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 The Biggest Challenge of The Vegan Life
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The Biggest Challenge of The Vegan Life

What is the hardest thing about being vegan? I had thought about this before, as I am sure we all have, and then the other day the answer came to me quite forcefully. I would say that the biggest challenge in being vegan is dealing with is the antagonism and harassment we get from so much of the world. You know, the interrogations, the snide and sarcastic comments, the put-downs, the “jokes”, and so on.

I am still quite upset about an incident where I felt persecuted the other day. I was visiting my mother, and friends of hers, a married couple, dropped by. I often can't fathom what my Mum's motives are, but she told them I was vegan, and  then started describing what I wouldn't eat, what I used to eat, and so on. I don't usually tell people about my diet unless I have to, as I just want a quiet life – I don't want to get into arguments about it. But of course, with my Mum broaching the subject, I then got the usual third-degree interrogation: why are you vegan? What do you eat? Aren't plants living things too? All the usual. I tried to patiently explain to them that vegans only eat a plant-based diet. That sounds quite simple and self-explanatory, doesn't it? But my Mum's friend had to ask me to confirm:

“Does that include nuts?” (Yes really! I thought everyone would know that nuts are plants, but apparently not!)

Worse than that, however, was her husband. I thought I had explained adequately and hoped we could just drop the subject. But oh no, you never get off that easily, do you? The  friend's husband then said:

“What about a nice juicy steak, you can still eat those, can't you?”

What are you supposed to say to stupid, facetious questions like that?! I just said “Yes” sarcastically. Then a bit later he said:

“And what about bacon,  I bet you can still eat crispy bacon, can't you?”

It was getting hard by this point to avoid being rude to him, and tell him I thought he was being a complete a***hole! I don't want to make scenes if I can avoid it though – I know my Mother would have given me a hard time if I had had a row with him! He then said he didn’t know how I could possibly enjoy food at all. Ha ha! That’s a good one, isn’t it? I wish I didn’t enjoy my food so much; I might be able to lose some weight then!

Then my Mother decided to chip in with her views on veganism, i.e. why she won't go vegan. So at that point, to try to end the discussion, I had a bit of a rant. I said something like:

“OK, since you are all so interested in my diet, I will tell you all the reasons why I am vegan. It is not just about saving animals, although that is a large part of it. It is also better for the environment, and could help to end starvation in the world – many more people could be fed on a plant-based diet. It is also better for your health. So there are a lot of good reasons to be vegan. “

At that point they all went quiet, and changed the subject! Which was exactly what I was hoping for.

The kind of harassment we have to put up with is totally unacceptable really, I think you will all agree. It would not be tolerated against other minority groups, lifestyles, and sectors of society. For example, if you meet someone and they tell you they are gay, is it acceptable to start quizzing them about their lifestyle, habits, etc., and say you can’t imagine how they could possibly enjoy having same-sex relationships?! No, it’s not, those sorts of remarks would be considered homophobic, and there is legislation about that these days. So why do we have to endure it? A friend of mine calls the prejudice against vegetarians and vegans “vegephobia”! Good word, but it sounds more like a fear of vegetables than anything else!

(The photo of is of me taken at an all-vegetarian dinner I went to recently, which I wrote about here, the Bou Bhaat party.)

I hope you got something out of this blog and your votes and comments are much appreciated.

