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.