewed societal expectations? Well, tell people you’re vegan. I know, I know. The ‘preachiness’ of vegans is one of the worst stereotypes we face! But it’s important to attach a face to the movement. The sooner people realise that veganism is present in people they had otherwise deemed ‘normal’ or ‘cool’, the sooner people will warm up to the idea for themselves. Go vegan!
“The most ethical diet just so happens to be the most environmentally sound diet and just so happens to be the healthiest.”
- Dr. Michael Greger