Opinion

Coming Out Of The (Vegan) Closet

how to tell your friends you're vegan

What’s harder than becoming vegan and giving up good ole’ meat? Dealing with the herds of non-vegans who just absolutely need to give me their opinion on why being vegan is not the way.

Coming out of the “vegan closet” can be rough... 

Well, it can be more annoying, really. On one hand, you want to tell everyone you meet that you’re a vegan because you’re super proud of that accomplishment. On the other hand, you just know that there’s going to be some backlash coming your way. Here’s what happened when I announced that I’m vegan.

Friends and Family

Most likely, the first people to learn that you’re a new vegan are your close friends and family. We all hope that they’d be happy for you and congratulate you because you’re doing something amazing for yourself, animals, and the planet. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Well, at least not in my family.

See, my family’s diet has always revolved around meat.

Meat is at the center of every event. As Pacific Islanders, it’s just part of the culture. At every fiesta, we had the roasted pig, fried chicken, grilled fish, and so forth. A plate of food just simply could not be served without some form of meat (my mom would get mad at me if I got a plate of rice but no meat...the plate looked empty to her).

So, when I told my family about becoming vegan, I had less than favorable results. Some laughed. Some told me that it was just a fad and I’d grow out of it soon enough. Some even argued with me, giving me all their reasons why a vegan diet just didn’t make sense. Only a few actually supported me. Then there are my friends, my “bros”. My friends all gave me their longest lectures filled with “bro science”, telling me that there’s no way I can have any gains in the gym as a vegan and that I need more protein. Ridiculous.

Random People

So have you ever seen those memes that claim vegans just have to tell everyone and anyone that their vegan? Well, it’s true. While standing in line at the grocery store on a few occasions, I’ve fed into the urge to tell people about my new lifestyle. A few of those times I’ve gotten into lengthy discussions about the vegan diet and why they believed it’s not healthy.

However, most people just didn’t really care. They’d acknowledge me of course and tell me “congrats” or “oh, that’s nice”, but most just didn’t really have an opinion on it. They simply proceeded to living their life, waiting to checkout their groceries so they can go home. This brought me to a very important realization that really helped me own my new lifestyle and stop worrying about others’ opinions.

Do you know what happens when someone has an opinion about you? Do you know what occurs when someone talks negatively about you behind your back? What happens when someone has a different opinion than yours? NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. The world doesn’t stop, the sky doesn’t fall, a rain cloud doesn’t form over your head…nothing actually happens. When you really realize this, as a vegan (or just in your everyday life), you stop caring so much about what people think about you or what opinions they have. You start to just enjoy living the way you want to live, as a happy and healthy vegan who doesn’t hurt animals or others.

Feel safe knowing you have all the answers!

Social Media

The real key to coming out the vegan closet is to just own it and do it, because it makes you happy. But for those of you who might be hoping for a little help and support along the way, you’re in luck! If you’re ever looking for a sense of community and belonging, look no further than your phone, specifically Instagram. Instagram has a HUGE community of vegans who are happy to chat, support you, give you advice and great recipes, and so much more. How do you find them?

Easy...

Simply search the hashtag #vegansofinstagram or #vegan and you’ll find a ton of other vegans from all over the world sharing stories about their vegan lifestyle. From there, it’s all up to you. You can follow them, send them a message, comment on and like a few of their posts, etc. I know social media has a bad wrap about some things, but it’s been an amazing way for me to find the support and community I need.

Be vegan. Be proud.

 -Peter Manley

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An Open Letter to Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson on vegans

Dear Mr. Peterson,

I discovered your persona a while ago and was amazed by your intellectualism, eloquence, and remarkable degree of intelligence. Full of admiration, I listened for hours to your reflections on the human condition, the inevitability of suffering, and your propositions to minimize it. Until I saw a Youtube video in which you urged people who suffer from depression, to eat bacon and eggs, or in other words, to eat suffering, for breakfast. Words do not suffice to explain my level of disappointment to realize that you, an internationally recognized, respected and highly knowledgeable professor, are simultaneously utterly clueless about one of the most agonizing problematics in human history, that has become particularly alarming in postmodernity: the abominable treatment of our fellow earthlings and the devastating effects this treatment generates on the environment, our fellow humans, and the wellbeing of animals.