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  1. Mental4Lentilz
    Voted. I know too many vegephobes (in both senses!). People can be frustratingly naive and it just gets really tiring.
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    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      Thanks Emily. Not just frustratingly naive, but also deliberately antagonistic, like the man I talk about in the blog, which I find the hardest to deal with.
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  2. Arvi Kuld
    Here in Thailand there is no problems for beging vegan. Most people hee eat very little meat at all and most people here aer vegan. I never had a problem like you write about ever before. Thank you for sharing this.
    Log in to reply.
    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      Thanks Arvi. I would love to visit Thailand, I have heard it is very easy to be vegetarian/vegan there. Don't they also have quite a big dog-meat trade there though? Or maybe that is only in certain parts of the country. Unfortunately here in Britain, and in most Western countries, the whole of the cuisine is traditionally based round meat, so it is often hard for those of us who don't eat it. You often get open hostility from people, as I described in the blog above!
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      1. Akanksha
        Akanksha
        It is really sad. We need to educate more people, bring more awareness... Non-vegetarians are more aggressive, so logical arguments don't work as long as the next person is actually interested in exploring your lifestyle.
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  3. Andrew Knighton
    Andrew Knighton
    A thought-provoking post. I'm not sure I see this attitude as entirely equivalent to homophobia, as being vegan or vegetarian is a matter of choice based on our own beliefs. I'd compare it more with intolerance of someone's religious or political affiliation - would you accept this kind of attitude towards someone for being a Catholic, Buddhist, atheist, Jew? I don't mind discussing my vegetarianism when people ask in a spirit of genuine enquiry, but when it's a matter of point scoring, like you, I just get annoyed.
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    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      Yes, you could be right there Andy, maybe prejudice against vegans is more like religious intolerance, rather than homophobia. But quite a similar prejudice in essence, because you are not accepting someone's right to be different from you.
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  4. Akanksha
    Akanksha
    I know it is hard being a vegan, especially in western countries. Thankfully in Asia, we have a lot of variety and Indians are pretty cool about someone not eating meat. however, when it comes to veganism, people often call it an extreme and unnecessary here too! Just like you, I find it better to keep my preferences to myself unless it is extremely necessary. I used to be taunted a lot in the beginning when I gave up meat, but friends and family have stopped commenting (now) and we avoid the subject altogether! All the best with your journey, it is absolutely worth it!
    Log in to reply.
    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      Thanks Akanksha, it is, I couldn't agree more! I am certainly not giving up being a vegan, just because of the problems associated with it, like antagonistic people. People who try to good, change the world, etc, always have a huge amount of opposition to face, that goes with the territory. I wish so many people didn't have this great resistance to change, that is the main problem, I feel.
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  5. travdjohnson
    Why, though, do I feel obligated to bite my tongue? Is it because, perhaps, some would be offended? This hardly seems ideal to me, nor beneficial to the cause. Most believe we are to remain silent and allow people to observe and change by their own realizations. However, isn't our purpose to expedite this process? I ask those who think it's better to be silent out of fear and a distaste for being misunderstood- isn't it better to speak, to be honest, and to try?
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  6. oooowow
    My answer to the question: Well, you can still eat a steak, can't you? I would say "Yes, I call that suicide by red meat." let him chew on that for awhile... If you can't persuade people with humanitarian or ecological issues, the best way to get them to understand is by giving them examples of the health benefits...things that effect their narrow little views and world directly..I also have book titles that I'll cite...and, of course, most of the time they are only interested in making themselves feel that they're poorer choices are better..by the time you tick off a couple of statistics or facts and book titles, they are tired of playing and will change the subject...my two cents...
    Log in to reply.
    1. Veganara
      Veganara
      Thanks ooowow, those are great responses, I will try those in future!
      Log in to reply.
  7. Julie Sinclair
    Julie Sinclair
    Oh dear this is such a shame. I have never had problems such as this being a vegan. I am proud of whom I am and I love to cook. I host dinner parties and invite all of my friends over to eat. Nobody has one said a word about the food I cook and eat and after each meal all of my guests are begging me to teach them how I do this. I am sorry to hear of these problems but I do keep an open mind and if anyone asks me about being vegan I say it is for heath reason I choose this in my life. I feel younger and have more energy and I feel like I will live forever not eating red meats any longer. JulieOh dear this is such a shame. I have never had problems such as this being a vegan. I am proud of whom I am and I love to cook. I host dinner parties and invite all of my friends over to eat. Nobody has one said a word about the food I cook and eat and after each meal all of my guests are begging me to teach them how I do this. I am sorry to hear of these problems but I do keep an open mind and if anyone asks me about being vegan I say it is for heath reason I choose this in my life. I feel younger and have more energy and I feel like I will live forever not eating red meats any longer. Julie
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  8. Tatterhood
    Tatterhood
    Thanks Maggie. I really is frustrating when people bring up your diet, not with the intention of understanding it, but with the intention of mocking and ridiculing you. I work with what would seem to be enlightened, intelligent people, and I am the ONLY vegan in the group. There are a couple of vegetarians, but not another vegan. Every time food is brought to work for a special occasion, I just eat the fruit or crackers. Then, the comments come: "Still vegan?" "God, I could never give up bacon." And I think to myself, "God, how idiotic and controlled you sound." It's really no one's business what I eat. It's not like I'm in their faces with my very strong opinions on the food they are putting in their mouths, supporting all kinds of global destruction, cruelty to animals, and hardening of their own arteries. I feel your pain...all the time. Voted!
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  9. Melissa Nott
    Melissa Nott
    I enjoyed this blog. Thanks for sharing your incident! I loved the dialogue quotations especially - made me feel like I was a fly on the wall in that room. Great job!
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  10. Lindsing
    Thank you so much for this! I come across the demeaning attitude quite often, and it can be very draining.
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