I just finished watching the movie Earthlings. It got me thinking. A lot. For years, I wanted to be the cool vegan – the neighbor next door who looked great while eating like a horse, thus enticing people to ask about my secret. I certainly never wanted to be portrayed as the angry, militant vegan, pushing her views on others. So when others did ask about my “secret,” I just mentioned how much better I felt, talked about all the nutritional benefits of being vegan, and would eventually throw in the line, “… and it’s also so much nicer for the animals and better for the environment.” I didn’t want to rock the boat by getting into the atrocities of factory farming or the environment.
However, after watching Earthlings, I realize that I simply cannot be quiet about what’s happening in the factory farms anymore. This doesn’t mean that I have to be angry, militant or otherwise horrible to be around. Here is my plan: First, instead of focusing almost solely on nutrition – which is indeed a great benefit but not the real reason I went vegan – I can also tell them that when I read about what is happening in the factory farms, I simply couldn’t eat another bite of animal products. It’s that simple. And it also happens to be my truth. If people want to know, I can tell them more, but since most don’t usually ask more about the “unpleasantries” of the factory farms, I will encourage them to watch Earthlings or read The Food Revolution by John Robbins. For people who show a true interest (and quite a few do), I may even offer to buy them a copy. I plan to contact the producer or a wholesaler of Earthlings, and see if I can buy them on the cheap, and keep a box of them at home for exactly this reason. No need for me to be the militant vegan and start an argument – just give them the DVD and tell them to have a box of Kleenex nearby. I also plan to send copies to all of my legislatures: They are the ones who have huge power to elicit change.
So I ask you – how do you tell people why you are vegan? Are you speaking your truth in a respectful way – or are you avoiding conflict or causing conflict with your answer? It may be time to revamp your “Why I am a Vegan” speech, and perhaps lead people to DVDs, books or websites that can help you make your case. When you learn to speak your truth in a kind and compassionate way, people will follow. Not everyone, but some. And others will follow them, and so on and so on.