Person: What? You don’t want to have that? Why not?
Me: Because I’m vegan.
Person: What? Why? What’s wrong with you?
Me: Um… Nothing? I just don’t want to eat any animal products?
Person: Oh my God you’re so weird!
This is a typical conversation for me. In fact, I had this exchange not two days ago. Sigh.
Finally, in March of 2018, I made the leap from vegetarianism to veganism and I’ve never looked back since. Honestly? It feels great! Although it isn’t easy (what ever is?), especially where I live, but I have managed to make it work. So many people constantly question my choice. They don’t understand it. Mostly because they don’t attempt to understand. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m doing this for me.
As I mentioned in my previous post !!!!!!!!!, I’ve been considering how I can go vegan where I live. There’s a lot of support for vegetarians here but not so much for vegans. I’ve always been an avid consumer of eggs, cheese and other dairy products. All of this changed when I saw a video on social media about the abuse and other issues that dairy cows go through. It broke my heart. And I couldn’t bear to continue to eat any dairy products as I had after seeing that.
Because relying on a single source for news and information is not advisable, I did some digging around of my own. Turns out, the information provided in the video was right. Dairy cows are given all sorts of hormones and whatnot to make them produce more milk, but this ability runs out pretty soon, after which they are butchered for their meat (being a vegetarian, I don’t particularly like the fact that people kill animals for consumption). Although some farms provide cows with a comfortable life while they’re up and about, this is not the case in places run like a business. Often, the animals (not just cattle but also pigs, goats, poultry, etc.) are mistreated and abused. They’re restricted to a small cage housing way more than its maximum capacity. They don’t experience love and affection and die after much suffering. So, after doing all this reading, I was seriously bummed and I resolved to become a vegan. Little did I know how difficult that was going to be.
Just as I had as a vegetarian, I had to field millions of questions from family, friends and acquaintances about my lifestyle choice. Just two days ago, when I visited friends, they just kept asking me, “Why? What’s wrong with you?” (I’m rolling my eyes as I’m writing this). My problem is, I don’t know how to explain my reasoning. Even as a vegetarian, when I told people that my reason for becoming one was because I love animals and I do not want to eat them, people would argue with me about how they too love animals so much and yet eat animals. Then they give me a look as if to say, ‘Hm, let’s see what you have to say to that!’ As if the whole thing is some kind of Goodness Olympics. I really never ever mean it that way. I don’t think I’m better than someone who eats meat. I definitely think I’m better than a person who kicks a dog or something but I will never make such a judgement about someone who consumes meat as a part of their diet. So I’ve never really understood why other people can’t afford me the same courtesy.
I face this same quandary when people ask me why I decided to be a vegan. And anyway, I try not to tell people I don’t eat meat because I love animals because that only offends them but also makes me sound like a pretentious snob. So instead, I tell them about the video and what I learnt from it that made me want to embrace veganism. And people look at me as if I am insane. Like, completely bonkers. Should-be-locked-up-in-the-loony-bin kind of look. And if there are other people around, they will all look at each other conspiratorially as if they all unanimously agree that I am mentally unstable.
People are still convinced that I am crazy and no matter how much I try to explain my point of view, they will always see me as insane. Except for the people who make an effort to understand and be respectful of my choice, everyone else will treat me as some kind of extremist. I don’t even know why exactly people act this way.
After putting some thought into this, and considering the interactions I’ve had with these rude people, I concluded that maybe it was because they felt that their level of goodness was being threatened by me. As in, I refuse to consume products derived from animals, there is some kind of weird idea that saints and such follow these diets and lifestyles, ergo vegans and vegetarians might actually be good people, even better than everybody else who is eating meat. This is stupid but I have gotten this feeling from people I’ve spoken to. Mainly because they try to tell me how good they are after I tell them I’m vegan. They start telling me how good they are in roundabout ways and it is so strange because I never say anything to suggest that they are lesser being than moi. I just want that same level of respect towards me. Is that too much to ask?