First of all, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian. That is NOT my intention with this, and I know how it feels to be shamed by others who feel like their lifestyle choices are “better” than yours. Life’s too short for that bullsh*t.
I’m not even a vegan myself. I call myself a “flexitarian” because I only eat meat when my family’s having it—say, my husband wants to make tacos or something. But even then, he often makes veggie refried beans for me. I was a strict vegetarian for several years and I can honestly say that I did feel better, weigh slightly less (hey, I still ate lots of cheese and bread!) and really enjoyed it.
But I also encountered people who were so defensive about my vegetarianism, and I never really understood it. “Mmm meat!” they’d chortle as they ate in front of me. I even had a debate coach whom I otherwise deeply admired take me to barbecue places where I could barely find anything to eat, and he’d preface each visit with some asinine comment like, “I’m curious to see what you will find to eat here.”
Now I know—at least, I think I know—that they felt as if they were being judged by me. I didn’t say anything, ever, except for “No, thanks, I’m a vegetarian” when offered a sandwich! Yet somehow my lifestyle translated to “uppity sanctimonious butthole” to them. And I admit, I can get pretty sanctimonious—I don’t mean to, but I can—but I truly don’t think I did during that time.
Anyhow, evidence keeps pouring in to support the fact that vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are healthy for both our species as well as our planet. I really support people who go vegan and hope that someday I will, too (as long as I can have vegan manicotti…). In addition to the defensiveness, the lifestyle often gets torn down by people who claim we need meat to stay healthy, that it’s a bunch of weirdos eating granola, and so on.
I’m not going to argue that some people don’t need meat—I don’t know every health condition on earth and some folks very well could need it—but I do think that most people can survive without it, perhaps living even more healthfully. To these naysayers, I say give this new veganism slideshow a quick view. It’s really informative, with plenty of links where you can access even more information about veganism to see if you might like to try it out. And like I said, it might not be for you, but maybe it could help you see vegan friends in a new light.