Vegans: What YOU Can Learn From Vegetarians

People hardly ever hate vegetarians. Why? Well, that’s a great question. I mean, they are ostensibly only a stone throw away from becoming vegan. They don’t eat meat and, dairy aside, contribute on a small level to the greater cause. They are nothing like vegans. Vegans are in a league of their own. Vegans are truly fighting for what they believe in from all angles. Vegans fight for the environment. And moreover, vegans actively stand up to arguably 2 of the biggest and most powerful industries in the world; the meat and dairy industries. Vegans revolve their lives around eliminating animal cruelty once and for all. Vegans are activists.

Vegetarians are more concerned with diet and lifestyle, albeit in many cases, they also do it for the animals. They don’t, however, come nearly as close to how vegans contribute to the attenuation of animal cruelty. It’s almost cool and stylish to brag to your friends that you’re vegetarian.

So, back to my original point- why do people generally ‘hate vegans’ and generally ‘don’t mind’ vegetarians? Let’s finally address the elephant in the room.

First, let me illustrate a very important point. I AM VEGAN. A proud vegan, in fact. I love veganism and what the cause stands for. Going vegan has been the best thing I have ever done. So, vegans who are naturally pugnacious and combative, please take this piece as mere feedback. I’m not attacking you. I never attack my own. I am however most honest and toughest on those I love. If we can’t self-assess our movement every now and then and workshop how we can get better then we’re no better than a cult. So, I’m asking you to please take my feedback on board in the best way possible, because it’s coming from a place of love.


You see, veganism has a problem. A problem that, if goes unaddressed, will lead to the eventual descendance of our cause which in turn will harm the animals more than anything. The vegan world has a PR problem. Vegans are perceived in the following ways- angry, annoying, preachy, mean and militant (and the list goes on). Now, I can see why some vegans are like that. They are indefatigably dedicating their time, money and resources to a cause most people don’t give a damn about. They are clearly fighting for the rights of the unspoken; innocent animals who are being slaughtered and raped by the minute. Then, a meat eater, while listening to your avalanche of common sense, casually sips on his or her cup of milk and says “that really sucks, man”. It’s frustrating, I get it. For all of us. But as vegans we have to be smart and diligent. We have to play chess, not checkers. More importantly, we have to look at the big picture; we want people to go vegan and, while it’s not going to happen overnight, it still requires an element of convincing. The animals are not enough for some people, they need to trust us.

Now, let’s stop for a minute and look at vegetarians. AKA society’s good guys. Vegetarians integrate with society, they don’t utter that they are vegetarian every five minutes and know how to take a joke. Sure, their struggle isn’t half as difficult considering they aren’t as passionate and fully aware as vegans, but their nonchalance has a positive effect on their image (and cause). To be honest, prior to becoming vegan I was vegetarian. It felt good, healthy and people respected me on some level. People never looked at me in a weird way or subtly tried to avoid me.

I became vegan for the animals. No doubt. 110% for the animals. But, I did have someone laid-back, calm and relatable talk me into expanding my education. He was patient, non-judgemental and didn’t volunteer that he’s vegan every 2.3 seconds. He made me feel like I want to learn. He made the process desirable and for that I forever thank him. Not once did he get angry or judge me even though I was still consuming dairy and eggs. Most vegans would have. I know, because I have encountered a multitude of vegans. If not for this guy, the transition would have felt a little harder or would not have come about at all. But, I digress.

My point is, that most vegetarians are laid back. They are more adaptable and integrate a lot better. They are less angry and are more patient. Imagine if vegans adopted that attitude? If we were a little more relaxed and patient. If we didn’t irritate people by making a fuss about exiguous issues that hardly impact the greater cause.

Is it too late? Absolutely not! We need to address those problems and learn from those who are successful in their respective pursuits. Vegetarians are bosses in PR. That’s their one up on us. We have to humbly acknowledge that and address this problem. Learn from their strengths and we’ll be shaking the dairy and meat bullies up in no time. The good news is that I have been meeting more and more relatable, cool and likeable vegans. Thanks to those people, veganism is becoming trendy and our reputation is slowly healing. I guess it’s just a matter of time.

So, my fellow vegan friends: this is for you. More so for the angry ones. Learn from our vegetarian comrades. Find ways to deliver your message a little less aggressively and be subtle. Veganism is a cause. We’re not doing this to prove how saintly we are or to stultify others. We’re doing it for the animals. Again, THIS IS NOT ABOUT US. By not getting it right, you’re not only harming the vegan image. You’re harming the animals.

Together, let’s brainstorm how we can persuade people to go vegan. We must be nice. We must be patient. We must be likable. But most importantly- We must play Chess.

James Burns
Vegr Contributor, Traveler, Vegan Food Lover.