You tell your audience that the meaning of life is to give life a meaning and that we should try to reduce our suffering by becoming meaningful to our surroundings, yet you advise it to increase its own suffering by consuming acidic carcinogens, to increase the suffering of 56 billion non-human animals that are violently killed for food on a yearly basis, and to increase the suffering of the common habitat, that is on the verge of annihilation due to climatological catastrophes majorly resulting from extreme pollution caused by animal agriculture. You tell your followers, many of which are highly influenceable youngsters, that animals do not have rights because they can not shoulder obligations. In that line of thinking, handicapped people and infants shouldn’t be granted any rights, since they too, are incapable of shouldering obligations. And, are these animals not obliged to undergo rape, abuse, isolation, mutilation, torture and a violent death because humans force them to? Regardless of whether animals do or don’t have rights, we, as superior humans, have the moral obligation to not exploit and kill those who can not defend themselves.

You accuse people who identify with any group of tribalism, but you are guilty of it yourself, since you choose to be part of a tribe. Today, this tribe is the oldest and has the largest amount of members of all tribes that existed throughout the history of mankind. It in fact comprises the majority of the earth's population, and sternly believes that humans are superior to animals, that animals are beings devoid of rights and can therefore be treated as the members of the tribe wish. The tribe you, perhaps unconsciously, take sides with, totally disregards the ability of animals to feel pain, fear, and all the other emotions you so eagerly ascribe to the only beings who truly have rights in your eyes. Well guess what, Mr. Peterson, despite your intelligence and brilliant rhetoric, you lack the very thing that is an absolute necessity for the survival and ethical evolution of mankind: compassion, a trait you mention pejoratively as ‘pity’, but which is the most sophisticated form of altruism, and of which the opposite, egoism, has been the major cause of all the tragedy this world has known. It is impossible to find an antidote to our own pain by making choices that increase the pain of others. “Do to others as you would have them do to you”, because ultimately, harming others will harm yourself. To diminish our own suffering is a great accomplishment, but to diminish the suffering of others is the highest moral good.

I sincerely hope you will take the time to profoundly research how exactly the bacon and eggs you recommend arrived on our plates, change your mind, and reformulate your message in which you extend your sympathy to not only the members of your tribe, but to the animals and to the compassionate who dedicate their lives to open the eyes and hearts of those who trivialise non-human animal suffering. Many of the most brilliant figures in the history of humanity understood that the self-proclaimed dominion of humans over animals is counterproductive to our prosperity, and the time is ripe for you to join them. After all, we should never stop striving to evolve and transcend our lesser selves… At least, that’s what I once heard a Canadian professor say.

Alexandra Villers
Vegr Contributor, Political Commentator, Pianist, Animal Rights Activist

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Co-Mingling Veganism With Politics

vegan political party

Many times, you’ll find people of varying political ideologies (particularly on the radical left) either using veganism to justify their political ideologies or associating the two when espousing their opinions. They will act as though veganism is somehow linked to their social justice agendas and create links between the two leading to nothing short of a political hijacking of a movement that can not be more alienated from the political realm.

That is problematic. Let me explain why:

Firstly, it alienates people on the other side who are considering a vegan lifestyle. It creates division and tells those people that unless they follow political party X, Y or Z they can’t be taken seriously as vegans.

I’ve encountered Socialists or Communists claiming that if you’re a vegan but do not adhere to their political and societal values, then you’re a hypocrite. All that did was spark a not so productive internet war between them and Capitalist vegans which, in turn, led to nothing but division (it was interesting to read as a lurker but incredibly negative). It created further division among vegans. How are we going to eradicate animal cruelty and create a worldwide presence if we’re being divisive towards each other? A unified movement is a strong and effective movement, but people who bring their political fervor to the cause do nothing but tear the cause apart.

Veganism is about avoiding, at all costs, the use of animal products. It’s about not using animals for entertainment, food, clothes, and testing. Veganism has got nothing to do with humans. Vegan activism is not sponsored by any political party and almost all vegans who engage in activism do it for one thing: the animals. Not to stamp their political message in a fancy, trendy kind of way.

Regardless of whether you’re on the left, right or center, you can be vegan and you should not feel pressured to let anything else distract you. To the animals, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Trump or Bernie supporter. What you choose to eat, wear or attend Is all that matters, really. We should avoid falling into the trap of succumbing to our innate tribalistic nature by creating ego-fulfilling ‘sub-tribes’ within the vegan movement. Veganism is not a tribe. It does not exist so that you can rediscover your meaning nor is it a mode of therapy. Veganism is merely a positive lifestyle. It really is just about being a good human.

The two are mutually exclusive, and people should stop deterring outsiders from becoming vegan by setting political ultimatums. Because in the end, the only ones that suffer are the animals.

Let me know your thoughts below.

Alex Moller
Vegr Co-Founder
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