Better Together

After speaking to a few people recently on social media, it became clear to me that the large majority of vegans know hardly any others, if any at all. In fact, in a poll I took, 80% of people said that they knew five or less other vegans, 20% said that they didn’t know any.

I found this a little surprising, although the more I thought about it I wondered why I was surprised, also I found it a little sad. There’s nothing better than spending time with others who share the same values, people who get you without you having to explain yourself. These are times when you can really let your guard down and I have found I have an automatic bond and empathy with every new vegan I meet, it’s like they are family.

I grew up alone with my veganism, but I was a kid with much more exciting things on my mind other than the food I ate, so it wasn’t a problem. There were times when I was alone with my thoughts and I wondered why I was so different from everyone else, but it was never an issue.

People find veganism at different times in their lives and for many varied reasons. All of us have the same goals though and the same big heart.

I am lucky enough to know dozens of other vegans now. To be honest I spend more time with them than I do with non-vegans. I’m more comfortable around them and have never met one who wasn’t excited to meet, chat, to share stories, to find out more.

We are the pioneers of what will be remembered as a great social justice movement. Social shifts are rare occurrences and it’s very exciting to be on the front line of an historic change.

We are stronger together. Alone you can still do good things, but together we can make a real difference. Wherever you are there will be groups and events happening within your reach. Every single one of you is crucially important to taking this movement forward, never doubt that.

There are now dozens of Save Groups around the UK and indeed the world. I understand that people have fears and anxiety about attending a save, but you really don’t need to worry. I’m no veteran but I have done a few and I can honestly say that they are one of the best things about being a vegan activist. Not only do you get to see the reality for yourself but you will get to meet 20 or 30 huge hearted vegans in one morning!! You will be welcomed with open arms, you can connect on Facebook or Twitter or whatever and you will never look back.

http://thesavemovement.org/list-of-save-groups/

There are numerous other events happening all the time and all around the country. Be it Outreach when you interact with the public, Earthlings Experiences, Marches, Protests, Leaflet Drops etc. A quick search on Facebook for “vegan events” is a great resource and will bring up lots of information. Find what suits you, what you are comfortable with and start there.

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=vegan%20events

There are some amazing educational vegan events happening ever more regularly such as Vevolution (http://www.vevolution.co/) and festivals and fairs such as Vegfest, Veggie World and Vegan Life Live. It’s not so easy to meet people at these events (certainly not impossible), but what you will find are some inspirational speakers and talks that will help you to integrate further into the community.

Once you’ve connected with a few people you will want to do more, you will want to spend more time with these people because of how you feel when you’re around them. Of course you won’t become best friends with every vegan you meet, there may even be the odd one you don’t particularly like (that’s life), but you will be more open to making that friendship, you already have so much in common.

I’m not sure how much this piece will help, I hope it does in some small way, but if there’s any other help that I can offer please get in touch. If you live within 100 miles of London we can definitely meet at an event and I would love to meet every single one of you.

From Fork To Mouth

I’ve been thinking recently about the different ways people make the change from carnism to veganism and how to help them. Having not made this journey myself (I stopped eating animal products as an infant), I believe this gives me a different perspective as the majority of people will be somewhat influenced by their own choices and journey.

Little has been written about the particular route that I am going to talk about, but I have to feel that as awareness of the health benefits, environmental reasoning and most importantly the insane treatment of animals is growing, seemingly by the day, it is a route that many people will struggle to avoid taking, even if unintentionally.

And it all comes down to the food on your plate. We’ve seen over the past 50 or so years, animal products looking less and less like the animal they originally came from. Be it pizza, chicken nuggets, burgers or cheese strips. The industry has done all it can to disguise its products to help consumers disconnect from the living animal.

The recent and ever increasing noise from the animal right movement is slowly undoing their efforts and they are having to work even harder, possibly to a point where they have run out of ideas, on how to appease peoples consciences and convince them that they are doing the right thing.

On their side they have the fact that people don’t like change, that they do like an easy life and have a lifetime of conditioning to overcome. Switching from a meat, eggs and diary rich diet to a vegan diet must be difficult, at first at least, so I have to believe a mass switch will be a gradual process. I do believe though that this process is already well underway.

Again, it all comes down to the food on your plate. What I mean by this is that people are starting to look at the food on their plates and as never before are beginning to wonder if they are doing the right thing. They are getting an increasingly sick feeling as that piece of meat goes from their fork to their mouth. Eating can be a time for contemplation and/or conversation and more often than not we eat with those that we are closest to and with whom we can convey our innermost thoughts and fears.

Because of the growing awareness of the benefits of veganism and the cruelty of animal agriculture, more and more people are beginning to doubt their food choices and question the beliefs they’ve held since childhood. Not when they are playing football or tennis, not when they’re in a pub, nightclub or at a show, although the longer this nagging persists the more it works its way into their everyday thoughts. They feel it the most when they look down at the piece of a dead animal on their plate.

Doubt will eventually turn into anxiety until, and initially when they are eating alone or choosing a sandwich or snack from a shop, they choose a vegan option. Once they have taken this step they will have started on a journey that they may never be able to return from. Once they see the possibilities, feel the pride and the sense of achievement, they will feel empowered. And once they start looking at the food on their plate and don’t feel that sense of anxiety, there will be a huge wave of relief.

There will of course be many other bridges to cross before they reach veganism, there will be obstacles both physically and mentally in their path, but once they’ve chosen to take those first few steps it will be difficult to go back to their old ways.

This is why everything we do as activists is so important. We need to keep the message front and centre and on every possible occasion we need to help those making the journey in any and every way we can. Never get angry or aggressive or you will turn people away, this is the one way you can force them backwards. Veganism is about so much more than what we eat. Choosing to not eat animal products is simply the first step on the ladder.

Be kind, be generous, be patient. Be the best possible version of yourself and it will rub off on others. A world free of the horrendous cruelty that we currently have to live with is within our grasp. If you can understand the journey people need to take, it will be much easier to help them to find their way.